Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To Trade Or Not To Trade A-Rod

ESPN reported on a rumor that New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman may have had possible trade talks with the Miami Marlins concerning Yankee Third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Cashman denied having any trade talks. Now would this be a good move to make?

For the Yankees it would be a costly trade. Any trade for Rodriguez would require the Yankees to eat the majority of the contract that is owed to Rodriguez. To be honest, Rodriguez is only going to continue deteriorate as he ages. His goal of reaching the top of the homerun list is looking steeper by the season. Rodriguez hasn't had a full season in the last 4 seasons or so and after his performance in this postseason, I don't think he'll be able to redeem himself to both the fans and the organization. But since the team was planning to pay him anyway, maybe getting rid of him will be the right way to go.

On the Marlins side, bring Rodriguez over might help generate some fan revenue. The local kid comes home to play in front of his fellow Miamians. Perhaps the change of scenery to a less stressful media market might do Rodriguez some good. But does it outweigh the fact that the Marlins would be getting a 37-year old infielder who in essence can't play everyday with diminishing power. Who would they give up to get him. Obviously the Yankees would love to get at least a player like Giancarlo Stanton (heck, which team wouldn't) especially if they are eating 2/3 or more of the contract.

At this point this is purely speculation on my part. But I believe if the Yankees can make a move for A-Rod this offseason would be the time to do so while someone would be willing to trade for him. What do you think. Yea? Or Nay?

FH

Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012 Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Its award time again for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) so here are my picks for the following awards:

Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)
Buck Showalter
Bob Melvin
Davey Johnson

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)
Mike Trout
Bryce Harper
Todd Frazier

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
Fernando Rodney
Jim Johnson
Rafael Soriano

Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher)
David Price
Gio Gonzalez
R.A. Dickey
Justin Verlander
Jared Weaver

Stan Musial Award (Top Hitter)
Miguel Cabrera
Mike Trout
Buster Posey
Derek Jeter
Andrew McCutchen
Adrian Beltre
Robinson Cano
Ryan Braun
Joe Mauer
Yeonis Cespedes

There you go.
FH


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What A Crazy 2012 Baseball Season

Even though the A's and the Rangers are going back and forth to determine who wins the AL West and who plays in the AL Wild Card one game playoff. I have to say that the end of this season tops the end of last season.

On the 162nd day of the season, you have two divisions still up for grabs with the aforementioned A's and Rangers and the AL East being squarely in the Yankees hand with a win tonight over the Boston Red Sox. The Baltimore Orioles need to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in order to keep the pressure on the Yankees.

Favored teams such as Anaheim, Boston and Philadelphia underachieved resulting on disappointing seasons. The Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds took the lead and never looked back. The Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins and New York Mets just stunk up the bed.

The Chicago White Sox, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Tampa Bay Rays and the surprising just ran out of gas and time. In the end, as maligned as Bud Selig was for introducing the second Wild Card, I believe he was vindicated with the pennant races that went straight into the last weekend of the season.

This October is going to be very exciting.

FH

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Am A Baseball Snob

I have an admission folks. I am a Baseball snob. Why do I say that? Allow me to explain. Last night a customer interrupted a conversation I was having with a few regulars concerning the bad call on Mark Teixiera of the Yankees on Saturday night. The customer asked about whether I thought baseball needed more instant replay. A valid question which he would follow up with the arrogance of some Yankee fans saying that it doesn't matter how they are playing since they will make the playoffs like they always do. I really hate when fellow Yankee fans do that. There is never any guarantee that they will always make the playoffs. Look at the years of 1982-1994 for proof of that. But I digress.

When I tell him that no Yankee fan can take for granted that they will make the playoffs due to both the Orioles and Rays being 2 games or less behind the Yankees and the fact that they are 7-12 in their last 19 games he simply answers: Really? I didn't know that. I only follow Baseball in the last month. You could hear a pin drop over Peter Griffin's voice on Family Guy that was playing at the time. This is why I say I'm a Baseball snob. I just turned around and walked away. I just simply tuned him out.

See, I live by the philosophy that if I don't know what people are talking about I don't try to add my two cents. It happens all the time with my friends who are musicians. I just sit there and listen since I am not a musician and often don't know what they are talking about. I'll ask a question or two but aside from that, I don't want to come across like a moron by trying to act as if I know more than I do. That's what the customer I was talking to did. He was talking to me as if he watched the Yankees all season and didn't know a damn thing. He didn't know that A-Rod and Tex had spent considerable time hurt, that Jeter was having an awesome MVP-like season and that the Orioles and Rays were breathing down hard on the Yanks. He didn't even know that the Yankees were 1 game up in the AL East. How can you call yourself a fan after that as he tried to convince me. Really now. Its like I go to some of my hardcore football friends and say "I'm a fan but I only watch the Superbowl". Come on now.

I have the luxury working in a bar 5-nights a week and being able to watch Baseball from all over the country during all those 5-nights. For Christ's sake I even try to watch the NPB Baseball on Justin.TV when I am up super  late/early (depending on your schedule). So yes, I believe that I am a first class Baseball snob. Had the dude just asked how the Yankees were doing since he hadn't followed their progress it would have been a cool discussion but since he made himself out to be something he wasn't he got the Heisman pose from me and the other baseball regulars at the bar. LOL.

Here's to my fellow Baseball snobs out there. May we have an continued exciting September and even more riveting October.

FH

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Melky Saga Continues

This whole Melky Cabrera positive test story is getting more and more convoluted. Now reports show that a fake website was created by a consultant that works with his agents to simulate a site that Cabrera bought supplements from which caused his positive test for testosterone.

I mean, come on. Are we back in High School where we used to forge doctors notes to forgive our missing a day or two that we cut? Whomever came up with this hair brain scheme really thought that they could deceive not only MLB but also the Players' Union? The union defends their charges tooth and nail but man, what a way to turn everyone against Melky. Whether the consultant is truthful in saying that he was the only one responsible for the fake site it really doesn't matter. The damage against Melky continues to be inflicted to the point that now MLB and the Feds are really looking closely at this.

I wouldn't be surprised if the arrows point to Melky directly and we hear that he gets levied with a heftier suspension.

What a way to nose dive a career Melky.

FH

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for ESPN.com's article Melky Cabrera eyed for failed plot? updated August 20, 2012

- Click Here for the New York Daily News article Exclusive: Daily News uncovers bizarre plot by San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera to use fake website and duck drug suspension updated August 19, 2012

- Click Here for the New York Daily News article
Melky Cabrera's bizarre scam to avoid drug suspension attracts attention of federal investigators updated August 20, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bittersweet Day in the Latino Baseball Community

I know it has seemed a bit of long time since my last post but today was a day in Baseball History that was both disappointing and invigorating...all within a number of hours. First the disappointment.

It was announced earlier that Dominican outfielder Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants had been suspended for 50 games for the failing of a PED drug test. Melky seemed to find his full stride after a decent season in Kansas City and underachiving seasons in Atlanta and New York. At the time of the announcement, Melky was leading the Majors in hits (159), second in Batting average (.346), was a pivotal player in the San Francisco Giants lineup and field and not even a month ago was named Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game. Now he is just another name added to those who were caught with performance enhancing drugs in their urine.

What a way to piss away a potentially lucrative contract in a free agent year. What a way to piss away an opportunity to move into the next level of players. Regardless what his reasons were, he just pissed them away. Now for the rest of his career he will have the scrutiny that is levied on all those who have failed a PED test. Sure he'll sign another contract and may even have a long career, but he'll forever have the stigma above him of a cheater. If he has a good season, people will suspect something foul. If he struggles, then he will be seen as someone who can't succeed without the help of a foreign substance. It really is sad and disappointing. I really thought that Melky shed that "lazy" title that he seemed to have here in with the Yankees with his performance with the Giants.

I'm really tired of my fellow Latinos continually getting caught taking this junk. I understand the pressure that they have to succeed. The pressure to often be the main provider. The pressure to be the proverbial "way off the island" for their family. I get it. Trust me, I grew up seeing how my Dad was the pivotal one here in NYC providing for those "back home" and he wasn't a professional Baseball player. Its much worse for them. But there is a system in place that catches those that cheat. Just work doubly hard to get to where you need to. Its just frustrating to me as a fan of both the game and of my fellow Latino brothers. It gets harder and harder to back them up with they go and screw things up. I guess I'll quote Alfalfa and the rest of the little rascals when I say "Don't Drink the Milk...It's spoiled". Not only was it spoiled but also tainted. Just sad.

