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Let’s stop beefing about the fact that Melky Cabrera got a contract

Nov 19, 2012, 9:35 AM EDT

melky cabrera getty Getty Images

I’ve seen a dozen of these sorts of sentiments from baseball writers since Melky Cabrera signed with the Blue Jays last week:

Melky Cabrera was rewarded with a two-year, $16-million free agent contract by the Toronto Blue Jays. Cabrera’s deal came less than two weeks after the Oakland Athletics gave pitcher Bartolo Colon a pay raise and a one-year contract that could be worth, with incentives, $6 million. Steroids win again, in other words.

I railed against this last week, but let’s put it in simpler terms:  if you are upset that Melky Cabrera got a contract to play baseball, you must necessarily believe that PED users should get lifetime bans, yes? If you’re not willing to make the latter argument, you are being intellectually dishonest if you make the former. The guy has served his time, has been penalized significantly in terms of dollars and shame, and has a right to continue his career, does he not? If not, make your case for him being banned for life or shut the hell up (I know many of you in the comments section and many casual fans will do so, but I direct this specifically at baseball writers who, unless they are trying to traffic in some easy outrage like this, never independently make the case that PED users should be banned for life and never seriously would).

Even if you discount Melky Cabrera’s past two seasons as 100% fraudulent and without an ounce of actual baseball talent underlying them — which is itself silly given what we know about how PEDs work — an eight million dollar a year deal for a normal 27 year-old outfielder who has played in nearly 1000 games and can play some center is not by any stretch of the imagination a “reward” compared to what other players like him get paid. Coco Crisp is going to make just a bit less than that over the next two years and he’s five years older than Melky. Coco Crisp is a nice player, but it’s not like he’s making crazy elite superstar bucks.

Heck, even if you pretended that 2011 and 2012 didn’t exist at all, I’d then ask you to go back to 2010 and value a 21-25 year-old center fielder who is able to stick in the lineup of two winning teams and show some occasional power. Not a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but someone who has shown some flashes of quality mixed in with his erratic play and who, by most accounts, just needs to dedicate himself more in order to become a useful, everyday player.

What does that guy make when he hits the free agent market? I submit that it’s much closer to $8 million a year than $8 million a year is to whatever Cabrera would have made this winter if he had not been busted for PEDs.

But please, go ahead and continue arguing that Cabrera got away with something and that “steroids have won again.”

  1. heyblueyoustink - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    “But please, go ahead and continue arguing that Cabrera got away with something and that “steroids have won again”

    I wonder if the steroids feel like winners. Like “hey, man, see that, I made that dude appear manlier while making his nads shrink at the same time. If that’s not winning, I don’t know what is!”

  2. Old Gator - Nov 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    In the good old days, the condemned were first “stretched” by hanging, then disemboweled carefully enough not to kill them, and then quartered by horses pulling their arms and legs out with ropes. Folks brought picnic lunches and their kids to watch this stuff, who cheered and waved their chicken bones and chanted “(the name of the condemned man) sucks! (The name of the condemned man) sucks!”

    Now if the mere mention of steroids flushes you with rage and indignation, and this kinda thing interests you, you can either read all about it in Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, or you can order Braveheart from Netflix and just watch the last ten minutes. I understand not everyone has as much time on their hands as I do.

    And even that would have been too good for Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera!

    • heyblueyoustink - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Or we could do this:

      • kopy - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        I felt quite familiar about Corey and his role in the witch trials, but holy crap I did not know he was 81! No wonder they thought he was a warlock. He was an octogenarian in the 17th century!

      • heyblueyoustink - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        And tough as nails, according to the folk up in Salem anyways, as his only response was daring the pressers to add weight to his body. Took the trip a couple years ago, the grave yards and witch memorial are both worth the cost of getting there.

    • Old Gator - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      And on your way back to Boston, stay on 5 ad stop at the Clam Box on Wallaston Beach Blvd. on the north side of Quincy. Get one of the fried seafood mixed plates. Oh boy.

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    This is just basic economics. Nobody was trying to punish or reward Melky; the Blue Jays were trying to improve their team in the most economically advantageous way possible. Anything else WOULD be collusion by the owners to circumvent the established punishments in the CBA. Would these writers prefer a baseball strike?

    • dcfan4life - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      A better scenario would be an owners temporary lockout. Force the contracts down to some kind of scale, eliminate guaranteed contracts, improve the revenue sharing scale, restructure the all-star game rewards, and oust Jeff Loria. All this without a prolonged absense of baseball. Impossible, never going to happen and keep dreaming. Yes i know. But it is just a pleasant thought lol.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM

        How about this: in exchange for the anti-trust exemption the US Gvt so graciously allowed MLB, tax the teams at 90%. Give the players half a million for newbies and a full million for the vets, fund the parks and employees at reasonable rates and allow the owners to make a little money. Then use the massive amount of money flooding MLB to improve schools in the states with MLB teams.

        WTF are we doing in a world where school kids are taking classes in trailers while someone is being paid $30MM to throw a ball??

      • Old Gator - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        There’s as much chance of that as you have of trading the antitrust exemption for some of the illegal West Bank settlements.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        Force the contracts down to some kind of scale, eliminate guaranteed contracts, improve the revenue sharing scale, restructure the all-star game rewards, and oust Jeff Loria. All this without a prolonged absense of baseball. Impossible, never going to happen and keep dreaming. Yes i know. But it is just a pleasant thought lol.

        Maybe because every single thing you mentioned would just put added dollars into the owners pockets by taking them away from the players. Why would the MLBPA every agree to one of those ideas, let alone all of them?

  4. chill1184 - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    I’m against juicing as much as the next person but Cabrera served his debt to Baseball society as the current rules state. He has the steroid taint which will be his monkey on the back for the rest of his career. Just like Bonds, Sosa, McGwire and countless others. It’s up to Cabrera to prove his critics wrong that the guy can excel without juicing.

    However don’t blame the Blue Jay or any other team who was interested in the guy. Cabrera didn’t hold a gun (that we know of) to Anthopoulos’ head. Someone was going to take a chance on the guy one way or another.

  5. sdelmonte - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    So if you have tested positive, are you tested more the following seasons? Never been clear on this.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      You mean, like, twice?

  6. bigsuede - Nov 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    I think Baseball writers and people generally have gotten tired of the steriods. I know locally in the bay area- most in the media felt like steriod cheats should get a full year suspension for the violation. And maybe a lifetime ban after that.

    I think i heard that a dozen times on sportsradio.

    So the fact that Cabrera is going to play AND make more than coco crisp- should make people angry.

    • paperlions - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      Why should it make people angry? You haven’t presented any argument as to why people should be angry or why getting caught taking steroids should be punished more than 1/3 season without pay. In your carefully constructed argument that I am sure is about to follow, please list all of the other businesses in which someone did something that may have helped them at their job a bit in which they are punished as much or more than steroid users in baseball are punished.

      • bigsuede - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM

        It makes the giants and their fans angry because Melky wasn’t the player advertised. He was cheating- had the giants, or any of the other baseball teams knew that he was juicing- they would have paid him his 2007 salary instead of what they paid him. Or better yet, the team would probably find someone else during the offseason so they wouldn’t need to depend on someone who would be thrown out.

        And Paper- what is the purpose of punishment? You may believe it is solely for retribution. You have to make it right by giving something up. But this should be a secondary reason.

        The main goal of punishment should be deterrance. Make it so no one will want to do this again. If you make the punishment so extreme- then the player will determine that it isnt worth the risk of losing his living. Cabrera took the steriods to get a huge pay day- and he lost- but was that loss so bad it will stop another person from doing it?

        As for the job- I can look at what I do. I am a lawyer right. If I went out and committed a robbery on someone, or stole from a client or broke ANY felonies. I would be banned from practicing ever again- won’t even get a second chance. That deters lawyers from doing this. (And historically this is true, as the bar got more strict- incidents of lawyer embezzlement has gone down as embezzlements from bookkeepers and bankers has gone up.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        It makes the giants and their fans angry because Melky wasn’t the player advertised. He was cheating

        Anyone else find it ironic that the giants are angry about having a cheat on their team[Barry Bonds] I mean, we all thought it could happen to any team, but the Giants[Barry Bonds] When I think of the Giants, I think of hard work, dedication, and a particular eye to detail[Barry Bonds] Now that we know Cabrera was cheating, my whole world has been shattered[Barry Bonds]

      • paperlions - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        We’ve covered the deterrence thing before. Testing and guys getting caught probably is a deterrence, but it’ll never be a 100% effective deterrent…even an immediate life-time ban wouldn’t be 100% effective.

        For example, states with the death penalty have higher murder rates that states without the death penalty, and states that instituted one did not see a decrease in their murder rates compared to states that did not institute one. In short, the potential of being killed is not a deterrent for those capable and willing to commit murder. The same likely is true of PED users….except, of course, that PED use is a relatively victimless crime.

