The Rays Tank: Ryan Braun and PEDs; Wade Davis Trade Comps

MLB Chatter

As I'm sure you heard, the big news in baseball this weekend was of the unsavory sort: Ryan Braun has apparently tested positive for a prohibited substance. That statement should come with a qualifier, though, because A) he tested positive for a "prohibited substance" and not a steroid per se, and B) it's possible that the test was a fake positive and that Braun actually wasn't taking a banned substance. His sample was collected in October, and the first results to come back had testosterone levels that were "...insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken" (NY Daily News).

Everyone has been reiterating how foolproof the PED test is, and that may be the case, but every scientific test has the potential to return an extraneous result. There are too many variables that you can't control, and there could have been any number of reasons why Braun's results turned up funky: bad equipment, human error, damaged samples...who knows? But when you have a result that's such an obvious and extreme outlier, it's reasonable to withhold a sliver of doubt and demand a retest.

So I won't be judging Braun yet, not until we hear the finals results of the re-test (if we hear them at all). I'm sure many people will, though, and it makes me question the journalistic ethics of this news. If you heard from a reliable source that Braun had tested positive but he was appealing the test due to funky results, do you run with the story? Is it responsible to print the story, tarnishing someone's reputation before the conclusive proof is necessarily in? At what point do you feel comfortable enough with your source and the information before running with it?

I'm not saying any of this to judge the person that broke this story, as I don't know if there's a perfect answer here. I tend to take a very conservative view in publishing stories, and I know others are probably less exacting. And you could argue that this is big news even if it is a false positive, certainly. Personally, though, I think this is yet another example of why our modern news cycle does not deal with science well. The news demands breaking, definitive news, while scientists put error bars around everything and couch their words carefully. It's a poor fit that leads to all sorts of misreported news.

EDIT: Here's a really good take on the testing process and result from Will Carrol at SI. I just learned a heck of a lot from it.

Rays Talk

Anyway, rant over. This weekend, the A's traded Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks for three prospects: Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill, and Ryan Cook. This is noteworthy because some people (*ahem*Ken Rosenthal) are viewing it as a potential preview of what Wade Davis could net. Cahill is younger and better than Davis, but their peripherals are similar-ish and Davis is signed to a more team-friendly contract.

As much as I hate to admit it, Rosenthal has a point here; other teams are likely going to look at the Cahill deal as a potential comparison for Davis. In a fair and perfect world, there's no way that Davis should return more in a trade than Cahill. I know Friedman will milk his value as much as he possibly can by waiting on the market and trusting on other teams getting desperate, but this seems like yet another sign that we should keep our expectations modest.

While Jarrod Parker is a legit prospect and has good upside, it seem that most analysts aren't too enthused with Oakland's return in this deal. If Oakland could only bring back one top pitching prospect and two spare (but useful) parts, what hope do the Rays have of bringing in a young impact bat like Yonder Alonso or Logan Morrison?

One rumor from this weekend suggested the Rangers want to send Mitch Moreland to the Rays for Wade Davis, and while I'm not a fan of Moreland (he has upside, but he's still kinda meh), he may be more along the lines of what we should expect for Davis. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more, but we're probably better off keeping our expectations modest.

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