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It gets forgotten now, but Luis Castillo was an key factor in the Johan Santana acquisition. Santana publicly complained when Minnesota traded Castillo to the Mets, calling it a salary dump. But it apparently went further than that behind the scenes, as this article from Brian Lewis of the NY Post describes:
“I remember the day I got traded, remember Johan. He went to me in the locker room. We talked for 20 minutes. I explained everything. He told me everything, told me he wanted to play with the Mets the day I got traded…”
Now, is that worth a four year contract for $25 million? Of course not. But we should keep it in mind when we discuss the contract. Had the Mets waited for Orlando Hudson, they might have missed out on Johan Santana. For all its faults, the Castillo contract was a show of faith to Johan, a sign that this organization was going to go out of it’s way to make him comfortable. So, at least we’ve got that going for us…
...personally, I, Eli, like what Castillo has been doing for us this year...he is fielding and moving better than we thought he would....his .279 slap stick average as of June 29th, lack of injury, along with his 35 walks and just 17 strikeouts in 64 games, make him, perhaps, a bit expensive for $6.25 million but when you take a look around the rest of the club - 2nd base, for us, is not all that bad....
"The Beat With Uggla Sticks have a proud tradition of winning," continued Mendicus, whose team has made the playoffs the past two years, including a league championship win in 2006. "But apparently that means nothing to this group of players. Apparently they'd rather just lose every single 5x5 category. Apparently my players don't care about winning the 12-team Yahoo! Plus 'Mmm…Fantasy Baseball' league pennant as much as I do."
Mendicus had high expectations for his team coming into the season, but his players have been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, losing six of their first eight matchups en route to a 22-46-14 overall record. The historically temperamental owner did not hold back his opinions after their latest humiliating defeat, telling the New York Post that Prince Fielder "had better start hitting some freaking home runs already" before making several vicious personal attacks on the first baseman, calling him a "fatso," a "really big fat man," and a "fat freak" in the course of one statement.
"I paid $38 for [Fielder], and this is what I get?" Mendicus said, directing reporters' attention to Fielder's "putrid" Yahoo! Game Log. "Twelve home runs. Twelve dang home runs. When you pay $38 for a guy, you had better give them a heck of a lot more than 12 home runs through the first half. I got you for your power, buddy, not your walks. This is a batting average league, anyway, not an on-base percentage league, so walks don't flipping matter. It's like these guys don't understand that."
Mendicus continued his heated rant, calling shortstop Felipe Lopez a "talentless hack whose multiple position eligibility is the only thing saving his tush from waivers," claiming that pitcher Ian Snell is "killing [him] in WHIP, absolutely killing [him]," and encouraging outfielder Brad Hawpe to "go eat mud." He then accused the whole team of not stealing enough bases and "not playing like true Beat With Uggla Sticks."
He did, however, reserve some praise for hot-hitting second baseman Dan Uggla upon learning that Uggla homered twice that day, saying, "That's you, Danny."
With his team already down 9-1 in this week's matchup against Gary Sheffield's Head Vein, Mendicus issued an ultimatum, claiming that unless his team delivers at least a tie, there will "be some changes around here." Mendicus said that "no one is safe," and had particularly strong words for pitcher Chris Young, who three weeks ago was hit in the face with a line drive and has not made a single start since.
"Toughen up, you little baby," Mendicus said. "You don't throw with your face, do you? I already got Phil [Hughes] in the DL slot, so you better get your butt back in action."
Mendicus has a reputation for following his players' performance with intense scrutiny and personal investment, often to a fanatical degree. It is rumored that he monitors their progress on multiple Yahoo! Sports box score windows on his computer screen, and will erupt into obscenity-laden tirades at work after a mere groundout or caught stealing.
"I hate you Edwin, you good-for-nothing, Minor Leaguer ," Mendicus was overheard as saying while angrily clicking the "Refresh" button on his web browser 14 times after pitcher Edwin Jackson loaded the bases with three straight walks. "Throw the ball over the dang plate. I need a win here, you idiot. I'm getting killed in wins."
For some players on Mendicus' team, the demand for instant results, the constant threats to be released or traded, and the nonstop verbal abuse is too much. Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie has been dropped and picked up by Mendicus seven times already this season, and he says he doesn't like playing under such volatile conditions.
"I wish he'd have a little faith in me," Guthrie said. "I don't like being picked up the night before my start and then simply dropped the next day. It wears on you as a player. And now I have to explain myself to my kids when they read in the papers that their daddy is a 'lifeless bum who can't even get five strikeouts when that's all we needed to win the category.'"
"I'm sorry, but when I have runners on first and third and one out, I'm going to go for the double play to get out of the inning, not the strikeout," Guthrie added. "Even though they don't give out 'points' for double plays."
Some players, however, praised Mendicus for his fiery attitude and desire to win, saying they prefer that to the kind of owners who treat their fantasy teams like nothing more than a fun distraction from their real jobs.
