Earlier today, I offhandedly mentioned Derek Jeter‘s weekend comments about blood tests in baseball, and frequent commenter Geno took me to task for dismissing something newsworthy. So let me fix that.
Over the weekend, Derek Jeter opined on Bloomberg Radio that blood tests for HGH would not be intrusive and openly advocated for these tests. “You can test for whatever you want to test for,” he said. “We get pricked by needles anyway in spring training, so we have a lot of blood work to begin with.”
On Monday, he drew flak from the Players’ Union over these comments. Jeter had to explain his position while Union leaders were a bit more outspoken about it:
“(The problem) has gotten so much attention now, I think it would probably silence a lot of people that were critical of guys … so I wouldn’t mind it,” Jeter said. “I can only comment on myself; I don’t know about other people. I don’t like needles very much, but I wouldn’t mind it.”
“I’m not saying I would ever be in favor of it, but if we did do it, that would be the only way the general public would finally believe that baseball is completely clean,” said Mike Mussina, the Yankees’ players union representative. “But I don’t know if it will ever come to that.”
Jason Giambi, who was at the center of the BALCO scandal, said: “I’m up for whatever they want to do. I don’t really care.”
“This has to be a union decision, not an individual one,” he added.
And that’s the problem. That’s the problem with this whole Mitchell Report and the flap over Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee.
The Mitchell Report was intended to produce change in Major League Baseball’s supposed drug culture. It was supposed to draw attention the shortcomings of its drug testing policies and the institutions and institutional attitudes in place that prevented and still prevent the sport from developing top-notch testing procedures. When Union members start speaking out and the Union forces them back into line, it’s clear that the Report utterly failed.
Instead, we get a Congressional circus with no real denouement or any sense of resolution. A hearing supposedly about drug use in baseball turned into a “he said, he said” fight.
While the Union will always defend itself, Jeter should be praised for taking a stand. Maybe his comments were off-the-cuff, and had he thought about it, he wouldn’t have broken ranks with the MLBPA. But he has, and baseball needs more players to step forward if the drug policy and public perception of the game is to change for the better.
Tyler Kepner in The Times and Mark Feinsand in the Daily News both tackle LaTroy Hawkins today. The Yanks’ latest veteran addition to the bullpen is impressing his bosses during the early days of Spring Training. Hawkins is a vital piece in the bullpen this season; if he can turn in some consistency from the set-up role, Joba would be free to move to the starting rotation. · (13) ·
Whenever Derek Jeter talks, someone is around to record his musings. It’s as though his inner monologue makes it to the press everyday. From the weekend: Derek Jeter supports blood testing for MLB players and also wants to play in 2009′s World Baseball Classic. Check back tomorrow when Jeter wonders what he wants for dinner and if he’s in the mood for There Will Be Blood or some lighter movie fare. · (16) ·
- Joba must have that Thinner disease. Dude’s downright skinny.
- Jason Giambi definitely avoided the In-N-Out burgers this winter. Wait, didn’t he say that a few years back?
- Here are your top two position prospects.
- Andrew Brackman is one big dude.
- Brian Bruney lost a ton of weight. Hopefully he practiced throwing strikes with the empty cans of Slim Fast.
- The Fat Relievers™ aren’t so fat anymore; I’d say … husky.
- Check out Ross Ohlendorf. Tell me that kid doesn’t look like he was born to wear pinstripes.
Make sure you take a look at all the photos. Good stuff. Some of ‘em remind me of yearbook picture day.
With Curt Schilling out indefinitely, the Red Sox needed to fill that over-the-hill, fat guy spot in their rotation. To that end, they have reportedly inked Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal. Colon, coming off a shoulder injury, was unimpressive in winter auditions and probably won’t make the Red Sox anyway. But we can still make fun of him. · (8) ·
Damon Oppenheimer is the man behind Brian Cashman’s plan to develop a solid core of young players who come up through the Yankees’ farm system. Oppenheimer and Daily News columnist John Harper sat down for a lengthy talk recently, and the resulting profile in today’s paper provides a solid glimpse into the mind behind the Yankees’ drafting plan. If you want to know how Joba and IPK started a movement that propelled the Yanks’ system to the upper echelons of Major League Baseball, check it out. · (11) ·
The Yanks locked up their last remaining free agent on Saturday. Bob Sheppard, who, despite earlier reports, will return to the booth this year, signed a two-year deal with the Yankees. This contract will career Sheppard through his age 99 season. According to Ken Davidoff, Sheppard, recovering from a severe case of pneumonia, will return to the Bronx sometime around the beginning of June. · (8) ·
As Cal Ripken neared the twilight years of his Big League career, he grew to recognize his defensive limitations. A career short stop, in 1996, during his age 35 season, he played a handful of games at third base before moving there permanently the next season. He moved over with the recognition that 23-year-olds are better equipped to handle the demands of short stop than 36-year-olds.
