Will the Recent PED Links Ruin the Blue Jays' Promising 2013 Hopes?

James O'DonnellContributor IIFebruary 21, 2013

DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Outfielder Melky Cabrera #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a photo during photo day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on February 18, 2013 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays were one of a number of Major League Baseball teams who recently had one of their players linked to Biogenesis, a South Florida clinic accused of selling performance-enhancing drugs.

In the case of the Blue Jays, it was newly-acquired outfielder Melky Cabrera who found his name repeatedly listed in the recordkeeping books allegedly belonging to Anthony Bosch, the clinic chief of Biogenesis.

Melky Cabrera was one of a smattering of noteworthy MLB players to find himself linked to Biogenesis, along with players such as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli and Bartolo Colon, among others.

For the teams that had one or more of their players linked to purchasing performance-enhancing drugs, the question is now what kind of backlash will they face for the upcoming season?

For the Toronto Blue Jays specifically, the issue is whether Melky Cabrera's connections to Biogenesis can spoil an otherwise impressive off-season for the organization and ruin the promising hopes for the upcoming season.

There are generally two ways news of this nature can negatively impact a team. One, the player who tests positive or is even linked to performance-enhancing drugs may face a suspension. Two, even in the case where the player is not suspended—which ultimately may be the case for Cabrera—the story creates a distraction that looms over both the player and the team.

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos "isn't worried that outfielder Melky Cabrera could face a second performance-enhancing drug suspension."

Anthopoulos went on to say, "[M]y understanding is that, as of today, we really don't have anything to be concerned with. He served a suspension and right now, that's it. His suspension has been served."

If we are to believe Anthopoulos' optimism, this should be a bit of a relief for Blue Jays fan. If Melky were to be suspended a second time for being connected to banned PEDs, he would face a 100-game suspension.

There have not been any substantive statements made by Major League Baseball at this time as to whether they will pursue disciplinary action, so for now we will likely have to rely on the optimism of the organization and the fact that, as things stand, Melky Cabrera will be on the field come Opening Day.

Of course, the negative impact of a story of this nature doesn't end there.

There is still some concern that Melky once again being linked to performance-enhancing drugs could create unnecessary distraction and controversy that could derail a team that was otherwise focused on returning to the postseason for the first time since 1993.

If there is any bright side to this story for the Blue Jays, perhaps it is the fact that Melky Cabrera was suspended for testing positive for PEDs last season and recently completed his 50-game suspension.

How is that a good thing? Well, for one, the Blue Jays knew when they signed Cabrera that he was coming with baggage.

They knew he had been embroiled in a scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs that cut short what could have been an excellent season of work and they were well aware of the issues associated with signing such a controversial player.

Though it is unfortunate for the organization that more news has come out about Cabrera's sordid past with PEDs, it should not come as a total shock for a team that expected to have to deal with the distraction of Cabrera's recent suspension regardless of these recent developments.

It is also worth noting that there is no indication in Bosch's recordkeeping that any transaction took place between Cabrera and Biogenesis after Cabrera's suspension last season. We have no reason to believe that Cabrera wasn't genuine in his apology last season nor should we suspect that he hasn't learned his lesson just because these past records are only emerging now.

Cabrera has since tried to make his best impression upon joining the Blue Jays in spring training . According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, "Cabrera apologized Friday for taking performance-enhancing drugs in 2012, and blame[d] no one but himself."

Even Blue Jays third -base coach Luis Rivera supported Cabrera in his recent press conference , stating "[h]e knows that he made a huge mistake. It was very hard for him and his family. But he's looking forward to 2013."

The organization has accepted Cabrera, despite his past misgivings. Manager John Gibbons was Cabrera 's bench coach in Kansas City and said it was good to see him on the field, according to an Associated Press report.

The report also stated that Cabrera was received by players with open arms—literally—as Cabrera claimed he "got a lot of hugs" from players, including fellow Dominicans Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes.

The bottom line is that despite the fact that Cabrera is once again in the news for the wrong reasons—namely, a connection to PEDs—there is no reason to expect this potential distraction to dash the hopes of a promising season for the Blue Jays .

The organization is confident he will not be suspended and they knew about his past before they even signed him. The news linking him to Biogenesis isn't anything the Blue Jays hoped to hear prior to the start of spring training, but they knew it was a possibility. It's still old news, even if it 's just surfacing now.

In the end, it shouldn't change much in terms of how the organization approaches the upcoming season.

The Blue Jays have a lot going for them in 2013 and they have a plethora of intriguing storylines and high-quality talent that should quickly overshadow any distractions created by this recent news. This is a team that will see the return of Jose Bautista, the most prolific home-run hitter over the past three seasons, as well as the debut of one of the best feel-good stories in baseball in R.A. Dickey.

Cabrera is expected to be an important part of this team in 2013, but by no means is he the centerpiece. He isn't what Alex Rodriguez is to the Yankees or what Ryan Braun is to the Brewers. The attention devoted to the Blue Jays this season will likely be much more about the aforementioned star players and the team's quest to return to the playoffs.

There is no such thing as a perfect off-season, but the Blue Jays came close this winter. The news about Cabrera was unfortunate, but it wasn't completely unexpected and there were still far too many positive developments to derail the Blue Jays' promising hopes for the 2013 season.


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