Category Archives: Ex-Players

Bleier traded, A-Rod makes retirement official, A-Rod mgr.? and a rule

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Designated for assignment last week when the Yanks picked up Chris Carter, Richard Bleier was traded today to the Orioles for a player to be named later or ca$h considerations.

A-Rod showed up at spring training to be an instructor (and one expensive one at that). When asked about a comeback, he mentioned that since that last game as a Yankee on August 12th of last year that some teams reached out to him but that no, he isn’t coming back. He’s officially retired.

This week there has been some talk of A-Rod as a manager, maybe even replacing Girardi. I’m not in favor of that for a couple different reasons. First, how would he handle a pitching staff? Houk, Berra, Torre and Girardi, to name some recent Yankees managers, were all catchers. A-Rod wasn’t.

Also, take a GOOD look at some of the greatest managers of all time. How many great players do you see? Rose wasn’t especially a good manager before his suspension from baseball. Neither was Ted Williams in his short term as manager,nor Eddie Mathews or Mel Ott. Ryne Sandberg? Bust. Player-managers like Tris Speaker succeeded because they were still PLAYING.

The great managers are usually those who were NOT great when playing (Joe Torre being an exception) but who got to the majors based on their brains and tenacity not their playing skill. Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin, Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog and Dick Williams weren’t great players but were great managers. Casey Stengel wasn’t known as an all-time great player, neither Miller Huggins. The same can be said for people who never made the majors like Joe Maddon, Jim Leyland, Earl Weaver or Joe McCarthy.

Being a great player doesn’t make you a great manager. Quite the opposite.

Lastly, MLB is making a change to the intentional walk. I hate it. Now, a manager only need to signal and the batter takes his base. No pitches need to be thrown. It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve seen wild pitches, passed balls, stolen bases off those balls thrown wide of the plate. Heck, last year a pitcher threw a ball not far off the plate, Gary Sanchez swung at it and just missed hitting a HR (it was caught just short of the fence for a sac fly). Terrible decision. I’m going to hate this rule.

Gossage, like Levine, needs to zip it.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Besides Randy Levine needing to zip it more often, another person who needs to zip it is Rich “Goose” Gossage, who showed up in camp with his annual rant against relief pitchers, and particularly the great and classy Mariano Rivera.

Goose was great. His plaque is in Monument Park, deservedly so. In his prime, 1978-1983 as a Yankee, he averaged 7-5, 2.10, and 25 saves/yr. Remember that he missed 1/2 of 1979 due to the Cliff Johnson fight and 1/3 of 1981 due to the players’ strike. He is in the HOF, rightfully so, with a record of 124-107, 310 saves, 3.01 ERA and ERA+ of 126. (Goose also spent part of 1989 with the Yanks, at the end of his career). In that 1978-1983 time frame, he averaged 1 2/3 innings per appearance.

Goose spent one year starting for the White Sox in 1976.

Now Goose did pitch 2 2/3 innings in that famous Bucky Dent playoff game vs. Boston in 1978.

In what seems to be his annual rant against baseball today, he says (with expletives) not to compare him, Sutter, Fingers, etc. to pitchers like Rivera, Chapman, etc. because the latter day pitchers are one-inning guys. Fair enough.

But the way Goose disparages Rivera is uncalled for. Mariano’s #42 is retired by the Yankees, rightfully so, and Mo should be joining Goose in the HOF in 2019. He should get in almost unanimously, if not unanimously (there is always one jerk out there) on the very first ballot. What’s Goose going to do, boycott the ceremony?

Taking away Mo’s rookie season of 1995, when he started 10 games, from 1996 to the end of his career, Mariano pitched in 950 games, 1216 2/3 IP, averaging almost 1 1/3 innings per appearance—not too far off of Goose’s 1978-1983 average of 1 2/3. Rivera, of course, finished his career 82-60, a record 652 saves, 2.21 ERA and ERA+ a record 205.

And Mo did pitch three innings in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

The game changed. Goose should not hold Mo responsible for that or disparage Mo. Mo did his job, as the job requirements demanded at that time, as good or better than anyone else, just as Goose did his job, as the requirements demanded at the time, as good or better than anyone else.

The game has changed. Pitchers don’t throw complete games anymore. You don’t see starters throwing 300 innings in a season anymore. But you don’t hear Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson bitching about today’s great starters, do you?

In the same way, relief pitching has changed. I’m old school, and can agree with and sympathize with Gossage’s opinion.

