4-21-10: Mock Mailbag

Hello again everybody...

Happy Humpday to you all. Let's hope the next few days sail by quickly and the weekend shows up sooner than later.

Yes, yes, I understand that 72 hours is 72 hours and it can't “technically” get here quicker, but you know what I mean! It's all about perspective people. And from my perspective, the weekend can't get here soon enough. At least the weather's been nice!

Thanks to all of you who sent me feedback on Monday's RGC. I always enjoy hearing people's thoughts on the column - positive, or constructively critical - and it seems the RGC's tend to inspire more than any other column. Emails, blog comments, twitter messages, whatever. Keep 'em coming folks, I love to hear from you!

The baseball season's now over two weeks old, and there's plenty to discuss. But instead of the standard Notes column, I decided to break out the Mock Mailbag. Enjoy!

Let's get to it!

”Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”
- Andre Gide (1869 - 1951), French author and Nobel laureate

I constantly seek truth in the wonderful world of baseball. But as loyal readers will tell you, I rarely find it!

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Mock Mailbag

(As always, none of the following emails were conceived, written, or sent by the individuals named. They're merely figments of my questionable imagination.)

Why do we suck so much this season?

Red Sox Nation
Boston, MA

Good question, Nation!

Boston (whom I hate) is now 5-9 on the season. They've lost six of their last ten and are 2-6 in Fenway Park. This was a playoff team a year ago. How in the name of the Splendid Splinter did this happen?!

What's that they say about “the best laid plans”?

GM Theo Epstein set about remaking his roster this past off-season with an emphasis on pitching and defense. He signed starting pitcher John Lackey to a big free-agent contract, and brought in Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron to improve the defense at third, short and center field respectively.

So how's that working out? Boston's (whom I hate) pitching staff has an ERA of 4.58, that's third worst in the American League. Worse, their starting staff's ERA is 5.18, dead last in the AL. Not that you want your bullpen to suck, but you're far better off with a quality starting staff with a questionable pen, than questionable starters with a solid pen. The starters eat up the bulk of the innings. The bullpen can't help you if the starters put them in a hole all the time.

As for the defense? So far the Red Sox (whom I hate) have committed 10 errors, second most in the AL. Last night, they surrendered 9 stolen bases to the Texas Rangers by the fifth inning. That tied a Red Sox (whom I hate) team record set in 1913. That's what you call “historically bad”. Oof.

If pitching and defense were supposed to form the core of the '10 Red Sox (whom I hate), it was because they expected to take a step back offensively. So far, those fears have been fairly well realized. Currently the club has a team OPS of .739. The American League average is .733. An average-hitting Red Sox (whom I hate) team?! I'm amazed there hasn't been rioting on Yawkey Way!

In all seriousness (and it pains me to say this), I don't expect those numbers to remain that poor for the duration of the season. The Red Sox (whom I hate) started with the Yankees, the Twins, and the Rays as three of their first four opponents. Not an easy way to start the season. Plus they've had a rash of injuries, including Mike Cameron being out for the near future with a hernia-like issue. Those things have a habit of evening themselves out.

The key for Boston (whom I hate) is to not get so far behind, that they can't catch back up when the evening-out occurs.

(See? And you thought I couldn't be unbiased and fair when it comes to the Red Sox - whom I hate -?)

You mean I wasn't supposed to take that "medication"?!

E. Volquez
Cincinnati, OH

Um, no Edinson, you weren't.

The Reds righty was suspended for 50 games yesterday as a result of a violation of MLB's performance-enhancing drug policy. That policy prevents the release of the specific drug Volquez tested positive for, but there isn't any indication that it was anything other than a PED.

According to Volquez, he took a prescription drug during the off-season in the Dominican Republic which led to the positive test. Of course he didn't mean to violate the policy, it was just a simple mistake. Never mind that he's been trying to rehab from reconstructive elbow surgery and an illegal anti-inflammatory drug would aid in said rehab. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Yes, that's sarcasm.

I'm sick to death of having guys get popped with positive tests in the big leagues, when it seems that it's not terribly difficult to avoid it. Baseball, more than any other sport, has had it's reputation sullied by the use of PED's. Just when it seems like the game has finally turned a corner and started to move on from that unfortunate era, another positive test pops up.

