MLB.com published their always entertaining top 100 prospects list yesterday, which was predictably topped by Rangers SS Jurickson Profar. Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy and Cardinals OF Oscar Taveras round out the top three, Rays OF Wil Myers and Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker the top five.
The Yankees placed three prospects on the list, led by C Gary Sanchez at #36. OF Mason Williams wasn’t far behind him at #41 while OF Tyler Austin lagged at #75. MLB.com’s lists are always eyebrow-raising, and this is likely the only time this spring you’ll see Sanchez ranked ahead of Williams — in fairness, that isn’t completely insane, just a minority opinion — and no OF Slade Heathcott on a top 100 list. Giants OF Gary Brown made the list and Heathcott didn’t. Can’t explain it, but such is life. · (41) ·
I suppose there’s something slightly poetic about discussing the possibility of the Yankees voiding Alex Rodriguez‘s contract. After all, it was a voided contract that helped bring Alex to the Bronx in the first place. Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball — something that is strictly prohibited in standard MLB contracts — in January 2004, an injury that would cause him to miss the entire season. The Yankees voided his one-year contract and a few weeks later, A-Rod was in pinstripes.
Following yesterday’s South Florida-based performance-enchancing drug revelations, reports surfaced that the Yankees are “looking at about 20 different things” in hopes of finding a way out of five years and $114M left on A-Rod’s contract. They’re looking to see if he breached his contract by getting medical attention without the team’s permission, if he broke the law by purchasing controlled substances, all sorts of stuff. The team is desperate to get out of the noose they tied around their own necks, so of course they’re doing to try to weasel their way out of it.
Fans, of course, are out for blood. A-Rod has disgraced the pinstripes and he must pay! Void the contract without cause and deal with the lawsuits afterwards! Release him and eat the money! Pressure him into retiring! Do whatever it takes to get rid of him! Darren Rovell and Ken Rosenthal even had the genius idea of committing insurance fraud, which might possibly be more stupid than anything irrationally said by any Yankees fan. That’s really saying something.
In reality, this is what will happen: nothing. At least not immediately. There is no hard evidence A-Rod purchased, used, possessed, anythinged a banned substance from 2009-2012. There’s a report from a non-major, tabloid newspaper on par with amNY. That’s all. Nothing can happen until Major League Baseball completes its investigation and finds actual evidence, evidence that is solid enough to act on. That could take a few days, a week, a month, a year … who the hell knows. There’s also the possibility the league will find nothing. It’s not until the investigation is complete that this whole process can go forward.
If MLB manages to find some real evidence, then the Yankees would have to figure out how to actually use it. The Joint Drug Agreement — a collectively bargained document that both Yankees ownership and A-Rod (via the players’ union) agreed to — says punishment is in the hands of the commissioner’s office and no one else. They might suspend him and he would probably be allowed to serve it while on the DL for his hip injury. There’s plenty of precedent for that. A-Rod would face the same penalties as Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera. He’s not special because he’s a Yankee and you don’t like him.
Unless there is language in A-Rod’s contract pertaining specifically to PED stuff — we have zero reason to believe there is — it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Yankees to shed themselves of that $114M. Maybe they could talk A-Rod into a Jason Bay-esque buyout just to get rid of him, but that won’t improve their financial situation. Alex has no reason to take any kind of discount from the team. Zero. Having banked over $300M in his career to date is irrelevant. The club is obligated to pay him that money and he won’t walk away from nine figures in an effort to repair an image that is already beyond repair.
Now, with all that said, of course the Yankees should try to find something that would allow them to cut ties with A-Rod. They should have been doing that long before yesterday’s reports were even published. We’ve known the contract was an albatross for years now, we didn’t need anything that happened yesterday to remind us. Yesterday’s report just made it seem slightly more possible, which might not even be the case. The team’s lawyers should be combing through every standard and silly little clause in that contract to find what amounts to a loophole.
If the Yankees do somehow defy the odds and manage to void even a portion of A-Rod’s contract down the line, it will be because they fought the union tooth and nail through ugly legal proceedings and won. Not because A-Rod will retire out of the kindness of his heart and certainly not because the union will throw one of its members under the bus. In that respect, trying to void the contract will be much more painful than just sitting around and waiting for the deal to expire in five years.
The court of public opinion needs no hard evidence. Yesterday’s report was more than enough to forever tarnish whatever was left of A-Rod’s legacy, regardless of its accuracy. Real life requires hard evidence though, especially when someone wants to void a nine-figure contract. We’re not even one step away from that potentially happening, we’re about thirty steps away.
Middle of the road, here they come. John Sickels at Minor League Ball released his farm system rankings earlier this week, and he has the Yankees pretty much right in the middle at 14th overall. He says their strength is the collection of potential impact bats on the brink of Double-A, specifically catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielders Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin. The lack of impact arms is their weakness.
