Just moments before Rob Segedin blasted a two-run double off David Price in his historic big league debut, I received a text message saying, “Rob Segdoin, who the f— is that?”. As the Dodgers enter week two of the Rob Segedin era, anybody asking, “who is Rob Segedin?”, has obviously not been paying much attention to the team. In the week since his grand debut, Segedin has collected two more RBI to go along with his .300 batting average. A pretty good career start. In truth, we do not know a ton about the rookie power hitter; however, it is clear that he can smash left-handed pitching, and he seems poised to make a big impact with the club.
In AAA this year, Segedin slugged 21 home runs in 103 games while slashing .319/.392/.598. We also know that Segedin, like Andrew Friedman, is a Tulane University graduate who studies business in his free time. This means that he was probably not out drinking in Des Moines, Iowa after minor league games. Even more interestingly, as the baseball world scrambled to uncover as much information as possible about Segedin this past week, we also learned that he contemplated quitting baseball.
Segedin started in AAA with the Yankees organization last year, putting up steady numbers. However, after 46 games, Rob was suddenly demoted to AA because of what the Yankees called “pure politics”. While Segedin was playing in AAA, there was a prospect named Greg Bird hitting .258 in AA who took Segedin’s place. Bird eventually made it to the majors, but major shoulder surgery has kept him out of action in 2016. Segedin hit .303 after his demotion to AA, and finished out the season back up in AAA.
But for Segedin, his demotion to AA was almost the last straw on his baseball career. “I was ready to quit,” he told NBC about the demotion. Segedin later asked the Yankees for his release, but New York denied it. This left Rob with two options: play in AA or quit baseball. With encouragement from his family, Segedin persevered with the Yankees the rest of the season.
Then the Dodgers came to his rescue.
According to NBC, Andrew Friedman, a fellow Tulane University graduate was always high on Segedin. The Dodgers moved Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Olson to get Segedin who experienced a breakthrough season this year in Oklahoma City.
Segedin’s ascendance to the Major Leagues is well deserved. He was by far the best hitter for Oklahoma City, and the Dodgers, unlike the Yankees do not play “pure politics.” Segedin’s rise to the majors also validates this Dodger front office’s commitment to a system of meritocracy, where only the best performers get to play.
Under this system of merit, Julio Urias not only made his Major League debut, but continues to pitch for the big league club. Likewise, the unheralded Ross Stripling earned his spot in the rotation with a strong spring, and he continues to contribute. Who would have thought that Joe Blanton will be the team’s set up man? When Alex Guerrero refused to go to the minors, the Dodgers simply cut him and ate his contract. More recently, we all know what happened to Yasiel Puig. These shrewd decisions made by the Dodger front office and Manager Dave Roberts are important reasons the team, despite an unprecedented number of injuries and never-ending drama, are legitimate contenders.
On the one hand, the Dodgers system of meritocracy makes perfect sense. The best performing players should get the most playing time. On the other hand, not every sports franchise works in this way. Case and point: the New York Yankees. The favoritism and “pure politics” that the Yankees play is the reason Mark Texeira, batting under .200, hits third on most nights. Yes, the Yankees are paying Texeira $23 million. But the Dodgers are paying Carl Crawford $21 million and owe him an addition $21 million. Look at where he’s at. In the bigger picture, the Yankees’ system of favoritism is the reason that their roster has too many bloated, overpaid, and mediocre but big names.
Favoritism and pure politics is an archaic form of sports management plaguing teams with inept leadership. There is no doubting that George Steinbrenner was one of the best sports owners ever. Hal Steinbrenner is no George. Truthfully, the Dodgers were on the same boat not long ago with Frank and Jamie McCourt. Look at the Lakers after the death of Jerry Buss. Thankfully for the Dodgers, Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, and the rest of the Dodger ownership group knew to hand the keys to Andrew Freidmanand Farhan Zaidi. They, in turn, found diamonds in the rough like Joe Blanton, Ross Stripling, and Rob Segedin to make sure the Dodgers are perennial contenders no matter the circumstance. Thank God, because teams like the Yankees are potentially doomed in this Rob Segedin era of smart baseball.