But at the same time, Goose comes across as a bitter, classless, crotchety old man.

It’s to the classy Rivera’s credit that he doesn’t respond in kind. Mo’s not like that.

Enough already. Goose should just praise Mo for the great reliever he was, add that there were two different kinds of eras, and say I was great in mine, Mo was great in his, and be done with it.

Because Goose’s bitching is getting rather tiresome.

Between Goose’s rant and Randy Levine’s gloating over the Dellin Betances’ arbitration case, I was a little ashamed this week—a week I usually can’t wait for, what with spring training starting.

Hey guys, zip it, and let’s concentrate on baseball. Don’t disparage the game and the players but respect and honor good players.

Because your comments this week were very sad to hear, and I’m sure I am not the only Yankees fan saddened, disheartened, and quite frankly, a bit pissed at what I saw and heard.

Swisher and Choate retire.

Yankee Stadium Frieze
This week saw the retirement of two former Yankees.

Nick Swisher, RF for the 2009 WS champs (249-29-82, OPS+ 122), and a Yankee 2009-2012, retired. An All-Star in 2010, he hit .268 with 105 HR in his 4 years as a Yankee, OPS+ 124. It’s where he had his best years. For his career, he hit .249 with 245 HR, OPS+ 113. From 2004-2015 he played for the A’s, White Sox, Yankees, Indians and Braves.In the postseason, the ebullient Swish went .165-4-8 in 47 games.

Randy Choate, who was a rookie in 2000 and the last active player from that 2000 WS Championship team (0-1, 4.76), also retired.  Choate was with the Yanks 2000-2003, going 3-2, 4.43 as a Yankee, ERA+ 104. He may have been an unlikely candidate for 15 years in the majors, but that’s what being a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) will do for you. In his career he went 16-14, 3.90, ERA+ 108 for the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rays, Marlins, Dodgers and Cardinals and besides pitching for the Yanks in the 2001 WS, pitched for the Cardinals in the 2013 WS. He was 0-1, 3.38 in 21 postseason games.

 

Recent passings.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A couple tragedies this past week. On the same day, in two separate car crashes in the Dominican Republic, Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura and former MLB infielder Andy Marte died.

Ventura, 25, was 38-31, 3.89, ERA+ 107 in his brief MLB career. He won 14 games for the 2014 AL Champs and 13 for the 2015 WS Champs. He finished 6th in ROY voting in 2014. He went 1-2, 4.66 in 10 postseason games. He was 11-12, 4.45 in 2016.

Marte, 33, played for Atlanta in 2005, Cleveland 2006-2010, and Arizona in 2014. In 308 games, 854 at bats, he hit .218-21-99. His 162 g. average was .218-11-52, OPS+ 69. He played 3B and 1B.

Also, pitcher Jackie Brown died at the age of 73 on January 8. Brown was with the Washington Senators 1970-1971, the Texas Ranger 1973-1975, Cleveland 1975-1976 and Montreal 1977. He went 47-53, 4.18 in his career, ERA+ 87. His best year was in 1974, when he went 13-12, 3.57 for a Billy Martin-led Rangers team that surprisingly finished second in the AL West. His 162 G. average was 10-11, 4.18, 22 starts, 24 more relief appearances.

3 make Hall of Fame. Posada one and done.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A few days ago, I wrote about how it was appearing that Jorge Posada would be one and done in the Hall of Fame balloting. Unfortunately, that came to pass as Posada only got 3.8% of the vote, short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot for another year.

It amazes me how people like Posada, Bernie, Cone, Tino, Wells and O’Neill could fall off the ballot after only a year or two. I’m not saying they are Hall of Famers. I’m saying that I’m surprised they didn’t last longer on the ballot.

Here are the vote totals. 75% was needed for induction.

Some notes on some.

Jeff Bagwell, 381 votes, 86.2%
Tim Raines, 380 votes, 86.0%
Ivan Rodriguez, 336 votes, 76.0%
Trevor Hoffman, 327 votes, 74.0% Missed by 5 votes.
Vladimir Guerrero, 317 votes, 71.7% Just missed by 15 votes.
Edgar Martinez, 259 votes, 58.6%
Roger Clemens, 239 votes, 54.1% Picking up steam despite the PED allegations.
Barry Bonds, 238 votes, 53.8% See Clemens.
Mike Mussina, 229 votes, 51.8% Nice pickup in voting.
Curt Schilling, 199 votes, 45.0% Recent comments hurt him.
Lee Smith, 151 votes, 34.2%
Manny Ramirez, 105 votes, 23.8%
Larry Walker, 97 votes, 21.9%
Fred McGriff, 96 votes, 21.7% 493 HR, no steroids, no respect.
Jeff Kent, 74 votes, 16.7% One of best hitting 2B ever. 377 HR
Gary Sheffield, 59 votes, 13.3% 509 HR and ….
Billy Wagner, 45 votes, 10.2% Probably better stats than Hoffman
Sammy Sosa, 38 votes, 8.6%

Jorge Posada, 17 votes, 3.8% Too bad off ballot so soon.
Magglio Ordonez, 3 votes, 0.7%
Edgar Renteria, 2 votes, 0.5%
Jason Varitek, 2 votes, 0.5%
Tim Wakefield, 1 vote,0.2%
Casey Blake, 0 votes, 0.0%
Pat Burrell, 0 votes, 0.0%
Orlando Cabrera, 0 votes, 0.0%
Mike Cameron, 0 votes, 0.0%
J.D. Drew, 0 votes, 0.0%
Carlos Guillen, 0 votes, 0.0%
Derrek Lee, 0 votes, 0.0%
Melvin Mora, 0 votes, 0.0%
Arthur Rhodes, 0 votes, 0.0%
Freddy Sanchez, 0 votes, 0.0%
Matt Stairs, 0 votes, 0.0%

So Raines gets in. Long overdue in my opinion. 2605 hits. 808 SB. .294. OPS+ 123. One of the best leadoff hitters ever. 1979-2002. Expos, White Sox, Yankees, A’s, Expos again, Orioles and Marlins. Member of 1996 and 1998 Yankees, albeit as a part-timer then. 7x all star. 3x top 10 in MVP voting. Runnerup for 1981 ROY. Led league in runs scored 2x, batting average once, SB 4x. Doubles once. 162 g. average .294-11-63 with 52 SB.

Bagwell 1991-2005, all with Houston. 449 HR. .297. OPS+ 149 which is outstanding. ROY 1991. MVP 1994. Top 10 in MVP 5x, runnerup in 1999. 4x All Star. Led league in runs scored 3x, doubles once, RBI once. 100 or more RBI 8x, led league once, averaged 106 walks/yr. For a 1B, 202 steals, did 30/30 twice. Led league in walks once. Avg. `162 g. .297-34-115, 15 SB.

Rodriguez 1991-2011. Rangers, Tigers, Yankees (where he was lousy, just 3 RBI in 33 games) Astros, Rangers again, Nationals. 1999 MVP. 2844 hits. 14x All star. 13 Gold Gloves. 4x Top 10 MVP voting. For a catcher, 17 x had 100 or more games in a season. OPS+ 106. 162 g. ave: .296-20-85.

Ok. There are rumors about Bagwell and Rodriguez’ PED usage. Sosa didn’t pick up ground, but Bonds and Clemens did. Manny Ramirez came in low despite his 555 HR because of his two suspensions for PED usage. Where these voters stand on PED usage is anyone’s guess.

As for next year’s newcomers to the ballot, I expect Chipper Jones and Jim Thome to get in, and Andruw Jones to miss out.

Ex-MLB pitcher Bill Champion dies at 69.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Even though I am a Yankees fan, I don’t live far from Philadelphia, and there are many Phillies fans where I live.

On Jan. 7, a former Phillies pitcher, Bill Champion, passed away at the age of 69. He was 34-50, 4.69, ERA+ 78 in his career with the Phils & Brewers from 1969-1976.

Not much Yankees news to report, which is why I’ve been silent. Waiting for the NFL. Go Steelers, beat KC.

You’ll hear more from me next week when the HOF class of 2017 is announced.

First to HR in MLB game on West Coast dies: Daryl Spencer

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Daryl Spencer, an infielder, and the first major leaguer to hit a MLB home run on the West Coast, has passed away at the age of 88.

After the move of the NY Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to the west coast after the 1957 season, it was Spencer who hit the first HR out west when his now San Francisco Giants hosted the now Los Angeles Dodgers at Seals Stadium on April 15, 1958. The HR, off Don Drysdale, helped the Giants win the game 8-0.

Spencer played for the Giants, Cardinals, Dodgers and Reds from 1952-1963. He missed all of the 1954 and 1955 seasons due to military service, thus missing out on the 1954 NY Giants WS title year.

He hit .244 in his career, playing SS, 2B and 3B, and had 105 HR. His 162 g. average was .244-15-63, OPS+ 89.