Clemens' embarrassing antics, the key to Texas' emergence and more
Roger Clemens has more of a chance to wind up in jail than Barry Bonds
Texas replenished its system with the brilliant Teixeira trade two summers ago
Ranking my top 13 center fielders in the game today
My favorite part of the Roger Clemens interview on the Mike & Mike in the Morning radio show Tuesday came when he said steroids could be bad for him because of his family history, and then cited his stepfather's heart attack as evidence.
My second favorite part was when he said he was going to be the same "outgoing" person he's always been. Funny, I missed that side of him. In my experiences covering Clemens over the years, he was intense, dark, snobby, aloof and intimidating, but rarely outgoing. The only times he seemed to really get excited was when another person of close or equal fame was around.
He loved the rich and famous, like himself. As for others, well, they were just bit players in the play in which he starred. So it isn't surprising he's suing his former trainer, Brian McNamee, who was a mere pawn in his game and is now the enemy for telling the truth when pressed by the feds about Clemens' steroid use.
Clemens also repeated the claim that McNamee never gave him steroids or HGH, calling the hosts "Greeny" and "Goli" (Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic). It seems he is intent on repeating these claims until no one believes him (even Greeny said he thought Clemens was guilty).
I texted McNamee as to whether he'd like to respond to Clemens' latest claims, which were timed to counter the release of the Daily News' book American Icon, which Clemens claims is full of "lies." The response from McNamee: "Noooo! Sorry." Which makes sense. It's best to quit while you're ahead. And while we're still in the fifth inning of this drama, it's about 20-zip for McNamee.
I will never understand Clemens' "strategy" of denial on 60 Minutes (which I watched with McNamee) and in front of Congress, but I do suspect that since Clemens was so impressed by celebrity, he figured everyone else would be, too. I don't believe, as some have hypothesized, that Clemens believes his own lies. His stuttering denials aren't even close to convincing. Perhaps Clemens thought using performance-enhancing drugs was justified to enhance a career he felt his admirers were enjoying immensely and deserved to enjoy more; in his mind, he believes he was doing it to help his fans, his subjects, his followers and other pawns in his play.
But now he is helping no one with these lies, least of all himself. While the feds haven't made their move on him yet, I firmly believe -- and many baseball people believe -- he has more chance to wind up in jail than Barry Bonds. Bonds' alleged crime is that he told a grand jury years ago that he didn't "knowingly" take steroids. He didn't do that in front of Congress or on a national news show. And as one baseball person said to me yesterday, there's something almost admirable in Bonds' defiance. Maybe, maybe not. But I do think six years is long enough to pursue a case against someone who tells a murky story about steroids, even under oath.
Sources say Clemens is being pursued even harder by the feds at this point. Sources say the feds are taking their time and making sure they get their man. Taking steroids may be a silly reason to go to jail, but I don't feel sorry for Clemens, whose ego is as big as all of Texas. As hard as it is to fathom, I am starting to feel sorry for Bonds.
Bonds didn't drag his wife into it like Clemens did. Bonds didn't drag his buddy's father (Andy Pettitte's dad) into it like Clemens did. Bonds didn't lie about anyone else like Clemens did. Bonds didn't falsely sue anyone like Clemens did. Right now, Bonds looks like the better guy. And more important, he looks like the guy with the better case, too.
Texas rebuilt, thanks to Teixeira (and Daniels)
Two summers ago Rangers GM Jon Daniels knew he had to trade Mark Teixeira. Teixeira had rejected their $140 million, eight-year offer, and it was becoming fairly clear he didn't want to remain with the Rangers long term. Daniels wanted to replenish their system, and this was the way to do it.
So far, so good.
The haul Daniels received from the Braves looked impressive then, and it looks even better today, with the Rangers the surprise American League West leaders at 18-14. The four main players Daniels received for Teixeira all look like they'll be fit somewhere between strong contributor and star. Left-hander Matt Harrison just threw a shutout, 20-year-old Elvis Andrus has replaced longtime star Michael Young as the starting shortstop without a blip, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is no longer looking like a DH, and big-time pitching prospect Neftali Feliz is hitting 100 mph on the farm.
"It's really early, but we're happy with it," Daniels said.
Just like he was as a free agent last winter, Teixeira was a hot commodity in the summer of 2007. (He wasn't nearly as coveted as a trade target last summer, as he was in his walk year, and the best the Braves could do was Casey Kotchman.) But inquiring teams knew they would be getting Teixeira for only a year-and-a-half max. Daniels maximized the take. While he was focused on the Braves, he had serious talks with the Red Sox, Angels, Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, as well. The Angels didn't want to give up Joe Saunders (smart move), the Yankees didn't want to part with Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes (and had the cash to sign Teixeira later, anyway, for $180 million) and the Dodgers wouldn't budge on their best prospects.
The Red Sox and D-backs (who offered some of the same prospects that went later for Dan Haren) made the next-best bids. But in terms of quality and quantity, nobody could match the Braves' offer. Rangers bosses didn't press Daniels to get immediate help, so with that in mind, the Braves' package was far and away the best one.
Andrus is a prototypical shortstop who's a terrific baserunner and gives the power-hitting Rangers a different look. "I couldn't be happier with the early returns," Daniels said about Andrus.
The early returns on Saltalamacchia's defense last year were not good. His blocking and legwork were amateurish, and that's being kind. But he's become very usable behind the plate, and is no longer just an offensive player (he's hitting .261 with three homers and 14 RBIs). "The improvement in his defense is among the most encouraging things I've seen this year," Daniels said.
Harrison (3-2, 4.79) is the big durable left-hander they sought. He has thrown 15 scoreless innings over his last two starts, including a 6-0 shutout of the White Sox in his most recent effort. And Feliz could join left-handed phenom Derek Holland in the 'pen within weeks. Feliz may have the biggest upside of all the players acquired in this ridiculous haul.
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