Tag: marlins

J.C. Romero Busted for PEDs

MLB has suspended Philadelphia Phillies reliever J.C. Romero for 50 games for violating the league’s drug policy.

Reportedly, MLB offered to cut the suspension in half — to 25 games — if Romero agreed to sit out the postseason. Romero declined the offer and filed an appeal instead.

Romero won Games 3 and 5 of the World Series, and had a perfect 0.00 ERA through 7 1/3 IP in the postseason.

6_oxo.jpgInterestingly, the substance that Romero claims he took — something called “6-OXO Extreme” — is a legal supplement that can be readily found in nutritional chain stores such as GNC.

There is a long sob story about how Romero didn’t know that the product he was supposedly taking would produce androstenedione.

“Basically, I am being punished for not having a chemistry lab in my house to test everything I put in my body, because reading the ingredients on a label is no longer good enough,” Romero said in a statement. “I am all for catching the guys that cheat and punishing them. But I feel like I’m the victim of a system where a player like me is punished because other players before me have blatantly broken the rules.”

Wah wah. Excuse me if I don’t empathize. Perhaps it’s because if someone handed me $4M per year to appear for 5 minutes in 75-80 baseball games, with the caveat that I cannot have a specified list of chemicals in my body while doing so, guess what? I’m going to make damn sure that those chemicals are not in my body.

And how can we be certain that Romero wasn’t knowingly taking andro, and blaming the positive test on 6-OXO Extreme? According to reports, the supplement has been known to possibly contain traces of andro, despite not listing it on the label. Players know this, and several had called the MLB hotline to find out its status (apparently, Romero was not one of those players). Sounds to me like the supplement was a nice scapegoat.

Which leads me to another point. It’s not as though players are clueless and have no recourse when it comes to questionable supplements. In addition to being given an exact list of substances one cannot have in their urine test, players are also educated on the dangers of OTC supplements every spring, are provided the hotline and a website, and are given a list of 12 manufacturers that produce supplements that are safe. You want to go outside that safe dozen? Make a phone call. Check the website. Make certain what you’re taking is in compliance.

Regardless of whether Romero is guilty of taking a banned substance or of sheer stupidity, he’ll be out of action for the first 50 games of 2009 — until about June. In case you’re wondering, the Mets play the Phillies five times before June, then have a three-game series with them beginning June 9.

In addition to the suspension of Romero, MLB also suspended former Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre for 50 games — also for taking a banned substance that supposedly was in an OTC supplement. Mitre recently signed with the New York Yankees after an injury-riddled career in Florida.

The substance Halodrol was found in Mitre’s system. Unlike Romero, Mitre owned up to his mistake — only the second player in MLB history to take responsibility (Guillermo Mota was the first):

“I did take the supplement in question, and accept full responsibility for taking it,” Mitre said. “It contained a `contaminant’ amount of an illegal, performance-enhancing drug. This was not listed as an ingredient on the packaging, should not have been in the supplement and certainly should not have been available for legal purchase at a store. Despite this, I do accept my punishment because, as a professional, I have a responsibility for what I put into my body.”


Cubs Get Kevin Gregg

The Miami fire sale continues, as the Marlins dealt closer Kevin Gregg to the Cubs in return for young righthander Jose Ceda.

Nice deal for both sides. The Cubs get a decent setup man for Carlos Marmol, who is penciled in to close. If they re-sign Kerry Wood, then Lou Piniella has an extra arm to bridge the gap to the ninth.

Meantime, the Fish get a young, hard-throwing relief prospect in Ceda — who prior to the 2008 season was ranked ahead of Jeff Samardzija. Ceda is a large man with big league stuff but with some weight issues and difficulty repeating his motion — compare him to a young Daniel Cabrera. He put up some impressive numbers in AA last year and will pitch out of Florida’s bullpen in 2009.


Henry Owens Suspended for PEDs

Former Mets farmhand and current Florida Marlin reliever Henry Owens has been suspended by MLB for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Hat tip to MetsToday reader Schmidtxtc for alerting us.

After emerging as a potential setup man in early 2007 (posting a 1.96 ERA in 22 games), Owens suffered shoulder injuries that eventually led to rotator cuff surgery that August. He spent most of 2008 rehabbing, and it can be surmised that the undisclosed PED may have been used to accelerate the recovery.


Marlins Trade Olsen, Willingham to Nats

According to several reports, the Florida Marlins have traded righthander Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham to the Washington Nationals in exchange for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and A-ballers P.J. Dean and Jake Smolinksi.

Strange deal, as you would think the Marlins would get more in return for the 24-year-old Olsen, and how exactly do the Nationals expect to benefit?

The Marlins’ acquisition of Bonifacio means that incumbent iron-handed second baseman Dan Uggla will either be dealt or moved to the outfield. For those who don’t know Bonifacio from a hole in the wall, he projects to be Eric Young with a better glove.

Smolinksi and Dean are both 19-year-olds with some upside but at least 2-3 years away from MLB. Neither is a “sure fire” prospect, with Dean probably slightly ahead after a strong season in the NY-Penn League. Smolinksi is a young version of Daniel Murphy — a kid who can hit for average, showing good patience at the plate and solid strike zone judgment, with questionable power potential, and without a position — playing both the outfield and 2B. A lot of projection here.

Since they’ve already made one deal with an NL East rival, perhaps the Marlins would be open to another one — moving Uggla to the Mets. I’d take his horrendous defense and .514 slugging percentage in a heartbeat.

As for the Nats, they get a sorely needed starting pitcher who can step in and anchor the front end of the rotation for the next five years. Personally I can’t stand Olsen but there aren’t many 24-year-olds with his experience and skillset. He fits right into that “bad boy” (read: spoiled rotten brats) collective under Manny Acta. I’m predicting a fistfight between Olsen and Elijah Dukes during spring training, with Lastings Milledge kicking Olsen in the ribs once Dukes wrestles him down.