alex rodriguez getty

Deep thought: A-Rod getting hammered is due in large part to random dumb luck

73 Comments

Whether it’s via settlement or via arbitration, by the end of the day there is no escaping the fact that MLB is gonna knock Alex Rodriguez absolutely senseless. Maybe it effectively ends his career. It certainly will cost him tens of millions. No one this side of Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe has ever been blasted to the stone age like A-Rod is gonna be.

But it’s probably worth remembering that the only reason MLB is getting this opportunity is because its testing couldn’t catch A-Rod in the first place.

Really: if MLB’s drug testing program had caught Rodriguez with the Biogenesis drugs in his system, he would’ve gotten a 50-game suspension. Maybe two years ago, maybe last year. Either way, he would have already served his time and been done with it. There wouldn’t have been a broader investigation into his activities and there wouldn’t have been the chance for him to make 50 bad decisions since it started, which I am assuming has happened. Instead, he would’ve gotten the Bartolo Colon/Melky Cabrera treatment and would probably be playing games for the Yankees next week.

But it didn’t go down that way. Colon and Cabrera had the bad luck — which now looks like very good luck — to have been caught on days when the Biogenesis testosterone was in their system. A-Rod did not. That’s all that makes them different here. It’s what made them subject to the collectively-bargained 50-game sanctions and what put A-Rod into this odd world where MLB, with union approval, can go off-books in the discipline department and drop its bunker-buster on him.

That doesn’t change anything, really. And it isn’t some indictment of MLB or its drug testing system. Drug testing will never be perfect. You can’t test guys every day so some people are gonna fall through the cracks. And as such,¬†arguments that these circumstances somehow render A-Rod’s punishment unfair will almost certainly fail given where we are and will definitely fall on deaf ears in the court of public opinion.

But it is probably worth remembering that, as we give Major League Baseball our “attaboys” for getting tough on Rodriguez, that it was only given the chance to due to the vagaries and randomness of random drug testing to begin with. If the pee-collection schedule worked out differently in the past year, we’d be having a very different conversation about A-Rod and drugs and stuff.

Reds prospect Juan Duran suspended 80 games

Banned
1 Comment

Juan Duran, a minor-league outfielder in the Reds’ farm system, has been suspended 80 games following positive tests for the performance-enhancing drugs Drostanolone, Stanozolol, and Nandrolone.

Duran is 6-foot-7 with big-time power, averaging 23 homers per 150 games since 2011, but he also strikes out a ton and struggles to control the strike zone. He spent last season at Double-A, missing a lot of time with injuries and hitting .256 with six homers and a .728 OPS in 59 games as a 23-year-old.

Duran is on the 40-man roster and is considered a quasi-prospect, but he’ll be ineligible to play until July and figures to head back to Double-A once reinstated.

The Blue Jays will talk long term deals with Jose Bautistia and Edwin Encarnacion

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
1 Comment

Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.

But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.

Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.

But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.

The Rays are REALLY ready to get to work on that new ballpark

rays logo
2 Comments

Last month St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays reached an agreement that would allow the Rays to seek a new ballpark outside of the St. Pete city limits, anywhere in the Bay Area. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports¬†today that the Rays have submitted a required report to that end which “describes how they plan to evaluate potential ballpark sites across the Tampa Bay area” and serves as a rough outline of the sort of facility they’re looking to build.

They submitted it 39 days before deadline. Ya think they’re eager to get moving?

As for the specifics, it sounds like they’re shooting for a Braves or Cardinals style destination place with surrounding entertainment, retail and the like. The Braves are achieving that by basically building the park at a mall and plan to surround it with other mall/entertainment district-type development. The Cardinals built a downtown park, but have developed Ballpark Village after the fact. This is to be contrasted with downtown parks which either counted on existing city businesses or spurred separate development.

All of which makes sense given that there isn’t one dominant location in Tampa which all but demands development there. Tampa has a few different areas that might make sense and the place is generally more spread out than older cities. It also makes sense for the Rays’ owners who are likely well aware that being in the real estate business is just as good for them as being in the baseball business.

Will anyone EVER break that record that was broken nine years ago?

Hank Aaron
Associated Press
13 Comments

In 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run. He would go on to hit six more, finishing his career with 762. That was nine years ago and, at present, the active home run leader is nearly 80 homers behind him and no sure bet to come close. The next closest guy is over 200 homers back and clearly entering a period of decline.

All of which raises the question: will anyone EVER pass the home run total of Hank Aaron, who is in second place on that list?

Maybe you think that’s not really a pertinent question. We tend not to ask whether people who do not, by any objective measure, hold a record will have their records surpassed. But you’d be wrong. Why, just today, on Hank Aaron’s 82nd birthday, at least two journalists speculated whether anyone would ever become the all-time second place home run king:

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.01.17 PM

That’s from Cliff Corcoran at Sports Illustrated. As always, it’s excellent work from Cliff. Right up there with his seminal “will anyone ever catch Lou Brock in stolen bases?” and “who can catch Trevor Hoffman in career saves?” pieces.

Then there’s Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who approves of the question posed and has his own response:

You can imagine how those tweets were received by those parts of Twitter who are all about PED apologia, math, objective standards, noting that Aaron admitted that he took a PED that would have him banned today too and stuff like that. As always, these things get ugly.

Not that they have to be. It’s almost as if, if one were to try, one could celebrate the amazing inner-circle Hall of Fame career of Hank Aaron, full as it is with nearly unsurpassed accomplishment, without applying a revisionist gloss to the one accomplishment that, according to all objective measures and the accounting of Major League Baseball, has been surpassed. That one could talk about Aaron without slagging on Bonds.