David Rubin - Sunday Baseball Notes


Sunday Baseball Notes

Red Sox hope to do better with trades

By Nick Cafardo

 |  Globe Staff  
  January 20, 2013

The Red Sox started with what appears to be a good trade with the Pirates for closer Joel Hanrahan.
Barry Chin / Globe Staff
The Red Sox started with what appears to be a good trade with the Pirates for closer Joel Hanrahan.

One of the internal self-examinations the Red Sox have conducted this offseason is trying to figure out why they haven’t been able to make more productive trades.
They are currently trying to deal for a lefthanded-hitting first baseman/outfielder, and their hope is that they’ll get on a roll with deals. They started with what appears to be a good one with the Pirates for closer Joel Hanrahan.
“It’s fair to say we have examined that,” said general manager Ben Cherington. “I think it’s part of a bigger examination of our evaluation and decision-making process. As with most examinations, adjustments will likely be subtle but real and likely implemented over time.”
Perhaps not so subtle was the hiring of veteran scout Eddie Bane to evaluate pitching.

The Sox have explored many trades this offseason, including one with Miami that would have netted them Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. They weren’t able to get the pieces right on that one, and the Marlins instead pursued their mega-deal with the Blue Jays, who gave up some of their better prospects to pull it off.
Before they made their blockbuster with the Dodgers last August — sending Carl CrawfordJosh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez west and getting prospects Ivan DeJesusAllen WebsterJerry Sands, and Rubby De La Rosa — the Sox traded Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox for utility infielder Brent Lillibridge and righthanded pitcher Zach Stewart, who has since been designated for assignment by the Pirates.
DeJesus, a redundant player with Pedro Ciriaco around, and Sands, a righthanded power hitter, went in the Hanrahan deal.
Last offseason, the Red Sox dealt infielder Jed Lowrie and righty Kyle Weiland to the Astros for reliever Mark Melancon, who had a poor season and was then flipped to the Pirates in the Hanrahan deal. They also traded eventual World Series MVP Marco Scutaro to the Rockies forClayton Mortensen, who was a serviceable pitcher the six times he came up from the minors. Scutaro’s replacement, Mike Aviles, provided something close to Scutaro’s production.
The deal that seemed to bite the Sox the most was sending Josh Reddick to the Athletics for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney. Bailey suffered two injuries in spring training, including a thumb injury that kept him out until mid-August. But at the time the deal was made, most people in baseball thought the Red Sox got the better of it, acquiring a two-time All-Star closer for a guy who had never shown he was more than a fourth outfielder.
Sweeney had a good month but then started to slump. He punched a wall and broke his hand, ending his season. He was not tendered a contract and is a free agent. Bailey posted a 7.04 ERA upon his return and has now been supplanted as the closer by Hanrahan.
Reddick, meanwhile, hit 32 home runs, knocked in 85 runs, and won a Gold Glove for a team that won the American League West.
The Red Sox don’t seem to be evaluating the returns on their trades as well as they should.
Stewart, for instance, has always had a very good arm — he once threw close to 100 m.p.h. — but he has never been able to get it together. The Red Sox apparently believed that, as with Andrew Miller, they would have a guy with a strong arm and get him to put things together.
But the White Sox coaches never thought Stewart would be more than a journeyman, and they had no problem giving him up for Youkilis.
“I don’t believe any shortcoming is a result of lack of information or resources,” Cherington said. “We have plenty of both and plenty of good people evaluating and analyzing talent.”
This offseason, the Red Sox have acquired most of their new players via free agency: Shane VictorinoDavid RossJonny GomesKoji UeharaStephen DrewRyan Dempster, and (when it finally gets done) Mike Napoli.
They have been unwilling to deal some of their better prospects, but have done a good job dealing redundant players like DeJesus, Sands, andStolmy Pimentel.
It’s no secret that the Sox have walked away from deals because they thought the price tag was too high. But you wonder whether they’re getting gun-shy about big deals because of their recent track record.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who is heading into his 16th season, isn’t afraid to get back on the horse after a bad deal.
“I would think a team would change the evaluating staff or process rather than do nothing if they had a bad history of bad moves,” said Cashman.
GMs have confidants, an inner circle if you will. The circle changes over time, but once you have a good one, like San Francisco’s, the evaluation process seems to go so much smoother. Giants GM Brian Sabean has his trusted confidants in Dick TidrowJoe LefebvreBobby Evans,Steve Balboni, John BarrPaul TurcoFred Stanley, and Jeremy Shelley.
When Dan Duquette took the Orioles job after being out of baseball for 10 seasons, he immediately went back to the people he trusted with the Red Sox like Lee ThomasRay PoitevintGary Rajsich, and Fred Ferreira to name a few.
Cherington, too, is trying to develop that circle with Mike HazenBrian O’HalloranAllard BairdJared PorterBen Crockett, etc.
Developing that perfect circle takes time. The Red Sox are trying to find it.

Apropos of something

While Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to extend HGH testing throughout the season — with a longitudinal testing profile for each player to detect synthetic testosterone, which seems to be the PED of choice now because it flushes out of the body quickly — one major league owner wondered just how widespread the PED problem is still.
“The hope is with this new test for testosterone that we’ll reduce the use of it even more,” the owner said. “I’m not sure any of us know how widespread this problem has been or may be still. We’re thinking we may see even more changes in the game in the form of less power and pitchers’ velocity going down.”
When the subject comes up, the player mentioned the most is Melky Cabrera, who was leading the National League in batting last season when he tested positive for testosterone and received a 50-game suspension. The Giants did not include him on their playoff roster even after Cabrera was reinstated.
The Blue Jays signed Cabrera this offseason, and he’ll be their starting left fielder. All of baseball is going to watch to see if being clean makes a difference in his numbers.
How long was Cabrera getting away with negative tests before he was caught? This is what MLB and the MLBPA are hoping to determine with the new testing.
Under the old system, the player would advance to the isotope ratio mass spectrometry test (IRMS) if his testosterone ratio was at least 4:1. Now random tests will give a baseline for each player, and if they rise with subsequent testing, then it’s a red flag that he may be trying to boost his testosterone level.
Baseball people now agree that the use of synthetic testosterone may be more widespread than HGH. Baseball was the first sport to use blood testing for HGH. At first the testing was only in the offseason, then in spring training, and now it will be all season, randomly. Players initially balked at blood testing because it was too intrusive, but the union quickly passed this enhanced testing.

