Dirty Harry

The Biogenesis investigation turns into a Dirty Harry movie


We read the story of a former Biogenesis employee the other day. Porter Fischer, the man who blew the whistle to the Miami New Times allowed that paper to tell his story and it was one full of intrigue. MLB investigators are intimidating him, he says. Tony Bosch is the devil. People are following him and breaking into his car and all of that. It’s good reading!

Today Tim Brown of Yahoo! looks at that story and concludes from it that Major League Baseball has taken the gloves off. They’ve gone to the mattresses. They’ve done every cliche from every mob and/or crime drama you’ve ever seen. Because this time it’s personal!

Their mistake was overestimating Major League Baseball’s leaders’ preference for restraint, their distaste for ugly public dramas.

Biogenesis, Tony Bosch, Tony’s dad, a new character with store-bought pecs and a spray-on tan namedPorter Fischer who currently can be found raging against MLB’s duplicity, the ballplayers who became clients and their many puppy-dog retrievers, all of them, they never thought MLB – Bud Selig, Rob Manfred, the 15 full-time investigators on the job, many others – would get this dirty.

Banging on doors? Rolling up in smoke-windowed sedans? Throwing grease money around? Flipping witnesses? Bringing muscle?

These are the guys are from Park Avenue?

The article itself suggests no small amount of satisfaction on Brown’s part at Major League Baseball appearing to get tough on PED guys. All of the back-slapping Brown is getting this afternoon from other writers on Twitter suggests that he is not alone in enjoying watching MLB get down and dirty and in the muck and all of that. It’s the same sort of satisfaction people take at movies in which cops play by their own rules and become criminals’ worst nightmares.

But what I’m not seeing a bit of is anyone questioning whether this Fischer guy is actually the most accurate narrator on the planet. And if he isn’t, doesn’t that totally change the story about how MLB is actually proceeding?

Possibility #1: Fischer is a b.s.-artist who, at the very least, is spinning normal investigative conduct into high drama. Personally, that’s my take on it, as everything he says in the Miami New Times story has that whiff of phoniness to it.  I’m not suggesting that anything he says is technically not true. No reason at all to question the basic facts of what he provides. But the way he puts it — the high drama, the intrigue, the danger and the conduct of everyone who is not him — just doesn’t pass the smell test. I feel like he’s a guy who interprets every event in the most dramatic and sinister fashion and I feel like he’s someone who gets some degree of satisfaction from placing himself in the middle of that drama.

A guy like that would be inclined to characterize visits from MLB investigators as something far more sinister than they really were. He’d be inclined to exaggerate offers from said investigators and A-Rod’s representatives to play up his importance in the narrative. He’d also be inclined to exaggerate take-it-or-leave-it offers into threats. He’d be inclined to turn his personal enemies like Tony Bosch into sinister arch enemies who have the ability to unleash evil. Go back and read his comments in that Miami New Times report and tell me he doesn’t strike you as that kind of fabulist. If that’s the case — and again, it’s my own personal opinion on that — Brown is probably not on the most solid ground using this guy’s story as evidence of MLB dramatically changing the nature of its investigatory tactics.

To be clear: I have no doubt MLB is vigorously investigating the Biogenesis stuff. I have no doubt that they are pouring considerable resources into it. I just think that characterizing it as some sort of Dirty Harry-style ruthless mission to take down the cheaters with extreme prejudice and at any cost is a case of a desired narrative obscuring what is, in all likelihood, a methodical and businesslike investigation led by lawyers and investigators whose goal is to impress an arbitrator, not win the girl, clean up the streets and show that hardass Captain of theirs that sometimes you gotta break the rules.

Possibility #2: Everything Fischer says is true in both fact and in tone and both he and Brown are right that MLB is engaging in behavior that is “despicable, unethical and potentially illegal.” Words, by the way, A-Rod’s attorney David Cornwell uses and which Brown notes could accurately describe the situation. If that’s the case, why is this something anyone should approve of? Why is one allegedly despicable act — PED use — properly fought by despicable acts in return? If that is the case — and again, this is what Fischer and, by extension, Brown says is going on — why is MLB not to be condemned instead of praised?

But like I said above: I seriously doubt MLB is cracking skulls. I think they may be happy to have that impression out there because maybe that’s useful for the sake of deterrence, but I think it’s just an impression. I find it fascinating how eager people seem to be to eat it up and I think it reveals just how much some folks think of the overall story of PEDs in baseball as a drama pitting good against evil as opposed to anything resembling real life.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.