John SickelsAll of these are really unsubstantiated comments. Danny Knobler implicitly agrees with an unnamed player making a conclusion based on unsubstantiated connections between drug use and performance. Jon Heyman falls into the same boat. John Sickels, a conduit for evaluation on prospects, should know full well that player development is not linear. It surprises me that someone who has spent his life analyzing player performance would so quickly attach himself to the idea that testosterone cures all. It is disappointing to read such a knee jerk response from a writer who was really the person who got me into more critically evaluating prospects.
Cabrera has greatly exceeded expectations the last two seasons, and now we know why. Certainly, his record as a prospect didn't imply that he was capable of this kind of performance.
Yes, Melky suspension is tough on Giants. But as one player from another team said, they already benefited from his cheating.
His career turnaround seemed too good to be true. And so it was.
What do we know about testosterone and athletic performance?
Testosterone will increase muscle mass. It will increase muscle mass more with exercise. This muscle is largely functional in that it certainly does increase strength (something human growth hormone has not been found to do making it the biggest bogeyman of this thrashing, poorly thought out effort to reduce PED use in baseball). So, yes, testosterone will make you bigger and stronger and using it with a great deal of hard work will make you even bigger and stronger.
This leads to the next part of the logic train: does strength mean you are a better baseball player?
Maybe, but we do not know. I think everyone is aware of the wall of sound declaring that PEDs actually increase performance, but there actually is a great body of evidence suggesting otherwise. The answer is not incredibly clear cut, so to immediately assume everything is a mirage is somewhat Chicken Little-ing the discussion.
That is what truly irritates me about the whole PED discussion...it simply is not a discussion. It is a horde of folks running and chasing after an easy concept without truly considering the complexity of the situation. Human growth hormone supplements could have been an amazing conversation about the state of science and how athletes are using the substances. Instead, we throw every player using into a raging fire where taking a more conservative approach would have enabled us to determine more clearly whether or not a substance improved performance or not. This resulted in MLB spending millions of dollar to initiate and maintain an HGH program that likely roots out (poorly) usage of a substance that in all likelihood does nothing to improve performance.
Honestly, I think the only proven effects of PED use in baseball is lazy sports writing.
Yes, Melky cheated. No, we don't know if him cheating with testosterone had anything to do with his improved performance. It probably is not directly unrelated. It probably has a great deal of placebo effect riding on it. However, a lot, if not almost all, of it is likely Melky. His career walk rate, strikeout rate, stolen base rate, and home run rate are all in expected ranges. The difference is that he BABIP is about 20% higher than his career level (and we should expect that to crash) and, with that increase in BABIP, he is showing an increase in secondary power. For a player at an age where peak performance could be expected and someone who had not to dissimilar seasons in 2011 and 2009 when accounting for BABIP...this season is really not remarkable.