Griffey hat on backwards

Please stop with the “Great Clean Hope” nonsense

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Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spends some time talking about A-Rod and then turns his attention to Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. was placed in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame on Saturday night. That was the perfect antidote to whatever A-Rod has wrought.

A lot of people may have forgotten how good Ken Griffey was. Maybe there are kids today who have no memory of his legacy. We can’t allow that to happen. Griffey was someone we can all believe in. I want everyone to remember every one of those 630 home runs Griffey hit, because they are the rare ones that were not fueled by a mad scientist’s illegal brew. Every one of them was hit with nothing more than the strength of Griffey’s pure natural abilities. This was all about his family’s rich baseball DNA.

And Burwell knows this, how exactly?

I don’t think Griffey juiced. I hope he didn’t. But I don’t know. And neither does Burwell. Indeed, as commenter cohnjusack demonstrated in the Albert Pujols defamation thread yesterday, one could make the common bullcrap/innuendo case against Griffey that has been made about all sorts of players over the years:  He hit 50 home runs multiple times in the 1990s and was threatening Roger Maris’ record;  he saw a large, sudden jump in home runs (27 to 45) over the course of a year; he became chronically injured; he got noticeably bigger, going from this to this. All of the pieces fit if you believe the stupid armchair PED “experts.”

The point here, though, is not that Griffey could have juiced — again, I doubt he did — but that it is beyond stupid and naive, at this late date, to play the “Great Clean Hope” card. To say “this one, this guy I loved, at least he never cheated!” game. We did before, after all, with current History’s Greatest Monster Alex Rodriguez. Remember this from the New York Times in 2006?

The cause of Bonds’s physical changes has been endlessly scrutinized; he has repeatedly denied knowingly using steroids, and baseball only began testing for them in 2003. The worst accusation against Rodriguez is that he bragged too much about his workouts in an interview last spring. Whatever people think of him personally, the legitimacy of Rodriguez’s performance has never been questioned … If he continues to avoid injury, the home run record could be his. If Bonds is the man whom Rodriguez is chasing, it is safe to say baseball will be rooting for him.

If we have learned anything in the past decade it’s that talking up ballplayers as ideals of virtue is idiotic. The only reason we do it is to better trash the other guys. And, I suppose, so that we feel morally justified in saying we were “betrayed” when the objects of our idolization later prove to have been fallible after all.

I would be disappointed if, say, we found out Griffey was on that list of 100 players who tested positive during the trial tests back in 2004. But then I’d move on pretty quickly. If you believe what Burwell does — that Griffey was pure despite not knowing that for a fact at all — you are bound to be betrayed and outraged. Why you want to do that to yourself is beyond me. But do realize that your’e doing it to yourself.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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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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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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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?