The Pujols Awards: Weeks 23 and 24

It’s funny actually, Cito Gaston being re-hired to manage the Blue Jays. You see, the whole idea behind The Pujols Awards dates back to the first Gaston era in Toronto. Back then, there was a Website called Fastball.com that had forums for each team, and I was a full-time resident on the Blue Jays page and a full-time lurker on the Expos page.

Anyway, on the Blue Jays page, a fellow by the name of Greg Rogers had a weekly segment called “The Huckleberries,” named after a snakebit relief pitcher on the Jays named Huck Flener. Poor ol’ Huck used to get himself on the disabled list in the darnedest ways. Anyway, a “Huckleberry” became a codeword for something boneheaded on Fastball.

Every week, the various posters would nominate various players around baseball for “Huckleberries,” and each week Greg would do his awards show on the forum and they were always hilarious. I’ve tried to recapture the spirit of “The Huckleberries” here on The Pujols Awards.

Well, now we have a living reminder back in Toronto from the era of “The Huckleberries”—welcome back Cito and Mr. Flener, this week’s edition is dedicated to you.

The Alberts

Jon Hale (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)

I generally don’t like to have blogs nominated for awards since it can easily result in any blog post a reader disagrees with being nominated for a Luis. There has to be a pretty good reason for me to consider (or nominate) a blog, but in this case I think some props are deserved. Right now, Hale’s blog The Mockingbird is the blogosphere’s best-kept secret.

To put this nomination into some kind of perspective, Jon and I often disagree and he has panned my work on a few occasions. Despite this—I know the good stuff when I see it, and his work is nothing short of outstanding. It’s time to get the word out on this blog—so for proving guys like Bill Conlin, Stephen A. Smith, Bob Costas and Buzz Bissinger to be so very wrong, I’m giving Jon an Albert.

Bookmark the link and if any sports site wants to hire a guy to provide quality, insightful coverage of the game, get in touch with Jon before someone else snaps him up.

The Luis

Aramark and The Toronto Blue Jays (Submitted by Paul T., possibly the only Blue Jays fan in Cataluña Spain)

For being bad employers and the Blue Jays for not insisting on this basic provision being in the contract. “Hundreds of labour activists attended a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto to draw attention to the city’s only major non-union sporting venue and the concession workers employed there.

Aramark recently took over the contract to provide concession services at the Rogers Centre and has designated all staff as probationary employees even though many have worked at the venue for years.

Somebody should hit the Blue Jays for this. Why not—it’s not like they’ll hit back! Just stand on a base while doing it and I guarantee that not only will they miss, they’ll end up hitting themselves and another Blue Jay employee in the process.

The New York Yankees (Submitted by Luigi Tollis)

They apparently have asked the city of New York for an extra $400,000,000 to complete their new stadium. I had to write out the amount, it just looks impressive. You know, those billion dollar TV deals just aren’t what they used to be now that gas is $4 per gallon. The Yanks claim that the stadium may not be able to be completed without the infusion of taxpayer dollars. Oh well, four hundred million is two years worth of player salaries, but hey they have Carl Pavano at only 11 million! What a bunch of friggin’ crap.

Personally, I think this is Samson-level sliminess, so if anybody wants to nominate the Yanks for “The Samson” next week for this travesty be my guest.

Cincinnati Enquirer (See bottom of article) (Submitted by Carmine Bernardo)

I found this excerpt that I found amazing. I assume this is a mainstream newspaper?

The Reds have an option to bring Ken Griffey back next season for $16.5 million. It is not clear what the club’s plans are, or whether Griffey will retire as Red. Last year Griffey told a group of young fans that he wanted to hit 700 home runs. Currently only two other players have hit that mark: Aaron and Bonds. — Cincinnati Enquirer

I guess the Cincinnati Enquirer have never heard of a guy called Babe Ruth?

I guess some cities still refuse to acknowledge the existence of the American League.

Elijah Dukes (Submitted by Mike Cade)

A Luis (or worse) for the .207/.330/.329 hitting outfielder of the Washington Nationals, Elijah Dukes. Sure, he threatened to kill his wife and children, impregnated a 17-year-old foster child in the care of a relative, choked a teammate, fought his coaches and so forth, but hopefully he will turn his life around. This nomination is for showing up an umpire by turning around to the umpire and thumping his chest after hitting his only home run this year (several pitches after showing frustration with a borderline strike call), showing up a pitcher after scoring (Dukes looked back at Capps in a move that his manager seemed to have perceived as taunting the opposing pitcher) and showing up his manager after the game—all in one week.

Coming soon to an electric chair near you.

J.P. Ricciardi (Submitted by Michael McKinnon)

I am going to make your day, Mr. Brattain, and nominate J.P. Ricciardi for a Luis.

Why?

For assembling a scrap heap and calling it an offense.

I reached my limit June 9, when the team dropped a 2-1 10-inning game to Seattle, at the time sporting the worst record in baseball. They lost on a safety squeeze (top of the tenth) and a 3-2-3 double play (bottom). Talk about finding new ways to lose!

