Does MLB discriminate against Haitians?

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Nick Collias, who covers the Spanish language media for MLB Trade Rumors sent me a story the other day that I haven’t seen anyone pick up anywhere.  You can read it in Spanish here.  I couldn’t, so Nick was nice enough to translate it for me.

The gist: MLB has a policy
of not allowing Haitian players to attend team academies in the
Dominican Republic–and, hence, to not get anywhere near the major
league prospect system. The reason is ostensibly that the players
aren’t able to have their backgrounds or papers verified easily, what
with Haiti being Haiti and all. But a couple of coaches quoted in the article think it’s unfair and discriminatory, because many Venezuelan
and Cuban players in the same situation don’t get nearly the same level
of scrutiny.  Some translated text:

Andres “Chaca” Martinez, Sixto de la Cruz, and Juan Pena
Reynoso, three coaches in the Juan Pablo Darte Olympic Center, said recently
they were obliged to send away several promising Haitian prospects in excellent
condition because no one wanted to evaluate them.

“Last week I had to send away four, due to that when I
wanted to introduce them to several scouts, they refused to see them, and when
asked for a reason they told me that unfortunately, they were not allowed to
see Dominican-Haitian players,” revealed Martinez. De La Cruz said he had to
dismiss two Haitian pitchers who threw 90 to 91 mph for the same reason.

“They are guys with good physiques, holding passports and
Haitian birth certificates, but the scouts told me they don’t see them because
the investigators from the MLB office here will not allow any Haitian players
through,” said De La Cruz. He added, “It is unfair that the young men of that
neighboring country are denied the opportunity given to Cubans and Venezuelans,
who are signed without investigation.”

Reynoso considers the treatment of the Haitians
discriminatory and unjust, saying they are human beings worthy of better
treatment.

I don’t know nearly enough about identity documentation issues in Haiti vs. the Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela vs. Cuba to know if these coaches’ complaints are legitimate or not. If all things are equal, and if baseball is treating Haitian prospects — such as they are — differently, that’s a problem.  If, however, there is something inherently less-trustworthy about Haitian documents than there is about, say, Cuban documents, such differences would be understandable.

I’ll offer this much though: between the lack of diplomatic ties with Cuba and the Haitain earthquake, one would suspect that checking back with the issuer of the documents would be equally impossible, so there’s not a lot of cause, I wouldn’t think, for distinguishing between Cuban and Haitian documents.

Either way, this is a story that may be worth looking into more deeply.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.