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Buster Olney on M&M: MLB has ‘no blueprint’ for dealing with potential suspensions related to Biogenesis clinic

07.10.13 at 2:07 pm ET
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ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday to talk about the potential suspensions stemming from the Biogenesis clinic investigation, as well as the Red Sox‘ options at the trade deadline.

According to Olney, the league could announce 100-game suspensions to the players connected to Anthony Bosch‘€™s clinic sometime later in July. However, the appeal process could be tricky for the league and the players union to handle.

‘€œEvery single one of these cases are going to be completely different in terms of the evidence, the piece of paper, the names written on them, the corroborating evidence, what the witnesses say about them,’€ Olney said. ‘€œThe union and Major League Baseball are not necessarily built to have two dozen cases all in one. Yet they are going to have to. You have one arbitrator that is going to be hearing these things. That’€™s why last week for example in the podcast we do I asked Jayson Stark, ‘€˜What happens, for example, if Nelson Cruz is suspended from the Rangers and then his appeal is heard and the decision comes down in early September, but Bartolo Colon on a competing team in that division is suspended but his appeal isn’€™t heard until the offseason. What happens then?’€™

‘€œSo I called someone in baseball and I asked that and the initial thing was, ‘€˜Well, my sense is maybe we would do it all at once.’€™ But then there was a pause and he said, ‘€˜Well, then we would be accused of leaving a guy on the field when we knew he was going to be busted.’€™ It’€™s a really complicated situation and baseball has never dealt with anything like this before. There is no blueprint for action. It is something I think even the people involved in the decisions are going to be figuring out day to day.’€

The appeal process could be a tricky one for the league and the union, but it might even hurt Cruz’€™s chances of signing with a team this offseason if it goes poorly, according to Olney.

‘€œIf you’€™re Nelson Cruz ‘€” you talk about bad timing for all of this,’€ Olney said. ‘€œNot that anyone should feel sorry for him ‘€” especially if he used ‘€” but if his case drags into the offseason, he is a free agent when the year is over. The Rangers almost certainly will tender him a one-year offer, but he has to make that decision by the end of November. If he doesn’€™t have that information back on whether or not he is going to be suspended, no team is going to sign him. They are not going to know how long he is going to be out. They are not going to know if he can be any good without PEDs.

‘€œI made the case today, if I’€™m Nelson Cruz and I got suspended next Wednesday, I’€™m not appealing because I want to get back out on the field in the beginning of September or as soon as possible to get that case behind me. But of course if he does that, the union probably wouldn’€™t be happy because it undercut all of the other cases that are being appealed before the arbitrator because the arbitrator would say, ‘€˜Wait, so this player says the information is correct and the rest of you are telling us it’€™s not correct? Huh.’€™ ‘€

While being connected with performance-enhancing drugs is not good for any baseball player, many argue that Ryan Braun is in the most trouble if the allegations are proven to be true. However, Olney said that he thinks the person who has the most to lose is Alex Rodriguez.

‘€œDo you guys remember after he admitted it in spring of 2008, he began to work with the Taylor Hooton foundation ‘€” named for the teenager who took his own life after using performance-enhancing drugs, and his parents really dedicated themselves to this fight,’€ Olney said. ‘€œAlex Rodriguez has done so many events for them and spoke on their behalf and has been very public about this and how he wants to do that. If in the end it is proven the whole time he was doing that and at the same time using performance-enhancing drugs, essentially using the specter of this foundation that was created after the death of a teenager for public relations purposes, that is pretty disgusting if in fact it is proven he used PEDs.’€

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On the trade market for relief pitchers: ‘€œI’€™m sure from the Red Sox’ perspective that a lot of the solutions that you look at in the relief market are really imperfect. Kevin Gregg, for example. Would his stuff translate to the American League East? Was he just a guy that had a couple of hot months? Matt Thornton. When you actually look at what he has done, he essentially now is a specialist. Can you, as the Red Sox, carry two left-handed specialists? I don’€™t think you can. That’€™s why Andrew Miller‘€™s loss was so devastating, because he was a guy who could get out right-handers and get out left-handers. You could give him an inning and he would be fine. And even James Russell of the Cubs, who the Cubs are willing to talk about. Right-handed hitters against him have a .950 OPS. So, right-handers hit him hard. They need a guy who can go through a full inning.

‘€œAs time goes on, and I wrote about this today, prices are going to be so high that maybe the Twins eventually do put Glen Perkins out there. Maybe the Mets become more reasonable about Bobby Parnell, their closer. And they should. When you think about how volatile relievers are, I looked this up today. Do you know how many relievers, how many closers are in place from 2011 to this year with the same team? Three out of 30 teams have the same closer in 2013 that they did in 2011. Craig Kimbrel of the Braves, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees and Chris Perez of the Indians. That is it. That tells you how if you’€™re buying, you shouldn’€™t overpay. And if you’€™re selling and if you have some hot commodity like Glen Perkins, you darn well better listen.’€

On Michael Young’€™s fit with the Red Sox: ‘€œI would imagine that one of the big questions that they have to ask is how good is he actually at third base? When I talked to Michael in spring training about his past play at third base — when he was with the Rangers, he was, generally speaking, pretty awful. But he felt like that he hadn’€™t played the position to the best of his ability and he worked a lot this spring with Mike Schmidt on getting lower and being in a better place. He said to me, ‘€˜I’€™ve always had good hands and I’€™ve always had good arm. I’€™m not some big oaf. I feel I can play this position better.’€™ That would be one of the questions the Red Sox would have to ask. Is he actually doing that?’€

On Manny Ramirez signing with the Rangers: ‘€œHe has got to hit. He has got to demonstrate that he can hit with power. That is exactly what Oakland wanted last year when they signed him. Their feeling was ‘€” and I think Texas is in the same boat ‘€”there is zero risk for them. He is making $10,000 to $15,000 in the minor leagues ‘€” basically pennies ‘€” the contract if he gets called up to the big leagues is for major league minimum with no incentive clauses whatsoever. They sign him, they stick him in the minor leagues, if he hits for power and he shows anything then they will call him up. And they don’€™t have to pay him anything. I do think they had it with Nelson Cruz in mind. The one thing I will tell you I’€™m hearing today is that so far he has not shown a lot of bat speed, which is where he was in 2010.’€

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, Nelson Cruz,
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