Skip to content

Scout: “I could tell, on the day, when Jhonny Peralta was off the steroids”

Jan 8, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT


This is interesting and, thankfully, has nothing to do with the Hall of Fame: Jeff Pearlman sat down and talked with former major leaguer Brian Johnson, who currently serves as a scout with the San Francisco Giants. The entire podcast is here, but Jeff has extensive excerpts from his conversation over at theScore.

Johnson has a lot of interesting things to say about scouting. He also talks a lot about PEDs. And while I take issue with a lot of what he says, it’s interesting simply to hear someone in his position say it. Stuff like how he could tell you, just by watching Jhonny Peralta play, when his PED supply ran out. But then, in the next paragraph, he admits that he’s the guy who signed off on Melky Cabrera for the Giants and that he saw no evidence of PED use, just a guy in shape.

Guess that tells you about the old eye test.

Anyway, I feel like this is the kind of stuff that scouts say among themselves but it’s not often you hear it said publicly, so even if you want to take it with a grain of salt, it’s interesting to hear it all the same.

Oh, and be sure to listen for Jeff Pearlman asking Johnson if he has permission to kick Barry Bonds’ ass. Which, however silly that is, leads to an interesting conversation about Bonds’ personality.

Good stuff.

  1. chacochicken - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    The funny thing about PEDs, they are exactly like Super Mario Bros. Let me explain. Remember when you got a star and became instantly invincible? PEDs are exactly like that and the second you stop blinking (run out of PEDs) you are no longer invincible. I’m glad some one else noticed this.

    • chip56 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      A better example would have been to say that, while people get angry about ball players using PEDs, no one has a complaint about the fact that Captain America was created using a synthetic to turn him from an average guy into a Super Soldier.

      • yahmule - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Dude, he was battling frigging Nazis. Not sliders. Big ass difference.

      • chacochicken - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        Hey, they weren’t illegal in Cap’s day and the Nazis were already using amphetamines.

      • chip56 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        Yeah but Cap’s still fighting today…where is the Congressional investigation!

        I better stop before someone thinks I’m being at all serious.

      • jrob23 - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        “Dude, he was battling frigging Nazis. Not sliders. Big ass difference.”

        Best comment ever! LMAO!!!

      • billybawl - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Cap may be the most conclusive proof of the efficacy of PEDs.

    • yahmule - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Some guys might as well have been blinking. Brady Anderson showing up to spring training looking like someone had shoved an airhose up his ass is an example.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        Is that a reference to his physique or a reference to his sideburns, which at the time caused many to question his sexuality?

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        Captain America is a real guy ?

      • Reflex - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        yahmule – citation needed

        Also, did he suddenly deflate one year later? And did Roger Maris do the same thing in 61?

    • vincetoncher - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      obviously you dont know anything about ped’s or done ANY ped’s
      so ignorant

    • jcsbck - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      It’s not like when you come off them you lose the gains. Using proper post cycling (if you’ve ever heard of them failing for female fertility drugs or breast cancer drugs, that’s why), they keep a majority of the muscle/strength.

  2. chip56 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Yes, one example from one scout in a sport with hundreds of scouts looking at thousands of players tells you everything you need to know about the “old eye test.”

  3. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Man, that good old hindsight 20/20 thing.

    • chacochicken - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Calling my shot, I’ve got 50 on team USA to win the gold in hockey in the ’80 Olympics.

      • larrymahnken - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        What, do you believe in miracles or something?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        I’ll take that bet!

  4. unclemosesgreen - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Thank Dog that Brian Johnson only uses his PED-detecting superpowers for good.

  5. paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Sorry, but any scout that claims this is seeing things that aren’t there or making up reasons that are inconsistent with reality. Reading his comments, this falls squarely in the “this guy is just making shyte up” category.

    Reading what he said, well, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. First, he said that PEDs are ruining the game he grew up with and loves. Guess what Brian, PEDs have been rampantly used in baseball for as long as you have been alive. Second, steroids do NOT work the way he thinks they do. Steroids only help to build muscle and speed recovery after workouts (the workouts are required). You don’t take them and suddenly get stronger and faster, the effects are NOT immediate and the benefits do not suddenly disappear. His description is closer to amphetamine use than steroid use.

    His explanation is just as stupid as people that think steroids were the primary cause for the offensive explosion. Offense increased dramatically in 1993 and then was more-or-less constant until 2007. Do people really think that everyone decided to take steroids at the same time and then stopped at the same time (and a few years after steroid testing began)? There are better and less lazy explanations.

    • jrob23 - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      actually it’s you that doesn’t know what you are talking about. Steroids make you feel ‘better’. You go to the gym and have more confidence, more gusto, you lift more weights, higher reps, your muscles grow, you get stronger, you get faster. When you stop you cycle, it’s almost an immediate sense of loss. If you fail to workout as much you quickly lose gains and for sure you lose that gusto that had you so motivated. There are accounts of this very thing happening to Bonds and him flying his dealer to meet him on the road.

      And yes, the reason there was in large part due to PED use. There were other factors like expansion as well of course. It wasn’t all of a sudden. Over the course of a few seasons as you see your peers using and there aren’t any rules against it, use became rampant. How that is hard to understand is baffling. It’s like in a highschool football locker room. If you start to see some guy you’ve know for years flying around the field destroying people, then you see him in the locker room and he is jacked, and he’s getting the girls, you bet several other players are going to try and follow suit.

