Tag: Melky Cabrera

Baltimore Orioles’ 4 Biggest Missed Opportunities of the Offseason

The Baltimore Orioles had a fantastic 2014 season, as they won their division and went to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997.

After experiencing success and entering the offseason with just a few players hitting the free-agent market, fans hoped to see the O’s jump on their window of opportunity and build their roster for an even deeper postseason run in 2015.

Unfortunately, the offseason was probably the opposite of what Birdland was hoping to see. The team lost veterans Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller, and the biggest name it added was Travis Snider.

That, coupled with the ugly rumors that surrounded Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette from the beginning of December through the end of January (that were ultimately silenced), made for quite a disappointing offseason for the O’s.

There wasn’t much available on the market that made sense for the Orioles, but there were some moves that the team could have made this winter.

Let’s take a look at a few opportunities the team missed this offseason.

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Melky Cabrera Would Be Huge Boost to Mariners AL West Hopes

Not every move is pulled off, not every need filled at the MLB Winter Meetings.

For as much hype as the gathering produces, and rightfully so this year, there are teams that go in with plenty of expectations but simply leave with the same roster with which they arrived. It leaves fans disappointed that their guys were not part of the hoopla, but it does not mean said team is done maneuvering.

The Seattle Mariners are such a team.

“I don’t feel hurried or rushed here,” general manager Jack Zduriencik told Bob Dutton of the Tacoma New Tribune on Thursday before leaving the meetings. “You shouldn’t view this as ‘If you don’t come away with your club in place on Dec. 12, wow, it’s not going to work.’ That isn’t the case.”

Not when there is now serious interest in outfielder Melky Cabrera, a guy who makes a whole lot of sense for the Mariners. The team needs a right-handed hitter, preferably one who can play right field. Cabrera, a switch-hitter, can productively fulfill both desires. Over his last four seasons, Cabrera has hit .309/.351/.458 with a .809 OPS and 124 OPS-plus. His only down season came in an injury-plagued 2013 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Cabrera is said to be asking for a five-year deal. A report from ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas has the Mariners offering three. Finally, it appears that if the Mariners really want to close the deal, they could offer a fourth year to get it done, according to Rojas and other reports.

Speculation has the Mariners somewhere in the $40-42 million range on a three-year deal, which could mean a higher average annual value than the $60 million for five years that Cabrera reportedly wants. So it would make sense for Cabrera to jump at a four-year contract at around $50 million.

There is some risk in waiting this thing out, though. As the December days drip off, teams with similar needs as Seattle can get desperate and hop into the fray cannonball-style. At least two other teams—the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles—need an outfield bat and are eyeing Cabrera to fill the void. While neither team is willing to meet the years/price right this instant, passing time and no better options could change minds.



While those clubs are currently hesitant on Cabrera’s wants, he does make as much sense for them as he does for the Mariners. The Royals are looking for a right fielder and had an unimpressive offense last season, and they are in danger of being a worse team than they were last season when they made it to the World Series. The Orioles lost some pop when Nelson Cruz went to Seattle and Nick Markakis jetted for Atlanta and have a hole in their outfield.

The Royals have financial constraints, but the Orioles can spend and have some tradable pieces, as do the Mariners. That is why both teams were linked to former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Braves left fielder Justin Upton.

It made some sense for the Mariners to be interested in Kemp, and maybe they should have stayed in talks with the Dodgers. After all, a package centered around catcher Yasmani Grandal is much less of a return for Kemp than anyone expected.

Upton makes less sense since the Braves are said to be asking for a similar bounty as the Dodgers asked Seattle for Kemp. Plus, the M’s would be guaranteed only one year of Upton, who is most likely going to test free agency after the 2015 season.

If the Mariners are looking for a guy who can do more than simply track a fly ball, then Cabrera is the best option on the market. He would also fit nicely into their clubhouse being friends with Robinson Cano and Cruz, and Cano has already bent his ear about heading up to the Pacific Northwest to join a team on the rise.


Seeing as how the Mariners have already gone in on Felix Hernandez, Cano and Kyle Seager, plus giving 34-year-old designated hitter Cruz $57 million over four years, going to a fourth year for the 31-year-old Cabrera is not a stretch. His bat has also played in a cavernous ballpark in the past when he hit .346/.390/.516 with a .906 OPS for the San Francisco Giants in 2012—yes, he was popped for a positive PED test, but he was still quite productive the year before and last season as well. Playing in Safeco Field would not be a deterrent for Cabrera.

It is understandable that the Mariners have slow-played this negotiation to this point. Losing Cabrera has not been an imminent danger, and balking at a fifth year is wise.

But the clock is ticking and suitors are lurking, albeit on the fringes. The Mariners are clearly serious about contending in the American League West next season, and it looks like they have the pieces to do so. Jumping a little farther to secure Cabrera should be their play, and it should come soon.

Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News, and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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MLB Free Agents 2014: Latest Rumors, Predictions for Key Stars

Key players have already signed new contracts this winter, setting the standard for how the rest of the offseason is going to unfold.

MLB free agency, much like any other sport’s free agency, is driven heavily by the depth of the market. Competition for stars will drive their prices up, as will how many other options there are at each position in free agency. That’s why you see guys like Russell Martin, a good (but not great) catcher, getting a contract worth $82 million.

Given how early the offseason is, there are still plenty of players left looking for a big contract. There will inevitably be competition for the top players’ services. How far will their prices be driven up?

Read below to see the latest rumors and predictions for which teams will win the bidding wars on a few key stars.


Jon Lester

Every team in the bigs could use Jon Lester. Even the World Series champions could benefit from adding him to their staff, and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that the team has shown interest:

Adding Lester to a rotation already including Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain and possibly Tim Lincecum would again make the Giants favorites in the National League. The lefty will be 31 in January and is coming off arguably his best season in the league.

He posted a 2.46 ERA (2.80 FIP) and a ERA- of 63—well above the league average of 100, via FanGraphs. Lester pitched well in the offensively potent American League East and American League West, meaning a move to the offensively inept National League West could make him even better.

The competition for Lester is fierce. The Boston Red Sox still can’t be ruled out despite their recent spending spree, while the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and possibly even the New York Yankees can make a play for the ace.

The Yankees have been reluctant to spend at this point, but Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe described the team’s strategy when going after top talents: “[Brian] Cashman is one of the best at not showing his hand. He will downplay every possible move the Yankees should or could make, and when it comes down to doing it, the Yankees pounce swiftly.”

That makes the Bombers a true threat.

It’s really a toss-up as to where Lester will play in 2015 and beyond. Any number of teams are equipped to take on his impending salary. This is truly a situation where a dark-horse team could emerge, but it’s tough to not go with a team with a track record of spending big-time dollars on big-time players.

Prediction: Yankees


Melky Cabrera

It’s surprising to think that Melky Cabrera is one of the more underrated players available this winter. He has bounced around a lot in his past four seasons, but that shouldn’t change the view of the type of player he is.

The Baltimore Orioles are in need of a right fielder. That could still be Nick Markakis, who is a free agent, but MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports that Cabrera is the Plan B: “I’ve heard from multiple people that he’s a ‘fallback option’ for the Orioles if they can’t re-sign Nick Markakis.”

Baltimore’s interest in Cabrera is likely as an on-base type of player, as the Orioles have struggled to get on base at a consistent clip in recent years—something not conducive to scoring a ton of runs for a team with immense power.

Kubatko notes that their past five OBPs have been .316, .316, .311, .313 and .311. Cabrera can help out in that regard.

Any number of teams should be in on the 30-year-old switch-hitter. His old team, the Toronto Blue Jays, could be maxed out after signing Russell Martin, so that presumably knocks them out of the hunt.

Cabrera is the type of player who could help a lot of teams, making his destination a bit of a question mark. Being a “fallback option” in Baltimore doesn’t exactly scream confidence in a deal working out between the two sides.

It’ll be a dark-horse team that scoops him up—one with major questions in the outfield.

Prediction: Chicago White Sox


Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter is lobbying for what will likely be the final contract of his career. The 39-year-old outfielder can still play ball, and the Minnesota Twins are looking to get him back in the Twin Cities to end his career, reports Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com:

LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune echoed Wolfson:

Hunter began his career in Minnesota and played there from 1997 to 2007. He was a fan favorite because of his stellar defense and timely power, so a reunion would certainly reignite the fans. 

Wolfson and Neal aren’t the only ones who have spoken about a reunion. Hunter himself told Charley Walters of TwinCities.com that he would like to come back to where it all started:

(Twins general manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure.

