February 22, 2011
You Had One Wally Joyner…Why Another?
You remember Wally Joyner. Wally World, and all that.
Joyner had modest power – totally inflated by the Superball of 1987, but really his power wasn’t what you required from a first baseman. However, he had other skills on offense besides hitting singles.
Eppard was a Joyner clone, except he also played left field.
I guess he wasn’t a clone at all. He was kind of like Joyner’s cousin.
Joyner’s slow cousin from the OTHER side of the family.
Eppard could rake singles all over the park in the minors. Once in a while he hit a double when he was feeling randy, but otherwise it was singles. He didn’t strike out much – didn’t walk much. He’d been a great #2 or #9 hitter (AL) if he was a middle infielder. But he wasn’t.
He played the ‘power’ positions. And yes while you can survive as a team without plus power at the power positions (see Mark Grace, Keith Hernandez or Wade Boggs), the player in question needs to compensate in other ways – getting on base and playing defense.
Eppard was up for most of 1988, being a pinch hitter and playing left and first on occasion. This was after a 1987 where he hit .341 in the PCL at age 27.
Of course, a cynic would say he was 27, and the PCL is a hitter’s haven, and he had 33 doubles, 3 triples and 3 homers and the rest singles.
What role could he play for the Angels, realistically? Joyner was at first, Downing the DH, Chili Davis in right. Tony Armas was in left but he still had some power. Eppard replaced Bill Buckner when the old man stopped hitting. George Hendrick was still wheezing around. Basically, he was there to pinch hit for Schofield or McLemore. Zzzzzz….
I don’t think roster construction was a strength of Cookie Rojas as a manager. There was no one on the bench that could supply some pop off the bench, no one to really play as the fourth outfielder that wasn’t old, and when they tried to force McLemore into the lineup, they moved Johnny Ray to left because Lord knows they needed another slappy in the lineup. (Ray’s defensive performance in left almost leads you to believe that a statue could have done just as well. I’d also like to see how much weight Devon White lost during the season playing between Armas / Ray and Davis.)
That wasn’t Eppard’s fault, per se. On the right team, with the right manager, he could have been a valuable asset.
Eppard wasn’t with the big club much in 1989, then hooked up with Toronto for 1990 to play first at Syracuse and be sure McGriff and Olerud didn’t get hurt. He hit .310 with limited power (of course) but had a .374 OBP (decent). In 1991, he was back in the Angels chain playing for Salinas.
Wait, you say, Salinas is in the California League. You would be right. Eppard went to Class A after being in the majors in 1990 (briefly but he was). He had a great OBP and hit .339, but had just three home runs.
In Class A.
One more year in Indianapolis, one year in St. Paul in the Northern League, and then it was off to the coaching ranks.
For the past eight seasons, and again in 2011, he was the hitting coach for the Salt Lake Bees in the PCL. That’s a good role for him. Obviously, he woke up hitting .300 so he knows the mechanics of hitting, and if he can communicate it to young players then all’s the better.
But hopefully he can give some advice to the players in AAA about being stuck in an organization where you are stuck behind players that you have no chance of moving besides injuries. Well, that and let’s hope he doesn’t give Mark Trumbo any shanks so he can ensure Kendry Morales can’t play first!
February 22, 2011
The Haunted Look Of A Mariners’ Middle Reliever
Typing in Mike Brown into Baseball-Reference.com leads to two major league players named Mike Brown who were both in the majors at the same time.
Mike Brown, the outfielder, probably got a raw deal by the Pirates and Angels. He could flat out rake in the minors and half of the time in the majors.
This Mike Brown was a top prospect for the Red Sox, and like a lot of the mid-level Boston prospects didn’t pan out. When you go 1-8, 6.85, you don’t have a long leash. So he languished in the minors and struggled with some injuries (his 1985 was basically lost in the weeds with ineffective performances at both Boston and Pawtucket, and not many innings pitched) and then in 1986 when the Mariners dangled Spike Owen and Dave Henderson, the Red Sox said, “Hey, have two Mikes! So Brown and Trujillo went to the Mariners.
