Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers

Top 111 Free Agents: Nos. 70-51

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This is part three in a series covering this winter’s top 111 free agents. Here are the players ranked 70th through 51st. The relievers in this group may get two-year deals, while the position players should have to settle for one-year pacts in the $3 million-$4 million range.

Free agents Nos. 111-91
Free agents Nos. 90-71

70. Doug Davis (Brewers – Age 35) – Consistently solid yet unexceptional, Davis finished with ERAs in the low-4.00s in each of his three seasons with the Diamondbacks before rejoining the Brewers a year ago. His encore in Milwaukee was a complete washout, though, as he was limited to eight starts by a heart condition and elbow woes. Surgery to transpose his ulnar nerve and repair his flexor tendon came earlier this month. With his availability for the start of 2011 up in the air, he’s probably looking at a minimal guarantee this winter. Incentives could give him a chance to earn $5 million or so if he can come back and pitch 180 innings.

69. Cristian Guzman (Rangers – Age 33) – Maybe it will get him a World Series ring, but if Guzman had it to do all over again, he probably wouldn’t have given his approval to the deal that sent him from Washington to Texas at the deadline. A poor fit with his new team, he hit just .152/.204/.174 in 46 at-bats and didn’t get into a game after Sept. 8. Now that Guzman has gained some experience at second base and in the outfield, he could last a few more years as a utilityman. He’d surely prefer to be a starting shortstop somewhere, but it’s hard to see any team being eager to grant him that opportunity.

68. Russell Branyan (Mariners – Age 35) – Branyan held out for a multiyear contract last winter and ended up taking a cheap deal from the Indians after overplaying his hand. He never matched his 2009 production with Cleveland or after returning to Seattle at the end of June, but his overall .237/.323/.487 line wasn’t too shabby for a guy playing in pitcher’s parks in a down offensive year. With his history of back woes, Branyan is a poor candidate for a multiyear deal. He’s still a viable choice as a starting first baseman or DH, but he’s not due more than $3 million.

67. Miguel Olivo (Rockies – Age 32) – There have been some conflicting reports over whether the $2.6 million option on Olivo’s contract for 2011 is mutual or not. Adding more drama was the Denver Post’s report this week that the Rockies might prefer to buy him out for $500,000 anyway. Olivo, originally signed to share time with Chris Iannetta, was manager Jim Tracy’s preferred catcher while hitting .269/.315/.449 in 394 at-bats this season. He strikes out a bunch and he can be erratic defensively, but it figures that he’d command at least $2.6 million if he goes back on the open market.

66. Orlando Cabrera (Reds – Age 36) – Cabrera was outplayed by backup Paul Janish while hitting .263/.303/.354 in his first season in Cincinnati, so while the Reds haven’t ruled out bringing him back, they are expected to decline their half of a $4 million mutual option, buying him out for $1 million instead. Fortunately, Cabrera has intangibles in spades, because the tangibles are getting worse every year. Next season could well be his last as a starting shortstop.

65. Arthur Rhodes (Reds – Age 41) – A first-time All-Star at age 40, Rhodes finished 2010 with a 2.29 ERA in 55 innings, his highest total since 2002. He was used against more righties than usual, and they ended up hitting just .182 off him. After a pair of such strong seasons in Cincinnati, he not only deserves another two-year contract, but he should get a modest raise from the $2 million per season he’s been earning. The Reds will likely re-sign him.

64. Troy Glaus (Braves – Age 34) – Glaus was talked up as an MVP candidate after hitting six homers and driving in 28 runs in May, but he was a liability for four months of the season and the Braves ended up acquiring Derrek Lee to start at first base down the stretch. At 34, Glaus isn’t finished being a productive hitter. However, he’d probably be more useful in a part-time role. As a regular, he’s constantly getting banged up, and though he’s always willing to play through injuries, he hurts his team when he does so. Maybe things would be different if he were used as a DH.

63. Ramon Hernandez (Reds – Age 34) – Ryan Hanigan looked plenty capable while filling in during 2009, but the Reds weren’t certain he was ready to carry a full load and brought Hernandez back at a paycut this year. It proved to be an astute decision, as the pair formed one of the league’s strongest catching duos. Playing in 97 games, Hernandez had his best offensive season since 2006, finishing at .297/.364/.428. The Reds hold a $3.25 million club option for 2011 that they might pick up. Hanigan still hasn’t started more than 72 games in a season.

