Archive for April 2013

The Dream Team Project: Kansas City Royals

April 30, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder (and pinch hitter) not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Kansas City Royals (from 1969)

  1. Willie Wilson, LF (1976-1990) #
  2. Amos Otis, CF (1979-1983)
  3. George Brett, 3B (1973-1993) *
  4. Hal McRae, RF (1973-1987)
  5. John Mayberry, 1B (1972-1977) *
  6. Darrell Porter, C (1977-1980) *
  7. Frank White, 2B (1973-1990)
  8. Freddie Patek, SS (1971-1979)
  9. Kevin Appier, P (1989-1999 & 2003-2004)

Player: Carlos Beltran, CF (1998-2004) #; Hitter: Mike Sweeney, 1B (1995-2007); Fielder: Mike Macfarlane, C (1987-1998); Pinch hitter: Alex Gordon, 3B/LF (2007– ) *

Other starting pitchers:

  • Bret Saberhagen (1984-1991)
  • Mark Gubicza (1984-1996)
  • Dennis Leonard (1974-1983 & 1985-1986)

Relief pitchers:

  • Dan Quisenberry (1979-1988)
  • Jeff Montgomery (1988-1999)
  • Joakim Soria (2007– )
  • Steve Farr (1985-1990)
  • Steve Mingori (1973-1979) *

The Royals were my introduction to the concept of “underdogs,” so I was thrilled when they finally reached the summit in 1985. Since the “strike season” of 1994, however, they’ve been anything but Monarchs, finishing over .500 just once (in 2003, when they won 83 games). This dream team reflects that fact; notice the dates of the players in the starting lineup.

Still, this group puts the crown on the KC. A strong hitting lineup is complemented by an overpowering array of starters and relievers. Hal McRae never really played right field; he was normally the DH (and an occasional left fielder) but he was so good, he has to start, and thus Danny Tartabull is off the team. Kevin Seitzer could never replace George Brett at third, but he came close to making this roster, as did Zack Greinke. The only knock on the pitching staff, in fact, is its right-handedness; Charlie Leibrandt, Larry Gura or Paul Splittorf would be the best choices to remedy that I think, but which of the top four was I supposed to replace? I require at least one left-handed reliever, however, so Steve Mingori (a Kansas City native) gets the nod.

The Athletics were anything but native; none of the players who toiled on that team from 1955-1967 came into consideration in the compilation of Kansas City’s all-time greats team. But Roger Maris liked it there, so that’s something.

Royal-Finish-1024x756

Lest we forget: The Story of the Pine Tar Incident

The Dream Team Project: Colorado Rockies

April 26, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Colorado Rockies (from 1993)

  1. Eric Young, 2B (1993-1997)
  2. Carlos Gonzalez, CF (2009– ) *
  3. Larry Walker, RF (1995-2004) *
  4. Todd Helton, 1B (1997– )
  5. Matt Holliday, LF (2004-2008)
  6. Vinny Castilla, 3B (1993-1999, 2004 & 2006)
  7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS (2006– )
  8. Chris Iannetta, C (2006-2011)
  9. Ubaldo Jimenez, P (2006-2011)

Player: Andres Galarraga, 1B (1993-1997) *; Hitter: Ellis Burks, OF (1994-1998); Fielder: Clint Barmes, 2B/SS (2003-2010)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Aaron Cook (2002-2011)
  • Jhoulys Chacin (2009– )
  • Jeff Francis (2004-2008, 2010 & 2012– ) *

Relief pitchers:

  • Brian Fuentes (2002-2008) *
  • Steve Reed (1993-1997 & 2003-2004)
  • Rafael Betancourt (2009– )
  • Bruce Ruffin (1993-1997) *
  • Jerry Dipoto (1997-2000)

The “Rockies top” player is Todd Helton. Larry Walker isn’t far behind. The rest of this dream team appears solid, but not spectacular, and that may not change much in the near future, though Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez should be able to solidify their places in the lineup. The bullpen in Denver is easily the equal of the starting rotation; what does that mean? The Mile High city will have to make do with memories of 2007 for the time being, it seems.

Fun fact: the Colorado Rockies are one of only two teams in Major League Baseball which have never won a divisional title. Do you know the other one?

