A lot of Hall of Famers walk around the Winter Meetings, and a common question they’re asked is what they think about PED users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens making it into the hall of Fame. Andre Dawson was one of them, and Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post asked him about the PED generation heading to Cooperstown.
His bright line — which, even if I disagree with, I can respect as intellectually valid, is that people who broke rules shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. But he creates problems for himself when he tries to parse their performance as opposed to their character and talks about those players about whom we are uncertain:
“Nobody can say when these individual started doing it. But all of a sudden late in your career you become twice as good a ballplayer as you were maybe in your first 5 to 10 years? That just doesn’t happen. That’s not the way it works.”
Andre Dawson went from 20 home runs to 49 in his 12th year in the league. That just doesn’t happen either, does it?
Of course it does. Because the run scoring context of the game changes all the time. In 1987, when Dawson won the MVP award — an award without which, he probably would not have made the Hall of Fame — baseball had what is widely believed to be a juiced ball. There are many who believe that, in addition to everything else that happened from the early 90s through the mid 2000s (i.e. steroids and smaller ballparks), the ball was again juiced as well. It is documented that it happened in the 1930s too.
If you’re anti-PED as a matter of ethics, fine, make your stand there. But the idea that people putting up unexpected numbers and having late-career surges, etc. is, by definition, unnatural, you just don’t understand the history of the game. And Andre Dawson himself is as great an example of that as anyone.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.