The New York Times story we linked this morning reported that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for a stimulant in 2006. That information is not supposed to be released to anyone and, as such, A-Rod’s attorneys have filed a complaint with the arbitrator in the pending appeal of his 211-game suspension objecting to the disclosure.
For its part, Major League Baseball denies that it leaked it. This comment in the New York Daily News makes little sense, however:
It would seem unlikely that MLB would leak that information, according to a source familiar with the alleged positive test.
“All it would do,” said the source, “is make it look to the arbitrator like baseball is desperate to out Rodriguez. Why would they do that?”
How about: because baseball has fought the P.R. war just as hard as A-Rod has, and part of that P.R. war is in painting A-Rod as a long-term scofflaw of Major League Baseball’s drug rules? Indeed, just three freaking days ago, Rob Manfred said this:
“Mr. Rodriguez’s use of PEDs was longer and more pervasive than any other player . . . ”
If that’s your case — and it clearly is part of MLB’s case — why wouldn’t you leak stuff about A-Rod’s drug use being long and pervasive? It’s in complete lockstep with your theory. A theory which you have been trying to get out to the public for quite a while now.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP