2-2-13 – Eric Niesen, Sandy Alderson, WAR, Carl Erskine,


Noah Syndergaard‏ - @Noahsyndergaard

Felt great to throw off the mound again and hear the pop of the mitt. Got that itch

The Seattle Mariners have signed ex-Mets minor league pitcher Eric Niesen, who pitched last year for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League.

Sandy Alderson:

“I think it’s important to underscore the word ‘symbol’ or symbolic.’ I think they represent an approach. Certainly, [Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Noah Syndergaard are] at the forefront. Those three have been rated very highly. They’re among our best prospects. … I think they’re representative of a broader development, and that is our farm system has gotten a lot stronger. Zack, Syndergaard and Harvey have gotten a lot of press. But, at the same time, we’ve got a lot of depth behind them. … In a broader sense, it’s important that every team – including big market teams – have very solid farm systems. Otherwise, success is not going to be sustainable or achievable, eventually.”

                                              Alderson will not go name by name past the big three because, frankly, most of what’s in the system is still speculation. The pitching, in the lower levels is phenomenal. How about leading three leagues (NY-Penn, SAL, Florida) in lowest ERA/WHIP. The team is less than two weeks away from actually producing, on the field, some real stuff to write about. Until then, we’ll have to live with hearing about Harvey, Wheeler, and Syndergaard.

My issue is this: I don't like the increasing over-use of (and over-reliance on) WAR as THE definitive evaluation of a player's worth. This was particularly true during the Mike Trout-Miguel Cabrera MVP debate last fall. For instance, consider this headline on an ESPNLosAngeles.com story in late September: "Mike Trout Is Your MVP (WAR Says So). That was just one of many stories focusing on WAR in the MVP race, where the stat became a big factor in analysis of the players, as Bleacher Report noted. Now, Cabrera wound up winning the MVP by a wide margin, so WAR wasn't a decisive factor in the award vote. (I voted for Trout, though I did not base my ballot on WAR.) But I just found it tiresome to keep reading all the references to it, as if WAR was the only stat that should be considered, and leading a league in batting average and home runs and RBIs -- as Cabrera did in becoming the game's first Triple Crown winner since 1967 -- was somehow a mere accounting trick.

                                                  I’ve gotten much more Sabr-friendly this off-season. I really love OBP and think it’s the best stat out there on the value of your hitters. BABIP was hard enough to figure out and then someone told me there’s BABIP for both pitchers and hitters? Yoou couldn’t come up with a different name? And FIP, I was always taught to stay away from word that started with the letter ‘F’. And now there’s WAR. Huh? Good God, ya’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nuthin’.

Carl Erskine on:

1. Pee Wee Reese- A solid professional, our Capt. He was an extension of the manager on the field. A little older than some of us and had already been in the league before us. We were freshman, he the senior. When Pee Wee died at age 81 a New York paper headlines read “this Pee Wee was a giant”

2. Don Newcombe- One of the early black players and suffered the same indignities as Jackie. Hard thrower and a good hitter. Newk had some trouble adjusting to the big leagues but Roy Campanella and Jackie in their own way gave Newk great support.

3. Duke Snider- My roommate for ten seasons. Close as brothers we were. He had trouble early with the high strikes. A great hitter geo. Sisler was the coach that helped Duke handle that pitch.  Among the greatest center fielders to play in New York.

4. Roy Campanella- My catcher for ten seasons, over 1000 innings. Caught both of my no-hitters.   Sweet spirit and a grateful attitude. Was beyond smart as a player. He had savvy, handled pitchers so well managers would tell the staff don’t shake off campy. After hewas paralyzed in an auto accident he sat in a wheel chair for 33 years but never  complained, he was a great help to other paraplegic’s.

5. Gil Hodges- Quiet strong man, glue of our infield. Good power assisted Jackie on the field by keeping the peace.  Smart baseball mind, and a good sign stealer. Belongs in the hall of fame.e on:
                                    These were my heroes. The Boys of Summer. Erskine was my brother’s favorite pitcher while mine was Johnny Podres. I was born in 1947 so the Jackie Robinson era was before my time, and I lived on the border of Ozone Park and Richmond Hill (95th Avenue between 106th and 107th Street), and we only had one black family in the entire neighborhood (and high school). Still, I don’t remember ever thinking that Don Newcome or Roy Campanella were less of a man because of the color of their skin. They were Brooklyn Dodgers. Newcombe could really hit with the best of them and we always wanted the team to use him as a pinch hitter. I still remember that day of the devastating car crash. His back up, the absolutely slowest runner in baseball, Rube Walker, took over. Walker may still be trying to stretch a single into a two-bagger.

