Draft blog: Picks 16-50 – Cubs, Yankees pull off surprises

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Cubs selected RHP Hayden Simpson with the 16th pick in the draft.
A big surprise. Simpson, a product of Southern Arkansas, wasn’t viewed as a first-round arm. Most didn’t see him going in the first three rounds. The Cubs must see something special about him, but as far as we know, he’s a low-90s guy with no standout offspeed pitch.
Rays took outfielder Josh Sale with the 17th pick.
Sale offers plenty of power, but it will be up to his new team to turn him into a hitter, as he has a couple of holes in his swing right now. The question on defense is whether he’ll last in right field or if his lack of speed will put him at first base.
The Angels selected 3B/RHP Kaleb Cowart (18th), RHP Cam Bedrosian (29th) and OF Chevy Clarke (30th) with their three first-round picks Monday.
Three Georgia high school products. Cowart was announced as a third baseman, which is what he prefers. Many teams, though, were higher on him as a pitcher. Bedrosian has the big fastball-slider combo to follow in the footsteps of his father Steve, who saved 184 games as a major leaguer. Clarke is a speedy center fielder with some power potential. None of these guys will help the Angels for a few years, but there wasn’t a reach in the bunch.
The Red Sox selected 2B Kolbrin Vitek (20th), OF Bryce Brentz (36th) and RHP Anthony Ranuado (39th) with their three picks Monday.
Vitek, rumored to the Padres at No. 9, has already agreed to terms and is expected to move to third base immediately. The hope is that he’ll stay there, though it’s possible he’ll end up in the outfield. The Ball State product has a polished bat that should allow him to move through the minors quickly. He’s a future 20-homer guy. Brentz was another one of the best hitters in college this year. He has on-base skills to go along with possible 20-homer power, and he should be a pretty good defender in right field. Ranuado, an LSU product, was one of the players the Red Sox were often connected with at No. 20. His stock took a hit due to an elbow injury that took a toll on his velocity this year, but he has a great fastball-curveball combo when he’s on.
Twins took RHP Alex Wimmers with the 21st pick in the draft.
Wimmers to Minnesota was considered the surest thing of the second half of round one. A lack of velocity kept him from going in the top 10, but he has a plus curve and changeup to go along with his 88-92 mph fastball and the command is there for him to move quickly. The Twins aren’t usually aggressive with their prospects, but if they have need of him, Wimmers might be ready to help by mid-2011.
Cardinals selected third baseman Zack Cox with the 25th pick in the MLB draft.
A draft-eligible sophomore, Cox could be a tough sign, since he’d lose little leverage by returning to Arkansas for another year. That he didn’t go in the top 10 as expected would seem to increase the chances that he’ll head back to school. Cox has a promising left-handed bat that should allow him to hit for average and power. However, his defense at third base is rather rough and he might end up in the outfield.
The Yankees took high school shortstop Cito Culver with the final pick in the first round Monday.
The last time the Yankees took a high school shortstop in the first round was 2005, and C.J. Henry proved to be a complete bust. Of course, the one before that worked out better. Culver wasn’t a first-round pick in the eyes of most, but he has the range to stay at shortstop and he’s a switch-hitter. He’ll be quite a project.
The Tigers chose third baseman Nick Castellanos (44th) and RHP Chance Ruffin (48th) with their two supplemental first-round picks Monday.
Detroit lost its first-round pick for signing Jose Valverde, but that didn’t slow the team down. Castellanos may have gone in the top 15 if not for his University of Miami (Fla.) commitment. He could displayed 25- to 30-homer power in time. Ruffin, the son of former major leaguer Burce Ruffin, was viewed as one of the draft’s top relief prospects. His fastball-slider combination could get him to the majors in a hurry.

Dee Gordon’s suspension is likely to lead to a call for harsher PED penalties

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Associated Press
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Objectively speaking there is no difference between Dee Gordon’s suspension for PEDs and anyone else’s. Abraham Almonte, for example. Or Cameron Maybin. Or David Rollins. All were guys who got their 80 games, served their time, came back and whose cases didn’t raise too much of a fuss. But Gordon’s suspension will almost certainly be talked about longer and more loudly and will likely lead to calls for harsher penalties and changes to the PED suspension rules.

Part of it is simply fame. He’s a pretty big name as far as these things go. The biggest since the Biogenesis guys a couple of years ago. He won the batting title last year. He’s the son of a famous major leaguer. There is a direct correlation between the volume and intensity of the narratives applied to one’s story and the fame of the subject of the story. For that reason alone Gordon’s story will last longer and loom larger.

Another reason — a bigger reason, I think — is timing. Gordon was seen by many to have had a breakout season in 2015 and, when it was over, he was rewarded for it with a nice five-year $50 million deal. The narrative will arise by, oh, 9AM today, that the suspension was “worth it” for Gordon and that he cashed in because of it, rendering his suspension a mere slap on the wrist. This is especially true given that his deal is severely backloaded. He’ll lose less than $2 million in salary in 2016 while collecting the other $48 million-plus. Totally worth it!

