2012 NL All-Star suspended for 25 games

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2012 NL All-Star suspended for 25 games

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Add catcher to the Philadelphia Phillies' needs this offseason.All-Star Carlos Ruiz was suspended Tuesday for the first 25 games of next season following a positive test for an amphetamine. The 33-year-old catcher had a career year in 2012, hitting .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 114 games."I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant," Ruiz said in a statement issued by the Major League Baseball Players Association. "I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans. I will serve the imposed 25-game suspension to begin the season and I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013."Ruiz will be eligible to participate in spring training, including exhibition games."The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball's drug program," the team said. "We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program. We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013."Erik Kratz will likely begin the 2013 season as Philadelphia's starting catcher while Ruiz serves his suspension. Kratz, a career minor-leaguer, filled in nicely when he finally got a chance after Ruiz went down with a foot injury. Kratz hit .248, but had nine doubles, nine homers and 26 RBIs in only 141 at-bats. Kratz also threw out 45 percent of base-stealers (15 of 33).Still, losing Ruiz hurts a lineup that struggled mightily last year. Ruiz moved up from his usual No. 8 spot and took over for an injured Ryan Howard as the team's cleanup hitter for a chunk of the season. He batted fifth after Howard returned in July.The Phillies, who finished 81-81 after winning five straight NL East titles, have several holes to fill. Only Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are certain regulars. Utley, though, didn't play until late May in 2011 and late June in 2012 because of chronic knee injuries.General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. hopes to add a starting center fielder, another starting outfielder and a third baseman either through free agency or trades. Now he'll also need a backup catcher for Kratz for the first month. Brian Schneider served as the team's primary backup the last three seasons, but only batted .212 in 122 games.The Phillies have two top prospects catching in the minors. Sebastian Valle hit .253 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs in 80 games at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Tommy Joseph, acquired in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco, hit .257 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs for the Giants' and Phillies' Double-A affiliates.Ruiz became the eighth player suspended this year under the major league testing program, the second for amphetamines following Baltimore shortstop Ryan Adams. The eight suspensions are the most since 2007.This had to be Ruiz's second positive test for a stimulant. An initial positive for a stimulant does not trigger a suspension, only that the player must undergo follow-up testing.There have been 102 suspensions this year under the minor league testing program.

Why are Warriors willing to pay for picks? Lacob: 'If you just do the math...'

Why are Warriors willing to pay for picks? Lacob: 'If you just do the math...'

On Thursday night, the Warriors saw an opportunity and they struck.

Golden State paid the Bulls $3.5 million (the max amount allowed) for the rights to Jordan Bell.

After making the selection, Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group asked Lacob: "This is the fourth time you’ve bought a pick, the first two didn’t work out so great. How easy is it for you to just keep doing this?"

"Easy," Lacob answered. "We want to always be incredibly aggressive and get better. We only have a few players under contract, as Bob (Myers) pointed out.

"We tried really hard. It was really hard this year. Harder than it sounds."

Last year, the Warriors entered the draft without a pick but paid the Bucks $2.4 million for the rights to Pat McCaw -- the 38th pick.

This year, the Warriors entered the draft without a pick but acquired Bell -- the 38th pick.

"It’s amazing that we were able to do it, second year in a row," Lacob said. "Thirty-eight’s a lucky number, I guess."

After the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the Finals, ESPN's Darren Rovell reported that sweeping the Cavs (and not at least getting a third home game in the series) would cost the Warriors over $12 million.

Golden State did not sweep Cleveland, and did get a Game 5 at Oracle Arena.

In fact, a fan reportedly paid $133,000 for two floor seats.

Making the extra money did not impact the Warriors' decision to buy a draft pick.

"We would do it regardless," Lacob told Kawakami. "We just think that it’s money well spent if you just do the math.

"If you are good at picking players, it’s just a lot cheaper way to get a player than otherwise. How else are you going to do it?"

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

OAKLAND -- For the Warriors, the NBA Draft was about two things: Waiting for the right time to buy the rights to a player they love and being entertained, for the fourth consecutive day, by the earnest efforts of the league’s underclass.

Not that they would put it quite so impolitely.

“It’s a competitive league. All we do is try to get better,” president/general manager Bob Myers said late Thursday night, insisting that the Warriors are too immersed in their own challenges to look down their noses at the other 29 teams.

But the truth is inescapable. This is the week that touched off the flailing of franchises feeling particularly feeble and futile in the wake of Warriors destructive run through the postseason.

The Warriors were 16-1, the best record in NBA postseason history. Their average win margin, 13.5 points, is No. 2 all time. They demolished LeBron James and the Cavaliers in The Finals, after the Cavs had annihilated all comers in the Eastern Conference. Part III of The Trilogy was by far the most lopsided.

And the Warriors followed that up by buying a second-round pick to get, by most accounts, a first-round talent in Oregon’s Jordan Bell.

[POOLE: Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble]

The rest of the league is determined to fight back and, therefore, is scrambling and shuffling and trading and posturing in an effort to close the gap on the champs. Those teams, staring up at the Warriors, have to do something to feel productive today while trying to keep their fans from giving up on tomorrow.

No team did more draft-night hustling than their neighbors in Sacramento, who after using their No. 5 pick to select the player they coveted most, Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for Nos. 15 and 20, choosing North Carolina forward Justin Jackson and Duke forward Harry Giles.

The 76ers chose Markelle Fultz, believing he is the final piece to assembling the best young team in the East. The folks in Philly, who avoided the team for nearly a decade, suddenly are on board, buying 14,000 season tickets -- a franchise record.

The Lakers grabbed UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, who will generate an enthusiasm missing at Staples Center since the best days of Kobe Bryant.

The Timberwolves and Bulls completed a major trade, with Minnesota getting All-Star guard Jimmy Butler in exchange for guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, with the teams also swapping draft picks.

This all followed several moves made earlier this week, beginning with the Cavaliers dumping general manager David Griffin precisely seven days after being run over by the Warriors in The Finals.

Griffin’s dismissal preceded by a day the Hawks trading once-imposing Dwight Howard to the Hornets, as well as the Lakers dealing D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for All-Star center and Stanford product Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, as the Warriors examine their various free-agent contingencies, so much more is percolating around the league:

-Trade talk swirls about Pacers All-Star forward Paul George, who is destined to get out of Indiana, perhaps sooner than later.

-The Cavs are searching, so far without much success, for a team willing to engage in serious negotiations regarding power forward Kevin Love.

-Knicks top executive Phil Jackson, committed to a mission of unknown purpose, announced he’s now willing to shop 21-year-old wunderkind Kristaps Porzingis.

-The Spurs are ready to move on from LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green.

-The Clippers -- already with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick set to become free agents -- reportedly are willing to ship out DeAndre Jordan.

-The Rockets seemingly are ready to swap anybody not named James Harden.

-And the Celtics also are known to be on the market, though that is not unusual when Danny Ainge is sitting in the corner office.

The Warriors are the cause for such a mad frenzy, and the sight of their competitors making mad dashes toward their respective futures is the effect. They are two cuts above and that’s tough to take in a league of men who may not mind losing but do not care to be humiliated.

“We never looked at it as far as catching anybody, or people catching up,” Myers said. “Our job is to try to get better each day. And whether that’s through personnel, coaching, developing our players or us in the front office learning and growing.

“I guess I don’t view us as ahead of everyone,” he added. “I know it’s been mentioned by everybody else, but once you start thinking that, you’re in trouble. You’ve to start believing and keep pushing.”