Monday, December 31, 2012

My baseball article in today's Modesto Bee

Yes I have an article in the paper and its about a local who became a big league pitcher in the 1970's. Here is the link or the address:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

#41-Matt Williams

One of my favorite Giants of all-time (up there with Willie McCovey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Buster Posey and Panda Bear.) Drafted by the Giants in the 1st round of the 1986 draft he was called up the next season and the next and again in the Giants' pennant winning year of 1989. However, those three years he hit a miserable .198. His 181 K's over 137 hits didn't help and his .243 OBP indicated how bad he was. Williams was starting to appear to be a classic 4A hitter after tearing the cover off the ball for the last three years at AAA Phoenix. He had spent the previous two years getting set up with fastballs and then swinging and missing on breaking pitches. Even I was getting a little cynical about his potential.  In the September 25 game at Dodger Stadium Williams came up in the 5th inning against John Wetland and the same old scenario was playing out. Down 0-2 Wetland was now going to finish off Williams with a breaking pitch and this time Williams sat back, waited and smashed hit his 18th homer of the season. He was more than just a fastball hitter after that and the season of this card was his breakout year hitting .277 33 homers and driving in 122. 
After 1990 he became one of the best power hitters in the National League and would make 4 appearances on the All-Star team. His excellent fielding also helped make him a complete player. In 1994 he was on a pace to break Roger Maris' home runs in a season record of 61 however, the players went on strike thus scuttling his attempt at the record. After the 96 season he went to Cleveland in a trade that came down to Williams for Jeff Kent the Giants future MVP and all-star second baseman. Before the 98 season he was off to Arizona where in 2001 he won his third pennant-he also won in his one season in Cleveland, but lost to Florida-and his first World Series after hitting .269 with a home run and driving in 7 runners in the seven game series. After winning the Series the last two seasons his playing time declined and in 03 he was released by the Diamondbacks. 
Hired by Arizona manager Kirk Gibson as a coach in 2010 he has since served as a first and how is the D-Back's third base coach. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Article in today's Modesto Bee

While, again, its not sports related I have an article in today's Modesto Bee and here is the Link

Sunday, December 16, 2012

#40 Jay Howell

Drafted out of the University of Colorado in the 31st round of the 1976 draft by the Reds. Working as a starting pitcher he was called up from AA in 1980 and quickly showed he was in way over his head. After that season he was sent to the Cubs fro Mike O'Berry. In 81 he made 10 appearances with a 2-0 record and a 4.84 ERA. Over the off-season he went to the Yankees to complete a deal for Pat Tabler.  Spending 82-83 bouncing between the minors and the bigs he was used as a starter and was awful again. In 1984 though he was sent to the bullpen and his one start that year would be his last in the majors. Serving as a setup man to Dave Righetti Howell dropped his ERA to a low 2.69 to go along with 7 saves and a then career high WAR of 2.8. His reward was to be sent to the Athletics in the mammoth Rickey Henderson deal. As the A's closer in 85 he saved 29 games  but spent the next two years struggling with injuries-in spite of those setbacks he was named to the 1987 American League All-Star team held in Oakland that year. Normally you'd get a warm reception when representing your team in your home park however, Howell who was having a bad year was roundly booed by the home fans in an ungracious gesture from the Oakland fans. With the emergence of Dennis Eckersley as the A's closer Howell was again sent packing in another mammoth deal that also sent shortstop Alfredo Griffin to the Dodgers for pitchers Bob Welch and Matt Young. Both Oakland and Los Angeles sent players to the Mets in the trade was a winner for the A's and Dodgers and a failure for the Mets. 
In 1988 the Dodgers won the World Series and Howell would play his part but getting to the series would be a struggle.  In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Mets Howell was found to have pine tar on his glove. After a one game suspension the Doges won the pennant and Howell was able to get his revenge on those A's fans by picking up a save in the Series the Dodgers won against Oakland. 89, the year this picture was taken, would be Howell's best season with 28 saves-his second best career total-and a meager 1.58 ERA. He also set his career best WAR with a 3.3. 
After the 91 season he left LA as a free agent and signed with the Braves where he contributed to the Braves comeback against the Giants to win the National League West. He didn't make any appearances in the NLCS which the Braves lost to the Phillies. In 1993 he pitched for the Rangers but was not as effective and at the age of 38 his career came to an end with the strike.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#39 Curt Ford

