- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Even before a player is suspended because of performance-enhancing drugs, as Melky Cabrera was this week, there is collateral damage.
Ask the Arizona Diamondbacks. On the day that the Dodgers acquired Manny Ramirez in 2008, the Diamondbacks led Los Angeles by two games in the NL West. Ramirez was the best player in the majors the rest of the year, hitting .396, with an OPS of 1.232. He hit .512 against Arizona, with five homers, and the Dodgers won seven of the last nine games between the two teams -- and won the division by two games.
The next spring, an Arizona ownership frustrated by the team's failure to make the postseason fired manager Bob Melvin, and shortly after that, general manager Josh Byrnes also was dumped, completing the regime change. At about the same time, Ramirez was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs.
The Diamondbacks have been hurt again this year by a player suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. Cabrera hit .462 against Arizona this year, starting off with a homer against Ian Kennedy on Opening Day. He played like an MVP candidate all season, and by the time Cabrera was suspended, the Diamondbacks were 6.5 games behind San Francisco.
Nate Schierholtz went into spring training with a good chance to be a regular for the Giants again, but as Cabrera thrived, opportunity for Schierholtz diminished, and Schierholtz -- a native of the San Francisco area and part of the 2010 championship team -- was traded to Philadelphia.
Because Cabrera was on the NL All-Star team, some other player was not, such as Atlanta's Jason Heyward or Arizona's Jason Kubel. An agent estimated that an All-Star selection for a player like Heyward is probably worth something in the six figures. If Cabrera hadn't started the All-Star Game, Matt Holliday might have, or perhaps Andrew McCutchen, the leading MVP candidate in the National League. McCutchen would have been the Pirates' first starting player in the All-Star Game since Jason Bay in 2006.
But Cabrera started, singled with one out to start a five-run rally against Justin Verlander in the first inning, and in the fifth inning, he capped the National League's scoring with a two-run homer. With the 8-0 victory, the National League secured home-field advantage in the World Series -- which the Giants could host, about two weeks after Cabrera becomes eligible to rejoin their lineup.
"It's a shame they don't have accountability," Reynolds said. "They don't have any. If they make a bad call, it's like, 'Ho-hum, next day is coming.' If we have a bad couple of games we get benched or we get sent down. They have nobody breathing down their throats.
"They have nobody, they are just secure in their jobs," Reynolds added. "And they are probably over there right now laughing about it, because they don't worry about it. This game is way too important right now, where we are in the season, for these kind of calls to happen. And it's very frustrating."
... In the first inning, [umpire Tim] Timmons called [Nick] Markakis out at the plate on a ball Nate McLouth hit down the first-base line to [Prince] Fielder. Replays showed that Markakis slid just under the sweep tag of catcher Alex Avila. Timmons was looking down the first-base line to see whether [Nate] McLouth's ball was fair and then was late maneuvering into position to get a good angle at the play at the plate.
But Reynolds saw something else.
"It's almost like 'screw the Orioles' by the umpires," Reynolds said. "I mean [Adam Jones] was obviously safe at first base the other day, cost us a run against Boston. There's got to be some kind of replay for this. It's to the point where all these calls that get missed, cost people runs, cost people outs. Cost [Hunter] extra pitches. I can't say how I really feel but it's pretty obvious."
Here's the full Reynolds transcript.
• John Farrell wouldn't talk about speculation that the Red Sox might come after him.
His contract runs through next season, but there may be circumstances under which it would make sense for both Toronto and Boston to work out a deal. The Red Sox wanted Farrell and came close to reaching an agreement last fall, and if Boston calls again -- presumably it will, unless the Red Sox make a crazy run into the playoffs -- then the Blue Jays should treat Farrell like a player going into the last season of his multiyear contract.
They should present Farrell with an extension offer beyond 2013, and if he turns it down and is headed for a departure, the Blue Jays might as well trade him to Boston, get something in return, and go about the business of finding their next manager.
The Red Sox lost again, giving up a lot of homers along the way. David Ortiz backed Bobby Valentine. Valentine and the players are worn down by the negativity, writes Michael Silverman. Valentine was at a loss for words, writes John Harper.
From ESPN Stats & Info, how Weaver lost:
A) The Rays jumped on Weaver early in the count. Hitters swung at 47 percent of Weaver's pitches early in the count (0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-1), the highest percentage against Weaver this season, and the highest percentage by the Rays in nearly a month. Six of the eight hits Weaver allowed Friday came early in the count.
B) With the Rays ending so many at-bats early in the count, Weaver took only five of the 19 hitters (26 percent) he faced to a two-strike count, his lowest percentage in the past four seasons. Three of the five hitters he took to a two-strike count would reach base, including two for extra bases.
C) Weaver allowed four hits on his slider, his most in the last four seasons. He also allowed three hits on his fastball, including both home runs. It's his first start since September 2009 in which he allowed two homers on his fastball at home.
Justin Verlander started and felt out of sync.
Felix Hernandez's perfect game vaulted him right back into the middle of the Cy Young Award talk, writes Geoff Baker.
A very important thing to remember: As Theo Epstein took over the team's baseball operations, he installed a policy of no more no-trade clauses. So even if the Cubs sign Castro to a long-term deal, it won't preclude them from weighing offers and trying to maximize his value -- and a long-term contract that buys out a couple of years of Castro's free agency could augment that value.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. One of the Pirates' top prospects was promoted to Double-A.
4. The Reds should pick up Ryan Ludwick's option, writes Hal McCoy.
6. Brewers GM Doug Melvin has been scouting.
8. Chip Bailey speculates on what the Astros should do this winter.
Dings and dents
4. A Padre came back from a pesky injury.
The Astros stranded a lot of runners.
The Tigers' boppers mashed some long home runs, writes Vince Ellis.
An Indians' lead dissolved.
The Dodgers blew a lead.
The Mariners got another strong pitching performance.
Buster Olney writes that by the time PED suspensions are handed down, as was the case this week with Melky Cabrera, the collateral damage has already taken place.