Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Yet another Yankees first baseman hits the disabled list

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On Wednesday Chris Parmelee hit two homers in his first start as a Yankee and yesterday morning New York columnists asked themselves whether he could be the answer, or at least an answer, to the Yankees struggling lineup.

Then last night he left the game with a pulled hamstring while doing the splits to dig out a ball thrown to first. Parmelee could not put any weight on the leg when he got up. He was helped off the field, his arms wrapped around the shoulders of manager Joe Girardi and and a trainer. He has not been placed on the disabled list yet, but he will, following an MRI today. After the game Girardi said “I would be completely shocked if he’s a player for us” going forward. He’ll join three other Yankees first baseman on the disabled list, following Mark Teixeira, Greg Bird and Dustin Ackley.

In the recaps this morning I said that being the Yankees first baseman is like being the drummer for Spinal Tap. This was maybe more accurate than I realized at the time. I just did some digging and I could find four confirmed dead Spinal Tap drummers, depending on your view of what is and what isn’t canon:

  • John “Stumpy” Pepys (mysterious gardening accident);
  • Eric Childs (choked on someone else’s vomit, though it’s unclear because you can’t dust for vomit);
  • Peter Bond (spontaneous combustion); and
  • Mick Shrimpton (wandered away).

They later had drum machines which blew up, but that may not count. Maybe if Nick Swisher or Rob Refsnyder take over they’ll just wander away or blow up too. I hope not, though. They seem nice.

Cardinals take a PED-connected player in the first round

Associated Press
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Delvin Perez, a high school shortstop from Puerto Rico, was considered a top-10 pick until very recently. Maybe even higher than that. Perez is a plus defender and his offense has trended upward as he progressed through school. Some suggested he could be taken very, very high. But he slipped to number 23 in the first round, where he was taken by the Cardinals.

Why the fall?  Perez recently tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

We’re used to older players, marginal players or young, international free agents taking PEDs. In those cases it fits a pattern of a player trying to recover from injuries, trying to make that one last leap for the bigs or pumping up those free agent dollars and getting attention from scouts. But Perez was a known quantity, subject to the draft. What does his PED test mean in the grand scheme of things? Does it make his status as a top prospect an illusion? Does it raise character questions? Given that it’s not a common situation, I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer for that.

One thing that seems clear, however, is that the PED test caused his draft stock to slide. There were 22 teams above the Cardinals who could’ve used an elite, 18-year-old shortstop in their system but they shied away. The Cardinals, however, did not, and they maybe got a bargain. In no other universe does a player like Perez fall to them here and in no other universe would they be able to sign a first round pick with his talent at the slot price they’ll pay at pick 23. The Cardinals certainly exploited an inefficiency, to use the parlance of “Moneyball.” If you’re a Cardinals fan it would not be unreasonable for you to be pleased at this bit of savvy.

Not everyone sees it as savvy, however. Some see some risk and an instance of troublesome ethical considerations in action. Chief among them last night and this morning is Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He set off a firestorm in Cardinals Nation Twitter last night following this series of tweets:

Ortiz’s column on all of this appeared this morning. If you want to see how the sentiments are being received, click through to any of those tweets and read the replies. To say that Cardinals fans take issue with Ortiz would be an understatement.

Personally, I was pretty surprised by Ortiz’s comments. He has never been a PED alarmist like so many other scribes, and he has routinely voted for PED-connected players on his Hall of Fame ballot. He’s likewise not a moralist, a bomb-thrower or hand-wringer when it comes to other controversial issues. He’s one of the better baseball writers out there.

And to be sure, I am on board with Ortiz insofar as he talks about how this pick is a risk, but only in a narrow sense. That being that, practically, in a purely scouting and analytical sense, it may not be 100% clear what the Cardinals have in Perez given that he took PEDs. However, Ortiz goes too far in talking about What The Pick Means for the Cardinals, what it says about the organization and what it says about Perez’s character.

For one thing, to the extent this pick is controversial, it is in no way related to the Ground Control hacking scandal, as Ortiz alludes. Even if it was, no team should make draft picks based on public relations, image or anything other than baseball and financial considerations. Indeed, if the Cardinals have been stereotyped for anything over the years it’s been leaning too hard on Cardinal Way-inspired lip service to character and good citizenship. An unearned stereotype, I might add, given that the Hall of Fame manager who brought them back to glory was Tony La Russa and one of their bigger acquisitions and contributors in recent years was Jhonny Peralta, who was involved in the Biogenesis scandal. If anything, not picking a potential franchise player late in the first round would be an instance of being hamstrung by concerns over image, not benefitting by having such high standards. It could even be said that the Cardinals pick of Perez represented some admirable progress along these lines.

