The Week That Was in Baseball: June 13-19, 2011
Why Baseball Still Needs to Be Divvied Up • Wanna Slow Jose Reyes Down? Try Mud
Great Rookies Who Flunked the Long Term • Billy Beane Reacts to Moneyball, the Movie
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|All Things Being Equal: Our Picks For 2011
TGG's Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio give their predictions for the 2011 MLB regular season. Check it out now!
After Further Review: Making the Right Call on Replay
Baseball Without Borders?
Having everyone bunched into a 15-team league threatens to take the heart out of divisional rivalries that have blossomed over the years: St. Louis vs. Cincinnati, San Francisco vs. Colorado, Tampa Bay vs. New York, and so on. These teams will still play one another, but the importance of their rivalries, in the context of being crowned divisional champions, will be lost amid the larger mass of a 15-team league. With the divisions intact, the sense of two teams fighting it out for first place, mano-a-mano, has a more dramatic allure to it.
Baseball’s proposal also allows for commissioner Bud Selig’s wish to increase postseason participants from eight to ten, with the top five teams from each league making the playoffs. We don’t like that. The path towards an NHLization (read: diminished value) of the regular season is greedy and short-sided.
We do agree that the leagues need to be balanced out; having six teams in the NL Central and four in the AL West is unfair and as asymmetrical as the Fenway Park outfield. What we’d like to see is to bring the Houston Astros, who have no major existing rivalry in the NL, transplanted to the AL West (where it could start an in-state rivalry with divisional partner Texas) and equal each division out to five teams each. Yes, with two odd-numbered leagues there will have to be at least one interleague series in play all the timebut c’mon, so what? And as for the postseason, keep it at eight teams and avoid devaluing the regular season.
Falling From Freshman Grace
Will Coghlan ever return to freshman form? If he doesn’t, he may be joining our list below of fellow Rookie of the Year recipients who never lived up to their first-year hype and faded out of the majors, sooner rather than later:
Harry Byrd, 1952. Byrd was 15-15 with a 3.31 for the Philadelphia A’s, but lost 20 games the next season with a 5.51 ERA that was the majors’ second worst. He was part of an 11-player trade that sent him to the New York Yankeeswhere he performed admirably in 1954then was dealt to Baltimore in an even bigger trade that involved a record 17 players. From there he was a journeyman pitcher, but the journey was short, seeing his last major league action in 1957. Byrd may be the only major leaguer with a road named after him that would later be renamed in honor of another ballplayer (in this case, the Bobo Newsom Highway in Darlington, South Carolina).
Joe Black, 1952. The 28-year old ex-Negro Leaguer had a sensational debut for Brooklyn, compiling a 15-4 record, 15 saves, 2.15 ERA and, in a rare start, won Game One of that year’s World Series against the Yankees. But his ERA shot up to 5.33 in 1953 and 11.57 the following year in few appearances. Black, too, was gone by 1957 after failing to recapture anything close to his rookie magic.
Don Schwall, 1961. The right-handed starting pitcher led the Boston Red Sox with a 15-7 record and 3.22 ERA and won the AL rookie vote over teammate Carl Yazstremski, but never won over ten in any of the following six years as he was relegated to the bullpen. He was traded from the Red Sox to Pittsburgh in a 1963 trade that gave Boston Dick Stuartwho would hammer 75 homers for the Red Sox over the next two seasons.
Mark Fidrych, 1976. The most storied and (in a baseball sense) tragic of the one-year wonders on this list, Fidrych became a national sensation with his long, curly blonde locks and his fascination for taking to the ball, sometimes with great emotion, on the mound; it paid off with a 19-9 record and AL-leading 2.34 ERA for Detroit. But he suffered a torn rotator cuff midway through his second year and never come close to retaining his rookie glory, appearing in just 16 more games before calling it quits in 1980.
Butch Metzger, 1976. The right-handed reliever won 11 games, saved 16 and authored a 2.92 ERA for San Diegobut would only play two more years afterward, bouncing around from team to team as his performance degenerated.
Joe Charboneau, 1980. One of the game’s most memorable rookies gone bad, Charboneau hit .289 with 23 homers and 87 RBIs with Cleveland and added a jovial spirit to the Indians’ clubhouse. He hurt his back the following spring and never recovered; hitting just .210 in 48 games in 1981 and .214 only 22 more games in 1982 before dropping from the bigs for good.
