Archive for STEROIDS!
7:26pm: According to T.J. Quinn, the two sides have until December 11th to put together summary briefs and respond by the 21st. Only then will Horowitz get busy with his ruling. So yeah, throw that whole 25 days thing right out the window.
6:40pm: Via Ken Davidoff: The appeal hearing for Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension concluded today. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz now has 25 days to hand down a ruling, meaning the latest it can arrive is Monday, December 16th. That said, this whole thing hasn’t gone according to the schedule outlined in the Join Drug Agreement. The ruling could come down later. Either way, Horowitz can uphold, overturn, or reduce the suspension.
Every day during Alex Rodriguez‘s arbitration hearing, news outlets have placed reporters outside the building. Ben and I frequently crack jokes about this absolutely pointless assignment. No one is divulging testimonies. Their only purpose is to sit there and wait for something to happen. Today, their efforts paid off. Something happened.
Minutes ago Rodriguez issued a statement — after storming out of the room — which I picked up from the Daily News Sports I-Team Twitter feed. It reads:
“I am disgusted with this abusive process designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”
As with every statement from both sides in this case, there is more it than what A-Rod portrays. Given Selig’s heavy hand in this, he absolutely should come in and justify his decision. I can understand why anyone would get upset in that situation.
But let’s not simply assume that Alex’s intentions are pure here. Perhaps this is a ploy to avoid testifying himself. Perhaps his legal team sees the writing on the wall, knows that he’s going to be suspended, and will instead prepare for a larger fight in federal court.
For the moment, I’ll say hats off to A-Rod for calling out Selig. It’s pretty clear — to me, at least, from the evidence we’ve seen publicly — that Selig does indeed have a vendetta against Alex. If the man wants to levy such a heavy punishment and then refuses to justify it, then how can an arbitrator rule that it’s appropriate? Again, just my input on this. I’m sure opinions on this will come down from every possible angle.
Update by Mike (5pm ET): A-Rod just made a live in-studio appearance on Mike Francesa’s show to discuss today’s events and the arbitration hearing in general. A partial video is above and the full audio is right here. I can not recommend it enough. It’s amazing. Among the major points:
- A-Rod flatly denied all PED allegations stemming from Anthony Bosch and Biogenesis. Francesa asked him directly and the answer was a clear denial, no wiggle room. That’s all on the record. Alex also declined trying to interfere with the investigation.
- A-Rod also said this is personal for Selig, who is retiring after next season and wants “my head on a mantle on the way out.” He also said this is about the money, that MLB wouldn’t have it in for him like this if his contract was so big. I think he’s right, this whole mess doesn’t happen if the league didn’t go for the kill with a 211-game ban.
- It’s unclear if A-Rod will testify as scheduled on Friday. It’s basically a “if Selig doesn’t testify, I don’t testify” situation. He did hedge a bit by saying he’ll talk things over with his lawyers once he calms down.
- Oh, and by the way, Alex is angry at the Yankees. He made that clear. He also said he has an obligation and will play third base for them when the time comes.
Like I said, I can’t recommend the interview enough. Make sure you watch the video. I thought Francesa killed it with his questions and A-Rod scorched every last bit of Earth. Such great theatre.
- When the hearing resumes, it will continue for ten consecutive days if necessary. They won’t take weekends off and will work right up until Thanksgiving in order to get this thing wrapped up. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz is expected to take three or four weeks to hand down a ruling once the hearing is over.
- A-Rod will miss a scheduled interview with MLB on Friday because he’s sick and stuck in California, unable to travel according to doctor’s orders. It’s nothing serious and it will not delay the proceedings next week. The interview is required before he can take the stand, however (convenient timing, no?).
- Rodriguez, commissioner Bud Selig, and Yankees team president Randy Levine could all be called to stand to testify at some point soon. MLB is likely to try to prevent Selig and Levine from talking, however. I guess that’s something they’re allowed to do.
- The Florida Department of Health says MLB impeded their investigation of Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch by purchasing stolen clinic documents earlier this year. The documents were originally intended for DOH, so the state was forced to limit the scope of their investigation and Bosch’s eventual punishment ($5,000 fine that was reduced to $3,000). Long story short: MLB said too bad, their investigation was more important.
- Even if A-Rod is suspended for all or part of next season, he could still be around the team in Spring Training. The Joint Drug Agreement says a suspended player has all the rights of a regular player except he can’t play in regular season or postseason games. One of those rights is Spring Training, apparently. If the Yankees try to stop him from showing up to camp, A-Rod could file a grievance and create even more headaches. What a world.
The appeal hearing of Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension does not resume until November 18th, but don’t worry, there is still plenty of nonsense being leaked to the media. A trio of New York Times reporters published this ultra-juicy look into the league’s investigation yesterday, which included six-figure payouts for evidence, an intimate relationship between an investigator and a witness, and an off-the-books investigative team approved by Bud Selig. Like I said, it’s ultra-juicy. Check it out.
