Bill Baer

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 01:  Jeff Francoeur #18 of the Atlanta Braves runs to first base after hitting a single in the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Turner Field on June 1, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Jeff Francoeur estimates 90 percent of major leaguers want stiffer PED penalties

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Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur went on Buster Olney’s ESPN podcast on Thursday and said that he estimates 90 percent of major leaguers would like stiffer penalties for players caught using performance-enhancing drugs, as Jerry Crasnick notes.

Francoeur said:

“The system is flawed. There’s no other way around it. Guys get docked 80 games (pay) or whatever it is. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. But if you sign a $60 million deal and you’re losing maybe $5 million, it’s worth it for a lot of these guys. It stinks because there are buddies of mine who were basically battling these guys for jobs. It’s just unfair.

“I know a lot of guys that have been busted, and they’re good people. I like them a lot. But at the end of the day, they’re cheating the system.”

Major League Baseball’s drug testing program has levied increasingly harsh penalties for players who test positive. Currently, first-time offenders receive an 80-game suspension while second-time offenders sit out 160 games and third-time offenders are banned for life.

Per Crasnick, 57 minor leaguers and 12 major leaguers have tested positive since January. Two-time All-Star Dee Gordon is the highest profile player this year to get caught.

Francoeur realizes that, in asking for harsher penalties, he is putting more power  in ownership’s hand, something which the Players’ Union wouldn’t like. However, he said, “I think we have to start listening to the majority of the players, and not the other way around.”

Francoeur also doesn’t buy the excuses of players who test positive and say they unknowingly took the substances. The outfielder said, “For me, the only thing I’ll drink is the protein shakes that MLB gives us. They tell us in spring training, ‘Don’t take it if it’s not certified.’ If you go to GNC and get some bogus stuff, how stupid can you be? That’s your own fault. (I hear players say), ‘I don’t know how this got in me.’ Well, watch what you put in your body.”

Report: Red Sox have scouted Phillies’ Jeremy Hellickson

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws to a Washington Nationals batter in the third inning at Nationals Park on April 27, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Red Sox have scouted Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson is one of “many rotation options” the Red Sox are considering.

The Red Sox recently demoted Clay Buchholz to the bullpen. David Price has been inconsistent all year and owns a 4.64 ERA. To make matters worse, the club is now relying on Sean O'Sullivan at the back of the rotation.

Hellickson, 29, has been solid for the Phillies, posting a 3.92 ERA with a 93/27 K/BB ratio in 105 2/3 innings. He’s owed the remainder of his $7 million salary for this season and is eligible for free agency at season’s end.

The Phillies enter Thursday’s action at 40-46, which isn’t bad considering the preseason expectations for the team. However, the organization would happily relent Hellickson for anything more valuable than the draft pick compensation they would get after making a qualifying offer to the right-hander.

Royals move struggling Chris Young to the bullpen

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 5: Chris Young #32 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 5, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Royals manager Ned Yost told the media, including Jason Lamb of Kansas City’s FOX 4 News, on Thursday that Chris Young won’t make his scheduled start on Sunday against the Mariners. Instead, Young is being moved to the bullpen.

Young, 37, has had a miserable season as he currently stands with a 6.90 ERA and a 64/29 K/BB ratio in 60 innings. He has yielded 26 home runs, leading the majors in that ignominious category. While Young’s strikeout rate is way up compared to his last two seasons, his walk rate has also ballooned.

Dillon Gee and Brian Flynn are candidates to start in Young’s place.