A-Rod’s lawyers file a complaint with the arbitrator over a leak to the New York Times

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The New York Times story we linked this morning reported that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for a stimulant in 2006. That information is not supposed to be released to anyone and, as such, A-Rod’s attorneys have filed a complaint with the arbitrator in the pending appeal of his 211-game suspension objecting to the disclosure.

For its part, Major League Baseball denies that it leaked it. This comment in the New York Daily News makes little sense, however:

It would seem unlikely that MLB would leak that information, according to a source familiar with the alleged positive test.

“All it would do,” said the source, “is make it look to the arbitrator like baseball is desperate to out Rodriguez. Why would they do that?”

How about: because baseball has fought the P.R. war just as hard as A-Rod has, and part of that P.R. war is in painting A-Rod as a long-term scofflaw of Major League Baseball’s drug rules? Indeed, just three freaking days ago, Rob Manfred said this:

“Mr. Rodriguez’s use of PEDs was longer and more pervasive than any other player . . . ”

If that’s your case — and it clearly is part of MLB’s case — why wouldn’t you leak stuff about A-Rod’s drug use being long and pervasive? It’s in complete lockstep with your theory. A theory which you have been trying to get out to the public for quite a while now.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.