I would come over to win. All that stuff everybody talks about, ‘a great guy in the clubhouse,’ that’s extra — that’s not No. 1. The No. 1 thing is look at my numbers. They’re still the same, one of the most consistent hitters in baseball over my career.

Hunter probably doesn’t have more than two years left in the tank, even if he has been the staple of consistency since he left the Twins prior to the 2008 season. Regardless, his connection with new manager Paul Molitor will play a big role in making something happen.

A respected veteran at the tail end of his career, Hunter would make a ton of people happy by returning.

Prediction: Twins


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

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Blue Jays’ Melky Cabrera Achieves Slew of Rare Feats in 19-Inning Marathon

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera had an unusual Sunday, recording five walks and three hits in his team’s 19-inning marathon with the Detroit Tigers.

Per MLB Stat of the Day, Cabrera became the first player in major-league history with five walks and three hits in the same game. He also became the 105th player since 1914 to record a five-walk game, as the feat isn’t quite as rare as you might expect.

The “Melkman” is the first player since Rod Carew on May 12, 1972 to reach base safely eight times in one game, according to MLB Stat of the Day.

As busy as his day was, Cabrera somehow failed to cross the plate, though he did drive in a lone run with a seventh-inning single, his second hit of the contest.

After Cabrera started the game with just one hit in three-at bats, the RBI single began a stretch of seven consecutive plate appearances in which he reached base. He walked in the ninth inning and singled in the 12th, before drawing walks (two intentional) in each of his final four plate appearances.

Toronto ultimately won 6-5 in 19 innings, thanks to a walk-off RBI single from star outfielder Jose Bautista. The game, which saw each team use eight pitchers, was the longest in the 38-year history of the Blue Jays franchise, per ESPN Stats & Info.

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Johnny Damon Hits the Nail on the Head with PED Talk

After an 18-year career in the majors, Johnny Damon feels he was forced to leave the game of baseball before he was ready to hang up the spikes. The reason for that, according to Damon, is because he never used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

In an interview with 810 CBS Sports, the 40-year-old was asked to consider his place in baseball history. In addition to the stats and the accolades, Damon said the following should be considered:

I played it clean. That’s what everybody’s going to be looking at. I think I’m one of the only players to come out and say, “I guarantee you there is nothing I’ve done that enhanced my baseball career.”

Over the course of those 18 years, Damon played with a handful of notable players tied to PED use. To name a few: Manny Ramirez, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Roger Clemens, Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield. 

He makes an interesting case for his enshrinement amongst baseball’s greats. With 2,769 hits, a .284 average, 1,139 RBI and two World Series championships (2004 and 2009), Damon certainly had an above-average career with the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians. With no evidence or speculation contradicting his claimed cleanliness, he might just have a case for Cooperstown. 

However, that debate is for another day. The rest of the interview was far more notable and worth talking about, as Damon looked at more than his own career, focusing on some of the problems with Major League Baseball as the game tries to move past the PED era:

The game today, it’s a slap on the wrist for people, and it sends a bad message to kids, the families. You can’t fault someone who has a chance to make $20 million, $50 million, $100 million for going against the system to get to where they are. You can’t fault them.

There are certain guys who cheated the system and they’re still being patted on the back. That’s not great for our kids, especially my son. He’s playing high school baseball now and these kids are very influenced, and if you tell a kid, “You do something and you’re going to have a chance to make $100 million,” people are going to sign up.

I don’t want my son or anybody else’s kid to get involved with it. But it seems like Major League Baseball is allowing it.

Now, who might Damon be talking about? Who fits that mold of getting a slap on the wrist for cheating the system? A few players come to mind, including Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera.

After being suspended 50 games in 2013 as part of the Biogenesis scandal, Peralta signed a lavish four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this past winter. Cruz, who was also suspended as a part of the scandal, signed a more modest but still generous one-year, $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles. And after being suspended 50 games as a member of the 2012 San Francisco Giants, Cabrera agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

These players cheated the game, yet following their suspensions, they were welcomed back with open arms and millions of dollars. Damon is right—that does send a bad, bad message, especially to youth ballplayers.

Two of those guys came back to make an average annual salary of $8 million, while the other, Peralta, got over $13 million a year. In what other profession can you break the rules and hurt your organization, yet somehow get such a grand reward? 

