February 16, 2010

For those of you wondering why there haven’t been posts on this site recently, it’s because this site no longer exists.

Please visit http://www.theghostofmoonlightgraham.com

http://www.theghostofmoonlightgraham.wordpress.com no longer exists!!!

Please visit http://www.theghostofmoonlightgraham.com

Frank Thomas Officially Retires, Next Stop Cooperstown

February 12, 2010

On the same day that one future Hall of Famer officially announced his retirement, another future Hall of Famer did the same. Last night, two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas officially announced his retirement.

Not only did Glavine and Thomas retire on the same day, their situations were similar. Like Glavine, Thomas was forced into semi-retirement in 2009. Thomas didn’t play a single inning last season and yesterday, Thomas officially called it a career.

Thomas truly "Hurt" the baseball

Thomas will finish his career with a .301 average, 521 home runs, 2,468 hits, 495 doubles, a .419 OBP, and a .974 OPS in 19 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and Toronto Blue Jays. His .974 career OPS is good for 15th all time. He also won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 93′ and 94′ with the White Sox.

I think if there is such a thing as an underrated Hall of Fame player, Thomas was it. For those of you who weren’t old enough to watch Thomas in the 1990’s, you probably don’t understand how good this guy was.

From 1991-2000, Thomas averaged a hitting line of .320/.439/.581 with 34 home runs, 115 RBI, 114 walks, and 35 doubles. Those are like Baseball Stars numbers after you power up your team. However, Thomas was overshadowed by the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa.

I will go far as to say that if you asked the average baseball outside of Chicago to name the top-10 players of the 90’s, many of them wouldn’t even mention Thomas. Mo Vaughn would probably get more votes than Thomas would in that poll.

I really don’t think Thomas got the credit he deserved for being as good as he was back in the day. This guy almost won back-to-back unanimous MVP awards (he unanimously won the award in 93′)! That is incredible and rarely talked about.

Of course the Thomas detractors (David Wells) will talk about how Thomas played the majority of his games at DH for the second-half of his career and was rarely on the field. Who cares if he played the majority of his games at DH towards the later half of his career? I never understood why that is a negative on a player’s resume?

Nowhere on the Cooperstown application does it say a player had to be a “five-tool” player in order to get in. Whether you like it or not, the DH is a position in the AL. If a player excels at that position, then I don’t see a problem with it.

One thing I don’t see anyone having a problem with about Thomas was his nickname. The “Big Hurt” was one of the best and most appropriate nicknames of any player in the history of baseball. At 6’5” and 257 lbs, Thomas is a big boy and truly hurt the baseball when he hit it.

Such a great nickname.

Thomas will eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014 and he will also have his No.35 retired by the White Sox this summer.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

After 22 Seasons, Tom Glavine Calls It A Career

February 12, 2010

After not pitching an inning in 2009, Tom Glavine was unofficially retired. Yesterday, he made his retirement from the game of baseball official.

Glavine officially retired from baseball after 22 seasons and will join the Atlanta Braves, the team he spent 17 seasons with, in the front office. He will be a special assistant to team President John Schuerholz.

Glavine officially retired yesterday

He will work with Schuerholz on baseball and business projects as well as assisting GM Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox on occasion. Glavine will also work on the team’s TV and radio crew from time to time.

Glavine will finish his Hall of Fame career with 305 wins, a 3.57 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, and two Cy Young awards with the Braves and the New York Mets. Glavine will go down as one of the top-10 best left-handed pitchers of all-time.

Glavine will be remembered for his almost effortless motion, the way he was able to work each corner of the plate, and a ridiculous change up. His ability to control his change up allowed him to get away with an average fastball.

He would throw that “dead fish” at 78 mph, low and outside to a right-handed hitter and then on the next pitch, bust him inside with a 90 mph fastball. That hitter didn’t have a chance.

I think I will remember Glavine for two games. One good, one not so good. First, the good.

I don’t think you can talk about Glavine without mentioning his performance in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. He beat the Indians 1-0 that night and the Braves finally won a World Series in the 1990’s.

Glavine pitched one of the all time great World Series games that night. He hurled eight innings of one hit baseball, while walking three, and striking out eight. Home plate umpire Joe Brinkman gave Glavine the outside corner that night and he took full advantage.

What was so impressive about that performance was that Glavine did it against the Indians. In 1995 the Indians were in the height of their resurgence in the 90’s. That team was an offensive juggernaut in 95′ and had a lineup that featured Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, and Carlos Baerga and Glavine made them look like little leaguers that night.

Now the bad game I will remember Glavine for.

It was Sept. 30th, 2007 and the Mets needed to beat the Florida Marlins to clinch the National League East or force a one-game playoff with the Milwaukee Brewers. On the mound that day was Glavine.

I don’t think I have ever seen a Hall of Fame pitcher come up as small as Glavine did that afternoon. His outing in all honesty was pathetic.

