Craig Calcaterra

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price follows through on a pitch during a spring training baseball practice in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. Red Sox pitchers and catchers hold their first official workout on Friday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Associated Press

Barry Bonds in a Marlins uniform is just one of many weird new looks

8 Comments

Each year a lot of players change teams via trade or free agency and each year it takes a few days to get used to the look of these guys in their new uniforms. It’s one of the coolest parts of the beginning of spring training. It really snaps you out of the winter and out of memories of last season and into the new season as it dawns.

Maybe I’m just having a strange and sensitive week or something, but for some reason the photos coming out of the first couple of days of spring training are striking me as much weirder than normal. I mean, there’s not “Joe DiMaggio as an Oakland Athletic” or “Yogi Berra as a Houston Astro“-level weird, but they’re close.

The weirdest: The Home Run King:

The black isn’t unusual. It, combined with his obviously much smaller stature, almost makes you think of an alternate timeline in which Barry Bonds stayed with the Pirates, laid off the cream and the clear and just got old there. I suppose we’ll get used to it.

Here’s Felipe Alou, channeling our thoughts and, I’m going to guess anyway, saying “Cueto, you look really out of place in a Giants uniform!”

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.19.08 PM

We’ve seen Zack Greinke in red before, but not Sonoran Red or whatever the Dbacks call this. To be fair, though, I think the short hair is more jarring:

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.20.43 PM

David Price has yet to appear in an AP photo in full uniform, but the hat is different enough:

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.22.35 PM

And finally, another Giants legend taking a second glance at a new Giants pitcher:

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 3.26.04 PM

We’ll get some new looks for position players soon too. It will be fun and thrilling for everyone except Cardinals fans looking at Jason Heyward in his new duds. But they, like the rest of us, will adjust after a couple of days.

(all photos from the Associated Press)

The Indians sign Juan Uribe

New York Mets' Juan Uribe follows the flight of his solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chris Rusin in the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
3 Comments

This one has been simmering for a while, but Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cleveland Indians have signed third baseman Juan Uribe. Terms aren’t yet known but there were reports in January that he had rejected a $3 million offer from Cleveland and wanted more. UPDATE: Uribe will make just shy of $5 million on a one-year deal.

Uribe, 36, spent last season with the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets. He hit a combined .253/.320/.417 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI over 397 plate appearances. He’s still a solid third baseman and is renowned as one of the best clubhouse guys in the business. He stands to be an everyday player for Cleveland. Other suitors, such as the Giants, viewed him in a utility role.

Agent Bart Hernandez arrested on human trafficking charges

Students march carrying Cuban flags during a march against terrorism in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Youths marched today through downtown Havana in protest against the United States policy towards the island nation and demanding the that U.S. free three Cuban agents imprisoned there. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Associated Press
20 Comments

In the past several years we have heard a number of harrowing stories about how Cuban baseball players have made their way from their home country to jobs in Major League Baseball. Due to the nature of Cuba’s restrictions on emigration, the United States’ immigration laws and Major League Baseball’s free agency rules, the easiest most lucrative path between Cuba and the big leagues is through a third country. This complex process typically involves a third party: human smugglers or other shady figures who are in it to take a cut of the ballplayer’s future earnings. The story of Yasiel Puig’s journey is instructive in this regard.

Today, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that major league agent Bart Hernandez was arrested on charges arising out such a scheme involving the smuggling of Seattle Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin into the United States from Cuba in 2010. It is alleged that Martinez and his associates held Martin hostage while his multi-million contract with the Texas Rangers was negotiated. Which, of course, led to a cut being taken by Hernandez and others. Hernandez faces anywhere from three to 20 years in prison.

This is obviously significant with respect to Hernandez, Martin and everyone involved in this specific case. But it also speaks to how hopelessly corrupt the current system in place with respect to Cuban baseball players is. It’s a system which forces them into dangerous situations and requires them to pay usurious fees to criminals in order to get to the United States to play baseball. It’s a system that would not and could not exist without the incentives and disincentives in place by virtue of the United States’ laws regarding immigration from Cuba and Major League Baseball’s rules regarding free agency and draft eligibility.

Simply put: there are TREMENDOUS disincentives in place for someone trying to leave Cuba to play baseball here to take the safest path possible and huge incentives for them to put themselves in the hands of bad people in order to make their journey. Here’s hoping the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba changes the incentive structure and that Major League Baseball likewise can do things which similarly steer young men away from the hands of criminals.