Top 100 Baseball Blog

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Woody Williams: Pitcher Beat Expectations Along the Way to Excellent 15-Year Major League Career

Baseball players drafted in the lower rounds face an upward battle when working towards their dream of reaching the major leagues. They don’t have the same name recognition of more highly-regarded prospects and because not as much money and resources have been invested in them, may not always have the same opportunities. A small percentage will ultimately get called up, although most for just a cup of coffee for two. However, some of them reach the majors and just keep going, forging productive, lengthy careers. One such player was pitcher Woody Williams.

The right-handed Williams is a native of Texas and was a 28th-round draft choice by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of Houston in 1988. After going a combined 10-4 with a 2.16 ERA in his first year in professional ball, he made steady, but unspectacular progress moving up through the minor league system. This led to him being called up to Toronto in 1993, where he began his career as a long reliever. With an eclectic mix of pitches that was highlighted by an excellent cutter, he ultimately made his way to the starting rotation where he was a solid contributor.

He was traded to the San Diego Padres following the 1998 season, where he spent several years before moving on to the St. Louis Cardinals. It was with the Cards that he found his greatest success. His best season came in 2003 when he was 18-9 with a 3.87 ERA and 153 strikeouts; helping him earn an All-Star nod. Despite an arsenal that may not have been overpowering, he was known as an extremely cerebral pitcher who even mixed in the occasional knuckleball.

Williams ended up doing another tour with the Padres before finishing up with the Houston Astros in 2007. Retiring after the season at the age of 40. He posted a career record of 132-116 with a 4.19 ERA and 1,480 strikeouts across 15 seasons. Since retiring he has gotten into coaching and remains in his native Texas.

Woody Williams Interview

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: Nolan Ryan. I liked the way he pitched, how hard he worked, and he was a Texan.

Can you please describe what your draft experience was like with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988?: I played shortstop and pitched at The University of Houston. During my senior year, Blue Jays scout Jim Hughes asked me if the Blue Jays drafted me would I just pitch? I said ‘absolutely’ and I just wanted a chance to play pro ball. A few days later, they drafted me in the 28th round and signed me for $1,000. I am forever thankful for Jim Hughes and the opportunity.  

How resistant were you to being converted to relieving early in your career?: I always wanted to be a starter, but looking back I wouldn’t have lasted long. I’m glad I was able to get the experience I did pitching out of the bullpen.

What do you remember most about your major league debut?: I remember being excited  and how special it was playing in old Yankee Stadium. An incredible place to make my debut. 

In your opinion, who was the most underrated player you ever played with or against, and if you are feeling bold, is there anyone you can think of who was overrated?: I think Mike Matheny was very underrated. He was a tremendous defender and he took a lot of pride in helping pitchers. 

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: I traveled with the team during the Blue Jays’ 1993 World  Championship but I wasn’t on the active roster. My first postseason game against the Dbacks in 2001 was special.  There was a feeling that is hard to describe. In the playoffs, the crowd is louder, the grass smells different and there is intensity on every pitch no matter who is throwing it. 

What was it about hitting against former teammate Matt Morris (5 for 8 with a home run) that allowed you to be so successful, and did/how you ever remind him of this?: I did know that I hit a home run off him, but I didn’t realize that I had that kind of success against him. I think I was lucky to face him when he was close to the end of his career. When we were together in St Louis, Matt had amazing stuff and was one of the best pitchers in the game. I’ve never brought it up but I might have to now. 

Who was your favorite coach or manager, and what made them stand out to you?: Mel Queen. He believed in me and was in my corner when nobody else was. He taught me a lot about pro ball, pitching and how to carry myself. Mel was an amazing man with tremendous knowledge. 

If you could go back and do anything differently about your career what would that be and why?: I would go back and be a better teammate. I would spend more time really getting to know my teammates and less time focused on myself. 

What are you up to these days and how would you like what you accomplished in your career to be remembered?: I’m in my fourth year as a volunteer coach at San Jacinto College in Houston. I would like to be remembered as a good teammate and someone that worked hard and played the game the right way. 

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Minor League Baseball Announces Pace of Play Regulations for 2019

Triple-A and Double-A pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, mound visits reduced and extra innings rules adjusted 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – March 29, 2019 — Minor League Baseball today announced rule and procedure changes that will be implemented with the start of the 2019 Minor League Baseball season on April 4. The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, aim to reduce the amount of downtime taken by mid-inning pitching changes and visits to the pitcher’s mound by position players and coaches, and reduce the risk of injuries to pitchers being used as baserunners in extra innings games. 

