Thursday, February 10, 2005
Not writing again today, but did want to point out two great sites to check out today in my place. I WILL be back tomorrow! I promise!
First, check out a Devil Rays Roundtable, full of excellent Q&A over at DRays Bay. For those of you who used to frequent Ya Gotta Believe should change your links/bookmarks to DRays Bay.
And those of you who know how much I enjoy following the Twins minor league system, you really need to check out On The Road: With Pat Neshek. Those of you who don't know, Pat Neshek is a pitching prospect with the Twins. The 24 year old went to Butler University before being drafted in the 6th round of the 2002 draft. In 2003, he pitched successfully at three minor league levels. He started at Low-A Quad Cities and was 3-2 with 14 saves and a 0.52 ERA. He moved up to High-A Ft. Myers where he went 4-1 with a 2.15. He ended the season with AA New Britain. In his 2+ minor league seasons in the Twins organization, he is 10-8 with a 2.25 ERA and 44 saves. Anyway, his website is very interesting. As a matter of fact, last weekend, he was in Jacksonville and participated in plenty of Super Bowl festivities. The site is full of pictures and great insight. So, be sure to check it out!
Have a great day and, as always, please feel free to e-mail me.
Wednesday, February 9, 2005
As The Twins Geek would say, I am phoning it in tonight. Must sleep! I am working on my AL East Hitters preview as well as another fun project which will hopefully be posted in the next couple of days.
Quickly, I am a big fan of the Carlos Silva signing yesterday. A two year contract, with an option for the third year seems very fair. It gives the Twins the ability to determine what role Silva will play. The option year is based on that role. If he is a starter and remains healthy, he should have no problem earning that third season. But the Twins are also helped in case things don't work out. I happen to be excited to see what Silva is able to do in his second full season as a starter. I would like you to a newspaper article on the signing, but I happen to think that the Twins Geek account of the situation is the best!
Today, I am going to re-post an article I wrote way back in July of 2003. It is about the man who I considered my favorite baseball player of all-time. Being from Minnesota, I have to exclude Kirby Puckett from the competition. I hope you enjoy it. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and on who your favorite players were, and why? E-mail me.
Until tomorrow, have a great day!
Reposted from July 18, 2003.
My All-Time Favorite Player
(Non-Kirby Puckett Division)
I’ve been asked a few times already, “Who is your favorite baseball player?” Well, I could go a few ways in answering that question. Here are some quick answers to those questions:
Favorite current player(s): Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez,
Favorite current Twins player: most of them, but if I had to pick, I’d go with Jacque Jones
Favorite Twin player since I’ve really been into major league baseball (around 1983): Kirby Puckett (who else could a Minnesota boy of the ‘80s and ‘90s pick?)
Favorite all-time (vintage/old-time) player: Willie Mays
Today, I’m going to write about my favorite all-time player, a guy who was probably my first ‘favorite’ player, Claudell Washington.
Let me try to explain, if I can. I was born in 1975 in Minnesota. I kind of start remembering things about baseball right around 1981, maybe 1982. I remember going to some guy’s place with my dad, and he gave us a brown paper bag full of baseball cards. There must have been 1,000 cards in there, all 1981 and 1982 Topps cards. I remember going to my room and looking at those cards. I remember spending hours and hours going through those cards and organizing them. Organizing them by teams, then by positions, then by card numbers, then by team again. Those were the days!
Mom would ask me:
“What was Terry Harper’s batting average in 1981?”
And, I’d say,
“Duh, mom! .260! Don’t you know anything?!”
Then I’d get the cards taken away for a day for talking back to her… But, then she kept using me when her friends would come over. She’d quiz me in front of them on player’s stats, and they’d be amazed!!
At that time, we didn’t get a lot of Twins games on television. We got TBS and WGN, so we got a lot of Braves and Cubs game. For some reason, I never liked the Cubs. I don’t know if it was because I had to listen to Harry Carey or what?
But, I loved to watch the Braves. I remember watching an after-season tribute show following the 1983 season. They showed clips of players that would not be with the team in 1984, Phil Niekro and Brett Butler. I remember crying while watching that! The Police’s Every Breath You Take was playing in the background, and to this day, every time I hear that song, I get Goosebumps.
But my favorite player on those teams was the right fielder, Claudell Washington. I’m really not sure what it was about him that made me like his game. I guess I think that it was partly because of the fact that he had a power/speed combination that wasn’t really as prevalent at that time. He hit between 12 and 18 home runs, and he stole 20-35 bases a year. He was a good, fairly smooth outfielder. But, I think the thing I liked about C-Dub was just how cool he was. Here’s the visual I remember of Washington. He’s in the left-hander’s batters box with his patented stance, bent a little bit at the back and very slightly at the knees, and his legs were huge and powerful (Which I believe caused the hamstring injuries he fought throughout his career). I remember and loved when he knew he was going to take a pitch. He would just stand there, and not move, not an inch, as the pitch went by him toward the catcher. He just kept staring at the pitcher. I just thought that was so cool, like he knew what he was doing.
Or, maybe it was something else. Maybe it was as simple as having such a cool name. As the writer from HogWild wrote:
“Anyhoo, There’s been all sorts of silly names. The Babe, The Splendid Splinter, CLAUDELL. Claudell Washington was one of my favorite Yankees growing up. But think about it. How much respect could this guy have gotten in the locker room with a name like CLAUDELL! (Snobby British accent) Yes, I am CLAUDELL Washington the Thuuuuurd.”
I apparently had a lot of respect for him. I remember that he was playing with the Yankees (between 1987 and 1989), and it was a Wednesday morning. I knew that the Yankees were playing the Twins at the Dome that night. I went to my mom and begged, pleaded for her to take my brother and I to the Twin Cities (a 3 ½ hour drive) to watch the Yankees and Claudell Washington play. After much persuasion (read: whining, and probably some well-timed tears), mom took us to the Twins game that night! We sat in left center field, and Washington played CF that night for the Yankees. I remember at one time, I stood up and yelled stuff like “Claudell! Claudell! You’re my hero!!!” Finally, he turned around and I waved to him, and he actually waved back!! That was awesome!!!
One last memory I have regarding Claudell Washington and how much I liked him as a player; I used to go outside in the front or back yard and play baseball games against myself. I was 7 or 8, so in between innings, or whenever there wasn’t a game on, I was out there. I’d have my glove and a baseball, that’s all I needed. I knew the Braves lineup by heart (No, I don’t remember it anymore), and the game went something like this: Brett Butler leading off, and he pops up the bunt (so I wouldn’t throw the ball very high, and I would catch it for the out.) With one out, now Claudell Washington steps to the plate (yes, I was the announcer too!), and I would throw it really, high, or really far away from me, and I would pretend like I was trying to catch it for the out, but really, it was dropping or I wasn’t going to catch it anyway, because I didn’t want to get Claudell Washington out!! Dale Murphy was on that team. He won the 1982 and 1983 National League MVP Awards, and I really didn’t like him, so I would make sure he got out too, so that in my league, Claudell would have the best batting average!
So, now I’ll look more into the career of Claudell Washington. I won’t go too in depth, but it will show some of the highlights (and lowlights) of his career:
Claudell Washington came up with the Oakland Athletics and made his debut on July 5, 1974, at the age of 19. He played in 73 games and hit .285 with 10 doubles, and 5 triples. He was named to the Topps All-Rookie Team after the season. The A’s went on to win the World Series that year, and in that World Series, Washington played in 5 games and went 4-7 (.571).
Washington had a great second season. He played in 148 games and had 182 hits (24 doubles, 7 triples, 10 home runs), 77 RBI and 40 stolen bases. His .308 batting average was 5th in the American League. The hits total was 4th in the league and the 40 stolen bases were 2nd in the league. He made the All-Star team. Others in the American League outfield for that All-Star game were Hank Aaron, Bobby Bonds, Fred Lynn, and Carl Yastrzemski, as well as the other two A’s outfielders, Reggie Jackson and Joe Rudi.
Washington took a step backward in 1976 as his average dropped to .257. He played in just 134 games, but he did steal 37 bases.
Before the start of the 1977 season, Washington was traded from the A’s to the Texas Rangers for P Jim Umbarger, Infielder Rodney Scott and some cash. In Texas, he played in 129 games. He hit .284 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 68 RBI, to go with 21 stolen bases.
After getting off to a slow start in his first 12 games with the Rangers, Washington was traded (with an outfielder named Rusty Torres) in mid-May to the Chicago White Sox for Bobby Bonds. He played in 86 games for the White Sox. Combined that season, he hit .253 with 15 doubles, 5 triples, 6 homers, 66 RBI and just 5 stolen bases.
Washington hit .280 in 131 games. He had 33 doubles, 5 triples, 13 homers and 66 RBI with 19 stolen bases. On July 14, he hit 3 home runs and knocked in 5 runs.
Washington started the season with the White Sox, but after playing in 32 games for them, he was traded on June 7 to the New York Mets for some guy named Jesse Anderson. On June 22nd, he hit 3 home runs in a game against the Dodgers. In doing so, he became one of just 8 players in major league history to have 3 homer games in both leagues. In his 111 games played that season, he hit .278 with 20 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs, 54 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
After the 1980 season, Claudell Washington signed a 5-year free-agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. He played just 85 games that season and hit .291 (highest on the team). He still had 22 doubles, 3 triples and 5 home runs. He had 37 RBI and 12 SBs.
The Braves were in the NLCS, where they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 3 games. It was Washington’s last post-season appearance. On the season, he played in a career-high 150 games. He hit .266 with 24 doubles, 6 triples, 16 home runs, 80 RBI and 33 stolen bases.
Washington played in 134 games. He hit .278 with 24 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs, 44 RBI and 31 stolen bases.
At the age of 30, Washington played in his second, and last, All-Star game. It was a different group of All-Star outfielders compared to the first group, but still quite impressive. He was joined in the NL outfield by Tim Raines, Daryl Strawberry, Tim Raines and Tony Gwynn. For the season, Washington played in 120 games and hit .286. He had 21 doubles, 2 triples, 17 homers, 61 RBI and 21 stolen bases. He did miss some time for getting into a fight with Reds pitcher Mario Soto.
In 122 games, Washington hit .276 with 14 doubles, 6 triples,15 home runs, 43 RBI and 14 stolen bases. This is the point in his career where he was officially considered injury-prone.
Washington had finally been able to spend 5 consecutive years with the same team. In 1986 that changed again. On June 30, he and SS Paul Zuvella were traded to the Yankees in exchange for Ken Griffey Sr. He played just 94 games that season and hit .254. He had 16 doubles and 11 triples, 30 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Before the season started, Claudell Washington and three other players were suspended for 60 days with the provision that they still would be able to play if they donate 5 percent of their 1986 base salaries to drug-prevention programs and contribute 50 hours of drug-related community service during 1986 and 1987. At the same time, Joaquin Andujar, Dale Berra, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeff Leonard, Dave Parker and Lonnie Smith were suspended for 1 year, also with the provision that they could play if they donated 10% of their 1986 salaries to drug-prevention programs and 100 hours to drug-related community service. It’s really interesting to see that from the early and mid-1980s, there were a lot of drug suspensions, primarily for cocaine. Apparently it was the thing for athletes to do at the time.
Washington re-signed with the Yankees to play some outfield, but primarily to DH. He played in 102 games, and hit .279 with 17 doubles and 9 home runs, with 44 RBI and 10 stolen bases.
Back with the Yankees, Washington got into 126 games, and had a great year again. He hit .308 with 22 doubles, 3 triples and 11 home runs. He added 64 RBI and stole 15 bases. In April, he hit a home run that was the 10,000 home run in Yankees history.
Before the 1989 season, the California Angels signed Claudell Washington to a 3-year contract. In 110 games with the Angels, he hit .273 with 18 doubles, 4 triples, 13 home runs, 42 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.
Played just 12 games with the Angels before being traded back to the Yankees in exchange for former Twins-killer Luis Polonia. Washington played just 33 more games with the Yankees. In the 45 games, he hit .167, with 2 double, a triple, a homer, 9 RBI and 4 stolen bases. He retired by the end of the season.
Games - 1,912
At Bats - 6,787
Runs - 926
Hits - 1,884
Doubles - 334
Triples - 69
Home Runs - 164
RBI - 824
Stolen Bases - 312 (70%)
Batting Average - .278 (league, park-adjusted average - .263)
On-Base % - .325 (league, park-adjusted OB% - .329)
Slugging % - .420 (league, park-adjusted Slg % - .390)
The career of Claudell Washington is very frequently considered a career of unmet potential. He got to the big leagues at the age of 19 and was an All-Star by age 20. Unfortunately, he spent a lot of time on the disabled list with a number of injuries that cost him much time! Also, being traded so frequently, he never was really able to set roots anywhere, except those 5+ years in Atlanta. I would say that Washington had a very solid major league career. Look at his numbers, they are better than average. He was good enough of a player that he stuck in the league for 17 seasons. No, he won’t be a Hall of Famer (he didn’t get the 5% vote necessary to stay on the ballot), but I still liked him!
I think most people are aware that Nolan Ryan is the all-time Strikeout King. But, which player did Ryan strike out more frequently than any other? That’s right! My man, Claudell Washington! 39 times. To that, he simply said:
"That's all I had? I thought I had a lot more. All the at-bats I had against him were bad."
So, there you go. The answer to the question “Who is my favorite player?” I know he’s not a household name, but I think a lot of people’s favorites aren’t always just the stars. Kirby Puckett was every Minnesotan’s favorite. (Well, except my brother, whose favorite was the great Steve Lombardozzi.) And, there have been a lot of major leaguers for us to like! Let me know your favorite players. Send me an e-mail and let me know who your favorite was, even if it was someone I may not have heard of! See if you can stump me!
And on that note, I wish you a great Tuesday. If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read above, please e-mail me. Have yourself a great week!
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