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Touching All the Bases

Sunday Mail: Speculating on Whether Pedro's Performances Were Enhanced is a New Low

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Considering I'm about two hours of sunlight away from having to rename this Sunday Mail After Dark, let's jump right to the questions ...

Pedro was definitely on steroids, right? I mean Mike Felger, Tony Mazz and Kirk Minihane say so. It must be true then.
-- Roger from Texas

I did hear Mornings With Minihane and Meter talking about this Friday, But I had missed the Felger and Mazz finger-wagging version Thursday. Otherwise I would have lit them up in the chat.

I listened to the podcast version, out of professional obligation, on my way home Friday, and it was just what you guys said. Shameless sports-radio trolling at its worst.

Not that I couldn't guess exactly what it would sound like, of course, because there hasn't been an original approach to making an argument on that show in a while ...

"I'm not saying Pedro necessarily used steroids, Mike. All I'm saying is that he dominated in an era in which the most dominant players USED STEROIDS, OK? I'm not accusing him. I'm not. I'm just saying that he dominated an era when that was prevalent, Mike. The fanboys can't admit it, Mike. Listen, you have to at least think about it! Boston fans have gone soft, and it sucks, OK?"

If you want to suspect Pedro, go ahead. He had a tie to seedy Angel Presinal, and he played in that era. It's not enough circumstantial evidence to raise an eyebrow, but it might make one twitch.

I suspect time will reveal that those who didn't in that era were a minority. It is possible he did something to enhance his performance. You can say that about every player since, when, 1995? 1986? 1979?

But there's never been a thread of actual evidence suggesting Pedro did anything other than channel his enormous talent, intelligence and competitiveness into the greatest four-year stretch of pitching any of us have ever seen. There's more evidence suggesting he didn't do anything -- his slight build, his normal decline, his never-wavering pride in doing things the right way.

So I ask: what's the point of bringing this up now, on the occasion of a silly but fun event?

To drain any joy Red Sox fans get from remembering his prime and seeing him honored? To sucker pissed-off fools like me into talking and writing about it? To prove you're too detached and cool to enjoy anything anymore?

Pedro is the most interesting, charismatic Boston athlete since Bird, and a transparent hey-we're-not-accusing-we're-just-sayin' is the best angle you can come up with to discuss him?

That's pretty low. Not surprising. But low.

It's thinly veiled garbage that they would never dare to ask him -- not with that tone, anyway -- if he came on their particular show.

In an annoying and unfair way, though, it is a reminder of just how brilliant he was, as if we needed one.

He was so transcendent that he was almost beyond belief. To me, that's a reason to salute him when we have the chance, not cast him with suspicion.

Hey Chad, I've heard fans and talking heads state the following: "Even if Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be a good player, the Pats would have made the wrong pick if a TE picked after is also a good player." My feeling is that these people are missing the forest for the trees because their argument is predicated on the 'win now argument.' But if the team has a QB of the future, then winning now isn't is dire as it was when Ryan Mallett was our only young QB. What do you think?
-- Tron

I'm with you, Tron. I think a lot of us who pretend we have a clue about which players should go where in the NFL Draft thought the Patriots should/would draft C.J. Fiedorowicz, the tight end from Iowa who ended up going to Houston in the third round. Drafting Garoppolo -- who wasn't projected to go that high -- seemed like an initial reach in the Kevin O'Connell mold, and it also seemed a luxury pick when there were still needs to be filled.

Those were our initial, in-the-moment impressions. Now that we've seen the kid -- especially against the Redskins, when his superb play was a pleasant surprise after hearing how lost he'd been in practice -- the pick is easier to comprehend.

You can see that Garoppolo is raw, but it's also easy to spot what they like about him. He already has beautiful touch on the deep ball. If we squint, we can envision him as Brady's successor in a couple of years, which is something that has never really seemed possible with the myriad other backups who have played her over the years.

And if you've found your potential next quarterback and you have time to develop him behind an all-time-great who is willing to share his knowledge with an understudy, then no one should be complaining about choosing that potentially essential player over a tight end.

Even with that desperation to win a fourth ring before Brady goes, I have no problem with the forward thinking of adding a player whose importance here will only be known after Brady is gone. Just as long as Garoppolo is, you know, really good.

How long do you anticipate WEEI will give Middays with MFB before considering making some changes? Also, do you foresee any changes ahead for the NESN Red Sox broadcasts? The asinine Wally Wave, pop-up facts, sox culture, etc. all havgo. Just show the damn baseball game.
-- Frannie

The show was conceived and put together by the bosses currently in charge, so as long as they're around, it will get every chance to earn an audience.

And the biggest surprise from the July Nielsen audio monthly was not that D&C topped T&R for the first time since 2011, but that MFB tied Gresh and Zo with a 4.3 share.

I don't expect that to continue now that we're transitioning into football season, where the 98.5 program really has a stronghold. But the tie counts as a small victory for WEEI at the least.

As far as NESN goes, it's as simple as this: The people who run that place think that the casual viewers like this garbage. They know they've got the diehard Sox fan no matter what -- well, at least if the team is decent. The nonsense, and there is a lot of it, is for everyone else.

I know the outrage about Jon Lester is from the heart but can you name me just one long-term pitching contract that worked out well for an over-30 pitcher? Plus Lester has never thrown better, you are paying for past results plus buying high. Five years is what it is going to take and with all the talent coming up it is hard to find justification to sign him even though the heart says open up the vault. This is truly a tough call but one that can soothed by dumping the farm system for Stanton, he will sell tickets every night.
-- Lou Gorman

Who is this Stanton you speak of? I'm intrigued.

Your points are all valid to some degree. Any team that signs him for five or six years has to go into the deal recognizing that the last couple of years of the contract will probably be wasted cash and you'd better get your money's worth over the first couple of seasons.

It's tough to find a long-term contract with a pitcher over 30 that has been worth it all the way through. But I don't think the Phillies should regret the five-year deal for roughly $95 million that they gave 32-year-old Roy Halladay before the 2010. They got a Cy Young award-winning season, a runner-up season, a middle-of-the-rotation type season, a lost year (6.82 ERA in '13), and then he retired. They got approximately $66 million in value for the $75 million they paid him. I don't think they regret it.

Same could apply to Cole Hamels, who looks a decent bet to be effective for a good portion of the four years he has remaining.

You also say Lester has never thrown better, which is true. To me, that's a reason to sign him. He's maintaining his velocity as he ages while improving his command and control -- his K/BB ratio is far and away the best of his career. That's someone who like a pretty good bet -- inasmuch as any pitcher can be a good bet.

All of our points are probably moot, anyway, at least in regard to the Red Sox. He's not coming back. I'm joining the bandwagon that says he ends up with the Cubs.

Stephen Drew is hitting .163/.200/.256 for the Yankees.
-- JPL

So you're saying we got the best of him? Well, then, there's a segue. Until next week, the Mailbox is closed. Exit music, please:

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