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Let’s pump the brakes on the “PED use got Jhonny Peralta his big deal” talk

Nov 25, 2013, 7:43 AM EDT

jhonny peralta getty Getty Images

With a respectful nod to Ken Rosenthal, our own Bill Baer and the players who have taken to Twitter in the past couple of days to talk about Jhonny Peralta, may I ask why everyone seems to think that Peralta’s new contract represents some sort of problem with the drug penalty system in baseball and the incentives that flow therefrom? Because from where I’m sitting, it’s way more complicated than that.

I get the superficial appeal of the argument that goes “Peralta got busted for PEDs and then he gets a four-year, $52 million deal. What’s up with that?!” But that argument totally ignores the nature of the current free agent market to begin with.

Here’s a shocking idea: Jhonny Peralta got a big crazy free agent contract, not because he used PEDs, thereby messing up the incentive system, but because everyone in free agency is getting a big crazy free agent contract these days.

Those shaking their heads at Peralta say things like “clearly the current drug penalties are not hurting players’ market value.” But if you swap in phrases like “being hurt,” “being average” or “severely underperforming expectations” for “the current drug penalties” it explains current reality too. Dan Haren is coming off two injury-plagued and often ineffective years and he got $10 million. Jason Vargas got four-years, $32 million as a back-of-the-rotation starter. Tim Hudson has been pretty bad and got two-years, $23 million. Carlos Ruiz got three-years, $26 million. Why isn’t anyone talking about how their deals are confounding the incentive system that’s supposed to be in place?

Probably because they’re not. They’re getting what the market — currently flush with billions of dollars in new broadcast dollars and vanishingly small ways for teams to spend money on amateur and international signings — allows. Look around at the crop of shortstop talent in Major League Baseball at the moment and tell me that talent isn’t hard to come by. Then tell me that Peralta’s deal has more to do with him being a PED user than him simply being a good shortstop in a weak shortstop market who happened to hit free agency at the right time.

The fact that a team — a smart team, by the way — is spending serious money on Jhonny Peralta right now is because he’s in the market. Increase the ban to 100 games? Sure, maybe that would work for a guy whose ban coincided with his free agency, but it doesn’t always, or even often, work that way. Say a guy gets a ban in the second year of his three year deal, comes back in year three and plays well prior to becoming a free agent. Say a player tests positive in the spring of his walk year, serves his 100 games and then comes back in late July and lights it up just before free agency. You think those guys are not going to get paid the following offseason? Of course they are. Because they’ll be active players with marketable skills and teams like to give those guys lots of money.

The only way totally eliminate the idea of guys who take PEDs from later getting paid is to give permanent bans for first offenses. But of course that’s crazy. It’d be an ultra-extreme response to a problem that no one has demonstrated calls for such a solution and which would likely end the careers of some players based on false positives or inadvertent ingestion of PEDs. And no one who grouses about Jhonny Peralta allegedly screwing with the incentive system would ever seriously make that argument, would they? I seriously doubt it.

Peralta got paid because he’s a good player at a position with scant available talent in a market that is paying through the nose for even ordinary talent. If that’s troublesome to you, you have a lot of things to worry about besides whether 50-game suspensions are sufficient to deter PED use.

  1. Craig Calcaterra - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    And before anyone goes there: There is no reasonable argument that Peralta got his deal based on some crazy-pre-free-agency PED spike. Depending on how you measure it, Peralta’s 2013 season was, perhaps, his third best season. Maybe his fourth. It was not some crazy breakout year that was clearly a function of his PED use, nor is he so old and decrepit that having the sort of season he had in 2013 should raise red flags. He’s long been a player who alternates good years with bad and his performance last season was well-within career norms. Is it possible that Peralta has been consistently using PEDs for his entire 11-year career? Sure. But if that’s the case we have way bigger problems with the drug-testing system than most people are prepared to admit and pre-free agent drug-use incentives are beside the point.

