The never ending story of PEDs…
PEDs unfortunately have been making the headlines in MLB as of late… first, unfounded rumors that Jake Arrieta must be using because he never threw like an All-star before his recent very hot streak dating back to last year, and, second, two players actually failed tests and got hit with suspensions… so whats it all about? The crew offers its opinion on that topic and lots more in this week’s Round table…
1) New Jake Arrieta question… scuttlebutt seems to be appearing that suggests Arrieta’s streak of superior pitching is due to steroids. Stephen A. Smith, of ESPN’ First Take, seemed to add fuel to the fire. (To which, Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein took him to task.)
Do you put any stock in those allegations? Or, is this going to be a topic of discussion every time any player has a spell of excellence?
I do believe that it takes some players longer to “hit their groove thing” but I also believe that IF you spent 5 years in the majors hitting an average of 7-10 home runs per season and then all of a sudden you are a 30+ homer guy every season then you must be cheating, oh wait, I’m back on Jose Bautista again. He gets a clean ticket while guys like Arrieta get suspected.
Screw Stephen A.
Every time a player starts dominating the game, they’re going to start bringing it up. There’s a couple reasons why.
The first is that the top players in the past were suspected of using it by being named in reports & have admitted it. You have Ryan Braun who was suspended, Alex Rodriguez. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire & Sammy Sosa all had issues with steroid use.
The second reason is that these talking heads on ESPN get bored. They run out of topics. They’re controversial and say outrageous stuff because it brings viewers, it brings attention to ESPN. They need to fill air & they’re known for this kind of stuff.
The Arrieta allegations? I’d just take it with a grain of salt. Until he fails a test, he hasn’t used a single steroid in his life & I hope that eventually we’ll stop accusing every good player of using.
Earl: It appears to be the case. Anytime a player has a season out of nowhere, or a run of good play, he must be a steroid user. Unfortunately, Dee Gordon’s suspension does not help those who are against labeling players as users just because they are playing well.
I am not putting any stock in the Arrieta questions, and unless he’s proven to be using steroids or HGH, I wouldn’t even think about linking him to anything.
Is it fair… no… but it’s the way it is.
Steve: At this point in time, anyone, including Jake Arrieta, who has a solid run or streak, and makes them appear to be in dominant fashion is always going to be under that microscope of the steroid or PED bubble.
Now, that being said, I have no doubt in my mind that Jake Arrieta is clean and is doing this the right way. It is a crying shame that baseball has come to this, but because of the past cheaters, it is what it is.
Jake Arrieta saved face and embraced the discussion, and actually felt honored that his good pitching is getting this much notoriety. He simply brushed it off with a smile, and while never denied anything, he never went off the deep end to tell the world how outraged he was that someone was accusing him of taking PED’s.
2) Dee Gordon (Miami Marlins) and Chris Colabello (Toronto Blue Jays) have both been suspended 80 days for PED use.
Are you surprised, or, not surprised, there are still MLB players getting caught using PEDs? And, can you offer up any rationale at all why a MLB player would use PEDs?
As for Colabello, he was a rookie at age 29 and still does not put up the kind of numbers you look for in your 1B/OF positions. I guess that was his only avenue to the bigs and to tell you the truth that is the primary goal of all players.
I don’t understand why Gordon would use. It’s not like he is a home run threat, and, IF his Base Stealing speed is not legit I don’t think steroids making him bulkier would help that. Hard to say why he would use.
As far as why anyone would use it is pure and simple: I use and I make the 25 man roster with a chance of landing larger money. I don’t use and I am probably competing with someone in my position that does and I stand a chance of NOT getting the big paycheck.
As for the third world country players that move here to play it is even MORE of a reason to use. They have to break through the entire MLB scouting and other issues just to get a chance. AND IF they can make the minimum wage for just ONE YEAR in MLB, that is more than they would make in a lifetime in their home country.
Dan: I’m not surprised because just like any drug, there’s going to be someone using it. With steroids, there’s always going to be an MLB player using it. If, you’ve noticed, it isn’t big-name players any more. You might have one bigger name here or there but that’s it.
Most of the time, it’s smaller known guys who are just making it to the MLB or haven’t yet made it and I believe they’re taking it to try to get an edge to get to the majors. It’s the wrong way to get to the show, but it’s what they feel is best and they need to face the consequences.
