If Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta gets caught up in the impending mass-PED related MLB suspensions the Tigers are going to have a real problem. This isn’t an issue like the Jose Valverde one, or all of the people that want to run Jim Leyland out of town, or Alex Avila’s disastrous season at the plate. This is a legitimate ‘oh crap’ dilemma.
Guess who the Tigers have waiting in the wings to take over at shortstop? That’s right – nobody. Their top shortstop prospect in the entire system is Eugenio Suarez, and he’s not ready. He’s hitting .252 at AA Erie. Argenis Diaz had a nice spring but is batting just .235 at Toledo. Danny Worth is always an option, but he’s been banged up all season and has only logged 50 plate appearances for the Mud Hens.
Ramon Santiago? Yeah, right.
MLB caught a huge break in its witch hunt to catch the purported PED cheaters when Miami-based clinic Biogenesis’ Tony Bosch finally agreed to cooperate with the investigation. Bosch is expected to name names in an effort to save his own butt. As a result, a list that is expected to be around 20 could swell to dozens more. Nobody really knows what Bosch has stored away in his archives at this point.
And nobody really knows how reliable a guy like Bosch is to begin with either. He will avoid a lot of trouble by fully, and perhaps overly, cooperating with the MLB manhunt. He is perhaps the best and the worst guy to garner information from.
Indeed, the sledgehammer that is about to drop throughout the MLB landscape is going to affect teams across the country. The minimum suspension is 50 games for a 1st time offender. Others could face 100 game suspensions if MLB can get creative enough and consider past denials of accusations a 1st time offense. This is going to get tricky, and messy.
For Peralta, he has been linked to Biogenesis but denies any involvement, saying that anyone suggesting otherwise “is lying”. I sure hope he’s right. Suspensions will probably be handed down in a few weeks, maybe sooner, maybe a bit later.
I suppose any good news that could come from this is that an immediate suspension would mean Peralta has plenty of time to get back for the playoffs. The bad news is several:
It would interrupt a brilliant turnaround season by Jhonny, who is hitting .338 with 6 homers and 26 RBI’s heading into Wednesday night’s game v. Tampa,
Detroit would be left in a total bind, having to fill a 50-game vacancy via a very uncomfortable and completely unknown solution,
And probably most importantly, it would mean that Jhonny was cheating. And nobody wants to hear that about a guy with an impeccable reputation.
For now we have the luxury of assuming Peralta’s innocence yet the burden of fearing his guilt. Even during an offseason, filling a void at shortstop is a difficult task. In season, it is nearly impossible to do so with effectiveness.
Yank Peralta’s hot bat from the bottom half of Detroit’s order and with the continued struggles of Avila it might start to look a lot like last year’s bottom-half black hole.
I do feel that the Tigers can survive the Valverde experiment and Avila’s struggles and still make the playoffs. But how many wins would losing Peralta cost the Tigers? That’s difficult to say but the margin of error would shrink just that much more.
Jhonny be good.
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