PITCHERS TO FACE MINIMUM OF THREE BATTERS - At the Triple-A and Double-A levels, the starting pitcher or any substitute pitcher is required to pitch to a minimum of three consecutive batters, including the batter then at bat (or any substitute batter), until such batters are put out or reach first base, or until the offensive team is put out, unless the starting pitcher or substitute pitcher sustains injury or illness which, in the umpire-in-chief’s judgment, incapacitates him from further play as a pitcher. 

EXTRA INNINGS RUNNER ON SECOND BASE REVISION - At all levels of Minor League Baseball, extra innings will begin with a runner on second base. If the last batter of the previous inning was the pitcher, the player to occupy second base to start the following inning will be the player in the batting order before the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. By way of example, if the pitcher bats in the eighth position and the number nine hitter in the batting order is due to lead off the 10th inning, the number seven player in the batting order (or a pinch-runner for such player) shall begin the inning on second base. Any runner or batter removed from the game for a substitute shall be ineligible to return to the game, as is the case in all circumstances under the Official Baseball Rules.

PITCHER’S MOUND VISITS - Visits by coaches and position players will be limited based on the classification level. Triple-A teams will be allowed five (5) visits per team (down from six), Double-A teams will be allowed seven (7) visits per team (down from eight), Single-A teams will be allowed nine (9) visits per team (down from 10) and there will not be a limit on mound visits for Short Season and Rookie-level clubs. - For any extra-innings played, each club shall be entitled to one additional non-pitching change mound visit per inning. - Official Baseball Rule 5.10(l), which governs mound visits by a manager or coach, remains in effect (i.e., a pitcher must be removed on the second visit by a manager/coach in an inning). 

Definition of Mound Visit: - A manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher shall constitute a visit. A player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player, shall also constitute a mound visit, regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit. Visits by a manager, coach or player to join a mound visit in progress shall not constitute an independent visit. In addition, the following shall not constitute mound visits: a. Discussions between pitchers and position player(s) that occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate; b. Visits by position players to the mound solely to clean spikes, provided to player does not confer with the pitcher; c. Visits to the mound due to an injury or potential injury of the pitcher; d. Visits by position players to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution, but prior to a subsequent pitch or play; e. Visits to the mound by position players that occur during a suspension of play pursuant to an umpire’s call of “time” (e.g., following an injury to an umpire or player; the presence of a spectator, object, or a member of the grounds crew on the field; a manager’s initiation of Replay Review, etc.), provided that the mound visit does not otherwise delay a return to game action; f. Visits to the mound by position players after a home run, provided that the player returns to his position before the runner crosses home plate; and g. Visits to the mound by position players during an inning break or pitching change, provided that the mound visit does not prevent the pitcher from complying with any applicable inning break or pitching change time limits. 

Enforcement of Mound Visit Limits: - A manager or coach who crosses the foul line on his way to the mound after his team has exhausted its mound visits must make a pitching change, unless during the at-bat of a starting or substitute pitcher’s first three batters, in which case the substitute shall continue to pitch to a minimum of three consecutive batters in accordance with Rule 5.10(g). If a manager or coach believes an exception to the mound visit rule applies, he must confer with the umpire prior to crossing the foul line. In circumstances in which a team is forced to make an unintended pitching change by operation of this Rule, and there is no relief pitcher warming up in the bullpen, the manager or coach who violated the Rule by exceeding his team’s allotted number of mound visits shall be subject to ejection from the game. The umpire may allow the substitute pitcher additional time to prepare to enter the game. If a position player makes a visit after his team has exhausted its allotted number of mound visits he may be subject to ejection for failing to return to his position when instructed by the umpire; however, an impermissible visit by a position player shall not require the removal of the pitcher. 

“Placing a runner on second base in extra innings accomplished the intended goals and created instant excitement in extra innings, but in a few instances exposed pitchers to serving as baserunners, which was a concern of our partners at Major League Baseball, so this amendment to that rule is an easy and practical solution,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “Pitchers facing a minimum of three batters at the advanced levels will limit the number of pitching changes and help keep the game moving at a steady pace, while also providing valuable data for Major League Baseball as they review the impact it has on the pace of play.”  