One player, I can’t remember who it was, was apologetic about it because he didn’t look at the flu medicine he took before he took it and got busted for PEDs. That does happen, but you never exactly know the story just what he tells you and that’s the tricky part. But, rules are rules and you can’t break them if you expect to keep playing.
Earl: I’m not surprised because players will do what they can to get an edge. Especially, in the case of Colabello who truly came from nowhere to have the season he had last year. He wasn’t even a prospect of note and all of a sudden he came onto the big scene in a major way.
I’m a little sad for Gordon, but it was a contract year for him so that might have been the motivation to use PED’s. The thing is, I think players think they can get away with using and not get caught. The motivations behind playing and making money would cause most people to look for some sort of advantage.
My argument about PEDs is mainly this… the user gets a job coming out of spring training that may have gone to some one else who has more talent but wan’t using PEDs… that guy has to be demoted to Triple A… then a user on the Triple A roster is using and knocks someone who ain’t suing down a notch… and so on and so forth… the point is PED users cheat non-PED users out of jobs and the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream…being a Major Leaguer.
So, my surprise is that the union… MLBPA… is not agreeing to even more stiff punishment in an attempt to protect the players who “play by the rules” and don’t use PEDs. Stiffer penalties for first time getting caught… say a year out minimum… then when you come back you have to come back on at least half your salary or maybe even the MLB minimum. That’s hitting a player in the old wallet and that would be making them maybe thing harder about using PEDs.
But, for some, I guess, the temptation to use and hope they don’t get caught will be grater… after all that kind of money for playing baseball along with the prestige of being called a Major Leaguer is, for some guys, worth the chance.
Steve: I am but at the same time I am not surprised that players are still being caught using steroids or PED’s. I mean these players are being tested upwards to 6 to 7 times a year, that equals out to about once a month during the season, and I’m sure they are being tested in the off season as well.
However, players are always trying to get an upper hand in one form or another, whether it is to come back from an injury faster, or just to get an unfair advantage against their competition. This is not going away any time soon, and more players are going to be tested, and more players are going to be suspended. You can just add Gordon to this list as one of the “star” players to be caught.
3) Noah Syndergaard seems to have developed Jon Lester Syndrome… he can’t hold anyone on first and teams are starting to steal on him easily. Even the so-called lead footed Giants managed to steal three bases out of three tries against him on Sunday.
Should he be worried and start varying his delivery to the plate or will that maybe change his entire approach to facing batters to his, and his team’s, detriment? Manager Terry Collins has even said, “When his pace slows down it seems to affect him.” Maybe meaning that he isn’t as effective as when he just rears back and throws 100 mph-plus heat.
Your thoughts on Syndergaard’s/the Mets’ dilemma?
Archie: Usually 100 mph fastballs help catchers with base stealers. However, IF the move to the plate is preceded by NO move to 1st at all then that becomes an issue. IF, I were a manger I would have my best veteran pitcher with the best move to first working with him.
Dan: It’s nothing to worry about right now. He seems to be still be getting outs and not allowing runs. If, his ERA/WHIP start becoming an issue, then it’s something to look into. But, right now, I think as long as he’s pitching as good as he is, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
He should be looking over at 1st and try to make a move once in a while, but, if, he needs to keep on a strict pace in order to keep his stuff in order, then go ahead and do your thing. Your focus each pitch is the batter and getting him out. You make outs, the runner who stole the base can’t score.
Earl: It is a problem. You want Syndergaard throwing that heat even if it will likely cause him problems down the road, because, if you get it into his head about slowing down and holding runners, then it might wreck him even further. It might be best to have him out there throwing that heat instead of messing with his head and making his problems even worse.
Joe: Syndergaard’s main job as a pitcher is to get the batter out. His next job is to make sure he fields his position and is where he needs to be whenever a ball is put into play… all else is secondary. Is holding runners on part of the game and therefore a part of his job, too? Yes, it is but not to the detriment of initial job: getting the batter out.
The point I am trying to make is that if the Mets tinker too much with Syndergaard and get it into his head that he’s HAS to make sure no one steals second on him then they could screw his delivery up and ruin a potential ace in the making.
Steve: Short answer, don’t worry about the runners. I mean if they are going to steal on you, let them steal on you. While you are on the pitchers mound, you need to do what you are most comfortable with. Sure try and keep the runner close, throw over just to know that you have an eye on him.
