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Sure, keep saying that Melky Cabrera cashed in on his PED use

Mar 11, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT

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My friend Josh Fisher alerted me to something in Buster Olney’s column over the weekend about the fallout from Melky Cabrera‘s positive PED test last year:

Before Melky Cabrera was suspended this past summer, the Giants were engaged in conversations with Cabrera about a deal that would’ve paid the outfielder something in the range of $75 million of $85 million …

He added in an update yesterday that the Giants said a deal wasn’t necessarily close, but there was no denial of the discussions either.

I offer this only as a reminder to those people who like to point to Cabrera’s $16 million deal as some sort of affront and/or proof that taking PEDs pays. To the contrary, Melky’s positive PED test cost him as much as $69 million dollars. SIXTY-NINE MILLION DOLLARS. Plus the salary he lost during his suspension.

I presume we are going to have stiffer PED penalties in the near future. And that the rash of positive tests for testosterone and the like last season are significant reasons for that. But to suggest that there are not deterrents against drug use in place already is ridiculous. It’s just that some people — most notably Melky Cabrera — are too clueless to be deterred.

  1. Andee - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Until that weird story about a fake supplement website, it honestly seemed like Melky was going to be the first person caught taking steroids to (pardon the pun) take his medicine and accept the punishment.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      I can’t think of any player who more thoroughly owned up to what he did. He admitted, apologized, created no controversy about being left of the WS roster, ASKED to be removed from consideration for the batting title and signed a modest contract (by baseball standards) early in the off-season without any drama.

      While taking some performance enhancing drug shows issues with judgement and perhaps character, I really can’t think of a better example of how to behave upon being caught.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        You’re leaving out the part where he and his agents deliberately falsified a bunch of evidence to support his appeal. Pure class, that.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        I am certainly not trying to excuse the fake supplement website, but I have a tough time pinning that on Melky himself. Apparent;y he can’t spell “Melquiades” so I am pretty sure he didn’t write the code for the website or design the fake product.

  2. unclemosesgreen - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    I must respectfully disagree, CC. Melky absolutely cashed in on his PED use. He lost money by getting caught, not by using.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

      You are correct – but Craig always wants to play up angles that PED users are actually the victims.

      Just remember – in all things PED, he is right and you are part of the problem.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        I can’t speak for Craig, but I have read a lot of his work, and it seems to me that he is more against the demonization of PED users than anything. I usually agree with him, in fact.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        Read any of his 97 posts about Ryan Braun. Sure, he was against people demonizing him – and he was vehemnetly opposed to people saying “This guy got away with one”.

        But I will add in my caveat – I am not one of those “Craig you big dumb jerk!” type of guys, I like his stuff

    • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      Agreed. I think Craig missed the entire point of this story. It’s not that he lost $69 million by taking PEDs. It’s that he lost that $69 million by getting caught.

      Or is Craig trying to make us believe that Melky would have been the same player last year whether he took PEDs or not and that by taking them, he cost himself all that money? Because that would be a pretty lame stretch considering how middling of a player Melky had been up until last year.

      • townballblog - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        Agreed as well. Melky’s average salary for the past four years is around $3 Million. His salary for the next two years? $8 Million/year.

        Sure, he’s not making $69 Million, but he is still cashing in.

  3. albertmn - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    If baseball wants to crack down, why not test every player once a week during the season and every month or two in the offseason? Right now, with random testing, it seems that some players are willing to take the chance that their number doesn’t come up. If they all know they are getting tested often, it may deter a few more.

  4. knowlegeforyou - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    he wouldn’t have had the offer in the first place if he weren’t doing steroids. he sure as hell wouldn’t have found more than 16 if he didn’t have help. think before you write an article. the point being the braves dumped him. The royals publicly took Frenchy over him. He wasn’t worth anything until he used steroids. probably since arod pushed for the Yankees to sign him before he went to the royals. The royals had him and he played well but they didn’t want to keep him because of the risk of him being what he is.

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      I have some knowledge for you. Testosterone is not a steroid.

      • cur68 - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        Oh, boy: Nerd alert! Please stop reading if this stuff puts you to sleep.

        So steroids are fat soluble hormones. The term ‘hormone” is inclusive of all kinds of molecules which includes steroids. This means that some hormones are steroids and some are proteins, while yet more are other, even more boring, chemicals.

