Recent Comments

Polls

What was your reaction to the selection of Rob Manfred as MLB's next commissioner?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Rich

The Minnesota Twins last won the World Series in 1991. In 1992, they fielded a very competitive team, but were undone by the loss of ace pitcher Jack Morris, and one bad pitch to Oakland Athletics reserve outfielder Eric Fox.

In 1993, the Twins thought they would again be right in the mix, signing hometown hero Dave Winfield to anchor a lineup that included Kirby Puckett, Chuck Knoblauch (before he lost his mind), Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek. The Twins lost 90 games that year. Management appeared to be blindsided and dumbfounded by the lack of production, and it put the franchise into an eight-year tailspin of tragedy, turmoil and ineptitude. It wasn’t until they decided to hand the franchise over to a core of young players who had mostly come up together in the Twins farm system that the team began to win.

The pitching staff of that renewed team was anchored by the “Big Three” of Brad Radke, Eric Milton and Joe Mays. Having recognized the complete lack of leadership on his team after the loss of guys like Kirby Puckett and Rick Aguilera, GM Terry Ryan sought out veteran pitchers, probably past their prime (and certainly affordable) who’d had success and could pitch a lot of innings, but who, most importantly, could mentor his young pitching prospects. So, in came the incredibly soft throwing Bob Tewksbury, and the very, very, very, (very) well -traveled Mike Morgan.

Ryan’s plan took some time, but it paid off. In the end, none of the “Big Three” became Hall of Famers, or even made a single start in the World Series, but they were significant pieces in the Twins return to the playoffs and respectability.

Cut to 15 years later.

Continue reading

I just read this post from Yahoo.

Wow. Another New York fan with a forum.

We’re gonna win the World Series.

Why?

Because CC is skinnier.

Because Derek Jeter has a new contract the the team didn’t want to give him.

Because we have great prospects.

BECAUSE WE ALWAYS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!

Even when we don’t.

Continue reading

The All Star game has come and gone. The National League has taken its annual whooping from the American League, and Carl Crawford is your newest All Star MVP (For defense! Bravo voters. You guys got that right!). This brings us to my favorite two weeks of the regular season: it’s non-waiver trade time.

I’m a geek. I love the trade deadline. I love to watch the chess match between general managers this time of year. I love to see how creative GM’s can improve their team, and I love to see who wins the Dumbass At The Deadline Award by trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. I love July 31st. You may call it the MLB Trade Deadline. I call it Christmas in July.

There have been reports that, due to perceived parity in the big leagues and economic concerns, this year’s deadline may be less active than usual. To me, this translates as “Bah, humbug”. Yes, the economy is down, and that will leave the presents under the tree a little spare this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream like a six year old kid about what Santa might bring on Trade Deadline Eve.

Seriously. This is what I think should happen:

Continue reading

The first half of the season in the American League has gone – for the most part – as planned. When it comes to the standings, there aren’t a lot of surprises and there aren’t a lot of disappointments. California-Anaheim-Los Angeles Angels are in first place in the West, Boston in first place in the East with the Yankees close on their heels, and there is a bit of a scrum in the Central. All is the way it’s supposed to be.

Right?

Well, not exactly.

David Ortiz was supposed to be the offensive engine for the Red Sox. The Mariners were going to be a ship adrift at sea after losing Raul Ibanez. Kansas City was going to be this year’s edition of the Tampa Bay Rays, who by the way were going to come back to Earth. And, um, somebody wrote that Cleveland was going to be the best team in the Central and AJ Burnett was going to be a colossal failure in New York.

Hey, come on. There’s still half a season left. Burnett could still stub his toe really, really bad.

Continue reading

Because I have to work so much on the weekends (welcome to the new economy), I tend to lose track of baseball for a couple days every week. I try to make a habit of spending some time with the standings every Monday morning to piece together what I’ve missed.

So, here I am with MLB.com open in front of me, reading about the final results of interleague play. It’s telling me something that most baseball fans have known for years. For all the talk of parity in baseball, it’s clear that the American League is head-and-shoulders better than the National League.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story (just go ask Danny Haren and his six wins), but they can paint a pretty good picture. The AL dominated the NL in interleague play this year. Again. Nine of the 14 American League teams had winning records against the National League, compared to five in the National. Using my barely adequate math skills (along with the assistance of my mildly annoyed 12-year-old daughter), I have deduced that the American League had 137 interleague wins this year, and the NL had 114. (It should be noted, just for the purpose of scratching my OCD itch, that the Cubs and White Sox had one of their games rained out. That game will likely be made up in September.)

Perhaps congratulations are in order to the NL, whose member teams raised their win total from 2008, when they went 102-149 against the AL. Unfortunately, they fell just short of their 2007 win total, when they won 115 games.

Continue reading

Interleague play, to some the scourge of American culture, will end for the 2009 regular season on Sunday. To hear some baseball purists and radio talk show hosts (among others) speak, you would think that Interleague play is the single largest problem facing the game today, dwarfing the challenges posed by steroids, the economy and Scott Boras. I’m glad to know that there are people out there with passionate opinions about the game, but come on guys. Get a hold of yourselves.

At the beginning of IP this year, Jayson Stark went and found a group of players who don’t like it.  Aside from revealing Adam Dunn to be a complete whiner, Stark’s column tries to take an objective look at some of the things that make the players unhappy.

The major complaints seem to be that there are more “meaningless” series’ (i.e. Kansas City vs. Houston) than there are “rivalry” ones (like the Yankees vs. the Mets), it goes on too long, the travel can make things really difficult, and of course my personal favorite: “it’s not fair.”

