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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 319

post #9541 of 73637
Originally Posted by RaWEx5 View Post

Originally Posted by mr jordan04 View Post

Cano is Dominican btw

Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Yep. I'm retarded for that one. Fixed. But my point still stands.


Ahhhhh so I WASNT wrong after all huh? Thats what I get for allowing a Dodger fan correct me!!! I kid, I kid.
post #9542 of 73637
Even if he has citizenship in the us, he's still Dominican laugh.gif
post #9543 of 73637
RIP Oriole great Earl Weaver. One of the all time great managers & maybe the best to ever argue with an ump...
post #9544 of 73637
Wilson won't be returning to Giants
post #9545 of 73637
Originally Posted by psk2310 View Post

RIP Oriole great Earl Weaver. One of the all time great managers & maybe the best to ever argue with an ump...
"You can't sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all." - Earl Weaver RIP
post #9546 of 73637
Originally Posted by madj55 View Post

Originally Posted by psk2310 View Post

RIP Oriole great Earl Weaver. One of the all time great managers & maybe the best to ever argue with an ump...
"You can't sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You've got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance. That's why baseball is the greatest game of them all." - Earl Weaver RIP

That's an awesome quote.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #9547 of 73637
Got damn, first The Earl of Baltimore & now Stan Musial passed away. RIP to one of the greatest ball players ever.

If memory serves, he won 3 World Series, 6-7 batting titles, & 2-3 MVPs....
post #9548 of 73637
Originally Posted by JJs07 View Post

Saw a pic yesterday of Roger Bernadina...dude is yoked beyond belief. Son looks like he was playing ball in the late 90's....

Same with Eric Thames, still can't slub above .450 and people look like I'm crazy when I doubt the positive effects of steroids. laugh.gif
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
Instagram. | just my art and photography. #NT will follow back. Also Flickr.
post #9549 of 73637
RIP Stan "The Man" Musial
post #9550 of 73637
Just heard also. RIP to an all-time great.

1815 hits at home
1815 hits on the road

post #9551 of 73637
1944 23 STL NL 146 668 568 112 197 51 14 12 94 7 90 28 .347 .440 .549 .990 174 312 7 5 4 *O98 AS,MVP-4
1945 Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)
1946 25 STL NL 156 702 624 124 228 50 20 16 103 7 73 31 .365 .434 .587 1.021 183 366 7 3 2 *37O AS,MVP-1

Placed 4th in MVP voting.......served his country for a year......Only to come back and WIN the MVP...................

Sad day in Cardinal nation today..............#1 in all Major batting statistics in Cardinals history..........

I met him while at a small restaraunt in Kirkwood, MO about 15-20 years ago (im 29 fellas, lol) My mothers friend owned this restaraunt and when my mother recognized who he was, she told me to ask for his autograph........I didnt have anything to sign, but the owner happened to have a baseball. I got the ball signed.......But unfortunately, the ball was taken by my ex wife`s niece and i dont know where that ball is....................frown.gif

R.I.P. to Stan "The Man" Musial Currently, the only TRUE Cardinal LIFER
post #9552 of 73637

Stan was one of those players who made me proud to be a Cardinals fan, he was a class act and the Greatest player to ever wear a Cardinals uniform. R.I.P "Stan The Man".

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.


One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

post #9553 of 73637

Stanisław Franciszek Musiał greatest Polish American baseball ever. RIP frown.gif but man what a life pimp.gif

Hi, my name is George. I'm unemployed, and I live with my parents.
Hi, my name is George. I'm unemployed, and I live with my parents.
post #9554 of 73637

Stan the Man & Earl Weaver ...

baseball lost 2 greats tired.gif
Yanks Knicks Jets
Yanks Knicks Jets
post #9555 of 73637
How did Hunter Pence get $13 mil and Posey only got $8.............When did Pence start playing $10+ per season baseball?
post #9556 of 73637
Service time/arbitration eligibility issue...
post #9557 of 73637
Thank God it's only a year. $13mil? Pence was free hot swinging garbage for most of the 3 months we had him.
post #9558 of 73637
post #9559 of 73637
About time laugh.gif. Cincy has been hoping for this the past 8 years or so

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation

From Smith to Friedman, we know what's up

Official Member of the Steeler Nation
post #9560 of 73637
Thread Starter 
Top 10 outfields in MLB history. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It's possible that by the end of the summer, the Angels' outfield of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Peter Bourjos will be viewed as the best in baseball. Could it rank among the best ever? The standard is pretty high.

On Sunday I ranked the best starting rotations of all time; yesterday, I hit the bullpens. Today, we're moving again.

Here are the top 10 outfields in baseball history:

1. 1961 New York Yankees: Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra

The feats of Maris and Mantle that summer are movie-worthy -- if you haven't seen 61* , find it, because it's great and it's honest -- and record-setting. Maris and Mantle combined for 115 home runs, 220 walks and 263 runs; Mantle had an OPS+ of 206 and an OPS of 1.135, while Maris generated a 167, .993. So really, you could've had Mario Mendoza playing left field and the Yankees' complete outfield probably still would've made this list. As it was, however, the primary left fielder was Yogi Berra, who was nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career and played in 81 games in that spot in '61. In 436 plate appearances, Berra hit .271 with 22 homers, and scored 62 runs.

2. 1995 Cleveland Indians: Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Manny Ramirez

Belle was known as Mr. Freeze after destroying a clubhouse thermostat -- among other items. Kenny Lofton just seemed inexplicably angry to some of his teammates. And Manny Ramirez was, well, a young Manny, doing a lot of odd stuff. But the trio put up enormous numbers as part of a 1995 Cleveland team that history must not forget: 299 runs, 100 doubles, 15 triples and 88 homers in a 144-game season that was modified by a labor stoppage. Belle had an OPS+ of 177, clubbing 52 doubles and 50 homers. Ramirez had an OPS+ of 147, and Lofton stole 54 bases. It was a dominant group.

3. 1927 Yankees: Babe Ruth, Earle Combs and Bob Meusel

Any outfield that included Ruth in one of his prime years is going to rank among the best ever, and in 1927, the Bambino hit 60 homers, scored 158 runs and drove in 164 runs and drew 137 walks while striking out only 89 times. His OPS+ that year: 225.

But Combs had an OPS of .925 and scored 137 runs, and Meusel had 64 extra-base hits and drove in 103 runs. The Yankees went 110-44 that year, and the strongest part of that team was arguably that incredible outfield.

4. Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb and others

Cobb's production was so spectacular -- his lifetime batting average of .366 is the highest in major league history, and the man hit over .300 for 23 consecutive seasons -- that you can pick a number of different years in his time with the Tigers to note on this list, and it just so happened that you can count Hall of Famers among his outfield mates. Sam Crawford was a star when Cobb broke in, and would later be inducted into the Hall in 1957 by the Veterans' Committee, and Harry Heilmann shared the same lineup with Cobb for more than a decade, and had a career average of .342 and was inducted in 1952.

For argument's sake, you could put the 1922 Tigers as perhaps the most rounded of the Cobb years -- he hit .401 that season, while Bobby Veach hit .327 and Heilmann .356. Not bad.

5. 1963 San Francisco Giants: Willie McCovey, Willie Mays and Felipe Alou

Mays was 32 that summer but still in his prime, and he hit 38 homers -- and he had two exceptional wingmen. McCovey, still playing left field at that stage in his career, hit 44 homers and scored 103 runs, and Alou hit .281 with 20 homers. The trio combined for 82 doubles, 21 triples and 102 homers that year. Mays made appearances in All-Star Games in 19 consecutive seasons.

6. 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates: Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla

This trio had it all: power, speed, defense. Bonds and Van Slyke were considered to be two of the best defenders at their respective positions; in 1991, Bonds and Van Slyke both won Gold Gloves. In 1990, the three of them combined for 97 doubles, 283 runs and 82 homers (at a time when a 25-homer season was still regarded as a good season). Bonds had an OPS+ of 170, Bonilla 132 and Van Slyke 132, and as Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information notes, this is the last outfield that had three players that each had 400-plus plate appearances and an OPS+ higher than 130.

7. 1975 Boston Red Sox: Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans

Manager Darrell Johnson actually used a number of different alignments that year, sometimes starting Carl Yastrzemski in left, with Cecil Cooper at first base. But most of that summer, Rice, Lynn and Evans shared the outfield, thriving together in a year in which Evans was just 23 years old, and the 23-year-old Lynn and 22-year-old Rice were rookies. Lynn won the Rookie of the Year award and the MVP, mustering an OPS+ of 162. Rice mashed 22 homers and drove in 102 runs, in an era when middle-of-the-order hitters were measured by RBIs, and Evans had a .353 on-base percentage, to go along with 45 extra-base hits. Lynn won a Gold Glove Award and in time, Evans was regarded as one of the dominant defensive right fielders of his era.

8. 2002 Atlanta Braves: Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones and Gary Sheffield

When the Braves looked for an opportunity to shift Chipper Jones off third base, they moved him to left field -- and created one of the more prolific outfield trios in history.

Chipper had a .435 on-base percentage and 26 homers, with an OPS+ of 151; Andruw Jones hit 35 homers and won a Gold Glove Award at the height of his reign as a dominant defensive center fielder; and Sheffield had an OPS+ of 138.

9. 1974 Pittsburgh Pirates: Willie Stargell, Al Oliver and Richie Zisk

It's all about context: that year, Mike Schmidt led the NL in home runs with 36. So the production of Stargell, Oliver and Zisk was noteworthy: They combined for 105 doubles, 19 triples and 53 homers, and each of them hit over .300. Stargell had an OPS+ of 168, Zisk 145 and Oliver 136.

10. 1994 Montreal Expos: Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Larry Walker

The season ended after only 114 games for the Expos because of the players' strike, but what the trio managed to accomplish in those first four months was remarkable. Alou, Grissom and Walker -- all 27 years old that year -- scored 253 runs and had 100 doubles, 52 homers and 58 stolen bases. Walker and Grissom were regarded as excellent defenders -- Walker had won a Gold Glove in 1993, and Grissom won in '94 -- and both Walker and Grissom finished in the top 12 in the MVP voting. The Expos may have been the greatest team that history will never know, having won 74 of those 114 games, but other players of that era will long remember Montreal's outfield of that time.

Others that should be mentioned:

• The 1988 Boston Red Sox: Mike Greenwell, Ellis Burks and Dwight Evans: They are the last American League outfield with a trio that each had 400-plus plate appearances and an OPS+ higher than 130: The 24-year-old Greenwell had an OPS+ of 160, Burks 130 and Evans 132. They had 107 doubles, 61 homers and 845 total bases.

• The 1976 Cincinnati Reds: George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Ken Griffey Sr.: Foster hadn't fully blossomed as a home run hitter yet -- he hit 29 in 1976 -- but all three hit over .300, and Griffey scored 111 runs that season.

• The 1971 Baltimore Orioles: Frank Robinson, Paul Blair and Don Buford

• The 1913 Red Sox trio of Tris Speaker, Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper

• The 1982 Angels of Brian Downing, Lynn and Reggie Jackson

By the way: Joel Sherman sent along this thought about the 1992 postseason bullpen of the Toronto Blue Jays: "[T]he best bullpen for one time in place ever," he believes. "Tom Henke, Duane Ward and Mike Timlin (all of whom saved at least 120 games); Mark Eichhorn, who was a long-running strong set-up man; Todd Stottlemyre and David Wells (two high-level, long-term starters). Jimmy Key even pitched a game in relief in those playoffs, winning the clincher in extra innings."

Again, look at the pitching roster of this team -- arguably the greatest collection of pitching talent ever, due to the tremendous work of GM Pat Gillick and his staff.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Mets are signing Pedro Feliciano.

2. The Pirates have all but finished the Francisco Liriano deal.

3. The Nationals hope to avoid arbitration.

4. The Astros signed Erik Bedard.

5. Ryan Raburn agreed to terms with the Indians.

6. Carlos Beltran wants a future with the Cardinals, as Derrick Goold writes.

7. David Murphy may work out a multiyear deal, writes T.R. Sullivan.
post #9561 of 73637
Thread Starter 
Top 10 bullpens in MLB history. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
For most of the first five decades of Major League Baseball, managers preferred to rely on their starting pitchers through the late innings. It wasn't until the '40s and '50s that managers began to regularly use pitchers like Joe Page, Hoyt Wilhelm, Lindy McDaniel and Elroy Face as late-inning specialists, in roles that have become more refined -- closers, and then right-handed and left-handed specialists, and then setup men, and then sixth- and seventh-inning guys, and sinkerballers who can get ground balls and hard throwers who can get a strikeout with a runner at third. Last year, the Orioles utilized almost their entire staff in relief roles at one time or another: Just 67 of Baltimore's 162 games were started by pitchers used exclusively in the rotation.

Something to keep in mind: Deep, balanced bullpens are still a more recent part of the game framed against history, so the best are simply more recent. That noted, we present the top 10 bullpens of all time:

1. 1998 New York Yankees
Baseball history reached a crossroads in 1995, the year the Yankees shifted Mariano Rivera from a starting role into relief -- and to this day, Buck Showalter will joke self-deprecatingly about how different the '95 playoffs might've been if he'd known exactly what he had in Rivera. In 1996, Rivera was an overpowering setup man for John Wetteland, striking out 130 batters in 107 2/3 innings in 1996. Wetteland moved on, Rivera moved into the role of closer and discovered the cut fastball while playing catch with Ramiro Mendoza in 1997, and the Yankees' bullpen was the definition of dominant from 1998-2000. Jeff Nelson and Mendoza were weapons from the right side, Mike Stanton and Graeme Lloyd were left-handed weapons for Torre, and at game's end, Rivera was almost automatic. During the Yankees' 125-win season of 1998, the bullpen went 28-9, with a league-best ERA of 3.76 -- remember, this was right in the middle of the steroid era -- and a league-best WHIP of 1.29. Rivera did not allow a run in 12 1/3 innings of work in the 1998 postseason, while surrendering just six hits. In fact, in 1998 and 1999, Rivera made 18 playoff and World Series appearances without allowing a run.

As I've written here before, Rivera is arguably the greatest postseason performer in baseball history, in spite of the blips in 1997, 2001 and 2004: His career postseason ERA is 0.70, with just two homers and 21 walks allowed in 141 innings.

2. 1990 Cincinnati Reds: The Nasty Boys

Really, we're talking about three guys here: Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton. They were all relatively young -- Myers and Charlton were 27 years old, Dibble 26 -- and Lou Piniella went to them constantly to end games after the sixth inning. Charlton was moved into the Cincinnati rotation midway through the season, before switching back for the postseason, and that year, he threw 154 1/3 innings in 56 games, striking out 117. Dibble threw 98 innings in 68 appearances, striking out 136, and Myers had a 2.08 ERA in 66 appearances, accumulating 31 saves. But their reputation was fully made in the postseason, when the trio allowed one earned run in the National League Championship Series (against the Pirates), before shutting out Oakland for 8 2/3 innings in the postseason -- so all told, the Nasty Boys allowed one earned run in 24 innings in October.

3. 2003 Houston Astros

The Astros had power and stuff from the right side, with Brad Lidge and Octavio Dotel, and even more power from the left side, with Billy Wagner.

"I was rarely concerned with batter/pitcher match-ups or pitch selection," former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus wrote in an e-mail. "Their pitches were so dominant, it was hard to put down the wrong fingers.

"And, talk about shortening a game. If we could get into the sixth with a lead, we felt really good about our chances. In Wags, Lidge and OD, we probably had three of the 10 best relievers in the league."

