Archive for STEROIDS!

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.

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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.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

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.

* * *

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.

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Via Stephen Marcus: Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will begin on September 30th, the day after the end of the regular season. Andrew Marchand says the hearing will be delayed if the Yankees manage to qualify for the postseason. MLB officials, A-Rod‘s legal team, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz had a preliminary meeting last week.

Rodriguez, 38, was suspended a record 211 games for ties to Biogenesis last month. He was the only one of the 13 players to appeal their ban, but he was also the only one to receive more than the typical 50-game suspension for first-time offenders. The hearing is expected to take several days and a ruling is not expected until November or December. A-Rod is allowed to play during the appeal and came into Sunday’s game hitting .275/.368/.441 (124 wRC+) with four homers in 28 games since coming off the DL.

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Via Steven Marcus: The preliminary stages of Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal will begin this week. MLB officials, A-Rod‘s legal team, and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz will meet Wednesday to discuss the evidence and possibly even set a date for the hearing. The case isn’t expected to be heard until sometime in November or December.

Rodriguez, 38, was suspended a record 211 games for his ties to Biogenesis earlier this month. He was the only one of the 14 suspended players to appeal the ban. A-Rod is allowed to play during the appeal (obviously) and he came into Sunday’s game hitting .280/.359/.451 (125 wRC+) with four homers and three steals in 92 plate appearances. He is expected to appear in front of the arbitrator at some point during the actual hearing. Horowitz can overturn, uphold, or reduce the suspension.

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Via Bob Nightengale: MLB has formally requested permission from Alex Rodriguez‘s camp to publicly release all of their evidence against him. “While we believe that your public comments are already in breach of the confidentiality provisions of [the Joint Drug Agreement], we will agree to waive those provisions … with respect to Rodriguez’s entire history under the Program, including, but not limited to, his testing history, test results, violations of the Program, and all information and evidence,” said MLB VP Rob Manfred in a letter to A-Rod‘s lawyer.

This is really getting to be silly. MLB has been leaking information for weeks — like clockwork, really, every day during the 5-6pm ET hour something new comes out — but now they’re asking permission? A-Rod’s camp has already said no (as they should have), but now the leaks will continue anyway. Maybe they won’t leak the actual evidence, but there will still be stories about this and that intending to scare Rodriguez. The league has definitely succeeded at making this whole situation messier than it needs to be with this mudslinging. Crazy idea: Respect due process and everyone shut up until the appeal hearing.

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Via Steve Eder: Joseph Tacopina, a member of Alex Rodriguez‘s legal team, accused the Yankees of deliberately endangering his health in an effort to get him out of baseball. “They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer … They did things and acted in a way that is downright terrifying,” said the lawyer, who claims the team hid MRI results that showed the torn hip labrum from A-Rod last fall and continued to play him in the postseason.

Tacopina also says team president Randy Levine told Dr. Brian Kelly, who examined Alex after the season and eventually diagnosed the labrum tear, that “I don’t ever want to see [A-Rod] on the field again” and clarified “it wasn’t a joke.” Levine, obviously, denied the claims and says the team is willing to release the medical records if given the thumbs up by the necessary parties. Tacopina claims they have copies of “very damaging” email exchanges between A-Rod and Levine that prove otherwise.

So, someone is lying here. Either A-Rod’s camp is lying about what the doctor said or Levine is lying about what he told the doctor. I suppose they could both be correct and Kelly made the whole thing up, but I doubt it. Also, saying they hid the MRI results and continued to play an injured player is a very serious accusation. Like, super duper serious. I can’t wait for the appeal hearing. This is going to be a blast.

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If ballplayers had a problem with Alex Rodriguez following the Biogenesis revelations, they’re going to downright hate the man if the latest report proves true. According to a 60 Minutes report, it was A-Rod‘s camp that provided un-redacted versions of the Biogenesis documents to Yahoo! Sports last February. This is quite a big deal, considering the un-redacted version of the documents added many names to the list of known Biogenesis clients.

If you search the original Miami New Times article, you will see no mention of Ryan Braun, among others (including Francisco Cervelli). It was only when the Yahoo! Sports report ran, almost a week later, that we saw Braun and others appear. Nearly all of the players on that un-redacted list have since been suspended, with the exceptions of Gio Gonzalez and Danny Valencia, who were cleared, and Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal, and Bartolo Colon, who had previously served suspensions.

Given the deluge of leaks from MLB leading up to the Biogenesis suspensions, and their continuing case against A-Rod, it’s fair to assume that this leak also came from them. MLB has accused Rodriguez of attempting to obstruct their investigation into the players involved with Biogenesis, yet this seems to be the exact opposite. Whoever leaked the un-redacted documents did MLB a favor, since it exposed more players. Yet that might not be the biggest implication of this matter.

Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk notes that if A-Rod did leak these documents, he might have violated the confidentiality clause in the CBA.

Like any report from anonymous sources (especially when signs point to MLB as the source), we shouldn’t take it as fact. Like any report involving Alex Rodriguez, we will anyway. I do have to say, if this does prove true it feels quite a bit worse than using PEDs.

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Via Teri Thompson & Michael O’Keeffe: Alex Rodriguez showed up to former BALCO king Victor Conte’s doorstep last May with former NFLer Bill Romanowski in search of legal supplements to help his performance. The Yankees had an off-day in Oakland late last May before kicking off a West Coast road trip.