    Likewise, while Peralta was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal and almost certainly took banned substances, it does not mean that anything he took from Biogenesis enhanced his performance too terribly much. Everth Cabrera, Jesus Montero and Fransico Cervelli were all Biogenesis guys too. I can’t see how it helped them in any material way. I also don’t see anyone arguing that they somehow screwed up the incentive system. Perhaps — and I know this is shocking to some given the mythology that has convinced folks that all PEDs = magic home run sauce — the sleazy non-doctor at Biogenesis was not offering those players anything all that great beyond big promises, even if what he was offering them was illegal.

    It’s the market, not the drugs, which gave Peralta that deal.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:57 AM

      Biogenesis was based off 2012 info, not 2013, in which Peralta looks even worse because of his numbers. Worst BA since ’03, worst SLG since ’04, lowest OPS/OPS+ since ’04.

      Like Jeremy Giambi, Peralta must have got the placebo/bad version of PEDs.

    • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      There is no way of knowing how long Peralta took PEDs, or how much they contributed to his performance (and thus his big contract). It is well known that testing is imperfect–most of the players implicated in the biogenesis scandal had never tested positive.

      Of course it is wrong to say that PEDs are definitely responsible, but it is equally wrong for you to say they are definitely not responsible.

      • metroplexsouthsider - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        Bingo. Bernie Miklasz said the same.

        Speaking of drugs, he also pointed out Rosenthal needed his meds adjusted when he proposed a four-player trade by the Cards for Tulo.

    • stoutfiles - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      Now you’re just assuming that Peralta got caught cheating his very first time. Unlikely.

      But hey, if the Cards want to spend 52 mil on a cheating SS, then they can. It’s not Peralta’s or the Cards fault that MLB is so nice to cheaters. 50 games is nothing when you consider what’s at stake.

      • spudchukar - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:41 AM

        What’s at stake actually? The demise of MLB? I doubt it. Personal injury? No evidence to support it. Downfall of Western Civilization? It is well on its way, thanks lately to Canada (Bieber, Ford, Cruz).

    • apkyletexas - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      I’m starting to wonder if Craig is a PED user, and he’s just covering up for his pals.

      How else could you explain the super-human number of stories Craig cranks out on a daily basis?

      How could any normal human have the hand-to-eye coordination required to carry out as many mouse-clicks as Craig does in an average day?

      And his typing fingers must have world-class strength and speed to blister through such lengthy anti-anti-steroid diatribes.

      And besides, I think his head has grown larger over the past couple of years.

      I’m just not buying the idea that Craig is writing all these stories without chemical assistance any longer. We, the readers, need to insist on a strict testing and suspension policy for all HBT contributors. To be enforced by the one man who has the will and the brains to make a real difference – Bud Selig.

      • ditto65 - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM

        We all know the chemical: bourbon

  2. frank35sox - Nov 25, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    Well you didn’t have to Sylvia Brown to see this one coming…

    • Kevin S. - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      Nah, Brown would have told us that Craig’s PED realism was dead and that we need to say goodbye to it, then be strangely silent when it turned up alive and well.

  3. paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:06 AM

    All of these “we need harsher punishments to further discourage PED use” arguments are a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.

    People still get murdered, do we need harsher penalties than death to deter potential murderers? People still commit rape, banks still screw over everyone, corporations still blatantly ignore all sorts of financial law…..there is no amount of punishment that will deter people from doing what they are going to do….what WILL deter people is enhancing the likelihood of getting caught at all, not the punishment than ensues.

    • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      Huh? Actually, increased punishment is effective. That is why home runs are down so much since MLB instituted a testing policy. And I guarantee that if the penalty for steroids were death, even fewer players would take them.

      • Francisco (FC) - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM

        No, strikeout rates have increased over the last few years, that’s why HRs as a total are down. If you check the HR / Contact ratio, the current numbers are well within the average for the last 20 years (with the exception of 1999-2001, which had HRs / Contact ratios a bit above 4%).

