Welp, things are about to get real around the MLB in the next couple weeks.
As any of you folks who follow baseball know (so, all of you, because why else would you be reading this?), Tony Bosch, founder of defunct Biogenesis wellness clinic in Miami, has agreed to cooperate with an MLB investigation into his records pertaining to the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to over twenty MLB players. On the list of players facing possible suspension are some not-so-shocking names: Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, and Alex Roid-riguez, to name a few. But, umm… Jhonny Peralta is on the list, too, so that pretty much sucks a ton.
When Jhonny showed up for spring camp this year looking slim and trim, I chalked it up to working hard in the off season. Now, before I go any further, I don’t want to give anyone the impression I think J-Honny cheated. I’m still chalking it up to working hard in the off season. He’s been implicated in connection with Biogenesis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he used any sort of PEDs. This whole thing is going to blow over. Just you wait and see. I hope.
At the same time, it’s a really unfortunate coincidence for Peralta. This is a contract year for Jhonny Roundface. His numbers were down a bit last year. He is off to an insane start this season. And now he’s being listed in possible connection to PEDs. The "evidence" here is pretty bummerrific, to say the least.
Honestly, I don’t know a lot about PEDs these days. I understand that whatever substances MLB players are using (or trying to use, or are accused of using, or whatever) today are not the steroids of old. Dudes aren’t bulking up to Lou Ferrigno-like proportions, the backs of their necks often mistaken for a package of Ballpark Franks (or Koegel’s Viennas, if you’re from Michigan, because Koegel’s Viennas are the best hot dogs in existence). Guys are not harnessing the power of their performance-enhanced sideburns to launch 50 Brady Anderson bombs, having hit only 16 the year before. The improvements are more subtle, more difficult to spot just by looking at a guy. Quite honestly, if not for the testing and the probing of the MLB, most guys today might not even be suspected of using. I can tell you one thing — Jhonny Peralta would certainly not be a player in question.
While I understand all these things, I still have a hard time believing a guy like Peralta is using PEDs. Peralta is having a tremendous first half, no doubt. But the biggest improvement in Jhonny’s numbers hasn’t come from a place of power. He does not appear stronger in any way. He just looks like a guy who lost some weight, trained hard, and is seeing those dividends on the field. Jhonny is getting solid base hits, and is also reaping the benefits of a ridiculous BABIP. Here are some of his numbers so far this season:
It should also be noted that Jhonny has hit 13 doubles so far this year and no triples, which means that 47 of his 66 hits have been singles. Not exactly what the type of extra-base power you’d expect from a guy using PEDs. He’s been walking at a pretty decent rate, but the statistic that stands out the most is his BABIP. Basically, when Jhonny puts the bat on the ball, it finds holes. Bloops are falling in for him right now. Pretty sure there’s not a drug for that. If there was, I’d encourage V-Mart to look into it; that poor guy has been hitting lasers and coming up empty — it happened twice last night.
But, let’s say for a second that Jhonny’s name does come up on the list of guys who wind up getting suspended in this ordeal. It’s not going to. But, you know…hypothetically. This would be, as they say, Bad News Bears for the Tigers. Detroit isn’t exactly what I would consider "deep" in terms of infielders. Peralta’s absence would likely mean more playing time for Ramon Santiago. Danny Worth, who played some infield for the Tigers last year, has been injured since mid-April. In an article for The Detroit News, writer Lynn Henning mentions a few internal options in AAA shortstop Argeniz Diaz and AA shortstop Eugenio Suarez. Diaz, as Henning points out, has Major League experience with the Pirates; Suarez, he says, is the Tigers’ "most talented shortstop prospect."
I can’t say that I know a ton about either of these guys. I’ll leave the speculation on the Minor Leaguers to the fine folks over at Tigers Prospect Report. It would seem, though, that if Peralta were to be suspended and the Tigers were hell-bent on filling that hole in a big way, it would have to be via the trade. A Peralta suspension could be enough for the guys in the front office to hit the panic button, and I wouldn’t be too shocked to see them quickly put together a package for a mid-tier shortstop from a struggling team (think Seattle’s Brendan Ryan or San Diego’s Everth Cabrera, for example). I’m not saying the Tigers should do that. I’m just saying it wouldn’t shock me.
Another option would be to wait it out for a while, operate with a Santiago/Diaz platoon, and think about doing something at the deadline. Or they could just let Santiago play, and then bring up Worth whenever he’s healthy again. Or they could take a risk on a Jason Bartlett or an Alex Gonzalez, who are both free agents. Or they could just roll with some sort of Santiago/Diaz/Worth combo platter for the rest of the season and look to sign a free-agent shortstop in the offseason, like Stephen Drew. Or, none of this could ever have to happen, since Jhonny Peralta is probably totally fine you guys. It’s all going to be fine.
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FINE.
Just, please, for the love of God… don’t let there be any surprises in the list of players identified by "code names" or in the documents nobody has seen yet.