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The BP First Take 

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04-05

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The BP First Take: Thursday, April 5
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Daniel Rathman

04-04

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, April 4
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Daniel Rathman

04-02

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11

The BP First Take: Monday, April 2
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Daniel Rathman

03-30

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The BP First Take: Friday, March 30
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Daniel Rathman

03-28

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 28
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03-26

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 26
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Daniel Rathman

03-21

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 21
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Daniel Rathman

03-20

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, March 20
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03-19

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 12
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03-15

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The BP First Take: Thursday, March 15
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03-13

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, March 13
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03-12

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 12
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03-08

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The BP First Take: Thursday, March 8
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03-07

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, March 7
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03-05

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The BP First Take: Monday, March 5
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03-02

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The BP First Take: Friday, March 2
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02-29

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 29
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02-27

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The BP First Take: Monday, February 27
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02-24

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The BP First Take: Friday, February 24
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02-22

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 22
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02-21

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, February 21
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02-20

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The BP First Take: Monday, February 20
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The BP First Take: Friday, February 17
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02-16

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The BP First Take: Thursday, February 16
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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 15
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The BP First Take: Tuesday, February 14
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22

The BP First Take: Monday, February 13
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02-10

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14

The BP First Take: Friday, February 10
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02-08

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 8
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02-07

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, February 7
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02-06

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The BP First Take: Monday, February 6
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02-03

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The BP First Take: Friday, February 3
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The BP First Take: Thursday, February 2
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The BP First Take: Wednesday, February 1
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01-31

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 31
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01-30

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The BP First Take: Monday, January 30
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01-26

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The BP First Take: Thursday, January 26
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01-25

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, January 25
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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 24
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01-23

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16

The BP First Take: Monday, January 23
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01-20

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The BP First Take: Friday, January 20
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01-18

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The BP First Take: Wednesday, January 18
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01-17

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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 17
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01-16

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The BP First Take: Monday, January 16
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01-13

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The BP First Take: Friday, January 13
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01-12

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9

The BP First Take: Thursday, January 12
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The BP First Take: Tuesday, January 10
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01-09

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3

The BP First Take: Curtains for Posada
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Daniel Rathman

01-06

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The BP First Take: Friday, December 6
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01-05

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The BP First Take: Thursday, January 5
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PEDs made headlines again on Wednesday, but an unearthed claim about random testing is particularly troubling.

Any day when performance-enhancing drugs rule the headlines is a bad day for baseball. That was certainly the case on Wednesday, as four stories—all fitting in their own way under the PED umbrella—supplanted Prince Fielder’s blockbuster deal atop the news wire.

First, a Hardball Talk readers sleuthing unearthed a Dominican paper’s coverage of a banquet, during which Jose Bautista claimed that he has been tested for steroids 16 times during the past two years. Then, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio issued a statement informing fans that Ryan Braun will not be attending the team’s On Deck event this weekend, in the wake of his appeal of the 50-game suspension handed down in December. Later, Daryle Ward, who hasn’t seen a big-league at-bat since 2008, was caught using amphetamines and told he’d have to sit out 50 games, if he ever gets the chance to return. Finally, lefty reliever Dustin Richardson was slapped with an identical ban, after his tests came back positive for five different PEDs, according to Keith Law.

Read the full article...

J.D. Drew's career was solid, but it leaves fans yearning for more and wondering what might have been.

Earlier this week, word began to spread about J.D. Drew hanging up his cleats. On Tuesday afternoon, Jon Heyman confirmed the retirement rumors. Just hours later, the story was an afterthought, thanks to Prince Fielder’s blockbuster deal with the Tigers.

If this is indeed the end for Drew, he will leave behind what, by most standards, is an excellent career. Over 1,566 big-league games, he was worth 39.8 WARP—a total most players would be thrilled with. Drew was the second overall pick in the 1997 first-year player draft, and hit 242 home runs. He won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2007, and was the MVP of the All-Star Game in 2008. Yet, for all of those accomplishments, Drew could never kick the nasty habit of leaving fans wanting more.

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The Astros' new stadium policies give Houston its own take on the "extra 2%."

One of the best baseball books of the past few years, Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2% took an in-depth look at owner Stuart Sternberg’s rebuilding of the Tampa Bay Rays. After taking over one of the worst franchises in the league, Sternberg took a holistic approach—a “52-48” approach, as he described it—going beyond improving the team’s roster, and taking considerable steps to change the way the organization was viewed by its fans in the St. Petersburg-Tampa Bay area.

Sternberg’s predecessor, Vince Naimoli, had alienated fans with penny-pinching practices that worked in the business world, but failed miserably in the baseball industry. A similar story unfolded in Houston during the past several years, as general manager Ed Wade made mistakes that resulted in the league’s worst on-field product, while owner Drayton McLane enacted or maintained policies that left fans thinking twice about coming to Minute Maid Park.

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The Red Sox' decision to dump Marco Scutaro is questionable.

Apart from legitimate aces, quality shortstops that contribute on both sides of the ball might be the hardest commodity to come by. The Red Sox had one in Marco Scutaro, a solid defender who had a triple slash of .299/.358/.423 last season, but they traded him to the Rockies for a pitcher with a career FIP of 5.57.

