Tag Archive | "Melky Cabrera"

Tarnished Todd

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Tarnished Todd

Posted on 19 February 2013 by Chris Caylor

Pro athletes can be enigmatic people. So, too, can the people who cover the games pro athletes play.

ToddHelton

When sportswriters – especially the folks who get paid to cover a team – interject their opinions on their Twitter feed or a blog post, then they become part of the story as well. We see this every year at Hall-of-Fame voting time. Another perfect example in baseball is when an athlete gets busted for using performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball writers love (no, LOVE!) to get up on their soapboxes and rail at the sky about how those players are destroying the game. Just look back at some of the Grade A conniption fits some writers have thrown over Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Yasmani Grandal and others.

I don’t begrudge them those opinions, even if I may not share their vitriol. What I ask is this: where is the outrage over a DUI?

Yes, using PEDs is now forbidden in baseball. Yes, using PEDs creates a competitive imbalance within the game and puts an athlete’s accomplishments into question. But does using PEDs put innocent lives at risk the way driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol does? While Alex Rodriguez brings embarrassment to himself, the New York Yankees, and baseball as a whole, did he endanger lives the way Todd Helton did a couple of weeks ago?

Simply put: no.

When the longtime Colorado Rockies’ first baseman decided to get behind the wheel of his Ford F-150 truck at 2 am on February 6, 2013, he put lives at risk. His driving was so erratic that police were rightfully called. His mugshot now belongs in the Celebrity Mugshot Hall of Shame. Helton’s iconic moment – fists raised to the sky, shouting in triumph as he catches the final out of the 2007 NLCS – has been sullied with photoshop images of him guzzling wine from an Igloo cooler instead of celebrating the Rockies’ lone trip to the World Series.

Let’s be clear on one thing: no one was injured or killed as a result of Helton’s appalling decision. Thank heavens for that. But it does not excuse his appalling lack of judgment. His apparent motivation for this dangerous drive was lottery tickets and chewing tobacco. Is that worth a human life?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 30 people in the U.S. die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The CDC says that translates to one death every 48 minutes. In statistics reported by MADD, Colorado drunk-driving deaths increased 9% from 2010 to 2011. In fact, 36% of Colorado traffic-related deaths in 2011 were drunk-driving related.

Being arrested for a DUI has devastating effects on the offender. Typically, by the time one pays for bail, court fees, penalty fines, and insurance costs, the price tag is about $10,000 – and that’s if you didn’t hit anything or injure anyone (hat tip: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

This doesn’t even begin to take into account the devastation visited on a victim. I can’t and won’t even begin to quantify something like that. Ten thousand dollars is pocket change to Todd Helton, who has made over $150 million in his major-league career.

Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock foolishly drove while drunk and died in a 2007 crash. The Angels’ Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver in 2009. So, sadly, there is tragic precedent between drinking and driving and baseball players.

You might think the media would be critical of Helton, similar to how the media excoriated former Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa or outfielder Delmon Young after their alcohol-related incidents.

Sadly, they were not.

Not comparing Helton to Young (who is, by many published accounts, a terrible human being), but local Denver Post writers practically fell over themselves to EXCUSE Helton for his crime. One columnist flippantly began a column thusly: “So now the statistical line for Rockies star Todd Helton reads: 354 home runs, .320 batting average and 1 DUI arrest. Helton is sorry, Denver.” Another has completely glossed over the seriousness of what could have happened in favor of emphasizing that Helton is a “prideful” man who is contrition was obvious before he uttered a single word of explanation to his fans.

When Helton did finally address the media this past Sunday (11 days after his arrest), he was apologetic, but gave no explanation for the delay. Helton refused to discuss why he decided to drink and drive that night, and no media members pushed for an explanation. Helton claims that he has “gotten help” for his “monumental mistake,” yet he would not elaborate what sort of help he is getting. Is it because the investigation is ongoing? If so, then say so.

And is it just me, or did he seem irritated that he had to speak about his DUI at all? Local TV stations also reported that this would be “the first and the last time” that Helton would address this matter. That sound contrite to you? Me either.

No one asked Helton if it ever occurred to him that he could have injured – or killed – a child wearing a Helton jersey or t-shirt. Has Helton considered what such an unspeakable tragedy would do to his legacy? I’d like to know the answer to that question, yet the media has not asked it. Why? Could it be that it is easier to screech and preach about intangible things like the “spirit of the game” or “integrity” than it is to deal with all-too common occurrences in life like drinking and driving, alcohol dependency or automobile crashes? I don’t have an answer. I just wish someone were willing to ask the question.

