Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-4-22

4/22/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…

Subscribe to Billy-Ball – it’s free – www.billy-ball.com

The only spin here is on my screwball

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Top of the 1st
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
When one was looking at the Detroit Tigers in pre-season, it was safe to assume that if you didn’t have them going all the way, you certainly had this team competitive from Opening Day. That’s why it still remains a shock to see them in last place after 20 games with a 7-13 record.

Yes, they have been best with injuries, but we are talking about a team that has Ordonez, Rodriguez, Sheffield, Guillen, Cabrera, Renteria and more. We are looking at a pitching staff of Verlander, Bonderman, Rogers, Willis, and more. Yet, it was only last night that a Tigers pitcher picked up win number two and that pitcher’s name is Armando Gallaraga.

Don’t feel embarrassed if you have no idea who this guy is, I’m sure his name is only recognizable to minor league fans and fantasy players. Armando Antonio Galarraga was signed as a non-drafted free agent on October 31, 1998 by a team that no longer even exists, the Montreal Expos. He was part of a significant trade on December 8, 2005 when the Washington Nationals (nee Expos) sent him with Terrmel Sledge and Brad Wilkerson to the Texas Rangers for Alfonso Soriano.

Following the 2005 season, Galarraga was named as the 5th-best prospect in the Washington organization and the 7th-best in the Texas organization by Baseball America.
After spending most of last season at Double-A Frisco in the Rangers organization. Primarily as a starter, the right-handed Galarraga went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA for Frisco, averaging just under six innings a start while striking out 114 batters over 127 2/3 innings. He tossed two complete-game shutouts at Frisco and another at Triple-A Oklahoma, where he posted a 2-2 record and 4.74 ERA in four starts.

With the Rangers, last September, Galarraga made two relief appearance before earning his first major league start on Sep. 24, when he gave up five runs on four hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings against the Angels. Then this past February, the Rangers designated his contract for assignment one day before his wedding. The Tigers acquired Galarraga from the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Michael Hernandez and he learned of the trade while honeymooning on Margarita Island, off the coast of his native Venezuela.

After only a so-so spring training, Galarraga was sent to Triple-A Toledo. But on April 13, the Tigers brought up Armando to start in place of Dontrelle Willis after Galarraga had gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts in the minors. The Detroit News described it as “probably be a one-and-done deal, unless something unexpected happens.”

In his Tigers debut, Armando Galarraga allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings to beat the Indians. David Dellucci, the second batter of the game, hit a home run off of him, it would be the only hit Galarraga would allow.

Yesterday, in his second start, Galarraga held the Blue Jays scoreless for 5 1/3 innings.
The Tigers missed the shutout after Todd Jones surrendered a run in the 9th to make the final, 5-1. Galarraga allowed three hits, walked four and struck out four before being removed in the sixth. He has a 1.50 ERA after two starts.

So, what does this prove? Possibly, probably, maybe nothing. But, maybe its something. Maybe we are seeing a guy who has been given a shot and is truly making the most of his opportunity.

This is part of what makes baseball so great.

Top of the 2nd
THE BILLY-BALL-ROOKIES
The Billy-Ball website is in the process of a major overhaul (I would love your feedback) and one of the sections on the site will be devoted to Billy-Ball-Rookies. These are not baseball playing rookies, but writing rookies. I want to give aspiring writers the opportunity to have their pieces published. I’m in no position to give scholarships, but hopefully I can still make a difference.

My hope is that the next great baseball writer can look back and saw that his/her piece was up on Billy-Ball.com and be able to say that this jumpstarted a career or got that person into college or J-school or simply made their kids and grandchildren proud.

Pieces can range between 250-500 words, related to baseball, and will be subject to edit, by yours truly, Dr. Typo.

Contact me with your interest – Bill@billy-ball.com.

Top of the 3rd
THE BUSINESS OF BASEBALL
From Forbes Magazine, take a look at how much your favorite teams are worth:

RANK TEAM CURRENT VALUE 1 ($MIL) 1-YR VALUE CHANGE (%) DEBT/VALUE 2 (%) REVENUES ($MIL) OPERATING INCOME 3 ($MIL)
1 New York Yankees 1,306 9 77 327 -47.3
2 New York Mets 824 12 97 235 32.9
3 Boston Red Sox 816 13 29 263 -19.1
4 Los Angeles Dodgers 694 10 61 224 20.0
5 Chicago Cubs 642 8 0 214 21.4
6 LA Angels of Ana. 500 16 7 200 15.2
7 Atlanta Braves 497 9 0 199 28.1
8 San Francisco Giants 494 8 28 197 19.9
9 St Louis Cardinals 484 5 51 194 21.5
10 Philadelphia Phillies 481 5 36 192 14.3
11 Seattle Mariners 466 7 21 194 10.1
12 Houston Astros 463 5 12 193 20.4
13 Washington Nationals 460 3 54 153 43.7
14 Chicago White Sox 443 16 9 193 30.6
15 Cleveland Indians 417 14 24 181 29.2
16 Texas Rangers 412 13 65 172 17.2
17 Detroit Tigers 407 14 52 173 4.6
18 Baltimore Orioles 398 1 38 166 7.7
19 San Diego Padres 385 5 45 167 23.6
20 Arizona D-backs 379 12 54 165 5.9
21 Colorado Rockies 371 17 22 169 26.2
22 Toronto Blue Jays 352 2 0 160 -1.8
23 Cincinnati Reds 337 10 12 161 19.3
24 Milwaukee Brewers 331 15 36 158 19.2
25 Minnesota Twins 328 14 27 149 23.8
26 Oakland Athletics 323 11 28 154 15.4
27 Kansas City Royals 301 7 13 131 7.4
28 Pittsburgh Pirates 292 7 34 139 17.6
29 Tampa Bay Rays 290 8 14 138 29.7
30 Florida Marlins 256 5 34 128 35.6

Revenues and operating income are for 2007 season.
1Value of team based on current stadium deal (unless new stadium is pending) without deduction for debt (other than stadium debt).
2Includes stadium debt.
3Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
NA: Not applicable.

