(BaseballStL) – In the wake of St. Louis’ signing of free agent Jhonny Peralta, vocal opponents of players linked to performance enhancing drugs have weighed in across the country.
Several players ripped the deal, saying owners were encouraging PED use by signing the formerly suspended Peralta.
“It pays to cheat...Thanks, owners, for encouraging PED use,” tweeted Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler.
Monday, Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak addressed reporters about the deal, and answered several questions about Peralta’s history.
“There are always concerns. When you think about what you’re trying to build, it’s a lot of things that factor into putting a club together. It’s something that we weigh into our decision making,” Mozeliak said. “I think in his case, he admitted what he did. He took responsibility for it and in this point in the game, there’s nothing that says he can’t go play or he isn’t free to go sign with some other club.”
Peralta did not appeal his suspension when it was issued last season, and released statement saying he took full responsibility for what happened in the spring of 2012.
For the Cardinals, that appears to be enough to move forward. Mozeliak did say the club examined the situation carefully, and feels confident that it was an isolated incident.
“You can only do so much due diligence, there’s only so wide you can open that door to really understand what’s happening behind the scenes; but from what we’ve been told, from the people we spoke to, we have high level of confidence this was a one-time event.”
Many fans seemed surprised the Cardinals, so touted for their reputation of doing things “the right way” all season, would sign a player tied to PED use.
After national and local media proselytized the “Cardinal Way” through the playoffs, the Peralta contract seemed to fly in the face of St. Louis’ image as baseball’s nobility; its moral center.
Mozeliak’s response Monday was far more pragmatic. Like all things, Baseball is a business, and the Cardinal GM has a knack for smart business; even if baseball purists would prefer a different outcome.
“I don’t think it’s the Cardinals’ responsibility to be the [morality] police on potential future employment,” Mozeliak said. “I feel he has paid for his mistakes. Obviously if he were to make another one, then it would be a huge disappointment.”
Business or not, Peralta’s peers seemed perturbed at the contract tendered to the 31-year-old.
David Aardsma, a former Mets pitcher, tweeted “Apparently getting suspended for PED’s means you get a raise. What’s stopping anyone from doing it? #weneedtomakeachange.”
Mozeliak made it clear that whatever his feelings on PED use are, he is working within the framework established by the league and its players. If players are truly committed to change, he suggested, they are perhaps the best engine to drive it.
“I think everybody is entitled to their opinions. If the Players Association wants to see stronger penalties, I don’t think anybody in Major League Baseball is going to prevent that,” Mozeliak said. “Obviously this is something that’s negotiated, and at the last basic agreement, this is what was agreed upon. So I imagine if the players as a whole want to see change, they’ll get it”.
He did add that he doesn’t believe the current 50-game suspension appears to be stopping PED use, though he does believe the MLB has begun to change the culture of the game for the better.
No matter how players feel about former PED users, until there is a strict code in place, owners will continue to sign players they believe can help their team.
In this case, whether fans and media agree, the Cardinals believed Peralta was the right fit.
“When you look at it from a 10000 foot view, people do want to see stricter rules, stricter penalties. But when you look at it more in a vacuum or more in a silo with a particular player, we did not feel like it was our job to penalize him for past mistakes,” Mozeliak said.