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Monday Morning Manager: Dodgers running away in NL West

It’s been an amazing turnaround in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers are presenting themselves as a legitimate championship contender after a horrible start.

The Dodgers are 20-3 since the All-Star break and are 37-8 in their last 45 games. They…

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Ex-player Jack Clark fired over PED accusations

People can’t stop throwing steroids accusations around.

In the same week as this reckless column from a newspaper website comes former big-league slugger Jack Clark, who in his first week on a radio show in St. Louis got himself fired over a …

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Too many painting PEDs era with a broad stroke

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tried to entertain us with an “all-steroid” team this week in a blog on the newspaper’s website. He shouldn’t get points for creativity, nor for accuracy.

Of course, he’s got everybody you’d th…

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Blockbusters Revisited: Peavy to Chicago

Jake Peavy was on the move at the trade deadline this season, trading White Sox for Red Sox as he jumps into the middle of the American League pennant race in Boston. The Red Sox gave up a great infield prospect — Jose Iglesias — to get Peavy in a three-way deal with Detroit, but that’s a revisited blockbuster for a much later date.

Let’s go back four years to the first deadline deal involving Peavy, when he arrived in Chicago, and try to call a winner in this deadline deal.

July 31, 2009: The San Diego Padres trade RHP Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Dexter Carter, LHP Aaron Poreda, LHP Clayton Richard and RHP Adam Russell.

Peavy, the 2007 Cy Young Award winner in San Diego, received a monster contract after that season, when the Padres lost in a one-game playoff with the Rockies for the NL wild-card. When the Padres went in the tank in 2008 and 2009, it became a matter of time for when they would trade their ace in order to save money. They found a taker in the White Sox in 2009, who planned to pair Peavy with Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks to give Chicago a formidable starting rotation. But injuries — to Peavy and others — got in the way.

Peavy was injured at the time of the deal — a bad sprain in a tendon in his ankle — and only pitched in three games in September for the White Sox. He won all three, with a 1.35 ERA, but the White Sox were also-rans by that point. An elbow injury stopped his 2010 season (7-6, 4.63 in 17 starts) and 2011 wasn’t much better (7-7, 4.92). He was 11-12 with a solid 3.37 ERA in 2012 and 9-4 at the time of the deal to Boston in 2013. So basically, Peavy was a middle-of-the-road starter for a middle-of-the-road team — not quite the ace he was in San Diego because of the injuries. He was 36-29 with a 4.00 ERA with the White Sox.

But the talent Chicago gave up really didn’t pan out in San Diego, either. Carter never made it past Double-A. Poreda pitched in just four games with the Padres. He was left unprotected and was selected in the Rule 5 draft in 2011 and was released by the Pirates in spring training this year. Russell bounced between the majors and minors for two seasons, left as a free agent in 2011 and is now in Triple-A with Baltimore. The only true big-leaguer the Padres received was Richard, who won 14 games in 2010 and was an innings-eater in the rotation until this season, when he was 2-5 with a 7.01 ERA and is now out for the season after shoulder surgery. He’s 40-39 with a 4.16 ERA with the Padres.

So really, it’s Peavy vs. Richard. Practically a draw. But because Peavy made $17 million last season and Richard made $5.2 million, and because the Padres still have Richard under contract, let’s go with a tepid winner: San Diego.


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What they’re saying: A-Rod suspension

Not counting those with lifetime suspensions for betting on baseball — people such as Pete Rose and players implicated in the 1919 Black Sox scandal — the 211-game suspension handed down to Alex Rodriguez on Monday is the longest in big-league history, a historic decision by MLB commissioner Bud Selig and perhaps the pinnacle event in an era that everybody in baseball is eager to see go away.

In fact, the other 12 players suspended for 50 games should probably thank Rodriguez, because few will remember that Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera and others were given their punishments Monday for their involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Unlike Rodriguez, none of them plan an appeal. They never tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs, but they’re not willing to fight it, either.

Here’s some highlights about what people were saying about the historic suspensions handed down by Major League Baseball, and by Rodriguez’s appeal of the punishment that allowed him to make his season debut on Monday night:

“Probably the worst time of my life for sure. Obviously, for the circumstances that are at hand, and dealing with a tough surgery and a rehab program and being 38.” — Rodriguez, to writers before the game Monday

“At this point, you have to figure that even his pinstripes aren’t real. I bet even his accent is fake. I know his .945 OPS is.” — Scott Miller,

“Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted it in its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.” — David Cornwell, Rodriguez’s lawyer, to

“This is a guy whose ego won’t let him grasp the idea he has lost. This is a villain who thinks he’s dressed in white. Has there been a greater discrepanc between what one person thinks of himself and what society as a whole thinks of him in return? Rodriguez is so ridiculously disconnected from reality that it would take a Kardashian asking for privacy to top him.” — Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times

“If A-Rod is a lightning rod, Bud Selig is the thunder and rain, his complement in chaos. Even if he didn’t get the lifetime ban – not only would it have drawn the ire of the union and incited another labor war, it might have threatened the league’s antitrust exemption, something no commissioner wants on his résumé - Selig is playing legacy Stratego: by crushing Rodriguez’s, he’s pumping up his own.” – Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports

“A-Rod could never summon the courage to believe in his own talent and work ethic, so he believed in a pharmacological lie instead. The Yankees slugger who needed pills and potions to feel whole must live with his own destructive choices. Today, Alex Rodriguez might consider himself the loneliest man on the face of the earth.” — Ian O’Connor, ESPNNewYork

“We’re working our tails off to play at this level and compete and have fun doing it. Some guys won’t do it that way. But it’s only 12 guys in the whole major leagues. There are hundreds and hundreds of guys who do it the right way. Guys who do it right should be proud of themselves and the work they put in. They do it right.” — Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, to the Boston Globe

“I wish I was never a part of it [PEDs]. Just get rid of it. If it’s better to have bigger suspensions, then they’re going to have to change it.” – former big-leaguer Mark McGwire, who had admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs, to ESPNLA.

