MLB quick hits: Cabrera suspension, Strasburg shutdown, King Felix perfect


San Francisco Giants great Orlando Cepeda presents current Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera with a pre-game award. Cabrera tested positive for testosterone Wednesday and will face a 50-game suspension. Photo by: Susana Millman / Flickr

BY BRANDON J. SMITH & WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com bloggers

• MELKY CABRERA: As you might have heard, he was officially suspended 50 games today for violating the drug policy by testing positive for testosterone. This is obviously significant because the San Francisco Giants are in the thick of the NL West race with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cabrera was leading the NL in hits and runs, while being the second best player on the team besides Buster Posey.

What isn’t significant to me is the idea that Cabrera’s high .346 batting average and subsequent stats is a direct result of him taking this substance. This is something impossible to judge based on how all players regardless of skill have been caught under the new program. It’s easy to sit back and say “well, of course Cabrera was cheating, why else would he be hitting so well?” Sure, Cabrera was hitting well above his career averages until this point, and I doubt anyone really believed this spike in performance was permanent. Don’t forget that he had 210 hits with 18 HRs for the Royals last season and hit over .300, Were there any doubts then?

It’s pretty well known he wasn’t in the best physical shape during his time with Atlanta, so an increased emphasis on health probably led him to looking for that needless edge. But it’s too difficult to tell without proper medical know-how to definitively say his breakout season was a result of x, because if I knew those reasons, I would be a doctor and not an unemployed blogger *sad face*.  And it’s not me saying what he did was right, which it wasn’t because he broke an explicitly stated rule and policy that’s been in place for several years now.

• STEPHEN STRASBURG: This massively underreported story obviously needs more attention.  The Nationals premature plan to shut their ace pitcher down sometime in September and potentially miss an opportunity to pitch in October is a grave mistake. We’re not saying it’s the end of the world, but it’s a disservice to fans all around baseball who want to see this guy pitch on the biggest stage. Unless there’s something medically wrong with Strasburg that we don’t know about, then shutting him down would be indefensible. Sacrificing the potential for him to remain healthy in the coming years doesn’t seem worth the risk of winning the World Series right now.

And it should not be assumed by the Washington Nationals that they’ll be viable contenders in the near future. The Phillies, to use one example went from a 100 win season last year to dead last in the East this year. Without Strasburg, Washington still has a fine rotation with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann predictably being their 1-2 punch in the playoffs. But still, bleh to this whole situation.

• FELIX HERNANDEZ: The Seattle Mariners ace achieved perfection this afternoon in a 1-0 win against the Tamps Bay Rays. But will his first-career perfect game go under the radar? Major League Baseball has already seen a couple of pitchers (Matt Cain and Phillip Humber) throw the rare achievement this season with two others (Johan Santana and Jered Weaver) and a combined effort from Seattle’s bullpen also tossing no-hitters.

However, King Felix’s perfect game shouldn’t be buried by any other outstanding performance from the 2012 season. Although we can’t take anything away from those other players, Hernandez’s 27 straight outs was pretty darn comparable to Cain’s. The San Francisco Giants ace had 14 strikeouts in his perfect game against Houston in June. He was also 27-years-old at the time. King Felix has one less year of experience under his belt and threw his perfect game against the playoff hungry Tamps Bay Rays, who are noticeably on the rise. Hernandez’s perfect game was also in a pressure-packed 1-0 Seattle win while Cain’s was earned in a leisurly 10-0 Giants victory.

I guess I would have to compare both to Humber’s perfect game, but I simply don’t count that one because even an unlucky squirrel (Humber is currently 5-5 with an ERA just under 6.00) finds a nut every once in a while and his came against the lowly Mariners. So who’s perfect game — between Cain and Hernandez — was better? It’s not really fair to compare, but if I had to choose give me the King.

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