I also have to put some of the blame on the catcher for not adjusting and throwing guys out. I understand that the runner can steal a base on the pitcher, but, if, you can strike people out with a 100 mph fastball, then don’t even worry about the runners, and pitch your game.
4) A month is in the books… any surprises you didn’t expect? Teams, or players, doing well or poorly that makes you stop and take pause?
Archie: Well, I said the Braves would suck this season. I just did not know they would SUCK this bad. And, even though he has 5 home runs I still wonder how much of Troy Tulowitski’s BA was aided by Coors Field. I mean , come on .172 BA, stinko.
I am glad to see Martin Prado hitting above the .400 mark so far this season. We know he will not maintain that but it’s good to see a guy that practices making contact as much as he does out in front.
And, while Kershaw and Arrieta attracts the most media attention, Jordan Zimmerman has quietly put together a very impressive 0.55 ERA and five wins over his first five starts.
Dan: The Yankees poor play, Twins in last, David Price pitching extremely poor, the Astros in last, only 4 HR all season by Atlanta, Trevor Story’s out-break of home runs to begin the season, the Nationals good start and I’m a little surprised at two records: Atlanta is 1-12 at home, 5-7 on the road & Miami being 10-5 on the road & 2-7 at home.
Earl: I’m a little surprised at how bad the Yankees are. Living in New York, you’re constantly caught in the hype cycle that is the New York Yankees and at times they looked absolutely dreadful in April. The Yankees are for the most part old, and ineffective. McCann and Ellsbury were high priced washouts and they are still stuck with some large and mostly ineffective salaries.
It’s to the point that I can’t even suggest a good alternative for them. It’s not like they can trade away crap for gold.
Philly actually has a winning record… Trevor Story…
The Red Sox doing as well as they have so far… Porcello is 5-0 as I write this…
The entire NL West… last I looked three teams were tied for first place with .500 records and none of those teams were the named the D’backs.
Steve: I’m a little surprised that the Chicago White Sox are doing as well as they are doing. While I thought that they would be at least competitive, I never thought that they would be at the top of the American League in wins after April.
As far as the player goes, let me talk quickly about Chris Sale. I had no doubt that Sale was going to be a top pitcher in the American League as he was my pre-season pick to win the Cy Young Award. However, the way he is doing it is another discussion. No longer is Sale relying on just striking guys out, and you see a line score for Sale with 11 or 12 strikeouts every game he pitches. He is turning into a finesse pitcher, throwing to the hitters to try and force ground balls, and he is becoming a situational pitcher. He can still bring the gas when he has to, but he is becoming a more productive pitcher as he has changed his mechanics up a bit. I like the change, and Sale is on his way to becoming a 20 game winner this season.
5) David Price has a 4-0 W/L record but he also has an unsightly ERA of 6.14 with a so-so WHIP of 1.28… Rick Porcello (Yes, Porcello) is the ace of the Red Sox staff right now, with one better win and no losses (5-0) and a much better 2.76 ERA (2.76) and 0.92 WHIP.
Should the Sox worry about Price or should they take the attitude that it’s a long season and these things will all even out in the end.
Dan: I don’t think they should be that concerned at this point in time. It’s still early in the season and they’re winning games. With a poor ERA, he hasn’t gotten a L yet so I wouldn’t worry too much. It should correct itself and his track record is evident by that.
If, it continues throughout the month of May and into the beginning of June, that would be the time to worry. But, right now, I wouldn’t be too concerned.
His career to this point has illustrated that. Some players are slow starters and David Price falls into that category.
I think everything balances out by season’s end and he finishes around 15-8 or 15-10 with an ERA in the threes.
Eventually, the Price will be right (Sorry, I just had to add that in.)
It is still early, and Price is trying to adjust to life in Boston, the weather is different in Boston, as wind is a factor, the field dimensions are smaller than most fields, and he just needs to adjust, I think he will, and I think by the end of May, Price will have an ERA under 3.00
On May 5, 1904, Boston Pilgrims pitcher Cy Young hurls the first perfect game… a 3-0 perfect game against the Philadelphia Athletics… in MLB since the distance between home and the mound was changed to 60 feet 6 inches. It is also the second of his three no hitters.
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