No questions will be forthcoming from Major League Baseball. Bud Selig has offered no comment whatsoever on Helton’s DUI. The Denver Post has reported that the Rockies do not plan to discipline Helton for his crime, but they did issue a STRONGLY WORDED statement the day after Helton’s arrest. The team used phrases like “extremely disappointed,” “full accountability,” and “severity of the situation.” But an organization that has for years trumpeted how much it values “character” in its players, coaching staff and management, will take no further action other than issuing a statement that essentially says “STOP! Or I’ll say stop again.” Three cheers for hypocrisy, everyone!

Here’s a question for the media, Rockies management and fans: what if it had been a player other than Todd Helton, the franchise icon? What if it had been one of the Rockies’ many young pitchers? A 20-something, perhaps single guy, trying to establish a major league career? Would everyone be so quick to come to that player’s defense, espousing deep insights into his psyche and rationalizing a horrible decision? Or would they be raking him over the coals, demanding his release and entry into a rehab program? Interesting question, isn’t it? The cynic in me has a guess what the answer would be, and the answer is disappointing.

Check out these numbers tweeted by Anthony Witraudo of The Sporting News: “By Sporting News’ count, 12 MLB players, an exec, a bullpen catcher, an announcer and a HOFer have been busted for DUIs since start of 2011.”

Pardon the turn of phrase, but that’s a sobering statistic. The way so many baseball writers harp about PEDs, you’d think the ratio of PED users to DUI arrests was 50-to-1. Again, I ask, where are the priorities of baseball writers? Shouldn’t the DUI issues at least get equal time?

In fairness, the National Football League has a much higher number of players who have been arrested for driving under the influence. But no one grandstands about the prevalence of PEDs in the NFL, either.

Helton said Sunday he is taking “all the right steps to make sure (drinking and driving) doesn’t happen again.” Let’s hope it doesn’t. He played Russian roulette with his massive pick-up truck and got lucky. If it were to happen again, the end result might be a tragedy far more heartbreaking than an athlete caught using steroids. I hope that is something members of the baseball media come to realize sooner rather than later.

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Colorado Rockies: another dismal offseason

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Colorado Rockies: another dismal offseason

Posted on 30 January 2013 by Chris Caylor

Some major league baseball teams have had an eventful offseason.

YorvitTorrealba

Take Atlanta, for example. So far this offseason, the Braves acquired outfielder B.J. Upton, his little brother Justin, as well as third baseman Chris Johnson, pitchers Paul Maholm and Jordan Walden.

Toronto traded for or signed everyone else. Okay, not really, but talk about an overhaul. Since the end of the 2012 season, the Blue Jays have added R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio, Jeremy Jeffress, Esmil Rogers, Mike Aviles, Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, Mark DeRosa, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the other hand, consider the Colorado Rockies.

While the above two teams were loading up to make a run at the World Series, I cannot see the goal to which the Rockies aspire. Not based on these trades and free-agent signings, anyway:

• Pitchers: Jeff Francis, Chris Volstad, Miguel Batista, Manny Corpas
• Catcher: Yorvit Torrealba
• Acquired reliever Wilton Lopez for pitchers Alex White and Alex Gillingham
• Acquired infielder Ryan Wheeler for reliever Matt Reynolds

Let’s start with the good (or, more accurately, the least bad move): Lopez is a useful pitcher who sported a 1.04 WHIP and a park-adjusted ERA+ of 185 for the woeful Astros last year. He should team with veteran Matt Belisle to form a reliable bridge to closer Rafael Betancourt. That is, on the few occasions where the team has a lead after six innings. Best of all, he is under team control through 2016. Given the fungible nature of relievers, that does not justify giving up a promising young arm like Alex White, but at least they didn’t trade White for a single season’s worth of Lopez.

The other pitching moves make it appear that the Rockies are actively attempting to field the worst starting staff in the majors. Francis earned the distinction in 2012 of being the only Rockies starter to surpass 100 innings, despite not starting the season with the team. His hits allowed-to-strikeout ratio was 145 to 76. The Rockies rewarded him with a raise.

The alleged “ace”, Jhoulys Chacin, nibbled around the plate so timidly in 2012 that he earned a demotion to Triple-A in spite of the Rockies’ having no viable alternative to replace him. Jorge De La Rosa, one of the nastier southpaws in the NL during the Rockies’ 2009 playoff run, has been fighting injuries ever since. Yet, the Rockies are counting on him heavily to rebound to his four-years-ago form.

Juan Nicasio, whose inspirational return from a broken neck last year was overshadowed by the Jamie Moyer sideshow, had his 2012 season short-circuited by knee surgery. Nicasio has the stuff to be an effective strikeout pitcher, but needs to sharpen his focus on the mound to avoid unraveling at the first sign of trouble.

