Economist (and Braves fan) J.C. Bradbury thinks the best way to deal with the scourge of HGH is to simply allow anyone who wants to use it to do so.
It’s an Insider article so many of you can’t see it, but Bradbury’s upshot is that (a) there is almost a total lack of evidence that HGH actually enhances performance on its own; (b) there is no way to distinguish any benefits it may itself confer upon an athlete from those confered by any steroids with which it is commonly mixed; (c) since blood tests for HGH are unreliable and invasive, and since we can already detect the steroid mixers with urine tests, why bother?; and (d) if you legalize HGH it will send the message to players that it really doesn’t do anything for them, and they will thus be more inclined to steer clear of it and, consequently, its negative side effects.
I’m a big fan of legalization of all manner of things that currently aren’t, and I agree with Bradbury that prohibition may have a glamorizing effect on what would otherwise be a drug that athletes bypass. But I also worry that these are ballplayers we’re talking about, and that they may not respond to prohibition/legalization incentives the way most people do. Ballplayers don’t change their underwear if they go on a hitting streak. They fear stepping on chalk lines. Might they not simply go crazy on HGH if it were legalized the same way Wade Boggs went crazy on pre-game chicken dinners?
Still, Bradbury’s is an idea worth thinking about. If married with a strong, consistent message that (a) HGH is not an effective PED; and (b) it can be bad for you in high dosages, such a plan could work. I just worry that too much time and energy has been invested in making it out to be a wonder drug and cure-all by everyone that truthful messages about its risks and efficacy would fall on deaf ears.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.