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Why Melky Cabrera's disqualification for the batting title doesn't mean Armando Galarraga should have a perfect game, and a bunch of other stuff.
Manager Bruce Bochy met with Giants General Manager Brian Sabean Tuesday to define the 25-man roster for the best-of-five Division Series.
Cabrera, who is currently serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, might be eligible to return, but the team is not considering adding him at any point.
An announcement by the Giants regarding the matter will be made "before of the end of the homestand," Bochy said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It was expected Tuesday, prior to the game between the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bochy thinks the issue should be addressed as quickly as possible.
Asked if it was best to get the decision out of the way, Bochy said during his daily press briefing, "Yes, for both our side and Melky’s side. We’re getting down to the time period where he’d have to start working out and doing some things. I think he needs to know and we need to know."
At Melky Cabrera's request, Major League Baseball has changed an obscure rule to make Cabrera ineligible for the National League batting title.
Melky Cabrera is a pending free agent, and he was likely to be a hot commodity for teams looking for offensive help. He's still in his mid-20s, and he was on pace to finish with his second straight 200-hit season. He was going to be extraordinarily wealthy.
But the question that a lot of people are asking is "How much money did Melky lose?" Is there a way to put a number on it? Jayson Stark talked with a number of baseball executives to find out:
We did hear one prediction that there might still be a three-year, $30 million deal out there for him. But that was clearly a minority view. One exec went as far as to say teams now had to ignore everything he's done the last two seasons and say instead: "Whatever type of hitter you thought he was before, you have to look at him as that type of hitter now. You can't trust that what he was the last two years, he'll ever be again."
If you're suspicious enough to throw out the two seasons where he was actually good, he's a career .267/.328/.379 hitter -- Doug Glanville without the writing talent. That's the kind of player who gets a one-year deal and a spring competition, not a long-term deal.
But there is always that GM or that team. And, really, all they have to think is that testosterone doesn't help performance that much. It's not like he's taking Jet in Fallout 3 and getting 30 agility points every time he creams up. So if you think the talent is slightly enhanced, but mostly legit, you can see how the three-year, $30 million dollar deal might tempt a team.
That's still tens of millions lost, though. And that's the best case scenario. Avoiding a positive test for two more months would have made Melky Cabrera IV a lot richer in 2071, but it wasn't to be.
“First of all this guy is over here in the United States on a working visa and he broke the law, what’s he still doing here?” Sutcliffe said on ESPN Radio. “Forget the 50 game suspension from baseball, why is he still here? That visa should be taken away and he should not be allowed to play over here again or work here again.”
It seems unclear as of now whether any U.S. laws were actually broken by Cabrera’s PED use, or the website scheme he and some colleagues began to try to cover up that use. Melky has not been charged with any crime, although Foss’s article suggests “federal authorities” are still interested in the incident.
Baseball’s investigators went to great lengths investigating Cabrera, according to ESPN.com:
Investigators from Major League Baseball, hot on the trail for a product Melky Cabrera led them to believe caused him to inadvertently fail a drug test, traveled to the Dominican Republic, acquired a jar of it and sent the substance to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s testing labs in Utah before discovering weeks later it was only part of an elaborate cover-up, the New York Daily News has reported.
The article goes on to describe how intricate that cover-up scheme was, involving the purchase of three websites to try to convince investigators that Cabrera hadn’t violated the policy intentionally, and how it was uncovered. But if you think this might result in further penalties for Cabrera beyond his current suspension, think again:
A second baseball official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said additional discipline against Cabrera was unlikely.
It’s the first such case MLB has had and officials hope that uncovering the scheme will discourage similar attempts.
Perhaps that’ll be enough. But you never know, given the steps players have already been shown to take to try to get an edge.
Melky Cabrera's bust for testosterone might seem like a warning to younger players. Instead, it's exactly the opposite.
Hey, remember when Melky Cabrera failed a drug test? And then made up a whole Website while trying to claim that he didn't know the drug he took was a no-no? That was awesome.
Well, unless his 50-game suspension is supplemented. Which it might be, according to Jon Heyman:
MLB will weigh whether to add to Cabrera's 50-game ban after he and his handler were caught creating a phony website and just-as-phony supplement in a fradulent attempt to avoid penalty after he failed an MLB drug test for testosterone.
"All options are in play with this situation,'' a source said regarding the question as to whether Cabrera could receive an additional penalty for trying to perpetrate a hoax on MLB.
