The A-Rod hearing resumes today

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I can’t decide if the resumption of the Alex Rodriguez hearing today means that we’ll hear less silly p.r. spin from the lawyers because they’ll be busy with substantive casework again or if it means we’ll hear more because, rather than seek out the media each day, they’ll have to walk by them as they go in and out of MLB’s offices for the hearing. Guess we’ll see!

Anyway, things do get going again today. As we’ve noted in recent days, a couple of the bigger issues A-Rod’s team is going to try to push are (a) the provenance of much of MLB’s evidence; and (b) putting Bud Selig on the stand.

The former issue involves MLB’s investigative methods. Specifically, whether it knowingly obtained stolen Biogenesis evidence to build its case and whether it used other underhanded and extreme tactics to gain the cooperation of witnesses. A-Rod’s lawyers are trying to tell a tale of an out-of-control MLB, hellbent on nailing A-Rod to a wall and willing to do anything to make it happen. MLB, of course, is saying it did nothing wrong. All of that is sexy. It’s quite possible, though, that none of it matters, as the the arbitrator may only concern himself with what evidence is in front of him, not whether it got to him via sleazy means.

As for Selig on the stand: it seems unlikely, but clearly A-Rod’s team would like to make the league sweat.

The hearings will last all week and through the weekend, with the arbitrator saying he wants it done before Thanksgiving. The ruling, however, may not come out until a month afterward.

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.