Monday, February 28, 2011

FullCountPitch - Band of Brothers

There have been many brother tandems that have played in the Major Leagues over the years, but there have been few that have jointly found success. Generally, one brother stands out, (the all-time combined brothers home run leader for instance, Hank Aaron – 755, Tommie Aaron – 13), or neither member of a set of brothers have a memorable career.

Among the brothers currently playing Major League Baseball today, some of the more notable pairs include:

B.J. and Justin Upton
Eric and Corey Patterson
J.D. and Stephen Drew (another brother, Tim, played parts of five seasons)
Bengie, Yadier, and Jose Molina; the “first family” of catching
Scott and Jerry (Jr.) Hairston
Andy and Adam LaRoche
Laynce and Jason Nix
Erick and Willy Aybar
Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez

Each of the aforementioned sets of brothers could fall into one of the categories previously mentioned. The top brother combo right now is the Uptons, who are still a work in progress. B.J. has had the better career to date, though he has backslid from his 2008 season. Meanwhile, Justin appears to still be on the rise to stardom.

So who are the Top 10 best brother combinations since the beginning of baseball time?

Honorable Mention – George and Ken Brett, Orlando and Livan Hernandez, Trevor and Glen Hoffman, Carlos and Lee May, and Bob and Ken Forsch.

#10 - Aaron and Bret Boone are not only two of the better brother combos in baseball history, but they are members of a baseball legacy. Their father (Bob) and grandfather (Ray) played in the majors as well. 2nd baseman Bret had a 14-year career spent primarily in Seattle and Cincinnati. The four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner hit 252 career home runs and drove in 1,021 runs. He finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2001 when he hit .331-37-141 and won one of his two Silver Slugger Awards.

Aaron played for six teams in 12 years, seven of which were spent with the Cincinnati Reds. He was primarily a 3rd baseman, but saw some time at 2nd base, shortstop, and 1st base. He was acquired by the New York Yankees at the 2003 trade deadline and hit one of the most famous home runs in playoff history when his extra-inning blast defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ’03 ALCS. He injured his knee playing basketball during the ensuing off-season, which fortuitously led to a mega-deal (including Alfonso Soriano) that enabled the Yankees to acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers.

Aaron underwent heart surgery during Spring Training in 2009 and made it back for 10 games with the Houston Astros. He retired at the conclusion of that season.

#9 – Our first trio of brothers – Cloyd, Ken, and Clete Boyer. The eldest of the three, Cloyd, played in the Major Leagues for just five seasons, winning a total of 20 games before moving on to coaching. But from 1955-1964 Ken Boyer was one of the best all around 3rd baseman in the game. During that stretch he averaged 24 HR and 92 RBI, was a seven-time All-Star, won five Gold Glove Awards and was the 1964 NL MVP. His seventh inning home run in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series proved to be the difference as the Cardinals beat the Yankees four games to three. He concluded his 15-year career after the 1969 season with 282 career home runs, 1,141 RBI and 2,143 hits. Ken has borderline Hall of Fame numbers that should be considered by the veteran’s committee.

Though he never hit like Ken, Clete could flash the leather at 3rd base as well as anyone. He played in the shadow of the Oriol

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dodgers Great Duke Snider, 84 | Baseball Digest

Dodgers Great Duke Snider, 84 | Baseball Digest

In New York’s glory days of baseball, when there were three teams in town, fans argued over who had the greater centerfielder. The Giants’ Willie Mays, the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle, or the Dodgers’ Edwin “Duke” Snider. It even inspired the baseball song, “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke”. Mays is the sole surviving member of the trio after Snider passed away early Sunday at age 84.

Snider played 16 seasons with the Dodgers, beginning in Brooklyn in 1947, and followed the team out west to Los Angeles. He came back to New York for one season with the Mets in 1963 before finishing up his career with the San Francisco Giants in 1964. Snider was beloved by fans of “Dem Bums” and was part of the 1955 squad that finally beat the Yankees in the World Series.

Mantle thought Snider would one day break Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. But the Dodgers great told Milton Richman back in 1957 that he felt no one would ever pass the Bambino. Click here to read all about it.

He was a .295 lifetime hitter with 407 home runs, 1,333 RBI, and 2,116 hits. He was an eight time All-Star and won two World Series rings (1959 Dodgers). He’s the only player to hit four or more home runs in two different World Series (1952, 1955), and yes, he was smooth as silk in centerfield. Snider wore #4 every season, but his final one due to the number being retired for the Giants’ Mel Ott.

Post playing, Snider served 13 years as a broadcaster for the Montreal Expos. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 1980. The "Duke of Flatbush" is survived by Beverly, his wife of 63 years, and their four children.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Here's The Pitch

YES YES, not just the network..Yankees baseball begins today. Spring training games that is. The Yankees open a home and home series with the Philadelphia Phillies today at 1:00 ET. And YES, it will be televised on YES!

We'll get our first look at Bartolo Colon and find out if pinstripes really are slimming. David Phelps, one of the minor leaguers with a very outside shot of making the rotation will also pitch. Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Hector Noesi, and Eric Wordekemper will all take the hill as well.

Andrew Brackman is suffering a groin injury and has been shut down until Tuesday, putting a damper on his chances for one of the final two spots in the rotation.

Today's lineup courtesy of the Star-Ledger's Marc Carig:

Friday, February 25, 2011

BD Spring Training Report: ‘But Watch Out For In Your Ear’ | Baseball Digest

BD Spring Training Report: ‘But Watch Out For In Your Ear’ | Baseball Digest

There is a cardinal rule in baseball to never talk about another team’s woes or do anything to incite said team. The Cincinnati Reds Jonny Gomes may have done that on Wednesday when it was perceived that he was celebrating the St. Louis Cardinals loss of Adam Wainwright (does that make it a double cardinal rule?). The Reds and Cardinals already had bad blood between them last season which led to a bench clearing brawl. Now Gomes’ purported actions might ignite something in 2011.

It was reported that Gomes entered the Reds clubhouse singing “Wainwright’s gone, Wainwright’s gone”. According to Gomes, who already reached out to the Cardinals via a friend on the club, he had appeared on Rob Dibble’s radio show earlier in the day and was informed of Wainwright’s injury. He came into the clubhouse happy because an interview he had to do for the Reds’ scoreboard was pushed back to accommodate the Dibble interview. So he apparently was singing a song from “The Karate Kid” and asked “Is Wainwright gone?”


Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I’ve got to believe that every place said, ‘That’s a hit to that club and that hurts their chances. But I don’t know that anybody is going to be immune this year from going though slumps or injuries. That’s why everybody just takes care of their own business and understands how fragile this stuff is.

“I happen to know Gomes,” he continued. “I don’t think he meant anything by it. And I haven’t even heard for sure what he said. But I like the way he competes.”

LaRussa was prety cryptic with his answer which means when Gomes comes to bat against St. Louis to he had better stay light on his feet.

Newly signed free agent Adrian Beltre will miss two weeks of Texas Rangers camp after being diagnosed with a Grade I strain of his right calf muscle.

Miguel Cabrera finally reported to the Detroit Tigers camp in Lakeland, FL. The organization is working with Cabrera to find treatment, though the 1st baseman will not categorize himself as an alcoholic. “I have it under control,” Cabrera said. “It was just a bad decision. I made a mistake this time, and all I can do is continue treatment. “… I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life, and this was a tough one.”

He did offer up an apology- ”I am very sorry for what I have done,” Cabrera said through a translator. “I have worked hard for a period of time, and I hope everyone forgives me. All I ask for is forgiveness.”

The Dodgers Vicente Padilla feels great after undergoing elbow surgery for an entrapped radial nerve. He could begin throwing again in 3-4 weeks.

Commissioner Bud Selig has named Joe Torre to the post of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. An official announcement will be made on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Officially Spring Training: Yogi's In Town

Breaking News: Wainwright May Have Significant Injury | Baseball Digest

Breaking News: Wainwright May Have Significant Injury | Baseball Digest

The St. Louis Dispatch has reported that Cardinals ace right-hander Adam Wainwright has flown back to St. Louis to have his painful right elbow examined.

General Manager John Mozeliak believes that it is a “significant injury”, which could very well mean Tommy John surgery is in Wainwright’s future. “After his bullpen on Monday, he did feel something in his right elbow,” Mozeliak said. “I can say just based on the initial evaluation from our training staff, things do not look encouraging. But before we jump to any conclusions, we’ll just wait until the re-evaluation this afternoon.”

Wainwright has had problems with his right elbow before, including a tear to the same ligament back in 2004. Needless to say this would be a major blow to the Cardinals chances in the NL Central and wild card races. The right-hander won 39 games over the past two seasons and was runner up to Roy Halladay in the NL CY Young voting last season. He averaged over 231 innings the past two seasons and it has apparently taken a toll.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A-Rod, A-Brack, A-RunOutOfNames

Alex Rodriguez is happy, his life is like a nice fresh bag of popcorn. Yeah, A-Rod even joked about the Super Bowl popcorn incident. (And I thank a handful of Twitter followers who told me the A-Rod popcorn tantrum turned out to be false.).

The Yankees 3rd baseman came to camp 10 pounds lighter for a little more flexibility and to try to improve on 2010. "All seven other guys in the lineup other than 'Swish' and Robbie (Cano) probably feel there's room for improvement. I know I have to play at an elite level for us to do well. We all have a very bad taste in our mouth after leaving Texas (defeated by the Rangers in the ALCS last year."

A-Brack is a made up name and hopefully he'll never be called that for real. But the Yankees staff has been impressed with Brackman's early work this spring. Brackman had this to say, “My first two camps, those B.P.’s would have been awful, nowhere near the plate or anything like that,” Brackman said. “I don’t know, the further away I get from surgery, the more comfortable I get on the hill.”

Joe Girardi took note as well. “He had a hard time consistently throwing strikes, where now it appears that that’s behind him,” Girardi said. “You look at what he did the second half of last year and what he’s done here in spring training – he’s throwing a lot of strikes. That’s a big part of the battle when you’re pitching.”

New pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been a positive influence on Brackman as well. “I think that’s what kind of hurt me my first year, second year, as a young guy coming up,” Brackman said before referring to the team’s new pitching coach, Larry Rothschild. “All the big guys are behind there watching you, and you want to say, ‘Oh, I can do more with this pitch, or I can make this breaking ball better.’ But, you know, Larry gave me some really good advice the other day: your stuff comes second. It’s all about repeating your mechanics. Just keep repeating, and your stuff will come. It’s been good advice so far.”

From the former files...thanks to @heelsonthefield for pointing out this article on former prospect George Kontos. I was sorry to see Kontos leave the organization via the Rule V draft. After having elbow reconstruction surgery in 2009 he was bouncing back nicely last season. I saw him pitch in one game for Trenton and his fastball looked good. Good luck to him in San Diego.

Hankenstein Is On The Loose

Just when you thought it was safe to have a non controversial spring training Hank Steinbrenner materialized in Tampa and had plenty to say (as always).

Why did the Yankees struggled in 2010?

‘‘I think maybe they celebrated too much last year,’’ Steinbrenner said Monday from the Yankees’ spring-training facility in Tampa, Fla. ‘‘Some of the players, too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that.’’

When it was pointed out to Hank that Derek Jeter in fact did build a large mansion (which of course he already knew), son #1 said he wasn't singling anyone out.

The Yankees apparently also partied like it was 1999 and took 2010 for granted.

‘‘I was just saying maybe they were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much, and it happens sometimes,’’ Steinbrenner said.

Let's look at those who struggled last year. Derek Jeter doesn't need motivation from anyone but himself. He's always been a hungry ball player and when he no longer feels that hunger he'll walk away from the game.

Mark Teixeira is one of the hardest working men in show business. He had an awful start and middle, then he turned things around until injuries to his toe and thumb knocked down his offense again. His ALCS hamstring injury was the perfect ending to an imperfect season.

Curtis Granderson; a lot of adjustments coming to New York and he's not the first player to have a sub par first season in the Big Apple. He hit better after working with Kevin Long. This season will be a much truer test of Granderson's abilities.

Alex Rodriguez battled some injuries and didn't have his usual consistency...and he still drove in 125 runs.

A.J. Burnett's issues are well documented and go back for years. It certainly had nothing to do with "riding the wave".

Big Hank wasn't done though...he then blasted revenue sharing, comparing it to communism and socialism. Hank should get together with the guys from Fox News and they should all take a class on learning the difference between communism and socialism.

What Hank doesn't realize is that when his father spoke his words crashed down like a 2 ton block of cement. When Hank talks it has the impact of a feather.

Hank, this is dedicated to you...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Alan Trammell | Baseball Digest

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Alan Trammell | Baseball Digest

There are certain hitters in Major League Baseball that you never want to face in clutch situations. Today’s fans think of names like David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, and Joey Votto. But in the 1980′s, no one wanted to face Alan Trammell with the game on the line. If it were up to me, he would already be in the Baseball Hall of Fame (he received his highest vote total, 23%, in the latest balloting), something I believe the Veterans Committee will eventually recognize down the road (he can only remain on the BBWAA ballot through 2016).

Alan Stuart Trammell was born in Garden Grove, California on February 21, 1958. He was a two-sport star at Kearny High School in San Diego, and had several basketball scholarship offers, including one from the prior year’s NCAA champion, UCLA. But being just six-feet tall, he felt he could go further in baseball and opted to sign with the Detroit Tigers after they made him a second round selection in the 1976 amateur draft. Scouting reports pointed to the prospect of a good fielding shortstop who probably wouldn’t hit much. One even compared him to Tigers’ shortstop Ray Oyler, a career .175 hitter at the time.

Right out of high school, Trammell hit a respectable .271 in rookie ball before receiving a promotion to Double-A Montgomery of the Southern League. Trammell was overmatched at the plate (.171 avg) in a 21 game stint, but when he returned a year later it would be his last year in the minor leagues. 1977 was also the start of a long-lasting friendship/double-play combo with another kid in the Tigers’ system, Lou Whitaker.

Whitaker had played 3rd base the prior two years, but was shifted to 2nd base in 1977 (which would be his last season in the minors as well). The two hit it off immediately, both realizing they had something special going on and pushed each other to be better. Trammell also began to prove the doubters wrong about his batting skills. He hit .291, drove in 50 runs, and with 19 triples, he broke the league’s record (held by Reggie Jackson). The next stop for the duo was the Motor City.

Though Trammell finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1978, his offense was rather modest his first two seasons in the bigs. His third season in the Majors provided a little more indication of his potential when he hit .300 and slugged .404. Trammell had no issues in the field- he quickly won three Gold Gloves, but it wasn’t until 1983 that he became the consistent offensive force that caused pitchers to think twice about facing him.

Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times wrote about Trammell earning his stripes with the Tigers in a 1985 piece. Click here to read all about it.

Trammell went on to play 20 big league seasons, in which he compiled 2,365 hits, stole 236 bases, and drove in 1,003 runs. He batted over .300 seven times, was a six-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner, and was the 1984 World Series MVP (.450-2-6) when he and the Tigers clobbered the Padres in five games to capture Detroit’s first title in 16 years, and just the second since 1945. He finished second (by 21 points) to George Bell in the 1987 AL MVP voting when he set career highs for average (.343), HR (28), and RBI (105).

After he retired following the 1996 season (the only year he played without Whitaker, who had retired after the ’95 season), Trammell went on to coach the Tigers and San Diego Padres before becoming Detroit’s manager in 2003. Unfortunately, Trammell’s managerial career didn’t have the success of his playing career. The team was rebuilding, and lost 119 games in Trammell’s first year. They improved by 29 wins the next season, but when they managed one less win in 2005, Trammell was let go. He’s back in the dugout though, having recently been hired as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bench coach by his former teammate Kirk Gibson.

Happy Birthday Alan Trammell!

Also Born Today

Franklin Gutierrez (Caracas, VE, 1983): Originally signed by the Dodgers as a 17-yr old, the outfielder was dealt to the Indians in a deal that brought Milton Bradley to the west coast. He saw part-time duty until a three team deal with the the Mariners and the Mets landed him in Seattle prior to the 2009 season. Gutierrez has begun to blossom in the Emerald City, and has been one of the few productive bats on the weak-hitting Mariners teams of the last two seasons. He has 20-20 (HR-SB) ability and plays a graceful centerfield. The latter helped earn him his first Gold Glove Award in 2010.

Jack Billingham (Orlando, FL, 1943): A talented right-hander that signed with the Houston Astros as an amateur free agent in 1961. His best years were with the Cincinnati Reds in the early to late 1970′s. It was there that he twice won a career-high 19 games and led the league in starts, innings pitched, and shutouts in 1973. He was a member of the Big Red Machine that won four division titles, three NL pennants, and back-to-back World Series in 1975-1976. Billingham allowed just nine earned runs in 42 post-season innings (1.93). He’s also well known for giving up Hank Aaron’s 714th career home run on April 4, 1974. After playing with Detroit and Boston, Billingham hung up his baseball mitt in the middle of the 1980 season, but remained involved in baseball as a minor league coach and instructor until his retirement in 2004.

FullCountPitch - 61 Yankees Were More Than The M&M Boys

When you ask any baseball fan what they remember/know about the 1961 baseball season and the New York Yankees in particular, the first thing 99% of those queried would say would be “Roger Maris” and/or “Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle”. But looking back 50 years later, it is very obvious that the 1961 Yankees were about so much more than those two slugging teammates who chased the ghost of Babe Ruth.

The 1961 team was one of the greatest collection of ball players of all time. They could hit for average, for power, run, play defense, and pitch lights-out baseball. They were the most impressive slugging team of any era for more than thirty years, shattering the previous record for home runs in a season by belting 240. Their 109-53 won-loss record captured the AL pennant by eight games.

In addition to Maris’ record-breaking 61 home runs and Mantle’s 54 round-trippers, 1st baseman Bill “Moose” Skowron hit 28 home runs, Yogi Berra smacked 22, and his fellow catchers, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard each hit 21.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm Going To Be Buried In These Pinstripes

That's what Mark Teixeira told reporters this morning. His popularity meter just went off the charts, though his usual slow April could mess that up a bit.

If you're going to go in Pinstripes, you might as well have a custom coffin too.

Sanchez Heart Surgery Successful

Toh to @jnorris427 who always does a great job covering the Trenton Thunder and informing us of Yankees' prospect news. It was reported by George King of the post last week that catcher Gary Sanchez had undergone tests on hearts, but no further details were given.

It turns out an EKG showed an extra heart nerve that had been there from birth. Doctors cauterized the nerve and Sanchez will be ready to resume spring training workouts on Monday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

BD Spring Training Report: I Wonder | Baseball Digest

BD Spring Training Report: I Wonder | Baseball Digest

It’s a relaxing Friday night. We’re sitting around enjoying the last of the above normal warm weather in the Northeast as winter’s cold air prepares to return tomorrow. I think it’s definitely time for us to play a game of ”I wonder”. Please feel free to play along at home.

I wonder if the Wilpon Family-Bernie Madoff mess will be a distraction for the Mets during the season. It’s already become a distraction on NYC talk radio where WFAN’sMike Francesa has been discussing the Ponzi scheme the entire week. The Wilpons and others are also being investigated as to whether or not they were aware of any wrong doing. For his part Madoff told reporters that the Wilpons were not aware of the scheme.

I wonder if Albert Pujols will wear a Chicago Cubs uniform next year. Can you imagine? Think of your favorite player in any sport. Now think of the biggest rivals of that team. Now think of that player in one of those other team’s uniform. Roger Clemens wearing Yankees pinstripes. Brett Favre in Vikings purple.Leo Durocher managing the NY Giants. Those all did happen.

I wonder who the first player will be, that was hedging about returning in 2011, to retire before the regular season starts. I wonder no more on that one. Jim Edmonds of the Cardinals decided to call it quits today after a 17 year career. Edmonds underwent surgery recently to relieve pain in an achilles tendon and decided not to risk permanent damage. He retires with 393 career home runs, 1,199 RBI, and 8 Gold Gloves. Happy retirement to one of the most exciting centerfielders to watch.

I wonder who will be the first player, who retired after last season, to return this season. My money is on the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte. Though he is strong in his convictions and said there’s no way he’s pitching this year, he also said never say never. Perhaps a July return. Even Jorge Posada has a hunch he’ll back this year.

I wonder if Felix Hernandez will still be a Seattle Mariner when the trade deadline passes. I’m thinking not, no matter how much the Seattle front office says otherwise.

I wonder if Justin Morneau will have a healthy, concussion free season. This is a very worrisome situation for one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. This is a great career that could easily get derailed even if another concussion does not occur. Morneau has been cleared to take part in spring training drills, but has not yet been cleared to play in games. Morneau’s concussion occurred last July!

I wonder if Manny Ramirez will a) play in more than 120 games b) hit 30 or more home runs c) come up with a lame injury. I’m not sure about a or b, but c is pretty much a definite.

I wonder if Bryce Harper will tear apart minor league pitching and if he’ll get a September call up. Yes and yes- Harper should terrorize lower minor league pitching (He’ll play at two levels at the very least) and will be brought up in September to put some fannies in the seats.

I wonder if Don Mattingly will make a good Major League manager. Being a great/very good ball player doesn’t guarantee success (Ted Williams was one of the many that found that out). Relationships change when you go from player to coach and coach to manager. I think he’ll be successful as long as heremembers what constitutes a trip to the mound.

I wonder if Bud Selig will get his wish in 2012 or shortly thereafter to expand the MLB playoffs. My answer is a resounding yes, because this has nothing to do with baseball. It’s all about greed.

I wonder what I’ll write about next week. Stay tuned.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Joe Gordon | Baseball Digest

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Joe Gordon | Baseball Digest

Joe “Flash” Gordon was one of the most versatile athletes to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest. After graduating high school he attended the University of Oregon in Eugene where he became one of their most revered student athletes. Gordon starred in baseball, football, and gymnastics. The latter was said to have contributed to his dazzling footwork as a 2nd baseman. He also played soccer and competed in the long jump in track. To round things out, Gordon played violin in the school’s orchestra.

Baseball would win out in the end though, and so would Oregon, as Gordon helped the Ducks win back-to-back Northwest Division college championships in 1934-1935. He signed with the New York Yankees in 1936 and made his major league debut two years later. At 23 years of age, Gordon had the unenviable task of replacing future Hall of Fame member Tony Lazzeri in the Yankees lineup. But Gordon was up to the task.

Had the Rookie of the Year Award existed then, Gordon would have likely captured the trophy with ease. He smacked 25 home runs, drove in 97 runs and scored 83. His season was so good that he finished 12th in the AL MVP voting. Gordon’s bat was even better in the World Series victory over the Chicago Cubs when he drove in six runs and recorded an 1.171 OPS.

In 1939 Gordon began a streak of nine straight all-star seasons despite missing two years (1944-1945) during World War II. He won the AL MVP Award in 1942 when he hit a career high .322, belted 18 HR and knocked in 103 runs. But after a solid season in ’43, Gordon was rusty when he returned from the war. He hit just .210 and struck out more often than not. It led to the Yankees’ decision to deal him that off-season to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Allie Reynolds. The “Big Chief” would have a stellar career as a Yankee, but Gordon had something to prove as a member of the Indians. He would do just that.

In his first two seasons in Cleveland, Gordon averaged 30 HR and 108 RBI (with career highs in both categories in 1948), finished in the top 10 in the AL MVP voting, and helped lead the Tribe to the 1948 AL pennant and their first World Series win in 28 years. Gordon was also instrumental in helping Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League, integrate with the ball club. Gordon’s simple gesture to play catch with Doby exemplified his leadership and made Doby one of the guys.

In Gordon’s first year as the Indians’ manager, the Cleveland News’ Ed McAuley talked about his natural leadership. Click here to read all about it!

Gordon made one more All-Star appearance, but after his second-worst offensive season, the Indians released him in October, 1950. He still holds the AL record for home runs by a 2nd baseman (246) and was also the league’s first 2nd baseman to hit 20 home runs in a season.

Gordon spent the next several years as a player-manager, scout, and manager in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). He returned to Cleveland in 1958, this time as their manager. However, he often clashed with GM Frank Lane, who liked to micromanage. Despite finishing second to the Yankees in 1959, one of the oddest trades in baseball history was made in the midst of the 1960 season. Gordon would not have been back for the ’60 season, but talks to hire Leo Durocher didn’t work out. So after 95 games, Cleveland sent Gordon to the Detroit Tigers for their skipper, Jimmy Dykes. After finishing the season with the Tigers, Gordon went on to manage the Kansas City Athletics in 1961, but was fired in mid-season by the always fickle Charlie Finley. Gordon managed one final season in the Major Leagues as the skipper of the expansion Kansas City Royals in 1969.