As the Yankees learned firsthand on June 11. That day, Roy Oswalt worked a hitless first inning but had to come out of the game in the second because of a groin strain. The Houston bullpen combined for eight more no-hit innings -- over the final four innings, Lidge, Dotel and Wagner combined for eight strikeouts and then they all posed for pictures afterward. That year, the Houston relievers combined for an MLB-high 495 strikeouts, and held opposing hitters to a .225 batting average.

4. 2003 Los Angeles Dodgers

Katie Sharp, a researcher for ESPN Stats & Info, determined that the only bullpen in the last 20 years to rank among the top 20 all-time in ERA was Los Angeles of 2003, at 2.46. Tom Martin was the lone lefty among the primary relievers, but that really didn't matter, not with Paul Quantrill working as a setup man, alongside Guillermo Mota, who struck out 99 batters in 105 innings that year. For sheer dominance, however, closer Eric Gagne was among the best ever -- he allowed 37 hits in 82 1/3 innings, with 20 walks and 137 strikeouts. Right-handed hitters posted an OPS of .358 against Gagne, while lefties were at .390.

Years later, Gagne was among those named in the Mitchell report, complicating his legacy. But none of that mattered in 2003, when he was the most dominant reliever in the sport.

5. 1990 Oakland Athletics

Tony La Russa wasn't the first manager to use his relievers in matchup situations, but he perfected the practice, as arguably the greatest manager of bullpens in history. Dennis Eckersley might be the greatest creation of La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan. At age 31, he had slogged to an ERA of 4.57 for the Chicago Cubs. He signed with Oakland, and La Russa and Duncan turned him into a reliever -- and a Hall of Famer. Eckersley was at his best in 1990, when he struck out 73 and walked four, for an 0.61 ERA. His adjusted ERA-plus for that season was 603, which was the best in history for 22 seasons … until Fernando Rodney's exceptional 2012.

From Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Info, the highest adjust ERA-plus for all pitchers with at least 60 innings in a season:

Pitcher Team ERA+ ERA
Fernando Rodney 2012 Rays 634 0.60
Dennis Eckersley 1990 Athletics 603 0.61
Rob Murphy 1986 Reds 541 0.72
Jonathan Papelbon 2006 Red Sox 517 0.92
Dennys Reyes 2006 Twins 507 0.89
Chris Hammond 2002 Braves 441 0.95
Bill Henry 1964 Reds 420 0.87
Jose Mesa 1995 Indians 418 1.12
Craig Kimbrel 2012 Braves 399 1.01
David Robertson 2011 Yankees 399 1.08

With Eckersley leading the way, the Oakland bullpen had a 2.35 ERA, one of the best marks of all time.

6. 1972 Oakland Athletics

**** Williams was among the first managers to consistently call on relievers for matching up lefties on lefties, right-handers versus right-handers, and he had some good pieces to work with that year: Darold Knowles, a left-hander who posted a 1.37 ERA in 54 games that year, and Bob Locker, who had a 2.65 ERA. But most importantly, at the end of games, he had Rollie Fingers, who threw 111 1/3 innings in relief that season, in 65 games, and struck out 113, on his way to 11 wins and 21 saves.

7. 2002 Anaheim Angels

The Angels had a really good bullpen throughout the regular season that year, with Troy Percival overpowering hitters (68 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings), a young Scot Shields denting the big leagues (he had a 2.20 ERA in 29 games) and Brendan Donnelly limiting opponents to 32 hits in 49 2/3 innings. For the season, the Angels had a 2.98 ERA, one of the lowest marks in the last 20 years.

But the whole group was transformed at season's end, when the 20-year-old Francisco Rodriguez was promoted from the minors. He made just five appearances during the regular season, but showed so much that Mike Scioscia used him as his primary setup man in October, and K-Rod -- as he would forever be known -- struck out 28 in 18 2/3 innings, and the Angels won the World Series.

8. 2010 San Francisco Giants

After an excellent regular season, the Giants' relievers took over the postseason. Brian Wilson didn't allowed a run in the playoffs or World Series, striking out 16 in 11 2/3 innings, and Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt had big moments throughout the playoff run. Manager Bruce Bochy had a lot of weapons to use that year and he manipulated them exceptionally, as the Giants won their first World Series title in 56 years.

9. 2012 Tampa Bay Rays

Three bullpens did incredible work last summer and might deserve a spot in this top 10 -- the Reds had the lowest ERA, at 2.65, and the Braves ranked second in the NL at 2.76, riding the extraordinary performance of Craig Kimbrel. But Fernando Rodney had arguably the greatest season ever for any reliever -- see the chart above -- and the Rays led the AL in ERA, at 2.88. Left-hander Jake McGee allowed only 11 walks in 55 1/3 innings, while striking out 73, and also Wade Davis and Joel Peralta pitched well. Tampa Bay's bullpen was so deep that by the end of the year, Kyle Farnsworth -- who was really good in 2011 -- couldn't reclaim a meaningful role after recovering from a right elbow strain.

10. 2002 Atlanta Braves

For years, the Braves had been taken down by thin and inconsistent bullpens. But with John Smoltz in the role of closer, where he racked up 55 saves, this group posted the second-lowest ERA in the last 20 years, at 2.60. Chris Hammond and Mike Remlinger were outstanding from the left side, Darren Holmes and Kerry Ligtenberg had really good seasons from the right side. It was a solid, balanced group.

Near-misses: The 2012 Cincinnati Reds, with their MLB-best 2.65 ERA; the 1992 Blue Jays, who had Tom Henke and Duane Ward and a whole bunch of pitching talent around them (check out all parts of their pitching roster from that year); the 1972 Pittsburgh Pirates; the 1981 Yankees, with Goose Gossage and Ron Davis; the 2011 Braves, before the late-season collapse; and the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals, who had Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter closing games for them.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The White Sox signed Matt Lindstrom.

2. Davey Johnson like having an A bullpen and a B bullpen, as James Wagner writes.

3. The Rockies signed a couple of veteran pitchers.

4. Matthew Hall writes about the ongoing TV impasse for the Padres.

5. This guy will be trying to win a job as a super utility player.
post #9562 of 73637
Thread Starter 
Top 10 rotations in MLB history. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I grew up as a crazy Los Angeles Lakers fan right in the middle of Boston Celtics country in central Vermont, which meant that all of my friends rooted for Larry Bird and Robert Parish and Cedric Maxwell, and I rooted for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. I loved the debate, even when it was certain that we would disagree.

It is in that vein that we present a weeklong series ranking the greatest units in baseball history -- the greatest rotations, the greatest bullpens, outfields, infields, lineups and teams.

It's a sure thing: We are going to disagree. And that's a big part of the fun.

Here's my list of the top 10 MLB rotations of all time:

1. 1997 Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta rotation was so good for so long that you could actually make a case for about a half-dozen other seasons -- 1995, the year that the Braves won the World Series, or 1998, 1999, 1993 or maybe 2002. I solicited opinions on this from a bunch of colleagues, from Jayson Stark to Justin Havens to Frank Labombarda of the Elias Sports Bureau, and Jayson sent along a list of the teams with the greatest differential between their staff ERA and the league average. Five of the top 30 teams were those Braves teams of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

In 1997, the difference between the Braves' staff ERA of 3.18 was more than a run better than the league average -- 1.03 runs, to be exact -- which is the fourth-best of all time. That year, John Smoltz had 241 strikeouts in 256 innings, with a 3.02 ERA, and he was arguably the fourth-most effective starter in their rotation. Denny Neagle went 20-7 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.084 WHIP, and finished third in the Cy Young voting; Glavine had a 2.96 ERA; and Maddux finished second to Pedro Martinez in the Cy Young voting after posting a 2.20 ERA.

