Long Island Ducks Becoming Viable Option For Ex-MLBers Eyeing One More Shot At Majors
The independent Atlantic League Long Island Ducks have "become a viable option for talented players looking for one last shot" at the majors, according to Albert Chen of SI. Long Island has "become the unlikely island of baseball misfits" -- there are former All-Stars like P Dontrelle Willis, former first-round picks like C Ramon Castro and "former mega-hyped prospects" like P Ian Snell, 1B Ben Broussard and 2B Josh Barfield. There currently are eight "former major leaguers on the 25-man roster," and the team last month "signed Cooperstown-bound Vladimir Guerrero to man rightfield." The Ducks "have a history of taking in strays," as former MLBers Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Baerga, Edgardo Alfonzo, Carl Everett and John Rocker all "have passed through." Baseball's youth movement "continues at full throttle," but teams such as the Ducks "represent the other side of the story: Veterans are being forced into early retirement." Players on the team "make between $1,000 and $3,000 a month," and there "are no charter flights, just long bus rides." Castro said, "People always told me that this was the best way back to the major leagues, and that's why I'm here." But Chen notes the "odds are stacked against him: Over the last 14 years just 14 Ducks have taken wing from Central Islip back to the majors" (SI, 5/20 issue).