According to a report in Sports Illustrated, four independent sources have confirmed to Selena Roberts and David Epstein that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003 and was subsequently tipped off to a drug test the following year. Needless to say, this will create some media circus for the Yanks and A-Rod in the coming weeks.
Roberts, a former Times columnist, and Epstein, a long-time SI staff writer, got a hold of what should have been a sealed list. The government just hasn’t been very good at keeping a lid on confidential information during this largely unnecessary steroid investigation. But what’s done is done, and the news does not sound good for A-Rod’s image. The two write:
In 2003, when he won the American League home run title and the AL Most Valuable Player award as a shortstop for the Texas Rangers, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated.
Rodriguez’s name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball’s ’03 survey testing, SI’s sources say. As part of a joint agreement with the MLB Players Association, the testing was conducted to determine if it was necessary to impose mandatory random drug testing across the major leagues in 2004.
When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. “You’ll have to talk to the union,” said Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, “I’m not saying anything.”
According to the report, A-Rod tested positive for increased testosterone levels and for Primobolan, a hard-to-detect designer steroid that minimizes what Roberts and Epstein termed “bulk development.” In other words, there’s no Jason Giambi/Barry Bonds effect in play with Primobolan.
At this point, I have to assume that A-Rod has passed numerous drug tests and has been clean, but this story will still be a P.R. disaster because of a subsequent development in 2004. After A-Rod’s failed test as a member of the Rangers in 2003, he may have been warned in 2004 when, as a Yankee, his name popped up on the testing rolls again. Reportedly, A-Rod is the unnamed player whom Gene Orza, COO of the players union, was accused of tipping off to an impending drug test in 2004. Si reports:
According to the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball, in September 2004, Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players’ union, violated an agreement with MLB by tipping off a player (not named in the report) about an upcoming, supposedly unannounced drug test. Three major league players who spoke to SI said that Rodriguez was also tipped by Orza in early September 2004 that he would be tested later that month. Rodriguez declined to respond on Thursday when asked about the warning Orza provided him.
Who knows what this will do to the Yankees? Who knows what this will do A-Rod and his reputation? People tolerated A-Rod because everyone always just assumed he was clean. At this point, it’s hard to believe that any player was truly off steroids. For the sake of the Yanks, I hope this blows over, but I, for one, am not too optimistic.
Just a quick heads up: you can still buy game used Staten Island Yankees jerseys over at Baby-Bombers.com, at reasonable prices too. There’s even a select few game used Trenton Thunder unis available. They’ve got jerseys from players like Dellin Betances, Steve Karsay, Octavio Dotel, Ian Kennedy, Shelley Duncan, Chase Wright, Jose Contreras, Wilkins DeLaRosa and tons more. Give it a look. · (2) ·
Okay fine, he didn’t say exactly that. Joba did talk about the whole starter or reliever thing however, and says he’s (heh) relieved to be starting:
The GM told the phenom to prepare over the winter to be in the Yankee rotation.
“That was a little calming to me because I know I’m going into that,” Chamberlain said Friday after throwing a bullpen session at the Yankees’ minor-league complex. “Physically, you’re not going to do anything differently, but the game is so hard mentally that it was nice to know that.
“You just prepare like you’re going to get 30 starts and pitch 200 innings. That’s my mindset and I got into it early.”
Chamberlain’s off-season fitness program paid special attention to strengthening his shoulder, he said.
Friday, all appeared well during an easy bullpen session. He threw 30 pitches – all fastballs and changeups – and said he’d be ready to throw his breaking pitches in his bullpen session Monday.
“Everything’s going good, just the few kinks you get in your first bullpens,” said Chamberlain, who has thrown four sessions since he arrived in Tampa last week. “You work on repeated your mechanics. But my arms, my legs, feel really good.”
This is an understated part of this whole thing. The preparation needed to go into a season as a starter is different than the prep needed to relieve. I think the most interesting thing CC Sabathia said during his press conference was that physically he had no problems starting on three days rest down the stretch for Milwaukee last year, it was all the mental preparation that wore him down. If Joba approaches his innings limit and the Yanks can’t afford to just shut him down, then move him to the pen. I think the going from reliever to starter nonsense has to stop.
Also, I feel inclined to link to this.
One of the most common Spring Training cliches is “[insert player here] worked all hard all summer and is in the best shape of his life,” but how often is it true? Not often. Well, Nick Swisher reportedly lost sixteen pounds this offseason, ironically by incorporated chocolate milk into his post-workout regiment. Based on the photo in the linked article, it looks to be legit (here’s last year’s slightly thicker version of Swish). Reliever Brian Bruney also reportedly shed sixteen pounds off his frame this winter, which supposedly puts him under 220 lbs for the first time since high school. There’s no picture to verify Bruney’s new physique, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt after all the weight he lost last offseason. I’m sure Joe Girardi will be pleased. · (27) ·
How many of you were around in the days of Friday Randomness? That’s old school right there baby. Remember your roots.
On to the links:
- Rob Neyer chimes in on Derek Jeter’s contract situation. Rob makes a good point, do the Steinbrenners want to win so badly that they’re willing to do it without Jeter, who will be 37 when his current contract expires?
- Sweeny Murti has some recent pictures of the New Stadium. Shea, meanwhile, is freakin’ gone. (h/t Matt Cerrone)
- Ex-Yankee Tom Gordon signed on with the D-Backs. By my count, Arizona now has four relievers in their pen capable of closing (Gordon, Rauch, Qualls, Pena).
- PeteAbe posted his Spring Training preview. I wish I could go, I really do.