And within the next five years, we'll probably be able to say that three-fifths of the Atlanta rotation was composed of Hall of Famers, which means even more today than it did two weeks ago.

2. 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers

This rotation included three pitchers who would eventually be inducted in the Hall of Fame. Sandy Koufax, in his last season before retiring, posted a career-low 1.73 ERA with 317 strikeouts in 323 innings. Don Drysdale had the highest ERA among the starters at 3.42, and the guy filling the No. 4 spot in the four-man rotation was 21-year-old Don Sutton, who went 12-12 with a 2.99 ERA. Claude Osteen, the Dodgers' No. 3 starter, surrendered just six homers and 65 walks in 240 1/3 innings, the foundation for his 2.85 ERA. The difference between the Dodgers' staff ERA that season -- built on the 1,062 innings of those starters -- and the league average was 0.98 runs, the eighth-best in major league history.

3. 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

On the second day of spring training that year, the Phillies' rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton held a news conference together, and the whole thing was a little awkward. Halladay and Lee are naturally reticent, and none of the other three was inclined to speak out of turn. When Blanton was asked, in so many words, whether he felt he was worthy of being in the same company as the other four, Oswalt reacted with a look of disgust at the question.

Greatest rotation ERAs since 1987
Year Team ERA
2011 Philadelphia Phillies 2.86
1992 Atlanta Braves 2.95
1988 New York Mets 2.97
1989 Los Angeles Dodgers 3.02
1988 Montreal Expos 3.05
1997 Atlanta Braves 3.05
From Justin Havens of ESPN Stats & Info
But while they didn't like talking about themselves, they lived up to the hype. The Phillies' rotation posted a 2.86 ERA that season, best in the majors, and Philadelphia went 102-60. Halladay, Lee and Hamels all posted ERAs at 2.79 or lower, and at one time or another, each of them was part of the Cy Young conversation during that summer. Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history.

Halladay could retire today and be all but assured of induction into the Hall of Fame, and Hamels has started his career strongly and given himself a chance to someday join Halladay. Either way, Hamels and the rest of the 2011 Phillies can say they were part of one of the greatest rotations of all time.

4. 1954 Cleveland Indians

The Indians went 111-43 that year, setting the modern-day American League record for wins -- later broken by the 1998 New York Yankees and then the 2001 Seattle Mariners -- and their rotation led the way. Early Wynn and Bob Lemon each won 23 games, Mike Garcia went 19-8, and No. 4 starter Art Houtteman went 15-7 with a 3.35 ERA. The No. 4 starter? The 35-year-old Bob Feller, who mustered a 3.09 ERA in his 19 starts. Wynn, Lemon and Feller all were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame -- as was a veteran reliever on that team who chipped in with one spot start, the 33-year-old Hal Newhouser. Cleveland posted a staff ERA that year of 2.78, markedly better than any other team's; the Chicago White Sox finished second at 3.05.

5. 1907 Chicago Cubs

It was the dead ball era, and pitching dominated, but no staff might have dominated the way that this Cubs team did. The Cubs' ERA was 1.73, with five of the eight members of the team checking in with ERAs under two runs per game: Orval Overall went 23-7 with a 1.68 ERA; the legendary Mordecai Brown had a 1.39 ERA; Ed Reulbach at 1.69; Carl Lundgren, 1.17; and Jack Pfeister, 1.15. In the sweep of the Detroit Tigers, which included a 3-3 tie in Game 1, the Cubs' staff allowed four earned runs in those five games.

Oh, what the Cubs would give to have a pitcher like Overall now.

6. 1986 Houston Astros

That year, a 39-year-old Nolan Ryan struck out 194 in 178 innings with a 3.34 ERA -- and he was the Astros' No. 3 starter. Mike Scott's splitter (or whatever it was) was at its best, and he posted a 2.22 ERA with 306 strikeouts in 275 1/3 innings. Bob Knepper was 17-12, 3.14, and Jim Deshaies was 12-5, 3.25 in 26 starts. That staff generated 1,160 strikeouts, easily the most in the majors, and Houston's rotation ranked No. 1 in ERA in the majors that year at 3.06.

Their season would end with a wrenching playoff defeat to the New York Mets, because the Astros on that team -- and some Mets, for that matter -- will always believe that if Houston could have forced a Game 7, Scott would have gotten the ball and won. He had been dominant in his first two starts, allowing one run and one walk in 18 innings, with 19 strikeouts.

7. 1971 Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles lost the World Series in seven games that year, but this might have been the best pitching staff among the many great staffs managed by the late Earl Weaver. This rotation is famous for being the only rotation in history with four 20-game winners -- left-hander Mike Cuellar (20-9), right-hander Pat Dobson (20-glasses.gif, right-hander Jim Palmer (20-9) and left-hander Dave McNally (21-5). The Orioles' staff pitched 1,415 1/3 innings that year, and the starting four accounted for 1,081 of those.

It's hard to make a case for this quartet as being the greatest rotation of all time, though, given the fact that Baltimore's staff ERA was just a shade better than those of the Oakland Athletics, the California Angels and the White Sox. But the Orioles' staff was extremely efficient: Baltimore finished ninth in the league in strikeouts that season but allowed the fewest walks -- and in keeping with Weaver's directive about avoiding beanball battles, the Baltimore batters hit only 18 opponents that year, the fewest in the majors. The Orioles had a great defense, and Weaver implored his pitchers to take advantage of it -- and in 1971 they did, day after day.

8. 1948 Cleveland Indians

Cleveland's staff ERA was more than a half-run better than any other AL team's, and the Indians' primary five starters of Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak and Don Black did a lot of heavy lifting in that season -- manager Lou Boudreau used each of them for at least six relief appearances as well. Lemon had a couple of saves and Feller had three among the Indians' league-leading 30 saves. The Indians' ERA of 3.22 was 1.06 runs better than the league average, the third-highest of all time.

The difference in eras may be best borne out by this number: Cleveland's accomplished staff combined for 593 strikeouts in 1,409 1/3 innings, or 3.79 per nine innings. According to Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Info, the last team to post a strikeout/9 ratio this low was the 1983 Kansas City Royals.

9. 1939 New York Yankees

It's a group of pitchers mostly forgotten by history because of the dominance of the Yankees' lineup that year, but consider this: The staff ERA of 3.31, or 1.31 runs better than the league average of 4.62, represents the greatest difference in baseball history. The Yankees' ERA was almost three-quarters of a run better than any other AL team's, in a year in which New York went 106-45. Manager Joe McCarthy employed his own version of a pitch count that year: Eight different pitchers had at least 11 starts, and not one of them started more than 28 games. Nonetheless, Red Ruffing went 21-7 with a 2.93 ERA, and Lefty Gomez went 12-8 with a 3.41 ERA, in 26 starts. Three of the top four leaders in hits per nine innings were members of the Yankees' rotation.

That season will always be remembered for the last days of Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games streak and for Joe DiMaggio's pre-eminence. But the Yankees' pitching was sensational.

10. 1905 Philadelphia Athletics

It was a different time, and really, a different game. Connie Mack used a total of seven pitchers that year, and his big four of left-handers Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell and right-handers Chief Bender and Andy Coakley combined for 1,169 of the team's 1,383 innings that season. Waddell had a monster season, posting a 1.48 ERA and striking out 287 hitters in 328 2/3 innings -- and he went 27-10.

Others considered: The 1968 St. Louis Cardinals -- It was very, very difficult to leave them out. With Bob Gibson leading the way with a record-low 1.12 ERA, St. Louis had an ERA of 2.49 that year, and he was followed in the rotation by Nelson Briles and Steve Carlton.

The 1926 Philadelphia Athletics -- At a time when offense had started to take over the sport, Connie Mack's staff posted a league-best 3.00 ERA. Philadelphia finished third that year even though that the staff ERA was 1.02 runs per game better than the league average, the fifth-best of all time. Hall of Famer Lefty Grove led the way for that rotation.

