Chicago Cubs

Fergie Jenkins weighs in on MLB Hall of Fame, PED suspicions

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Fergie Jenkins weighs in on MLB Hall of Fame, PED suspicions

When the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was released last week, the first thing most people did was sound off on the suspected steroid users.

And it makes sense. The ballot is filled with guys who came under suspicion, from Barry Bonds to Roger Clemens to Cubs all-time home run leader Sammy Sosa.

Considering crystal balls don't really predict the future, there's no way of knowing if any of those suspected PED users will be voted in, which has left many of the current Hall of Famers undecided on whether to attend the ceremonies.

Cubs Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins joined "Power Alley" with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio Tuesday to discuss whether he planned on attending Cooperstown next summer.

Last summer, it was no question that Jenkins would attend, as former teammate and Cubs icon Ron Santo was posthumously voted into baseball's most exclusive club. But this year will be different.

"I'm waiting to see the flow of the individuals," Jenkins said. "There are 67 Hall of Famers still alive...They generally have 45-50 guys come back."

Jenkins said he would talk to guys like Al Kaline, Rollie Fingers and Gaylord Perry to gauge their stance about the 2013 Hall of Fame ceremonies.

"It's going to be a collection of guys talking to each other and making that final decision when it comes late July," he said.

The conversation then turned to the performance-enhancing drugs, and the role they've played in the game since the 1950s and '60s, when amphetamines burst onto the scene.

"I heard all these guys were taking all these different pills, but dexedrine and benzedrine are a women's diet pill. How the hell is that going to help you perform? What the hell do I want to take a women's diet pill for?" Jenkins said, eliciting a round of laughter from the show's hosts.

"But now you get into all these other drugs, the growth hormones and the steroids. There's so many different synthetics now. They make you bigger and stronger supposedly, hand-eye coordination better.

"I think when you look at some of these athletes that have been connected with the Mitchell report, maybe it did make them bigger and stronger. Or maybe because they were 30-plus years old, it added two or three years to your career. Now the suspicions are even better. I can't believe a lot of these guys are taking women's diet pills."

Listen to the complete audio here.

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Theo Epstein’s embrace-debate management style means the Cubs are constantly running through different scenarios, trying to balance their win-now urges against what should be a very bright future in Wrigleyville.

The financials, the human intelligence and the analytics are all factored into the equation, which leads to this question for Epstein’s cabinet: Is there a point where the Detroit Tigers kick in enough money and the prospect cost becomes so low that Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs?

The Cubs haven’t definitively answered that question yet or completely ruled out the idea, a team source said Tuesday, cautioning that the defending World Series champs are still more likely to add a reliever before the July 31 trade deadline than acquire a frontline starting pitcher.

“Always looking to make the team better,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 7-2 win over the White Sox kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Always. That’s what a GM and a president does. But I like our guys.”  

Verlander would obviously benefit from a move to the National League and feel energized in a pennant race. The Cubs could rationalize this as an immediate boost and a long-range solution while preparing for a 2018 rotation without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

Imagine the buzz from Kate Upton’s fiancée walking into the clubhouse and making his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform. Verlander and Upton have been spotted enough times at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that his no-trade power might be the easiest hurdle to clear in a deal of this magnitude.

Verlander’s overall numbers are ordinary this season (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.444 WHIP), but trending in the right direction. The Cubs would go into it knowing that they wouldn’t get the same guy who won 24 games and American League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

The Tigers also can’t just give away a franchise icon who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting and has a 3.39 ERA in 16 career playoff starts

The Cubs are trying to see around corners and anticipate what the team will look like in 2018 and 2019 – when Verlander will make $28 million guaranteed each season – and what might be available in trades and on the free-agent market during those transaction cycles. Verlander is also owed the balance of his $28 million salary this season and has a $22 million vesting option for 2020.

Even if the Tigers pay down some of that commitment, that’s still a ton of exposure with a guy who has roughly 2,500 innings on his odometer and will be 35 years old around the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training next season. That’s also when the Cubs will begin the second half of Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal – for his age-34, -35 and -36 seasons.

After stunning the baseball world with that blockbuster White Sox trade during the All-Star break, Epstein talked about how Jose Quintana’s reasonable contract – $8.85 million next season plus team options for 2019 and 2020 worth $22 million combined – creates room for another star player.

As great as Verlander has been throughout his career, are the Cubs really ready to pour that money back into a player who was born in 1983? And meet Detroit’s asking price in terms of prospects?

And go against the buy-low philosophy that attracted the Cubs to Arrieta, as well as the ageism that makes them reluctant to reinvest in their own Cy Young Award winner? And potentially close off opportunities to sign free agents from the monster class coming after the 2018 season?

Probably not, but the Cubs haven’t shut down the Verlander discussion yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Jordan Bernfield (ESPN) and Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap to talk Game 2 of the Crosstown Series.

Later, the group previews Bears camp and what's going on with the Cavaliers.

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: