With Marlins selling, is Josh Johnson long for Miami?

12 Comments

There’s no real reason for the Marlins to stop with Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. With Ozzie Guillen’s team deciding to sell, there should be several more attractive players available:

RHP Josh Johnson: Miami’s ace has stayed healthy this year, but he hasn’t pitched like a top-of-the-rotation starter with his 4.35 ERA in 19 starts. At the same time, his peripherals aren’t bad: he has a 96/35 K/BB ratio and he’s allowed just seven homers in 113 2/3 innings. He’s due $13.5 million next year before he becomes a free agent, so some of the fringe contenders also looking ahead to 2013 should be interested.

RHP Carlos Zambrano: Zambrano seems happy in Miami, and he’s been effective enough that the Marlins could look to sign him to a modest extension before trading him. If he’s not interested, then send him away, too. He’s a free agent at season’s end, and he’s not going to bring back draft pick compensation. He probably won’t fetch more than a couple of lesser prospects.

RHP Ricky Nolasco: Nolasco appears to be well on his way to posting an ERA in the mid-4.00s for the third straight year, and the Marlins should be able to do better for his $11.5 million salary in 2013. Like Zambrano, he probably wouldn’t net much of a return. Still, the fact that he’s durable and can eat innings would make him an upgrade for a few teams.

3B/SS Hanley Ramirez: If the Marlins decide it’s worth blowing things up, then Ramirez is the logical place to start. He’ll make $31.5 million between 2013-14, and while he has the potential to be a bargain even that steep price, he hasn’t produced like a $15 million-per-year player the last two seasons. A change of scenery might be best for all concerned.

Role players: 1B Carlos Lee, OF Austin Kearns, INF/OF Greg Dobbs, OF Chris Coghlan, RP Edward Mujica, RP Randy Choate. All should be available. One wonders if Lee would have gone to the Dodgers if he had it to do all over again.

Astros owner Jim Crane says MLB ‘explicitly exonerated’ him

Jim Crane
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
5 Comments

Even during a pandemic, the Astros can’t seem to avoid putting their foot in their mouth. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing on Monday that Major League Baseball “explicitly exonerated” him in the club’s 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in a now-tainted championship.

Crane is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former pitcher Mike Bolsinger, whose last appearance in the majors was on August 4, 2017 against the Astros. He faced eight batters, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks in one-third of an inning. Bolsinger accused the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations arising out of the sign-stealing scandal. Bolsinger is seeking damages for himself as well as for the Astros to forfeit the nearly $31 million in bonuses earned from winning the championship in 2017, asking for the money to be reallocated to children’s charities and retired players in need of financial assistance.

Commissioner Rob Manfred did not use the word “exonerated” in his report on the league’s investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme. Manfred did, however, write, “At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”

Saying that the league found “no evidence” that Crane was involved and patting Crane on the back for not obstructing the investigation is not the same was “explicitly exonerating” him. The Athletic asked MLB if it agreed with Crane’s characterization of the report. Rather than agreeing with Crane, the league simply said, “All of our comments about the investigation are included in the report.”

This isn’t the first legal filing in which the Astros made a questionable claim. Recently, Astros lawyers claimed the organization expressed “sincere apologies and remorse for the events described in the report by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.”

In Monday’s filing, Astros lawyers swung at Bolsinger, citing his poor pitching performance overall in 2017. They wrote, “Plaintiff wants to have a California judge and jury literally call ball and strikes, and award him money damages based on rank conjecture about what might have happened to him in Houston on August 4, 2017 due to alleged rules violations he speculates may have occurred that day.”

Astros lawyers also questioned the frequency of the club’s cheating and its impact, writing, “Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field. The MLB did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Astros fan Tony Adams, who analyzed every home game during the 2017 regular season and posted the results on SignStealingScandal.com, found that there were 54 “bangs” on August 4 when Bolsinger pitched against the Astros. That was the highest total among all Astros home games that season. Bolsinger entered in the middle of the fourth inning, first facing Yuli Gurriel. Adams found three bangs — all on curve balls — in a plate appearance that ended in a walk. Adams found four more bangs — all on breaking balls — in a Brian McCann at-bat later that inning that also ended in a walk. Bolsinger then gave up a single to Tyler White, with trash can banging on a cut fastball and a curve. The next batter, Jake Marisnick, singled as well, hearing bangs on a cutter and a curve. Bolsinger finally got out of the inning when Bregman swung at a first-pitch curve (yes, there was a trash can bang for that) and flied out.

Importantly, Bolsinger’s lawyer notes that Crane’s motion makes MLB eligible for discovery. It is already eligible for discovery in New York federal court where the league is a defendant in a lawsuit brought by daily fantasy sports contestants. Bolsinger’s lawsuit is brought out of California state court. The Astros want Bolsinger’s lawsuit dismissed or at least moved to Texas.

Because the Astros can’t seem to stop making headlines for all the wrong reasons, this whole situation figures to get even more wild as time goes on. Due to discovery, we may end up learning even more about the Astros’ cheating ways than the league may have let on in their report on their investigation.