Aug 5, 2013, 4:25 PM EST
The MLBPA’s official statement on the suspensions of the Biogenesis players is something I can totally agree with: the 50-game suspensions make sense given that all involved were first time drug offenders who agreed, when they chose not to appeal, that MLB had the goods on them. But Alex Rodriguez‘s 211-game suspension is crazy and it should be reduced.
It’s crazy for a number of reasons.
One simple argument is that A-Rod is receiving discipline for the first time under the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA). The JDA calls for suspensions of 50 games, 100 games or life. A strict constructionist of the JDA could very easily say that A-Rod, as a first offender, should get 50 games, full stop. Now, I’m not naive. I don’t think that argument will necessarily work. Indeed, the head of the union himself said, for some reason, that the 50-100-life rubric does not apply to Biogenesis cases. I’m not sure why he’d admit that, but I do feel like if that argument had any weight it would have been made a lot more forcefully before now. Still: it’s not an argument I’d abandon if I was A-Rod’s lawyer.
A more compelling argument: 211 games is the most arbitrary number imaginable, and arbitrators of employer-employee agreements tend not to like arbitrariness.
The Joint Drug Agreement employs a unit of measurement for drug discipline: games. MLB may make an impassioned and persuasive case that Alex Rodriguez was a horrible wrongdoer, but they clearly chose this discipline based on how long they wanted to see him gone — this season and all of next — and simply calculated how many games that covered. In this sense it was entirely arbitrary and made little effort to match up the severity of the acts with the severity of the punishment. If it happened last week he’d get 217 games? If it happened next week he’d get 205? For the same conduct? It speaks to an unreasonable standard of discipline, even if it happens to go after unreasonably bad behavior.
Let’s talk about that behavior. A-Rod’s Biogenesis case has been the subject of countless leaks over the past several months, and most of those leaks have spoken non-specifically of awful, awful things. We don’t know how awful. Maybe it’s really, really bad! Obstruction of the investigation. Maybe some sort of luring of other players to Tony Bosch’s clinic. We really don’t know. But we do know that for 211 games to stick, those acts have to be more than four times worse than some other player’s drug use, right? That’s how MLB got to its arbitrary number, right?
I don’t know what MLB’s evidence is, but I do know this much: the historic pattern of A-Rod coverage has been to take what he actually did, multiply it by about a million times in terms of severity and report it as the worst thing that ever happened. Puffing up A-Rod’s evil works with tabloid readers, talk radio callers and the “A-Rod is the devil” folks, but it’s unlikely to work well with an arbitrator. So if that pattern is happening once again, it may be a much closer case than many are portraying.
None of that means Alex Rodriguez didn’t do anything wrong. None of that means that Alex Rodriguez will succeed on his appeal. But from where I’m sitting, Major League Baseball’s 211-game suspension looks hard to defend, and it’s hard to blame Rodriguez for going after it on appeal.
Dec 18, 2013, 6:23 PM EST
MLB.com’s Corey Brock passes along word of this minor transaction … More #Padres action: The team has traded Jesus Guzman to the #Astros for INF Ryan Jackson. — Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) December 18, 2013 Guzman, 29, is a .259/.324/.418 career hitter in 930 plate appearances at the major league level. He’s limited defensively to the…
Dec 18, 2013, 5:16 PM EST
Richard Justice has a good column up about Billy Beane today. He notes Beane’s role as a transformative figure and how, despite the fact that every GM this side of Ruben Amaro has followed Beane’s approach — and despite the fact most of them have more money to work with than he does — Beane’s…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:49 PM EST
Kansas City and Baltimore swapped role players, with the Orioles sending third baseman/first baseman Danny Valencia to the Royals for outfielder David Lough. Valencia was overmatched as a regular for the Twins, but has found a good niche as a part-timer used mostly versus left-handed pitching. He hit .304 with eight homers and an .888…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:35 PM EST
I’m not a big fan of the Ryan Doumit trade, but at least it’s good for the yuks: Wren said he viewed Doumit as the best player available to fill his bench need because “he’s almost two players in one.” — Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 18, 2013 True! He is almost two players. Almost…
Dec 18, 2013, 4:16 PM EST
Livan Hernandez earned more than $50 million during his 17-season career, including a million bucks as recently as 2012, but now he’s selling his stuff. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Hernandez is auctioning off his championship ring and MVP award from the 1997 World Series with the Marlins, both with $5,000 reserve…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:21 PM EST
After shopping around as a free agent Eric Chavez has decided to return to Arizona, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that he’s agreed to re-sign with the Diamondbacks. Chavez has stayed healthy and productive in part-time roles for the Diamondbacks and Yankees during the past two seasons, hitting a combined .281 with 25 homers…
Dec 18, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
