josh-thole-mets

Sandy Alderson not sold on Josh Thole as everyday catcher

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Before they were fired Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya both indicated that 24-year-old Josh Thole would likely be the Mets’ starting catcher in 2011 after playing regularly down the stretch as a rookie, but new general manager Sandy Alderson isn’t quite as sold on the idea.

Alderson said yesterday that the Mets are “thin” at the position are “looking for more catching” while explaining that “it would be a little bit premature if I were to make a judgment on Thole without ever actually having seen him play.”

Here’s a little more of Alderson on Thole:

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Josh. So I expect that he’s going to be a very important piece for us. I’m not making a judgment about Thole as the No. 1 or No. 2. Whether he plays the majority of games or not, we’re going to need additional catching help. So I think in part it’s going to depend on what I hear and what others think of Thole. And the second is going to depend on what’s available out there otherwise. But we’re very happy that we have him. Exactly what his role will be is a little undetermined.

Thole is a left-handed hitter, so it would make sense for the Mets to pair him with a right-handed-hitting veteran backup and re-signing Henry Blanco would seemingly be a good fit. I do think he deserves a shot at the clear-cut starting job, though.

Thole doesn’t have much power, but he hit .277 with a .357 on-base percentage and 25/24 K/BB ratio in 227 plate appearances as a rookie after posting a .376 on-base percentage in six seasons as a minor leaguer. He’s never going to be a star, but for a team with plenty of other holes to fill a 24-year-old catcher with good on-base skills making the league minimum is worth leaving alone.

Murray Chass rightfully nails Major League Baseball on minority hiring

Rob Manfred
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When Murray Chass lays off his vendettas against the people he feels have wronged him, he’s still capable of making some sharp points. Particularly when he’s working in his old bailiwick of the business of baseball.

On Sunday he wrote a blog post about minority hiring in baseball. As in, the nearly complete lack of it, at least in front offices:

Manfred has talked a better job on minority hiring than he has performed. He has created a pipeline program through which members of minorities are supposed to be able to advance into major league front office positions. However, no role models seem to exist as inspiration for younger employees.

In Manfred’s 20 months as commissioner, clubs have hired or promoted 19 high-ranking executives. Eighteen of the 19 are white males. The lone minority is Al Avila, the Tigers’ general manager.

Chass reports that Rob Manfred and, in the past, Bud Selig have leaned on clubs to hire friends or trusted lieutenants but claim they have no power to tell clubs who to hire when it comes to minorities. It’s pretty dang good point.

Moving beyond Chass’ points, it’s worth observing that one way baseball could better populate the executive ranks would be to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. What a better way to become a friend and crony than to have, you know, been there a long time? The game has had a horrible track record in doing this, however, for one simple reason: it pays crap wages for all but the highest of executive positions, pushing away candidates for whom money is, in fact, an object to pursuing a dream in baseball which, by demographic necessity, favors the rich and thus favors whites. Earlier this year MLB launched a pipeline program aimed at getting more minority candidates into entry level MLB jobs. That’s a good start to addressing the problem, but it’s going to take years for that to bear fruit, assuming it ever does.

Back in June Kate Morrison and Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a four-part series regarding this very issue, and it’s well worth your time. Among the points made is one that, given his vendettas, Chass surprisingly didn’t make himself: sabermetrics is partially to blame! Go read Kate and Russell’s work on that, but the short version: front offices want MBA/STEM types now, not people with athletic backgrounds. People with those degrees have expensive educations and, in turn, cannot afford to take pennies to work in baseball when they can make far more in other industries, thereby continuing to favor the rich and the white.

I don’t think Rob Manfred or Bud Selig before him or the people who run major league baseball teams are bigots. I don’t think that baseball, as a whole, wants to keep minorities out of top jobs. Chass doesn’t make such a claim either and he, like I, noted the pipeline program.

But baseball is a business rife with cronyism and nepotism which leads those in power to hire friends and relatives, thereby keeping the executive class overwhelmingly male and white. Baseball has shown that, when it wants to, it can lean on teams to make certain hiring choices. Will it do the same to push for greater minority representation in management ranks? Or will it continue to throw up its hands up and say “hey, that’s on the clubs?”

Tim Tebow hits a homer in his first instructional league at bat

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets hits a home run at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Because of course he did.

It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt.  The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.

Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.