Jose Bautista is not too pleased with Buster Olney’s comments about Melky Cabrera

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The other day we saw Buster Olney say that, despite having zero evidence whatsoever that Melky Cabrera is using PEDs again, it’s totally cool to assume he is and to thus discount the nice season he’s having. Informing Olney’s thinking, no doubt, is his belief that players all assume that once a guy cheats he’s always a cheater.

Not all players, though. Jose Bautista — without putting too fine a point on calling out Olney — bats down his line of thinking in this article by Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star:

“What bothers me specifically about Melky’s situation is that he’s a free agent after the year and those type of comments can really affect his status as a free agent and his ability to negotiate,” Bautista said before playing the Phillies. “That story can get picked up by somebody else and it can get expanded and blown up into whatever they want, which could be detrimental to his negotiation . . .”

“ . . . It’s not my place to say what is right or wrong,” Bautista said. “I can tell you what my opinion is, not the general opinion of the (other MLB) players. I think if you did something wrong and you were caught and you pay your dues, that should be it. (Failing once) doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be doing something that’s illegal or not allowed.”

Bautista, of course, is quite familiar with being on the bad end of PED hysteria. When he hit 54 homers a couple of years ago there was this idea in the press that it was perfectly legitimate to assume he was taking something illegal and he was accused of such in quite similar terms to that which Olney used on Cabrera in his column the other day. The performance was unexpected so reporters decided that the most logical explanation for it was cheating.

Of course reporters can conclude whatever they’d like. That was Buster’s main argument, summed up with a pithy “All’s fair.” If they’re going to make conclusions that are also accusations, however, they should have some facts or evidence on their side first.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.