The State of Florida is now investigating Biogenesis, but it probably won’t matter for baseball

18 Comments

Yesterday’s quite amusing editorial in which the Miami New Times stated its refusal to hand over its documents to Major League Baseball was notable for more than its fuzzy reasoning. It was notable because it revealed for the first time that the Florida Department of Health has opened up an investigation into the lab and its operator, Dr. Anthony Bosch.

Since that came out a number of heavy hitters including Buster Olney, Jeff Passan and others have noted that this could be the game-changer Major League Baseball needed. The argument: the government has subpoena power where MLB does not and that if there is to be a real investigation into what Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and everyone else implicated did, subpoena power is what’s needed.

Which is true. But I think it would be a bad idea for anyone to hold their breath until the perp walks get going, the hearings convene and the bombshells get dropped.

The Florida Department of Health is the agency in question. No one at the Florida Department of Health is going to get a promotion for getting Ryan Braun suspended. More to the point, no one at the Florida Department of Health is going to be able to get its budget increased to accommodate the sort of nasty litigation and administrative fights it would have on its hands if it tried to bring in a parade of baseball players in some sort of proxy investigation for the benefit of Major League Baseball.  Even if some gunslinger at the Florida Department of Health was inclined to turn this into a baseball investigation, said gunslinger need only look at how poorly that all worked out for the grandstanding federal investigators and lawyers who went after baseball players in the past. Both in the p.r. department and the career advancement department, using government resources to do Major League Baseball’s job for it have been pretty ugly for them.

If you’re sitting in the Florida Department of Health, you’re sitting in a state where so-called anti-aging clinics like Biogenesis are on practically every corner and are patronized by a lot of older folks who vote.  Even if you want to do the noble thing and get rid of apparent shysters like Anthony Bosch, you don’t want to set precedents in which the public will come to expect you to subpoena patients and, ultimately, make it so they are disciplined at their places of work. Oh, and some local officials and others who care about tax revenus may want to have a word about you getting super zealous about closing down money making businesses unique to the state.

I spent most of my time in private practice, but I did spend most of a year in state government, counseling agencies like the Florida Department of Health and learning from lawyers who did that for far longer than I did. While it’s possible that they do things differently in Florida than Ohio, the smart money is on the Florida Department of Health investigating with a primary aim of permanently shuttering Biogenesis, punishing Anthony Bosch for administrative and, potentially, criminal violations and making sure Bosch is ridden out of the state on a rail.  If, in the meeting planning the investigation, someone said “when do we subpoena the patients and share the product of our investigation with their employer,” that person would probably be politely sent out for coffee and then marginalized going forward.

I understand the enthusiasm on the part of Major League Baseball and, it seems, on the part of some baseball writers to see the Florida Department of Health go after Ryan Bruan, A-Rod and everyone else, but really dudes, that’s not its job. And if it thought it was its job, any citizen of Florida should ask its government why in the hell believes such a thing.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
6 Comments

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.