Wait, someone has evidence that Rafael Palmeiro really was clean and is unwilling to do anything about it?

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John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus has a Hall of Fame vote and has published a Hall of Fame column, and boy howdy does it have an interesting passage in it regarding Rafael Palmeiro, for whom he is voting:

Rafael Palmeiro: An extremely reliable source—with no ties to Palmeiro—told me an off-the-record story at the Winter Meetings that convinced me that Palmeiro was indeed a clean player and was tricked into using the steroid when he thought he was taking a shot of vitamin B-12 that led to his suspension and end of his career in 2005. Unfortunately, there would be too many legal ramifications to make the story public.

“Legal ramifications?” That’s … interesting. Normally I’d dismiss such stuff out of hand because it’s all so he-said, she-said sounding. But it is probably worth noting that, in Maryland, where Palmeiro was playing at the time of his positive PED test, there is no statute of limitations for felonies so, yes, someone may very well be worried about legal ramifications for assault or whatever you could think to classify drugging someone without their knowledge or consent.

Not that I’m prepared to actually buy this. After all, are we truly to believe that Rafael Palmeiro possesses convincing evidence that one of his teammates (or trainers or whoever) doped him, ending his career, ruining his legacy and putting him at risk of criminal prosecution for lying to Congress and yet Palmeiro is unwilling to say anything about it publicly? The man has became a disgrace and a laughingstock as a result of that positive test. The poster boy for lying cheaters, thanks to that finger-wag while under oath.  Is it reasonable, then, to assume that he has no incentive to clear his name with the convincing story Perrotto was told? He’s worried about someone getting in some relatively minor criminal trouble and is willing to wear the goat horns the rest of his life because of it?

Or I suppose maybe he doesn’t know. In that case, there is apparently someone working in baseball — the guy was at the Winter Meetings after all — with evidence that would clear Palmeiro’s name, yet rather than bring it to anyone’s attention who could do something about it, is simply telling to baseball writers, off the record, over drinks at the lobby bar in the Opryland Hotel. What kind of a person is that?

I don’t know. It all sounds like far-fetched bar talk. I can say this much, though: if there is any truth to this, it brings us back to the old dynamic of the PED story in baseball: people, including writers, knowing what’s really going on, yet no one being all that interested in exposing it. How very shameful. And, in some ways, how very appropriate.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”