Author: Bill Baer

Jay Bruce
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Dusty Baker thinks baseball is going backwards in diversity


Dusty Baker was one of two finalists for the Nationals’ open managerial position, but lost out to Bud Black. If he were hired, Baker would have been the only African American manager in baseball and only the second non-white manager along with Fredi Gonzalez.

Baseball’s lack of diversity in its coaching staffs and front offices has been a topic of conversation in recent times, and Baker is among those who feels the sport isn’t doing enough. Baker, who has 20 years of managing experience, said baseball is going “backwards”. Via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Beyond the fact the percentage of African American players has dipped from 27 in 1975 to below 10, African American managers are nowhere to be found. In 2002, there were eight. Now there are none.

“If that’s not backwards, I don’t know how much more backwards we can go,” Baker said.

When I asked him afterward about the subject, he said, “You wonder if it’s an accident or by design.”

The list of African American managers is rather short. While front offices aren’t consciously passing over black manager candidates specifically due to race, the structure of the sport creates an unlevel playing field for those who aren’t white. According to that list, there have been 27 managers since the game was integrated in 1947, an average of one African-American manager for every 2.5 seasons.

Shea notes that 38 percent of baseball’s players are black or Latino. Specifically, eight percent of baseball players were black in 2014 and that percentage was as high as 27 percent in 1975. The odds that an 8-27 percent player base would yield only a three percent manager base over multiple seasons is rather low. Baseball absolutely has a diversity problem and Baker is rightly pointing that out.

Orioles making an early effort to sign Chris Davis

Chris Davis
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Orioles are making an early effort to sign 1B/OF Chris Davis, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Heyman notes that it’s hard to imagine Davis would agree to a deal before hitting free agency.

Davis, 29, rebounded from a disappointing 2014 season, batting .262/.361/.562 with 47 home runs (leading the majors) and 117 RBI in 670 plate appearances. He will be one of the better-hitting free agents and will likely be able to pursue a hefty multi-year contract, which might force the Orioles out of the conversation.

The Orioles acquired Davis and pitcher Tommy Hunter from the Rangers in a July 2011 trade that sent reliever Koji Uehara to Texas.

Video: Murphy’s costly error, the catalyst to Royals’ Game 4 comeback

New York Mets' Daniel Murphy reacts after missing a ball hit by Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in New York.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was the goat of Game 4 of the World Series, a 5-3 loss to the Royals. The Mets entered the eighth inning ahead 3-2, but reliever Tyler Clippard issued back-to-back one-out walks to force manager Terry Collins to bring in closer Jeurys Familia for a five-out save.

Familia induced a weak grounder from Eric Hosmer, but second baseman Daniel Murphy couldn’t corral the easy hopper, allowing the Royals to tie the game and setting them up to take the lead soon thereafter.

Murphy wowed the world when he hit seven home runs between the NLDS and the NLCS, including homers in six consecutive games to help bring the Mets to the World Series. The Royals, however, have handled him well, limiting him to three hits (all singles) in 20 plate appearances.

Daniel Murphy’s defensive blunder allows Royals to come back and win Game 4, 5-3

Kansas City Royals' Ben Zobrist, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring on an RBI single by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain during the sixth inning of Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the New York Mets Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum


All of the good Daniel Murphy did in hitting the Mets into the World Series unraveled on Saturday night, when his defensive miscue allowed the Royals to tie the game and then take the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Mets went on to lose 5-3. Instead of evening up the series at two games apiece, the Mets now find themselves one game from elimination.

Tyler Clippard began the eighth inning, but issued two one-out walks to Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain. Manager Terry Collins called on closer Jeurys Familia for a five-out save after using him to protect a six-run lead in Friday night’s win. Familia did his job — he induced a weak tapper from Eric Hosmer, an easy out at first base for second baseman Daniel Murphy. Only one problem: the ball skipped right under Murphy’s glove. Zobrist scored and no outs were recorded. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez then hit consecutive run-scoring singles to give the Royals a 5-3 lead.

