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Greatest Picture Ever

The man on the right (in case you couldn’t tell since the sunglasses on his face covered up the jelly donuts under his eyes), is Yankees GM Brian Cashman. The gentleman on the left is … well nobody cares. But his shirt is hilarious, he’s got a shite-eating grin on, and it makes this picture a classic. I started busting up uncontrollably when I saw it. Big ups to Deadspin (of course) for the picture. I mean, who else would get something that great?

Julian Tavarez: Signing with Nationals Is Like Settling for a Fat Chick

When you’re Julian Tavarez and your physical appearance is about as attractive as your 6 ERA, you’re probably used to hooking up with the bottom of the barrel chicks at the club. That’s probably why he readily made this comparison to signing with the Nationals, a team that has been one of the worst in baseball since their inception:

“Why did I sign with the Nationals?” Tavarez said told a group of reporters. “When you go to a club at 4 in the morning, and you’re just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J. Lo. And to me this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It’s 4 in the morning. Too much to drink. So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me.”

“I would like to be a starter, but it’s like my father said: ‘You want Jennifer Lopez, but does she want you? No.’ You just take whatever she is giving to you. So I just take whatever they give to me,” Tavarez said. “They give to me as a long man, I take it as a long man. Set up man, I take it. Starter, I take it. I can do whatever.”

Clearly it was last call for Tavarez and he couldn’t afford to be picky. Big League Stew has the actual audio Julian gave in case you want to hear it, too. I wonder how pleased the Nats will be to hear him clown on their organization. I guess the good news is what Tavarez said at the end of his comments — this is his only opportunity so he’s going to work hard to make the most of it. And actually, I think the Nationals are going to be a lot better than most people think. They have no bullpen but they did swing a trade for Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen from the Marlins, and they signed Adam Dunn. Those are three good additions right there. They’re nowhere near a playoff team, but they’ll be much better than they have been in the past.

Did Brian Cashman Want Jason Giambi to Go Back on Steroids?

I know Jason Giambi and Brian Cashman won’t ever mention the word, so I will — steroids. Jeff Pearlman has written a book about Roger Clemens called “The Rocket that Fell to Earth,” and in that book there was a good anecdote about Yankees GM Brian Cashman and his thoughts on Jason Giambi, a free agent he signed to a 7-year $120 million deal prior to the ’02 season. According to the NY Times:

The book said that when Giambi went through a slump in the 2002 season, his first with the Yankees, Cashman was heard yelling at a television in the Yankees’ clubhouse during a game. Citing “one New York player,” the book said that Cashman screamed, “Jason, whatever you were taking in Oakland,” get back on it.

The book said that Cashman then added, “Please!”

Cashman denies ever making that statement while Pearlman says he has 100% confidence in the source that told him the story. I might have a question or two about this story because ’02 was Giambi’s only true excellent season with the Yanks. But I feel bad for Cashman in the sense that he paid for a guy whose productivity was achieved through false means. I think that GMs were in a tough spot to judge talent all throughout the era and that they got screwed over by players. If guys got their contracts because they were juicing and then later went off, they were selling teams a bum product. I can’t blame a GM for wanting to see the player produce like he had before and therefore understand Cashman’s predicament if this is a true story. Would it even be possible for teams to sue players who tested positive? I’d love to see the Angels recoup some of that Gary Matthews Jr. money without a doubt.

Jonathan Papelbon Says Manny Ramirez Was a Cancer with the Red Sox

This is probably something a lot of people thought, and something the press and fans said, but it’s another thing when a player says it. Then again, if any Boston player were to speak up about an issue, odds are it would be Jonathan Papelbon. Check out his description of Manny Ramirez and how Man-Ram single-handedly brought the Red Sox down:

Papelbon described Ramirez as a “cancer.”

“It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening,” Papelbon told Esquire. “Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It (stunk), but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us.”

The high-energy Sox closer said that he has no issue with anyone on the team being called out once they’ve crossed the line.

If there are any wonders as to why Manny was lingering on the free agent market for so long, I think Papelbon just answered the question. I hope Papelbon doesn’t catch any flack for this comment considering it seems more than fair and appropriate. I also appreciate that Papelbon is unafraid to open his mouth and act like a fool sometimes, even if it makes him look bad. That is something that needed to be said.

Andruw Jones Apologizes for Stinking Last Year, Showing Up Overweight

I will comfortably say that Andruw Jones’ legacy is forever tarnished, especially in the case of LA fans. He will never be able to get past what he did (or didn’t do) last season. After signing a two-year deal for around $36 million, he showed up to camp in horrible shape, easily 250-plus pounds, and just unprepared to play baseball. I have said that being fat doesn’t have a negative impact on ballplayers and I still believe that. It’s just that Jones clearly wasn’t ready to play and was essentially stealing money from the club. His negative play on the field just kept spiraling and spiraling to the point where he was getting booed so consistently he never turned things around. He strung together one of the worst, if not the worst, regular seasons by a position player all-time. For that, he finally apologized (to Plaschke in the LA Times):

“Are you saying you’re sorry?”

