Alex Rodriguez

In which a reporter cites herself as evidence that A-Rod is awful


Back in 2007 Selena Roberts, then of the New York Times, wrote a story portraying Alex Rodriguez as a slum lord. I criticized that pretty thoroughly, not so much for the facts reported, but for what was clearly agenda-driven reporting and overheated rhetoric that was obviously designed to put Rodriguez in the worst possible light based on the thinnest possible evidence.

A couple of years later Roberts wrote a book about A-Rod that took much the same tack. The reporting of facts which, in and of themselves, were difficult to question due to their heavy reliance on hearsay and anonymous sources, but which were nonetheless accompanied by sweeping character judgments that were totally unwarranted and unsupported by those facts, even if true.

One person saw A-Rod leave a light tip? A-Rod is cheap. A few residents complain about poor upkeep on apartments owned by a company in which A-Rod has an interest? A-Rod is a slum lord. A-Rod admits to taking PEDs? A-Rod is the worst cheater baseball has ever known.  I noted my skepticism then as well, arguing that, in her highest profile work, Roberts has been shown to retreat to character assassination whenever she can. And A-Rod is not the highest profile example of her taking that tack.

The upshot? Whatever her merits as a reporter, in no way am I ever going to give Roberts the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her editorial voice, because she has shown to be irresponsible in the extreme when it comes to drawing conclusions from a set of (often limited) facts presented. And in no way should anything I say on the matter of A-Rod serve as evidence bolstering her world view of the guy.

Against that backdrop, Roberts has a post over at Sports on Earth today in which she speculates about Alex Rodriguez’s financial health given his looming suspension, legal fees, etc.  In the post she revisits the slum lord meme:

“Being a landlord — or a slumlord, as Rodriguez has been called in headlines –– isn’t a winnable position for anyone …”

That link? To my own post at HardballTalk in which I specifically call out Roberts for irresponsibly tossing the slum lord accusation around in the past. In other words: she is citing herself as evidence that people are calling out A-Rod as a slum lord in the headlines.

Of course, she also spends much of that article citing examples of A-Rod’s quite savvy financial decisions — following Warren Buffet’s advice, diversifying investments, downsizing his real estate holdings — as evidence that maybe A-Rod is going broke, so it’s pretty clear she’s still pathological when it comes to the subject of Alex Rodriguez. If there are multiple ways to interpret his actions they will be interpreted as either evil or stupid, full stop. It’s the only way she knows how to understand the guy.

Maybe A-Rod is a slum lord. Maybe he is going broke. Maybe he is the worst cheater the sport has ever seen. But don’t take whatever Roberts has to say about it as evidence, because she’s perhaps the most startling example of A-Rod Derangement Syndrome in recorded history.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.