62. Miguel Tejada (Padres – Age 36) – It makes sense for the Padres to emphasize outfield defense in their ballpark. On the other hand, they can get by with less rangy infielders, since singles only occasionally lead to runs in Petco. Tejada was exactly what the Padres hoped he’d be after coming over from the Orioles. He committed just three errors in 58 games at shortstop, and he hit a solid .268/.317/.413. They may well bring him back in the same role, assuming that he’s willing to take $2 million-$3 million off his $6 million salary from 2010.

61. Jason Frasor (Blue Jays – Age 33) – Never truly appreciated by the Jays, Frasor was quickly yanked out of the closer’s role after a tough start and he spent much of the summer working in low-leverage situations. A fresh start elsewhere would seem to be the right move. On the other hand, new Jays manager John Farrell should think highly of Frasor given the way he’s pitched against the Red Sox in his career (2.55 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in 49 1/3 IP). Also, Frasor’s wife is a Toronto native. He’s probably in line for a two-year, $6 million deal.

60. Lyle Overbay (Blue Jays – Age 34) – Overbay started the season 4-for-50 and didn’t permanently climb over .200 until May 29, but he was a solid enough starting first baseman apart from those first two weeks in April. The Jays seem ready to move on after five years of rather generic production, so Overbay will be on the hunt for a starting job elsewhere. He’s no longer worth using against lefties, but with his salary likely to be cut in half from the $7 million he’s made the last two years, he’d be a nice enough platoon player.

59. Octavio Dotel (Rockies – Age 37) – After pitching for three teams in 2010, Dotel has now been employed by one-third of the league. He got off to a very rough start as the Pirates’ closer, amassing a 10.61 ERA in April, but he held on to the job and was effective for three months before being sent to Los Angeles and later Colorado in trades. He’s still one of the league’s top strikeout relievers, having fanned 75 in 64 innings this year. He should be looking at another one-year deal worth about $3.5 million.

58. Jhonny Peralta (Tigers – Age 28) – The way the Tigers seemed taken with him, one would think Peralta saw a big uptick in performance following his acquisition from the Indians. However, his OPS barely moved, going from 698 to 710. He did fare better than expected at shortstop after spending the previous two years as Cleveland’s third baseman. All indications point to him returning as the team’s starter at the position next season.

57. Kevin Millwood (Orioles – Age 36) – There’s no way he could have turned down all that money, but we’d probably be looking at Millwood quite a bit differently right now had he not signed the $60 million deal with the Rangers five years ago. A trade to the Orioles last winter put him in another difficult situation, and he ended up allowing 30 homers in 190 2/3 innings and finishing 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA. It was a dreadful June and July that did him in, and he was likely pitching hurt for a time then. Millwood still has a decent strikeout rate, and he might well reemerge as a legitimate third or fourth starter in the NL. At $4 million or so, he could prove to be a modest bargain for 2011.

56. Bill Hall (Red Sox – Age 31) – With expectations at an all-time low, Hall was a big asset while starting games at six positions for the Red Sox this year, hitting .247/.316/.456 in 344 at-bats. Of course, that’s still not going to get his $9.25 million option picked up, but Hall has put himself in position to be viewed as a regular as he heads into free agency for the first time in his career. He’s one of the few position players in this section likely to secure a multiyear deal.

55. Matt Guerrier (Twins – Age 32) – Given his middling stuff, it looked like Guerrier had been figured out when he posted a 5.19 ERA in 2008. However, he’s come right back with 2.36 and 3.17 marks the last two years. He’s pitched at least 69 2/3 innings in each of his six big-league seasons, and he’s been just about as effective against lefties as righties the last two years. I’d still be nervous about giving him a two-year, $7 million deal, but it’s what he deserves.

54. Pat Burrell (Giants – Age 34) – Dumped by the Rays, Burrell returned to a more comfortable setting in San Francisco and immediately resumed putting up the same kind of numbers he did in his Phillies days, hitting .266/.364/.509 with 18 homers in 289 at-bats. Burrell’s defense has always gotten a worse rep than warranted, and he’s still productive enough to justify regular playing time in left field. The Giants should offer him $4 million-$5 million to stick around.

