Category Archives: Ex-Players

Chisox great Minoso dead at 89.

In a few days, I’ll be starting the daily S.T. games with the scores and recaps.

Just five weeks ago, Chicago lost a legend in Cubs great Ernie Banks. Now White Sox fans have lost a legend in Minnie Minoso, who died today at the age of 89.

Minoso was the first black to play for a Chicago team. He started his career with Cleveland (1949, 1951) went to the White Sox (1951-1957), back to Cleveland (II, 1958-1959), back to the White Sox (II, 1960-1961), the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962, Washington Senators 1963 and the White Sox 1964, 1976 and 1980. Yes, you read that right. At the age of 50, Minoso went 1 for 8 in 1976 for the White Sox as a publicity stunt (play in 4 decades) and he was 0 for 2 in 1980 at age 54 to have him play in 5 decades.

Primarily a LF, Minoso had a 162 g. ave. of .298-16-90 with 18 SB and an OPS+ of 130. Four times he finished 4th in MVP voting, and he finished 8th another year. He was an All-Star in seven different years, a 3x Gold Glove winner, and led the league in hits once, doubles once, triples 3x, SB 3x, total bases once and getting HBP 10x. He hasn’t made the HOF yet and never appeared in a postseaso game.

Besides getting a new Marty Appel book, I also am receiving a new bio on Billy Martin. Here is the press release…

This spring, award-winning New York Times sportswriter Bill Pennington offers the clear-eyed and quintessential biography of one of the most hauntingly mercurial and endearing characters in the history of sport. “BILLY MARTIN: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 7, 2015) presents Martin’s almost unimaginable ascent from hard-punching Bay Area ragamuffin to purveyor of the art of baseball cheered by millions, friend of the cultural elite of his era, and regular on the back pages of the New York tabloid newspapers.
From his early playing years as the firebrand second baseman of the perennial champion New York Yankees to his years as a journeyman manager, he had his way (aka “Billy Ball”). And Billy’s way was like no one else. It was a magnificent combination of learned baseball knowledge and intuitive logic mixed with incredible guts. He was a cunning strategist. He was a winner. Martin had a beautiful baseball mind and was in love with the game. He became alive just before the first pitch of every game, but over a quarter of a century after his tragic death, his demons—alcoholism, insecurity, paranoia, womanizing, fisticuffs, and risky behavior—have tragically come to define him. Until now.
Across the decades, Pennington addresses the fractured depiction of Billy Martin and completes the story of this complicated, but compassionate and endearing man beyond the many hires and firings, brawls and brouhahas, and other episodes within his decades-long tumult outside the lines. His genius, however flawed, is not properly appreciated or understood, but Pennington takes great pains to rectify that. For the first time, Pennington spent time with all four of Martin’s wives to generate the complete portrait of the man. No other journalist or biographer has received this much access. Martin’s was a dynamic, memorable life of accomplishment and great baseball.
 “BILLY MARTIN” also covers:
  • How he was ridiculed for his overly large nose and jug ears in his youth, helping develop his quick trigger
  • His claim that he “never started a fight in his life”
  • The importance of Kenney Park in Martin’s baseball life
  • The original odd couple: Unlikely buddies Joe DiMaggio and Billy Martin
  • How he hobnobbed with the cultural icons of his generation: Frank Sinatra, Rock Marciano, Doris Day, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Gleason, and Lucille Ball, among many others
  • His use of amphetamine tablets during his playing days
  • His close relationship with Casey Stengel
  • The friendships with Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle
  • The story behind the infamous fight at the Copacabana in 1957
  • The strategic marketing plan of the Yankees front office to cast Billy as an unwelcome influence on Mantle
  • The depth of the heartbreak after his trade from the Yankees in 1957
  • Billy magical managerial triumphs for teams in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas and Oakland
  • The affect of the dugout conflict with Reggie Jackson on national TV in 1977
  • Reggie’s claims of Martin’s bigotry
  • The never-ending circuslike atmosphere of 1977
  • The hypnotic and surreal love-hate Billy-George-Reggie triangle
  • The classic Miller Lite commercials
  • How juggling wives and paramours was a major distraction during his career
  • Accounts that some of the women he dated were underage
  • His reputation as a one-year manager
  • The bizarre moments of the 1983 season including Brett’s pine tar home run and Winfield’s dead sea gull
  • The emotional Billy Martin Day in 1986
  • Blow by blow of his well-known fight with Yankees’ pitcher Ed Whitson
  • Whether he should be considered for Cooperstown.
  • The account of a secret meeting with Steinbrenner, where the plan to re-hire Martin again in 1990 was devised
  • Whether Billy was the driver or passenger in his fatal car crash
  • Jill Martin—Billy’s widow—breaks her silence 25 years later about the final moments of Martin’s life

 

 

 

Odds and Ends.

