We recently saw an agent get arrested on human trafficking charges arising out of his smuggling players out of Cuba. As we noted, the business of getting Cuban defectors to free agency is a shady and dangerous one, made all the more risky by incentives and disincentives in place which push the players and/or their representatives to deal with criminals.
The pattern of these cases is not always the same, however. While in some cases the agent is in bed with the bad actors, in other cases the agent is a victim. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox, such is the case with Charles Hairston, who just quit as the agent for Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, claiming that his life was threatened by the buscon who is working with Lazarito in the Dominican Republic. Lazarito was expected to have signed earlier this month, but remains on the market.
The details of the story are, as almost all of these stories of international signings, rather murky. And they cross over from the stories we’ve seen about other Cuban players into the world of buscones, whose work in the Dominican Republic is likewise controversial.
In light of stories like these, do not be at all surprised if Major League Baseball renews its push for an international draft as a means of heading off such incidents. Such a move may or may not work and Major League Baseball has ulterior financial incentives for imposing a draft on players who would now be foreign free agents, but the league will, without question, cite stories such as these in support of its case.
Pablo Sandoval has endured two days of armchair trainers in the media, so why not an armchair psychiatrist?
That psychiatrist would be Mike Krukow, broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants, who appeared on San Francisco’s KNBR 680 yesterday when the topic of former Giant Pablo Sandoval came up. Krukow was clinically specific in his diagnosis of the Red Sox third baseman:
“He’s just one of those people that you want to be around. And it’s unfortunate. I mean, he has an eating disorder. It’s plain and simple. He can’t control himself.”
Krukow went on to give a lot of legitimate observations about the kind of guy Sandoval is — people like him and like to be around him — and, I think, correctly handicapped how the environment in Boston will be negative for Sandoval. He likewise noted that, whatever the public statements were from the Giants brass about Sandoval, they were always on him in private about his conditioning. It was useful insight.
But I would like to see fewer members of the media giving a casual diagnosis of someone as having a serious disorder. Because (a) none of them know Sandoval well enough to do that; (b) by blithely tossing around terms like “eating disorder” with respect to a big person, one tacitly stigmatizes every big person as having an eating disorder; and (c) one simultaneously diminishes the gravity and seriousness of people who do, in fact, have them.
I’d prefer it if psychiatrists not talk about ideal lineup construction or try to explain how to properly set up a hitter for a changeup by first establishing a fastball. I’d also prefer ex-player/broadcasters to not get in the business of psychological diagnosis.
(Via CSN Bay Area)
UPDATE: Bautista is denying the report of his demand for $150 million, calling it “false.” Could this be something someone with the Jays leaked in order to lay the groundwork for them throwing up their hands and saying “hey, we couldn’t sign him!” Or is Bautista being cagey himself? As usual, we probably won’t know until the negotiations, or lack thereof, run their course.
12:45 PM: Jose Bautista is entering the final year of his five-year, $65 million contract. It has proven to be a bargain and, as we learned yesterday, Bautista is not prepared to give the Blue Jays a hometown discount on his next deal.
There hasn’t been a proper negotiation between Bautista and the Jays, but it has been reported that Bautista told the Jays what it would take to get him to sign an extension right now. Today Rick Westhead of TSN.ca reports that Bautista is asking for a five-year extension worth around $30 million per season.
That’s $150 million for a guy for his age 36-40 seasons. Which is . . . steep. Yes, Bautista has been great for several years now, posting a .945 OPS with an average of 38 homers per season since 2010, but that kind of financial commitment to a player Bautista’s age seems like a big, big ask.
Depending on how the Jays do this year, this could be a running storyline all season long.