The big story of the 2013 season was the Biogenesis scandal, and the ramifications that came with the association a number of players had with the shady Miami clinic. As we all know, Alex Rodriguez was made an example of and essentially banished from baseball. The likes of Ryan Braun, Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero, and Francisco Cervelli all served suspensions as well, among others. Pitcher Bartolo Colon was not suspended, only because he had previously served a suspension as part of MLB’s PED testing program stemming from his association with Biogenesis. Then there’s Nelson Cruz, also among the suspended players, and perhaps the one who had the most to lose, save for Alex Rodriguez.
Cruz was poised to cash in, in a big way through his first foray into free agency, emerging as one of the premier sluggers on the open market. Doubts about his ability to produce at the same level, while presumably “clean”, cooled what was supposed to be a burning hot market for the outfielder. He ended up settling for a one-year, make good contract with the Baltimore Orioles for $8 million. That deal is now looking like the steal of the winter.
Through June 1st, Cruz has posted a robust .314/.384/.672 slash line in 232 plate appearances, and he leads Major League Baseball with 20 home runs, and also leads MLB with 52 RBI. For good measure, his .672 slugging percentage is best in the bigs as well. Regardless of the inevitable skepticism of Cruz’s monster year thus far, because of his transgressions involving Biogenesis, it’s clear that Cruz remains unaffected and continues his blistering offensive pace in 2014.
Cruz did suffer a scare in Sunday’s game, departing after taking a pitch to the wrist, but X-rays showed nothing and he’ll simply have to take it day by day with a contusion according to the Baltimore Sun.
As noted prior, Cruz wasn’t the lone target of the Biogenesis investigation, he’s simply been the most successful this season. Others have had success as well though, namely Ryan Braun.
Braun, perhaps the number two target of the Biogenesis investigation, has done quite well for himself in 2014, batting .327/.367/.595 in 166 PA before being sidelined by an oblique strain. He’s back though, and looks to continue his productive season with a surprisingly competitive Milwaukee Brewers squad.
Everth Cabrera has yet to get his bat going in 2014, batting just .247/.275/.342 while swiping just 11 bags so far. Cabrera’s speed can be a catalyst for the struggling San Diego Padres offense, if he gets it going.
Bartolo Colon signed a two-year contract with the New York Mets, after a season in which he posted a 2.65 ERA in 190.1 innings for the Oakland Athletics. He, unlike the other players involved with Biogenesis, was not suspended since he had already served a suspension related to his involvement with them. The questions surrounding many of the other players in 2014, surrounded him in 2013, and he proved he could still pitch effectively. Colon has fallen back to earth a bit in 2014, pitching to a 4.73 ERA in 64.2 innings thus far.
Jhonny Peralta cashed in on the free agent market, despite the Biogenesis scandal, inking a four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He hasn’t quite lived up to the contract, he’s hitting .232/.311/.429 with 9 home runs and 24 RBI. The power production is solid, but Peralta will need to get on base more to satisfy the Cardinals.
Jesus Montero has yet to appear in the Major Leagues this season with the Seattle Mariners, he’s hitting fairly well with Triple A Tacoma, batting .267/.344/.464. It remains to be seen though whether Mariners see fit to give him another chance with the big club.
Francisco Cervelli of the New York Yankees injured his hamstring running to first base in April, and was placed on the 60 day DL, so he won’t be eligible to return until June. He’ll presumably back up Brian McCann with the Yankees when he returns.