Unfortunately, Gordon died of a heart attack at age 63 in 1978, 31 years before the Veteran’s Committee honored him with an election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

We remember Joe Gordon on his date of birth, February 18, 1915.

Also Born Today:

Alex Rios (1981, Guaynabo, PR): Was selected with the 19th overall pick (San Pedro Martin HS) in the 1999 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto’s front office looked at Rios as a young Dave Winfield; a player who could hit for power and average, drive in runs, steal bases, play stellar defense and throw out base runners with his strong arm. Rios progressed nicely, turning out very productive back-to-back All-Star seasons in 2006-2007.

That led the team to sign Rios to a long-term deal, buying up his remaining arbitration years and first years of free agent elibility. The seven year deal guaranteed Rios over $69MM. Though he hit .291 in 2008, Rios’ overall production was down from the prior year and his numbers took an even bigger dip the following season. In August 2009, the Blue Jays decided to put Rios on waivers. When the Chicago White Sox put in a claim, the Blue Jays decided to give their bank account a break and allowed the White Sox to keep him. With no player transaction in return, the White Sox would have to assume the remainder of the contract.

Rios went into an awful slump after the move to Chicago, but in 2010 produced stats (.284-21-88, 34 steals) more in line with his pre-contract form. The White Sox are banking on Rios to repeat those figures for several years to come.

John Mayberry (1949, Detroit, MI): Was one of the most fearsome sluggers of the 1970′s. The 6th overall pick in the 1967 amateur draft (Houston Astros), never played more than 50 games in a season until he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals after the 1971 season. There he became a star, averaging 24 HR and 92 RBI over the next six seasons. He finished second in the 1975 AL MVP voting to rookie Fred Lynn of Boston when he reached career highs in home runs (34), RBI (106), and OPS (.963). He helped lead the Royals to their first three American League West Division titles, but unfortunately for Mayberry and his teammates, they lost all three ALCS series to the New York Yankees.

Mayberry spent four-plus seasons in Toronto and finished out his final season with the Yankees in 1982. In the coming season, he will continue to watch his son John Mayberry Jr. try to make the Major Leagues as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

BD Spring Training Report: Time For Redemption | Baseball Digest

BD Spring Training Report: Time For Redemption | Baseball Digest

Spring training is all about redemption, about getting a clean slate; the chance to prove yourself to your new team or to earn new confidence from your old team. Sometimes it’s about cleaning up your personal life and image, or it can simply be a case of putting a poor performance behind you. Like every other season though, this spring training there are a number of stories involving redemption seekers.

Francisco Rodriguez made a quick impression on Major League Baseball in 2002. A late season call up that blew away hitters to earn the nickname ‘K-Rod’ and helped the at-the-time Anaheim Angels win their first World Series championship. Eventually he would replace All-Star Troy Percival in the closer’s role and would dominate American League hitters. In 2008 he saved a record breaking 62 games and then bolted for the Big Apple to the tune of $37MM over three years.

Obviously it would be difficult to match his ’08 numbers and at times Rodriguez wasn’t as consistent in his first year in a New York Mets uniform. But he still saved 35 games in 42 attempts, and made 70 appearances. Last season, due to injuries and other factors, the Mets had a miserable season. But nothing was more horrible than what happened off the field on the night of August 13 at Citi Field.

Rodriguez, after arguing with his girlfriend’s father, Carlos Pena, shoved the man into a wall and struck the 53-yr old repeatedly. Rodriguez was arrested and charged with assault. A month later seven counts of criminal contempt were added after Rodriguez sent a barrage of texts to his girlfriend/mother of his twins, Daian Pena, in violation of a court order of protection. Rodriguez plead guilty to all charges in December and was ordered to attend 52 anger management sessions. In addition he had to reimburse Pena for his medical expenses and paid a $1,000 fine.

Two months later he begins the process of winning back the support of the fans, his teammates, and the organization. Rodriguez spoke with reporters, including the NY Daily New’s Andy Martino, at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie yesterday.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation I put myself in,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously I regret (it) a thousand percent. But I’ve got to move on. I’ve got to learn from those mistakes. It made me grow up more as a human being. I’m truly sorry for the way I put my teammates, the Mets organization, the fans, in that spot.”

“One second, one decision can change pretty much your whole life. It already happened to me in a bad way. When you have a lot of success, things going your way, you’re not thinking about the opposite. When that happened to me, it made me open my eyes. It made me realize I’m not doing things the right way. I just have to put my feet in earth once again and correct what I was doing wrong in trying to become a better father, a better boyfriend, better in everything. It made me grow up a lot in everything, all aspects.”

Rodriguez is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, which includes a $17.5MM vesting option for next season should he finishes 55 games or more in 2011. It will take a lot more to earn back the respect of the Mets faithful.

It may take a little longer for the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera to work things out. The devastating hitter was arrested late Wednesday night and charged with DUI and two counts of resisting arrest. It was especially troubling since Cabrera has an acknowledged drinking problem.

In October, 2009 he was taken into a custody after a domestic dispute with his wife. Though he was not charged with any crimes, his alcohol level was nearly three times (.26) the legal limit. Cabrera’s teammates were also let down because the incident occurred the night before a crucial game in the AL Central race. Last winter Cabrera was treated for alcoholism and declared last March that he no longer drank.

Cabrera seemed true to his word and responded on the field with an MVP-caliber season. But for now, it’s back to square one.

A.J. Burnett didn’t have the same issues as Rodriguez or Cabrera, but he struggled in his own right in 2010. He had been an integral part of the Yankees 27th world championship the prior year, but for whatever reason Burnett could never get a handle on any kind of consistency last year. Yankees fans tried to point the finger of blame everywhere else- at catcher Jorge Posada and substitute pitching coach Mike Harkey (regular pitching coach Dave Eiland had taken an extended leave of absence during the season), before squarely putting the blame and boos on Burnett himself.

The end result was a 10-15, 5.26 record and a pitcher whose confidence appeared gone. It also led to immature behavior- an angry Burnett smashed his hands on the shower room doors in the clubhouse during a July game and received cuts on both hands as a reward. Now he not only had let his teammates and organization down with his performance, but with his actions as well.

