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The Greatest Second Baseman in each MLB Franchise’s History

Posted by Rich Stowe on June 1, 2011

Rogers Hornsby - the best 2B ever

What makes a second baseman great? Is it offense, defense or a combination of the two?

If you take a look at each franchise in baseball, who is the team’s greatest second baseman? Was there a clear choice or did it come down to a decision?

That was my goal; decide who was the greatest second baseman in each franchise’s history.

Let’s start with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Click here to continue reading on the Bleacher Report

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Mariano Rivera – 1,000 Games and Counting

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 26, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 18: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 18, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Yesterday, when Mariano Rivera entered the game in the ninth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays, he became the first pitcher to ever appear in 1,000 games for the same team and the 15th pitcher overall to accomplish the feat.

In those 1,000 games, Mo has pitched in 1,171 innings, has struck out 1,068, has an ERA of 2.22, a WHIP of 1.002 and an ERA+ of 205 (these stats include 10 games as a starting pitcher).

To put those numbers in perspective; Trevor Hoffman appeared in 1,035 games and pitched 1,089.1 innings, struck out 1,133, had an ERA of 2.87, a WHIP of 1.058 and an ERA+ of 141 (the third-best ERA+ for all the pitchers with 1,000 or more games while the second-best is Hoyt Wilhelm’s 147).

What makes Mo’s accomplishment even more impressive his he’s done it all with one pitch. That one pitch is arguably the best pitch baseball has ever seen, a cut fastball. Every hitter has known what pitch was coming, yet, even after 17 seasons they still can’t hit it and it’s still breaking bats.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Bleacher Report

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Is the DH a real position?

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 12, 2011

In my latest article discussing position changes by players after the age of 35, there was a discussion in the comments regarding the designated hitter. Several people don’t consider it a real position and thus shouldn’t have been included in the article (love when a discussion in one article spurs another article to be written!). I plan on covering several of the areas of concern brought up in those comments in this article.

Let’s start with the first area of concern; should the designated hitter be considered a position when discussing all-time greats or best ever at certain positions?

Baseball Reference will list designated hitter as a position under a player’s name on their player’s page. Take a look at David Ortiz’ page and you’ll see this. If you also scroll down further on that page, under Fielding, you’ll see games spent at DH in each season.

What this tells me is that Baseball Reference considers Designated Hitter an actual position.

If you go the "member search" area of the Baseball Hall of Fame site, under the position drop-down menu, you’ll notice that Designated Hitter is an option. Last year or the year before, if you ran that search, one name came up; Paul Molitor. Molitor played more games as a Designated Hitter than any other position. Now, the search returns zero members (site was changed over the last couple of years).

So, even though there are no members of the Hall of Fame listed under Designated Hitter, the site itself considers it a real position.

104102383_crop_340x234Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

What this means is basically the two best sites for historical baseball information, Baseball Reference and the Hall of Fame, both consider Designated Hitter a real position.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Bleacher Report.

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Diamond Thoughts – 5/10/2011

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 10, 2011

Welcome to the Diamond Thoughts for May 10th.

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Milton Bradley was designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners yesterday. This means they have 10 days to trade, release or send him to the minors. In my opinion, Bradley is one of the worst players in baseball. He has zero accountability and is always blaming someone else for the issues he has on the field. Whether it’s racist fans in Chicago or any of many other excuses, it’s never Bradley’s fault. He has a bad attitude, is constantly arguing with umpires (even bumping one last week), dogging it on defense and thinks he’s actually a better player than his entire career has shown. He is owed $13 million this season, so I don’t think the Mariners will just cut him (they’d still have to pay him), so I think they find any team willing to part with any minor leaguer (any level) simply to get rid of him. Bradley is one of those players that just needs to go away.

Last night, Carl Crawford hit a walk-off double in the 11th inning to help the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins. The hit extended Crawford’s hit streak to nine games. Yes, nine games isn’t as impressive as Ethier’s 30 game streak, but with the slow start to the season Crawford’s had it’s huge. As a Yankee fan, the last thing I wanted to see was Crawford starting to heat up.

