Tag Archive | "Aaa Affiliate"

St. Louis Cardinals coaching changes might be most-notable offseason moves

The St. Louis Cardinals made several changes to their coaching staff this week before free agency gets started. That’s not huge news, but it might be more than the team changes to its player roster during the offseason.

Hitting coach Mark McGwire said Friday he will take the same position with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cardinals also announced earlier in the week that bullpen coach Dyar Miller had not been offered a contract to stay with the team.

The team will replace Miller with Blaise Ilsley, who had been the pitching coach for the AAA-affiliate Memphis Redbirds, and it is expected to promote John Mabry next week from assistant hitting coach to McGwire’s old position as hitting coach, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team will likely fill the assistant hitting coach position with someone already in the organization.

But don’t expect a similar amount of changes to the Cardinals roster during the offseason.

The Cardinals offered a $13.3-million qualifying offer Friday to starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, but it would be shocking to see Lohse accept that offer or remain with the team heading into 2013. Lohse’s value is very high right now given his 16-3 record in 2012 and a weak free agent class.

But other than Lohse, the Cardinals will likely trot out a team very similar to the 2012 squad. Lance Berkman won’t return, but every other position player on the team’s regular postseason lineup is under contract for next year.

Following the Cardinals disappointing seven-game loss to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series, many people have trumpeted the need for improvements at the shortstop and second-base positions.

However, those yearnings for new faces up the middle might be misguided.

Assuming his elbow is healthy heading into Spring Training, Rafeal Furcal should be back for the start of the 2013 season. Regardless if people think he is the best possible solution, he is an accomplished veteran who can handle the position. That takes care of shortstop, and Pete Kozma can be Furcal’s back up.

Many also seem to think Kozma was a one-hit wonder down the stretch last season, which he very well might be, but he certainly played well enough while in the big leagues to earn serious consideration as the team’s back-up shortstop.

That is also a much cheaper scenario than signing a mid-level free agent such as Stephen Drew or Alex Gonzalez.

Second base is a tad more tricky. Skip Schumaker did not play well in the second half of the season, but he is still under contract for next season and has proven in the past that he can be an everyday starter. Daniel Descalso is the best fielder on the team besides Yadier Molina, but his surge at the plate in the postseason will have to become his norm for him to hold the second-base job for an entire season.

The Cardinals also have highly touted prospect Kolten Wong, who will have a shot to play second base for the Cardinals, perhaps as soon as 2013. Even if he needs more time in the minor leagues, he figures to be the team’s long-term plan at that position.

Maybe a veteran could fill the spot until Wong is ready, but this year’s free agent class at second base includes players such as Placido Polanco, Marco Scutaro and Adam Kennedy. The Cardinals have already had Polanco and Kennedy earlier in their careers, and both are surely in the final steps of their careers.

Scutaro might be an option. He played great for the Giants this year, hitting .362 in 61 games after he was traded mid-season from the Colorado Rockies, but he is a career .276 hitter. That’s not bad, but Schumaker is a career .288 hitter and does a fine job defensively.

All of that means the team that sneaked into the playoffs, made a miracle comeback to win the division series in the playoffs and missed the World Series by one game will likely be the same team that takes the field on Opening Day 2013.

Changes are always interesting and exciting, but St. Louis fans probably won’t have many of those feelings this winter.

The current team, with supposedly full seasons from Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and a large group of talented, young pitchers, already has the pieces to create expectations that it should at minimum be in strong playoff contention at the end of the season.

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Minor League Magic

Minor League baseball is truly a joy.  Seeing a combination of players that may or may not be the next best thing in your organization can carry a feeling of something special on any given night.

Last night in Omaha, the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, the stars aligned in a way that happens very seldom.  A combination of rehabbing major leaguers, top prospects, and an ace level starting pitcher just starting his 2012 conditioning converged on Werner Park to put on a show for a sell-out crowd.

Roy Oswalt would toe the mound for the visiting Round Rock Express, finding Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi opposing him in relief of another rehabbing major leaguer, Everett Teaford.  The Storm Chasers’ lineup would feature Chris Getz and Salvador Perez beginning their rehab assignments for the parent club as well as one of the top professional hitters at any level, Wil Myers.  The game would not disappoint in any way, especially for the home crowd.

After Teaford got his work in over two innings, Odorizzi would throw six and two-thirds innings of one run baseball to ensure a win for the home team.  Odorizzi would string together 10 strikeouts over only two walks on his way to a victory over the opposing ace.  Roy Oswalt?  He did not fare so well.

The third inning would be the downfall of Oswalt as he would give up a lead-off double to Anthony Seratelli he would get one out before surrendering three consecutive base hits loading the bases.  With bases juiced full of Storm Chasers, Wil Myers stepped to the plate.  In just 18 AAA games, he has already hit five home runs, adding to his 13 home runs in 35 AA games this season.  His 19th homer of the season would come on a 2-0 count as a grand slam off one of the most successful major league pitchers in recent memory.

The Storm Chasers would put a win on the board with a final score of 7-2 over the Round Rock Express.

Our favorite Royals photographer, Minda Haas, was on hand last night in Omaha to catch all the action and fun.  Below you will find a photo gallery of 50 pictures from Minda, with everyone from Teaford and Myers to Sal Perez and Roy Oswalt featured.  Enjoy the look at a truly special night through a very talented eye.

Feel free to use the buttons below to scroll through all the photos.

Anthony Seratelli Double Down The Line

Picture 1 of 49


All rights reserved by Minda Haas

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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2011 Hall Of Legends Inductee: Cookie Rojas

The week of Thanksgiving brings a time for all of us to be thankful for family, friends, health, any a myriad of other things that each of us finds important. Here at I-70 Baseball, we take this time to show some thanks to some players that spent some time wearing both of the uniforms of our two teams, the Cardinals and Royals.

The requirements are that simple: the inducted player had to play for both the Cardinals and Royals in his career. From there, it is pure judgement of I-70 Baseball to say they deserve enshrinement in our “Hall Of Legends”. This year we induct five new legends to join the inaugural group of five from last season. The original five inductees were manager Whitey Herzog, pitchers Dan Quisenberry and Danny Jackson, outfielder Reggie Sanders, and catcher Darrell Porter.

The first inductee for 2011 was Vince Coleman. Today, we welcome Cookie Rojas.

There might not be a better example of how the game of baseball has changed in the last half century than Octavio Victor “Cuqui” Rojas. Born in Havana, Cuba on March 6, 1939, Rojas was an acrobatic middle infielder that played in the major leagues for 16 season, even though he was a career .263 hitter with an on-base percentage barely over .300. In the game today, every player is expected to contribute offensively and Rojas probably doesn’t make it out of the minor leagues. That would be such a loss for baseball because fans would be deprived of one of the best loved and perhaps smartest players to play the game.

