Matthew Pouliot

Nelson Cruz, Gary Pettis

Report: Biogenesis players ready to accept their bans

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Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that, Alex Rodriguez excepted, the rest of the players involved in the Biogenesis scandal are ready to accept suspensions or 50 games or more.

Sources told Passan that the suspensions will come down within 72 hours. The AP is reporting that Friday could be the day. Among those expected to be suspended are the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz, the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta and the Padres’ Everth Cabrera. Passan adds that there still may be major leaguers suspended we don’t yet know about. However, Biogenesis players caught with PEDs in their system and suspended last year (Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal) aren’t expected to face further punishment.

According to Passan:

MLB set 50 games as a baseline for players involved with Biogenesis, sources said, and those who did not cooperate during the investigation agreed to receive additional penalties of double-digit games.

That would explain the Ryan Braun agreement: 50 games for the PED use, plus 15 additional games for his lack of cooperation. Though it still hardly seems right that not cooperating with the investigation is grounds for an additional penalty.

As for Rodriguez, he still plans to be a holdout, despite all of the evidence against him. And multiple reports have indicated that MLB has more ammo to use against Rodriguez than it does the rest of Bosch’s clients. But MLB is also seemingly going after Rodriguez unlike any of the other players, threatening him with an 150-game or maybe even a lifetime suspension. If A-Rod chooses to appeal his suspension, the league could prevent him from playing anyway under the “best interests of baseball” clause.

Passan also notes that much of the evidence working against the players comes in the form of text messages between the players and Tony Bosch that detail the cash-for-drugs transactions.

Besides Cruz, Peralta and Cabrera, suspensions are also expected to be handed down to the Mariners’ Jesus Montero, the Yankees’ Francisco Cervelli and Fernando Martinez, the Mets’ Cesar Puello and free agents Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto. Of those players, Cervelli is the only current major leaguer, though he’s been on the DL since April. Montero also counts as a major leaguer for suspension purposes, since he’s still on the 40-man roster after being demoted to Triple-A by Seattle.

Should Cruz and Peralta accept their suspensions as indicated, the Rangers and Tigers would be weakened for the stretch run. The Rangers are already actively hunting for outfield help. The Tigers aren’t being mentioned in connection with shortstops, but they may be trying to do something behind the scenes. Both Cruz and Peralta have extra incentive to accept the suspensions, since they’re free agents at season’s end and would struggle to find offers with the bans hanging over their heads.

Angels bid for Diamondbacks’ Ian Kennedy

Ian Kennedy
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The Angels aren’t buyers and the Diamondbacks aren’t sellers, but it seems they might be able to help each other out by doing an Ian Kennedy deal.

Both CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal have mentioned the possibility. The Padres are also in the running, says MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.

With Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) set to rejoin the rotation next week and Trevor Cahill (hip, shoulder) just a week behind, the Diamondbacks appear flush with starters. They’ve been using Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Kennedy, Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs of late, though Skaggs has already been demoted to make room for McCarthy. They also have top prospect Archie Bradley making noise with a 2.28 ERA in 15 starts in Double-A.

The problem is that, other than maybe Corbin, there’s not one guy there that seems like a front-line starter for a postseason rotation. It’s why the Diamondbacks have been mentioned in connection with the White Sox’s Jake Peavy and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija. If they could move Kennedy and get a couple of prospects in return, it’d make biting the bullet on a Peavy trade a lot easier.

In Kennedy, the Angels would get a guy who has been a disappointment this year, but one who still makes a modest $4.3 million and who is under control through 2015. With few major league-ready arms in the farm system, he’d be a nice to have around, especially since he’ll cost about half as much as a comparable free agent starter next year.

Kennedy, 28, is 3-7 with a 5.22 ERA this year, though he’s still fanned 101 in 119 innings. He went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 2011 and 15-12 with a 4.02 ERA in 2012, striking out 385 batters in 430 1/3 innings between the two seasons.

Cheating is bad, but are the drugs?

Bartolo Colon
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One of the issues many of us have with steroids is that they make players something they’re not. Or so we think anyway. Barry Bonds was practically a superhero in the early part of the last decade. Ryan Braun was probably destined to be a major leaguer, but now we assume that he was never meant to be an MVP. And it’s likely the case that more than a handful of pitchers who would have topped out at Double- or Triple-A otherwise turned themselves into major league relievers for a spell by juicing and adding a few miles per hour to their fastballs.

But what about the other side of juicing? What about the players who just want to be what they were? Many players have used the excuse that they turned to performance-enhancing drugs to aid in the recovery from an injury. Some of those people were undoubtedly lying, but others weren’t. Players want to play.

Bartolo Colon was pretty much written off as a major league pitcher after hurting his shoulder in 2009. Following a controversial surgery in which he had stem cells inserted into his right shoulder, he resurfaced with the Yankees in 2011 and was surprisingly solid, going 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA in 164 1/3 innings. It was the first time he had cracked 100 innings since his Cy Young season in 2005.

Colon performed even better for the A’s in 2011, going 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA, but then he was nabbed for testosterone use. The A’s re-signed him anyway, and this year, he’s been flat-out terrific, going 14-3 with a 2.54 ERA that ranks third in the AL.

We now know that Colon was a Biogenesis client alongside Braun, Alex Rodriguez and others. Many suspect he’s still cheating to this day. Even if he isn’t, he could still be deriving some benefit from the meds he got to help strengthen his shoulder.

And, oddly enough, I just don’t seem to care much about it. In reality, Colon’s crime is the same as Braun’s, and I pretty much despise Braun at the moment.

Colon, though, isn’t something he isn’t supposed to be. Instead, he’s a guy who simply bought himself a few more years. According to Baseball Info Solutions data, Colon is currently defying American League hitters with a fastball that averages all of 90.1 mph. That’s down from 92.7 mph in his Cy Young campaign eight years ago. The data doesn’t go back to when he first came up, but he probably averaged 94-95 mph in the late 90s, often going higher.

Steroids didn’t give Colon the excellent fastball accuracy he’s always enjoyed. They also haven’t helped him master a slider or a curve, which he never really did in the first place. He’s throwing two-seamers and four-seamers 85 percent of the time this year.

Now, maybe Colon’s cocktails will come back to bite him in the long run. We don’t know. Steroid use has always been reported to have dangerous side effects. Since we’ve demonized and criminalized steroid usage, studying whether these more modern regimens could prove relatively harmless is pretty much impossible.

We all like the idea of a level playing field, and if Colon is artificially extending his career, he’s taking a roster spot from a clean player. But, of course, depending on where you want to draw the line, half of the league is composed of guys who are now or will later artificially extend their careers. That’s just modern medicine doing its part.

It’s not like we’re ever going to win the war on performance enhancers. Chemists are always going to come up with new things. Someday, these new things won’t even be frowned upon. We shouldn’t be trying to outlaw substances that make us feel better and look better. We should just be making sure they’re safe.

Someday, people will look at the steroid era and wonder why so many people were so upset. They’ll have moved on. Perhaps not for the better. Perhaps they’ll simply be complaining about genetically engineered people ruining sports.

In the meantime, yes, by all means, punish the cheaters. But don’t pretend that the performance enhancers themselves are a black and white issue. The drugs keep getting better, and they’re not just for bodybuilders and professional athletes. Maybe they should be for everyone.