Tag Archive | "Future Hall"

Dear Yankee Fans … I might have spoken too soon.

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Dear Yankee Fans … I might have spoken too soon.

Posted on 16 October 2012 by Trish Vignola

Remember, when I said “Dear Yankee Fans…. Chill Out”? Maybe, I spoke too quickly.

The 12th inning cast a very different pallor on a relatively young ALCS last night. As the Yankees’ future Hall of Fame shortstop, Derek Jeter, was helped off the field, even the Tigers dugout was hushed.

Most of those players had grown up watching Jeter and the New York Yankees.

“We’re all big Derek Jeter fans since we were younger,” outfielder Delmon Young said. “Watching the World Series and everything from the 1996 one until the recent once. But, you know, we all grew up playing backyard baseball wanting to win the World Series either with the Yankees or having to get through the Yankees to get to the World Series. Especially with Derek Jeter as their catalyst.

“We’d love to see him out playing with us and playing against him, because it is really fun playing the Yankees, especially with Derek Jeter healthy,” Young continued. Doug Fister, last night’s start for Detroit, talked about watching Jeter as he grew up. “To see a fellow ballplayer to go down it definitely is a hit for our game,” Fister said. “Our hearts go out to him.”

Ok. This is not a career ending injury. However, Jeter is out for the rest of the 2012 playoffs. This will be the first October the Yankees have experienced in sixteen years that will be without Derek Jeter.

Grant it. When Mariano Rivera got hurt, the Yankees were left for dead. Jeter’s injury doesn’t preclude an early Yankees exit from the playoffs. The Yankees have come back from far worse.

Except…

Derek Jeter was, at the time of his injury, the strongest Yankee this playoff.

Written off as an aging star after slumping in 2010, Jeter struggled to adapt to a no-stride swing in `11. He wound up on the disabled list for only the fifth time in his seventeen full seasons in the big leagues with a calf injury. He returned revitalized, go his 3,000th hit and finishing strong.

This year Jeter surged. It’s hard to believe, but 38-year-old Jeter posted a remarkable season. He batted .316 with an American League-leading 216 hits. He carried that over to the postseason, hitting .364 against the Orioles.

Earlier Saturday, Jeter became the first player in baseball history to reach 200 hits in the postseason with a single in the second off Doug Fister. He was left stranded, though, a problem for the Yankees these playoffs. If the New York Yankees were a train, they would be pulling into the station missing a couple of wheels and part of the breaks. Sure, they’re showing up on time (i.e. winning), but how long can this keep going? Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher are in playoff funks. Alex Rodriguez, one of the greatest players in baseball history, is in worse shape. He’s been benched now on more than one occasion in this young playoff season. The Yankees also seem to have a problem lacing more than one win together. Jeter was one of the few constants, along with statistical anomaly and late-game guru, Raul Ibanez, in the Yankees’ lineup.

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The Red Sox Honor Johnny Pesky This Weekend

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The Red Sox Honor Johnny Pesky This Weekend

Posted on 28 September 2012 by Trish Vignola

Johnny Pesky is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, though he got some support for that honor. Nonetheless, the celebration of his life hosted by the Red Sox here on Sunday had a Cooperstown feel to it. Many former Boston baseball greats were on hand to be part of the occasion. Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice were there. Likely future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez was there. Roger Clemens even showed.

The event attracted several hundred fans beyond capacity to Fenway Park. Those who attended the Sox game in the afternoon were allowed to remain in the ballpark for the ceremonies. Fans who had not been at the game were welcomed into Fenway as well. Every Sox player was in the stands as well, all in uniform.

Before taking their place in the box seats along the left field line, both Fisk and Martinez met with reporters. They shared memories of Pesky. “He remained the face of the organization for the longest time,” said Fisk. He first met Pesky as a minor leaguer during spring training in the late 1960s. “More than anybody else — more than Yaz, Dewey (Evans), even Ted (Williams) — John was around a long time, before and after those guys.” True.

“It’s probably a cumulative memory of John,” said Fisk. “You talk about all the guys that played for this team over the 100-plus years, but he sort or remained the face of the organization for the longest time. How long was he here? He was here for 50, 60, 70 years or whatever it was. He was the one standard that everybody looked to. Every time you came to the ballpark, John was there.”

Martinez felt that Pesky was the soul of the Red Sox.

“If anyone thinks of the tradition of the Red Sox in Boston, Pesky comes to mind,” Martinez said. He got to know Pesky later in life, when Pesky was approaching 80. The 2004 World Series winner provided Pesky with one of his greatest thrills. “I shared a lot of moments with him,” Martinez added. “Every story about every season seems to start with Johnny Pesky. You’d get to spring training and you’d say, ‘You see the old man with the fungo – that’s Johnny Pesky.’ ”

The ceremonies began at 6 p.m. Most of the current Red Sox players were escorted from the dugout to the field by a former Boston great with a corresponding résumé. Fisk and Jarrod Saltalamacchia came out together. Jon Lester came out with Bill Lee. Martinez came out with Felix Doubront, Andrew Bailey with Keith Foulke, etc.