There might not be a more easily recognized player either. If you somehow missed the translucent plastic frames holding those giant lenses, or the effervescent smile that can only come from somebody that loves what they are doing, just wait a few moments. Rojas will be the one diving for a ground ball or leaping high in the air to avoid a base runner while tuning a double play. In the end, he will leave you with a similar smile because you have just become another in a long line of Cookie Rojas fans.

Reds (1962)

Rojas was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, at the age of just 17. His dad had wanted him to be a doctor, but the young infielder had different ideas. He progressed through the Reds minor league system, playing for West Palm Beach (D) in 1956, Wassau (C) in 1957 and Savanah (A) in 1958. Although his power numbers improved and his glove was always solid, his overall batting average dropped at each level.

In 1959, he returned to his home town of Havana, which happened to be the Reds AAA affiliate. His batting average continued to fall, reaching a new low point of .233. With Leo Cardenas and Elio Chacon both hitting better than Rojas, Cookie would return to Havana for the 1960 season, a most unusual one for the franchise. When Fidel Castro nationalized all US-owned businesses in Cuba, the Reds moved the Sugar Kings to Jersey City for the remainder of the season. Rojas continued to struggle at the plate.

With Chacon and Cardenas with the big club, Rojas got more playing time with the Jersey City Jerseys (AAA) in 1961, and he made the best of it. His offensive numbers improved significantly, his batting average jumping to .265. He would also drive in 44 runs. This would turn out to be the story of Rojas career – the more playing time he got, the better his production at the plate.

Rojas make the Reds out of spring training to start the 1962 season, and made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 10. In his first major league at-bat, he would lay down a sacrifice bunt, moving Eddie Kasko over to third base ahead of Vada Pinson and Frank Robinson. That would be another trademark of Rojas career – although he didn’t hit with power or any great regularity, he could handle the bat in sacrifice situations. After two months of struggling at the plate, Rojas would finish the season with the Reds new AAA Affiliate, the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers, but he would be back soon, as a September callup.

With the Reds infield looking set for the foreseeable future, they traded Rojas to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1962 . In return, the Reds got a right handed pitcher named Jim “Bear” Owens. Owens would not last long in Cincinnati. He would be sent down to the minors and Houston would claim him in the Rule 5 draft.

Philadelphia (1963 – 1969)

Philadelphia had two very good middle infielders, Bobby Wine and Tony Taylor, but Rojas found a way to get into games, first backing up Taylor at second base and then occasionally in the outfield. As his hitting improved in 1963, the Phillies found any way they could to get Rojas into games. He would play all eight defensive positions in 1964, and again in 1965. With a batting average finally over .300, Rojas would get an invitation to play in the 1965 All Star Game, as a second baseman. He would also receive some MVP votes, recognition for his improvement and ability to play anywhere he was needed.

What was originally a stunt to keep him in the lineup had become yet another trademark of his major league career – the ultimate utility player. But even that would eventually come to an end as Rojas became the every day second baseman, taking over those duties from Tony Taylor in 1966. He and Bobby Wine would turn into one of the best double play combinations in baseball. Fans would start calling duo the plays of “Wine and Rojas”, referring to the popular song, “The Days of Wine and Roses”.

The one position Rojas had yet to play was pitcher, and that changed in a blowout against the Giants on June 30, 1967. Trailing 12-3, Rojas came into the game in the ninth inning. He gave up a single to Tom Haller. Hal Lanier reached base on an error. Rojas then retired Tito Fuentes, Juan Marichal and Willie Mays to end the inning, stranding both base runners. That would be his only relief appearance, so his career ERA stands at 0.00 and his WHIP is just 1.000.

With a young infield prospect named Denny Doyle turning heads in the Phillies farm system, Rojas would be traded away to make room at the end of the 1969 season. The Cardinals were also ready to shake up their roster, and the two teams agreed on a multi-player deal that would alter baseball history. St. Louis would send Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner and Curt Flood to Philadelphia for Rojas, Richie Allen and Jerry Johnson. Curt Flood would refuse to report to the Phillies and the Cardinals were forced to send prospects Willie Montanez and Jim Browning to complete the deal. Flood would challenge the reserve clause in 1970, eventually losing, but that would make way for a successful challenge four years later.

St. Louis (1970)

Cardinals fans were excited to see Rojas in a Cardinals uniform after all the years of watching him as a member of the Phillies. With injuries and age starting to catch up to Julian Javier, the happiness over Rojas was tempered by sadness in the realization that Javier’s Cardinals days were coming to an end. Surprisingly, it was Rojas that left first, not Javier. But not before one exciting play.

The date was April 14 and the Montreal Expos were in St. Louis. In a rare rough outing from Bob Gibson, an early 3-0 Cardinals lead had turned into a 4-3 deficit in the top of the seventh inning. Thanks to some outstanding relief pitching and a Jose Cardenal home run in the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals tied the game, and it went into extra innings.

In the top of the tenth inning, Sal Campisi gives up a 2 out walk to Mack Jones. Marv Staehle triples Jones home to give Montreal a 5-4 lead. Howie Reed tries to close out the game for the Expos, but the Cardinals had a much different plan. Leron Lee leads off the bottom of the tenth with a single. Joe Hague reaches base when Bob Bailey boots a ground ball. Julian Javier fails to advance the runners, forcing Lee at third base on a fielders choice. Pinch hitter, Jim Campbell singles home Hague to tie the game. Vic Davalillo is intentionally walked to load the bases, setting up the double play at just about any base. Cookie Rojas comes off the bench to pinch hit for Sal Campisi and hits a slow roller to third base. It is too slow to turn a double play and Javier scores easily with the winning run. Leave it to Rojas to deliver a walk off single and the ball never leaves the infield.

That would be the lone highlight of Rojas Cardinals career as he would be traded to Kansas City in early June.

Kansas City (1970 – 1977)

Even though he failed to find a home in St. Louis, Cookie couldn’t have found a better place to launch his second career than with the expansion Kansas City Royals. He immediately took over second base duties, and just as he had done in Philadelphia, raised his batting average back to a respectable level. He would hit .260 for the rest of the 1970 season and .268 for his entire time with the Royals.

Fans immediately fell in love with Rojas and his acrobatic plays at second base. One of them was captured by the Topps baseball card photographer and his 1971 card remains one of my all time favorites. That image says everything you need to know about Cookie Rojas.

1971 would be a very good year for Rojas, hitting .300 for the second time in his career. He would also set a new career high for on-base percentage (.357) and slugging (.406). He would also be rewarded with his second All Star Game invitation, the first of four consecutive in which he would represent the Royals. He also received more than a token nod in the MVP ballots.

