Baseball cannot, and will not, punish A-Rod any more than any other PED offender

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Tim Keown of ESPN suggests  that Bud Selig should drop the hammer on A-Rod so as to make an example out of him. In his words, to “make an honorary sacrifice” out of him. Among his suggestions:

… could A-Rod be suspended from the game long enough to effectively end his career? Just spitballing here, but could Selig make him the Pete Rose of PEDs and use A-Rod’s arrogant, repeated nose-thumbing of the best interests of the game to make him ineligible for the Hall of Fame? … If he has evidence, he can suspend Rodriguez — or, if you’d prefer, El Cacique — for 50 games or more.

No, he can’t. He can suspend him for 50 games. That’s it.

Yes, we know A-Rod admitted to past PED use in 2009, but he has never before tested positive under the Joint Drug Agreement nor has he previously been subject to discipline. There is nothing more crystal clear than the Joint Drug Agreement’s provision of a 50-game suspension for a first time offender under its auspices.  That is the discipline that Rodriguez is subject to if the allegations in the Miami New Times story are true, and that is the discipline he will receive. Any effort to do more than that will bring about a swift response from the union. It is a battle they would almost certainly win and win easily.

The only thing that makes A-Rod different from Freddy Galvis, Edinson Volquez, J.C. Romero or Dan Serafini is that (a) he makes a lot more money; and (b) a lot of people hate him.  That’s what’s motivating ideas like Keown’s here anyway.  A-Rod’s paycheck and unpoularity, however, does not change the terms of baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Please stop suggesting that it does.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.