Christian Friedrich and Drew Pomeranz (the centerpiece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade in 2011) will compete to fill out the rotation. Each has shown flashes of promise, but the foolish four-man, 75-pitch rotation idea last year stunted their development. Fans can only hope that the return to a typical five-man rotation will help. As is, we don’t really know how good they can be.

Further hindering the Rockies’ chances at fielding a competitive 2013 team was the team’s failure to trade one of its few marketable commodities (not named Tulowitzki or Gonzalez). Michael Cuddyer, in particular, drew interest from the Phillies and Mariners. This should have been a no-brainer. Tyler Colvin out-performed Cuddyer in every meaningful offensive category in 2012, at less than 1/3 of the cost. However, the Rockies are content to pay Cuddyer over $10 million for league-average production (actually, BELOW average, given his OPS+ of 99), while they dumpster dive for pitchers like Volstad, Batista and Corpas. This is just not an intelligent way to build a competitive baseball team.

But then, that is nothing new for the team’s ownership.

Charlie and Dick Monfort continue to delude themselves into believing that their team is a contender in the NL West, when the past three seasons have demonstrated that nothing could be further from the truth. The Giants have won two of the past three World Series. The Dodgers have become Yankees West, spending money in ways that might surprise George Steinbrenner. The Diamondbacks and Padres have more youthful talent than the Rockies do – and better management. The Rockies, meanwhile, can’t even hire a manager without looking like incompetent bush leaguers.

When they forced Jim Tracy to resign, they replaced him with former Rockies shortstop Walt Weiss, who was coaching a local high school baseball team. HIGH SCHOOL. He wasn’t a promising bench coach like Joe Maddon. He wasn’t a minor-league instructor in whom team management saw something. Had the Brothers Monfort just watched the movie Invincible? Or was it The Rookie? Maybe they saw how the White Sox and Cardinals succeeded last year with untested managers and thought, we can do that!

Whatever the case, they have such faith in Weiss that they gave him a one-year contract. Let me repeat that. They were so confident in their outside-the-box choice that they essentially told him, “We think you’ll be great. By the way, you get a grand total of 162 games to prove it or you’re gone.” Weiss says all the right things – you have to earn your way, I’m not nervous, blah blah blah – but he has less job security than the bullpen catcher. I wish him luck, because he’s going to need it.

The first question I would ask Weiss is this: Dante Bichette as hitting coach? Seriously?

Bichette may have been the most popular Rockie during his stay with the team from 1993-99, but he was the poster child for the negative Coors Field effect on hitters. Of his 274 career home runs, 137 of them came at home during the seven seasons he played for Colorado. He played for 14 seasons. Thanks to those seven seasons spent in Denver (pre-humidor), Bichette’s career Total OPS in home games was 124. His Total OPS in road games? 76.

Yet this is the hitting coach who is going to help solve the Rockies’ road hitting woes? In 2012, they were tied for last in baseball, with a measly 272 runs scored. Bichette never solved his problems hitting on the road when he was a player. Is it reasonable to expect him to do it as a coach? Or is this a hire more aimed at getting some good PR for a team coming off the worst season in its history? After all, nostalgia always works in baseball.

I just wish the team were more nostalgic about the 2009 Colorado Rockies, rather than the fluky 1995 version that never would have made the playoffs if not for the strike-shortened season. Heading into 2013, that 2009 team seems further away than ever.

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Melky Cabrera Does Something Right…For Once.

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Melky Cabrera Does Something Right…For Once.

Posted on 23 September 2012 by Trish Vignola

Melky Cabrera, serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance, will not win this year’s National League batting title.

You think?

At Cabrera’s request, the Commissioner’s Office and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced an agreement on Friday to suspend, for this season, part of a rule that might have resulted in the Giants outfielder winning the league’s batting title despite being one plate appearance shy of automatically qualifying for it. Believe it or not, according to Rule 10.22(a), Cabrera still could have been crowned batting champion.

Cabrera asked not to be considered under the circumstances. “I have no wish to win an award that would be tainted,” Cabrera said in a statement on MLB.com. “I believe it would be far better for someone more deserving to win. I asked the Players Association and the league to take the necessary steps to remove my name from consideration for the National League batting title.”

Where was this moral fortitude this spring?