Perhaps his greatest moment as a member of the Royals came in the 1972 All Star Game. With the American League trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, Rojas steps up to the plate with Carlton Fisk on first base and two outs. Rojas pulls a Bill Stoneman pitch deep into the Atlanta left field seats for a 2 run homer, giving the American League a 3-2 lead. That home run was also historic in that it was the first AL homer to be hit by a non-American born player. Unfortunately for Rojas, Wilbur Wood could not make the one run lead hold up and the National League would win 5-4 in 10 innings.

Rojas continued to play well for the Royals, but as in Philadelphia, he was about to lose his job to a younger and more talented prospect. This time it would be Frank White, but instead of being traded away, Kansas City was smart and kept Rojas around for the rest of his career, which ended in 1977. That also helped the fans who were slow to embrace White, preferring to see their favorite, Rojas, playing every day. Once again, Rojas versatility came into play, backing up White at second base, occasionally playing third and even, ironically, as a designated hitter.

Rojas playing career ended in 1977, but that was not the end of his baseball career.

The Rest of the Story

For his long and productive major league career, Cookie Rojas has been honored as a member of both the Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as in his homeland of Cuba.

Rojas stayed involved with baseball, first as a scout and then as a coach. In 1988, he managed the California Angels, but after failing to reach .500, was replaced with 8 games remaining in the season. Rojas returned to coaching with the Florida Marlins, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays.

You can find Cookie Rojas today as the Spanish language broadcaster with Fox Sports Florida, providing color commentary on all Marlins home games. His son, Victor, is also also a broadcaster, first with the Texas Rangers and now with the California Angels.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at On the Outside Corner. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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Minor League Playoffs

Over the weekend, the Royals AAA affiliate moved forward to their league’s championship series while the AA affiliate’s season came to a close. Below are the respective press releases from both clubs:

Kila

Ka’aihue Powers Chasers into PCL Championship Series
Dramatic walk-off home run in 10th gives Omaha American Conference Title

Mike Feigen / Omaha Storm Chasers

OMAHA, Neb. — Kila Ka’aihue has been a man of few words this season, so it was no surprise that with the Chasers on the brink of a playoff series victory, he let his bat do the talking. Ka’aihue’s 316-foot drive down the right-field line had just enough juice to hit the foul pole, giving the Storm Chasers a dramatic 4-2 series-winning victory over the Round Rock Express in 10 innings Saturday afternoon at Werner Park. Video clip of Ka’aihue HR

Long before the Chasers celebrated their win, the hero of the day was Omaha right-hander Sean O’Sullivan. Tasked with holding back the potent Express offense, O’Sullivan carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and a no-hitter into the eighth, with the Chasers clinging to a 2-0 lead.

However, with just six outs to go, disaster struck. Joey Butler hit a grounder directly at second baseman Kurt Mertins, who was unable to field it and was charged with an error. No-hitter still intact, O’Sullivan then served up a mammoth two-run home run to Luis Cruz, knotting the game at 2-2 and giving Round Rock its first hit of the day.

O’Sullivan bounced back to close out the inning, but the damage had been done. Not only had the dream of a no-hitter been dashed, but the Chasers were in jeopardy of losing the game altogether. O’Sullivan finished his day with eight innings pitched, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

After each team got two runners on in the ninth but couldn’t score, Kevin Pucetas (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 10th to set up the game-winning sequence.

With one out, Clint Robinson drew a five-pitch walk, bringing Ka’aihue to the plate. He worked the count to 1-1 before connecting off Round Rock’s Tanner Scheppers (0-1) to end the game, setting off a celebration at home plate and an even more wild party in the clubhouse moments later.

The walk-off home run was Ka’aihue’s second of the season at Werner Park, also delivering on June 28 against Memphis. Over his last two games, the left-handed swinging first baseman has gone 3-for-6 with two homers and six runs batted in, picking up a two-run homer and two-run double in Friday night’s extra-inning loss.

With the 3-1 series victory, the Chasers advance to their first-ever PCL Championship Series in their 14th season in the league. They also earned their first postseason series victory since 1990, when they won the Triple-A Championship as a member of the American Association.

The Chasers will begin the PCL Championship Series at home, as they host either the Reno Aces or Sacramento River Cats. Games 1 and 2 will be played Tuesday, September 13 and Wednesday, September 14 at Werner Park, with both games scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Travs win, bounce Naturals from playoffs
Jimenez’ two homers, four RBI end up the difference

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Naturals, like so many times late this season, fell behind early and mounted a spirited comeback. But unfortunately the magic ran out as they fell 9-5 to their in-state rival Arkansas Travelers, as the Travs advance to the Texas League Championship Series.

A first inning error gave the Travelers an extra out to work with and they capitalized as Luis Jimenez gave the Travs the early lead with a three-run homer off Jeremy Jeffress with two out in the frame.

That put the Travs up 3-0 and gave their starter Eddie McKiernan some backing. McKiernan, who had a dubious start to the season for North Little Rock had limited the Naturals to just four runs in his past three starts against Northwest Arkansas. In the past two his team had staked him to a lead before he toed the rubber, and Saturday was no different.

North Little Rock got three more in the fourth before the Naturals began to claw their way back. But in the top of the fourth, Jeffress allowed a leadoff single to Alberto Rosario who would come around to score on an RBI single from Matt Long. An RBI groundout later and the Travs owned a 5-0 lead. Gabe Jacobo also added a two-out RBI single to score another run which chased Jeffress, who was on a limited pitch count and was relieved by Kendal Volz.

The Naturals finally began to get to McKiernan in the bottom of that same frame as Tim Smith led off the inning with a solo homer to right to cut the lead to 6-1. Jamie Romak and Paulo Orlando followed with back-to-back singles and Wil Myers was plunked. Jeff Bianchi followed and one of the pitches to him went wild to score Romak for a 2-0 lead. Bianchi grounded out to score Orlando and cut the Travs’ lead to 6-3, but McKiernan was able to get Mario Lisson to strike out and Ryan Eigsti to fly out to prevent further damage as the Naturals failed to claw closer in the frame.

One thing that ultimately kept the Naturals from closing the gap was struggles with runners in scoring position as the team was 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position Saturday as opposed to 5-for-16 for North Little Rock.

One of the other things was Luis Jimenez. The Travelers’ third baseman drove in his fourth run of the game to leadoff the fifth as he took Volz deep to extend the lead to 7-3.

Christian Colon’s one out single in the fifth ultimately chased McKiernan and prevented him from collecting the win. Instead that went to the tallest pitcher in the minors, Loek Van Mil, who relieved to pitch to Tim Smith, who had taken McKiernan deep earlier in the game. Smith lined out sharply as Travs’ shortstop Darwin Perez speared the ball and took away a hit from Smith and, with Colon at second after a wild pitch, likely a run from the Naturals.

One inning later the Naturals did get a pair and close to within 7-5, the closest they’d get in the ballgame. Jeff Bianchi had an RBI double and Eigsti plated a run on a groundout.

But in the top of the eighth, North Little Rock put two more runs on the board and that seemed to take the wind out of the Naturals’ sails. Facing Ryan Dennick, a lefty reliever making his Double-A debut after spending all season with Advanced Class-A Wilmington, Dennick allowed a one-out single to Darwin Perez and a two-out RBI double to Roberto Lopez. Dennick walked pinch hitter Chris Pettit and then Gable Jacobo doubled to the left-field wall to score Lopez.

An eighth inning single by Paulo Orlando was the lone hit the Naturals recorded the rest of the way as their season ended at the hands of the Travelers, who earn their second trip to the Texas League Championship Series in the past four seasons. They beat the Frisco RoughRiders to win the league title in 2008, a playoff run that began with a three-game sweep of the Naturals.

The series will be remembered somewhat for the absence of Naturals’ Pitcher of the Year Will Smith, who led the league in both wins and innings pitched. Smith was shut down at the behest of the Royals and the Naturals had to work without one of their most reliable arms down the stretch. As it was, should the Naturals had forced a game five, they’d have turned the ball over to southpaw Justin Marks, another pitcher who would have been making his Double-A debut.

The 2012 season opener will be on the road as the Naturals open the season with a six-game road trip beginning Thursday, April 5th. The home opener at Arvest Ballpark for the fifth season of Naturals Baseball will be on Thursday, April 12th as the Naturals host the Corpus Christi Hooks. The Naturals would like to thank all their fans and corporate partners for their continued support this season!

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Years Of Showers, Bring May Flowers

Royals Nation covers a lot of farmland. Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and parts of Iowa and Oklahoma are largely agricultural areas. John Deere and implement dealers’ spending money to advertise with the Royals is no accident. Kansas farmers listening to the Royals & Cardinals in their combines during harvest is even mentioned in Joe Drape’s book Our Boys, and that’s a book about High School Football. Isn’t it fitting that the Royals Farm System has been glossed by many as the best in Major League Baseball? They say the crop of young prospects is going to turn the organization around.

Photo courtesy of Minda Haas

However, anyone associated with farming knows crops are not guaranteed until they’ve been harvested and sold at market. Hailstorms, drought, high winds are all things that often occur in Royals Nation that can destroy a years worth of work in a few minutes. That’s not a complete analogy for baseball prospects. But the premise is the same. Prospects are just prospects until they begin producing at the major league level. Injuries, freak accidents, organizational mismanagement, character issues, and talent plateaus can all prevent a prospect from getting to the majors. The further a prospect is buried in the minors, the larger the risk that they will amount to nothing but roster fillers.

The praise has been great for the Royals Farm System. But pardon me if I’m a little nervous and expect a hail storm on our parade. After all, this is the same organization that batted out of order, and had a 19 game losing streak. I’m still not used to things going right. Especially when the name of the AAA affiliate is The Storm Chasers

That being said I believe the weather in The Nation might be turning. Last Friday Jarrod Dyson scored the winning run from 3rd base on a pop-up to short. It was a “that just happened” moment. The Twins and umpires were left speechless. It’s the type freak play you see in baseball that usually happens to the Royals, not for the Royals.

This brings us to what happened on Thursday May 5th. The Royals called up Eric Hosmer. Thus announcing that they will begin the long awaited harvest of young prospects in the Farm System . The Royals have been interesting to watch all season. Homser’s call-up begins the real reason Royals fans are excited about the 2011 season. Royals games have become that more watchable, appointment television and entertainment. But that’s not the best part. Come June, like the real wheat harvest, the Royals harvest of top prospects will get into full swing. Watching these prospects grow will be a lot easier than watching wheat grow.

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Duffy Named PCL Pitcher of the Week

The following was provided to us by the public relations staff for the Omaha Storm Chasers, AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.


OMAHA, Neb. — Lefthander Danny Duffy of the Omaha Storm Chasers has been named the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Week for April 25-May 1, the league announced Monday. He becomes the first member of the Omaha franchise to win a weekly award since Anthony Lerew was named Pitcher of the Week from August 9-15 last season.

The Goleta, Calif., native was honored for his fine performance against the Iowa Cubs on Thursday, April 28 at Werner Park. In that game, Duffy allowed just one hit in six shutout innings, striking out eight batters without issuing a walk. He earned his first Triple-A win in the process, while lowering his PCL-leading ERA to 0.90.

Duffy’s gem marked his third-straight start in which he has not surrendered a run. In those three outings, all at home, he has fired 15 scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out 20 batters. Opposing hitters are batting just .194 against him on the season.

Still just 22 years old, Duffy has tasted quite a bit of success in his four-plus professional seasons. He owns a career record of 25-13 with a 2.44 ERA in 328.0 career innings, striking out 383 batters against just 104 walks. During the 2010 calendar year, he won the Texas League Championship as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, pitched for Team USA in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico and threw for the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League. He is considered the 68th-best prospect in the game according to Baseball America.

Duffy is scheduled to pitch May 3 on the road in Albuquerque, and if the rotation holds would pitch at home on Sunday, May 8 against the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Tickets to that or any other future Storm Chasers game are on sale at the Werner Park ticket office, by phone at (402) 738-5100 or online at www.omahastormchasers.com.

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Jim Cosman – Saving the 1967 Season

Jim Cosman (1970)

Jim Cosman was a 6ft 5in flame thrower that was signed by the Cardinals in 1963. In his first professional season he struggled, and almost washed out of the Cardinals system. But George Kissell saw something that he liked in the youngster and convinced him to work on the fastball, which at times could be un-hittable. Cosman took Kissell’s advice and his turnaround in 1964 was nothing short of miraculous. From a disappointing 1-9 record in Brunswick, Cosman led the Rock Hill Cardinals (A) in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP. To put this in perspective, one of Cosman’s teammates was a tall left-hander named Steve Carlton, and he bested the Hall of Famer in every category except ERA – but Cosman’s 1.19 vs Lefty’s 1.03 was nearly a wash. In 121 innings, Cosman struck out 143 batters. Un-hittable, indeed.

His career would take an interesting turn in 1965 when he was moved to the bullpen for the Tulsa Oilers (AA). Projecting somewhat of a logjam in starters, it was thought that Cosman’s best chance of making it to the major leagues would be as a reliever. The move worked out well for the young right hander at first. He would have a mixed year, staying in Tulsa as they became the AAA affiliate in 1966. His control was beginning to become a bit of a problem as he worked on secondary pitches, but the heater was still a winner. A 10-2 record, mostly in relief would be good enough to earn Cosman a September callup, but a crowded bullpen of A+ arms didn’t guarantee an appearance.

