TCR Friday Notes

You know it's been a long offseason when you're actually looking forward to the results of a bunting competition.

- So Ryan Braun won his appeal to overturn a 50-game suspension for testing positive for elevated testerone levels. Many are claiming he's only been exonerated because of a technicality as Braun won his appeal because the "chain-of-custody" was not followed, a fancy way of saying the tester did not make Fed Ex in time and stored the urine sample in his home. There are conflicting reports on where it was stored, some saying a fridge at the tester's house, another a tupperware container on his desk for two days*. Regardless, the real winner here is due process. Clearly the standards agreed upon were not followed and a neutral arbitrator ruled accordingly. Whether he actually took anything or not will have to be decided in the court of opinion, but I'll say his 2011 numbers aren't anything out of the ordinary for a 27 year old that was already third in the MVP vote in 2008.

- Dale Sveum says that David DeJesus will likely bat leadoff to start spring training with Bryan LaHair batting fourth, Alfonso Soriano has an outside shot at the cleanup spot. He's still filling out the rest, buy my guess would be a lineup of: DeJesus, Castro, Soriano, LaHair, Soto, Stewart, Byrd, Barney.

-  Sveum also goes into great detail on what he means by hustle. He's already giving Soriano a pass for gawking at home runs if you had any notions of him cracking down on that.

- Speaking of lack of hustle, Junior Lake, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano were the last ones to report to camp.

- Sickels came out with his top 120 prospects, Jackson at #27, Rizzo #37, Baez at #109 (believe he's predetermined that Baez will not be a SS already and adjusted accordingly). Jonathon Mayo on his blog put together an average ranking of "the big 4" prospect lists (himself, Keith Law, Baseball America and Kevin Goldstein).  Rizzo comes in at 48.75 average, Jackson 49.50 and Baez at 71. Their actually ranking on that list though - since others move around as well - is Rizzo at #38, Jackson at #40 and Baez at #69.

- Former Cub Josh Donaldson is working out a little at third base while also vying for the backup catcher job with the A's.

Enjoy the weekend!!!

*misread that bit, ESPN article just says tupperware container, nothing about a desk. There was some discrepancy about whether it was in a fridge or a basement though or maybe a fridge in the basement...whateves...FREEDOM!!!

**I swear they keep changing the article because now it mentions the desk again.

Sources told Munson that the collector left Braun's sample on a desk in a Tupperware container and left it there for two days.

I give up.

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Comments

http://wiklifield.thecubreporter.com/John_Sic...

past rankings by Sickels, he use to just do a separate top 50 for pitchers and hitters

per usual, Craig Calcaterra is the voice of reason, he's like the Jon Stewart of baseball

For years, people argued for Major League Baseball to adopt a rigorous testing regime. Why? To end the speculation. To stop the “is he using or isn’t he” parlor games. Read every single column written about Jeff Bagwell’s Hall of Fame candidacy and you’ll find some variation of “but for so long there was no testing, so we just can’t know, and that uncertainty is horrible …” sentiment.

Now we have a testing program. And it’s amazing to me just how quickly the end product of that testing program — no suspension for Ryan Braun — is diminished or outright dismissed when results aren’t what people wanted.

I’m talking about those who don’t care that the procedures weren’t followed and say that they still don’t think Braun is clean, his name not cleared. Sure, you’re allowed to think that if you want, but just understand that if you do — if “we still don’t think he’s clean” or “questions still remain” holds — then there is no purpose whatsoever to have a testing program in the first place. Because even with one in place, people will just assume what they want to assume regardless of the end product, and that’s no different than where we were in 1998.

The reason? Because no scientific protocol has legitimacy if only some parts of it are adhered to and others aren’t. When you go with testing, you go with everything. You can’t say that the preliminary test results matter and the chain of custody protocols don’t. It’s all of a piece. It’s the entire process that lends drug testing its legitimacy, not just part of it.