Enough of the disappointment. After a few hours of the Cabrera announcement, another Latino ballplayer was making news for a much better reason. Seattle Mariners starter, former American League Cy Young Award winner and Venezuelan Felix Hernandez was making history. In a dominant performance against the Tampa Bay Rays, Hernandez became the 23rd pitcher to throw a Perfect Game in the history of Major League Baseball. I was lucky enough to turn the game on in the 9th inning and Hernandez was just nasty in his breaking balls and velocity. He hit 95 on the gun in the 9th inning. In total Hernandez Hernandez struck out 12 batters. Of those 12, eight were in the last four innings. And he is only 24 years old. The scary thing is that he can only get better with time!!! To bad the Mariners don't have a quality team built around arguably the best pitcher in the game. For years now I've avoided calling him by the nickname that has become synonymous with Hernandez. Now I can indeed call him King Felix. Felicidades hermano y muchas gracias for taking the sting of the day away for us for just a little bit.

On a side note to the perfect game, what is the deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and no-hitters and perfect games. Since their inaugural season of 1998, the Rays have been no-hit five times, all of them from 2002 and on. Four have come since 2009 with three of them being perfect games (Mark Buerhle 2009, Dallas Braden 2010, Felix Hernandez 2012). Talk about snake-bit. Maybe they need to throw a perfect game to break the curse.

On another side note. I have to apologize for being a bit neglecting in my blogging duties. Sometimes real life, primarily work takes a front seat other things. Yes, even Baseball. I've been trying to improve my bartending skills and have been focusing on a new endevour called Sisco Vanilla Serves and Drinks. Feel free to check it out. Let me know what you think.

FH

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Matt Cain Throws a Perfect Game

Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Houston Astros in dramatic fashion. In a 10-0 victory, Matt Cain became the 22st player in MLB history to pitch a perfect game. 21 Perfect Games occured during the regular season. Don Larsen threw the only Perfect Game of the Post-Season during the 1956 World Series.

In doing so, Cain struck out a career-high 14 (tying Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most strikeouts in a Perfect Game) in a 125-pitch performance at AT&T Park in San Francisco. What I find amazing is that this is the first perfect game ever thrown in the near 130-year history of the New Gothams/New York Giants (1883-1957) and San Francisco Giants (1958-2012).

Here is the list of pitchers who have thrown a No-Hitter in Giants franchise history:
07/31/1891 Amos Rusie vs. Bkln 6-0
07/15/1901 Christy Mathewson at StL 5-0
06/13/1905 Christy Mathewson at Chi 1-0
07/04/1908 George Wise vs. Phi 1-0 (10 innings)
09/06/1912 Jeff Tesreau at Phi 3-0
04/15/1915 Rube Marquard vs. Bkln 2-0
05/07/1922 Jesse Barnes vs. Phi 6-0
05/08/1929 Carl Hubbell vs. Pit 11-0
06/15/1963 Juan Marichal vs. Hou 1-0
09/17/1968 Gaylord Perry vs. StL 1-0
08/24/1975 Ed Halicki vs. N.Y. 6-0
09/29/1976 John Montefusco at Atl 9-0
07/10/2008 Jonathan Sanchez vs. SD 8-0
06/13/2012 Matt Cain vs. Hou 10-0 (PERFECT GAME)

Congrats to Matt Cain, the San Francisco Giants and their fans specifically Justin, Alice, Rhea and Allie.

FH

Monday, May 28, 2012

Desires and Hopes of a Former Little League Parent

I've finished reading the article My Left Arm by former MLB pitcher Bob Ojeda from this past Saturday's New York Times. In the article, Ojeda tells of his experiences dealing with pain in his arm throughout all levels of his playing career from little league to the pros and how his relationship with his father helped and hurt his career. I highly recommend it to any coach and parent of a child who pitches in little league. Reading it got me to thinking about my own experience.

I also played little league. Being the son of Dominican immigrants, living Baseball is a given. Naturally being a pitcher is what I wanted to be. Who didn't want to be the next Juan Marichal. I practiced that high leg kick trying to emulate the Dominican Dandy. Alas, I was neither a dandy or a pitcher. LOL.

My dad supported me in taking me to practices and giving me the money to participate though he never saw me play. He was always busy working. I don't hold it against him, it was just the way it was. Fast forward to 2008 years to my being a dad and signing my son up for T-Ball.

I'll he honest here, I signed him up with the faint expectation that my lefty of a son would eventually become a professional ballplayer. Who doesn't want that. Anyone who has ever played the game and tells you otherwise is a liar. The difference between me and other parents who might have that wish and desire is that I never pushed my son into it. Sure I asked him if he wanted to and he did but I always told him that he needed to give 100% effort. If he couldn't do that then he shouldn't do it. I bought a bat, glove, hitting tee to get him ready. You know what happened? The boy found T-Ball downright boring. LOL. Can't say I blame him. We never played T-Ball. We just played ball growing up on the block and that just translated to knowing how to play the game. So instead of having a miserable kid on the field just going through half-assed motions, I gave him the option to stop playing which he did. The kid just has different interests.

My kids know daddy loves Baseball and love going to the games. My daughter loves going out to eat and see the sights. My son loves it as well. He gets upset when the Yankees lose and happy when they win but his baseball knowledge is limited to a few terms and a handful of players. It is what it is. Like I said before the boy just has other interests. Does that disappoint me? Perhaps a little. I have no one to blame but myself. I helped to cultivate the creative side of two individuals. Gave them free rein to do things differently than dad. To find their own interests and curiosities. As much as I wish my kids were knee deep in baseball as I am, I rather they be individuals instead of clones.

In the end they still enjoy going to the games with dad and that's all I can hope for.


FH

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Josh Hamilton Breaks Out

There's no denying that Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers is one of the elite players currently in MLB. From his power display in the 2008 All-Star Hitting Contest at Old Yankee Stadium to his recent power barrage against the Orioles, Hamilton is making a case for his cashing in on big bucks during the next offseason when he becomes a free-agent.

Hamilton racked up a 5-for-5 night against the Orioles on Tuesday night which included four homers, a double totaling 18 bases with 8 runs batted in. The 18 total bases tied the Major League single game record set by Joe Adcock (who also has hit four homeruns in a game) of the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. The four homeruns in a game places Hamilton as the 14th player to reach that plateau. Here's a list of the players who have formerly reached the four homer in a game plateau in the modern era (Post 1901):

Lou Gehrig
Chuck Klein
Pat Seerey
Gil Hodges
Joe Adcock
Rocky Colavito
Willie Mays
Mike Schmidt
Bob Horner
Mark Whiten
Mike Cameron
Shawn Green
Carlos Delgado
****Bobby Lowe (1894) and Ed Delahanty (1896) hit four homeruns before the modern era

There are some amazing names on that list. You have four Hall of Famers (Gehrig, Klein, Mays, Schmidt), Hodges who many believe should be a Hall of Famer. Very good players in Delgado, Green, Adcock and Colavito. So where does Hamilton rank?

Its hard to say. Hamilton has six years of playing time after missing the 2003-2005 seasons due to suspension from substance abuse. Whose to say where he would be if he had been able to play those three seasons. Currently Hamilton has a career .313 batting average with 132 HRs and 461 RBI with a career OPS of .926 (.370 OBP/.556 SLG). At the age of almost 31 (He turns 31 later on this month) he has potentially 5-7 more seasons where he can put up some major offensive numbers. Hamilton is also an amazing defensive player that has speed leading to his reputation as being a five-tool player. Whether or not he remains healthy is an issue. Hamilton has had injury issues having only played more than 150 games in a season once (2008). So if there's any reason that he doesn't come close to being in the Hall of Fame discussion, that is it (Hamilton would have to play 10 full seasons in MLB to be eligible for Hall of Fame voting 5 years after he retires).

Either way, Hamilton continues to amaze Baseball fans throughout the league. Texas Rangers fans should enjoy what they are seeing. It could be the last season he wears #32 in Arlington.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Josh Hamilton's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access the 4 Home Runs in 1 Game list from Baseball Almanac.com

Thursday, May 3, 2012

End of Mariano Rivera's Career?

