It is that time of the year when it is appropriate to be “talkin’ baseball” and so I shall today. When last I wrote about the Biogenesis Saga, I said that Ryan Braun was in a category of players named who had already failed a drug test – and then avoided suspension based on a technicality related to how his urine sample was tested. Since then, there have been reports that Braun’s explanation as to how his name appeared in Biogenesis’ records may not be an airtight alibi. Braun claimed that his lawyer had hired the doctor at Biogenesis as an expert witness for Braun’s appeal of the previous positive test but those services had not been needed. Now, it appears that Braun’s name is also on a list of players where “money due” from some of the players appears.
Let me repeat, more evidence will come out of this mess and we do need to wait and see what the totality of the evidence is. However, I do have to say that Braun’s dismissive statement regarding Biogenesis coupled with the additional information leaked about the matter does not make him a more credible or sympathetic figure.
Bob Molinaro had this item in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot that gives you an idea about how “baseball” looks at the Biogenesis mess:
“Baseball’s lament: It’s a given that every story involving the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez will be exaggerated. But from a strictly baseball point of view, if A-Rod is busted for using PEDs, it’s less of a big deal than if the Brewers’ Ryan Braun is implicated. I mean, Braun still can hit; he’s got a future.”
The Red Sox got a bit of bad news regarding young outfield prospect Bryce Brentz even before he reported to Spring Training. Dwight Perry summed up the situation very succinctly in the Seattle Times:
“Outfielder Bryce Brentz, one of the Red Sox’s top 10 prospects, will miss much of spring training after shooting himself in the leg while cleaning his gun.
“There went his shot at making the opening-day roster.”
Michael Bourn signed a 4-year contract with the Cleveland Indians for $48M with an option for a fifth year at $12M. When the season ended last year, baseball pundits labeled Bourn as the premier outfield free agent on the market and he had Scott Boras as his agent. Naturally, he turned down the Braves qualifying offer; he was out for a bigger payday. Speculation was that he might get 5 years and $80M from the Nats, Reds or Phillies. None of that happened…
What he turned down was a 1-year deal worth $13.4M. Michael Bourn is not a grizzled vet reaching the end of his rope so the objective way to look at this situation is that he left $1.4M on the table for this season and the opportunity to have a big year this year and shop his services around next winter. Of course, if he were to have a mediocre season…
Here are a series of questions facing some of the MLB teams as they put Spring Training into high gear.
Can the Houston Astros possibly avoid losing 100 games this season?
Will the Pirates finally finish over .500 this year and break their 20-year streak of losing seasons?
What is Steven Strasburg’s pitch count/innings count for the season?
Can the Phillies possibly suffer as many injuries in 2013 as they did in 2012?
The Twins traded two good outfielders (Ben Revere to the Phillies and Denard Span to the Nats). Are the rookies/prospects who will replace these two guys ready for MLB?
Who will be the closer for the Tigers? Do they still have Jose Valverde’s phone number or was it lost the way Valverde was lost in last year’s post-season?
The Indians improved their lineup with the acquisition of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn but can that pitching staff get anybody out?
How will the Cardinals try to replace the injured Chris Carpenter? Rookies? Resigning Kyle Lohse? Divine intervention?
Are the Orioles for real? Last year the pitching staff well exceeded expectations so the question for 2013 is:
Will the pitchers regress to the mean this year or are they a lot better than anyone thought?
In 2012, the Miami Marlins drew an average of 27,401 fans per game. With the depleted roster for 2013, will they average 20,000 this year? How about 18,000?
In the AL East, I will be interested to see if the NY Yankees (vintage 2013) travel a path similar to the one blazed by the Boston Red Sox (vintage 2012). Last year’s Red Sox had a bunch of injuries hit a roster that had little or no depth. The team was old and the atmosphere in the locker room seemed to oscillate between “turmoil” and “mutiny”. Despite a hefty payroll, the Red Sox (vintage 2012) won a grand total of 69 games.
Going into 2013, the Yankees have injuries/rehab situations to deal with regarding Derek Jeter and A-Rod. CC Sabathia had offseason elbow surgery and Mariano Rivera at age 43 needs to come back from having his knee reconstructed. The Yankees for 2013 have a hefty payroll as did the Red Sox in 2012 and there is at least some potential for locker-room issues in NY; and if there are any sparks, they would be fanned into flame by the NYC tabloids. Understand, I am not saying this is going to happen to the Yankees or that I hope that it does happen. Nonetheless, there are some parallels here…
Finally, Greg Cote had this note in the Miami Herald last weekend related to the way Marlins’ fans think of Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria:
“I honestly believe there is nothing LeBron can’t do, with the possible exceptions of brokering permanent peace in the Middle East or making Marlins fans like Jeffrey Loria.
“And I’d give him half a shot with the peace thing.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………