Luke Scott deer

Looking deeper at Luke Scott


Luke Scott caused a stir back in December when, during an interview with Dave Brown of Yahoo!’s Big League Stew, his belief that President Obama wasn’t born in America came out into the open.  This piqued the interest of Amy K. Nelson of ESPN, who spent some time with Orioles’ outfielder Luke Scott this spring. Her story is up today.  After recounting the birther stuff, she makes this observation:

Given all that, the simple assumption is that Scott is a right-wing nut, a borderline racist and a loudmouth redneck ballplayer who should keep his mouth shut. But it’s not that simple. Luke Scott will require a deeper line of thinking.

I think “deeper line of thinking” is the key phrasing here, because I don’t think Luke Scott is misunderstood. Just not fully understood.

Indeed, what we learned about Scott in the aftermath of the birther fiasco and in the early part of Nelson’s article is accurate, as far as it goes. While “nut” is a loaded term (each side of the spectrum has ’em), Scott is clearly right wing, and he admits that. He’s clearly a loudmouth, as his teammates freely — and amusingly — admit.  Borderline racist? Depends on how you define it, but the fact that Scott needed a handler during the interview to remind him to be careful with how he spoke about race  — and his use of the term “savage” when talking to a black Dominican teammate about his behavior — at least gives one pause.

None of which means that he should keep his mouth shut or that he’s a bad person. Being right wing was, last I checked, still allowed in this country. So too is being ignorant, as Scott’s apparent belief that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. makes clear (he doesn’t back off those statements here).

Am I 100% comfortable with Scott’s views on race? Not really, but I don’t know that he or anyone else should care. He’s not my son’s civics teacher. His teammates and the people close to him don’t have a problem with him. Personally speaking, I  grew up with a lot of people like Scott. Even at its most uncomfortable, the stuff they say and believe doesn’t necessarily come from hate, even if it does reflect real beliefs and even if it is ignorant.

And perhaps the biggest reason Luke Scott doesn’t bother me is revealed in what Orioles’ GM Andy MacPhail says about him:

“I’ve met a lot of people in this game who will say the right thing every time,” he says, “but maybe not act in a manner that is the most laudatory. Luke’s the opposite.”

Luke Scott says and believes crazy stuff. He keeps 114 guns in a small, temporary apartment. I’m guessing only a small segment of the HBT readership would be able to find much political, social or personal common ground with Scott.  The fact that he happens to be a good guy doesn’t change that he’s kind of wacky and the fact that he’s kind of wacky doesn’t change that he’s a good guy. Everyone is more than their political and social beliefs, and no one outside of the most cartoonish fictional villains are good or evil, black or white.

Scott is kind of a knucklehead who I’m not sure I’d invite to dinner. He’s also got a lot more complexity and likability to him than we’d expect based on how some people portrayed him after his comments to Dave Brown.  I guess what I’m saying is that nobody really knows anyone all that well, and just because he put his worst foot forward back in December doesn’t mean it wasn’t a true part of him, nor does it explain everything about him.

The same goes for most people, actually. And it’s kind of sad that we forget that so often.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.