Latino players vs. The Old Guard

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There’s been a lot of talk about Yasiel Puig’s alleged hot dogging and the Dodgers jumping into the Diamondbacks’ pool. There has been a lot of talk about Brian McCann: Baseball Sheriff and the Braves’ multiple run-ins this year with players they perceived to be acting unprofessionally. Against that backdrop Jorge Arangure writes in Sports on Earth about the impossible-to-ignore fault lines in baseball culture:

Forget about the stats vs. scouts argument: The biggest dissonance in the game right now is between the showmanship of Latino players and the stoicism of the old guard. Some believe it is the fight for baseball’s soul. Some believe that allowing such behavior will irreparably damage the game. It’s a silly argument, of course, but it’s happening.

Arangure argues that, while the culture of baseball and its unwritten rules of deportment are long-standing, they developed in a game dominated by U.S. born players. Mostly white U.S. born players. Given that Latino players now constitute 30% of the baseball population and given that that number is only going up, baseball can and should have to adjust and make room for a different style.

I couldn’t agree more. There is no escaping the fact that almost every controversy about deportment in baseball involves white players explaining to Latino players how to “do things the right way.” Fact is, though, that there is more than one way to carry oneself than the way someone like Brian McCann Chris Carpenter or Tony La Russa believes one should carry oneself. And it’s quite possible to enjoy the game, be exuberant flip bats and do all manner of things that many ballplayers currently consider taboo without also being disrespectful.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.