Any young ballplayer, whether he be in high school, college, the minors or the 25th man on the big league roster, is looking at these cases and thinking, “Hey, this (PEDs) is worth it. Even if I get in trouble, I’m going to get paid. I could make millions.”

This, as Damon said, is something Major League Baseball needs to look at. The league needs to strengthen its substance-abuse policy, because as much as it says it cares about cleaning up the game, the way Damon and so many others see it, it’s still beneficial for players to cheat. The consequences have yet to outweigh the rewards.

That means going beyond suspensions and public shaming and hitting players where it hurts, their pockets. One way to do this that frequently comes up is to limit suspended players to a certain salary, say the league minimum, come their next free-agent contract. It’s a great idea, one that would truly make players pay for their actions and would tell other players to stay clear of PEDs.

The problem with this is that the player’s union would never agree to it, because, well, there are still cheaters out there. Those cheaters want to get paid if they get caught, just like Peralta, Cruz and Cabrera did.

The best option available, as far as cleaning up the game goes, is for the league, its teams and its players (the clean ones) to take a moral stand against PED use. Back in November the Arizona Diamondbacks made headlines for their tendency to avoid players with ties to PEDs.

Arizona’s Brad Ziegler made his personal thoughts known as well following the Peralta signing:

This is what Major League Baseball needs. More players, active ones, have to come out and shame those who disparage the game of baseball. More teams have to refuse to bring these guys aboard. The suspensions do no good if teams are still lining up to pay the cheaters.

Damon is on to something here. Baseball is sending mixed messages about the pitfalls of PED use. Getting caught is not teaching players the lesson the league wants them to learn. It’s time the MLB as a whole got on the same page and started sending the right message.

There can be no reward for cheating the game.


All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.

Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk the Yankees and Major League Baseball.

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10 MLB Players Heading into Make-or-Break Seasons

Not every MLB player is looking forward to 2014. For some, the new season represents a pivotal juncture in their respective careers.

This is of course called a “make-or-break season.” While some players like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard appear to be albatrosses, their contractual security is paramount to their 2014 production.

By comparison, a player like Rickie Weeks desperately needs to find his stroke in 2014. After posting a .209 batting average with an 80 OPS+ in 2013, the once elite second baseman is already playing caddy to farmhand Scooter Gennett.

And if Weeks continues to hit below the league average, the 31-year-old will not find a starting job in 2015.

Read on to see the 10 MLB players heading into make-or-break seasons.


All statistics sourced from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

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Melky Cabrera Does Not Deserve a World Series Ring from the San Francisco Giants

Liar liar, pants on fire. 

Melky Cabrera lied. He cheated. He disgraced himself and the game of baseball. 

Yes, he had statistics worthy of the National League MVP award last season. His .346 batting average was the highest of his career, and his 11 home runs and 60 RBI were impressive. He also had a career-high .516 slugging percentage. He was a big reason why the San Francisco Giants were playing well. 

But you also have to consider the fact that he wasn’t available to the team for over 50 games after he was suspended for testing positive for testosterone. He wasn’t there to help San Francisco win the World Series. He had no part in winning the championship.

It was as if he wasn’t part of the team. 

So because he was suspended for performance enhancing drugs and wasn’t there for any of the epic postseason which included normally impossible comebacks against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, that means he shouldn’t get a ring, right?

That’s not what Cabrera believes. 

In a statement given at the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training camp on Friday, Cabrera said that he knows he made a mistake last season and has learned from it. According to Danny Knobler from CBSSports.com:

I feel like I deserve a ring, he said. I gave everything to that organization. If they decide not to give me a ring, I’d understand that, too.

I also accepted the Giants’ decision not to bring me back for the Playoffs after I served my punishment. Instead, I continued to work hard so I could be ready for the 2013 season. I hoped and expected that I would be allowed to put my mistake behind me and to start this season fresh.

I respect the fact that Cabrera is showing some kind of remorse for what he did. Whether or not these words were inspired by his lawyer is irrelevant. He’s owning up to what he did and is taking responsibility for his actions. That’s what he should be doing. 

However, he won’t be able to put this mistake behind him. He’s been branded as a PED user; he’ll be reminded of that for the rest of his career. 

But that doesn’t mean he deserves a ring. This is like saying a person deserves a degree after they were caught plagiarizing someone else’s work during the majority of the time they attended college. It’s just not right. 

But just because he is, in fact, getting a ring, doesn’t mean he should be getting one. 