      It really sounds more like you and a couple handful of guys on here have little to no experience in sports and if you did you were at the end of benches or team managers. So next time, stick to stuff you know because in this case you are clueless

      • paperlions - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:10 PM

        No, the effects were not due to PED use. They were mostly due to changes in ball composition.

        People feel different and have different energy levels due to many things. Illness, fatigue due to travel or poor sleep schedules, poor diet, drinking, etc.

        And, YES, it was all of a sudden, if you do not think so, they you simply have failed to look at the data. Run production jumped in 1993, the year the new ball was introduced. Perhaps people failed to realize it because the ball was introduced in the middle of 1993 and 1994 was not a full season…but runs/game jumped when the ball was introduced.

        Again, steroid use was common starting in the 1960s…feel free to explain why run production didn’t change for over 30 years.

        …and using a HS school locker room as an example is the epitome of a system with confounding factors. There are plenty of guys that get jacked in HS simply because their bodies are producing a lot of testosterone and they are growing and training harder than they ever had….additional drugs are not required to observe those effects. It really sounds like you can’t be bothered with data or facts.

        If what this scout (and you) are saying is true, then it would be really easy to ID steroid effects if they were used during the season because such players would have cyclic production. Get back to me with the results of your ground breaking research.

      • cur68 - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:29 PM

        Ah man. Reading comprehension a problem for you, jrob? Paperlions didn’t comment about mood changes, ok? He commented about strength and size changes.

        But, since you broguth up mood changes: there’s this thing? Called the “internet’? Look up stuff before you post it, ok? Barry Bonds was on a cocktail of stuff. Everything from HGH to insulin to steroids to amphetamines. He could not possibly know what it was he was missing the most. In all likelihood it was a mishmash of stuff of which the roids played a small component. In controlled trials there was a noticeable but subtle change in mood with steroid use but the effects took TIME to develop (over 3 days, usually). The effects vary from person to person, with mood changes varying likewise.

        Here’s the kicker: Mood changes ALSO VARIED WITH PLACEBO TRIALS. I hope you understand what that means.

        Its hardly the black and white picture you paint here, jrob.

        With amphetamines the effect is immediate and profound. There are TONS of articles written about it, too.

        Research. f-Yeah.

      • vincetoncher - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:25 PM

        you are ignorant, i will bet you read that on line didnt you? the only “feel good” or “gusto” comes from testosterone and that is hormone you ignorant clown
        i can tell if you had used why you did, because you thought you will get laid haaaaaaaa wow you are lame
        just because you use the word “cycle” doesnt mean you sound very credible. free tip clown boy
        no such thing as a cycle in a pro sports, just bridge and use a different supplement


      • Reflex - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        Paper – While I agree with much of what you write on this topic I fail to understand how an evidence based individual such as yourself continues to rely on the canard that it was all or mostly about the ball. There is no evidence of this. The one article you linked to even a layman such as myself can see the flaws in. Furthermore, nobody can point to when the ball was changed back, was it in 2007? Why did offense suddenly drop if it was the ball? Surely it can’t be that hard to get balls from the past decade and check their composition.

        There are better factors. PEDs were likely a factor, but as you point out not the main one and possibly not even a major one. I’ve pointed repeatedly to expansion and newer ballparks, fully 2/3 of the league got a new park in the past 20 years, the first half of those were almost entirely hitters parks, and the second half were almost entirely pitchers parks. The correlation is very strong between these shifts and the changes in offense(caveat: correlation != causation).

        Please stop floating something that is not demonstrated by any strong evidence. I have generally thought better of you, that you could accept evidence and change your mind. You are not demonstrating it on this topic.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Agreed, paper. It appears that he’s saying he could tell from one day to the next when Peralta’s supply ran out. That’s just absurd.

      • rje49 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:38 PM

        Yeah, right from the start I said to myself, “so where did the muscles go overnight?”

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      paperlions, stop bull sheeting people with garbage already.

  6. 4cornersfan - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Interesting to hear the stats/eye test debate from a scout’s viewpoint. I think he’s right about watching how a player handles himself during a game. I know that sports – war analogies are trite and overblown but the saying that no plan survives the fog of war is valid. For every Mike Trout racking it up in L.A. there’s an A.J. Burnett being crushed in N.Y.

  7. peaceknuckle - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    “You have to have played at the MLB level to be able to catch these things” Brian Johnson on Peralta’s obvious steroid use by passive observation.

    “I looked like a fool on that one” Brian Johnson on missing out on Melky Cabrera’s use when he recommended signing him to the Giants after extensive scouting.

    So that PED detector that only MLB experience can provide is defective at times?

  8. jreed0016 - Jan 8, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Why drug test. Just have Brian Johnson watch everyone play.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2488)
  2. H. Ramirez (2485)
  3. G. Springer (2458)
  4. S. Strasburg (2380)
  5. J. Baez (2349)
  1. C. Correa (2346)
  2. B. Crawford (2271)
  3. H. Pence (2260)
  4. M. Teixeira (2195)
  5. B. Harper (2057)