Tacopina: A-Rod has not used any illegal PEDs since his 2009 confession

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Personally: I’d limit my defense of A-Rod to one centering on the disproportionate suspension he received rather than argue that he didn’t take any PEDs at all. Partially because of what the Biogenesis documents are reported to contain, partially because no one else associated with Biogenesis has claimed that they didn’t do it and partially because I don’t feel like I’d trust A-Rod enough to take his word for it.

Oh, also: I don’t feel like a lot of other people would buy it either. Better to err on the side of plausibility, yes?

Well, I’m not Joe Tacopina. And Mr. Tacopina is known to take bold stances. He’s doing so again:

Tacopina told CNN that Rodriguez had “absolutely not” taken illegal PEDs recently and challenged the notion that MLB possesses any evidence to the contrary.

As we’ve seen in the past, it’s possible to parse the term “illegal” in the phrase “illegal PEDs.” MLB bans lots of things, after all, that you, I or anyone else can go purchase at GNC or get from a physician. There’s also that whole bit about how stuff that is illegal here is not illegal in other countries. There’s also the fact that a lawyer saying something to CNN is different than actually arguing such a thing in an arbitration and that Tacopina has been all about the P.R. aspects of this case for some time.

Still, pretty interesting tack to take. As is some of the stuff in the linked article describing how this case is turning into a battle between MLB and A-Rod to portray the other as being sleazier in its efforts to obtain evidence.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.