It would be nice to know what this source's sources are. We've not seen the complete Collective Bargaining Agreement, so it's hard to know if there really is a provision that covers cover-ups.
In a just world, though? Yes, there would be some additional punishment. Whether for Cabrera, or his "handler" or the agents who employ his handler.
Or, perhaps most just of all, the whole lot of them.
From the get-go, the 50-game suspension of San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera looked like a basic open-and-shut case: positive drug test equals suspension. But things took a bizarre twist Sunday when the New York Daily News learned of a phony website and a nonexistent product, both created to prove Cabrera mistakenly took the banned substance that cause a positive test.
The idea, apparently, was to lay a trail of digital breadcrumbs suggesting Cabrera had ordered a supplement that ended up causing the positive test, and to rely on a clause in the collectively bargained drug program that allows a player who has tested positive to attempt to prove he ingested a banned substance through no fault of his own.
Cabrera's plan, which according to Daily News sources was set up by associates and his entourage, "unraveled quickly" and obviously failed. Now, Cabrera's cover-up plan is getting attention from federal investigators and MLB.
For more on Cabrera and the Giants, head over to McCovey Chronicles.
Not that it really matters a great deal, but Melky Cabrera's failed drug test and 50-game suspension has led to the inevitable questions ... If Cabrera hadn't been using a banned substance, would he be hitting .346? Would he be leading the National League in hits? Would he have been named Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game.
The consensus, among the Knights of the Keyboard anyway, seems to be that answer to all of those questions is a flat no way in hell, mister.
Well, maybe. The funny thing, though, is that if you drill into the numbers past that ridiculous batting average, it's hard to find anything to substantiate the notion that Cabrera has become a significantly stronger, better hitter than he was a few years ago.
Over at Deadspin, Jack Dickey does some serious drilling and concludes:
The only big spike for Cabrera came with his BABIP (batting average on balls in play). His career BABIP is .309, but he hit .332 on balls in play last year and .379 on balls in play this year. Good luck explains some of this, and we can explain even more by looking at Cabrera's underlying numbers.
Players who hit more ground balls will have higher BABIPs than players who hit more fly balls. (Derek Jeter, our modern BABIP champion, hits a bonkers 58 percent of his batted balls on the ground.) Cabrera hit more ground balls this year than last year, so his BABIP ticked up. As for the pre-2011 spike, Cabrera got faster after losing 20 pounds during the offseason. In 2011, he set career highs in infield hits—with 26—and bunt hits—with 8. Those balls would have been outs in past years, but because of his new physique they were hits in 2011. His BABIP and batting average increased accordingly.
This year's version of Melky is more or less last year's version of Melky, only with a different approach at the plate: more ground balls....
I'm on board with the central premise here: It's difficult to directly tie the Melkman's performance to his drug use.
But he's not hitting a great many more ground balls than usual. According to FanGraphs, Cabrera did hit more grounders than usual this season, but not a lot more. His ground-ball rate this season is 52 percent; his career rate is 49 percent. Please feel free to correct me, but while a three-percent increase might be significant, it sure doesn't seems significant to make Cabrera one of the better hitters in the National League. And last season, when he played quite well for the Royals, his 47-percent ground-ball rate was one of the lowest of his career.
Essentially, roughly half of Cabrera's batted balls have been grounders, throughout his career. The rate has been a bit below or a bit above, but I suspect those fluctuations are basically random.
And yes, Cabrera did lose some weight and presumably faster now than he was before 2011. But how does the speed explain his batting average this season? Last year he did set career highs with 26 infield hits and eight bunt hits. But his infield hits are down slightly this season; he's got 15, which (absent the suspension) would have projected to 19 or 20.
Again, hardly enough to explain a .346 batting average.
I think Dickey would have been better off sticking with Occam's Razor, and he did start there ... Here's what I would have done, were I Dickey's editor:
The only big spike for Cabrera came with his BABIP (batting average on balls in play). His career BABIP is .309, but he hit .332 on balls in play last year and .379 on balls in play this year. Good luck explains
somenearly all of this and we can explain even more by looking at Cabrera's underlying numbers.
Or maybe it's not luck. Maybe he's actually been hitting the baseball harder these last two seasons. Those are a lot of plate appearances, and it feels overly simplistic to merely assign all of them to good luck. But if he's actually hitting the ball harder, wouldn't we expect to see a significantly higher line-drive rate? Wouldn't we expect to see more home runs per fly ball?