53. Koji Uehara (Orioles – Age 35) – In an effort to keep him healthy, the Orioles moved Uehara from the rotation to the pen to begin the final season of his two-year, $10 million contract. It didn’t work out early, as Uehara missed most of the first half anyway. However, he was exceptional down the stretch and he finished with a 2.86 ERA and a 55/5 K/BB ratio in 44 innings. He was also 13-for-15 saving games over the final six weeks. If he can stay healthy, Uehara could be one of the league’s best setup men for the next couple of years. I expect the Red Sox to make a bid, and the Yankees may well get involved here as well.

52. Hideki Matsui (Angels – Age 36) – Matsui gave the Angels exactly what they should have expected, but it was already decided by midseason that he was a bust. To be fair, Matsui didn’t start excelling until after the All-Star break — he hit .309/.402/.553 in the second half — and by that time, the Angels were already out of the race. Matsui probably won’t match his 2010 salary of $6 million, but he shouldn’t have much trouble landing another DH job.

51. Jesse Crain (Twins – Age 29) – Crain’s brilliant second half took a sudden turn for the worse at the end of the year. He gave up four runs in his final regular-season appearance, raising his ERA from 2.55 to 3.04, and then he allowed two runs and took a loss in his one ALDS appearance against the Yankees. One wonders just how much it will be held against him. Crain is quite a bit younger and has better stuff than most of the other relief options available this winter. However, he’s never really occupied a featured role in a major league pen. I thought he was setting himself up for a three-year deal back in September. Now I’m guessing he gets $7 million-$8 million for two years.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.

Reds hire Lou Pinella as a senior advisor to baseball operations

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The Reds announced on Twitter that the club has hired former manager Lou Pinella in a consultant capacity as a senior advisor to baseball operations. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds that Pinella will also spend time with the team at spring training.

Pinella, 72, was last seen with the Giants in 2011, also in a consultant capacity, but he spent only the one season there. He has 23 seasons of experience as a manager, with his most recent four coming with the Cubs between 2007-10.

Stick to Sports? NEVER! The Intersectionalist Manifesto

Fans wait for autographs from Atlanta Braves players during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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At Baseball Prospectus on Friday, Rian Watt wrote something which opened my eyes. The article was entitled “What Comes After Sabermetrics.” It was not really about sabermetrics as such. It was about what we do here at HardballTalk and have done for a few years now. And what some others writers I admire have been doing as well. I had no idea until reading Watt’s article, however, that that’s what we were all doing, but we are and I think it’s worth talking explicitly about what that is and why it’s important.

But let me start at the beginning.

Watt starts off talking about what a lot of people have said in the past few years: sabermetrics has gotten stale. Or, since so many great analysts have been hired by teams and since most of the bleeding-edge stuff has moved in-house with clubs, maybe it’s just that sabermetric writing has gotten stale. There’s a sense that all of the big discoveries and insights have been made and that most of what happens in that realm now is niggling around the edges in ways that don’t lend themselves to big, broad engaging writing like Bill James used to do. Or, maybe, to written eviscerations of non-believers like Fire Joe Morgan or Joe Sheehan specialized in back in the day. Which, no matter what you thought of them on the substance, were entertaining reads.

I can’t really opine on the “all the big insights have been made” part. I’m no stathead. I also know well enough about how science and analysis works that to say that there won’t be something groundbreaking tomorrow or next year with any sort of certainty is a fool’s game. Someone with a database may very well revolutionize statistical analysis of baseball tomorrow. No one saw DIPS coming, for example. Voros McCracken is sneaky like that. There might be a major breakthrough on defensive metrics. There probably will be. But it is safe to say, I think, that sabermetrics is now a mature area of study and mature areas of study are in a lot of ways less exciting to lay people. When that big breakthrough on defense happens it will be great, but when people are merely refining established areas of any science, it’s mostly of interest only to the scientists.

So Watt asks: what’s next? What’s the next area of baseball writing that might be vital and might give us new insights or different things to talk about that haven’t been talked about at length — or with serious depth — before? The answer:

I think that a second major paradigm shift is already well underway. It’s being missed, however, and taken for something other than it is, because it’s not about sabermetrics, and it’s not about statistics at all. (How could it be, if those things form the bedrock of the existing paradigm?) It is, instead, about sports within the context of the broader society, and about the renewed humanity of the game.

