Ken Rosenthal: Sox, Boston Not Minority-Friendly

In his latest column on FOXSPORTS.COM, Ken Rosenthal has decided to bring up the idea that the Red Sox roster is just full of a bunch of whiteys, except, of course, for David Ortiz, Coco Crisp, Alex Cora, Javier Lopez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, and Mike Lowell. I mean, other than that, it’s like Utah in that clubhouse.

Red Sox white players

Rosenthal claims that Boston’s past issues with minority athletes somehow prevents non-white free agents from wanting to sign with the Red Sox. It’s a provocative claim, one that Rosenthal says is worth discussing — but then he fails to make a compelling argument about why it’s worth discussing, since he concludes that the Sox are doing nothing wrong.

There’s no question that the Red Sox were historically a somewhat hostile organization to minority players. Rosenthal points out that the Sox didn’t have any black players until 1959, and didn’t sign an African-American free agent until 1993.  But what does any of that have to do with now? Especially in a city that loves Randy Moss and Kevin Garnett.

Still, Rosenthal keeps hammering the point that this team is too white, and has decided to ignore any context of what kind of baseball players these guys are:

Since then, they’ve signed first baseman Sean Casey as a free agent and traded for outfielder Jason Bay, pitcher Paul Byrd and outfielder Mark Kotsay — all white players. Bartolo Colon, a Dominican who joined the club as a minor-league free agent, did not last.

Also this season, the Sox have added two more white prospects — shortstop Jed Lowrie, who got his chance when Lugo went down with a strained left quad, and reliever Justin Masterson — to a group that already included first baseman Kevin Youkilis, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, closer Jonathan Papelbon and left-hander Jon Lester.

Yeah, Ken, the Sox the dumped Colon because he was Dominican. Not because he went home to the D.R. and decided that he’d rather stay there than come back and pitch for the team. All of the white guys he mentions are either really good players, or mediocre players (in the cases of Kotsay, Casey, and Byrd) who were cheap to bring on board.

Still, he continues touching on the notion that the Manny Ramirez debacle may have had something to do with race, even though it’s commonly accepted that Ramirez quit on his teammates and behaved erratically:

Yet, fairly or not, Ramirez’s messy divorce with the Red Sox could raise suspicions that the team prefers a certain type of player — unassuming, conformist, white. The current makeup of the team’s roster might create similar notions, even as the Red Sox say that nothing could be further from the truth.

The Red Sox roster is currently 64% “white” — that is, non-Hispanic caucasian. In all of Major League Baseball, that number is around 60%. While Crisp is the only black player on the roster,  just 8% of all MLB players are black as of this season, which means that the average team only has two black players at any given time on its 25-man roster.

Rosenthal points out that the Phillies have two black stars in Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. However, by the logic he’s pushing in this article, he should be exploring the idea that Howard was held back in the minors for several years because big white man Jim Thome was taking up space at his position.

If Rosenthal was just looking to get a reaction, I guess his mission is accomplished. It just seems that race-baiting is a lazy way to drum up some controversy when none really exists. However, a question in BOSTON GLOBE reporter Amalie Benjamin’s mailbag makes it seem entirely possible that Rosenthal’s not completely off his rocker:

What’s going on with our Dominican players whose love for the game we’ve enjoyed so much? Manny quits on us and now Colon. What gives? And, Papi doesn’t look like a happy guy at the plate anymore.