Conte, who served four months in prison for conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering, met with MLB investigators last week and said he initially declined to meet with A-Rod before he showed up uninvited. He recommended an increase in protein intake and to stop using a calcium-magnesium-zinc product. Given the people involved, the “legal supplemental” part of this is lol-worthy. Given the timing of Conte’s talk with investigators, I’m sure all of this was covered under the umbrella of the 211-game suspension handed down last week.

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Alex Rodriguez has officially appealed his 211-game suspension for his ties to Biogenesis, the players’ union announced. No surprise here, everyone knew this is coming. He had until tomorrow to file the appeal and can continue to play until the arbitrator makes his ruling. The Joint Drug Agreement says that’s supposed to happen within 45 days, but apparently that’s not a hard deadline and this is expected to drag on into the winter.

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(Rich Schultz/Getty)

(Rich Schultz/Getty)

As expected, Major League Baseball (finally) announced Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. It’s officially a 211-game suspension, which is basically broken down in a 50-game first-time ban plus 161 games for interfering with the investigation. From the official release:

Rodriguez’s discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years.  Rodriguez’s discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.  The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.

Because he was suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement, A-Rod can file an appeal and play in the meantime. He will do just that, and, in a twisted coincidence, he will make his season debut against the White Sox in Chicago tonight. Here is Alex’s statement:

“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this.”

And here is what David Cornwell, Rodriguez’s attorney, had to say:

“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action. Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”

I wonder if that “all legal remedies available” line is an indication a lawsuit for … something, could be on the way. I guess we’ll find out eventually.

It was rumored Bud Selig would suspend Alex using the integrity clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which would have kept him off the field even during an appeal, but that did not happen. Selig & Co. supposedly decided it would improve their case and better maintain labor peace by sticking with the discipline outlined in the JDA.

Rodriguez has three days to file the appeal, which is why his suspension does not officially begin until Thursday. The hearing must take place within 20 days of the appeal and a ruling must be handed down no later than 25 days after that. Frederic Horowitz will preside over the appeal. He was appointed baseball’s arbitrator last June after MLB fired Shyam Das for overturning Ryan Braun’s suspension. Horowitz can overturn or uphold the suspension, as well as reduce the number of games. This isn’t an either/or thing like salary arbitration.

Rodriguez’s camp insisted they would not discuss a plea agreement in recent weeks. MLB threatened to ban him for life using the integrity clause, but that was apparently nothing more than a bluff. A-Rod insinuated the league and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him off the field during a press conference following a recent minor league rehab game. The team responded with a strongly worded statement:

“We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.

“However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.”

Union head Michael Weiner contacted MLB on A-Rod’s behalf to talk about a settlement on Saturday, but was rebuffed. Alex contacted the team about buying out the four-plus years and $95M or so left on his contract but was told no dice due to the impending investigation and discipline. Weiner, who indicated a legal battle could drag into November or December, left no wiggle room when saying the union will stand behind it’s highest paid player:

“We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously. We must revisit the JDA’s confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach.”

Players are not paid during drug suspensions, nor does their salary count against the luxury tax. A-Rod’s suspension would cost him approximately $34.2M if it started today, but his contract is front-loaded and his salaries decrease from 2013-2017. The longer the appeal takes and the further the suspension gets pushed back, the less he’ll lose. The Yankees have not been shy about their plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold starting next year, so shedding A-Rod’s $27.5M “tax hit” for all or part of the next few seasons would be a huge boon.

MLB is said to have “mountains” of evidence showing Rodriguez purchased and used performance-enhancing drugs from 2010-2012 with help from former Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch. There hasn’t been much info on the evidence regarding his attempts to interfere with the investigation, however. Bosch agreed to cooperate with MLB to avoid a lawsuit, though he reportedly tried to extort a six-figure payout from the team’s third baseman first. A-Rod’s army of lawyers will surely look to discredit Bosch.

Considering his age (38), his two surgically repaired hips and overall declining skills, it’s hard to believe Alex will be able to return to the Yankees as a productive player following a lengthy suspension. Thanks to the cash savings, the team would be in a better position to negotiate a buyout of the remainder of his contract after the suspension. Well, it might be easier to swallow, I should say. It’s tough to think the suspension will be anything but a career-ender for A-Rod.

Among the other suspended players is Frankie Cervelli, who received a regular ol’ 50-game ban as a first time offender. His nature of his connection to Biogenesis is unclear. He accepted the penalty and will begin serving the suspension immediately, without appeal. Cervelli is expected to miss the rest of the season with lingering hand and elbow problems, and he’ll be allowed to serve the suspension while on the DL. The Yankees said they “are disappointed” and “it’s clear that he used bad judgment.”

Eleven other players were suspended in addition to A-Rod and Cervelli: Antonio Bastardo, Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Fautino De Los Santos (minors), Sergio Escalona (minors), Fernando Martinez (minors with Yankees), Jordan Norberto (free agent), Jhonny Peralta, Cesar Puello (minors), Jordany Valdespin (minors) and former Yankees farmhand Jesus Montero (minors). Yasmani Grandal and former Yankees Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera were not disciplined after serving 50-day suspensions within the last calendar year.

I wish I could say I’m glad this is all over and done with, but that’s not the case. Not even close. The appeal ensures this will drag on for another few weeks and I’m guessing there will still be regular A-Rod updates even after that. The good news is that we are a big step closer to getting some closure though. The Biogenesis stuff has been in the headlines far too long and is taking a lot away from the games on the field. It’s great MLB is going to such great lengths to clean up the game, but make no mistake, it is coming at a cost.

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