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Book Release- The Top-5 of the Boston Red Sox: Ranking and Reviewing the Best Players by Position in Team History

In anticipation of the start of the 2019 season for the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox, I have released my newest book, titled The Top-5 of the Boston Red Sox: Ranking and Reviewing the Best Players by Position in Team History

The Red Sox are one of the most popular and successful teams in the history of Major League Baseball. There has always been significant debate over who exactly are their best players of all time. This book will end all the arguing, as it definitively ranks and reviews the top-five players at every position in team history.

This book is available in the following formats:

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Friday, March 22, 2019

Examining Chris Sale’s Contract Extension with the Boston Red Sox

As the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season rapidly approaches, the Boston Red Sox and their star left-handed pitcher Chris Sale, have reached a reported five-year, $145 million extension. This deal will be tacked on to the final year of his current contract and lock keep the ace in Beantown through the 2024 season.

Although the extension has not yet been formally announced, the breaking news does bring some interesting thoughts and questions to mind.

Just this past week, it was reported by Mike Dowling of Forbes that Sale was on the verge of a $245 million extension with Boston. Where did that extra $100 million go? Presumably, the story would not have been released with some sort of credible source to back it up. $145 million is a ton of money, but does seem to be quite a bit less than what most expected the pitcher would get once both sides decided to pull their chairs up to the negotiating table.

Despite the current depressed free agent market, unless there are factors that the general public are unaware of, it seems possible that Sale is leaving quite a bit of money on the table. He has finished at least sixth in Cy Young voting each of the past seven seasons, and at 29 is one of the top handful of pitchers in baseball. However, his new deal is significantly lower on total value and average annual value than the six-year, $203 million pact Zack Greinke signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to the 2016 season. Not only was Greinke 32 at the time, his career numbers, while excellent, are a notch below the value Sale has provided during his career. Marquee free agents typically seek to set standards, not fall well below them.

Sale’s decision to accept an extension now indicates that he may not have felt comfortable  he would have been able to make more on the open market. It is of course possible that he also prefers to remain in Boston for professional and/or personal reasons, but it would have been very reasonable to use Greinke as a comparison when shopping his services. The difference between S203 million and $145 million, and between $35 million annually and $29 million annually are significant. What gives?

Does the Sale extension indicate an increasing unlikelihood that the Red Sox will keep fellow starting pitcher Rick Porcello when he comes a free agent after the upcoming season? With Boston paying starters Sale and David Price around $60 million per year through 2022 (when Price’s deal expires), and the $17 million a year Nathan Eovaldi will make through 2022, how many more big bucks will they want to invest in the rotation?

Price and Sale are obviously extremely talented pitchers, who have contributed greatly to the team’s recent success. However, they have both experienced injury issues in the past couple of years. As they get older and are making $60 million annually between them, it would be catastrophic if one of them went down for an extended period of time, much less both of them. Don’t even mention that Eovaldi just returned from his second Tommy John surgery this past year.

If Sale’s deal is in fact a bit of a “bargain,” does that make the Red Sox feel more comfortable in opening their wallet a little wider when the time comes to pay outfielder Mookie Betts, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2020 season? He has recently said that he does not plan on signing an extension before free agency hits, which means that he is planning (rightly so) to get paid. With Anaheim Angels star outfielder Mike Trout recently signing a mammoth $430 million contract, the Red Sox could use whatever savings they can find in other places to ensure they feel comfortable coming in with a comparable offer to Betts when the time comes.

There will always be questions and thoughts, but for the time being Boston fans should be happy that the team was able to agree to terms to keep one of the best pitchers in their history for years to come

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Minor League Baseball Expands “Copa de la Diversión” for 2019

72 teams unveil culturally-relevant personas celebrating their local Hispanic communities

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 21, 2019 — Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) this week revealed the on-field identities of the 72 teams participating in its 2019 “Copa de la Diversión™” (“Fun Cup™”) competition. Entering its second season, Copa de la Diversión (“Copa”) serves as the centerpiece of MiLB’s “Es Divertido Ser Un Fan™” (“It’s Fun to be A Fan™”) Hispanic fan engagement initiative.

The inaugural campaign in 2018 far exceeded community impact, fan engagement and game attendance projections, earning numerous awards and recognitions for its authentic approach to engaging with Hispanic communities nationwide. In 2018, Copa de la Diversión games drew significantly larger crowds – 24.4 percent larger – than nonCopa games. Overall attendance for the Copa-designated games was 12.6 percent more than attendance for the same dates in 2017.

