Rafael Palmeiro insists he never took PEDs

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Mel Antonen conducted a long interview of Rafael Palmeiro over at SI.com.  Palmeiro says that he didn’t take steroids, that his positive test from 2005 was a mix-up and that getting elected to the Hall of Fame “would mean more than anything” to him.

No one is going to believe him of course, and it’s not going to change his Hall of Fame chances one iota.  He has no shot of getting in. Not if he “comes clean,” not if he does anything. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about making sure we understand our uncertainty when it comes to PEDs and not just assume someone did or didn’t do drugs based on their forearms or what have you. But at some point there’s enough out there to make even guys like me shake our heads and say “sorry, dude, but the benefit of the doubt is over.”  Unless someone can establish that the testing in place is entrapping guys, that line is when the player tests positive.

But like I’ve also said on a number of occasions, positive tests aren’t automatic disqualifications for me. They’re just part of the mix. I’d discount the accomplishments of a known user and do my best to figure out if PEDs made the difference between a guy being Hall-worthy or not.  In Plameiro’s case, I think it’s quite possible they were the difference.  And even if that’s a close call, his time as a DH and the ballparks he called home and the very offensive era in which he played have to dial his case down a bit too. Five-hundred homers and 3000 hits is awesome, but with all of Palmeiro’s discounts I’d have a hard time voting for the guy.

I feel bad for him because it sounds like his past five years have been a drag, but if I’m going to the Hall of Fame mat for anyone, it’s not going to be Rafael Palmerio.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.