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.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Norm Hall/Getty Images North America
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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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Rob Foldy/Getty Images North America
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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Kirk Irwin/Getty Images North America
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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?

Jose Bautista had a courtside view of Saturday night’s epic NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic put on a tremendous show in Saturday night’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest up in Toronto, Canada. The stars were out to see it at the Air Canada Centre, and Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista had one of the very best views in the house. Check out this video he posted to Instagram of LaVine’s final dunk, a between-the-legs jam from just inside the free throw line …

Its a wrap!!! #BackToBack #SlamDunk #Champion @zachlavine8 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽

A video posted by Jose Bautista (@joeybats19) on

That is Toronto’s very own Drake going wild in the pink jacket. Gordon probably had the best individual dunk of the night, though, if we’re being really real …

Back to your regularly scheduled baseball programming. Pitchers and catchers report Friday.