On a night where New York Yankees history was continued to be made by Captain Derek Jeter, news reports indicate that Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and a torn meniscus of the right knee.

At any age the tearing if an ACL requires surgery and a ling road back of rehabilitation. Add the fact that Rivera is 42 years old, we may have possibly seen the last of Mariano Rivera as an active player. Granted, that his possible retirement is pure speculation, but Rivera has nothing to prove to anyone. He is a bonafide first ballot Hall of Famer and I think that he has a chance to get in with a higher vote total that Tom Seaver's 98.84% of the vote. For now pitchers like David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Boone Logan to name a few have to take their steps into filling in the large shoes of Mariano Rivera. Time will tell on whether or Rivera is done. For us Yankees fans we hope that it's not. At least not at the expense of his health. Back to Derek Jeter.
Jeter hit his 500th career double in a four hit game against the Kansas City Royals. This places Jeter at tied at 53rd on the all-time list with Goose Goslin and John Olerud. In terms of Yankees history, Jeter is second behind with Lou Gehrig who has 534 doubles as a New York Yankee. Jeter continues to establish himself as the greatest offensive Yankee of our generation.

We'll know more about Mariano Rivera in the days to come.

FH

For Further Reading:

- Click here to access the All-Time Doubles List from Baseball Reference.com

- Click Here to access the All-Time New York Yankees All-Time Doubles List from YankeesNumbers.com

Saturday, April 28, 2012

To Boo or Not To Boo

I had an interesting conversation on Twitter with @williamnny23 of The Captain's blog. If you haven't read his blog, you should. It's a great read. He posted the following tweets regarding Freddy Garcia's last start against the Detroit Tigers followed by my responses.

@williamnyy23: I'll never understand why fans boo players. Garcia didn't give himself this start and didn't leave himself in despite having nothing

@williamnyy23 players should be held accountable when they don't do well. That's the way fans let themselves be heard as active participants

@williamnyy23: @SiscoKid027 I just think that's silly. I don't blame Garcia for being bad. I blame the manager for refusing to acknowledge it.

@williamnyy23 it goes with the standing O when they get the job done. The other side of the coin.

@williamnyy23: @SiscoKid027 Again, I think that's silly. Booing anything but a mental mistake makes no sense to me. Too each his own though.

He basically feels that it's silly for fans to boo Garcia for anything more than a mental mistake. The fact that he was trying and not getting his job done shouldn't have been a point of booing or placing blame by the fans. That the blame fell squarely on Yankees manager Joe Girardi for starting him and keeping him out there for as long (or as little depending on your point of view) as he did with Garcia basically throwing batting practice to the Tiger hitters. I can see his perspective on it but I think the pitcher should be held accountable by the fans for his lack of performance. For the fans, the way to do it is by booing. But is it helpful?

Let's be honest, booing will do nothing to help Garcia regain his confidence and /or his pitching mechanics. More often than not booing will only add additional stress to the person being jeered. At the same time, I believe that the jeering goes hand-in-hand with the cheers of adoration that players get when they succeed. I firmly believe that you can't have the fans cheer to your success and give you a standing ovation when you do well without you as the person on the field not being held accountable for your lack of success.

Do I feel that someone like Alex Rodriguez (or anyone else that is not liked by the fans) should be booed at every visiting park he steps to the plate in? Not at all. I believe that it's a product of jealousy by some fans and hatred of who he is by others. Back to Garcia. If a he has just one bad game so far, I don't think booing is recommended. But let's be honest, so far this season he's been downright dismal.

According to New York Newsday reporter David Lennon:

In his last two starts Garcia has given up 12 hits, 11 ER, 3 1/3 innings. 29.70 ERA. He has allowed 30 baserunners (25 hits, 5 walks) in 13 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting over .400

Fans today feel as if they are much more active participants in the games due to the fact that they pay higher ticket prices to games, higher concession fees and higher prices for merchandise. The smaller ballparks are putting the fans closer to the action further adding to the idea that they are more part of the game than just spectators. The way fans can show their displeasure is by booing and making noise in the same way the fans are asked to make noise, chant and cheer in between at-bats to help the team rally when it's down. It can't be one or the other. I believe that cheering and jeering are part of the proverbial same coin.

Do some fans take it past a certain respectable point? Absolutely. Those who make it personal against the person they are jeering are wrong. There is no excuse to heckle someone because of their race, religion, sexuality or beliefs. But I believe that it's perfectly acceptable for a fan to boo a player if he or she has not performed their job in the manner they were hired to perform. That's just my opinion on the subject. What do you think. Agree? Disagree? Don't care?

FH

Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Innings or More In a Game

Maybe I'm late to this whole 10 innings milestone reached by Cliff Lee. In case you're late to the party as I am, on April 18th, Cliff Lee and Matt Cain locked up in a duel that hearkened back to the old days. Both pitchers combined for 19 shutout innings with Lee pitching 10. The 10 shutout inning plateau had not been reached since Mark Mulder did it in 2005.

To be perfectly honest, I thought the last pitcher to throw 10 shutout innings was Jack Morris in his masterful performance against the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I was actually surprised that since that Game 7, seven pitchers (not including Lee) had thrown a 10 shutout inning game. Here is the list:

Kevin Appier 07/23/1992
Bobby Jones 09/29/1993
Bret Saberhagen 07/15/1994
Darryl Kile 09/20/1998
Kevin Millwood 08/28/1999
Roy Halladay 09/06/2003
Mark Mulder 04/23/2005


Roy Halladay actually has two 10 inning games though he gave up a run in the second game. So given that, I decided to dig a little deeper. I wanted to find out how many pitchers had thrown (at least) a 10 inning game. I came across an MLB blog called The Stats of Zoc. Now in May 23, 2011, an article entitled A Pitcher Going Ten Or More Innings in a Game, A Thing Of The Past was posted to the blogpage. In his post, Tom Zocco gives a list of the leading pitchers who from the years of 1950-2011 who threw at least 10 innings in a game. Granted, the list is not a complete list and some of the names of the list might not shock you but the amount of times they accomplished the feat might. Here is the list with the amount of 10 inning or more games next to their names:

Gaylord Perry 37
Robin Roberts 21
Warren Spahn 20
Jim Palmer 20
Billy Pierce 17
Tom Seaver 17
Bob Gibson 17
Phil Niekro 16
Jim Bunning 16
Nolan Ryan 15
Don Drysdale 15
Bert Blyleven 15
Ned Garver 14
Ferguson Jenkins 14
Curt Simmons 14
Steve Carlton 13
Rick Wise 13
Luis Tiant 13
Jim Kaat 13


What catches my eye almost immediately is that this list is peppered with power pitches and staff aces. This leads to the idea that starting pitching was absolutely something to be reckoned with before the era of pitch counts and specialized relievers. Sure some of you might counter with "Well, they were overworked". That might be true but consider this. Of the 19 pitchers Zucco highlights, 13 of them are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The innings they logged leading to many of the names on this list winning 300 or more games (six in total with Warren Spahn having an astounding 363 wins). Of the remaining seven Hall of Famers on the list of pitchers five have between 250 and 300 wins. So the idea that there were overworked might be valid, but the body of work they logged helped them get into the Hall of Fame. For some interesting tidbits and factoids concerning the 10-inning games pitched by those on the list, read A Pitcher Going Ten Or More Innings in a Game, A Thing Of The Past

The game that I feel is the most impressive was the 16-inning duel between Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal. The game was being pitched into the 16th with a game winning homerun by Willie Mays being the only run in the game. I went into more detail about this game in my Latinoball blogpost September 9, 2009 entitled The Greatest Pitching Duel...Ever (In my opinion).

With the pendulum swinging back to the era of longer games by starters, maybe we'll see more games where starters go more than nine innings. Only time will tell.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access the article A Pitcher Going Ten Or More Innings in a Game, A Thing Of The Past by Tom Zucco dated 05-23-2011
- Click Here to access the article by Roger Schlueter entitled MLB Notebook: Lee, Cain have duel for ages dated 04/19/2012 from MLB.com
- Click Here to access the article by Tyler Kepner entitled From Morris to Lee: Ten Zeros in a Row dated 04/21/2012 from NYTimes.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Michael Pineda Out for the Season

Where yesterday I was discussing how the Texas Rangers' offseason pick up of Yu Darvish was showing great promise, the New York Yankees' offseason pick up has been knocked out for the season. Michael Pineda, who was received by the Yankees in the trade of their catching prospect Jesus Montero, has been diagnosed with having a labrum tear in his right shoulder. Instead of having Pineda as the right handed option after left-handed C.C. Sabathia in the Yankees rotation, Pineda's loss leaves a big hole in the Yankees rotation. For the Yankees it means that some decisions have been made easier for Yankees' manager Joe Girardi. Where Pineda was slated to join the rotation upon his return and with Andy Pettitte looming, it meant that possibly Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia were in jeopardy of losing their spot in the rotation. Even with Pineda not being available one of their spots might be in jeopardy though it seems as if they have gotten a reprieve. So where does this leave Pineda.