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

        No, that is not why HRs are down. When PED testing started nothing happened to HR rates. HR rates have come down because there are more pitcher friendly parks now (look at the list of parks built over the last decade, nearly all are pitcher friendly), and because of the continually expanding strike zone because of the use of pitch FX to show umps where they are missing. The rate of called strikes has been increasing steadily. We also can’t rule out that MLB might have again changed ball composition as a PR move when HRs didn’t decrease when steroid testing began so that people with simple thought processes would go “hey look, HRs are down….that steroid testing must be working”.

      • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        @Francisco: so strikeouts have just increased, for no apparent reason? That doesn’t make sense. If steroids increase bat speed, then they would lead to reduced strikeouts.

        I don’t agree with the over-the-top fury over steroids. Bonds, Clemens, and others should be in the Hall; they were great players, and hardly the first to bend the rules of the game.

        On the other hand, I really don’t think the “steroids have no proven effect” crowd have a leg to stand on. There was a major boom in offense that corresponded with rampant steroid use in the game. The trend reversed when tougher penalties were put in place. And, most of the very best power hitters of that era are now known to have used steroids.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        ” I guarantee that if the penalty for steroids were death, even fewer players would take them.”

        See NFL players, circa 1970-1990. I would say that itis not entirely inaccurate to say that some PEDs do come with their own chemical death sentence (or at the very least a potential for it) and yet people use. How many other far more lethal drugs are out there with millions addicted. No, cause and effect are not enough to get people to stop using drugs.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        There was a major boom in offense that corresponded with rampant steroid use in the game. The trend reversed when tougher penalties were put in place. And, most of the very best power hitters of that era are now known to have used steroids.

        The power trend happened before the so called “steroid era”. As mentioned by PL, it’s far more likely that a combination of ball composition changes, smaller parks and expansion lead to the HR boom than steroids. See here*:

        The trend didn’t reverse though. HR as a part of contact were increasing and started hitting levels that we saw previously. The problem is that players are making less contact now than before. See here (**).

        * –
        ** –

    • jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      “People still get murdered, do we need harsher penalties than death to deter potential murderers?”

      Short answer yes. Long answer, my friend was killed by a guy that did 8 years of a 25 year sentence for a previous murder. So yes. Keep in mind the harsh penalties on the books are rarely actually used. People will still murder if it’s guaranteed they’re on death row, but LESS people will do so. People will still take PEDs if the 1st penalty is 100 games, but LESS people will take PEDs.
      For the record, I don’t care if more people take PEDs. I don’t care if everyone hits the ball 500 feet and throws 105. I just care when people I pay to see play can’t play because they got caught. A more severe penalty will lessen the number of cheaters, not eliminate it.

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        All sociological work shows that it is the likelihood of getting caught that affects people’s actions. Yes, the punishment when caught has an effect, but by far the largest effect is associated with the likelihood of getting caught.

    • stoutfiles - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      A lot of countries have extremely harsh punishments (torture, work camps) and their crime rate has dropped drastically.

      The harshest punishment we have is death, and that’s why a lot of criminals don’t kill people. They will badly injure you instead, knowing they’ll be out in no time (and they get 3 square meals and an education in prison).

      • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Go look at a map of murder rates by country. That is map of the likelihood of getting caught, not of the severity of punishment.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        Also understand that underdeveloped nations also routinely underreport crime and health data.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Also, here’s an interesting Harvard study on the effect of gun control on violent crime. It also goes to deterrence being a function of likelihood of consequences.

  4. skeleteeth - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:06 AM

    Whoa this isn’t just some convicted sex offender or drunk driver…this is a PED user! I am outraged by your applied logic!

    • nbjays - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM

      ‘Roid rage?

  5. dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    No one (that I have seen) is claiming that Peralta got this deal solely because of PED use. Rather, the issue is that despite being caught, he is still getting a big contract.

    If being caught for PED use does not hurt market value, then the potential reward of PEDs outweighs the risk of getting caught. A savvy PED user has a small chance of being suspended and losing part of a year’s pay, but a significant chance of boosting his stats, staying healthier, and getting much more money in the long term.

    This is like punishing the theft of a $100 bill with a $10 fine. It doesn’t actually work to discourage the behavior.

