Mitchell: An Appropriate Choice for a New Name?
So despite the overall lack of snow, late January is upon us. As a person who is not a fan of basketball, this is one of the worst times of the sporting year. The NHL is sloughing through the largely irrelevant regular season, you can only hear so much about the remaining teams in the NFL play-offs and the games are few. The 2 weeks between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl are interminable. After the Super Bowl, you have several weeks before spring training ramps up and it’s just a wasteland. Were it not for wrestling (the real version) I would be forced to pay more attention to the morass that is the republican primary debates.
This time of year we need events that give us water-cooler (and message board, are there still message boards?) fodder-enter Roberto Hernandez Heredia.
The pitcher heretofore known as Fausto Carmona was arrested yesterday in the Dominican Republic while applying for a visa under an alleged false identity. Carmona is accused of really being Roberto Hernandez Heredia and may be as old as 31, rather than his purported 28, years of age. The Indians picked up Carmona’s $7 million option for the 2012 season with the assumption of his name, performance and age being real. Without the legal expertise, I would assume it would be within their purview to void the contract and cut ties with him. I don’t know if that’s the way to go or not and it may be irrelevant if Carmona is proved to be Hernandez and is prevented from reentering the United States for a protracted amount of time. If he is barred from returning to the States, the Indians would likely place him on the restricted list and not have to pay him for that period of time.
A scan of the comments section of the Plain Dealer website (why do I subject myself to the comment section of the Plain Dealer website?) reveals the vocal portion of the Indians fan base is insulted and outraged by Carmona/Hernandez actions and are calling for his removal from the Indians future plans. My 1st thought was, would these same fans write these same things if “Fausto Carmona” were just coming off of back-to-back 18-win seasons? My second thought was that who in the world could blame Hernandez for what he did? He certainly compromised moral integrity for a massive worldly benifit, but I don’t think he sold his soul to the devil.
Young ball players from largely impoverished nations who have the ability to alter their lives and the lives of their families in monumental ways may take the chance of getting caught in a lie for the potential reward. I’m not going to look down on them for it. How many of you used a fake ID or tried to lie your way into a bar or alcohol purchase before the age of 21? And that just for a Natty Light buzz! Many of these people live in shacks and face a life of poverty and baseball money is a chance for an immeasurably better life. Lying about your age in a business where age matters is wrong, but it is also as old a tradition (and in a vacuum, as underhanded) in the game of baseball as stealing signs. Maybe this ends justifying the means a slippery slope, but life is full of gray area and this is smack in the middle of it.
Some have equated this rationalization of the year-shaving phenomenon with PED use. Are both cheating? Yes, are they the SAME cheating? No. PED’s change how you are able to play the game; you cheat the game and your competitors. Telling a team scout that you are 16 instead of 18 doesn’t change your abilities, just the perceived value of those abilities in relation to your assumed peer group. Those guys are cheating teams out of signing bonus dollars and if they ultimately succeed, perhaps later contract dollars.
Is a 31-year-old Hernandez not worth $7 million in 2012 based upon his career arc? Baseball Reference lists Jason Schmidt as being a similar player and in his age 31 season (2004) Schmidt made $7.9 million on a contract he was in the middle of. Schmidt pitched far better at 31 than at 28. Randy Wolf made $7.5 at 30 years old in ’07. If Carmona had just signed a long-term deal for big money, the Indians may have thought about trying to void it, but given the current deal, I’d guess it would be unlikely they will try to take any action.
It’s too early to tell what this will do to the Indians 2012 roster, but it would appear likely that Carmona’s rotation spot is up for grabs which means opportunity for guys slated to be Clippers starters: Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Zach McAllister, Scott Barnes and Corey Kluber. If nothing else, there’s a story line for Spring Training that didn’t exist on Wednesday.
More discussion later on how the Minor League signings that took place after the 2012 Clippers previews may affect the Columbus roster in April.
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