After 3 weeks of watching his teammates get into games, he finally got a chance to get into a game. Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst decided to give Cosman a start on the last game of the 1966 season – with all of about 30 minutes warning.

October 2, 1966 – Holy Cow

Cosman’s opponent in this game would be the last place Chicago Cubs. Coming into the game, the Cubs had already lost 102 times and were 36 games out of first place. The Cardinals had already won the first two games of the series. Dick Hughes defeated Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins in the opener, throwing a 3 hit shutout. Bob Gibson earned his 21st win of the season in the middle game, defeating a very young and impressive left-hander named Ken Holtzman. With the possibility of a Cubs sweep, the final game of a very disappointing 1966 season took on new significance.

For the 1966 finale, the Cubs would send former 22 game winner, Dick Ellsworth to the mound. Ellsworth was a tall lefty and took the ball every five days for the Cubs, eating up a lot of innings. While he never regained the form of his brilliant 1963 season, he pitched far better than his 8-21 record would have indicated. This would not be a cake walk for the Cardinals youngster making his major league debut.

Both Cosman and Ellsworth got off to a great start. Both hurlers would retire the side in order in the first inning. Ron Santo would lead off the second inning with a sharp single to center. That was all the damage as Cosman would retire next three batters without a ball leaving the infield.

The bottom of the Cardinals order would get to Ellsworth in the the bottom of the third as Dal Maxvill would single. Lou Brock would also get a hit, but the Cardinals failed to score. For now.

Meanwhile, Cosman was cruising. The only runner other than the Santo second inning single was a 2 out walk in the top of the 4th inning, also to Ron Santo.

The second time through the Cardinals batting order proved to be more challenging for Ellsworth. Ted Savage, replacing Curt Flood, would lead off with a walk. Phil Gagliano would follow that up with a grounder up the middle for a single. Savage would then steal third base and score on a Mike Shannon line drive single to left. It was starting to feel like a big inning, but a power failure would hit the Cardinals, as it did frequently in the ’66 season. Tim McCarver would ground into a force play at second. With the Cubs playing back, Gagliano scores easily on the play. Ed Spiezio, father of future Cardinal Scott Spiezio, would end the inning with a nice around the horn double play, 5-6-3. Nobody started a prettier double play than Ron Santo. The Cardinals had a 2-0 lead, but with a rookie on the mound – would it hold up ?

Cosman did what all pitcher are taught to do, retire the side quickly after getting a lead. He would set down the Cubs batters in order in the top of the fifth, and again in the sixth. And again in the seventh, helped by double play that erased a leadoff walk to Billy Williams. Ron Santo hit into the double play – the only Cubs hitter to get a hit off the young right hander so far.

After getting two quick outs in the eighth, a pitch would get away from Cosman and he would hit the 8th place hitter, Adolfo Phillips. A harmless groundout to first would end the inning. For the fifth time in eight innings, Cosman as retired the side without a ball leaving the infield. Two fly outs and the Ron Santo single were the only balls played by an outfielder.

When Cosman took the mound in the top of the ninth, he was still protecting a slim 2-0 lead. He’d also allowed only one hit. Don Kessinger hits the fourth ball to an outfielder, which is caught by Lou Brock in foul territory. Glenn Beckert rips a line drive to center field for the second Cubs hit on the day. With the game on the line, Cosman faces a serious home run threat in future Hall of Famer, Billy Williams. Cosman gets Williams to hit into a game ending double play to preserve the shutout.

What a start to his major league career. A 2 hit shutout to complete the season ending sweep of the rival Cubs.

Spring Training 1967

With such an impressive debut to end the 1966 season, expectations were high when Cosman arrived for spring training in 1967. He was such a likeable and enthusiastic young ballplayer, the local St. Petersburg newspaper asked him to contribute a diary of his experiences, to run twice a week. Thanks to the Google newspaper archives, here they are.

March 14
March 16
March 23
March 28
April 4

Cosman pitched well enough in spring training to earn a spot on the expanded roster, but would likely be one of the last cut when rosters were reduced to 25 players in mid-May. New General Manager Stan Musial had been shopping Nelson Briles and Hal Woodeshick all spring, and if he found a taker then Cosman may be able to stay with the big club. Fortunately for the Cardinals, no deal was reached and both Briles and Woodeshick stayed with the Cardinals, but that doomed the youngster’s fate. After a few relief appearances where his control was still a bit shaky, Cosman was sent back to Tulsa to work on his mechanics.

June 26 – Saving the Season

On June 21, Ray Washburn was pitch an absolute gem against Don Drysdale and the Los Angeles Dodgers. For the first time in several season, Washburn was healthy and was back to being the quality hurler he’d shown early in his career. He was throwing a 3 hitter until the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out, Dodgers catcher, Johnny Roseboro, lines a ball up the middle for the 4th Dodger hit. Instinctively, Washburn reaches out with his bare hand to try to make the play. The ball ricochet’s off Washburn’s hand all the way to the outfield. The Cardinals hurler was down with a badly broken finger that would require surgery to repair. Washburn was going to be gone for a month, or more.

Jim Cosman was immediately recalled from Tulsa and put into the rotation, replacing the injured Washburn. He would get his first start on June 26 when he faced the San Francisco Giants in front of a huge crown at Busch Stadium. His opponent would be the crafty (among other things) Gaylord Perry. With the season on the line, that was a lot of pressure for the young Cardinals hurler.

To try to help Cosman simplify his mechanics, pitching coach Billy Muffett convinced the right hander to go with a no-windup approach. It had worked with several other Cardinals pitchers, and Muffett believed that this would help Cosman stay more upright and not throw across his body.

The Cardinals would get to Perry early in the game. In the second inning, the bottom of the Cardinals batting order managed to push two runners across the plate, the second one coming on Jim Cosman’s first major league hit. It would turn out to be the game winner.

Cosman would give one of those runs back in the top of the 4th, but that’s all the Giants could manage to score. There weren’t many Giants hits, but Cosman was in trouble all night. 7 walks kept the pressure up, inning after inning. With one out in the 9th inning, Red had seen enough and didn’t want the youngster to take a hard luck loss. He went to his bullpen, and the 20,000 fans in attendance gave Cosman a long and loud standing ovation. What they had just witnessed was a turning point in the 1967 season.

Nelson Briles would retire the last two batters, preserving the win for the young right hander. That would be his second major league victory, and sadly the last in his career.

Wildness would return in his next start, but it was take an ugly turn for the worse. After giving up three walks in three innings against the New York Mets, Cosman would hit the first two batters to lead off the 4th inning. After the second hit batsman, Red immediately came out and took the youngster out of the game. Walks are one thing, but when you threw as hard as Cosman did, hitting batters was very dangerous.

