Major League Baseball announced a few moments ago that it will immediately begin testing for HGH in the minor leagues. That sound you hear is a thousand writers and commentators preparing their “good for baseball for finally getting tough” column/blog post/TV talking head spot. Don’t buy a bit of it.
For starters, this is not news. It was leaked back in February that this would be happening. Now it is happening. Anyone who calls this move “surprising” is not really following PED stories.
More significantly, the HGH test baseball will be using is the same one mentioned back in February: the test a British rugby league used to catch one of its players. What will likely be left out of these new columns is that (a) the rugby player was the first one in several years of alleged HGH testing to ever be caught; and (b) he was only caught because testing officials received a tip the night before that the player had received a big honking shipment of HGH. If the rugby league was really using the test, it never caught anyone through random testing.
Which can be explained by one of two things, neither of which speak well of the test in question: (1) the test gives almost universal false negatives; or (2) because HGH’s duration in the blood stream — 24-48 hours according to most experts — is too short for random testing to ever work. Shoe leather and stool pigeons are the only way anyone has ever been caught for using HGH, and that’s likely to remain the case.
Finally, because Major League Baseball does not have the stomach to engage the MLBPA on implementation of the test, the testing will be limited to the minor leagues and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.
The upshot: No one except the most clueless will ever be caught by this test and the big league players from whom the PED hawks think we need protection will never be tested. Other than that, fabulous.
At least, if you like exercises in public relations.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote three weeks ago that the Marlins were probably going to explore an extension this winter with second baseman Dee Gordon. And it sounds like those talks are underway.
Via beat writer Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
As a guest on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” show Wednesday morning, Gordon confirmed his camp has been in talks with the Marlins regarding a multiyear deal. A source told MLB.com that the discussions are preliminary and have just recently started.
“My agent is doing the talking,” Gordon said on the show. “They’re just keeping me in the loop. I think it’s going pretty well right now. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just playing the waiting game. We’re going to do the right thing.”
The 27-year-old carries three more seasons of salary arbitration, so there’s no real rush to get something done before next spring. Gordon carries quite a bit of leverage after posting a career-best .333/.359/.418 slash line in 145 games this past season for the Fish. He led all major leaguers in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).
Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.
Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.
In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.
The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:
Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.
Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.
Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.
He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.