We are five games into the Arizona Fall League. My recent strong reaction to Tim Tebow’s selection as a participant for this prospect development league has subsided enough to allow me to comment somewhat rationally. Or maybe not.
Here’s the chronological timeline from MLB Trade Rumors, Twitter, and other news outlets.
August 9th: The Tim Tebow franchise announced that their “property” was “actively pursuing” a career as a baseball player and would hold a workout for major league scouts in September. Tebow’s handlers also announced that Tebow had been training “as a baseball player” for nearly a year. Tebow had reportedly been working with “former MLB catcher”, Chad Moeller who managed to get over 1500 plate appearances in his 501-game, 11-year career. The most honest, accurate phrase of the announcement started and ended with “This may sound like a publicity stunt”. STOP! You had me at publicity stunt. Okay. No problem here. I didn’t see how the Tebow circus could possibly affect the Phillies.
August 23rd: I guess they weren’t kidding. Two weeks after their announcement that Tebow would hold a workout “next month”, Tebow’s people announced that the workout would take place on August 30th in Los Angeles. The former college and NFL quarterback was once a two-sport athlete, but hasn’t played baseball since his junior year in high school. The now 29-year old football announcer hopes to convince baseball scouts that an athlete who couldn’t maintain a position in his chosen sport is worthy of a baseball contract. Okay. Still problem as far as I can see. This spectacle shouldn’t affect the Phillies.
August 27th: As the Tebow workout approaches, more and more organizations indicated that they are going to attend. The Phillies are among the 28 of 30 teams that are sending scouts. Okay. Still nothing to be concerned about. At 29, Tebow is too old for the Phillies to seriously consider signing. Right?
August 30th: Before the workout, Tebow has received an offer from a winter league team in Venezuela to play this season. The team’s GM is the son of former Phillies’ infielder Rueben Amaro. And, yeah, that makes him the brother of … .
August 31st: Well, all but the Cubs and Athletics attended the workout. The comments that filtered out the day after were … guarded.
- Looked like “an actor trying to portray a baseball player”.
- “flashed a slightly below-average arm” (Later graded at 40)
- “approximately average potential defender in the outfield”
- His raw power raised some eyebrows. One scout actually gave it an 80 grade.
- Another graded it more modestly at 65, though he hedged it might only play at a 55.
- The long balls he drove during BP didn’t quite continue when he faced live pitching, one reported stated “the scene actually became a bit awkward as it unfolded”
- Comments ranged from “he’s definitely intriguing” to “downright laughable” and one stated flatly that “he sucked.”
- Tebow’s reps said that 5 or 6 clubs engaged with Tebow directly after the workout
Well, the Phillies did their due diligence. Thankfully, they weren’t one of the six teams talking to Tebow’s people and we were able to put all this behind us.
September 8th: The New York Mets signed Tim Tebow to a minor league baseball contract. He was assigned to the team’s Instructional League team in Port St. Lucie Florida. At least he wouldn’t have any effect on our lads up in Clearwater.
October 4th: The Mets announce that Tim Tebow will report to the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Crap! Now this circus sideshow is going to impact Phillies’ players. As an outfielder on a team managed by the Mets’ First Base coach Tom Goodwin, Tebow will undoubtedly get innings and at bats ahead of real outfielders in camp like our Aaron Brown. His presence in the outfield will impact other position players when an outfielder who would have played the field is relegated to DH. And on an occasion when Tebow is the DH, he will be taking at bats from real baseball players.
It doesn’t matter whether Brown or any other affected position player is still a legitimate prospect. What matters is that the AFL is a prospect development league that is generally populated with upper level minor league players and a controlled few players below AA.
In fact, a look at the eligibility requirements the AFL puts on the players assigned to the league renders it is questionable whether Tebow merited one of the coveted assignments.
Eligibility rules –
- Any player on a AA or AAA Active Roster or Disabled List on August 15th is eligible.
- Two players on an organization’s Advanced Class-A (A+) affiliate’s Active Roster (or Disabled List) on August 15th can be assigned to the AFL.
- Two additional players who were on the Active Roster or DL of a minor league affiliate below AA (A+, A, SS-A, R) on August 15th can be assigned to the AFL.
- Internatiional players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and/or Australia are eligible only if the player is not on the reserve list of a Winter League club from the player’s home country. Otherwise, there is no maximum limit on the number of international players an MLB organization can assign to its AFL team.
- A player on the Restricted List, Military List, Disqualified List, Ineligible List, or Voluntary Retired List is not eligible to participate in the AFL.
- A player who was on a minor league or MLB DL at the close of the regular season is eligible to play in the AFL as long as the player has been reinstated, but there can be no special limits or restrictions placed on the player’s playing time (other than the automatic restrictions imposed on a player assigned to an AFL team’s “Taxi Squad”).
- A player cannot be assigned to the AFL on a Minor League Injury Rehabilitation Assignment by a club participating in an MLB post-season series (LDS, LCS, and World Series).
- Only players who are under control of an MLB organization are eligible to play in the AFL A free-agent (unsigned player) is not eligible to play in the AFL.
I see nothing here that permits a first-year, free agent signed on September 8th to play in the AFL. However, I’m sure that the MLB and AFL were looking forward to the ticket and merchandise sales that Tebow’s name would generate.
So, Tim Tebow signs a $100K contract and is sent to the AFL to pursue his dream of playing baseball. Shut the front door! You mean to tell me that his “dream” doesn’t include games on Friday and Saturday? Seems like this “dream” isn’t as important as the exposure that he gets broadcasting NCAA football games on Saturdays.
So. let’s see how he’s done so far. Hitless. In fact his highlight so far is praying next to a fan who had a seizure. Unless you want to count the face plant against the can of beer on the ad on the outfield wall. I checked the log that accompanies the box score for his first game:
- Tim Tebow grounds out softly, second baseman …
- Tim Tebow grounds out to first baseman …
- Tim Tebow grounds out softly to catcher …
I go through a lot of logs preparing the box score reports for Phuture Phillies. The descriptor “softly” jumps out because I don’t recall ever seeing it used.
Let’s face it. I only care because of the implied affect his presence might have on my org players. I’ve got nothing against the guy. I thought it was a good idea when Chip Kelly took a look at Tebow as a prospective back up QB for the Eagles. Because he’s a sort of like a QB. But, I don’t think a guy off the street, no matter what his credentials are in another sport, deserves a spot in the AFL. Now, he’ll probably go 3-4 with a HR and 3 RBI tonight.
Kudos to anyone who got the vague Simpsons’ reference in the title.