Drafted by the Cardinals in the 4th round of the 1981 draft Curt Ford by 1983 he was hitting .290 with 20 home runs and 91 RBI's at A ball Springfield. As for that power display that was the last time he'd reach 20 homers in a season. Debuting with the big club on June 23, 1985 Cards' manager Whitey Herzog told Ford during the 8th inning "you're going to win the game for us." With one out in the 10th inning and a runner on second singled to right off of Cubs' pitcher Lee Smith driving in the winning run. After the game  Ford said "No I wasn't nervous. I might b twice the next time. I like to hit in situations like that. Every time I walk between the lines, I want to be a hero, the big shooter." Whitey also said that Ford was " the most impressive young player we had in spring training." 
Ford came back the next season and in 85 games hit .248 and stole 13 bases. Still a reserve in the pennate year of 87 he set career highs in batting-.285-home runs-3-runs scored-32.  He also set career highs in WAR with a 1.4 and he also set a career high in dWar with a 1.1. However, it appeared in August he would miss the rest of the season when he broke his hand. Come post-season he was back and in the NLCS against the Giants he hit .333 in 4 games over 9 at-bats. Playing in 5 games of the World Series he was over .300 again with 2 RBI's but was caught stealing in his only attempt in the series the Cards lost to the Twins. In Game 5 he hit the game winning single off of Twins started Bert Blyleven in the sixth inning. In 1988 he dropped below the Mendoza line and in the year shown on the card was a Phillie after being traded to along with Steve Lake for outfielder Milt Thompson. Phillies general manager Lee Thomas described Ford as "the type of guy who will give manager NIck Leyva some maneuverability because he can play three outfield positions as well as first, second and third. He's also a good pinch hitter." 
The year this card came out he struggled to a miserable .111 BA in 22 games and a trip back to the minors didn't help and at the end of the season was allowed to leave Philadelphia as a free agent. The next seven years were spent wandering the wilderness of minor league baseballs with stints in the minor league systems of the Philies again, the Tigers and another return to the Cards along with trips to the Independent leagues and a season with the Marlins AAA team. At the age of 36, in 1997, he played his last season of pro ball with Amarillo of the Independent Texas-Louisiana League. His career amounted to 406 games but just 743 at-bats being used as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#38 Wes Gardner

He is Wes Gardner pitching probably during Spring Training for the Red Sox coming off a bad 89 as the back of the card shows. Drafted by the Mets in the 22 round of the 1982 draft he went right through the Mets' system and debuted in 1984. While in the minors and in his 2 years with the Mets he pitched as a reliever. In 1986 he went to the Red Sox in the big Calvin Schiraldi for Bob Ojeda trade.
Playing his first full season in Boston in 1987 he saved 10 games but had a 5.42 ERA. In 88 he moved to the starting rotation and had his career best WAR of 2.4. In the playoffs against Oakland he made one relief appearance and that was in Game 3 when Mike Boddicker was knocked out early. The season this pic was taken in Gardner went 3-7 with a bloated 5.97. In 1990-the year this card was released he pitched to the same record and an ERA that was a run lower. In 1991 he was traded to the Padres where he was hammered over 20 innings to the tune of a 7.08 ERA  and finished the year in Kansas. Making his final appearance in August of 1991 and was released that same month ending his career. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

#37-Domingo Ramos

Here is his Wiki entry: "Domingo Antonio Ramos (born March 29, 1958 in Santiago, Dominican Republic), is a former professional baseball player who was an infielder in the Major Leagues from 1978-1990."
Not much you'd have to admit. He was signed as an 17-year-old amateur in 1975 by the Yankees. His best offensive numbers were in 1977 with West Haven when he hit .246 at AA. He was part of the mammoth Sparky Lyle deal with Texas in 1979 in which the Yankees received Dave Righetti as part of the deal. Bought by Toronto he made 5 appearances for them in 1980.  In 1981 he was take by Seattle in the Rule 5 Draft. In 6 years in Seattle he hit .228 with 5 homers and 44 RBI's. While there and playing second, short and third base he had a dWar of 0.5 and an an overall WAR of -1.4. In 1988 he went to Cleveland for part of the season and spent the rest with the Angles. He is pictured on his card as a member of the Cubs where he spent his last two years in the majors.