And pitching for the 1986 Mariners can try a man’s soul.
Now it could be that Brown had foreshadowing, since he was traded so late. This could be an airbrush job but I don’t have conclusive proof one way or another.
At any rate, Brown went from fringe contributor to a pennant winner to, well, just another pitcher in the clown car that was the Mariners’ staff. His first start was a disaster (1 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 3 walks, 6 runs), his second pretty good, and of course (7 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER), so of course he was just a mop-up man in September. You know, because Mike Morgan really needed those innings.
At any rate, Brown was not in the Mariners plans for 1987 for whatever reason, and pitched just 1/3 of an inning, giving up three hits and two runs in the first inning after Lee Guetterman was knocked out of the box by the Twins. Brown gave up double, single, double, fly out and then was sent back to the PCL. He pitched one more year, in Colorado Springs for the Indians, and was done.
So maybe Brown sees the future in this card, where he’s back to riding the buses as a pitching coach. Or perhaps Brown is reflecting on his high school successes, as the back of the card enumerates:
He must have been a pretty darn good athlete (Falls Church Marshall Statesmen, class of 1977!), as he went to Clemson on a baseball scholarship, and as it says averaging 24.5 points in hoops and 40 yards in football.
“40 yards in football”?????
40 yards what? Rushing? Passing?
Unless that was a per reception or return average, 40 yards is nothing special for a rusher or receiver, and bad as a QB except in an option or wing-T offense.
Did Topps run out of room? Didn’t check the content? Or were the fumes from the airbrush department overwhelming the copy editors?
Maybe Brown is thinking about that?
“I have a vision. The back of my baseball card is not going to make sense…”
February 21, 2011
February 21, 2011
Be Careful What You Wish For
Scott Boras has done a lot of good for some of his clients, but some of his ideas have derailed his clients careers, and his emulators have really done some damage.
Bobby Seay is one of those who arguably was hurt by Boras’ tactics.
Seay was drafted in the first round in 1996, but Seay, Travis Lee, Matt White and John Patterson were all declared free agents because Boras found loopholes in how they were tendered contracts. It was all very much minutiae and technicalities but it made Seay and the other three a lot of money because they were top draftee prospects.
What happened, of course, is that they were paid bonuses out of alignment with any other rational measure, and gave a false value to their talents. Of course, one could argue that they were paid what the market would bear, but Boras has always been able to get teams to overpay for his clients.
It could be said that the Matt Harrington debacle was inspired by the inflated value given to these players.
At any rate, White never made the bigs, Lee was a disappointment, Patterson had injury issues, and Seay basically became a LOOGY.
Don’t get me wrong, LOOGYs have their place, but I don’t think that when Seay was drafted the were expecting that he’d just be a generic lefty reliever.
There was a lot of pressure on Seay to recoup his big bonus that the Devil Rays gave him after he became a free agent. There is always pressure on high draft picks, but Seay had a target on his back. Yet, he seemed to be doing OK. By 2000, he was in AA and had a decent year in Orlando.
But the injuries hit, and with that any chance Seay had to become a star lefty starter. Also, the Devil Rays may have not been such a well-run organization. After his 2000, he was back in Orlando in 2001 and then was called up even though his stats were pedestrian (I think they may have been contractually obligated to call him up, though I don’t know for sure). He never was in Tampa Bays’ plans again, though he was called up a couple of times before being traded to Colorado in 2005.
He then started his parade around the baseball world.
Now, after a couple of years in Detroit, he’s hurt again and a free agent. That’s not a good combination.
We’ll never know what would have happened if Seay had taken the White Sox’ offer and reported there. But what happened is that baseball started to pay attention to the little things on minor league contracts to stop such shenanigans.
And that can’t be all bad.
(BTW, are you proud of me? I didn’t reference the odious hit by Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson…just think about it. You’ll be happy I didn’t link to it….)
February 20, 2011
Next Stop, Frisco
Jeff Suppan, the man who would not die. Well, at least his career will not die.