      • cur68 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

        Just realized that my explanation needs some work. I meant to say that the hormone testosterone is one of those fat soluble molecules and hence is a steroid.

        There. Nerd, OUT….

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        In other words Testosterone is a naturally incurring hormone rather than a man made drug designed to build muscle mass.

      • cur68 - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        Yep. If I had my way we’d separate the “steroids” from the “hormones” along the lines of “artificial” vs “naturally occurring” but no one asked me when they were naming this stuff. Causes a lot of confusion among people who get their information form the media. Often that lot treat the terms as though “steroid” = “man made” which is not an illogical way of looking at it. its just happens to be misinformed.

  5. knowlegeforyou - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    wish I knew how to do GIF’s so I could post the videos of melky’s poor defense and complete lack of power at the plate. Followed by his amazing mvp/silver slugger type season. He would have never hit like that or made the all-star team. He cashed in and didn’t get more because teams have seen him not on steroids but want a bargain if he does keep it up. “Highly Unlikely”

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      Repeat after me. Testosterone is not a steroid.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        stop being a moron, it might not be a steroid but its a ped and there is a reason its banned. They (meaning players) wouldnt be taking it if it did nothing, Melky was a average player at best for years in New York, then out of nowhere he became an all star player. Its very clear to those who can “see” what has happened with this player, stop being the fool, you are too old for that and there is nothing worse then an old fool.

      • jwbiii - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        So you’re saying that Phiten necklaces are beneficial? The players wouldn’t be wearing them if they did nothing.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        “Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group and is found in mammals, reptiles,[1] birds,[2] and other vertebrates. In mammals, testosterone is primarily secreted in the testicles of males and the ovaries of females, although small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands.”

        “Anabolic steroids, technically known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are drugs that have similar effects to testosterone in the body.”

        So not only is Testosterone a steroid, it’s the compound that anabolic steroids are designed to mimic. What exactly are you trying to say when you keep saying that Testosterone is not a steroid?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        Melky was a average player at best for years in New York, then out of nowhere he became an all star player.

        Unless you think that Cabrera took PEDs the entire ’11 and ’12 season, and only got caught when he did, you do know that his peripheral stats are almost identical those two years, with the difference made up by BABIP?

        Also, ’11 and ’12 are his age 26 and 27 seasons, which are a player’s prime.

      • paperlions - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        Testosterone most certainly is a steroid, by definition.

      • indaburg - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

        I’m confused, PC. What do you mean by testosterone is not a steroid? Medically speaking, it most definitely is. Are you thinking HGH?

      • Gamera the Brave - Mar 11, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        “stop being a moron,…”
        Harry, I can see those “Socratic Method” books-on-tape are kicking in…

  6. knowlegeforyou - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    As a braves fan, I don’t understand how you could even write this article Craig. must have gotten too much sun in Arizona

  7. chill1184 - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    He’s got such a great smile

  8. Darkoestrada - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Melky would have likely gotten a better deal than 2 yrs 16 mil if he hadn’t been caught even if he hit .280 last year. To say steroids helped him financially just isn’t true. I personally don’t think steroids could be responsible for such a large spike in batting average. I think it has more to do with his easily career high babip of .379 and having the lowest fly ball % of his career. Unless you’re an elite power hitter, fly balls create the most outs. I’d argue his getting caught, overshadowed his real improvement as a player, not that his improvement was solely driven by ped’s.

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Melky was fat in Atlanta. He got in shape and played much better. Using steroids (or whatever it was he used) to help get in shape is obviously not the way to go, but the idea that he was an untalented bum who turned into Ted Williams with a few shots in the ham hocks seems to be an exaggeration of the positive benefits of PEDs.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      Melky pre-2010:

      267/328/379/707 85 OPS+ 40 HRs in 2600+ PAs

      Melky 2011-2012:

      322/360/489/849 136 OPS+ 27 HRs in 1200+ PAs

      Whether you want to say the PEDs kept him fresh, helped him turn fly outs into doubles, or whatever you want to say, the #’s kinda speak for themselves. 51 point increase in OPS+ is pretty significant for a guy who already had 2600 plate appearances in his career.

      Or maybe the PEDs were just a coincidence?

      • Francisco (FC) - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:22 AM

        Where’s paper when you need him? He was also 26-27 when he produced those numbers, you know the ages when players typically start their prime production years? How much of his performance was aided by drugs is up for debate. To credit ALL of his improvement to PEDs is over the top.

