Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Which member of the current Twins coaching staff was the best Major Leaguer?
I guess I think it is interesting sometimes to remember the past, especially in baseball, where tradition and the players who came before are so important. I wonder if the Twins players have checked out the stats of their coaching staff? Probably. I just thought it would be interesting to try to rank the Twins coaches on their major league playing careers. So, here we go!
First, I wonít lump Rick Anderson in with the hitters because, he was 1-11 in his career. Iíll just mention that he pitched in portions of 3 major league seasons, pitching 28 games (starting 10) and had a 4.75 E.R.A. He pitched in 1986 for the Mets. He pitched in 1987 and 1988 with the Royals. His first Major League Win came against the Chicago Cubs on August 6, 1986. The highlight of his career may have been when he was part of a trade from the Mets to the Royals for David Cone!
To the ďhittingĒ Twins coaches:
In 6th place, Bench Coach Steve Liddle! He did reach AAA for the Twins as a catcher. But, thatís as far as he got. Soon after giving up the game, he started his coaching career as the manager at Class A Kenosha.
In 5th place, Batting Coach Scott Ullger. Played just one year in the major leagues with the Minnesota Twins. Primarily played 1B, but in just 35 games, he accumulated just 79 at bats. Ullger singled off Kansas Cityís Steve Renko for his first major league hitÖ after going hitless in his first 19 at bats. 4 doubles were his only extra base hits. 5 walks, 21 strikeouts. (.190/.247/.241) His fielding percentage was slightly below average, and his range factor at 1B was over 20% smaller than the league average. Oh, and he was 0-2 in steal attempts. But, he did make it to the major leagues! His coaching career started in 1988 as manager at Class A Visalia.
In 4th place, Bullpen Coach Rick Stelmaszek. Played parts of 3 seasons with the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs. A catcher, he accumulated just 88 at bats in 60 games played. He batted (.170/.302/.239) AND, he had 10 walks and just 6 strikeouts. He finishes ahead of Ullger, in part, because of who he kept company with. His manager with the Senators was Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. Stelmaszek had just 15 career hits, but his first came against Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan. And, his only career home run came against Hall of Famer, Don Sutton. Became Twins Class A Wisconsin Rapids manager in 1978.
In 3rd place, Manager Ron Gardenhire. He actually played with the Mets from 1981 through 1985, including one full season (1982) when he played in 141 games. In 285 major league games, he racked up 710 at bats and 165 hits (27 doubles, 3 triples and 4 home runs). His numbers (.232/.277/.296) were well below league average. Did steal 13 bases, but was also caught 9 times. As a shortstop, was 11 percentage points below league average, and his range factor was also below league average. His first major league hit came off (should be Hall of Famer) Bruce Sutter in 1981. His first major league home run came of Ray Burris in 1982. Traded to the Twins organization in 1986, although he never played for the Twins. In 1988, he was named manager of Class A Kenosha.
In 2nd place, First Base Coach, Jerry White. He played with the Montreal Expos from 1974 through 1983 (partial season with Cubs in 1978), then briefly with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986. (Played 1984 and 1985 in Japan) In all those years, he never played more than 114 games in the majors, or had over 278 at bats. Seems to have been a consistent-playing 4th outfielder though on teams that had players such as Andre Dawson, Ellis Valentine, and later Tim Raines. Played in 646 games over the 11 years, with 1,196 at bats (50 doubles, 9 triples and 21 home runs) for career numbers of (.253/.337/.363). Stole 58 bases in his career (67%) as well. A very average defensive outfielder, his range factor was almost 25% lower than the league average for an outfielder. First major league home run was off Hank Webb of the New York Mets in 1975. He retired after the 1986 season and was named the Twins roving minor league outfield/baserunning coach.
And the #1 major league career had by the current Twins coaches was put in by none other than The Great Al Newman! I donít know how many lists you will ever see where Al Newman will finish first. But, this is one! Newmie actually put together a pretty solid utility infielderís career. In 854 games, he accumulated 2,107 at bats and 476 hits (68 doubles, 7 triples and 1 home run). He hit his one major league home run in the 1986 season with the Montreal Expos off of Zane Smith. His first major league hit came the year before, off Kevin Gross. After 2 partial seasons with the Expos, the Twins acquired Newman for pitcher Mike Shade before the 1987 season. He played on the two World Series Championship teams with the Twins. He spent the 1992 season with the Texas Rangers before retiring. His career numbers (.226/.304/.266) wonít blow anyone away, but anyone who watched the Twins way back then fully understand the importance that Al Newman had with the Twins. Newman also stole 91 career bases, and walked 236 times (212 strikeouts). Playing a lot at 2B, 3B, and SS, Newman had a career fielding percentage of .976. Although, his Range Factor of just 1.57 was more than 25% below the league average.
Welp, there you have it, the rundown on how the Twins coaches played in the major leagues. I guess that there is a reason that Gardy, Rick Anderson, Scott Ullger and Rick Stelmaszek spend so much time on the bench. And, Al Newman is the 3rd base coach because he most frequently saw 3B. Jerry White is the only other Twins coach who made more than rare appearances on the basepaths.