“Yes, you could put it that way,” he says. “Yes, in fact, put it exactly that way.”

“Put it what way?”

“I am sorry I didn’t stand up to my reputation,” he says. “I am sorry for what I put everyone through. I am sorry I did not make it work.”

Andruw admitted that he heard the boos all season long and that they really did bother him. He also confessed that he wasn’t really injured when he got placed on the DL at the end of the year, just that he really needed to get away from it all. Now that he’s only making 500k from the Rangers and has an incentive-driven contract, he’s trying to get back into normal shape. Clearly Jones failed to realize that baseball careers are precious in that they don’t last very long. He had the rest of his life to enjoy his millions, getting fat and lazy. The prime of his career was not the right time to get a head start.

Vladimir Guerrero Lied About His Age, I’m Still Not Convinced He’s Not 40

Under pressure from ESPN reporting last year, Houston Astros SS Miguel Tejada finally admitted he was two years older than what he had told MLB all along. That in turn persuaded Julio Franco to come out and admit he was really in his 50s when he played his last years of pro ball with Atlanta and New York. Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels wasn’t so moved by Tejada’s admission and ESPN’s investigation to come clean. Rather, Vlad blew his cover answering a question in an interview:

Guerrero’s admission – initially unintentional – came in response to a question about his offseason knee surgery. Manager Mike Scioscia had said the surgery could have the effect of “maybe turning back the clock a couple years” for Guerrero.

Relayed that quote, the affable Guerrero smiled and responded through a translator, “I feel good. I can’t say [like] 25, because, you know, I’m 34. But I feel a lot better. That’s where I’m at right now.”

See, I’m not so sure that Vlad blew his cover on that one. I think he thought his “Angels age” was 34 and that’s why he said it. If he were really telling the truth, he would have finally admitted that he was 40-years-old. Anyone who’s seen the guy lumber around in the outfield the past few seasons certainly has their suspicions. This also shines a whole new light on his 38 homer season with the Expos when he was supposedly 22. It makes a lot more sense now. And by the way, I’m so sick of these players lying about their age. They should be giving back some money to the clubs for taking it under false pretenses. The only thing worse is the Jim Bowden scandal.

Johan Santana’s Elbow Is Much More Important than Ervin Santana’s Elbow

Weird title, but allow me to explain. Word came out Sunday afternoon that an MRI on Angels pitcher Ervin Santana’s elbow revealed a strained MCL. As a response, the Angels are shutting Santana down for the time being and they’re going to start him on the DL to begin the year. Now even though the Angels are my team, I’m not a big fan of Ervin. Trust me, if you had to witness 26 of his starts in ’07 you would understand. Putting that aside, Santana went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA last year. He had 214 strikeouts which was second in the league, and 219 innings pitched, which was 4th in the AL. Ervin was an All-Star pitcher on the best regular season team in MLB last year. By the transitive property of common sense, Santana is an important player in baseball. Allow me to now move on to my gripe.

None of the major sports sites had a headline on their homepage regarding Santana’s injury. Some sites even (I’m looking at you, Yahoo!) had a news headline about Chipper Jones injuring his oblique in the WBC as if Chipper getting hurt again, much less for an exhibition event, actually qualifies as news. On a larger note, what bothers me most is that we have been subjected to non-stop updates on Johan Santana’s elbow the past two weeks even though it looks like he’ll be OK for opening day. Oh I see, now that he’s a Met, he’s all of a sudden important to ESPN? The guy was a Cy Young winner five seasons ago and you didn’t care, but now that he’s in New York, the thought of him not being ready on Opening Day is a big deal. Moreover, in what I’m guessing was an effort to promote ESPN’s “spring training blog,” the story that Derek Jeter had a sore hamstring in the first week of camp made it onto ESPN’s front web page, and into ESPNEWS’ 30-minute block. A sore hamstring. The kind every player gets the first week of camp. Front page headline. Seriously.

I think it’s become pretty clear (as if we didn’t already know), that ESPN’s just going to promote what’s important to them rather than what’s actually relevant. Derek Jeter having a sore, not injured or torn hamstring, is a main headline. All-Star pitcher for 100-win club having sprained MCL in pitching elbow and starting the season on the DL means nothing. Only you as the fan know what’s really important. Don’t let those Networks and sites tell you what is and what isn’t because clearly their judgment is skewed.