MLB Calls Theo Epstein’s PED Handling Skills “Above Reproach” and Other Bullets

theo epstein thinkingIt’s birthday party day around the Taylor household. Although today isn’t technically The Little Girl’s second birthday – that’s later this week – it’s the party day. I’m happy for her, but I’m at least as happy about the taco bar and the giant cake. This “having kids” thing has its perks.

  • In the interests of buttoning up Curt Schilling’s mouth that Curt Schilling PED story, MLB released a statement about what happened back in 2008 with the Red Sox, when Schilling says a member of the organization suggested he try PEDs to extend his career: ”At the time of the incident in question in 2008, the Boston Red Sox immediately reported the allegations to Major League Baseball as required by our investigative protocols. Once the Red Sox reported the matter, Major League Baseball assumed sole responsibility for the investigation. The Club handled the matter consistent with all MLB rules and requirements and in a manner that was above reproach. Major League Baseball thoroughly investigated the allegations and considers the matter closed.” The person reporting the matter to MLB was Theo Epstein, then the GM of the Red Sox, so you can read this statement as a compliment of how Epstein handled the situation. Once he turned it over to MLB, they took over the investigation (which is why others in the Red Sox organization didn’t know much about it), and seem to have determined it was mostly molehills.
  • Carrie Muskat says basically every pitcher is already in Cubs’ camp, together with a huge number of positional players. Some guys aren’t there yet for travel/work visa related reasons, but it’s great to see so much enthusiasm.
  • Keith Law spoke to Waddle and Silvy, the audio of which is available here, and Law says there are reasons to separate Javier Baez from the Felix Pie’s and Corey Patterson’s of the past. He has unbelievable raw power and has a chance to stay in the middle infield, which separates him from the former two uber-hyped Cubs prospects. The farm system is in good shape in position players, Law says, but there isn’t much pitching close to the majors. Law say Juan Paniagua has an unbelievable arm – top 10 in the draft kind of arm – but he’s a few years away. Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, and on and on – Law says he could list a bunch of super young arms that he really likes. They’re just really far away.
  • If you’ve got a drink handy and 20 minutes to kill, here’s a long-form piece on where Mark Prior is today, and where he was in the past. Every time I see the words “pitch count” appear, I cringe. And, as they should have in his career, the words come up a lot. The piece also includes a recounting of the first time Prior watched Game Six on TV. He regards the hanging curve to Ivan Rodriguez as the biggest disappointment from the ill-fated 8th inning.
  • Dave Cameron continues to kill over at FanGraphs, this time writing about signing homegrown superstars to massive extensions (a la Felix Hernandez), and the “frictional costs” associated with constantly selling them off instead.
  • Bernie Pleskoff scouts Javier Baez, and comes away impressed.
  • Jesse Rogers held his first chat as the Cubs’ beat guy at ESPN Chicago, and he does things … differently than Bruce Levine or Doug Padilla. Setting aside the text-speak and casual grammar, I just didn’t think there was a whole lot of insight. I’m not into ripping a guy just to rip him – especially the beat writers, because I really do believe they have a tough job and generally do it well – but let’s hope Jesse was just getting his footing.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer offers a Spring Training primer piece, with some stats and dates.
  • We’re getting a very good reception on our BN Podcast this week, which featured Cubs prospecting time with Baseball Prospectus’s Jason Parks. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I’m told you should.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

60 responses to “MLB Calls Theo Epstein’s PED Handling Skills “Above Reproach” and Other Bullets”

  1. hansman1982

    DAMN YOU DUSTY BAKER

    1. MichiganGoat

      Yeah it will take more than one drink to get through that piece

  2. DG3CubbyBlue

    Haha funny about your soon to be two yr old. Mine turns two next weekend and we are serving…taco bar!!! Along with plenty of Pacifico!! Good to hear Theo turned over the info to MLB immediately. Schilling is such a tool…..