At the end of the evening, fans were allowed to walk along the warning track and view exhibits from Pesky’s life. The last one they saw before leaving the field, a permanent exhibit that needed no label, was the right field foul pole.

“I just think that his soul was attached to Boston in some way that nobody is probably able to describe and that makes Johnny unique, makes his soul unique,” Martinez said. “And just like we have the pole, I don’t think Pesky will ever go away.

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Jamie Moyer – The Father of Reinvention

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Jamie Moyer – The Father of Reinvention

Posted on 06 May 2012 by Trish Vignola

With Mariano Rivera hurt, Roger Clemens on Trial and Ozzie Guillen lacking a filter, this season has gotten off to a pretty dark start. Nevertheless, there are always several “feel good” stories that develop over the season, showing us why Baseball is always a good thing. Picture it! June 1986. The Boston Celtics win the NBA championship. Americans are still trying to sanitize after touching all those hands in “Hands Across America”. Chicago Cubs Second Baseman Ryne Sandberg meets his new teammate – Jamie Moyer.

The future Hall of Famer didn’t see much in his new teammate. “There wasn’t too much about him that said long-term major league pitcher.” Twenty-six years later Jamie Moyer is still getting major league lineups out, most of which werenʼt even born when Sandberg first met Moyer.

How does Moyer do it? He has a 4.23 ERA, less than 2,500 strikeouts over a twenty-five year career and a win/loss record barely over .500.

I would hardly call those Hall of Fame numbers.

You can say that he has extraordinary motivation. In fact, you can say Moyerʼs motivation helped him to become the oldest pitcher to notch a win. Does he have discipline? Of course, he does. Name me one professional athlete that doesnʼt demonstrate extreme mental or physical discipline and Iʼll show you an out-of- work athlete…or anyone starting for Rex Ryan. But, how is Moyer still playing fifteen years after Sandberg hung up his glove for the final time?

In a time when mangers can insult entire sectors of their community’s fan base to former icons on trial for perjury, baseball always finds a way to provide us with more feel good stories than not. One is Jamie Moyer – the Father of Reinvention. Once Moyer realized he wasnʼt going to be Nolan Ryan per say, he found a way to make himself useful to his organization at all times. Thatʼs right, folks! When in doubt, make yourself indispensible. For example, pitchers tend to lose velocity later in their career. For Moyer, “later in their career” could potentially translate to ten years ago. In 2011, his average fastball speed was about 80 miles per hour, a very slow speed for a non-knuckleball pitcher. His fastball this season is currently clocked at 78 miles per hour. Still amazing by our “common folk” standards, but letʼs face it. Miami Marlinsʼ Jose Reyes can run to the mound and grab the ball out of Moyerʼs hand quicker than that. If Moyer relied on velocity, he would have been an analyst on SportsCenter by now.

Moyer relies on control and mixing his pitches. He has the ability now to throw five main pitches: a sinker, a cut fastball, a slider, a changeup and a curveball. Five pitches? Do you know what it takes to do that? Most pitchers are lucky to have three. Moyer may not have freak speed, but he sure has a freaky amount of pitches to choose from. Not many pitchers can do that. Also, who knows? Moyer can always reinvent himself again. When (and if) he retires, the National Baseball Hall of Fame offered him an internship. Well, if he keeps breaking records at the rate he is, somebody is going to have to catalog all of Moyer’s stuff.

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Bike spokes and shoe boxes – cameo cards

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Bike spokes and shoe boxes – cameo cards

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Tim Danielson

This week we will take a look at cameo cards.  I am not talking about multi-player cards like team or league leader cards.  For this article, I consider a cameo card to be a card of a specific player where you can easily identify another player.  Most of the cameo cards I have seen are the result of an on-filed action, like the featured player is the second baseman and the picture of him shows a player sliding into second base.

I will admit that I have not opened a lot of product lately, but I feel that cameo cards are few and far between.  A lot of card sets are using either posed, portrait, or single player action pictures.  Some premium sets even crop the player out of the original picture and superimpose the image onto a different background or design.  Do not take me wrong, these sets are just as good and collectible as anything else.  I also really like action pictures used on baseball cards as well.  The pictures capture a part of the game in time and often produce amazing images and candid shots that could never be posed or made on a computer.

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes’ salute to cameo cards will of course feature cards where my favorite player has an appearance.  If you do not know who that is by now you really should be reading more of my column!

