Report: MLB Holding Up The Yoan Moncada Proceedings, Not US OFAC (UPDATED)

Here’s an interesting new wrinkle in the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes.  According to this report by Ben Badler, the holdup in getting him unblocked and eligible to sign does not reside with the US Dept. of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as many believed, but rather with MLB itself.

“Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s ‘general license,’ which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC…

“MLB issued the following statement to Baseball America on Sunday: ‘MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements.’

Except, by the OFAC guidelines, Moncada has met the criteria of the general license to be considered unblocked, and he is not alone.

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Choo-Choo!! The A-Rod Hate Train Is Back On The Rails

Baseball is inching closer and closer to being back, and that can mean only one thing.  It’s time for the A-Rod Hate Train to come back into town!  It’s been a while since that line ran through, but if you mind the gap on your way in and keep your tickets out, we’ll be on our way.

With the start of Spring Training a month and change away, the topic has naturally shifted from A-Rod’s legal issues to his on-field activities.  Everybody knows he’s been working out for a while in preparation for his return, but all the offseason moves have essentially limited him to semi-regular DH/backup third base duties.  According to the New York Post, he’s fine with that:

“’Alex is looking at this season as a fresh start,’ one friend said. ‘He’s prepared to do the best he can in his role as a DH, but he is also preparing to play third base, knowing there will be times that Headley needs a break.

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Yankees Not Valuing Their Own Free Agents

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees may be willing to go to four years for free agent reliever Andrew Miller since it will surely take that to sign him. Meanwhile, they are still resistant to make that same commitment to their own free agent reliever David Robertson.

There are some legitimate reasons for this. Miller will cost less because he has less of a track record and the Yankees would gain a draft pick for losing Robertson to another team. However, should a few bucks and a pick really stop them from choosing a guy with a one-year track record over a guy who has been one of the best players on their team over the last six years?

Starting with Robinson Cano last year, this would be the second straight season in which the Yankees let a great homegrown player go, instead choosing outside guys to fill positions of need. These are the Yankees, they’re not supposed to be letting their best guys leave via free agency with their money.…

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On Hot Stove Rumoring For The Sake Of Rumoring, Or “Hey, Did You Hear About The Yankees And Max Scherzer?”

Scherzer vs TOR

BREAKING: Still not a Yankee. Not even close

Has everybody had a chance to check around the Yankosphere and baseball blog circuit yet today?  If you have, you were no doubt bombared with stories about the Yankees and Max Scherzer kinda, sorta, maybe, possibly being linked.  Via Jon Heyman:

“So far this offseason, there hasn’t been much that’s new and interesting tied to the Yankees– baseball’s most storied franchise and usually among its most active winter players.

And there has been very little, if anything, that’s been linked to right-hander Max Scherzer — baseball’s top free-agent pitcher.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there’s a chance that the Yankees and Scherzer may start becoming tied together, at least in terms of talk. It’s a match that might make sense.”

At face value, no.  That wouldn’t be a surprise.  Big money players are always linked to the Yankees during hot stove season, and they have a very apparent and widely-known need for starting pitching.  …

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Choo-Choo!! Time To Fire Up The A-Rod Hate Train Again

Alex Rodriguez Arriving at  MLB Offices  in NYC

Courtesy of Splash News

Alex Rodriguez‘s suspension has been lifted, he’s back on the 40-man roster, and he’s working out in preparation for his return to the field in 2015.  You know what that means, right?  Time for the New York media to get their collective A-Rod smear games back in action!  Yeah!!  Because a guy who’s already been outed as a steroid user for the better part of the last 15 years, targeted and treated by MLB and the media as the biggest PED offender in the history of organized sports, and had his reputation and credibility completely destroyed in the process obviously needs to be the focus of more steroid-related stories, right?

For instance, did you guys know that A-Rod paid off his cousin who was his drug handler back in the day to keep him from going to media and telling his story of Alex’s PED use?