    1. Rich H

      I keep thinking that Schilling is doing a PR thing. Remember for a long while every time PED’s in baseball came up the conversation automatically went to Canseco’s book. He was the go to reference point. So I think that Schilling is trying to make himself the go to interview now by saying things as provocative as possible.

  3. @cubsfantroy

    I was reading the Prior piece at work last night. I was kind of sad after reading it. The guy had some bad luck and of course, Dusty didn’t help. I would love to see the Cubs sign him and give him another shot. His attitude about everything seems great.

    1. Morken

      Cubs’ fans seem to direct their anger at the wrong people.

      Steve Bartman didn’t cause the Cubs to lose the NLCS and Dusty Baker didn’t ruin the careers of Prior and Wood.

  4. Finner

    Due to the prospect nature of the last pod cast, I am sure I will listen to that episode again before the regular season begins. For those that have not listened to it yet, it wont be dated for quite some time. Thanks again Brett.

    1. Marc N.

      Yeah I’ve already listened twice. It was a good one.

  5. Clark Addison

    That’s the best story I’ve ever seen on Prior. It’s also the best explanation of what a mess his shoulder is.

    The Cubs ought to sign him. He’s no more risk than Willis.

    Baker was an idiot. Watch out, Aroldis Chapman.

  6. hansman1982

    Just as a reference:

    Mark Prior: Career Pitches per Start: 105 (age 22: 113)
    Verlander: 110 (age 23: 99)
    Maddux: 92 (age 22: 105)

    Max pitches in a game:
    Prior: 135 (age 21)
    Verlander: 132 (age 28 and 29)
    Maddux: 167 (age 22)

    Part usage, part luck, part how you are made.

    1. Westbound Willie

      Jim Maloney threw a no hitter against the cubs in the 60s or 70s and I remember brick house saying that ” that’s pitch number 181 for Maloney”. You can either throw a lot of pitches or you can’t. The manager should know that. He should be able to tell when you are out of gas.

      Pitch counts are for the stat people. Just watch the location of the guys pitches and how the batter takes a swing at the ball and its pretty easy to tell if the guy can continue or not.

      1. MichiganGoat

        You can’t really compare pitch counts of the 60s and 70s to those of the 2000s, pitches became much more complex and stressful in those 30 years. The stress on the shoulder became a major issue and pitchers starting throwing “junk” at a much earlier age than they did years ago. It the 60s and 70s throwing complete games was quite common in the last 20 years its become a rarity.

      2. DocPeterWimsey

        Yeah, and Jim Maloney also blew out his arm before he was 30. Moreover, “out of gas” can and will be very misleading. A guy looks out-of-gas due to aerobic fatigue. Pitches are bad for your arm because of anaerobic fatigue. What looks to be “out of gas” (especially to a non-pitcher, which is what most managers are/were) and what really is “out of gas” are two different things.

        The other issue now is that pitchers throw a lot more pitches such as sliders that probably are even worse for your arm than are fastballs & curveballs. Those pitches were not as common back “in the day.”

        Ultimately, managers have to learn a simple truth: the best pitching motion of all is the one not made.

        1. MichiganGoat

          Exactly in the past a pitcher threw primarily fastballs and off speed pitches and mixed in breaking stuff on occasion. Today breaking pitches are used frequently and even today’s fastballs and changeups are increasingly stressful on the arm. Very few pitches are just straight speed/off speed pitches. Today they all torque the shoulder, elbow, and wrist in unnatural ways.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            The other thing that always makes me raise an eyebrow about the high pitch counts of the past is that lineups used to have 3-4 Darwin Barneys in them. That is, “contact hitters” who put anything near the plate in play, usually for a quick out or at worst a single. The idea of working counts was absent: everyone was brainwashed into believing that walks reflected either sudden wildness or the pitcher being afraid of a batter.

            That meant that pitchers were able to get a lot of short innings. I’ve read and heard many times “10 pitches per inning” was the goal. That wasn’t to keep pitch counts down: but it was a realistic expectation.