Apropos of nothing

1. Good news at Fenway: Kowloon returns to the concession stands.
2. Why does it seem that players from other countries enjoy participating in the World Baseball Classic more than Americans do? The best players seem to be bowing out. Too bad, because it could be a significant event if teams weren’t so protective of their players.
3. Remember asking Ben Cherington not long after the Sox had agreed to terms with Mike Napoli on the three-year deal: “Ever detect anything you didn’t know about the player’s medical history after a physical?”
4. If it is true that ownership wanted “sexy” players to boost NESN ratings back in 2011, the Sox have made a dramatic departure from that this offseason.
5. Nobody ever mentions Sox catcher Dan Butler, so we will. Very good receiver, and he has some power. With the logjam at catcher, he’ll likely stay at Pawtucket, but his defense is very good.
6. How about the long list of announcers who have gone from the PawSox job to the big leagues? Add 29-year-old Aaron Goldsmith, who is now the radio voice of the Mariners. Others who have moved up: Gary Cohen (Mets), Don Orsillo (Red Sox), Dave Flemming (Giants), Andy Freed(Rays), Dave Shea (Nationals), Dave Jageler (Nationals), and Dan Hoard (NFL’s Bengals). Would love to see Jerry Trupiano get a shot here.
7. Butch Hobson starts his 13th season as an Atlantic League manager, his third at Lancaster (Pa.). Hobson has more than 1,500 wins as a manager but has never been able to get back to the majors in even a coaching job. “I love what I’m doing,” said Hobson. “I think we do it the right way. We’ve sent 11 players to organizations the last two years.” Hobson is also watching the career of his son K.C. Hobson, 22, a first baseman in the Blue Jays organization. K.C. may make it up to Double A Manchester, where he would be managed by former Red Sox catcher Gary Allenson. With Single A Lansing last year, K.C. hit .276 with 10 homers and 86 RBIs.

Updates on nine

1. Brandon Moss, 1B/OF — The former Red Sox farmhand would have been a perfect fit as the lefthanded complement to Jonny Gomes in left field and Mike Napoli at first base, but Oakland general manager Billy Beane gave a resounding “no” when asked whether he would move Moss, who was strictly a journeyman before he burst on the scene with the A’s last year.
2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox — With the acquisition of John Jaso in the three-team deal that sent Michael Morse from Washington to Seattle, Oakland is eliminated as a possible destination for the switch-hitting catcher. But this certainly doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Salty is dealt somewhere, before or during spring training. There are still teams with catching and/or power needs. One is obviously Seattle, which lost Jaso. Jesus Montero is currently the Mariners’ No. 1 catcher.
3. Chien-Ming Wang, RHP, free agent — Wang will pitch for Taiwan in the World Baseball Classic, then try to decide where he will play the 2013 season. Wang, a two-time 19-game winner for the Yankees, has spent most of the last three years trying to regain his old form after undergoing shoulder capsule surgery, which usually is a career-ender for pitchers. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, felt that Wang, who has pitched for the Nationals the last two seasons, could regain enough of his old form to be effective in the majors. Wang, you’ll remember, had that killer heavy sinker that broke bats. While a number of teams have inquired about him, according to agent Alan Nero, Wang is hoping to use the WBC as a showcase.
4. Yu Darvish, RHP, Rangers — The Japanese phenom went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in his rookie season with Texas. He had some ups and downs but was strong in his last eight starts. Darvish thinks that, with a normal offseason, he will be better in 2013 and improve on the 29 starts he made (in which the Rangers went 19-10). The Rangers feel that if Darvish can build up his stamina and increase his starts to the 32-33 range, he could have a big effect on a tight playoff race at the end of the year.
5. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins — There continues to be rumblings that the Marlins will deal Stanton if the price is right. Some wonder whether Tampa Bay has what Miami wants to make it happen. The Rays have lots of pitching prospects heading toward the majors. They also have outfielder Wil Myers (acquired in the James Shields deal with Kansas City), who could be part of such a deal.
6. Michael Bourn, CF, free agent — The Rafael Soriano signing by the Nationals is a reminder to never underestimate the market Scott Borascan create for a client. Bourn seemed like a good fit in Seattle before the Mariners acquired Morse, and the Phillies, who could use another outfielder, remain an obvious choice. The Mets are not out of the picture if the price and length of commitment come down. Could the Blue Jays be a long shot? They have Colby Rasmus, but he could be traded. The Yankees?
7. Manny Ramirez, OF, free agent — The scouts who saw him say what you’d expect: that Ramirez could probably hit until he’s 60. He hit .360 with 4 homers and 17 RBIs in the Dominican League this winter and wants to return to the majors after two PED violations. Hard to imagine anyone giving him a shot, though. Meanwhile, Red Sox first baseman Mauro Gomez led the Dominican League in RBIs (38) and was second in homers (8).
8. Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox — Iglesias did a lot of strengthening this offseason in the hopes of avoiding injury and to give himself a boost offensively. You can see why the Red Sox don’t want to give up on him (the Pirates wanted him as the central piece in the Joel Hanrahan deal) as their future starter at shortstop, even with the Xander Bogaerts hype.
9. Dan Duquette, GM, Orioles — Ownership finally found the right management team and decided to reward both Duquette and Buck Showalterwith six-year deals last week. Duquette and Showalter worked well together, as Duquette made a lot of moves before and during last season that enabled the team to go from 69 to 93 wins. It doesn’t appear, however, that ownership opened up the purse strings for Duquette — strange, considering that he had a tremendous track record in Boston for hitting on the right high-profile players.
Short hops
From the Bill Chuck files: “Matt HarrisonJon Lester, and Matt Cain each faced 876 batters in 2012. Harrison allowed 210 hits and 59 walks, Lester 216 hits and 68 walks, and Cain just 177 hits and 51 walks.” Also, “Over the last four seasons, the Yankees have averaged 228 homers a season, which is exactly the number the Yankees need to become baseball’s first team with 15,000. They enter 2013 with 14,772.” . . . Happy birthday to Luis Exposito (26), Matt Albers (30), and Gene Stephens (80).

Saying Hey to Willie

  • Last Updated: 4:16 AM, January 20, 2013
  • Posted: 2:18 AM, January 20, 2013
Giants baseball fans got to “Say Hey” to a legend and celebrate San Francisco’s World Series win yesterday.
A group of lucky fans got to spend yesterday morning with the Commissioner’s Trophy, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer, general manager Brian Sabean — and Hall of Famer Willie Mays at the Westin Hotel in Midtown.
“I am always a Giant,” Mays said. “The Giants are all over, we’re in New York, we’re in San Francisco. We’re everywhere. This organization is something special.”
Mays addressed both the New York Giants Historical Society and the New York Giants Preservation Society and received standing ovations from the crowd on five separate occasions.
A-MAYS-IN! Willie Mays greets fans yesterday in midtown Manhattan.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg
A-MAYS-IN! Willie Mays greets fans yesterday in midtown Manhattan.
The Hall of Fame outfielder played with the Giants for 20 seasons, six of them while the team was in the Big Apple, and played parts of two seasons with the Mets.
“I’d like to say thank you to New York,” he said. “You don’t have to say New York and San Francisco are separate. You’re wearing a uniform that says Giants. It doesn’t matter where you are.”
Mays reminisced about his remarkable playing career, during which he amassed 660 home runs, but also touched on current events in the baseball world, most notably the recent Hall of Fame voting ballot.
“I think you have to look at the writers,” Mays said. “At least every year ... someone is good enough to get in, but that’s not my choice. The Hall of Fame relies on people coming up there and spending money, so I think every year someone should get in.”
The gathering was the second time in three years the Giants were able to give back to their New York fan base. The team brought the World Series Trophy to the city in a similar event following the 2010 season.
“There’s a lot of orange and black in the room, which is fantastic,” Baer said. “We feel like we never left New York. We want to honor [the years we spent in New York] because it feels like we’re baseball royalty.”
* Sabean all but confirmed closer Brian Wilson would not be returning to the Giants this season.
“The only way I can see him coming back is [on a low-base, high-incentive contract], but this time I see him more in the mindset to do that with somebody else,” Sabean said.
The Mets are among several teams that have expressed interest in Wilson.

