Yasiel Puig AP

Yasiel Puig called that team meeting last week, asked teammates for help to get better

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Narratives are a hell of a thing.

A guy pops on the scene as a bit of a showboat, ruffles some feathers and shows some immaturity and it’s so easy to put him in a box. He’s arrogant and entitled and doesn’t know how to Play The Game The Right Way. He needs to be tamed and taught and called on the carpet and if he doesn’t he’s gonna find himself outta baseball, etc.

And then he is called on the carpet by the team and, “well, doesn’t that just prove my point?” says the narrative-builders. “Maybe you shouldn’t accuse us of building false narratives after all, you unconnected fans and bloggers and stuff.”

That’s what happened with Yasiel Puig last week, we were told. We were told that Don Mattingly finally had enough of Puig’s immaturity and that Mattingly and Puig’s teammates held nothing short of an intervention to get him on the right track. “That does NOT happen with players who aren’t epic jackwagons, son, as those of us who live in baseball clubhouses can tell you. It proves there was a huge problem and that this kid is on thin frickin’ ice.”

Except:

And lest you think this is spin by Colletti to protect a player, I have independently confirmed that Puig called the meeting from a source familiar with the meeting and what led to it.

Huh. I wonder what the media would have said if Bryce Harper had called a team meeting in which he asked his teammates how to get better? Or if a player who had a track record of messing up did so. Might they not be lauded for their maturity? As someone who is taking responsibility for his future and his actions? Someone who respects his veteran teammates and wants to get better so the team can get better? I feel like that’s how that story would have played out.

Or, in any event, that’s how it would have played out if anyone had taken the time to find out what led to the meeting rather than assume it was a disciplinary, Come-To-Jesus sort of thing for a hot-blooded, Rolls-Royce driving showboat. But that never would’ve happened, I suppose, given that no one treats Yasiel Puig any differently than any other player. Perish the thought.

Regardless of what anyone in the media would’ve said about that, however, I’ll say this: Yasiel Puig calling a team meeting for the express purpose of asking his manager, coaches and veteran teammates to help him get better is a remarkably brave and mature thing to do. And anyone who wishes to weigh in on the alleged immaturity and recklessness of Yasiel Puig had best take this into account going forward. Because he is not playing by your narratives.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.