      • Alex K - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        Melky’s BABIP (Season age):

        2006 – .309 (21)
        2007 – .295 (22)
        2008 – .271 (23)
        2009 – .288 (24)
        2010 – .288 (25)
        2011 – .332 (26)
        2012 – .379 (27)

        I think that has a lot to do with the uptick in numbers. It wouldn’t be surprising for a player to improve as they hit their typical prime years of 26-29.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        Now see? this is why people can say that statistics lie. Looking at his age 20-24 seasons as a group, one sees the numbers listed above as your record of his “pre-PED” career, which is factually accurate. It does not necessarily take into account that this includes up-and-down time, and sporadic playing time as a pretty young guy rushed to the Bronx to fill in for injured/ineffective Yankees.

        When we look at 2009, as a 24-year-old with a mostly regular lineup spot (485 ABs) he put up this line: .274/.336/.416, which is much better than his previous work. This was done with a .288 BABIP.

        Now, in 2012 he hit: .346/.390/.516. Which is obviously MILES better, but this is also his age 27 season, and more importantly, CAME WITH A .379 BABIP. 91 points of extra BABIP love coupled with reaching his physical peak performance years, I think, goes much further in explaining his progression than the somewhat lazy PEDs=Melky got awesome narrative. His BABIP was bound to regress, PEDs or not. But instead of being seen as an expected regression of a luck-based statistic, we will probably hear choruses of “I told you so” from PED witch-hunters who will look at any slide in his numbers as evidence that he can’t do it clean.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think Melky is a lazy shit who couldn’t be bothered working out, which is part of the reason the Yankees were happy to trade him away, and why he got fat in Atlanta. He then chose the lazy path to conditioning by using testosterone to get in shape instead of relying on hard work. That seems to be the real PED advantage: a conditioning shortcut. It will be interesting to see what numbers he puts up this year, especially moving from a rather extreme pitcher park to a hitter-friendly environment. I just don’t think it will really be a story about the effects of PEDs.

      • louhudson23 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        coulda ,woulda, shoulda,….he lost the benefit of the doubt by using. While I doubt that you are correct in your assessment,he made the choice to muddy the waters.No one else. Be it Sosa who was rather ordinary prior to his inflated body and stats or for other player(Clemens,Bonds etc.) who can claim some level of greatness with or without juicing . They cast the shadow and screwed that up,as did Melky. Coincidentally, or as a direct result,numbers and performance improved over previous levels. I feel no responsibility to sit in the stands and ponder “what if?”…..

      • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:46 AM

        I didn’t say it was 100% PEDs…all I asked was whether it was a coincidence. Combination of both maybe?

      • Alex K - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        There is no way to know, for certain, why he had the great uptick. It could be any of (1) A mix of both steroids and natural skill progression (how much to attribute to either, in this scenario, is impossible to know) (2) All steroids (3) All skill progression.

        The only things we know for certain are that Melky tested positive and when that happened he was having his best year at the age of 27.

      • paperlions - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        Sorry man, I was working. I’ve already documented/explained the likelihood of Melky’s chance in performance being PED related versus a combination of luck and peak years. The PEDs may have helped him get in shape, but there is no such thing as a “hit-it-where-they-ain’t” potion. His underlying numbers didn’t actually change much, he just got a lot luckier than he did before. Of course, some small percentage of that could be associated with PEDs (or just being in better shape)….the problem with that argument is that if you believe it, then you must think that a .350+ BABIP would be “normal” for a PED user. BABIP has changed very little over the last 30 years, and most of that is due to changes in attitude about defense versus offense (i.e. teams choosing to play inferior fielders to get more pop in the lineup).

      • scoocha - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        His biggest move was leaving the AL for the dreaded talentless NL. Of course his numbers would explode he played a bunch of terrible teams. Now that he’s back in the AL East and if he’s off the juice his numbers will regress for sure.

  10. joejacks - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    It’s simple, if you cheat and get caught you should be banned for life!! That’s right Life!!!
    There are thousands of young players with as much or more talent waiting for an opportunity.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      I would rather see the service time clock reset. Seems like the big incentive is making more money, so making the guy play for the league minimum for a few years would be the real sting. The only problem there is that the team would make out too well. If the Angels or Yankees knew they could get out of Wells/ARod’s contracts by slipping them a little something before test day, the incentive would be too extreme.

