Bud Selig

MLB is gonna tell us what it has on A-Rod at some point, right?

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Is Major League Baseball going to show us what it has on Alex Rodriguez?  I feel like it has to at some point, don’t you?

Maybe not if they settle. If A-Rod and is legal team agree to take some harsh discipline and part of that is an agreement that MLB keep what it has on him confidential, I’m OK with that. Because at least at that point the person most directly affected by MLB’s act — A-Rod himself — has implicitly agreed that the evidence against him is strong and roughly justifies the penalty he receives.  But what if he fights? And what if that fight lasts a long, long time? Won’t Major League Baseball have to tell us what A-Rod did exactly?

I say that because, while we have heard report after report about just how badly A-Rod behaved, we don’t have anything but the most broad explanations of it. He allegedly used PEDs. He allegedly lied about it. He allegedly obstructed the investigation. There are disputes about how he did so, ranging from him simply talking to Tony Bosch and/or Porter Fischer about buying evidence, possibly at their initiation, possibly his, to him actively trying to destroy it and intimidate witnesses.

There’s a lot of ground covered in those allegations. If the worst is borne out it may very well justify A-Rod being banned for life. But a more charitable interpretation of those allegations covers things other Biogenesis-related players have done. Ryan Braun took PEDs and lied. Melky Cabrera took PEDs and attempted to obstruct. It’s not easy to say based on what we know that what they did was 1/3 as bad (if, say, A-Rod gets 150 games) or a fraction as bad (if A-Rod is banned for life).

Is Major League Baseball obligated to tell us anything? No. They’re a private enterprise. And of course, there is supposed to be a general cloak of confidentiality around all drug discipline.  But that has long gone out the window thanks to leaks from people close to the process.  And, more importantly, because of the unorthodox nature of this entire process.  If things were operating as the Joint Drug Agreement specifies, fine, we can accept silence. But there is large deviation from that now and we’re not sure why.

And ultimately, there is a credibility issue in play. Buck Showalter today observed that MLB’s discipline of Rodriguez is going to create a windfall for the Yankees’ business interests and possibly its competitive ones. He is most certainly right. Others — including many HBT readers — have gone a step further, saying that this is all starting to look like a very convenient way of getting the league’s marquee franchise out from under one of its largest ever financial mistakes: signing A-Rod to a ridiculous contract in the first place.

As I said earlier today, I’m not inclined to engage in conspiracy theories and I feel like any benefit to the Yankees is incidental and welcome, not intended. But not everyone is going to think that way. Some will think this is rigged. More calm and reasonable people may not buy that, but may very well think Major League Baseball is acting arbitrarily with respect to Rodriguez and may wonder why he is being treated so harshly when Ryan Braun, who was portrayed as just as villainous until two weeks ago, got off so lightly. Maybe that is justified. But I feel like we should not have to take that on Major League Baseball’s word alone.

Perhaps MLB intends to present its evidence to the public at some point anyway and my concern is unfounded. Perhaps it is merely, and understandably, waiting for this process to play out first.  That would make sense.  But I do think, at some point, people should know why the game’s highest paid and highest profile player is getting either a defacto or an actual lifetime ban when no one else involved in roughly similar activities is getting anything close.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.