I understand why people will say that, but such a stance has some serious flaws. Among them:

  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows when Gordon began to take PEDs;
  • It assumes that we or anyone else knows how, in fact, Gordon’s performance was actually enhanced;
  • It forgets that lots and lots of people were talking about how Gordon’s “breakout season” was actually 2014, not 2015, rendering that whole “he juiced and then got his money” argument fairly problematic.

Those points will likely be ignored as arguments in favor of harsher penalties grow louder. Ken Rosenthal reminds us this morning that some have called for some form of contract voiding or clawing back of more money than just the salary earned while on suspension. Those calls too will likely grow louder. There will also be calls for changes in the appeal process. Like this one, which came moments after Gordon’s suspension was announced:

When you have an actual union member angrily call for the repeal of a collectively-bargained protection in punishment situations, you’re sort of through the looking glass. Or past a tipping point. Or something. You’re certainly in a world where the usual dynamics between employer and employee are not operative and, as a result, changes are inevitable. As we noted recently, players today are perhaps more adamantly anti-PED than the owners and the league are. They’re competitors reacting to cheating by their competition. The fuel for stronger penalties is likely to come more from them than anyone.

The union and the league will be negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this year. Performance enhancing drugs and their penalties will be a part of that. Expect harsher penalties and possibly different sorts of rules altogether. Expect Dee Gordon to be the poster child for these changes, even if his case is no different in form than that of Abraham Almonte, Cameron Maybin, or David Rollins. Expect emotion, rather than logic, to lead the coming debate.

And That Happened: Thursdays scores and highlights

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, right, is congratulated by catcher Tyler Flowers after earning a save during a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, April 28, 2016. The Braves defeated the Red Sox 5-3. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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Gonna mail this one in this morning. Partially because of the light slate of games yesterday, partially because of a late night for me but mostly because of the Dee Gordon news which has me thinking of a lot of other things I want to write about this AM.

It’s worth noting that the Braves won a game. It comes just ahead of a series at Wrigley against the Cubs, so the winning streak will likely last a single day, but the 2016 Braves have to take what they can get.

The Marlins had a notable night outside the Gordon news too, finishing off a sweep of the Dodgers, which had to make Don Mattingly happy. For what it’s worth, Gordon singled in a run and then came around to score in the seventh. His RBI tied it and the run he scored ended up being the one necessary for the Marlins’ margin of victory. That means nothing, but you know some jackwagons are gonna make a big deal out of that and I figured I’d get ahead of the jackwagons and note that, yes, Gordon and the Marlins knew what was coming before it was announced because that’s how the appeals process works, but no, it makes no difference, because that’s how the appeals process works.

Anyway: Here are the rest of the scores:

Tigers 7, Athletics 3
Cubs 7, Brewers 2
Phillies 3, Nationals 0
Orioles 10, White Sox 2
Braves 5, Red Sox 3
Diamondbacks 3, Cardinals 0
Marlins 5, Dodgers 3
Pirates vs. Rockies — POSTPONED
: In the early morning rain with a dollar in my hand. And an aching in my heart, and my pockets full of sand. I’m a long way from home, and I miss my loved one so. In the early morning rain with no place to go.

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs

deegordon
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LOS ANGELES — Dee Gordon has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after the Miami Marlins second baseman tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Gordon tested positive for exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, MLB said in a release after the Marlins’ 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

The fleet-footed Gordon won the National League batting title by hitting .333 last season and signed a $50 million, 5-year deal with Miami in January. He’s made two All-Star teams in his six seasons and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at second base last year.

Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, had a key hit in Miami’s win over the Dodgers on Thursday. He’s batting .266 with six stolen bases this season.

Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him,” Marlins president David Samson said. “That said, I don’t like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It’s a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization every single day.

“He will be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization. But in the interim period, we expect him, and we are positive that he will do everything that’s necessary to make it up to his fans, to his teammates and to this organization.”

Devon Travis will start taking at-bats in extended spring training

Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis hits a RBI double to center field against the Tampa Bay Rays during third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 15, 2015 in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)  MANDATORY CREDIT
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis underwent left shoulder surgery last September. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm caught up with Jays head athletic trainer George Poulis for updates on several injured players, including Travis. Here’s what Poulis had to say about Travis:

“He’s going to get some live at-bats with the extended team down in Florida on Friday. Big step for him, he’s very excited, he’s doing great, and we’re very optimistic, but no timeline right now on his return. We’re just going day by day, step by step.

“When you have something like that, it continues to heal even when you’re playing. We’re just trying to acclimate him and condition him to withstand all of the stress that he’s going to put on his shoulder … He won’t play in the field right now. We’ll mix that in, as well, but right now he’s just going to get some at-bats.”

The key phrase, of course, is “no timetable”. The second baseman’s rehab has gone slower than expected. Getting into some extended spring training games, though, signals progress.

Travis, 25, broke out last season, hitting .304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 239 plate appearances last season. The Jays have had Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney handle second base duties this year, but their aggregate .560 OPS is the worst mark in the American League.