Let’s count his escapes:
1998 – The former Red Sox propsect was deemed expendable. After being drafted by the Diamondbacks, he went 1-7, 6.68 for the first year NL team, then he was sent to the PCL. The Royals purchased him, and he rebounded.
2002 – He signed a big money contract and went 9-16, 5.32 with Kansas City. Not that it was that horrible (OPS+ of 93) but he wasn’t going to get big money.
2003 – He pitched well for the Pirates, and Boston reacquired him in the Freddy Sanchez deal. It wasn’t such a good deal for Boston, as he struggled. But St. Louis took a chance and put him in the Duncan rehab program from wayward starters.
2010 – He pitched OK for St. Louis from 2004-06. So Milwaukee spent $40 million over four years for him. He was OK in 2007, bad in 2008, awful in 2009, and egregious in 2010. So St. Louis snapped him up, again, to patch their staff. A 3-6 record belied some good work for a 102 ERA+.
So he escaped again. Had he not signed the $40 million deal, he may have been gone in 2009. But the Brewers were loath to cut ties and admit sunk costs until he was batting practice fodder.
Now can he continue his semi-resurgence as a Giant? There’s not going to be any expectation that he’ll be a starter, obviously, but can he contribute as a middle man?
Well, it’s not going to cost the Giants $40 million to find out now.
February 20, 2011
Trying To Avoid The Easy Jokes
Saccomanno, a hometown boy, got 10 at bats for the Astros in 2008. Upper Deck would have made you think he was a hot prospect, but Mark was 28. So basically the Astros threw him a bone for loyal service at Round Rock for a few seasons.
Which is nice of Houston to do. The Astros were kinda sorta in the wild card race (coming from way back to get within 3 1/2 back of Milwaukee) and some guy named Berkman had an OPS+ of 159 at first base that year.
In front of his hometown friends and family, and with two out in the bottom of the fifth, he crushed the first pitch he saw from Ian Snell and planted it in the seats to break a scoreless tie. The Astros scored two more runs in the inning and held on to a 3-2 win, giving Saccomanno a GWRBI.
His only other hit was a run-scoring pinch double off of James Parr. But the Astros were in a big hole at the time as the Braves scored eight off of Brandon “Baby Got” Backe in 1 1/3.
His only two big league hits were a double and a homer. Not a bad thing to tell your kids. After playing for the Marlins organization last season, it’s unknown if he’s in a camp right now (well, I haven’t looked that hard, but still).
Every time I hear his name, I think of Jeannie Cusamano or even Hunter Scangarello. Damn Sopranos.
See how hard this is? You give me a name like Saccomanno and I’m trying my best not to mention the Godfather, or pizza, or Tommy Lasorda’s linguine with clam sauce. But it all comes around somewhere.
Of course, being up here in the Great White North (12-18 inches of snow today, and I gotta drive to Northfield tomorrow), I am learning the difference between a Peterson and a Petersen. I now have a great arsenal of Minnesota Nice, and love walleye on a stick. My children are all above average.
But I’m drawing the line at lutefisk.
February 19, 2011
The Punch Line
Do you think anyone will sign Chan Ho Park this year?
Late update, Park has signed with the Orix Buffaloes. But the below still applies. Carry on…
It seems that everyone who takes a chance on him is the butt of many jokes around the baseball intarweb blogocube.
He wasn’t a joke until 2002. Up until then, he was a pretty effective pitcher (except for 1999). Then he signed with Texas in the Tom Hicks free agent stampede.
And he was stampeded.
As a Dodger, he had a 17.2 WAR. His total WAR for his career is 16.3.
Maths, you do it. That 17.2 does include his decent 2008 as a swingman for LA.
How can someone who has a negative WAR since 2002 still be employed every year? I understand that burning off his contract made sense, of course, but since then?
Anyone who wants a four or five year contract as a pitcher needs to realize that most teams learn from the past. All they have to do is look up Chan Ho’s career post-LA.