        2. Westbound Willie

          Maloney had arm problems but he never blew out his arm. His career ended when he ripped hie Achilles’ tendon running out a ground ball.

          By the way your analysis of pitch counts/arm injuries is a general statement and is incorrect as no two pitchers arms are built the same. Everybody that has thrown any object over time will have some damage. Nonetheless each person is different and to some pitchers throwing on a more regular basis may actually help to be proactive to eliminating any potential injury. In other cases, a guys arm has a short shelf life and pitching less is the only answer. Saying every pitcher has the same arm strength is naive to say the least. Compare the careers of prior and Jenkins. Do you think they had the same identical arm fibers/muscles? I think not.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Ah, I had forgotten that about Maloney. However, if you look at the pitchers from the high pitch count eras, you’ll find that they often had pretty short careers. Of course, it has always been true that pitchers do not last as long as position players: but guys went from really good to nothing in a hurry quite frequently back then.

            And, yes, all individuals are going to have different reactions for their soft-tissues. There is zero way to identify that without actually damaging someone (like, say, doing biopsies on their muscles). It’s just like some people having lungs that get less damaged by a cigarette than others. (Of course, Fergie probably would have pitched a lot fewer complete games if he’d been throwing as much breaking stuff as modern pitchers, if he’d been pitching to the much smaller modern strike zone, and if he’d been facing so many fewer “contact” batters: i.e., if he’d pitched in 2003 instead of 1973!)

            The way we really find out in both cases is wait and see who suffers. That makes the better policy to just throw as few pitches (and smoke as few cigarettes) as possible.

    2. jayrig5

      Maddux and Verlander are very much the exceptions, though. I know you hinted at that, but I do fully think the end of the 2003 season was criminal in terms of how they handled Prior.

      Combine that with his horrifically bad luck (line drive off the elbow, collision with Marcus Freaking Giles) and you get what they got. But just because Verlander and Maddux could do it doesn’t mean that it’s the responsible choice for every young pitcher. (They’re both freaks of nature, in different ways.) And the way they escalated pitch counts late in the season was reprehensible.

  7. Westbound Willie

    Prior was a once in a lifetime looking pitcher. After watching him for a number of starts I thought this guy has the ability to put up a sub 2 pt. era and go 25-3 in any given year.

    Bad luck seemed to be his calling card though with getting run into and taking a line drive off his pitching arm. People blame baker for part of priors woes and I just don’t see it. Sure his pitch counts were high but what does an extra 10 pitches a game really mean?

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      The amount of tearing to muscle fiber increases as pitch counts go up. A pitcher does much more damage to his arm with pitches 101-110 than he does with pitches 71-80, and vastly more than he does with pitches 21-30. Moreover, as the muscles become tired, the ligaments and other connective tissues begin to absorb more and more of the brunt of the starting and stopping, as the muscles that “brake” for them tire.

      In the end, it’s the same physiological mechanisms that are responsible for the fact that the most tiring (but most productive if you just want muscle mass) reps in the gym are the last ones you do: and those also are the ones where you are most apt to really hurt yourself.

  8. 5412

    HI,

    My wife and I were at the team hotel in 2003 and one thing we noticed was Prior did not interact much with the team. We say other players taking a walk around the hotel parking lot while Prior walked alone. To be fair he was very young and probably feeling his way.

    Speaking of young, I don’t like att they hype being piled on the kids; particularly Baez. I would much prefer he came out of nowhere like Castro did. The Cubs marketing department is selling hope, something they have done for generations. Baez may or may not live up to his hype; but piling more expectations on him does not help a bit.

    Went to see Soler in Beloit last summer and he is a big kid, but same thing, a long way to go.

    The more hype on these kids the tougher it is to coach them in some cases and when they do struggle it can create some real problems. Look at Rizzo, he just tried to hard and it took a year or so, and a new team to get straightened out.

    regards,
    5412

    1. CubFan Paul

      “The Cubs marketing department is selling hope, something they have done for generations. Baez may or may not live up to his hype; but piling more expectations on him does not help a bit”

      Then the Front Office shouldn’t be trading veterans away and they should of signed Hamilton, Greinke, & Pujols.

