MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

Police report: Major League Baseball knowingly bought stolen documents

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The Boca Raton police say that Major League Baseball ignored repeated warnings that the records they sought in the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis investigation had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them. They did it anyway. And that even though no MLB investigators were ultimately charged in the theft, there is “evidence of involvement” by MLB investigators in the theft of the documents. All of this is detailed in the police report obtained by Newsday and published last night.

We’ve known the broad strokes of all of this for some time: Former Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer had a fallout with Anthony Bosch. Fischer then obtained the documents which fueled the original Biogenesis news in the Miami New Times and upon which Major League Baseball relied to get evidence against Alex Rodriguez. However, Fischer stopped cooperating with MLB before they could get the documents from him. Then the documents were stolen from Fischer. Then Major League Baseball got the documents from someone else.

That someone else is a man named Gary Jones, who sold MLB the documents. Jones’ good friend is a man named Reginald St. Fleur, who was ultimately arrested for the break-in of Fischer’s car. You don’t have to be a genius to see what happened here: MLB knew the documents it was buying from Jones were the same ones stolen from Fischer. Sure, Major League Baseball has repeatedly denied that, but the Boca Raton police don’t buy that at all:

Major League Baseball ignored repeated warnings that records they sought in the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis scandal had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them, according to Florida investigators and an April police report obtained by Newsday . . . Det. Terrence Payne wrote in his report that there was also “evidence of involvement” by “several MLB investigators” and three other men — two brothers from Long Island and a felon whom MLB paid $125,000 in exchange for the stolen records.

MLB continues as of Friday to deny any knowledge that the documents they purchased were stolen. This despite the fact that (a) they recently fired the investigators involved in all of this; and (b) despite being warned by police beforehand that the documents were stolen:

Sandra Boonenberg, a spokeswoman for the Boca Raton Police Department, stated unequivocally that a Florida investigator “warned MLB not to purchase the documents” and that the investigator told their detective about that conversation “before the documents were purchased” by MLB.

I have no doubt that sportswriters, fans and various major league players will come forward and claim that they don’t care about any of this and that it was worth getting Alex Rodriguez at any cost. The irony of this, of course, is that in doing so they are essentially endorsing criminal conduct by Major League Baseball employees as a means punishing A-Rod for crossing an ethical line.

Personally: I find a guy possibly getting away with taking some testosterone and HGH against company rules to be less of a problem than a felony. Maybe that’s just me being a crazy, cheater-loving apologist again. Maybe that’s just me being a contrarian and looking for any excuse to lay into sportswriters and other people who disagree with me on this stuff.

But maybe it’s also possible that MLB was the worse actor than A-Rod here and their pursuit of him was literally criminally overzealous. Maybe, rather than arguing, as so many have, that Bud Selig’s suspension of Alex Rodriguez was a vindication of MLB’s anti-drug policies, it should be acknowledged that it was pretty disgraceful.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.