Mike Lupica continues to show his legal expertise

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Today Mike Lupica writes about the A-Rod appeal. As my post from this morning suggests, I’m actually with him regarding how much of a clown show the protests outside of the arbitration have become. But of course Lupica can’t make one decent point and get off it. He has to use it as a new excuse to go after Rodriguez because that’s just what he does.

Except he does it in the dumbest ways possible.  Today he makes two arguments in furtherance of his “A-Rod is an awful monster” campaign. First, if A-Rod is so wronged, why has he not got on a witness stand and proclaimed his innocence?

Through it all, you keep waiting for Alex Rodriguez to be the one to tell you that the case against him is unjust and unfair, that he is an innocent man. Only he never says that, not even to the media, as if he’s under oath. He never says that, his handlers never say it, at least on the record. He just says he will tell his story at the appropriate time.

And you wonder what could possibly be a more appropriate time than at his own arbitration hearing!

You wonder why Alex Rodriguez doesn’t testify on his own behalf the absolute first chance he gets, proclaim his innocence so loudly that they can hear him downstairs on the street between the police barricades.

Any smart observer of this knows the answer to that: A-Rod’s defense is not one of innocence. It’s one of proportionality of punishment. That his suspension is too long compared to other similarly-situated offenders. And more than merely misrepresenting the defense in an effort to make A-Rod seem more disingenuous than he is, he misrepresents how the the arbitration works.  It does not require the player’s testimony. And no one with half a brain would go tell the media — which is what Lupica clearly wants — all about his case while it’s still pending either.

The second argument: if A-Rod has nothing to hide, why is his grand jury testimony from the Anthony Galea case still private, hmm?

You wonder about something else in this case, wonder if Rodriguez is so falsely accused, and such a victim of an MLB investigation his lawyers are flop-sweat desperate to put on trial, why did those same lawyers fight so hard in Buffalo to keep Rodriguez’s grand jury testimony in the federal case against Dr. Anthony Galea, Alex Rodriguez’s old doctor, the patron saint of human grown hormone, sealed from now until the end of time?

If there isn’t anything in Rodriguez’s grand jury testimony about his use of banned substances, if there isn’t anything in there that can hurt the guy, why are his lawyers so scared about it?

Let’s set aside the fact that A-Rod’s current legal team is not comprised of “those same lawyers” who represented him when he gave grand jury testimony in Buffalo. A-Rod hired Joe Tacopina and a different legal team since then, so here Lupica is smearing the wrong folks.

Instead, let’s focus on the fact that no lawyers are “fighting so hard” to keep A-Rod’s grand jury testimony sealed.  Grand jury testimony is sealed as a matter of course pursuant to federal law. The witness can say what he said in front of a grand jury but no one else privy to it can release it. If they do, they can go to jail. Some folks may be fighting so hard to unseal it, but it’s supposed to remain sealed. That’s how the law works.

But of course if you’re Lupica there’s no sense in understanding how grand juries work. To do so would prevent a great opportunity for grandstanding.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.