“In court documents filed last week in Miami, federal prosecutors say Rodriguez paid $900,000 last year to settle a threatened lawsuit by Yuri Sucart, who had worked as Rodriguez’s personal assistant.

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The Puerto Rico Rays? Sí, se puede…

Yankee fans following road trips to A.L. East rivals may not have to visit one of MLB’s most humdrum parks and cities much longer: frustrated with MLB-low attendance and a notoriously weak park, the Tampa Bay Rays’ owner “has discussed moving the club … to Montreal.” Believe or don’t believe reports that “play[ing] to a half-empty (or worse) stadium night after night … wore on Maddon” in his decision to leave the team he managed for nine years. But clearly the Rays, despite being roughly tied with the A’s as the team most praised for innovative decision-making, are also roughly tied with the A’s as MLB’s most troubled team; the hit they’ll take from losing simultaneously one of the most respected GMs and one of the most respected managers just compounds their structural attendance and park problems.

Yet a team looking for a more devoted fan base would be making a curious decision by shacking up with Montreal, the one city MLB jilted by permanently confiscating its MLB team for lack of local support.…

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The One Where I Rant About Mark Teixeira’s Perceived Lack Of Desire

Teix Foul Territory

Mark Teixeira was a guest host on “Mike And Mike” this morning and a quick sample of tweets I saw makes it sound like he was pretty entertaining.  If you’re a Mark Teixeira fan, you probably already knew this and probably checked it out.  What you might have missed was this post by Wally Matthews last Friday that took some jabs at Teix’s desire and quoted an anonymous “baseball insider” who suggested that Teix’s off-field interests are part of the reason he has declined on the field over the past few seasons:

“A baseball insider I spoke with this week said Teixeira’s ‘outside interests’ — he is financially involved in real estate holdings, a chain of juice bars, and is working to create what he called a “marriage of baseball and social media” — had become a point of concern, with some wondering how badly he still wanted to be a baseball player.”

I’m not even going to get into whether or not it’s fair or right for writers to be taking shots at Teix’s perceived level of desire and effort when the guy has already said he’s going to work out all offseason to make up for how poorly his body held up this year.  …

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Report: Yanks Don’t Have “A Serious Interest” In Yasmany Tomas

Well this isn’t good news:

“According to an industry source, the Yankees don’t appear to have a serious interest in Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas.”

This report by George King cites an anticipated price tag in the $100 million range as the primary reason for the Yanks passing on Tomas, which I don’t and will never understand.  I don’t care how much money they spent last offseason or on whom.  The Yankees still possess the greatest financial advantage over the rest of MLB and they should not be afraid to use it.  If the goal really is to put a “championship-caliber” team on the field, how can you pass on a 24-year-old with grade 70 right-handed power and a plus outfield arm?  Where is that guy in your farm system right now that allows you to say you can’t afford that player?

“What’s that?  Potentially the next Jose Abreu and we can lock him up through the best years of his prime without sacrificing a draft pick?  

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It Could Be Worse, Gang. The Yankees Could Have Ned Yost As Their Manager

Ned Yost

Every page in his binder says “Sac Bunt” in size 150 font. Courtesy of Getty Images

If you didn’t watch last night’s AL Wild Card game, you’re probably bummed out that you missed an all-time postseason classic and you should be.  It was an incredibly dramatic, entertaining game.  If you did watch it, you’re probably wondering how the Royals managed to win that game against such insurmountable odds.  Not the odds put against them by their opponent, oh no.  The odds put against them by their own manager.

Ned Yost put on a clinic in how to lose a winner-take-all game last night.  He lifted his ace starting pitcher early despite him pitching pretty well, went to a rookie starter in relief who had thrown 70+ pitches only 2 days ago, and watched as that rookie gave up a go-ahead home run.  When that 6th inning started to spiral, he elected not to go to his best reliever in the ‘pen to shut down the inning.  …

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