Colorado-Rockies-Todd-Helton

The Dream Team Project: Tampa Bay Rays

April 23, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Tampa Bay Rays (from 1998)

  1. Carl Crawford, LF (2002-2010) *
  2. B.J. Upton, CF (2004 & 2006-2012)
  3. Ben Zobrist, 2B (2006– ) #
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B (2008– )
  5. Carlos Pena, 1B (2007-2010 & 2012) *
  6. Aubrey Huff, RF (2000-2006) *
  7. Toby Hall, C (2000-2006)
  8. Julio Lugo, SS (2003-2006)
  9. David Price, P (2008– ) *

Player: Jason Bartlett, SS (2008-2010); Hitter: Fred McGriff, 1B (1998-2001 & 2004) *; Fielder: Sean Rodriguez, IF (2010– )

Other starting pitchers:

  • James Shields (2006-2012)
  • Scott Kazmir (2004-2009) *
  • Jeremy Hellickson (2010– )

Relief pitchers:

  • Jim Mecir (1998-2000)
  • Roberto Hernandez (1998-2000)
  • Grant Balfour (2007-2010)
  • Rick White (1998-2000)
  • J.P. Howell (2006-2009 & 2011-2012) *

Even those who play in domes find moments of brilliance. Although no one is going to be overly impressed by this dream team, the Tampa Bay Rays can boast some legitimately great players in their short history, along with a World Series appearance. Carl Crawford would fit in on practically any all time greats roster, as would Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria –and the latter two are on the actual Rays roster. As with any young team, however, change is on the way. Huff Daddy’s right to right field is not guaranteed by any means, and Fernando Rodney is on his way to the bullpen. The future of this (by all accounts) well-run franchise is bright; their fans hope that future includes some actual sunshine, I think.

Tampa+Bay+Rays+Photo+Day+5Txa0t2uqOLl

The Dream Team Project: St. Louis Cardinals

April 19, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder (and pinch hitter) not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

St. Louis Cardinals (from 1947)

  1. Lou Brock, LF (1964-1979) #
  2. Ozzie Smith, SS (1982-1996) #
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B (2001-2011)
  4. Stan Musial, RF (1941-1944 & 1946-1963) *
  5. Jim Edmonds, CF (2000-2007) *
  6. Ken Boyer, 3B (1955-1965)
  7. Ted Simmons, C (1968-1980)
  8. Red Schoendienst, 2B (1945-1956 & 1961-1963) #
  9. Bob Gibson, P (1959-1975)

Player: Curt Flood, CF (1958-1969); Hitter: Ray Lankford, CF (1990-2001) *; Fielder: Yadier Molina, C (2004– ); Pinch hitter: Scott Rolen, 3B (2002-2007)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Chris Carpenter (2004– )
  • John Tudor (1985-1988 & 1990) *
  • Adam Wainwright (2005-2010, 2012– )

Relief pitchers:

  • Todd Worrell (1985-1989 & 1992)
  • Jason Isringhausen (2002-2008)
  • Al Brazle (1943, 1946-1954) *
  • Bruce Sutter (1981-1984)
  • Al Hrabosky (1970-1977) *

There’s a reason why St. Louis is one of the best baseball towns in America: this dream team may well be the perfect lineup. It contains some of the best hitters and fielders the game has ever known, along with one of the best starting pitchers of all time. It’s diverse, balanced and versatile, Hall of Fame worthy and historical (cf. Curt Flood). The Cardinals are a model franchise, and their farm system has harvested such a bumper crop of great ballplayers that it’s impossible to make only one dream team to represent the Gateway to the West (see below).

This team required a bit of positional adjustment; Stan Musial was primarily a left fielder and first baseman, but Lou Brock and Albert Pujols both need to be in the starting lineup, so let’s be grateful that The Man played 785 of his 2907 games in right.

Just to underscore how good this roster is, here is the Redbirds’ “B” team:

Tim McCarver (C); Keith Hernandez (1B); Tom Herr (2B); Solly Hemus (SS); Joe Torre (3B); Matt Holliday (LF); Willie McGee (CF); Enos Slaughter (RF); Bill White (Player, 1B); Mark McGwire (Hitter, 1B); Terry Pendleton (Fielder, 3B); Brian Jordan (Pinch hitter, RF); Larry Jackson (Starter); Harry Brecheen (LHP); Matt Morris (RHP); Bob Forsch (RHP); Lee Smith (Closer); Steve Kline (lhp); Joe Hoerner (lhp); Jason Motte (rhp); Chuck Taylor (rhp).

I think that group would be competitive with any of the other teams in my all-time greats collection.

Four of the above nine ...

Four of the above nine …

... and one more.

… and one above.

