Baseball’s annual drug report came out yesterday and the results are not terribly surprising: 3,714 drug tests and 17 positives, only two of which were for PEDs used by Edinson Volquez and Ronny Paulino. The other positives were stimulants and recreational drugs.
These test results will lead to predictable statements from the predictable parties: Major League Baseball will crow about how low the drug-use rate is and will say it’s because of its tough testing regime. The anti-drug people like the World Anti-Doping Agency* will say it’s evidence that baseball is whitewashing a no-doubt rampant drug problem. It’s just what they do.
I’m more interested in another number: 105. That’s how many players got Theraputic Use Exemptions in order to be able to take the drug Adderall and similar ADD-treatment products. They’re stimulants, by the way, and they’re otherwise banned because they work like greenies. 105 players represents around 10 percent of those players who are tested. ADD occurs in something like three percent of the population. I don’t know enough about ADD to say anything particularly intelligent here, but I am curious to know what sort of medical documentation is needed before baseball grants a Theraputic Use Exemption. A doctor’s note? An exam? Must there be some evidence of ADD diagnosis in the player as a child? Because that’s when most ADD cases present themselves.
Or is this just the big loophole?
*I love how they have the word “Agency” in their title. You usually see that in government offices because the term “agency,” quite literally, speaks to a relationship in which one acts pursuant to the instructions of a greater power. The President is too busy to forecast the weather, so he appoints agents to do so: the National Weather Service. WADA, however, is not a government organization. It does not act under the orders of someone else. It’s a self-appointed group that promotes its services and — more importantly — its seal-of-approval to sports leagues and governing bodies. The use of the word “agency” is designed to make it sound more official and more powerful than it truly is. Which tells you an awful lot about WADA.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.