Remember the mantra, Feburary is the time for redemption and a clean slate. Burnett told reporters on Tuesday that he’s confident, that nothing needs to be fixed. But he did acknowledge what a disaster 2010 was. “I’m a force out there. Guys don’t want to face me. I just felt like guys didn’t care if they faced me (last year). I feel like I gave them that edge… I came here to win. I came here to pitch. I came here to be behind Big Man (CC Sabathia). And I wasn’t last year.”

Burnett’s new pitching coach, Larry Rotschild who also worked with Burnett in Florida, was asked if the talent abandoned Burnett first or his confidence. He told LoHud’s Chad Jennings and others, “It’s a chicken and egg question,” new pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “Is the confidence there because of success or is success there because he’s doing things right mechanically and gets confidence? I think we’ll attack it right now to get him in line to the plate. Get him comfortable throwing the ball, and I think he’ll get the confidence and demeanor that he should have.”

Burnett has a full year to figure it out, but for the sake of his team and himself, he had better figure it out in a hurry.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BD Spring Training Report: It’s Just A Game | Baseball Digest

BD Spring Training Report: It’s Just A Game | Baseball Digest

Anyone who has followed Dallas Green’s managerial career knows he’s tough, that he doesn’t mince words, and he isn’t afraid to let his feelings be known to the media. This morning Dallas Green should have been enjoying the annual rite of spring training, of watching players stretch and play catch and take batting practice. But Dallas Green is still grieving a loss much more meaningful than any baseball game.

By now you all know that Green’s granddaughter, Christina-Taylor Green, died along with five others at the hands of a mentally ill individual last month in Arizona. A 9-yr old girl who was just beginning to learn of the wonders of the world. A girl who had big hopes and dreams; dreams and memories are all that are left now for her family.

Dallas Green spoke to the media for 20 minutes this morning at the Phillies’ Clearwater, Florida complex. In doing so he showed far more courage than making any crucial World Series decision could ever come close to.

“Obviously, dealing with something like this is difficult enough for me and my wife, but it’s been a terrible thing on John and Roxanna and Little D (referring to his son, daughter-in-law and grandson, Dallas Jr.).

“You all know what has happened with Christina. I don’t think Sylvia (Dallas Green’s wife) nor I, in our wildest dreams as we were flying out to Tucson, realized that it would hit the nation and the community as hard as it did. We thought it was just our family and our neighborhood out in Tucson. But that little girl woke an awful lot of people up. We just miss the hell out of her.

“Obviously, I’m prejudiced, because she was my granddaughter. But she has become known to an awful lot of people in the country. Most of what has been written about her or said about her obviously is very true. She was really a special young lady, probably older than her years. She and her brother were very, very close. Christina was kind of the mom, as much as Roxanna was, to little Dallas. Made sure he got on the bus right, made sure he got to the karate classes on time. I was really blessed, John and Roxanna and Christina and Dallas came down to Providenciales (where the elder Greens have a winter home in the Caribbean) for Christmas, and we had some great quality time down there. She loved the water, she loved just being down in Providenciales with her Nana and Poppa. We had a great time.”

Green also spoke about the remarkable response the nation has had towards the tragedy and to his family in particular.

“It hit everybody,” he said. “The way it happened and the fact she was only nine years old obviously hit a lot of people hard. It brought up the gun business and the craziness the country seems to be going through at times. But she embodied what’s good about kids and what’s good about growing up in the United States.She wanted desperately just to be a little girl that loved doing what she did. Obviously her interest in politics and going to that function and being in the wrong place at the wrong time hit an awful lot of people hard.”

Green also praised the woman who had taken Christina to the event and then was wounded by three bullets as she tried to protect her. You can read those comments and more by checking out Larry Stone’s column in the Seattle Times.

News and Notes

Albert Pujols deadline has come and gone with no contract. If Prince Albert sticks to his guns there will be no further negotiations until after the 2011 season is completed.

A.J. Deserves A Clean Slate

Throughout much of the winter and in the early stages of spring training, the Twitter world has been awash with comments ripping A.J. Burnett. There's no doubt that the enigmatic right-hander had a miserable 2010 season, but it's a new year, a new season, and time to wipe the slate clean.

It really doesn't matter what Burnett did last year or the year before that for that matter when he had some big wins in helping the Yankees to their 27th World Series title. Obviously Burnett will be pitching under a microscope this season. He's got a new pitching coach, a new catcher (no more blaming Posada for his troubles- even if it wasn't necessarily him doing the finger pointing), and a new season.

Larry Rothschild worked with Burnett in Florida and knows that one of his primary roles as Dave Eiland's replacement is to try to get Burnett back on track. Actually it would great if Burnett could get on an even better track than the inconsistent one that has been the hallmark of his career. Reporters asked Rothschild yesterday about the confidence issue.
“It’s a chicken and egg question,” new pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “Is the confidence there because of success or is success there because he’s doing things right mechanically and gets confidence? I think we’ll attack it right now to get him in line to the plate. Get him comfortable throwing the ball, and I think he’ll get the confidence and demeanor that he should have.”
For his part Burnett is completely confident this spring, at least publicly. He also recognizes his shortcomings last year. This was Burnett's response to reporter's questioning his current state of mind and his poor performance last year:
I’m a force out there. Guys don’t want to face me. I just felt like guys didn’t care if they faced me (last year). I feel like I gave them that edge… I came here to win. I came here to pitch. I came here to be behind Big Man (CC Sabathia). And I wasn’t last year.
Time to let Burnett try to be that guy again.

Catching News

Jorge Posada is still recovering from knee surgery, so he won't be putting on the foil, er catching equipment until next week. Posada does have a hunch though- that Andy Pettitte will be back at some point this year. Posada isn't speaking from anything he knows, it's just a hunch.

toh to @dp57 and @joepawl - the NY Post's George King reported that Gary Sanchez hasn't taken part in any catching drills yet after undergo heart tests. The results of which showed nothing. The question is why were they done in the first place? Sanchez is among the highest rated catching prospects in baseball and is targeted to start the season in Charleston.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BD Spring Training Report: And Stretch That Money | Baseball Digest

BD Spring Training Report: And Stretch That Money | Baseball Digest

One of the things that clearly is not a favorite among players during spring training is the daily stretching. It’s a necessity, but it’s an incredible bore. And running, sprinting…all this getting in shape stuff. How many times have you heard a player say “I haven’t picked up a ball since (fill in some late date)”. Of course for hurlers nothing is worse than PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice). Spring training is all about rote. Turning the double play. Who goes where on a sac bunt. Hitting the cut off man.(The MLB Network has videos demonstrating the pitcher’s workout) Spring training is also about answering questions from the media that you sometimes would rather not have to.