On Monday, Sports Business Journal unveiled its 2019 Sports Business Award nominees, naming Minor League Baseball: Copa de la Diversión one of four finalists for its “Sports Breakthrough of the Year” award, with winners to be announced at the Sports Business Awards on May 22 in New York City.

“We worked for more than three years researching and developing the Copa de la Diversión platform, and we knew that if we built an authentic, culturally-relevant campaign, our entire fan base – not just Hispanic fans – would embrace it,” said Kurt Hunzeker, Minor League Baseball’s vice president of marketing strategy and research. 

“The way Copa resonated with our communities almost immediately after we started unveiling the identities last year truly signaled that our focus, direction and execution was correct. The positive fan feedback coupled with the quantifiable increases in key metrics helped shape our strategy as we prepare for more ‘divertido’ this season.”

Building off the inaugural season’s successes, all 33 MiLB teams that participated in Copa last year are returning in 2019, joining 39 additional teams seeking to strengthen their connections with Hispanic fans in their respective communities. 

By the end of this week, all 72 participating Copa teams will have held unveiling events showcasing
their culturally-relevant on-field personas honoring the local Hispanic community. Each participating team will adopt these new personas via on-field jerseys and caps during 397 Copa-designated games throughout the 2019 season.

MiLB also introduced a new, Copa-specific website featuring each participating team’s unique identity, the story behind its Hispanic on-field persona and links for fans to purchase tickets to the Copa ballpark events and order merchandise, including on-field caps, T-shirts and other branded apparel.

The participating MiLB teams unveiling Copa de la Diversión brand identities this week are listed below in alpha order.

