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Breaking Down the Impact of Each Biogenesis Suspension on MLB Teams

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystSeptember 29, 2016

Breaking Down the Impact of Each Biogenesis Suspension on MLB Teams

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    After far too many months of rumors and waiting games, MLB's Biogenesis suspensions have finally arrived.

    In the end, there were no big surprises on the list of suspensionssave for perhaps Philadelphia's Antonio Bastardobut what sort of impact will nearly two months of baseball without Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta have on the playoff races?

    Let's take a look at how each player's suspension impacts his team, what that team figures to do about the loss of said player and which playoff races could be impacted.

     

    *Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs and are accurate through the start of play on Monday, August 5.

Alex Rodriguez

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    Player Suspended: Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees, 3B)

     

    Even at 38 years old and with a surgically repaired hip, Rodriguez was averaging a home run for every 14 at-bats in the minor leagues this season. Meanwhile, the combined forces of the players manning third base for the Yankees in his absence have just six home runs in over 700 plate appearances.

    Never mind the historical ramifications of the length of the suspension to one of baseball's most well-known players; this is a huge blow to the Yankees' playoff chances. Love him or hate him, Rodriguez gives them a better chance to win compared to what Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez or Brent Lillibridge can offer.

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Find out if they can get some of that money back

    From the start of 2013 through the end of 2017, the Yankees owe Rodriguez $114 million. Will they get any relief from that debt? I don't know, but I'm sure they'll petition for it.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: AL Wild Card

    The Yankees enter play on Monday just 4.5 games behind the Indians for the second wild card spot in the AL. They also trail Baltimore and Texas in that hierarchy and are tied with the Royals. With or without Rodriguez, it was going to be a real challenge to make it.

    Perhaps now that the media circus is finally coming to an end, they'll improve as a team. But no one in their right mind would argue that the batting order is actually better off without Rodriguez.

Nelson Cruz

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    Player Suspended: Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers, OF)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Pray

    The Rangers were allegedly in desperate pursuit of an outfielder at the non-waiver deadline.

    Considering free agents like Hunter Pence and Marlon Byrd didn't go anywhere, they clearly didn't do enough to proactively prevent this from being a full-scale disaster.

    Without their top home run and RBI man in the lineup, the Rangers will be forced to bank on an outfield made up of Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry, David Murphy and Jeff Baker. Those four guys combined have more than twice as many plate appearances as Cruz, and a grand total of 28 home runs compared to his 27.

    It would be a true desperation move, but they do have Manny Ramirez in the minors. (If nothing else, he could almost perfectly replicate Cruz's lack of defensive prowess.)

    Texas also has some young power bats in the minors between Joey Gallo, Nick Williams and Lewis Brinson, but none of them are anywhere near ready for full-time duty in the majorsmaking it foolish for the Rangers to start the arbitration clock if they can avoid it.

    Perhaps their best option is to acquire another bat through waivers. It wouldn't help their outfield, but I'm sure the White Sox would be more than happy to let the Rangers pick up the rest of Adam Dunn's contract.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: AL West and AL Wild Card

    The Rangers entered play on Monday 2.5 games behind Oakland in the AL West and half a game behind Cleveland for the second wild card. Unless Oakland completely falls apart and Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Matt Garza are able to keep Texas competitive, it's tough to see them playing in October right now.

    If they were to make the playoffs, however, Cruz would eligible to return at that point. We'll see if the Rangers would even welcome him back. Last season, Melky Cabrera was eligible to return in the playoffs for the Giants, but they kept him away as the team ended up winning the World Series.

Jhonny Peralta

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    Player Suspended: Jhonny Peralta (Detroit Tigers, SS)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Tread water and upgrade DH

    The Tigers proactively went out and acquired Jose Iglesias from Boston to help plug the impending gap left by Peralta's suspension. But you simply can't replace Peralta.

    Among qualified shortstops, only Washington's Ian Desmond has a higher WAR than Peralta. Only Milwaukee's Jean Segura has a higher batting average. No shortstop has a better OPS than Peralta.

    Peralta's importance to this team has been under-appreciated nationallyperhaps due to the dominance of Miguel Cabrera, the inaccurately perceived dominance of Prince Fielder and the overwhelming strength of the starting rotation.

    As great as Iglesias' glove might be, the Tigers are going to really miss Peralta's bat in the lineup.