Things were going well for the Mets until then, all things considered. Rookie outfielder Michael Conforto provided the bulk of the offense, hitting solo home runs in the third inning (off of starter Chris Young) and in the fifth (off of reliever Danny Duffy). The Mets’ other run, which came after Conforto’s first homer, was a gift due to the absent-mindedness of Royals right fielder Alex Rios. With Wilmer Flores on third base and one out, Curtis Granderson lifted a fly ball to shallow right field. Rios had a very real chance to throw out Flores at home, except he thought the fly ball represented the third out. He camped under the ball, then had to make an awkward throw home and Flores scored easily.

The Royals’ two runs prior to their eighth inning ambush came on RBI singles by Alex Gordon (in the fifth) and Cain (in the sixth) off of Mets rookie starter Steven Matz. The lefty exited with no outs after allowing two consecutive hits to begin the frame. He finished having allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Young, his starting counterpart, was responsible for two runs on two hits and one walk with three strikeouts in four innings.

Royals manager Ned Yost called on closer Wade Davis to get the final six outs of the game after his team took the lead in the top of the eighth. Davis struck out Flores, got pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson to fly out, and Curtis Granderson to ground out to second base in a 1-2-3 frame. In the ninth, Davis allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes, but induced a double play when Lucas Duda hit a weak liner to third baseman Mike Moustakas, who then doubled off Cespedes at first base.

This is, no doubt, a crushing loss for the Mets. According to FanGraphs, the Mets were 83 percent favorites after Alcides Escobar grounded out for the first out of the eighth inning. That figure fell to 17 by inning’s end.

Collins’ decision to have Clippard start the eighth is one that will be second-guessed. He chose to use closer Jeurys Familia to close out Friday night’s Game 3, when the Mets had a very comfortable six-run lead. Had Familia not been used then, Collins may have been more willing to use Familia to record six outs as Yost did with Davis. Clippard hasn’t exactly been Mr. Reliable.

Leverage Index is a Sabermetric stat that measures the importance of a game event. A higher number denotes a more important event. The highest LI of the three at-bats in Familia’s ninth inning on Friday was .000. Clippard’s two at-bats versus Zobrist and Cain had LI’s of 0.61 and 0.88, respectively. Baseball is a game in which the game’s best hitters succeed only three times out of ten. Combine that with Familia’s superior skill and it’s a pretty obvious call who should’ve opened the eighth inning — if he hadn’t been unnecessarily used in Game 3. Murphy will draw most of the blame for the Mets’ loss in Game 4, but Collins deserves a share of it as well. Also, the Mets’ 2-through-6 hitters combined to go 2-for-18 with two singles and a walk.

The Royals will attempt to close out the World Series at Citi Field on Sunday night. Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez will oppose Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in a rematch of Game 1.

Michael Conforto homers again, pads Mets’ Game 4 lead

New York Mets' Michael Conforto watches his home run against the Kansas City Royals during Game 4 of the Major League Baseball World Series Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Michael Conforto has had himself a ballgame. The rookie homered for a second time in the fifth inning of Game 5, drilling a Danny Duffy offering over the fence in right-center at Citi Field, bolstering the Mets’ lead to 3-1 over the Royals. Conforto had gone yard in the third inning, breaking a scoreless tie.

Conforto is the first Mets player to homer twice in a World Series game since catcher Gary Carter in Game 4 in 1986 against the Red Sox. Carlos Beltran was the last Met to homer twice in a playoff game, doing so in Game 4 of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals. As Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY notes, Conforto is the first rookie to homer twice in a World Series game since Andruw Jones in 1996 against the Yankees

Mets starter Steven Matz has tossed five solid innings, yielding only one run on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. The Royals finally got to him in the top of the fifth when, with one out, Salvador Perez doubled and Alex Gordon ripped a single to right field to plate Perez.