10 Degrees: MLB All-Star Game needs to lighten up and acknowledge deserving players like Jeff SamardzijaJeff Passan at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
Jeff Samardzija should show up to the All-Star Game in one of those sewn-together jerseys that moms of professional athletes wear when their sons play against each other. On one side, he can sport the National League out of respect for the players who voted him in, and on the other, he can represent the American League since that's where he plays these days.
If Major League Baseball isn't going to let him play – and, as of now, it has ruled Samardzija ineligible for the July 15 game because he had the temerity to get traded between leagues – he should at least have some fun with it. Because that's when the Midsummer Classic is at its greatest: When fun is the imperative.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
The Oakland A's were going to make a trade this week. They play in a stadium that turns into a toilet when it rains and generate less revenue than a team in Cleveland and still will head into the All-Star break as the very best team in baseball, and that is not something they take for granted. No matter how well they're built, in the era of $200 million payrolls, another team can always buy the talent the A's scrimp and scrap to generate.
So every little upgrade they've made – every signing of a player whose blemish they saw as an opportunity to extract value and every trade that worked in their favor – was for this moment, the sort they're not supposed to even consider. The beauty of the A's always has been that they consider everything. It's what makes them so good.
They considered, for example, David Price. Once they steeled themselves to trading Addison Russell, the precocious 20-year-old who was going to be their shortstop for the next seven years starting in 2015, the A's knew anyone was in play, including Price. They talked with the Rays. Permutations of a deal went back and forth. It never materialized.Thu, Jul 109:35 AM PDTChi Cubs at CincinnatiPreview Game
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
A lawyer who helped the Senate investigate the Watergate scandal has been hired by the Major League Baseball Players Association to examine agent conduct during the Biogenesis scandal, the first move in what could be a sweeping effort to clean up a business that in recent years has devolved into a morass of client stealing and alleged involvement with clients' performance-enhancing drug use, major league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Robert Muse, a partner in a firm that represented Monica Lewinsky and other high-profile figures in Washington, D.C., has spearheaded an investigation into agent matters since being retained by the MLBPA at the beginning of the year, sources told Yahoo Sports. Granted far-reaching investigative privileges by the union, Muse has focused on the involvement of the ACES agency, CAA agent Nez Balelo – who represents Ryan Braun – and Relativity Baseball in Biogenesis while continuing to branch out into other areas of the agent business, sources said.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
Former Yankees and Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves was suspended 50 games after a drug test came back positive for a so-called drug of abuse, major league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The 31-year-old Aceves, currently pitching for Yankees Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, spent parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, including 10 games this year in which he posted a 6.52 ERA and allowed six home runs in 19 1/3 innings.
For his career, Aceves is 31-16 with a 3.83 ERA. He won World Series rings with the Yankees in 2009 and the Red Sox in 2013.
Major League Baseball is expected to announce the suspension Thursday.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
Seven years ago, Major League Baseball granted Alex Rodriguez permission to use synthetic testosterone. Because of course it did. As if the story that included robberies, hidden cameras, hush-hush payments, inappropriate sex, copious drug use, high-powered lawyers, leaks and pretty much every other imaginable slice of drama better fit for a fictitious TV show than real life weren't enough, now comes the revelation that baseball laid down its longest suspension in history for the very same thing it approved less than a decade earlier.
An excerpt on Sports Illustrated's website from "Blood Sport," the soon-to-be-released book about the Biogenesis case, provided this juicy nugget from transcripts of Rodriguez's case against MLB on Wednesday morning and added a twist to an already-warped relationship between the parties. The league's pursuit of Rodriguez that led to his eventual 162-game suspension perpetually toed the line between warranted and overly personal – and, on occasion, crossed it. Perhaps now we better understand why.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
Inside a minor league clubhouse this year, a player who had tested positive for marijuana a second time informed teammates of the 50-game suspension he would serve because of it. The player wasn't concerned, according to a witness. He didn't plan on curtailing his marijuana use, either.
"I'll just smoke my way onto the 40-man," he said.
