Are we in the post PED era yet? The steroid era is frequently referred to in the past tense, but that may be a triumph of hope over reality. The Biogenesis PED story has linked big stars like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun to PED use. Nothing has yet been proven, but this is not the first time Rodriguez or Braun have been linked to PED use. Rodriguez is an aging star who, despite an enormous contract, is unlikely to be an important on-the-field presence again. In this respect, Rodriguez's association with Biogenesis is the least damaging for the MLB. More troubling are reports that Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, a 27-year-old rising star, and Mariners catcher-DH, Jesus Montero, a player who many see as having a bright future in the game, also had ties to Biogenesis. This suggests that a new generation of players are dabbling in PEDs and that the problem is not going away soon.
Jesus Montero had been burning a hole in the New York Yankees’ pocket for about two years. Although he was a highly touted and anticipated prospect, who did not disappoint when brought up to the big leagues at the end of 2011, Montero had been mentioned in so many trade rumors since mid-2010 that it was no surprise when the Yankees finally pulled the trigger and traded him. It was, however, somewhat surprising that the Yankees managed get in return for Montero, not some highly paid veteran pitcher who was already in the decline phase of his career, or a top flight pitcher poised for free agency at the trade deadline, but Michael Pineda who is only 23 and one of the top young pitchers in the game. While Yankee fans may be sad to see Montero go, and anything can happen particularly with young pitchers, Pineda could be a very valuable contributor to the Yankees for several seasons.
The New York Yankees have been the biggest non-story of the off-season. Not surprisingly, given the role the Yankees play in baseball’s shared consciousness, this non-story has itself become one of the major themes of this off-season. Shortly after the World Series, the Yankees renegotiated a big contract with their ace pitcher CC Sabathia. Since resigning Sabathia, the team has done almost nothing. They have signed Hideki Okajima to a minor league contract, parted ways with longtime catching star Jorge Posada, but made no significant changes to their major league roster.
There are many variables that determine which prospects are the most promising and have the brightest futures. These include quantitative measures, scouting reports and even things like size, body type, makeup and family background. For example, prospects who come from baseball families are often seen as having a slight advantage over others. One variable that is often overlooked regarding minor league prospects is the organization for which they are playing.
The Cliff Lee trade was an interesting trade not only because it worked out well for all three teams involved, but because it exemplifies the different kind of strategic thinking that is becoming the norm for different kinds of teams. Although the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners were the only teams to move players, the New York Yankees were very involved as well. The Yankees offer of minor league prospects Jesus Montero and David Adams for Lee was initially accepted by the Mariners, before it fell through at the last minute when the Mariners accepted the Rangers’ offer instead.