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Will an A-Rod-fueled Yankees-run do “immeasurable harm” to the game?


Peter Gammons is one of the reasonable ones when it comes to PEDs and A-Rod and stuff. You’ll rarely if ever hear him going on about A-Rod being history’s greatest monster (Gammons actually likes Rodriguez). Maybe it’s smarts, maybe it’s experience, maybe it’s both, but Gammons tends to have some perspective about these things. He remembers ballplayers snorting cocaine and drinking and popping amphetamines and stuff and is among the last to say that the sky is falling.

Today’s Gammons column, then, does cause me to raise an eyebrow.  It’s a good column — he continues to engage in reason and doesn’t do what so many other columnists do and try to find the newest, freshest ways to make A-Rod out as Satan — but one passage does make me wonder. After noting that A-Rod is playing because he has earned his right of appeal, and noting that MLB probably dreads him in the postseason, Gammons says:

And if somehow he takes off on a month-long tear and heroically carries the Yankees into a one game post-season date with the Rangers, of all teams, he will have done immeasurable harm to the game that he plays so well, a game that provided him the stage he so embraces.

I agree that MLB will hate such a thing (at least when they aren’t paying attention to the TV ratings), but I disagree on the “harm to the game” part. If anything, I think A-Rod playing these past few weeks has done more to help the game than anything. No, not because A-Rod himself is helpful. That’s silly. But helpful because now he is a mere ballplayer. He’s not a symbol. He’s not a martyr. He’s not a monster. He’s not a source of day-in, day-out public scorn like he was over most of the summer. He’s just a ballplayer.

A ballplayer that can look bad at times. A ballplayer that has looked good at times. But a ballplayer who is, by necessity, subordinate to the game. No matter what he does, if the Yankees can’t get good pitching, his season is going to end in September. No matter how good the pitching is, if A-Rod gets hurt or struggles or shows that at 38 his bat just can’t get around on fastballs anymore, he will necessarily be humbled. Even if the Yankees do make an October run, it will be because of many moving parts and good fortune, not because of A-Rod.

We’ve made too much of sports heroes in the past, elevating them to such heights that they’re above the games they play. We’ve tended to do the same thing with sports villains too, making them out to be monsters who can destroy the games they play. Truth is, they can’t. The game will level it all out. Or make the heroes or villains anonymous in the way it is so good at doing.

No one is really talking about A-Rod now, even when he plays. That shows you that the game is just fine, thank you.

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.