Does the Giants’ lack of in-house Latin players impact clubhouse chemistry?

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Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News has a story about the San Francisco Giants’ minor league woes. All of their affiliates are in last place at the moment and few if any of their prospects are advancing as quickly as the club would like to see.

One of the issues Baggarly identifies is the Giants’ poor track record in developing international talent, noting that no Giants player from a Latin American country who was originally signed by the Giants has played for the big league club this year (one, Reyes Moronta, spent one day on the 25-man roster but did not play). All of the others were acquired via trade or free agency.

Baggarly suggests that the relatively small number of Latin players on the Giants roster, and the fact that none of them came up through the Giants system together, may be impacting the Giants clubhouse. Here he calls back to a Johnny Cueto quote from April:

“When I was with Kansas City, it was a team, I think, it was a very happy bunch because we had a lot of players from the Dominican,” Cueto said through Spanish interpreter Erwin Higueros in April. “The same with Cincinnati. But here, it’s different. As Latins, we like to get together kind of loud, and be a happy bunch. But here, you look around and everyone is on their own, just sitting at their locker, very quiet, just by themselves. That’s just how they are.”

I had missed that quote when it first came up in April. It seems tangential at best to Baggarly’s thesis about the Giants’ developmental issues, but I find it interesting to consider all the same in light of the Giants sitting in last place.

On one level, obviously, it comes off as a negative comment. After all, when a player says that one club he played for felt like “a team” and that current club feels like something different, that has to be taken as a negative, yes? To Cueto, the Giants, don’t feel like a team and that’s never something good to hear from a ballplayer.

Still, it’s worth noting that the quote came from a couple of months ago. At the time Cueto said that, the season was young, the Giants were expected to be pretty good and, as such, it could be taken as a mostly neutral observation, not some comment about why the Giants aren’t playing well. Indeed, if the Giants were in first place now it could be seen, perhaps, as almost a compliment. “The Giants are a serious, business-minded bunch who let their playing do the talking!”

But here it is, reappearing now, when the Giants stink, both at the big league level and in the minors, and it is clearly being offered as a potential reason for why they stink. A lack of Latin players perhaps harming their on-field talent, sure, but also harming clubhouse chemistry and making AT&T Park a dreary place to be.

I don’t have a view about the Giants talent base or their clubhouse chemistry as I was only in it for, like, an hour back in Scottsdale in March. But I do find it interesting how player comments can, depending on what is going on with the club on the field at any given time, be seen in many different ways. And how, as always, the conversation about clubhouse chemistry is so often a backwards-looking thing.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.