The sounds of spring are finite within my world. They consist of the crack of a bat, a pop of the glove, and the delicate linguistic maneuverings of baseball men to journalists in such a way that the connotations could never be received in a negative or controversial manner. That was a mouthful but hey, it’s during spring when we are treated to some of the best cliches in baseball.
I didn’t find an “I’m in the best shape of my life”, but I did come across some other quotes that stood out this week.
On Monday, Nate took a look at the Michael Sam news and wondered when the time would come for baseball to welcome its first openly gay player. Nate finished with this:
Maybe it will be a member of the Padres. You never know. Why not?
The factors that would go into the decision to be the first openly gay player in your professional sport seem innumerable – but the scenario got me thinking nonetheless. Why not the Padres?
A few days ago Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote an article about the international spending by each major league team. Like free-agency, and the Rule 4 Amateur draft, the signing of international amateurs is a vital component to talent acquisition. Similar to the Rule 4 amateur draft, the signing of international free-agents is a cheap avenue to explore when adding talent to an organization.
Young players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Columbia, Nicaragua and other baseball hotbeds cover the landscape of each MLB affiliate as well as the 40 man rosters of MLB teams. How many of these international free agents are on the Padres roster right now? Everth Cabrera was signed in 2004 (Nicaragua – Rockies), Alexi Amarista signed in 2007 (Venezuela – Angels), as well as the recently acquired Joaquin Benoit (Dominican Republic – Rangers) and Alex Torres (Venezuela – Angels) signed in 1996 and 2005 respectively.
But not every organization invests equally in places such as the Dominican Republic. However, if done correctly these signings can be game-changing.
The article came to my attention via David Marver. He and I had a discussion that began with snark but ultimately became rewarding as it pushed me to delve a little deeper into the murkiness that surrounds the signing of international amateur baseball players.
What I discovered is that looking at a rank list of spending estimates does not paint a very accurate picture when it comes to international amateurs. How are the Padres doing in this area of talent procurement? Let’s see . . .
From April of 2005 until November of 2008 there existed a blog called Fire Joe Morgan. The writers at FJM were funny (some would eventually write for NBC’s The Office and Parks and Recreation), insightful, and statistically inclined. They were progressive baseball fans.
The title of their blog was a reference to the eponymous Hall of Fame 2nd baseman whose retirement consisted of a career as a play-by-play analyst for ESPN. Joe Morgan drew the ire of FJM’s writers because of his outdated thinking and refusal to accept that there were new, exciting, and transformative ways to view the game of baseball. He also thought Billy Beane wrote the book Moneyball. And if nothing else, Joe Morgan hated Moneyball. Even though he had never read Moneyball. Which, again, Billy Beane did not write. FJM wasn’t just about Joe Morgan though. It was about all crappy efforts put forth by those who cover baseball.