A-Rod’s extra penalty explained: it’s all about the “chutzpah”

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Jon Heyman takes issue with those who thinks Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension was too harsh. He thinks it’s too light! And he demonstrates this by calculating the punishment with reference to the Joint Drug Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreements.

Hahaha, just kidding. He pulls it out of his rear end:

A-Rod got 50 games for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Agreement.

And 161 more for chutzpah.

His column — a pretty darn long one by his usual standards — basically argues that all punishment is justified in Alex Rodriguez’s case because he made tons of money, is unlikeable and lied. That’s not necessarily surprising. As is evidenced by his Hall of Fame columns over the years Heyman is quite comfortable with changing standards when it suits him, so I’m sure he has no problems whatsoever with retroactively applying a high income/jerk multiplier to discipline as set forth in the JDA.

But Heyman’s repeated references to Evreth Cabrera are kinda weird, though:

Padres young shortstop Everth Cabrera told a tearful story of taking one drug for a short time in one spring training at the suggestion of his former representative, Juan Carlos Nunez, the ex-ACES agent. Cabrera signed up for 50 games and took responsibility. Rodriguez, word is, obtained steroids and HGH for part of 2010, and all of 2011 and ’12. The evidence suggests he basically lived on the stuff.

Does he really deserve the same penalty as little, teary-eyed Everth Cabrera? … And if poor little Everth Cabrera signs up for 50 for one spring indiscretion, 211 seems light for Rodriguez.

The infantilzation of Cabrera is kinda creepy, no? And how is it even consistent? I thought the lesson we were to take from the past several years of PED stuff is that you can’t take the ballplayers at their word and that they’re all liars? Why does Cabrera get a pass and/or Rodriguez get such harsher treatment? I thought these guys were all responsible for their actions. Guess that doesn’t apply to “little, teary-eyed Cabrera.”

Maybe what’s most galling about the column is Heyman’s certainty regarding how damning the evidence against Rodriguez is. And maybe it is. I’m just not sure what makes Heyman so sure of that given that no one is privy to it but Major League Baseball and A-Rod’s people at the moment. If Heyman does know, you’d think he’d report on it rather than spend a few thousand words trashing A-Rod. If he doesn’t know, what makes him so sure?

Oh, I forgot. It’s the chutzpah.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.