Some odds and ends.

I saw an article that stated that according to insiders, Manager Joe Girardi did broach the subject of dropping Derek Jeter down in the batting order last season. Jeter hit just .256-4-50, OPS+ just 75 in his final season. The idea was shot down by upper management, and apparently Jeter wouldn’t go for moving him out of the #2 slot in the order either. Girardi knew that to do so would open a can of worms, so before it even hit the media, he apparently went through upper management and possibly Jeter himself. Would dropping Jeter have benefitted the Yanks? Possibly. Enough to make the playoffs? Possibly not. Enough to make the playoffs and soothe Jeter’s ego? Possibly not. But it’s interesting to note that the idea of dropping Derek (where to? 8? 9?) was considered.

Jason Giambi retired. He was with the Yanks from 2002-2008, hitting 209 of his 440 HR as a Yankee. Giambi, 44, hit 440 HR in his career, hit .277 with an excellent OPS+ of 139, won an MVP award with the A’s in 2000, was runner-up in 2001, and is one of five Yankees with back-to-back 40 HR seasons (2002 and 2003). He hit two homers off of Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. He won’t make the HOF however, because of his admitted PED usage and BALCO connection. It’s said he is a great teammate, and Terry Francona, manager of the Indians (Giambi’s most recent team) states that Giambi is a “manager in waiting.” His 162 g. average was .277-32-103, OPS+ 139, with 98 walks.

Alex Rodriguez issued a written “apology.” Really, I don’t want to hear it. Who believes anything he says or does anymore? He’s exhausted all credibility. Really, A-Rod, shut up and play. Show us you have something, if anything, left. It’s noted that he was suspended for all of 2014. What’s forgotten is that he played in only 44 games in 2013 and even then looked on the downside.

The Yanks signed Jared Burton to a minor league deal. The righty reliever is 33 and went 3-5, 4.36, ERA+ 91 in 2014 for the Twins with three saves. For his career he is 18-19, 3.44, 10 saves, ERA+ 123.  A depth move. He was 3-2 with a superb 2.18 ERA (ERA+ 189) and five saves for the Twins in 2012.

When I get time (I’ve been doing my taxes, need to do other family members taxes, working (of course) and …. well, shoveling snow and freezing my ass off…) I want to look at the future. I expect the Yanks to tread water for a while, but to me, the 2020 team could be interesting. Players (top prospects) would be in their primes (providing they prove MLB caliber players and aren’t traded away), old guys like CC, Teix, Beltran and A-Rod gone (maybe McCann as well)….it could be interesting to look at what could be the Yankee future. Stay tuned. Hopefully when Yoan Moncada signs (before the end of this month) I can include him on that 2020 future team I want to write about. Will the Yanks fork over the $$$$ to land Moncada?

Yanks to honor 4, retire 3 numbers.

I was going to write a column looking at 2020, and look to what we can expect in the future, but that will have to wait.

For this column is to honor the past.

Today, the Yankees announced that #51 for Bernie Williams will be retired on May 24 (I’ll be there that day. I was there for #23, Don Mattingly and for #42, Mariano Rivera). On August 22nd they will retire the number of #20, Jorge Posada (I think I have to work that day) and on August 23rd they will retire #46 for Andy Pettitte (I will be there for that one).

In addition, on Old-Timer’s Day this year, Willie Randolph will join recent legends Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Goose Gossage by getting a plaque in Monument Park (no retired number).

No word on when Jeter’s #2 gets retired.

So the Yanks are going to have a serious problem. Once Jeter’s number is retired, that will be 20 retired numbers. Now, there are a few I believe should NOT be retired. I know I’m opening a can of worms here, but here goes. Should these numbers be retired? For the way things are going, the Yanks are 1) going to look like a football team with #82 playing CF, or 2) need to go to 1A, 2A, 3A, etc.

#1 Billy Martin (I believe it shouldn’t be retired. Billy was a major factor in three WS titles as a player, and hit .333 in the WS. He was WS MVP in 1953 when he had 12 hits in six games. He made a WS saving catch in Game 7 of the 1952 Series. He managed the Yanks to a WS title—-but in comparison, Ralph Houk managed the yanks to TWO WS titles, and Houk’s #35 won’t be retired —. Billy was a .257 career hitter. He wasn’t even the best player to wear #1 (Earle Combs, a HOF, was). No).

