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Chat: Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday August 05, 2013 2:00 PM ET chat session with Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business.


Ask Maury about the business side of baseball.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Big day is here as the Biogenesis suspensions are about to go down. We already know Nelson Cruz has said he will not appeal through grievance. Lot's to talk. Let's get the party started

edwardarthur (Illinois): Looks like Selig was bluffing on suspending A-Rod for life and circumventing his appeal rights, meaning the only "compromise" Selig really offered was to let A-Rod consent to what Selig wanted to do anyway. Do you think Selig overplayed his hand (as he now faces a real risk the suspension is reduced in arbitration), or do you think he preferred the public show-down with A-Rod all along?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Potentially. I always thought that going after the "best interest" (Article XII) of the CBA was pushing it. I'll be interested to hear of this was a case of the MLBPA putting their foot down. You know they couldn't possibly have been happy.

dianagramr (VORGville): Hi Maury ... So the CBA requires players to submit to PED testing. Can a club (let's say one interested in a free agent) require a player to submit to its OWN testing (above and beyond) prior to offering a contract? If so, then I don't want to hear clubs whining about losing their players for 50 games in a pennant race.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: No. Or, at least I've never heard as such. Would be something that would be outside of the JDA and something the sides in this would likely put a stop to ASAP. There are very clear protocols for collecting samples, who examines it, and how it is reported. Having 30 different voices through the clubs administering their own testing would be crazy. Besides, FAs are tested. As soon as a club signs them they are subject to the drug program

ttt (Manhattan): Nixon got a pardon, why can't MLB just let it go?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Why should they? If you go that route, there's little sense that there are any consequences to using PEDs

Derrick (Barrie, Ontario): If some agents have multiple clients involved in the Biogensis scandal wouldn't MLB be wise to ban some of them as well?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Yeah, this is a good question. The only way that this would work would be decertification by the MLBPA. There would have to be compelling proof that the agency enabled PED use by supplying it to the players or directing players to someone like Tony Bosch. I know ACES has been under fire because of all the players associated to Biogenesis (well, we can now say they have one less player in their stable of players with Nelson Cruz leaving), but to date, they haven't been decertified.

Cal Guy (Cali): Why is there talk of Colon and Cabrera receiving NO suspension whereas Braun got 65 games and A-Rod faces a lifetime ban... why the inconsistencies for all the multiple offenders?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Double-jeapordy. They've already been suspended for coming up positive and served suspensions.

Shawn (Boston): Any recent articles/studies/etc. that show what (if any) economic impact all the drug talk has done to baseball? Also, any talk of pressure being applied from MLB sponsors to "do something" about the drugs?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Well, revenues continue to climb and attendance has held up well in the midst of a bad economy. The drug program is arguably the best in all of pro sports, even with these issues out of Biogenesis. I get the feeling that the fans have grown weary of the subject. And until ratings and attendance begin to drop, I don't see sponsors applying pressure. If Congress has been quiet, they must think the league is doing better than they were a few years back around the time of the Mitchell Report

DanDaMan (SeaCliff): Can you help me sort through the noise of talk radio and all the conspiracy theories I hear about the whole A-ROd vs. Yankees situation? What do the Yanks need to happen in order for them to collect insurance money? and how does the DL come into play? Thanks

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: I don't see the insurance money come into play. At least not now that A-Rod appears to ready to play. It would only affect the policies for both clubs if he is forced to retire due to injury. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in a few years, especially if the suspension is upheld.

Leg4206 (4th level of Astros Hell): Is the lack of a TV deal (at their desired price) a result of a popping TV sports bubble or a result of their undesirable product? If the Astros only receive post-bubble value in an ultimate deal, what level of payroll can fans expect (years down the road)?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: I think there's a few things in play. The club has picked a heck of a time to play hardball over the TV deal while in the midst of a radical rebuilding process. And yes, it's partially due to the bubble. If there's a compelling case that a team will make for good ratings and drive people to a carrier, then those carriers may be willing to pay higher rights fees. The Astros don't strike me as one of those teams.

Slough (Seattle): Rumored names that weren't suspended. Were we talking about All-star level players or more replacement level players?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: I'm not going there. There were names talked of, notably Gio Gonzalez and at one point Robinson Cano, but those were unfounded.

neo (nj): Don't most experts still say that if you are smart you can use PEDs and avoid a positive test? If so, the one thing this proves is Biogenesis was not smart and provided very bad advice. They had about 1/4 of their clients test positive! Here is the bigger question... Since Biogenesis can't be the only provider, why isn't anyone talking about how many others are probably using and not being caught?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: We're (reports, analysts, columnists) are all talking about it. "Cat and mouse" is always discussed. I wrote about this issue yesterday: How Did MLB's Drug Testing Fail with Alex Rodriguez and Others?