The New York Yankees CC Sabathia found himself in that situation on Monday. Sabathia, who came to camp 25 pounds lighter (290 lbs), has a clause in his contract that would allow him to opt out after the 2011 season. Reporters quickly brought it up when questioning Sabathia. From the CC Sabathia_drops_25_pounds_says_not_eating_capn_crunch_is_key_to_yankee_aces_we.html" target="_blank">New York Daily News, ”I’m here to try to help this team win,” Sabathia said. “I went through it with the free agency thing, so it’s not going to distract me at all.” Still, Sabathia seemed to back off a previous statement that he had no plan to exercise the opt-out clause. ”Yeah. I said that, but …” Sabathia said. “Like I said, I’m here to try to help the team win. I don’t want to talk about that all year. This will probably be the last time I address it. I’m here.” Hank Steinbrenner for one doesn’t think Sabathia will opt out.

The St. Louis Cardinals having plenty weighing on their minds and it has nothing to do with how many pounds a player has lost. According to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak the team has until Wednesday at Noon to reach a deal with slugger Albert Pujols or the team won’t have access to the three time MVP until after the season. Pujols’ manager, Tony LaRussa feels the union is putting immense pressure on his star ball player. “I know what he’s going through with the union, and to some extent, his representatives,” said La Russa this morning at the Cardinals’ camp. ”His representatives are getting beat up by the union. ‘Set the bar. Set the bar.’” You can read the rest of LaRussa comments in Rick Hummel’s column in St.Louis Today.

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has imposed a deadline of his own. Manuel is entering 2011 in the final season of a contract he signed after the 2007 season and is reportedly seeking a two year extension. Manuel told reporters he doesn’t want his negotiation to be a distraction to the team. “Hopefully something happens in spring training, and if not, my extension and contract, I definitely don’t want it to be a distraction for our team,” Manuel said. “I definitely put my team first. The players, and how we play, that’s how I get a contract. That’s the whole purpose of me doing what I do, and that’s how I look at it.”

No new word on a new contract for Boston Red Sox 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who isn’t scheduled to report to camp until Friday. But Adrian’s older brother Edgar has a new gig; the infielder signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants.

Jose Bautista knows that the likelihood of him hitting 54 home runs again isn’t great so he has to strike while the iron is hot. Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays were set to go to arbitration, but have pushed back the hearing with the possibility of a long term deal on the horizon.

Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol avoid arbitration by agreeing Monday to a new three year, $20MM deal.

CC Sabathia wasn’t the only one who felt weight loss could help his performance. John Lackey, who had a decent first year with the Red Sox, dropped 11 pounds and feels great.

Yankees Camp Day 1

"Who ate my Captain Crunch?!!!!!!!"

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday to Yankees camp and things got interesting right off the bat.

You know that joke where a friend says he lost 60 pounds and you say, "so what are you now, like 290?" (Kudos to Tmags) Well CC Sabathia almost filled the bill on that one. The big man lost 25 pounds..and still weighs 290. But it actually looks pretty good on his 6'7" frame.

Sabathia decided to lose the weight after undergoing knee surgery. Nothing takes the brunt of too much weight more than knees- Sid Fernandez learned that lesson too late- so good job by CC. The comical thing about it though is that CC lost the weight by stopping his habit of eating a box of Captain Crunch. Who knew that's what CC really stood for? CC, what are you 12? I think that's the last time I ate Captain Crunch.

Now to a more interesting/serious situation. Those "elitist media" types got right down to business and asked CC if he was going to opt out of his contract after this season. CC didn't say yes, but he didn't say no either. He also said it was the last time he was going to address the issue this season.
"I'm here to try to help this team win," Sabathia said. "I went through it with the free agency thing, so it's not going to distract me at all." Still, Sabathia seemed to back off a previous statement that he had no plan to exercise the opt-out clause. "Yeah. I said that, but ..." Sabathia said. "Like I said, I'm here to try to help the team win. I don't want to talk about that all year. This will probably be the last time I address it. I'm here."

Most of said media feels CC will opt out and I have to agree with them. Even though he's happy and seemingly content, the big dude sees how much money is being thrown around right now. But here's the thing, how many teams can really afford him? CC's current contract is seven years (now in year three) for $161 million- an average of $23MM a year. Opting out could actually backfire. There's been a lot of speculation thrown around already too that the Yankees will avoid an issue by giving him an extension.

Hank Steinbrenner, for one, doesn't think CC will opt out. Hank may be wearing rose colored glasses.
"I don't think he will," Steinbrenner said this afternoon. "He's happy there. He's been very happy there. Now he really knows what it's like to be a Yankee. He had another excellent year last year. I think he's here to stay."
When asked if he were willing to negotiate a new deal, Hank wisely stated that this is not the time to be talking about such matters and that this season is the only important thing right now. He also said he knows CC is thinking the same thing. The maturity meter has risen for Hank who probably would have responded with a much harsher retort a few years ago. Kudos Hank.

No matter what does happen after this season, the Yankees must keep CC in Pinstripes...unless he turns into Oliver Perez. God forbid.

Oh and this is how I ate my Captain Crunch when I was 12. No, I'm not kidding.

Monday, February 14, 2011

BD Spring Training Report: Play Ball | Baseball Digest

BD Spring Training Report: Play Ball | Baseball Digest

Sunshine, palm trees or cacti, the smell of freshly cut grass, beer and hot dog vendors peddling their wares. Yes, baseball is back. Catchers and pitchers, as well as some positional players getting an early start, have reported to Florida and Arizona to begin spring training. Arguably, THIS, is the most wonderful time of the year. Especially if you’re like me, living in a colder, northern climate, it means there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

So many questions during this spring training…Will Albert Pujols sign a new deal before his self imposed deadline/scheduled day to report? Will Jesus Montero make the Yankees 25 man squad? Is Josh Beckett healthy? Can Don Mattingly manage a Major League club? Can anyone stop the Phillies starting rotation?