Cosman’s next start would come against the Cincinnati Reds on July 5. He would pitch 8 strong innings with the only blemish being a solo home run off the bat of Vada Pinson. Nelson Briles, who saved the earlier game, would take the loss in extra innings. As well as Cosman pitched, a no-decision was disappointing.

His control woes would continue, both with walks and hit batsman. When Ray Washburn came back from the disabled list, it appeared as if Cosman would be sent back to Tulsa. As all of this was happening, the Cardinals pitching staff would take another blow when Bob Gibson would go down with a broken leg on July 15. Cosman initially stayed with the big club, but as roster moves were considered, Cosman’s time in the majors would come to an end. The Cardinals would move Nelson Briles into the rotation, replacing the injured Bob Gibson. Cosman would move to the bullpen, but would be replaced soon by Jack Lamabe who was just acquired from the Mets. Cosman would sent to the Mets as the conditional player-to-be-named later and would finish the season in their minor league system. The youngster would be returned to the Cardinals in September. The Mets finally selected Al Jackson to complete the Lamabe trade, following the 1967 World Series.

Even though Jim Cosman would never throw another pitch for the Cardinals, the importance of his game on June 26 cannot be understated. The Cardinals front office recognized that, and when the World Series bonuses were passed out, Cosman was given a full share. You can read about that in this great March 1, 1968 article from the St. Petersburg Times.

A Disappointment

Over the off-season, Cosman worked hard on his control. He came into spring training, and had shown some improvement. Unfortunately for the 25 year old, the Cardinals rotation and bullpen were filled and there was even less room for him in 1968 than the year before. He would be one of the last players cut from the ’68 roster and would start falling behind pitching prospects like Mike Torrez, Al Santorini and Jerry Reuss on the depth chart. He would struggle in 1968, splitting time between Tulsa (AAA) and Arkansas (AA).

Cosman would bounce around the minor leagues for a few seasons, making one more Major League appearance with the Cubs in 1970.

After baseball, he became a very successful executive in the Waste Management industry. He moved up the ranks at Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) and then went on to run Republic as their CEO before retiring in 2000.

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Jack Lamabe: Rising to the Occasion

Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken a look back at some great left handed pitchers. This time we’ll turn our attention to righty, and a journeyman at that. Jack Lamabe’s arrival in St. Louis couldn’t have come under more difficult circumstances, coming days after losing Bob Gibson to a badly broken leg. To make matters worse, he was roughed up in his first few appearances. Then something magical happened, as it frequently does when a player dons the Birds on the Bat, Lamabe became one of the most dependable arms in the Cardinals bullpen as they chased the 1967 National League Pennant and another trip to the fall classic.

Lamabe was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1956. After a disappointing season in the low minors, he was released and subsequently signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He continued to struggle with his control but made steady progress. Things started falling into place for the right hander in 1961, after moving to the bullpen for the Columbus Jets, the AAA affiliate of the Pirates. That would earn him an invitation to spring training with thebig club and he would make the team as they broke camp for the 1962 season.

After a solid rookie year, Lamabe would be traded to the Boston Red Sox. He would turn in another strong year out of the pen, doubling his innings pitched and posting a respectable 7-4 record. The Red Sox would try to move Lamabe to the starting rotation in 1964 and he would not fare as well, finishing the season with 9-13 record and a soaring ERA of 5.89. Lamabe would return to the bullpen in 1965, but would get off to a terrible start. His ERA would balloon over 12 runs per game in late May, and by the end of June, he would be demoted to their AAA affiliate in Toronto. While there he would terrorize the International League posting some of the best numbers of his career. Clearly Lamabe belonged in the major leagues.

In September, Lamabe would return to the majors but this time as a member of the Houston Astros. He would only appear in 3 games for the Astros, but 2 innings of scoreless relief against the Cardinals on October 2 might have been a sign of things to come.

Lamabe would be traded to the Chicago White Sox after the 1965 season. Splitting time between the bullpen and rotation, Lamabe would improve in 1966, lowering his ERA to 3.93 in 121 1/3 innings. As a starter he would throw three complete games, two of them being shutouts.

Lamabe would return to the White Sox for the start of the 1967 season and get off to a good start, allowing only one earned run in three relief appearances. At the end of April he would be traded to the Mets where he would settle into the role of a long reliever. Although used sparingly, Lamabe would would face his future teammates four times, albeit with mixed results. Yet another sign of things to come.

When Bob Gibson went down with a broken leg on July 15, the Cardinals front office moved quickly to find somebody they could drop into the rotation. Jim Cosman, who had been called up to replace Ray Washburn a month earlier, had pitched well on two occasions, but was starting to suffer some control problems. Within a week, Cosman would be sent back to Tulsa to work on his mechanics, but he would not return to the big leagues as a Cardinal. A young prospect named Mike Torrez was dominating hitters in AAA, but was not yet ready to face major league hitters, especially in the heat of a pennant race.

That left manager Red Schoendienst with two relievers that had some starting experience, Al Jackson (lefty) and a newly retooled Nelson Briles (righty). Jackson had been a member of the starting rotation earlier in the season, but had been replaced by another left hander, Larry Jaster. In spite of throwing a brilliant one hitter on April 25, Jackson’s inability to get into the late innings prompted his reassignment to the bullpen. Since the change, Jackson had done well as both a long reliever and lefty specialist. That left Briles to fill the void in the starting rotation.

With the Mets coming into town, a deal was put together quickly to secure a right handed arm to replace Briles in the bullpen. The Mets would send Jack Lamabe to the Cardinals for a player to be named later. For Lamabe, it meant not only reporting to the opposing clubhouse but his first assignment would be against his former teammates.

First impressions of the new hurler were not good. In his first action as a Cardinal, he would give up seven hits and five runs in just two innings of work. He would also take the loss as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 8-5. Two days later he would suffer his second loss as a Cardinal, but this one was really the fault of Joe Hoerner, who allowed five runs to score without recording a single out. Not a good beginning for Lamabe with his new team.

Things would turn around on July 19 when Lamabe would pitch a scoreless inning in relief of side-armer Ron Willis in an exciting extra inning game, earning his first save as a Redbird. Both Lamabe and rookie reliever Willis would become the right handed version of Hal Woodeshick and Joe Hoerner out of the Cardinals bullpen, giving Schoendienst a lot of flexibility when needed.

That brings us to August, when Jack Lamabe would deliver the best pitching of his career. In 8 relief appearances, Lamabe would hold the opponents scoreless. Over 16 innings, he would only allow seven hits, striking out 14 while walking only 3 batters. Remember, Lamabe was a pitcher that battled control problems early in his career. His best relief appearance was an amazing seven innings of relief on August 12, when he would take over for an ineffective Steve Carlton. In those seven innings, Lamabe would only allow three hits while striking out six and walking none.