Cabrera's line-drive rate has gone up just slightly in the last two seasons. But his home runs per fly ball has skyrocketed from 6 percent before 2010 to 10 percent in 2011-2012 ... ah, but again we run into a sample-size issue, because we're talking about 29 home runs over two seasons. Take away just 11 home runs over those two seasons and we're right back to 6 percent.
Look, I'm not one of those PEDeniers who don't believe drugs have ever helped a good hitter become a great hitter, etc. As near as I can tell, everyone associated with the game, from the batboys to the general managers, believes steroids (etc.) had a major impact on baseball in the 1990s and beyond. I won't argue that drugs couldn't have helped Melky Cabrera go from also-ran to All-Star in the blink of an eye.
But you know, the guy's got some talent. When he was 21, the New York Yankees gave him more than 500 plate appearances. When he was 24, Cabrera started in left field for a team that won the World Series. It's not like he came out of nowhere. He struggled when he was 25, had his best season when he was 26, and bettered that this year, at 27.
It's been an unusual career, because Cabrera was never an above-average hitter until he was 26, and then jumped to well above average at 27. But it's hardly unprecedented. Lots of guys have muddled along until they were 25 or 26 or 27, enjoyed a few solid seasons, and then became merely useful again.
I'm not saying I would throw a huge pile of Scrooge McDuck-level money at Cabrera for next season. But I sure wouldn't mind giving him a few million bucks to see what he can do, at 28.
Sabean spoke publicly about the suspension Thursday, telling the Associated Press he was "taken aback" when he heard the news.
"I was actually in the meeting with Bruce (Bochy) when he talked to the players and I kind of got emotional because I didn't see something like this coming." Sabean said, according to the Associated Press. "We've all been around this game a long time. You get used to making changes and adjustments. Things happen out of left field, a lot like life, and this was one of those things you're punched in the stomach with. But you've got no choice but to figure out how to move on."
While the news may have come out of left field, Sabean said he first heard the rumor of a failed drug test roughly a month ago.
"When it first came out, I think we were taken aback and wondering if it was rumor or it had any substance," Sabean said.
The Giants will now attempt to replace Cabrera in the lineup. The trade deadline acquisition of Hunter Pence should help, a deal which Sabean said was not influenced by rumors of a failed drug test.
For more on Cabrera and the Giants, head over to McCovey Chronicles.
Yes, suspended Melky Cabrera will finish the season with 501 plate appearances.
Yes, the cutoff for winning a batting title is 502 plate appearances.
So the batting title is safe, right?
Nope. As too many of us forgot in the heat of Wednesday's revelatory moment, there's a codicil. A loophole:
Melky busted for PEDs 1 AB short of qualification for batting title. Will add 0-for-1. He is now the favorite for NL batting crown. Ugh.— David Todd (@DTonPirates) August 16, 2012
Yeah. The rules for such things, which do make sense, stipulate that when figuring a batting average for the purpose of figuring a batting titlist, we simply add the requisite number of at-bats to reach 502, which of course means adding just one AB to Melky Cabrera's record. If we do that, his batting average drop from .346 to ... .346.
Now, we should mention that Cabrera is not currently the National League leader in batting average. So is he really the favorite for the crown, as Todd suggests? Here are the current leaders:
J. Votto .342
B. Posey .330
With Joey Votto on the Disabled List and no timetable for his return, it seems highly unlikely that he'll play enough to finish with enough plate appearances. So cross him off the list. Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey are both healthy and productive, though. So let's see where these guys are projected to finish, batting-average-wise, according to the ZiPS projections over at FanGraphs ...
B. Posey .323
The "problem", of course, is that neither McCutchen or Posey are supposed to keep hitting quite as well as they've been hitting; their pre-2012 performances just don't suggest they're quite as good as they've been this season. McCutchen's projected to hit just .301 the rest of the way, Posey .306. Of course the same would be true of Cabrera -- his season-ending "projection" is .336, with a .306 average the rest of the way -- except now history and regression to the mean and all those other nifty concepts are irrelevant. For better or worse, he's stuck at .346.
So yes, it's true: Melky Cabrera, despite being 12 points off the pace right now, probably is your most likely National League batting champion. And yes: Ugh. If you don't like it, root for good-guy Andrew McCutchen doubly hard.
Somehow I missed this story at the time. Toward the end of July, Andrew Baggarly -- who covers the San Francisco Giants for CSNBayArea.com -- heard some completely unsourced rumors about Melky Cabrera failing a drug test. Further, it was the sort of failed drug test that would lead to a 50-game suspension.
