Hard Labor

Great Moments in Bad Ideas for PED Punishments

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Remember before there was PED testing and all of the PED-crusaders talked about how nothing could be trusted and no accomplishment could be considered legitimate until there was PED testing?  How they talked about a regular, routine PED enforcement regime would be the key to ending the PED epidemic and hysteria?

Well, we’ve had that for a long time now, but it hasn’t changed anything.  Despite the fact that a positive drug test and suspension should be held up as evidence that the system is working as designed, any time a major leaguer tests positive for something and gets suspended, people come out of the woodwork to assert how our regular and routine testing regime we have is awful. That it is somehow evidence that it is itself ineffective. That we need to implement some new and ever-more-draconian punishment.

In that vein comes a suggestion from ESPN’s Michael Smith. He was on “Around the Horn” a little while ago and echoed something he tweeted this afternoon:

In other words, deduct five wins from the Giants current win total to reflect Melky’s tainted contribution to it.

Points for creativity — I haven’t heard about a team forfeiting wins outside of NCAA football — but not many points for practicality. Indeed, it is not just impractical (who gets those wins that were lost? How does it work in the standings?) it is arbitrary. That’s because it does more to punish the clean teammates of the drug user than it does to punish the actual drug user.  And that’s before you get into the fact that no one, not even its most ardent proponents, has been able to reach anything approaching a consensus on the best approach to calculating WAR, let alone its utility, especially in single-season samples.

Not that that last part matters. Indeed, I tend to believe that a seemingly-sensible but ultimately nonsensical punishment like the one Smith suggests is going to most appeal to the people who are the least likely to understand statistics like WAR in the first place.

UPDATE: Criticism aside, I may actually be coming around to this solution. Why?  Because this bit of brilliance:

 

If Michael Young willingly took steroids, got suspended and thus gifted the Rangers with two more wins, he’d be sure to get another couple of MVP votes this year, because that’s ultimate team-player stuff right there.

Report: Padres trade Matt Kemp to the Braves for Hector Olivera

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 06:  Matt Kemp #27 of the San Diego Padres talks in the dugout prior to the start of the game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 6, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
Kent Horner/Getty Images
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Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.

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ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.

Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.

Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.

Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.