Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-6-8

6/8/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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A small birthday greeting to the late Eddie Gaedel

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Top of the 1st
OBLIGATORY DRAFT ARTICLE
Okay, I admit it; I know practically nothing about baseball. There I’ve said it; does it make you feel any better? Here’s the most recent basis for this conclusion. I’m sure there are people like myself who write about football and basketball and are smart enough to appreciate their draft days as being incredibly important and have the knowledge tp offer their readers great insights into the needs of the teams and how the players being drafted meet, or don’t meet those needs.

Me, on the other hand, in the words of Sgt. Schulz, “I know nothing!”

I’m sure the Commissioner Peter Gammons was watching the draft board with glee and recalled that when Luke Hochivar (the #1 draft choice, chosen by the Royals) was seven years old, Gammons interviewed him at the playground and asked him when he would start throwing a breaking pitch.

As you guys know I love Gammons, but I also love Rob Neyer. Neyer is a wonderful baseball writer and even he writes: “I’m sorry, but I just can’t get all that excited about the first-year player draft (or “the draft,” as lazy people like me call it).”

Neyer explains that the draft isn’t a particularly great barometer of professional success (kind of like SATs). Here’s some Neyer research: Through 2005, 11 pitchers had been selected with the first pick in the draft. They won 810 games and lost 831. Mike Moore tops the list with 161 wins. Moore is the leader again winning 19 games in one season, followed by Andy Benes who once won 18 games. Nobody else won more than 16 games in a season. Not one of those 11 pitchers won a Cy Young Award. Moore and Benes both were named to an All-Star team, once. So was Floyd Bannister, once.

The lack of success is not why Neyer is not a huge proponent of covering the draft; his feeling is that with the small rosters and the ability to sign players from other countries, who are exempt from the draft, there’s a great chance that a drafted player not only will not make it to the bigs, there’s a good chance he’ll be out of professional baseball in five or six years.

Sadly, Jeffrey Maier who had big league experience as a 12-year-old in the 1996 AL championship series and set the Wesleyan University career hits record earlier this season as an outfielder and third baseman was not chosen. Either was Hector Almonte, a star left-hander at the Bronx’s James Monroe High School, who made headlines when his perfect game in the Little League World Series five years ago was erased because he was twenty two years older than allowed by league rules. He was probably too old for most teams in this year’s draft.

I love that Colorado drafted Southern Mississippi’s Damion Carter, who has played quarterback and wide receiver for the Golden Eagles — but never baseball. That reminds of when the Seattle Mariners used the 806th pick in the 34th round of the 1979 draft, to select Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson, AKA, the “Throwin’ Samoan.”

My excuse for not covering the key aspects of the draft is that I’ve never heard of most of these guys. It is the ones that I’ve heard of that I’m interested in and not because of their talent. It’s the nepotism factor. I love when the relatives of major leaguers are selected because of the “apple does not fall far from the tree” theory.

If this theory is truly correct, if you want your child to be a big leaguer, don’t give him human growth hormone, see if you can get the Boone or Alou family to give you some breast milk to feed the child.

Josh Papelbon, the younger brother of Jonathan was selected Wednesday by his older brother’s Red Sox in the 48th round. Josh’s left-handed twin brother, Jeremy, went to the Chicago Cubs in the 19th round. They were not the only twins selected. The Sox had to make that choice, the Cubs just have their fingers crossed.

The other set of twins, the Figueroas, Stephen and Justin, were grabbed by the Blue Jays in the ninth and 42nd round, respectively. They are the sons of Bien Figueroa, the manager at Frederick, Baltimore’s Class A affiliate in the Carolina League. I can’t wait to find out who the evil twin is.

