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Monday, July 23, 2012

Passan: Pelotero, the story of corruption, baseball, and children in the Dominican Republic

A new documentary, “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” does its best to elucidate the dichotomy of the D.R. It follows Sano and another teenage prospect, Jean Carlos Batista, as they approach the Dominican Christmas, July 2. The movie provides an incisive look at the machine that churns out talent and the consequences it wreaks on the players, their families and baseball writ large.

RTFA.

The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 01:34 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mlb

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   1. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:42 AM (#4189667)
Seriously? No one is interested in this topic?
   2. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4189675)
Looks interesting, I'll give it a read when I've got time after work.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4189681)
Seems like a really interesting topic and a great subject for a documentary. Can't wait to see it.
   4. Guapo Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4189682)
Family members saw it this weekend and said it was excellent. (And one of them is not a baseball fan.)
   5. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: July 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4189690)
Only review I saw was middling - but I'm totally gonna watch it at some point.
   6. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4189731)
One of the more difficult aspects of morality in the modern world is this subject of exploitation of labor. Sometimes the only thing worse than the kind of exploitation that goes on in a situation like this is for that exploitation to stop. The DR desperately needs the money that being an MLB player farm generates, and that causes the problems. But shutting the farm down doesn't solve anything.

I am a strong opponent of the amateur draft for American players, so obviously I can't support it for Dominican players either. But that doesn't mean that a blind eye should be turned to this sort of thing.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4189755)
The article is somewhat high on insinuation but slim on facts when it comes to Sano/Gayo. I hope the film has more to say on that subject or else chooses to focus less on Sano/Gayo and more on the broader issues of the system. (Is the claim that Gayo instigated the investigation to drive down Sano's value so that he could subsequently sign him for less money?)

Also, is it really true that the talent from Puerto Rico has dried up since the draft was instituted in 1990? I've seen this as a throwaway line in a few articles on this subject but never seen any analysis behind it.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: July 23, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4189790)
One of the more difficult aspects of morality in the modern world is this subject of exploitation of labor. Sometimes the only thing worse than the kind of exploitation that goes on in a situation like this is for that exploitation to stop.

Yep. It's a true dilemma.
   9. rlc Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4189797)
Also, is it really true that the talent from Puerto Rico has dried up since the draft was instituted in 1990? I've seen this as a throwaway line in a few articles on this subject but never seen any analysis behind it.


Dunno. Here's some throwaway analysis. Career WAR for all players drafted out of Puerto Rico high schools (built by hand, could be omissions):

WAR      Player
61.1 Carlos Beltrán
40.2 Javier Vázquez
39.0 Jorge Posada
14.9 José Vidro
11.3 Joel Piñeiro
 7.1 J
.CRomero 


This doesn't capture the kids who were born on the island but then went to school on the mainland and got drafted - Mike Lowell, Felipe López, Alex Cora


Compare to career WAR for undrafted free agents signed out of Puerto Rico high schools just between 1982-1989:

WAR      Player
63.7 Iván Rodríguez
62.9 Roberto Alomar
45.9 Bernie Williams
40.4 Carlos Delgado
35.1 Juan González
27.2 Javy López
24.5 Benito Santiago
17.2 Carlos Baerga
13.0 Rubén Sierra
11.6 Sandy Alomar
Jr.
11.5 José Hernández
11.3 Omar Olivares 


I'd call that a bit of a decline. Whether the draft is the cause or not, I don't know.

   10. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4189801)
Naively, I think it's some of it - it made other athletic opportunities (like basketball) relatively more attractive.
   11. PreservedFish Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4189807)
So the Benito Santiagos and Carlos Baergas are now in the NBA?
   12. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4189809)
Also, is it really true that the talent from Puerto Rico has dried up since the draft was instituted in 1990? I've seen this as a throwaway line in a few articles on this subject but never seen any analysis behind it.

It's mostly nonsense. There's been a drop-off in ML players from P.R., but that's mostly because P.R. has become highly Americanized and P.R. kids have all sorts of other sports options, hobbies, etc.

There's basically no evidence that long-term concepts like a draft or future earnings have any impact on a young kid's choice of sport(s). Otherwise, millions of American kids wouldn't be playing soccer and lacrosse, and millions of 5-foot-10 inner-city kids wouldn't be playing basketball.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4189814)

So the Benito Santiagos and Carlos Baergas are now in the NBA?


Well at least big time college basketball.
   14. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4189825)

Dunno. Here's some throwaway analysis. Career WAR for all players drafted out of Puerto Rico high schools (built by hand, could be omissions):

You're missing the multitudes of Molinas (Yadier 15.9, Bengie 8.8), Angel Pagan (12.6), Geovany Soto (8.7), and a few middle relievers (JC Romero being the best) but that doesn't necessarily detract from your point. Certainly at the high end of the talent distribution, there haven't been as many. I'm also curious about the quantity of players and median talent rather than the guys at the top end who may be outliers.
   15. rlc Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4189826)
Edit function is still broken, apparently.