      You can’t have it both ways.

      1. Marc N.

        Anyone notice how Baez is marketed vs. Almora? The contrast between them is startling if you were to go purely off of scouting reports and perception, yet both have incredible ceilings at the highest level. I like that Almora’s upside/expectations are kind of kept tempered in the scouting reports as I’ve been hearing about zomg elitez toolz for a decade+ now with Cub prospects now.

        Lets see….zomg 70/70zzz for Vitters and now Baez (who has a chance to actually make it close)…the great Pie and Patterson…Guzman’s stuff, which really was dirty…Andy Sisco’s height and left handed power…Billy Petrick’s 95 MPH power sinker…so many more…Nic Jackson…David Kelton….It’s really about time these guys are just allowed to develop and do it at the MLB level before ridiculous superlatives are just handed out to them. This made more sense in my head.

  9. cubchymyst

    The fangraphs piece is great, the idea of frictional costs is something that I hadn’t thought about to much and is a strong reason why the Cubs should not consider the suburbs and deal with the troubles of getting Wrigley refurbished. Wrigley being a tourist attraction means that the Cubs will not sustain as large of a frictional cost when they go through a rebuild because fans will always show up.

    1. Lou

      And yet the community of Fangraphs mostly disagrees with the article for being nothing more than “case study” and Cameron just trying to take the non-conventional route to things. The argument that Wrigley Field is a tourist destination so the Cubs won’t incur additional costs might be a strong argument now but that wasn’t always the case. It really wasn’t until 1984 that the attendance took an upswing. And that was because of the acquisition of players and building a solid team in 1984. So, it’s really hard to me to say, at least at that time, that the costs of rebuilding the build (i.e., early 80s) wasn’t the same for the Cubs as it was for other teams. It might have been that they suffered some expense at building their organization starting in the early 80s.

  10. JB88

    I like Jesse as a person but he’s a terrible reporter. When he started covering the Hawks he knew next to nothing about hockey. Seems it will be the same way with the Cubs. Strikes me as a fanboy who never played sports. Maybe that’s an incorrect observation, but his journalism focuses on things that non-athletes would focus on IMO.

  11. TonyP

    Pearl Jam tickets on sale in 10…..

  12. Die hard

    Sveum could shake things up by declaring that every one of the 25 positions is up for grabs no matter what the contract. Start instilling that competitive spirit on day one

    1. MichiganGoat

      sure he could say that but everyone knows that is not true: Garza, Samardjiza, Rizzo, Castro, Soriano, DeJesus, EJax and many others are not going to lose their spot because some kid has a good spring.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Also, spring training is not the appropriate place to make decisions about who starts, and it never has been. Spring training exists as it does because teams needed several weeks to work the flab off of players after they had taken the winter off from anything athletic. It was never for auditions: had it been, then turnover in starting lineups would have been much, much greater than it was.

        Thanks to Marvin Miller, the traditional spring training really is an anachronism: but they’ve never fixed that!

        1. Die hard

          That’s why it would shake things up

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            No, it would just be dumb. Spring training games are nothing like real ones and the sample size is negligible. It just fosters the fairy tale that you’ll somehow maximize players performances by adding fear and luck to their problems.

            Spring training serves one purpose and one purpose only anymore: it provides the players something between real games and batting practice / pitching sessions to adjust from a winter of just working out to a summer of playing daily. It serves that purpose in 10-14 days, and the carries on for no particular reason for another 2-3 weeks. Heck, I’d even fire a manager for making a decision about bench or bullpen players based on spring training performance, unless the choice was between otherwise indistinguishable players given prior performance. (I’d also recommend flipping a coin, but why waste the energy if you can use ST performance as that coin flip?)

            1. Die hard

              So we agree then?

