Joe Tacopina

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.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.