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Neither the timeline for nor the severity of Biogenesis discipline has been determined

Jul 11, 2013, 12:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

Michael Weiner condemned the leaks in the Biogenesis case earlier today. Specifically, it seemed, he was condemning the reports from ESPN in recent days that (a) Major League Baseball is poised to announce suspensions as early as next week; and (b) that it is determined to apply 100-game suspensions to some of the players involved, most often assumed to be Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez.

I spoke with a source familiar with the Biogenesis investigation today, however, and I’m told that, despite what most people are assuming based on the ESPN reports, neither of those things have yet been decided upon.

With respect to timeline, my source tells me that a discipline announcement as early as ESPN’s report suggested, while theoretically possible, is unlikely, as Major League Baseball is still talking to players and gathering information. My source tells me that if you were treating this like an over/under — or maybe a sooner-or-later after the All-Star Break — that the better bet would be later. Baseball has likewise not made any firm decisions regarding the extent of discipline. Specifically, whether any player is subject to a 100-game suspension.

About the 100-game suspension possibility: I’m told that, yes, it’s still on the table and being discussed. I was also told that my argument of the past two days — that the Melky Cabrera fake website example more or less precludes the league from leveling double discipline here — is not particularly persuasive to Major League Baseball and that they still think they can do it regardless of what happened with Melky. A second source — also familiar with the Biogenesis investigation and the Melky Cabrera investigation — backs the first source up, telling me that Melky had double discipline staring him in the face and essentially plea bargained his way out of it by agreeing to drop his appeal. As such, his case does not have precedential value.  They could have popped him for the deception as well, my sources say.

One question that has arisen is that if MLB is really trying to go after Braun or Rodriguez for two offenses, why is it 100 games instead of 150 games that is being discussed? After all, first offense = 50, second offense = 100, and we can certainly do the math. The answer, according to my source, is that the league likely views the 100 games as some sort of happy medium or, perhaps leniency of some kind with the acknowledgment that we’re in uncharted waters here (all of those are my words, not my source’s). But again, all of this is still being considered by the league, it’s still a very fluid discussion and no firm decisions have been made.

A final note about timeline: there have been many people wondering about the impact of suspensions. Would it interfere with a playoff race if 20 guys disappeared in the middle of September or something? Would it be worse to let them all play only to later find out that a World Series champ had a PED guy on it who maybe should have been suspended? All interesting questions, but not ones that are at the forefront of Major League Baseball’s decision making process, my source tells me. The league is going to issue discipline once its investigation is completed. The chips will fall were they may and it is the investigative process — not the potential competitive fallout of it — that will determine timing. I don’t know how else one could proceed with respect to that issue, as there are no good answers to the question.

So that’s the state of the world. I still have several issues with the Biogenesis matter. I don’t like the sorts of people MLB appears to be getting in bed with in order to get its evidence. I don’t like the reports we’ve heard that some players are more in the crosshairs than others due to past transgressions, perceived or otherwise. I still think it’s anything but a slam dunk that an arbitrator will side with MLB once this is all said and done and that because of that risk, MLB’s decision to proceed as it has presents long term risks to the drug program as a whole (i.e. if they shoot and miss on non-clinical suspensions now, they’ll have a hard time shooting again in the future).

But all of that said, if my sources are correct, it seems to me that MLB is doing this about as well as it can under the circumstances. And we will all be watching it unfold over a much longer timeframe than many people are suggesting.

  1. chip56 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    What? ESPN reported faulty information???? That’s shocking. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that NBC is a fan of President Obama.

  2. arungupta27 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    “I still think it’s anything but a slam dunk that an arbitrator will side with MLB once this is all said and done and that because of that risk, MLB’s decision to proceed as it has presents long term risks to the drug program as a whole”

    But does it have to be an arbitrator? On a fangraphs post: “CBA’s just cause provision may very well be appealable only to Commissioner Selig and not to MLB’s agreed-upon neutral arbitrator…”

    Is that how you interpret the CBA/Joint Drug Policy? You think Selig is really going to be the final judge on this when it’s appealed? If that were the case….it just doesn’t sound fair. Then again, none of this really seems fair.

  3. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Nice write up, and very interesting re:melky

  4. banpeds - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    “So that’s the state of the world. I still have several issues with the Biogenesis matter. I don’t like the sorts of people MLB appears to be getting in bed with in order to get its evidence.”

