Jeffrey Loria

The Miami New Times will not hand over the Biogenesis files to Major League Baseball … because of Jeffrey Loria

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The Miami New Times has realized that Major League Baseball is a business, not an arm of the government, and has decided not to hand over the records of the Biogenesis clinic to the league. But the best part of it all is one of the reasons: Jeff Loria.

The New Times — perhaps a little self-servingly, given that they have ripped Loria often in the past — details Loria’s history of mismanagement and bad deeds, notes that Bud Selig is supposed to act in the best interests of baseball, and that he has nonetheless enabled Loria for over a decade. They go on:

So this is the guy who wants our records? Isn’t he the same commissioner who in 2002 approved the complicated deal that gave Loria the Marlins, betrayed the City of Montreal, and caused Loria’s partners to accuse the artful merchant of racketeering? … he represents an organization with a long history of getting things wrong …

The New Times goes on to cite every transgression in baseball history — from the Black Sox on down — and says Major League Baseball is responsible. Then notes, specifically, that Selig was on watch while steroids flourished in baseball and guys like Mark McGwire continue to allowed to be part of the game, and worries that Selig may misuse the records to hand out uneven discipline or the like.

It’s all rather amusing, actually, even if the justifications for not handing them over which are attributable to baseball’s misdeeds are all over the map (really? Selig has to pay for the Black Sox scandal and segregation now?). And even if later in the editorial the New Times notes that the real reasons were journalistic ethics, worry about future leakers having their info and identity disseminated against their will and — this seems like the biggest reason — there is an ongoing state investigation into Anthony Bosch that the New Times feel will be imperiled if they hand over records to anyone else.

The important thing here, I think, is the result. It’s just bad form for a newspaper to hand over its investigative records to some private business. One which clearly has a conflict of interest to boot. So even if the New Times’ reasoning here is all rather, well, odd and funny, the right decision was reached.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.