Read the letter Major League Baseball shouldn’t have sent to A-Rod’s attorney

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This morning on the Today Show, Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, reiterated his stance that he would “love nothing more” than to discuss the case against Alex Rodriguez, but can’t do so due to the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. He was then presented with a letter from Major League Baseball which offered to waive the confidentiality provisions. It made for some awkward moments for Tacopina and some fun TV at least.

The Wall Street Journal has a copy of the letter and reproduces it here. It’s from MLB’s Rob Manfred and it’s just as confrontational in prose as it was in its use on the Today Show. And having read it, I am even more of the view that Major League Baseball is being roped into a P.R. battle that it doesn’t need and probably shouldn’t want.

The only purpose of Manfred’s letter is to try to score some points on Tacopina and, by extension, Rodriguez, in the wake of Tacopina’s media offensive. That it came from Manfred and not legal counsel — which MLB should be using in its case against Rodriguez — is evidence of that.  It strikes me as a letter Manfred himself dashed off or dictated with a cackle. And he certainly got his intended response on TV today.

But what does this get the league? For as loud as it has been, A-Rod and Tacopina’s offensive hasn’t changed many minds. And it doesn’t change the evidence. And by delving into the fray like this, putting the Confidentiality provision in play, one wonders if it doesn’t potentially weaken claims MLB may have against A-Rod in the arbitration about his own efforts to publicize or leak information that should otherwise be confidential. Might Tacopina use this letter to argue that MLB doesn’t care about those rights? That it has waived them or is, at the very least, selective as to when it believes they are relevant?

It’s not much, but it’s more than a fighter like Tacopina needs to grab onto and start punching. And it’s just going to add to the circus and the mess which MLB seemed to so want to avoid when it set out to discipline the Biogenesis players.

Most lawyers would counsel their clients to avoid this sort of bomb-throwing. Is anyone counseling Major League Baseball to do that?

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.