    I agree with you that there is no easy way to fix this, but it is nevertheless a problem if the goal is to eliminate steroids from the game.

    • 3yardsandacloud - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      Would you rather have the owners collude to not sign PED users and then we can watch the anti-trust exemption collapse? The guy can still play ball and the owners cannot have agreements to blackball these guys. It’s as simple as that.

    • Kevin S. - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      Unless you can think of a system that makes them not be free agents when their position is scarce, I’m not sure what you think you can do.

    • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      @3yards, @kevin – I agree that there is no obvious solution. But still, I think people are correct to highlight it as a problem–and perhaps a fatal flaw–of the current testing regime.

      I think most observers believed that getting caught for PEDs would lower a player’s future contract expectations quite a bit. Not because of collusion, but because a combination of worry about artificially inflated numbers, potentially getting another suspension, and bad publicity would lower a player’s market value. That seemed to hold true with Melky Cabrera, but Peralta’s large contract is making people revisit that assumption.

      • 3yardsandacloud - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM

        The problem is PED use doesn’t always correlate with inflated numbers. Take Peralta as an example. He almost always alternates between good and bad years. His career stats aren’t mind blowing and his defensive range has steadily declined over his career. In his case, PED use did not give him lead to an on-field improvement.

        Now maybe it kept him in better shape (although, if that’s true, then he must of been headed for 320lbs) or kept him able to stay in the league. I think the way you punish PED users is not putting them in the hall and vacating any accolades they accomplished. Honestly, $53M or $25M makes no difference to Peralta, or any ball player that’s gotten into a real contract.

        You want to hurt these guys, punish their stardom and their ego. Otherwise, a joint effort by clubs to limit their pay or penalize them, will just lead to an anti-trust challenge. Peralta benefited from a good playoff and year in Detroit AND the increased money available from TV. I don’t think PED’s had anything to do with this contract

      • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        “PED use did not give him…an on-field improvement.”

        The stats of all players fluctuate, whether they are using drugs or not. So we don’t know what actual effect PEDs had on Peralta’s numbers. Maybe his poor 2012 would have been even worse without drugs. Maybe he was taking them over a longer period or even his whole career. Maybe they helped him stay healthy.

        There is solid scientific evidence that steroids increase athletic performance, and it is reasonable to believe they will increase baseball performance, as well. But that doesn’t mean there is going to be a clear pattern for each player.

        “$53M or $25M makes no difference to Peralta”

        That is not true. Salary clearly makes a big difference to players, which is seen in the way they negotiate for contracts.

    • phantomspaceman - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:06 AM

      Maybe I’m wrong about this but I feel if a team thought Peralta’s (or any other known PED user’s) stats were inflated solely due to PED use they wouldn’t hand out that big contract. At some level they believe that he has the ability to produce without them.

      • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        It is true that the contract indicates a belief that Peralta will continue to produce in the future. Whether that is because the team thinks steroids are no big deal, or they assume he will continue steroid use, is not clear.

    • ctony1216 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Right, you could even argue that it would make financial sense for a player to take PEDs until he gets caught once, given the unlikelihood of ever getting caught. Peralta never failed a drug test, remember.

      I think that’s the point. The contract he signed is only relevant in the sense that it demonstrates that penalties for PED use may not be harsh enough to discourage it. That doesn’t mean owners should collude to reduce player salaries, but maybe some harsher penalty, or a greater disincentive, might be necessary. Maybe players should have to pay a fine — say 15% of future earnings — which would be used for PED testing and raising awareness about the dangers of PEDs.

    • forsch31 - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      If you want to eliminate PEDs, the better and more effective solution is to come up with more random and widespread testing, so it doesn’t matter how savvy you are as a user. Increase the risk of getting caught would be more effective; when you’re weighing any risk, that’s more important than the severity of the punishment, which is meaningless if it’s easy to avoid getting caught.

      As I mentioned yesterday in another posting, severe punishment can help deter crime, but it never eliminates it. And the suspensions and testing have vastly improved what was a huge PED problem in baseball, to the point now that violators are a significant minority than majority, and that fact seems to be ignored.