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/24/...

I completely agree. You can't in good conscience claim that Braun is still a cheater if MLB didn't follow the rules that are in place for drug testing. After all, the specific rules are in place for a reason. You can't interrupt the chain of custody for two days and still claim that the test results are credible. That's just not how the process works.

The fact that Braun's test results showed that his testosterone level was spectacularly high supports his innocence in my opinion. If Braun was juicing, you would expect his test results to be similar to the results of other PED users, not so high that people involved claimed they had never seen results that far out of whack.

Folks in the media are reporting that Braun won his appeal on a technicality, but I think that is a misnomer. He didn't win the appeal because of a loophole in the testing procedure. He won because MLB screwed up his test.

How was the sample supposed to get shipped on Saturday?
Fedex doesn't pick up on the weekend. E.G. Here's the latest a Fedex package can be accepted and get shipped in Milwaukee, Wisconsin .

Mon 7:30 PM
Tue 7:30 PM
Wed 7:30 PM
Thu 7:30 PM
Fri 7:30 PM
Sat No Pickup
Sun No Pickup

Since the sample needed to be kept in a cool place until it could be shipped, clearly protocol WAS kept. The arbitrator is an idiot. He must believe that external testosterone can grow spontaneously in urine. I hope MLB sues in federal court.

he probably believes that the handler's basement or fridge isn't considered a "secure" location.

this is a good write-up on it as well.

http://mlb.sbnation.com/2012/2/24/2820524/bra...

Is Braun innocent? We don't know. It's been reported that Braun provided a urine sample and a testing laboratory determined that the sample contained high doses of testosterone. But we don't know precisely what the collector did with the specimen during the 48 hours in question. And we don't know how the specimen might have become degraded in that time.

Braun did NOT argue with test results so degradation (how could degradation produce massive amounts of testosterone in the sample) isn't an issue.

Braun also did NOT argue that the sample was tampered with.

What they did argue was the sample wasn't shipped ASAP. And since the latest Fedex picks up in Wisconsin is Saturday at 4 PM in one location, the question is, could it have been taken to that location in time? Was protocol understood to be that they would whatever the expense?

As for chain of custody, if that's an issue then the ONLY way to ship it would be registered US mail. They keep a registry of the chain of custody. Fedex doesn't.

But Braun isn't innocent. He's guilty as hell. It's his urine (he even withdrew his offer to have his DNA tested), no one alleges it was tampered with and it tested off the charts.

Braun has been very vocal about his innocence. The test results are meaningless if the protocols are not followed. It is not Braun's responsibility to explain how he tested positive for a banned substance if the test itself can not be relied upon.

MLB and the Players Association agreed on certain protocols for drug testing. If those protocols aren't followed, then the test results (whether positive or negative) completely lack credibility.

When you say that Braun is guilty, what evidence do you have, other than a tainted urine test, to support your position?

"Braun did NOT argue with test results so degradation (how could degradation produce massive amounts of testosterone in the sample) isn't an issue. Braun also did NOT argue that the sample was tampered with."

Let's not forget that Arbitration is still a legal proceeding which means that what matters is what you can prove. This means that even if the sample was tainted or tampered, there was no way Braun's defense could prove that it was. What they could prove is that the chain of custody was NOT followed and so that is what they argued and WON.

I even go a step further. Braun never claimed that the urine sample was degraded or tampered with because it was unnecessary. The chain of custody was flawed making the test results flawed.

If the reporting is accurate, the question isn't whether or not it was shipped on time. The question is "was the sample stored in a secure place so it COULD NOT BE TAMPERED WITH? And the answer is NO, it was not.

It is not necessary to prove that it WAS tampered with. It is enough to show that it COULD have been.

I suspect that Braun cheated. Doesn't matter. It can not be proven.

Completely agree. If anything, Braun's test proves the fairness of the system within which the test was conducted. The rules put in place were not followed, period. Even if Braun was more juiced than a jug of Minute Maid, he could not reasonably be proved guilty due to the faultiness of the testing procedure.

Whether or not he is guilty in the court of public opinion, he could not reasonably be proved to have been using steroids, therefore in the eyes of the rules set in place by MLB (which follows the same presumptions set by the U.S. legal system, wherein you can't convict someone without reasonable evidence to support the conviction), he can't be punished.

If MLB wants to complain that they THINK Braun was guilty, they're being hypocritical and their anger is being mis-directed; they should focus their energy instead on the person (people?) who did not follow the procedures they set in place for drug testing.

Navigator -- I'm surprised at your reaction. So the entire MLB drug testing program hinges on FedEx's schedule? That's one screwed up testing program.

There's too much riding on the results of the drug test to allow a urine sample to sit in some guys refrigerator (or on his desk) for two days waiting for the FedEx office to open. If MLB can't get the sample to FedEx before they close, maybe they should not do any tests late in the afternoon on Friday. That is in MLB's control and the safeguards built into the process should not suffer because the league didn't think things through.

Not only do I disagree with your perspective, but in my mind it is unconscionable for MLB to come out after the arbitrator's ruling and say that they "vehemently disagree" with the decision when it was so obvious that they didn't follow their own procedures. In fact, considering the fact that MLB didn't follow their own procedures, they should have thrown out the test results initially rather than allowing this to play out and ultimately make them look foolish. I don't blame Braun for blasting MLB and the drug testing program today. His reputation has been damaged unnecessarily and it is MLB who is to blame.

If the MLB did not follow proper procedure the case should absolutely be tossed out. I think this in criminal cases too where it's pretty obvious the person is guilty. Procedures are there for a reason, to ensure the police remain honest and don't start thinking they are above the law. Sometimes this means a guilty person goes free but it's better then the alternative of innocent people put in jail.

That said, let's not confuse Braun's case getting tossed out because of messed up procedures with that proving he was clean.

You raise a good point. We'll never know for certain if Braun is guilty or innocent because the test was flawed. Once it was determined that the agreed upon protocols weren't followed, the results of the test became meaningless. That's why I said that the test results should have never been used by MLB to suspend Braun. MLB knew that the protocols had not been followed, yet they knowingly took action that harmed Braun's reputation. Even though Braun proved that the test was flawed, he is left in the unenviable position of winning the appeal, but still suffering damage to his reputation.

"Braun said that his legal team discovered that five Fed Ex offices were open until 9 p.m., including one that was open 24 hours."

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/daily...

It's the right choice. Protocols exist for a reason. If the protocols weren't followed, or even if they were impossible to follow, Braun shouldn't be penalized.

Jon Stewart? Really?

Well at least his writers. What am I missing?

That I think he's a tool.

You are no Internet friend of mine.

the cost for Longoria just doubled.

Doubled from what I was offering or what you'd take? You know I won't think twice about doubling my standard initial offer.

Trow in some bubble gum and a picture of Dutch Rennert's strike call. He will cave...

You're dealing Longoria? I'll give you Mike Morse.

I'll give you TWO Mike Morses!

Was the dumb fuck sample gatherer ever named?

/grabs pitchfork and torch

haha. assembling the posse now.

From what I've read, didn't the sample gather follow standard operating procedure?

Wasn't the technicality, that what he did (storing in a refrigerator on a saturday night), wasn't completely spelt out, word for word, in MLB's drug testing policy.

It was my impression, from what I've read, that the keeping in their home, in a fridge, is completely acceptable in any other sport's guidelines.

Don't know. Just like acknowledging incompetence.

What I read is that MLB's policy didn't specifically spell this out (as other policies do), hence the loophole.

oh. well then, MLB is fucked up.

the dude or gal appeared to do what they thought was the right thing to do under the circumstances. It certainly wasn't obvious incompetence. But if there was indeed other FedEx locations open and if indeed a fridge or basement of the guy's house wasn't really deemed a "cool and secure location" by the arbitrator, then Braun rightfully got off.

We can certainly have our suspicions, but I'm sure the arbitrator heard a lot more evidence then we're getting in a few articles. The checks and balances are there for a reason.

"What do you mean, that wasn't apple juice in the fridge????"

winner!!!

Old joke...like me.

The container should be immediately sealed and placed in the shipping container which also should be sealed for the drop off box/office (kinkos). I smell Bud Selig and I'm not liking him more and more. Period.

I've never been comfortable about the obvious conflict of interest of Bud Selig as Commssioner and his daughter now owning the Brewers. This is not a conspiracy theory here, it just doesn't look good that a Brewer got off on a technicality.
The test results did not come up in Braun's legal argument. It makes him look guilty, but getting off on a technicality.
As for conspiracy, don't get me started on Selig and Jerry Angelo getting to vote on the Cubs ownership when Cuban was in the mix.

You mean, Jerry CO angelo?

Oops yeah, not the fired guy. I did know about Attanasio. My logic is a little flawed. I was thinking Selig-Prieb still had some minority shares. I will stand by suspicion that Selig looks favorably on the Brewers when given the opportunity. I know he wasn't happy about this.
My point is that it doesn't look good that a Brewer got off and how Braun got off. Guilty or not, it's going to hurt him some. Just because I'm a paranoid Cubs fan doesn't mean they're not out to get our team. ; )

quite the ruse by Selig then, him and MLB are raising quite a stink over the decision.

Didn't entire Selig family sell Brewers to Mark Attanasio? Wendy Selig-Prieb hasn't been associated with team since the end of 2004 I believe.

Apologies if my info is incorrect, but I believe that's the case.

wikipedia and all...

In September 2004, the Brewers announced they had reached a verbal agreement with Los Angeles investment banker Mark Attanasio to purchase the team for a reported US$223 million. The sale to Attanasio was completed on January 13, 2005, at Major League Baseball's quarterly owners meeting. Other members of Attanasio's ownership group include private equity investor John Canning Jr., David Uihlein, Harris Turer and Stephen Marcus, all of whom were involved with the previous ownership group led by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig

Selig's daughter does NOT own the Brewers. It was sold to an investor named Matt Anatassio. The Selig family has no interest in the team whatsoever.

Was the dumb fuck sample gatherer ever named?
---
Here is the guy who put the sample in the refrigerator. Right next to the Schlitz bottles...

http://hilariousandhandsomesportsguys.files.w...

completely unrelated (I was a looking for the Durocher Schlitz commercial on YouTube)...

and found this odd gem:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPo8nm8xsFk

Judy Garland interviewing Leo including Willie Mays and Jocko Conlan anecdotes and a duet of 'Take me out to the Ballgame'.

I never did find the Durocher Schlitz commercial.

The story Leo tells about Willie Mays really reminds me of the Brian Lahair story, lots of similarity...

great stuff...

Excellent - had never seen Durocher interviewed before, had only read quotes. Quite a character. Garland seems to be an inspiration for Kristen Wiig's skits on SNL ...

ugggh ... particularly uncomfortably nauseating how Durocher calls Mays "boy" a couple times, imitates him saying "Mista Leo, Mista Leo" (really close to master) and then relates how he reassured the poor boy that he'll be fine: There, there, little negro, don't you worry about things you can't possibly understand. Whitey will take care of you.

And guess what?? That's all it took to fix the boy.

Judy does a great job of trying to follow the story through her pharmaceutically saturated brain.

yet in his own screwed-up-upbringing way he helped integrate baseball with the dodgers, including dressing down his own locker room with the "i don't care if he has zebra stripes" speech.

15 years earlier -players- were screaming racial insults at jackie robinson on the field and not get punished for it by the team, the league, the press, or a majority of public opinion...amongst other screwed up race-relation issues of the day. there's still 5 years to go before schools are ordered desegregated by the supreme court and 1 year to go until the Civil Rights Act which order that desegregation.

they're casting a film about jackie robinson called "42"...long overdue true look at the situation of the time (unlike the glossed over "jackie robinson story"). they've been trying to get this movie made for the past 3 years and it seems it's finally gaining traction (thanks Moneyball).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0453562/

Maybe true, but it doesn't make Durocher any less repulsive in this clip. He's the prototypical white mentor who rules over all other races and women by default. He's just living out his mandate to dominate ... so glad I was born when these dinosaurs were dying. Although I suspect many still live, it's just they generally stay under the rocks they should these days.

it's hard to sit through, yeah.

i dunno enough about the guy to know what was in his heart, but on the field he had a long history of not caring about player color (at least as a manager/coach). i'm not making excuses for him...but back then there were large chunks of the population who could literally go through decades of life without interacting with a person of another color in a non-workplace/public environment.

That is true too (too true??). I grew up in Chicago just west of Wrigley ... my grammar school had a few black kids (maybe 5%) so we were just barely integrated ... I never knew how much ignorance existed until my dad moved us to Park Ridge, right on the city border, where no one, and I mean no one, had ever met/interacted with anyone non-white. Amazing, like moving to another planet. I was ostracized for a while because I had been exposed to them in the city. No shit.

Let it go, man. There is only one race now---race for the pennant!

All I know about race is that white guys can't be wide receivers.

Or running backs.

or Cornerbacks

I heard the actor of Gil Hodges was bad.

~zing~

if you ever met carlos pena in street clothes, one of the best dressed in MLB...and on the street, one of the most outspoken and personable people in the game, you might understand the objections to his head-hanging "okay, then" short appearance.

it's a dropping of the ball, not a condemnation of a player misrepresented.

he doesn't work the press rounds too much, but he's got the attitude and speaking skills of a CEO.

that very minor "thing" make more sense now? hell, i didn't even bring it up in the public forum. people who know him better did.

and one more...

Vince Lloyd telling a story about Durocher, Bobby Pena and Kessinger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE-iMwM6SaE

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/24/...

Drug testing procedures expert dismisses the importance of drug testing procedures

“There was no sign of any tampering, so I don’t understand how a properly formed independent panel could come to the conclusion that that invalidated the test,” Pound said. “It’s not sitting there in the fridge generating false testosterone.”

That statement makes Dick Pound sound like an idiot. If the procedures don't matter, then why have them?

He also said that Braun won the appeal on a "very thin technicality." Either MLB didn't follow their own procedures or those procedures are flawed. Either way, I wouldn't refer to that as a "very thin technicality."

at least they'll fix it.

also, the program is supposedly very similar to NFL/olympic standards...so with this precedence (though non-binding across leagues) things may change for more than baseball.

MLB screwed up no matter how big or small the technicality.

Wait Dick Pound? Really?

prince fielder's hair had a hell of an offseason.

dyed brownish-red dred-like tips hanging from thickly braided diagonal cornrows on top and vertical rows on the sides.

interesting...kinda...

http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/Reuters/201...

"Manny just asked if I was the video coordinator...our relationship can only go up from here." - b.anderson via twitter.

lulz.

Soriano replied, “It’s not like he did nothing wrong. He made a mistake, but he didn’t do nothing wrong.”

I think Braun has found his future spokesperson. Classic. Love the logic.

That's awesome!

Hopefully Soriano follows Braun's example in not doing nothing wrong.

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/page/OTL-...

about as thorough a rundown of what transpired...

as I said before, I really have no idea if Braun is innocent or not, but the handling of the sample was certainly questionable so I support the decision.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs agrees with you.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/ryan...

it's highly probable braun did cheat (or somehow obtained high testosterone levels, anyway) barring ron-paul-level conspiracy theories...but it's 100% certain MLB screwed up the agreed on process to find a "positive." even if it's an odd loophole it's a legit loophole in the eyes of the arbitrator.

ERIC S: Leo Durocher knew a prospect when he saw one...

Willie Mays was some kind of player, but how about this guy?

link

Prodigous power sure enough ... perhaps a bit more defensive range than Soriano?

If the samples sit, you must acquit.

+1.

really off the wall article in BP about what happens if you type odd/foul things into baseball reference.com's player search...by Matthew Kory:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/s...

Type in "poop"

Awesome! (the wash your mouth with soap rebus)

Next type in "turd" (brown screen)

Then type in George Carlin's 7 words you can't say on TV
...other suggestions: Goat, Donkey, Balls, Cock, Sack and Ass.

finally this little ditty:

Lastly, a man walks up to a woman at a bar. He buys her a drink, and the following conversation takes place.

Man: Hello. May I sit down?
Woman: Sure. Thanks for the drink. I'm Linda. What's your name?
Man: I'm Paul.
Woman: You sure are tall, Paul. Are you a professional athlete?
Man: As a matter of fact, yes. I'm a baseball player.
Woman: [turning fully to face him] A baseball player? Well! What team do you play for?
Man: The Indians, but I've played for a few teams.
Woman: Wow. [moving closer to him] That's so neat. What position do you play?
Man: I'm a pitcher.
Woman: A pitcher? [puts her hand on his knee] That's great! What is your name?
Man: Paul Assenmacher.
Woman: [leaves]

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

I got "Robert Turdik" when I typed in "turd".

Geo Soto covered as a 'value' pick for fantasy leagues in BP:

Soto's projections PA 505, BA.259, HR19, RBI54, R66

Geovany Soto | C | Chicago Cubs
Mixed: $11 | NL-only: $15 | PECOTA C Rank: 9 | C ADP: 12

Soto is one puzzling player. A year removed from a disastrous 2009 campaign, he posts a strong bounce-back season in 2010 by hitting .280 with 17 home runs. Then in 2011, he posts another disastrous line led by a .228 batting average. At this point, fantasy owners might as well be flipping coins to try and figure out whether this year will be a good or bad Soto season, right?

Well, there are some positives to be discussed even amid an awful 2011 year. Yes, it took Soto 100 more plate appearances, but he still managed to hit 17 home runs with an almost identical number of runs and RBI. His 2011 HR/FB rate of 14.2 percent exactly matches his career rate, so it is likely that, even if he struggles with balls in play, a similar number of balls will continue to leave the yard for Soto. A home run total close to the 19 PECOTA projects is completely within reason.

Soto's value will ultimately come down to his batting average, which is as fickle as they come. PECOTA is taking a neutral stance by projecting what is essentially his career average, and with that average, fantasy owners would be looking at a good commodity heading into 2012. The scary thing about Soto's bad batting average in 2011 was that it was more fueled by a career-high 26 percent strikeout rate than it was by bad BABIP luck. Much of this was due to Soto swinging at more pitches out of the zone than he did in his strong 2010:

Both of those skills are a lot more repeatable than batting average overall, so the numbers do point to a performance that could wind up being worse than PECOTA's .259 projection (though nowhere near his 2011 mark). Fantasy players are currently viewing Soto among the last viable primary catchers in mixed leagues, behind names like Wilson Ramos and ahead of second catcher options like Nick Hundley. Among the players being drafted ahead of him, PECOTA likes him more than J.P. Arencibia and Matt Wieters, and though you could make an argument either way here, it is undeniable that Soto's history and strong basic skill set make him a more appealing option than many of the lower-tier, first-catcher options. Instead of banking on a player like Arencibia with well-known strikeout issues, betting on a Soto regression campaign seems like a wiser choice, and winning on that bet would pay huge dividends.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php...

Interesting read. Surprised to see Pecota higher on Soto than Wieters.

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