Craig Calcaterra

say no to drugs

Twins minor leaguer Reynaldo Rodriguez suspended 80 games

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Police blotter time:

Major League Baseball announced today that Minnesota Twins Minor League outfielder Reynaldo Rodriguez has received an 80-game suspension without pay following a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol — man, the retro ‘roids trend continues! — a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Rodriguez, who plays in Triple-A, is almost 30 and has been in the minors for ten years, so it’s not like this is impacting the big club much. It says a lot, however, about how hard someone will try to make that last chance leap from the minors to the bigs and even part of a big league payday.

Brewers place Scooter Gennett on the 15-day disabled list

Scooter Gennett Brewers
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Not gonna say that it’s a slow news day, but I will say that if it were a faster news day I wouldn’t be writing about the Milwaukee Brewers putting second baseman Scooter Gennett on the 15-day disabled list with right oblique tightness. But I just did, so draw your conclusions accordingly.

Gennett was a late scratch from Tuesday after experiencing pain in batting practice. Which, given what happened to Huston Street doing warmup tosses, is just further evidence that being prepared is overrated. Just get out there and do your thing, man.

The Brewers replaced Gennett on the 25-man roster by calling up infielder Hernan Perez. I’m sure he’s under strict orders not to stretch or warm up in any way whatsoever.

Maikel Franco, four other players sell stock in their future earnings

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco (7) throws to first base for a force out of Cincinnati Reds shortstop Eugenio Suarez during the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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Last year, Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney became the first Major League Baseball player to sign a contract with a company called Fantex. Fantex’s business: selling stock, more or less, in atheltes’ future earnings. The company paid Heaney — who was making the major league minimum at the time — $3.34 million in exchange for a 10% stake in Heaney’s future “brand income.” Investors could then buy shares of a stock from Fantex linked to Heaney’s future earnings.

Yesterday, Fantex announced a handful of new indexed players: Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey and Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte.

As I wrote when Heaney did this last year, these deals work like an insurance policy that pays out now. At the moment these guys don’t make a ton of money and if they get hurt or flame out it’s a nice way to secure their future. If they do flame out and get highly-paid, sure, it’s gonna cost them a bit. A gamble, then, just as a lot of financial decisions athletes make are gambles.

Comment of the Day: A Neil Walker Limerick

New York Mets' Neil Walker, right, and Travis d'Arnaud celebrate after Walker's home run off Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brett Oberholtzer during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in Philadelphia. New York won 11-1. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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Neil Walker is having a great start to the season for the Mets. He’s hit nine homers and put to rest any worry Mets fans may have had after letting Daniel Murphy walk to a division rival.

This morning, in the comments, reader NYGF offered this ode to Walker and his early season exploits. Line four, for those who don’t know, is a reference to this story from a couple of years back:

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.42.25 AM

Bravo. Maybe some edits for purposes of improving the meter, but a solid, solid effort, especially so early in the morning.

Fredi Gonzalez is a dead man walking

Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez talks with the media before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Washington. Braves outfielder Hector Olivera was placed on paid administrative leave by Major League Baseball after he was arrested when a woman accused him of assault at a hotel outside Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is in a bad position. His team is terrible. It was designed to be terrible and there is no hope that it won’t be terrible for the rest of the year. He’s likewise a lame duck and the organization has made no secret of the fact that next year, with the new stadium, will come a new beginning of some kind. The odds of him managing the Braves on Opening Day 2017 are zero and have been for a while.

The question, then, was always going to be how long he lasts. Given the Braves’ awful start it seems pretty clear that “until the end of the season” is not a reasonable guess either. Now it’s just a matter of when. Here’s a pretty good sign that “when” will be “in the next week and maybe even before the weekend”

You can click through to the column and get the straightforward and reasonable answer about it being time to make a change and how this isn’t Fredi’s fault but, hey, teams that go through this fire managers and thus Fredi will be fired and should be.

But the key thing here is that the column was written at all. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution folks have a pretty good relationship with the Braves’ front office. They’re not house organs or anything, but they’re plugged in and, when something is suggested to them from the front office, they tend to run with it in less critical ways than their counterparts in some other cities might. Based on my reading of AJC coverage of this team for the past 20 years or so, that Bradley is writing this column strongly suggests to me that someone with the Braves said to him “you know, it wouldn’t make you look dumb to write a fire Fredi column,” or something to that effect.

As for firing Gonzalez, yeah, he’d be a scapegoat. But it’s not like he’d be some uniquely wronged scapegoat. Like I said, managers in his position are almost always fired, even if the roster was dead on arrival and even if the record is not his fault. And to be sure, it’s not like Gonzalez was some amazing manager to begin with. Back when the team had an actually good roster he didn’t cover himself in glory managing it. Notably, he had the confidence of the front office then. Notably, no one who writes for the AJC was calling for his firing when he was squandering the Braves’ assets.

Regardless, I take this as a strong sign that Fredi is gone, maybe as soon as today, but if I was putting money on it I’d say no later than a week from today, when they have an off day just before beginning a homestand.