  11. Darkoestrada - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Regardless of whether testosterone is a steroid or not isn’t the point. There’s no evidence to suggest testosterone can raise someone’s average 60-80 points. And melky’s previous salaries were while he was under team control. He stood to make more this season anyway.

  12. stlouis1baseball - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    When you are stop with the steroid apologists nonesense.


  13. Darkoestrada - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    See Shane Victorino’s contract if you don’t think melky could have gotten more than 2 years 16 mil. And he’s 4 years older

  14. mybrunoblog - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Regardless of how how he got the $ he sure needs it. Cabrera has 3 children with 3 different mothers.
    Those baby mamas are expensive.

  15. sdelmonte - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    This is why I think that there’ s no need for further punishment. It’s not 50 days. It’s 50 days plus a cloud over your career that will cost you millions in salary and endorsements. (I suspect that Ryan Braun’s phone isn’t ringing off the hook with offers, regardless of what the truth may be about his botched test.)

  16. deathmonkey41 - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Craig said 69.

  17. Cereal - Mar 11, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Oh the humanity, a cheater forced to live off a paultry 16 million….he’s a fraud who should have been banned for a season. How is this going to curb young players from using Bud ?

  18. chip56 - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:16 AM


    Here’s the problem with your theory. If you look at Melky pre-steroids then there’s no way he even gets $16 mil over two years. He was a 4th outfielder on his way out of baseball. So PED use DID help him cash in, just not as much as he would have if he hadn’t gotten caught.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      When did he start taking PEDs, because his ’11 numbers are almost exactly the same as ’12?

      • obpedmypants - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        Firstly, the numbers aren’t the same at all.

        And secondly, I’d say the year started juicing was his sixth major league season: the year he went from being Jeff Francoeur’s backup to a 300 hitter.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        His peripherals? yes they are, and the difference between them is largely due to BABIP

        BB% – 5.0, 7.2
        ISO – .164, .170
        BABIP – .332, .379

        Batted Ball Data
        LD% – 20.3, 21.8
        GB%, 47.1, 52.2

        If you are talking about his counting stats, of course they are different considering he played 42 less games.

  19. scoocha - Mar 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    It must be Monday, Craig is again defending PEDs and resorted back to jock sniffing.

  20. obpedmypants - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Your ability to troll HBT readers is impressive, Craig.

  21. American of African Descent - Mar 11, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Come on, Craig. You can’t say that Melky lost out on a $75-$85 million contract because of his steroid use without also considering that discussions concerning Melky and a $75-$85 million contract would not have occurred but for Melky’s steroid use. I expect better from a fellow member of the bar.

  22. knowlegeforyou - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    For the guy who said look at Victorino’s contract, look at Victorino’s success rate as opposed to Melky. If you haven’t watched him play on a regular basis prior to the testosterone/steroid portion of his career then you need to swallow your comments. Melky wasn’t worth more that a 1yr 3-4mm 4th OF type contract. He was too lazy to lose the weight himself. I have seen the effects of testosterone within my own peer group and its pretty incredible how 6′-3″ 140 turns to 6′-3″ 220 within a year

  23. tjv027 - Mar 11, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    And Calcaterra continues to be one of the worst baseball bloggers on the internet.

    Seriously, for a guy that prides himself on rightfully calling out moronic writers that ignore analytic and statistical reality, you really do seem to struggle with the basic principles of economics and mathematics. Melky didn’t lose all of that money because he did steroids; he lost that money because he tested positive for steroids. The fact that he was able to cheat and still get $16 million demonstrates that for a lot of these guys, especially the ones in less affluent Latin American countries, cheating pays. If you’re not that good, you could either play clean and go nowhere, or play dirty, get paid, and take your chances on testing positive. Melky took that chance, lost, and still got $16 million. Cheating doesn’t pay, eh?

    I’m not suggesting that I know for sure that Melky’s not good enough without the juice. But realistically, a lot of guys aren’t, and you’re naive if you don’t realize that there are players on an active roster right now that would have never been signed to an MLB contract had they not juiced. It’s the reason that steroid culture is so deeply entrenched in all of professional sports; there’s simply too much at stake, and for a lot of people, it’s by far their smartest economic play.

    Wake up and actually write something meaningful about the topic, you hack.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 11, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      You do know that there are lots of pages on the internet, right? If you consistently hate Craig, why do you come back here? Go read Jim Cramer…

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