Anyone who plays fantasy baseball in any format has some skin in the game with regard to the rumored suspensions coming down the pike from Major League Baseball in the wake of the Biogenesis PED investigation. With that in mind, RotoBaller has convened a roundtable discussion to look at some of the questions that these possible suspensions have forced us fantasy leaguers to think about. Be sure to drop us a line @RotoBaller if there are any other PED-related questions you have.
Adam Golub: This is by far the most extreme and seemingly tenuous position the league has taken regarding the suspension of players in league history. I repeat: league history. This is a league-wide witchhunt based on hearsay testimony from a completely unreliable source. There are no criminal complaints related to the use of this lab with respect to any players. There are no failed tests. Simply put, there is no hard evidence that we are currently aware of. As an attorney, I would be licking my chops if I were working for the MLBPA. I plan on attempting to write a comprehensive piece on the legal viability of these potential suspensions-- it's not going to help anyone in fantasy, but it's certainly the bigger story here. I only hope that in the coming days some new information comes to light, because as of now the evidence against these players seems flimsy at best, and the potential suspensions seem irresponsible and harrassing at worst.
Uncle Leo: I think that with the sworn testimony of Tony Bosch, MLB feels it has the proper evidence. They already had files, documents, names, billing receipts, etc., but now they have the sworn testimony of the owner of Biogenesis to go along with that, something that most likely says "YES - these guys took PEDs, and we gave it to them". Isn't that the key here? Also, for all we know, MLB and the MLBPA may have been negotiating this suspension since March or April, when we first heard rumblings about Biogenesis. And for all we know the MLBPA has already folded their hand behind closed doors.
My two cents: if MLB is ready and willing to hand out the suspensions, then it's probably going to happen. I can't imaging they'll just recklessly suspend twenty players. Most likely, the MLBPA already knows about these suspensions, and may not even push back if and when they're publicly announced. If MLBPA were going to push back and make a big stink about it, wouldn't we have already heard something along those lines from them? Things like "This is crazy talk and we'll fight it until the end." But we haven't heard anything like that, and so from my perspective, this isn't looking good for the players on the list.
Adam Golub: Braun appealed a positive test, which at the time was the first comprehensive challenge of the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA. It was also the first successful challenge. Let me repeat: he failed an actual drug test, and then still won an appeal. Imagine what he and the MLBPA attorneys are going to do with a totally circumstantial case built on the testimony of a soon-to-be-convicted felon and his subpoenaed business documents? They're going to do a full McNamee on this dude, and essentially discredit every word he says. All of the evidence is being produced or was kept by the same fairly unreliable witness. This is a shakedown.
As Tom Verducci essentially said, suspensions are not imminent. ESPN's OTL story jumps the gun a bit. What is official is that Bosch, under threat of a civil lawsuit from MLB and its owners, agreed to cooperate with their investigation. That is all. They're investigating his claims and those made by his employee which first blew the lid of this case. IF (notice the caps) they have enough evidence to hand out suspensions, they will. Once that happens, this case is going to an arbitrator, who may be so overwhelmed by the sheer legal presence (expect large teams of legal experts from all sides) that this case could easily go to federal court, in which case no suspensions will be served in 2013. That is a stone-cold lock. And if they suspend twenty, this could portend a class-action suit against MLB encompassing other claims outside the scope of union-related issues like defamation, etc.
Jeff Klein: I've got to think MLB won't act unless it's fairly certain it knows what the end result will be. That said, I cannot see how they can successfully suspend a player for talking to, buying or possessing a banned substance without evidence that the player actually ingested the substance. Even sworn testimony is nothing more than circumstantial with regard to the actual use of these drugs-- and didn't we have exactly that kind of testimony in the cases of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds? How did that hold up in court? It didn't then, and it won't here.