Here are some other picks that I enjoyed –

* Kyle Drabek, son of Doug, was chosen in the first round by Philadelphia
* Preston Mattingly, son of Don, taken as a first-round supplemental selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Will Don bleed Dodger blue with pinstripes?
* Chad Tracy, son of Jim, taken in the third round by Texas. Notice the Pirates didn’t take the skipper’s son, they have had it with choosing Tracys.
* Benjamin Snyder, from Ball State, brother of Brad, also from Ball State and former first-round pick by Cleveland, chosen in the fourth round by San Francisco – future guest of David Letterman, also from Ball State
* Marcus Lemon, son of Chet, taken in the fourth round by Texas. His father was a first-round pick by Oakland and was a three-time All-Star. Will this choice be a lemon or a Lemon?
* Clayton Fuller, brother of Cody, a 48th round pick of the Angels in 2005, chosen in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Angels. Cody is currently playing for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and hitting .277.
* Kevin Gunderson, nephew of Eric Gunderson, who won eight big league games, chosen in the fifth round by Atlanta Eight wins is a good enough pedigree.
* John Shelby, son of John, fifth round choice of the Chicago White Sox
* Joshua Lansford, son of Carney, former AL batting champ, taken in the sixth round by Chicago Cubs
* Tyree Hayes, son of Charlie who played on the 1996 Yanks, chosen in the eighth round by Tampa Bay
* Jeremy Barfield, one of Jesse Barfield’s boys was picked by the Mets in the ninth round.
* Benjamin Petralli, son of Geno, chosen in the 17th round by Detroit. In 1987, Geno caught knuckleballer Charlie Hough and had 35 passed balls that year, 32 with Hough pitching. Benjamin is also a catcher and if he were smart he would put in his contract a clause banning knuckleballers.
* Stephen Puhl, son of Terry, chosen in the 17th round by the New York Mets. Mets counting on good gene Puhl.
* Mike Dubee, son of Rich, the pitching coach for the Phillies was chosen in the18th round by Philadelphia. Keep your pitching coach happy.
* Kanekoa Texeira, not related to Mark but he is the cousin of Shane Victorino, taken in the 22nd round by the Chicago White Sox. Draftee most likely to have typos that no one will notice.
* Jon Weidenbauer, son of Tom the current Minor League field coordinator for the Astros, taken in the 24th round by Houston. Keeping dad happy.
* Chad Gross, son of Kevin, chosen in the 26th round by Boston
* Cirilo Cruz, son of Tommy, and nephew of Jose, who was an outfielder and the current Astros first base coach, was picked in the 27th round by Houston. Keeping dad happy.
* Kurt Bradley, son of Phil went in the 33rd round to the Los Angeles Dodgers
* Steven Cochrane, son of Dave, went in the 34th round to Oakland
* Jonathan Moore, son of Jackie who is in his seventh season as the manager at Round Rock, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, chosen in the 36th round by Houston. Jonathan will see how his dad does with Clemens before he signs.
* Zachary Helton, cousin of Todd went in the 37th round to Colorado. The whole family loves that thin air.
* Trent Henderson, son of Dave went in the 37th round to Houston
* Scott Thomas, son of Lee taken in the 38th round by St. Louis. If Lee were still the general manager of the Phillies, I wonder what round the Phillies would have chosen him.
* Riley Etchebarren, nephew of Andy went in the 39th round to Arizona
* David Cash, son of Dave went in the 40th round to Baltimore. Money in the bank?
* Goldy Simmons, son of Nelson, taken in the 40th round by the Athletics. He’s gold, Jerry, gold.
* Kyle Mura, son of Steve who won 12 games with the Cardinals in 1982, taken in the 42nd round by St. Louis. His father lost 14 games for San Diego which explains why he wasn’t drafted by the Padres.
* Jason Chapman, son of Kelvin, went in the 44th round to Cincinnati
* Bryan Earley, son of Bill, went in the 44th round to Seattle. Better Earley than late.
* Lance Durham, son of Leon, chosen in the 45th round by Detroit. Nut full of Bull.
* Bryce Lefebvre, son of Jim, taken in 45th round by San Diego
* Candy Maldonado, son of Candy went in the 46th round to Tampa Bay. Suh-weet selection.
* Joshua Rodriguez, son of Eddie, current bench coach for the Nationals, taken in the 47th round by Washington. Keep your coaches happy.
* Kyle Williams, son of Ken, the general manager of the World Champion White Sox, taken in the 47th round by the Chicago White Sox. Does anybody know if Kyle has ever played baseball?
* Jonathan Fernandez, son of Tony, picked in the 48th round by Toronto
* Kyle Page, son of Mitchell, the current hitting coach for the Nationals, chosen in the 48th round by Washington. The Nationals are opening a breeding farm for their coaches and players.

Obviously the guy I’m rooting for is right-hander Charles Matthews of the Athens Academy in Georgia. St. Louis made him the final pick of the draft with the 1,502nd selection. He’s baseball’s equivalent of Mr. Irrelevant or perhaps on draft day, that’s me.

Top of the 2nd
DOIN’ FINE ON CLOUD NINE
Tom Glavine pitched 5 1-3 shaky innings in his shortest and least effective outing of the season for the Mets in a 9-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers to become baseball’s first nine-game winner. Glavine (9-2) allowed seven hits and six runs before being relieved by Chad Bradford with one on and one out in the sixth and the Mets leading 7-6.

Glavine walked three, struck out one and gave up three homers — two by Rafael Furcal.

“It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it,” the 40-year-old left-hander said. “You’ve got to win games like that once in a while. Tonight was one of those games I didn’t deserve to win, but I did. I’ve certainly had my share of games I didn’t deserve to lose, but I did. They all even out — at least you hope they do.”

Carlos Beltran and David Wright each had three hits, while rookie Lastings Milledge tripled and homered, drove in three runs and made a key defensive play for the Mets. Dodgers rookie Willy Aybar singled to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Garciaparra had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

The Mets won two of three in the series and are 13-5 with two ties in their 20 series this season. Eric Gagne picked up the save in the one game won by the Dodgers and they may be it for awhile. He will be shut down for a few days because of stiffness in his surgically repaired pitching elbow.

“I had an MRI today and everything looked good, but the nerve’s inflamed a little bit,” Gagne said. “So it’s just day to day. I’m sure it will calm down. It’ll be a matter of days. They said tomorrow it’s going to feel 100 percent better and it’s going to be fine after that.”

Glavine picked up his 284th career victory, moving him into a tie for 26th on baseball’s all-time list.

Top of the 3rd
THE KISS OF DEATH
Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry yesterday said manager Dusty Baker’s job was safe in the wake of the team’s slump in which they have lost 20 of their last 24.

Baker was not available for a response; he was too busy posting his resume on Monster.com.

Top of the 4th
LOOKING GRIMSLIER AND GRIMSLIER
After the success of the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s now the turn of The Arizona Republic to provide us with strong investigative reporting. Today they report that the attorney for Jason Gr*msley said that federal agents tried to pressure the former Diamondbacks pitcher (he was released yesterday) into wearing a listening device to lure other major-league players into confidential conversations in an effort to find incriminating evidence against Barry B*nds.

“It was a specific effort to target B*nds,” said Edward F. Novak, one of the pre-eminent criminal attorneys in Arizona. “We were told that Jason’s cooperation was necessary to their case.”

Novak said Gr*msley “was outed by the feds” because he refused to cooperate. Gr*msley, left the team Tuesday night after federal authorities unsealed a sworn affidavit in which an investigator said the pitcher admitted using steroids, amphetamines, human growth hormone and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs “throughout his career.”

According to the affidavit, Grimsley identified “several” former and current major-league players who used banned substances. The names of those players were redacted from the unsealed document, creating an air of suspicion and nervousness throughout baseball.

BILLY-BALL-WORD-OF-THE-DAY – redact –
To edit sensitive documents before release to the public.

Novak denied that Gr*msley volunteered the names of any fellow players and former players. He said, instead, that federal agents questioned Grimsley about specific athletes and asked what he knew about their illegal drug habits.

One example, the attorney said, was former Mets and Phillies outfielder Lenny D*kstra, who retired in 1996. “Jason told them he understood D*kstra admitted using steroids and did it in his book,” Novak said.