Saturday, January 19, 2013Earl Weaver: Irascible and brilliant

By Tim Kurkjian
ESPN The Magazine
The last time I spent significant time with Earl Weaver was almost a year ago. He was old and slow and needed a guy to walk with him in case he fell, but mentally, he was still the same Earl. We were watching an Orioles intrasquad game from the first row of seats in Sarasota, Fla., when manager Buck Showalter quietly called me over to alert me to a play, a tribute of sorts to Earl. Seconds later, the Orioles ran a pickoff play, one Earl had invented in the late '60s. "Hey," Earl yelled at me, "that's my pickoff play!"
It was vintage Earl: always ahead of the game, never missed a trick, brilliant, irascible, indomitable, hilarious. He was Mickey Rooney in a baseball uniform. That day in the stands in Sarasota, it was like it was 1979, the first time that I ever met him, only this time, I was sitting next to him as he dissected the game. In 33 years of covering baseball, no one has taught me more about the game than Earl. My most cherished days as a writer were the days before a game, sitting on the Orioles bench, listening to, and watching, Earl.
A case could be made that he is the third-greatest manager of all time, behind only the legendary Connie Mack and Joe McCarthy. In 17 years as a manager, all for Baltimore, Weaver went 1,480-1060 in his Hall of Fame career. He won four pennants and one World Series. He won 90 games in a season 11 times. He won 100 games three years in a row, averaging 106 victories 1969-71. As the Orioles bus left Kansas City after a rare loss in 1970, Earl crackled from the front seat, "Damn, it's hard to hard to stay 50 games over .500!"
He was just smarter, in a simplistic way, than the rest. He built those Orioles teams around pitching, defense and three-run homers because that's how you win games. Mental mistakes infuriated him. You had to hit the cutoff man, and it was imperative to always, always, always keep the double play in order. He hated to bunt because, as he always said, "You only get 27 outs; don't give any one of them away." It angered him when the other team was trying to bunt and his pitcher wouldn't throw a strike. He would scream, "They're giving us an out, throw the ball over the plate!" In 1986, when Angels manager Gene Mauch bunted in the first inning with his No. 3 hitter [Wally Joyner], Weaver looked at me the next day and said, respectfully but purposefully, "I could lose my next 500 games, and I'd still have a better record than that guy."

Earl Weaver
Many loved irascible Earl Weaver, but umpires probably weren't among them. He was ejected nearly 100 times in his 2,541 games as Orioles manager.
Weaver implored his pitchers never to intentionally throw at a hitter because "It might lead to a fight. And if there's a fight, our guys and their guys are going to get ejected, and our guys are better than their guys, so we're going to lose on that exchange. So, don't hit them!" A writer once made the mistake of asking when Orioles outfielder Al Bumbry, whom Weaver loved, was coming off the disabled list. Earl yelled at the writer, "As far as I'm concerned, Bumbry is dead! I only deal with the living! When he's ready to come off the DL, then he's ready. Until then, he's dead!" To Earl, the DL was indeed the "Dead List."
Weaver was the master of when to call a team meeting, and what to say. But there were very few team meetings because his teams were always so good, and because, he once told me, "What if we have a team meeting and we lose? What do I do then?" He was also the master of running a bullpen. He always knew when to bring in a reliever, when to remove a starter; he knew how to protect his pitchers. One night in Toronto, the Orioles were getting clobbered. Weaver called the bullpen in the sixth inning. His backup catcher, Elrod Hendricks, who was warming up the Orioles pitchers, answered the bullpen phone. "You better get ready," Weaver said.
"Earl," Hendricks said, "it's me, Elrod."
"I know who it is; you better get up!" Weaver yelled.
So Hendricks was brought in to pitch the sixth and seventh innings so as not to burn a real pitcher.
Weaver would gladly tell us those stories as we sat on the bench before games, or in his office after games, which is why he had a great rapport with the writers. In the 1970s, when the Orioles were playing a getaway day on the road, he sometimes would supply his beat writers with what they called "if quotes" before the game. "If we win tonight," he would say, "I'll say, 'Well, we won six out of nine on this trip, we're still four games ahead in the division, and now we're going home.'" That way, the writers could have their stories written almost as soon as the game ended, giving them time to get on the Orioles charter. One Orioles beat writer in the '60s, long before computers, occasionally would show Weaver a printout of the story he had written that night as the team was flying to the next city. Weaver looked at one story and wrote on it, "C+. Shows improvement."
The writers loved Earl because he was so quotable, so funny. One day in Detroit in 1986, Orioles starter John Habyan, just up from the minor leagues, walked the first four Tigers he faced, then was pulled from the game. I casually asked Earl after the game, "So, Habyan was a little off with his control, huh?" Weaver said, "Yeah, I guess home plate at Triple-A is 17 feet wide, not 17 inches! I guess every hitter at Triple-A is about eight feet tall!"
Not all the players loved Earl, but they all played hard for him. Terry Crowley was a bench player, a terrific pinch hitter, for Weaver in the 1970s. Weaver once said of him, "I saved his career. If it wasn't for me, Crowley would be working in a beer hall." That quote made it in the newspapers in Baltimore. Crowley was crushed, and, nearly in tears, asked Weaver whether he had said that. Weaver looked at the quotes, and, instead of saying they had been taken out of context, he said, "Yeah, those are my words." Then Weaver took Crowley in his office and smoothed things over because he knew he would need Crowley that night.
Orioles outfielder Pat Kelly decided, while he was playing, that he was going to be a minister. So, he felt he should tell his manager about his plans. So, Kelly waited for the right time, a quiet time, to approach Weaver. "Earl," he said, "I'm going to walk with the Lord."
"I rather you walked with the bases loaded!" Weaver said.
When the Orioles acquired power-hitting catcher Earl Williams from the Braves in the early '70s, Weaver had him start the first four exhibition games that first spring so he could get used to catching the great four starters in the Orioles rotation. Before that fourth game, Williams barged into Weaver's office and said, "Don't we have any more f---ing catchers on this team?!" Weaver later said, "I knew right then that we were in big trouble." Williams played two years with the Orioles, then he was gone, done as a good player.
The players didn't always like the way Weaver dealt with them, but they couldn't argue with his success, or with his logic. The concept of platoon baseball was originally founded in the early 1900s, but Weaver was the first to really popularize it in his 17 years as a manager. He had batter-pitcher matchups on white index cards, always next to him in the dugout so he would always have the right guy for the right spot. In the eighth inning of Game 1 of the 1979 American League Championship Series, the Angels brought in reliever John Montague. He had been acquired late in the season, so Weaver didn't have a white card on him. So Weaver breathlessly called the press box looking for 20-year-old intern Dr. Charles Steinberg, who was responsible for, among other things, the data for the white cards.
"I don't have Montague!" Earl yelled.
A panicked Steinberg worked quickly to look up the Montague numbers, then gave the white card to Earl's daughter Kim, who was an Oriole BaseBell, a person who, among other duties, helped deliver things, such as soft drinks, during games. She had never delivered a key piece of information to her father during a game. So she rushed down from the press box, through the Orioles clubhouse, where she'd never been allowed, past Jim Palmer, who was wearing only a towel, and into the dugout. Weaver saw it: The guy to use against Montague was John Lowenstein, who was 3-for-4 against him with two homers.
When the spot came up, Lowenstein pinch hit, and he hit a three-run homer to win the game.
The umpires hated Earl, and, for the most part, he hated them. On Earl Weaver Day at Memorial Stadium after Weaver retired (for the first time) after the 1982 season, he rode on the back of a convertible around the stadium, waving to the crowd. One umpire said that day, "If there is a god, that little SOB will fall off the back of that convertible and get run over." Weaver was ejected just short of 100 times in his career, and virtually every one of them was volcanic and entertaining. He told me he would turn his cap around backward to argue "so I wouldn't accidentally hit the umpire with the bill of my cap. No contact. With contact, I could get suspended." The crowds at Memorial Stadium went wild when Earl went wild because the fans and players knew he was standing up for them. Mike Flanagan once told me the story that, after an ejection one night in 1986, Earl came back in the clubhouse, where he was met by his father, who said that Weaver had embarrassed himself that night on the field. Weaver never was ejected again.
He retired again, and for good, after the 1986 season. He didn't have a good team that year, and losing really, really bothered him. Early on a Sunday morning in September in Oakland that year, he filled out his lineup card in the midst of a horrible collapse the final two months of that season. "Tim," he said, "this is the worst lineup card I've ever filled out in a major league game." Three weeks later, he would manage his last game, a Hall of Fame career that finished under an avalanche of losses. But that in no way took away from his legacy as one of the greatest managers of all time. And last year, the Orioles dedicated a statue to each of their Hall of Famers. Weaver's statue is great. It stands among those of Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, all of whom he managed. They will all tell you: No one knew the game better than Earl Weaver.
Earl Weaver died at 82 on the Orioles Cruise, which is fitting because, 25 years after he retired, he was the highlight of the cruise, the guy all the old Orioles fans -- and the new ones -- wanted to meet. I had the pleasure to know him well. And that last day I spent significant time with him, at that intrasquad game in Sarasota, was one of the highlights of my writing career. That day, an Orioles outfielder, in a squad game, overthrew the cutoff man, allowing the batter/runner to advance to second base. So, instead of runners at the corners with one out, there were runners at second and third. Weaver was really upset by that.
"Damn it," he growled, "the double play isn't in order! You have to keep the double play in order!"
To the end, he was the Earl of Baltimore, the smartest baseball man I ever met, the great Earl Weaver.

