Latinos in MLB front office… MLBRT 5/26


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Latinos in the Front office…

This week’s Round Table starts with a sort of minority report as the crew gives their opinions about Joey Cora’s thoughts about managerial and management positions in MLB for Latinos.

Plus, there’s a possible rules change coming that might change the way a batter gets intentionally walked and lots more…

So, join the discussion at the table… right here and now…

1) When the Atlanta Braves fired Fredi Gonzalez as the team’s manager that left a grand total of exactly zero Latino managers in MLB. Joey Cora had an interesting take on the discussion of Latinos trying to be MLB managers…

He recently told ESPN’s Max y Marly, “Maybe us as Latinos are going at it the wrong way. We are looking at being a manager as the thing… I think we’ve got to go higher than that. We have got to get into positions of power… Our aim has to be higher than only being manager. If we get to be GMs, assistant GMs or directors of minor league systems, then we can make the hires. We can make the decisions. We have to be in the decision-making positions to make hires. It might be our fault that we only aim to be managers and that shouldn’t be it. It should be higher than that.”

What’s your take on Cora’s remarks/thinking?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Well, first off, if, any group feels they are destined to only gain one level or that there is a “glass ceiling” for them I would agree with his comments that maybe they should aim higher. However, what does it take to make upper management? MOST CEO’s and President of Baseball Operations and such are not even former players. These positions are mostly college educated guys with Bachelor Degrees or higher. There are not many Owners willing to turn over the running of their major operations to someone JUST because they played ball.

Latins don't have the same opportunities...
Latins don’t have the same opportunities…

While Cora and other Latinos played ball in college; Cora was at Vanderbilt but I cannot find anything that shows he obtained any kind of degree; when you go straight from college to pro-ball for over a decade you kind of lose touch with much of the education and current business trends that you may have received from your days in college. And, while many players are playing, those CEOs and President of Operations are working as interns and behind the scenes of major organizations obtaining those skills that owners are looking for in handing over the reins.

I have included the list of the hierarchy of MLB as of January 28, 2014…

MLB team presidents: baseball vs. business

I did not see a single Ex-Player at the helm. Hell, even Nolan Ryan has a businessman running the business now after he took it own as owner and CEO about four years. He was the only player I can recall that made it to President of a club after having played.

Dan 3Dan: While I do think that Cora has a good point, trying to reach the highest position, that you can, should be everyone’s goal. Of course, you have some people who don’t want to go all the way up and have all of that responsibility.

But, then maybe they should be striving to get higher and higher. Become the first Latino this, that, and, etc. Why not? Striving for the top is always a great attribute, and, I believe he has a great point. If, they’re doing the hiring, they might be more inclined to get more Latinos in managerial positions.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I get what he’s saying. He’s saying why limit yourself and he is indeed right. You should be aiming for higher and better. So, on the surface of it, I have no problems at all with what Joey Cora is saying.

As far as Gonzalez is concerned the Braves are building for the future, and even though he had to go now, I would have to think the number of Latino managers standing at zero will not be for long. One should be hired in due time.

meJoe: I see his point but actually it’s real damn hard to break into the front office without some type of front office type of experience/background. You usually either have to have the background for it or pay your dues in the lower levels before you can move on up to a position in the front office on the Major League level being  in charge of, among other things, player development. personnel changes, contract negotiations, etc…

Joey Cora (l), with Ozzie Guillen
Joey Cora (l), with Ozzie Guillen

But,why not shoot for the stars, if, you can… hell ya just never know until you try? Right?

Steve-01-288x300Steve: What I am about to say has absolutely no bearing on potential Latino managers, or players for that matter, so, please, do not take this out of context.

While there are some Latino prospective managers like a Cora, Gonzalez, or, do I dare say Ozzie Guillen, that could be very good managers. Fredi Gonzalez had a winning record as the manager of the Braves, he just happened to be the man in charge on a very very bad baseball team. I don’t blame him whatsoever.

As far as Latino’s becoming managers, there is a certain communication aspect that I think that players have to have with their manager. If, there is any language barrier what so ever between players and managers, this could potentially cause some serious issues for a baseball team. With all due respect to Ozzie Guillen, when he was manager of the White Sox, he would give press conferences where I had no earthly idea what was coming out of his mouth. Maybe I didn’t want to know at times, but thinking to myself, how do the players understand what he is saying?

That being said, a Latino in the front office, like a GM or an AGM? I could see that being more of a realistic possibility no matter the language barrier that may or may not exist. A lot of these Latino players have a good baseball mind and could be great in the front office. So, I have no problem with any Latino manager as long as there is no language barrier and I have zero issues with them in the front office.

2) A MLB rules recently agreed on a motion that would change in the intentional-walk rule. Instead requiring the pitcher to throw four pitches outside the strike zone a team would now signify that it wanted to issue lob an intentional walk and the hitter would simply be to first base.

Intentional walk
Intentional walk

The change can’t go into effect unless they are approved by baseball’s playing rules committee. An anonymous source said that the changes would be presented to the MLB Players Association as part of the negotiations for a new labor agreement, however, the playing rules committee isn’t required to have the union sign off on the changes. So, the change could take place by next season regardless of what the union thinks.

What’s your view on this possible change in the intentional-walk rule?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Bullshit. When a pitcher is forced to throw the four balls anything can happen. Most of them just lob it over, some put a little heat on it. But, if, someone is on base they still have to maintain all the protocols of not balking and such and they have to still keep base stealers close. Why change that?

Also, when a pitcher DOES issue an intentional walk it goes into the record books, along with pitch count and such. How does the new rule effect this? Also, during an intentional walk the batter still has a say so in the outcome IF the pitcher screws up and lobs one too close. I’ve seen it happen. 

Dan 3Dan: I can really answer this question is one word: Great.

This move is great and I really hope the rules committee passes it. This saves a little bit of time, saves 4 pitches that the pitcher doesn’t have to throw, you don’t waste the batter’s time or anybody else’s time and there isn’t a risk of a wild pitch, or, of the batter swinging on purpose.

Just save the time and effort and send the batter to first.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I’m for it.

Even though the four pitches are typically soft lobs, changing the rule at least eliminates those tosses and saves the pitchers arm a little. It also shortens the game by eliminating the time taken to throw those lobs.

meJoe: Don’t like it; don’t like it; don’t like it.

Anything can happen while a pitcher is throwing the pitches to the plate during an intentional walk… especially if men are on base (and, usually, that’s why the intentional walk is being issued: men are on base with first open)… I’ve seen it happen…

A ball goes a little too wide and the catcher can’t reach it and a runner can advance, or worse, maybe score. Or, maybe the pitch comes a little too close to the plate and a batter reaches out and slaps it over the infield for a hit and all runners advance and maybe score.

The game might need changing in some areas for whatever reasons but this is one aspect of the game they should just leave the hell alone.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I can see why it is being discussed, but, I don’t like it.

On some occasions I have seen a wild pitch which could advance a runner. I don’t think I would have a problem if there was nobody on, but, I would still want a pitcher to throw four balls. Would it count as a walk?

I don’t think that system is broke, so there is no point on fixing it.

3) Right now, most baseball people will probably say Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arietta, and maybe Madison Bumgarner, too, are head and shoulders over the rest of the MLB pitching world… at what point do people need to start including Chris Sale in that conversation?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Who says they are not talking already? His name comes up in every conversation I have with peers and baseball fans I deal

IF, those talking heads posing as analyst, and such, on TV and Radio have not been talking about him, OR, if, they are shunning him for some reason, then they are just fools.

Dan 3Dan: I think they should’ve already began. He’s a great pitcher and before his poor outing in Cleveland on Tuesday night, he had a great beginning to the season starting out at 9-0 with a under 1.50 ERA while just looking almost unhittable.

After such a great season last year, he deserves to be in those conversations. Arrieta was in the top pitcher conversation after one fantastic season, why not add Sale in there, too, for a great last season?

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I’m surprised at the season Sale is having. I almost expected him to self destruct in light of all the turmoil the White Sox were having over the Adam LaRoche incident. For that reason alone, Sale might not be getting the credit he deserves, because I’m sure some are still looking at him as a bit of a troublemaker. But, if, he keeps his performances up, I think you have to throw him into the discussion. He’s had an excellent start to this season.

meJoe: Up to this point Sale’s career has been what I see as one good year, then one so-so year, then, one good year and a so-so year. So far, he is holding onto the pattern as last year his record was 13-11 with a 3.41 ERA. Now, he is having a year where he appears as if he might be heading to another level…sale1

I’m reserving judgement on whether he deserves to be in Kershaw territory  until the season develops a little further… then, i got to see it again next year. Or, will he revert back to his pattern?

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Chris Sale is a superstar pitcher, and, absolutely should be in the same conversation as a Kershaw, Arietta, Bumgarner, just to name a few.

Entering Monday (which is when I’m writing this) Sale is 9-0 with an ERA well below 2.00. He has re-developed himself and vastly improved his mechanics. He is a finesse pitcher and does not rely solely on over powering people. He throws more ground balls and avoids jams. Something that has hurt him in years past. Sale is on his way to the career I knew he could have.

4) On Sunday (5/22) the Houston Astros lost to the Texas Rangers 9-2. That represented an exclamation point on the reality that the Astros just got swept by the Rangers in Houston and Dallas Keuchel’s record just fell to 2-6 with a 5.92 ERA. asked the question: Is there any hope for the Astros (in 2016)?

What is your opinion? Is there?

Archie1-300x277Archie: I give them about as much chance as an Ice Cube in the Oklahoma Summer Sun.Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros

However, Hope is a strong word people hold onto when things are not going well. And, that is certainly the case with the Astros. That is about all they have left with the dismal start to this season. I don’t give them any chance of making the playoffs, if, that is what this question is leading to.

Dan 3Dan: I think there is, but, they need their team to start clicking. I, personally, believe they’re just off to a slow start and the season is still early, so, there’s still time for them to bounce back and I believe they will.

They have a great team with a lot of great, young players. They have a solid line-up and their rotation isn’t weak by any means. Keuchel is off to a horrible start, but, so is David Price (don’t let win-loss records deceive you). Once, Houston turns it around, they’ll be competing for the AL West crown.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: The Astros might have been nothing more than a tease last season. They still have a lot of young players and sometimes replicating success is easier said than done. The talent is still there, and their future is still bright but the 2016 season is looking like a lost season for Houston.

That’s sad, but that’s the game.

meJoe: I hate saying this about any team this early in the season… but, I am really beginning to think the Astros’ shot their load the last season and it’s time to stick a fork in them already… they, more or less, are done.the-astros-are-bad-

Steve-01-288x300Steve: The Astros are in big trouble this season, and, it is all in due part because the pitching is no where near what it was last year, and, that is causing a huge problem for them.

Altuve and Correa are doing fine, but, Keuchel is no where near the pitcher he was during his Cy Young season a year ago. There is still time to regroup, but, I don’t think the Astros are going anywhere this year. 

5) After a line drive hit in Sunday’s game (5/22), The Red Sox’ Jackie Bradley Jr. is now 29 games away from Joe DiMaggio’s all time record of 56 straight games with a hit.

At what point will you start paying attention to Bradley Jr.’s chance to threaten Joe D.’s record? Or, is his chance to set a new record little to none, due to the fact that DiMaggio’s record is unbreakable? 

Archie1-300x277Archie: I will start paying attention at 52 or 53 game hit streak. Let’s be real, this conversation is putting the proverbial cart way in front of the horse. Again.

Besides, he is a career .235 hitter; that will come into play soon enough.

Dan 3Dan: I’m already paying attention. I start paying attention usually once a player gets between 15-20. Right now, he’s half-way to DiMaggio’s record and while I don’t think he’ll get it, I’ll be rooting for him all the way. It’s always fun to see records broke and what more fun would it be to see him get the consecutive games with a hit mark?Bradley

One little fun note I noticed, which I thought was really cool, was coming into Tuesday night’s game, Jackie Bradley Jr. was hitting .408 during his hit streak. DiMaggio’s batting average during the hit streak? .408, which, seems pretty coincidental but it’ll be really fun to see him keep hitting. Once, he gets into the 40’s, it’ll be must-watch at-bats. I’ve always thought DiMaggio’s record was unbreakable, so, it’ll be fun to see what Bradley Jr can do.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: He might be better off setting his sights on the Red Sox hit record, which is 34 set by Dom DiMaggio, instead of looking too far forward at Joe’s.

It is inevitable that Joe’s record will fall. Records are made to be broken, but, it will take someone who can handle the pressure of doing it game in and game out. We have seen players get within striking distance of the record and the pressure starts to get to them. It will take an unflappable player to get to 56 straight games with a hit. It might be Jackie Bradley Jr. It might not be him, but that record will fall.

meJoe: Let’s get this out of the way first…. the DiMaggio consecutive games with a hit record is going to be tough on any player to break because of the intense media pressure that will be involved once the player gets anywhere close to breaking the record.  I remember what happened to Roger Maris back in 1961 when he broke the HR record… that pressure today will be intensified by about 1,000 times.

As far as Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s shot at the DiMaggio record…  bradely 1

I always check the box scores every morning while I am having my coffee fix, so, I guess, in a way I’m already following Bradley Jr.’s streak.  But… IF, he gets to around 40 games I will be following it very closely and, at that point we will see how Bradley Jr. holds up against the media pressure and his own personal pressure of trying to break a legendary record.

If, I was betting? I don’t think he breaks the record. I just think his youth and inexperience will work against him. 

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Few have come as far as Bradley has during this impressive hitting streak, but, we are just over half way to DiMaggio’s record of 56. Honestly, I won’t really be thinking about this record unless Bradley gets to 40. After that, I will start paying very close attention to what he is doing.

I’ll be honest, I had no idea he was even this close to the record. 29 is great and depending where we are at the time of posting, I will get excited in a couple weeks if the record is still in sight.

Extra Innings…

On April 20th… Atlanta led, 2-1, in the 7th inning and were threatening to add to the lead,  when Jace Peterson hit a deep drive to center field. Mets’ centerfielder, Juan Lagares turned his back to the plate and started to run as hard as he could. The ball was headed over Lagares’s head, but at the last instant he reached up and to his left and caught the ball over his head… reminiscent of Willie Mays’ catch back in game 1 of the 1954 World Series…

Shades of Willie Mays

Lagares said, “I really don’t know how I made that catch.”


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