This is pretty unexpected: Source: Atlanta finalizing deal to acquire catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit from Minnesota. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 18, 2013 Rosenthal reports that the Braves are sending back lefty Sean Gilmartin. Doumit, a catcher and outfielder who does neither of those things at all well but who has been known to hit a little,…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
After a year spent in Japan veteran third baseman/first baseman Casey McGehee is headed back to America to sign with the Marlins, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. McGehee took a $1.5 million deal in Japan following back-to-back terrible seasons in the majors and helped the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to the league…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:14 PM EST
Boston acquired Franklin Morales from Colorado in May of 2011 and now three years later the Red Sox have traded him back to the Rockies. Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that the Red Sox will send the Rockies 27-year-old Triple-A reliever Chris Martin in addition to Morales, who had a 3.90 ERA in 134 innings…
Dec 18, 2013, 2:03 PM EST
Either Ruben Amaro never spends any time on the internet or he just loves providing fuel for the trolls: Amaro somewhat cagey when repeatedly questioned about makeup of roster he expects to contend: “Ryan Howard does still live. He exists.” — Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) December 18, 2013 I guess we’ll see if that’s the…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:50 PM EST
It sounds like the Rockies are committed to playing Carlos Gonzales is center field after trading away Dexter Fowler, but they’ve picked up an alternative just in case. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Rockies have acquired Drew Stubbs from the Indians in exchange for left-hander Josh Outman. Stubbs is probably best suited for…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:40 PM EST
We learned over the weekend that Ryan Freel, who took his own life a year ago this Sunday, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a condition caused by concussions and which has been linked to suicide. But Freel suffered from so much more. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADD and depression. He was an alcoholic…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:18 PM EST
It just gets better and better with the New York Yankees. They just signed Brian Roberts. I wrote before (in my Ichiro Suzuki essay for the 100 greatest players) that this Yankees team would look awfully good … in 2006. But by essentially replacing Robinson Cano with Brian Roberts, they have — in a weird…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:46 PM EST
Carlos Beltran‘s three-year, $45 million deal with the Yankees still hasn’t been officially announced nearly two weeks later, so Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York asked general manager Brian Cashman what’s up. Cashman’s response: There are terms to do, physicals to take, items to be worked out when you do a contract … There’s no…
Dec 18, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
This is interesting: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that the Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo a seven-year, $140 million contract. It reportedly came after the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury for $153 million. Passan says Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, countered for more money, after which the sides parted ways and the Yankees pivoted to Carlos Beltran. That’s…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:35 AM EST
Raul Ibanez is staying in the American League West, with Jeff Fletcher of the Orange Country Register reporting that the 41-year-old has agreed to a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the Angels. Ibanez hasn’t posted a batting average above .250 since 2010 and makes a ton of outs, but he also smacked 29 homers in…
Dec 18, 2013, 11:17 AM EST
Texas has been very willing to shift pitchers back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in recent years, with both good and bad results, and Tanner Scheppers is the latest with his future role in flux. Scheppers has spent this offseason building up arm strength to potentially join the rotation, although the Rangers have…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:37 AM EST
UPDATE: Jeff Passan says a deal is done, pending a physical. No word on the cash, but figure between $7-9 million a year for two years. 8:48 AM: The Padres have a closer in Huston Street who saved 33 games last year and who will make $7 million this year. But who says you only…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
Last night the Mariners and Franklin Gutierrez were said to be close to a deal and now Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the two sides have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract. According to Rojas the deal also includes $2 million in potential incentives after Gutierrez spent the past three seasons mostly…
Dec 18, 2013, 10:03 AM EST
We’ve mentioned the huge problems that public dollars paying for professional sports stadiums multiple times. In case you’re still agnostic on this point, however, there’s a great story at Bloomberg to help you out. It catalogs the awful results of multiple cities’ public ballpark problems. Cincinnati’s is particularly awesome: The tax relief hasn’t materialized as…
- Not everyone is happy about home plate collisions being taken away (135)
- Managers, GMs to meet today to discuss the abolition of home plate collisions (113)
- Hall of Fame voting expert: Greg Maddux makes it. No one else does. (105)
- Robinson Cano, Yankees trade barbs about “disrespect” (104)
- Two thoughts about the elimination of home plate collisions (95)