Minor League Baseball Team Spanish-Language Name Translation

Albuquerque Isotopes- Mariachis de Nuevo México- New Mexico Mariachis
Arkansas Travelers- Diamantes de Arkansas- Diamonds
Bowie Baysox- Cangrejos Fantasmas de Chesapeake- Chesapeake Ghost Crabs
Bradenton Marauders-Bradenton Barbanegras- Blackbeards
Brooklyn Cyclones- Brooklyn Jefes- Bosses
Carolina Mudcats- Pescados de Carolina- Fish
Charleston RiverDogs- Perros Santos de Charleston- Holy Dogs
Charlotte Knights- Caballeros de Charlotte- Knights
Chattanooga Lookouts- Montañas de Chattanooga- Mountains
Clinton LumberKings- Clinton Elotes- Mexican-Style Street Corn
Columbia Fireflies- Chicharrones de Columbia- Pork Rinds
Columbus Clippers- Veleros de Columbia- Sailboats
Corpus Christi Hooks- Corpus Christi Raspas- Snow Cones
Daytona Tortugas- Daytona Tortugas- Turtles
Delmarva Shorebirds- Gallos de Delmarva- Roosters
Down East Wood Ducks- Patos Joyuyos de Down East Wood- Ducks
Durham Bulls- Mal de Ojo de Durham- Evil Eye
El Paso Chihuahua-s Margaritas de El Paso-
Erie SeaWolves Erie Piñatas -
Eugene Emeralds- Monarcas de Eugene Monarchs (Butterflies)-
Everett AquaSox- Everett Conquistadores- Fighting Spirit
Florida Fire Frogs- Coquis de Florida- Singing Tree Frogs
Fresno Grizzlies- Fresno Lowriders -
Greensboro Grasshoppers- Ocelotes de Greensboro- Ocelots
Greenville Drive- Greenville Energía- Drive
Gwinnett Stripers- Xolos de Gwinnett- Mexican Hairless Dogs
Hartford Yard Goats- Chivos de Hartford- Goats
Hickory Crawdads- Llamas de Hickory -
Hillsboro Hops- Soñadores de Hillsboro- Dreamers
Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino- Cucuys de San Bernardino- Bogeymen
Iowa Cubs- Demonios de Des Moines Des Moines- Demons
Kane County Cougars- Cougars de Kane County -
Kannapolis Intimidators- Rápidos de Kannapolis- Fast
Lake County Captains- Picantes de Lake County- Spicy
Lake Elsinore Storm- Cadejos de Lake Elsinore- Supernatural Spirits
Lakewood BlueClaws- Medusas de Lakewood- Jellyfish
Lancaster JetHawks- Viento de Lancaster- Wind
Lansing Lugnuts- Lansing Locos- “Go ’Nuts!”
Las Vegas Aviators- Las Vegas Reyes de Plata- Silver Kings
Lehigh Valley IronPigs- Lehigh Valley Coquis- Singing Tree Frogs
Lexington Legends- Leyendas de Lexington- Legends
Louisville Bats- Murciélagos de Louisville- Bats
Memphis Redbirds- Memphis Música- Music
Midland RockHounds- Matamoscas de Midessa Midland-Odessa- Fly Swatters
Modesto Nuts- Alebrijes de Modesto- Spirit Animals
Myrtle Beach Pelicans- Pelícanos de Myrtle- Beach Pelicans
Nashville Sounds- Nashville Vihuelas- Guitars
New Hampshire Fisher Cats- Gatos Feroces de New Hampshire- Fisher Cats
Norfolk Tides- Pajaritos de Norfolk- Baby Birds
Oklahoma City Dodgers- Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City- Blue Sky
Omaha Storm Chasers- Omaha Cazadores de Tormentas- Storm Chasers
Pawtucket Red Sox- Pawtucket Osos Polares- Polar Bears
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes- Rancho Cucamonga Temblores- Quakes
Reading Fightin Phils- Peleadores de Reading- Fighters
Reno Aces- Corazones de Reno- Hearts
Richmond Flying Squirrels- Ardillas Voladoras de Richmond- Flying Squirrels
Round Rock Express- Round Rock Chupacabras -
Sacramento River Cats- Sacramento Dorados- Golden
Salem Red Sox- San Bernardos de Salem- Saint Bernards
Salt Lake Bees- Abejas de Salt Lake- Bees
San Antonio Missions- Flying Chanclas de San Antonio -Flying Sandals
San Jose Giants- San Jose Churros -
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Vejigantes- Puerto Rican Folkloric Character
Stockton Ports- Caballos de Stockton- Horses
Tacoma Rainiers- Familia de Tacoma- Family
Trenton Thunder- Trenton Trueno- Thunder
Tri-City Dust Devils- Viñeros de Tri-City- Winemakers
Tulsa Drillers-Petroleros de Tulsa- Oilmen
Visalia Rawhide- Visalia Toros- Bulls
West Michigan Whitecaps- Calaveras de West Michigan -Skulls
Winston-Salem Dash- Winston-Salem Rayados- Striped Ones
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers- Cascabeles de Wisconsin- Rattle

The 397-game event series begins on April 5 with four games being played in Columbus, Ohio; Lexington, Kentucky;Richmond, Virginia; and Lancaster, California.

As a direct result of Copa’s immense success in 2018, MiLB announced an agreement with ECHO Incorporated making it the “Official Outdoor Power Tool of MiLB” and the “Official Outdoor Power Tool of Copa de la Diversión” (“Herramienta Oficial de la Copa de la Diversión”) last November. Additionally, MiLB announced in December a partnership with the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) to become an “Official Charity of MiLB Copa de la Diversión,” making it the first-ever philanthropic partner tied specifically to MiLB's Hispanic fan engagement initiative.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Archives of the Baseball Historian: Interviews with Retired Players Through Baseball History- Now Available in Paperback!

My book The Archives of the Baseball Historian: Interviews with Retired Players Through Baseball History is now available in both eBook and paperback form!



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Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Boston Red Sox Face Major Questions in 2020

In true baseball fashion, it’s impossible to focus on and enjoy the current season at hand when questions may shroud the future with uncertainty. The Boston Red Sox, coming off a commanding 2018 season that resulted in a World Series championship have no reason to believe they can’t compete again this year. However, if they look a little further down the road they will see major questions wait for them once this season is over.

The primary questions come in the form of key players who will become free agents, and should also draw significant interest and dollars, despite the suspiciously repressed market this past offseason. No area of the team will be impacted more by this than the starting rotation. Ace Chris Sale (he of seven consecutive top-six Cy Young finishes) and 2017 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello are both due to become free agents. The checkbook would need to be opened wide to sign one or both, but the team should give pause before making a final decision.