Jerome Walton, 1989. One of two exciting young outfielders (along with Dwight Smith) to help spark the Cubs to the NL East crown, Walton hit .293 with 24 steals, and enjoyed a 30-game hitting streak. But his play time both rapidly diminished. He had one brief burst of energy in 1995, hitting .290 with eight homes and ten steals in 162 at-bats for Cincinnati, but otherwise he was pure benchwarming material.
Angel Berroa, 2003. After a solid rookie showing in which he .287 with 17 homers, 73 RBIs, 92 runs scored and 21 steals for Kansas City, Berroa regressed slowly over the next three years and then vanished into relative obscurity, last seen filling roster space (and little else) for the New York Mets in 2009.
Bobby Crosby, 2004. The first-year Oakland shortstop only hit .239, but his 22 home runs and 34 doubles were enough to satisfy Rookie of the Year voters. But he would never hit more than nine homers again and, worse, couldn’t raise that batting average. Attempts to jumpstart Crosby’s career in Pittsburgh and Arizona last year failed, and he’s currently without a major league employer.
A Beane Feast?
Moving From Kazmir
Some Like it Hot...
...But Not That Hot
Taking Shape in Miami
It Said What?
This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Wounded of the Week
Also getting an unwanted seat on the ouch couch this past week are two major Boston Red Sox contributors (outfielder Carl Crawford and starting pitcher Clay Buchholz), Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau (wrist), Atlanta starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (shoulder) and closers in Houston (Brandon Lyon, biceps) and Los Angeles of Anaheim (Fernando Rodney, back).Finally, Scott Cousinsyes, the man who infamously sent the Giants’ Buster Posey to the shelf for the yearhas himself made the DL with a lower back strain for which there was no direct cause. Perhaps it was the result of all the tension sitting up in front of a computer and reading the hate e-mails.
A Day-by-Day Review of the Week:
Tuesday, June 14
In the Tigers’ win, ace Justin Verlander takes a no-hitter into the sixth inning for the third time this year; he loses it with one out in the eighth. Had he completed the no-no, it would have been his second of the seasonand the third of his young career.
Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields tosses his third shutout of the year when he stops the red-hot Red Sox, 4-0, at St. Petersburg. The Red Sox had won nine games in a rowscoring at least five runs in each of those victories.
Last week, hitting coaches were dropping like flies. Today, it’s pitching coaches. Brad Arnsberg (Houston) was fired and Mark Connor (Baltimore) resigned for personal reasons. Rick Adair becomes the Orioles 13th pitching coach in 17 years.Oakland starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, 6-0 to start the season, dropped his fifth straight decision with a 7-4 loss at home to Kansas City. What was particularly alarming about Cahill’s performance is that he walked sevenand struck out none. Not since Colorado’s Greg Reynolds in May 2008 has a starting pitcher walked that many without a strikeout.
Wednesday, June 15
Thursday, June 16
Friday, June 17
Toronto pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes, who a few weeks back had rung up a record-tying streak of 28 straight starts without a victory, wins for the third time in four starts as the Blue Jays edge the Reds at Cincinnati, 3-2.Arizona pitcher Daniel Hudson saves his best performance since being traded last year from the Chicago White Sox for…the Chicago White Sox, going the distance and scattering a run on three hits and a walk to in the Diamondbacks’ 4-1 win at Phoenix. The loser for the White Sox? Edwin Jackson, the player who went the other way to Chicago in the trade for Hudson, who’s now 15-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 26 starts since putting on an Arizona uniform.
Saturday, June 18
In the White Sox’ 6-2 win at Arizona, Chicago slugger Paul Konerko watches in horror when teammate Brent Lillibridge screams a line drive foulright at Konerko’s family, seated behind the White Sox dugout. His brother deflects the ball just enough to keep it from making a direct hit on his dad’s face; he suffers a bruised hand while his dad’s chin gets banged up a slight bit. Chicago starting pitcher John Danks survives his own scary moment when a line drive off the bat of Stephen Drew hits off the back of his head and out of play on the third-base side for a ground-rule double; amazingly, Danks waives off the moment without getting hurt.Jon Lester’s bid to become the majors’ first ten-game winner on the season is spoiled when he serves up home runs on the first two pitches he throws, allowing solo blasts to Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart in the Red Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Brewers.
Sunday, June 19
League vs. League
A Conspiracy as Clear as Mud?
What Do You Want, a Home Run?
Power of the Cup
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