General manager Ben Cherington had his reasons. The $6 million Boston was set to pay Scutaro in 2012 was allegedly standing in his way of signing a free-agent starting pitcher. The Red Sox have alternatives on their roster, such as Mike Aviles and Nick Punto, who might be able to handle the position in Scutaro’s stead. The aforementioned pitcher, Clayton Mortensen, has an enticing sinker that may have helped Cherington overlook the ugly numbers.

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The decision to offer Francisco Rodriguez arbitration has hurt the Brewers this offseason.

The Brewers’ payroll is set to crack the $100 million mark for the first time in franchise history this season. According to general manager Doug Melvin, that puts the team “way over” its budget. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel goes on to explain that bringing back Prince Fielder was never feasible—even on a short-term deal—because of the raises due to fellow position players Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Ryan Braun. But the more interesting implication here is Melvin’s apparent error in offering arbitration to Francisco Rodriguez.

As I wrote last week, GMs and agents overplaying their hand in the relief market has been a recurring theme this offseason. The K-Rod situation is just another example. Coming off a season during which he was worth only 0.7 WARP and saw his strikeout rate drop by nearly three percent, Rodriguez was nonetheless a Type-A free agent. The thought of picking up two draft picks proved too tempting for the Brewers to resist.

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While Victor Martinez's injury is bad for the Tigers, it's not a fatal blow to their playoff hopes.

Hope springs eternal as spring training approaches—and then something like this happens. The Tigers found out on Tuesday that Victor Martinez tore the ACL in his left knee, and the 33-year-old is likely to require surgery, which would leave him sidelined for all of the 2012 season.

Detroit was viewed as a favorite to repeat atop the American League Central this year, and at first glance, Martinez’s absence seems a crushing blow. Losing the number-five hitter hurts any lineup, particularly when that hitter posted a robust .330/.380/.470 triple slash the previous season. But a closer look reveals that Martinez’s production may not be irreplaceable.

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The swap between the A's and the Rockies is a head-scratcher for both parties.

Eight years ago, Seth Smith was backing up Eli Manning on the Ole Miss football team.  Now, he’s backing him up in the headlines.  A day after Manning helped the New York Giants reach the NFC title game, Smith was traded to the A’s for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman

The 29-year-old Smith was rumored to be on the trade market since the start of the offseason, but general manager Dan O’Dowd could not find a taker until after the outfielder avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.4 million deal with Colorado. And the deal O’Dowd finally made with Billy Beane seems strange from both sides. 

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The new CBA makes the Michael Pineda deal worthwhile for the Yankees.

On December 4, Joel Sherman of the New York Post explained why the Yankees were unlikely to make a free-agent splash this offseason. The new collective bargaining agreement provided tremendous incentives for Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners to begin paring their payroll down, with a two-year goal of dropping it below $189 million, the luxury tax threshold in 2014.

Forty days later, Cashman sought to accomplish that goal in one fell swoop. He acquired Michael Pineda and Jose Campos from the Mariners—pitchers he believes will form forty percent of the Yankees’ rotation in 2014 and allow them to control costs. Initial reactions from fans on Twitter suggested that the Yankees gave up too much, and Cashman himself even admitted that he gave up a player who could be the second coming of Mike Piazza or Miguel Cabrera.  But even if that were the case, the new CBA’s incentives make it worthwhile.

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Everyone is talking about the Prince, but where will Carlos Pena land this offseason?

Carlos Pena is well on his way to being baseball’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” man. Heading into his age-34 season, Pena has been with Texas, Oakland, Detroit, Boston, Tampa Bay, and Chicago, and he is likely to add a seventh organization to that list by the end of the offseason. For comparison, Matt Stairs had only worn five different big-league uniforms at the same age.

Pena’s next home remains a mystery, though; he continues to play second fiddle to Prince Fielder among free-agent first basemen. One of the league’s few consistent power threats, Pena has cranked at least 28 home runs in each of the last five seasons, but he has also struck out at least 142 times annually during that span.

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The Phillies' decision to sign Jonathan Papelbon early may have sent out a ripple effect for free-agent closers.

 

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Juan Nicasio is on the comeback trail, and he might be an early favourite for the Comeback Player of the Year award.

There are few scarier moments in life than seeing a baseball hurtling toward your head at 100 mph. Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio experienced that firsthand on August 5, when an Ian Desmond comebacker struck him near the right temple before the righty had time to react. Remarkably, less than six months after suffering a fractured vertebra in his neck, Nicasio is back on the mound.

Before the injury, the 25-year-old Nicasio logged a 4.14 ERA and 3.62 FIP in 71 2/3 innings during his rookie season. With “solid stuff and excellent command,” Nicasio ranked as the Rockies’ 13th-best prospect a year ago. The cup of coffee in 2011 showed that—health permitting—Colorado could count on Nicasio to supplant the departed Aaron Cook in its rotation next year. Now, he appears on track to compete for the job.

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The Yankees' longtime backstop called it a career on Saturday. Now the only question that remains is whether he'll be in Cooperstown someday.

Whenever an elite player announces his retirement, one of my first thoughts is whether said player is a Hall of Famer. That was certainly the case on Saturday, as news broke that Jorge Posada has decided to hang up his cleats.

A few minutes of musing typically yields a firm answer, but I remained on the fence about Posada. A quick poll of my Twitter followers also elicited mixed results. The seven replies included one “yes,” one “no,” and five answers suggesting that he deserves to stay on the ballot for several years, but may not ultimately be worthy of enshrinement.

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