Cabrera continues. “I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request by suspending the rule for this season. I know that changing the rules mid-season can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to get this done.”
Cabrera had 501 plate appearances and .346 batting average at the time of his suspension on Aug. 15. The requirement to win a batting title is 502 plate appearances, a total based on 3.1 plate appearances per game. The issue in question was Rule 10.22(a). That allowed for an exception by adding one or more hypothetical at-bats to a player’s statistics in order to reach 502 appearances. I don’t get it, but if the player maintained the league lead after such a calculation, he would be named the league champion.

Apparently, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn won the NL batting title in 1996, via such a calculation. He finished the season with 498 plate appearances. He had a .353 average.

“After giving this matter the consideration it deserves, I have decided that Major League Baseball will comply with Mr. Cabrera’s request,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement to MLB.com. “I respect his gesture as a sign of his regret and his desire to move forward, and I believe that under these circumstances, the outcome is appropriate, particularly for Mr. Cabrera’s peers, who are contending for the batting crown.”

Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, batting .339 entering play Friday, currently has the next highest average in the National League. Buster Posey of the Giants follows with a .335 average. Cabrera made his request to Michael Weiner, the executive director of the MLBPA. Weinter brought it to Commissioner Selig’s attention. The parties then worked to clarify the rule, and collectively agreed the rule would be amended this season.

“Melky Cabrera, through a written request to me, asked for the union’s assistance in removing him from consideration for the 2012 National League batting title,” Weiner said in a statement on MLB.com. “We complied with Melky’s wish and brought the matter to the Commissioner’s Office, which agreed to suspend the rule. We commend Melky’s decision under these circumstances.”

Yeah, he’s the epitome of righteousness.

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3 Up and 3 Down – August 26

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Gary Marchese

It is that time again for the weekly three up and three down look around baseball.  It was an interesting week and made it easy for a couple of downs for me.  The steroid era is over, well we thought it was, but that dreaded word is at it again.  As always you can reach me through my email gmarchesej@aol.com, twitter @gmarchesej, facebook and of course comment under this article.  Thanks as always for supporting me and this site in general and we look forward to the continued support.

Up - Adrian Beltre 

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Adrian Beltre -He just had a three homerun game and then he hits for the cycle. Beltre is batting 310 with 23 homeruns and 74 RBI on the season.  He is having a very good year and really coming on lately also.

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An Open Letter to Melky Cabrera

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An Open Letter to Melky Cabrera

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Trish Vignola

Dear Melky,

Can I call you Melky? No, I won’t call you “The Melk Man”. I’m not that brilliant wordsmith, John Sterling.

You were a bright shinning beacon for my otherwise dismal fantasy baseball team. On a team that provided my league with such memorable moves like taking Joey Votto as my first draft pick. Joey Votto? You know Joey Votto – 2010 National League MVP, hitting .342, disabled list. How about Johan Santana? Oh, he was my sleeper pick. Sure, he pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets franchise history. Now? If his earned run average were a child, it would be entering the first grade.

You though were different. You were the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 All-Star Game. You’re hitting .346, the second highest average in the National League. You have 11 home runs and 60 runs batted in. You lead the major leagues with 159 hits and 84 runs. Did I mention that you are playing for a San Francisco Giants team that was tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the National League West entering today’s games? You sir, kept me from dead last place.

Surprise! Today, you gave me the gift that keeps on giving. You tested positive for testosterone. No, that’s not my fancy way of saying “You da Man!” That is though my fancy way of saying Major League Baseball suspended you for 50 games effective immediately.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to give you a speech about “cheaters never winning” and how I hope the effects of losing the rest of your salary has some impact on your psyche. Based on the false pretense in which you presented your services, I hope this has more of an impact on the Giants accounting department. It’s obvious that you were over paid.

I’m not going to talk about how people would give their eyeteeth for just one shot to do what you do every day. The Giants have 45 games remaining. It looks like you’ll miss the rest of the regular season and then either five games of a playoff run or the first five games of next season. It’s totally not worth it to give our eyeteeth to do what you do now – you know, sitting on your couch watching “Baseball Tonight”.

Dude! You were on a legitimate playoff contender. Do you realize that last year you were on the Kansas City Royals? Seriously. After what you did, my fantasy baseball team might as well BE the Royals.

“My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used,” you said in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association. “I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down.”

Cue the “NBC ‘The More You Know’ Music.”

I could take the high road. I could release a fantasy statement regarding my fantasy baseball team just like the Giants did. “We were extremely disappointed to learn of the suspension of Melky Cabrera for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our game. Per the protocol outline by Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, the Giants will not comment further on this matter.” But, I am.

As you sit on your butt for the rest of the season, all I hope is that you stay away from R.A. Dickey and you get really fat. If you need me, I’ll be digging my hole deeper until this season finally ends.

Yours truly,

Trish

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