This is meant to lead to an open-ended question, and not a rhetorical question, for the readers:
Now evidence of drug use continues to mount against Lance Armstrong, one of the most beloved figures in American sports -- with the latest story coming from Sports Illustrated this week.
The question: Should Armstrong be viewed in the same light as Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro and other ballplayers linked to PEDs?
Of all the cases of the baseball players, Armstrong's most resembles that of Clemens -- in the face of a lot of evidence, Armstrong, like Clemens, has angrily denied use of performance-enhancing drugs, while attacking the credibility of his accusers. If Clemens and Armstrong have been lying, they are bald-faced, unrepentant lies.
And while Clemens has never had the warm and fuzzy image that Armstrong has, as the cyclist has helped lead the fight against cancer, the pitcher -- like Armstrong -- has done a whole lot of philanthropic work.
It's a tough question.
• Adrian Gonzalez tossed a baseball on Monday with his brother Edgar Gonzalez at the Gonzalez Sports Academy, the first time that the left-handed first baseman has played catch since having surgery on his right shoulder. Gonzalez, who was traded to the Red Sox in December, has been diligently rehabilitating his shoulder since his procedure -- we'll have a whole lot more on that in Thursday's column -- and he can feel the progress day by day. As he lay on a trainer's table at Petco Park on Monday, he was able to angle his shoulder in a way he could not even last week.
Assuming that his rehabilitation continues to go seamlessly, Gonzalez could start swinging a bat sometime in late February -- although the sense is that he might be ahead of schedule. Gonzalez may head to the Red Sox spring training facility the week of Feb. 7 to continue his conditioning and shoulder work.
• Gil Meche walked away from $12.4 million and retired. All he had to do to be paid that $12.4 million was to show up in spring training and go through a summer of shoulder rehabilitation work -- and heck, along the way, the Royals might've even told him to just go home and not worry about checking in regularly.
But Meche wasn't comfortable with that.
• A study has shown that steroids are easily obtainable on Amazon.com, writes Amy Shipley.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. It's all about arbitration these days, and among the teams that worked out arbitration deals with players were:
A) The Marlins, as Joe Capozzi writes.
B) The Braves, as David O'Brien writes.
F) The Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro writes.
G) The Nationals, as Adam Kilgore writes.
H) The Mets.
I) The Yankees.
J) The Orioles, as Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec write.
K) The Pirates, as Colin Dunlap writes.
L) The Phillies.
M) The Rockies, as Jim Armstrong writes.
N) The Giants, as Henry Schulman writes.
O) The Red Sox.
P) The Indians, as Paul Hoynes writes.
Q) The Reds.
R) The Cubs, as Paul Sullivan writes.
S) The White Sox, as Mark Gonzales writes.
T) The Dodgers and Angels, as Dylan Hernandez and Mike DiGiovanna write.
U) The Padres, as Bill Center writes.
The Blue Jays intend to go to a hearing or negotiate a multiyear deal with Jose Bautista; there is a huge gap between what the player is asking for and what the team is proposing. Bautista's request for $10.5 million is interesting, because there were rival executives who thought last July that the Blue Jays might be looking at an eight-figure arbitration number and would be more likely to trade Bautista because of that. But the Blue Jays appear comfortable with their number of $7.5 million. This will be an interesting decision, given that Bautista hadn't had much success until the second half of the 2009 season -- before putting up staggering numbers in 2010.
Generally, though, we've reached the point where it also seems strange for anybody to actually go through the arbitration process, because for the most part -- and there are the occasional exceptions -- everybody is working from the same formulas. The sophistication of this process is far enough along in its evolution that the general managers and agents are working from the same precedents and the same tables, and both sides have a good idea of where the numbers are supposed to fall.
For awhile, agent Scott Boras took some of his guys through arbitration. But he took some losses, and in recent years he's been settling his clients' cases -- like that of Prince Fielder, who set a record with his settlement.
2. The musical chairs continues with the DH/OF/1B slugger types, and while the market for relievers really didn't fall in the direction of the Rays in a way they might've hoped, Tampa Bay will likely get some pretty accomplished hitters for its lineup, whether it's someone like a Vladimir Guerrero or a Johnny Damon, or both. There are just not that many places for the Guerreros and Damons and Mannys to land right now.
3. By the way: If the season were to start now for the Blue Jays, Octavio Dotel or Jon Rauch would probably be the closer and Bautista would be the third baseman. But there could be more moves to come.
• The Polo Grounds are emerging from the shadows. A fun story by Richard Sandomir.
• Ryan Theriot is ready to take over at shortstop for the Cardinals, writes Derrick Goold. The Cardinals' choice to go with Theriot will probably be one of the most scrutinized decisions of the offseason. If he plays well, they'll look great; if not, they'll catch a lot of flak in St. Louis.
• A conga line has formed in the Minnesota bullpen.
• The Red Sox are hoping for a rebound from Josh Beckett.
• The Athletics have built a strong bullpen to back a good rotation, writes Susan Slusser.
• Condolences to Alfonso Soriano. As Enrique Rojas reports, his mother passed away at the age of 63.
• Vanderbilt needs to finish better. The Commodores are having trouble maintaining the flow of their offense when point guard Brad Tinsley isn't involved.
And today will be better than yesterday.