The Oakland Athletics' rotations from 1972 to 1974 -- Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman and Vida Blue were the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz of those years.

The 1986 New York Mets -- Before they outlasted the Astros and Red Sox in the postseason, the Mets were a regular-season machine, going 108-54 -- and their rotation did staggering work. Sid Fernandez, their No. 4 starter, allowed just 161 hits in 204 1/3 innings, and their No. 5 was a 24-year-old Rick Aguilera. Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Bobby Ojeda fronted the rotation, with Gooden posting a 2.84 ERA.

The 1998 Yankees -- Led the AL in ERA by a significant margin as the Yankees won 114 regular-season games.

The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks -- Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson combined for 665 strikeouts in 506 1/3 innings that year and carried that rotation.

The 2003 Oakland Athletics -- Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito were in their prime.

New York baseball writers' dinner report

Old friend Willie Weinbaum attended the New York baseball writers' dinner Saturday, and as he does every year, he checked in with this file -- after a day filled with sad news.

As Saturday's 90th annual Baseball Writers' Association New York chapter awards dinner began, chairman Tyler Kepner of The New York Times announced the names of baseball figures whose lives had ended in the past year, concluding with Hall of Famer Earl Weaver, who died the night before at age 82.

Then word started to get around that another Cooperstown immortal, Stan "The Man" Musial, died Saturday at 92. "It is a very sad day for me," Willie Mays said in a brief interview after being informed of his perennial National League All-Star Game teammate's passing. Mays, on hand to celebrate the 2012 Giants' world championship honorees and the chapter's "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" award to his 1973 Mets, called Musial "a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could.

"I never heard anybody say a bad word about him, ever."

Rather than cast a pall, the news seemed to infuse the event with a renewed spirit of reflection and reveling in the people present -- like the 81-year-old "Say Hey Kid."

The Nationals' Davey Johnson accepted the NL Manager of the Year award and immediately lightened the mood by thanking both presenter Terry Collins, the Mets' manager, for trading R.A. Dickey out of the league, and fellow honoree Chipper Jones for retiring. Johnson also reminisced about Weaver, his indomitable manager with the Orioles, whose confidence even back in his days as a shortstop was over the top for someone "only 5-foot-3 who couldn't run and couldn't throw."

Jones, recipient of the William J. Slocum-Jack Lang Award for meritorious service, was a legendary Mets killer, and his prolific numbers against them made up most of his introduction. Jones said he'd gotten the itch to go to spring training this year and looked at the Braves' website, but worked out for five minutes and decided "it's better to go to Hawaii."

Giants catcher Buster Posey, a Georgia native, received his NL Most Valuable Player award from Jones and then chided him -- as did others -- about being long in the tooth. Posey recounted starting to watch Jones his rookie year, "when I was 6 or 7 -- I don't want to make you feel old & my dad's 10 years older than you."

Earlier in the day, American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, MLB's first Triple Crown winner since 1967, and Rookie of the Year Mike Trout got together for an ESPN The Magazine cover photo shoot. Trout said he'd rented a tuxedo for the BBWAA banquet but has plans to buy one. Judging by Cabrera's predictions of MVP and other awards for Trout, investing in a tux seems practical for the young Angel.

Instead of a traditional comedian, often the entertainment at these shindigs, the showcase act was Gar Ryness, better known as the "batting stance guy." And Ryness' act didn't disappoint, as he mimicked Cabrera's home run trot, Posey's quizzical expressions on questionable calls and the idiosyncrasies of CC Sabathia, Nick Swisher and Derek Jeter. He also joined the jabbers at the recently retired Jones, saying that when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer 39 years ago, Dusty Baker was on deck, Davey Johnson in the hole and Jones next.

Dinner emcee Kepner is a Vanderbilt alumnus, and he expressed special pleasure in the AL Cy Young Award going to former Commodore David Price, who proclaimed his love of the game from the time he first played it as a 2-year old.

Ever-topical Mets general manager Sandy Alderson played the Manti Te'o card in making light of his team's no-name outfield, telling the audience he has had "serious discussions with several outfielders I met on the Internet; one I really like says he played at Stanford."

Alderson wished his former pitcher R.A. Dickey well, saying he hopes the knuckleballer, now with Toronto, becomes the first to win back to back Cy Young Awards in two different leagues, in two different countries.

The 38-year-old Dickey received the NL Cy from a mentor, Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro, who said Dickey's career is "only beginning." How meaningful to Niekro was the chance to present the award to Dickey? Niekro said he told his wife that if their wedding had been scheduled for Saturday, he probably would've rescheduled it.

Jim Abbott, winner of the Casey Stengel "You Could Look it Up" Award commemorating his no-hitter for the Yankees 20 years ago, recalled firing the game's first pitch to the backstop and then walking leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton on five pitches. But as the momentous performance progressed, Abbott, who was born without a right hand, said he thrived with the rousing support of the fans, who vented at Lofton "like you would not believe" in the ninth inning when he unsuccessfully tried for a bunt single.

Abbott paid tribute to the respected baseball officials Jeff Idelson, president of the Hall of Fame and former public relations director of the Yankees, and Tim Mead, a longtime Angels executive, for their teachings about how to treat people. And he cited his career and the BBWAA award as examples of what his father taught him, that "what's taken away once will be given back twice."

Courage in the face of adversity is the common denominator cited for the co-winners of the Arthur and Milton Richman "You Gotta Have Heart" award. MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, despite being diagnosed with brain cancer last summer and dealing with a taxing treatment regimen, has helped the sport forge historic, new approaches to performance-enhancing drugs. Weiner stated his commitment to live his life and do his job as always and described the outpouring of support for him, his wife and their three daughters as "off the charts."

The youngest person on the dais, perhaps ever, was 10-year-old Lindsey Duquette, daughter of former Mets and Orioles general manager Jim Duquette. For eight years and through 22 surgeries, Lindsey says her rare kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, controlled her family. But thanks to Jim's kidney donation last summer, Lindsey says she is doing well and can be of help to others. Her speech followed her dad's, and she projected impressive calmness for a speaker of any age. To Weiner, her father's fellow alumnus of Williams College, Lindsey said, "if you ever need any advice when you're in the hospital, I'm available."

News and notes

Here is a clip of the final at-bat of Stan Musial, the creator of baseball's most perfect statistic: 1,815 hits at home, 1,815 hits on the road.

Tim Kurkjian offers his memories of Musial and of Weaver.

**** Goldstein, who writes some of the best obituaries anywhere, does justice to Musial's legacy here. As you can imagine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has extraordinary coverage of the passing of that city's greatest sports icon.

There was a record crowd at the Orioles' fan fest, where Weaver was honored.

Jayson Stark writes about Weaver's secret weapon.

Thomas Boswell writes about Earl Weaver, the master. Old friend Dave Ginsburg writes about a man beloved in Baltimore.

Corey Hart will need knee surgery and will miss the start of the season. This is not a minor procedure; if it were a simple cleanup, he'd be ready for the start of the season.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. There are interested teams champing at the bit to get involved in the Justin Upton conversations with Arizona, which focused earlier this month on talking with two teams that are on Upton's no-trade list -- the Mariners and the Cubs.

2. Adam Wainwright isn't setting any deadlines in his talks with the Cardinals, writes Derrick Goold.

3. Garrett Jones worked out a one-year deal.

4. Lynn Henning has some questions for Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.

5. The Cubs are willing to spend $300 million for renovations.

6. Delmon Young and Luke Scott are among the Rays' DH options.

7. The Padres and Chase Headley are far apart in their arbitration filings, writes Bill Center.
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Thread Starter 
Five outfielders most likely to be traded. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
With Wednesday's trade of Michael Morse from the Washington Nationals to the Seattle Mariners, one of the most likely traded outfielders came off the market. Along with Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez, Morse will stabilize the Mariners’ moribund lineup and offer some veteran insulation to youngsters Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak.

