Friday, June 5, 2009

Angels dismiss international supervisor of scouting

From Melissa Segura at SI:

While it's unclear whether the investigation was a reason for his dismissal, Daniel has close ties to others under MLB and FBI investigation for pocketing money earmarked for the signing bonuses of Latin American players. Daniel was a scout for the Cincinnati Reds from 1992 to 1994, when former Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden served as the Reds GM. During the 1994 seasonJorge Oquendo was also a scout in Latin America for the Reds. Oquendo later scouted the region for the ChicagoWhite Sox, under the team's senior director of player personnel, David Wilder. The White Sox fired Wilder in May 2008 after allegations surfaced that he had siphoned money from signing bonuses. As previously reported, Bowden, Oquendo and Wilder are all focuses of the ongoing investigations.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Torrealba's son kidnapped, released

The 11-year-old son and brother-in-law of Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba have been released within hours of their kidnapping in Venezuela.

You can read the rest of the AP story at SI, is here.

BPro on Sano and Mateo

Kiley McDaniel has a long Unfiltered post up at Baseball Prospectus (no subscription necessary) on Miguel Sano and Wagner Mateo, two Dominican prospects who should command seven figure bonuses when they become eligible to sign next month.

To be frank, I'm haven't really decided what to do with July 2 rumors, but generally I think I'm going to leave them alone. McDaniel's post is worth reading, though, for its sketch of the games clubs and players play in these negotiations (though generally speaking, I think we indulge ourselves a bit when we imagine clubs leaking rumors to gauge the reaction of the fans).

A taste:

The Pirates think, like many talent evaluators, that Sano is the best player in years; this is why it’s no secret that nearly every Latin insider thinks Pittsburgh will end up with Sano. That doesn’t do much to make the $2-3 million range argued for in the article an expected top bid from Pittsburgh. They don’t want to break the bonus record by bidding against themselves, but the incessant chatter that they may go well over $4.25 million along with Kovacevic confirming they’re still “intensely interested” makes this quickly look like a transparent attempt by management to see if they can to avoid breaking the bonus record. Not illegal or even a bad idea, but transparent. Sources indicate the Pirates bid ceiling is $4 million, though it’s not even known if that’s a hard ceiling or another ploy. Other interested clubs suddenly come into play with this stance from the Pirates, so GM Neal Huntington has his work cut out for him.

Jesse Sanchez reports renewal of MLB TV deals overseas

Jesse Sanchez, one of the best, reporting at

America's national pastime has gone global and the world will keep watching.

On Monday, Major League Baseball International renewed broadcast agreements with Japan, Venezuela and Canada and added a new contract for Australia.

When I was in the DR last summer, there was an MLB game on free, network television more or less every night of the week. Mostly it was the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and the Reds (who were running out Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez two nights out of five); for what it's worth, seemed to me that the announcers were less inane/more honest, which perception I attributed to their distance from and lack of dependancy on the teams and players, but could have just been my imcomplete grasp of the Spanish...

DSL underway

The Dominican Summer League has started. I was in the DR all of last June, saw quite a few DSL games. I'll write something about what it's like soonish, for now a link to the league site...

ESPN's Bill Simmons and Daily Kos blogger at odds on Dominican baseball, steroids

A Daily Kos blogger takes issue with ESPN's Bill Simmons for linking steroid use to Dominican nationality. A non-starter for me; sort of an inane piece from Simmons, who I think is much better on basketball and football than he is on baseball, and an overreaction on the part of the blogger.

(In an article about the decline of David Ortiz, Simmons implies Dominicans are more likely to use steroids; the blogger is outraged. But Simmons, as the Kos commenters note, is not leading a steroids but rather an age-gate chase.

Yawn. Well, the party line here at IBB is that when it comes to the international talent market, the more media attention the better; if some of it is just talking-heads talking, the exposure may attract more real reporting, and is worth it just for that.)

Anyway, how could I resist the chance to stick ESPN, Bill Simmons and Daily Kos in the title of a post? If I've tricked you into landing here, hope you stop and take a look around...

Interview with the creators of *Sugar*

An interview with Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, creators of Sugar, here. Fleck calls the movie "an immigrant story that uses sports as a vessel to explore feelings of loneliness and isolation and the search for community." Fair enough. I liked the movie, which tells the story of a Dominican prospect's journey from a baseball academy in San Pedro to the midwestern funhouse of the American minor leagues; thought it walked the line of verisimilitude without stumbling (too often) into cliche*, and believed in the story enough to enjoy the flight of fancy at the end.

*There's some cliche, from the Dominican kids who keep ordering french toast for breakfast because they don't know how to say "eggs" to a pretty standard take on advancement/demotion stories, but the film struts through its material confidently, and I, for one, was rarely aware that I'd heard much of it before.

Two reasons baseball fans should go see it:

The scenes in the DR, off academy grounds, really put you in the country. A healthy percentage of major league baseball players are Dominican, those of us who consume (and criticize) their product ought to have a sense of where they come from. (There's scene on the malecón, where a waashed-up ballplayer banters with a still-hopeful, that I thought was worth the price of admission.)

The film captures the fear that I imagine common to developing/professional athletes. In the case of the titular character, Sugar, the fear is compounded by his dislocation. Forgetting that, Sugar's success and failure on the mound seem like equal mysteries to him, I don't think he can feel the difference between the mechanics of a good outing or bad. When the stakes are high and the results are public, that must be terrifying, and I thought the film conveyed that.