I had the privilege of seeing Johnny Maestro in concert twice, and met him backstage once. I have a greatest-hits album signed by him. Brooklyn-born Johnny Mastrangello had an angelic voice. Great showman, wonderful guy. Maestro died Wednesday night at the age of 70.
Maestro began his career with the Crests, whose biggest hit came in early 1959 with 16 candles (#2 for 2 weeks). Six Nights a Week, The Angels Listened In, Step by Step and Trouble in Paradise all hit the top 40 in 1959 and 1960. The Crests were one of the first interracial acts in music history.
A regional hit was My Juanita. Maestro left the Crests, and went solo for a time, hitting the top 40 in 1961 with Model Girl and What a Surprise. Later, he hooked up with members of the Del-Satins, who had once backed up Dion. After spending a little time with them, they eventually merged with a group called the (great name) Rhythm Method. This new combined group took on a new name—The Brooklyn Bridge.
The Bridge had one major hit, 1969’s The Worst That Could Happen, which hit #3 early that year. Other minor hits included Welcome Me Love; Blessed is the Rain; Your Husband, My Wife (controversial at the time); and a version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Now to baseball…Since Phil won the #5 spot, and Joba is bullpen bound (as the 8th inning setup guy, where some believe he should have stayed?) were the Joba Rules for naught? What about Hughes limits?
I don’t think the Joba rules were for naught at all. Nor am I concerned over limiting Hughes. You have to remember that neither has reached their 25th b/day yet, and the Yanks do want to be cautious about what can be called their two most prized young pitching prospects. After all, the Yanks have not developed a rotation mainstay since Andy Pettitte; much too long in my opinion. It’s one thing to drop a Joba back into the bullpen to dominate. We saw that with Hughes last year and hopefully Joba does that this year. It’s another to develop one as a starter. Much more difficult. Before relegating one to the bullpen, you have to see if he can be a starter first. You just have to, especially at that age. Having ten to fifteen year rotation mainstays, like a Pettitte, is a nice luxury, and protecting them so that they can BE those kind of long-time mainstays is a necessity.
Old-timers may scoff at the overprotection. They correctly point to pitchers of the past who continuously threw over 300 innings but forget some things. Yes, Warren Spahn gave 245 or more innings every year from 1947-1963. But they forget that that streak began when Spahn was 26. Spahn lost three years to WWII.
Yes, Robin Roberts tossed 300 or more innings from 1950-1955. In 1956, Roberts went 19-18, 4.45 in 297.1 IP (ERA+ just 81) at the age of 29. He really wasn’t the same again. Consider this. Roberts was 286-245 in his career. In those six years from 1950-1955, Roberts was 138-78. For the rest of his career he was 148-167. This isn’t to disparage Roberts’ HOF career. It is to say that Roberts’ HOF numbers were primarily built on SIX of the 19 seasons he pitched. Did the six seasons of tremendous overwork hurt his 1956-1966 output? Probably.
Catfish Hunter was just 29 in 1975 when he pitched 328 innings for the Yanks—after pitching 318 for the 1974 A’s. In 1976, Hunter pitched 298.2 innings, going just 17-15, 3.53. ERA+ just 98. From 1977-1979, the last three years of his career, Hunter was just 23-24. He had to retire at the age of 33. For all the talk about the olden days, Roberts and Hunter aren’t brought up, are they?
More. What about Don Drysdale? His last pitch came just after he turned 33. From 1962-1965 he tossed 300 or more innings each of those years. Mel Stottlemyre threw his last pitch at the age of 32. He tossed 250 or more innings in every single season from 1965-1973.
I guess the question is on investment. With so much more invested salary-wise in the players today, burning out a pitcher for short-term goals vs. trying to maximize investment over the long-term is a more important issue today. It’s why I think the Joba Rules or Hughes Limitations aren’t for naught.
You hope both realize their full potential—for as long as they can—in whatever role is suited best for them.
The 25 man roster for Opening Day…not much more than a week away, hasn’t been set, but we can pretty much figure it out now.
SP- CC, AJ, Andy, Vazquez and Hughes
RP-Aceves, Park, Mitre, Robertson, Marte, Joba and Mo.
C-Posada and Cervelli.
INF-Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Pena
OF-Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Winn, Thames.
The only questions I have are that I hope Posada doesn’t drop off (38 years old). He’s fighting Father Time here. Will it be one or two lefties in the bullpen? Above is only one. Will a righty be dropped for Logan or Ring to be a second lefty in the ‘pen? If so, who is dropped? It appears as if there will be just the one lefty. Lastly, Thames hasn’t done anything in spring training so far. When will he pick it up? If he doesn’t pick it up, will the Yanks look at another righty bat off the bench (no, I don’t see them going after Jermaine Dye). Could they then see what David Winfree would give them? Make a deal with the Dodgers to get Jamie Hoffmann back? I’d expect them, if Thames fails, to take a less expensive route than Jermaine Dye. I think that they would want someone who would be more apt to accept a bench role than Dye, and also someone with more speed and better defense than Dye (36) would give.