Andy Marte was supposed to be a beast. Signed by the Braves when he was 16, he excelled in leagues where he was way younger than the competition. He posted an OPS of .831 in the Sally League when he was only 18. He posted an .840 OPS in an extreme pitchers park in the high-A Carolina league when he was 19. At age 20 he played at double-A Greenville and notched an .889 and the next year he had an .878 in Triple-A at the age of 21.
You do that, at those ages, in those leagues, and your future should be bright. Except then Marte totally dropped off a cliff.
He was totally overmatched in his first big league callup and then the Braves shipped him to Boston for Edgar Renteria. A month later Boston shipped him to Cleveland in the Coco Crisp deal. Cleveland gave him several chances to earn the third base job, but he simply could not hit in the bigs and even regressed in the minors, save for one season in Columbus when he was 25. Since then he’s just floated, last seen in the Pirates organization in 2011 and out of baseball entirely, it seems last year.
Now he’s signed with the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League.
We’ve all seen quad-A players — they have their own bar! — but Marte has to be the most extreme case I can remember.
A new website has launched. It’s called “La Vida Baseball,” and it’s all about celebrating the past, present and future of Latino baseball from a Latino perspective.
The site, produced in partnership with the Hall of Fame, has four general areas of focus:
- Who’s Now: Focusing on current Latino players;
- Who’s Next: Focusing on top prospects here, in the Caribbean and in Central and South America;
- Our Life: Off-the-Field stuff, including player’s lives, lifestyles and hobbies; and
- Our Legends: Focusing on Latino baseball history, Hall of Famers and overlooked players.
As the site has just launched there aren’t yet a ton of stories up there, but there is one about Roberto Clemente, another about Felix Hernandez and some other stuff.
The site is much-needed. Baseball reporters for American outlets are overwhelmingly white, non-Spanish speakers. Reporters, who, generally, gravitate to the players who are the most like they are. Which is understandable on some level. When you’re writing stories about people you need to be able to communicate with them and relate to them on more than a mere perfunctory level. As such, no matter how good the intentions of baseball media, we tend to see the clubhouse and the culture of baseball from a distinctly American perspective. And we tend to paint Latino players with a broad, broad brush.
La Vida Baseball will, hopefully, remedy all of that and will, hopefully, give us a fresh and insightful depiction Latino players and their culture.
Do you miss David Ross? I miss David Ross. The season hasn’t even started yet and I miss David Ross. There’s something comforting about having a likable graybeard catcher in the game with bonus points for being bald. His loss will be felt.
But while we won’t have David Ross in baseball all this year — at least on the field; he’s a special assistant with the Cubs — we’ll still have David Ross someplace:
Johnny Damon did “Celebrity Apprentice” — Trump fired him, sadly — but we’ve never had a ballplayer on “Dancing With The Stars.” There have been several football players and some Olympians, but no baseball guys. Which makes some amount of sense as, outside of the middle infielders and first basemen, footwork isn’t necessarily the most important tool.
Catchers are particularly plodding for athletes, so good luck, David. Unless you have some moves you haven’t flashed in the past, you’ll probably need it.