Where the Yankees were counting on Pineda for this season, the injury and surgery comes at a time where it is not so negative for the team. The trade to acquire Pineda was done with the future in mind. Having completed his rookie season during the 2011 campaign, Pineda won't be eligible for arbitration until 2014 and free agency until 2017. So it would be safe to say that even though they lose him for the 2012 season, his being signed until 2017 leaves more than enough time for the deal to pay dividends. If you want more information on how labrum tears have affected other pitchers, read Michael Pineda Injury: The Horrors (And Success Stories) Of The Torn Labrum by Grant Brisbee. It paints a sobering picture about what kind of an injury a labrum tear is. In case you're wondering how Jesus Montero is doing with the Seattle Mariners? Montero is batting .254 with 2 HRs and 9 RBI with 15 hits in 59 at-bats with 11 strikeouts and 2 walks.

So the Yankees will have to roll with the proverbial punches when it comes to their rotation. We'll see how things work out with Hughes, Garcia and Pettitte in the days to come.

FH
For Further Reading
- Click Here to Access Michael Pineda's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access the article Michael Pineda Injury: The Horrors (And Success Stories) Of The Torn Labrum by Grant Brisbee from Baseball Nation
- Click Here to access the article Michael Pineda out for 2012 by Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Did I Tell You Guys About Yu Darvish

As my friend Pete would say "You've been talking about Yu Darvish for years", I've been telling any baseball person who would listen that Yu Darvish was the real deal regardless of whether he pitched in the perceived inferior Nippon Professional Baseball League. The Japanese are real stingy when it comes to giving praise and when I hear that many Japanese baseball people feel that Darvish was the best pitcher to ever throw in Japan that's saying something.

Consider this, from 2005-2011, Darvish compiled a 93-38 record with a 1.99 ERA, 916 Hits allowed, 1260 strikeouts with 333 walks (a little less than 4-1 K's to BB ratio) with a WHIP of 0.98. He started 164 games during that time and completed 55 of them with 18 shutouts. His highest ERA in the last five seasons was 1.88. 1.88!!! Now, if you're interested in all the advanced metrics which are beyond my realm of jurisdiction, you can click on this link: Yu Darvish stat spreadsheet. You can also access The Steal of Home's article entitled What Will Yu Darvish’s NPB Stats Look Like in the Major Leagues? for a much more advanced analysis on Darvish.

In this game against the New York Yankees, Darvish went 8.1 innings, threw 119 pitches, struck out 10, walked two and game up 7 hits. He exited the game with a run one first. So far Darvish is 3-0 in 4 starts with a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings pitched with 21 strikeouts and 15 walks. This is his best start yet.

Unfortunately I'm somewhat of an old school person and I adhere to the eye test analysis of a ballplayer. I'll leave the advanced methods of Baseball analysis to the Bill James' and sabermetricians of the world. For those of you who know me, I find a way to watch as much Baseball as I can, including finding International Baseball. The NPB is no exception. I even own the Pro Yakyu Spirits game for the PS3. Does that make me an expert? By no means, but I've seen how this kid can pitch. I think he can pitch at any level and so far, he has shown that. I believe that he will be to Japanese pitchers what Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui was for Japanese hitters/position players.Is he worth the $111 million invested in him between the contract and the posting fee? We'll know that after the 2018 season.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here for Yu Darvish's MLB page
- Click Here to access Yu Darvish's Japanese Statistics from Japaneseplayers.com

AL Powerhouses Slugging It Out Early

I have to give credit where credit is due. Whomever thought that it was a good idea to have the top American League teams play each other to start the season should get a raise. He or she had tremendous foresight to have the Angels, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees mostly play against each other to start the season. It has produced some exciting baseball in the early going.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I really hate writing that) who are coming off their offseason free agent bonanza signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson has probably had the easier of the schedule having played the Yankees in the Bronx and now starting a series with the Rays in Tampa. They played games against the Royals, Twins, A's and Orioles leading to a disappointing record of 6-10. No need to fret Angel fans, I'm sure Manager Mike Scioscia will right that ship soon enough.

The Texas Rangers on the other hand have been clubbing their way to an AL best 13-4 record by playing Red Sox, Tigers, and currently the Yankees and Rays (in their next series) all in a row. They've also played the surprising Chicago White Sox, the Mariners and Twins. The Rangers currently look like they are poised to make a run at their third straight World Series appearance.

The Tampa Bay Rays If you can say they had an "easy" team so far it would probably be against the Twins. They opened against the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox, and the Blue Jays. They are currently facing the Angels and their next series is against the Rangers. 9-7 playing against the best teams in the AL and within their own division is not a bad place to be so far.

The most disappointing team so far and the one with the toughest schedule so far among the above mentioned teams has to be the Boston Red Sox. Coming off last season's collapse and the controversy surrounding Terry Francona's dismissal as manager, the team was looking to bounce back with a productive season. So far, the start of the season has been anything but productive with the team starting 5-10 sitting in the cellar of the tough AL East. Injuries to closer Andrew Bailey and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury have created major holes. Controversy is never far behind concerning comments made manager Bobby Valentine third baseman and fan favorite Kevin Youkilis. Games against the Tigers, Blue Jays, Rays, Tigers, Yankees and now the Twins have led to the calls of Bobby V's dismissal among many members of the Red Sox nation. If judging the amount of cheers Terry Francona received on his return to Fenway Park last Friday during the 100th Celebration of Fenway, there's no doubt on whom they would want managing the team.

The Detroit Tigers led by the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander, perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera and free-agent signing Prince Fielder for a trio that make for a difficult challenge for any team. Tied for first in the AL Central with a 10-6 record, the Tigers have faced the Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, Royals, Rangers and now the Mariners and Yankees coming up this weekend. What makes the Tigers scary is that Verlander is already at mid-season form. Cabrera is Cabrera and Fielder will get going before you know it.

The New York Yankees have recovered from a opening series sweep against the Rays. The Yankees stand tied atop the AL East with a 10-6 record having faced the Rays, Orioles, Angels, Twins, Red Sox and now the Rangers and the Tigers looming on the horizon. The Bronx Bombers have done what their nickname indicates. They, along with the Rangers are atop the league in batting categories. With the bats humming along, and the starting pitching starting to come together, the Yankees will prove to be a difficult team to face as the season progresses.

To round out the field, the Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have played very good ball so far keeping up with the big boys of the American League. If April is any indication, this season will be like one of the old heavyweight boxing matches of yore when punches were thrown to the last second. We might have an ending to this season to rival last season's. Time will tell.

FH

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Doc Gooden and Childhood Memories

Sometimes writing one blogpost evokes childhood memories that become another post. In my last post I wrote about the former Mets' pitchers who have thrown either a no-hitter or a perfect game after leaving the Mets. Here's the link to that post: Another Ex-Mets Pitcher Throws a No-No/Perfecto

Where the additional post comes in is in reference to one of the men on the list: Dwight "Dr. K" Gooden. For some reason mentioning Gooden brought me back to my dad's grocery story back in 1984. April 7th be exact. For you hardcore Mets fans out there you'll know that on that date in Baseball History, Dwight Gooden made his major league debut for the Mets against the Houston Astros. Thanks to Baseball Reference for the box score for April 7, 1984:

Gooden pitched 5 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, walked 2 and struck out 5.

Its not the pitching performance that I remember, its how my dad watched that game that I recall. I remember they kept switching image on the screen from Gooden on the mound to his parents in the stands. Gooden's father in particular was interesting to my dad. I guess he could empathize with Gooden's dad sense of pride in seeing his 19-year old making his debut on TV. I wouldn't call my dad a major baseball fan though he does know a majority of the players, especially the Latino ballplayers. But there was something about that game that made him pay attention in between customers.

