Monday July 7, 2003
Monday Morning Rants
The (Curtis) Pride of the Yankees
There is plenty of negativity to go around this morning, so Iím going to start with a very positive story. Yesterday, OF Curtis Pride played in his first game with the New York Yankees. He not just played, he started in LF and went 1-4, including a 6th inning home run. May not seem like a big deal, but it was Prideís first appearance in the major leagues since he had 76 at bats for the Expos in 2001. Pride came up and played 10 games with the Expos in 1993. He didnít make an appearance in the big leagues in 1994. He got 63 at bats in 48 games for the Expos in 1995. 1996 was probably his best season. He played in 95 games and batted .300 with 17 doubles, 5 triples, 10 homers and 31 RBI in 267 at bats. In 1997, he had 162 at bats in 79 games with the Expos and hit just .210. He had a solo home run in 2 at bats with the Boston Red Sox at the end of that season. He spent 1998, he had 107 at bats in 70 games with the Atlanta Braves. 1999 was another season with no major league time for Pride. He resurfaced with the Red Sox for 20 at bats in 2001. And in 2001, he got 76 at bats in 36 games with the Expos where he batted .250. In those 7 seasons in the major leagues, his career numbers were .256/.335/.415 with 33 doubles, 12 triples, 18 home runs and 76 RBI. So, why am I writing about him making a return to the major leagues with the Yankees? Did I mention that Curtis Pride is almost completely deaf? When he hit his home run yesterday, he received a standing ovation and a call for a curtain call. He didnít hear it, but he said he felt it. Pride may not be in the major leagues for a long time, maybe only until Bernie Williams come back from the Disabled List. But, it doesnít hurt anything to recognize him and heís certainly someone to cheer for (even if heís playing for the Yankees!!!).
"It was just an overwhelming feeling," Pride said. "The fans standing up and cheering for me kind of reminds me of when I was in Montreal for my first (hit), but this would probably be more emotional. I was able to be a Yankee and hit a home run at Yankee Stadium as my first hit. I had teary eyes."
"It was goose-bumpy," Torre said. "He was reluctant to take a bow. He hit the ball hard three times today."
(Quotes from mlb.com)
ďHey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head
You feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best, try everything you can
And don't you worry what they tell themselves
When you're away
It just takes some time, little
You're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right, all rightĒ
The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
OK, so the Twins lost 3 straight at Chicago. So, on Thursday night, CC Sabathia shut them down and the Indians won that game. After the 9-2 win on Friday, I think we all thought that the team would turn around. That Torii Hunterís ejection and creation of a bench clearing altercation would energize the Twins and cause a turnaround. Well, that was until Joe Mays got his last start for the Twins for some time! And, he gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. And, after the bullpen blew a great performance by Brad Radke on Sunday, the Twins had lost 3 of 4 games to the Cleveland Indians.
OK, the bullpen will get the majority of the bashing, Iím sure. LaTroy Hawkins gave up a game-tying home run to former Twin Matt Lawton in the 8th inning and Eddie Guardado gave up the game-winning home run to Shane Spencer on an 0-2 fastball right down the middle. However, the Twins were 2-14 with runners in scoring position. They had many opportunities throughout the game to increase the lead and never could take advantage.
On the brighter side of things, Johan Santana will FINALLY be added to the Twins starting rotation. Donít expect Santana to be as good as he has been in his first 3 starts this season (2-0, 1.00 ERA), but expect him to still be the Twins best starter. Heíll experience up and downs, but he will be a huge improvement over Joe Mays! Rick Reed was solid on Friday night. Radke really pitched well on Sunday. Hopefully Kyle Lohse can turn it around and have a solid performance again on Tuesday night in Texas.
Check out last Thursdayís article on former Twins hitters. Casey Blake had a great series against his former Twins teammates, especially Saturday night when he was 5-5 with 2 homers and 7 RBI. Matt Lawton played great as well, and he was 3-5 today including the big home run in the 8th inning.