Two interesting points to this story.

One, MLB rules allow Volquez to start serving the suspension while continuing his rehab at the Reds' Spring Training facility in Goodyear, AZ. What exactly is the point of popping someone for 50 games, if they were going to sit out a chunk of those anyway? It's the same problem I had last year when Manny Ramirez served his suspension for PED's, but was able to play minor league games to get himself in shape to come back. It's a stupid loophole in the rule that needs to be closed. If these guys are suspended, that punishment should apply in any league - Major, Minor, Mexican, or otherwise.

Two, ESPN's Jayson Stark pointed out an interesting statistic yesterday on his Twitter account (@jaysonst):

“With Edinson Volquez's ban, only 3 of 7 big-league PED suspensions since 2008 have gone to hitters - Manny, Humberto Cota & Eliezer Alfonzo”

At this point, when it comes to the use of PED's the hitter-bias we used to carry has lessened. But I still think that's an eye-popping number. More pitchers than hitters are being caught using PED's. That's probably not an accurate representation of who's using them more, but I think that ratio is a lot more even than we figured even five years ago.

I'll also point out once again, that the vast majority of guys getting caught come from use in the Caribbean Leagues. I've harped on this before, but if MLB really wants to shut down the flow of illegal substances into it's midst, they really need to take a more active role in policing the off-season games that many big leaguers participate in.

Sure I threw at a guy's head, but I've already missed a bunch of games with an injury, why should I have to sit out more?!

C. Lee
Seattle, WA

MLB announced yesterday that it was rescinding its 5-game suspension of Seattle right-hander Cliff Lee after reviewing his appeal.

Early in Spring Training the Mariners were playing the Diamondbacks. In the first inning, Lee was involved in a collision with Arizona catcher Chris Snyder. The next time Snyder was at the plate, Lee came inside with a fastball, then tossed one over Snyder's head. Snyder naturally took umbrage, started walking towards the mound, both benches emptied, and Lee was ejected.

According to Lee and the Mariners, however, the two events were mere coincidence. They successfully argued that it was injuries, and not malice that led to the pitch sailing over Snyder's head.

If that's the case, it's a hell of a coincidence. Part of me wants to give Lee the benefit of the doubt, since he doesn't have a history of incidences like this. If it had been a guy with a different history, Vicente Padilla let's say, maybe not so much.

What really drives me crazy though, is when MLB suspends guys and then turns around and either reduces or eliminates their suspensions. I'm all for getting these things right, but why can't they be gotten right the first time around? Instead, we have a system where it seems like MLB purposefully over-suspends guys, because they know the suspensions will then be reduced upon appeal. How much sense does that make?!

I hope Cliff Lee comes back strong from his injury. It's better for baseball when a guy of his talent is able to get out there and perform. Let's just be a little more careful with the chin music, okay Cliff?

We know the season's only two and a half weeks old, but we've got to start the voting process for the All-Star game now!

Major League Baseball
New York, NY

Say what?!

I know you want to give as many fans as possible the chance to vote for their favorite players, and starting the balloting process early in the year means that everybody who attends a ballgame between now and the end of June will get that chance. But given the advent of modern technology - i.e. a little thing called the internet - fans will have just as much of a chance if you hold off til, say, Memorial Day or so.

Anyone with an email address can vote up to 25 times online. People with multiple email addresses can vote 25 times per address. Plus there's still the old-fashioned ballot you get at the ballpark. There's no way that voting numbers are going to suffer noticeably if you wait a reasonable amount of time.

How on earth are fans supposed to have a solid idea of who's deserving of an All-Star berth after only a couple of weeks? You're practically begging the fans to make it a popularity contest, which is part of what ends up driving people nuts when the rosters are announced. Every year there are a couple of starters who don't truly deserve to be there because some fans vote with their hearts and not their heads. Then again, how can they be expected to vote with their heads when the voting starts and they don't have enough data to make an intelligent choice?

It's just another case of baseball succeeding despite the inanity coming out of the MLB offices.

There you have it folks. Another Mock Mailbag in the books. Remember, if you have a real question you'd like answered - or if you have a Mock question you'd like to suggest, I'm all ears. Drop me a line at:

What do you say I come back on Friday and do a little Updating? Sound good? I think so too!

Until then, thanks for reading!