I want to be on Cabrera’s side. There’s a part of me that believes he should get the hardware as well. But my mind is saying no. The reason for that is simple.

Cabrera wasn’t on the field. When he was on it, he was cheating. Giving him a ring is another representation of the eternal question of what’s right and what’s wrong. 

Giving him a ring is wrong. 

Sorry, Melky.

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MLB & PED’s: How to Prevent and Then Punish Positive Tests Like Ryan Braun

Over the past several years, baseball has proven with multiple reports and documents that it still has further to go in order to rid the sport of performance enhancing drugs. 

First time offenders in baseball currently receive a 50-game suspension, second-time offenders receive a 100-game suspension, and a third-time offender is banished from baseball. 

While this may deter a handful of players, it definitely does not deter all players.  With the different masking agents and assistance of personal physicians, athletes are slipping by the current testing methods.

The risk of being caught currently does not outweigh the benefits that are reaped from performing at the Major League level.  Contracts for everyday players are in the millions, and if you are an all-star you could be looking at anywhere from 10-20 million a season.   

Melky Cabrera gets caught on a one year deal with the Giants where he was arguably the mid-season NL MVP and was looking like he was in line for a mammoth contract extension where he would have seen more than $10 million per season over the next 5 years, and still came away after his drama with a 2-year, $16 million deal from the Blue Jays

Last off-season, Ryan Braun had a positive test, fought the system, and avoided his 50-game suspension.  With the recent Bio-genesis reports that are being released, it appears he is deeper in the PED underground than previously thought. 

I believe MLB could handle this ongoing issue with some of baseball’s best players by trying a few different things.


Blood Testing During Season

The most recent collective bargaining agreement from the Players Union and Major League Baseball will include blood testing for human growth hormone only for spring training and offseason. 

While this helps, HGH is not going to be used during this time frame.  HGH is being used to help players recover from injuries and stay fresh during the long season.  Players during spring training are already fresh from the off season. 

Baseball is not jumping two feet into this new testing to study the effects on the players, however if you aren’t willing to be all in, do not commit yourself to the pot. Baseball will be the first of the four major U.S. sports to incorporate any blood testing into their testing program. 

Why was the Players Union so headstrong as to not allowing it during the season? Because that’s when players will be using the HGH. You do not go to the store unless you know it is open. 

Major League Baseball is taking baby steps in getting their end result which is full testing, but the owners should be pushing this harder in order to protect their investments and know what they are actually investing in.  If you knew a stock was only worth 40 bucks and it is on the market for 50 bucks, you wouldn’t buy it—just like you wouldn’t pay a 40 HR player the same as a 10 HR player.


2.)  Increase Testing

Going hand in hand with the blood testing, the athletes need to be tested more often. 

Athletes in their contract years and rising through the minor leagues especially need additional testing.  The main reason the players are cheating is for a huge pay day, and the athletes that are the closest to that money will break the rules in order to break the bank. 

Players at the AAA level in 2012 earned slightly over $2,000 a month assuming that it was not their first year in AAA and did not receive large signing bonuses. A major league minimum salary in 2012 was $480,000 per year. 

The fact is, the borderline “4A” type players and utility players look to make huge gains just by getting onto the major league roster and sticking there.  If you show promise in the upper levels of the minors they will generally give you a shot, and the longer you stick around the longer you make nearly a half million dollars per year. 

The players in the top levels of the minor league system and especially guys in the final year of their contract should receive additional testing.  Testing is not cheap, but Major League Baseball is a billion business and the way to keep fans in the stands is to protect their brand and catch players. 

The worst thing for the MLB brand is to let superstars like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get through their careers without a positive test, and then be caught from lab documents and testimonies.


 Terminating Contacts

Through the recent years, baseball has shown that the suspensions are not a big enough deterrent to eliminate PED use.  However, what if these teams were able to completely null and void these massive contracts upon one of their players failing a drug test?   Braun in 2011 signed a $105 million, five-year contract extension that added onto a seven-year deal he signed in May 2008, which resulted in $145.5 million dollars through 2020. 

What if once his positive test was revealed, the Brewers could void his remaining contract, say “see ya,” and waive him without having to eat his “guaranteed contract?”  The owners and general Managers are signing for the “enhanced” player hitting 40 home runs player and not the actual real life player that may only hit 25 home runs.