    CC- So what does that make the players then, who got involved with the Biogen Charaters, Mother Theresa’s? When you decide to cheat, use PEDS, you must enter into the seedy underbelly of society, becuase that is the only way to it. It’s not like the players who make the decions to use PEDS and Cheat can go to legitmate doctors and get thier PEDS.
    It makes no sense to question the character of the Biogen dirtbags, without doing the same of the players. They are all dirtbags who are invlolved in this mess and the time is here now, that the majority of “clean” players want it taken care of. Just like the deals that were cut with Melky, Grandal, Ruiz, Colon and all the others “who did not appeal” the majority of these latest cheats will cut thier own deals take thier 50 games and move on. Arod and Bruan, They face signifcantly more penalties, like indefinate suspensions. MLB and the Union will use the off season to once again (for the 3rd time in 3 years) amend the CBA and JDA to address players who avoid detection and do not fail a test.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      How do we know the players did anything except through the information provided by witnesses of questionable character? You assume the truth of it all. An arbitration proceeding cannot assume such things.

      • banpeds - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        CC- Absolutely true about arbitration. I am a firm believer in the truth coming out. How do you or any of us know what information has been provided by Bosch, Porter, Goins, and the other 2-3 “questionable” dirt bags. I’ll agree those people are seedy at best. But what about the receptionists, clerks, Admins, other employees are they all questionable too? MLB via its lawsuit has subpoenaed now over 30 different people who have provided information/facts/testimony. 3 more did so yesterday. They have over 20 other people who have provided information without the need of supoena and who have cooperated. They appear to have some players cooperating. It’s a stretch to say that all these people would be of the character of the big fish like Bosch. It’s also a stretch to think that all of this is made up and that the hard evidence like emails, texts, FED EX delivery records, phone records, money tansfers, bank records, documents any employee of BioGen and other clinics kept, are all fake.
        My point is, the players, who if they are involved, are just as seedy as the suppliers of the PEDS. It is not valid to paint the suppliers as seedy and not the buyers. The whole story and events stink, but the clean players and the majority of fans want it dealt with once and for all- its been going on for 20 years. the majority of fans want it cleaned up and dealt with once and for all.

      • chip56 - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        As a former lawyer I’m sure you realize that when you’re working on a case that involves drugs the witnesses you’re going to get aren’t going to be the proverbial busload of nuns.

        Without a failed test it boils down to whether MLB can establish the truth of Bosch’s records.

    • dcarroll73 - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      banpeds, in this comment and in your later reply in this thread, you claim that a majority of players want this problem taken care of (and in that later reply you add in a majority of fans.) Where is your evidence for either majority? Purely anecdodally from my reading a lot of news on this topic, I would conclude that most players figure that they have agreed to a JDA process in their CBA and that should cover it. I know I would not be OK about having an employment contract and then having my employer try something outside of that agreement. Others have commented about what happens to many of us in the workplace, but they are ignoring the fact that many of us are “at will” employees at the mercy of such arbitrary conduct. When you have a very detailed employment contract and are represented by a players’ association, such arbitrary acts do not go over well in court.
      As for the fans, again anecdodally, I conclude most people are bored with this peds garbage and figure both pitchers and hitters are doing it so who cares.
      In either case, if you have some more statistical source of opinions from players or fans, please tell us what it is so we can evaluate its credibility.
      I also wonder how you conclude Arod and Bruan face such draconian punishments. You may not like the problems with Ryan’s test or the nonsense with Arod’s cousin, but they do not count as first offenses under the JDA, and even if they did, these two players would not face more than the JDA stipulates (unless MLB wants to be chewed on by some very nasty lawyers.)

      • banpeds - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

        Here is one player. I’m not going to document the other 50 or so players who all feel the same way and have publically commented the past year or so. You can easily find them all. And Yes, some Fans and most clean players do Care!

        As Hawkins says “We’re going to have to see what happens now with this Biogenesis stuff,” Hawkins says. “Let’s see what Bosch has. If he has the goods to back his mouth, then let’s play ball”

        Play ball meaning slam all the cheaters hard!!!!

        Mets reliever laments culture of PEDs in MLB
        Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports 11:25 p.m. EDT July 9, 2013

        Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who has pitched 19 years in the majors and might retire after this season, says the reward for cheating “is way greater than the risk.” (Photo: Anthony Gruppuso, USA TODAY Sports)
        LaTroy Hawkins on PEDs: “It’s part of the culture”
        The accusations get stronger by the day, the headlines continue to blare and the whispers never stop.

        Major League Baseball is hoping to complete its investigation involving the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic and performance-enhancing drugs by the end of July and could announce suspensions that result in the biggest scandal in the sport’s history.

        The players don’t want to believe it and are just as eager to know MLB’s findings, but they patiently wait before reacting.

        “This is a black cloud over baseball; we all know that,” says New York Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins, 40, who grew up in baseball during the height of the steroid era, outlasted the darkest days and is strongly considering retirement after this season. “This is what we love to do. This is our job. You hope this isn’t true.

        “But it’s like the ol’ saying, ‘Whatever is done in the dark will always come to light.’ I believe that will be true this time, too.”

        Hawkins, who grew up in Gary, Ind., can tell his grandkids one day that he pitched in more games than Cy Young, surpassing him last week on the all-time games list. He has pitched 19 years playing for 10 teams, and his 909 appearances are second to Mariano Rivera among active pitchers.