I went down to Vero Beach a few years ago and wrote a centerfold story about Dodgertown. It’s just about all gone now. A few streets still have the names of the players but most continue to get stolen. You can drive down the main drag in town and not see one sign to the old stadium and, unless, you remember where to turn left, you will eventually just fall into the ocean. There was no minor league town more vibrant than Vero Beach and it’s now just gone. 


Hobie said...

Evidently there were Saturday morning workouts at Ebbets in the ‘40’s. I don’t know if they were open to the public, or my dad knew or bribed someone, but on numerous occasions I was there after a morning at the Prospect Park Zoo. (We lived in the Lefferts-Flatbush area on Lincoln Rd.)

We walked down to the rail on the RF end of the Dodger dugout and watched IF practice. (There was probably BP too, but that’s not the image I have from those pre-school days). All of this to include my all-time favorite player in your Boys of Summer reverie; it was Billy Cox and it was because he came over to say “hello” each time and remembered my name

Thanks for shaking those cobwebs loose, Mack.

Herb G said...

Talk of The Boys of Summer sure brings back memories. Mack, I attended my first MLB game in mid July of the year you were born. To my dispair, my Bums lost 7-5 as Stan the Man went 2 for 5. But the highlight of the game for me was a Jackie Robinson steal of home.

Hobie, although my father was totally disinterested in baseball, he always broke out in peals of laughter when Red Barber announced the lineup, and came to your favorite player, "Billy Cox on third". In Yiddish it means "Billy shits on third base". So, my dad would always say he wanted to go to a game and watch this guy named Billy pull down his uniform pants, squat over third base, and drop a load. His idea of humor.

My favorite player was No. 6, Skoonj, Carl Furillo. I loved to watch players try to take a base on Furillo, and see him gun them down. Or see him take a hard hit ball off that high right field fence and gun the runner down at second. Speaking of guns (in these days when guns are a hot topic) reminds me of a trivia question I like. Name the three Brooklyn Dodger outfielders whose nicknames were types of guns.

I lived in East New York back then, and would always get to games early, taking the IRT from New Lotts Avenue to Franklin. It is amazong how many ball players took the subway to get to the park. I often walked the 6 blocks from the station to Ebbets Field with one of the ball players, more than once with Joe Black and Dan Bankhead. Once as I walked with a group of friends, I felt a massive hand on my shoulder, and it was Gil Hodges parting the way between my friend and me to get by us.

Speaking of Hodges, I have a game used bat of Gil's in my closet. The Dodgers' bat boy in those days, Charlie diGiovanni, lived on my street, Atkins Avenue. At one of the games I attended, Gil cracked his bat on a foul ball. I ran down to the side of the dugout (the ushers were not as protective as they are now) and yelled to Charlie to give me the cracked bat, which he did. I had to fight off the attempts of several other kids to grab the bat from me, but I held on to it for dear life. When I got home, wouldn't you know, I glued the crack, hammered little brads into the handle to hold it together, and then taped the handle from the knob up about 12 inches, and then used the bat in schoolyard games. The bat is not much worse for the wear, showing only a few scuffs. A souvenier that didn't fare quite as well, though was a batting practice home run ball hit by Jackie. I got it autographed by Robinson, but foolish kid that I was, also used it in schoolyard games. It got scuffed so badly, you couldn't make out the name on the ball.

One last tidbit I'd like to share, is that, while living in L.A. in the late 70's and early 80's, I coincidentally bumped into Don Newcombe on 3 separate occasions. One of those times, in the Las Vegas airport, I was able to have a fairly long conversation with Newk. He is a very interesting man and a genuinely fine person,

Hobie said...

>> Name the three Brooklyn Dodger outfielders whose nicknames were types of guns. >>

I'm thinkin', you're thinkin':
"Pistol Pete" Reiser
"The Reading Rifle" (Carl Furillo), and
George "Shotgun" Dhuba.

Unfortunately never saw Reiser play, what a story he was.

Herb G said...

Right answer. (I know you meant to type Shuba, but hit the D next to the S.)

I did see Pistol Pete play a few times before he was traded to the Braves. Unfortunately, he was a shadow of his former self, since it was after he did battle with those outfield walls in Ebbets Field. They say, though, that he could have been one of the all time greats if he were a more cautious outfielder, but that just wasn't his game.

Mack's Mets © 2012