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Current ballplayers think a lot of white catchers would make good managers one day

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David Laurila of FanGraphs asked a bunch of major leaguers a really good question: which current players do they think would be or could be future managers?

Laurila asked 20 players and/or managers and they listed 31 different players. Many named a handful. A few — A.J. Ellis and Dustin Pedroia — were listed by multiple respondents. David Ross was named, like, a gabillion times.

The most striking thing about the list: the overwhelming majority of the potential candidates are white guys. A ton of them catchers. The non-white/U.S. players mentioned: Adrian Beltre, Alex Cora, Jose Molina, Henry Blanco, Melky Cabrera (?!) and Russell Martin, who is mixed-race.

Which isn’t to say that anyone here is racist or prejudiced or anything of the sort. The guys the interviewees listed, I am certain, were just those they know well or know well enough to weigh in on their qualifications as managers. Indeed, it’s worth noting here that, with only a couple of exceptions, those asked the question were white too. Given how clubhouses and baseball friendships often break down along racial and ethnic lines themselves, the fact that they named guys like themselves is not shocking or malevolent or anything of the sort. If the 20 interviewees were Latino or black, I’m sure the breakdown would be somewhat different too. If you were asked to name the three people you’d be most likely to ask drive you to the airport, your answers would likely be people of your own race as well. That’s just how informal relationships tend to go in our society.

It’s still nonetheless telling, because a lot of baseball hirings are made on the basis of personal relationships and familiarity too.  Front office people hiring people they know best. The ones with whom they are the most familiar and about whom they are least uncertain on some personal level. But then you remember that front offices themselves are overwhelmingly white. And then you remember that almost every single manager in the game is white too, and you start to realize that it’s not really an accident.

Again, given how so many baseball relationships break down along racial and ethnic lines themselves, it’s not shocking or malevolent or anything. But it’s certainly illustrative of how a certain historical selection of people in power can lead to a perpetuation of similar people being in power, even with the most benign of current intentions. And that, in turn, speaks to how important it is for Major League Baseball to increase diversity up and down organizations so that these patterns will not be perpetuated rather than relying on empty and toothless proclamations like “The Selig Rule” and the like.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.