Impolite or not, A-Rod’s “attack” on Michael Weiner is not out-of-bounds

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When Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit against the MLBPA came to light yesterday, immediate attention went to the allegations that the union and its late Executive Director, Michael Weiner, did not properly defend Alex Rodriguez’s interests. Initially there was surprise, but that surprise is now turning into scorn, as if A-Rod is somehow going after the character and integrity of Weiner. And, what’s more, that it is somehow the lowest of low rent moves due to Weiner’s recent death.

Stuff like this from the New York Post, which implies that his allegations against Weiner are “shocking” and make quick mention of his recent death to imply that they are likewise in poor taste. Stuff like this tweet from Jeff Passan and a couple of references in the linked story invoking Weiner’s death, suggesting that A-Rod’s suit against the union is all the worse — and that A-Rod himself is somehow worse — because the allegations come after his passing.

I’ll state at the outset that there is no one in baseball’s management/executive structure that I have greater respect for than Michael Weiner. The way he went about his job, his success at his job and everything I ever learned about him from people who knew him well suggests that he was a wonderful, honorable man. I’ll further state that, while I may have approached things differently if I were Weiner or MLBPA here, I don’t feel as if A-Rod is going to have a lot of success in his suit against the union and that his claims of it and Weiner’s alleged mistakes are overstated and, legally speaking, are likely insufficient to get him anywhere.

But with that said, I think it’s a but much to go after A-Rod and his lawyer as if they are ghouls here.  Nowhere in the complaint or in their public statements are they attempting to impugn Weiner’s character or worth as a person and nowhere do they reference his health or any other personal matter. They reference his public acts as the Executive Director of the union and take issue with those acts done in his official capacity. This may upset some who remember Weiner fondly and/or who think negatively of A-Rod (i.e. just about everyone) but the allegations are the only way possible to assert claims against the union, which he has a legal right to do and, depending on your view of the results of this case, an obligation to do.

I get that A-Rod is a pariah, but that doesn’t mean he has to forfeit legal arguments available to him. I get that Michael Weiner was a wonderful person, but that doesn’t make him immune from criticism in his official capacity.  To suggest otherwise is evidence of emotional baggage being brought into the matter at the very least and could very well be construed as emotionally manipulative.

However understandable the impulse for such things are, they really don’t have a place in this conversation.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.