As impressive as those seven innings were, Lamabe saved his best for last. The Cardinal arms were starting to wear out and complete games were becoming scarce. Help was just a few days away as the September callups would provide some much needed relief. Not only that, Bob Gibson had started throwing batting practice to anybody who would pick up a bat, and that meant his return to the rotation was just a few days away. Before any of that could happen, the Cardinals still had one hurdle to clear: a double header on August 28 against the New York Mets. Jack Lamabe’s former team.

The Mets won the opener, 4-2 with Jack Fisher getting the win. Former Cardinal Ron Taylor, a hero of the 1964 World Series, earned the save. Steve Carlton had another rough outing for the Cardinals, and Red had to go to his bullpen early, using Al Jackson, Hal Woodeshick and Ron Willis. For the nightcap, Schoendienst would give the ball to Lamabe for a start against his former club, knowing there would be little help coming from the bullpen. Lamabe would keep his perfect month of August in tact, going the distance in a 6-0 complete game shutout. He would allow six hits while striking out five and walking one, but more importantly he saved the bullpen . What an amazing month and what a turnaround for the right hander.

For his efforts, Lamabe would come in second in National League Player of the Month honors, behind teammate Orlando Cepeda. The effervescent leader of the Cardinals would maintain his .340 batting average and drive in 25 runs for the month. Cepeda would be further honored by receiving the National League Most Valuable Player Award for 1967. As impressive as that was, the pitching of Lamabe was the real story of August 1967.

Lamabe would get shelled in his first appearance in September, giving up 5 runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Pirates. After that it was back to nearly his August performance. He would appear six more times and allow just one run.

The veteran right-hander would get the ball three times in the World Series. In games 2 and 5 he would pitch 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out four with no walks. This is lost in the box scores behind the legendary performances of Jim Lonborg and Bob Gibson. Lamabe would take a tough loss in game 6, allowing two runs in just 1/3 of an inning.

At the end of the season, the Cardinals would send veteran left hander Al Jackson to the Mets to complete the deal back in July, signifying their intent to keep Lamabe in the picture for 1968. As the Cardinals broke camp the next spring, a sudden excess of quality pitchers meant there wasn’t room to keep another right handed arm in the bullpen, so the Cardinals traded him to the Cubs just before the rosters had to be trimmed down. He would see frequent action with his new club, appearing 42 times, all in relief. That would also be the end of his major league career.

After his playing days were over, Lamabe would stay involved with baseball. He would coach college baseball at LSU and serve as a minor league pitching instructor and talent scout for both the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. Lamabe would pass away at the age of 71 on December 21, 2007.

His time was brief in St. Louis, but his impact was significant. For an amazing three months of wearing Cardinals red, Jack Lamabe should be remembered as a winner.

Bob Netherton covers Cardinals history for i70baseball.com and writes at Throatwarbler’s Blog. You may follow Bob on Twitter here or on Facebook here.

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Detroit Tigers Season Preview 2011

During this week, guest writers from around the Internet will drop by to break down the 2011 season and how it looks for the teams in the American League Central. Today’s post comes from Jennifer Cosey as she takes a look at the Detroit Tigers.

Although the mound is still tarped over and the grass lies dormant, Tigers fans will soon gather at Comerica Park for the club’s annual TigerFest on January 22. It’s stealing a few hours from the dreary off-season. It’s warming the glacial Winter by rubbing elbows with fellow die-hards. It’s glimpsing Spring, and the day when the ballpark stands will be full and raucous again.

So what do Tigers fans have to look forward to in 2011? At the Winter Meetings, Jim Leyland said “You might as well make up your mind that this is going to be a true dogfight in the Central division.” If you’ve braced yourself for the skirmish, let’s see how are things looking in the Tigers’ armory.

Pitchers/Catchers

Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are a formidable front-end duo. Last year, when Scherzer was sent down to the Tigers’ AAA affiliate in Toledo, he immediately looked at game film and identified a flaw in his mechanics. He corrected the problem right away, and began destroying minor league batters. In his first game back in the majors, he struck out 14 batters. I like his ability to evaluate and adjust.

Although Rick Porcello had an uneven sophomore season, look for him to do well, as long as he can keep his ground ball to fly ball ratio healthy. The back end of the rotation…volatile. Armando Galarraga, outside of his imperfect game, was a man afraid to throw strikes much of the time. Phil Coke will attempt to make a successful transition from reliever to starter.

There may still be an addition to the starting rotation, as the Tigers have had reported interest in Brad Penny. If there are no acquisitions and someone falters, Andy Oliver and/or Jacob Turner could get the call. Jim Leyland said that Turner’s secondary pitches were better last year than Rick Porcello’s were at a similar point in his career. Great, now pundits everywhere will be salivating over his debut. Don’t rush the kid (please).

The Tigers took a bit of a risk adding Joaquin Benoit to the bullpen. Sure, he sparkled last year for the Rays, but before that he was injured and mediocre. However, if he pans out, and if Ryan Perry continues to progress, and if Joel Zumaya can stay healthy (all right, all right, you can stop laughing now), our pen will be strong. These are a lot of “ifs.” Closer Jose Valverde was mostly stellar last year, until Leyland hung him out to dry on July 31, in a 61-pitch outing that ended in a Tigers victory, but which I feel may have largely contributed to Valverde’s tendonitis.

Alex Avila has the catcher’s starting job all to himself this year, since Gerald Laird could not even occasionally bob over the Mendoza line. I like his defense. Good footwork. Takes initiative to “catch” up since he didn’t don the mask until four years ago. Unfortunately, he may have also been allowing Laird to mentor him at the plate. Victor Martinez will log time behind the dish against lefties. The Tigers will love his bat at DH, but I don’t want to see too much of him in a catcher’s mask, because of what we’d lose defensively.

Infield

Last season, when Brennan Boesch’s bat was riddled with holes, and Magglio Ordóñez went down with a broken ankle, Miguel Cabrera was left exposed. The result was a ridiculous number of intentional walks (32), more than double the number issued to the next highest players in the AL, Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and David Ortiz (tied at 14). This year, with Ordóñez signed to a one-year deal, and Victor Martinez added as a free agent, Cabrera will see a lot more hittable pitches.

Infield defense will be solid at the corners (yes, Cabrera is turning into a good first baseman). Brandon Inge, while dismal at the plate, plays hustle defense with the best of them. If we can get around 20 home runs from Inge, we should be happy.

Up the middle? Well, Jhonny Peralta at short was giving me nightmares, until I saw him play there for most of his time in Detroit last year. He was not great, but surprised me with acceptable glove work. Second base looks to be a carousel featuring Carlos Guillen, Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore. Last year, Guillen couldn’t stay healthy, Sizemore looked rancid (but was recovering from a severe ankle injury) and Rhymes may have overachieved, especially offensively.