I have some pretty strong opinions on the unbalanced schedule, and it occurs to me that we should explore that topic very soon. I’m the rare guy who is a fan of baseball’s schedule, and nothing gets me itchy quicker than someone telling me “it’s not fair”. Dude. You’re a professional ball player, playing at the highest level. If the New York Yankees had to play the New York Mets, and the Tampa Bay Rays had to play Edison Community College, I’d say that’s not fair. You’re playing another major league team. Stop talking and sit down. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Continue reading

Donald Fehr, the legendary – some would say infamous – executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association announced his retirement Monday. If you are one of the three regular readers of this page, then you would expect to see some rejoicing right now.

We here at Brushbackpitch.com have been extremely critical of Fehr. He is one of the five or six people in baseball most responsible for the financial inequities of the game. His attitudes begat Scott Boras, which is an absolutely unforgivable sin. And although baseball now has a comprehensive drug testing policy – or at least that’s what Bud Selig says – Fehr has fought the idea of drug testing at every stop.

From illegal narcotics to steroids, Fehr has consistently maintained that drug testing is an invasion of privacy. If Fehr had had his way throughout his 25-plus year tenure, baseball players today would resemble the Looney Tune Monstars from Michael Jordan’s mid-90’s movie Space Jam. They’d be ‘roided up beyond belief, hitting 861 ft. home runs and sliding head first when they stole a base so as to not break the vials of cocaine in their back pockets.

Continue reading

You have to love a guy like Kenny Williams.

Going into the game against the Twins today, the White Sox were 17-22. Prior to this series they had endured a five-game losing streak, which put them six games out of first place. There’s no real reason to panic at this point – after all we’re barely 25 percent of the way into the season – but it clearly didn’t sit well with the South Side General Manager.

So he picked up the phone, called San Diego and made a deal for Jake Peavy. Even though it appears as though Peavy isn’t going to accept the deal (though I think he just needs some financial prodding to change his mind), Williams deserves credit. Two of the guys they were counting on toward the top-to-middle of their rotation have started slowly. But with the addition of Peavy, the Sox would have been starting a rotation of Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Who Cares.

Continue reading

Joe Mauer hit another home run on Saturday. It’s his sixth home run since he joined the Twins on May 1, after spending April recovering from a back injury in extended spring training. In 14 games and (as of this writing) 52 at bats, this effectively puts him halfway to his career high of thirteen home runs. At this pace, he will have 72 at by October 1st.

I make no secret of the fact that I love the Minnesota Twins. As a fan, I want to puff out my chest and say “Yep, look at the Baby Jesus. He’s easily the best catcher since Johnny Bench. Maybe even since Mickey Cochrane. Maybe he’s even better than Josh Gibson. Maybe he’s the best catcher ever.”

But, for as much as I’d like to be, I’m not a blind baseball fan. I’m a guy who pays attention. I know about Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemons.

It is now impossible for me to watch anybody come out of the gates on fire and not wonder if they’re cheating. I can’t watch anybody in this game improve and not have the possibility of steroids cross my mind.

I want to be clear about this: I am not accusing Joe Mauer of cheating. I don’t think he’s taking steroids, human growth hormone, Popeye’s spinach, or that pill in Underdog’s ring. As far as I’m concerned he’s as clean as a baptismal font. But thanks to the state of the game, I can’t just sit back and appreciate this guy’s ability for what it is.

Continue reading

There was a report the other day that the Washington Nationals might have mild interest in Pedro Martinez. I’ll repeat that. The Washington Nationals (team ERA 5.24, 3-12, last place in the National League East, 7.5 games back)  might have mild interest in Pedro Martinez (career ERA 2.91, .684 winning percentage, 3117 K’s, three-time Cy Young Award winner).

Mild interest?

You know, like Bernie Madoff has mild interest in a plea deal. Like Lindsay Lohan has mild interest in finding her dignity. Like the Scarecrow has mild interest in finding a brain.

But, oh wait. Turns out that report was mistaken. The Nationals don’t want to disrupt their vaunted starting rotation of John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, Shairon Martis, and Jordan Zimmerman. Because, obviously, Pedro Martinez would have nothing to offer to a bunch of young pitchers.

These are strange days indeed, friends.

Martinez is one of the best pitchers of his generation. Maybe the best. Everywhere he’s been he’s brought a winning attitude to his team. If it wasn’t for Pedro, David Ortiz never gets a chance to hit those home runs in the ’04 ALCS, and we’re still talking about the Curse of the Bambino. Had it not been for the 1994 players strike it’s a good bet he’d have put the freaking Montreal Expos into the World Series (ironically, had that actually happened, it may have established enough real baseball interest in Montreal to keep  The ‘Spos from picking up and moving to D.C.). Pedro’s a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer.  He’s a great competitor, he’s incredibly smart, and he’s a great clubhouse guy. All are qualities the Nationals really could use.

It’s true that he’s now 37-years-old, and yes, he’s had injuries the last three years. In fact he’s only averaged a little better than 80 innings a year since 2006. But he has looked good lately. He pitched six scoreless innings for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Scouts are saying he appears to be in better shape than he ever was during his time with the Mets.

He’s asking for a lot of money, but not a bank-breaking sum. The reports are he wants a one-year, $5 million dollar deal. But a guy like that needs to pitch more than he needs to get paid, and there isn’t a major league GM who doesn’t understand that.

So, for a team like the Nationals who have real problems at the gate, in the win column, in the bullpen, in the clubhouse, and in the Dominican Republic, Pedro makes perfect sense. He could mentor that young and promising rotation, and allow Manager Manny Acta to move Daniel Cabrera into the bullpen (sorry, Nats fans, but Julian Tavarez is a nightmare just waiting to happen).

He would go a long way toward healing the damage done by Jim Bowden in the Latin community. And he would sell tickets, because he would win. The fact that they don’t see any reason to sign him just illustrates depth of that organization’s dysfunction and incompetence.

Categories