I recall he kept saying that Gooden looked like "Hot Sauce". Hot Sauce was the nickname of this kid who I played with during little league. After all these years I have no idea what his name was, but that kid had a helluva fastball. I should know, being the chubby kid on the team, I was put behind the plate. LOL. I used to catch him as he pitched and he used to blow up my catcher's mitt. Pop! Pop! Pop! The ball would sound off as it blew up my mitt and my hand inside of it. At one point I remember dropping the mitt because my hand felt like it was on fire.

So to my dad Gooden resembled Hot Sauce and my dad was rooting for him to do well both because of the resemblance and also so Gooden's dad could be happy for himself and his son.

Amazing what mentioning one person's name can do for one's blogging experience. LOL. Thanks to Dr. K, his dad, Hot Sauce and my dad for the brief walk back down memory lane.

FH.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Ex-Mets Pitcher Throws a No-No/Perfecto

I got up from my Pre-work nap to discover that Chicago White Sox starter Phil Humber was into the 9th inning against the Seattle Mariners: throwing a Perfect game. Mind you, there have only been 20 perfectos in Baseball. Humber was on the cusp of joining an illustrious club. After Humber retired the 27th batter he faced and i stood there watching the White Sox players celebrating on the diamond at Safeco Field something else came to mind.

Aside from becoming the 21st member of the Perfect Game Club, Humber also joined another club. This club is made up of pitchers who threw either a no hitter or a perfect game after leaving the New York Mets. The irony is that the New York Mets (Along with the San Diego Padres) are the only MLB franchises to never have a no hitter or a perfect game thrown by one of their pitchers.

With Humber's performance today, the total of ex-Met pitchers to throw either a no-no or a perfect game after leaving the Metropolitans is seven.

Here is the list:
Nolan Ryan (California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers) 
Tom Seaver (Cincinnati Reds) 
Mike Scott (Houston Astros) 
Dwight Gooden (New York Yankees) 
David Cone (New York Yankees) 
Hideo Nomo (Boston Red Sox) 
Philip Humber (Chicago White Sox)

What makes this list impressive is that you have arguably four of the greatest pitchers to play for the Mets in Ryan, Seaver, Gooden and Cone reaching their no hitter/perfect game achievements elsewhere. Ryan has more no-hitters than any other pitcher in the history if the game (Sandy Koufax is next with four no-hitters). Seaver took three no hitters into the ninth inning and lost two with one out and one with two outs in the ninth in Dave Stiebian fashion (Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays took 4 no-hitters into the ninth and lost them before he recorded a no-hitter). Humber is a former 1st round pick for the Mets in 2004 and Scott was utterly dominant in his NY Cy Young and NL League Championship Series MVP (in a losing effort) season of 1986 and to further add insult to injury, Scott was potentially the only man who could derail the locomotive that was the 1986 New York Mets. So the feats of these pitchers make each and every no hitter or perfect game thrown outside of Shea Stadium and Citi Field that much more bitter.  

Here is the breakdown of no hitters/perfect thrown by the former Mets pitchers:

Nolan Ryan
- May 15, 1973 – California Angles 3, Kansas City Royals 0 away at Kansas City
- June 15, 1973 – California Angels 6, Detroit Tigers 0 away at Detroit
- Sept. 28, 1974 – California Angels 4, Minnesota Twins 0 in Anaheim
- June 1, 1975 – California Angels 1 Baltimore Orioles 0 in Anaheim
- Sept. 26, 1981 – Houston Astros 5 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 home in Houston
- June 11, 1990 – Texas Rangers 5 Oakland A’s 0 away at Oakland
- May 1, 1991 – Texas Rangers 3 Toronto Blue Jays 0 home in Texas

Tom Seaver
- June 16, 1978 – Cincinnati Reds 4, St. Louis Cardinals 0 home in Cincinnati

Mike Scott
- September 25, 1986 – Houston Astros 2, San Francisco Giants 0 home in Houston

Dwight Gooden
- May 14, 1996 – New York Yankees 2, Seattle Mariners 0 home in the Bronx

David Cone
- July 18, 1999 – New York Yankees 6, Montreal Expos 0 in the Bronx ***Perfect Game

Hideo Nomo
- April 4, 2001 – Boston Red Sox 3, Baltimore Orioles 0 away at Baltimore

Philip Humber
- April 12, 2012 – Chicago White Sox 4, Seattle Mariners 0 away at Seattle ***Perfect Game

Combined No-Hitters with former Mets pitchers

Alejandro Peña
On Sept. 11, 1991, Peña was a part of a three-pitcher no-hitter for the Braves closing out a game that was started by Kent Mercker (6 innings) and relieved by Mark Wohlers (2 innings). The Braves beat the San Diego Padres 1-0. Pena had been traded to the Braves from the Mets earlier in the season. Oswalt was removed in the first inning due to an injury.

Octavio Dotel
On June 11, 2003, Dotel was a part of the largest combined no hitter when as a member of the Houston Astros. He joined Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner in no hitting the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Oswalt had been removed in the first inning due to an injury.

Who knows when the Mets will get their elusive no hitter and/or perfect game. Where a perfect game seemed weird only a few years ago, there have been five thrown since 2004, so there is hope. I guess the Mets faithful will have to continue to believe that it'll happen sooner than later.

 FH

Monday, April 16, 2012

Youkilis and Valentine

I would assume that often times its hard to really say what you would want to say about a player s a manager of a MLB team without things becoming a major media story. We saw how the whole Ozzie Guillen Fidel Castro comments turned out. This week's drama has to do with comments Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine made in reference to third baseman Kevin Youkilis' recent struggles at the plate. According to the article on CBS Boston Valentine: Youkilis Not As ‘Physically Or Emotionally Into The Game’ Valentine made the following comments about Youkilis on Sunday Night:

“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,”


Maybe Valentine was being honest. Maybe Valentine was trying to motivate Youkilis. Maybe we'll never know but for as much as I like to complain about Youkilis to my friend Harper about his being a whiner, I would never say that Youkilis is not into the game emotionally or physically.

Youkilis represents that type of blue collar, down to earth, get dirt on your uniform everyday kind of player that the Red Sox nation seems to embrace whether they are hitting .350 or hitting .225. Another such player chimed in with his own comments. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had the following to say:

“I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do,..That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. He’ll figure that out. The whole team is behind Youk. We have each other’s backs here."


For his part, Youkilis said that he was confused by the comments and spoke to Valentine preferring to leave the comments made by both parties behind closed doors. Valentine apparently apologized to Youkilis.

Coming off of a turbulent offseason, the Red Sox players seem to be circling the wagons. Valentine is replacing a beloved players manager in Terry Francona who many feel (including myself) that he shouldn't have been dismissed from his managerial duties. Valentine is replacing a man who led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series Championship in 2004 and 2007.

A few days ago former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling had some reservations on the hiring of Bobby Valentine as Red Sox manager. He was quoted as saying "I just feel like this is not going to go the way people had hoped," Though he took some flack in the Boston media and from some of the Red Sox players, if Bobby Valentine keeps making comments that might alienate fan favorites, Schilling's comments might not be that far off.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access CBS Boston's article Valentine: Youkilis Not As ‘Physically Or Emotionally Into The Game’ dated April 16, 2012

- Click Here to access Brian MacPherson's blogpost Kevin Youkilis' response to Bobby Valentine's comments from the Providence Journal website dated April 16, 2012

- Click Here to access the ESPN article Bobby Valentine fires back dated April 3, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Baseball Does to the Soul

I recently read an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times from April 1, 2012. In What Baseball Does to the Soul by Colum McCann, he discusses how the game of Baseball and the time spent with his children brings him back to early memories with his own father in relation to his grandfather. It is an amazing read and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan. I would especially recommend the piece for those who ask what's the fascination with Baseball, for those of who complain that Baseball is too expensive, too commercial, too disconnected with the everyday person. They need to read this. They might learn something about what a sport and a game does to generations of fans. It gave me goosebumps reading it.

There something about the game that links generations. Family time at a game is something sacred. Sure people tell me that you can spend family time at other events/occasions but what's better at spending family time at a place and location that all members enjoy. Nothing better (in my opinion) than spending a day/night with my kids at the ballpark when all parties want to be there. Nothing memorable might happen on the field, but hopefully it will be something memorable for them that they can share with their own kids in the future.

