To underscore the earlier post about where we are now with PEDs in baseball, check out what Skip Schumaker had to say after the Dodgers game last night:
“I can’t stand it. It (PED use) needs to be eliminated from the game. I have an autographed Ryan Braun jersey hanging in my baseball room at home that I’ll be taking down now because I don’t want my son connecting this with what I had to do to get to to where I am and to have what I have. In my opinion, it should be an automatic lifetime ban. One strike — you’re out. … It’s ridiculous. They’re still doing it?
“He lied. He lied to a lot of people. I was actually convinced after that MVP year that he didn’t do anything. I think he should give that MVP trophy to Matt Kemp (runner-up in 2011). Suspend them all. It needs to get out of baseball. Watching him talk now — it makes me sick.”
We’d never hear anything like this just a couple of years ago. We’re in a totally different world now. People (including Schumaker himself) are saying that tougher penalties are needed. Well, tougher penalties are being assessed, both in hard and soft ways. This kind of public criticism from players’ peers matters. One need only look at the overall culture of baseball and how conformity — for both good and bad reasons — is so, so powerful in the game. It’s a society in which shunning matters.
It won’t work magic. There will always be some cheaters. But don’t think for a minute that this isn’t a powerful development in baseball’s policing of its sport.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.