Greg (LA): what happened to due process? The CBA says no public disclosure if the player appeals until after the arbitrator makes the decision. We all hate Arod, but he's entitled to his day before the arbitrator before we all pile on.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: While confidentiality around suspensions is a key section of the latest joint drug agreement (see it here), the league is given the ability to announce the suspensions under the Appeals provision, Section 8 , D. Appeals of Discipline Issued Pursuant to Section 7.G.2. (see pg 31):

The Commissioner's Office may publicly announce the discipline of a Player if the allegations relating to a Player's violation of the Program previously had been made public through a source other than the Commissioner's Office or a Club (or their representative employees or agents).

Free_AEC (South Jersey): The Phillies are the 4th largest media market in the USA (A.C. Nielsen). Their projected TV deal is supposed to be at least $5 billion. Are they going to unload for Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence plus a couple of shutdown relievers or continue with this Toothpick bat fraud Ben Revere and that no-talent triple-A bullpen? Is some TV network actually going to pay $5 billion for that?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: I can't speak for how the Phillies will spend their money, but they should see a lucrative new TV deal which will allow them to try and reload and get competitive. Their player salaries have been very high, and I've wondered how they were able to sustain that through attendance which until this season was off the charts. The new TV deal gets them back in that stage. Now, whether they hang on to veterans that will be deep in the throes of regression is another question.

Steve (Baltimore, MD): What I don't understand is why this is such a punitive environment? For many PEDs, we have no idea if they are actually PEDs. Wouldn't it make more sense if MLB and MLBPA instead engaged in programs in service to the health of players? To build trust would enable everyone to figure out which supplements are used quickly and figure out if there are any dangerous effects. Let them use PEDs that are safe like advil or caffeine.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: An interesting premise. I think that it's far easier for the sides to work from, "Let's err on the side of being safe." In other words, it's harder to go backwards on this matter. Look at what occurred with Mark McGwire and Androstenedione. It was banned in the NFL and then after MLB banned it, it loomed over McGwire well before his admission to using other PEDs. I guess the very unscientific answer is, it's messy

Michael (Spokane): What impact do you think this whole exercise will have on Selig's legacy? Somehow this process has gotten me to root for A-Rod, which in turn reflects pretty poorly on the commish...

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Yeah, I think Shelly Jenkins of the Washington Post did an excellent column talking about the heavy-handed way that it's been dealt with. Fay Vincent has said that players caught once should be banned for life... there's tough middle ground. I've used this bad analogy before but I'll do it again. It's like the Death Penalty. You say that in creating the most extreme form of punishment that it will stop murder. But we all know that that's not the case. For baseball, it's the money. Selg isn't going to beat back salaries to when we had the Reserve Clause, so instead it's "rule with an iron fist" and "we need to make examples of those that flaunt the system." It's a difficult spot for the league and the MLBPA, who needs to protect the players while saying they wholly endorse the drug policy

John (CT): MLB found out about this group almost by accident. What are the odds that other such rings exist in professional baseball? Considering the money involved chances are good there are more.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Oh, I think you can bet on it. Where it's going to get crazy is if we get into some Orwellian state where baseball is basically under military arrest. There's already been "witch hunt" conversations for years, and this doesn't help it. But, how do you have a zero tolerance sport without going the distance to enforce it? How much of this is sending a message to the players, future players, the media, and the MLBPA? To say there's none of that involved would be folly.

ttt (Manhattan): What consequences? A dozen players? Are we to believe that only a dozen players used? It's a witch hunt, and they're catching the low-hanging fruit.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Until there's compelling proof, to just say, "Are we to believe that only a dozen players used?" is to get into something very messy. A slippery slope where anyone that appears to be juicing must be. There is "just cause" testing in the JDA. If something looks suspicious, then they can test a player as many times as they like. But, like I wrote yesterday, players are ducking the system. Whether that's because the program is window dressing (I don't believe that at its heat the league sees it as such, but it's reached collectively and with that, there are holes), or a bonafide program is up for debate.

Karl (Chicago): If A-Rod popped positive, he serves 50 games. He gets "caught" via a sketchy investigation with evidence from sketchy sources and they threaten to ban him for life, then ban him for more than a season. They criticize him in part for admitting to doing PEDs in 2002-2003, but he never tested positive (and they criticize people for lying, so . . .). Braun got caught but appealed on a technicality and won, so now he serves his 50 game suspension plus 15 games for what exactly? How does your "double jeopardy" analogy handle that? The JDA says he wins the appeal and then it is over, right? So the "winners" here are the players who got caught and already served their suspensions, like Melky and Colon. I am not an A-Rod fan, but I guess I am an apologist because if I were an arbitrator I would say this evidence was equivalent to his first positive test and give him 50 games. The "but he lied!" argument is silly; all such players are lying through omission by taking PEDs until they test positive. Finally, PED suspensions need to be 1/3rd as long as DUI suspensions. As usual, MLB is ignoring the more serious problem.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: This is the key issue that has to be addressed: The JDA details what happens when a player tests positive, but the parameters around non-analytical positives are ambiguous, subjective, open to interpretation, and negotiated, either in advance of the arbitrator, or with him in the mix. Steve Howe comes to mind. He was banned for life, and then the arbitrator knocked his suspension down to 119 games. The drug policy has to be addressed about this. It's more important than increasing penalties, it speaks to how the league and MLBPA see things and that when it's looked at both sides render the same decision because it's clearly outlined in the drug agreement. There's additional games being added due to lying or obstructing investigations. Braun's extra 15 games was around that as part of his suspension. Technically, it's seen as his first suspension, with additional games down from 100 for the lying, etc. I hate it. No one knows what Selig and the league will pull out of their hat. Make it clear. Put it in writing. In doing all of this it's added to the circus.

