Monday, September 21, 2009
The Dandy Dozen: Tony Baez
Tony Baez was signed to the largest international free agent contract of season 1. His $13 million bonus remained the 2nd city record until Alex Shibata signed for $14.9 million in season 3. Baez spent just 78 games in minors, debuting that same season with the Salem Grand Salamies. He spent his first 12 seasons with Salem before a trade to Kansas City prior to this season.
Baez appeared in the playoffs an amazing 11 consecutive years, missing for the first time in Season 12. In that time, he is 2nd all time in stolen bases (700) and runs scored (1639) and fourth all time in SB% (732/787) and 5th in hit by pitches (115). Baez's best year was season 6 when he hit .368 with 39 HR's, 145 RBI (all career highs) to go with 43 SB in 45 attempts and 146 runs scored. Baez has made the All-Star team 8 times (only Dick Caruso and Car Brooks have made more), and won 7 silver sluggers (3 in LF, 4 at 2B).
Baez has appeared in 93 post-season games, amassing a .319 career batting average with 15 HRs and 48 SBs in 272 at bats. Baez has made 4 trips to the World Series, winning once (season 3). In those 4 post-seasons, Baez has been at his best, collecting 70 hits in 206 at bats (.340) while clubbing 12 HR's, scoring 65 runs, and stealing 27 of 28 bases. In season 8, he stole 15 bases in the post season without being caught and in season 3 he hit .344 with 5 HR's in 61 AB in leading the Salamies to the title.
The Rest of The Story:
Baez's aunt, Joan Baez is a well-known folk singer. She's been linked to Bob Dylan, and has long supported human rights, the environment, and other causes through non-violent protest.
Tony, however, followed his father's political beliefs and is known around the league as a staunch conservative. Baez is no longer allowed in Venezuela after a publicized spat with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Chavez recently visited Libya to celebrate Moammar Khadafy's 40th year in power. Baez pledged never to play for the Venezuelan national team again, and drives a Chevy Volt, just to ensure that none of his wealth makes into Chavez bank account.
But the real heart of the argument stems back to Chavez' shots at Baez' beloved 2nd sport of golf. When Chavez threatened the Caracas Country Club, Baez took a stand, publicly defying the president for the first time. Their war of words has left bad blood on both sides, leading directly to the revocation of Baez citizenship. The U.S. is said to be considering making Baez a citizen in retaliation.