        In Melky’s case, there isn’t any evidence that PEDs helped him…unless you think they made him magically hit the ball were fielders were not standing….because the only difference between (allegedly) clean Melky and PED Melky was his BABIP.

        He potentially lost 10s of millions of dollars via suspension and getting a shorter deal with a lower AAV by getting caught. He was already punished far more than someone committing a similar infraction in whatever their job is.

      • paperlions - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        FIY, a lawyer committing a felony is not a similar offense to a ballplayer taking PEDs. I don’t know which aspect of lawyering would be similar to that infraction that could potentially give you a tiny edge in the performance of your duties….but committing a felony isn’t it….perhaps something like ignoring a judges directive to avoid a certain topic or some such.

  7. samu0034 - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    I know it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but let’s not start casting aspersions regarding other writer’s treatment of Melky just yet, shall we?

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      Err… what?

    • umrguy42 - Nov 19, 2012 at 3:18 PM

      …That other article was written by Matthew, this is by Craig. Your point would be…?

  8. temporarilyexiled - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    I agree with your argument that what he’s now going to make is reasonable if you pretend the last couple of years didn’t happen. The question is, do we know exactly when he started to use stuff that helped him recover from exertion, and therefore build himself into quite the player? Is it only recently, or is it the minute he started to turn things around? If it’s the former, okay. Let’s move on. But if it’s the latter, then you can make the argument that he might not even be relevant anymore, and that it’d be questionable, considering all of his past problems, whether he’d be any kind of player at all, or even in the league. Of course, this is all speculation, but to say we know enough about how PEDs work in his particular case (I took a guess at it above, and that’s all that it is.) and we know exactly when they’re relevant is just a bit of overextension. And while it’s true that it’s over the top to decide that penalties have to immediately get much stricter – over time, if this trend of getting a slap on the wrist and coming back relatively unscathed continues – then it’s time to raise the first offense to 100 games, the second to one calendar year, and the third to banishment.

  9. bjbeliever - Nov 19, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Melky paid a significant price, not just the money, but watching your team go on to win the world series when you were eligible to come back makes the message clear. Life’s about second chances, just don’t screw the BJ’s buddy!

  10. schlom - Nov 19, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    What’s interesting is that the title of that article is “MLB, NFL don’t care about steroids.”

    Given the popularity of the NFL I’m assuming that fans don’t care about steroids either.

  11. SOBEIT - Nov 19, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    I just thought of another angle…so let’s throw some chum in the water.

    Whether we or the atheletes believe/or like it, they are role models. So cleaning up the sport and all sports is supposed to send a message to kids that cheating is not going to lead to rewards. Kids cannot differentiate and analyze the arguments made that Melky did get punished because he was banned then came back to make a lowly $8M/year when he should be making more. To a high school kid or much younger…that number jumps at you and none of it says “punishment” served and this is your lowly pay for cheating. They say, wow, $8M…it might be worth it.

    There are many different angles to this topic. But think of the kids. Hell, I’m no way near being a kids age and that number still surprised me. So if they are role models, what does this message and action actually say to a kid.

    OK, commence with your deep analysis!

    • bjbeliever - Nov 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Why hide reality from them, truth about the world is that if you ain’t cheatin’… you ain’t tryin’

  12. obpedmypants - Nov 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    If you think, prior to two seasons ago, Melky was considered serviceable, then you need to check your history.

    Two years ago, Melky was languishing on the Braves. He put up numbers that weren’t even worthy of a major league roster spot. The Braves released him, then Kansas City (as the worst team in baseball with nothing to lose) took a flier on him for one year and $1.25m. If Melky failed that year, he was done. No more million dollar contracts. No more hundred thousand dollar contracts. Nothing.

    So, if you think that the last two years were nothing but steroids, then you should believe that Melky is no better than he was going into the season fighting with Jeff Francoeur for a spot in MLB’s worst outfield.

    What people are mad about is the fact that Melky make it clear that STEROIDS WORK. Now, every high school kid in the US has been shown that you are STUPID TO NOT TAKE STEROIDS. This is why congress cares so much about this issue. The point of all this regulation is not to take out our anger on Melky, it’s to show our youths that taking steroids is bad. Because as much as it doesn’t really matter whether or not a sinlge athlete is jeopardizing his health by cheating, it does matter that a million kids get to see his decision as savvy, rather than repugnant.

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