#2 Derek Jeter (Not officially retired yet). 3465 hits and 1st ballot HOF screams yes.

#3 Babe Ruth. Ummmm…. greatest Player ever. Yes.

#4 Lou Gehrig. Yes.

#5 Joe DiMaggio. Yes.

#6 Joe Torre. Interesting question. The Yanks have so many numbers retired, that you have to ask, players only? Or include managers. If you include managers, then Torre is a Yes. If players only, no. (BTW, Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy never wore a number).

#7 Mickey Mantle. Yes.

#8 Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. Both Yes.

#9 Roger Maris. No. Honor Roger’s 1961 with a plaque, but not the number. .260 career hitter. GREAT for 1960 and 1961, very good in 1962, above average 1963-1964, not even average in 1965-1966. Sweeney Murti argues that Graig Nettles, who also wore #9, should get a plaque in Monument Park. Speaking of, Willie Randolph is getting a plaque. How about Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon getting plaques? Both are in the HOF. Willie won’t be. Love Willie, but….

#10. Phil Rizzuto. No. Plaque yes, honoring his 56 or so years of service, but not retire the number.

#13… just kidding. Based on his suspension and turbulent relations with the Yankees, I’ll be shocked if the Yanks honor A-Rod.

#15 Thurman Munson. Yes. Esp. considering the circumstances of his passing.

#16 Whitey Ford. Yes.

#20 Jorge Posada. No. No Offense to Jorge, but unless you are HOF, it’s hard to justify retiring the number.

#23. Don Mattingly. No. I was there when they retired his number. I loved Donnie, but is he more worthy or better than two people who each got a plaque but whose numbers aren’t retired? O’Neill or Tino? I think not. Also, no HOF. Should have the same treatment as Paul and Tino. Plaque, no retired #. Hey, with so many retired numbers, we have to be tough here.

#32. Elston Howard. Plaque yes, retired number, no. 1st black on the Yanks, 1st AL Black MVP, but not a HOF. Tough call, but no.

#37 Casey Stengel. See Torre above. If you want players only, no. If you include managers, yes.

#44 Reggie. No. Only was with the Yanks 1977-1981, not long enough. Plaque yes, retired number, no.

#46 Andy Pettitte. Close call. No. Chuck Knoblauch, who is in the Mitchell report along with Andy (HGH) blasts the selection of Pettitte. I’d argue yes, but it’s a close call. By the way, Red Ruffing #15 and Allie Reynolds #22 both have plaques, no retired number. Of course, #15 is retired for Munson.

#49 Ron Guidry. No. Tough Call. I loved the Gator, but no HOF and not even 200 wins.

#51 Bernie. Tough call, but no HOF. The only difference between him getting his # retired and Paul and Tino getting just plaques is that Bernie spent 16 years as a Yankee while Paul and Tino spent considerable time with other teams (Cincy and Seattle).

So I eliminated 10 numbers, 12 if you think players only should have the numbers retired. This isn’t to disrespect the players whose numbers I want to “unretire” but to state which I think should be retired vs. those I think the Yanks went overboard on.

The Yanks could have a problem in years to come. Hopefully I am alive to see it. It means I would have lived through one more dynasty.

 

 

Yanks to retire #46.

On August 23rd, Andy Pettitte will join the list of retired numbers when #46 will be retired. Andy won 256 games, 219 with the Yanks (37 with Houston) and won most of his 19 postseason victories with the Yanks as well.

Bernie Williams will have a day this year, too. No word yet on whether #51 will be retired. I expect it will be.

O’Neill (21), Gossage (54) and Tino (24) had plaques put in Monument Park in their honors. Probably because they didn’t spend 15-16 years as a Yankee like Pettitte did (although that didn’t stop the Yanks from retiring Reggie’s #44 (1977-1981) or Maris’ #9 (1960-1966)). No one may be wearing those numbers now, but they are not officially retired and they are probably just “out of circulation” for a while.

You know Posada and Jeter are coming. Hey, the more days, the bigger crowd. Milk it for what it’s worth…

We may need to get into 1A, 2A, 3 A soon….

Anyway, here’s the list….

1 Billy Martin
2 Derek Jeter?
3 Babe Ruth
4 Lou Gehrig
5 Joe DiMaggio
6 Joe Torre
7 Mickey Mantle
8 Bill Dickey AND Yogi Berra
9 Roger Maris
10 Phil Rizzuto
15 Thurman Munson
16 Whitey Ford (the only one not retired while the Yanks were at Yankee Stadium; the Yanks were in Shea in 1974 and 1975 while Yankee Stadium was being remodeled).
20 Jorge Posada?
23 Don Mattingly
32 Elston Howard
37 Casey Stengel
42 Mariano Rivera  (and Jackie Robinson )
44 Reggie Jackson
46 Andy Pettitte
49 Ron Guidry
51 Bernie Williams?