My parents never really took me to the ballpark growing up but they spent time and effort to cultivate and support my love for the game. Be it taking me to little league games, baseball cards, magazines, posters, or anything else that I nagged them to buy for me. So now as an adult with my own kids, I try to show them that having a passion for a sport, a hobby or anything of interest is important. My passion is Baseball.

Thank you Mr. McCann for your candid words and personal experiences. Thank you for reminding me when faced by those who try to bring down those of us with passions for the game. Asking us and belittling us by asking us to justify said passions that in reality we have nothing to justify and explain.

FH

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cain and Votto to Stay Put

On the cusp of the beginning of the 2012 season, there are cheers of joy from the cities of San Francisco and Cincinnati. It was reported today that San Francisco starter Matt Cain would be signed to a 6-year $127 Million dollar contract to remain with the San Francisco Giants. There was grumblings that Cain might have tested the free agent market if he wasn't extended this season. In doing so, Cain becomes the highest paid right-handed starter in the majors. According to sources of Bob Nightingale of USA Today, Cain will also will have a full no-trade clause and there is a vesting option for 2018 that could bring the deal to $141 million. This is impressive since the Giants have seemed a bit hesitant (and with good reason)to spend big money and a long contract on a starter since they signed Barry Zito to a free-agent contract.

Moving East to Cincinnati, rumors have it that the Reds will sign their first-baseman and 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto to a contract extension. With the defections of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols to the American League this past offseason, Votto arguably becomes the premier first-baseman in the National League.

So what do I think about these moves? Its good for the game of Baseball. I have no issue with players choosing to exercise their right to explore free-agency. Look at the example of Pujols, I believed that he had nothing to prove in staying in St. Louis. He did everything a player could have done there and in moving to Anaheim, he keeps his proverbial Baseball juices flowing. A move to the American League means new challenges in a virtual unconquered venue.

I also have no issue with players choosing to stay their whole career with one team. There is something romantic of the notion of players like Tony Gwynn, Craig Biggio and Derek Jeter starting as kids with their respective teams and retiring as elder statesmen in the same uniform. It harkens back to yesteryear when players basically played for one team (though there is nothing romantic with the reasons why since there was no free agency and could not leave the team unless facilitated by the owners, but that's a conversation for another post).

I've always said it that teams like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox shouldn't always sign the best players on the market. Teams should be able to keep their best players so that their fans can have connections with players on their teams instead of asking like the guys at the coffee shop in the movie Major League: Who the "F" are these guys. More talent that is distributed around the league, the better the league is. Bravo San Francisco and Cincinnati in looking out for the best interest of your respective teams and fanbases.

FH

For Further Reading:

- Click Here for Bob Nightengale's article from USA Today entitled Matt Cain signs $127 million deal; Joey Votto close, too dated April 2, 2012
- Click Here to Access Matt Cain's career statistics from Baseball-Reference.com
- Click Here to Access Joey Votto's career statistics from Baseball-Reference.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jamie Moyer Is A Role Model

I just finished reading Tyler Kepner's article At 49, Jamie Moyer Is Slower, but Not Stopping from today's New York Times. Before I go into what I think of Jamie Moyer, I wanted to highlight some facts that Kepner highlights:

- At 49 years 5 months and 3 days Moyer would stand to become the oldest pitcher to win a game
- He is currently older than 8 managers and 18 general managers
- Started playing professionally before 15 players on the Rockies 40-man roster were born
- Played in 49 different ballparks of which 14 no longer exist
- Played in the last game in Wrigley Field before the lights were installed (1988)
- Second in career wins after the age of 40 with 103 (Phil Niekro had 121)
- Career leader in Home runs allowed with 511


What do I think of Jamie Moyer? I think the man is a role-model. He was told in college that he had a very slow fastball. It wouldn't even register over 90mph. Most ballplayers would have been discouraged to even continue, but not Moyer. He continued to work on his trade, giving his all to perfect his skills which was recognized by major league scouts. His dedication led to his being drafted by the Chicago Cubs. He would struggle at the major league level eventually being released by the Cubs in 1991 and being offered a chance to work as a coach with the team. Most players would have jumped at that chance, but not Moyer.

He decided to start from scratch with the AAA Toledo Mud Hens for the entire 1992 season and then playing with the Baltimore Orioles from 1993-1995 before being traded to the Seattle Mariners. It was with the Mariners that Moyer made himself known, not as a power pitcher, but as a pitcher who could succeed by hitting his spots with finesse and savvy. Working within his strengths not his perceived weaknesses. That was in 1996. Here we are now in 2013. 2013!!!! And Moyer is still out there, trying to earn a spot in the rotation of the Colorado Rockies.

Here's to determination and outright love for the game. Moyer doesn't do it for the money or the adoration. He's not a primadonna who plays for the glory, preening like a peacock in front of the cameras. The man feels like he can still succeed at the level that he is used to playing at and will try to do so until he can't. Moyer has a dream and he is hoping to continue to live that dream by playing in the Major Leagues. I believe that if he reached the point in his career where he couldn't complete not due to age but due to skill, that he would thank the game for what it has given him and walk away into the sunset without any regrets.

If a child is out there looking for a role model to whom they can say, I want to be like someone, that someone should be Jamie Moyer. Continued success to you, you now have a lifelong fan in me rooting for you.

FH

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Jamie Moyer's career statistics from BaseballReference.com
- Click Here to access the homepage of the Moyer Foundation, established by Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen Moyer

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mike Piazza Hall of Famer 2013

Since Jorge Posada retired the other day, I’ve had a few conversations at the bar about where he stands with the 15 catchers that are currently enshrined in the Hall of Fame. (To see the players, click on the link Baseball Hall of Fame Catchers from Baseball-Almanac.com) Before I go there, I wanted to shift focus from the Bronx to Queens to shed light on the other premier catcher that played in New York City during the same years as Posada. The Mets made a blockbuster deal in the summer of 1998 that gave them a true superstar. This player gave the Mets a legitimate slugger in the middle of their lineup that would become the face of the organization and is arguably the best hitting catcher of all-time. Ladies and Gentlemen, here is (potentially) an inductee in the 2013 Hall of Fame class, Mike Piazza.

Piazza was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft and made his Major League debut as a September call up in 1992. Piazza would earn the starting spot during the 1993 season and won the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year award. His six years in Los Angeles were marked by six consecutive All-Star appearances coupled with six Silver Slugger Awards. It is believed that with free agency looming on the horizon for Piazza, with the desire to cut salary by the Florida Marlins a deal was made by both teams. The Dodgers traded Mike Piazza and Todd Ziele to the Marlins for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson & Jim Eisenreich. The Marlins then turned around and Piazza to the New York Mets for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnell, & Geof Getz. Piazza would bat .348 with 23 HRs and 76 RBI in 394 at-bats for the remainder of the 1998. His performance and desire to be challenged by playing in New York City led Piazza to sign a seven-year contract worth a record $91 million. Piazza would be the heart and soul of the team until his departure after the 2005 season.

In 16 seasons, Piazza hit a career .308 with 427 HRs and 1335 RBI. In 6911 at-bats, he had 2127 Hits (344 2B/8 3B/427 HR), 759 BB, 1113 K’s, an OPS of .922 (.377 OBP/.545 SLG). In terms of fielding, Piazza had .989 fielding percentage but was lacking when it came to throwing out base-stealers, only throwing out just 23% of runners (423 out 1823) for his career. Piazza won the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year. He was a 12-time All Star, a 10-time Silver Slugger and though he did not win any MVP awards, Piazza was in the top ten of MVP voting seven times with three top five finishes (finished second in 1996 and 1997). What I find impressive about Piazza was his plate discipline. As a power hitter, I expected more strikeouts from him and looking at his career statistics, Piazza never had a season of more than 100 strikeouts. In fact his highest season total for strikeouts was 93 in 1996. So where does he stand with the 15 catchers currently in the Hall? Well, here goes.

