Um….WTF?

Can someone please tell me what is going on here?

Someone?

Anyone?

Does Showalter know about this?

And more importantly, how did the Yanks go 88-74 with a rotation Jimmy Key, Melido Perez, Jim Abbott, Kamieniecki, and Bob Wickman (with the occasional side order of Mike Witt, Domingo Jean and Sterling Hitchcock among others – Buck used 12 starters in all), and a pen where Steve Farr was the closer and the others around were Rich Monteleone, Steve Howe, Bobby Munoz and John Habyan? How does that happen?


A Whirlwind

This weekend had everything – good, bad, indifferent.

I am almost, ALMOST done sorting for Spring Cleaning and will be ready to ship once I get some boxes, etc. I have the 2009 UD set to finish sorting for doubles and then a lot of the junk wax and excess 2007 Topps to sort through.

So, with not a lot to say, I leave you with Benito Santiago in a fantastic, yet maddening, pose. Out? Safe? What’s happening there?

Is This Where The Royals Lost The Mojo?

Some housekeeping: Thanks to some AWESOME DUDES the Spring Cleaning signup is closed. The want list is open, of course, and will be continually updated, but soon I will ship out the spring cleaning lots. Huzzah to all! Huzzah!

Now to the main event:

When you think of David Howard (if you ever do except when browsing through your baseball card collection) you think of a generic middle infielder that would have been more apt for a team in the 70s than the 90s. He was the ultimate good field (4.4 dWAR) no hit (-2.6 oWAR) player that could help as a defensive replacement and a day-off starter. If he played every day, your team was in trouble.

Howard came up in 1991 and established himself as a major league defender and an offensive millstone. Still, the Royals liked him and he got the lions share of the PT at short in 1992. His competition was Rico Rossy and Curtis Wilkerson. Perhaps that was a reason they went 72-90.

There was an expansion draft for Florida and Colorado in 1992, and each team could protect 15 players at first. After both the first and second round the teams could claw back players. Each teams protected list was ‘secret’. (Hah!)

With the 21st pick in the draft, the Marlins selected Jeff Conine from the Royals. Most every baseball fan of some seasoning knows Conine. He was a good  player for many years. Yes, he held on too long, but he was a good guy with a sweet swing. Conine also beat long odds to make it, being a 58th round draft pick out of UCLA in 1987. That’s about the time where you either did draft-and-follows or drafted friends, neighbors and relatives. But he made the majors in short order and was a top-rated prospect – being the #45 ranked by Baseball America in 1991.

Conine was hurt in 1991, but rebounded in 1992 and got another call-up to the bigs. He would also be 27 in 1993. But the Royals regular outfield contained Kevin McReynolds and Jim Eisenreich, both over 30 and the main backups were Gary Thurman and Kevin Koslofski, both in the same age range as Conine.

It’s not out of the ordinary that Conine would be on the expansion list. Fifteen players throughout the organization isn’t that much of a list (the expansion lists were for majors and minors except for very recent draftees). Looking at the 1992 Royals, there are at least six pitchers the Royals would protect, leaving nine others from other positions, not to mention any players from the minors.

However, when reports came out from the various sites about who was protected, it was reported that the Royals protected Howard.

David Howard over Jeff Conine. A guy who raked all through the minors when he was healthy versus a guy who was called up to the bigs despite hitting just .122 in AAA and whose career OPS in the MINORS was .577.

Never mind the Royals were soon to sign Greg Gagne to play short. (Gagne signed about three weeks after the expansion draft, and you’d be daft if you thought that they hadn’t zeroed in on Gagne before then.)

Now the reports could have been wrong, but the fact that many reported (as I remember) that Howard was protected and Conine was not spells the beginning of the end of the Royals as contenders and beginning of the Royals as also-rans only out-stanked by the Pirates.

I’m Greg Olson…No, Not The Pitcher

The catcher…you remember me? Yeah, I somehow played in an All-Star game. I was the regular catcher for three years and split time in the fourth. Then some kid named Lopez came along…

I’m from Edina, Minnesota, which is right near to where Smed lives. No, we’re not cake eaters…at least not me. I like pie.

Anyway, my career was pretty short in the majors. The minors, that’s another story.

The reason I’m here is to tell you to zoom over and claim one of the last teams or sets in Smed’s Spring Cleaning. The Indians are available as Nachos will step aside if someone nabs ’em.

Do it, or I’ll run ya over like I did Jimmy Kremers and Kelly Mann. Catchers of the future…right….

I LOVE THIS BAT!

First an update – there are some teams left and some sets. The grab bags will be shipped after I send the sets.

I can tell you that the person who gets the Giants will have a 2011 Gypsy Queen Pablo Sandoval auto that I just pulled today from a blaster at Target!

I can tell you that the person who gets the Indians will have a Cliff Lee autograph from his Donruss rookie set circa 2002.

I can tell you that if you are trying to collect the 2011 Topps Series 1 and Opening Day I have a bunch of cards that can help.

I can tell you that if you ever thought about trying for 2009 Upper Deck (a nice looking set) I can really help!

Sign up today! Email me at smedindy@gmail.com

Derrek Lee is holding this bat like I hold my new girlfriend – close and tight – with love.