    Though it's literally impossible to find another shortstop to just plug into the middle of the lineup, upgrading from Victor Martinez to someone who actually deserves to be an everyday DH could be a big help. If they get the chance to add someone like Seattle's Kendrys Morales via waivers, it would be a great addition.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: AL Central and AL Wild Card

    Fortunately for the Tigers, they currently have a three-game lead over the Indians and a 7.5-game lead over the Royals in the AL Central. Better yet, 25 of their remaining 53 games are against the White Sox (nine), Twins (six), Mariners (four), Marlins (three) and Mets (three).

    It's the other 28 games that could make things interesting.

    They start a four-game series against Cleveland tonight that could drastically alter the playoff picture, and they still play 11 games against the surprisingly relevant Royals.

    Should either Cleveland or Kansas City bypass Detroit in the division, they're suddenly thrown into a heated battle with Baltimore and Texas for the second wild-card spot.

Everth Cabrera

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    Player Suspended: Everth Cabrera (San Diego Padres, SS)

      

    What Team Should Do Now: Find out what they have in Jace Peterson

    Over the last two seasons in the minors, Peterson is batting .290 with 85 stolen bases.

    With Pedro Ciriaco now in Kansas City, the Padres' current depth at shortstop is an issue. Even if Peterson doesn't do very well, it's no big deal. The Padres are already eight games below .500 and nine games out of the playoff picture.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: NL Central

    "The Padres are in the NL West, you idiot!"

    You are correct, but their remaining schedule against the NL West is incredibly balanced. They play six games each against Colorado, Los Angeles and San Francisco and seven games against Arizona. Even if San Diego's competitiveness is decimated by the loss of Cabrera, it doesn't seem any NL West team gets much of an advantage.

    Looking at the NL Central, however, the Padres have seven games remaining against the Pirates, three games against the Reds and zero against the Cardinals.

    With Pittsburgh and St. Louis figuring to be in a neck-and-neck race for first place in the NL Central, don't those seven games against San Diego seem to give Pittsburgh at least a slight advantage?

Antonio Bastardo

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    Player Suspended: Antonio Bastardo (Philadelphia Phillies, RP)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Give Jesse Biddle a taste of the majors as a middle reliever

    The Phillies already have Jacob Diekman and Raul Valdes as left-handers in the bullpen, so they aren't left hopeless against left-handed batters in the late innings due to Bastardo's suspension.

    However, Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon were the only Philadelphia relievers worth more than a replacement-level player at this point in the season. The Phillies were already having trouble holding on to leads, and that's only going to get more difficult without Bastardo.

    Their 2013 season was already dead and buried, though, so they might as well call up Biddle and give him some experience in advance of the 2014 season.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    MLB could have suspended half of Atlanta's roster, and it still might not have been enough to impact the NL East playoff race. The Phillies are 11 games under .500 and had no chance of making the 2013 playoffs.

Francisco Cervelli

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    Player Suspended: Francisco Cervelli (New York Yankees, C)

      

    What Team Should Do Now: Exactly what they've been doing since late April

    There's an episode of The Office in which an employee tells Michael Scott that's he quitting, only for Michael to tell him that he's fired because they don't employ quitters.

    This suspension reminds me of that episode, because Cervelli has been out of the lineup since April 26 and was reported to likely be done for the season.

    "You're not healthy enough to play? Well, guess what? You're not allowed to play anyway!"

    The Yankees have spent the past three months with Chris Stewart and Austin Romine as their catchers, and this suspension doesn't change that.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    If he wasn't suspended and was healthy enough to return for September, maybe Cervelli increases New York's chances of making the playoffs by one-tenth of one percent. As is, the Yankees would need to beat out four other teams to even get into position for the second wild card in the AL, so this hardly seems like an impact suspension.

Jesus Montero

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    Player Suspended: Jesus Montero (Seattle Mariners, C)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Nothing new

    Montero has been in the minors since late May and seems to have already lost his shot at the Mariners' full-time catching job to Mike Zunino.

    If his one home run in 106 minor league plate appearances are a sign of things to come from Montero post-PEDs, who knows if he'll ever make it back to the majors? He was pretty subpar on defense as a catcher and far from fleet of foot on the basepaths.

    If his power is gone, what does he have left?

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    With or without Montero, Seattle wasn't going to make much of an impact on the 2013 playoff race.