Who would have thought that in 1983 that a stolen base king and an iron man would be pictured on the same card?
1993 Fleer Jeff Reboulet – Yes Rickey we both know you are safe.
1994 Topps Felix Fermin – I find it interesting that Rickey also showed up on Fermin’s 1993 Upper Deck card. Rickey was breaking up a double play here, but he was way safe on the Upper deck card.
1997 Topps Shawon Dunston – Rickey is breaking up a double play again, maybe even Shawon’s ankle as well. I still do not know what the Short Stop is trying to do.

Who knows what future Hall of Fame player or record breaker is making a guest appearance on your cards?  Have fun finding out!

Until next time, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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DOs And DONTs: St. Louis Cardinals

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DOs And DONTs: St. Louis Cardinals

Posted on 23 February 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Adam Wainwright clocked at 92 mpg tossing Yoda

The St. Louis Cardinals are not bad this season.  They have just been drawn that way.  Losing an all-world player at first base has a way of changing perceptions, though.  Too bad.  If any team can overcome the loss of a future Hall of Fame manager, future Hall of Fame 1B, and arguably the game’s best pitching coach, it just might be the Cardinals.  Not many teams could absorb the loss of a 5.4 WAR player (Pujols) while adding back a 5.9 WAR player (Wainwright) who lost a year to injury.    Still, they need some guys to step up, if they hope to top 90 wins again and at least sneak into the playoffs.  Fortunately for the Cardinals, their roster has no shortage of potential candidates to make that step this season.

Do look for an opportunity to draft Adam Wainwright after a few rounds of pitchers come off the big board.  He looks to be recovering just fine from Tommy John surgery, but it would be a mistake to rely too heavily on a guy who likely will not pitch more than 175-180 innings.

Despite Yadier Molina‘s slash line of .305/.349/.465/.814, don’t take Molina too early.  There are at least a half-dozen more productive catchers in the game.  He may be around the top 10 in all of MLB, and he certainly makes the top 5 in the National League.

Don’t go looking for speed on the Cardinals.  You will not find it in the dugout, in the locker room, or on the field.  It just is not there.  Even if the team takes a more aggressive approach to stealing bases under new manager Mike Matheny, we are still talking about a team on which 15 stolen bases could set the pace.  Look elsewhere for someone to pad the stolen base numbers.

Do keep in mind that Matt Holliday consistently provides solid numbers as an outfielder.  In 2011, he managed 83 runs scored and 75 RBI despite playing in only 124 games due to injury and a fight with a moth.  Also, do remember Lance Berkman, because Berkman managed some stout numbers (.959 OPS) while qualifying for both the outfield and 1B.

Don’t reach for any of the starting pitchers, but do keep Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, and Jaime Garcia in mind when you need to round out your staff with guys who can get you double digit wins.

Reigning World Series MVP David Freese may not project to a top tier guy at the hot corner, but his stock should still be on the rise after he crammed 21 RBI into 18 postseason games in 2011.  The downside to Freese is that he has never stayed healthy enough to reach 100 games played during the regular season.  Still, Freese’s potential make him an interesting candidate, especially for fantasy players who have a “corner infield” position to fill.

Steer clear of Rafael Furcal, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, and Skip Schumaker.  Just say “no”.  Don’t be overly tempted by Allen Craig, either.  Despite Craig’s propensity to hit for both power and average, he simply does not have a starting job and only appeared in 75 games last season.  If you want to take a flyer on someone who could pick up a lot of at-bats due to his ability to back up injured players at several positions, then Craig might be the guy.

Do keep in mind that Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay both potentially provide value for your outfield.  When you need to fill 6 outfield slots, there are only so many superstars to go around.  Fine.  It may very well be the other 4 outfielders you draft that make the difference, though.  Players like Jay (.350 lifetime OBP) and Beltran (84 RBI, 78 runs in 2011), should make it onto your radar after the halfway point of your draft.

Do remember Jason Motte when you start getting into the 2nd tier of closers.  In 68 innings, he struck out 63 while compiling a 2.25 ERA and .956 WHIP.  If only Motte had been the closer for the entire season, maybe he would be forcing his name into that conversation for “elite” status.  Until then, he wins the unofficial title of “Best Returning Closer with only 9 Saves” from last season.

Feel free to comment or provide constructive criticism.  The comment section for this article would be ideal for feedback.  If you use the Twitter, then you can find me there (@gr33nazn), and I welcome a slight amount of ridicule there as well.  Please DO take time to read the other DOs and DONTs articles that the excellent team of writers (plus me) has taken the time to put together.  Each one reads like an insider cheat sheet for each team.  Thanks for following along and good luck on draft day.

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