      PEDs have been in the game for decades, and there always will be players attempting to get around it, no matter how bad the punishment. Cheating has always been part of baseball, which is why there are cheaters and admitted PEDs in the Hall of Fame that nobody is pushing to throw out. You can’t change a culture ingrained for longer than most fans have been alive by upping the cost; you change the culture by making it possible that the charge can be made in the first place.

  6. chacochicken - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    Jhonny rosin up your bat and play your game hard
    Cause hell’s broke loose in St. Louis and the devil deals the cards
    And if you win you get this shiny contract made of gold
    But if you lose the devil gets your soul.

    Then he pulled the bat across the plate
    And it made an evil hiss
    And a band of Biogenesis employees joined in
    And it sounded something like this

    The MLB bowed its head
    Because it knew that it’d been beat
    And he laid that golden contract
    down On the ground at Jhonny’s feet

  7. sdelmonte - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    I agree with everything Craig said. But, just to play devil’s advocate, here are two things I would suggest instead of higher punishment for first offenses and the usual outrage:

    1) Anyone who is banned for PEDs is subject to a lot more random testing for the next, say, two years. You want to prove you are worth the money on your own skills? Sustained testing could do that.

    2) A morals clause in a PED “convict”‘s contract. You get caught again, and your contract is gone.

    I don’t know if the players would prefer to negotiate this instead of longer bans, but if you are looking for deterrence and not just punishment, this seems like a way to go.

    PS: Does anyone know if players who are caught now are already tested more? I keep asking about this but no one seems to know.

    • Francisco (FC) - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      Didn’t Joey Bats get increased random testing after the year he launched 50 odd homers? I could be misremembering or Joey Bats was simply wrong and EVERYBODY got increased random testing.

      • ezthinking - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        Under the JDA, random offseason testing has increased from 200 to 250 tests.

    • jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      1) I don’t know if Peralta was caught through testing or just from having his name in the BioGenesis stuff, but if it wasn’t through testing it seems he would be pretty confident he could continue to use and still pass the tests. The caveat here would be that as testing continues to improve to catch more stuff, the risk he got busted would increase.
      2)This would be a great idea. You get caught, you serve your 50 day suspension and if the team wants to void your contract you become a free agent. That would be a HUGE deterrent, and players would have the chance to continue playing ball somewhere else if they wanted. Union would never in a million years go for it, but I like this idea.

    • jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      Also, it’s kinda tough to play devils advocate to Craig’s posts, since that’s usually the view point he’s going for.

      • sdelmonte - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:23 AM

        According to all those horror shows, there are lots of demons in Hell, so the devil must have a lot of advocates.

    • ezthinking - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      1 – The JDA already provides for more testing after a suspension. Section 3(D).

      2 – A second violation would result in 100 games lost salary. Forfeiting the contract may result in a better or worse contract and would also tempt a team to spike a player. Do you think the Yankees wouldn’t be tempted to spike ARod to get out of his contract?

      • sdelmonte - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:17 PM

        Thanks for that answer.

        And good point. That is the problem with morals clauses. Moral codes can be find ways to be flexible. Never mind that what the owners really want is anything that would erode the guaranteed contract. I think they salivate every time a football team cuts a player for any reason, or no reason.

      • jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:32 PM

        Spiking a player’s food or something to trigger a test would be pretty damn corrupt. I highly doubt that would ever happen. Hell, the Yankees could spike A-Rod’s food now and get out of a couple hundred games worth of the contract. A rogue employee might try something I suppose, but I still don’t think that would ever become an issue anywhere but in the mind of bloggers.

  8. jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    I think Melky Cabrera showed that getting busted for PEDs can hurt your free agent contract, but in Peralta’s case it merely muddies the water a bit. Cabrera’s year had been such an aberration that most people could put 2 and 2 together when he tested positive. Peralta’s been a pretty decent player so if a team is able to convince themselves that his performance won’t change with the increased testing, then he deserves to get paid what a decent SS should get paid.

