baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Some Thoughts on Steroids


I'm all for improved steroid testing, and banning amphetamines, however there are a few lingering questions. Nothing I have read about the new system deals with the possibility of a player still testing positive after his suspension ends. There was at least one player last year who claimed that he had been suspended three times (including in the minor leagues) for the same use of a substance (Mike Morse of the Mariners). The penalties should be stated as X number of games or until the player tests clean, whichever is later. Some steroids stay in the body a lot longer than others, and a player should not be allowed to play until the stuff is out of his system. Of course, we do know that the benefits of steroid use last longer than the substance itself, so just because someone tests clean, it doesn't mean his body is back to its unenhanced state.

I also think that blood tests should be used eventually instead of urine tests, because they are much more accurate, can detect use for longer periods, can (possibly) detect human growth hormone (which urine tests cannot), and they are much more difficult to cheat.

This all contributes to the immense challenge of trying to sort out the statistic impact of steroids. Each player will have a different effect from whatever substances he has used, causing some to have dramatic dropoffs, and others to have more gradual declines. This doesn't even take into consideration the injury and speeded-up aging process that seems to result from the use of performance enhancing drugs. Some players may actually benefit from stopping their use, if their bodies can be restored to a more natural and balanced state. Baseball is not a brute strength sport, but rather one that relies on flexibility, coordination, and stamina, in addition to all the mental aspects.

The New New Mets

So far, the Mets have added Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca, Xavier Nady, Jose Valentin, and Tike Redman. They have given up Mike Cameron and a bunch of good prospects, and have let almost all potential free agents leave. Still to go, Kaz Matsui and possibly Kris Benson. Right now, I see their 2006 lineup like this:

1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Paul LoDuca C
3. Carlos Beltran CF
4. Carlos Delgado 1B
5. David Wright 3B
6. Cliff Floyd LF
7. Xavier Nady RF
8. Jeff Keppinger 2B (holding the space for Mark Grudzielanek?)

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Tom Glavine
3. Benson (soon to be Barry Zito or Javy Vazquez?)
4. Jae Seo
5. Steve Trachsel
depth: Victor Zambrano

closer: Billy Wagner
some combination of: Aaron Heilman, Orber Moreno, Juan Padilla, Heath Bell, Royce Ring, Tim Hamulak, Steve Colyer, and whatever veterans they sign before March

This is a playoff contender right now, and could become a good bet to win the division, with a couple of improvements, such as signing Grudzielanek and trading for Zito. It is clear they are going for it all right now, while Martinez and Glavine are still good, and while Wagner is still one of the very best closers around.

I generally dislike trading away top prospects and good young players (Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, Gaby Hernandez), but in this case, it makes sense to go for it all now, while the Braves, Phillies, Marlins, and Nationals are all in a vulnerable position. Even if the miracle Braves manage to win the division yet again, the Mets have a great shot at the NL wildcard, unless the Brewers and Cubs improve enough to challenge the aging Cardinals. The National League is about as mediocre and balanced as it could possibly be, giving the Mets a golden opportunity to seize the season.

I do think that Mike Jacobs is going to have a great career, not unlike Delgado's actually, and is much younger and cheaper. The Marlins, assuming they don't turn around and get rid of their new prospects, should be really competitive in about 3-4 years, just long enough to get a new stadium in Portland or San Antonio or (baseball gods forbid) Las Vegas.


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