I counted the spare parts in the Blue Jays offense, and their competitors’, on a purely subjective basis. What’s a spare part? A spare part is a player you can generally pick up for next to nothing. Or, if he is one your roster, he’s a player that, realistically, is not going to generate any widespread interest as trade bait.

I love Gregg Zaun as a player, but he is 37 years old and at this stage a good season is (relatively) injury-free and an OPS+ of 95.
Shannon Stewart, 34. He’s coming off of OPS+ seasons of 101, 88 and 87. Spare part.
Matt Stairs, 40. He’s been great for the Jays but clearly a spare part.
Marco Scutaro, 32, is a nice pick-up, doing well … a spare part.
Rod Barajas … an upgrade from Sal Fasano
Brad Wilkerson, 31. His OPS+ going backwards by year: 82, 89, 104, 86, 103. Spare part.
Kevin Mench, 30. I thought he retired.
Joe Inglett, 30, is obviously a player you could build a championship team around … in the Eastern League.
David Eckstein, 33, is a borderline spare part. But where is the Jays’ future at this key infield spot?
John MacDonald, 33. In this man’s hands???

This crew of 10 spare parts has “batted” 1,459 times so far this year—and anyone wonders why the Jays have scoring problems?

Exactly one of the 16 offensive players who have appeared in 20 games or more for the Jays so far this season is 26 or younger (Aaron Hill is 26).

Adam Lind, were he with the big club and posting an OPS+ of 86 (his MLB average at this point in his career) would definitely NOT be a spare part. At 24, he has some upside.

I did spare parts inventories of the offensive players (20 games or more) in Boston (5 – Lugo, Crisp, Casey, Cash and Cora), New York (6 – Molina, Ensberg, Betemit, Moeller, Duncan and Gonzalez) and Tampa Bay (6 – Bartlett, Gross, Floyd, Hinske, Riggans and Haynes).

I’m not saying spare parts are bad ball players or that teams don’t need them. In a competitive division, spare parts can be the difference between winning and being an also ran. But you can’t field a team of spare parts and expect to win, no matter how good your pitching.

And that, it appears to me, is exactly what JP Ricciardi is trying to do in Toronto. That’s Luis material in my book.

I’m not the only native that’s restless.

I wrote the following sarcastic remark on Jeff Sackmann’s 5 Blue Jays Questions with John Brattain about Ricciardi: “On the bright side, the clubhouse is full of a bunch of swell guys that J.P. would be proud to introduce to his grandmother’s church knitting club and partnership for a celibate society—and that’s all that counts in the AL East … right? Not a sinner in the bunch—why they’re such gentlemen they go out of their way not to waste Ted Rogers’ money by hitting baseballs out of the field of play so they can be re-used again and again. They even make sure that they leave minimal marks on the balls so they remain nice and clean for grandma’s club to enjoy watching. … Such nice boys too—they even know it’s impolite to hit!

I had no idea how close to the truth I was; on a call-in radio show, Ricciardi nixed any thought of adding Adam Dunn’s potent power bat to the Blue Jays’ anemic lineup because he doesn’t like baseball. Adding to the surreal nature of his remarks he referred to Dunn as a lifetime .230-.240 hitter (ignoring Dunn’s career OBP of .382—remember he used to like OBP?—and .519 SLG). Ricciardi felt Barry Bonds would be a cancer on the team, but I can’t help but think the real cancer is Ricciardi because it’s thinking like this that’s killing the Jays this year. Yo J.P., (as of this writing) were you aware that the Pirates would only be a half-game back of the Jays were they in the same division?

I think Ricciardi’s upset that Dunn has hit into only two double plays this year—clearly a poor fit for Ricciardi-ball.

Nice going. I feel a lot better about calling for your head earlier this week. You’d make a heck of a Scoutmaster, but you absolutely reek at putting together a playoff-caliber baseball team. At least they love you in New York, Boston, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

Hank Steinbrenner (Submitted by The Progenitor of Severe Gluteal Discomfort)

image

For his criticisms of the NL after his Wang was busted and out of commission for at least six weeks. Why is it that whenever Hank Steinbrenner speaks all I can hear is Foghorn Leghorn?

“I say, I say there boy the NL should get rid of the designated hitter (the DH that is). It’s no good! It’s causing problems! They’ve been given a bum steer. Listen to me boy when I‘m talking to you, the NL needs to get out of the Dark Ages! (Middle Ages that is). Pay attention boy! Anything getting through that pointed head of yours? (Nice kid, but about as sharp as a bowlin’ ball). Lookee here, I say lookee here son—it’s no good, pitchers can’t hit, you wouldn’t put your DH on the mound (the pitcher’s mound that is) then why would you have your pitchers hit? It makes no sense boy!”

For being totally Looney Tunes Foghorn Steinbrenner gets a Luis.

THAT’S ALL FOLKS!!!

If you have a nomination for the “The Pujols Award,” let us know! who deserves to be honored this week. If you wish to have your blog credited with the submission, we’ll post the link along with your candidate. Let us know why you feel he deserves an Albert, Luis, “Manny Being Manny” or “The Samson.”

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