29 March 2011

Orioles sitting at home while other teams go abroad.

The latest in the continuing coverage of the Orioles international efforts on talent acquisition.  Follow us @CamdenDepot on twitter.

I was reading the latest issue of ESPN magazine on the train home yesterday.  Usually, I consider the writing to be largely fodder that occupies me as I wait to traverse sixteen stations to get to work or to come back home.  However, one article by Jorge Arangure Jr. piqued my interest: Beisebol from the Ground Up.  Beisebol is Portuguese, I assume, for baseball.  Brazil has been a hotbed of athletic recruitment for basketball and soccer, but has been largely ignored for baseball.  What is more interesting is that there is a strong but small undercurrent of interest in the game as a result of a 1908 trade agreement between Brazil and Japan.  The Japanese immigrants took baseball along with them and have been playing in Brazil ever since.  Although there is interest, no Brazilians are in the majors and only six have made it into the minors.  This definitely sounds like an area that might be exploited by a Major League Baseball team.  That team would be the Tampa Bay Rays.

In 2006, the Rays hired long time scout Andres Reiner after he left the Astros.  Us Oriole fans might remember him as the guys who found Melvin Mora.  He also attributed for Johan Santana, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Guillen, and Freddy Garcia.  He is well established and he was able to sell the Rays to take a chance on expanding their horizons.  Now, this is something we generally attribute to rich teams that have extra cash to spend on long term bets.  The Yankees are involved in China, the Braves in Panama, and the Cubs in Korea.  How did the Rays manage to do this.

Arangure Jr. writes:
Even harder to believe is that the Rays have so far spent zero dollars on the construction of the academy [in Brazil near San Paulo].  The 2.5MM project has been subsidized by both federal and local funds.  Tampa Bay's only financial commitment is for the upkeep of the academy, which could be anywhere from 500k to 1MM per year, for the next five years.  Tampa Bay won't even have to spend a dime on players' medical care since all Brazilians are covered through the country's universal health care system.
This is exactly what the Orioles should be thinking about and doing.  The Rays found a venue for talent that they could get a head start on and their seeding money investment is next to nothing.  They are really only responsible for their head scout arranging everything and his travel.  In return, Brazilians become familiar with the team and relationships build.  This is one of the most important aspects of signing prime talent on the middle and lower end of the signing bonus spectrum.  Having good contacts in a country is important, otherwise you are simply fighting over the high priced prospects.  The Orioles have shown before with Miguel Jean Sano that they do not have a strong interest in fighting for those players, so this would be a strong alternative.  It is a vision that I wish the Orioles had.

No comments: