November 2012

Are PED penalties working?

There are many people who are wondering if the 50-game suspension for first time offenders of the PED rule is a stiff enough penalty. In my opinion, it is not working. We are still having players violate the rule every year. At the <ajor League level, and also in the Minor Leagues.

I will use the most recent high-profile incident to demonstrate why I believe the penalty must be stiffer. In the case of Melky Cabrera, he was making $6 million for one year to play with the Giants in 2012. He got off to a great start, then tested positive. He was given a 50-game suspension, at the end of which the Giants could have reactivated him and he would have been eligible for the Postseason. The Giants chose not to do that. In my opinion, that showed a tremendous amount of integrity on the part of the organization.

The Postseason is a reward for a team playing great baseball over the course of 162 games. I personally don’t know Melky, so I don’t have any ill will towards him at all. But what he did was force the Giants to go out and make a move that they probably wouldn’t have had to make to fill the hole he left in their lineup. He lost what would add up to roughly one-third of the $6 million he would have been paid. That is a lot of money — some of which he was able to get back, because it is my understanding that his teammates voted him a full World Series share of around a half-million dollars. That to me isn’t right.

Melky did the right thing by saying he would not take the batting title if he was eligible to win it. Then he signs a two-year deal with the Blue Jays for $16 million. He not only tested positive, but then he got a $2 million a year raise for it. That is sending the wrong message! You can cheat, and it may cost you some money, but you will more than make up for that loss with your next deal.

I believe that the only way we can truly rid the game of PEDs is to suspend the player for a full year. That will then give the opportunity to younger players who are not cheating to come up and maybe prove that they can play at the big league level. When guys start losing a full year because of their poor decisions, I believe we will see the end of it. But as long as a player knows he can cheat and only lose 50 games’ salary, and then get a raise the following year, I believe we will always have guys trying to beat the system.

Again, I tip my cap to the Giants as an organization for not activating Melky for the Postseason. That showed a ton of integrity and restraint on their part. And they were rewarded with another World Series championship.

Breaking down the MVP races

When we look at who should be the MVPs, I believe there are clear winners in each league.

In the NL, I think Buster Posey is the hands-down winner. I view the award how I believe it was intended. That is, without the player it would drastically change the number of games his team would win. Do I believe the Giants would have made the Postseason without Posey? No, I don’t. He is a catcher who has to handle an entire pitching staff and still produce at the plate. I am not someone who puts much value on batting average, unless that average leads to runs being scored as a result of that average. In Posey’s case, he was able to do that — while playing the most physically demanding position on the field. I don’t think this race will be close.

In the AL, we have heard arguments that Mike Trout may win the MVP over Miguel Cabrera. I am a huge Mike Trout fan and he is probably the best all-around player I have seen come to the big leagues since I was a rookie in 1986. That being said, any writer who thinks he is the MVP over Cabrera doesn’t understand our game very well.

I do believe that an MVP has to affect the game on both sides of the ball. In this case, Trout plays center field as well as anyone in the game. But that is his position. Cabrera was playing out of position at third base and did an average job. To those who say Trout’s play in the field is the reason he should win the award. I say this. Have him play shortstop — a position that is not his natural position.

For me, what Cabrera did this year in winning the Triple Crown makes it a slam dunk for him to win the award. People who vote on this award can’t possibly fathom how hard that is to do in our game today. If I apply the same logic to the AL award that I did with the NL award, it defines the award perfectly. Could the Angels have finished third in the AL West without Trout? Yes, they could. Could the Tigers have won the Central without cabrera? No.

The award is called Most Valuable Player — not most exciting; not most athletic. I truly believe that had Trout not been a rookie doing what he did this year, there wouldn’t even be a debate on the award. Mike Trout may win multiple MVPs in his career, but it ain’t gonna be this year.

I really hope the writers who vote on this get it right. Because if they vote Trout over Cabrera, it will make me think that the people tasked with making these decisions don’t have a clue about what this award is.

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