However, there remain other outfielders who could be dealt, whether because of a surplus created by new acquisitions or because they simply don’t fit into their team’s long-term vision. For some teams, it will take swallowing salary, but regardless, any of these five outfielders could be wearing a different uniform by Opening Day.

Justin Upton | RF | Arizona Diamondbacks

Despite the near MVP numbers he put up in 2011 and his enormous potential, the 25-year-old Upton has been seemingly dragged through the mud by the Diamondbacks. General manager Kevin Towers has put Upton on the market three times since he joined Arizona in 2010, with the latest line thrown catching the attention of the Mariners. Upton ultimately used his limited no-trade clause to nix the trade, which could have netted top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.

But Towers knew the Mariners were on Upton’s no-trade list, so to go through full negotiations with the Mariners knowing Upton would veto the trade is perplexing. The D-backs’ handling of Upton is surprising if not disappointing.

The team has alienated Upton so much that it’s highly unlikely he’ll perform up to his potential in Arizona. But the Mariners non-trade set the bar for what Towers is looking for in return, and just two teams can meet that standard -- the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers -- but they have balked at that asking price.

Towers’ leverage is limited, and the best he can expect is a Texas package of Mike Olt, Martin Perez and Cody Buckel. It seems highly unlikely Arizona will go into the season with Cody Ross, Upton and Jason Kubel in the outfield, with Adam Eaton earning a starting spot in center field.

Best fits: Rangers, Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia Phillies

Alfonso Soriano | LF | Chicago Cubs

As the saying goes, “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Soriano has probably said that a million times this offseason after torpedoing a trade to the San Francisco Giants in July. The Giants went on to win the World Series; Soriano’s Cubs went on to 101 losses.

Soriano might have changed his tune since then. He has told friends that he would be amenable to a trade to a contender, and Philadelphia could use his bat. Soriano’s giant contract remains the stumbling block, with two years left at $18 million each. Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have made it known it would be no problem to absorb that salary for decent prospects in return.

A massive contract has overshadowed the fact that Soriano has been a productive hitter over the course of his deal. He’s averaged 27 home runs a year, and in 2012, Soriano even established a career high in RBIs with 108. In Philadelphia’s cozy Citizens Bank Park, Soriano could hit 30 homers in the Phillies’ No. 5 or 6 hole. Despite the bad knees, Soriano keeps himself in top physical condition. In Philadelphia, his defensive liabilities and limited range could be eased with speedy Ben Revere in center field.

Best fits: Phillies, Baltimore Orioles

Vernon Wells | LF | Los Angeles Angels

Wells finds himself in a situation similar to what Bobby Abreu found himself in last April -- a man without a position and, really, a roster spot.

With Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout in the outfield and Mark Trumbo as a DH and backup in the corner outfield spots, Wells has nowhere to go on the Angels’ roster. With $42 million due to him, Wells is almost as unmovable as Soriano. The Angels will have to eat Wells’ remaining salary to even interest someone.

For Wells’ sake as well as the Angels, he needs to come to camp in outstanding shape and have a good spring camp if he wants to continue his career and prove he has something left in the tank. The New York Yankees and Phillies could be interested, as both are in need of some right-handed power. Regardless, the most Wells can hope for is a limited role off the bench.

Best fits: Yankees, Phillies, Cleveland Indians

Coco Crisp or Chris Young | CF | Oakland Athletics

A’s manager Bob Melvin told me that Crisp is his starting center fielder. After all, Crisp is an outstanding defender. But Young is nearly on par with Crisp and offers more power? So what’s the debate?

Melvin said he will rotate Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Young and Crisp through the DH role. But it’s painfully obvious that Cespedes is the emerging star in Oakland, so he needs to play every day. Likewise, after Reddick’s breakout season in which he hit 32 home runs and drove in 85, Reddick needs to play every day too.

The A’s gave up Cliff Pennington and Yordy Cabrera to get Young this offseason, so it’s highly unlikely that they would relegate Young to a platoon situation in which both he and Crisp would not be happy. Still, if Melvin is committed to Crisp, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Young is traded to the first team that suffers a bad injury to its starting center fielder. Crisp has said he wouldn’t be opposed to a trade to a contender. It's possible Young or Crisp will be moved before Opening Day.
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Thread Starter 
I'll post the rest of the articles later, for some reason IE is not letting me get these spoilers together in one post.
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Originally Posted by FIRST B0RN View Post

Stan was one of those players who made me proud to be a Cardinals fan, he was a class act and the Greatest player to ever wear a Cardinals uniform. R.I.P "Stan The Man".

Old school like the old school...They don't make 'em like that anymore...

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Phillies signed Delmon Young for $750k

Love it, no risk all reward if it pans out
Hard Knocks Open Tough Locks

Hard Knocks Open Tough Locks

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Here's a great read for any hardcore baseball fans about Earl Weaver...

11 things I didn’t know about Earl Weaver

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
11 things I didn’t know about Earl Weaver
by Chris Jaffe
January 21, 2013

Saturday was a rough day for baseball, with two Hall of Famers passing—longtime Orioles manager Earl Weaver and legendary Cardinals star Stan Musial.

Both deserve some attention, and both are important enough to deserve their own space. Thus, I’ll spend this time here on Earl Weaver. It’s up my alley, as a few years ago I wrote an award-winning book, Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, so I have some reason to focus on Weaver. I’ll try not to borrow too much from my book while looking at Weaver’s career.

1. He was part of a wave of new managerial blood from 1967-70

There weren’t many prominent managers in the early-mid 1960s. You had Al Lopez in Chicago and Walter Alston in Los Angeles, but not too many others. Oh, sure, Casey Stengel was plying his trade with the Mets, but he was past his prime with a team that was terrible. Typically, you have four or more Hall of Fame skippers working at once, but that wasn’t the case in the 1960s.

Beyond them you had some other good skippers—Danny Murtaugh, Ralph Houk, Gene Mauch—but they don’t have the same stature as others.

Then a new breed came to the fore. The opening shot was **** Williams, who, in his 1967 rookie skipper season, shepherded the surprising Red Sox to their first pennant in 21 years. Weaver showed up in mid-1968, taking over the Orioles. In 1969, Billy Martin began his stormy skipper career. In 1970, Sparky Anderson began his successful run with the Reds. That’s a mighty impressive foursome to begin, one right after the other. And you had some veteran journeymen skippers begin alongside them in John McNamara and Chuck Tanner.

These men had a lot of success pretty quickly. Williams and Anderson won the pennant as rookies, and Weaver did likewise in his first full season. Martin claimed a division crown for the 1969 Twins. A new generation had made its stamp on the game.

Sadly, we’re now seeing that same group pass on. Martin has been gone for a while; Anderson, Williams, Tanner, and Weaver have all died in the last 26 months.

2. He was a controversial hire in 1968, but that controversy didn’t last long

Weaver is such a famous manager, it’s difficult to imagine him being anything but that, but this wasn’t always the case.

Lenoard Koppett once wrote that when Weaver first came to Baltimore, he was Mr. Nobody. He was just some minor league player turned minor league manager no one had ever heard of. Sure, others with little to no major league playing experience had made their mark previously—Joe McCarthy had a Hall of Fame career already and Walter Alston had won numerous world titles—but a minor league-only guy was still odd. Keep in mind, Weaver replaced Hank Bauer as Orioles skipper. All Bauer did was play on Casey Stengel’s Yankees champions in the 1950s and then guide the 1966 Orioles to their first world title.

But then the O’s stumbled in 1967 and had a rocky start in 1968, and suddenly it’s Mr. Nobody. Fans felt like the lucky person sitting in Seat 27, Row 7, Section 424 had been named manager. But then Weaver took an Orioles team stumbling along with a 43-37 record and had them explode to a 48-34 mark the rest of the way.

