Craig Calcaterra

Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana suspended 80 games for PEDs

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This is one of the bigger names to get a drug suspension in a while:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Minnesota Twins right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana has received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Santana will be effective for the first 80 games of the 2015 regular season.

Santana is the Twins’ second highest-paid player — and largest free agent signing of all time — having just signed a four-year, $55 million contract in December. There are incentives in place that could add a fifth year to that. He was slated to be the team’s number two starter behind Phil Hughes. This is no way for him to be starting out his tenure with his new team.

In 2014 Santana was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA and K/BB ratio of 179/63 in 196 innings. Now he’s out for half the season.

UPDATE: Santana has released a statement. Upshot: taking the PEDs was inadvertent:

“Ever since I was a child I always had to work harder than everyone. Not too many people believed I could become a major leaguer. I worked hard to achieve everything I accomplished and I take pride in proving that through hard work dreams can come true.”

“I serve as a role model for many kids in my home country who dream of playing at the highest level. I would never put baseball, my family, or my country in a position where its integrity is jeopardized. I preach hard work, and don’t believe in short cuts. I am very disappointed that I tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. I am frustrated that I can’t pinpoint how the substance in question entered my body. I would never knowingly take anything illegal to enhance my performance. What I can guarantee is I never knowingly took anything illegal to enhance my performance. That’s just not me, never has ben and never will.”

“Moving forward, I need to be more careful on what I consume in my home country, I will be more vigilant of medications I take so that I don’t commit another mistake. Having said that, I believe it is best to move forward and accept the punishment that has been negotiated by MLB and MLBPA for my positive PED test. This is unexpected news for me and my family. I am issuing this statement so the public knows where I stand. My deepest apologies to my family, fans, colleagues, teammates and my current employer the Minnesota Twins. All I can do now is continue to work hard, and when the suspension is up, come back to doing what I love.”

HBT Extra: A conversation with Madison Bumgarner

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Our Jenna Corrado is joined by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner to discuss offseason training at his North Carolina ranch, how he feels after a busy 2014 season, a potential rivalry between him and Clayton Kershaw and more.

The Angels behavior in the wake of the Hamilton decision has been appalling

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The more I think about the month in which Josh Hamilton was in legal limbo over his drug relapse, the more I wonder why we even knew about it in the first place.

After all, in any other drug case, there is no news about it until discipline is meted out and appeals are over. Then comes the announcement from the league. In the rare cases where there is no discipline — like in the old system with amphetamines where first offenders were merely placed in diversion and weren’t suspended — we never knew. Same in the cases where players win on appeal.

The reason we don’t hear about those things? Section 5 of the Joint Drug Agreement’s very terms, which state that “the confidentiality of Player information is essential to the Program’s success” and prohibit anyone and everyone who is party to the JDA from disclosing that information to the public. And it’s not some boilerplate provision that briefly talks about keeping mum. It’s seven pages of provisions with seven different subsections and dozens more sub-sub sections which specify when and how information about a player in the drug program can be released, how the parties are to act upon an unauthorized release and how such things are to be enforced. It’s incredibly detailed because, as the preamble I quoted above said, it is considered “essential to the Program’s success.”

Josh Hamilton’s case was not handled with confidentiality. And there were two specific, major instances when confidentiality was clearly violated.

  • The first came when we first learned that Hamilton was meeting with Major League Baseball to self-report his cocaine use. This was first reported by Mike DiGiovanna, the Angels beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, whose report said “The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the meeting, learned it involved a disciplinary issue from a person with direct knowledge of the situation.”
  • The second major leak came when the panel tasked with determining whether Hamilton should face discipline deadlocked. That too came from the Los Angeles Times, from reporters DiGiovanna and Bill Shaikin. Their report about this was quite detailed and specifically stated that the information came from people “who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the situation is not supposed to be discussed publicly.”

It does not require a leap of faith to believe that this information came from parties who are not Josh Hamilton, as Hamilton has no incentive for the world to know that he took cocaine again and could be suspended. Could the leaking party be Major League Baseball? It’s possible. They’ve certainly leaked before. But it’s also worth noting that past leaks from the league office did not come via the beat reporter for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Maybe the Angels leaked this stuff, maybe they didn’t. We can’t be sure. The JDA provides for a grievance procedure regarding such leaks, but it’s a hard case to make. It specifically says that citing anonymous reports in newspapers which don’t clearly identify the leaking party, and nothing more, is not enough to win the grievance. Here whoever was leaking probably covered their tracks just enough to be safe. And it’s not like you can subpoena a reporter and expect him to spill. We just don’t do that, nor should we.

But if we can’t know for certain that the Angels leaked this stuff and thus cannot sanction them, we can certainly judge them. Judge them for the snippy comment from Angels GM Jerry DiPoto earlier today. Judge them for this, which came out just a few minutes ago:

Such a response, especially about one’s own player, especially mere hours after the decision in his case was announced, is the very definition of pettiness and gracelessness. It’s almost as if the Angels had already spent the millions they thought they’d save due to a Hamilton suspension on a boat or something and now they’re mad. The closest analog I can think of to this situation is Yankees officials talking about A-Rod, but at least they had the decency to remain anonymous. And at least in that case A-Rod was making just as much use of the media as the club was.