Within that article we learn A-Rod reportedly tested positive for a stimulant during the 2006 season. The test result wasn’t made public and he wasn’t suspended because that’s what the Joint Drug Agreement says is supposed to happen. Only repeat offenders are punished for stimulants. A-Rod’s legal team denied the failed test in a statement, and, according to the New York Daily News, they’ve filed a formal complain with arbitrator Frederic Horowitz over MLB’s non-stop leaks to the media. Considering how much they’ve boasted about all of the evidence at their disposal, the league sure seems to be going out of its way to disparage Rodriguez publicly, no? Just let the evidence speak for itself.
Monday: According to Ronald Blum, the hearing will not resume until November 18th. That means a ruling might not come down until mid-to-late December, and who knows how the holidays will affect things. This might not be resolved until after the Winter Meetings, which would be very bad for the Yankees given their payroll and third base situations.
Sunday: Via Mike Mazzeo: The appeal hearing for Alex Rodriguez‘s record 211-game suspension is expected to resume sometime in November. MLB is finished making their side of the case, now A-Rod‘s camp has to do the same. There’s no word on how long that could take, but Mazzeo says it is likely to be about a week, which is what MLB needed.
Meanwhile, Ken Davidoff says both sides admitted to paying for Biogenesis documents. That’s bad news for both parties. First, MLB denied paying for evidence in a statement following A-Rod’s lawsuit. Second, the suspension is based on A-Rod trying to interfere with the investigation, which they’ve effectively admitted to doing. Who knows what that means, legally. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz is expected to hand down a ruling within 25 days of the end of the hearing, meaning it may not come until late November or December.
During a conversation with Erik Boland, Frankie Cervelli opened up about his performance-enhancing drug use and admitted he was looking for “a quick” after a fouled pitch broke his left foot in Spring Training before the 2011 season. “I felt — so many times in my career — a little scared I’m going to lose my job,” said Frankie. “Every year I have to go to Spring Training and fight for a job.”
Cervelli, 27, did not discuss the substances he took or who pointed him towards Biogenesis, but he did say he traveled to New York to personally apologize to Joe Girardi shortly after his 50-game suspension was handed down in August. “I went to the Stadium to talk to him because the team, maybe they don’t deserve all the distractions,” said Cervelli. “I went there to apologize to him because he’s one of the people that’s believed in me, gave me the chance, and he’s a gentleman.”
Cervelli managed a 143 wRC+ in 61 plate appearances this year before a broken right hand and subsequent setback ended his season. I don’t know what the Yankees are planning to do with him next year — I get the sense they want to distance themselves from PED guys as much as possible, though that’s just a hunch — but until they come up with two better catchers, his spot on the roster figures to be safe.
Via Serge Kovaleski & Steve Eder: Alex Rodriguez‘s legal team formally requested that the players’ union step aside during the appeal of his 211-game suspension. The MLBPA serves as the player’s chief representative on the three-person arbitration panel. The letter with the request was sent to the union in late-August. The appeal hearing started last week and is not yet complete.
Rodriguez and his lawyers recently filed lawsuits against both MLB and team doctor Christopher Ahmad. The letter claimed, among other things, that the union failed to “fairly represent his interests” and missed opportunities to challenge the league’s aggressive investigation. Apparently the request was rebuffed, because MLBPA general counsel David Prouty is on the arbitration panel as A-Rod‘s representative. This isn’t another lawsuit or anything, just a request on A-Rod’s part to use his own legal team.
This is going to be good. Alex Rodriguez and his legal team filed a lawsuit against MLB on Thursday night for a “witch hunt” and conspiring to keep him out of the game. They also allege the league paid $5M for former Biogenesis head Anthony Bosch’s cooperation. The lawsuit, complete with a section called “The Disastrous Tenure of Bud Selig,” can be seen here.
If you don’t want to sift through the suit for the gory details, Steve Eder has a breakdown. Selig is listed as a defendant but the Yankees and team officials are not. I suspect a separate lawsuit for the team is on the way. The appeal of A-Rod‘s record 211-game suspension started this week and I don’t think the timing of the lawsuit is a coincidence. Resident RAB legal expert Ben Kabak will have more later today.
3:58pm: Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have shot down the report. A-Rod does not have permission to skip the Houston trip and will apparently be with the team for the final series of the year this weekend.
2:52pm: Via NYDN: The Yankees have given Alex Rodriguez permission to skip this weekend’s series with the Astros in Houston so he and his legal team can prepare for his upcoming appeals hearing. The hearing is scheduled to start on Monday and is expected to last several sessions. A ruling may not come down until November or December. The Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention last night, so these last four games don’t mean anything. Tonight will be A-Rod’s final game of the year and, possibly, his career.
When the Yankees’ season comes to an inevitable end following Sunday’s game against the Astros, Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will finally begin. The process is set to begin on Monday and is expected to last several sessions. A-Rod‘s legal team, MLB officials, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz held preliminary meetings earlier this month, but Monday marks the official start of the appeal.
