Some serious high road avoidance was taken by Thom Loverro of the Washington Times earlier this week. In his column he basically decided to call former National Michael Morse stupid:
Michael Morse wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box in the Washington Nationals clubhouse when he was here. Nice guy, good for some laughs, but if the clubhouse ever had to show up for a collective IQ test, let’s just say it would be a good time for Morse to take one of his many trips to the disabled list.
Why does he get called dumb? Because Morse reiterated his displeasure at the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg two years ago. And, apparently, because Morse said nice things about the fans in San Francisco compared to the fans in Washington.
Obviously people have different opinions about the Strasburg thing, but I don’t think it’s a matter of intelligence like Loverro says it is. No matter what you may have done in that situation, there is no set of hard facts or evidence that suggests you were 100% correct. Personally I’d love to have pitched Strasburg in the playoffs, but I have no guarantee that’d he’d do better or that he wouldn’t have hurt himself. Loverro thinks differently and thinks anyone who disagrees with him is a dolt. He has no definitive evidence to support his case either.
But more than just classless for calling Morse dumb, Loverro’s column is plain wrong too. He says the Nationals are better off without Morse. This despite Morse putting up way better numbers playing mostly left field than the Nats’ primary left fielder in Bryce Harper’s absence — Nate McLouth — has. And Adam LaRoche missed time at first too. Think having Morse cover for those two might have been a good thing for the Nats?
Just a weird bitter column written, apparently, as a sop to those fans who took personal offense to Morse not saying Nats fans were the best ever. Which is a really silly basis on which to waste column inches.
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
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.