How about a 162-game ban for performance enhancers? - NBC Sports

How about a 162-game ban for performance enhancers?
Cabrera's testosterone bust proves 50 games aren't strong enough deterrent
August 16, 2012, 4:08 pm

But while King Felix has joined the short list of immortals with the season's latest magical moment of pitching dominance (bet you can't list all six no-hitters), the mess Melky has made isn't going away.

Who's mad at Melky? It's a long list:

The Giants: Pablo Sandoval just came off the disabled list, and the Giants finally thought they had their lineup settled. And when you looked at the projected 1-through-5 of Angel Pagan, Cabrera, Buster Posey, Sandoval and Hunter Pence, it did seem formidable enough for another deep playoff run.

But now manager Bruce Bochy is back to writing Gregor Blanco's name on the lineup, and general manager Brian Sabean probably is searching for corner-outfielder alternatives through the waiver-deal process.

But at this point after the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline, there's no replacing Cabrera's top-10 MVP-level production: League-leading hit total (159), second-highest NL batting average (.346), the league's eighth-highest OPS (.906), and second on the Giants behind Posey in home runs (11), RBI (60), on-base percentage (.390) and slugging percentage (.516).

Through a tight-lipped grimace, there was no mistaking Posey's anger in the wake of Cabrera's suspension: "It was a mistake, and that's all I want to say about it," he said to a group of interviewers.

At least this occurred before the Giants had signed Cabrera to a long-term deal. But more on that later.

All American League contending teams: That MVP acceptance speech in Kansas City, where Cabrera credited hard work, thanked God, yadda, yadda, now paints him as a fraud.

So does the fact that when questioned by CSN Bay Area beat writer Andrew Baggarly a couple of weeks ago about rumors of PED use, Cabrera denied it - apparently while right in the midst of going through the appeal process for the positive test.

But because Cabrera was the biggest part of the NL's 8-0 All-Star Game wipeout, whoever emerges as AL champion will have to deal with home-field disadvantage in the World Series. And there was no bigger example of how important that can be than last October.

Even Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday has admitted that beating the Rangers in Games 6 and 7 would have been unlikely if those games had been played in Rangers Ballpark rather than Busch Stadium.

Most everybody outside of the commissioner's office agrees the idea of pinning something so important as World Series home-field advantage to what is played on the field as an All-Star exhibition game is a totally flawed concept that must be changed. Now, the game's MVP was a cheater, too, and the AL could pay the price again.

We'll say it here once again: World Series home-field advantage should be determined by overall interleague records - where the AL clearly has dominated in recent years.

MLB: You'll hear that Cabrera's suspension is more evidence that the drug-testing program is working, and that's true. The game is cleaner today than at the height of the Steroids Era.

But it's a fact of human nature that a percentage of players will try to cheat, especially when there are staggering financial fortunes possibly at stake, and especially when a highly sophisticated level of test-beating measures apparently are out there.

So what should now be obvious to both the commissioner's office and the players union is that the threat of a 50-game suspension and whatever public embarrassment occurs isn't enough of a deterrent. How about a 162-game suspension, or a full calendar year, for a first-time offender? That could affect two seasons - a significant chunk of a player's career.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson - among many others around the game - agrees. As he told the Arizona Republic: "I think it should be a minimum of a year (for a first offense), and after that (an offender) should just be banned."

And on top of the fact that the All-Star Game MVP was a cheater, we're looking at the distinct possibility of a tainted NL batting title. That's what will happen if Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto or somebody else doesn't finish with a batting average above .346 - Cabrera's average with one more plate appearance added on to reach the necessary 502).

And finally, Cabrera himself: Cabrera's transformed 2011-12 seasons had put him in position for a huge payout this offseason in free agency. How much, we'll never know for certain. But something in the area of four or five years and $40 million to $60 million is a reasonable assumption.

That's nowhere near the level Josh Hamilton could reach this offseason as potentially the market's top free agent. But other potential free-agent outfielders in Cabrera's price range -

Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Torii Hunter - suddenly have become a bit more valued, while Cabrera could plummet to half of what he might have received.

Obviously, that was a chance Cabrera felt was worth taking. And it can't help but make you think that in reality - that is, without PEDs - maybe he is much closer to the fourth-outfielder type he was with the Yankees and Braves than his last two seasons with the Royals and Giants. And yes, it's right to question those 2011 numbers, too, because that's when his dramatic transformation began.



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