Josh Hamilton has some baggage, of this there can be no doubt. And he may have ongoing problems. But it’s baggage that everyone in the world knew about before he signed his deal with the Angels and problems the risk of which the Angels willingly and eagerly assumed. For them now to behave like they’re behaving — to be disappointed that their player was not suspended and to disparage his “commitment,” “behavior” and his “conduct” as if he were a criminal as opposed to a drug addict — is appalling. And certainly makes it reasonable to question whether they were, in fact, the party which found it within their best interest to tell the newspapers that their player was involved in a process which was detrimental to him and which was supposed to remain confidential.

Whatever the case, they should be ashamed. And they should issue an apology to their player

UPDATE: Giants extend Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy through the 2019 season

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UPDATE: The extensions are done: three years, locking Sabean and Bochy up through 2019. But that’s not all: Sabean gets a promotion.

As Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports, Sabean, the general manager since 1996, is being promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations. Assistant general manager Bobby Evans was promoted to general manager. Whether this changes the way in which baseball decisions are done in San Francisco — as opposed to merely reflecting the recent trend of title inflation among front office executives — is not clear.

Either way: the brain trust that has won the Giants three World Series in the past five years remains in place.

UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the extensions for Sabean and Bochy will run through at least 2018 and should be announced tomorrow. Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com hears from multiple baseball sources that the Giants and Sabean have discussed him moving into a president of baseball operations role with assistant GM Bobby Evans potentially being promoted to general manager.

10:30 a.m. ET: Bob Nightengale reports that The Giants are “getting close” to long-term deals for GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy.

Which, hey, why not? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. All these two have done is win three World Series in five seasons. While talent ages, comes and goes, you’re not gonna go wrong in life keeping good managers and GMs in place.

The two of them are under contract through 2016 already, but longer is better. And, as Nightengale notes, given what the Dodgers are paying Andrew Friedman and the Cubs are paying Joe Maddon, who have exactly zero World Series rings between them, Sabean and Bochy are probably about ready to become super friggin’ rich.

Breaking: Josh Hamilton to receive no discipline in the wake of his relapse

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Major League Baseball just announced that Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will not receive discipline for the recent drug relapse. That after an arbitrator ruled earlier this week that Hamilton did not fail to comply with this substance abuse treatment program. He will not be suspended and is free to rejoin the Angels immediately.

Major League Baseball has released a statement regarding the arbitrator’s ruling. Hamilton was represented in the matter by attorney Jay Reisinger and Tina Miller of Farrell & Reisinger in Pittsburgh. A call was placed to Reisinger and Miller for this story but they were unavailable for comment.

The ruling was based on the arbitrator’s interpretation of Section 4(C) of the Joint Drug Agreement, which handles violations of a players’ treatment program. Under that section, a player is said to have committed a violation if the player (a) refuses to submit to evaluations and followup tests; (b) “consistently fails to participate in mandatory sessions with his assigned health care professional”; (c) his health care professional tells Major League Baseball that the player is not cooperating; or (d) the player tests positive for a drug of abuse.

None of these applied to Hamilton. Rather, Hamilton self-reported his use of cocaine to Major League Baseball. Said use was characterized to NBC Sports.com by a person familiar with the proceedings as a “slip” as opposed to a “relapse.” Hamilton had, in the past, been involved in isolated incidents involving alcohol, which likewise did not result in any discipline.

Following Hamilton’s late February admission to league officials, a four-person “treatment board” consisting of two members  appointed by the commissioner’s office and two by the players’ union was convened to consider Hamilton’s case. That board deadlocked, with the two owner representatives deciding that Hamilton committed a violation and the player representatives concluding that he did not. That, per the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement necessitated the appointment of the arbitrator to break the tie, leading to the decision announced today.

This ends more than a month of controversy surrounding Hamilton’s case. Despite the fact that baseball’s drug policies mandate strict confidentiality, early in the process there were multiple leaks, apparently from Major League Baseball’s side, about the details of Hamilton’s case. This led to a sharp response from the union condemning the leaks and claiming that those doing the leaking “want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally.” This latter reference could be to the fact that a Hamilton suspension would provide some relief to the Angels, who still owe Hamilton $83 million over the next three years on his five-year, $125-million contract. A player who is suspended is not paid.

Meanwhile, the case has led to a larger argument as to whether or not the league should be approaching it as a disciplinary matter at all in light of Hamilton’s clear status as a drug addict and the increasing awareness of the fact among substance abuse professionals and others that drug addiction is a disease and that diseases should be treated, not punished. That issue was not addressed in today’s ruling, though Major League Baseball’s statement did make reference to a desire to change the manner in which such cases are handled in the future, possibly by changes to the Joint Drug Agreement and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Whether those changes would be aimed at making discipline more or less severe is unclear.

For now, however, one thing is clear: Josh Hamilton is free to play baseball for the Angels once he is healthy.