#36-John Costello

Well, its a nice card and he pitched in the majors for four years. Ehhh. He was drafted by the Cardinals in 1983 going in the 24th Round.  He had an awful debut at Erie going 2-5 with a 6.64 ERA. Spending 84-85 at A Ball as a starter. He moved up the ladder reaching AAA Louisville in 87. A superb 88 saw him go 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA, 11 Saves and a tiny WHIP of 0.818. Called up the big club he made his debut on June 2, 1987 against the Phillies at the Vet. Appearing in the 13th inning he came in with 1 out and the basses loaded in a 2-2 game. First he got Chris James to pop out to shallow right then Mike Young flied out to left and Costello got the Cards out of the jam. With a run in the 14th Costello struck out the side and earned his first major league win. 
Not until July did he give up a run and that was homer to Gary Templeton. He would go on to win 5 and lose 2 with an impressive 1.81 ERA but a high WHIP of 1.389. The year this card's picture was taken he was 5-4 with a 3.31 ERA but his WHIP dropped to a very good 1.091. This card became outdate on April 23 of 1990 when Costello was traded to the Expos for Red Hudler. 1991 saw a trade to the Padres for Brian Harrison where he went 1-0 with a 3.09 but another big WHIP of 1.543. In 1992 he pitched for the Mariners AAA team at Calgary but was hammered over just 5.1 innings for a 13.50 ERA. With that his career came to an end. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

To the viewers from Poland. :)

Since I seem to have a lot of hits coming from Poland all i can say is: Why did Pro Evolution Soccer drop Zbigniew Boniek from its classic players lineup? He was a great passer and finisher. 

#35-Benito Santiago

By 1990 the once promising career of 1987 National League Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago was going into decline. After hitting .300 with 18 HR's and 79 RBI's, having a 34-game hitting streak,  he was coming off his second sub-.250 season. In 88 he threw out a league best 47% of runners, which he did from his knees thanks to his powerful right arm, who tried to steal on him and had a dWAR of 2.7, however, he was  starting to get a reputation for being lazy and by 1991 he was talked about around the league. Santiago's offensive slump was said to be caused by the emergence of Sandy Alomar Jr who worried Santiago so much the Padres traded him to the Indians for Joe Carter. Not everyone understood his worries, the Padres former GM Jack McKeon wondered "What did he have to look over his shoulder for? he was a proven All-Star and the other guy was in Triple A. What kind of competition is that? What Benny has going on his his mind I don't know." It was said to be an example of Santiago's "tiresome insecurity." Also in 91 he was benched by manager Greg Riddoch for lack of hustle both on offense and defense. Expos manager Buck Rodgers was asked, also in 91, about Santiago and he went off criticizing what he saw as Santiago being  'lazy behind the plate. He's living off his reputation. Ever since the guys in the media made a big deal about him throwing off his knees, he lost all his fundamentals. He would have to start all over again from A-B-C. He fell in love with his media reputation. I don't mind the media writing about it, but Santiago has to be smart enough to know it's just words written on paper." 
In December of 92 he signed with the expansion Marlins "who regarded him as the cornerstone of their franchise" and he would hit the team's first home run. Florida was going to be a change for the better, no more booing like he had received from Padres' fans and criticism from management. And, in no more than a few months 
"The boo-birds followed him to Florida. Santiago was criticized by fans and the media for his perceived lack of enthusiasm, not blocking the plate and his anemic .230 batting average." Even Marlins' announcer Gary Carter " criticized Santiago for his lackadaisical play behind the plate. Santiago didn't adequately block the plate last season or smother wild pitches." 
After that came stays in Cincinnati, Philadelphia-where he set career highs in homers with 30 and RBI's with 85-Toronto-where he was involved in a serious car accident that reduced him to 15 games in 98-the Cubs, back to the Reds and a good stay in San Francisco where he batted behind Barry Bonds and won the pennant in 02. He won the National League Championship Series when he hit .300, 2HR's and 6 RBI's in 5 games. In the World Series he slumped to a .231 but drove in 5 with no home runs. While in San Francisco he reflected on his career "When I was young, I was a dummy. I didn't appreciate the beautiful gift this game is to me. It's sad. I had a lot of ability, but no common sense. I wasted a lot of good years." In the previous few seasons he had gained a reputation as being a good teammate, good game caller and a hard worker. 
Santiago signed for Kansas in 04 and played his final game on April 11, 2005 for the Pirates.