Outfield

Austin Jackson looks to follow up a rookie-of-the-year caliber season with a solid sophomore campaign. However, he featured an unsustainable BABIP of .396 last year. Look for him to be fine, if he can cut down on the Ks a little.

Right fielder Magglio Ordóñez signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Tigers, despite Scott Boras’ best efforts to pimp him out elsewhere. Ordóñez worked out for the Tigers at the winter meetings, to show he is healthy after breaking his ankle last season. His always-average defense looked a bit better last year after an intensive off-season workout program spent with football players from the University of Miami.

Ryan Raburn looks to nab the starting job in left field, but he’ll face competition from Brennan Boesch, Casper Wells and a now healthy Clete Thomas. Raburn started last year like a man who forgot to bring his bat to the park, but turned it on around mid-season. He’ll have to better than that if he hopes to beat out the other hopefuls.

Forecasting

I must preface this by saying that I abhor making predictions. I love baseball because there is a game almost every day, and it’s nearly impossible to know what a 162 game schedule will bring. Don’t make me remember the 2008 Tigers team, which on paper looked like a behemoth, and wound up in the cellar.

Prior to last year’s season, after some arm-twisting, I looked at my tea leaves, and said that the Tigers would win 85 games. They fell short, and finished all square at 81-81. Failed to make the playoffs…again.

What will the Detroit Tigers do in 2011? Why don’t you tune in with me on March 31, and we’ll find out together.

Jennifer Cosey runs a blog from a Detroit Tigers fan’s view over at Old English D.

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2010 I-70 Hall Of Legends Inductee: Danny Jackson

Continuing the look at the men who have played for both Missouri franchises, we examine the career of Danny Jackson.

The Kansas City Royals drafted Jackson with the number one pick in the January (secondary) phase of the 1982 amateur draft. Jackson was born in San Antonio but attended secondary school in Aurora Colorado, and was playing for Trinidad Junior College (also in Colorado) when the Royals selected him. He zoomed through the minors and made his major league debut on 9/11/1983 in Minnesota, throwing 3 shutout innings in middle relief and getting the win. He bounced between Kansas City and their AAA affiliate in Omaha in 1984, but became a full-time member of the rotation in 1985.

Jackson was a workhorse for the World Champs. He tied for third (with Mark Gubicza) on the team in wins (14), and was third among the starters in ERA (3.42) and innings pitched (208). Despite that success he wasn’t one of the three starters manager Dick Howser initially selected to pitch in the ALCS. When the Royals went down 3-1 in that series to Toronto, Howser passed up his game two starter Bud Black and gave the ball to Jackson for the final Kansas City home game. Danny was fantastic, scattering 8 hits over 8 shutout innings and beating Jimmy Key 2-0. His start began the Royals improbable comeback to win the AL, as they took games 6 and 7 from Toronto in Toronto.

Jackson’s success in that series was rewarded in the World Series, as he got the Game 1 start. He pitched well, allowing 2 runs in his seven innings, but Cardinal lefty John Tudor was better, and Jackson lost Game 1 3-1. He found himself the starter in another Game 5, with his team down in games 3-1 again. The Royals jumped on Bob Forsch for 4 runs in the first 2 innings, and Jackson cruised to a 6-1 victory. Kansas City came back to win in seven games. Other than Bret Saberhagen, Jackson was the best pitcher the Royals had against St Louis.

His 1985, 1986, and 1987 statistics are fairly similar in terms of innings pitched, home runs allowed, strikeout to walk ratio, and so on. Unfortunately, that consistency did not translate to success in terms of games won. Jackson was one game under .500 in 1986 (11-12), then suffered a 9-18 season the following year. Royal management must have thought Jackson was a flash in the pan, with the flash being his 1985 season, because they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds following the 1987 season.

Jackson responded with his finest season as a pitcher, winning 23 games and finishing second in the NL Cy Young voting to Orel Hershiser. He returned to the post season two years later with those Reds, helping them knock out the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS (he won Game 3, and left Game 6 tied 1-1). He did not have much success in the World Series, but the Reds swept Oakland’s Bash Brothers, giving Jackson his second World Series title.

He was a free agent after the 1990 season, and signed on with the Chicago Cubs. He missed all of May and all of July 1991 to injury, and so threw the fewest innings he had since his 1983 call-up (70.2). He was healthier and threw better in 1992, but the Cubs decided he was expendable and traded him to the Pirates in July. He pitched fairly well for the Pirates down the stretch, but was cuffed around in his lone NLCS appearance, not surviving the second inning of a game Pittsburgh eventually lost 13-5. The Pirates left him unprotected in the 1992 expansion draft and Florida grabbed him, however he never played for the Marlins as they traded him to Philadelphia the same day.

Jackson enjoyed his best back-to-back seasons with the Phillies, helping Philadelphia to an improbably NL title in 1993 and finishing 6th in the Cy Young voting in 1994. A free agent after the 1994 season, he signed a 3-year, $10 million deal to join the Cardinals. By this point, Jackson had won a league title in both leagues, and pitched in 3 World Series, over a nine-year span. Unfortunately the magic carpet ride was over.

He was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer before the 1995 season, and had his thyroid removed. The cancer went into remission after the gland removal, allowing Jackson to make a full recovery, but that was not the end of his trouble. Jackson also severely injured his right ankle during spring training in 1995, and although he did recover he was never the same pitcher. Jackson had a rather unique delivery in which he pushed off violently from the rubber and landed full force on his right ankle, sometimes in a heap on the front of the pitcher’s mound. With an unsteady ankle as his landing gear he did not have the same control he once had.

Jackson suffered through a miserable 1995 going 2-12 for a forgettable Cardinals team that finished 19 games under .500. In 1996, Jackson continued to fight the injury bug, throwing only 36.1 innings the whole season. Those Cardinals won the NL Central, sending Danny on his fourth trip to the post-season in 12 years, but he made only one appearance, a three-inning stint in relief of Todd Stottlemyre in Game 5.

After making 4 starts for the Cardinals in 1997, he was traded in June to San Diego for another fading left-hander (Fernando Valenzuela). Jackson finished out the season with the Padres, then retired.

Danny Jackson will be remembered as one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game from 1985-1994. How his career ended won’t change that one bit. Tough, durable, and consistent, he was a significant contributor to three pennant-winning teams over that stretch, starting with the World Champion KC Royals. Of all the games he started over his big-league career (he made 324 starts, not counting the post-season), the biggest by far were the two he made in the 1985 Playoffs. Both Game 5’s, both with his team facing immediate elimination if he did not perform. He allowed one run combined in those two games, and won each one. At the tender age of 23.

Danny Jackson was a quality major league pitcher, but he is a Legend for his performance over 2 weeks in October, 1985.

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