Michael Vick, Jordan Shipley, Adrian Peterson, Denario Alexander, Mark Ingram, Shonn Greene, Mark Sanchez
I don’t normally climb to the top of my ivory tower and simply bloviate, but today I’m going to do just that.
I’m getting some blow-back from people on Twitter since I posted my piece HOF: The Case for Bagwell. The reason being that there seems to be an undercurrent that Bagwell is unworthy of inclusion in the Hall of Fame because he did steroids. There are quite a few reasons that paint such a view as asinine.
(1) Bagwell never failed a drug test and was never caught purchasing drugs.
(2) Just because a guy is muscular is no reason to simply assume that he is doing Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s). In fact, Bagwell’s thoughts on the matter can be found in Jeff Bagwell tires of steroids talk. Bagwell himself admits that he got too big from trying to make the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine. Instead of being smart and training like a baseball player should, he just focused on strength and bulk. Bagwell also points out that he was an obsessive weight lifter who literally spent hours in the gym every day.
(3) People are pointing to his offensive explosion in 1994 as some proof of steroid use. I got news for you folks, sometimes people just have out of nowhere performances, and it has nothing to do with PED use. See Jose Bautista in 2010 for a recent example if you have already forgotten. Speaking of Bautista, my Breaking Down piece lists all of the reasons that you should avoid counting on Bautista as a building block for 2011.
(4) Some have pointed out that Bagwell flamed out at the end of his career, to which I respond so what? Bagwell’s weightlifting effectively ruined his shoulder to the point that it was almost impossible for him to throw the ball across the infield. He simply couldn’t swing the bat at the end of his career. Secondly, he retired at 37 years of age. Back in the day almost every player was done, or nearly done, by that age. It’s only recently that players have been able to sustain success into their late 30′s.
Do I think that Bagwell did steroids? No I don’t, but honestly, that’s besides the point. The fact is that he never failed a test, so unless he comes out and admits that he took PED’s then we must presume his innocence (we still do that in the United States right? You know, the whole presumed innocent until proven guilty thing that is a foundational building block of our country).
I find it laughably pathetic that there is such rampant hypocrisy in sports.
Chargers’ LB Shawne Merriman was suspended for steroid use in 2006. That same season he was elected to the NFL Pro Bowl. Where is the outrage for that?
Michael Vick, a convicted felon for torturing and murdering dogs, has been welcomed back to the NFL with open arms to make gazillions of dollars and to be adored by millions for his football talents despite the fact that he is a deplorable human being. He was named to the Pro Bowl the other day.
But what do we do in the world of baseball? We cast baseless aspersions and impugn people’s character and reputation merely on supposition. That sickens me. Any player who has been tied to PED use in the public is roundly scorned, derided, and ultimately their place in history is tarnished to the point that their performance on the field is almost completely ignored – even though there is no proof that they did anything illegal.
Did, and do, baseball players use PED’s? With 100 percent certainty I can agree with that statement. Which players took PED’s? I have no idea, and despite what you think, neither do you. If we don’t know who took them how can we blame anyone? Do we just say that any player who suited up from 1990′s and first decade of the 20th century should be banned from the Hall of Fame?
I know that hypocrisy knows no bounds, but there will be none of it at BaseballGuys.com. Barring incontrovertible proof that would result in a conviction in a court of law, I’m going to go with the principles instilled by our Founding Fathers that all men, and women, are innocent until proven guilty.
Want to learn how to ingratiate yourself to your fan base? If you do, then I suggest you follow the lead of the Cubs’ Milton Bradley who, amazingly, offered this little diddy to the press. “All I’m saying is I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home,” he said. Apparently, he isn’t feeling the love from the Cubs faithful. “I’m talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant, I have to listen to the waiters bad-mouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant…” Well Milton, try keeping your mouth shut and hit better than .255 while you are making $10 million a year and people might cut you a break. Memo to Cubs’ fans – don’t boo Bradley, boo your idiotic front office that gave him $30 million.
Carlos Gonzalez returned from his losing battle with a steak knife to play on Thursday. Unfortunately he then went out and suffered a bruised thumb in the game and is now being called day-to-day like the rest of us. Honestly, I injured my left pinkie while typing this piece so I’m hour-to-hour.
Adam Jones continues to be sidelined with a back injury. He is supposed to return by the weekend, though with his recent struggles (.222 in his last 21 games) the team should give him all the time he needs to make sure he is healthy.
Jake Peavy will make another minor league start for Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday. If his ankle, and elbow, are fine after that appearance, he will likely be activated with his next start being for the Pale Sox next week.
