Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Brian Cashman wants to tear down and rebuild, the Yankees brass doesn’t

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The Yankees are seven and a half games out of first place in the AL East and five and a half back in the Wild Card. There are three teams ahead of them in the East, however, and seven teams ahead of them in the Wild Card hunt. Between that, their age and their injuries, it’d take a pretty optimistic sort to think that they’re truly contenders.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, there are two people who are optimistic: their owner, Hal Steinbrenner and their president Randy Levine. Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York says that they are the only two people in the organization who don’t want to sell at the deadline and rebuild while Brain Cashman and the baseball operations folks do:

According to a baseball source who spoke to ESPN on condition of anonymity, the opposing factions are composed of the baseball operations people, led by general manager Brian Cashman, who believe the team should sell off its assets and plan for the future, and the business side, which is led by owner Hal Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine, who hold to the belief that the club is still in contention.

“There’s only two people in the tri-state area who think this team is still a contender,” the source said. “Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine.”

Read that article even remotely closely and it sounds A LOT like Brian Cashman or someone very close to him is the “baseball source.” In that light this should be read as something aimed at pressuring Steinbrenner and Levine to allow the baseball folks to sell at the deadline.

To that end, Matthews details all that the Yankees would try to sell, according to his source, and it’s a pretty thorough list. Not just relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, as many have speculated, but also Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Ivan Nova, Nate Eovaldi and even Jacoby Ellsbury. Obviously a lot of those guys would be hard to move given their contracts, but it’s better to get something for them rather than nothing. As the Phillies showed last year, even a late rebuild can bring real talent back in return, and the Yankees have a lot of talent to offer contenders at the moment.

But they’ll have noting to sell if Steinbrenner and Levine remain stubborn and continue to cling to the old fiction that the Yankees must always be buyers and that they can perpetually contend. That’s simply a lie of the George Steinbrenner era that was more P.R. than reality. Personally, I’d listen to my experienced baseball operations department on this one. A baseball operations department which sounds like it really wants to sell off in the month of July and rebuild for the future.

Anti-aging clinic owner sues Major League Baseball, claiming it ruined his business

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That lawsuit we mentioned yesterday was filed today. The plaintiff is a former minor leaguer, former training academy owner and former anti-aging clinic owner, Neiman Nix. He sued Major League Baseball in New York today alleging that it and its investigators ruined his anti-aging and supplement business via heavy-handed and, in some cases, illegal acts in the course of the Biogenesis investigation.

Nix, who was a 29th round draft pick of the Reds in 1998 but whose career ended early due to arm injuries, operated a Florida anti-aging and supplement business called DNA Sports Labs. Nix says that during the Biogenesis investigation Major League Baseball’s investigators — including those who were subsequently fired following allegations of unprofessional and possibly illegal conduct — threatened him and his business with criminal charges, spread false allegations about him and his businesses and claimed to others to be DEA and FBI agents in the course of doing so. Nix says all of this was done with the knowledge of and at the direction of Rob Manfred, who led the investigation on behalf of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball.

Nix further claims that MLB investigators hacked into and/or caused the closure of his company’s social media accounts, YouTube account and PayPal, which he used as his primary mode of advertising and payment, forcing them to be taken down and his business to subsequently close. Finally, he claims that MLB investigators falsely accused him of selling performance-enhancing drugs to major league players, which harmed his reputation and ultimately ruined his business.

Nix’s complaint alleges that this was not the first time MLB has messed with him. Before opening DNA Labs, Nix owned a training facility for unsigned players in Clearwater, Florida. Nix claims that in 2011, at the prodding of a disgruntled former employee, MLB investigators falsely accused him of claiming to employ real major league scouts in order to lure clients to his academy. Once this lie spread, Nix claims, it caused his business to tank and he had to sell his controlling stake.

Nix previously sued Major League Baseball in Florida in 2014 under many of these same facts. Nix claimed that the attacks on his social media accounts — accomplished primarily by MLB investigators falsely informing YouTube, PayPal and other services on which DNA Labs depended that Nix was associated with Biogenesis — took place in retaliation for Nix filing the Florida suit. That lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice. You can read the entire suit at the embedded link below. I would not expect Major League Baseball to have any substantive comment on the suit, if indeed it does comment on it at all.

As for the merits: it’s hard to say based on just a complaint. These things always turn on the facts, and presenting actual evidence is not the purpose of a complaint. It’s worth noting, however, that Nix is not the first person to accuse Major League Baseball and its investigators of misconduct during the Biogensis investigation and, again, its lead investigators on the Biogenesis case were subsequently fired. Moreover, going back to the Mitchell Report, Major League Baseball has a history of closely associating itself with law enforcement and hiring former law enforcement officers in the course of what are, essentially, internal company investigations. It’s not crazy to assume, therefore, that at some point its investigators either created the impression that they were, in fact, members of law enforcement or allowed that impression to persist, much to their advantage. And, allegedly, in violation of the law.

The claims Nix asserts — tortious interference with business relationships — are often hard to win. But they’re not frivolous. The mud through which Major League Baseball trudged in order to nail Alex Rodriguez and the other ballplayers at the end of the Biogenesis investigation was pretty thick. It’s not at all shocking, therefore, that Major League Baseball is now accused of having a great deal of it on its shoes.

UPDATE: Major League Baseball has released a statement in response to the lawsuit:

“The lawsuit filed today by Neiman Nix against MLB repeats many of the same allegations he asserted in a Florida lawsuit that was dismissed in 2014. Mr. Nix’s new attorney, Vincent White, has in the past made outrageous claims about MLB. Mr. White’s purported source for this lawsuit is a disgruntled former MLB employee who was terminated for cause. Mr. White has been threatening to file this lawsuit for months in an attempt to coerce MLB into paying his client. MLB considers the allegations in this lawsuit, including the allegations relating to the hacking of DNA Sport Lab’s social media accounts, to be sanctionable under New York law. Other than noting that in Paragraph 40 of the Complaint Mr. Nix admits to selling products purportedly containing at least one banned performance-enhancing substance (IGF-1), MLB has no further comment on this frivolous lawsuit.”

Saying it’s “sanctionable” is a shot at the lawyer who filed it, saying that it was unethical for him to file the suit, not merely that the suit has no merit. That’s way beyonf the usual rhetoric you see. So buckle up, kids. This should be a bumpy ride.

Rougned Odor rejected a contract extension from the Rangers

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Jon Heyman reports that Rougned Odor rejected an extension from the Rangers that was worth about $35 million over six years with two options years.

Seems pretty wise rejection, as Odor’s stock has risen in his three seasons and will only become more valuable as he works through arbitration. Still, it was worth a shot, as Heyman notes, because that was roughly the same deal that Gregory Polanco signed with the Pirates in April and Polanco has the same agent. Heyman says, though, that Polanco and Odor have distinctly different tolerances for risk.

No rush for the Rangers though, either, as Odor is under control through 2020. It was worth an offer. It was understandable that the offer was rejected.