Ian Desmond’s PED idea: make players play for 50 games without pay

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Interesting PED discussion involving Nationals players in this Amanda Comak story at the Washington Times. They’re talking about the increased or altered PED penalties, noting some of the inherent problems in the system and how to best address them. Ian Desmond — admitting at the outset that he’s just sort of riffing — has a novel idea:

Desmond, prefacing the idea as “unpolished,” described a scenario in which a player would lose 50 games worth of pay but be required to stay with his team and have the opportunity to play.

“It’s the manager’s discretion, if he thinks the player is performing, then he plays. If not, he’s on the bench, but he’s around,” Desmondexplained. “Your face is in front of the camera, you have to deal with your teammates, and if you don’t play up to your potential, then if you hit free agency, people are going to see a true evaluation of you.

Obviously problematic and likely unworkable. But his broader comments after that, and the comments of Drew Storen, do point out what seems to be something significant: there’s shame and ego and all sorts of things tied up in players’ decision to use PEDs. And that focusing so much on the severity of the penalty may not get at the problem the way people think. Guys who use think they’ll never get caught, so 50 games or even 100 games may not be enough.  Guys who take PEDs aren’t necessarily twirling their mustaches at the prospect of gaming the system, they’re insecure in their abilities and are looking at the easiest way to live up to the hype or to cash in or whatever. When thinking about how to solve the problem, those motivations should be considered.

I guess the biggest takeaway from this, and from other articles about the prospect of enhanced PED penalties is that the players are thinking about this stuff. And that, shockingly, they have better insight into the psychology of a cheating player than do baseball writers, WADA and the like.  And as such, it’s probably worth listening to them before mindlessly jacking up the penalties and banning people for life.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.