I know I may sound like a big Justin Morneau backer, but thereís more to it than just that. Why isnít he playing every day? I understand that Matthew Lecroy isnít a bad player and deserves the chances to play. However, the Twins have a really bad way of bringing up their top prospects. They bring them up and platoon them. Justin Morneau is playing about ever 2 out of 3 games, at best. But, Gardy wonít put him in there against lefties. Again, I know that he has to play Lecroy, but theyíre treating Morneau as if he canít hit left handers. Is that the case, who knows? However, theyíve already treated him as if he canít. So, now Morneau has the stigma that he canít hit a lefty, and odds are, thatíll stick with him, until he proves it right, or wrong, or whatever the case may be. But how does someone prove that? Playing time against lefties! Jacque Jones wasnít really allowed to play much against lefties his first couple of years. Finally, last year, Gardy gave him a chance to hit lefties, and Jones proved himself able to hit some lefties, but for the most part, unable to hit them. But, after figuring that out, Gardy should now know when Jones should not be in the lineup (I have to say ďshouldĒ because it is apparent to anyone who watches the Twins that Gardy hasnít figured this out yet).
Another example - Michael Cuddyer. Heís come up and has never truly been given an every day job. Even last year, he didnít play every day. This year, Gardy said that he was giving the RF job to Cuddyer. Cuddyer struggled for his first 50 or so at bats, and suddenly he was in a role of playing every few days again before being sent down to the minors. Thatís not being given an opportunity to be the every day player.
You just donít do that to top prospects! (note - my opinion) Sure, maybe thereís something to be said about Ďearningí the playing time. But, when youíre talking about an offensive prospect who is thought of highly by more than just this organization, you give him more than 50 at bats to work things out at the beginning of the season. A time in which no one was hitting for the Twins. Same thing with Morneau.
How do other teams treat their top, ďcanít missĒ prospects?
How Ďbout the Yankees? Derek Jeter was 22 years old when he was given the starting SS job in 1996 and played in 157 games and hit at the top of their order. Alfonso Soriano was 23 when he was given the starting 2B job in 2001, and he played 158 games. Both had cups-of-coffee with the team prior to those seasons, but never played a reserve roll in the major leagues once they were called up. There are other examples of teams that played their rookies every day, even during their struggles, and theyíve become successful.
I think this is just another example of having too much depth ready for the major leagues at a couple of positions, 1B/DH/RF.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported yesterday that the Twins are close to making a deal for Blue Jays LF/DH Shannon Stewart. That trade made sense when it almost happened in 2001! when the Twins traded their RF Matt Lawton to the Mets for P Rick Reed. The Twins had worked out a deal with the Blue Jays to bring in Stewart, but Toronto GM Gord Ash backed out on that deal.
But, why would this trade make any sense right now? How is Shannon Stewart in RF any better than the Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr, Lew Ford, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Restovich combination they have available to them right now? Yes, his career batting average over his 8 seasons in Toronto is just over .300, but heís hit just 66 home runs coming into this season, and heís not a good outfielder. Not the ďpowerĒ hitter that the Twins would be looking for!
I have no problem with the Twins making a trade. But, not this one. I see no benefit. The Twins donít need outfield or DH help!! Theyíre fine there! They need help in the starting rotation, in the bullpen and they could use someone in the middle infield. Iím all for the Twins trading, but only if it fills a need. No need to trade just to make a trade!
Well, there is certainly plenty for me to disagree with as far as the All-Stars selected this year. I picked my All-Stars two weeks ago. At the beginning of the season, can you imagine an All-Star discussion where we donít even mention names like - Pedro Martinez, Randy Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux - not being included. Letís start with some analysis of the American League All-Stars, comparing them with my picks. I will BOLD the players that I picked as well.
Starters - C - Jorge Posada - Yankees, 1B - Carlos Delgado - Blue Jays, 2B - Alfonso Soriano - Blue Jays, 3B - Troy Glaus - Angels, SS - Alex Rodriguez - Rangers, OF - Ichiro Suzuki - Mariners, Hideki Matsui - Yankees, Manny Ramirez - Red Sox, DH - Edgar Martinez - Mariners.
The only of these that I had wrong was Matsui beat out Torii Hunter in fan voting. Should have saw this one coming. Iím sure we could all rant for awhile about how the Japanese players will get voted in because of fan voting. But, those are the rules, and Torii Hunter certainly isnít having a season worthy of an All-Star. Troy Glaus is really the only questionable selection here..
Catcher - Ramon Hernandez - Aís
I picked AJ Pierzynski two weeks ago, because at the time, he was hitting over .300. Then on Friday, I wrote that I would now definitely pick the Red Sox Jason Varitek. And, I just might. Heís one of 5 players eligible to be voted in as the 32nd player on the AL Roster, as is Anaheimís Bengie Molina.
First Base - Mike Sweeney - Royals
I got this one right. But, since they also took Mike MacDougal, Jason Giambi or probably Frank Thomas should definitely have this spot (both of those players could still be voted in for that 32nd spot).