In the annals of drug use, this might be a first: an employee trying to get a promotion by getting high.
The scenario suggested by the player, whose identity Yahoo Sports agreed to conceal to protect him from further potential discipline, shows the chasm between the reasonable drug policy for major league players on a team's 40-man roster and the harsh rules for minor leaguers that have yet to change with a culture becoming more and more accepting of marijuana. If a player shows major league potential and a team wants to shelter him from a 100-game suspension for a third offense or lifetime ban for a fourth, it simply needs to place him on the 40-man and subject him to a major league policy that cannot suspend players who test positive for weed.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports9 days ago
Dozens of trade offers from the Houston Astros were leaked to an anonymous sharing website Saturday, providing insight into how the rebuilding team operated near last season’s trade deadline as well as this offseason. Multiple executives whose names were included in the trade talks confirmed the authenticity of the documents to Yahoo Sports.
The two sets of documents, posted to Anonbin and first reported Monday by Deadspin, purportedly come from the team’s Ground Control database, a proprietary system central to the Astros’ baseball-operations department. One centers on proposals for pitcher Bud Norris, whom the Astros eventually traded to the Orioles, and the other on a hodgepodge of potential trades between October 2013 and March 2014.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
Most teams passed the halfway mark of the season over the weekend, which means it's time for first-half awards. Let's dig in to the good stuff, starting with the easiest award to bestow, the …
1. American League MVP. Unlike the last two full-season awards, both of which have gone to Miguel Cabrera when they should have been someone else's, the first-half MVP of 2014 is a runaway.
1. Mike Trout 2. Jose Bautista 3. Victor Martinez 4. Felix Hernandez 5. Masahiro Tanaka 6. Edwin Encarnacion 7. Jose Abreu 8. Nelson Cruz 9. Michael Brantley 10. Miguel Cabrera
At this juncture, it is fair to say no rational baseball fan believes anybody other than Trout is the best player in the world. The argument on behalf of Cabrera's MVP candidacy always centered on extraneous factors (the success of his team), narrative silliness (Triple Crown = MVP) and expert straw-grasping (he changed positions, thus helping the Tigers). Cabrera always was an incredible player; he just wasn't the best, and value distilled to its essence is who is best, because who is best provides the most, no matter how good, bad or, in the Angels' case, mediocre a team.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports14 days ago
He's growing his hair out again. Most people haven't noticed because the unfortunate caterpillar on Tim Lincecum's upper lip steals the attention away from what's atop his head, or because the very idea of seeing an athlete through the lens of image is more football and basketball's style. It's one of the countless things that made Lincecum unique among baseball players. Everyone gravitated to how he looks because it's so ... different.
When he cut his hair during the offseason, it was part of a reinvention. The stuff that emanated from Lincecum's right arm wasn't all that different anymore, and the quality of it matters far more than the distinctiveness of his delivery and body size, so he was changing to compensate – growing and maturing, with an adult haircut instead of the long locks and a mustache because why the hell not.
Deep down, of course, Lincecum understood that no image could bely the most inimitable part of him: his experience. The doubts, the laughs, the tweaks, the sort of things that turned a 5-foot-10, 160-pound kid into an unrelenting monster, someone who when so much disappeared still could conjure his best.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports14 days ago
The demise of Tim Lincecum, rumored for years, whispered incessantly and presumed imminent, is on hold again. He threw another no-hitter Wednesday, and it was even better than the one he twirled last year.
In front of a raucous home crowd in San Francisco, with a breezy demeanor rarely, if ever, seen from starting pitchers during such historic events, Lincecum blew away the awful San Diego Padres with a masterful – and efficient – performance in a 4-0 victory.
Rarely topping 90 mph with his fastball, and far from the phenom who won two Cy Young Awards with the San Francisco Giants, Lincecum nonetheless conjured the sort of excellence that remains within. He walked one and struck out six, needing just 113 pitches, compared to his four-walk, 13-strikeout, 148-pitch no-no against the Padres on July 13, 2013.Thu, Jul 107:10 PM PDTSan Diego at LA DodgersPreview Game