Author: Craig Calcaterra

Nelson Cruz Getty

Buster Olney once again advocates for contract-voiding for PED users


Buster Olney, for at least the third time in a year, but maybe I missed one or two, has played the “we have no idea if Melky Cabrera is clean!” game today. And he expands it to Nelson Cruz. And argues for the umpteenth time that — because there is just so much risk with these guys because they could be using again and teams have no idea what to expect from them after signing them, yadda, yadda yadda — teams should be able to void players’ contracts if they test positive for PEDs. Here’s Buster:

The union has talked about strengthening the penalties to scare off repeat offenders, and adopted some changes after 2012, but until the players’ association is prepared to give teams the power to take away guaranteed contracts for those busted more than once, there will not and there cannot be meaningful change. The incentive to cheat for those who would consider cheating is still there, still very powerful.

Except Buster proves way, way too much in the course of his argument. He notes that GMs are averse to risk and that their ranks are rife with suspicion about players who use PEDs. So rife that they’ve started to discount certain players, right off the bat. He says “A lot of executives have come to believe that if a player’s performance doesn’t make sense — a late-career spike in production — then it is wise to assume it is built illicitly.” That they look for certain injuries. That “some executives will assume that if a player cheats once, he will be willing to break the rules again.”

So, in other words, they’re baking their suspicion and uncertainty into the offers they make to these guys? If so, what in the hell does Buster think they need protection from? If they are so concerned about players getting suspended, why don’t they just make offers of one year with three years of vesting options based on plate appearances, for example? They could do that. That would certainly protect them. Even if you assume that their not having to pay anyone who is suspended isn’t enough protection as it is.

The answer, I suspect, is that they don’t do that because they want to sign these players and these players won’t sign such deals. They won’t because other teams will offer better deals. Not because they’re idiots, but because they don’t see, say, Melky Cabrera testing positive again as nearly as big a problem as Buster Olney and other people in the media do.

But Buster doesn’t seem to see that. Heck, he does’t even seem to see that punishment for PED use has gotten really damn severe as it is. Go look at that paragraph I blockquoted again. “some changes after 2012 . . .” Excuse me? The MLBPA ratcheted things up to 80-game suspensions for first time offenders and season-long suspensions for second offenders JUST THIS YEAR.  Since then we haven’t yet had a repeat offender in the majors. Perhaps we should wait to see if that’s actually a problem before ratcheting up the penalties again. Or maybe we should instead just nuke from orbit players who test positive. It’s the only way to be sure!

Or maybe we can just tear up the CBA and all player rights because some of Buster’s nameless, worried sources may suddenly forget how to manage risk, even though it’s their job to do so. And even though, in practice, they are doing just that.

Casey McGehee, Chris Young win Comeback Player of the Year Awards

casey mcgehee getty

The Comeback Player of the Year Award: the one award you never want to have to be a candidate for and, if you are, the award you never want to win twice.

Major League Baseball has announced its Comeback Players of the year: Casey McGehee of the Marlins and Chris Young of the Mariners.

McGehee took the go-away-and-then-return route to winning the award, spending last year with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. This year he was excellent, hitting .287 with 29 doubles, four home runs, 76 RBI and 56 runs scored. Young didn’t pitch at all in the majors in 2013 but came back to go 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA over 30 games.

Good job guys. Here’s hoping you’re never serious candidates for the award again.

The Mariners are going to shop Michael Saunders. They’re going to shop him hard.

Michael Saunders AP

Hey, it was Crasnick who said that, not me:

Saunders relationship with the M’s has deteriorated pretty badly. After the season was over, GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon made the media rounds criticizing him for his conditioning and suggesting his extensive injury history is a result of shortfalls in this department. Saunders and his agent fired back. It was just not a great scene.

Saunders has value, of course. Despite multiple trips to the DL he hit 273/.341/.450 with eight home runs and 34 RBI in 263 plate appearances. He’s team-controlled for two more seasons too. If the M’s want to shop him, there should be takers.

A smokeless tobacco replacement: chewing coffee grounds

coffee pot

I had not heard of this at all until I saw this article about it today at Vocative, but apparently ballplayers are starting to substitute coffee grounds for smokeless tobacco:

Yes, baseball players are sticking mini prepackaged pouches of ground-up flavored coffee beans into their mouths. Known by the brand name Grinds, the caffeine-packed product has become a way for addicts to wean themselves off traditional smokeless tobacco products (like nicotine, caffeine can be absorbed through your gums).

Coffee: is there anything it can’t do?