As the ace starter for back-to-back College World Series champion South Carolina, Michael Roth was a big name in the college baseball world before being drafted by the Angels last year. A big enough name to make him a catfishing victim, it turns out.
Roth told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times about his experience, which started with a text message from someone in the summer of 2010:
That started a stream of flattering texts and alluring phone calls from a woman Roth never had met, including the requisite visits that inevitably were canceled at the last minute.
Roth said he sensed something fishy within a few weeks. He played along for a year, in the process discovering that three of his college teammates also had been in touch with the same woman, who claimed her name was Hope Porter.
Roth apparently never figured out the real source behind the Porter identity, and he’s long since moved on. He also indicated that while he does feel some sympathy for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, he feels Te’o was pretty gullible for letting it go so far.
The 23-year-old Roth was the Angels’ ninth-round pick in last year’s draft. While he was an excellent college pitcher, pro scouts didn’t think too highly of his stuff and he’s viewed as a long shot to reach the majors and stick.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.