Apart from that, you will not be surprised that I have no use for the “think of the children” stuff or the “raises questions about his character stuff.” We’ve spilled thousands of gallons of virtual ink on these topics over the years, of course, but let’s leave it at this: We live in a world where some PED-associated players are considered beloved heroes for whom kids line up for autographs and to whom reporters flock for interviews and quotes. Meanwhile, other PED-associated players are considered utter pariahs. In light of this, it’s abundantly clear that how such players are perceived is 100% a function of how people choose to perceive them or describe them, not a function of their inherent character, goodness or evilness. If Delvin Perez is bad for the kids, it’s because someone says he’s bad for the kids. If he has bad character, it will be revealed by more than a supplement he took in high school.

Making such judgments about baseball players is dicey stuff in the best of circumstances with the most information possible. Making them about teenagers who almost no one has talked to and almost no one knows is something akin go recklessness. The Cardinals may have gotten a bargain at pick number 23. They may have made a big mistake. That, however, can be said of basically every draft pick in every draft going back to 1966.

What Perez does on the field over the next several years will determine that. Not what he may have done in a bathroom or a trainer’s room when he was in high school.

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

White Sox 3, Nationals 1: Lede from the AP game story:

Todd Frazier wondered if going to church more would help the White Sox break out of their funk. Then the Chicago third baseman suggested a scuffle with teammate Adam Eaton.

Church or war as an answer to all of our problems? Ladies and gentleman, I give you Todd Frazier, the next nominee for President of the United States for the Republican Party!

Yeah, I know. “Stick to baseball.” Fine: Melky Cabrera doubled twice and drove in two runs. Miguel Gonzalez allowed one run on three hits over six. I’ll hit the Democrats back the next time a ballplayer claims that his kind, culturally aware statements which signal solidarity of identity excuse him from actually having to do things which help people of that identity in a practical way.

Mets 5, Brewers 2: Bartolo Colon allowed one run over seven innings while scattering eight hits. The only run scored when a ball was smashed into the chest of second baseman Neil Walker off the bat of Hernan Perez. Terry Collins: “He said it hit him right in the heart and that he couldn’t catch his breath.” I’ve never see Hernan Perez before, but I’m assuming this is him.

Does an Ox Baker reference make up for that political jab? It really should, you know. Ain’t no other baseball writer dropping Ox Baker bombs at 8am. Florida belongs to Ox Baker. Don’t you forget that, Ronnie Garvin.

Marlins 10, Twins 3Marcell Ozuna had four hits and three RBI. Christian Yelich had two hits and an RBI. Chris Johnson hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer. The Twins losing probably made them sad which, based on what I heard in response to this yesterday, likely makes a certain segment of Twins fans happy. They really want the Twins to be sad and to feel bad.

Rangers 5, Astros 3: Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland each had nice days at the plate and the Rangers could use that from those two. Fielder’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth was smashing. Rougned Odor homered too. Bad news for Houston, apart from losing to the Rangers yet again: Carlos Correa left the game with a sprained left ankle. He’ll miss a game or two most likely.

Rockies 11, Pirates 5: Jorge De La Rosa has lost his spot in the Rockies rotation, but he came in and pitched four excellent innings in relief. Walt Weiss said after the game that his demotion “was a tough pill to swallow for a guy who’s been the best pitcher in franchise history” and I still can’t get my head around the fact that De La Rosa is the best pitcher on Rockies history. DJ LeMahieu homered, doubled and drove in three runs. Ryan RaburnCharlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado each drove in two.

Yankees 6, Angels 3: Carlos Beltran hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the Yankees’ five-run fifth, Ivan Nova was solid and the Betances, Miller, Chapman bullpen did what it was supposed to do to give the Yankees the win. New York is back at .500. But some bad news too as Chris Parmelee, a day removed from a two-homer game and a Daily News headline extolling his heroism, pulled his hamstring. Being the Yankees first baseman is like being the drummer for Spinal Tap.

Orioles 6, Blue Jays 5: Chris Davis homered and hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth inning on a 2-for-3 night. That’s five wins in a row for the O’s and eight of their last nine since the calendar turned to June. Baltimore is kicking off a four-game road series against Toronto and Boston, by the way, so these are some big game for all three of what seem to be the most serious contenders for the division crown.

Cardinals 3, Reds 2: Adam Wainwright was solid after a shaky start and Yadier Molina hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the eighth. He doubled and scored a run in the second inning as well. The Cardinals have taken 18 of the past 22 series from the Reds.

Indians 5, Mariners 3Tyler Naquin hit a two-run home run off Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning to give the Indians what ended up being their winning margin. Mariners pitchers issued eight walks. You’re not gonna win often when you do that.