Sam Seth Levinson

MLB is concerned about ACES’ links to Biogenesis, but it can’t do anything about it


Over the past several days there have been multiple articles in which the ACES agency, run by the Levinson Brothers, has been scrutinized due to the fact that the vast majority of players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal are or were represented by the agency. ACES was censured by the MLBPA last year in the wake of Melky Cabrera’s suspension for its failure to properly supervise its former consultant, Juan Carlos Nunez, who is alleged to have steered players to Biogenesis and who was behind the efforts of Cabrera to deflect blame for his positive test via the formation of a phony website.

On Monday we reported that no additional adverse action would be taken against ACES. Yesterday we noted how multiple agents are dissatisfied with this and have spoken out against the agency.  Today Bob Nightengale reports that Major League Baseball remains interested in the matter:

Major League Baseball, armed with evidence that every player suspended 50 games Monday in its intensive drug probe were linked by the same agency, plans to turn its attention to baseball agents, particularly Juan Carlos Nunez and the ACES agency.

It may be “turning its attention” to ACES, but there is nothing MLB can do about it.  Agents are sanctioned by the MLBPA, not Major League Baseball. The MLBPA has sole jurisdiction over agents and it has already said that there is no evidence that ACES was aware of or condoned Nunez’s behavior. There is no basis for discipline there and MLBPA will not be taking any. To say MLB is concerned about it is akin to saying MLB is concerned about the weather. It can talk about it all it wants, but it can’t do a thing about it.

Going forward, this story should be seen for what it is: agents trying to gain an advantage over ACES via attempts to leverage bad press. Which, as we noted yesterday, is par for the course for agents. All agents, always.  It’s like a sewing circle.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.