On the Mark (cont.)
Posted: Friday May 25, 2007 10:26AM; Updated: Saturday May 26, 2007 11:24AM
Giambi needs help, not punishment
Speaking of Giambi, nothing is likely to come out of his meeting at the commissioner's office on Wednesday beyond a statement from Bud Selig. To seriously consider suspending Giambi for his comment to USA Today that he took "that stuff," Giambi would have had to pinpoint the dates he used steroids in the meeting at 245 Park Ave. (and the dates would have to be sometime since 2005, as that's when baseball began doling out suspensions for failed tests). And there's no way that Giambi would provide a calendar of usage, no matter what sort of state he showed up in at Park Avenue. Whatever he is, he isn't dumb.
Besides, it's a dangerous precedent to punish the one honest man in the game (or semi-honest, at least; Giambi, after all, has denied usage for years). The whole idea, after all, with the Mitchell investigation is to learn the truth about the steroid era. So the one guy willing to provide some truth -- even if it was through a slip of the tongue -- should not be suspended while liars continue to go unpunished.
Surely, baseball officials are annoyed that Giambi urged all of MLB to apologize for the steroid era in that same article. That remark by Giambi was a case of over-reaching and fairly hypocritical considering Giambi's known involvement, not to mention his unreported-to-that-point failed amphetamine test.
Regarding that amphetamine report by the New York Daily News, Giambi, major league players and the union have every right to be upset about leaks, although Giambi is in no position now to do anything beyond apologize and throw himself on the mercy of Judge Bud. Amphetamine test results were supposed to remain anonymous, at least until a second failure that would draw a suspension. It's unfortunate that they have not.
That said, one of Giambi's many advisers should take time from directing his protest to MLB to instead protect Giambi from himself. He's a nice guy who needs to get out of the fast lane. It was a great detail in one of the New York papers that Giambi was sucking down a Red Bull on his way into his noon meeting at the commish's office after it had just been revealed that he failed a test for amphetamines. If all else fails, perhaps Giambi can land a commercial for an energy drink.
Cards not folding just yet
A lot of folks are keeping an eye on the defending world champion Cardinals to see if they fall out of the race and whether they might consider becoming a seller. If they do, expect both Los Angeles teams to get in line for Scott Rolen despite his slow start and $12 million-per-year salary through 2010.
For now, Walt Jocketty, the Cardinals' fine general manager, is saying that it's too early to give up. "I still feel we have the talent to compete,'' Jocketty said by phone a few days ago, before the Cardinals made it three straight wins to improve to 19-25. They trail the first-place Brewers by 7 1/2 games in the NL Central.
Jocketty may be right, especially in what could be a wide-open division. However, the Cardinals still have a lot to overcome, starting with the tragic death of reliever Josh Hancock. While this team overcame the regular baseball stuff last year (injuries, underperformance), Hancock's death is something else entirely. "The first three games after Josh's death ... we just weren't mentally prepared to play at that point,'' Jocketty said.
Jocketty felt a shot of hope when his old friend Roland Hemond, the former White Sox GM, called a few days ago to tell him that his club started a similar 16-24 in 1983 before running away with the AL West crown. However, the Cardinals, who began by having to overcome the hangover of an unexpected championship, have the very tangible hurdle of having to get back into the race without Chris Carpenter, who has been sidelined since Opening Day with an elbow injury. Jocketty noted how big a loss Carpenter is, not only on the mound but in the clubhouse, where he served as a mentor for young starters Adam Wainwright and Kip Wells. Yet Jocketty also mentioned that the possible second-half returns of Carpenter and Mark Mulder provide hope for a comeback.
While things look bad for them, after what happened last year, I find it hard to count out the Cardinals.
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