Second Base - Bret Boone - Mariners
Got this one right too, but that was easy.
Third Base - Hank Blalock - Rangers
I did pick Blalock for my team, and he definitely deserves it. I also had Corey Koskie on my team. But, the AL decided to go with 12 pitchers instead of 11. Also, Troy Glaus being voted in the starter cost Koskie.
Shortstop - Nomar Garciaparra - Red Sox.
Canít be argued at all. That was an easy pick for me.
Outfield - Vernon Wells - Blue Jays, Dmitri Young - Tigers, Garrett Anderson - Angels, Melvin Mora - Orioles
I had all four of these players, but I also had the D-Rays, Aubrey Huff and the Indians Milton Bradley. Sabathia as the Indians lone representative makes sense, so Iím OK with that one. But, for Aubrey Huff not to be an All-Star is ridiculous!! I wouldnít even mind if they had picked his teammate, rookie Rocco Baldelli in his place, because heís having a solid season (at least in terms of batting average) too. However, to bring a 12th pitcher, and 6th reliever (4th closer), instead of Huff who is actually having an All-Star-type year is terrible!
Designated Hitter - Carl Everett - White Sox -
Another absolutely terrible pick. I donít understand how he is a better choice than now-teammate Frank Thomas. All of Thomasí offensive numbers are better, and he provides depth at 1B too. Everettís having a solid year, but shouldnít be included. The funny thing is is that the players (who got to vote for the first time) actually picked Everett for this spot.
Pitchers - Esteban Loaiza - White Sox, Roy Halladay - Blue Jays, Barry Zito - Aís, Mark Mulder - Aís, Jamie Moyer - Mariners, CC Sabathia - Indians, Brendan Donnelly - Angels, Shigetoshi Hasegawa - Mariners, Keith Foulke - Aís, Mike MacDougal - Royals, Lance Carter - Devil Rays, Eddie Guardado - Twins.
Where to start? Iíve already ranted on Carter. Eddie Guardado isnít an All-Star, but since Scioscia decided to go with just one backup at each position, he couldnít take Corey Koskie and Hank Blalock. Iíd rather see LaTroy Hawkins on this team. And, Iím glad to see the two middle relievers. Itís just hard to explain how Mike Mussina, David Wells, Gil Meche and to some extent, Roger Clemens are not on this team.
So, in the AL, I was 24/31 (depending on who is picked as the 32nd player, I could be 24 or 25 for 32. 75% isnít too bad, I guess.
OK, now the National League. Again, check out my National League Picks (LINK) from 2 weeks ago, and weíll see what I think about how the NL picked their reserves, and if I was at all close.
Starters - C - Javy Lopez - Braves, 1B - Todd Helton - Rockies, 2B - Marcus Giles - Braves, 3B - Scott Rolen - Cardinals, SS - Edgar Renterria - Cardinals, OF - Barry Bonds - Giants, Gary Sheffield - Braves, Albert Pujols - Cardinals.
Iím giving myself credit for all 8 of these picks. Even though I was really wrong on two of them. I thought Rafael Furcal would start at SS, but I picked both he and Renterria, so Iím ok with that. And, I pointed out that Pujols was the NL MVP, so I had him on my team too, but as a reserve to Sammy Sosa (who I also said didnít deserve to be an All-Star this year due to his numbers).
Catcher - Paul Lo Duca - Dodgers
Just not really many other options. But, I got him right. Benito Santiago could be voted as the 32nd player.
1B - Richie Sexson - Brewers
I did pick Sexson, but even on Friday, I wrote that I would have no problem with Geoff Jenkins representing the Brewers, and Jenkins could also be added to the roster. I picked Ryan Klesko as well, but Iím really happy to see Rondell White get the nod as the Padres representative. Heís really doing a great job for them.
2B - Jose Vidro - Expos
One of two 2B the Twins should be going after! The other, Marlins Luis Castillo, could be voted in by fans as the 32nd All-Star.
3B - Mike Lowell- Marlins - Aaron Boone - Reds
Mike Lowell has been amazing this year, and Boone is having a very good season and his versatility make him a great choice.
SS - Rafael Furcal - Braves
I had him starting, but he deserves the reserve role too. I also had the Marlins SS Alex Gonzalez, as he is having a great season too.
OF - Luis Gonzalez - Diamondbacks, Preston Wilson - Rockies, Andruw Jones - Braves, Jim Edmonds - Cardinals, and Rondell White - Padres.