According to union head Michael Weiner and various reports, it’s possible a ruling may not come until November or December. That would be bad. The Yankees want to know what’s going on with their third baseman as soon as possible so they can plan their offseason accordingly. They don’t have to pay Rodriguez during his suspension, so they’d save a considerable amount of money and would have to decide where (or if, I suppose) they’ll spend it. The non-tender deadline is in late-November and the Winter Meetings are in early-December, and you can be sure the team would like a resolution before then.
Horowitz can do one of three things. He can uphold the original 211-game suspension, overturn it completely, or reduce the number of games to whatever he decides. This isn’t an either/or thing. Based on the mountains of evidence MLB claims to have against A-Rod, it’s widely believed he’ll end up serving some kind of suspension. We just don’t know what. The standard ban for first-time offenders — which Alex is — is 50 games, so his legal team will probably argue the extra 161 games are an excessive punishment for allegedly impeding the investigation. There’s no collective-bargained document that deals with that kind of stuff, so MLB pulled that “161 games” number out of thin air.
As far as the Yankees are concerned, there is a best and worst case scenario for A-Rod’s suspension. That goes beyond planning their offseason, I’m talking about on-field impact in 2014 and beyond. Even if the hearing is held on Monday and they get a ruling on Tuesday, it could still be bad for the Yankees. Let’s break down the various scenarios.
Best Case Scenario: 162-Game Suspension (or more)
The Yankees have made it very clear they don’t like Rodriguez and want him gone. Can’t tarnish that otherwise pristine New York Yankees legacy, after all. A suspension that causes Alex to miss the entire 2014 season would effectively end his career. He’s had a hard enough time staying on the field due to various injuries in recent years, and even though he’s shown these last few weeks that he can still be an effective player, it’s hard to imagine any player returning at from a year-long hiatus on the cusp of their 40th birthday and being effective. Well, any player other than Andy Pettitte, I suppose.
If A-Rod is banned for all of next season, the Yankees will save his $25M salary and boy would that go a long way towards helping them get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. They would also know they need to find an everyday third baseman for 2014, not a short-term stopgap. There would still be three years and $61M left on Rodriguez’s contract after he returns in 2015, making a buyout much easier to swallow from the team’s point of view. That’s a lot of money to eat, but it’s pretty much a sunk cost already. A-Rod isn’t marketable and his on-field value is dwindling. Knowing he’ll miss all of next year is the best thing that could happen to the team.
Okay Case Scenario: 50-Game Suspension (or less)
It won’t be less, but I’ll throw the qualifier in there anyway. Horowitz could decide Rodriguez deserves the same 50-game ban as every other first time offender and nothing more, which means he would return to the team sometime in late-May. The Yankees would save approximately $7.72M in salary, but that would be almost completely negated when he hits the six homers needed to trigger the first $6M milestone bonus in his contract. Minimal savings.
The team wouldn’t be rid of Rodriguez, but they would be getting him back early enough in the season that he could have a meaningful impact. The suspension is a fixed number of games, so the Yankees would know exactly when he’d be returning. There’s no setback during a suspension. They could dig up a short-term third baseman without having to break the bank and then move forward with a regular lineup when A-Rod returns. Yeah, they wouldn’t save much money against the luxury tax threshold, but some savings are better than no savings.
Worst Case Scenario: 100-Game Suspension
Since no one thinks Horowitz will completely overturn the suspension — it’s certainly possible, but it would be a huge surprise — the worst case scenario for the Yankees would be a ban somewhere in the middle of 50 games and 162+ games. A hundred games is a nice round number and has been rumored as a possibility. A 150-game ban has been rumored as well, but for all intents and purposes that would be the same as a 162 (or more) game suspension.
If Rodriguez gets 100 games, the team would save about $15.44M in salary less the inevitable $6M homer bonus. I think we can all agree $9.5M or so is a nice chunk of change, but the team would also have to look for another permanent third baseman. Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez can’t hold down the hot corner for another 100 games like they did this year. We’ve seen that movie, we know how it ends. At the same time, the Yankees would also have to plan for A-Rod’s return, either at the hot corner or at DH (which figures to belong to Derek Jeter). Sixty-two games isn’t much time to make a significant impact on the team’s playoff chances either. With a 100-game ban, the team gets a nice amount of savings but the combined headache of a) having to find a third baseman, b) waiting for Alex to return, and c) not having him return into time to do anything meaningful.
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The Yankees have a lot of questions to answer this offseason. More than any other offseason in recent memory, by frickin’ far. The A-Rod situation might be the most problematic because it’s completely out of their hands. They’re at the whim of the appeals process. The team doesn’t know how long they will be without their third baseman or how much money they’ll save. That’s no way to go into an offseason, but it’s the approach New York will have to take. Unless ownership decides to scrap the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold next season (lol), their offseason will be held hostage until Rodriguez’s fate is decided.