The left-handed Sale will turn 30 at the end of next month and despite consistently logging 200+ innings throughout his career, he was limited to just 158 in 2018, missing time and losing some velocity due to a shoulder injury. These are not reasons on their own to not re-sign him, but should all factor into the decision of whether or not to bring him back. The Red Sox have already indicated they have started inquiring about an extension, and reports indicate that a massive seven-year extinction appears the be in the offing. which sounds like they have no qualms about the southpaw’s long-term health.

Porcello just turned 30 this offseason and has been fit as a fiddle throughout his 10-year major league career. However, he has never enjoyed consistency, flashing CY Young ability at his best (22-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 2016), and at his worst getting hit hard and giving up a lot of home runs (11-17 with a 4.65 ERA and 38 home runs allowed in 2017). In many ways, he pitches like a healthy Clay Buchholz. There is talent for days, but you never know how it will translate on the mound from season to season.

Last year Porcello was solid, yet average. He was 17-7 and had a career-high 190 strikeouts. However, he also had a 4.28 ERA, 102 ERA+ and gave up 27 gopher balls. His record indicates he can give the Red Sox a lot of value but paying him like an ace is probably not a shrewd move. He may be hard-pressed to exceed the four-year, $82.5 million contract he is finishing up and Boston will need to do some deep soul searching if they plan to give him any more than that.

Slugger J.D. Martinez was a revelation in his first season in Boston last year, hitting .330 with 43 home runs and a league-leading 130 RBIs. Despite offering negative value in the outfield, where he played about 40 percent of the time last year, he is a true game changer with his bat. He technically has four years and a little over $85 million remaining on his contract, but has a $2.5 million player option to buy out the remainder of his contract and become a free agent after each of the next three seasons. Although he will turn 32 later this year, he could be extremely productive for years to come (a la David Ortiz), particularly if he fully transitions to the designated hitter position.

It would seem extremely likely that the Red Sox would like to retain Martinez long-term, and if he chooses not to opt out then they are all set through the 2022 season. Something to consider is that he is represented by Scott Boras, who always looks to get the largest contract possible for his clients, even if it means rolling the dice. If there is even an inkling that Martinez can score a larger deal by opting out than you can bet your bottom dollar that he will simply because of his representation.

Another team stalwart who is set to hit the open market after the 2019 season is shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The 26-year-old is coming off a career season, where he hit .288 with 23 home runs and 103 RBIs. However, he has struggled with inconsistency in his career and is not considered an exceptional defensive player. While he is certainly a valuable player, he has not fully blossomed as many expected back when he was a top minor league prospect. Nevertheless, as a shortstop capable of putting up the numbers he has already done are hard to find.

The Red Sox may decide to let Bogaerts walk if they believe the money needed to resign him could be better spent elsewhere, especially on their free agent starting pitchers. A cheaper, more defensively adept shortstop may be easier to find. On the other hand, he is a commodity in the lineup and could be hard to let go of, especially if he continues to see his offensive game grow. He hit .320 in 2015, albeit with just seven home runs. If he can somehow combine the average and power even more, he would be on the threshold of star status.

Playing into these decisions the Red Sox must make is that their farm system is rather barren of near-ready top-flight prospects who could conceivably be cheaper alternatives. To remain competitive Boston will not only need to carefully manage their roster, but they will have to be prudent free agent shoppers, including determining how to handle their own players who may be hitting the market. The team doesn’t need to answer these questions right now, but they definitely need to be well into their planning process.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Chatting with the Boston Red Sox: Former Players, Prospects and Announcers Talk About Their Time with the Greatest Team in Baseball

I have just published a collection of interviews with former players, prospects and announcers of the Boston Red Sox. Chatting with the Boston Red Sox: Former Players, Prospects and Announcers Talk About Their Time with the Greatest Team in Baseball is available here for just $2.99. Your support is greatly appreciated! 

Chatting with the Boston Red Sox: Former Players, Prospects and Announcers Talk About Their Time with the Greatest Team in Baseball by [Martin, Andrew]

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Baseball Historian: Talking Baseball, Books and History

I recently had the pleasure to chat with my friend Ron Juckett about baseball, baseball history and my new eBooks. I had a great time doing it and you can see our conversation at:

You can find my books here, here and here

Ron has also been doing amazing things broadcasting replays of  sporting events, especially baseball, from seasons of yesteryear. His Youtube page is treasure trove of game archives!