The best baseball writing I’ve read this year has been about more than baseball. It’s been about politics, and race, and gender, and sexuality, and money, and power, and how they all come together in this game we love. It’s placed the game in its social context, and used it as a lens to talk about ideas that are bigger than the nuts and bolts of a box score or a daily recap. It’s engaged with difficult questions about how to be a fan when players you love are disappointingly flawed and human, and how to be a human being living in an often unjust world.

Watt calls those who do this sort of writing “Intersectionalists.” People who write and talk about the places where the sport and the lives of its participants, its fans and society at large intersect. About the business of baseball, labor relations, the culture of fandom and allegiance, the enjoyment of sports as entertainment and the prioritization of sports in people’s lives. Off-the-field things too.

This is exactly the sort of thing I have found the most interesting and about which I have written most passionately in the past several years. I had no inkling that it was part of any kind of paradigm shift — I have always simply written about what interests me — but having thought about it for the past 24 hours or so, and having thought about all of the baseball writing that I read and the writers I most admire, I think it’s safe to say that it is.

Since Friday, there has been a lot of discussion, some of it angry discussion, about Watt’s article. He has taken to social media to try to clarify what he meant and make clear what he was not saying. I and others have likewise had conversations about it and, not surprisingly, some of them have turned into arguments. That’s sort of inevitable with Big Insights like Watt’s, I suppose.

It’s the sort of thing that calls for some sort of declaration of principles. A manifesto or three. Some carrying on of the conversation beyond its introduction. So let’s do that, shall we? I think Q&A format is the best way to handle it.

Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre, center, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, before the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on domestic violence in professional sports. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the panel, says he called for Tuesday's hearing because "until very recently, the leagues' records have not been very good" on the issue. Torre is flanked by Deputy Managing Director for the?National Football League Players' Association Teri Patterson, left, and Counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association Virginia Seitz. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Q: So, is this some sort of repudiation of sabermetrics? Do the statheads and the intersectionalists have to fight now?

A: NO! As Watt notes, intersectionalist writing is not a rejection of sabermetrics, it’s an evolution that builds on what came before. Sabermetrics was a total game-changer that made people fundamentally reevaluate how we look at baseball. To reject old orthodoxy and take a fresh look at what was really going on in the game. Without that splash of cold water snapping us out of a century of baseball cliche and often-faulty conventional wisdom, intersectionalists would never even be able to ask the questions or to discuss the topics we discuss. Instead of taking a fresh look at, say, hitting, intersectionalism takes a fresh look at the athlete as role model. Or the allegedly hard and fast pillars of the culture of the game. Bill James asked “why are RBI so important?” An intersectionalist might ask “why should I care if the batter flipped his bat?” or “why should fans root for a guy just because he plays for their favorite team?” or “should the fact that a player committed a crime change the way we or his team look at him?”

Maybe the best way to think about it is through a somewhat old term: “The Liberal Arts Wing” of sabermetrics.” Former Baseball Prospectus editors Steve Goldman and Christina Kahrl coined that term to talk about the writers at BP as opposed to the number crunchers. I think it has wider applicability to describe people, like me, whose baseball fandom was energized or reenergized by sabermetrics and whose brains are wired that way but who aim our brains at other questions instead of analytics. I’ve often used the phrase “fellow traveller” of sabermetrics. Liberal arts works too.

 

Q: STICK TO SPORTS!

A: NO! That’s exactly what we will not do. And what we have never done here at HBT. The entire point of it is to understand and appreciate that sports are part of the real world, impact the real world and that the real world impacts sports as well. Why not talk about how they do so and what it means, both for sports and the real world? If you really want to be that dude who keeps their sports fandom hermetically sealed and, within their world of sports fandom, sports are everything, go ahead and be that dude. Just know that you’re boring. You’re David Puddy from “Seinfeld,” unironically painting your face at the game and making your friends uncomfortable. You’re the guy who calls in to talk radio and angrily rants about how some player is “stealing money” because he didn’t hit as well as you had hoped. You’re that guy Fox catches on the camera crying at the ballpark when your boys lose. Don’t be that guy. Even if you follow sports for escapism, understand that sports don’t take place in a vacuum. Understand that it is just a ballgame, that you can LOVE the ballgame with every ounce of your being and that we do too, but that the ballgame is not your entire life nor should it really be and that the players are themselves human beings with human failings. Understand that, once you make that realization, it’s interesting to talk about what sports means for life and what life means for sports.