  9. metalhead65 - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    I can’t believe any rational person can defend the cheaters the way you do craig. it must have something to do with all the stats they put up so it makes it ok right?

    • Old Gator - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:01 AM

      I can’t believe any literate person would read what Craig wrote and call it “defending the cheaters.” It must have something to do with the decline of America’s public schools that you can’t seem to read what’s right in front of your nose and comprehend what it’s saying, right?

      • metalhead65 - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:10 AM

        do us all a favor and just kill yourself you self righteous prick!

      • dan1111 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        I don’t think Craig is “defending the cheaters”, and I was with him as he took on the steroid moralizers, but his anti-anti-steroid stance seems to be getting more and more strident over time, to the point that I can see where people are coming from when they say such things.

        This post is a case in point. The idea that Peralta getting a big contract undermines steroid prevention efforts is perfectly reasonable. But Craig responds as if to a crank columnist who thinks Peralta should get the death penalty, and makes illogical arguments and confident statements not backed up by evidence in the process.

        What gives? Did one too many A-Rod tabloid articles drive him mad?

      • spudchukar - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

        Hey metalhead, I’ve always wanted to ask you. Did your moniker come from surgery after your parents dropped you on your noggin as an infant?

      • nbjays - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        Nope, it comes from his tinfoil hat.

  10. Old Gator - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    The rehabilitation of Jhonny Peralta is a sterling example of the success of baseball’s virtual penal system. Last year he was a cheater in exile. This year he is a successful businessman whose recovery is a credit to his community. If only the American penal system – which turns out stigmatized ex-inmates laboring under the misconception that they have “paid their debt to society” and become recidivists when they can’t find jobs or places to live – were nearly that successful. Baseball should sign more confessed or convicted PED users to bigger and bigger contracts. It will keep them off the streets and out of the anti-aging clinics. And that’s what we supposedly want as a society – education and rehabilitation, not mere punishment for its own sake, right?

  11. pastabelly - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    I don’t disagree that he was overpaid (1) because of the market for short stops and (2) Stephen Drew’s value is less because signing him requires the loss of a first round pick. However, there still has to be a frustration in all of this among players who are not using PEDs.

    • clemente2 - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      Why? His new contract is going to reflect the market value for a SS of his apparent skill level, his age, with discounts for the (unknowable) amount of help his apparent skills were helped by PED use, and the fact he has shown he will violate the rules, so might again, and some local PR hit. And that is the contract he received—it is for less than his skills alone would have brought him at this point in the market.

      If you want to financially penalize players after they have served suspensions, you need to get it into the CBA. And I have not seen anything that makes sense for the players proposed so far.

      And the selective outrage of this needs to be questioned—where is the outrage for Petitte, Giambi, Ortiz, so many others?

  12. mcsnide - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    I don’t personally think PED users getting big contracts is a big problem, but I think it’s relatively simple to fix. Right now, there’s no financial risk for teams in signing PED users. If you want teams to be cautious about PED players, make them liable for the full salary (including the luxury tax hit), even if the guy’s suspended. Put the money into the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities fund or some other worthy cause. They could also create a rule that if a player is suspended for a second offense, any team that signed or traded for him after the first offense has to pay double his salary into the fund. Third offense is triple. I wouldn’t double or triple the luxury tax hit because that affects the money available to spend on other players and I can’t imagine the union would go for it.

    • ezthinking - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      That’s called collusion.

      • mcsnide - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        A structure like this would obviously have to be bargained with the union, hence my final point about not affecting the luxury tax hit because the union wouldn’t go for it. So I guess I don’t see your point about collusion. It’s not like I think the owners should impose a structure like this in secret.

  13. danindelray - Nov 25, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Only you, Calcaterra, would say that there’s no reason to have a one-strike-and-your-out penalty.

    In reality, its the ultimate incentive (there’s that word again) to make 100% certain that players be 100% certain that they don’t put anything PED-related into their bodies.

    Then players and fans can know that no one is juicing, no one has an unfair advantage and no one has to remotely wonder whether crazy contracts happened because of PED use or because the sport happens to be awash in cash.