“The only thing worse for MLB would be if Barry Bonds had announced on Monday that he was coming out of retirement.” — Christine Brennnan, USA Today


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Monday Morning Manager: It’s Biogenesis D-Day

Today could be one of those days in big-league history that will be long remembered. Major League Baseball is reportedly ready to suspend several players in the ongoing Biogenesis investigation.

Alex Rodriguez is likely to come off the disabled list, but nobody is sure if he’ll go to the New York Yankees’ active roster or to the suspended list for a long, long time.

Several news sites are reporting that Rodriguez will be one of a dozen-or-so players suspended on Monday, just as he’s finally ready to come off the disabled list for the New York Yankees. It’s been an interesting game of cat-and-mouse between Rodriguez, the Yankees and MLB in the past few weeks as the timetable has meshed between A-Rod’s rehab, the investigation and a lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Rodriguez has behaved in public as if there’s nothing wrong at all, saying he is ready to join his teammates and that he feels great.

Other players on teams in pennant races — such as Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta and Texas’ Nelson Cruz — are also likely to be suspended. But Rodriguez has vowed a fight, and it’s likely that MLB will let Rodriguez play while he appeals a long suspension, perhaps one that could keep him out until 2015.

And we’ll likely finally get a bit of resolution today.

On to this week’s Monday Morning Manager:


Jason Heyward, Braves: He’s coming alive as Atlanta is pulling away in the NL East, winning 10 in a row. He was 10 for 27 in the last seven days with two homers and eight RBI, but still is languishing at .235 with 10 homers and 31 RBI on the season.

Jose Fernandez, Marlins: Becoming one of the best stories of the year on a last-place team. He handed the Indians their only loss in the last 10 games on Friday, shutting them out and striking out 14. He’s 8-5 with a 2.54 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings.

Chris Perez, Indians: He’s returned to dominant form since coming off the DL on last June. He’s given up two earned runs since then in 16 appearances, with two wins and 10 saves.


Josh Johnson, Blue Jays: Toronto made three huge additions to its pitching staff in the offseason, and none have gone as planned. The worst of the bunch has been Johnson, who fell to 1-8 with a 6.60 ERA  after the Angels battered him last week.

J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: Don’t mean to pile on here, but Toronto’s battery is woefully uncharged right now. Arencibia has two hits in his last 10 games and his average has slipped to .212.

Chris Carter, Astros: He’s just an extra H from a famous football Hall of Fame player, but this Carter didn’t have as good a week as the former NFL receiver. Carter, the Houston left fielder, is 1 for his last 21 and is at .213 with just two of his 19 homers since the All-Star break.

TOP 10

1. Atlanta Braves (67-45, last week unranked)

2. Boston Red Sox (68-45, last week No. No. 72)

3. Tampa Bay Rays (66-45, last week No. 3)

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (67-44, last week No. 4)

5. Detroit Tigers (64-45, last week No. 5)

6. St. Louis Cardinals (65-45, last week No. 1)

7. Los Angeles Dodgers (61-49, last week No. 5)

8. Cleveland Indians (62-49, last week unranked)

9. Cincinnati Reds (61-51, last week unranked)

10. Texas Rangers (62-50, last week unranked)


26. Chicago Cubs (49-62, last week unranked)

27. Milwaukee Brewers (47-64, last week No. 27)

28. Miami Marlins (43-67, last week No. 28)

29. Chicago White Sox (40-69, last week No. 29)

30. Houston Astros (36-74, last week No. 30)


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Who knew managers’ hand signals were binding?

Baseball has so many rules, there are some you didn’t even know they were rules.

That was the case on Wednesday night, when Seattle Mariners interim manager Robbie Thompson came to the mound to make a pitching change in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox.

He raised his left hand quickly, then realized he meant to raise his right hand to call in reliever Yoervis Medina. And it literally was less than a second of the left hand going up. Umpire Gary Darling ruled that because he raised his left arm first, that meant he had to bring in left-hander Carlos Perez, who was also warming up. You can watch the video here.

Perez promptly gave up back-to-back singles to right-handed hitters Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia, then got lefty David Ortiz out — which the was the player he was warming up to face. Seattle lost the game 8-7 on an improbable rally that might have hinged on a weird rule that few knew existed.

“I did point to the pen, but I didn’t have time to [tap his other arm] for the right-hander,” Thompson said to “He’d already turned. That’s when I wanted to make sure he knew who I wanted to go to and [crew chief] Gary Darling said it’s too late, you raised your left hand up.”

Personally, this is a rule that screams out to be changed. Thompson meant all along to go to the right-hander — he just raised the wrong arm, realized his mistake in a split second, but the damage was already done.


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With great deals, Tigers keep up in streaking Central

The big winner at the trading deadline? Gotta go with the Detroit Tigers.

And by the looks of it, they just might need a push to stay ahead in what’s suddenly a compelling American League Central race with three red-hot teams.

The Tigers on …

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Blockbusters Revisited: The Teixeira deals

It’s trade deadline day, a day where a great deal can get a team over the hump and into the playoffs. A mistake could cost them for years.

In consecutive years, one of the best first basemen in the game — Mark Teixeira — was on the move eit…

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Brewers deserve credit for fan-friendly gesture

Milwaukee Brewers fans are some of the most long-suffering in baseball, and it’s a rough patch right now.

Many Brewers fans fiercely defended outfielder Ryan Braun, the team’s centerpiece player who is now serving a 65-game suspension on a de…

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