Jhonny Peralta, Jim Leyland, Tony Randazzo

Looking at the potentially suspended Biogenesis players

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Let’s run down the list of players connected to Tony Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic as MLB is reportedly preparing to issue 50- or 100-game suspensions. Listed below are players whose names are found in the Biogenesis documents. Other major leaguers may well be involved, as some of Bosch’s clients were listed in code. Since Bosch is set to cooperate with MLB in its investigation, this list could grow significantly longer soon. According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, MLB is preparing to suspend players who purchased illegal substances from Bosch for 50 or 100 games, even if it means ruining the season in the process.

The Players

Alex Rodriguez (3B Yankees): Sidelined since Opening Day following offseason hip surgery, Rodriguez, who admitted to using steroids a decade ago but was never suspended, has been aiming to return to the Yankees lineup in July. Players suspended for steroid use while on the disabled list are able to serve those suspensions while injured, so if Rodriguez were to receive a 50-game ban in the near future, he could still return in August. A 100-game ban, on the other hand, would essentially end his season.

Ryan Braun (OF Brewers): Braun was originally set to be suspended for a positive PED test in Dec. 2011, only to have it wiped out on appeal. Of course, that was all supposed to go on behind closed doors, but it leaked to the media not long after Braun won NL MVP honors in 2011. This year, Braun is hitting .294 with nine homers for a disappointing Brewers team. He’s currently third in the outfield in the NL All-Star balloting, putting him in position for a spot in the starting lineup in the Midseason Classic.

Melky Cabrera (OF Blue Jays), Bartolo Colon (RHP Athletics) and Yasmani Grandal (C Padres): All three players here tested positive for steroids before MLB had any knowledge of Bosch’s operation and have already served 50-game suspensions. If MLB is going to try banning A-Rod and Braun for 100 games (50 games for cheating and 50 games for lying about it), then it could deliver additional 50-game suspensions to this trio. Still, that seems like quite a reach. These guys have already done their time.

Nelson Cruz (OF Rangers): The 32-year-old Cruz has a ton to lose here, since he’ll be a free agent at season’s end. His team would greatly suffer without him as well, and his absence could lead to Jurickson Profar being tried in the outfield. Cruz is batting .267 with 13 homers and 39 RBI this year, making him a candidate for AL All-Star honors.

Jhonny Peralta (SS Tigers): The Tigers might be the contender most adversely affected should these penalties come to pass; Peralta has been the AL’s top offensive shortstop this year, hitting .332 with six homers and 26 RBI, and the Tigers just don’t have any decent options to fill his shoes. Utilityman Ramon Santiago is long past his prime, and Danny Worth is injured in Triple-A. Like Cruz, Peralta is also a free agent this winter.

Everth Cabrera (SS Padres): Cabrera led the NL in stolen bases with 44 last year, but he was still a rather anonymous figure outside of San Diego. This year, he’s been getting more attention, thanks in part to some added power. He has four homers in 57 games after hitting two in 115 games in 2012, and his OPS has climbed by more than 100 points. He’s still a force on the basepaths, too, leading the majors with 23 steals.

Francisco Cervelli (C Yankees): One can imagine Cervelli, who played in 178 games as the Yankees’ primary backup catcher from 2009-11, was looking for something a little extra last year after being banished to the minors and thus turned to Bosch for help. Following Russell Martin’s departure, he won the starting job this spring and was off to an excellent start (.269/.377/.500, three homers in 52 at-bats) before going down with a fractured right hand. Barring a suspension, he’s due to rejoin the Yankees lineup in late June.

Jesus Montero (C-DH Mariners): A former Yankees prospect, Montero was dealt to the Mariners prior to 2012 and had a decent rookie season last year, hitting .260 with 15 homers. This year, he was a huge bust as a starting catcher, hitting .208 with three homers in 101 at-bats, and he was sent back to Triple-A late last month. Just 23, he’s still a promising hitter, but his future is at first base or DH. He’s currently on the minor league DL after tearing knee cartilage.

Fernando Martinez (OF Astros): Martinez was once one of the game’s very best prospects while in the Mets chain, but he’s never been able to stay healthy and he’s now a long shot to enjoy a lengthy major league career. After hitting .182 in 11 games for the Astros earlier this year, he was dropped from the roster and cleared waivers. He’s now back in Triple-A.

Fautino De Los Santos (RHP free agent): De Los Santos was a strong prospect in the White Sox system before undergoing Tommy John surgery and converting to relief. He looked like a fine bullpen arm as a rookie in 2011, striking out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings for the A’s, but he showed up in 2012 which diminished stuff and has bounced around since. The Padres released him last month.

Jordan Norberto (LHP free agent): Norberto had a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings of relief work for the A’s last year, but he struggled this spring and got hurt. Oakland released him last month.

Cesar Puello (OF Mets): Puello, 22, has been a breakout performer in the Mets system this year, hitting .302/.382/.521 with eight homers and 15 steals for Double-A Binghamton. That slugging percentage is nearly 100 points higher than his previous career high.

Unlikely to be suspended

Gio Gonzalez (LHP Nationals): Gonzalez is believed to have been a Biogenesis buyer, but only of legal substances. Two sources told ESPN that Gonzalez is probably off the hook as far as any punishments go.

Robinson Cano (2B Yankees): Cano’s known connection with Biogenesis is very tenuous: the spokeswoman for his charitable foundation was named in Bosch’s documents. That was enough to get Cano on MLB’s watchlist, but if anything more significant has turned up, the league has kept it quiet.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]