There was a healthy dose of skepticism when it was reported in November that Carlos Santana was working out at third base, but it sounds like a position switch could actually happen.
In a story (link in Spanish) by Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Santana said that he’s “getting ready to play third base, no other position” and that “those are the plans of the team.”
The experiment is clearly a priority, as the Indians sent infield coach and third base coach Mike Sarbaugh down to the Dominican Republic to help Santana with the transition while he was playing in winter ball. While there have naturally been some struggles, the reviews have been mostly positive. However, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti recently told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that the club will wait before making a final decision on his role for 2014.
“The most important thing is that he’s working hard at it. He’s committed to being the best player he can be at the position, which is great. That’s all we’re looking for at this point. We’re months away from having to make any sort of evaluations or decisions.”
Santana played some third base early on in his pro career as a farmhand with the Dodgers, but he hasn’t done so since 2008 when he was in High-A ball. While the position switch is a bold idea, it’s easy to see the benefits of the experiment, as Yan Gomes could take over as the full-time catcher in 2014. If Santana can’t cut it at third, he’ll likely split time between catcher, first base and DH like he did last season. The Indians still have Lonnie Chisenhall as a fallback possibility at third base, but he has been a disappointment so far in the major leagues.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.