Let’s stop beefing about the fact that Melky Cabrera got a contract

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I’ve seen a dozen of these sorts of sentiments from baseball writers since Melky Cabrera signed with the Blue Jays last week:

Melky Cabrera was rewarded with a two-year, $16-million free agent contract by the Toronto Blue Jays. Cabrera’s deal came less than two weeks after the Oakland Athletics gave pitcher Bartolo Colon a pay raise and a one-year contract that could be worth, with incentives, $6 million. Steroids win again, in other words.

I railed against this last week, but let’s put it in simpler terms:  if you are upset that Melky Cabrera got a contract to play baseball, you must necessarily believe that PED users should get lifetime bans, yes? If you’re not willing to make the latter argument, you are being intellectually dishonest if you make the former. The guy has served his time, has been penalized significantly in terms of dollars and shame, and has a right to continue his career, does he not? If not, make your case for him being banned for life or shut the hell up (I know many of you in the comments section and many casual fans will do so, but I direct this specifically at baseball writers who, unless they are trying to traffic in some easy outrage like this, never independently make the case that PED users should be banned for life and never seriously would).

Even if you discount Melky Cabrera’s past two seasons as 100% fraudulent and without an ounce of actual baseball talent underlying them — which is itself silly given what we know about how PEDs work — an eight million dollar a year deal for a normal 27 year-old outfielder who has played in nearly 1000 games and can play some center is not by any stretch of the imagination a “reward” compared to what other players like him get paid. Coco Crisp is going to make just a bit less than that over the next two years and he’s five years older than Melky. Coco Crisp is a nice player, but it’s not like he’s making crazy elite superstar bucks.

Heck, even if you pretended that 2011 and 2012 didn’t exist at all, I’d then ask you to go back to 2010 and value a 21-25 year-old center fielder who is able to stick in the lineup of two winning teams and show some occasional power. Not a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but someone who has shown some flashes of quality mixed in with his erratic play and who, by most accounts, just needs to dedicate himself more in order to become a useful, everyday player.

What does that guy make when he hits the free agent market? I submit that it’s much closer to $8 million a year than $8 million a year is to whatever Cabrera would have made this winter if he had not been busted for PEDs.

But please, go ahead and continue arguing that Cabrera got away with something and that “steroids have won again.”

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.

There was apparently some miscommunication between Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek

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The Phillies won their first game since last Thursday, beating the Cardinals 5-1 on Thursday afternoon. Starter Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning, but left with one out. Pat Neshek took the mound with a runner on first base and induced an inning-ending double play on a 3-1 count to Tommy Pham.

Given that Neshek only threw five pitches and the Phillies were staked to a four-run lead, it wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if the sidewinding right-hander came back out to finish the ninth inning as well. But Luis Garcia had that honor, tossing a scoreless final frame to nail down the win in a non-save situation.

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin said he asked Neshek to go back out for the ninth, but Neshek didn’t want to, per Stephen Gross of the Morning Call. Neshek told the media that Mackanin never asked him. There was also a miscommunication on Wednesday. The combination of Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos combined to allow four runs in 2 1/3 innings, helping the Phillies lose 7-6. Neshek never appeared. According to Mackanin, Neshek told him that he wasn’t available to pitch. Neshek said he was told he’d have the day off.

The disconnect between Mackanin and Neshek could speak to a larger divide between the manager and his failing team. The Phillies have underwhelmed across the board due to players like Odubel Herrera (whose head was down and did not see Juan Samuel’s stop sign last night in what became a base running blunder), Maikel Franco, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola (today’s start notwithstanding), and Hector Neris not living up to expectations. The Phillies signed Mackanin to a contract extension last month, but the team has completely fallen apart since then and the latest communications issues certainly don’t reflect well on him. Neither does last night’s travesty of a game.

As for Neshek, he said that going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years” but also realized, given the state of the team, that it remains very likely he winds up in a new uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After Thursday’s performance, Neshek is carrying a 0.63 ERA with a 25/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings. He very well could be the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game in Miami next month. That is, if he’s still wearing their uniform. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have shown interest in Neshek.