Hardly a soul in the Giants' clubhouse expressed support for Melky Cabrera. Several players were given an opportunity to voice an opinion on their tainted teammate, and they didn't line up to say they'll have Cabrera's back during his 50-game suspension.
Players such as Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence said little more than it's time to move on. Others such as Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum made brief comments but politely refused to answer pressing questions. Others simply stayed in areas off limits to the media, knowing some things are better left unsaid.
It was a sign Cabrera no longer is welcomed in the clubhouse, a sign he won't wear a Giants uniform again. If the players (along with many fans) don't rally around the All-Star MVP, management certainly can't.
... After Cabrera's positive drug test, [the fans] felt cheated. So, apparently, did the players.
Wow, did not expect that. From my memories of how players normally react, they would usually round the wagons and protect their own. Instead, the reporter could only get one player to go on record in support of Melky's return, and that player was one who could be empathetic as he was caught using PEDs in the minors once. Otherwise, the best the reporter could get was Posey's "Ultimately, it was a bad decision. ... That's all I'm really going to say about it."
One potential positive coming from this - and I think I read it somewhere - is that the team could use this as a rallying point, that they are going to get into the playoffs in spite of what Melky's mistake costed the team. I can see that possibly happening, teams have rallied around odder things, like the Battling A's complete hatred for their owner, Charlie O. Finley, and sometimes for each other in the heat of the battle. And the Giants apparently rallied around Renteria crying about his last chance for the ring in a team meeting in early September 2010. Right now, the team needs something to get them going, whatever reason they can find. So the next week will be interesting in terms of how the team reacts, now that they have had two days to absorb this gut check: will they take it to the Padres and Dodgers over the next week or will they be taken?
Here, I will note the jaded side of me, a thought that came through my mind and not necessarily what I think, but it is food for thought: maybe the players are mad not that he used, but that he was caught. I was listening to KNBR last night and they had the ESPN feed going with an interview with Victor Conte (yes, that guy, I'll get into him a little later), and he, as their expert, stated that this type of testosterone doping is actually very easy to do undetected, that a mistake would have to been made to get caught because players are only tested at the park, so he could dab on the stuff after he leaves the park and his body receives the benefits, but its drug signature in the body dissipates by the time the player returns to the park. By that description, it is extremely easy to avoid detection at the moment, and thus getting caught is only through a horrendous mistake in usage and timing.
Now, maybe the players were in a big state of shock and didn't feel ready to say anything. I imagine that management - Sabean, Bochy, Baer - couldn't say anything, one, because Sabean saw what happened when he reacted from his feelings last season with Cousins, two, they can't burn bridges just in case, three, they need to focus the players on the big picture, the goal, of making the playoffs. But the players really could say whatever they wanted and chose not to say much, other than they have to move on.
Pagan Might Have Gotten Good News With This
The one hardest hit has to be Pagan, who was happily and joyfully Cabrera's translator whenever the need arised, yet he couuld not offer one word of support, sympathy, or empathy for his (former?) buddy.
This is actually a good turn of events for him. The Giants most likely were going with Melky in LF, Pence in RF, and let Blanco try to hold CF in 2013, with the possibility of Brown rising by mid-season if need be. Thus no space for Pagan and a savings on his contract.
Now, however, if the Giants are/must moving on from Cabrera, they are in need of another starting OF, and who better than Pagan, who was here and relatively productive, and most likely affordable. He's no Melky, but he has been a good producer for the most part. And his up and down performance makes it likely that there will not be heated bidding for his services, so he might be willing to sign for less per season but for a 2-3 year deal, to get some stability as well as more money overall. Probably something in the range that DeRosa and Roberts got, about $5-6M per year (I dropped the lower end because he's not as good a hitter).
That would give us Blanco, Pagan, Pence across the OF, with Brown and/or Peguero and possibly Kieschnick as potential callups by mid-season should production be down with either.
While not as good had Melky not blew his chances here, the lineup is still pretty good overall: Blanco, Theriot/Scutaro, Sandoval, Posey, Pence, Belt, Pagan, Crawford. And if Crawford continues to develop, it might be better for him to bat 7th and deliver some power and plate discipline, while Pagan would be our secondary leadoff hitter batting 8th. Who knows, maybe Bochy will copy his buddy's, LaRussa, habit of batting pitchers 8th and hitter 9th, which really is a secondary leadoff guy. Heck, Blanco and Pagan could swap off, depending on who is starting, Blanco leadoff if RHP, Pagan if LHP.
Not too shabby a lineup, just not as MLB crushing as we might have once dreamed of.
Media as Enabler
And I suppose I'm doing it too by pointing it out, but is Victor Conte the ONLY expert on drug cheating out there? ESPN interviewed him yesterday in reaction to the Melk-down news. He lives and breathes for this type of attention. He loves having and stretching his 15 minutes, even if there is a negative connotation associated with it. Any media attention is all good for him.
ESPN, the biggest sports media network out there, could not find another expert to talk to? Is there no college professor who can speak on the subject? A sports medicine doctor? Someone from another testing firm?
Even Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote about how hard it is to stay ahead of the cheaters in the Olympic Sports, and also professional sports.
Also, how about presenting an alternative view on the subject by interviewing Eric Walker, whose research has found that there is no positive performance effects from steroids and other reputed PEDS? Or that Saber-Economist college professor, who talked with his school's sports drugs experts and found out that Human Growth Hormone provides no performance enhancement and has all sorts of horrible side effects (like your internal organs growing too large for your body, hence why so many wrestlers guts are huge, it is not because of their muscles...). Or maybe THOSE professors.
This I might have expected from SI, who loves to tweak the Giants and Bonds (also BP has a hate for the Giants too), by bringing up someone who has a negative past with the Giants. But maybe ESPN was being lazy and going to the first name on their list. Still, in any case, there's nobody else?