I know everyone hates A-Rod and he’s history’s worst monster and everything, but I’m really struggling to see how this latest flap — let’s call it The STFU Affair — is being spun as “here goes A-Rod again!” instead of “wow, Brian Cashman was really out of line there.”
And make no mistake, that’s how it’s being spun already. I’ve yet to see the usual columnists weight in — I’m sure Lupica and the rest will have fun things to say about this, all of which portray A-Rod as the beast here — but when even the normally even-handed and sharp Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is saying “Only Rodriguez could turn a positive story into a negative one this quickly,” you know that this is going to turn into yet another “A-Rod is the worst” fest.
Which is insane to me.
A-Rod’s transgression here: tweeting that he was ready and eager to play:
No, that message had not yet been approved for release by the Yankees yet, but (a) it was already news that was being reported by papers on Monday; and (b) is not something all that unusual in baseball. We often hear of players saying X about their readiness to rehab or come off the DL or whatever while the team says Y. We saw it in Washington just this past week with Bryce Harper. We see it many times a year. It’s something which is less-than-decorous, but it’s an inside-baseball kind of thing. Team officials care about it because they like to control the messaging for understandable reasons. The media may make note of it because any player-team disconnect is newsworthy. But about zero fans care about such things in the normal course and it’s never, ever cast as some scandalous statement.
On the other hand we have a general manager of a team telling his player, through the media, to “shut the f— up.” Think about that: when has that happened in the past? Under what circumstances is it ever considered appropriate for a boss to profanely excoriate his employee, be it privately, in front of people or, as in this case, in the press? If your boss told someone in your office that you should “shut the f— up” I don’t feel like you’d say “well, I did bring this on myself.” You’d be outraged and rightfully so. Your boss would probably be reprimanded.
Put any other player in A-Rod’s shoes here and any other GM in Cashman’s and the GM would be the one under fire here, not Alex Rodriguez. It’s not that way though because A-Rod is everyone’s favorite punching bag. That’s the only reason Cashman isn’t the one being raked over the coals here, as he should be. It’s just the latest example of A-Rod Derangement Syndrome.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.