"It's good that he cares," said Beat With Uggla Stick catcher Jorge Posada. "Some owners, like Garrett Baldwin of the Smilin' Joe Randas, or Mike Broberg of Tiny Damon, they just sort of check in every once in a while to see how we're doing, but that's it. In fact, I've been on the Tiny Damon's bench since I went on the DL in April, and they don't even have anyone in the catcher slot. That's just shoddy ownership.""But there's also a thing called caring too much," Posada added. "You can only be called a worthless dirtbag after popping out so many times before it starts to sting. It's at the point where playing for Mendicus is almost as bad as playing for Hank Steinbrenner."
Sammy Sosa, who joined with Mark McGwire in 1998 in a celebrated pursuit of baseball’s single-season home run record, is among the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year.
The disclosure that Sosa tested positive makes him the latest baseball star of the last two decades to be linked to performance-enhancers, a group that now includes McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.
Sosa, who is sixth on Major League Baseball’s career home run list and last played in 2007, had long been suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs but until now had never been publicly linked to a positive test.
In a recent interview with ESPN Deportes, Sosa, 40, said he would “calmly wait” for his induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, for which he will become eligible for induction in 2013. But his 2003 positive test, when he played for the Chicago Cubs, may seriously damage his chances of gaining entry to the Hall, a fate encountered by McGwire, who has attracted relatively little support from voters in his first three years on the ballot.
The 2003 positive test could also create legal troubles for Sosa because he testified under oath before Congress at a public hearing in 2005 that he had “never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”
The 2003 test that ensnared Sosa was the first such test conducted by Major League Baseball. Under guidelines agreed upon with the players union, the test results were to remain anonymous but would lead to testing with penalties the next year if more than 5 percent of the results were positive.
That is indeed what occurred. But for reasons never made completely clear, the test results were not destroyed by the players union and the 104 positives were subsequently seized by federal agents on the West Coast investigating matters related to the distribution of drugs to athletes.
The union immediately filed court papers alleging that the agents had illegally seized the tests, and over the past six years judges at various levels of the federal court system have been weighing whether the government can keep them. An 11-judge panel in California is preparing to rule in the case, but regardless of its verdict, the losing side is expected to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
As the union feared, the names on the list have begun to emerge. In February, Sports Illustrated reported that Rodriguez was on the 2003 list, and Rodriguez subsequently acknowledged that he had used steroids for three years. Now, Sosa’s name has been disclosed.
The lawyers who had knowledge of Sosa’s inclusion on the 2003 list did not know the substance for which Sosa tested positive. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified as discussing material that is sealed by a court order.
A lawyer for Sosa, Jay Reisinger, declined comment, as did an official with Major League Baseball.
Sosa, who lives in the Dominican Republic, became a national figure with the Chicago Cubs in 1998, when he and McGwire, of the St. Louis Cardinals, engaged in a compelling race to overtake Roger Maris’s single-season home run record of 61. McGwire passed Maris first and ended up with 70 home runs. Sosa followed close behind with 66.
In the seasons that followed, Sosa exceeded 60 home runs on two more occasions. But he was fading as a player when he traveled to Washington in March 2005 to testify with Palmeiro and McGwire and others at a hearing called by the House Government Reform Committee to examine the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
At the hearing, Sosa testified that “everything” he had heard “about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are bad for you, even lethal” and that he “would never put anything dangerous like that” in his body.
“To be clear,” he added, “I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything.”
During that hearing, McGwire, by then retired, repeatedly declined to answer questions about possible drug use, saying he was not there to talk about the past. His statements were widely viewed as an admission of guilt, and since then he has had little involvement with baseball except for privately serving as a hitting tutor for several major leaguers. To win election to the Hall of Fame, a player must be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast; McGwire has yet to be named on 25 percent of them.
At that same hearing, Palmeiro pointed his finger at committee members as he said: “I have never used steroids. Period.” Five months later, he was suspended for 10 games as a result of a positive steroids test.
The committee declined to ask the Justice Department to investigate him for perjury, in part because it felt it could not establish that Palmeiro was lying at the time he testified.
Unlike Palmeiro, Sosa testified after he had tested positive, not before, but it is not clear if the committee will want to pursue the matter.
The committee did refer Clemens to the Justice Department for investigation of perjury after he repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs in a public hearing in 2008, and Clemens’s statements are now being studied by a federal grand jury.
Bonds, who set a single-season home run record of 73 just three years after McGwire hit 70, holds the career mark for home runs, with 762. He is also the target of legal proceedings: he is awaiting trial on charges that he lied to a federal grand jury in December 2003 when he testified that he never knowingly used performance-enhancers.
Like Sosa, Bonds and Clemens last played in 2007 and, at this point, also seem destined to appear on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot. That fact, in itself, would seem to guarantee that the issue of drug use in baseball is likely to reverberate for years to come.