Zach Greinke won is first game for the Milwaukee Brewers last night. In his second start of the season, Greinke pitched 6 innings giving up 5 hits, 2 runs and striking out 9 while not walking anyone. The Brewers beat the Padres 4-3.

Sorry for such a short Diamond Thoughts, but Mondays in the baseball are very slow!

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Diamond Thoughts – 5/9/2011

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 9, 2011

Welcome to the Diamond Thoughts for May 9th. These thoughts will cover what happened in baseball over the weekend.

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Friday night, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers threw his second career no-hitter and the second no-hitter in less than a week in baseball. Unlike Liriano’s no-hitter earlier, Verlander only walked one and struck out four (Liriano walked six and struck out two). If you’re not going to strike out 10 or more in a no-hitter (like Verlander did in his first no-hitter when he struck out 12), you can’t walk batters like Liriano. Out of Verlander’s 108 pitches, 74 were for strikes (much better ratio than Liriano’s was). Congratulations to Justin and if the Tigers don’t improve on their 6-games back in the standings, maybe he’ll be a trade opportunity for a certain pinstriped team in New York.

Speaking of the pinstriped team in New York; Derek Jeter had easily his best weekend of the season so far. On Saturday he got a double (not a ground ball double like his previous ones this were, but a legit, hard hit double) and then on Sunday he went 4-4 with two home runs. According to John Kruk of ESPN, Jeter made a slight adjustment on where he stands in the batter’s box (he moved off the plate a little). This allows him to get to those fastballs pitchers have been jamming him inside with a little better. Not saying this proves he’s just been in a slump all season, but it is a tremendous improvement.

Andre Ethier’s hit streak ended at 30 games over the weekend. While he barely got halfway to DiMaggio, a 30 game hit streak is still pretty impressive, especially when you consider his elbow has been bothering him for several weeks now.

Friday was Willie Mays’ 80th birthday. Happy belated birthday to one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Willie had it all – the perfect five tool player. While other players in history hit for a better average or more power, none were better in all five categories than Willie. Other Hall of Famers who celebrated a birthday this weekend – Dick Williams (May 7th) and Tony Gwynn (today, May 9th). Happy birthday to one one of the best hitters from the 1980s and one of the best managers.

Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels won his 1,000th game as manager yesterday, the 23rd manager in history to get 1,000 wins with one team. Congrats!

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Is Alex Rodriguez the next Yankees Captain?

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 6, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23: Derek Jeter #2 congratulates Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees after Rodriguez hit a grand slam home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I read this article on ESPN by Wallace Matthews this morning and I just had to laugh.

Yes, Alex Rodriguez will probably be a member of the New York Yankees for years after Derek Jeter retires (or god forbid, is on another team). However, there’s no way Rodriguez becomes the next Yankee captain.

If you look through the history of the New York Yankees captains, you’ll see one thing that stands out about the players selected (for the most part): they played the game the way it was supposed to be played, their integrity was never in question and they basically epitomized the dignity and grace expected of a player for the New York Yankees.

It doesn’t matter to me, that as Wallace Matthews pointed out in his article, that the one day Jeter was out of the lineup and not talking to the media, Rodriguez stepped up and acted the part, providing advice to Eduardo Nunez or answering the media’s question. He was simply doing what any veteran would do.

It takes much more to be the Yankees captain than just talking to the media or giving young players advice. It takes playing the game with a certain level of dignity, class and leadership.

To read the rest of this article, please CLICK HERE to be taken to the full article on Bleacher Report

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Diamond Thoughts – 5/6/2011

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 6, 2011

Welcome to today’s Diamond Thoughts.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 14: Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaks at a news conference at Dodger Stadium prior to a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers on April 14, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Large numbers of LAPD

MLB has asked the Los Angeles for even more documents relating to their finances. Baseball doesn’t believe the Dodgers can make their payroll at the end of May. If this is true, the Dodgers aren’t that far away from being sold. If I’m not mistaken, once they can’t meet their payroll, baseball has the right to take complete control of the Dodgers (not just the limited control they have now) and that means they’ll go up for sale. So, keep an eye on Craig’s List, maybe you can find a once-proud and historic franchise on there cheap.

