A call for civility in player criticism

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The other night D.J. pointed us to Barry Svrluga’s heart wrenching story about Chad Cordero, who lost his infant daughter to SIDS back in December.  Yesterday, Moshe Mandel of The Yankee Analysts — himself a father of three young girls — reflected on Cordero’s loss and how that changes the nature of the player-fan relationship for him:

We have no idea what is going on in the minds of most players. Some will say that MLB players are paid a lot of money to perform, and I agree that by accepting those salaries they do put themselves into a position that requires performance no matter the circumstance. That said, no amount of money can force a human being to shutter his personal life into a small area of his mind and simply forget about it when taking the field. I wonder how quick we might be to jump to conclusions regarding things like effort and character if we knew more about players, if we knew about the guy struggling with a poor or abusive marriage, or a dying parent, or a child on drugs. Would we be so quick to judge?

We’re so quick to boo. Or to mock. Or to snark. And when we do so, we often do it in personal terms despite the fact that all we know about most of these players is how they perform on the field. I think most of us don’t think about the distinction between the player and person very often so it’s not like we’re trying to be jerks. But sometimes, yeah, we’re jerks.

Moshe’s suggestion: to not say or write something about a player that we wouldn’t say to his face. I think that may take things too far as, in practice, face-to-face interactions are often pretty bad vehicles for honesty, and sometimes you need to be honest about a player and his performance. But I do take Moshe’s meaning. A little civility and understanding goes a long way and we’d all be wise to apply those things liberally.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.