But then there’s the question on why Chan Ho succeeds in LA? The ballpark is one guess. Perhaps Chan Ho has found some good Korean restaurants in LA. I don’t know how prevalent they are in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, or Philly. “Yo, you want WHAT? Have a cheesesteak and shaddap!”
February 19, 2011
Will the Real Brennan Boesch Please Stand Up?
The first half for Boesch – .342 / .397 / .593 – .990 OPS.
The second half for Boesch – .163 / .237 / .222 – .458 OPS.
If you are a Tiger fan, can you trust him?
What would concern me is Boesch’s minor league record. At AA in 2009, he hit .275 with 28 home runs, but only 33 walks and 127 K’s.
Now as a Twins fan (up here in Minnesota – BTW after a week of 40′s and 50′s we’re going to get 10 inches of snow tomorrow. Gentlemen, start your shovels…) while I don’t hope that Boesch falls down into a minefield, I do think that his scorching start masked what could be his fatal flaws. And it seems that major league pitchers figured him out and well.
Some of the Kool-Aid drinkers (each team has them) will insist that Boesch will be fine. Baseball fans are like that. Some will believe that Boesch will hit .340. Others will believe that Boesch will never hit .200 again. The truth, of course, is in between. I remember hearing all the time about how “Sammy Sosa was horrible when it counted”, and when I looked at the stats he was pretty much in line that season late-and-close as to overall. It’s just that some fans will always remember the strikeout with two on and two out in the 9th down by a run – and others will always remember the base hit in that situation.
So, Mr. Boesch, I guess it is up to you. Are you better than a .256 hitter with modest power?
February 18, 2011
Have A Heart, Mariners Fans
As you know, Silva had heart surgery during the season, and came back to pitch after he went under the knife. Fairly remarkable. Though he only pitched one game, the fact that he was able to take the mount at all after having his ticker worked on is pretty amazing.
That he was pitching well for the Cubs before his cardiac ablation surgery is quite remarkable for Mariners fans.
You see, Silva, despite his so-so major league performance (he had some good years and an absolute stinker in 2006 where he gave up 240 hits and 38 home runs and didn’t crack 200 IP), signed for $48 million for four years after 2007.
Yes, the Mariners gave a pitcher $48 million one season removed from a season where he had -1.3 war, only 32% quality starts, and had a .538 SLG against. Yes, Silva didn’t walk people. But sometimes walking people is better than having them rocket balls all over the yard.
So it’s not surprising that Silva channeled Mike Parrot with his 5-18, 6.81 mark as a Mariner.
What is amazing is that Seattle found a taker for him. Sure, they had to take Milton Bradley, but it was worth it.
Silva had a 1.8 WAR and a 103 ERA+. Decent numbers. I think Mariners fans would have taken that performance over what they received.
However, Seattle being Seattle, there wasn’t a huge national clamor for Silva’s head. Yankee fans still haven’t forgiven Carl Pavano or Hideki Irabu or Ed Whitson, so if Silva was a Yankee then his head would probably be impaled on a halberd and posted at the players’ entrance to Yankee stadium.
As Robyn Hitchcock said in “Viva Sea-Tac” – Seattle has the best coffee, computers and smack. A combination of those probably tempered the Mariners fans displeasure.
Or they realized it’s just baseball…
February 18, 2011
When I first pulled this card, I had no idea it was Jason Giambi. I thought it was some serial killer in a Rockies uniform.
With no hair, Giambi’s not Giambi.
Last year, his OPS+ was 98 with a 0.1 WAR, though -0.4 WAR was defensive. Why Giambi is in the NL, I have no idea.
But he’s a Rockie again this year – and they have a mutual option for 2012.
The biggest oddity is that the player that he is most similar to is Willie McCovey. And like McCovey, in his mid-30s he was better than people thought (take a look at McCovey as a Padre – not that bad considering who he was playing for) but then cratered at 38. At age 39, they both came back a bit.
But now Giambi will be 40. He can’t run, can’t play defense and if Helton gets hurt again he’s probably stuck at first for a while.
Maybe all Giambi will need to do is grow his hair back. And stay away from chicks named Delilah.