Angel Guzman cannot afford to move his family out of Caracas
On a team with very few impact trades, signings or other acquisitions, the legitimate media is picking up on the terrible news that reliever Angel Guzman lost his brother this winter, a victim of a shooting in Caracas, Venezuela. Caracas has been listed by one world agency as the most crime-ridden city on Earth, and although Guzman has managed to move his mother and younger sister somewhere nice and safe (the Dominican Republic?!?), he has not yet able to afford to move the rest of his brothers and sisters, so there they stay in Venezuela.
I am going to go ahead and write this, even though my gut tells me to just drop it.
This was Guzman's first arbitration-eligible year, and he received a raise for 2010 to $825,000, after at least three years of making close to the major league minimum. He made $420k last year, $400k in 2008 and $380k in 2007, a mere pittance in major league standards, but I am sure all here (maybe except Chuck) would trade places with Guzman right now. As a resident of the Cubs' 40-man roster since his big minor league season of 2003, he has presumably made more than the $800 a month most minor leaguers start with. I am sure he was signed for next to nothing, but in the past three years, Guzman has made over $1.2 million, not including any bonuses, endorsements, or other subsidies all the big leaguers enjoy.
1 million might not be enough to relocate his family to, say, Barrington or Bannockburn. But I can't imagine it would cost that much to fly them all to the DR and set them up in a house there, if it was a matter of life and death, as he is now making it out to be. As of right now, his remaining siblings still live there, even though his brother was murdered.
Pardon my cynicism, but this little story just doesn't pass the sniff test. I think perhaps his siblings remain in Caracas because they want to be there. I realize, also, that Venezuela is a very violent place where the families of athletes are targeted, but that is usually kidnappings for ransom, and other methods of extortion. Generally, even in Caracas, people aren't gunned down entirely at random. Fact is, although I know nothing about these people, or their lives, it is just as reckless and false for someone to assume this crime was random as it would be for me to assume that it was not done at random.
My point? I guess it is that major league ballplayers are just as full of crap as we are. I mean, we know about all the felons, the drug abusers, the wife beaters, the steroid cheats, and the guys like Milton Bradley who are just plain pains in the ass. Until today, all anyone knew about Angel Guzman was that he was a guy who undeniably had talent once upon a time, spent the next few years constantly injured, and has rather surprisingly become a durable member of our pen. We all figured that at some point, he would fall apart physically, because that was what his history suggests. So far, he really hasn't.
But other than that, he was rather non-descript in terms of his clubhouse presence. But even the most mundane of players are capable of having profoundly stupid opinions. I am not faulting him for saying what he said. I am faulting him for his lack of judgment. If a man who has made over a million dollars the last three years really believes he could not afford to have 'saved' his family from almost certain death in the world's most dangerous city, then how do we trust this person to know what pitch to throw to Albert Pujols with men in scoring position?
I know there are a bunch of you who are just FOAMING at the mouth right now because I have "made a leap", but you are the same bunch of lip-twiddling newbs who completely DISCOUNT the human factor in sports. Baseball players are not a bunch of robots who have their projected production programmed inside them for a given year, and then they just propel themselves out onto the field to fulfill their pre-destined numbers. You same people had the nerve to tell me that human factors don't matter in life - that you are capable of doing your job perfectly day after day while your co-workers who exist in the cubes 1 meter away from you snivel on about their miserable lives day in, day out?
We don't live in vacuums; we don't all walk through life with horse blinders and iPods stuck over our eyes and ears, and are completely oblivious to everyone else's human failings. No, the Cubs don't all have to love each other, holding hands, and singing. But if THIS team is ever going to make it over the 102 year hump they are stuck behind, everyone involved has to work hard AND smart.
And, based on today's story, Angel Guzman is either dumb, or full of crap. Or a tremendously poor handler of money. Which falls under dumb.
I know this sounds less than sympathetic to a man who lost his brother to gun crime. I do feel sorry for the crime having taken place, and I do feel sorry for him, his mother, and the rest of his family. But this story as it is just don't ring true, and it raises a red flag on a team that cannot afford one.