In 2008, Senor Volquez came across to the Queen City from the Texas Rangers to the Reds with the hope that he could make a difference. For the first half of the season, he did just that. Until July 20th, he was a man on fire (God, I love Baseball-Reference.Com). Save a 5-run shelling that he took on June 26th, he was sub 2.00 for his cumulative ERA. For a team that finished with 74 wins, he had 17 of them.
Prior to going to visit James the wonder surgeon, he was a man on fire, and then he was a man getting rebuilt with Tommy John Surgery. If it worked, he would come back unstoppable, but if it didn’t come back, he would be done from the sport. The risk and the rewards were there, but as a young talent with so much hype and hope, the opportunity had to be taken.
Apparently, Edinson decided that to get healthy again, he would take steroids and come back bigger and stronger than ever. Is this really a surprise in baseball? Unlike Mike Morse who admitted to using Deca Durabolin once and saying that his second bust was from the residual steroids, we tend to not be sympathetic for our athletes when they get busted. Take Manny Ramirez’s sexual performance enhancing excuse or Jose Theodore using a hair growth formula. Nobody believes Manny because HCG restarts the production of testosterone and hair growth formulas are masking agents.
Nevertheless, the issue with Edinson is simply a 1/3 pay cut in a season he was sitting out anyway. It’s not really a big issue because he has signed another contract with his old team that still wants to take their chances on his arm - $1.625 for an arm capable of winning that much for a lame Reds team is worth up to 10 times it with a Reds team that can - if it works. Smart GMs know that wins can come at a discount if they turn a blind eye to the veterans that they blackball for doing the same thing at a greater cost and expectation. Didn't we learn that with Guillermo Mota? And while there's a feeling of Volquez being blacklisted, his suspension didn’t affect any actual games that Volquez could have played - he was injured and out for the count anyway, so they were served during his time on the disabled list. Jackpot!
So today, the Reds and the player win. Life is good.
The Reds get to keep rebuilding for 2011 with the improvements of Ardolis Chapman, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, and Jay Bruce - it's all good and the young team keeps ascending. Not that I want St. Louis to face serious in-division challenges, but it would be nice to see more great young players make it to the majors – without steroids.
We want to believe in the natural progression.
And if they can't, smart GMs will play the game of Ollie's Bargain Outlet distracting the fans with cheaper ticket prices and a better than average chance for a trip to the playoffs. In the end, a strikeout is still a strikeout and a home run is still a home run. Gotta love baseball 2011.