Bryant Stow, the Giants fan beaten within an inch of his life outside of Dodgers Stadium has to have brain surgery later this week to drain fluid that is building up. According to his cousin, they are also planning on slowly weaning him off of medication which should allow him to come out of the medically induced coma, however, last time they tried he suffered seizures so they’re hoping that doesn’t happen again. Here’s wishing him and his family all the best.

Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays manager, believes in the use of expanded replay; especially after he got ejected for arguing a call that was overturned the other night. "If you really want to be intelligent about it, technology is a part of our game," Maddon said before Thursday’s game against Toronto. "The fact that replay is already utilized, those are moments that you can review at the end of the season. Log them all and then see if there is any kind of common thread and say, ‘Now this should be reviewable.’ " Replay in baseball is a hot button issue – you don’t want everythng reviewed and make the game take longer, however, the technology exists to get more calls right and that’s what I think they should do. Get all the calls right you can. I do not believe replay should be used on balls and strikes, but fair/foul, home run/not a home run, safe/out at the plate, whether an OF trapped the ball or not, those would all go a long way to ensuring there’s less blown calls in each game.

Derek Jeter was given last night off and his replacement, Eduardo Nunez, committed two errors, showing that even though Jeter is not playing well at all this year, the Yankees simply don’t have anyone to replace him. Will the Yankees look to trade for a serviceable shortstop to use when they "give Jeter days off"? As a Yankees fan it pains me to say this, but maybe they should. Right now Jeter is one of the worst offensive players in the game and when you couple that with his declining defense (which is saying something because no matter how many Gold Gloves he has on his mantle, he was never Ozzie Smith), you end up with a huge liability in that lineup.

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Diamond Thoughts – 5/5/2011

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 5, 2011

Welcome to today’s Diamond Thoughts.

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Last night, Tim Lincecum struck out 12 Mets and passed the great Christy Mathewson for the record of most double-digit strike out games in San Francicso Giants history. It was Lincecum’s 29th game with double-digit Ks. Pretty impressive seeing how this is Lincecum’s fifth season in the league and Christy pitched for 17 years for the Giants. Lincecum already has 964 career strike outs (including this season). That’s an average of 253 a season (and he’s gotten over 230 in each of the last three seasons). If he pitches for 15 years and is able to keep up this pace, he’ll approach 4,000 strike outs for his career which would put him 5th all-time ahead of Blyleven (3,701) and behind Carlton (4,136). We are watching something special in Lincecum, as if the back to back Cy Young Awards in his second and third season didn’t already tell you that.

Andre Ethier’s hit streak is on hold for now. Ethier took yesterday off because of a sore elbow. The elbow has been bothering for the last couple of weeks and it finally was bad enough for him to take a game off. He should be back in the lineup on Friday when the Dodgers face the Mets. Did Joe DiMaggio ever miss a game during his 56-game hit streak? No he did not.

The Angels and Red Sox played till 2:45am this morning eastern time. They played for 13 innings and had a 2 1/2 hour rain delay. The Angels won finally 5-3 on a Bobby Abreu two-run, two-single off of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yes, Dice-K came in as a reliever. Both teams used 14 pitchers combined. I’ve stayed up late watching games before, but 2:45 am is just plain nuts.

Tim Hudson gave up 1 hit to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday and recorded his 12th career shutout. Another example that this may just be the Year of the Pitcher again following last season’s Year of the Pitcher. Even the Red Sox were held hitless for the first 6 innings yesterday. I’ve lost count how many no-hitters have been taken past the 6th inning this year. Liriano’s no-hitter the other day is probably just the first of many to come.