Baseball America recently placed the Yankees 11th overall in their preliminary farm system rankings, and there really isn’t a ton of difference between 11th and 14th. The 11-15 range certainly passes the sniff test though, neither ranking seems unrealistic. · (80) ·
Michael Kay will continue to be the primary play-by-play voice of the Yankees after signing a new multi-year agreement with the YES Network, according to a release. Kay has been with YES since the network launched in 2002 and he’s not leaving anytime soon. No word on the other announcers, if you’re wondering. · (87) ·
Today hasn’t been crummy enough, so I’m going to top it all off with a Sidney Ponson video. He actually started the last game I ever attended at the Old Stadium, but that’s on me. I remember it was the middle of September and Ponson got squashed by the Rays. No excuses, I had chances to catch another game before the end of the season but I didn’t.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The Rangers, Islanders, and Devils are all playing, so talk about those games or anything else here. Have at it.
Via Ken Rosenthal: Andy Pettitte will not pitch for former manager Joe Torre and Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He had until February 20th to make his final decision.
As I’ve said before, I’m glad Pettitte will remain with the Yankees in Spring Training even though it would have been neat to see him pitch in the WBC. Rosenthal says there’s a chance Justin Verlander will join the squad — Kris Medlen recently withdrew from the event as well — which would be a pretty huge for Team USA. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Frankie Cervelli as the only Yankees who will participate in the tournament. · (31) ·
A report in The Miami New Times concerning Anthony Bosch — who is under investigation by MLB and the DEA — says Alex Rodriguez is among the players who received performance-enhancing drugs from his South Florida clinic. According to the clinic’s records, A-Rod received HGH and other substances from Bosch from at least 2009 through last season. Here’s the A-Rod-related text so you don’t have to read the entire article…
There, at number seven on the list, is Alex Rodriguez. He paid $3,500, Bosch notes. Below that, he writes, “1.5/1.5 HGH (sports perf.) creams test., glut., MIC, supplement, sports perf. Diet.” HGH, of course, is banned in baseball, as are testosterone creams.
That’s not the only damning evidence against A-Rod, though. Another document from the files, a loose sheet with a header from the 19th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging and Aesthetic Medicine, lays out a full regimen under the name Cacique: “Test. cream… troches prior to workout… and GHRP… IGF-1… pink cream.”
There’s more evidence. On a 2009 client list, near A-Rod’s name, is that of Yuri Sucart, who paid Bosch $500 for a weeklong supply of HGH. Sucart is famous to anyone who has followed baseball’s steroid scandal. Soon after A-Rod’s admission, the slugger admitted that Sucart — his cousin and close friend — was the mule who provided the superstar his drugs. In 2009, the same year this notebook was written, Sucart (who lives in South Miami and didn’t respond to a message left at his home) was banned from all Yankees facilities.
The mentions of Rodriguez begin in 2009 and continue all the way through last season. Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012″ and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”
Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez, and Nelson Cruz are among the other players named, and all have South Florida ties. MLB will implement in-season HGH testing this year and although I stopped caring about the PED stuff a long time ago, this is obviously going to be a huge, huge story. I’m sure we’re going to hear an awful lot more about this. This is only the start.
Update: Ken Davidoff says the Yankees are going to stay out of the way and let MLB do its thing. The Rangers issued a statement saying they will do the same with Nelson Cruz. Standard protocol.
Update Part Deux: It’s worth noting that players can be suspended for “possession” of PEDs according to the Joint Drug Agreement. There does not have to be a failed test. There’s even a whole section on how to appeal a suspension without a failed test. Several players, including Edinson Volquez, were allowed to serve PED-related suspensions while on the DL.
Via Dan Barbarisi: Brian Cashman confirmed that Michael Pineda will throw off a half-mound tomorrow for the first time since having shoulder surgery in early-May. Pineda, who turned 24 a little more than a week ago, has been throwing off flat ground since at least September. Moving up to a half-mound isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a big step in his rehab from a very serious injury. Good news. · (39) ·
Got two small updates on former Yankees. First, Nick Johnson has decided to call it a career according to Sweeny Murti. The 34-year-old retires as a .268/.399/.441 (126 wRC+) hitter with a 15.7% walk rate, though injuries — specifically to his right wrist and hand — derailed his career. More than anything, this gives me a chance to post Johnson’s batting line with Double-A Norwich in 1999: .345/.525/.548 with 123 walks, 88 strikeouts, and 37 hit-by-pitches. Yes, 37 hit-by-pitches.
Second, Freddy Garcia has signed a minor league contract with the Padres according to multiple reports. Garcia, 36, should do quite well in Petco Park given his extreme fly ball ways. Plus it’s a minor league deal, so tough to complain about that. The sweaty one posted a 4.29 ERA and 4.35 FIP in 254 innings with the Yankees over the last two season. Good luck in San Diego, Freddy, see you in the World Series. · (19) ·
But now you’ve probably seen that video because it’s been circulating through the interweb today, but it’s the greatest thing ever. We need a little more showmanship in baseball today, it’s supposed to be entertainment. We all work too hard to come and sit and watch adults taking a child’s game seriously.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The Nets are the only local sports team in action, so talk about that game or anything else here. Enjoy.