Not a fan of Chris Russo on MLB Network. For whatever charms the “scream at everything” approach has on talk radio — not my cup of tea, but it is an established style in that medium, for better or worse — it’s beyond assaulting on TV. Really, unwatchable. Which stinks, because I generally like the product MLB Network puts on the air. While we may quibble with the analysis of any number of their personalities, the content itself is not hostile. At least you can take Kevin Millar in without feeling assaulted. Russo has some good points occasionally I’d presume, but you’d never know it because your ears are constantly bleeding.
If you feel the same way, you’ll enjoy this story from DC Sports Bog about a little dustup between Russo and Nationals radio play-by-play guy Charlie Slowes. Slowes stumbled slightly on a home run call the other night — a tough “did-he-catch-it-or-not” thing which was quickly corrected — and Russo totally ripped him for it on his show. Even worse, he did it while Slowes was waiting to go on another MLB Network show, which meant he got to hear himself being insulted in his ear piece. As is the case with everything else with Russo, it was bad in form and content.
Slowes went on local radio to talk about it and ripped Russo for his “hysterical illiterate screaming.” Which, sure, you may not like little spats like this, but it’s hard to disagree with a word Slowes had to say.
And with that, you can go on continuing to ignore Mad Dog Russo. Or at least I hope you can. Because the quicker we all do, the quicker MLB Network gets wise and puts on someone who actually can carry on a conversation or some commentary like an adult human being.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.