More on steroids: No, not more players. At least not yet. More thoughts, starting with an LA Times report that baseball may invoke the "reasonable cause" test in the collective bargaining agreement, giving them the power to immediately test players under suspicion of having used the drugs in the past year.
This is significant. Up 'til now, players have only been subjected to one random test and a follow-up test. This would take that up a notch.
Let's begin with the less inflammatory of the two. Boone and batting coach Paul Molitor both treat the suggestion that Boone has a shot at the Hall of Fame with all the credence it currently deserves: They take a wait-and-see-approach, saying that we should revisit the subject if he maintains or exceeds his current production levels for three to five more years. And I agree.
[I hope to devote a longer post later this week to what Boone's potential Hall of Fame case might look like if he does keep hitting like this, but for now, my thoughts are a) it's unlikely that he will, and b) Ryne Sandberg, the best second baseman of his generation, having a hard time getting into the Hall bodes ill for Bret Boone.]
Let's start the inflammatory part of the post with a series of caveats: Training is more advanced now than ever, so people can get and stay in great shape later in their careers; aside from some irresponsible speculation, no one's ever linked Bret Boone to a Balco-style pharmaceutical assistance establishment; and I, for one, don't think that Boone has taken steroids.
But in this day and age, you have to expect reporters like LaRue to ask The Question of players who, like Boone, have dramatically improved their physical shape and power stroke very quickly. And LaRue did.
And we got the following:
Given the current climate in baseball, Boone was asked if he used steroids. For a moment, he got serious.
"I'm not a big guy," said Boone, who is 5-foot-10, "but I've worked hard to become the player I am. If I were ever caught having used a steroid, everything I'd ever done on a baseball field would be discounted.
"People think what they want to think, but you don't know who has taken steroids. At least, I don't know."
Is there anything in there that constitutes a denial? Just askin'. Because I don't see one.
So, if I don't think Boone took steroids, why bring this up? Because I think how this story develops may tell us something about where baseball is at with the performance-enhancers issue. I think it's a litmus test of how the sports media is going to handle this type of speculation.
The heat is on Bonds, Giambi, et. al. right now, but a piece like this may indicate that the warmth is spreading around.
Usually, the media's meticulous parsing of sentences is reserved for the utterances of politicians and the like. But if I noticed that Boone didn't really answer the question, then someone else probably did, too.
I'd be very surprised if Boone wasn't asked about this again, and soon. I might be wrong about that, but whether I'm correct or incorrect, we'll find out whether Dusty Baker's McCarthyism remark was as off-base as some thought.
This doesn't kill the chances of the Mariners adding Jenkins at mid-season, but does significantly undermine them. While the contract's dollar figures aren't being released, we do know that the deal keeps Jenkins a Beer Maker through 2008. With the M's open aversion to taking on long-term contracts, it looks unlikely that they'd pursue him.
Not quite time to turn the page, but maybe time to start looking for a different book.
posted by Jefflink 1:57 PM 
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
At some point, Edgar is going to have to bunt: I'll let this Robert Fick quote from Jayson Stark's latest stand on its own.
"At some point, A-Rod is going to have to get a runner over, and Sheffield is going to have to get a runner over, if they want to be the best team in baseball. You can get the best players, but the Marlins showed it, and the Angels showed it: It's all about playing together."
I know that this is poetic exaggeration, but can you imagine the look on Sheffield's face when Joe Torre comes to him and says "Sheff, hit behind the runner: if we get him to second, Enrique Wilson has a chance to drive him in"? Priceless. I can only hope Torre starts managing this way.
Looper? ... you know, caddy -- looper, jock: Shocked as I am that people don't consistently make Caddyshack references when discussing Aaron Looper, I'm even more shocked that he gave his girlfriend a gun for Christmas when she was expecting an engagement ring.
If he only would have given his girlfriend the KISS "Love Gun" I think wedding bells would be in the air.
There’s much talk in the blogosphere lately about Jonah Keri’s two-part interview with M’s GM Bill Bavasi over at Baseball Prospectus. I’m swamped this week, so expect a downscaling of my usual bombardment of posts, but I wanted to weigh in on this.
Now, don't get me wrong: I agreed with about as many of the article's sentiments as Derek did. But I think David Cameron has some good reasons that the wailing and gnashing of teeth should be held in reserve.
Personally, I walk the middle path on this one. While I’m tempted to rage like Derek about the apparent imbecility of our GM’s comments, I think David’s right that we should take these comments with a salt lick, or perhaps a gallon of Kikkoman soy sauce. (Warning: Trippy Flash animation with sound. English version here.)
Why? Not just because it’s spring training, the time where hope springs eternal and smoke-blowing reigns supreme, but because baseball has a time-honored tradition of Tiger Woods-like talking in meaningless clichés and expressing mildly positive “opinions” about, well, everything. (Bavasi on Ramon Santiago: “He can pick it up and throw it” on defense.) It’s expected.
The if-you-can’t-say-anything-nice principle applies more in baseball, and more in spring training, than anywhere else. Sometimes it has a basis in reality. Often it does not.
Besides, in baseball and in business, there’s a trend toward keeping intellectual property (read: what people really think, and how they really evaluate talent) close to the vest. Billy Beane won’t reveal the statistical formulas the A's use to evaluate players. Paul DePodesta’s speech to a business leadership group (despite being very interesting and basically innocuous) was removed from the group’s website after he was hired by the Dodgers.
Sure, Bavasi's formula might be the New Coke to Beane or DePodesta's Oregon Chai, but I don't think he's gonna shoot straight with Jonah on what actually goes into Mariner analysis of players. Analyzing the moves actually made (or considered) on Bavasi's watch are a much better metric of how he looks at things -- and granted, that paints a pretty bleak picture itself.
In short, I don’t have a lot of faith in Bavasi’s decision calculi based on the moves he’s made thus far. But neither do I think that he’s going to reveal anything meaningful about how he’s actually going to steer the ship in an interview for public consumption.
Does this mean Bavasi “knows what he’s doing” from the perspective of objective analysis? Nope. Does it mean that we should take literally everything he’s saying in this interview? Also nope.
A great read, but let’s save our outrage for when the M’s actually make another asinine move. If the past few months are any guide, we'll have plenty of occasion to vent our respective spleens.