From the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin.

Angels owner Arte Moreno (above) said Sunday he would not let the uncertain situation surrounding center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. linger into the regular season.

“It’s going to be resolved by opening day, one way or the other. I promise you that,” Moreno said.

“I’m not a very happy guy. It should have already been resolved.”

Moreno, who signed Matthews to a five-year, $50-million contract in November, would not elaborate on the meaning of “one way or the other.”

I’m sure that Donald Fehr gets a kick out of any suggestion Matthews might be denied due process, or punished for ordering drugs that weren’t on MLB’s list of banned substances.

Oliver Perez (3 IP, 1 earned run, 2 hits, 3 K’s, no walks) and Alay Soler (3 IP, 4 hits, 1 earned run, no walks) were fairly sharp in the Mets’ 2-1 loss to Cleveland today, though much like David Roth last week, I think it is a shame SNY’s cameras can’t loiter around a bit longer after the game to watch the baserunning punishment drills.

In glorious HD, the Yanks are trailing the Tigers, 5-4 through 6 1/2, and Joel Zumaya just blew away Doug Mientkiewicz. The lack of a faux-guitar windmill celebration might be down to the date being March 5, or perhaps because it was only Doug Mientkiewicz.

“No Asterisk” was the title of Michael Sokolove’s profile of Ryan Howard in yesterday’s Play Magazine, and while I think it is a little early to proclaim anyone 100% clean (not until we see if Howard is on Gary Matthews Jr.’s buddy list), Mike Carminati is particularly outraged over the Phillies’ treatment of their slugging first baseman.

By signing Howard to a $900K one-year contract, the Phils made him the highest paid not-yet-arbitration eligible player in baseball history, or some such verbiage, according to ESPN.

That’s fine and dandy, but did anyone notice that a day or two earlier the Giants signed 22-year-old rookie pitcher, Matt Cain, who has a slightly better than average ERA but a very good strikeout ratio, to a four-year $9M deal.

The truth is that the Phils delayed Howard’s ascent to the majors far too long and the only way he earned a starting spot was due to a Jim Thome injury when Howard was already 25. While Howard was stuck in the Phils system, the fans were told a myriad of reasons why his great stats in the minors would never translate into the majors. He can’t hit the curve, he can’t hit lefties, he has minor-league power, he is unteachable, etc.

Remember this is a team that had Chase Utley, the best second baseman in the league, platooning to start off 2005 as well.

If I ran this team, I would have played Solomon and split the big paycheck that they gave Utley this year between the two players. Then again, I wouldn’t have signed Wes Helms and Adam Eaton