The Giants have a big decision to make in the next 24 hours.
They have to decide what to do with Guillermo Mota. And dont believe them when they say this is strictly a baseball decision.
Mota, as of Sunday night, had served his 100-game suspension for being popped for performance enhancing drugs. It was Motas second violation, his first coming after the 2006 season as a member of the New York Mets. Hes spent the last few days in Fresno, working his arm back to shape.
With the Giants bullpen struggling and the closer-by-committee strategy creating panic, its clear the Giants could use Motas services. Mota, 39, could fill a variety of roles: short or long relief. The right-hander was a key cog in the brilliant bullpen production in the 2010 playoff run.
So whats the problem? Plug Mota in and take the pressure off some of the other relievers, right?
RELATED: Will Mota decision be strictly baseball related?
Not exactly. Mota got popped back in May when his violation seemed like an aberration just another older player trying to find longevity through chemicals. He claimed his dirty test was because of his daughters cough syrup. And people were willing to buy that.
But given the events of the summer, Motas suspension no longer seems like a strange aberration but part of a third generation steroid era -- more stealth, less extreme, but still a time of rampant cheating.
The Giants are in the crosshairs, with Melky Cabreras suspension and online chatter about the franchise cheating its way to first place in the division. Can the Giants afford to be labeled, once again, as the team that openly embraces chemical enhancement? Or, at the very least, looks the other way and readily forgives when their players cheat?
That was the Giants reputation at least outside of AT&T Park throughout much of the past decade, as they clung to Barry Bonds production despite the mounting evidence against Bonds. Some of that co-dependency between Bonds and the Giants wasnt driven by baseball decisions, but other concerns, such as marketing, home run records and keeping the ballpark full.
The Giants were able to flip the page on that public perception in 2010, when a cadre of misfits as Bochy once called them young players and castoffs and wacky personalities won the World Series. Instead of Balco-enhanced Barry Bonds, the Giants were personified by the seemingly unenhanced skinny Tim Lincecum. The chemicals and slabs of laboratory-produced muscle seemed safely in the past.
But the Cabrera suspension has brought the nasty past back into the conversation. And it hasnt been a pleasant couple of weeks.
Now the organization has another decision that cant be simply considered in baseball terms. Do they want Mota back in their bullpen? Will the message they send be that they really arent that concerned about his drug use?
The Giants can either activate Mota or designate him for assignment. If they designate him, and he accepts a spot in Fresno, Mota could be recalled to the big league club on Saturday, when rosters expand.
That might delay the decision for a few days. But the Giants still have to figure out if they want Mota in their clubhouse. He brings a lot of things: veteran presence, flexibility in the bullpen, a battling attitude.
And another stark reminder that the steroid era isnt over.