 

Q: But I don’t want politics in my sports writing!

A: First of all, it’s not just politics. It’s sports culture.  It’s players’ lives off the field. It’s uniform upgrades and new ballparks. It’s TV deals and the business of the game. It’s drugs and addiction and punishment. It’s a team’s role in the community and a player’s status as a role model. It’s Billy Bean’s outreach for diversity in the game, Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities initiatives and the treatment of women as fans by teams in promotions and marketing. Politics comes up sometimes too, but intersectionalism relates to any conceivable aspect of the game, as it in turn relates to the real world in which its participants and its fans actually live.

But you also have to face facts: politics impact sports and sports impact politics. I write about that stuff sometimes. But with all of these issues, it’s still baseball that is the starting point. Baseball and what’s going on with the game that may invoke some political or cultural discussion is the driver, not the shoehorning of politics and culture into a baseball context or using baseball as a pretext for our political hobby horses. But the fact remains: baseball has a labor union and labor politics are relevant. Major League Baseball has a lobbying apparatus with direct contact with Capitol Hill. Major League Baseball is, by its own admission, concerned and interested with expanding outreach to minorities and women. Sometimes, quite often actually, legal and political stuff touches on the game too. The people who run the game contend with that on a daily basis and it directly impacts the product with which you the fan are presented. It’d be foolish for us not to talk about that.

 

Q: Great. So the future of sports writing is political rants, political correctness and Social Justice Warriors telling me that I can’t enjoy anything?

A: Of course not. I’m a liberal dude so you usually know what to expect from me, but there is nothing stopping someone from writing about, say, the value of conservatism in baseball. Indeed, baseball is one of the most conservative institutions there is in many ways and, to the extent it has changed or evolved over the years culturally, that change has been led by commissioners, owners and players, the VAST majority of whom are conservative people. Oh, and they’ve made these changes,  in almost all cases, without intervention of the government. For example, there’s a great case to be made that, for all of Bud Selig’s detractors, he perfectly balanced tradition with “progress” however one wishes to define it and presided over the game as it slowly and deliberately evolved pursuant to a consensus which was built up in the community. That’s kind of the textbook definition of small-c conservatism. There’s also a good argument that, if he had done what more progressive types had demanded of him and made changes just to make changes, it would’ve been a bad thing. Anyone writing about that? Oh wait, this pinko liberal did, but others can too.

Yes, I will grant that many of the most prominent voices in intersectionalist baseball writing are liberal. But they don’t have to be. Social and political issues within the sport, as long as they present themselves organically and aren’t shoehorned in, are open for discussion by everyone. At the moment, yes, there is a good bit of writing out there which comes off as “Freshman social science student has SOMETHING TO SAY!” That discourse is improved and liberal doofuses like me will become less complacent if met with reasoned and respectful pushback from people who don’t share our assumptions. That’s how ALL good discourse works. Indeed, it seems to me that there is a great need for dissenting voices to weigh in NOW lest a certain sort of homogeneousness of opinion sets in and calcifies as the only acceptable form of discourse. In short: if I’m wrong, tell me why! Or, better yet, write a response of your own to it and explain why I’m full of crap. I really am full of crap sometimes.

 

Q: So it’s just now gonna be hot takes and opinion writing? Is actual baseball reporting going to continue to be denigrated the way it has been by some sabermetric types?

A: Not at all. Indeed, there is probably a greater need for good reporting than ever before. Reporting, like opinion, is undergoing its own evolution, after all. Off-the-field stories about players used to be used to explain baseball stuff (i.e. he’s a good guy, so he’s a good player). Such reporting was marginalized or denigrated by some after the rise of sabermetrics, thought of as irrelevant or as mere source-greasing (“The analytics can explain baseball. Why are we talking to Shlabotnik? He doesn’t know what makes him good!”). And to some extent there is some legitimate criticism to be made along those lines. There has also been a well-deserved backlash to it.

