December 7, 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.
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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)
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Friday, August 31, 2012
Orioles 5, White Sox 3: Zach Britton strikes out ten, gets sent down to the minors. That's fair. That aside, heady freakin' times for the Orioles who, apart from the Yankees fans, I think everyone on the planet is wanting to sweep New York and make the AL East a dead heat by Sunday night. Viva chaos.
Cubs 12, Brewers 11: Jonathan Lucroy drove in seven runs for Milwaukee -- his second seven-RBI game of the season -- but the Cubs still won. Total bullpen meltdown, capped with a K-Rod blown save on a day when Axford was unavailable. I was shocked to see that driving in seven in a losing cause is not terribly uncommon. Indeed, he was the fourth player in the past five years to do it, joining immortals like Jose Guillen.
Mariners 5, Twins 4: Look at the Mariners go. They're not gonna finish at .500. They're certainly not gonna make the playoffs. But they've played respectable baseball all year and are finishing strong. If you're not gonna win, at least be respectable and competitive every night out, and that's what Seattle is doing.
Phillies 3, Mets 2: Hustlegate. I can't think of a former MVP who has found himself at this place in his career like Rollins has, but that's where he is. I don't even know what to think about it. Except that I think there are 20 teams and maybe more who would love to have a non-hustling Jimmy Rollins as their shortstop.
Athletics 12, Indians 7: The AP gamer referred to the Indians as "free falling." I think that's an insult to parachutists, who at least have a plan about where they're heading. The A's continue to lead the AL wild card race.
Blue Jays 2, Rays 0: A two run double in the first was all Toronto needed as Carlos Villanueva pitched six shutout innings with three innings of blanks from the bullpen.
Nationals 8, Cardinals 1: For a team whose calling card has been offense all season, the Cardinals' recent offensive drought has to be somewhat concerning, no? They went 28 innings without scoring a run before the eighth inning of this one, and that came after everything was more or less decided. Another homer for Bryce Harper and ten strikeouts over eight shutout innings from Edwin Jackson.
Royals 2, Tigers 1: Now it's three things that would-be playoff teams don't do: Lose Justin Verlander starts, lose to Bruce Chen and lose to Jeremy Guthrie. Basically, you can't get the tar knocked out of you by the Kansas City Royals is what I'm saying. I don't think I'm declaring the Tigers dead yet, but the patient is in dire shape.
Giants 8, Astros 4: Bad luck and worse luck, all on one play -- and a late collapse blowing a 4-0 lead -- pretty much sums up the 2012 Astros.
Angels 5, Red Sox 2: Boston goes 0 for 2012 against the Angels. The AP gamer described Zack Greinke as "unintimidating but effective" in this one. I plan on filing a lawsuit later today because that was the working title of my autobiography.
Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 0: Ian Kennedy pitched shutout, two-hit ball for six and a third. Chris Young hit a two-run homer. The D-backs take their seventh straight from the Dodgers. If L.A. falls short this year, not beating the D-backs as much as they should will be a good reason.
Twenty years ago today, baseball had one of its real blockbuster trades. A player in his prime,widely regarded as the best player in baseball, a key cog on a team that had won the pennant in three of the last four years, was traded for three players, two of whom had already been All-Stars.
It was Aug. 31, 1992 when the A’s dealt Jose Canseco to the Rangers for hitter Ruben Sierra, reliever Jeff Russell and starting pitcher Bobby Witt. At the time, it seemed like a huge deal. Looking back, it was a grand disappointment all around.
Let’s start with the biggest name involved—Canseco. Nowadays, he’s more a joke than anything. He’s starred on a series of reality TV shows and is as closely associated with steroids as any player in any sport.
But 20 years ago was a different time. Canseco was the Rookie of the Year in 1986, a year with a lot of strong rookie performances. Two years later, at age 23, he won the MVP Award, becoming baseball’s first 40 homers–40 steals man. The A’s won the first of three consecutive pennants in 1988, with Canseco their biggest name. In 1991, he led the AL in homers for a second time, with 44.
Barely 28 years old at the time of the trade, he was one of the biggest names in the baseball universe.
There was some baggage. He’d been injured a few times, topping 135 games only once after 1988. And he had a reputation as a jerk. But he could hit.
It was a shocker that the A’s dealt him, but the three guys they got in return all had their own reputations. Sierra was only 26 years old, but he was already a three-time All-Star in his seventh season in the starting lineup. Though he wasn’t the best at any part of the game, he’d shown the ability to hit for average, some power, and some speed.
Witt, at 28, was more of a wild card. He surely had a tremendous fastball, but he just as surely lacked good command of the strike zone. Ever since a 17-10 season in 1990, he’d scuffled, going 12-20 with a 5.04 ERA for Texas in 1991-92. If A’s pitching coach Dave Duncan could work his magic, maybe Witt’s fastball would live up to its promise.
Russell, 30, was another scuffling pitcher the Rangers had converted into a reliever—and had seen his career take off as a result. So far in 1992, he had a 1.91 ERA in 51 games. Oh, and Texas also spent money.
This had the potential to be an all-time great trade. Instead, everyone fizzled. Witt remained an enigma. He never lived up to people’s hopes. He started 63 games for Oakland and then the A's jettisoned him. Russell was good there, but they let him walk in the offseason. He had one more good season, and then fell apart.
Sierra spent the longest time in Oakland, lasting until mid-1995, but he turned into a huge disappointment; the sort of guy who strangely peaks in his early 20s. He was at best an average offensive force in Oakland. In 1,560 plate appearances he hit 60 homers with a .253 average, and .303 on-base percentage. He hung around the majors until age 40, but was never much of a force.
So the A's didn’t get what they hoped for out of the trade. Neither did Texas.
Canseco hit .233 with four homers in the last month of 1992 for his new team. That was just a small sample size, but with injuries his sample sizes never got big. He played in just 60 games in 1991, hitting 10 homers with a .255 average. He did have a nice 1994, with 30 homers in the strike-shortened season, but the memories of Canseco as a Ranger are ones of futility and failure. He’s remembered for the time in the outfield a ball hit his head and bounced over the wall for a homer. Or people will recall the time he took the mound as an emergency pitcher—and promptly injured his arm.
Canseco would have a few more really nice slugging seasons, but he went from being a first-rate star to a what-might-have-been. And those good seasons would come after he left Texas.
The giant trade from 20 years ago today turned out to be a giant disappointment.
Aside from that, many other events today from the world of baseball celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d rather just skim through it.
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