The Diamondbacks and the Biogenesis connection

By Djh57 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Yeah, bit of a linkbait headline. :) For it's not a name you'll recognize, but it was quietly announced last week that we had signed minor-league free agent pitcher Cesar Carrillo, who was the first player suspended in connection with Biogenesis.

According to our transactions page, the actual signing apparently took place on January 29, and Nick Piecoro appears to have been first to make the connection.

It's one of four similar transactions: the other three are rather less interesting, but we might as well cover them while we're here.

  • RHP John Omahen - we mentioned him in Friday's SnakeBytes, simply because in 2013 he played independent ball for the wonderfully named Traverse City Beach Bums. A 35th round pick by the Marlins in 2011, Omahen had a 3.37 ERA in 115 innings.
  • SS Gerard Hall - another indy ball pickup, he's one of three players now in our organization to have played for the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League [whom we also mentioned recently, due to their Zombie Theme Night] Hall hit .273/.331/.441 and was elected to the league's all-star team.
  • RHP Derek Cape - an undrafted free agent, out of Adair County High School and Lindsey Wilson College. Very little info available, but his former coach seems very pleased and has kind words to say about him.

But let's discuss Carillo, who will have had an interesting journey to the Diamondbacks organization, to say the least - he went to the University of Miami and apparently was Ryan Braun's road roommate for three years. Hmmm... He had to sit out 2003 because his ACT score was too low, but then started his college career by going 24-0! [Another Biogenesis suspendee, Yasmani Grandal was also a University of Miami graduate. At the risk of repeating myself: Hmmm] Selected by the Padres in the first round of the 2005 draft - who was the San Diego GM at that point,. I wonder? - he was expected to be on the fast-track to the majors

However, that was detailed by Tommy John surgery in early 2007. Carillo did get into the majors for three starts with the Padres in 2009, but after an odd 2011 incident which saw him arrested for trespassing at a Florida casino,, he bounced around on waivers between there, the Phillies, back to San Diego and the Astros, He signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers in June 2012, then the following January 29, the Miami New Times dropped their mailshot heard around the world: A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names. As well, it appears to some of those further down the pecking order.

If we take the story as gospel, Carillo was nicknamed "Al Capone" by Biogenesis clinic chief, Anthony Bosch, and appears six times in their books, cited there as "receiving HGH, MIC, and a testosterone cream." A little less than two months later, Carillo was suspended by MLB for 100 games, becoming the first player to be banned as a result of the Biogenesis documents. He never failed a drugs test, and it was his first offense, but MLB has rather more latitude when it comes to punishing minor-league players, because they fall outside the protection of the players' union, and Carillo wasn't on the Tigers' 40-man roster at the time.

As a result, the hammer came down quicker - and, arguably, harder - than it might otherwise have done. According to ESPN's T.J. Quinn, Carillo received "50 games for being on Biogenesis documents, 50 for lying to MLB about knowing Bosch," so it was a little like the A-Rod situation, where attempts to conceal the connection actually resulted in a heavier punishment. The Detroit Tigers released Carillo immediate he finished serving his 100-game ban at the beginning of August. But he has now been re-united with Kevin Towers.

It's an odd kinda signing, not least because there seems very little point to it. Carillo's stuff has diminished sharply, and it seems he was one of the pitchers who weren't able to make it back successfully from Tommy John surgery. There's not much to go on recently - for one reason or another, he only made 19 appearances since the end of 2011 - but he struck out 55 batters in 99 innings at Double-A and independent levels, a pedestrian rate of 5.0 per nine IP. He'll turn 30 in April too, so if anything, age will now be cutting in to his performance.

But it's the Biogenesis connection which is most unexpected. In November, Piecoro wrote a piece which stated the Diamondbacks' position in a way which left little room for doubt. Arizona Diamondbacks saying no to drug-linked free agents. The story said, "their hardline stance appears to be spearheaded by Ken Kendrick, the club’s managing general partner and a longtime critic of PED users... Team sources say Kendrick continues to discourage the acquisition of players, or even the hiring of coaches, who have ties to PEDs," though does point out there have been obvious exceptions made in the past, such as for Matt Williams.

Quite why Carillo deserves a similar exception isn't clear: I'm not sure, but I'm fairly certain Carillo isn't a part-owner of the team like Matty. As noted, Towers does have a long-term connection to Carillo, so it's possible he has a better evaluation of overall character, than we and our moral outrage can obtain from the cheap seats. But it'd be nice if the team were to come out and address this in a more up front manner, rather than leaving us all to wonder exactly what their policy on signing PED offenders may be, and why Carrilo deserves another chance.

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