(At least) one glaring omission from the great Puerto Rican ballplayers signed in the '80s list:

WAR      Player
64.4 Edgar Martínez 


Gar was born on the wrong island (NYC), so he didn't show up in B-R's list of players born in Puerto Rico
   16. AROM Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4189827)
Using Play Index I looked at how many players were born in PR (which includes guys like Lowell/Lopez/Cora).

Players born from 1962-1971 would mostly not be subject to the draft, there were 60 major leaguers.

In the first decade where players would be subject to the draft, 1972-81, there were also 60 major leaguers. This number might increase, if a player from PR debuts as a 31+ year old rookie in the next few years.

There might be a measurable effect on the minors. Even for the majors, this would show a bit of a decline percentage wise, as those born from 1962-71 were trying to break into a league with 26 teams, while those born after 72 came to a major league with 30 teams. But the numbers do not support the claim that baseball in PR was decimated.
   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4189860)
I don't know if its enough to explain the decline in Puerto Rican-born ballplayers, but the population of the island is actually declining, due to migration to the mainland United States.
   18. Bug Selig Posted: July 23, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4189873)
I am a strong opponent of the amateur draft for American players, so obviously I can't support it for Dominican players either.


Voros, I assume that you've laid out the reasoning for this somewhere, and I am interested in checking it out. Can you throw out a link?
   19. Joe Kehoskie Posted: July 23, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4189907)
One other thing people usually fail to mention in the P.R./draft debate is that Puerto Ricans enjoyed a major advantage over other Latin players until the 1990s — the limitations on work visas imposed on foreign players. Once teams could start signing players from D.R. and VZ and other foreign countries en masse, it was only logical that signings would drop off elsewhere. Unluckily for P.R. baseball, the limitations on visas were lifted at the same time P.R. was undergoing a dramatic Americanization that offered P.R. kids all sorts of other options: basketball, video games, etc.
   20. AROM Posted: July 23, 2012 at 04:22 PM (#4189992)
I don't know if its enough to explain the decline in Puerto Rican-born ballplayers, but the population of the island is actually declining, due to migration to the mainland United States.


There could a removal of an incentive to stay for some rare cases. Let's say your son is a top baseball prospect. You have a chance to move to the mainland, your cousin has a small business and offers you a chance to make more than you are now. But if you leave PR, your son will be in the draft. Stay in PR, and you can get a better contract for him as a free agent. Now he'll get drafted either way, so you might as well take the job.

I wonder if the lack of draft kept the Alomar kids in PR high schools. With Sandy Sr. playing and then coaching, I'm sure they could have moved to the U.S. and gone to San Diego high schools if they wanted to.
   21. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: July 24, 2012 at 03:20 AM (#4190588)
Voros, I assume that you've laid out the reasoning for this somewhere, and I am interested in checking it out. Can you throw out a link?

I'm not sure I've ever written an article on it, but my main argument is that it would greatly increase the amount of money MLB spends on the sport at lower levels domestically, creating a whole host of benefits, the biggest one IMO would be a long term growth in the popularity of the sport.
   22. Brian White Posted: July 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4192393)
I just got back from seeing this, and it's a really enjoyable movie. Nicely paced, and it tells the story well. It takes on a rather dramatic feel towards the end as the July 2 signing day approaches, and the hidden camera sting of Rene Gayo was a nice touch. My wife, a casual baseball fan, enjoyed it as well, and you certainly do not need to be a baseball fan to like the movie. I can't add much of anything that already isn't in TFA, but I suspect most people here would like it.
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 25, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4192395)

Brian, is anything actually revealed by the hidden camera sting? Based on this article, I can't quite tell the point of it.
   24. madvillain Posted: July 25, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4192398)
On the topic of PR ball players, I spent a little over a month there last spring, and anecdotaly, it seems like basketball has, if not overtaken baseball, certainly closed the popularity gap. Baseball is still king, especially in the newspapers, but I saw as much pickup basketball on the island as sandlot games.
   25. Brian White Posted: July 25, 2012 at 11:05 PM (#4192416)
Brian, is anything actually revealed by the hidden camera sting? Based on this article, I can't quite tell the point of it.


Gayo doesn't actually say anything incriminating (he's a got a bit of politician in him, it seems), but he claims he personally stopped the MLB investigation into Sano's age, clearing the way for him to come to the U.S., and then kind of implies that Sano should sign with Pirates as repayment. It isn't proof of anything, but it's a pretty shady action.
   26. steagles Posted: November 02, 2012 at 11:47 PM (#4291433)
for anyone interested, pelotero appears to be available for instant streaming on hulu.
   27. Tuque Posted: November 03, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4291441)
I didn't know Bernie Williams is Puerto Rican. I'm surprised I didn't know that.

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