Does MLB discriminate against Haitians?

Leave a comment

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.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

pujols
Getty Images
2 Comments

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.