Original Biogenesis source: “the people running Major League Baseball are the biggest scumbags on Earth”

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This reads like a crime thriller. It’s the story of Porter Fischer, the Biogenesis employee who took Tony Bosch’s notes and records, turned them over to the Miami New Times and unleashed the biggest PEDs scandal since BALCO. He has allowed the Miami Times to tell his story.

All kinds of unseemliness here. A large part of it involving MLB’s investigators approaching Fischer after the story broke, alternating threats and payment if he’d provide the records to Major League Baseball and agree to assist their investigation:

On February 25, Fischer finally decided to meet with two MLB investigators, both ex-NYPD cops. They started with the carrots: They’d pay Fischer just to talk. If things worked out, maybe they could even move him to a gated community. And there would be justice for the cheaters.

Fischer replied, “I don’t give a shit about you or your ballplayers. This is about self-preservation to me.”

So the ex-cops switched tactics: If someone were to sue you, they warned, it could be expensive. MLB could indemnify him from damages. “I’m not worried about court,” Fischer countered. “I’m worried about a bullet in my head.”

There is all manner of weirdness here: Fischer comes off a bit, well, dramatic. He claims that, after the story broke, his copies of the Biogenesis documents were stolen from his car and the next thing he knows Anthony Bosch is agreeing to cooperate with MLB. The implication being that, directly or otherwise, the documents he stole from Bosch were stolen back by Bosch.

But Fischer isn’t exactly operating objectively here. He says “the people running Major League Baseball are the biggest scumbags on Earth as far as I’m concerned.” For getting in bed with Tony Bosch, Fischer would have us believe, but a lot of it also seems to based on the fact that he’s not a part of the deal. Understandable, I guess, especially if what he says — that MLB at one point offered him $125,000 for his documents and cooperation — represents the kind of deal Bosch got.

It’s hard to know who or what to believe here. One wonders, though, if the lawyers for any players suspended in all of this would call Fischer in their defense case. And whether that would help or hurt.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.