Tigerdog (Orange county CA): There is speculation in the Detroit media that the Tigers won't take Peralta back, despite the obvious boost he gives them at shortstop, because of "image" concerns. I think that, if they don't play him and lose at any point, their image is tarnished forever. The Giants got to the WS because of a huge contribution from Melky. What do you think?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Well, they did trade for Iglalasis.

Tigerdog, hijacking your question to run this. It's official:

Major League Baseball issued the following discipline today for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in relation to the Biogenesis investigation. Players receiving 50-game suspensions without pay for their violations of the Program are:

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo;
San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera;
New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli;
Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz;
Padres pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A San Antonio Missions of the Texas League;
Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona, who is currently of the roster of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League;
Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the International League;
Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League;
Free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto;
Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta;
New York Mets outfielder Cesar Puello, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League; and
Mets infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.

Norberto's suspension will be effective immediately once he signs with another Major League organization. All other suspensions are effective immediately. None of the players will appeal their discipline.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, all of whom already have served 50-game suspensions as a result of their violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program stemming from their connections to Biogenesis, will not receive additional discipline.
Major League Baseball's investigation found no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez or Baltimore Orioles infielder Danny Valencia.

The Detroit Tigers today issued the following statement regarding the suspension of Jhonny Peralta:

"We recognize the suspension of Jhonny Peralta for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program as a measure taken in the best interest of the game. The Detroit Tigers continue to fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing drugs from our game. Per the protocol outline by Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the Tigers' organization will provide no further comment on Peralta's suspension."

"In spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret. I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers' organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family. I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension.
I love the fans, my teammates and this organization and my greatest punishment is knowing that I have let so many good people down. I promise to do everything possible to try and earn back the respect that I have lost."

luckyred23 (Wentzville, MO): I (Derek Russell) met you in Nashville during the last winter meetings. I was hoping you could help me break down how this would affect the Yankees getting under their magic number for the cap. I realize that the number was essentially for 2014, so does this make the number much more attainable?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Hi Derek, yes I remember us talking... It will all depend on the findings of the arbitrator in the case. Depending on how many games--if any--A-Rod serves, it will help get them under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. As to when this happens, MLB just released this statement:

Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason and the entire 2014 Championship Season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Under the terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Rodriguez's suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline.

laxtonto (DFW): How do you fight the power established MLB players can wield financially to cover up there own misdeeds? One of the issues at hand is that the players are already immersed in the illegal enterprise and have the contacts to payoff or threaten those involved well before the MLB get involved. The fact that the designer drugs will always be in front of testing will mean that non-analytic methods are the only recourse. If players can influence or hamper the non-analytic investigations, there is little hope to stop them.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: All I'll say here is that I agree to an extent. It's a sad commentary, but none the less, true.

Joe (Oregon): There's no way an arbiter doesn't reduce A-Rod's suspension, right? Melky created a fake website to "obstruct and frustrate" and only got 50 games. The precedent was already set and it's not 50 games plus an entire season.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: No. Depending on evidence, Fredric Horowitz could lower the number of games. It all depends on the evidence, which has only been partially leaked

Greg (LA): Did MLB suspend Arod for 211 games or for the balance of the 2013 and 2014 seasons? If it's 211 games, then just like with 50 games, the suspension doesn't start until after the appeal.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: That's pretty much correct. His suspension hits on Aug 8, but it's stayed pending appeal.

Greg (LA): If Arod loses the appeal, can the arbitrator add back the games he played while he was appealing? If so, he'd be losing games into the 2015 season.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Good question, and you could see that logic, but it will likely not happen.

boards (SA): Can we just stop issuing "statements" from players that were obviously written by their PR agents. I know it's basically harmless but really.

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Are you saying this is like in the days where the State would put a piece of paper in front of a prisoner and tell them to sign it saying they were guilty or risk further persecution?

laxtonto (DFW): I doubt that any of the local beat writers will ask, but does anyone know how the players involved knew about Biogenesis to begin with?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: I haven't heard, but word gets around. At least that's part of MLB's charges with A-Rod: that he directed players to them. Good question for TJ Quinn

Daniel (Madison): How long does the appeals process typically take. Possible that A-Rod plays the majority of the remaining games in 2013?

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Could be around 45 days. Horowitz schedule plays into this. But, if it's that long, A-Rod could be in uniform for the rest of the season

Maury Brown About Biogenesis and Business: Sorry I couldn't stick around for a longer chat. Radio hits calling and phone going off the hook. Plenty more on this story in the coming days. Thanks for a great chat!

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