“You should be rewarding Roger Clemens, not prosecuting him”

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If you looked at that headline and guessed “things Roger Clemens’ lawyer said during closing arguments today,” well, you’re correct. Which, while a little over the top, isn’t terribly surprising. The defense attorney is always going to paint his client as virtuous and the opposition as evil.

Which is why it was rather strange to hear the prosecutor, in his closing argument, kind of going after Andy Pettitte, basically calling him a liar despite the fact that Pettitte was a prosecution witness.  And boy, that does seem like a long time ago when that happened, doesn’t it?

Ken Davidoff has all of the details from the closings. As expected, it was a lot of the defense calling Brian McNamee a liar and the prosecution telling the jury to use their common sense. Which is what it all boils down to: do they ignore McNamee’s clear credibility problems and convict Clemens because Occam’s Razor suggests that, yes, he did take PEDs, or do they ignore the Occam’s Razor explanation and acquit because the credibility of the person suggesting it is fatally flawed?

And when they do it, are they going to remember to put their finger on the scale in favor of the defense because of the prosecutor’s burden of proof?

We’ll likely find out this week, as the jury gets the case starting today.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.