David Ross Getty

The Red Sox are still steamed that a PED guy played against them in the playoffs last year


And not just that: they’re not particularly happy that Nelson Cruz played against them just last week.

This comes from Ken Rosenthal’s story about how several Red Sox players, led by Jonny Gomes, it seems, were at the forefront of the movement to get the changes made to the Joint Drug Agreement we first heard about a couple of weeks ago. Specifically, the stiffer penalties for first and second time offenders and the ban on a player who tests positive for drugs appearing in the playoffs with his team that year, even if his suspension has been served.

Based on the quotes, though, it seems like anything short of lifetime bans for first offenses won’t satisfy these guys. Their take on Jhonny Peralta coming off his suspension to play against Boston in the ALCS last year:

How much conversation was there among the Red Sox?

“A lot,” Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes said.

What was the tone of those conversations?

“Not positive . . .”

“Every time he got a hit, you were just mad,” Ross said. “It wasn’t like something we dwelled upon. But there were remarks made here and there. It’s only natural to not like a guy you feel like is cheating, is on a different level than you are, whether he still is or not.”

And they have an issue with Nelson Cruz too:

“It still makes guys mad,” Ross said. “Nelson Cruz beat us with a home run on Opening Day (this year). You just have that sense of getting beat by a cheater. It hurts a little more than normally when you would just give a guy credit for doing something good. That’s on them, too. That’s something they’ll carry the rest of their playing career, and probably the rest of their lives.”

If it’s more about them “feeling like” guys are cheating, I’m not sure what anyone is supposed to do about it. Even under the new penalties, Ross and Gomes are going to “feel like” someone is cheating after their time is served. And for a lot of people, time goes in both directions. Manny Ramirez didn’t test positive for drugs until after he left Boston, but a lot of people “feel like” he was probably cheating in 2004 and 2007. David Ortiz tested positive for drugs during a trial testing period in 2003, but a lot of people “feel like” he’s still tainted in some way. Just go look at any comment section regarding any post involving David Ortiz ever.

At least Ross is honest, though. When asked if he’d feel differently if one of his teammates was using PEDs he said:

“As human beings, we have a funny way of looking at it,” Ross said. “If it happens to our family, we’ll console ’em. If it happens to an outsider’s family, we’ll condemn him.”

Applause for the players for making the changes to the Joint Drug Agreement that they wanted. But like anything in baseball — everything else in baseball, it seems — people’s ethics on almost every matter of consequence is at least partially dependent upon the jersey worn by the person being considered. Fans do this, the players do this and the media does it too.

I just wish that the acknowledgment of people being “human beings” and thus somewhat understandably possessing situational ethics and a sliding scale of morality was extended to the guys who use PEDs too. Not to excuse them or forgive them, but maybe to demonize them less and understand them a bit more rather than cast them as villains.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.

Braves and Jim Johnson reunite on a one-year contract

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 17: Jim Johnson #53 of the Atlanta Braves throws a ninth inning pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on July 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: The deal is official. Bowman adds that Johnson will make $2.5 million in 2016.

6:11 p.m. ET: Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2015 until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.

After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in late July, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.

It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds

Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.