Juan Gonzalez on steroids: "I never used any of that stuff"

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Juan Gonzaelz.jpgJuan Gonzalez sat for an interview with ESPNDeportes.com on Monday, during which he denied ever taking steroids, saying “I never used any of that stuff,” and saying “I have nothing to hide. Nothing.” This is consistent with what he said in 2005: “It’s not true . . . I never saw needles. I never saw pills. I never saw
anything . . . The only guys who have put needles in my body are
doctors.”

George Mitchell, you may recall, reported differently:

On the evening of October 4, 2001, Canadian Border Service officers working at Toronto’s international airport discovered steroids, syringes, and clenbuterol in an unmarked duffel bag during an airport search of luggage that had been unloaded from the Cleveland Indians flight from Kansas City. Ted Walsh, the Indians equipment and clubhouse manager who was present during the search, recognized the bag as one that had been sent down to be included with the luggage by Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez when the Indians left Kansas City . . .

. . . Joshue Perez, a member of Juan Gonzalez’s entourage, claimed the duffel bag . . . he told [Border Service Officers] that the bag belonged to Angel (“Nao”) Presinal, Gonzalez’s  personal trainer, who would be arriving in Toronto on a later flight. As soon as he arrived at the hotel, Presinal was detained by law enforcement officers. In an interview at the hotel, Presinal denied that the bag belonged to him and asserted that it belonged to, and had been packed by, Gonzalez.

Gonzalez’s comments about the Mitchell Report: “What does Mitchell know about baseball? He never played baseball.”  Because that so clearly has anything to do with anything.

The Mitchell Report was a severely flawed enterprise, but that’s simply because it was tremendously under-inclusive, gathering only the lowest hanging fruit of baseball’s PED problem. There has been no credible evidence, however, to suggest that anything that was included in it was inaccurate.  More to the point, the story about Gonzalez’s bag has never been refuted, and his relationship with trainer Angel Presinal — a man so steroid-tainted that baseball banned him from clubhouses even while it was turning a blind eye towards the Kirk Radomskis, Brian McNamees and Greg Andersons of the world — is problematic, to say the least.

Gonzalez’s denial should be seen for what it is: a counter-factual public relations exercise. And while we’re talking about him, he didn’t deserve either of his MVP awards.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.