In the Bronx, the Yanks’ short stop will soon undergo similar growing pains. Derek Jeter has played 13 years at short, and during an injury-plagued 2007, it seemed that he had lost a bit from his already slow first step. The rumblings, as we’ve discussed over the last few days, for Jeter to move from short have grown louder over the last few seasons.
Derek, however, will have none of that talk quite yet. As Mark Feinsand from the Daily News reports, Derek wants to stick it out at short:
he plans on playing shortstop through the final three years of his current contract, and on remaining there for however many years he plays beyond 2010.
“That’s the plan,” Jeter said. “I haven’t really thought about how long I’m playing. I take it one year at a time; I don’t sit down and say, ‘Well, I hope I’m playing in two-thousand whatever.’ It’s a tough question, because I haven’t really thought about it much.”
Could Jeter, who has been named to eight American League All-Star teams in his 12 big-league seasons – four as the league’s starting shortstop – ever see himself playing another position?
“Right now?” Jeter said, “No.”
Now, Yankee fans will be up in arms over Jeter’s quotes. “He’s being selfish,” they’ll say. It’s not for the good of the team for him to stick it out at short.
But that’s just silly. No baseball player will ever admit to the media that they’re losing a step or two at their natural position. No one will say that age is catching up to them, that they’re slowing down and that, yeah, they probably shouldn’t be playing short stop. It just doesn’t happen.
Right now, the Yanks need Derek Jeter as short stop. While people can fantasize about A-Rod‘s moving back to short, in reality, he hasn’t played there in 2003, and there’s no guarantee that he would still be a solid short stop.
When the time comes, I believe Derek will take a page from the Cal Ripken book and recognize when it’s time to move from the demands of short. It’s not going to happen yet, but it will.
Earlier this week, RAB reader Justin sent me the following e-mail:
My question is …why not add Bonds? Nobody wants him. We could have him for cheap and he would GREATLY improve our offense…I think it would make ours the best in the baseball (I think we’re probably a step behind Detroit). Bonds as a full time DH (so able to handle 600 AB’s without breaking down) and batting in front of Arod in Yankee Stadium is likely to put up a 300 avg 40HR and 500OBP season. He’s still one of the best hitters in baseball and he’s an OBP machine. Yes I know we have Giambi and Matsui but both those guys are inferior to Bonds (especially Giambi). This would also allow us to trade Matsui for prospects…I know Bonds is supposed to be a horrible guy and all but there were many teammates of his who enjoyed playing with him. Plus, bringing him to the Yanks takes the spotlight off Pettitte and Arod (who we really need to just focus on hitting) and all the other nonsense. I would also LOVE for Bonds to take Cano aside and teach him pitch selection. What do you think? I understand its a dangerous PR move but Yankee fans love winners and after about 3 home runs the fans in the bronx will embrace him…
Oh, Barry Bonds. Ever the tempting target. Imagining a player of Bonds’ caliber filling the DH role in the Bronx is enough to make any Yankee fan salivate. The only problem is that Barry Bonds comes with, well, Barry Bonds. He comes with a surly personality. He comes with baggage. And, oh, yeah, he comes with a federal investigation. The Yanks have enough of those right now, thank you very much.
It’s not so hard to believe that Bonds remains unemployed. Jeff Borris, Bonds’ agent, claims that the slugger is in great shape and is just waiting for a team to call. “He was an All-Star last year. His numbers were still off the charts, and for any team committed to winning, there’s no reason they wouldn’t want him on their roster,” Borris said.
Yet, the response to Bonds has been nothing but deafening silence. No one is talking about collusion because no team is going to offer Bonds a deal. Notably, this spring, his former Giants teammates have been rather outspoken about how much of a negative presence Bonds was in the San Francisco clubhouse. And there’s no love lost between Bonds and Giants owner Peter Magowan. “He has the statistics that would indicate he can still play,” Magowan said. “[But] it’s not up to me to get him hired someplace. It’s not my job.”
And then there is, of course, this matter of an ongoing legal battle. With the echo of the explosion from the Mitchell Report still ringing in baseball’s ears, it’s hard to envision a team willfully taking on Barry Bonds.
Finally, Bonds’ health is a question mark. He’ll be 44 in July, and he’s reached the 600-plate appearance plateau just once in the last five seasons and not at all over the last three. To expect him to reach that level, even as a full-time DH, is a gamble.
It sure is hard to ignore an OPS of 1.045 even in 500 at bats. The Yanks don’t really have spare parts that can put up those numbers sitting around. But I think the negatives of a Bonds signing far outweigh the positives, and at this point, Bonds is a gamble that the Yanks — and 29 other teams — are not willing to take.