Many people say that the best coaches and managers are the guys who rarely played in their careers. They had more time on the bench thinking about the ins-and-outs of the game of baseball. They followed the decision-making process of the game more than those who actually performed. Catchers especially are given credit as good coaches because they were in control of every pitch of the game.
I donít necessarily agree or disagree with that. The Twins have had a couple of good examples of that with Ron Gardenhire and Tom Kelly, both who spent little time on the field as major leaguers. However, it is hard to argue with the managerial success of former NL MVP, and 9-time All-Star Joe Torre. For the Yankees Managerís career, he hit .297 with 252 home runs and over 2,300 hits. Giants Manager Felipe Alou had a very solid 17 year major league career, hitting .286 (with over 2,100 hits) and appearing in 3 All-Star Games, and before this stint with the Giants, he was a great manager with the Montreal Expos. Cubs Manager Dusty Baker played 19 seasons in the majors. He played in 2 All-Star games, recorded just under 2,000 hits and 242 home runs. He, of course, previously led the San Francisco Giants.
So, good (or arguably great) major league ballplayers can be great big league managers as well. It all depends on the situation youíre around and your leadership skills.
Tonightís game -
Trivia - did anyone find out if Koskie, Morneau and Larry Walker all playing in one game was some sort of record? (OK, Clay Matvik just announced that it was the first Twins game that involved three Canadians starting. Also, all three played goalie. Morneau even played juniors for Portland of the WHL) Also, with Koskie and Morneau hitting back-to-back, is that the first time 2 Canadians have hit back-to-back in a major league game?
Well, Brad Radkeís evening pretty much sums up his season. His home ERA is terrible, and the home run ball has killed him. 1st inning, Preston Wilson hits a 3-run homer. Charles Johnson hit a solo shot in the 2nd inning, and Greg Vaughn hit another solo homer in the 6th inning. That was all the scoring as the Rockies beat the Twins 5-0. Aside from those homers, he did great!!! But, thatís little to get excited about.
The big news though was the major league debut of DH/1B Justin Morneau. Itís been highly anticipated and debated probably too much, but now heís up, so no matter what side of the fence youíre on, weíre all cheering for him to succeed.
I must admit that I didnít get to watch tonightís game. (Stupid slow-pitch softball!) But, I am pathetic enough that I did tape the game, because I wanted to see Morneauís at bats. And, Iím glad I did. In his first major league at bat, Morneau took the first pitch for a ball outside. A little anxious, his check swing was called a strike on Pitch #2. The third pitch, he fouled off. On a 1-2 pitch, Morneau watched a curveball stay up high. On 2-2, he fouled off a tough slider down and away. And finally, on pitch #6, Morneau stayed back nicely on a change up and singled up the middle for his first major league hit. And, he got a standing ovation from the crowd. Thatís awesome!
Second at bat, 4 pitch strikeout. Something else we will probably see a lot of from Morneau.
Third at bat, watched a fastball just off the outside corner. On 1-0, he hit a single that dropped in front of one of his biggest idols, Larry Walker.
Fourth at bat, my VCR quit before it, but I know that he got out, ending at 2-4 for the game. The Twins had just one other hit, an AJ Pierzynski single, the rest of the game as Jason Jennings picked up his 5th win on the year.
Excellent debut for Mr. Morneau! Hopefully he can get another 2 hits, but the rest of the team can step up a little more!
Major League Baseball just came out with its updated results in AL All-Star Voting. The Twins Torii Hunter has jumped past Yankees Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui and into 3rd place, which, if he stays there, he would be in the starting lineup at the All-Star game again. It looks like Twins fans are voting, as some of the Twins are moving up the charts.
Catcher AJ Pierzynski is in 3rd place, just under 6,000 votes behind Bostonís Jason Varitek for second place, but still almost 300,000 shy of the Yankees Jorge Posada.
Luis Rivas has jumped into 5th place on the 2B list, a mere 520,000 shy of the Yankees Alfonso Soriano.
Corey Koskie is now in 5th place at 3B, just 145,000 votes shy of the Angels Troy Glaus.
I would encourage all Twins fans to vote for their favorites, especially the Twins for the All-Star game. You can vote up to 25 times. Letís make a strong push, especially for Jacque Jones. He is too good to not even be in the top 15 outfielders in voting! Go to MLB.com, and vote now!!
I also have to say that Iím pretty excited. I had e-mailed Rob Neyer asking if it would be alright for me to link to his website, www.robneyer.com, and I got a reply that just said ďLink AwayÖ RNĒ. Woo hoo!! I got an e-mail from ESPN.comís Rob Neyer! I recently purchased 3 of his books on Amazon.com. I havenít started Baseball Dynasties or Feeding the Green Monster yet, BUT I would recommend Rob Neyerís Big Book of Baseball lineups to any baseball fan! Itís getting some pub on espn.com the last couple of days, and it is very much worth reading!
Welp, again, I had slow-pitch softball last night. We got beat 26-1 and 18-8. (But we had fun!!!) Our team is sponsored by Izzyís Lounge in Warroad, so of course, after the game, we went up there for a couple hours! So, Iím going to cut this short and just say ďHave a great day!Ē
Back to Archives Home