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Well, I took the list of minor/major league drug suspensions from biz of baseball and looked up the nationalities of all the players. Eliminating ones I couldn't find the nationalities of and repeat offenders, I've got 326 different players suspended since 2005. Americans make up 38% of the suspensions, compared to 55% of minor league players. Dominicans make up 39% of suspensions, compared to 21% of total minor leaguers. Compare the Dominican rate to their island brethren in Puerto Rico, who are a little less than 2% of both.
I don't want to keep going in circles on it, so I'll just say that it does matter very much where he's born and the numbers back that up.
I think you're underrating just what a cultural construct "common sense" is. I'd argue that if you have major arm surgery and there's drugs you can take to help you recover faster, it's common sense to take those drugs. The Dominican Republic, like a lot of Latin American countries, is a much less formal and rigid place than the United States. It's not uncommon for trainers or coaches who've worked with the players since they were little kids to give them supplements that are perfectly normal in the Dominican but illegal in MLB. The players are also playing for higher stakes than their American counterparts. If an American player doesn't make the majors, they lose millions of dollars but what's the worst that will happen? They'll still be richer than 99% of Dominicans. All these factors make drug use more appealing to Latin players than American ones, common sense or no.
I think MLB should, at minimum, require Latin minor leaguers to undergo 'orientation' programs that are made specifically for them, taught in Spanish, and include severe warnings about the types of supplements that are so common back home. Beyond that, having MLB-certified doctors in Latin countries (and requiring players to only get prescriptions from them when they're at home) makes a lot of sense to me.
Again, the majority of players who test positive for PEDs are Latin American (which is especially concerning when you consider that this is entirely disproportionate to the rate of Latin players in organized baseball as a whole) and this is not just because they've all got bad agents or lack common sense.
Well, did he know he could get a TUE? This is what I mean about Latin players not being properly educated about rules, etc. David Ortiz said as much both before and after he was outed.
MLB needs to do a much better job if integrating its Latin American players into the league, particularly regarding drug policy. I'm sure Will has the numbers, but well over half of the players who test positive at any level are Latin (most of them Dominican) and this just can't be a coincidence. Whether it's a language barrier or cultural differences or the rampant availability of PEDs in Latin America (I'll tell you from experience that they sell andro in Mexico City subway stations) or whatever combination of causes, MLB's got to do a better job of preventing Latin players from using. MLB-approved doctors in the Dominican would be a good start, if that doesn't exist already.
On the larger point, things like this and Manny Ramirez's suspension highlight to me just how ridiculous baseball's drug-testing policy is. It was meant to satisfy our desire for justice against Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire but all it's really done is punish guys like Edinson Volquez who is either a) telling the truth and struggling with infertility or b) lying and trying to recover from surgery. Are situations like his, or Paul Byrd's or Rick Ankiel's, really that bad? Are they really destroying the fabric of the game or whatever that complaint is? I don't know how we can blame people for pursuing whatever treatment they can, considering the injuries are to the body that's making them millionaires. Particularly the Latin players, who have done nothing education-wise apart from learning how to play baseball and aren't likely to have a decent alternative way to make a living.
I realize these aren't new points but for some reason, the Volquez case has really got me feeling strongly about this.
Under what circumstance is cocaine possibly worse for a baseball player to take than steroids?
What can steroids/HGH/etc. do to help heal injuries? If an athlete takes performance-enhancers to heal from injuries, will they also by extension enhance his/her performance?
Anywhere we can see the whole of the results?
Love the Dominican league, and happy to see in-depth coverage here as I mentioned in the comments to one of Kevin Goldstein's recent updates.
What I'd like to see is some discussion of how MLB teams control whether their players play in the Dominican and other winter leagues. Do they make the decision? Or do the players and Dominican clubs have any say themselves?
So I do. You're the man, Goldstein.
Really glad to see these kinds of updates. Any chance we'll get something similar from the Latin winter leagues?
Not to pile on Jim Tracy but - okay, what the hell? Might as well pile on Jim Tracy. Here's a copy of what I wrote earlier today. Much of this has been covered here already, but I think not all of it.
"Tracy should have pinch-hit Hawpe for Spilborghs in the 8th, and Stewart for Atkins. Brad Hawpe is, arguably, the worst defensive right fielder in baseball. To let Spilborghs hit in a tie game, only to lift him for Hawpe at the top of the next inning, well. What else can that be but trying to lose? Joe Beimel is apparently being kept on a strict pitch-count somewhere around 4. The Rockies baseball club doesn't seem to have access to secretly guarded information such as lefty-right splits, or at least won't share it with their manager. Unless it's the starter, Ryan Howard should never EVER be facing a right-handed pitcher. Using Torrealba instead of Iannetta is dumb as can be on its own merit, but hitting Torrealba 5th, which sets up a four-man set of Torrealba/Atkins/Spilborghs/Barmes is very, very stupid. The insistence on Dexter Fowler over Seth Smith. Bringing Matt Belisle, the Rockies' very worst relief pitcher, in to pitch in critical situations in both games 1 and 3. It's an absolute cornucopia of idiocy. But the team has evidently chosen not to set the bar any higher than 'better than Buddy Bell' and so he'll probably get a 3-year extension after this."