Lee’s career seems to be winding down. He’s not hitting, has no power and just seems a shell of himself. He’s 35, and while I hate to say that it could be terminal, his decline from 2009 to 2010 was pretty stark.

But this was Lee at the beginning of his career. I had totally forgotten he was a Padres prospect (the mind – it fades – and also there was Travis Lee that rose up at about that time so I mixed them up in my head for a while) and totally forgot he was the main bounty for the Padres renting Kevin Brown. Good trade, Florida! He established himself as a regular in 2000 and was a big cog in the Marlins 2003 Champions.

When the Cubs gave up on Hee Seop Choi (who really got a raw deal from every MLB club) they sent him to Florida for Lee. While Choi got short changed, Lee was everything the Cubs desired and more.

I wonder if Derrek used the bad he was loving in the photo above in 2005? The numbers he put up would have been a shoo-in MVP in many years, but in 2005 Andruw Jones and Albert Pujols outclassed everyone. But Lee had 50 doubles, 46 home runs, 120 runs scored, 105 RBI, 15 steals and the best OPS in the league.

He got hurt in 2006 – rebounded somewhat – but then slipped in 2010 as part of a team-wide suck that made Lou Piniella think that retirement was a great option. The Braves rented Lee for a while, and he rebounded a bit. That glimmer of success led to his latest contract.

It’s still early, and Lee could rebound. But the odds are against another .300 season with 30+ home runs. But he had a great career no matter what the end, and he did it by respecting his tools.

Well, at least in this photo.

Disgustipated

First, a huge shout out to the US Special Ops. I’m a pacifist and do not like war – but the removal of OBL as a threat to humanity is justified. And I think every college student in DC is in front of the White House. I hope they keep the Metro open!

Second, Spring Cleaning is going on – sorting is fun but I have to stop and start before I go totally insane. And I’m working at Target now and that kind of drains you. Sometimes dealing with the public can make you turn into Gary Busey.

Now, why I’m disgustipated. Have you seen the Twins play this year?

When I was in junior high and early high school, the Cubs had slunk into mediocrity or worse. The 1981 Cubs, the team of the summer between my freshman and sophomore years (our junior high went to 9 – high school started at 10), was thankful they had a work stoppage that wiped out almost 60 games. When the strike happened they were 15-37. That was a pace to be 47-115.

The defense was atrocious. Jerry Morales (!) was the regular center fielder, though Bobby Bonds was around. Leon Durham stumbled around in right because Bill Buckner was at first.  Ivan DeJesus was at a -5 FRAA at short, Scot Thompson had a -10 FRAA in center and in right (more on him later). The whole freakin’ team had a DWAR of -9.

While the starting pitching wasn’t so bad (no, really, it wasn’t so bad) the bullpen was god-awful. Dick Tidrow was 3-10 with 9 saves and a 5.06 ERA as the relief ‘ace’ (until Randy Martz became the closer and did a good job). Lynn McGlothen, and Ken Kravec were ‘proven veterans’  that proved they couldn’t pitch anymore. Bill Caudill was atrocious.

Oh, by the way, a 23-year old hard throwing rookie named Lee Smith was on the staff pitching garbage innings and a 25-year old named Jay Howell also was around. But no, Ken Kravec needed the work! Right.

The offense? Feh. Four players had offensive WAR over 1.0. One of them, Morales, was SO BAD in the field that even though he had a 1.0 WAR on offense he was a -0.8 WAR total. DeJesus was -1.5 total WAR with an OPS+ of 44. Ken Reitz .541 OPS at third gave him a -1.2 offensive WAR. The second basemen were ‘special’ – the OPS+ were all heinous. (Pat Tabler 54, Steve Dillard 70, Mike Tyson 45, Joe Strain 28, Scott Fletcher 55).

Then there’s Scot Thompson. In 57 games – over 127 plate appearances – Thompson had a -2.0 WAR. His OPS+ was 17 (.165 / .208 / .209 will do that – and how can someone have a SLG of .209 IN WRIGLEY FIELD!). I’m trying to think if that’s a Milhouse or Ralph performance.

Now why am I ranting about the 1981 Cubs on a post about a 2005 card for two Twins prospects that never made it anywhere?

A. Because I can. It’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to.

B. The 2011 Twins can’t hit, can’t field and the bullpen is combining nitro with high octane gas and using flame throwers to ignite.

C. The fundamentals are just atrocious.

D. Smit and Barrett, had they developed, could have helped. But they didn’t develop. Smit was waived in 2007 to the Reds and crashed out last year with a 1-5, 9.14 mark in AA Carolina. Barrett met his Waterloo in AAA. After pitching well in A-ball in 2004, he spent 17 innings in AA before moving to AAA before ineffectiveness and injuries took their toll.

If all was sunshine and roses – Smit and Barrett could have been available for Gardy to call up to help the staff. But it’s not. Today it was freakin’ cold and windy here in Minnesota – a day more like late November than May Day. And Tuesday, against the Pale Hose, the Twins will still trot out Hughes, Hoey and the like.

When did the Twins turn into the Royals anyway?