Mike Sheets offered his take on his top-10 catchers for 2010 in his most recent posting. I can’t disagree with his top-3, those guys are money, but his list got me to thinking about just how thin the catchers’ pool has gotten of late. Just look at the names that Sheets listed 4-10.
Mike Napoli – A 30 percent strikeout rate is awful, limiting his AVG upside (his current .289 mark is a mirage).
Jorge Posada – Thirty-eight years old, he is hitting .277 with 17 homers but he has been limited to just 478 ABs the past two years.
Ryan Doumit – Hitting .225 this season, Doumit does have 23 homer sand 95 RBI his last 613 ABs while his average in that time is .290. If he could just stay healthy.
Bengie Molina – Figures to stay in SF and hold off Buster Posey for at least one more year and he has hit at least 15 homers with 57 RBI in each of the past five seasons.
Geovany Soto – Continues to worsen, if that is possible. After hitting .278 in May that number has slide each of the past three months: .257, .222 and .150.
Russell Martin – Is hitting just .257 with four home runs after hitting at least .280 with 10 in each of his first three seasons.
Matt Wieters – Jesus, I mean Wieters, is hitting .263 with a .677 OPS in his first 224 ABs. The upside is undeniable, but at the same time Wieters has been out-produced this season by Omir Santos who has hit .264-6-32 with a .693 OPS in 235 ABs. Ruminate on that for a while.
If you miss out on the top-3 you might as well wait a long while before taking the plunge as there will likely be a whole lot of mediocrity out there.
Michael Vick returns to NFL action later tonight. Count me as someone who could care less. I don’t wish people ill, but at the same time I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if Vick were to struggle monumentally for the rest of his career.
By Ray Flowers
Today is an odd day. We have a story that, honestly, I couldn’t make up because it is so odd. I also want to touch on a city who I no longer have respect for, and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which one I’m referring to either. I’ll also touch on a ball player who reached a milestone, highlight a waiver-wire deal, and discuss a guy who went on the DL after a week of saying he didn’t need to go on the DL. But really, this entry is more about those first two stories than anything else.
Bizarre story of the day: Adrian Beltre had to be placed on the DL due to an injury that he suffered in the most unwelcomed of places – and no I don’t mean his wallet. Beltre took a baseball of his, er, well, I don’t want to write what you all want me to write so I will be mature and say his testicle. Lucky for him he will not need surgery, but the larger question is, how can a man who plays third base in professional baseball not wear a protective cup? I wore a cup, literally, from my first season of organized baseball when I was seven years old, and I gotta tell you, it saved my life – twice – including one time where I swore that I not only would never have kids but that I would be unable ever to urinate for myself ever again. Thank goodness my parents made me where a cup when I was a kid. It was never comfortable, and on those hot days it would certainly work up quite the rash on the old inner thighs, but that is a hell of a lot better than the alternative as Mr. Beltre is now experiencing. Let’s see how stupid he is when he returns from the injury — will he be sans cup or will this brush with danger change his mind?
Reason 8,764 why you cannot trust teams when it comes to reporting on the health of their players. Nelson Cruz was placed on the DL today, retroactive to August 4th, with that sore ankle of his. The Rangers have said all along that he wouldn’t be placed on the DL and that he was day-to-day. Uh huh. At least they did activate Ian Kinsler as planned.
The Red Sox added Alex Gonzalez to help them out at shortstop with his solid glove work in exchange for Kristopher Negron in a waiver-wire deal. Apparently the Sox didn’t notice that Gonzalez is hitting all of .210 with three home runs in 243 ABs this season. Hell, Nick Green was hitting .233 with six home runs in 257 ABs. This signing pretty much assures us that Jed Lowrie won’t be a factor the rest of the way, even when his wrist heals enough for him to be activated from the DL.
It’s still early on this Friday with a whole host of games yet to be played, but I find it hard to believe that anyone at the dish will have a better outing and Derrek Lee who had three hits, including two doubles, on his way to knocking in seven runs before he was removed in the Cubs’17-3 route over the Pirates. Lee is now hitting .290 with 23 home runs and 81 RBI. Other than his injury filled 2006 campaign (175 ABs), Lee has socked at least 20 homers with 80 or more RBI in his last seven healthy seasons. For those of you keeping track, there are only two first baseman in the game that can match that run of seven of eight season since 2002 with 20/80 and they are Carlos Delgado and Mark Teixeira. Why no mention of the almighty, Albert Pujols? Don’t forget he started his big league career playing the outfield and third base.
Oh, and before I go… do I have this right?
