As has been the case with every single positive PED test involving a notable player over the past several years, I have no doubt that in the coming days we’ll see some variation of the following from a baseball writer:
Baseball wants you to think its drug problems are gone, but they’re not. With this latest story we now know that it’s as if it were 1998 all over again. Everyone is cheating and juicing and if you think that what you’re seeing on the field is genuine, think again. Don’t let Bud Selig and Michael Weiner tell you that they have faith in the drug testing program. It’s all p.r. and it’s all bunk. We’re still in the Steroid Era.
I embellish, but only a little. We’ve all seen that sort of thing before and I assure you we’ll see it again.
But before you buy into that, go read Michael S. Schmidt’s report of this Miami business in the New York Times. In addition to the things we already know, Schmidt reports that the reason this all came to light in the first place was because of an MLB investigation into an employee of Melky Cabrera’s agents in the wake of his positive test last year.
The upshot: MLB caught a cheating player with testing. Its investigations arm got involved and sniffed out the baloney in his story. They dug deeper and made connections to past information they had on PED use but which was unactionable at the time. They brought in law enforcement to assist in the investigation. The heat from that investigation led to this information coming out, and now they’re pledging to investigate further, with possible discipline to follow.
Some people may look at all of this as evidence of some epidemic and Major League Baseball being asleep at the switch. I look at it as a pretty damn proactive and robust testing and investigative program doing the job it was set up to do. Maybe that doesn’t make baseball 100% clean, but nothing in society is. Heck, not even all sports is. When was the last time the NFL, NBA or NHL was seen as being on top of things with respect to performance enhancing drugs as Major League Baseball is? The most famous player in the Super Bowl just got linked to a banned PED today. We’ll hear little of this compared to the A-Rod business over the next week, I assure you.
Yet I expect people will still take their shots at MLB over all of this. They’re so used to doing it, it’s hard to stop.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.