“They asked him specifically about Barry B*nds, and Jason said he didn’t know Bonds well and didn’t know if he did or didn’t use drugs.”

Novak said investigators then asked Grimsley whether he knew anybody on the San Francisco Giants, Bonds’ team, who he might about the slugger who is now second on the all-time home run list.

According to Novak, Gr*msley refused to get someone from the Giants to confide about B*nds and told investigators that “baseball players don’t go around talking about who is using and who isn’t.”

Novak said, “There is a lot in the affidavit that my client would dispute.” But one thing Gr*msley confirmed was his admission he used illegal drugs for years.

“He has admitted his past steroid use,” Novak said. “The substance of that part of the affidavit is accurate.”

Gr*msley began his big-league career with Philadelphia in 1989 and has pitched for Cleveland, California, the New York Yankees, Kansas City, Baltimore and Arizona. He has a career record of 42-58 with a 4.77 ERA.

Gr*msley’s agent Joe Bick told The Associated Press he thought this would mark the end of the 38-year-old reliever’s career. “My guess is Jason’s done playing,” Bick said in a telephone interview. “I couldn’t anticipate that he would play again, but that’s his call.

To see the Gr*msley redacted search warrant go to the Billy-Ball-Bullpen: http://billy-ball.com/documents/060706grimsley.pdf

Top of the 5th
ICHIRO
Ichiro entered last night’s game with 89 hits in Seattle’s first 60 games, the same number of hits he had after 60 games in 2004, when he set the major-league record with 262 hits.
That’s what happens when you hit .371 in May and .545 (12 for 22) in the first five games of June. Ichiro’s .350 average heading into last night’s action (89 for 254) was even higher than his .335 mark (89 for 266) after 60 games in 2004, when he won his second batting title at .372.

Last night, Ichiro played in his team record 300th consecutive game. Carl Everett’s two-out home run in the 11th off Minnesota reliever Jesse Crain gave Seattle a 10-9 victory. Ichiro went 4-6 hitting the first pitch of the game by Twins starter Boof Bonser over the right-field wall for his second homer of the year. It was the 18th leadoff homer of his career and the fourth on the first pitch.

Ichiro has 93 hits through Seattle’s first 61 games on a pace for 247 hits. He has 1,223 hits since joining Seattle in 2001 to go along with 1,278 in nine seasons for the Orix BlueWave. In 1994, with the Blue Wave he had 100 hits through 89 games on the way to a record 210 hits (in 130 games).

Ichiro has completed five big league seasons. He needs 10 to be eligible for Cooperstown.

Top of the 6th
BASEBALL TERMINOLOGY – ROOKIE
A player shall be considered a rookie if:
1. He does not have more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues during a previous season or seasons and,
2. He has not accumulated more than 45 days on a major-league roster during the 25-player limit, excluding time on the disabled list.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 6/8/2006
RIP to the pitcher who finally looked back
A PIGLET ACHES

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 6/8/2006
Who did Willie Mays hit his first home run off of?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 6/7/06
This ill-fated pitcher was also a great announcer. He would have been 73 today.
ROBS CHEER – HERB SCORE

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 6/7/06
Who is the only pitcher to win consecutive MVP awards?
Hal Newhouser

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Colorado had the third-lowest ERA in May (3.84) in the National League. It is only the third time in franchise history the club had a sub-4.00 ERA for a month. The others were May 2002 (3.47) and June 1995 (3.65).

Top of the 9th
JULIO FRANCO’S TEAMMATES
We’re tracking Julio Franco’s career, year by year, using his teammates as a frame of reference.

In 1989, with the Rangers, Franco’s teammates included Sammy Sosa, Buddy Bell, Juan Gonzalez, Nolan Ryan and Jaime Moyer.

Bottom of the 9th
VISIT-BILLY-BALL-WORLD
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t_scott_brandon@msn.com and D. Bruce Brown bbrown8870@aol.com and you are always encouraged to get their e-mailings.

Have a great day!

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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.