The city of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, apparently doesn’t have one iota of compassion for our brethren on this planet, i.e. animals. How can I make that claim? Name another city in the country where a convicted dog murderer and a man who believes that cock fighting is perfectly fine are set to be parts of two professional teams. The Eagles signed Mike Vick to help aid the team in their quest for a Super Bowl victory while the Phillies signed Pedro Martinez to help their quest to return to the World Series. I’m all for teams trying to improve themselves, but at the same time, sometimes enough is enough. I’m not saying that people don’t deserve second chances in life, but at the same time Philly, when you are mercilessly protested by groups like P.E.T.A (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) you have no one to blame but yourselves. Really, could you have done a better of job putting a bull’s-eye on your backs?
By Ray Flowers
Today I’m going to explain why it makes sense to trust yourself, and why your first “call” is likely the one that you should almost always go with. I’ll also touch on the plight of the injured Athletics, and a couple of NFL quick hitters that I just had to voice my thoughts on.
The Athletics can’t hit (they are last in the AL with a .233 batting average and just 75 runs scored), and they are also dealing with injuries all over the infield to the likes of Nomar Garciaparra and Mark Ellis (both have calf concerns) and the never ending health concerns of Eric Chavez. All of this likely means that Bobby Crosby could return to the lineup on a daily basis, especially if both Garciaparra and Ellis end up with long stays on the sidelines (they will at least be DL’d for 15-days). Crosby isn’t hitting his weight this season (.179 in 28 ABs), this after hitting .226 in 2207 and .237 in 2008. The A’s are in bad shape if they have to given Crosby 400+ ABs this season. Heck, if they give the at-bats to Jack Hannahan are they any better off since he owns a career line of .229/.317/.360 in 595 ABs?
Don’t you hate it when you don’t trust yourself? This weekend in the $100,000 NFBC tournament, I had a decision to make on who to add to my pitching staff when the A’s finally announced that Joey Devine was done for the year with elbow surgery. With Devine’s injury, he was the top closer I took on draft day, I’m left without a full-time closer in the 15 team league (30 players per squad). Ryan Franklin has been a great find, he was taken in the 25th round, but it’s tough to call him a full-time closer with the way Tony La Russa manages the Cardinals.
Anyway, I had to make a decision on who to add to my squad, knowing that I badly needed saves. I had three main choices I was considering: J.P. Howell, Santiago Casilla and Ryan Madson. Clearly Howell isn’t in line for saves in Tampa, but it was still hard to ignore his performance since the start of last season that includes some great work that I detailed in my Chopping Block article, including the best ERA in baseball since the start of the 2008 season amongst hurlers who have thrown at least 95-innings. Madson, he has been a lock the past two years producing an identical ERA of 3.05, and WHIP marks of 1.27 and 1.23. Solid skills, and a stable role, but no saves with Brad Lidge around. That left me with Casilla as my top choice since I have little faith at all that Brad Ziegler will be able to hold down the closers role all year. Casilla is off to a solid start with a 1.59 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in his 11.1 innings, and he has allowed only three hits. If he can avoid his late season failures that have become too common place, and Ziegler is slowly figured out by batters as I assume he will be, then Casilla becomes a very sneaky and cheap pickup with saves potential (I only spent $12 out of a $1,000 FAAB budget to grab him). Now comes word that Lidge is dealing with a knee injury that shouldn’t, but could, end up with him spending some time on the DL. In fact, according to our injury expert Rick Wilton, this type of injury not only often leads to a stint on the DL, it even ends up leading to surgery in a minority of cases (you can read more about his injury analysis in The Baseball Injury Report.
All of this just goes to show you that trusting your gut is always the right move. In this case, that would have been to take Madson or Howell who are likely to me much more stable options than Casilla. If Lidge ends up needing time on the DL, care to guess how much Madson will go for in FAAB this week? I’m betting the bidding would hit at least hits triple digits. Oh, and yeah, that was a report you read this morning on Casilla injuring his calf on Tuesday night right? He will likely be shut down for a couple of days as a result. What is it I always preach– take skill over role? I should have taken my own advice.
I love how the Raiders do their own thing without a care in the world about what others think. Too bad they are never right.
Some team is going to give Michael Vick a shot once his prison sentence and NFL suspension are completed. Not only do I hope that team receives coal in their stocking come the holiday season, I hope the organization goes into a tailspin and doesn’t make the playoffs for a decade. The man is a deplorable human being, and for once I would like the owners in the NFL to stand up for what is right versus what could make them money. I can tell you this – there will be a whole lot of P.E.T.A (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) rallies everywhere Vick goes, and there rightly should be. Sometimes P.E.T.A is way too rabid for my tastes, but in this case, I stand with them.