One of the Diamondbacks’ top rivals for the National League West division title will be without its top hitter for the remainder of the season, but D-backs manager Kirk Gibson doesn’t think that’s punishment enough.
In the wake of the positive test for performance-enhancing substances by San Francisco outfielder Melky Cabrera, Gibson said “much stricter” penalties are needed.
“Part of me says that all right, enough already, we’ve made a commitment to stopping that type of activity and we still have people trying to fool the system. Maybe we should consider a much stricter penalty,” Gibson said in a media session recorded by FOX Sports Arizona’s Todd Walsh prior to Wednesday night’s game in St. Louis.
“The majority of the people in this game care about the integrity of the game. We’re all committed to that, cleaning it up. And obviously it’s not enough of a deterrent. It continues.”
Gibson and the Diamondbacks have an interesting tangential connection to some of the most notable performance-enhancing incidents in recent years.
This year, they’re chasing the Giants, who have been carried offensively by Cabrera’s career season (.346 batting average, 84 runs, 11 homers, 60 RBI). In last year’s National League playoffs, they were eliminated by the Milwaukee Brewers, whose star Ryan Braun was later found to have violated the drug policy only to have his suspension overturned on appeal. And in 2008, when they finished two games behind the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez hit .512 against the Diamondbacks with five home runs. In May of 2009, he was hit with a 50-game suspension.
“I think the penalty needs to be much more severe,” Gibson said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve been stung by it … I mean, the guy (Cabrera) is hitting .460 on us this year. In nine games, the guys scored eight runs, six RBI, two home runs. He’s had a huge impact against us. You go back to 2008, the Manny thing, huge impact.”
Gibson made reference to the punishments against Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, noting that the NCAA’s sanctions impacted the team in addition to the individual. He seemed to indicate major league teams can benefit from an unlevel playing field without compensatory punishment. In Cabrera’s case, he remained a major contributor for the Giants during the appeal of his positive test.
“My guess is there’s an appeals process. So all those games he’s played during the appeals process, they’re really not fair,” Gibson said. “Look at all the teams he’s played that have been impacted by it. That’s the part I don’t like about it.
“If you appeal it and it’s denied, it should have much more ramifications. I don’t have the answer, but I think in the broad sense, it needs to be much, much more severe.”
The same goes for players caught violating the policy, he said.
“I don’t have an exact number,” he said. “I think it should be a minimum of a year, and after that, he should be banned.