    • cohnjusack - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      I bet cutting the hands off of bread thieves is a much better deterrent for theft too.

      But, you know…maybe stealing something isn’t such an awful offense as to warrant the loss of one’s hands. See where I’m going here?

  14. eshine76 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    My problem with his contract is he’s on the wrong side of his prime and his defense is average at best. He’s mainly getting signed for his offense, yet he’s already served a suspension for PEDs, which may or may not have been impacted by PEDs. Its just seems like a big risk for a team trying to get back to the World Series.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      One of the unfortunate aspects of the Biogenesis stuff is that we don’t know what guys were taking, or why, or for how long. Maybe he was being propped up by a chemical stew alone, or maybe he took some Adderal one week in late September. We don’t know of course, but I am guessing the team signing him asked those questions before forking over the cash.

  15. yourcubreporter - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Skip the 50 game ban.

    You get caught? Your contract is torn up and you pay for the league minimum. Take away the money, you take away the incentive. Plain and simple.

    I’d throw one more dis-incentive on there: lifetime ban from HoF on first offense.

    Think it’s still worth it now?

    • fearlessleader - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      This comment and the one below sound great, but remember, this idea would only serve to offer MORE incentive to up-and-coming players to cheat. If they’re competing for an ongoing roster spot or for playing time, they’re already making the league minimum, and they don’t stand to lose any games to suspension, why not give themselves an extra edge?

  16. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    How about this: if a player gets caught using PEDs, he has to play the next two seasons taking home the league minimum (for pre-arb players, perhaps the minor league minimum?), while his salary above and beyond the minimum is donated by his team to a community drug prevention program charity (or something). If his current contract expires, other teams can sign him at the “qualifying offer” rate, continuing to donate that money while the player makes the minimum. A second failed test means he plays the rest of his career under the same terms.

    This should really remove the incentive for players while not unjustly rewarding their club

  17. uyf1950 - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    I have a novel idea. Do away with guaranteed contracts then see if these guys continue to violate MLB’s drug policy. Allow teams to void contracts of players that are found be in violation of MLB’s drug policy a 2nd time. If h]that players suspension for a 2nd time is say a full season but he has even a year left on his contract the chances are that the team will jump at the opportunity to void his contract and kick him to the curb.

    Peralta is a good example what do you think the Cardinals would do if in 2014 Peralta is found having violated MLB’s drug policy if he got suspended fora full year. They in all likelihood they would void the remainder of his contract. Problem of the huge contract and the player benefiting in the future from violating the Drug policy goes away in my opinion.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:42 PM

      Someone like Braun could actually benefit from having his contract voided by the Brewers. Guys on team-friendly deals would benefit from huge seasons followed by premature free-agency. As Peralta’s deal shows, teams do not necessarily shy away from guys with PED histories.

  18. cohnjusack - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Let’s say we increase the first time PED penalty to 100 games, and the second to a lifetime ban.
    Every single time someone tests positive, people will say it’s not enough of a deterrent if people are still getting caught and demand harsher penalties

    Let’s say we increase it to a one-year ban for the first offense
    Every single time someone tests positive, people will say it’s not enough of a deterrent if people are still getting caught and demand harsher penalties

    Let’s say we just do a flat out lifetime ban on the first offense
    Every single time someone tests positive, people will say it’s not enough of a deterrent. They’ll demand increased testing at every level and an increase of the number of substances on the banned list.

    These people don’t want punishment or deterrents, they want the ruin of anyone caught breaking the rules and nothing less will satisfy them.

    Personally, I think 50-100-Out is pretty good, seeing that players actually rarely get busted for PEDs and all. Is anyone here in so much denial of reality that they’ll claim that rate of steroid use today is anywhere close to that of 15 years ago?

