Nice Round Numbers for 2009
With major league rosters still far from taking final shape, it may be hard to guess who will be on top and who won’t for 2009we’ll swallow our pride and make our official predictions sometime in Marchbut one thing we can look at for now are the individual milestones that possibly (or likely) will be set in the coming season. Among them:
Randy Johnson needs five wins for 300; he’ll also need 211 strikeouts to become the second major leaguer to reach 5,000 and, on the downside, will hold the all-time record for hit batsmen if he plunks 15 more batters.
Gary Sheffield needs just one home run to become the 25th player to join the 500 Club. Carlos Delgado needs 31 to become, likely, the 26th player.
Alex Rodriguez, with 47 homers, will become the seventh to reach 600. He needs just 13 blasts to reach the all-time top ten list. If you think that’s impressive, remember this: He’s still just 33 years of age.
Mariano Rivera needs 18 saves to become the second player to reach 500 for a career.
The Phillies’ Jamie Moyer will tie fellow Philadelphian Robin Roberts for allowing the most home runs (505) in a career if he gives up 41 this season.
Luis Gonzalez (596 doubles) needs 28 to reach the all-time top ten list. That is, if the 41-year old doesn’t retire.
Jim Thome needs 64 walks to reach the top ten list for that category.
Omar Vizquel, recently released by San Francisco, will become the 25th player to reach 10,000 career at-bats if he’s able to hook on for another team and play at least part-time.
If Frank Thomas, also currently unsigned, gets enough action to collect nine sacrifice flies, he’ll become the all-time leader.
The Los Angeles Dodgers need 40 wins, and the St. Louis Cardinals need 71, to both reach 10,000 all-time victories. They would join the Giants and the Chicago Cubs.
Will He Still be Hip Enough?
A few more milestones might be achieved in 2009 if one Barry Lamar Bonds gets the call to return to major league action this season. The disputed home run king needs 65 hits for 3,000, four RBIs to reach 2,000, and is 69 runs away from tying Rickey Henderson’s career mark. Given his legal problems (his perjury trial begins during spring training), his time off (he hasn’t played since late 2007), his age (he turns 45 in June) and the fact that he just had hip surgery, the chances of Bonds performing in 2009 are next to nil. But we think a lot of us already knew that.
And What of...Sammy?
Bonds isn’t the only disgraced power slugger who wants to make a comeback. Saamy Sosa told a Dominican newspaper that he’s interested in returning to the majors. He does admit that, so far, no major league team is interested in him. Sosa, who recently turned 40, had an impressive showing in 2007 after taking a year off, hitting 21 homers with 92 RBIs in just 114 games for the Texas Rangers. Let go afterward and unsigned, Sosa was exiled to another year off in 2008. Sosa is currently sixth on the all-time home run list with 609 and, if he’s allowed another crack at the major league level, he could move into fifth placedepending on how he and Ken Griffey Jr. (also unsigned, with 611 career blasts) performs.
The Agent is an Owner
One of “Them” has become one of “Us.” At least that’s what it looks like from the Lords’ point of view, now that former player agent Jeff Moorad appears ready to buy the San Diego Padres. For four years, Moorad owned a chunk of the Arizona Diamondbacks and took over as CEO, although the team is technically owned by Ken Kendrick. Two things come immediately to mind as we look ahead to Moorad’s tenure as Lord of the Padres: How he’ll deal with his former brethren on free agent negotiations, and if he’ll have enough cash flow to eliminate the Padres’ recent financial woes (brought on by the impending divorce between current owner John Moores and his wife) that is threatening to reduce 2009 payroll to a relative bare-bones budget of $40 million.
Now Playing at TGG
New to the They Were There section is Ed Attanasio’s interview with Nate Oliver, who witnessed first-hand the infamous 1965 fight between Juan Marichal and Johnny Roseboro. Oliver also discusses his love for Chicago Cub fans and his dissatisfaction over Ron Santo’s continued absence from the Hall of Fame.