        Yet he’s most proud, he says, that he can look himself in the mirror, saying he played the game absolutely clean and is proud to leave it with his image unscathed.

        “I don’t care what people say about me,” Hawkins says, “I know myself, what I’ve been through my whole career. And I know what I’ve done. I’m clean.

        “My grandmother used to have this saying, ‘They can say what they want about you, but just don’t let it be so.’ As long as it’s not true and you’re true to yourself, you don’t have to worry about anything else.”

        Hawkins, one of the most popular players among his peers in the game, heard the same whispers many veterans have shared over the years. There was this phony medical clinic in South Florida. If you had the money, you could drop in, buy what you want, even performance-enhancing gummy bears, and no one could detect a thing.

        Few knew the actual name of the clinic, Biogenesis, or director Tony Bosch, but rumors persisted that something funny was happening in Florida.

        “I’m from the inner city, so I know that money talks,” Hawkins says. “If you got money, you can get anything you want. You heard stuff was going on, but nobody was testing positive, so you didn’t know what to believe.

        “The first you really heard of it was when Manny (Ramirez) got popped. So then you’re thinking, ‘Well, that won’t last long.’ That scheme isn’t foolproof anymore.”

        Now, Hawkins likely will retire in a few months, knowing the game is much cleaner than when he started. But no, it’s not pure.

        Maybe it never will be.

        “The game is definitely getting clean,” Hawkins says. “But as far as being completely clean, you’re always going to have players test the system. You can’t guard against that. Just like regular folk, they continue to commit crimes, hoping they don’t get caught, so I don’t know why athletes are any different.

        “It’s part of the culture. You’re always going to have guys push the envelope as far as they can push it. There’s always going to be somebody out there one step ahead of testing.

        “I’ve always been a firm believer Major League Baseball should go out and hire those guys. Put them on the payroll so they can be one step ahead of the other guys that are out there trying to taint the game.”

        Yes, he’s talking about Victor Conte, the former founder of BALCO, the godfather of the biggest performance-enhancing drug scandal in sports.

        “Go hire Victor Conte, just like the movie Catch Me If You Can,” Hawkins said. “People can laugh, but it’s the truth. It’s obvious guys like that are on top of their field, whatever their field is.

        “They helped a lot of people make a lot of money.”

        Hawkins doesn’t know the answer to completely stopping drug use and scoffs at the notion that stiffening the penalties for first-time offenders will change anything.

        “All I know is that 50 games is a lot of games, and if 50 doesn’t stop them, you think 100 will? I don’t either,” Hawkins says. “The reward is way greater than the risk.”

        Yes, when Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera can test positive for performance-enhancing drugs last season and get even more money on the free agent market, something is wrong.

        “I’m not going to say I’m pissed about it, but it’s an eye-opener, that’s for sure,” Hawkins says. “I can see people being upset about it. There are a lot of people that do it the right way, and they don’t get rewarded for it. It’s sad, but that’s the business we’re in.”

        Now, Hawkins and his peers wait. They know you’re supposed to be innocent until proved guilty, but in this case, everyone’s image has been damaged, with no innocence involved.

        “We’re going to have to see what happens now with this Biogenesis stuff,” Hawkins says. “Let’s see what Bosch has. If he has the goods to back his mouth, then let’s play ball.

  5. buffalomafia - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    Enough is enough about steroids! Who cares!!!

  6. jayscarpa - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Your best work on the subject – thanks

  7. dugldo - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    A source (me) tells me this all speculation and a waste of everyones time. That same source says drop this nonsense it till something happens and report something worth spending the time reading. I gave up my ” source” can anyone else or are those fiction too?

  8. blacksables - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    So, if Alex Rodriguez ends up with 760 career home runs, but misses 100 games because of a suspension, is Bond’s record tainted due to PED’s?

    • flamethrower101 - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      The answer is 47.

      • abaird2012 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:37 AM

        No, 42.

  9. watchfullhose - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    They’re definitely going to wait until after the All-Star Game so that the talking heads will keep most of the discussion on the game. It’s always slow after the AS break….waiting will provide necessary fodder.

  10. Gardenhire's Cat - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Mike Greenberg of ESPN, although having some difficulty pronouncing your last name this morning, praised your Melky Cabrera column and agreed wholeheartedly.

  11. scotttheskeptic - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Craig, you have cited the precedents of Jenkins and Cabrera with respect to the possible applicability to the length of forthcoming suspensions. Does the manner in which M. Ramirez’ second test/100 game suspension was (or wasn’t) handled have any potential bearing?

  12. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    And in other news…. there is no time table on when the jays will actually make the postseason again…. Woooooooooooooooo!!!!

  13. anxovies - Jul 12, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    On a totally different matter, I wish the Commissioner would decide which end of that wig goes to the front.

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