Tag:Jeff Bagwell
Posted on: December 30, 2010 6:52 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 7:45 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

Bret Boone
In spring of 2002, I wrote a newspaper column about Mariners second baseman Bret Boone, and how despite his prodigious 2001 season those of us in the Seattle press corps didn’t ask him about steroids. The point was that his having an improved physique and a power surge didn’t give us the right to walk up the guy and say, “so, you taking steroids?”

In his first book, Juiced, Jose Canseco mocked me for that column. He missed the point of the thing, which was that journalistic standards don’t give us the right to accuse someone of cheating absent other evidence, but he was right on one point: I was still somewhat naïve on the extent of the use of steroids in the majors. Frankly, all of us were in 2002.

Canseco followed with this: "The amazing thing was how obvious it was [that Boone was juicing]: All they had to do was open their eyes and take a look at this little guy, with his small frame and his huge arms – arms that were bigger than mine!"

Was Boone using illegal performance enhancers? I still don’t know for sure. Yes, if “just look at the guy!” is the yardstick you want to use, he’s certainly suspect.

But is “just look at the guy!” a legitimate argument to use when voting for the Hall of Fame? With Hall votes due tomorrow, we’re facing our biggest test so far with Jeff Bagwell.

Bagwell, statistically, is absolutely Hall of Fame material. But he’s unlikely to get in this year, primarily because people have misgivings about whether he used PEDs. Those misgivings, however, aren’t based on anything but conjecture. Bagwell never tested positive for anything, his name isn’t in the Mitchell report, nobody ever reported seeing him use anything or accused him of it. Here is a thorough compendium of everyone ever connected to steroids in baseball, and Bagwell’s name isn’t on it. It’s strictly a “just look at the guy!” argument.

Jeff Pearlman, author and former Sports Illustrated writer, thinks it’s OK to keep someone out of the Hall without evidence. He argues that since everyone around him was doing steroids, Bagwell probably was, too. And Pearlman says even if Bagwell was clean, he gets a black mark for not speaking out against it.
 “Did Jeff Bagwell use PED?
I don’t know.
Do I have the right to hold his era against him?
Damn right I do.”
Jeff Bagwell But in that case, do we throw out the entire era? If we assume everyone who put up big numbers is dirty, and we disqualify clean players for not speaking out (can you think of a lot of players who did?), who makes the cut? I guess nobody. We're going to have a boring couple of decades in Cooperstown.

It’s a slippery slope when you start voting with gut feelings. Ken Griffey Jr. will get into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and is always held up as an example of someone who played clean, but we don’t know what he did any more than we know what Bagwell did. On the official record, there is no difference between them – so how come Bagwell gets penalized?

I much prefer the philosophy of SI.com’s Joe Posnanski, who says in this outstanding piece that keeping Bagwell out is a travesty.
The Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players. ... I’d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out. I don’t know if Jeff Bagwell used or didn’t use steroids. But there was no testing. There is no convincing evidence that he used (or, as far as I know, even unconvincing evidence). So what separates him from EVERY OTHER PLAYER on the ballot? Were his numbers too good? That’s why you suspect him?
I understand that in the coming years the Hall of Fame and its voters are going to have to work out the steroid era and where to place tainted players in baseball's historical record. I get that we're going to have these conversations about Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. But why are we having it about Jeff Bagwell? In our efforts to hold Hall of Famers to a high standard, why are we lowering voting standards to the point where "just look at the guy!" is a legitimate argument?

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: December 29, 2010 5:15 pm

'Tis the season for steroid denials

With Hall of Fame ballots due Friday, two players on the ballot for the first time are speaking out about steroid use -- or more specifically not using steroids.

Both are likely to fall on deaf ears -- well, one is, and the other will be laughed at. Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro both denied they used steroids this week. Bagwell spoke to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and Palmeiro spoke to SI.com's Mel Antonen .

Palmeiro is a test case for the steroid era -- he's the first person with Hall-worth numbers (3,000 hits, 500 home runs -- numbers that made a player an automatic selection before the steroid era) to have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He's also further tainted by appearing before Congress and denying steroid use, only to then test positive.

