What in the heck is A-Rod doing?

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Watching another afternoon train wreck involving Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, I feel like it’s worth remembering two things:

1. Alex Rodriguez could have used PEDs like crazy, but still not have deserved a 211-game suspension; and

2. Bud Selig can have it in for A-Rod — could wish to see him burn at a stake as punishment for everyone else’s sins — yet still not be outside of his authority in suspending A-Rod.

We forget that as we spring to the defense of one side or another. Or, more often, as we spring to scorn one side or the other. But the fact is that each side is speaking some truth and each side is peddling baloney.

My personal view is that Major League Baseball overreached pretty severely in the penalty it leveled, and that a straightforward attack of that penalty as excessive by Alex Rodriguez and his legal team would serve as the best way for them to prevail. They still may do that. The arbitrator may be able to tune out all of this noise and focus solely on whether the punishment fits the crime, concluding that no, it doesn’t. If that happens, A-Rod could get a 50-game suspension, maybe. Or maybe nothing if MLB’s evidence and investigation is viewed as flawed or infirm.

But I also believe that A-Rod and Joe Tacopina are taking a gigantic risk in making this arbitration about Bud Selig personally and some vendetta against A-Rod in general. They risk alienating the arbitrator. They risk having a proportionality-of-punishment case lost in the noise. All for the promise of trying a lawsuit that, if the percentages on such things hold, never sees the light of day in court. I don’t understand why they’re doing this, but I feel like they are running the risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Normally one can see the motivations of putatively irrational action like this. But I don’t see the percentage for Alex Rodriguez in this approach. I don’t see what he possibly stands to gain by blowing up the arbitration like he has.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.