The big news in baseball today is that the Oakland A's have signed the Cuban Defector Yeonis Cespedes to a 4 year, $36 million dollar deal. I really wish the Cardinals played the A's this year so that I could hear Mike Shannon take a crack at that name.
I don't have a lot to say about the contract. I'm kinda of the mindset that players have a right to go out and get whatever they can get on the market. Or maybe I'm just deadened by a lot of other big contracts this off-season. And hey, I've got some affection for the A's, and Cespedes is a good story, so this'll be fun.
On the other hand, I can't get over little things like this:
"The first assumption is that Cespedes is actually 26 as he and his agents claim."
"Maybe it’s more possible that everyone calmed down a bit and realized that a 26 year-old — hopefully — Cuban player is not necessarily a sure thing no matter how flashy his workout videos and short-season statistics were."
MUST we do this every time a Latino player inks a big, surprising, deal? I got pretty sick of it late last fall with Pujols, and don't think I've forgotten that similar rumors have plagued Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.
I get the concern. Cespedes is already 26, and may need a year of seasoning at Triple A. If he's actually 27 or 28, then yeah, this is going to be like that episode of "Cheers" with Sam in the minors, or "The Rookie". And if he's actually going to be 32 at the end of this contract, maybe he won't be as sharp as he would've been at just 30.
But at the same time, there's no magic age where players turn into pumpkins, and there's plenty of guys who's primes last into their early 30s (Pujols, again, springs to mind- at 32, he had a season worth Cespedes' $9 million a year. And if he was actually older, well, my point is stronger). This may be much ado about nothing.
More importantly, though, it's just frustrating that so many Latino players are getting hit on the same issue, with the same absence of evidence in each case. I know that there's real money on the line, and I know that there's a real possibility some of these guys are fudging their ages (Hell, I'm sure someone's done it before). But from now on, before we start talking about that, I'd like some evidence a little stronger than, "Well, he comes from a place where they don't keep records all that good!"