Greg Dobbs

So, the Marlins obviously have money to waste

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I realize it’s a footnote that the Marlins re-signed Greg Dobbs for $1.7 million earlier today. It probably doesn’t make much of a difference to anyone besides a few Marlins fans who are already so apathetic that it scarcely registered for more than a few minutes.

However, I don’t think this should be overlooked or forgotten. Paying Dobbs $1.2 million more than the minimum is an absurd waste of money, oddly perpetrated by one of the game’s cheapest owners.

The Marlins originally signed Dobbs to a minor league deal after the 2010 season that would pay him $600,000 if he made the club. Which he did, of course. After hitting .275/.311/.389 with eight homers in 411 at-bats in 2011, he was then given a two-year, $3 million extension.

Now Dobbs is finishing up his third year with the club. Overall, he’s hit .267/.310/.366 with 15 homers and 110 RBI in 966 at-bats. He’s best known as a pinch-hitter, but he started 84 games at third base for the Marlins in 2011, 96 games at various positions in 2012 and 47 games at first base this year. His defensive numbers at all of his positions are abysmal, so Baseball-Reference puts him at -2.5 WAR over the three years. The only position players worse during the span are Yuniesky Betancourt (-3.5) and Marlins teammate Chris Coghlan (-3.3).

And this has been Dobbs’ worst year of the three. He’s batting .229/.305/.301 in 236 at-bats. There’s no way any other team would want him on more than a minor league deal this winter. At 35, he’s obviously a worse bet than he was at 32, when the Marlins originally signed him to that non-guaranteed $600,000 deal.  Why is there any reason to give him more than that now?

It’s not as though $1.2 million was always inconsequential to the Marlins. Two years ago, they gave away right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop to the Rays rather than pay him $1 million-$1.2 million in arbitration. He’s gone on to post ERAs of 3.03 and 3.48 the last two years. Now the Marlins are just throwing away that kind of money.

I understand why the Marlins want to have someone like Dobbs. Young players shouldn’t waste away on the bench, and Dobbs will take his reserve role without complaint. But that’s hardly a good reason to give him a raise and pay him three times the minimum. So what if he’s good in the clubhouse if that’s all he’s really good at? If they had let the market dictate his worth, then they’d have some more to spend on someone useful.

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.