Man, Kevin, nice to see some attention paid to winter leagues. In my dream world, Prospectus would devote lots of attention to them during the MLB's break. Well, and so would MLB Network.
Really looking forward to seeing how Chacin does. Guess I'm a temporary Leones fan.
Why not just use Pitch FX to measure an umpire's accuracy, declare that something like 99% accuracy is necessary to retain your job, and go on with it?
Would really like to see Paul DePodesta get the job in San Diego.
Interesting that you called Chacin the best prospect in the Rockies system. Glad to hear it, actually, but do Christian Friedrich and Tyler Matzek have cases?
Hey, speaking of fantasy type games, is there no HACKING MASS this year? Did I miss an announcement?!
Great work as always, John. Only one thing: the Yankees are the only team in American professional sports that expect a title every year. Real Madrid and Boca Juniors don't ever settle for 2nd place.
The issue with qualifying tournaments would be MLB/NPB players being available for them. If teams aren't even releasing pitchers for the actual tournament, I can't imagine them doing so for qualifiers.
Hey, Will, any word on Taylor Buchholz? The Rockies' beat writers say he'll be back May 1st. Any idea if it could be quicker? Or if there's a risk of recurring?
Yeah, the gig with the Rockies\' pitchers (and probably the other teams with missing pitchers) is that the only ones showing up are the new ones (Marquis, Embree, Greg Smith and Huston Street.)
Yes, it should.
Yeah, I mean, I completely agree with all of what you\'re saying. Figuring out who is at fault is not just about satisfying the public desire for justice or scapegoats or whatever. It\'s also, and more importantly, about figuring out how MLB could go about preventing similar things in the future.
I mean, the pot-in-college metaphor makes sense to me but what reason to we have to believe the official figures? There\'s no reason to believe they\'re really that accurate, especially if/since the Players\' Association was tipping off players. Even if we do assume that because 104 tests came back dirty, it follows that only 104 players tested positive, I think it\'s reasonable to say that the sample of 2003, when players all knew about the upcoming tests and had a very compelling reason not to take whatever they were taking in 2002, is probably not really representative.
If you look at the Mitchell Report, which got 89 players basically from two sources, and you realize that one of the most famous steroid users, and a Yankee no less, didn\'t even make the Report, it is really easy to see how the numbers swell quickly. Again, I mean 2002 and prior.
I really strongly disagree with most of the folks at BP, and the commenters for the most part, that the moral outrage from fans is inappropriate. I do, however, think it\'s misdirected. Because there was not a comprehensive doping policy before this decade, players had every reason to juice. In fact, for many of them (those who were injured, especially) it was in their best interest. I really don\'t think you can blame players for doing what\'s in their best interest. You can, and should, blame MLB and the Players Union for creating those conditions. The MLBPA pulled off the neat trick of fostering an atmosphere where steroid use would obviously be prevalent and then completely screwing its members in several ways when the ax fell. Don Fehr and Gene Orza, in my view, deserve pretty much all of the scorn that\'s coming down. If there\'s anything shameful in the \"witch-hunt\" or coverage, it\'s that the players are being made out to be villains when they were really just products of a whole boatload of stupidity from their union.
Just looked over the Rockies, and it looks good. (Well, it doesn\'t look good but it looks accurate.) Cheers, Clay.
They have to do with a players\' injury risk. A green light means a player is relatively sure to be healthy (not withstanding freak accidents and so on), a red light means a player is an injury risk, and a yellow light is in between. If you do a search for previous years\' Team Health Reports, you\'ll find a more involved explanation.
It makes me nervous to see Chris Iannetta red. Is it just because he\'s a young catcher? No major injuries as far as I know.
Yeah, yeah, wait for the Team Health Report. I know!
It was Ronny Paulino that hit that home-run. Man, during the Dominican finals, Licey was so loaded with pitching talent from the MLB, it\'s weird to see them struggling now.
I\'d have to nominate Clint Hurdle as one of the more unlikely players to become a manager. Guillen\'s a damn good choice too.
As for current players unlikely to become managers, how about Adam Dunn?
I support Unfiltered pages!
Of course I meant \'05 for the Astros.
Aren\'t we beyond ruling out half the teams in the league as having a reasonable shot at the playoffs? Did the Rays make your list before last year, or the Rockies the year before? Did the Marlins make your list before \'03 or the Astros before \'04? Every team in baseball gains something by signing good players.
Move a corner infielder for as good a young starter as possible, trust the farm system, don\'t sign big dumb, Hampton-like contracts.