Jordany Valdespin

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    Player Suspended: Jordany Valdespin (New York Mets, 2B/OF)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Nothing new

    If his comments on being demoted to Triple-A last month didn't already burn his final bridges with the Mets organization, perhaps this suspension will do the trick. A bad attitude and lack of integrity are a great way to lose any job.

    Valdespin was batting just .188 at the time of his demotion and probably wasn't coming back to the big leagues anytime soon.

    Will anyone be willing to sign him after this latest addition to his resume?

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    The Mets were already bad, and Valdespin was already off the team.

Cesar Puello

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    Player Suspended: Cesar Puello (New York Mets, OF)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Nothing new, but moving Marlon Byrd is no longer an option

    Coupled with Jordany Valdespin's suspension, the Mets have a temporarily depleted choice of outfielders in the farm system.

    This season for the Binghamton Mets, Puello was batting .328 with 16 home runs and 25 stolen bases.

    Puello probably wasn't getting the call this season, but a big part of the Mets' near future is now tainted. They likely won't let the administrative effect of the suspension last beyond this season, but what if he comes back in 2014 and isn't hitting anywhere near as well?

    If they were to move Byrd, they'd have to give a full-time outfield job to either Andrew Brown or Mike Baxterneither of whom has shown an ability to handle that responsibility.

    Not that that really matters for a team that isn't going anywhere this season anyway, but they'll really need to re-sign Byrd for next season if Puello is no longer a viable option.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    At best, Puello might have been a September call-up for a team 11 games under .500, and he probably wouldn't have made an immediate impact anyway.

    Maybe he could have contributed something to their September 23-25 series against the Reds to impact the NL wild-card race, but we'll never know.

Sergio Escalona

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    Player Suspended: Sergio Escalona (Houston Astros, RP)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: Continue with business as usual

    Escalona hasn't pitched in the majors since September 2011, missing the entire 2012 season after Tommy John surgery and spending the past two months rehabbing in the minors.

    This puts a damper on his rehab program, but even if he made it back to the majors, he still would've been pitching for the worst team in the league.

    Escalona just turned 29 two days ago, so it's curious what he was even doing in the Astros organization to begin with.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    Does this one really require an explanation? There's literally no impact from the loss of a rehabbing pitcher with a career WAR of 0.1 for a team that's 38 games below .500.

Fernando Martinez

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    Player Suspended: Fernando Martinez (New York Yankees, OF)

     

     What Team Should Do Now: Nothing

    The Yankees acquired Martinez from the Astros on June 18. But after trading for Alfonso Soriano and finally getting Curtis Granderson back from the disabled list, there was almost zero chance of Martinez making it back to the majors this season.

    The Yankees are set in the outfield today and have Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott and Zoilo Almonte for the future.

    Despite Martinez batting .308 in 21 games at Triple-A for the Yankees, if they wanted to cut him, no one would question the decision.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

    If losing Francisco Cervelli didn't make a difference to the Yankees' playoff aspirations, losing Martinez certainly doesn't either.

Two Free-Agent Relievers

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    Players Suspended: Jordan Norberto and Fautino De Los Santos (free agent relief pitchers)

     

    What Team Should Do Now: What team?

    The Athletics released Norberto (pictured) in early May, and the Padres designated De Los Santos for assignment in May.

     

    Playoff Races Impacted: None

     

Net Impact on Playoff Races

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    Which teams are in better or worse shape over the final two months of the season as a result of these 12 suspensions?

    Nothing much changes in the National League.

    Antonio Bastardo and Everth Cabrera might be big losses in your fantasy league, but none of the NL suspensions come as blows to teams anywhere near the playoff picture. Cabrera's suspension might help Pittsburgh in its remaining seven games against San Diego, but that's about it.

    In the American League, however, there may have been a significant shift in the balance of power.

    Cleveland was easily the biggest winner from this painfully drawn-out announcement. The Indians trail the Tigers by three games in the AL Central and hold a slim half-game lead over the Rangers for the second wild-card spot. Both of those teams take a size-to-be-determined step backwards with the losses of Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz.

    Baltimore, Kansas City and Oakland should also have a renewed sense of purpose in their playoff races with the hit that Texas and Detroit are taking.

    The playoffs themselves don't figure to be impacted, though. By accepting the suspensions today, everyone on this list would be eligible to return for the playoffs. The only question is whether Cruz and Peralta would be rusty if their teams made the postseason.

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