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.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.