Here is where Piazza ranks (with the leader in parenthesis)

Average .308 4th (Mickey Cochrane .328)
Hits 2127 3rd (Carlton Fisk 2356)
RBI 1335 3rd (Roy Campanella 1430)
HR 427 1st
SLG .545 1st
FLD% .989 Tied 3rd (Gary Carter .991)
SB 23% Last (Roy Campanella 57%)


There is no doubt that Piazza’s offensive performance puts him within the upper echelon of catchers currently in the Hall of Fame. Though his defensive performance places him at or near the bottom of the list, I don’t see that being something that would not get Piazza the necessary minimum 75% of the vote for the Hall of Fame.

To close, I want to mention the moment where Piazza stood out to me. I remember watching a Mets vs. Phillies game on TV, when it was I’m not sure but it was being played in Veterans Stadium and I don’t remember if the announcers had touched on this but Piazza stalked up to the plate for his at-bat with a nasty scowl on his face. Normally, Piazza was very smooth while at the plate. No wasted motion or superstitious movements as some other batters in the league. This time though Piazza was just chomping at the bit. I’m not sure what pitch in the count that Piazza connected on but I have to say, it was probably one of the hardest hit ball I’ve seen on TV. Piazza connected on this pitch and drove it deep to centerfield over the black part of the wall a number of rows back. His demeanor continued unabated as he rounded the bases. Locks bouncing as he slowly ran the bases. Whoever pissed him off that day made some pitcher pay for it.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here for Mike Piazza’s career statistics from BaseballReference.com
- Click Here to access the list of Catchers currently in the National Baseball Hall of Fame from Baseball-Almanac.com
- Click Here to access the blogpost 1998: Mets Acquire Mike Piazza From the Marlins from the Centerfield Maz blogpage
- Click Here to access Jason Diamos’ article Piazza, Risking Boos, Accepts Challenge With Mets from the New York Times website dated October 27, 1998

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jorge Posada Among Yankee Catchers

Longtime New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada announced his expected retirement from Baseball at a Press Conference at Yankee Stadium today. In honor of Posada, I wanted to take a look at where I believe he ranks among the great Yankees catchers of the past. This is in no way an expert opinion or viewpoint since I never saw a number of the players I will put Posada side-by-side with play in person and I am biased towards one of them since he was one of my favorite players of all time. So to avoid waxing poetically, let's see where I think Jorge ranks.

There have been many good players to wear the mask and pads for the Yankees but in my estimation there have been a small handful that I would refer to as being "Great Yankee Catchers". At the top of the list is Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. in 19 seasons, Berra had a career .285 average with 2150 hits (321 2B/49 3B/358 HR), 1430 RBI, 704 BB, 414 K's (for more on that impressive little number, read my blogpost Yogi Berra 414 in 7555), and an OPS of .830 (.348 OBP/.482 SLG). His fielding percentage at the catching position was .989 and threw out 49% of basestealers. Not to mention that Yogi won 10 rings as a player while appearing in a total of 14 World Series (along with 3 more as a coach), 3 AL MVP awards (1951, 1954, 1955), 7 years of being in the top five of MVP voting and 15 All-Star appearances. The following players are listed in terms of when they played and not in terms of any kind of rank.

Hall of Famer Bill Dickey played 17 seasons and had a career .313 average with 1969 hits (343 2B/72 3B/202 HR), 1209 RBI, 678 BB, 289 K's (in 6300 At-bats. CRAZY!!!!) and an OPS of .868 (.382 OBP/.486 SLG). His fielding percentage at the catching position was .986 and threw out 47% of basestealers. Though Dickey didn't win any AL MVP awards, he did finish in the top 10 five times and in the top 5 three times with 11 All-Star appearances. Dickey was a pivotal member of 7 World Series Champion teams (He appeared in 8 World Series). Dickey lost two years due to his joining the military during World War II (1944-1945) before playing his last season in 1946.

Elston Howard had the unenviable task of being both the first African American player on the New York Yankees and replacing a Yankees legend behind the plate. Howard did both gracefully. In 14 seasons Howard had a career .274 batting average with 1471 hits (218 2B/50 3B/167 HR), 762 RBI, 373 BB 786 K's and an OPS of .749 (.322 OBP/.427 SLG). His fielding percentage at the catching position was .993 and threw out 44% of basestealers. Howard won the AL MVP award in 1963 and had three top 10 MVP votes. He won three Gold Glove awards, appeared in 9 All-Star games and was a member of 4 World Series Champions (his teams made it to 10 World Series)

Arguably one of my favorite Yankees of All-Time, Captain Thurman Munson rounds out the group of "Great Yankees Catchers". Munson's career was cut short by a fatal plane crash during the 1979 season so his sample size is limited but very impressive. The heart and soul of the 1970's Yankees played for a total of 11 seasons and had a .292 career batting average with 1558 hits (229 2B/32 3B/113 HR), 701 RBI, 438 BB 571 K's and an OPS of .756 (.346 OBP/.410 SLG). His fielding percentage at the catching position was .982 and threw out 44% of basestealers. Munson won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1970, was the AL MVP in 1976 and had top 10 MVP votes. He was a 3-time AL Gold Glove winner, a 7-time All-Star and appeared in three straight World Series (1976-1978) and was the backbone of back-to-back World Series Champions in 1977-1978.

Since I am placing Jorge Posada in the same category with these Yankee greats, here are Posada's vitals. In 17 seasons Posada had a career .273 batting average with 1664 Hits (379 2B/10 3B/275 HR), 1065 RBI, 936 BB, 1453 K's and an OPS of .848 (.374 OBP/.474 SLG). His fielding percentage at the catching position was .992 and threw out 28% of basestealers. Posada was never an AL MVP but placed in the top 10 twice, he was a 5-time All-Star, a 5-time Silver Slugger and an important part of 4 World Series Champions while appearing in 6 World Series.

Ok, so here I stand after laying out the numbers. So where do I stand. Offensively, I'd rank Posada behind Berra and Dickey. As I posted in my blogpost Jorge Posada Reaches Milestones on my other baseball blog Latinoball dated June 15, 2010 which stated that at the time:

Posada is now one of only five catchers to amass 250 home runs, 1,500 hits and 350 doubles over the course of a career. Who are the others four? Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk and Ivan Rodriguez.


That gives Posada a bit of an advantage over Berra and Dickey but what stands out to me is the plate disciple that Berra and Dickey showed. In a combined 13855 at-bats, Berra and Dickey struck out 703 times. Players like Shane Reynolds will do that in three to four seasons. Posada better reflected his times since he was a power hitter and the majority of today's power hitters (with the exception of Albert Pujols) tend to have high strikeout numbers. Posada also compares favorably to Berra and Dickey in OPS (Posada .848/Berra .830/Dickey .868) and somewhat when it comes to hits (Posada 1664/Berra 2150/Dickey 1969). There is no denying that Posada came up big for the Yankees time and time again as Berra and I believe Dickey did for their respective Yankees teams.

Defensively I always had the mindset that Posada was an average catcher but looking at the respective numbers he also ranks up there with the rest. I know the track record of Posada having issues with certain starting pitchers is well known but there is no denying that Posada made a tremendous career from originally being a shortstop to catching for the Yankees. Looking at fielding percentage Elston Howard ranks the highest at .993 with Berra at .989, Dickey at .986, Munson and Posada .982. Where Posada does pale in comparison is in the percentage of basestealers. Where Posada threw out only 28% of basestealers, Yogi ranks the highest at 49% with Dickey at 47% and Howard and Munson at 44%. So defensively I'd have to rank him last within the five catchers.

I have purposely decided to not include Post-season performance. The reason being is that the game today is different than the game of Berra, Dickey and Howard's day. Where those players only had the World Series, Munson's age had a Championship Series and a World Series and it was expanded in Posada's day with a total of three rounds of playoffs. We know Posada was money in the post-season as was Berra, Dickey, Howard and Munson since they all played for World Series Champions. If someone wants to make the comparison, by all means do so. I welcome your point of view.

In total, I would rank Posada fourth behind Berra, Dickey and Howard since I'll give Howard the nod on defensive numbers. Munson played at least 6 less years than the others so he's only in 5th because of the lesser amount of total games played. The gap between the players is not that great when you factor in stadium size, player sample size, era and overall changes in the game. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Yogi Berra's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Bill Dickey's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Elston Howard's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Thurman Munson's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to access Jorge Posada's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Paul O'Neill #21

I get asked all the time as to who are my favorite New York Yankees players. I mean, that’s a hard question to ask. Put that question up to my dad and he’ll tell you that it was Lou Piniella. Back in the day he’d tease me by saying "Ese es tu papa" (That’s your dad) whenever Piniella came up to bat. I have to admit, I was partial to those Yankees teams of the mid to late 1970’s since I was a child watching those teams play ball. Who wouldn’t want to count players like Mickey Rivers, Goose Gossage, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry and the forever missed Yankee Captain Thurman Munson among their favorite players.