The Dream Team Project: the Angels

April 16, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder (and pinch hitter) not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

The Angels (from 1961)

  1. Darin Erstad, CF (1996-2006) *
  2. Bobby Grich, 2B (1977-1986)
  3. Tim Salmon, RF (1992-2004 & 2006)
  4. Troy Glaus, 3B (1998-2004)
  5. Brian Downing, LF (1978-1990)
  6. Wally Joyner, 1B (1986-1991 & 2001) *
  7. Jim Fregosi, SS (1961-1971)
  8. Bob Boone, C (1982-1988)
  9. Chuck Finley, P (1986-1999) *

Player: Garret Anderson, LF (1994-2008) *; Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero, RF (2004-2009); Fielder: Gary DiSarcina, SS (1989-2000); Pinch hitter: Jim Edmonds, CF (1993-1999) *

Other starting pitchers:

  • Nolan Ryan (1972-1979)
  • Jered Weaver (2006– )
  • Frank Tanana (1973-1980) *

Relief pitchers:

  • Troy Percival (1995-2004)
  • Francisco Rodriguez (2002-2008)
  • Scot Shields (2001-2010)
  • Bryan Harvey (1987-1992)
  • Darren Oliver (2007-2009) *

Los Angeles, California, Anaheim … call them what you will, but the Angels have a dream team that would make Gene Autry proud. Dangerous at the plate and solid in the field, the starting pitching is formidable, and the bullpen is well above average. Most of the speed on this team is on the bench, however. Neither Torii Hunter, Chone Figgins nor Doug DeCinces could crack the line up, while the rotation could be extended with John Lackey, Mark Langston, Dean Chance, Jarrod Washburn or Mike Witt.

Angels in the outfield, beware! One of you will almost certainly be replaced by 2012’s AL Rookie of the Year in the near future. This will be sad for the player demoted, but delicious for Halos fans, because it will mean that the Orange County nine will have both Salmon and Trout at the plate.

Angles

It’s an OC thing.

Musical Interlude

April 14, 2013

Pardon the interruption of this baseball blog for a moment.  Just wanted to report 3 coincidences (?) that happened yesterday.

First, the morning crossword included:

download

47-down

then I felt inspired to listen to some old Of Montreal, and forgot that “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games”  had the lyrics (at 1:20):

All of which apparently was to prepare me for the planned evening activity.  We went to the SF Symphony and a live performance of Prelude and Leibestod from Tristan Und Isolde.   Music which has been haunting me since I saw Melancholia:

The Dream Team Project: Miami Marlins

April 12, 2013

In order to deepen my appreciation for baseball and its history, I have embarked on an effort to create a “dream team” for each franchise in the American and National Leagues, from the time it began play in its current location, or from 1947 (whichever is earlier). I present each team in batting order (the starting pitcher bats 9th), and include three more starting pitchers, five relief pitchers, as well as the best player, hitter, and fielder (and pinch hitter) not in the starting lineup.

* = Left-handed batter or pitcher. # = Switch-hitter.

Miami Marlins (from 1993)

  1. Luis Castillo, 2B (1996-2005) #
  2. Hanley Ramirez, SS (2006-2012)
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (2010– )
  4. Miguel Cabrera, LF (2003-2007)
  5. Jeff Conine, 1B (1993-1997 & 2003-2005)
  6. Mike Lowell, 3B (1999-2005)
  7. Juan Pierre, CF (2003-2005 & 2013– ) *
  8. Charles Johnson, C (1994-1998 & 2001-2002)
  9. Josh Johnson, P (2005-2012)

Player: Chris Floyd, LF (1997-2002) *; Hitter: Gary Sheffield, RF (1993-1998); Fielder: Cody Ross, CF (2006-2010); Pinch hitter: Dan Uggla, 2B (2006-2010)

Other starting pitchers:

  • Kevin Brown (1996-1997)
  • Dontrelle Willis (2003-2007) *
  • A.J. Burnett (1999-2005)

Relief pitchers:

  • Robb Nen (1993-1997)
  • Luis Aquino (1993-1994)
  • Renyel Pinto (2006-2010) *
  • Brian Sanches (2009-2011)
  • Braden Looper (1999-2003)

Perhaps the most controversial franchise in baseball, the Miami Marlins have two World Series trophies, a 21st century stadium, and very few great players. Jeff Conine replaces Derrek Lee at first, even though he backed up that position, because he’s the Marlins’ good luck charm. Anibal Sanchez and Josh Beckett could both be the Fish’s fifth starter. And yes, that’s Miguel Cabrera in left field. Like him, many of the players on this roster had, or went on to have success elsewhere, but I still associate most of them with South Florida. And why not, when a solid majority of this roster has a ring? Right place, right time, as they say.

Si, claro.