From Antonen's article:
"I was telling the truth then, and I am telling the truth now," Palmeiro, 46, said in a phone interview with SI.com. "I don't know what else I can say. I have never taken steroids. For people who think I took steroids intentionally I'm never going to convince them. But I hope the voters judge my career fairly and don't look at one mistake."
Palmeiro continues to stick to the reacher unbelievable story that he used a tainted vial of "vitamin B-12" given to him by Miguel Tejada and injected by his wife.

There's no smoking gun with Bagwell, just a ton of hearsay and innuendo.

From Crasnick's article:
"I never used [steroids], and I'll tell you exactly why: If I could hit between 30 and 40 home runs every year and drive in 120 runs, why did I need to do anything else? I was pretty happy with what I was doing, and that's the God's honest truth. All of a sudden guys were starting to hit 60 or 70 home runs and people were like, 'Dude, if you took [PEDs], you could do it too.' And I was like, 'I'm good where I'm at. I just want to do what I can do.'
"I know a lot of people are saying, 'His body got bigger.' Well, if you're eating 30 pounds of meat every single day and you're working out and bench pressing, you're going to get bigger. You can go to every single trainer and they'll say, 'He was the first here and last to leave, and that dude worked his ass off.'

"The heavy lifting all started in 1995. I was going through a divorce and I came to spring training, and I thought everything was good. Then I got to spring training and I'll never forget it: Mike Hampton looked at me and said, 'Dude, what's wrong with you? You're so skinny, you look like you're on crack.' I look back at the stats and they weren't bad [21 homers, 87 RBIs and a .290 batting average in 114 games]. But I told myself, 'I'm never going to have somebody say that to me again.' I said, 'I'm going to find a trainer and get strong.'
30 pounds of meat a day? That's more impressive than 449 career home runs, an MVP and six Top 10 finishes in the MVP.

Honestly, I think Bagwell would be an interesting case for the Hall without the steroid suspicions, but with them, I don't see him getting as much support this year as his numbers would warrant.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb   on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 23, 2010 4:56 pm

Bagwell won't return as Astros hitting coach

Jeff Bagwell
When the Astros offered two-year extensions in September to their entire coaching staff, only one didn't sign on. Hitting coach Jeff Bagwell, who was named to his position in July, said he wanted to talk it over with his family first.

Well, it looks like the family vote was for dad to stay at home, as Bagwell on Saturday informed the Astros he wouldn't be returning as hitting coach. He will go back to his old role, as special assistant to general manager Ed Wade.

Bagwell, a legendary Astros player who was in Houston from 1991-2005, was pressed into service when the team fired Sean Berry on July 11.

“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Bagwell told the Houston Chronicle. “I enjoyed my time as hitting coach a great deal. The players were great, and I can’t think of a better coaching staff to work with. They were outstanding.

"At this point in time, I’m unable to commit to a full season of putting in the time that is necessary to be effective in that role. But, I do look forward to continuing to work with the Astros.”

The Astros did not name a replacement, and said they'll begin searching for a new coach immediately.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 26, 2010 7:06 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:57 am

This week in free stuff: July 26-August 1

A look at this week in promotional giveaways from around baseball:

Tonight, July 26
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League) -- Andy Tracy bobblehead
Binghamton Mets (Eastern League) -- mustache giveaway. Who doesn't love mustaches?
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League) --kids batting glove giveaway. I love that they're going old school and just one. Ask your parents, kids.
Bristol White Sox (Appalachian League) -- kids batting helmet. Another old-school favorite.

Tuesday, July 27
Washington Nationals -- t-shirt. A classic, grey shirt. I hate when teams try to go too fancy and do some lame busy design, the simpler, the better.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International League) --Magic 8 Baseball. This is just awesome. It'd be great if they made the manager use this for all their decisions on the night. Bill Veeck woulda done it. This would have been my favorite of the day…
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)-- mustache giveaway. It must be a trend.
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League) -- Jared Weaver kids t-shirt jersey
Fredrick Keys (Carolina League) Bryan Voltaggio bobblehead. Who is Bryan Voltaggio you ask? Only the runner-up from Top Chef Season 6. If it were a Kevin Gillespie bobblehead, I'd drive there for it.
Princeton Rays (Rookie Appalachian League) --super mug. Apparently, it's a mug and it's super.