Teams are taking the risk by signing these players, and the fact of the matter is they are getting burned.  Att the time of his extension, Braun was the face of the Brewers franchise and a media darling. 

Fast forward to today. 

Braun is regarded as one of the least-liked players in all of sports.  He went from being a marketing asset for the Brewers to an alleged cheater using PEDs and then lying about it. 

The point is, these teams will sign these great players to long term deals dump all this money on them, the player will get suspended, and while they are without pay during the suspension, they come back and make their guaranteed salary for the rest of the contract. 

Even if the blood testing and additional testing does not catch all the players in their “contract year” it would still hopefully eliminate their use from then on knowing the players could lose their huge multi-year deals.


4.) Increase Suspensions

Currently the first offense for a 50-game suspension does not seem to do justice when that is less than 1/3 of a season. The first test should result in a minimum of being suspended for the year in which you tested positive, but also be a minimum of 100 games.

If you get popped in Spring Training, well, you just missed the entire season to your positive test.  If you get popped in September, you will miss the rest of the season and into the next season totaling 100 games.

A second positive test should just result in being banned. 

These players testing positive have to realize by now the severity of the testing.  As Jose Bautista mentioned in an interview this spring, there are many different resources and outlets to these players to verify if what they are putting in their bodies is allowed or not.

The fact you can get popped at the after the all-star break like Melky Cabrera did last year, and potentially could have come back for the playoffs, is not right.  Any stats or awards that were won in a season which a player tested positive should be forfeited.


While I do believe Major League Baseball is trying to push stricter testing and clean up the sport, I believe it could be accelerated greatly.  If the Players Union is serious about protecting its players—and by players, I mean “clean” players —they should have no issues with anything in this article.  Playing baseball for a living should be an honor and a privilege, not a right.

The fact that greedy players are able to cheat to get ahead of “clean” players should be dealt with an iron fist.

I will leave you with this scenario.

Suppose two men walk into a gas station and each purchase a lottery ticket.  The first man scratches off his lottery ticket and almost won, but missed on his last two numbers.  The second man scratched his off and WON the half million dollar jackpot!  When the first man found out the second man won the jackpot, he stole his ticket, he cashed the ticket in, and he received the grand prize.  Once the first man found out what happened he finally caught up with the second man getting out of his new Ferrari, and asked, “What the hell are you doing with the winnings from my ticket? That was my dream to win the lottery,” the second man replied, “Sorry, man. It happens all the time. It is called baseball.”

The above scenario would actually be illegal and make headlines.

It’s commonplace in baseball. 

Major League Baseball and the Players Union need to do all they can do to protect their clean athletes, and stop caring about the cheaters. Baseball had the blinders on when it came to drug testing over the past 25 years, but hopefully in the next 25 years it will set new standards in protecting the blue collar athlete and lead other sports into the next era.

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The Steroid Era in Major League Baseball Will Never, Ever End

Do a quick Internet search for the term Steroid Era and the call backs include headlines like “Baseball Pays the Price for Steroid Era,” “Hall of Fame shuts out steroid-era stars” and, my personal favorite, “Baseball’s Steroid Era put in perspective,” as if that time in the history of the game is over, a time long since passed.

The Steroid Era isn’t over. It’s never going to be over.

There’s no way to put the Steroid Era into perspective because we have no idea when it’s going to end. We are acres into the performance-enhancing forest, with no idea how deep this thing will go.

Now Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times has published a damning report that links the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez and a host of other major leaguers to businessman Anthony Bosch and his Miami-based company Biogenesisan organization the report calls “the East Coast version of BALCO“: 

The names are all included in an extraordinary batch of records from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic tucked into a two-story office building just a hard line drive’s distance from the UM campus. They were given to New Times by an employee who worked at Biogenesis before it closed last month and its owner abruptly disappeared. The records are clear in describing the firm’s real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids.

The report chronicles Bosch’s dealings with professional athletes, as documented in hand-written notebooks he kept with specific records of which steroids and performance enhancers he provided for which athletes, and how much money he was charging them. 

Per the report, some of the drugs he provided include HGH, IGF-1—a banned substance in baseball—and something called “pink cream” that includes testosterone. 

When exactly did the Steroid Era end?

