Add Mike Trout to the growing Get Tough crowd among major league ballplayers. He was on the Boomer and Carton show today and said:
“I think MLB is definitely moving in the right direction with getting these guys. For me personally, I think you should be out of the game if you get caught. It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural. Some people are just trying to find that extra edge.”
He’s not the first player to say such a thing. He may be the best to have said it. And it’s just further evidence that we’re going to see players be receptive to any league overtures about toughening up the PED penalties, possibly as soon as this winter.
As for how that ultimately goes? As we’ve noted several times around these parts, it’s one thing to say “let’s get tough.” It’s another thing altogether to put a plan in place that is fair and won’t lead to guys losing their careers or contracts over false positives, inadvertent ingestion of banned substances and the like. And if you do build safeguards against such things into the system, you may be altering the overall framework significantly, from one of zero tolerance and automatic suspensions to one in which every positive test leads to, in effect, a fully-litigated court case.
Which, sure, if that’s the system they want, that’s the system they can create. But I do think their answers about that would be very different if asked in a meeting in which actual plans were on the table vs. being asked in a talk radio context where the overall assumption is that everyone agrees at the outset and no one poses the tough questions and hypotheticals to the players.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.