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Daniel Moskos: Pitcher Recalls Journey from High Draft Pick to Lengthy Professional Career

There are no guarantees in baseball. Literally none. Professional players must fight and earn everything they achieve without exceptions. This includes former top draft picks like pitcher Daniel Moskos, who had a 12-year professional career and reached the majors leagues, but had nothing given to him along the way.

The left-handed Moskos was highly coveted while in college for the Clemson Tigers. So highly was he thought of that the Pittsburgh Pirates took him with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft. A starter by trade, he transitioned to the bullpen during the 2009 season, and was called up to the Pirates in 2011. He appeared in 31 games in relief for them, going 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA.

Moskos was stuck in Triple-A the next season and was ultimately claimed by the Chicago White Sox off waivers. He has since pitched in the organizations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Independent ball and in the Mexican League, but has not made it back to the big league to date. Injuries and personal issues have kept him off the field at various times, but he has kept pushing through it all.

Still just 32, he has accumulated a professional record of 48-37 with a 3.83 ERA. He is not currently pitching but is not officially retired either. He is currently working within the baseball world and still has a thing or two to prove if another team picks up the phone and gives him a call. Keep reading for more from the southpaw about his career in baseball.

Daniel Moskos Interview

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite player growing up was John Smoltz.  I was a huge Atlanta Braves fan, and I actually got the chance to meet him when I was about 5 years old, so I always thought that was really cool.  Plus, he would dominate as a starter and a reliever, whatever the team needed.

Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken as the 4th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007?: The draft was really stressful, but obviously worked out pretty well for me.  It is still a lot to handle as a 21-year-old kid.  Between playing baseball, going to class, and having to meet with scouts it was a lot.  So, when the day came, which was the day before our super regional series against Mississippi St., it was quite a relief.  I actually didn’t know that the Pirates were going to draft me, I found out when everyone else did.  I was fortunate enough to have my parents and my girl friend(now wife) with me.  For the record, I thought I was going to the Rockies.  The feeling of getting drafted was everything I thought it would be and more, just amazing.

Being a high draft pick, how stressful was the extra attention you received as you worked your way up the minors?: I didn’t really find extra stress with being a high draft pick.  Baseball is hard enough as is, so I simply focused on what I could control, which was to work on getting better one day at a time.  The Pirates were very good at focusing on the process, and not so much about the results.  The concept was to make you the best big leaguer you can be, not just be good in High-A, Double-A, or where you are playing.

What do you remember most about your major league debut?: I remember pretty much everything.  From my flight getting in that morning, to taking a cab to the field, shagging batting practice, my name getting called to warm up in the bullpen, and throwing my first pitch; a fastball that was a called strike to Carlos Gonzalez, lol.  It was a dream come true.

In your opinion, who was the most underrated player you ever played with or against, and if you are feeling bold, is there anyone you can think of who was overrated?: The most underrated player that I played with, at the time, was Josh Harrison.  Obviously, he turned out to have a really good career, and is super versatile, but when I played with him he was relatively unknown.  I always thought he was going to be a everyday regular that needed more recognition.  Not going to touch the overrated side, hahaha.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: My favorite moment would have to be my big league debut.  I have a lot of great moments that I will always cherish, but the debut confirmed what I had always dreamed of as a kid.  I was a major league. It still feels surreal to say that, and I would never take it for granted.

What pitches did you throw, and what was your best weapon?: My repertoire was a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider, and a changeup.  My best offering was my fastball.

Given how well you pitched for Pittsburgh in 2011 (and in subsequent minor league seasons) what are your thoughts on not having gotten back to the major leagues since?: Baseball is a game where opportunity is very important.  Unfortunately for me I got hurt at the wrong time.  My elbow started bothering me in spring training of 2012.  It nagged me all season and I had surgery that offseason.  Just a clean up procedure. The next year it still didn’t feel right, and my results showed that.  Then in 2014 it finally blew out on me, and I had Tommy John surgery.  It has felt amazing ever since, but I think it might have been too little too late.  The game is going younger, and I am getting older.  I believe that I can still get big league hitters out, but I guess major league organizations don’t agree.

What are your 2019 baseball plans and how long would you like to keep playing?: My 2019 plans were originally to go back to Mexico to play another year.  However, that all changed when I came to Driveline to train.  It’s a facility in Seattle that is changing the game of baseball, and they caused me to change the way I looked at my career.  So, I talked to some of the employees about the idea of me working with the company, and now I’m an employee of the company.  I still throw and keep myself in shape, if an MLB team comes calling for my services I would have to at least consider it.  Right now though, I couldn’t be happier with where I am at.