If anything, intersectionalism needs more reporting. Maybe fewer game stories and scoops — we’ve gone on at length about the diminished value of such things — but more off-the-field stuff about the athletes as people as opposed to gladiators. Maybe more about the business of the game and things like that. There’s a lot of that in existence already, of course. For starters, good traditional baseball reporters — and off the top of my head I’ll cite Tyler Kepner, Derrick Goold, Andy McCullough, Nick Piecoro, Bill Shaikin, Geoff Baker and many, many others — have always made a point to write stories that go beyond just the Xs and Os. They’re not just checking in with baseball bits, dashed off. Good baseball writing like theirs places baseball in context, describes players as human beings and makes the readers care about the game as it fits in their lives. It’s probably also worth noting that The Players Tribune is doing a lot of this too, delivering to us fresh looks at athletes as human beings. It’s probably the case — and you’ll be shocked to hear me say it — that Murray Chass was doing exactly the sort of reporting I’m talking about here with respect to the business of baseball before most of you were born. Yes, dammit, Murray Chass was an intersectionalist. A lot of old school baseball writers were, even if they were often considered oddballs for being so.

So yes, there have always been people doing this work and doing it well. But we could certainly do with more of it. And, perhaps, from some different sorts of reporters and commentators than those who have done it in the past. More reporters and commentators who question the assumptions of fans, owners, players and league officials rather than defer to them as much as they tend to. More reporters and commentators whose background isn’t necessarily just sports, whose work doesn’t just appear on the sports page and who aren’t necessarily beholden, implicitly or otherwise, to Major League Baseball and the clubs via their access or merely their familiarity and subconscious biases.

Also — and perhaps most importantly — reporters who aren’t so heavily members of the same demographic. There’s no escaping it: there are a lot of white men between the ages of 40 and 60 covering baseball. People with different backgrounds have different perspectives and the entire purpose of intersectionalism in baseball writing is to give us new perspectives. A lot of the sabermetric people were from business and math backgrounds, after all. It took that new look to bring us fresh content. We should strive for greater diversity in baseball writing, not for its own sake, but for the sake of new, interesting work that asks questions which haven’t been asked before and which challenge the assumptions people who look like me or people who see the game only from a press box don’t even realize that they harbor. And, of course, us old white guys can stick around too as long as we appreciate that we do not have anything close to a monopoly on the cultural experience and realize that there is a lot which we try to talk about that, really, we know jack crap about and probably should leave to others who know better.

Children reach to high-five Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez after the pitcher participated an instructional clinic that included a game of wiffle ball at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, in Seattle. Earlier at the club, Hernandez presented $100,000 in total grants to five Seattle area nonprofits as part of the Major League Baseball Players Association/Major League Baseball Joint Youth Initiative Players Going Home program. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

While I didn’t know it had a name before the other day, baseball intersectionalism is very much the sort of thing which has interested me and animated my writing for many years now. Indeed, I find that the topics which truly inspire me are exactly the things Rian Watt spoke about on Friday and constitute the subject matter of the baseball writing I most admire. Likewise, the negative reaction Watt refers too — the “stick to sports” refrains — are exactly the sort of response I have received from detractors when I write about these topics, a response I’ve never truly understood and which constitutes a request I will not honor. Ever.

We need more of this sort of writing. We need more people asking the questions about sports that only a few of us have been asking and we need different sorts of people from different backgrounds and with different worldviews asking them.

More baseball fans and readers of baseball writing should ask why things are the way they are and whether or not the way things are are the way they should be.

We should be asking what we expect from baseball players and why we expect it in the first place.

We should be asking what role sports should play in our lives and in society as a whole.

We should look at sports through the lens of our real world experiences and real world realities and see if, through the lens of sports, we can’t make some insights about the real world in return.

I love baseball. My life always has been and always will be better for its presence. We must realize, however, that it’s a strong, strong institution that isn’t going anywhere. Our questioning it and its foundations and assumptions will not damage it too greatly. We should not be afraid to challenge it and its leaders and its participants and its fans to examine what, exactly, we talk about when we talk about baseball and what it is we enjoy about it and why. And perhaps, if enough people ask enough questions about the world baseball inhabits, it can even be improved a bit. Even if it’s just around the edges.