Wednesday, July 28
Houston Astros -- orange retro cap. The team wore those glorious 80s uniforms on Saturday, and now it's the orange hats. If only the Astros could skip the 90s and 2000s uniforms and pick one of the great old ones.
State College Spikes (New York-Penn League)  --golf umbrella
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League) --reusable grocery bag

Thursday, July 29
New York Mets -- umbrella
Joe Biden Wilmington Blue Rocks (Carolina League) -- Joe Biden bobblehead. It'd be really cool if it was a one of those that talked and it cussed at you.
Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League) -- Goonies night. While not technically a giveaway, and I usually do just giveaways, but this one is too cool not to share. The BlueClaws are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Goonies, with Jeff Cohen (Chunk) at the game, signing autographs and judging a Truffle Shuffle contest.
Tri-City ValleyCats (New York-Penn League) County Executive Kathy Jimino bobblehead. Good for you, Kathy.

Friday, July 30
St. Louis Cardinals -- Vince Coleman bobblehead. No fireworks, though.
San Francisco Giants --Beat LA beach towel
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) nutcracker -- I'm not normally a fan of Christmas in July promotions, but the Flying Squirrels giving out nutcrackers is awesome.
Arkansas Travelers (Texas League) -- camouflage hat
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League) -- christmas ornament
Potomac Nationals (Carolina League) -- mini bat
Lexington Legends (South Atlantic League) Big L soap dispenser. I'm seriously considering going to this. I love giveaways of practical items, and this is a good one.
Clinton LumberKings (Midwest League) -- John Danks bobblehead
Boise Hawks (Northwest League) -- Boise Whistle Pigs T-shirt. Part of Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Night, honoring one of the other finalists for nickname of the team.

Saturday, July 31
Cincinnati Reds -- Homer Bailey bobblehead
Kansas City Royals -- Kansas City Monarchs cap. I love Negro League tributes, and Kansas City, home to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame, always does a good job.
Los Angeles Angels -- Rally Monkey soap dispenser. OK, forget the Lexington Legends… I'll be hitting eBay for this batboy.
Washington Nationals -- Nyjer Morgan bobblehead. Really, it's great for the stirrups if nothing else.
Houston Astros -- Jeff Bagwell bobblehead
St. Louis Cardinals -- Whitey Herzog bobblehead
Colorado Rockies -- Jason Giambi t-shirt. With sleeves, oddly enough.
San Diego Padres -- Clayton Richard bobblehead
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League) --  Buster Posey bobblehead
Carolina Mudcats (Southern League) -- pint glass
Arkansas Travelers (Texas Leage) -- Hank Conger bobbleheads
Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas Leage) -- Hooks retro jersey. Which is  odd, since the franchise has only been around since 2005. It's more old-school Astros style, which I'm always in favor of.
Springfield Cardinals (Texas League) -- Cardinals/Royals I-70 Series throwback shirts. The Cardinals are playing the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Royals' AA affiliate.
Bowling Green Hot Rods (South Atlantic League) -- Farmer Axle Bobblehead
Auburn Doubledays (New York-Penn league) --  William Seward bobblehead. The team is honoring the former governor of New York and Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Seward also helped procure Alaska and was blasted for it at the time.
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League) -- sleeved blanket. Yeah, not a Snuggie.
Greenville Astros (Appalachian League) -- aluminum bottle

Sunday, Aug. 1
Minnesota Twins -- Target Field bat
St. Louis Cardinals -- Ozzie Smith bear. This is in honor of the 1985 NL championship, but I'm disappointed there's no Willie McGee bobblehead. Really, if anyone is screaming for a bobblehead, it's McGee.
Harrisburg Seantors (Eastern League) -- autographed baseball grab bag
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Eastern League) --  wooden bat
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League) kids fielding gloves
Inland Empire 66ers (California League) -- skate deck
Beloit Snappers (Midwest League) -- Kevin Slowey bobblehead
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League) -- dog bowl
Lowell Spinners (New York-Penn League) --  Heidi Watney bobblehead. A bobblehead for the NESN Red Sox reporter.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com