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Diamond Thoughts – 5/4/2011

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 4, 2011

Welcome to today’s Diamond Thoughts.

francisco-liriano-no-hitter.jpg

Congratulations to Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins. He pitched the first no-hitter of the 2011 season last night and the Twins beat the White Sox, 1-0. It wasn’t pretty because Liriano walked six, but to win a no-hitter 1-0 is very impressive. In my opinion, there is a big difference pitching in any game that is 1-0 compared to say 5-0, even more so when they’re no-hitters. One wrong pitch and not only do you lose the no-hitter but you could lose the game. The only bad thing about this no-hitter? It means a certain type of baseball fan (I’m talking mainly to a certain section of the Yankees fans), will think this means that Liriano is a great pitcher and the team should trade their best prospects to get him (Jesus Montero straight up for Liriano for example). What I say to these fans is slow down! Yes, pitching a no-hitter is a tremendous accomplishment, but if you take a look at Liriano’s stats for the season, you’ll see he entered the game with an ERA over 9.00 (2nd highest ERA in history of a pitcher to throw a no-hitter) and a WHIP just under 2.000. Any pitcher can do very well for nine innings (though the six walks and only two strikeouts means he relied heavily on his defense) but his season stats are more telling than just one game. He allows way too many baserunners and way too many earned runs.

Andre Ethier continued his hit streak last night and is now up to 29 games. He’s only gone hitless in one game for the Dodgers this season (April 1st). A hit in his next game and he’ll become only the 44th person since 1900 to hit in 30 straight and only the 41st to do it since DiMaggio’s 56 game hit streak.

Another baseball player was arrested for DUI yesterday. Shin-Soo Choo of the Cleveland Indians joins Derek Lowe of the Braves and four other major leaguers this season in the DUI club. When are athletes going to learn to either call a cab or use a designated driver? It’s not that difficult to not drink and drive! Choo is lucky no one was hurt. With the death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart in 2009 by a drunk driver, you’d think all baseball players would just stop drinking and driving. Teams need to start cracking down hard and suspending these players for significant periods of time. Not only does it hurt the team, it potentially could cause the death of an innocent person.

Derek Jeter had one hit last night and now his average is .250, his OBP is .310 and his Slugging Percentage is .269. Is Derek done? Read more on my thoughts regarding this topic by CLICKING HERE.

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Not Time for the New York Yankees to Make Drastic Changes, Not Yet at Least

Posted by Rich Stowe on May 3, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by his teammate Derek Jeter #2 after his three run homer in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on May 1, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter sucks offensively this year, plain and simple. His two best hits have been doubles, but they were ground ball doubles.

Brett Gardner has more home runs than Jeter and Nick Swisher combined, but his OBP is .325 and he’s only stolen four bases but has been caught stealing four times as well.

Phil Hughes has zero velocity and it’s nothing physical based on recent tests.

Rafael Soriano has an ERA over .650 and a WHIP over 1.700.

These facts have New York Yankees fans up in arms yelling for the lineup to be shaken up and I have even seen Jesus Montero-for-Erik Bedard suggestions. All I have to say is hold your horses.

Yes, there are aspects of the New York Yankees that have fans very concerned. However, all those fans have to do is look at the standings of the American League East. If they do, they’ll see that even with all these issues, the New York Yankees sit in first place, three games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and are 17-9 (a .654 winning percentage).

Even with Jeter looking like he needs to retire and Gardner looking like last year was a fluke, there’s no need to panic. Not yet at least. The offense is doing just fine without their contributions and provided it can continue, there’s absolutely no need to make any changes. If they weren’t winning games and scoring runs, I’d be concerned. However, if the players mentioned above don’t turn it around soon, then Joe Girardi will have to consider making drastic changes such as dropping Derek Jeter far down the order or even using Curtis Granderson as the leadoff hitter. I’m sure Brian Cashman is already making plans to trade for some hitter to bring in if the situation calls for it, but that time is not in May.

To read the rest of this article on Bleacher Report – CLICK HERE

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