Craig Calcaterra

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Daniel Stumpf walks to the dugout after being pulled from the game during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Do Rule 5 draft picks have an incentive to use PEDs?

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Rule 5 pick Daniel Stumpf got suspended for PEDs this morning. He joins two other recent Rule 5 picks — David Rollins and Andrew McKirahan — in getting suspended for PEDs as well.

Coincidence? J.J. Cooper of Baseball America doesn’t think so. He thinks that the Rule 5 draft and its attendant rules actually incentivize players to cheat. And he’s right about that. As he argues, Rule 5 guys are fringy players at best, so taking PEDs (a) makes them more likely to make a good impression and stick in the bigs; and (b) even if they’re caught, the half season in the bigs pays them WAY more than they’d make in the minors. Moreover, the fact that the player is suspended makes it less likely the club will send them back to the team who left them unprotected in the draft, meaning that a PED suspension actually benefits the club as well. Cooper provides some concrete examples of this, particularly as it related to McKirahan and how it could affect Stumpf.

Interesting things to think about. The existence of certain incentives aren’t always predictable but once they become apparent they are almost always irresistible.

The Twins signed David Murphy to a minor league deal

Cleveland Indians’ David Murphy, right, grounds out in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Cleveland. Giovanny Urshela scored on the play. White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers looks on. The White Sox won 2-1. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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David Murphy was in camp with the Red Sox but opted-out of his deal in late March since he was not going to make the team. At the time he said that “retirement is a possibility” and “I don’t think I’m interested in playing in the minor leagues.”

He’s now going to give it a try. At least at first, as the Twins signed Murphy to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Rochester.

The 34-year-old has been limited to facing right handers for the most part in recent years. In that role he hit .283/.318/.421 overall with 10 home runs and 50 RBI for the Angels last season. Given how the Twins are going right now — their offense is as anemic as can be — he can’t hurt.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s afternoon action

Detroit Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann throws against the New York Yankees in the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, April 8, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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As the season goes on Bill will normally be doing this in the late afternoon to preview that night’s action. A lot of times, however, when there are a ton of day games, I’ll do one of them late in the morning. Today is one of those days with a ton of day games, so let’s check them out too, shall we?

It feels like the Pirates and the Tigers have been playing each other all season, and they tip things off for an early getaway day game at 12:35PM EDT. It’s Jordan Zimmermann, who was great in his first 2016 start, against Gerrit Cole who was not so great in his first start of the season. Despite all of Zimmermann’s time in the NL, he has never beaten the Pirates, though. Only two starts. Stupid unbalanced schedule. Meanwhile, Cole has won six of his last seven decisions against AL teams. He’s 7-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 11 career interleague starts. One of those wins came against the Tigers, who he has faced twice. Of course head-to-head records like that are sort of meaningless. It’s not 1930 anymore. Teams get new dudes every year.

The rest of Thursday afternoon’s action:

Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) 12:35 PM EDT, PNC Park;

San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez) 1:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park

Chicago White Sox (Mat Latos) @ Minnesota Twins (Ervin Santana) 1:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) 1:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) 1:45 PM EDT, Busch Stadium

San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain) @ Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa) 3:10 PM EDT, Coors Field

Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran) @ Washington Nationals (TBA) 4:05 PM EDT, Nationals Park

TBA has never won a big league game, but I like his chances against the Braves.