Tony Bosch: Alex Rodriguez wanted to start an 800-homer club

45 Comments

Interviewed by 60 Minutes for Sunday’s show, former drug dealer Tony Bosch says he first met with Alex Rodriguez in 2010 and subsequently gave him numerous performance enhancers and supplements over the following two years, including the banned substances testosterone, hGH and insulin growth factor.

Bosch said upon meeting Rodriguez the former MVP asked him immediately what he gave Manny Ramirez that led to Ramirez’s resurgence in 2008 after joining the Dodgers. Bosch, who allegedly injected Rodriguez himself on occasion, added that A-Rod was driven to become the first player ever to hit 800 homers.

Bosch stated that he loves baseball, but that he had no qualms about supplying players with PEDs, something he did for as long as 10 years. He commented on how he might have been merely leveling the playing field for Rodriguez, since the pitcher, “the guy catching the baseball” and “the guy Alex tags out at third base” were also likely cheating.

Of course, those comments couldn’t have gone over particularly well with the league, which paid Bosch for his cooperation, as well as protected him. The closest thing to a bombshell provided during the interview was that a known associate of Rodriguez was one of several who alledgedly threatened Bosch’s life. Bosch also said A-Rod’s team offered to send him to Colombia and pay him $150,000 to lay low until everything blew over.

Bosch added that beating MLB’s drug testing wasn’t any problem at all. The testosterone troches he gave Rodriguez could be taken in the first inning of a contest and still leave no evidence behind for a postgame urine testing. Nothing, though, was said about Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal. Those three were Bosch clients who all failed drug tests and received 50-game suspensions in 2012. Other clients, such as Ryan Braun and Jhonny Peralta, never failed drug tests but were suspended last season anyway.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig and COO Rob Manfred both did interviews for CBS. Neither was asked why exactly Rodriguez deserved the original 211-game suspension, now reduced to 162 games, when others received 50-game bans. Manfred said Rodriguez attempted to bribe Bosch, which was obviously in poor taste given that MLB was also in the process of bribing him by paying him and dropping a lawsuit against him. Selig said Rodriguez did things that were unprecedented during his 50 years in baseball, but never truly elaborated.

The enhanced suspension is still at the heart of the matter here, and tonight’s interview did nothing to answer the questions about why A-Rod was punished so more severely than everyone else. While no one is shedding tears for the disgraced 14-time All-Star, there’s still no clear reason why he was treated so harshly, other than the idea that it was simply Selig’s whim.

The other thing of interest here is the timeline. A-Rod started seeing Bosch in Aug. 2010, according to the interview, and continued receiving supplies into the 2012 season. It certainly doesn’t seem as though Rodriguez’s performance was enhanced by the partnership, though. His OPS has declined every year since 2007.

2007: 1.067
2008: .965
2009: .933
2010: .847
2011: .823
2012: .783
2013: .771

For what it’s worth, Rodriguez may have gotten a boost immediately after meeting Bosch. He had his best month of the season that September, hitting .295/.375/.600 with nine of his 30 homers.

Also of note: besides Ramirez coming up in passing, no player other than Rodriguez was brought up by Bosch or anyone else during the interview. That even though he said he had been working with players for 10 years.

Lou Whitaker snubbed from the Hall of Fame again

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
4 Comments

Long time Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker has long been one of baseball history’s most underrated players. He and Hall of Fame shortstop Alan Trammell formed one of the best up-the-middle combos ever, teammates since Whitaker’s debut in 1977 to his final year in 1995.

Trammell is actually a great jumping-off point to support Whitaker’s candidacy. Here are their career counting stats:

  • Whitaker: .276/.363/.426, 420 doubles, 65 triples, 244 homers, 1084 RBI, 1386 runs, 143 stolen bases, 1197 walks (9967 plate appearances)
  • Trammell: .285/.352/.415, 415 doubles, 55 triples, 185 homers, 1003 RBI, 1231 runs, 236 stolen bases, 850 walks (9376 plate appearances)

Whitaker also had slightly more Wins Above Replacement over his career according to Baseball Reference, besting Trammell 75.1 to 70.7. FanGraphs’ version of WAR puts both players slightly lower but with Whitaker still in the lead, 68.1 to 63.7.

Trammell, like Whitaker, did not make the Hall of Fame through initial eligibility on the ballot voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, beginning five years after their retirement. Trammell was elected two years ago on the Modern Era ballot. Whitaker fell off the ballot in his only year of eligibility, earning just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. Whitaker was again snubbed on Sunday night, receiving just six of the 12 votes necessary for induction. Trammell became eligible on the BBWAA ballot in 2002 and had a 15-year run, with his support running as far down as 13.4 percent in 2007 and peaking at 40.9 percent in his final year in 2016.

Trammell and Whitaker critics cited things like never leading the league in any important categories and never winning an MVP Award as reasons why they shouldn’t be enshrined. That last reason, of course, ignores that both contributed to the Tigers winning the World Series in 1984, but I digress.

Trammell should have been elected to the Hall of Fame on the BBWAA ballot. And, since the distinction matters to so many people, he should have been inducted on the first ballot. Among Hall of Fame shortstops (at least 50 percent of their games at the position), Trammell has the eighth-highest WAR among 21 eligible players. He has ever so slightly more WAR than Barry Larkin (70.4), who made it into the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility with 86.4 percent of the vote.

Now, what about Whitaker? Among Hall of Fame second basemen (at least 50 percent of games at the position), Whitaker’s 75.1 WAR would rank sixth among 20 eligible second basemen. The only second basemen ahead of him are Rogers Hornsby (127.0), Eddie Collins (124.0), Nap Lajoie (107.4), Joe Morgan (100.6), and Charlie Gehringer (80.7). Whitaker outpaces such legendaries as Ryne Sandberg (68.0), Roberto Alomar (67.1), and Craig Biggio (65.5). Sandberg made it into the Hall in his third year on the ballot; Alomar his second; Biggio his third.

Among the players on the 2001 BBWAA ballot, the only player with more career WAR than Whitaker was Bert Blyleven (94.4), who eventually made it into the Hall of Fame. Dave Winfield (64.2) and Kirby Puckett (51.1) were elected that year. Also receiving hefty support that year were Gary Carter (70.1 WAR), Jim Rice (47.7), Bruce Sutter (24.1), and Goose Gossage (41.2) and each would eventually make the Hall of Fame.

WAR is not, by any means, a perfect stat, so the WAR argument may not resonate with everyone. Dating back to 1871, there have been only 66 players who hit at least 400 doubles and 200 home runs while stealing 100 bases. The only second basemen (same 50 percent stipulation) to do that are Whitaker, Hornsby, Morgan, Sandberg, Alomar, Biggio, Chase Utley, and Ian Kinsler. Additionally, Whitaker drew more walks than strikeouts over his career, 1197 to 1099. The only second basemen to do that while hitting at least 200 career homers are Whitaker, Morgan, Hornsby, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Gordon.

Whitaker was not without accolades: he won the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year Award. He was a five-time All-Star and took home four Silver Sluggers along with three Gold Gloves to boot. Trammell took home a similar amount of hardware: though he never won a Rookie of the Year Award, he did make the All-Star team six times. He went on to win four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.

In a just world, Whitaker would have been on the ballot for the then-maximum 15 years. In a sentimentally just world, he would have gone in side-by-side with Trammell in 2002. Whitaker’s candidacy certainly shouldn’t have fallen to the Modern Era ballot, and it shouldn’t have been further fumbled by a committee that gave him as many votes as Steve Garvey.