The investigation into Charlie Samuels takes another interesting turn

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More details have emerged regarding the gambling investigation into Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels. And while I acknowledge that some of the following may be pretty innocent in nature, it doesn’t make them any less curious under the circumstances.

Per the New York Daily News:

According to law enforcement sources close to the probe being conducted by the Queens DA’s office and the NYPD’s Organized Crime and Control Bureau, the probe has revealed that Samuels:

* Received a $50,000 tip from outfielder Jeff Francoeur before Francoeur left the Mets for the World Series-bound Rangers earlier this season;

* Provided Francisco Rodriguez with a place to stay in his home after the closer was ordered by a Queens judge to stay away from his common-law wife following an altercation with her father at Citi Field in August.

* Once received a new Lexus from Mike Piazza, whose father had lost a bet to Samuels on how much weight the elder Piazza could lose.

I have never worked in an MLB locker room, but I would imagine that expensive gifts aren’t something out of the ordinary. As much as we needle Jeff Francoeur here, it would be unfair to jump to conclusions. The most curious part, at least to me, is that Francisco Rodriguez was so down on his luck that he had to shack up with the clubhouse manager. This is a multi-million dollar athlete we’re dealing with here, not Samuel’s cubicle-mate. Just plain odd.

Does any of this mean that Rodriguez was involved in any wrong-doing? Of course not. In fact, sources told the Daily News that Rodriguez is not part of the probe and that there is “no evidence so far that K-Rod did anything wrong, no gambling or anything else.” Still, when you are this close to this many players for so long, the extent of those past relationships will be thoroughly investigated. Just part of the process.

Hey, at least give the Mets credit for consistency. Whenever a story first surfaces about them, it’s just the appetizer for the main course of craziness.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?