I often defend baseball’s PED testing regime. I think its official punishments are good. Fifty games is a lot for a first offense, as are the financial penalties that go along with the suspensions. But it really has no clue what it’s doing when it comes to secondary sanctions like the one we saw imposed today on Melky Cabrera.
Was it not foreseeable that a person who tests positive for PEDs might one day win a batting title or an ERA crown? Apparently not, because it wasn’t an issue until Melky tested positive and Andrew McCutchen’s hitting fell off a bit. Now there’s all this unsatisfying scrambling.
Thing about is, just this year Major League Baseball was thinking about things like this. It passed a rule making PED-positive players ineligible for the All-Star Game. Why didn’t it think about statistical or postseason awards then? Where was the imagination? Why was what seems so dreadful now — a PED cheat winning the batting title — not a looming menace then? And what about other problems? Just this week 30 players were nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award. What if one of them tests positive after they win? Do we retroactively take it away? Or do we realize that, heck, David Ortiz won it last year, so why should we even care about such things now?
I think no one thought too hard about it because, in reality, baseball think about it like I do, and no one at Major League Baseball truly cares about such things. It only becomes an issue when people in the press start grumbling about it or asking Bud Selig about it at press conferences. Then some negative public relations-adverse reaction occurs, leading to ad hoc rules like the Melky Cabrera Rule.
Major League Baseball will get a lot of pats on the back and atta-boys as a result of this. But let’s not pretend that this is some sort of well-though-out thing as opposed to a way to get out of some bad P.R.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.