Then, in his first full season in 1969, the Orioles won 109 games and a pennant. In 1970, they won 108 games and a world title. In 1971, the team enjoyed a third straight 100-win season and a third straight pennant.

That’s as good a start as any manager in history has ever had. Only three skippers won pennants in their first three seasons—Hughie Jennings with the 1907-09 Tigers, Ralph Houk with the 1961-63 Yankees, and Weaver. Oddly, neither Jennings nor Houk ever won another pennant, but Weaver would. Weaver also tied Houk with 109 wins in his first full season. Admittedly, Weaver began with a half-season in 1968 while the others made their big league dugout debuts in their first World Series season, but Weaver still has a place in this club.

3. Earl Weaver was a younger manager than you might think

Weaver’s death at age 82 came more than a quarter-century since his last day in the dugout. In his final day on the job, he was less than two months past his 56th birthday. You might have guessed he was older than that, right?

Now, 56 doesn’t sound that old. In fact, more than 10 managers on the last day of 2012 were older. Okay, so you might expect the aged veterans like Bobby Valentine, Jim Leyland and Davey Johnson to be older than Weaver when he retired. After all, those guys have been around since the 1980s. In fact, Valentine actually managed against Weaver back in the day. But Ned Yost is 58 years old. Charlie Manuel was older than 56 when he began managing the Phillies. Joe Maddon was just a few years shy of 56 when he began managing Tampa. You know who was almost the exact same age last year as Weaver in his swan song? Ron Roenicke, the Brewers skipper with barely 300 games under his belt.

In part, this tells us how managers now are older than normally has been the case. (And that was really the case a few years ago with Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella and—briefly—Jack McKeon working).

Weaver retired at age 56, but **** Williams left the game at age 59, and Billy Martin was 57.

Still, neither of them was 56, and Weaver was damn young when he started, just a month shy of his 37th birthday. That would be like Joe Maddon managing in late 1990.

When Weaver faced Sparky Anderson in the 1970 World Series, it was the youngest Fall Classic managerial match-up since 1935, when Detroit’s Mickey Cochrane and Chicago’s Charlie Grimm became the youngest pair of managers ever to square off in the game’s grandest stage. (As old as Anderson always looked, he was just 36 as a rookie manager in 1970, and Weaver had just passed his 40th birthday.)

4. He was a dynamo in the LCS

In October, Weaver is best remembered for his failings, capturing four pennants but only one world championship. The 1969 Orioles are on the short list of the best teams in history, but they lost in five games to the Miracle Mets.

However, those Fall Classic flops shouldn’t cause us to ignore Weaver’s incredible streak in the ALCS. 1969 wasn’t just Weaver’s first full season, it was also the first year of divisional playoffs. Weaver’s Orioles swept Billy Martin’s Twins, three games to none.

The next year, Weaver’s Orioles again swept the Twins in one of the most lopsided postseason series of all time. The Twins led for exactly one half-inning while getting outscored 27-10.

In 1971, the Orioles swept a third straight ALCS, topping **** Williams A’s. Nine games, nine wins. For good measure, the O’s went back to the ALCS in 1973 and defeated the A’s in Game One. The string of 10 straight LCS wins is the most for any manager.

Around that time, Weaver’s magic wore off. The O’s lost the 1973 ALCS in five hard-fought games. The next year, Baltimore lost in four games to Oakland (even losing one game in which they threw a one-hitter). A 1979 ALCS triumph gave Weaver an overall LCS record of 15-7, which is still one of the best ever. In the best-of-five LCS era, only Sparky Anderson did better, with a 18-9 mark.

5. Weaver and offense: sure it was the big inning, but it wasn’t just that

Weaver is well remembered for many things, including his success and frequent run-ins with umpires, but perhaps what he was best known for was his love of the three-run homer. He said if you played for just one run, that’s all you get. Three-run homers were his thing. Weaver liked hitters with the patience to take a walk so they could score runs, and he liked batters with power enough to drive in those runs.

And sure enough, you can see how this played out. Let’s look at the Orioles from 1969-82, from Weaver’s first full season until his first retirement. Here are the number of walks drawn by the AL teams in those years (ignoring the 1977 expansion franchises):

Team BB
BAL 8,131
BOX 7,563
TEX 7,438
OAK 7,431
NYY 7,356
MIN 7,199
CLE 7,199
DET 7,144
KCR 7,128
CAL 7,122
MIL 7,111
CWS 6,916

Weaver’s Birds are so far ahead that the second-place Red Sox are nearly as close to last as they are to Baltimore. Despite having the sixth-best batting average in those years, Baltimore ranked second in on-base percentage, behind only Boston. If you factor in Fenway’s wild 1970s park factor, the Orioles were the best at getting on base.

The Orioles also hit 1,996 homers, second only to (again) the Red Sox. Baltimore was also third in doubles. Thus, the O's ended up second in slugging percentage once more to the Fenway-aided Red Sox.

That said, while Weaver loved playing for the big inning, his disdain for small ball can be overstated. He was always willing to steal bases; it depended on the talent on hand. Ken Singleton, Mark Belanger, Paul Blair and a young Don Baylor all could run, so run they did. Weaver didn’t go crazy on the bases like ****** Herzog, but those 1969-82 Orioles ranked fourth in stolen bases. However, they had a tremendous success rate, third best in the AL in those years. Weaver was willing to run, but he didn’t want to run into outs.

More surprisingly, for the first half of his career, he was middle-of-the road in laying down sacrifice bunts. Weaver typically averaged around 70 a year, but mid-career he moved away from it. He went from 73 in 1975 to 57 in 1976, 48 in 1977 and 41 in 1978, then stayed around 40 for the rest of his days. Weaver is famous for hating to give up an out just to advance someone, but that was an idea he developed as he went along.

6. Weaver had the best benches

Weaver is famous for getting tremendous production from part-time players in his distinctive platoon arrangements. He had cards on how all his batters matched up against every pitcher, and under Weaver’s guidance, players like John Lowenstein, Gary Roenicke and Merv Rettenmund thrived. But it went deeper than a few players.

A few years ago, I wrote an article for the 2011 THT Annual book that looked at the best benches in baseball history. You take a team’s overall offensive line and subtract from that what the pitchers and starting position players contributed. The leftover is what the bench did. Take that result, figure Runs Created per 27 outs, and adjust for ballpark. That tells you what the best benches were.

By that approach, Weaver is king in finding good bats from his bench. Seven times his squads rated as the best batting bench in the league. From 1900 onward, only two managers can top that: John McGraw (11 times the best bench), and Casey Stengel (nine times). Both managed for a lot longer than Weaver and did it in eight-team leagues. Weaver placed first or second in most of his seasons, something no other prominent manager can claim.

In Weaver’s first six years, he had the best bench five times and the second-best bench the other time. His benches weren’t just good compared to others. Half of the time, they were as good as, or even better than, league-average hitting. Baltimore’s 1971 bench rates as one of the best in history. Led by super-sub Rettenmund’s .422 OBP in over 140 games played, the Baltimore bench averaged over five Runs Created per 27 outs in a league where teams scored under four runs per game.

The same thing that made his offenses work made Weaver’s benches work: they got on base and had power. Six times they had the best OBP of any AL bench and twice finished second. Five times they had the best isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average), and they had three other seasons in second or third place.

7. Weaver had the best defense ever

Fun fact: according to WAR, Earl Weaver managed the best fielding team of all-time. The 1973 Orioles score at 13.5 dWAR, two full wins better than any of the 2,600-plus teams in major league history.

The runnerup, at 11.5 dWAR, is the 1969 Orioles, also managed by Weaver. No non-Weaver team has ever topped 11.0 dWAR in a season.

WAR isn’t the end-all, be-all to determining value, but Weaver sure had some fine defenses. That 1973 squad featured Paul Blair, Bobby Grich, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson at its key defensive positions.

