MLBPA head visits Yanks’ camp
Weiner speaks about PEDs and team payroll
Yankees reliever Mark Montgomery throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Orioles Wednesday. / Kim Klement/USA today
TAMPA, FLA. — Yankees fans aren’t the only ones with reason to hope Hal Steinbrenner breaks from his plan to cut payroll. The players association would also prefer that the Yankees’ owner continues to spend big money.
“I imagine Mr. Steinbrenner is sincere when he says that,” MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said. “But like a lot of things, I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Weiner is seven stops into his annual team-by-team spring-training tour. He met with the Yankees on Wednesday, and it’s hard to imagine Yankees camp being just another stop along the way; especially given the recent reports linking Alex Rodriguez to performance-enhancing drugs and given the Yankees’ unusually quiet offseason in preparation for getting below the luxury-tax threshold next season.
“We knew when we negotiated the last basic agreement that there were certain incentives built in for the Yankees to drop their payroll,” Weiner said. “If the Yankees decide to drop their payroll to (take advantage of those incentives), I’m not concerned, because they’re dropping their payroll to put themselves in position to greatly increase their payroll the next year. That incentive was understood.”
Of greater concern, Weiner said, is the most recent series of performance-enhancing drug allegations. Rodriguez is the most notable name attached to a shady Miami clinic called Biogenesis, but Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli has also been connected to the clinic (though with no direct link to PEDs).
“It is a concern that more names are seemingly attached to this story,” Weiner said.
In the wake of the Biogenesis reports, several players – including Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira – have spoken out against performance-enhancing drugs and in favor of the game needing to do what it can to find and punish cheaters. Weiner said that sentiment has been noticeable in his meetings with teams throughout baseball.
“There’s no mistake as to where the sentiment of the players are,” Weiner said. “Mark is right, they are sick of this issue. If there is something going on, whether it’s in Miami or otherwise, they want us to get to the bottom of it.
“… The thinking of both the union and the commissioner’s office this offseason when we made changes was – this is a fairly standard tenet of criminal justice, as well – that the best way to deter conduct is to make it more likely that you’re going to get caught. Increasing the severity of the penalties has limited usefulness if people think they’re going to get away with something.”
Teixeira said the same, that in the fight against steroids, it makes more sense to focus on better testing than on increased punishment.
“(Suspended) 50 games and your name being tarnished, that’s a heck of a penalty for any player to have their name dragged through the mud,” Teixeira said. “That’s a tough penalty. I think the problem is guys think they can get ahead of (the testing procedure). So I would rather fix the science than just say, you’re banned for life the first time.”