Plaschke blames Manny's slump on steroid withdrawal

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The L.A. Times’ Bill Plaschke has been carving Manny Ramirez up since his PED suspension back in May, so you know he was just waiting for the right time to bring this kind of noise:

Something is wrong with Manny Ramirez. Something different than a hitch. Something more than a slump. 
Something is wrong here, something that might be lodged as deeply in
the head as in the hips, something that perhaps batting practice can’t
fix . . .

. . . Although the official explanations for his slump involve those habits,
and are technical and convoluted, those familiar with steroids quietly
submit one simple reason:

Ramirez trying to kill the ball to overcompensate for the fact that
he’s no longer juiced, attempting to show everyone that his previous
success was him and not steroids.

There are those who also wonder whether he is struggling with the loss
of that invincible feeling that steroids give hitters, a syndrome
commonly associated with those who are struggling to find themselves
after coming clean.

“Those familiar” with steroids submit one question?  “There are those” who wonder?  How on Earth do Plaschke’s editors allow him to hide behind that stuff?  He’s the only one in this article asking that question and wondering those things. He quotes no one, anonymous or otherwise.  This is quite obviously Bill Plaschke and Bill Plaschke alone making such an accusation, yet he he’s not willing to simply say it without couching it as the accusations of others.

Why? Probably because he’s a writer who knows absolutely nothing about what causes or ends slumps, be they by ex-PED users or otherwise.  He wants to make Ramirez the goat of this Dodgers’ team, and he wants to continue to slam him for his PED use despite the fact that everyone else has moved on.  But hey, if he can marry a slump to the ‘roids, it’s a current story that accomplishes both of his goals.

Put differently, it’s hack work.  But then again, it’s Bill Plaschke, so what else did you expect?

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.