ESPN.com: Baseball

Saturday, January 19, 2013Earl Weaver, 82, dies while on cruise

ESPN.com news services
BALTIMORE -- Earl Weaver always was up for an argument, especially with an umpire.
At the slightest provocation, the Earl of Baltimore would spin his hat back, point his finger squarely at an ump's chest and then fire away. The Hall of Fame manager would even tangle with his own players, if necessary.
All this from a 5-foot-6 pepperpot who hated to be doubted.
Although reviled by some, Weaver was beloved in Baltimore and remained an Oriole to the end.

Earl Weaver was a brilliant manager and relentlessly entertaining, a one-of-a-kind baseball character who left his mark on everyone who knew him, writes Jayson Stark. Blog
The notoriously feisty Hall of Fame manager died at age 82 on a Caribbean cruise associated with the Orioles, his marketing agent said Saturday.
"Earl was a black and white manager," former O's ace and Hall of Fame member Jim Palmer said Saturday. "He kind of told you what your job description was going to be and kind of basically told you if you wanted to play on the Orioles, this was what you needed to do. And if you couldn't do it, I'll get someone else. I know that's kind of tough love, but I don't think anyone other than Marianna, his wife, would describe Earl as a warm and fuzzy guy."
Weaver took the Orioles to the World Series four times over 17 seasons but won only one title, in 1970. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century.
Dick Gordon said Weaver's wife told him that Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between 10:30 and 11 Friday night. Gordon said a cause of death has not been determined.
"It's a sad day. Earl was a terrific manager," Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "The simplicity and clarity of his leadership and his passion for baseball was unmatched. He's a treasure for the Orioles. He leaves a terrific legacy of winning baseball with the Orioles and we're so grateful for his contribution. He has a legacy that will live on."
Weaver will forever remain a part of Camden Yards. A statue of him was dedicated last summer in the stadium's flag court, along with the rest of the team's Hall of Fame members.

Earl Weaver
Earl Weaver took the Orioles into the World Series four times over 17 seasons, winning it in 1970.
"Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said. "This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."
Weaver was a salty-tongued manager who preferred to wait for a three-run homer rather than manufacture a run with a stolen base or a bunt. While some baseball purists argued that strategy, no one could dispute the results.
"Earl was well known for being one of the game's most colorful characters with a memorable wit, but he was also amongst its most loyal," commissioner Bud Selig said. "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Marianna, their family and all Orioles fans."
Weaver had a reputation as a winner, but umpires knew him as a hothead. Weaver would often turn his hat backward and yell directly into an umpire's face to argue a call or a rule, and after the inevitable ejection he would more often than not kick dirt on home plate or on the umpire's shoes.
Orioles programs sold at the old Memorial Stadium frequently featured photos of Weaver squabbling.
He was ejected 91 times, including once in both games of a doubleheader.
Asked once if his reputation might have harmed his chances to gain entry into the Hall of Fame, Weaver admitted, "It probably hurt me."
Not for long. He entered the Hall in 1996.
"When you discuss our game's motivational masters, Earl is a part of that conversation," Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. "He was a proven leader in the dugout and loved being a Hall of Famer. Though small in stature, he was a giant as a manager."
His ejections were overshadowed by his five 100-win seasons, six AL East titles and four pennants. Weaver was inducted 10 years after he managed his final game with Baltimore at the end of an ill-advised comeback.
In 1985, the Orioles' owner at the time, Edward B. Williams, coaxed Weaver away from golf to take over a struggling squad. Weaver donned his uniform No. 4, which had already been retired by the team, and tried to breathe some life into the listless Orioles.
Baltimore went 53-52 over the last half of the 1985 season, but finished seventh in 1986 with a 73-89 record. It was Weaver's only losing season as a major-league manager, and he retired for good after that.
"If I hadn't come back," Weaver said after his final game, "I would be home thinking what it would have been like to manage again. I found out it's work."
Weaver finished with a 1,480-1,060 record. He won Manager of the Year three times.
"I had a successful career, not necessarily a Hall of Fame career, but a successful one," he said.
Weaver, talking in 2010 about the onset of instant replay in baseball, lamented the fact it wasn't available in his time.
"That would have saved me a lot of embarrassment, very much," Weaver said. "Because each and every time I got thrown out of a ballgame, I had lost my temper and I was embarrassed when I got home."
Weaver came to the Orioles as a first base coach in 1968, took over as manager on July 11 and went on to become the winningest manager in the history of the franchise.
"Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career and a great friend to our family," Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken said. "His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can't and won't be forgotten."

