Japanese teams interested in Bryan LaHair if the Cubs aren’t

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Last week I wondered whether the Cubs would give Triple-A MVP Bryan LaHair a legitimate opportunity in the majors and the answer so far is yes, as the 28-year-old has played in nine games while batting .458 with six extra-base hits in 24 at-bats.

Of course, he’ll come back down to earth eventually and it remains to be seen if the Cubs have LaHair in their 2012 plans. If they don’t, Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that he’ll have no problem finding work in Japan:

According to scouting sources, numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to LaHair, if he becomes a free agent following the 2011 season. LaHair said he has had conversations with some representatives of Japanese baseball.

It may be a moot point, as the Cubs could retain LaHair by keeping him on the 40-man roster and still not decide to give him an extended shot in Chicago, but as Levine notes they did sell Micah Hoffpauir to a Japanese team last year for $200,000.

LaHair told Levine that he’s intrigued by the possibility of playing in Japan, in part because the money would be significantly better than at Triple-A, “but the dream is to be in the major leagues and this is where I want to be.” He doesn’t project as a star or anything, but hitting .338 with 38 homers at Triple-A should earn a guy a couple hundred at-bats to prove himself.

Manny Machado rips MLB Network talking heads over double standards

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Manny Machado has had his fair share of controversies. There was the stuff about his lack of hustle last fall. He’s thrown bats and ran into and over guys and has argued with umpires and all of that stuff. Is he well-liked? Not really. Is he a dirty player? Some say so. But even if you don’t say so, he’s been involved in some dirty plays and he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. We chronicled much of that last fall.

But he’s certainly not the only guy who has done that sort of thing before. Others have and, I think it’s fair to say, others have not caught as much flak for it as he has. There are reasons for that too, of course. Part of it is that a couple of Machado’s transgressions came in very high-profile situations like last year’s playoffs. Part of it is that he’s a big star who makes a lot of money and guys like that tend to get more attention and heat than others. Part of it is that a lot people simply don’t like Machado for whatever reason.

Machado talked at length about that last night when he took to Instagram to mock MLB Network analysts Eric Byrnes and Dan Plesac, who were going on about the Jake Marisnick plunking and his barreling into Jonathan Lucroy that led to it. Byrnes and Plesac were defending Marisnick. Machado noted that he would never have gotten that kind of defense had it been him doing the barreling instead of Marisnick.

Watch (warning: NSFW language):

 

I don’t think he’s wrong about that. Again, some of it would be justified in that Machado does have a reputation and when you have a reputation you don’t get as much benefit of the doubt. But it’s also the case that Machado was not getting much benefit of the doubt — including from these guys in particular — well before that reputation was established.

Over at the Big Lead, they found examples of Byrnes going after Machado way back in 2014. Machado’s transgressions have, from the beginning, been cast as a those of a dirty, hotheaded player who lacks class. Other players who have done exactly what Machado has done often get excused for showing “passion” and “competitiveness” or for “playing hard” instead of “playing dirty” even when there isn’t all that much actual difference between the acts in question.

Machado says it’s attributable, at least in part, to him being Latino. I think people can reasonably disagree on the question of whether Machado, personally, has been unfairly judged. But I think it’s pretty indisputable that, generally, Latino players get way, way, way less benefit of the doubt for “hard play” vs. “dirty play” and for being “hotheaded” as opposed to being “competitors” than non-Latinos get. Those stereotypes are well-established. Academic research has been conducted on that stuff, confirming such inherent bias on the part of white commentators. Some of Machado’s peers in the game have said the same thing, both in general, and about Machado’s treatment personally.

Which is to say, whether or not Machado has earned the treatment he gets, he has a point here.