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50 game suspensions are plenty tough

Nov 8, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

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Tom Verducci had a rundown of free agent outfielders the other day. His Melky Cabrera comments: decent gamble and, because of his suspension, you can probably get him on a one year deal. Fair enough. Then:

In the meantime, I can’t believe Cabrera has yet to truly explain himself and begin to clear the air to try to reduce the taint. He needs to be fully accountable. And the fact that he could roll the dice in his free agent walk year by juicing is a reminder that baseball and the union aren’t truly serious about getting PEDs out of the game; a 50-game suspension is baseball’s equivalent of a five-minute timeout in the corner. The penalty should be at least one year.

He’s not the only one who says this, but the idea that a 50 game suspension is not enough — that it’s “a five-minute timeout” is crazy.

Cabrera lost 30% of his salary — $1.85 million — due to his suspension. And, because he was in a free agent walk year, he probably lost as much as $40 million, maybe more, due to teams being unwilling to make a multi-year commitment to him this winter. He was also effectively shunned from his team and didn’t get to be part of it celebrating a world championship.

To suggest that those aren’t heavy penalties is ridiculous. If, against that backdrop, with those potential consequences looming, a player still wants to risk taking PEDs, he’s either dumb or is someone who is unable to balance risks and rewards.

Six major leaguer players out of thousands on major league rosters were caught using PEDs in 2012. That’s not a ton. If you believe that tons more are using and not being caught — and implicit assertion of everyone who makes arguments like Verducci is here — you should be advocating for more frequent and more stringent testing, not tougher penalties. Because they’re already extremely tough and intimidating for people who operate in a rational universe.

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