Players don’t have to talk to MLB in the Biogenesis probe. Thank Fergie Jenkins for that

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I noted yesterday the uncertainty surrounding potential double discipline of Biogenesis players. How the Melky Cabrera precedent may make it hard for MLB to give an enhanced suspension for those perceived to be lying to investigators. I also pondered whether simply not talking to investigators might serve as the basis. Ken Rosenthal, however, reminds us today that baseball has historically been unable to discipline players for clamming up:

In September 1980, former commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Ferguson Jenkins for declining to cooperate with baseball’s investigation after the pitcher was charged with possession of cocaine, hashish and marijuana in Toronto. An arbitrator lifted the suspension, according to the Associated Press, saying that “the commissioner was compelling Jenkins to jeopardize his defense in court.” Braun and others, by failing to answer questions, simply asserted their “Jenkins” rights.

There are some differences here, of course. Jenkins actually had charges pending against him while none of the Biogenesis players do.  But if baseball’s past arbitrator respected the idea of protecting players from self-incrimination (and that was in a case in a foreign country, not subject to the Fifth Amendment) one would think that the precedent would demand continued respect of Fifth Amendment rights, even if Major League Baseball isn’t the government.  And the way the Fifth Amendment works, one need not have an actual criminal case pending. Merely the potential of one must exist.

While it’s unlikely that any of the Biogenesis players will be prosecuted, it is a possibility. And that possibility may be enough to prevent Major League Baseball from imposing any added discipline for player’s failure to cooperate. Between that, the fact that most of these guys are facing a first offense, not a second, and given that the lying precedent is complicated by the Melky Precedent, how again is MLB supposed to suspend anyone for 100 games?

Marcus Stroman dealing with blister again

Marcus Stroman
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Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.

Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.

While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.