New York Yankees Photo Day

Derek Jeter is not your anti-PEDs avatar

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I have zero reason to think that Derek Jeter ever used PEDs. I’d personally be surprised if he did. As would I assume most people. But I also think that his use or lack thereof, absent any actual information about it, is pretty irrelevant to our consideration of him as a player. There’s plenty there to consider about the guy. God knows we’ve done a lot of that here in the past 24 hours or so.

But there are some people for whom Jeter’s actual track record is not enough. Some people for whom Jeter must be used as an avatar to fight the dragons and demons with which they preoccupy themselves. Bob Klapisch, for example. Who spends about half of his Jeter appreciation column going after PED users in general and Alex Rodriguez specifically.

Not only has Jeter served as the billboard of the beautiful war with the Red Sox, he has stood for success without chemicals, without the PEDs that Alex Rodriguez became so hopelessly addicted to. . . That would be Jeter’s last laugh on the steroid junkies, outlasting them all, outperforming their beloved chemicals.

Last laugh for Jeter, or for you, Bob? Because I recall absolutely zero instances of Derek Jeter inserting himself into a leadership or example role in the PED conversation the way you’d cast him now. If he had strong feelings about it he kept them to himself, just as he’s kept everything of actual substance to himself over the years.

In recent years Jeter has said all the right things — broad things — about cheating being bad. But in the past he also said things about supporting his teammates like Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and, yes, Alex Rodriguez. At no time did he stand up in a union meeting in, say, 1999 and demand that the players submit to drug testing. He was like most other players who have not had PED suspicion about him: generally silent, but supportive of the way in which the conversation has progressed. He is not at all an outspoken leader like some other players. Rick Helling stood for success without chemicals, quite vocally. Jeter, as with most things, was cooler about it.

Which does absolutely nothing to diminish his standing as a player. The point is that all of that jabber like Klapisch brings up is beside the point. It is using Jeter as a means of fighting the battles he wants Jeter to fight for him, not for anything inherent in Jeter’s record or his legacy. It’s Klapisch’s way of trying to wrap up a morality play in which he is heavily invested with a nice happy ending. To use Jeter’s career as a referendum on people and things, frankly, Jeter probably cares very little about. Or, if he does, cares very little if you or I know about it.

Ultimately, using Jeter this way says a hell of a lot more about the people doing the using than it does about Derek Jeter.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America
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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.