Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Monday, February 09, 2009

The A-Fraud Saga: Just the Latest Disappointing Chapter in Baseball's Recent History

In the wake of a damning SI story, one with four different sources, Alex Rodriquez was forced to do damage control today, admitting that he "did take a banned substance."

And naturally, aside from the admission, which only came when he was flat busted, there was the obligatory public apology.

"For that, I'm very sorry and deeply regretful.... I'm sorry to my fans, I'm sorry to my fans in Texas."

Let's get one thing straight; the only thing A-Rod is sorry about is getting outed – that's it. He was never sorry that he used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) until he was cornered and could do little else but apologize.

So now we know that the game's highest-paid player, and perhaps its best all-around player, is a cheat. Some will say, 'At least he's not a liar. He came clean.'

A-Rod only came clean when he had to, because he had too. He's seen this play out before, when other beefed up sluggers, similarly accused and on the defensive, made vigorous, yet unbelievable, denials.

Honesty is the best salve. The truth sets you free.

Up to this point, A-Rod had been lying all along. And he still may be.

When questioned on the subject by Katie Couric, during a 2007 60 Minutes interview, A-Rod was unequivocal.

Couric: For the record, have you ever used steroids, human growth hormone, or any other performance-enhancing substance?

Rodriguez: No. I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field. I've always been a very strong, dominant position. And I felt that if I did my work since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level. So, no.

A-Fraud has no credibility. He is not believable. He is a man watching his reputation go up in flames, and he will say or do whatever is necessary to salvage whatever is left of it. He claims he only used PEDs from 2001-2003. Why should anyone believe him?

In 2000, his last year in Seattle, Rodriguez batted .316 with 41 home runs and 132 RBI.

In 2005, with the Yankees, he batted .321 with 48 home runs and 130 RBI. For his efforts, he won another MVP award.

In 2007, he batted .314 with 54 homers and 156 RBI, winning his third MVP.

Were those performances, in those years, fueled by PEDs as well? We may never know, but based on what we know now, it certainly can be – perhaps should be – viewed with a very suspicious eye.

Rodriguez tested positive for testosterone and Primobolan, an injected or orally administered drug. Primobolan is said to be favored because it is detectable for a shorter period of time than the steroid previously favored by players, Deca-Durabolin.

For baseball, this may be the exclamation point, the final emphasis, on what will forever be known as the "Steroid Era."

Just when baseball thought it was rebuilding its reputation, ridding itself of the dishonor that is Barry Bonds once and for all, this new A-Roid scandal erupts. And the guy that everyone was hoping would erase the black eye that is Bonds is now revealed to be just like Bonds after all.

The player's union is complicit in all of this. For years, union officials refused to acknowledge the extent of the steroid problem; Union chief Gene Orza once said of steroids, "I have no doubt that they are not worse than cigarettes."

And it has now also been revealed that Orza tipped off A-Rod about a pending test in September 2004. At least that's what three anonymous players have told SI. That makes the union, and worse its leader, complicit. And it destroys A-Rod's claim that he stopped taking PEDs after he left Texas. Bullshit, Alex.

The player's union has long been an impediment, fighting testing from the beginning, while ignoring the interests of its members who were put at a competitive disadvantage by not using PEDs.

The union has so much power that it was able to hide not only illicit, but illegal, behavior for years.

That's hubris.

And now we know that Alex Rodriguez suffers from a healthy dose of it as well. But, then again, we knew that already, didn't we?

Copyright © 2009 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Manny a Yankee?

Though this is a dreadful notion to Red Sox fans, it is quite possible, if not likely.

Given that Manny just turned down a one-year, $25M proposal from the Dodgers, it would hardly be a surprise if the free agent is sitting on a two-year offer from the Yankees that he's currently trying to leverage.

The conventional wisdom is that Manny doesn't have any options other than the Dodgers; no one truly believes the Giants will make a persuasive offer. Yet he must have gotten a better offer from some other team, and the Yankees are the most logical choice. They have a long history of stealthily swooping in, seemingly out of nowhere, and landing coveted free agents. Mark Teixeira was only the most recent example.

Don't think for a moment that the Yankees are dissuaded by their already crowded outfield; they would gladly trade both Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady if necessary, and would surely find takers for both. It's been reported that they've already fielded calls from interested teams regarding both players.

Signing Manny would be the perfect dagger for the Yanks to wield against to the Sox, and you know they would just love to stick it in and then slowly twist. Moreover, based on his own sort of twisted logic, Manny may feel exactly the same way.

There is little doubt that Theo and co. have considered this very possibility, if not probability. However, the rest of Red Sox Nation may not have fully considered what would be considered a nightmare scenario. Be prepared for a lot of pissing and moaning when/if such an event occurs.

The Teixeira heist (as perceived by Sox fans) was nothing. Manny in pinstripes will cause seizures and heart attacks all over New England, and beyond.

Don't be fooled, and don't be surprised; not even for a minute.

Addendum on the free agency signing process:

If there are between 39 and 62 Type A or Type B free agents available, each team can sign no more than three. Yet, there were more than 62 of these free agents that filed this winter (30 Type A's and 36 Type B's).

According to baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement, "If there are more than 62 such Players, the Club quotas shall be increased accordingly." However, it does not specify what exactly that increase would be.

Regardless of these limits, a team can sign as many Type A or B free agents as it has lost, even if those signings would put the team over the quota for that winter.

So far, the Yankees have lost:

Bobby Abreu - Type A
Mike Mussina - Type A
Ivan Rodriguez - Type B

Each team can sign as many type A's as it loses, and can add three additional type A's. Re-signing your own Type A free agent (i.e. Andy Petitte) doesn't count against you. Which means the Yankees can add up to six Type A free agents this off-season.

Copyright © 2009 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wilkerson Signing Provides Red Sox Additional Veteran Depth

The Red Sox signing of Brad Wilkerson to a minor league contract could end up being a wise and helpful move at some point this season.

A left-handed hitter, the 31-year-old right fielder has displayed power in the past, totaling 122 career homers. He hit exactly 20 homers in two seasons, and 19 in another. Yet his finest year was 2004, when he totaled 32 homers, 146 hits, 106 walks, 39 doubles, scored 112 runs, and posted an .872 OPS.

Wilkerson appeared to be a rising star, but he never fully lived up to the promise he displayed in '04.

He spent his first four seasons in Montreal '(01-'04) and remained with the organization when they moved to Washington in '05. His next two seasons were spent with Texas, and last year was split between Seattle and Toronto. All of that movement showed that while teams had high hopes, they were never fully realized.

The problem is that Wilkerson simply isn't a great hitter, as evidenced by his career .247 average and .350 OBP. For six consecutive seasons Wilkerson struck out at least 100 times, surpassing 150 three consecutive times.

However, he is still young enough to recapture some of the magic he possessed early in his career; he was named Rookie of the Year in 2002, after hitting 20 homers and scoring 92 runs. What's more, he has also twice hit for the cycle (2003 and 2005).

As recently as 2005, the Sox latest addition notched 42 doubles, and just two years ago he smacked 20 home runs . Wilkerson is a line drive hitter who could fare well at Fenway Park. Defensively, he has shown great versatility, playing 233 career games at first base, and many more at center.

The Red Sox have health questions with numerous players, including Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, and Rocco Baldelli. And then there's the always fragile JD Drew, who could seemingly go on the DL at any time.

Wilkerson's versatility will give the Red Sox additional veteran depth, which could prove quite valuable down the road this season.