I had both Edmonds and White on my ďSnubĒ list two weeks ago. Since then, Edmonds has hit 8 or 9 home runs and definitely deserves the spot. None of these picks can really be argued.
Pitchers - Kevin Brown - Dodgers, Mark Prior - Cubs, Woody Williams - Cardinals, Jason Schmidt - Giants, Shawn Chacon (DL) - Rockies, Randy Wolf - Phillies, Kerry Wood - Cubs, Russ Ortiz - Braves, John Smoltz - Braves, Eric Gagne - Dodgers, Billy Wagner - Astros and Armando Benitez - Mets, Mike Williams - Pirates.
OK, first things firstÖ how does major league baseball allow Benitez to be an All-Star? That is the most disturbing pick of any of the 62 selections so far (Yes, even worse than the Lance Carter selection). I picked Jae Seo to represent the Mets. But, since the NL took 12 pitchers, they still could have taken another outfielder, like Cliff Floyd instead. I just donít get this one! Chacon definitely deserves this, and because heís on the disabled list, he was replaced by Kerry Wood, who isnít too bad. I personally would have chosen Hideo Nomo instead. Iím glad to see Russ Ortiz on this team. He definitely deserves it. The reason I didnít include him was because I had already chosen a bunch of Braves. I didnít pick Wagner, but that was simply, for me, a decision between Wagner and Octavio Dotel, and I donít think either selection could have been argued. There is a lot of talk about Dontrelle Willis not being on this team. I think heís having a great year, but Nomo not being on the team is a bigger issue to me. Willis would make a great story if he would have made it (and with the Kevin Brown injury status uncertain, he still could be), but every year there are snubs. Also, the Marlins were already represented by Mike Lowell, and itíd be hard to have a 2nd representative from a sub-.500 team. Oh, and Mike Williams and his 6.29 ERA doesnít warrant inclusion on any all-star roster. I had Kenny Lofton, but Aramis Ramirez or Brian Giles would have been better choices.
25 out of 32 correct in the NL (due to the Chacon injury, thereíll actually be 33 NL All-Stars)
Overall, itís hard to argue with too many of the picks the managers made. Well, except Armando Benitez and Mike Williams and Lance Carter. Letís just be honest about it. There will always be issues with the All-Star game because of some dumb rules. The fact the every team had to be represented isnít a bad thing, although it means that there will always be bad players being named All-Stars. But this year, theyíve made the All-Star game mean something. The winning league will get home-field advantage in the World Series. This might be the dumbest decision ever. First, itís not going to mean that more people will watch the game! Second, the All-Star game is an exhibition game! What happened last year was a fluke and something should have been learned from it. But, to make the game more than it is, is terrible. The better idea as far as home field in the World Series would be to give it to the league with the better inter-league record. OK, I donít want to get into how dumb the All-Star game rules are other than this, so I wonít write about it any moreÖ unless I have a brilliant thought on it to share.
Here are the choices in the 2 leagues for the 32nd player on each roster. Go to mlb.com and vote!
American League -
Aís OF- Eric Byrnes, Yankees 1B- Jason Giambi, Angels C- Bengie Molina, White Sox 1B/DH - Frank Thomas, Red Sox C - Jason Varitek.
National League -
Expos SS - Orlando Cabrera, Marlins 2B - Luis Castillo, Brewers OF - Geoff Jenkins, Cubs OF - Corey Patterson, Giants C - Benito Santiago.
For the record, I went and voted once, and selected Frank Thomas and Geoff Jenkins.
Wolves Thoughts -
Rumor has it that the Wolves will probably sign PF Juwon Howard with one of their exemptions in the next few days. If it happens, itís a great addition. Heíll jump in as the power forward, allowing Kevin Garnett to play the small forward position again.
On a more subtle note, it may mean that Wally Szczerbiak could be much more expendable. Iím thinking something along the lines of he and Terrell Brandon going to the Bulls for Jalen Rose and Eddy Curry, and Eddie Robinson.
On a really disturbing note - Lakers star, Kobe Bryant was arrested on July 4th in Colorado for felony sexual assault. Bryant turned himself in to police there and was able to post bail and more information will probably be coming out about this situation in the next few days. This totally goes against everything that Kobe Bryant has stood for over his 7 years in the NBA. I canít imagine it being true, or being more than someone trying to get some attention. However, after the Kirby Puckett situation, Iím much more cynical and canít help but wonder about even the best of role models.
Thatís it! Twins have a day off today before starting a 3 game series down in Texas. As always, if you have any questions, comments, etc, please e-mail me! Have a great day!
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