Angels owner Arte Moreno has gone on record as wishing to get to the bottom of the investigation into newly signed centerfielder, Gary Matthews Jr., and has made it clear he’s not being casual about the matter, he’s angry.
In a statement issued this week, Moreno said, “Both the Angels and I have strongly encouraged Gary to cooperate with any authority investigating this matter. Specifically, the Angels have asked him to come forward and fully answer all questions surrounding the recent allegations against him. The organization continues to expect that this matter will come to a quick conclusion.”
He then concluded by saying, “There is no place in baseball for such substances, and we have and will continue to do what we can to eliminate them from the game.”
He then followed the statement up with comments in the LA Times, saying, "It's going to be resolved by opening day, one way or the other. I promise you that," Moreno said.
"I'm not a very happy guy. It should have already been resolved."
Some may conclude that this is no more than PR flak and that MLB is collectively taking a laissez-faire attitude over PEDs in baseball. Moreno’s comments seem otherwise.
While the Angels’ owner may be setting the stage for some loophole to get out of the Matthews contract, should he be indicted and found guilty, his stance is certainly different than what other clubs have taken, namely the Giants as it pertains to Barry Bonds. In those cases, it’s been “wait and see”.
Back to the Albany, New York investigation into the sale of PEDs over the internet, Hall Bodley of USA Today is reporting that MLB and the NFL will be meeting with Albany Co. District Attorney, David Soares tomorrow.
As for Matthews himself, the question becomes, can he be suspended for 50 games under the MLB drug testing policy. SI.com reported that Matthews received human-growth-hormone in 2004. HGH has been on MLB’s banned substance list since 2005.
Angels GM Bill Stoneman has been in contact with Matthews’ agent, Scott Leventhal, and the Commissioner's Office.
"We don't have the answers to that right now," Stoneman said. "We certainly hope that's not going to be the case."
The Angels are pushing for as much information as they can.
"There are legal issues that maybe preclude us from getting all the information in a timely manner," said Tim Mead, the team's vice president of communications. "We're not going to pass judgment. All the organization is entitled to is as much honesty and information as possible. No one wants to be caught blindsided."
It’s a bad bit of timing. The signing of Matthews was already seen as one of the worst deals in the off-season given the sizable salary that came with it, and this matter doesn’t make the situation any easier. Bigger questions loom such as the ability for the Angels to get out of the contract all-together should Matthews be found guilty of any charges. As we’ve seen with Jason Giambi and the Yankees, the chances of that would seem very slim.
Maury Brown is the founder of The Biz of Baseball and an author for Baseball Prospectus. He can be contacted here.