Ian O'Connor shoehorns steroids into last night's Yankees game

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Alex Rodriguez celebrates.jpgESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor on last night’s game-tying homer from Alex Rodriguez:

With the ball streaking like a comet across the black Bronx night,
making Yankee Stadium quake like the old place always did, Alex Rodriguez flipped his bat, shot a look-at-me-now stare into the home
dugout, and left this baffling question in his wake: Why
did he ever feel compelled to use “boli” in the first place?

Rodriguez
was never a slugger who needed to wage a war of back-room pharmacology.
Naturally big and fast, born with an innate ability to get the barrel
on the ball, A-Rod didn’t have to turn the game of big league baseball
into a battle of my underground chemist against yours.

Look, you can feel however you want about Alex Rodriguez and you’d be totally accurate to say that he broke the rules of baseball because he did. But if you’re going to take the “A-Rod is great and never needed steroids” line today, you probably need to walk your A-Rod “cheated the
game, cheated the fans and cheated himself” rebop
from two months ago back a little bit.

Why? Because saying in March that he was a “chemically-altered fraud” whose “steroid
stain will last forever” and saying in May that “see, he never really needed steroids after all” is a tad inconsistent. PEDs either helped him or they didn’t, and you don’t get to choose which one of those things you prefer to fit the story you’re writing on any particular day. If they did helped A-Rod as much as O’Connor said they did back in March, he pretty much has to accuse A-Rod of still doing them to support his
“A-Rod is teh awesome!” story.  If they didn’t, he pretty much has to admit that he was spewing baseless PED invective for the past several years.

Of course, I’m not going to hold my breath here waiting for Ian O’Connor to admit that maybe, just maybe, PEDs aren’t as bad as he usually likes to pretend they are. But I would ask that if he’s going write an otherwise fine story about an exciting ballgame he refrain from interjecting a totally beside the point and quite apparently inconsistent steroids narrative into the mix.

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.