Earl Weaver
Weaver came to the Orioles as a first base coach in 1968, took over as manager on July 11 and went on to become the winningest manager in the history of the franchise.
He knew almost everything about the game. He was also a great judge of human character, and that's one of the main reasons why he was loved by a vast majority of his players even though he often rode them mercilessly from spring training into October.
"Did we have a love-hate relationship? Yes," Palmer said at Saturday's event. "Did he shake my hand after I would win? No. Because he didn't want to be my best friend. At the time maybe I resented that. But I've gotten over it."
Pat Dobson, who pitched two seasons under Weaver, said, "Certainly, the years I played for him were the two most enjoyable years I've had."
During games Weaver smoked cigarettes in the tunnel leading to the dugout and he never kicked the habit. He suffered a mild heart attack in August 1998, and the Orioles' manager at the time, Ray Miller, wondered aloud how his mentor was holding up.
"I wouldn't want to talk to him if he hasn't had a cigarette in 10 days," Miller joked. "They've probably got him tied to a chair."
Weaver was a brilliant manager, but he never made it to the majors as a player. He finally quit after spending 13 years as a second baseman in the St. Louis organization.
"He talked about how he could drive in 100 runs a year, score 100 runs and never make an error," Johnson said. "He said he never got to the big leagues because the Cardinals had too many good players in front of him."
Information from ESPN.com's Willie Weinbaum and The Associated Press was used in this report.

ESPN.com: Stark[Print without images]

Saturday, January 19, 2013My favorite Earl Weaver story

My favorite story from the annals of the late, great Earl Weaver:
I couldn't even tell you what year this was. Sometime in the late '70s. I just remember covering an Orioles-Red Sox series at Fenway Park. And things weren't going well for the Orioles at the time.
My recollection is that they had lost about five games in a row. But after this particular game, Weaver leaned back in the chair behind the desk in his office and announced:
"I'm not worried."
I found myself in a group of writers, sitting and standing around his office. Finally, someone asked: "Why aren't you worried?"
Earl looked at us and said, deadpan: "I've got a secret weapon."
Now let me assure you. Nothing gets the attention of any media horde faster than the term "secret weapon."
So our response, naturally, was: "A secret weapon? What's that?"
Earl looked at us, held up one finger and said, "I'll be right back." Then he walked out of the room -- and went to take a shower.
So now there we were, not sure what to do. Normally, we would head off into the locker room to talk to players. But two important phrases had just changed everything -- and placed some sort of magical spell on us.
First: "I'll be right back." Second: "secret weapon."
Hey, if a living legend is going to be "right back" -- any second, presumably -- and he's about to reveal his "secret weapon," would you leave?
Correct answer: of course you wouldn't.
So nobody moved … until he finally returned … after 15 minutes.
It felt like an hour.
So back in he marched and began buttoning his shirt, not saying a word. Whereupon we repeated the question that had cemented us in our place for the previous 15 minutes: "So, what's your secret weapon?"
Earl Weaver started laughing uproariously.
"Aw," he said, "there ain't no secret weapon. I just didn't want you guys to leave."
This was Earl Weaver. Relentlessly entertaining. A brilliant manager. And a one-of-a-kind baseball character who left his mark on everyone who knew him.
Somewhere up there, there's a throng of folks in heaven who are laughing their tails off -- at least the ones who weren't umpires.

JOE BLOGS: Joe Posnanski

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The BBWAA Project: Left Field

