Ryan Braun’s suspension was first and, as the alleged public enemy number one — or two — of Major League Baseball, may eventually be seen as the most significant. But at the moment it sort of seems like small potatoes, all things considered.
Why? Because the Brewers season was already effectively over and it will all end for Braun and his team after the season ends. There are other Biogenesis suspensions, however, which will have a much bigger and potentially longer-lasting impact.
The ones to watch: Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, all of whom are reported to be in Major League’s sights, all of whom are playing for playoff contenders. Depending on what the league makes of Gio Gonzalez’s passing mention on the list, the Nationals could be affected too. Colon, depending on how the league views his inclusion vis-a-vis last year’s positive drug test, could be facing second offender discipline.
Do these players pull a Ryan Braun and take their medicine now? If so, they will deprive their teammates of key cogs just as the playoff stretch drive gets underway. Do they appeal? If so, they risk greater penalties, one assumes, legal costs and the likelihood that any discipline ultimately stretches into next year.
Can the A’s replace Colon in the rotation? Who plays shortstop for the Tigers if Peralta is gone? Nelson Cruz hit a big homer for the Rangers last night. Who is their deep threat with him gone?
Those are all less-sexy topics than bad boy Ryan Braun or badder boy Alex Rodriguez getting popped. But they have far greater actual baseball implications.
Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.
Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.
Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.
Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.
Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.
As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.
You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.