Former Roger Clemens Teammate Andy Pettitte Appears At His Perjury Trial

Andy Pettitte to be deposed in Brian McNamee’s defamation suit against Roger Clemens

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What, you thought this ended last year? Ha! Justice can move slowly in the criminal justice system, but it crawls like an injured sloth in the civil justice system. And that’s the system through which Roger Clemens’ former trainer — Brian McNamme — finds himself as he sues Clemens for defamation arising out of the events of early 2008.

You remember early 2008, don’t you? The Mitchell Report came out and Roger Clemens was accused as a user. Rather than shrug and have it be the end of things like it was for Andy Pettitte and others, Clemens launched a bizarre and ill-advised media campaign against his chief accuser, Brian McNamee, during which he called McNamee all manner of not nice things, with “liar” being the least of ’em. This was all occasioned by weird press conferences and appearances on “60 Minutes” and flawed power point presentations and taped phone calls and congressional testimony and, ultimately, a perjury trial which Clemens escaped without criminal conviction but without much of his reputation left intact.

Pettitte has been key to all of this, of course. Pettitte told McNamee that Clemens said he used HGH. McNamee told Congress and prosecutors that Pettitte said this. Then Pettitte walked into a criminal trial and created all of the reasonable doubt Clemens needed when he said he was only “50/50” as to whether Clemens ever admitted anything. I’m sure the government was pleased with all of that. Of course, he didn’t exactly change his testimony — everyone said he did but he didn’t. Whatever you think of that, though, his testimony made life kinda hard for everyone.

Despite all of this, lawyers are still willing to call him to take an oath about all of this. He could testify as early as next week. I’ll be curious to hear if he is any more sure of Clemens’ statements now than he was last year or five years ago.

No matter what happens here, I’m still trying to figure out how Brian McNamee proves damages out of all of this. Irrespective of who was telling the truth and who was lying (for the record I figure Clemens was lying and McNamee telling the truth), how does a person show reputation damages via defamation when the only reason anyone knows who he is is because he was listed in the Mitchell Report as one of the most famous purveyors of steroids in the country? A drug dealer who also wrote an article in the New York times lying his butt off about steroids. A lying, op-ed writing drug dealer who also was tied up in an alleged date-rate-drug sexual assault in a pool about which he later lied to police? How does that damages case even look?

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; my client was once thought of as a lying, drug dealing perv. Then along came Roger Clemens, who told the whole world that my client had never given him drugs! He’s been ruined by this! Please, see to it that he compensated for the loss of his good name.”

In short: even if he proves the lie, how does he prove the reputation damages?

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.