Who is a current or former player you wish you had the chance to pitch against, and how would you approach that at-bat?: Barry Bonds.  He’s the best hitter there ever was and probably ever will be.  My approach would be to hope he hits it at someone, lol.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Adam Hyzdu: The Former Boston Red Sox Outfielder's Hard Road to Success

When Adam Hyzdu came out of high school he was a hot shot prospect, selected in the first round of the 1990 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants. The future looked promising for the slugging outfielder as he started his professional career. Few people, including Hyzdu, would have guessed that it would take him 10 years to reach the major leagues. Despite his lengthy journey, his work paid off, and while he never became a regular player he was able to claim his role in being part of baseball history.
As he progressed through the minors, Hyzdu developed a reputation as a solid defensive outfielder whose right-handed swing produced a good number of home runs, but also a lot of strikeouts. He typically struggled initially when promoted to a higher level, but when repeating it the following year, saw his production blossom. Although he hit as many as 30 home runs in a season (1999), he lost his status as a top prospect and bounced around between the Giants, Reds, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Pirates’ organizations.
Hyzdu’s breakthrough came in 2000 while playing for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate. He hit .290 with 31 home runs and 106 RBI, intriguing the talent-poor Pirates. He hit .389 in a brief September call-up, showing he could handle major league pitching. Over the next several seasons he yo-yoed between the minors and Pittsburgh, serving as a valuable backup outfielder, but never receiving prolonged big league playing time.
Following the 2003 season, Hyzdu signed as a free agent with the Red Sox to provide organizational depth for a team built for the playoffs. Although he played in only 17 major league games (with just 10 at bats) in 2004, Hyzdu became part of baseball history as a member of the curse-breaking Red Sox team that won their first World Series in 86 years. He didn’t make the postseason roster but received a championship ring on Opening Day the following year.
Hyzdu became the epitome of a journeyman player, playing with the Red Sox and San Diego Padres in 2005 and the Texas Rangers in 2006. Following a stint in Japan in 2007 he called it a career, never having found the stardom he was once pegged for, but having made the most out of the opportunity he received after years of hard work. He appeared in a total of 221 major league games over parts of seven seasons, hitting .229 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI. His 18-year minor league career produced a .275 batting average, 280 home runs, and 1,024 RBI in 1,750 games.
Although Hyzdu’s career didn’t unfold the way many thought it would, he left the game knowing that he will always be part of his history. Compared to the many players who have come and gone without such distinction, he can consider his career quite the success.
Adam Hyzdu Interview:
How did you first become interested in baseball and what sports did you play growing up?: I liked all sports and played them all. Baseball just paid first, haha.

Who was your favorite player growing up?: Pete Rose.

What was the draft process and choosing an agent like?: The draft was actually disappointing because the Braves and then the Reds passed, and I grew up hating the Giants. My agent was referred to me by Buddy Bell.

Who was your most influential coach or manager?: Mike Cameron, Joe Hayden, Marty Brown, Ken Macha.

What is the strangest thing you ever saw at a baseball game?: In one game I saw a pitcher snap his arm in two. Also, an apartment behind the field burned down and then the other teams’ shortstop had a seizure.

Who was the biggest character you ever played with or against?: Kevin Millar.

What is your favorite moment from your playing career?: Winning the 2004 World Series, and winning the National League Player of the Week, on a personal level.

Is there anything you would do differently if you could do your playing career over?: Had more confidence and worked out sooner in my career- maybe those would of worked hand in hand.

What have you done since you stopped playing?: I worked for Children’s Miracle Network and now own an RV dealership.

How has being a member of the 2004 Boston Red Sox impacted you?: It’s been cool to go back from time to time. No better place to win a Championship.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Thursday, March 7, 2019

New eBook Released About The Legal Troubles of Baseball Legend Rogers Hornsby

Hello Readers,

I have published a second eBook about the legal troubles of legendary Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby.  Lawsuits, accusations of being a homewrecker and being the subject of a Chicago mob hit plot were just a few of the scrapes he found himself involved with. You can check this out here.

The book is $2.99 and I of course immensely appreciate any support you are able and willing to give. Sales of these books help keep this blog and my writing going. Thank you so much for reading!

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew