On a slow news day, I hit “refresh” on my gmail inbox every ten seconds, waiting for the near-daily MLB drug suspension press release to come in. And today we have a troika:
Free agent Minor League right-handed pitcher Frank Diaz has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol. The suspension of Diaz will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.
Cincinnati Reds Minor League third baseman Ernest Vasquez and right-handed pitcher James Walczak have each been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine. The suspensions of Vasquez and Walczak, who are currently on the roster of the Single-A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League, will be effective at the start of next season.
Frank Diaz — assuming it’s the same Frank Diaz — has been in the Mexican League since 2009, so I’m not sure when he’s been testing. But he was once an Expos minor leaguer, and that’s retro-cool!
I had trouble tracking down Ernest Vazquez. Baseball-Reference.com has a Niko Vasquez with an a/k/a of Ernest in the Reds organization. Let’s assume that’s him, even though he didn’t play for Dayton this season. If not, apologies to Niko.
James Walczak — listed as Jamie — is a 15th rounder whose pitching lines suggest that the Painesville, Ohio product may not see much beyond the bright lights of Dayton, so I suppose his using was understandable.
Anyway, who’s calculating their WAR to determine how many wins to deduct from the Dayton Dragons, Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz and whatever the hell team Vazquez played for this year?
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .