PED suspension suggests looming tumult–PROFIT, PROFIT, PROFIT


Jul 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (22) sits in the dugout during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

During the end of the movie Inside Man, Denzel Washington, playing himself as far as I can tell, tells some shady banker character how he’s going to expose him for how he acquired his wealth near the onset of War World II. Best I can tell–it was the denouement of the film and they were piling a lot of new information on–the banker had made his profits from supplying names to the Nazi’s, betraying Jewish clients and pilfering their personal assets, etc. The point, is that he was a monster for profiting off the desperation of others during desperate times. It was a war, and in seeking to line his own pockets, he got people killed.

But this, this oncoming wave of subsequent suspensions likely to be kickstarted by Ryan Braun’s 65-game unpaid sabbatical, likely prompted by evidence that he had procured PED’s from the Biogenesis clinic, is about baseball.

And baseball, is not particularly serious.

Oh sure, if the inevitably continuous pursuit of extralegal performance assistance by athletes competing at the highest level for lucrative returns has intoned anything, it’s that the league should do its best to regulate a situation that would spiral out of control and has in the past. But in the name of blessed regulation, the Commissioner’s office is sidling along and paying PED distributors for information to hang their players with, as if punishing this most recent group will bring salvation to the sport and make it less of an ethical morass. These are silly times.

In moments like these, when other teams are desperate, it’s only good baseball strategy to ruthlessly take advantage of them.

Also occurring on Monday was a trade that saw the Cubs pull in troubled former top prospect Mike Olt, promising Low-A hurler C.J. Edwards, future back-end starter Justin Grimm, and apparently still one or two more players to be named later, all for a two-month rental of Matt Garza. It was an encouraging affirmation of the strength of the market for sellers in light of the second wild card spot and also an especially weak trade deadline for starting pitching. Things only gets more encouraging with the prospect of the division-leading, albeit not traditionally big-spending, Oakland A’s losing Bartolo Colon to a suspension. Although they very easily could duck further consequences for him.

There’s also Nelson Cruz in Texas, potentially creating more demand for a corner outfielder like Alex Rios, and Jhonny Peralta in Detroit, potentially creating more demand for a shortstop like Alexei Ramirez–even if the thought of Ramirez in Detroit two weeks after the Comerica Park faithful cheered when he pulled up lame rounding first reads as a bit of a mismatch. The location is not really important, it’s about demand.

Chris Rongey wrote a column Monday that upset me greatly, but only because it was on point. He raised the possibility that the Sox would look at Jake Peavy a key cog in a starting rotation that a team could win a division. “Maybe they could at least make it interesting,” Rongey offered, which sounds familiar to the rallying cry to many Sox seasons of the past decade, where rationalizations about the weakness of the division were followed swiftly by efforts to lionize teams that merely accomplished the feat of “competing” in said lousy division.

Perpetually strong pitching typically provides a reasonable floor for the White Sox, and prospects bust, but if they don’t see the opportunity to sell off non-essential assets, work to build an offense while trusting in their ability to churn out capable pitching onced more, when the market is curving toward them so uniquely, the questions becomes if they ever will.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan