The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

And now: race baiting and paranoia!

Orlando Hudson is calling a whole bunch of racism. Why? Because Gary Sheffield and Jermaine Dye don’t currently have jobs. Jeff Passan, who never can resist a good opportunity for indulging in some white guilt, is on the case.

As Major League Baseball prepares for its annual Jackie Robinson Day on Thursday, one prominent African-American player questioned teams’ commitment to employing black players past their prime years.

Are teams committed to employing white players past their prime years? I dunno; maybe. I’m just saying I kind of hope the Cubs don’t continue to dump salary on dudes once they’re clearly not good at baseball anymore. That’ll give them less money to use overpaying for mid-level talent like Alfonso Soriano.

"You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job," Minnesota Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson said Monday. "Guy with [27 home runs and 81 RBIs] and can’t get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no?"

I really, really want to know what Hudson said that got edited to [27 home runs and 81 RBIs]. I bet it was something outrageous like "a nine-inch cock," because, hey, you know how those people are.

In some seriousness, though, here are Dye’s numbers for the last three years, courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs:

2007: 138 games, .254 / .317 / .468 / .804, 105 OPS+, -21.6 UZR, -0.6 WAR
2008: 154 games, .292 / .344 / .541 / .885, 126 OPS+, -19.4 UZR, 1.8 WAR
2009: 141 games, .250 / .340 / .453 / .793, 103 OPS+, -20 UZR, -0.2 WAR

Jermaine Dye is cooked. He still could potentially see some use as a bench player, but he’s so finished in right field it’s not even funny. You see how in 2007 and 2009 he actually cost his team some wins? Seeing Jermaine Dye without a job means that people are aware of how finished he is, Orlando.

"You’ve got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can’t get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can’t get a job."

Gary Sheffield is not a first-ballot anything. I mean, he was good, and I can see a solid argument for his Hall candidacy, but he pissed off way too many people and they’ll make him suffer for it. And, for the record, here’s the Sheff for the last three years:

2007: 133 games, .265 / .378 / .462 / .839, 119 OPS+, 2 UZR, 2.8 WAR
2008: 114 games, .225 / .326 / .400 / .725, 89 OPS+, 0.4 UZR, 0.2 WAR
2009: 100 games, .276 / .372 / .451 / .823, 119 OPS+, -12.7 UZR, 0.3 WAR

Sheff is also pretty done, though a bit less so than Dye. He’s utterly finished in the field, but could see some use as a DH for a team that doesn’t mind its DH sitting out half the year with injuries. And also thinks that picking up one of the most notorious assholes in MLB history is a good tradeoff for gaining one third of a win.

"We both know what it is. You’ll get it right. You’ll figure it out. I’m not gonna say it because then I’ll be in [trouble]."

Yeah, I sure do know what it is: they’re old and broken and pretty much not useful at baseball anymore. Also, I know what you said instead of [trouble].

What Hudson wants to say: He believes there is a racist element to the free-agent market in baseball, and that it’s paralyzing the 36-year-old Dye’s ability to earn what non-blacks with commensurate numbers received in the offseason.

Yeah, there’s that, too: Dye is 36 and Sheffield’s 41. So expecting them to get better is probably pretty stupid. And here’s what happened to free agent position players worth -0.2 WAR in 2009:

Aaron Boone, 3B (white): Retired
Chris Woodward, 2B (white): Signed to a minor-league contract
Greg Norton, LF (white): Retired
Troy Glaus, 1B (white): Signed for 1 year, $1.75M
Josh Anderson, CF (white): Signed to a minor-league contract

Jermaine Dye, RF (black): Refused an offer said to be in the $4M range.

Maybe I’m mistaken, but the alleged size of that offer that Dye refused appears to be greater than the contracts given to all other players of his value combined. Racism? I mean, you make the call, I guess.

"Call it what you want to," Hudson said. "I ain’t fit to say it. After I retire I’ll say it. I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to say after I retire."

Great. I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be like having a second Jose Canseco!

Hudson’s comments came on the heels of Dye turning down a one-year contract offer from the Washington Nationals for less than a quarter of his $11.5 million salary with the Chicago White Sox last season.

All the sources I can find for information about the contract Dye turned down chain back to that one dude on who says $4M, which is way more than a quarter of $11.5M. Perhaps Jeff Passan has more accurate information than I do.

After a first half in which he slugged .567 and hit 20 home runs, Dye spent the second half of 2009 in a deep slump from which he never emerged, batting .179 and slugging .297 while playing subpar defense in right field.

Yeah, he sure did, huh. And, as a consequence, cost his team one-fifth of a win.

Hudson believed Dye’s credentials – 164 home runs in the last five years and an OPS 21 percent better than the league average – would buy him the benefit of the doubt.

Hudson lives in a strange fantasy world where Jermaine Dye’s numbers over the last five years consist entirely of home runs and don’t include his awful OBP or his insanely bad fielding.

Dye hoped to play for a contender, and while he understood he would take a pay cut, he expected a deal in the $4 million-plus range. Hudson said he and Dye spoke on the phone this offseason about his status, though they never broached specifics about why the market never materialized above $3.5 million, a number approached or exceeded by a number of players with inferior credentials.

But not, apparently, by all other players with identical credentials combined. Two points about this:

1) If Jermaine Dye doesn’t want to play for a shitbox team like the Washington Nationals, that’s totally his choice, and I have no problem with it. But, I mean, they made him an offer, right? So… not really racism, hey?

2) $3.5M is way more than a quarter of $11.5M.

The Baltimore Orioles guaranteed $4.5 million to first baseman Garrett Atkins, 30, after he hit .226 and slugged .342 in 354 at-bats last season.

That contract was crazy. But… it’s the Orioles. Has anybody ever accused them of knowing how to build a baseball team? Also, Garrett Atkins is only 30 (Dye, recall, is 36) and only two years removed from 2.4 WAR (and three years removed from 6.0 — six!), so there’s some reason to believe he might improve. But, yeah, that contract was crazy. Too bad Jermaine Dye couldn’t get a contract with a serious contender like the Orioles.

Thirty-three-year-old Aubrey Huff’s on-base percentage was 30 points lower than Dye’s and his slugging percentage 69 points lower, yet the San Francisco Giants gave him $3 million.

33-year-old Huff (Dye, again, is 36) had a shitty year, but was awesome in 2008. And the Giants, like the Orioles before them, are pretty stupid.

The Chicago Cubs paid 31-year-old Xavier Nady $3.3 million after an elbow injury limited him to 28 at-bats last season.

Nady also was awesome in 2008, and has a desirable quality for a reserve outfielder: he doesn’t suck in the field. Jermaine Dye does not possess this quality. And is 36 years old.

Whether teams with first base openings didn’t trust Dye’s ability to convert or others with outfield slots preferred different players, his presence on the open market in mid-April is particularly puzzling when coupled with the fates of other black players.

It’s really, really hard not to prefer a different player for an outfield spot, since Dye is so bad you’re almost better off going with just two guys out there.

Second baseman Ray Durham, coming off a 2008 in which he got on base at a .380 clip and slugged .432, couldn’t get anything more than a backup sniff as a 37-year-old. Durham’s case, one source said, is among those being looked at by the MLB players’ association in its potential collusion case against MLB.

Perhaps because he’s shitty in the field and put up these numbers in 2007: .218 / .295 / .343 / .638.

Outfielder Kenny Lofton put up an above-average OPS as a 40-year-old in 2007 and hasn’t been seen since.

Kenny Lofton is 42 years old. 42! And his birthday’s in May, so he’ll be 43 for most of this season. Do you want to take a chance on a 43-year-old CF?

And Sheffield, 41, remains a free agent after slugging .451 with spacious Citi Field as his home stadium.

Gary Sheffield is also the biggest asshole in baseball, and the only player I can think of offhand who has admitted to playing badly on purpose whenever he was mad at his team.

Here are some other black players:

Chone Figgins got four years and $36M from the Mariners.
Milton Bradley got three years and $30M from the Cubs.
Vlad Guerrero, a year younger than Dye and a lot better in the field, got $5M from the Rangers.
Juan Pierre, who is terrible, got five years and $44M from the Dodgers.
Torii Hunter got five years and $90M from the Angels.
Alfonso Soriano got eight years and $136M from the Cubs, and he’s a mediocre hitter and a terrible fielder.
CC Sabathia got seven years and $161M from the Yankees.

Racism? You make the call!

There are other factors, of course. The free-agent market has shifted drastically against older players.

Because of RACISM! Or maybe because older players don’t put up better numbers than rookies and cost a hell of a lot more. One or the other, I’m sure.

The game places a greater emphasis on defense.

Jermaine Dye, career UZR: -95.6

And in the individual cases, Lofton came with a difficult-to-handle reputation, as did Sheffield, who once alluded to possible racism from his manager with the New York Yankees, Joe Torre – an accusation backed up by Lofton.

So they’re old, they’re always hurt, they’re not really that good, and they complain all the damn time. There can be only one reason nobody wants them: RACISM.

Never has Dye been lumped among the malcontents, and his case lends credence to a belief among some black baseball players that should frighten MLB: They’re treated differently. True or not, it doesn’t matter.


Once more, for emphasis: What?

It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s true. Jeff. Really. Fuck the heck are you even talking about?

Perhaps Hudson’s stake is personal. Two years ago, he entered free agency seeking a multiyear deal. He ended up taking an incentive-loaded $3.4 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This season, the 32-year-old hoped for multiple years again. He signed with Minnesota for $5 million over one year.


Also, Hudson isn’t very good. He’s not bad, mind, but he’s not that much better than average, and he’s always goddamn hurt. That’s the real reason he can’t get a long deal, by the way: hurt. In fact, here we are, one week into the season, and he’s already been injured.

Hudson’s words spoke enough that Dye and his agent, Bob Bry, declined to comment Monday night.

Can anybody make sense of this bit? I can’t. Is Jeff trying to say that Dye and Bry — which would be an awesome name for a Kid ‘N Play cover band — just couldn’t think of anything to say because Hudson said it all already? Alternative hypothesis: they thought it was stupid and juvenile and didn’t want to get involved.

Hudson going public was unique, too, as other players worry it will have a negative effect on the issue.

Totally unique. Except for Gary Sheffield. And Kenny Lofton. Both of whom we’ve already talked about.

While some will accuse Hudson of race baiting and paranoia, the reality is quite the opposite:


He is taking public a concern that promotes discussion and forces MLB to be honest with itself about the precipitous drop in African-American players over the last two decades.

So… he’s race baiting, then? My bad. Also, hey Jeff, MLB isn’t making any secret of the fact that there aren’t a lot of black players these days. MLB, in fact, runs a bunch of programs — like the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, for example — specifically designed to increase its appeal to black athletes.

Alternative hypothesis: maybe black athletes choose other sports because sportswriters looking for a lazy target won’t shut up about how MLB hates black people.

While the tremendous influx of black talent in the major leagues in recent years – from Ryan Howard and Carl Crawford to Justin Upton and Jason Heyward – is a positive sign, it doesn’t eliminate the feeling that others have been and continue to be mistreated.

So. What you’re saying is: even though ample evidence exists that demonstrates pretty conclusively that quantity of blackness is way less of an issue than, like, ability to play baseball, this is totally overwhelmed by the fact that a small handful of aging crybabies want to pretend that their skin colour and not their declining baseball skill is the reason they can’t make huge money anymore.

Gary Sheffield made $10,756,171 in 2006. He appeared in 39 games and was average. The only explanation for this: RACISM!

So as players receive their special jerseys this week with the No. 42 on the back and the sport celebrates Robinson breaking the color line, baseball will examine itself again and wonder how it can change a perception that is now six decades old and seems to be going nowhere.

Best answer: track down all the sportswriters who keep writing this article and punch them.

Extra credit: Punch Keith Olbermann twice.

April 13th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

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