Yankees fighting A-Rod incentives, Bill Monbouquette dies at 78.

A-Rod is supposed to get $6MM when he ties Willie Mays mark of 660 HR. A-Rod is 6 HR short right now. As I wrote earlier, if A-Rod does it while I am there May 24th, I won’t be applauding #660* or #661*.

The Yanks apparently won’t be applauding either. They apparently are seeking to negate that clause in the contract where they would pay A-Rod his incentive $$, claiming it was done under false pretenses (the steroids). I have to side with the Yankees, here.

Bill Monbouquette, an early 1960s Red Sox ace who played with the Yanks for a short time, died at the age of 78. “Monbo”, as he was known by, pitched for Boston from 1958-1965, and was integral in the Red Sox accepting Pumpsie Green onto the team. The Red Sox were the last of the original 16 teams to integrate, and Green was the first black player on Boston—-in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Monbouquette had a lifetime record of 114-112, ERA 3.68, ERA+ 104. Slightly better than average. He was a 3x All-Star who was a 20-game winner in 1963. He led the AL in losses in 1965 when he went 10-18, 3.70. He spent 1966 and part of 1967 with the Tigers, and was a Yankee for 1967 and 1968. In 1967 he was 6-5, 2.36 with the Yanks as a spot starter and long reliever. Overall that year he was 6-5, 2.33, ERA+ 134. In 1968, his final season, he was 5-7, 4.43 for the Yanks, then was 0-1, 3.75 for the Giants. Overall, 5-8, 4.35, ERA+ 67. He pitched a no-no in 1962.

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, dies at 83.

Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, died at the age of 83. He would have turned 84 on January 31st.

Banks hit 512 HR in his career, all with the Chicago Cubs, that lasted from 1953-1971. He has the record for most games played without ever playing in the postseason. From 1953-1966, Banks played on only one team that had a winning record, and that team was 82-80.

Nevertheless, Banks became the first NL player to win back-to-back MVPs when he did so in 1958 and 1959. While mostly known as a SS, Banks moved to 1B in 1961 and played more games at 1B than SS.

Banks hit 40 HR or more in five of the six seasons from 1955-1960. He led the majors in HR in 1958 and 1960 and in RBI in 1958 and 1959.

Meanwhile, a couple Yankee-related news items. Eury Perez, DFA’d by the Yanks, signed with Atlanta. He had a “cup of tea” with the Yanks last year, going 2 for 10.

Ichiro Suzuki, 41, signed a one-year deal with the Marlins to be a backup OF.

Santana, Moncado, $$$ and what is old is new again.

Apparently the Yanks are still interested in Johan Santana as a low-risk, high-reward option. Santana is scheduled to start a game in the Venezuelan league soon and the Yankees are said to be one of six teams interested. Santana has pitched in the majors in just one season since 2010, and that was 2012. The 2x CYA winner will be 36 next year and would be seen as a back-of-the-rotation option. Who knows if there is anything left. In his only season since 2012, Santana was 6-9, 4.85 for the Mets. He did throw the only no-no in Mets history that year, although it was tainted. A ball ruled foul was really a fair ball. The batter? Carlos Beltran.

The Yanks are very interested, and had a workout for, 19 year old infielder Yoan Moncado. He profiles at 2B or 3B but could be moved to the outfield. The Cuban defector is a switch-hitter and estimates in order to sign him go at $30MM. Keep an eye on this development.

The Yanks traded recently DFA’d Gonzalez Germen to Texas for cash. Germen was made available when the Yanks picked up Chris Martin from Colorado for $$$.

Finally, what is old is new again. The Yanks non-Cable (non-YES) games will not be on My9 this year, but are moving…. to WPIX, Channel 11. Many of us grew up with the Yanks and Channel 11. Now the Mets are there as well, but apparently the 25 Mets games and 21 Yankees games will not be overlapping. If only we could get back the Scooter, Bill White and Frank Messer. Only White, at 80, is still alive.

What is more interesting, is that my cable company wanted to can WPIX for other stations just a month ago. Due to protests, they kept WPIX, Channel 11 from NY. Had they canned them, and then THIS development happened, the protests that just occurred would have been a drop in the bucket to the protests that WOULD have occurred.