Originally written on The Giants Cove  |  Last updated 11/16/14

San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games without pay today by Major League Baseball for testing positive for testosterone, a banned performance enhancing drug in baseball's labor agreement. Cabrera is not appealing the ruling and issued an apology to his teammates, the Giants organization, and Giant fans saying, "I am deeply sorry for my mistake."

The MLB investigation into Cabrera's drug use apparently started in early July and due to the careful procedures now in place for testing MLB players the process took over a month before Cabrera was finally suspended.

Melky Cabrera was picked up in an off-season deal with the Kansas City Royals for Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, who is now with the Colorado Rockies. Cabrera's .346 batting average was second highest in the Majors, and he led all of baseball with 159 hits. His 2012 season projected to 220 hits; he had 201 hits in 2011 as a member of the Royals.

We heard the the news at AT&T Park as a half dozen seemingly simultaneous text messages pelted my cell phone about 30 minutes prior to today's game with the Washington Nationals. The immediate feeling of staff and fans in the area was one of devastation and disappointment. Several people said the news gave them same terrible feeling that Buster Posey's season-ending injury did in May 2011.

Melky Cabrera had been promoted and touted by the Giants organization, including appearances at home games of "the Melkmen", fans dressed in white milkmen uniforms cheering their hero on. The "Melkmen" were instrumental in generating All Star ballot votes for Cabrera, who was chosen as a starter and became the MVP of the 2012 All Star Game.

The persona Cabrera created in San Francisco this season was beloved by fans and media alike and the news of his positive drug test will hit the organization hard. Just a few years away from the performance drug controversaries surrounding slugger Barry Bonds, Giants management had build a fan-friendly, media controlled universe seemingly secure from this level of scandal and negative news.

Now that has changed and the San Francisco Giants are faced with rehabiliating their brand once again in the face of a player cheating scandal.         

Game #117 of the Season Was Unique
Ironically the Giants played their first game of the year yesterday with their best batting line-up healthy and in place for a 6-1 win over the Nationals. Trade deadline pick-ups right fielder Hunter Pence (from the Phillies) and infielder Marco Scutaro (from the Rockies) were joined by third baseman Pablo Sandoval, recently off the disabled list.  

Pre-season acquisitions Angel Pagan and Cabrera joined Sandoval and three other home-grown players to round out the reconstructed offense: Buster Posey (.951 OPS, .331 BA) has been dominant at the plate and the maturations of superstar shortstop Brandon Crawford and slugging first baseman Brandon Belt have recently shown great results.

This would have been the best offensive batting order the Giants put on the field since the 2002 World Series team of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent.
 
Even though the 2003 Giants had a better record (100-61, lost LDS 3-1), it was the 2002 team that pushed into the World Series with a crushing offense only to lose to the then-California Angels 3 games to 4.

On the 2002 team, LF Barry Bonds (1.381 OPS, 110 RBI, 117 R, 46 HR) and 2B Jeff Kent (.933 OPS, 108 RBI, 102 R, 37 HR) were backed up by RF Reggie Sanders (85 RBI, 23 HR), C Benito Santiago (74 RBI, 16 HR), and 3B David Bell (82 R, 20 HR).

It took 10 years before the Giants would put together a batting line-up with an offensive punch as deep as 1 though 7 in the batting order. And that happened yesterday.

The new-look San Francisco offense took on Washington Nationals' starter Jordan Zimmermann and his League-leading 2.35 ERA on Tuesday. The Giants won 6-1 on Madison Bumgarner's complete game victory.

On Wednesday San Francisco lost their best hitter for the rest of the 2012 season and their drive to make the playoffs took a big hit.

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