Previously on The BBWAA Project:
In the introduction, there's an explanation of the project and also why I'm using Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as the guiding statistic. It is basically because it is the easiest statistic to use for various reasons. It's a good statistic, I think, but has many problems with it, and I'm aware of that. For instance, Baseball Reference WAR doesn't credit Craig Biggio with being as good a player as, say, Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement. But the point of this is NOT to get a precise view of how good a player is but instead to get a general idea of the BBWAA's standards and how this year's candidates matched up.
And now we move on to what I think might be the weirdest, wildest, most controversial, most inconsistent and most thrilling BBWAA position of them all …
Left Field
OK, let's start with the rundown: Eleven left fielders have elected by the BBWAA, six of them on the first ballot (Lou Brock, Rickey Henderson, Stan Musial, Willie Stargell, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski).
Median career: 59.9 WAR (High: Musial 123.4; Low: Lou Brock 42.8)
25th percentile career: 49.3
Median peak: 41.3 WAR (High: Williams 67.6; Low: Brock 31.1)
25th percentile peak: 37.2
Here are the BBWAA Hall of Famers as ranked by the fans on Baseball Reference's EloRater:
No. 5: Ted Williams (119.8 WAR career/67.6 peak)
No. 9: Stan Musial (123.4/62.7)
No. 19: Carl Yastrzemski (90.1/53.1)
No. 21: Rickey Henderson (106.8/54.4)
No. 28: Al Simmons (64.3/.43.5)
No. 80: Willie Stargell (54.2/36.7)
No. 92: Billy Williams (59.9/39.6)
No. 106: Joe Medwick (52.4/37.8)
No. 166: Ralph Kiner (46.2/41.3)
No. 176: Lou Brock (42.8/31.1)
No. 208: Jim Rice (44.3/34.6)
So, here's this thing about left field: The writers are all over the map. The other defensive positions -- at least so far -- have a rhythm to them. Yes, there are some outliers -- a Tony Perez here, a Pie Traynor there -- but generally speaking there is a standard, usually a high standard, and the writers stick to it unless the player has a particularly compelling narrative or happened to have good timing.
But here -- wel, it's hard to tell. The obvious players are the obvious players -- Williams, Musial, Henderson, Yaz -- all were elected first ball, all with well over 90% of the vote (though how ANYONE could vote against any of the four is beyond me).
But then the standard is all over the place. You have a brilliant but short career (Kiner), the master of the stolen base and a World Series hero (Lou Brock) and a striking image of the 1970s slugger (Jim Rice) … there is, of course, a very strong Hall of Fame argument for all three of them, but then there's a strong argument for Goose Goslin and Zack Wheat, who needed the Veterans Committee to vote them in, and there's a strong argument for Dwight Evans and Bobby Bonds and Minnie MInoso and Dale Murphy and Jack Clark and Bob Johnson and Roy White and others who are not in the Hall of Fame ...
This gets at the point of this study: What is a Hall of Famer according to the BBWAA? At the infield positions, you can answer that question with some level of certainty … there are irregularities and exceptions and so on, but the standard is more or less in place. In left field, it's more muddled.
And the Veterans' committees? Good luck trying to figure them out. The left fielders inducted by the Veterans include: Goose Goslin (No. 64); Zack Wheat (No. 101); Fred Clarke (No. 107); Heine Manush (No. 209); Chick Hafey (No. 512) and Jesse Burkett (No. 93) who started in the 19th century. Hafey, it should be noted, is among the candidates for the least productive Hall of Famers.
This year's candidates:
Barry Bonds
Career: 158.1 WAR (plus-98.2 against median)
Peak: 71.1 WAR (plus 29.8)
Ranking: No. 33
I had never actually looked up Bonds on the EloRater before … wow, No. 33. The fans, through the intensive process, have ranked him behind Ed Delahanty, Al Simmons and, interestingly, Alex Rodriguez. So, yes, among fans there is a lot of skepticism about how much of Barry Bonds' value was real and how much was Memorex.* Either that, or a whole lot of people just don't like Barry Bonds.
*Answer: 38. Question: How old do you need to be to get that reference?
Consider this, though:
Barry Bonds
Career: 96.9 WAR (plus-37 against median)
Peak: 61.2 WAR (plus 19.9)
Ranking: Right around No. 22 or No. 23
That's approximates what Barry Bonds' career would have looked like had he retired after the 1998 season when -- the narrative goes -- he decided instead to become superhuman. So, he would have been a dead lock, first-ballot, no doubt Hall of Famer and one of the best players in baseball history.
You know what's funny -- or sad -- to think about? What if Bonds HAD done that? What if he had publicly come out right at the end of the seemingly magical 1998 season and said: "I'm retiring from baseball because I"m disgusted by the steroid use. You people celebrate these home runs like they are a wonder, but I know the truth … and deep down everyone in this game knows the truth. I don't want to be a part of THIS game. I don't want to be a part of this charade."
How different would the history of baseball be? Suddenly, you don't have Bonds hitting 73 home runs. You don't have managers intentionally walking him every time there are runners on base because he's better than any hitter had ever been. You don't have the ever-present scene of Bonds bombing long home runs into the bay, night after night after night.
What happens if Bonds retires instead of presumably going roid crazy? Would there have been the same backlash against steroids in baseball without the villainous Barry Bonds at the heart of things? Would Balco have been such a big deal? Would Congress have gotten involved? Would the uproar have reached the pitch that finally pushed baseball to do some serious drug testing?
And would Barry Bonds be viewed as heroic and one of the 10 best players who ever lived?
I always love these alternate history scenarios.
Tim Raines
Career: 66.2 WAR (plus 6.3)
Peak: 41.1 WAR (minus 0.2)
Ranking: No. 70
In the same way that Trammell was overshadowed by Ripken, so Tim Raines was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson (and, to an extent, his old teammate Andre Dawson).
Raines is definitely a Hall of Famer by the BBWAA standards … this is largely because of the BBWAA's voting of Brock and Kiner and Rice. He does not compare very well to Henderson, Yaz, Williams and Musial. Then again, who does?
I'm as big a Tim Raines fan as anyone South of Jonah Keri, but -- like with other candidates I think belong in the Hall of Fame -- I wish he'd had one more great year. This is the thing that often separates the easy Hall of Fame choices from the borderline, and the borderline from the nonmember. One great season.
Raines was really a great player every year from 1982 to 1987. That's six years, and that's enough for me. Three times he led the league in stolen bases, twice in runs scored, once in batting average, once in doubles. And I still stay he's the greatest pure base stealer who ever lived. In 1985 he stole 70 bases … and was caught nine times. Unheard of. Nobody else in since they have been keeping track has stolen 70 bases in a season and been caught fewer than 10 times … Lou Brock in 1973 stole 70 bases and was caught 20 times, Bill North in 1976 stole 75 bases and was caught 29 times, Rickey Henderson when he stole 130 bases was caught 42 times.
You didn't throw out TIm Raines, not in his prime. Three of those nine he was thrown out by Tony Pena, who was one of the great throwing catchers of all time. And three of the nine happened in the second half of September, when he was obviously beaten down. Like I say, it's incredible -- amazing 1985 season 70 stolen bases and nine caught stealing.
In 1986, he did it again -- 70 stolen bases and nine caught stealing.
The next year -- 50 stolen bases and five caught stealing.
What a base stealer. And, like I say, for six years, he was a truly great player -- should have been a legit MVP candidate each of those six years, should have won at least one MVP and maybe two. But, even as a huge Raines fan, I have to concede: He was only a good player after that. There were some injuries. He bounced around. He became a part time player. He was still good, still productive, still played at a level that helped him compile a Hall of Fame value career. I have absolutely no doubt that he meets the BBWAA Hall of Fame standard and that is one of the best players in the game's history.
But … oh for one more great season.
In fact … oh for one more HALF great season. I'm thinking of 1981, when Raines was a GREAT player as a rookie … but the season was made into a mockery by the labor issues. If Raines had been given a full season, he certainly would have stolen 100 bases (he stole 71 in 88 games), scored 110 or 120 runs, put up some other crazy numbers, maybe led the Expos to the World Series perhaps been a legit MVP candidate and the rookie of the year*.
*Raines hit .304/391/.438 with 71 stolen bases in 88 games as a rookie … and did not win rookie of the year. Ah, that was the year of Fernandomania.

The BBWAA project: Center Field

Previously on The BBWAA Project:
And now … the position with the highest standard in the Hall of Fame ...
Center Field
The roundup: Eight center fielders have elected by the BBWAA, four of them first ballot (Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Kirby Puckett).
Median career: 90.3 WAR!! (High: Mays 150.8; Low: Puckett 48.2).
25th percentile career: 62.5.
Median peak: 54.1 (WAR High: Mays: 71.5; Low: Puckett 35.8)
25th percentile peak: 46.3.
The BBWAA Hall of Famers as ranked by the fans on Baseball Reference's EloRater:
No. 2: Willie Mays (150.8 Career WAR/71.5 peak)
No. 3: Ty Cobb (144.9/67.3)
No. 6: Tris Speaker (127.8/60.1)
No. 11: Mickey Mantle (105.5/63)
No. 26: Joe DiMaggio (75.1/.48.1)
No. 46: Duke Snyder (63.1/48.1)
No. 98: Andre Dawson (60.6/41)
No. 155: Kirby Puckett (48.2/.35.8)
OK, very little needs to be said about what an amazing group of players the BBWAA has inducted as center fielders. You have four of the Top 11 players in baseball history on this list according to the fans and Joe DiMaggio would almost certainly be right there had he not missed three full seasons for World War II. No other position can match that kind of excellence, and the BBWAA median career value reflects it.
Take a look, so far, at the median career values of BBWAA Hall of Famers:
1st base: 55.8 WAR
2nd base: 76.6 WAR
3rd base: 84 WAR
Shortstop: 67.1 WAR
Left field: 59.9 WAR
Centerfield: 90.3 WAR
Wow. If the BBWAA had 90.3 WAR as its minimum requirement to induct players into the Hall of Fame, do you know how many players would have been qualified since World War II ended?
First basemen: Stan Musial (mostly at first after World War II).
Second basemen: Joe Morgan
Shortstop: Cal Ripken
Third base: Eddie Mathews and Mike Schmidt.
Left field: Carl Yastrzemski, Rickey Henderson and Barry Bonds.
Center field: Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle
Right field: Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson.
Catcher: None.
That's it. That's the whole list. I do know a lot of people who would prefer that sort of exclusive Hall of Fame. But at a baseline of 90 WAR, you have a Hall of Fame without Clemente or Kaline, Boggs or Brett, Griffey or Carew, Ozzie or Brooksie, Bench or Rose … not to mention the center fielder above named DiMaggio.
And yet, 90 WAR is the median for center fielders. Now, obviously, that number is coming down -- the last two BBWAA choices in center fielder were Kirby Puckett and Andre Dawson, and needless to say neither one of them came even close to those median standards. Ken Griffey, who will soon be a first ballot Hall of Fame choice, finished his career at 79.2 WAR.
A few words about Kirby Puckett, who stands out as our center field outlier. Puckett had a very short career, he was never MVP, his career in retrospect was really a lot like Earl Averill or Richie Ashburn or Sam Rice or Kiki Cuyler -- all of whom are in the Hall of Fame but none elected by the BBWAA.
Puckett, though, was elected first ballot. Why? Well, he had a great narrative. He was a very good player and, more than that, an extremely fun player to watch. He was the player little kids would come to the ballpark to see. He was smallish and roundish. He was, like Charles Barkley, a remarkable athlete who didn't look at all like a remarkable athlete. He was a free swinger who got a ton of hits -- he was a lifetime .318 hitter -- and he played well in the World Series, when everyone was watching. He was also widely beloved for his off-the-field work -- he won the Branch Rickey and Robert Clemente Awards for good works. He was, essentially, a baseball-playing teddy bear and when his career was cut short after he lost vision in one eye, there was little doubt about his Hall of Fame future. He sailed in at 82.1% -- a higher percentage than Jackie Robinson, if you are scoring at home.
Later, numerous allegations emerged that painted a much different and pretty awful portrait of Kirby Puckett. I don't claim to know who was the real Kirby Puckett. I do suspect though if he came on the ballot this year, for the first time, he not only wouldn't be elected, he wouldn't come close to being elected.
The veterans' center field choices are fascinating:
No. 85: Richie Asburn
No. 117: Larry Doby
No. 180: Max Carey
No. 194: Earl Averill
No. 212: Hack Wilson
No. 253: Edd Roush
No. 310: Earle Combs
No. 432: Lloyd Waner
Well, as you can see, that group is all over the place. It is a blemish on the BBWAA's record, in my view, that they did not vote in Larry Doby, whose excellent play and contribution to the game should have made him a first ballot choice. The BBWAA probably should have given Richie Asbhurn more consideration as well. The others are very shaky choices, and Waner in particular has a case as the worst player in the Hall of Fame (which, as many have said, is better than being the best player NOT in the Hall of Fame):
This year's candidates:
Kenny Lofton
Career: 64.9 WAR (minus-35.4 against median)
Peak: 42 (minus 12.1)
Ranking: No. 75
Lofton did not get the necessary 5% to stay on the ballot this year -- when you compare him to the BBWAA center fielders it's obvious that he falls far short of Hall of Fame. But Lofton had a higher career WAR and better peak than either Andre Dawson or Kirby Puckett, the last two center fielders elected.
Lofton is one of the better examples of what I have come to think of as the Tummy Delusion. There are plenty of people who have told me that Kenny Lofton is not a Hall of Famer, essentially, because HE IS NOT A HALL OF FAMER. Right? He just doesn't feel like a Hall of Famer. He never felt like a Hall of Famer. This idea of going back and breaking down his career and reevaluating his career is all well and good, but it doesn't replace that gut feeling, and in some ways -- I sense -- these people think all that review and study obscures and muddles and unnecessarily complicates the business and certainty of the Hall of Fame.
Kenny Lofton … first thought? Good player. Sure. Hall of Famer? No. OK. Move on. Places to go. People to see.
I obviously feel differently about it. For one thing, I think the first gut is usually off. Someone just emailed me to say that  if Steve Garvey is not a Hall of Famer, Edgar Martinez certainly cannot be a Hall of Famer. And that's fine except Edgar Martinez was a much, much, much, much better hitter than Steve Garvey. I keep hearing about Garvey as a Hall of Famer … the guy's career on-base percentage was .329. Edgar Martinez's was .418.
I mean, I don't really think anything else needs to be said. What could Steve Garvey possibly do to make up for 90 points in on-base percentage? Garvey got 792 more plate appearances than Martinez -- a bit more than a season's worth -- but made 1,400 more outs. That Martinez hit with considerably more power as well doesn't even need to be said. Martinez was 30 WAR better than Garvey.
Of course, maybe you think Garvey's defense, leadership, RBI clutchiness makes up the difference -- that's fine. But the point is this: Garvey strikes the gut as a Hall of Famer because he was on the cover of SI, and because he was called Captain America, and because he was called "future Hall of Famer Steve Garvey" so often than for a while it seemed like he just had a really long first name. These are fine things but they have nothing to do with how good a baseball player Steve Garvey real was. Sure Garvey may SEEM like a great player and Martinez may SEEM like a not-so-great player. But that doesn't make it so.
I think the Hall of Fame should -- best it can -- tell the clear-eyed history of baseball through the best lenses we can find. Sometimes, we're blind in the moment. An extreme example: If someone had asked writers in 1939 if Oscar Charleston belonged in the Hall of Fame -- the BASEBALL HALL OF FAME -- they would have thought the question too stupid to even answer. Who the heck is Oscar Charleston? The fact that Charleston might have been the best player in the history of the game while playing for the Negro Leagues is something that it took time and perspective to see.
More to this conversation, there's Arky Vaughan. Thoroughly unappreciated by the writers of his time. Never won an MVP despite finishing Top 2 in WAR among players six times. Got one vote his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, two the next year, four the year after, then nine, then back to six. It took a veteran's committee to figure out the guys was pretty good. In 2001, Bill James ranked him the second best shortstop ever -- ahead of Cal Ripken.
Kenny Lofton is a borderline Hall of Fame case -- even his most adamant fans admit that. But, no matter what the tummy or gut tells you, he is not a reflexive "No." He was a superb player in his prime -- and his prime was probably six or seven years -- and he was a useful player for many years beyond that. He was four hits shy of a career .300 average, he's 15th all-time in stolen bases and the EloRater fans have him as the 70th best position player ever. He was a viable MVP candidate in 1993 and 1994.
Does that make him Mantle? Mays? Speaker? Of course not. Was he a lot better the Edd Roush and Lloyd Waner and Earle Combs? Of course. Should he be in the Hall of Fame? There are much better players and there are much worse players already in, and I think if we want a Hall of Fame that really tells the story of baseball you shouldn't let our guts lead the way.
Dale Murphy
Career: 42.6 WAR (minus 47.6 against median)
Peak: 39.0 (minus 15.1)
Ranking: No. 109
The Murph, as wonderful a player as he was, really can't play in this BBWAA league. You can see the numbers up there. As I've said before, the best thing that could have happened to him did happen … he dropped off the BBWAA ballot and can now be looked at against the veterans committee. Murphy (like some other players) looks pretty Hall of Fame viable when measured against Hall of Famers like Lloyd Waner, Hack Wilson, Earle Combs and Edd Roush.
Numerous people have talked about the campaign Dale Murphy's son Chad led before this year's Hall of Fame ballot. I have said that I wish Chad in his letter had not jabbed at "stat nerds" -- for many reasons, but especially because "stat nerds" had nothing whatsoever to do with Dale not garnering enough BBWAA support. In my experience, the "stat nerds" are some of Dale Murphy's biggest fans.
But the larger point to me is this: It was a campaign done out of love. We should all have sons and daughters who think so much of us that they try to make a difference. And to Dale, to Chad, to Murphy fans everywhere I would add this: I really do believe that Dale Murphy's Hall of Fame hopes are much, much more realistic now than they were while he was on the BBWAA ballot. He had no chance of ever getting 75% there. He just didn't star for a long enough time.
But if the veterans committee will take a serious look at the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s -- and I hope they do -- I think Dale Murphy is absolutely a viable Hall of Fame candidate and will get serious and real consideration. His best chance for the Hall begins now.

The BBWAA Project: Right Field

Previously on The BBWAA Project:


First Base roundup

Second Base roundup

Shortstop roundup

Third base roundup

Left field roundup

Center field roundup

And on to the position of Clemente and Aaron ...

Right field

Twelve right fielders have been elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA -- more than than any other position except pitcher. Seven of the 12 were elected on first ballot (Hank Aaron; Tony Gwynn; Reggie Jackson; Al Kaline; Frank Robinson; Babe Ruth; Dave Winfield) and another was selected on special ballot (Roberto Clemente).

Median Career: 78.6 WAR (High: Ruth, 159.2; Low: Wee Willie Keeler, 50.7)
25th percentile career: 66.8 WAR.
Bonus: Median Career taking out Babe Ruth -- 69.8.

Median Peak: 45.6 WAR (High: Ruth 82.5; Low: Keeler, 34.7)
25th percentile peak: 40.7 WAR
Bonus: Median Peak taking out Babe Ruth -- 44.6.

Here are the BBWAA-chosen right fielders as ranked by the fans on Baseball Reference's EloRater:

No. 1: Babe Ruth (159.2/82.5)
No. 6: Hank Aaron (137.3/58.5)
No. 16: Frank Robinson (100.9/50.4)
No. 20: Al Kaline (87.4/47.1)
No. 23: Roberto Clemente (89.8/52.9)
No. 27: Mel Ott (104/51.1)
No. 36: Harry Heilmann (67.1/.44.6)
No. 44: Paul Waner (69.8/41)
No. 46: Tony Gwynn (65.3/39.6)
No. 59: Reggie Jackson (68.4/44.6)
No. 71: Dave Winfield (59.4/38.4)
No. 126: Wee Willie Keeler (50.7/34.7)

Even though the BBWAA has voted in more right fielders than any other position, you'd have to say their standards are pretty consistent. Keeler is a bit of an outlier, but he's also a mostly 19th Century player who "hit 'em where they ain't" and all that legendary stuff. The other 11 all rank in the Top 71 on EloRater.

The Veterans committee has only added six right fielders. They are largely baffling choices.

No. 111: Enos Slaughter
No. 185: Chuck Klein
No. 190: Sam Rice
No. 248: Elmer Flick
No. 273: Harry Hooper
No. 341: Ross Youngs

There are many right fielders not in the Hall of Fame -- as a starting point, Dwight Evans (No. 100); Bobby Bonds (No. 113); Tony Oliva (No. 164); Jack Clark (No. 175); Rocky Colavito (No. 184), Rusty Staub (No. 218) -- who fit right into the veterans' idea of what a Hall of Fame right fielder should be. I would say the division between BBWAA and veterans is more pronounced in right field than any other position.

This year's candidates:

Larry Walker

Career: 69.7 WAR (minus 8.9 against median)
Peak: 43.1 WAR (minus 2.5)
Ranking: No. 49.

One thing that's fairly consistent at every position -- the BBWAA choices in recent years tends to BRING DOWN the median. In other words, the standards are going down. In this case, the last three choices -- Reggie Jackson, Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield -- are all below the standard that was was set by Ruth, Aaron, Robinson, Clemente, Kaline, Ott. As good as Jackson, Gwynn and Winfield were, they were not as good as that group.

Walker's career and peak numbers hold up very well against the last three. Walker was, in many ways, a better rounded player than any of the three. Reggie hit for power, low averages and was indifferent defensively as the years went along. Gwynn hit for high averages, flashed speed, was well regarded defensively, but hit for little-to-no power and rarely walked. Winfield was an amazing athlete who hit for power, was very fast in his younger days and won Gold Gloves largely because of his amazing arm, but his batting averages and on-base percentages were relatively low and defensive statistics have never been kind to him.

Walker has his own issues as a Hall of Fame candidate, of course. He was hurt a lot. He missed a lot of games. His numbers were unquestionably enhanced -- greatly enhanced -- by Coors Field. But one thing that I keep picking up as I do this project is just how rare it is to find players who really do everything well. Walker hit for power, he was a great base runner, he won three batting titles, he had a career .400 on-base percentage, he won Gold Gloves and the defensive numbers suggest he was a good outfielder.

He really was a rare kind of ballplayer. Whether he did it long enough is a harder question, and Coors hurts him, and the offensive exploits of the 1990s and 2000s work against him. By the more recent BBWAA standards, he has to be considered a very serious Hall of Fame candidate.

Sammy Sosa

Career: 54.8 WAR (minus 23.8 against median)
Peak: 42.2 (minus 3.4)
Ranking: No. 230

Sammy Sosa was really, really good at hitting home runs. He had other skills at times in his career -- he stole some bases as a young man, he played good defense at various times, during the years when he hit a ton of home runs he walked quite a bit too. But you can see his career WAR and Peak War are below the median, even though he hit 609 career home runs. This is because he had a lifetime .344 on-base percentage, which isn't particularly good, his defense devolved, he took advantage of the friendly confines of Wrigley Field (where he slugged almost .600) and he played in an era of a lot of home runs.

If you discard the steroid question, is Sammy Sosa a Hall of Famer? It's hard to imagine that someone who hit 60-plus homers three times and more than 600 homers is not a Hall of Famer. But I would say, Sosa even with all those home runs has a surprisingly borderline case.

Earl Weaver dead at 82: Legendary Baltimore Orioles manager was one of baseball's most colorful characters

The Hall-of-Famer died early Saturday of an apparent heart attack; Weaver piloted the Orioles to six division titles, four American League pennants, five 100-win seasons and one World Series championship from 1968-86

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Published: Saturday, January 19, 2013, 9:07 AM
Updated: Saturday, January 19, 2013, 2:02 PM





 COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 26:  Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver looks on at Clark Sports Center during the 2009  Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 26, 2009 in Cooperstown, New York.  

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Earl Weaver won four AL pennants and one World Series as manager of the Baltimore Orioles.


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