Add to that such Yankees players from the 1980’s such as Dave Winfield, Don Mattingly, Don Baylor and from the 1990’s such as Jimmy Key, Graeme Lloyd (his actions in that fight against the Baltimore Orioles in 1996 are unforgettable), David Cone, Cecil Fielder and not to overlook the core four (Jeter, Rivera, Posada and Pettitte) with Bernie Williams. I can go on and on and on. But for the sake of the post I want to focus on one player who I’ll always say is on the top of my list of favorite Yankees players. This player came to the team in a trade for the future heir apparent to the fabled Center-field position of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Remembering that I sat there dumbfounded as to who the hell this player was when reading about it in the paper, watching him play year after year reinforced that the team had made a steal of a deal. The player I am talking about is #21, the player George Steinbrenner dubbed "The Warrior" Paul O'Neill.

Up to the point when O'Neill was traded to the Yankees, all I really knew about him was that he played on the 1990 World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds and that he basically was shipped out of Cincinnati due to some bad blood with Reds manager Lou Piniella. So after hearing that Roberto Kelly was untouchable in trade talks, I found it hard to believe that they had traded him to Cincinnati for Paul O’Neill and minor league first baseman Joe DeBerry on November 3, 1992. Looking back on it now the trade made sense. Here is how New York Times writer and current YES Network analyst Jack Curry described the trade in his November 3, 1992 article Yankees Trade Roberto Kelly to Reds for O'Neill:

Joe DeBerry, a minor league first baseman, also came to New York in the deal, which essentially centered on the 29-year-old O'Neill, a .259 career hitter with 96 home runs and a contract through 1994, being swapped for the 28-year-old Kelly, a .280 career hitter with 56 home runs and an opportunity to become a free agent after next season.


According to Curry, the team had gotten tired of waiting for Kelly’s potential to become reality. His career never developed as was expected though he did play mainly as a platoon player for 14-seasons retiring after playing with the Yankees during the 2000 season. O'Neill on the other hand, became the heart and soul of the late 1990’s Yankees dynasty.

After showing flashes of what was to come with the Reds, O'Neill was solid for the Yankees. From 1993-1995 O'Neill averaged a .321 batting average with 142 hits (30 2B/2 3B/21 HR), 85 RBI, 3SB, 62 BB and 67 Ks. His average OPS was .940 (.401 OBP/.539 SLG). Keep in mind the numbers are a bit skewed since the year O'Neill won the AL Batting Title in 1994 with a .359 batting average that season was shortened due to the players strike and the 1995 was shortened as well. He seemed to rev it up a few notches in 1996.

From 1996-2000 his numbers and production for the Yankees are amazing. Consider this, that during those years, O'Neill averaged a .302 batting average with 173 hits (36 2B/1 3B/20 HR), 107 RBI, 10 SB, 70 BB and 90 Ks. His average OPS was .850 (.374 OBP/.476 SLG). His intensity on the field (and against Gatorade buckets in the dugout) labeled him a cry-baby on the field by many including former manager Lou Piniella but who can forget O’Neill’s break neck hustling on a two-out double in the top of the 9th of Game Five of the 1997 ALCS against the Cleveland Indians. Ask A-Rod on how hard it can be to get the respect and adoration of the New York Yankees fans. Paul O'Neill had it and still does. The memory of the chanting of Paul O’Neill’s name after his last at-bat in the major leagues during the 2001 World Series and his emotional curtain call still gives me goosebumps.

It’s a shame that O’Neill only got 2.2% of the Hall of Fame vote in 2007 losing his eligibility for the Hall. I’m not saying that he was a Hall of Famer, but it would have been nice to see him get a few more years of eligibility. I guess I’ll take with the memory of watching Paul O’Neill on top of the celebration pile after the Yankees won the 1996 World Series. Thanks for the memories Paul. (PHOTO CREDIT Linda Cataffo/New York Daily News)


As per the Paul O’Neill website, here is a list of his career highlights:

- Six World Series appearances, five World Series rings.

- Winning twenty-three of the thirty World Series games he has appeared in. Paul is the only player to ever play in a World Series sweep in both the National and American leagues.

- Five All-Star games.

- 1994 American League Batting Title - .359 average.

- Shares record for for most games in a season with four or more extra base hits (2): May 11 and September 13, 1991.

- Paul played 235 consecutive games in right field without making an error, part of 1995, all of 1996 and part of 1997.

- Led American League in hitting with men on base 1997 - .429.

- Relentlessly gunning guys out over the years with an arm designed like a Howitzer for the battlefield.

- 15 of 17 steal attempts in 1998. Who says 6'4" guys can't steal?

- The only player in Major League Baseball history to play on the winning side of three perfect games (Browning, Wells and Cone).

- August 25, 2001 - Paul becomes the oldest major leaguer to steal twenty bases and hit twenty homeruns in the same season.

- As a full time, non-designated hitter, Paul was on the winning side of 16 of 19 post-season series.

- Paul is the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle from 1952-62 to hit at least 18 homeruns in nine consecutive seasons.

- Paul batted .474 in the 2000 Subway Series, tying a five-game record with nine hits.

- Had 24 hits and 16 walks in 27 World Series games.

- Led Reds in HRs, RBI, doubles and walks in 1991.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Paul O"Neill's career statistics from BaseballReference.com

- Click Here to access Jack Curry's article Piniella Takes Advantage of Another Chance to Taunt the Yanks' O'Neill dated August 30, 1996 from the New York Times website.

- Click Here to access Jack Curry's article Yankees Trade Roberto Kelly to Reds for O'Neill dated November 4, 1992 from the New York Times website.

- Click Here to access Paul O'Neill's official website PaulONeill21.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

Barry Larkin HOF 2012

It was announced today that former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin has become the 297th elected Hall of Famer with his election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with 86.4-percent of the vote (495 votes out of 573 ballots) in his just third year of eligibility. According to the Baseball Writers Association of America’s (BBWAA) and National Baseball Hall of Fame press release :

His vote total reflected a 24.3-percent gain from the 2011 ballot, the largest jump in one year to gain election since 1948 when pitcher Herb Pennock received 77.7 percent of the vote after having tallied 53.4 percent in 1947. Larkin’s jump is the largest for any Hall of Fame election in which at least 400 ballots were cast. The previous highest was the 16.4-percent jump by first baseman Tony Perez from 1999 (60.8) to 2000 (77.2)

Larkin was a lifelong Cincinnati Red playing a total of 19 seasons where he batted .295 with 2,340 hits (441 2B/76 3B/198 HR). Larkin drove in 960 runs, scored 1,329, stole 379 bases and had more walks to strikeouts (939-817). Larkin was a 12-time All Star, a 3-time Gold Glove winner the National League Most Valuable Player in 1995. He was a pivotal player in the Cincinnati Reds’ 1990 Championship team by hitting .302 in a career high 158 games hit .353 in the Reds’ World Series sweep of the Oakland Athletics.

I have to admit that my memories of watching Barry Larkin play are limited to seeing him on the occasional New York Mets broadcast, the times that the Reds played on the Game of the Week, in the All-Star game and in the 1990 World Series. By the time I got to see him play regularly on ESPN and other outlets, Larkin was reaching the twilight of his career. I got most of my information on him (and other players) on such shows like This Week in Baseball and George Michael Sports Machine and print media as the Sporting News and Street, Smith’s Baseball Magazine and old fashioned stats on the back of a baseball card and sticker book. It was a definitely a different era for Baseball fans than what see today. But even then without the constant media barrage of information I could tell that Larkin was an amazing player at the shortstop position. In tandem with Cal Ripken Jr., Larkin was the bridge that connected the era of good glove-no hit shortstops to today’s era of power hitting and high average shortstops. Had it not been for Ozzie Smith who dominated the shortstop position in the National League with his 13 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1980-1992, I believe that Larkin would have gone in first ballot into the Hall of Fame.

Congratulations Mr. Barry Louis Larkin, HOF 12.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Barry Larkin's career statistics from BaseballReference.com