              1. MichiganGoat

                Oh Die hard you satire makes me smile

            2. MightyBear

              I can drive this home. Chris Volstad had a dynamite spring last year. How did that work out?

    2. MichiganGoat

      Plus if some players do not make the 25 man aren’t they wavier wire players and can leave the team (plus whats remaining on their contract) and go to another team. Thats just bad baseball both financially and competitively.

  13. MichiganGoat

    Happy Birthday to Lil Miss Taylor and don’t worry about the terrible twos they are not nearly as bad as the threes and fours.

  14. arta

    never been a Jesse fan! nothing personal.

  15. ferrets_bueller

    Off topic: Does anyone know how the view of Centerfield is from section 229? I’m in row 21.

    I wanted to get field seats for Pearl Jam like I did with the wall, but didn’t get in the pre-sale, and spent from 10am to 10:20 in the virtual waiting room trying to get in…finally got in and all the pairs of the two best levels were gone :/

    1. TonyP

      at least you got in, I’m still waiting

    2. TonyP

      if you aren’t happy with the view, I will buy them from you :-)

      1. ferrets_bueller

        Well, I do plan on watching stubhub for the next few months to see if a good deal on some better seats pops up. So they may end up available! I wouldn’t be looking to make a profit either, if I sell them I’ll do it for cost.

        1. North Side Irish

          $5500 GA tickets on StubHub…wow…

  16. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Got 118 row 5 early

  17. TonyP

    let me in ffs

    1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Right.

      1. TonyP

        I meant let me in to purchase tickets not yours. Does the virtual waiting room tell you when it is sold out or do I sit here all day staring at the screen?

        1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          Not sure. It took me a while. While I say early, I should have said early today. I was in at 10:03. I was calling the box office and waiting in the virtual waiting room. I only really gives you a minute to make a choice then boots you out.

          1. TonyP

            I have the worst luck in the world, I have had 5 windows open for a hour and can’t get in.

            1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

              Wow. That sucks man. You should be able to find tickets elsewhere.

          2. ferrets_bueller

            So the waiting room let you in after just three minutes? Bastard!! I got in the waiting room as soon as it opened, was refreshing tickets.com from 9:55 to 10.

            Damn luck based stuff, lol.

            1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

              Yeah I was shocked. I was calling the box office too. Completely content. Up front of 118 on the aisle. Definitely going to get a hotel and go out in Wrigleyville. Its me and a couple others. If anybody goes out after, or hell, before, we need to figure this out to get a drink.

  18. cls

    “Lack of insight” is a good way to describe Jesse Rodgers. I was never impressed when he was ESPN’s Blackhawks beat guy. He had all the access due to his ESPN nametag to get interviews and the like, but his opinions and general hockey comments and thoughts just never seemed to have any substance. They moved him to the Cubs during the lockout, which I assumed meant they realized he didn’t know crap about hockey, and that the Cubs/baseball would be a better fit. Hopefully it is, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t.

  19. Whiteflag

    Boys of Spring has nice pictures of players already working out in Mesa. Check out Garza’s sideburns. http://boysofspring.com/d-train-pulls-fitch-park-sightings/

  20. North Side Irish

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat
    Little tweak in #Cubs bunting tourney: someone from front office will get 64th spot. Theo and Jed will square off

  21. Clark Addison

    One of the reasons for Prior’s high pitch counts was an inordinate number of foul balls. It seemed hitters knew they couldn’t catch up with his stuff, so they kept fouling them off to try and get him out of the game.

    One thing he’s done in the past few years is lay to rest the accusations that he was gutless. Even at the time, the way he returned so soon after two devastating injuries showed he had lots of cojones.

    Sign him, Theo.

  22. chrisfchi

    I always like prior. Too bad baker destroyed his arm. Anyone still got one of those “In Dusty We Trusty” shirts lyin around?

    1. MichiganGoat

      I burned my a long time ago

  23. fromthemitten
  24. Joker

    Let’s see. PED’s…Corey Patterson…nah….(puts head back in the sand)