- If you subscribe to Baseball America, then you already know they started pumping out their Early Draft Preview yesterday. Just about everything is subscriber only, but I’ll tell you that based on their early rankings, the Yanks would be drafting California HS shortstop Jiovanni Miller with their first pick, who they say projects a stud defensive player (no word on his bat).
- Speaking of the draft, NoMaas fired up their Draft Blog the other day, and Project Prospect took a look at the top college bats from 2006-2008.
- ESPN’s gang wrapped up their Battle of the Budgets today (the teams are listed on the right). I think Neyer’s team would take first place in a 162-game season (by a not small margin, either), but since they’re doing 7-game series who knows what will happen. It definitely won’t tell us who built the best teams.
- Did you hear about the Padres DFA’ing 2004 first overall pick Matt Bush? Turns out it wasn’t just to make room for Cliff Floyd. “I’m Matt (expletive) Bush” … hysterical.
- If you missed any of Joe Torre’s interview with Bob Costas, you can check it all out here.
- When I first saw this picture, I thought it was Brett Gardner. Thankfully, it isn’t. Go here and here for more cheap laughs.
- Eddie Vedder is such a badass. (h/t Deadspin)
Boy does that bring back memories. I wish I had done this earlier in the offseason, it could have been a weekly thing. Anyway here’s your open thread for the evening. The Rangers are in Dallas (hopefully they won’t come back with Sean Avery), the Devils are in Atlanta, and the Knicks get a visit from the Celtics. Venezuela will look to remain undefeated in the Caribbean World Series tonight when they take on Mexico. Anything goes, just be nice.
In his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN.com scribe Jayson Stark takes a look at the state of the free agent market. With just a week left until Spring Training, some big names — Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Juan Cruz — remained unsigned, and the excuse that any or all of these players hurt team chemistry doesn’t really fly.
But that’s not important right now. In the column, Stark gives us a tidbit about Nick Swisher and the Braves. It’s the rumor that just won’t die. He writes:
In the meantime, the Braves seem to have emerged as the club most interested in Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher. But there are indications the teams got hung up when the Braves asked the Yankees to eat some of the $22.05 million Swisher has coming over the next three years — and got turned down flat.
When push comes to shove, I’m going to bet on “no deal” here. The Yanks have no incentive to trade Swisher — or Xavier Nady, for that matter — for anything less than what they want. Doing so would in fact weaken the team’s bench. If the Braves won’t give up the prospects or money for him, the Yanks may very well be better of for it.
The start of the 2008 season was an exciting time for us Yankees fans. The team had two young and talented pitchers in the rotation for the first time in a long time, and a third in the bullpen that was slated to join the other two in the rotation later in the summer. Of course things didn’t go as planned, as Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy struggled before getting hurt, then Joba Chamberlain joined them in the infirmary after successfully making the transition to the rotation. Other than being young and being Yankees, those three guys don’t have much in common. They’re three different kinds of pitchers with three different body types and three different development tracks, yet they all got hurt, albeit in different ways. Why is this?
Enter former A’s and Mets’ pitching coach Rick Peterson. Peterson and Gary Armida, author of Full Count Pitch, sat down and talked about the epidemic of young pitchers getting hurt (h/t BBTF). The article starts with Peterson stating the industry in general has been slow to react to all the injuries, and that the focus needs to be shifted from “rehab to prehab.” Amateur coaches (going all the way back to little league) don’t have enough information about the proper way to develop young pitchers, which has been a major contributor to the explosion of pitching injuries.
Aside: While I agree that amateur coaches don’t have enough info, we also have to remember that their job isn’t to develop players, it’s too win. Why should Tony Gwynn (coach at San Diego State) take it easy on Steven Strasburg, the likely first overall pick in the 2009 draft? The team that drafts Strasburg isn’t paying Gywnn, the school is, and that’s who he has an obligation to. It’s his job to do what’s right for the university, not what’s in the best interest of Major League teams. It’s a grey area, and we have to remember that the vast majority of college pitchers will never throw a professional pitch, let alone a big league pitch, so is it right to treat the true prospects differently than everyone else?
The article then goes on to list the three root causes of arm injuries. I’m going to quote at length, so let’s add a jump to keep from overflowing the front page.
As Spring Training approaches — today’s the ever-popular Truck Day up in Boston — the fantasy guides are hitting the Internets. Today, both MLB.com and ESPN.com unveiled their respective guides, and while I’m not complaining much, the early projections for the Yankees are widely optimistic.
Take, for example, Mr. Rodriguez. MLB predicts a .293/.381/.570/41/124 season for A-Rod, and ESPN predicts .303/.393/.585/44/130. Mark Teixeira looks primed for a big fantasy season as well. When you add up the totals, the Yanks come out with around 850 runs scored via ESPN and 958 via MLB. The playing time totals are a little sketchy, but I’d take that improvement in a heart beat.
On the pitching front, Sabathia emerges as a true ace. MLB pegs him at 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP while ESPN predicts 19 wins, a 3.33 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Both sites believe he’ll toss more than 230 innings in 2009. Adding up the pitcher’s win totals on ESPN puts the Yanks at 95 for the season; MLB targets a 98-win season for the Bombers. Pessimistic PECOTA these are not.
In the end, of course, these projections are great for the plethora of upcoming drafts — and yes, we’ll probably put together a RAB Fantasy Baseball League — but they’re not great for much else. It’s fun to imagine that everyone on the Yanks will be as great as their potential, and it’s wishful February thinking to target a 98-win season for the Yankees. But if the stars align just right, it may just become reality.
A few days ago, the creatively-named online sportsbook SportsBook.com released its most recent set of odds for the 2009 baseball season. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees came out on top. Our hometown team is the 5/2 favorite to capture the title. Someone tell Mayor Bloomberg to save the date for the parade. · (23) ·