Without a credible source, what should Baggarly do?
On the 27th of July, Baggarly did exactly what reporters are supposed to do: He asked Melky Cabrera directly about the rumor. I applaud Baggarly for doing that. I'm not so sure about what happened next.
Baggarly took Cabrera's response completely at face value.
First, he apparently addressed the rumor via Twitter, while at the same time discrediting it. Almost immediately, Baggarly regretted that decision; it would have been better, he soon wrote, to let the rumor die without addressing it. In fact, he felt so bad about perpetuating the rumor that he offered a lengthy apology to Cabrera, "the rest of the Giants clubhouse, coaches and front-office personnel."
Hey, I'm all for apologies. They're not easy for most of us, and should be applauded. Once again, I applaud. But there's a part of Baggarly's apology that troubles me:
Let’s be clear: There is no evidence that there is any shred of truth to these rumors. Cabrera knew nothing about it. He contacted the union and his agent. They told him the rumors were unfounded as well. If Cabrera had failed a test, he and the union would’ve been the first to know. The rumor, to my knowledge, is a red herring. Cabrera even suggested to me that Dodgers fans could have made it up as a distraction.
Why on earth should Baggarly have believed Cabrera? I mean, believed him 90 percent? Sure. Even 95 percent. I probably would have. I have a trusting nature. But it seems to me that Cabrera might have lied about everything. He might have lied about contacting the union and his agent. He might have contacted the union and his agent, but he might have lied about what they told him.
I know it's easy to second-guess how Baggarly handled the story, but it seems to me that once he asked Cabrera and got a denial, he'd done just about all he could do.*
* Well, he could have contacted the union, and Cabrera's agent, and Brian Sabean. But none of them would have told him anything interesting, either.
Once he'd asked Cabrera and gotten that categorical denial, he probably should have just let it drop. But once he made the decision, however questionable, to report the rumor via Twitter, and then to apologize for that, he should have made it clear that Cabrera claimed a bunch of things. None of which could be confirmed.
This isn't about Andrew Baggarly not doing his job. It's about baseball players lying. And really, what else was Cabrera going to do? He certainly wasn't going to say, "Yes, I failed a drug test and now I'm in the middle of the appeals process. We'll know if I'm suspended on the 15th of August."
Granted, it does sound like his denial was a little over the top. But if you're going to lie, you might as well sell it. And the thing about Dodgers fans was a cute touch. Bonus points for that one, Melky!
More bonus points, though, if Cabrera actually apologizes to Andrew Baggarly. That seems only fair.
Hunter Pence will probably start hitting at some point, but losing Melky Cabrera for the rest of the season really hurts the Giants' pennant chances.
Melky Cabrera quickly became a fan favorite in San Francisco. He came over for Jonathan Sanchez, who completely imploded, and he led the National League in hits a year after leading the American League. Fans in "Melk Man" costumes were regularly shown on the Giants' home broadcasts. The phenomenon might have peaked when Cabrera was named the All-Star MVP after surging past Ryan Braun in the final voting.
That seems ... oddly poetic now, for some reason.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News takes a look at the contract situation for Melky, who was a pending free agent:
Now you have to wonder about Cabrera’s future, and what the Giants knew or suspected before they reportedly offered what was thought to be a fairly modest contract proposal last month.
About three years, $27 million for a player leading the league in hits, hovering near .350 all season?
The point is that there were some concerns about Cabrera even before this news hit–how did he get so good so fast after being so bad just two years ago?
And if he ever thought he’d get a $70 million contract… that is absolutely gone now. I’d say even the $27 million offers are probably vanished.
Melky Cabrera was close to a big, big contract. He will not get one now. And it's hard to know if the Giants would even entertain the idea of re-signing him after this. They're a little touchy about the whole performance-enhancing drug thing, you know.
Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games on Wednesday after testing positive for testosterone, a banned substance. According to CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly, Cabrera became aware of the test around the All-Star Break, and the case has been in the appeals process since then.
Cabrera released the following statement:
"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement issued by the MLB Players Association. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down."
Baggarly reported a rumor that Cabrera was being investigated for performance-enhancing drugs, and then followed that up with an earnest apology to Melky Cabrera and the Giants' organization.
Cabrera is gone for the regular season, but he would be available for the playoffs after serving a five-game suspension in the postseason, should the Giants advance that far.
Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone.
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