And of course spring training means that while teams may look much better than others on paper, everyone has a clean slate. Everyone can dream of the post-season, of hitting .300, and throwing a perfect game. Of popping champagne corks and hoisting the World Series trophy. There are some that will place too much emphasis on the games themselves- George Steinbrenner was infamous for that- but the most important thing in spring training is to come out of it healthy. The miles per hour on the fastball will come as will the bat speed. But keeping the hamstrings and shoulders and elbows healthy is much better than having the best record in the Grapefruit or Cactus League. That’s why the focus of today’s spring training report is those players we shall dub…

The Comeback Kids

Soon we’ll be getting a chance to see if players that were injured last year or in prior years have what it takes to get back to playing Major League Baseball. Here are some of the stories to follow this spring.

Brandon Webb is being counted on to help replace Cliff Lee in the Texas Rangers starting rotation. Webb averaged 17.5 wins per season from 2005-2008 and 231.2 innings. Apparently the latter took it’s toll. Webb went on the DL in April, 2009 with what was originally diagnosed as bursitis. After rehabbing it for several months, Webb had to undergo surgery and missed all of the 2010 season.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Webb recently told the Ben and Skin radio show in Dallas that he’s excited about the upcoming season. “I’ve made some dramatic strides. If anybody had been around me for the past month or so since I’ve been throwing, it’s been awesome. I don’t think they have to be too patient. I think I should be totally ready to go in spring training, jumping right in with the guys and just carrying on like a normal spring training for myself.”

In case Webb doesn’t recapture his 2007 NL CY Young form, he does have something to fall back on; he’s begun selling used cars with his brother in-law.

Carlos Santana can play a mean guitar, but baseball’s Carlos Santana can swing a mean bat and call a pretty good game. The Cleveland Indians catcher is hoping to be at full strength for the start of the season as he continues his way back from a torn LCL and surgery. Santana was knocked out for the remainder of the 2010 season when his knee lost a collision with the Red Sox’ Ryan Kalish in early August.

Santana, who hit .300 over his first 20 big league games, recently got word from his doctor that he can resume full baseball activities. That’s good news for the Indians who are in a rebuilding stage and need all the help they can get.

Indians fans are also hoping for a big comeback from Santana’s teammate Grady Sizemore. The one time five tool prospect has suddenly become injury prone and is trying to make his way back from the microfracture knee surgery he had last June. Sizemore was a budding superstar, who from 2005-2008 averaged 27 HR, 29 SB, and 116 runs while playing Gold Glove defense. He once played in 382 consecutive games. But Sizemore played in groin and elbow pain for all of the 2009 season and it showed in his lackluster offensive production. Finally the Indians shut him down in September and he underwent surgery on both areas.

Last season Sizemore injured his left knee during spring training and then aggravated it in a game against Baltimore in mid-May. When doctors went in they found extensive cartilage damage and opted for the more complex microfracture surgery based on Sizemore’s desires to “…play another 10 years” and “…only have one knee surgery”. Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Jordan Bastian that he’s hoping that Sizemore will be ready at the start of the season or “shortly thereafter”.

Chien-Ming Wang was a two time 19-game winner and unlikely ace for the New York Yankees in 2006-2007. But a Lisfranc injury prematurely ended his 2008 season and then shoulder trouble limited him to just 12 games in 2009. Surgery followed, causing Wang to miss all of the 2010 season after signing as a free agent with the Washington Nationals. GM Mike Rizzo told’s Bill Ladson back in January that he was confident that the Taiwanese native would be ready to go when camp broke.

With the retirement of Andy Pettitte and the inability to land Cliff Lee via free agency, the Yankees have brought in a number of pitchers to compete for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. One of them is former AL CY Young winner Bartolo Colon, who did not pitch in the Major Leagues in 2010. Colon found some success and some life on his fastball (91 mph) in winter ball recently, so he decided to give “The Show” another shot. Colon has reportedly lost a substantial amount of weight and hopes that his arm and shoulder issues are behind him. He has not been able to reach 100 innings since his 21-win, CY Young season in 2005.

Colon won’t have to look far to see another reclamation case. Suiting up near him will be former top Cubs prospect Mark Prior. The right-hander hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2006 due to an assortment of arm issues. After selecting Prior with the 2nd overall pick in the 2001 draft, the Cubs were salivating at the thought of a 1-2 punch of Kerry Wood and Prior for many years to come. Sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way you planned, in particular for Mark Prior and his pitching career.

It didn’t start out that way though. Prior finished third in the 2003 NL CY Young voting after finishing with an 18-6, 2.43 mark in 30 starts. Then things started to turn- a line drive off his pitching elbow created a fracture in 2005. An MRI during spring training the following season showed a moderate shoulder strain. Something was clearly still wrong when he returned- teams rocked him to the tune of better than seven earned runs a game. When shoulder tendinitis put him on the DL in August, little did Prior know it would be the last time he would pitch on a major league mound.

After initially ruling it out, Prior had to go under the knife in April, 2007 to have the shoulder cleaned up. Renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrew was confident Prior would pitch in ’08 following the procedure. But a year later a tear in Prior’s shoulder led to another surgery and another missed season. Prior tried to come back with the Padres in ’09. but was released in August. Part of 2010 was spent in an independent league and for a short time in the Rangers organization. Which leads us to where Prior is today, having signed a minor league deal with the Yankees in December. One more shot, one more time hoping to recapture something, to come back as a reliever.

Yes, spring training is a time for new hopes, redemption, and a lot of daydreaming.

FullCountPitch - These Guys are Catching on

This week's column for is about the new breed of catchers making their way in the Major Leagues and trying to be the next Joe Mauer.

It’s not often that a rookie catcher makes a huge impression in the Major Leagues, but that is exactly what Buster Posey did last season for the San Francisco Giants. The National League rookie of the year hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI in just 108 games. His defense was stellar as well- he threw out 37% of would-be base stealers and caught a starting rotation that was the key to the Giants’ first World Series victory in 56 years. The rookie also stepped up in the playoffs, hitting a combined .288 in three series with a home run and five ribbies.

The 23-yr old is part of a new breed of catcher that is beginning to have a big impact on Major League Baseball. The position is no longer referred to as the “tools of ignorance” and the prototypical catcher is no longer built like a fireplug. The new guys are athletic, quick, solidly built, and can hit the heck out of the baseball.

Click Here to read the rest of the free column and to read more about Jesus Montero, Carlos Santana, J.P. Arencibia, and Matt Wieters.