December 6, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
And here's the full roster.
THT's latest e-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's new e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
Most Recent Comments
Let’s discuss the THT Annual (7)
10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski trade (15)
It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014 (8)
25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letter (4)
Putting the knock on pitching changes (2)
our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
Or you can search by:
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
After a lot of back and forth and debating over money, the Red Sox and David Ortiz have finally settled on a one-year deal worth $14.575 million to avoid arbitration. This was a midpoint between what the two sides had submitted into the arbitration hearing. There had been a struggle all offseason on finding a middle ground between the two sides, but on the morning of the hearing, an agreement was reached.
Ortiz, 36, had a great year as the Red Sox designated hitter in 2011, posting a .405 wOBA and a 153 wRC+, his best in each of those categories since 2007. For a guy who is supposed to be aging, he is still hitting for average and getting on base, and was one of the few Red Sox guys to stay healthy for most of last season.
Maybe eight figures is a lot to give to just a DH, but Big Papi has proven to be an elite one, even at his age. Even though the Sox collapsed last September and failed to make the playoffs, it wasn’t their hitting that failed them, but their starting pitching’s inability to stay healthy and put together quality starts. Boston scored the most runs in the majors in 2011 and Ortiz was a big part of that.
Even though he’ll be 37 in November, I still expect him to have a nice year. I don’t think there’s much of a chance that he’ll repeat the above numbers, but he’ll still be a force in the middle of that lineup. Bill James has him hitting .277/.378/.517 with 30 homers and a .381 wOBA. If he puts up those kind of numbers, he’ll be well worth the money.
Despite not making the postseason last year, the Sox are still a very dangerous club. They have arguably the best lineup in the bigs, a great front end of the rotation, and a revamped bullpe,n so they can easily make another run at the American League East title.
5,000 days ago, the Rockies and Angels played a truly bizarre bottom of the ninth that featured several veterans fielding positions they never played before or since.
On June 7, 1998, at Angels Stadium, the Angels jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, only to see the visiting Rockies whittle away at their advantage all game long. In the top of the ninth, the Angels stood on the verge of victory, holding a 5-3 lead. They struck out Jeff Reed, pinch-hitting for starting catcher Kirt Manwaring and, after a double by pinch hitter Jason Bates, coaxed a pop-up from shortstop Neifi Perez.
The Angels stood just one out from victory but instead allowed a single to Ellis Burks, and then came the big blast: Dante Bichette hit a two-run double that tied the game. After a third out, the game entered the bottom of the frame still tied, 5-5.
For this final half-inning, Colorado removed starting pitcher Jamey Wright for Jerry Dipoto. It would prove to be a bad move as Dipoto didn’t have his stuff. His catcher was Reed, who stayed in the game after his unsuccessful pinch-hit attempt a few minutes earlier. This would also prove to be an important move. In the outfield, Larry Walker came in to replace the other pinch hitter, Bates. This would prove to be a verge strange inning for Walker, as well.
Dipoto walked leadoff hitter Dave Hollins on six pinches, and that brought up center fielder Jim Edmonds.
On the second pitch, Edmonds bashed one to the gap in right-center, and Hollins roared around the bases hoping to score. He blew past third base hoping to end the game right there, but the relay throw from shortstop Perez was in time and on the mark. Hollins was out at the plate.
However, the Rockies also paid a price on that play. Hollins was out at the plate, but Reed was now out of the game. The collision at the plate injured Reed, and he couldn’t continue.
Well now, this put the Rockies in quite the pickle. A little earlier, they had Kirt Manwaring in the game and Reed on the bench. Now both were out, and Colorado had no backup catcher. Hmmm. Well, time to improvise.
Colorado decided to make shortstop Perez their emergency catcher. Well, now they had a hole at short. That’s okay, just move third baseman Vinny Castilla over. But now they have a hole at third. Okay, put second baseman Mike Lansing at third. What about second? Well, put right fielder Walker there. Now you need a right fielder. All right, put DH Jon Vander Wal in right.
But, if you move the DH to a position slot, you lose the right to a DH for the rest of the game. True, but Vander Wal made the last out in the top of the ninth, so hopefully Colorado won’t need him. OK, so they’ve just changed their catcher, shortstop, second baseman, third baseman, right fielder, and sacrificed their DH, all due to one injury. Yikes.
I suppose it goes without saying, but Perez had never caught in a big league game before or since. For that matter, Walker had never played second base before and would never do so again. No matter, they’re both playing in those spots now.
One other thing: When Reed was injured at the plate, Edmonds took advantage of the situation to scamper to third base, so California might have one out, but they were only 90 feet from victory.
For Walker, it wouldn’t last long at all. Colorado decided to intentionally walk Tim Salmon, the next Angel at the plate. This was to set up the double play, but if you’re playing for the double play, do you really want Walker at the pivot? No, that’s silly. So Lansing moved back to second, and Walker shifted to third base. As was the case in his brief stay at second, this would be the only time Walker ever played third base.
Okay, so the latest round of musical fielders is over; now it’s time for Dipoto to throw the ball. He throws a first-pitch strike to California’s Cecil Fielder, and it was all downhill from there. Dipoto’s next pitch was a fateful one. Officially, it was a wild pitch. That’s how it was scored—not a passed ball, but a wild pitch. But you have to wonder if it was the sort of bad pitch a real catcher would’ve handled. Regardless, the Rockies didn’t have a real catcher back there. They had Neifi Perez.
Edmonds scampered home from third with the winning run in a 6-5 Angels win. With all the Colorado defensive maneuvers, they were done in by a pitcher who couldn’t get anyone out.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago today). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the list.
Click for more...
Last week, I was watching Hawaii Five-O when someone mentioned the name of the victim on the airplane as being “Dave Collins.” That’s a name that means something to baseball fans, particularly me.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dave Collins was one of my favorite players. Though he was mostly a journeyman who bounced around with the Angels, Mariners, Reds, Yankees, Blue Jays, A’s and Tigers, he was a fun player to watch. He was a switch-hitter with speed who played the game hellbent for leather, hustling with all the ferocity of a Pete Rose.
He also seemed to be a rarity: a white player who could run fast. As a young baseball fan, I’d been led to believe that black players were faster than white players. For the most part, or so it seemed, white guys couldn’t run—they had “white man’s disease”—but Collins was the exception.
Collins was not a star, but at his peak, he was a good player. In 1979, he batted .318, compiled a .364 on-base percentage, covered tons of ground in left field, and even received a vote for National League MVP. In 1980, he again reached base 36 per cent of the time, batted .303 and stole a career high 79 bases.
A few years back, I decided to try to put together a page of Dave Collins baseball cards. One of the cards, from the 1977 Topps set, didn’t look right. I compared it to the other photographs of Collins. I said to myself, “That’s not Collins. It doesn’t look anything like him.”
While Collins did wear glasses, he didn’t have curly blond hair. So unless he had decided to try some kind of weird experimental perm in 1976, this just can’t be him. It has to be another player. Topps has made these mistakes from time to time, so it’s certainly not unprecedented for the wrong player to be identified on a card.
Complicating matters is the fact that the player on this card is wearing an airbrushed cap and windbreaker. The Mariners did not yet exist when Topps took this photograph. Collins played for the California Angels in 1976, so it must be someone else from the ‘76 Angels.
So that’s our mystery for the week. Who is this curly-haired player impersonating Collins on his 1977 card?