Top of the 4th
MICKEY, DONALD, AND JAMIE
The Rays return to Orlando today for a return engagement at the Disney Sports Complex. The Rays swept a three-game series from the Rangers last season, and they hope to do the same this year against the Blue Jays. Two of Tampa Bay’s wins at Disney in 2007 came via walk-off fashion. That series remains the only home series of three or more games the Rays have swept since June 2006.

Top of the 5th
DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE
At a recent Pitch for Kids dinner sponsored by the Hudson Valley Renegades, new Hall of Famer, Goose Gossage, answered some questions about his upcoming Hall of Fame induction, the changing role of the closer and of his time in the Bronx.

So have you worked on your speech yet?
“No, I’ve got to get with it, too. I have to turn that in to the Hall of Fame. I don’t know what the deadline is, but I’m sure I’ll write it the night before.
“I’m just going to speak from the heart. The years I was just considered for the Hall of Fame was something I couldn’t comprehend. Now that I’ve been elected, I can comprehend my career, much less going in. It’s overwhelming, really.”

You played on nine different teams. Do you know which cap is going on your head (at Cooperstown)?
“It will be the Yankees. The Hall of Fame chooses the cap. I was hoping I would go in as a Yankee. I don’t want to take away from any team I played for. Just playing in the big leagues was an awesome experience. All I want to do when I started out was put a big-league uniform on.”

Before you signed with the Yankees after the 1977 season (for six years at about $460,000 per year), how many teams were potentially interested in you? Was there a question you might be someplace else?
“There probably were a lot of teams that were interested, but it came down to nobody was going to get into a bidding war with (George) Steinbrenner. I grew up a Yankee fan in Colorado, so getting to play with the Yankees for those six years was off the charts.”

You came into a tough situation, in that Sparky Lyle won the Cy Young Award in 1977 as the team’s closer.
“It was tough coming in. All I had envisioned was we’re going to be the best right-handed, left-handed relief combination ever. It didn’t work out that way. They gave me Sparky’s job on a silver platter. That’s not what I came over here to do. That was the last thing in my mind, to take Sparky’s job. We became best of friends. He said, ‘Goose, are they going to take a 100-mph fastball or my slider?’ That’s how he dealt with it.”

Who are the closers of today that you think might join you some day on that podium?
“There’s no question Mariano (Rivera) is going to be on that podium. (Jonathan) Papelbon, he and Mariano, are probably the best closers in the game.”

The way the role of the closer has changed, do you feel you were a pioneer?
“Sure, but I’ve always taken exception to being compared to (today’s closers). I’ve heard Mariano was the greatest relief pitcher of all time. I think the way the closers are used today is the way they should be used. I wasn’t used like that. I came into situations in the sixth, seventh inning that they said God couldn’t get out of — and I got out of them — and then had to pitch the eighth and the ninth. To compare what I did to what Mariano does, it’s apples and oranges.”

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALLBALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
Here’s one that I think you will find interesting:
http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/

A clearinghouse for MLB contracts, named for Cotton Tierney, who was the NL’s fifth-leading hitter in 1922 & played the next season for $5,000.

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Angels (Jered Weaver) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett), 7:05
Rangers (Vicente Padilla) at Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:05
Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch) at Rays (Jamie Shields), 7:10
Indians (C.C. Sabathia) at Royals (Gil Meche), 8:10
Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang) at White Sox (Jose Contreras), 8:11
Twins (Livan Hernandez) at A’s (Joe Blanton), 10:05
Orioles (Adam Loewen) at Mariners (Felix Hernandez), 10:10

NL
Cardinals (Kyle Lohse) at Brewers (Manny Parra), 1:05
Mets (Nelson Figueroa) at Cubs (Ted Lilly), 2:20
Nationals (John Lannan) at Braves (John Smoltz), 7:00
Marlins (Ricky Nolasco) at Pirates (Paul Maholm), 7:05
Dodgers (Hong-Chih Kuo) at Reds (Edinson Volquez), 7:10
Padres (Jake Peavy) at Astros (Brandon Backe), 8:05
Phillies (Brett Myers) at Rockies (Jeff Francis), 8:35
Giants (Barry Zito) at Diamondbacks (Brandon Webb), 9:40

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you ever wonder who are the career hit leaders at each position?

Here you go:
Pitcher – Walter Johnson
Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez
1b – Eddie Murray
2b – Eddie Collins
3b – George Brett
SS – Honus Wagner
LF – Carl Yastrzemski
CF – Ty Cobb
RF – Hank Aaron

These players played the majority of their games at each field position

Top of the 9th
HALL OF FAMER?
John Smoltz has a lifetime record of 210-145 with 154 saves and a 3.25 ERA. In 3,383 innings pitched, he has walked 990 and is on the verge of a milestone with 2,996 strikeouts. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is 1.169.

Hall or Famer, yes or no?

Billy-Ball votes Yes.

Bottom of the 9th
BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

Autographed first editions are available by contacting, Bill@billy-ball.com or order directly from Acta Sports, http://www.actasports.com/detail.html?&id=3427 or from your favorite bookstore worldwide.

* Support Billy-Ball via PayPal (WWW.BILLY-BALL.COM) or Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/paypage/PBANN9XCMMFSH.

Do you want to snail mail?
Billy-Ball
258 Harvard Street, #145
Brookline, MA 02446

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.