Every week we get a story here or there in which Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer or someone from Major League Baseball fires a missile at the other side. Or some odd fact falls out that puts one side or the other in a bad light. I obsess about A-Rod and PED cases more than most people, but even my eyes have begun to glaze over at it all to some degree.
But if you have to read just one story about the performance enhancing drugs investigation and arbitration surrounding Alex Rodriguez, read this one from the New York Times which came out today. It’s a fantastic overview of it all and, more importantly, a fantastic read.
The story puts all of those drips and drabs in context, and talks about how desperate each side has been to paint the other as the real wrongdoers here. Some of the details from the story, some of which are new, some of which are older, some of which are surprising, some of which are not and all of which illuminate each side’s all-or-nothing approach to this case:
- Two baseball sources tell the Times that A-Rod failed a stimulant test in 2006 (players get suspended for a second positive). Which is a violation of the confidentiality of the drug-testing program;
- Unsatisfied with investigative efforts, Bud Selig hired a second set of investigators without telling M.L.B.’s in-house investigative unit;
- The pro-A-Rod protests by the group Hispanics Across America? Yeah, that group got a $100K donation. Anonymously, but with a stipulation that it be used to raise awareness of A-Rod’s plight;
- One witness who signed an affidavit saying he saw A-Rod injected has disputed its contents and says that MLB investigators have followed him and his family around. He was subpoenaed while entering a toy store in New York;
- Another witness — a former Biogenesis nurse — had a fling with an MLB investigator who was working on the case. A-Rod’s team paid her $100K for documentary evidence and access to her text messages. She claims she had no evidence about any baseball player using drugs;
- Baseball paid witnesses hundreds of thousands of dollars for evidence that may or may not have been stolen, and then A-Rod paid those same witnesses large amounts of money for evidence that the evidence was bought;
- Major League Baseball agreed to pay all of Anthony Bosch’s legal fees, travel expenses and to provide him personal security at a cost of $2,400 a day;
- A golf course employee may or may not have heard MLB’s Rob Manfred talking out of school about the case against A-Rod while playing a round. A-Rod’s people tried to get his story.
All of the stuff that is bad for baseball is denied by baseball. All of the stuff that is bad for A-Rod is denied by his people. Naturally.
And all of this stuff was inevitable given the stakes involved. You level a suspension on someone as big as the one baseball leveled on A-Rod, and he has no choice but to fight back with everything he can muster. And if someone is shooting at you, you have to shoot back at them. One wonders, though, whether all of this expense and vitriol could have been avoided if A-Rod was offered the same deal Ryan Braun got: a suspension that ended his 2013 season and let him start fresh in 2014.
Maybe MLB didn’t offer that because maybe A-Rod’s actions were far, far worse than anyone else’s. If so, though, they had better have the goods or all of this will have looked like a waste.
A free agent pitcher on the decline coming off of major surgery and still looking for work on February 12 isn’t exactly the definition of Big News. But as newspaper men have known for ages, if you make a bit of information sound cool enough, it becomes news.
Or, in some cases, you can make a lack of information sound cool. If you hear about a trade rumor but aren’t able to actually find out the identity of one of the teams, call it a “mystery team.” Oooh, isn’t that dramatic? Aren’t you privy to all kinds of intrigue! Or, how about this: that free agent on the decline is doing what scores of other ballplayers looking for work are doing and is working out in the Phoenix area, trying to catch on someplace. That’s kind of boring. And you don’t even know who he’s auditioning for or where to boot. Man, that’s not the sort of information that’s gonna be fun or interesting to report.
There. “Secret location.” THAT sounds exciting. THAT separates this bit of news from the dog-bites-man “baseball player playing baseball” non-story. *reporter cracks knuckles* “Now to sit back and wait for the plaudits for my amazing reporting skills to come rolling in.”
CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.
He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.
Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.
The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.
While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.
“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’
It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.
DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.
The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.
The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.