Maybe all the people who pronounced the end of the Steroid Era in baseball when MLB finally put in actual punishments for failing drug tests just wanted us to stop using the term “steroid.” In fact, per the Miami New Times report and many documented cases over the last decade, anabolic steroids have become one of many different drugs to fall under the classification of performance enhancers. Perhaps, technically, the Steroid Era is over and we’ve reclassified it to a broader “PED Era.” 

That has to be it, because the darn thing isn’t over nor will it be any time soon.

The truth is, baseball players have been cheating for generations. Players would routinely pop greenies on their way out to the field. Greenies, for those unfamiliar with the term, were amphetamines and weren’t banned in the game until 2006. From a 2006 New York Times story on the ban:

But a practice that was essentially winked at will no longer go unpunished now that Major League Baseball has rules banning the use of amphetamines. For the first time, baseball will test for them, meaning that any number of players will have to adjust.

The suggestion by a host of Major Leaguers interviewed for that 2006 story was that coffee and energy drinks would become the replacement for greenies. Turns out, in addition to caffeine drinks, bogus prescriptions were the unspoken answer. 

So many players were hepped up on drugs like Adderall that MLB had to change the classification after last season to consider the drug a performance enhancer.

The drug of choice may be new, but the concept surely isn’t. Players have often been one or two steps ahead of the process. Hell, Rodriguez admitted in 2009 to taking drugs during the early part of his career while with the Texas Rangers.

Did Rodriguez publicly admit to taking drugs because he failed a drug test and was suspended? No. Sports Illustrated published a detailed report that said he had failed a test in 2003, back when MLB’s testing came with no enforceable punishment. Still, it took six years for that news to come out, and when it did, Rodriguez swore it was something he no longer did.

This era will never end, and reports like the Miami New Times one will continue to come out year after year after year because players will continue to find shady opportunists who will happily supply whatever they need to stay ahead of the competition, and the league. 

This wasn’t even a sophisticated system in Miami. Records were kept in hand-written notebooks by a fake doctor who was reportedly dumb enough to keep client nicknames right next to the players’ actual names.

Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012” and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”

Cabrera was listed 14 times in Bosch’s notebooks, sometimes under the nickname “Mostro.” Nelson Cruz was nicknamed “Mohamad.” Bosch also had a player he called “Josmany” and “Springs,” which was likely code for Yasmani Grandal, the former Miami Hurricanes catcher who played scholastically for the Miami Springs and now plies his trade for the San Diego Padres.

Think about this for a second: Baseball was being outwitted by a fake doctor dumb enough to put his clients’ actual names into a hand-written notebook, and the guy can’t even spell the names right.

Though to be fair, MLB did catch both Cabrera and Grandal last season, slapping them each with a 50-game suspension. Still, a lot of other players, even some named in this report, weren’t careless enough to get caught. 

That’s what the Steroid Era has become—it’s no longer about which players are cheating, it’s about which players are careless (read: dumb) enough to get caught. 

Baseball needs some players to get caught. Frankly, MLB needs enough players to get caught to justify the testing process but not too many to warrant further action. The testing will surely continue to get better, with the understanding it’s only in place to serve as a deterrent, and not a method of policing the game.

There is no way Bud Selig and those in charge at Major League Baseball want to catch the players who are cheating. They simply want to make it harder for those who are cheating to continue to circumvent the rules and hope it turns some players off the idea altogether.

While that’s a noble task, we can’t really believe the players are suddenly going to stop cheating because testing got a little bit harder. They’re just going to find better drugs and better ways to beat the tests. Those “troches” listed in the report are akin to throat lozenges. That’s how advanced the sciences have become that performance enhancers can come with a side of soothing throat relief.

The cheating will never stop. Those who can’t figure out a way to beat the system will continue to get caught, becoming the sacrificial lambs of the testing process.

Those who can beat the system—those who will never get caught and never get suspended despite a career fueled by PEDs—will probably end up in the Hall of Fame.

At least, well, those players will get voted into the Hall of Fame once the stigma of the Steroid Era finally disappears for the voters. Whenever that will be.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball: 4 Underrated Players Who Will Have Great Seasons

Every year, in sports, there are underrated players who break onto the scene with great performances.

And, every year, people try to predict who those players will be. And this year, I have some ideas.

Despite successful 2012 campaigns, these players aren’t getting much attention for a variety of reasons. However, in 2013, they will be getting attention, for some good performances, in fantasy and real life. And then, they’ll be shining in the bright lights of October.

But who will those players be? Well, why don’t you find out.

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