Friday, July 06, 2007

Fielding PEDs

I try to ignore most PED-discussions, but I must express surprise about how the Neifi Perez scandal has played out thus far (at least in the outlets I've read). I understand, to some extent, why the PED debate has focused (in baseball) on the marriage of steroids and home runs, with scant attention cast toward Alex Sanchez types and pitchers only occasionally entering the conversation (normally when they're already unpopular in some respect, a la Clemens). So why, as far as I've seen, hasn't the discussion about Neifi Perez focused on the impact of PED's on fielding?

Most commenters have focused on snide jokes about Neifi's atrocious offense, which has been an object of derision for many years. For some reason, the reality that Neifi has been, throughout his career, one of the best defensive players in baseball tends to be overlooked simply because his offense so thoroughly counterbalances his defensive talent. If Neifi has built his entire major league career on great fielding that is only made possible because of amphetamine use, shouldn't that be a much bigger story than Bonds or whomever going from being merely a huge star to being a huge star who also challenges home run records?

Obviously, this is pure speculation; maybe Neifi just found Will Smith's pills and thought they were Vitamin E (obscure Alfonso Ribeiro reference!). However, if Perez would have been, say, a slightly below average fielder absent illegal PED's, it's hard to fathom that he would have reached the major leagues outside of a few years playing for the minimum. Perez's $2.5m salary this season puts him over $20 million in salary for his career; there's no doubt that you have to be an exceptional fielder to earn that much if you hit like Neifi Perez. If that's PED-based, that, to me, seems like much more significant thievery than anything Bonds allegedly did. And Bonds has to pay a pretty huge social penalty for his perceived transgressions; meanwhile, anybody who would hassle Perez about his PED use would already be hassling him about his terrible hitting.


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