Weaver is so well known and influential in his offensive strategies, it’s easy to forget what a premium he placed on defense. Sure, it’s great when you get someone like a young Bobby Grich who provided wonderful offense and defense. But Weaver was willing to keep a dud bat in the lineup if the glove was great enough. Just ask Mark Belanger.

From 1969 to 82, the Orioles committed just 1,506 errors. Here’s how that ranks among the 11 AL teams around for all that span:

Team errors
BAL 1,506
CLE 1,748
DET 1,773
NYY 1,786
BOX 1,892
CAL 1,909
KCR 1,943
MIL 1,951
MIN 1,959
TEX 1,968
OAK 2,004
CWS 2,023

The non-Orioles teams averaged over 1,900 errors in that period. No wonder second place is almost halfway between last and Baltimore.

Baltimore also pulled off 2,226 double plays in those years. That’s 13 behind the Red Sox for most in the AL, but Boston allowed nearly 2,000 more hits and almost 1,000 more walks than Baltimore.

Weaver always wanted someone who could be excellent at some aspect of the game. That was preferable to a player who simply wasn’t bad at something else. He’d make up for Belanger’s bat with Boog Powell’s stick, just like Belanger glove meant it didn’t matter much if Powell wasn’t much of a fielder.

8. Weaver leaned on his starting pitchers to a historic degree

Here’s one of the great facts in baseball history: The Baltimore Orioles had at least one 20-game winner every year from 1968 to 1980. You won’t find that happening with too many other teams over the last 90-100 years. The streak would’ve lasted a year longer had it not been for the 1981 strike. Dennis Martinez led the league with 14 in that shortened season.

In all, Weaver had 22 different 20-win performances, easily the most by any manager since 1920. The runner-up is Al Lopez, way back with 16. Jim Palmer had eight 20-win seasons by himself, and the 1971 club had four 20-game winners.

Weaver loved leaning on his starters. The Orioles had 783 complete games from 1969-82. No other AL squad had more than 634. Weaver had a pitcher throw at least 250 innings 32 times. Since 1920, only Walter Alston tops that, with 36.

Weaver’s system worked for Baltimore. From 1969-82, the Orioles had easily the best ERA in the AL: 3.29. Only one other team was below 3.50. Actually, what Weaver did with his pitchers fit perfectly with what he did with his position players.

After all, a lot of that ERA came from the team’s wondrous defensive core. In fact, Weaver wanted his team to rely on its defenders. Baltimore pitchers never were much for striking batters out. Only the Royals and Brewers fanned fewer from 1969 to 82. Weaver didn’t need flamethrowers as long as his fielders caught the ball.

What Weaver needed from his pitchers was control. Only the Yankees walked fewer batters than Weaver’s squad did from 1969 to 82. Weaver thus had complementing defensive strengths; his pitchers wouldn’t short-circuit the defenders by issuing any free passes, and in turn, the defenders would bail out the hurlers when need be. This made the sum more than the whole of its parts. It’s not an idea original to Weaver—Charlie Comiskey did it with the 1880s St. Louis teams and subsequent managers like Bill McKechnie, and Al Lopez adopted it—but Weaver was one of the best at using this approach.

It also makes a nice bit of symmetry to Weaver’s offenses. In both cases, walks gave Weaver a decided advantage.

9. His career saved the worst for last

Here’s a great trivia question: Among skippers who lasted over five years in the big leagues, only two had a winning season every year they managed (and this includes partial seasons). Those two are Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy and the completely forgotten Steve O’Neill.

Two others would’ve joined them had they not come back from retirement. Al Lopez left the dugout in 1965, but two subsequent interim stints gave him a sub-.500 mark. Earl Weaver had a winning record every year he managed the Orioles, but he couldn’t stay retired when he left after 1982.

He returned in 1985 and finished a little over .500, and 1986 looked like it would be another fine year. On Aug. 2, a 9-2 stomping of the Rangers gave Baltimore a 59-47 record, leaving the Orioles just 2.5 games out of first place. In the past, Weaver’s teams had the knack for making great stretch runs, and it looked like it was their time to shine again.

Instead, Baltimore dropped five straight. A week later the O's lost four straight. The next week saw seven consecutive defeats.

Before you could say, “What happened to the season?,” Baltimore had dropped 42 of its last 56, finishing in last place with a 73-89 record, 22.5 games out of first.

This time Weaver retired and stayed retired.

10. His lineage: Davey Johnson

Weaver is gone, but you can see his clear imprint on a former player of his who has become quite a successful, manager: former Orioles second baseman Davey Johnson.

Weaver loved playing for the big inning? So does Johnson. Weaver had great benches? Five times Johnson has had the best bench in baseball, and his 1985 Mets may have possessed the best bench in baseball history. Weaver liked leaning on his starting pitchers? Johnson sure did, especially in his opening tenure with the Mets and their young studs like Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez and Ron Darling. Alas, Johnson also resembles Weaver by having several postseason disappointments, but he also has one ring.

It’s therefore fitting that Johnson managed the Orioles in their mid-1990s glory stretch, and that he now works in nearby Washington, D.C., which was part of the Orioles’ sphere of influence for most of Weaver’s career.

11. Best regarded and most widely heralded manager since Casey Stengel.

One final, extra item. There are a lot of great managers, but hardly any have the stature of Earl Weaver. To statheads, who often dismiss the importance of managers in general, Weaver is held up as a great one. He figured out the importance of getting on base and how a sacrifice bunt can hurt well before Bill James caught on. And he also recognized defensive value well before sabermetrics caught up.

To old-school guys, who often mock anything smacking of sabermetrics, Weaver is also held up as an ultimate manager. He had panache and drive. He was the ultimate gamer, willing to fight for any little detail. He was a master psychologist who did whatever he could to get his team ready. Weaver also had style, as evidenced by his numerous run-ins with umpires.

Weaver wasn’t just respected, he was idealized, and idealized by all sorts of fans who normally don’t agree on much else. Weaver had achievements, vision, consistency, and the right image. He displayed style and substance. Of all the great managers of the 1970s and 1980s, Weaver has the best reputation.

Among previous managers, only John McGraw, Connie Mack and Casey Stengel have a similar position in the game’s folklore. Since Weaver, only Tony LaRussa threatens to join the pantheon—he probably will, but his performances were too recent to say.

Pushing Weaver into that most rarified of air is that he had clear visions of how he wanted both to score and prevent the opposition from scoring. He wanted big innings on offense and control pitching backed up by great fielding on defense. Many managers have one of the two. Joe McCarthy and Sparky Anderson had similar offensive strategies to Weaver. Bill McKechnie and Al Lopez had the same defense approach.

But Weaver had both, and he implemented them both beautifully. That’s what made him so very special as a manager.
post #9568 of 73637
Originally Posted by jdcurt2 View Post

Cincinnati to host All-Star Game in 2015. smokin.gif

Can't Wait!

About damn time. Now its time for the City and its leaders to get in gear about a lot of the issues and development. They absolutely need to address the lack of shopping and dining downtown.
About time laugh.gif. Cincy has been hoping for this the past 8 years or so

I've been hearing about since I was in 8th grade laugh.gif
Be humble in life beloved. Money, Shoes, Cars, Homes, Tags nor Titles should be reason to boast or think more of yourself than you should. All of these things are perishable.
Be humble in life beloved. Money, Shoes, Cars, Homes, Tags nor Titles should be reason to boast or think more of yourself than you should. All of these things are perishable.
post #9569 of 73637
Originally Posted by StillIn729 View Post

Phillies signed Delmon Young for $750k

Love it, no risk all reward if it pans out

Same thing both the Twins and Tigers fans were saying. laugh.gif
post #9570 of 73637
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

Same thing both the Twins and Tigers fans were saying. laugh.gif

He was pretty good in the playoffs
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Hard Knocks Open Tough Locks

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