The Week That Was in Baseball: July 20-26, 2009
Wise Move in Center Field for Mark Buehrle • Does Coors Field Spoil Its Hitters?
Peek-a-Boo, Erin Andrews! • An Early Look at Miami's New Ballpark
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The Perfect Mark
An Accountability Gap
First of all, whatever tarnish players like Cobb and Ruth amassed took place off the field and didn’t affect play on the field. Second, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa might not have collected anywhere near the total number of career home runs had it not been for steroids, Jose Canseco’s faux boxing career would have begun much sooner had he not taken to the juice, and Barry Bonds, a legitimate Hall of Famer before he allegedly started shooting up circa 1999, likely never would have passed Hank Aaron as the all-time home run champ as a result. (We will accept any argument against Perry, who likely got over the 300-win hump thanks to his spitter.)Chafets also makes the misjudgment of stating that comparisons between now and then are difficult because the conditions have changedthat the game is now nationwide when it once was just the East Coast, that there are more night games, better access to medical personnel, etc. That doesn’t enhance any argument for the cheaters; for instance, it’s true that more games are played at night, but everyone is exposed to that schedule. Steroids are more plentiful, tooand only the foolish are the ones not staying away from those.
Private, For All to See
Steroids Confession of the Week
Without a Little Halp From His Friends
On the 40th anniversary the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the Houston Astros wore caps with the mission’s emblem on itrelegating the ‘star’ logo to the left side. Carlos Lee hit one giant homer for mankinder, the Astrosto provide Houston with all of its offense in a 3-2 victory over St. Louis on Monday.
Wounded of the Week
TGG Programming Notes
Does Coors Field Spoil Good Hitters?
What has disappointed the A’s is that Holliday’s output has been relatively lackingafter the first 93 games, he’s hitting .287 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIsand that will hurt the team’s chances to get better talent in return for Holliday in any trade. Holliday’s quiet year has also reduced his chances to score a massive long-term contract this coming winter. And for that, Holliday has to be cursing over the fact that he got traded from Colorado in the first place, for it’s obvious that the reason he’s not producing the kind of numbers he put up while playing at mile-high Coors Field is because he’s no longer playing at Coors Field.
Holliday has publicly bristled at such a fact, but the numbers don’t lie. His career batting average is .316, but it’s .357 at offensive-minded Coors Field, all taking place after the humidor was plugged in. Elsewhere, Holliday’s hitting a rather standard .281. In addition, he averaged one homer every 16 at-bats at Coors; away from Coors, it’s one in every 31.
The worst thing a major league pitcher could ever be told is that he’s been traded to Colorado. For hitters, the worst thing they hear is that they’ve been traded from the Rockies. Holliday is hardly the only example of an ex-Rockie whose offensive game has been sapped by a return to major league life at sea level. Here’s some other Rockie players who endured a sudden decline after putting on another uniform:
Dante Bichette. Before becoming a charter member of the Rockies in 1993, Bichette struggled to find a rhythm in the AL; with the Rockies, he instantly became an All-Star presence. In seven years at Colorado, he led the NL twice in hits, led the league with 40 homers and 128 RBIs in 1995, and knocked in at least 100 RBIs over five straight years. Bichette was then traded to Cincinnati, and the juice from his numbers vanished for the duration of his career. At Denver, Bichette was a career .358 hitter; at sea level, he hit .279figures identical to those produced by Holliday.
Vinny Castilla. The powerful third baseman put up prodigious numbers for the Rockies, topping 40 homers from 1996-98 with an average typically topping over .300. Then, Castilla was dealt to Tampa Bay in 2000where he hit just six homers with a .221 mark in 85 games. After bouncing around a number of other teams with moderate numbers over the next few years, Castilla was welcomed back in Colorado in 2004, and responded with a rousing encore, belting 35 home runs with a NL-high 131 RBIsthen foolishly left, accepting a free agent contract afterward with Washington, where he hit just 12 homers in 142 games for the Nationals in 2005. At the age of 39, Castilla was given one more tour with the Rockies in late 2006, but he spent most of it on the bench. Castilla hit .333 and averaged a home run every 13 at-bats playing in Denver; elsewhere, he batted just .254 and could only poke one over the fence every 26 at-bats.
Ellis Burks. The veteran slugger had already established himself as a solid (if not injury-prone) hitter when he signed as a free agent for the Rockies in 1994. After fighting ailments through his first two years in Denver, he exploded in 1996hitting .344 (.390 at Coors) with 40 homers, 128 RBIs, 32 steals and a league-high 142 runs. The following year, Burks added 32 knocks and 82 RBIsin just 119 games. In 1998 he was traded to San Francisco and continued to produce, but nowhere near the heights of his healthy apex with the Rockies.
Jeffrey Hammonds. The speedster from Stanford struggled to find everyday time (due in part to injuries) through the first seven years of his career, split between Baltimore and Cincinnati. Traded to the Rockies for Bichette in 2000, Hammonds’ numbers came alive; he hit .335 with 20 homers and 106 RBIs in just 122 games, gaining his first (and only) All-Star recognition. On the coattails of his 2000 success, Hammonds signed with Milwaukeeand immediately flopped, hitting .248 with 16 homers over three yearsand his career quickly faded out from there. For his career, Hammonds hit .396 with 20 homers in 250 at-bats at Coors Field; his average otherwise was .261.
Jay Payton. After a modest first few years playing for the New York Mets, Payton was traded late in 2002 to Colorado and immediately made an impact for the Rockies, batting .335 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 47 games. The next season, Payton had a career year effort, establishing personal highs in home runs (28), RBIs (89), doubles (32) and runs (93). A year later, Payton made the mistake of signing with San Diego as the Padres moved into voluminous Petco Park, where his average (.260) and home run output (eight) took a dive. From there, Payton bounced about and never regained his Colorado greatness. He was a career .353 hitter at Coors Field, .269 everywhere else.
Winging It In the Ring
Panic in the Citi
Finally Firing Blanks
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