A Nice Debut
The MLB Network officially launched on New Year’s Day, and while its opening days will be program-challenged given that baseball is in the dead of winter, there have already been some worthwhile watching moments. Tops on that list was the kinescoped broadcast of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, which has probably been seen before on ESPN Classicbut likely without the commercials of the time, all of which were ads for the Series’ sponsor, Gillette. (The pitches included a live promo from the game’s play-by-play man, a young Vin Scullywho comes off looking like a thin kid brother of Sean Penn.) The broadcast was enriched by the MLB Network to include, between innings, an insightful discussion of the game between Bob Costas and the Yankees’ pitching battery of the day, Larsen and catcher Yogi Berra.
Giving Andruw the Screw
When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Andruw Jones before last season, they gave the five-time All-Star center fielder good money$18,000,000 per yearbut for only two years, avoiding a long-term deal given Jones’ precipitous performance slide in his final year at Atlanta. But Jones’ production values further accelerated so wildly into the abyss during his first year in L.A., the Dodgers didn’t even want him to stick around for the second, so they reached an agreement with Jones this past week to either trade or release him. Jones will still get his money, but not immediately; the Dodgers are deferring his remaining contract wages over a six-year span. The removal of Jones will be a godsend for Dodger fans who never liked himhe arrived in Los Angeles overweight and underperformed all season, batting a horrendous .158 with just three homers and 76 strikeouts in 209 at-bats. It also clears salary room for the Dodgers to more seriously pursue Manny Ramirez. The last word on this comes from Jones’ biggest L.A. critic, Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers: “Happy new yearindeed!”
It seems funny that the New York Yankees would ask for an additional $380 million in public bonds to help complete the new Yankee Stadium, and then shortly thereafter go out and sign three top free agents for a $423 million in guaranteed wages. It certainly seems funny to Richard Brodsky, a New York state assemblyman who this past week requested that the Industrial Development Agency in New York City delay its January 16 vote on allowing those bonds, because it all smells of a sweetheart deal between NYC and the Yankees that Brodsky feels has sidestepped appropriate public scrutiny. The IDA will hear Brodsky’s arguments one day before the vote; a Yankee spokesperson has already publicly dissed Brodsky, claiming he himself has bent the rules on behalf of the horse racing industry in New York and that his accusations thus make him a hypocrite. Question: If the Yankees truly believe Brodsky is a hypocrite, are they by definition justifying his claim that they’re in bed with New York City politicians?
Baseball's Class Structure Exposed
Turnbow, so electric for the Brewers in 2004 (39 saves with a 1.74 ERA) has since been short of disastrous, compiling a 6.13 ERA with an 8-15 record, 26 savesand 11 blown saves. He was also nailed by the IOC for performance-enhancing drugs while on the roster for the 2004 Olympic baseball squad, which might infer as to how he was so good a year later in Milwaukee. So with Turnbow’s luster having long since abandoned him, the battle for his services is a stark contrast to those for the existing A-list talent and exposes the wide chasm between baseball’s haves and have-nots. It’s as if the haves are sitting pretty trying to outbid one another at a Sotheby’s auction while the have-nots are scrambling for the best available scraps at the garbage dump.
While baseball’s elite teams have been reaching into their vaults to go after CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez, there was another, relative poor man’s bidding war for a poor man’s Francisco Rodriguez that ended this week when the Texas Rangers nabbed former Milwaukee closer Derrick Turnbow. It was reported that three teams were actively seeking Turnbow: The Rangers, Pittsburgh and Florida. Not exactly teams that instantly come to mind when considering who’s going to get Manny.
About a year ago, the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled spectacular artist visions for a new waterfront ballpark, featuring protective roofing reminiscent of a sailboat. The Rays may get their new ballparkthey’ll need it, because almost every other team has gotten one in the last 15 yearsbut they may not get the location they desire. The Associated Press reported this week that seven sites for the new ballpark are being considered, and while one of those is the current location of Process Energy Park, a spring training facility which sits downtown next to the water, other sites also include a former landfill, a sod farm, a golf course next to an airport and a greyhound race track. Tearing down Tropicana Field, the Rays’ current home, to make way for the new ballpark is also an option.
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.