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM


      This is akin to saying that speeding is a problem that must be addressed. So fines go up and up and up…but SOME people still speed, so then you go to jail, but SOME people still speed, so then you get life in prison, but SOME people still speed…..escalating penalties for relatively unimportant infractions are just stupid. People cheat in every aspect of life, yet we don’t go about clamoring for solutions to those aspects of cheating. Indeed, many types of cheating are more accepted now than ever before (academic cheating, infidelity, etc.)…..but gosh darn it we need to nail those danged PED using baseball players.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      Personally, I think 50-100-Out is pretty good, seeing that players actually rarely get busted for PEDs and all. Is anyone here in so much denial of reality that they’ll claim that rate of steroid use today is anywhere close to that of 15 years ago?

      Know what’s great? The logic hole that people have saying that the lack of drug failures is evidence that the drug tests aren’t working. If the tests were working, more people would be caught. Because….I don’t know honestly….

    • jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      I think lifetime will never work because no union will agree to it. I think 50 is no big deal to most people so why not just 100 games every time? Take away over half of someone’s season once and if they’re stupid enough to take PEDs again, take it away from them again. That’s millions of dollars every time, and probably a pretty pissed off locker room full of teammates.

  19. xjokerz - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    “permanent bans for first offenses. But of course that’s crazy.”


    if baseball wants to stop this why wouldn’t they say.. from here on out..if you’re caught using Steroids YOU’RE DONE.

    you might as well start from a clean slate and move on from there, especially considering Bud Selig is about to retire.

    *Im for PED use for players who are injured *- teams and fans pay WAYYY too much money for any of these guys to hit 60 Day DL. MLB should over-see steroid use on injured played. get them back on the field.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      Because “one-and-done” wouldn’t make baseball better. Because people make mistakes and should not have the nuclear option deployed against them as the first remedy. Because testing technology is imperfect. Because lifetime bans negatively impact teams, team mates, fans and many other people other than the user.

      • jm91rs - Nov 25, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        Lifetime ban = every year we talk about Pete Rose and everyone else that was “wronged” by the bad guys at MLB. The guys never fade away if we ban them forever, so punish them for awhile and let them fade away on their own.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 25, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        And justly so. Commit an offense, pay appropriate reparations and everyone moves on. Why should a player pay forever for making an error in judgement on taking PEDs?

  20. jrobitaille23 - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Another dead wrong angle on a pretty cut and dry subject from Craig ‘click bait’ Calcaterra. And yes..I realize the irony that I clicked on it. I am ashamed 😦

  21. rab1224 - Nov 25, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    My question is: would he have had the same offensive numbers had he not been doing PEDs? If not, then he would have been a mid-level signing. Period.

    • paperlions - Nov 25, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      No one knows the answer to that, and no one can even make an educated guess based on quantified estimates of the effects of PED use on offense or defense….because no one has been able to detect a signal of PED use in offensive numbers from baseball players despite many attempts to do so.

  22. phantomspaceman - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Slightly off topic, but I believe that in not-so-distant future you will see the list of banned substances actually decrease. I’m sure there are plenty of the things on that list that are available over-the-counter at your local GNC which can help players without skewing stats.

    With that being said we don’t actually know what these guys are being caught for. Yes, it is against the rules, but I don’t think guys are sucking down the old-fashioned “Jose Canseco Milkshakes” or whatever anymore.

  23. cabby782 - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    The righteous St Louis Cardinals would never ever sign a player who used PED’s!!

  24. drewsylvania - Nov 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    The obvious follow-up to “Peralta got his contract because he’s good” is “But how did he get good?”

    dan1111 has it right. We have no way of knowing how much the PEDs helped him. But that doesn’t mean Craig is allowed to say “Because we don’t know how good they made him, they didn’t help him at all.” Which is effectively what he’s saying here.

    If a team had an idea how much PEDs affected a particular player, you can be damn sure that they’d factor it into their calculations. But bottom line is: we don’t know.

    Loads of comments because Craig went intellectually dishonest with his thesis, kowtowing to the almighty corporate dollar gods.

  25. disgracedfury - Nov 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    We just have to hope the Cardinals get screwed from this deal like the Blue Jays did with Melky.Melky would have gotten $40 million if not caught yet still got $8 million even though he was a 4 outfielder.

    Peralta now can get off the juice and suck the rest of the way because he got his contract.

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