He give up seven runs on five hits and walked two in just one-third of an inning. The highlight of the inning came when he plunked the opposing pitcher, Dontrelle Willis in the chest.

That was the last batter Glavine faced that day and his last in a Mets’ uniform. The game was over before it even started and the Mets suffered one of the worst end of season collapses in baseball history.

Regardless of whether you have a good memory of Glavine or a bad one, there is no denying he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Mets Look To The Far East Again, Sign Hisanori Takahashi

February 12, 2010

The New York Mets dipped into the far east once earlier this offseason when they signed relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi, so they figured why not take another shot at it later in the offseason.

According to various sources, the Mets have signed Japanese left-handed pitcher Hisanori Takahashi to a one-year, minor league contract. The contract will be worth $1 million if Takahashi makes the team and he can earn an extra $2 million in incentives.

Takahashi, 34, pitched for 10 seasons with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. He posted a career record of 79-66 and last year he had a 2.94 ERA in 25 games. Takahashi could pitch in relief or could compete for the fifth starter spot in the Mets’ rotation.

I have no idea what Takahashi will bring to the table in 2010. He could be Hideki Okajima or he could be Hideki Irabu, I have no idea. But here is what I do know–the Mets need all the starting pitching help they can get.

Outside of Johan Santana, the Mets have a bunch of question marks. As I mentioned before, the Mets starting rotation in 2010 is a lot like the Boston Red Sox rotations of the late and early-2000’s.

Those rotations consisted of Pedro Martinez and a bunch of clowns. Unless one of the quartet of Oliver Perez, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, or Takahashi step up, then the Mets are facing the same situation as the Red Sox did back in the day.

It’s really hard to win that way. That type of rotation really puts a lot of stress on the bullpen and by the end of the year, the bullpen is usually warn out.

Takahashi could compete with Jonathan Niese for the fifth starter spot.

Here is a look at Takahashi via YouTube:

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Houston Astros’ Brandon Lyon Undergoes Surgery

February 11, 2010

I got on Houston Astros’ GM Ed Wade pretty hard when he signed RHP Brandon Lyon to a three-year, $15 million contract back in December. Here is what I wrote:

“This is a great day for Lyon and a sad, sad day for Astro fans.

How quickly do you think Meister and Lyon signed this contract? Five seconds? Two seconds?

This is the single worst deal of the offseason so far. What are the Astros thinking? To give Lyon three years to be their closer, when this guy can’t close is absurd.”

The contract was absurd then and it’s absurd now. It’s even more absurd now because Lyon had a procedure done to his pitching shoulder just two months after his signed his contract.

Lyon had surgery two weeks ago to remove a cyst in his pitching shoulder according to the Associated Press.

“Brandon was experiencing some weakness and discomfort in his shoulder, and we brought him in a couple of weeks ago to be seen,” general manager Ed Wade said. “At the time of his pre-signing physical, his right shoulder MRI showed a very small cyst, and when the MRI was repeated recently, it showed that the cyst had enlarged and was pressing on some nerves.”

So let me understand this and I believe I do. The Astros saw a cyst in a guy’s pitching shoulder, thought it was no big deal, signed him to a contract two years too long, and then nearly months later the guy needs surgery to remove that cyst?

Good to see the Astros are using the same doctors as the New York Mets. My lord. What a clown show.

Lyon will be ready to pitch by Opening Day. I am not sure that is such a good thing for Astros fans.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Mets Sign Mike Jacobs, Find Their First Baseman?

February 11, 2010

For those of you Lost fans like myself, do you ever just watch the show season and after season and ask yourself “How is this all going to come together?” I think if you religiously watch Lost, you probably ask yourself that question all the time.

I am starting to get the sense that New York Mets fans are starting to ask themselves that question in regards to the Mets’ offseason. How on Earth is this puzzle going to come together at the end?

Well, just when you think the Mets had all the pieces to their puzzle, they go ahead and add another piece to throw their fans off.

Jacobs is returning to the Mets

According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, via Twitter,  the Mets have signed first baseman Mike Jacobs to a minor league contract. The deal would pay Jacobs $900,000 if he makes the majors as well as an additional $1.15 million in incentives.

The Mets already have Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis on the roster, so my initial take on this signing is that the Mets are hoping that Jacobs can be a left-handed power hitter off the bench against right-handed pitching for them in 2010.

Other than that, I have no idea what he can do for the Mets because he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He can’t run, he can’t hit for average, he can’t get on base, he can’t hit lefties, and he can’t field.

Jacobs hit a healthy .178 against left-handed pitching last year. .178!!! He is an automatic out against lefties, so he can’t be an everyday player in the major leagues. He did hit 18 of his 19 home runs and his OPS was 258 points higher against righties last year with the Kansas City Royals.

I will say this about the Mets’ first base situation–Murphy better have his act together in spring training. If Murphy doesn’t hit well during the spring and Jacobs does, it wouldn’t shock me to see Jacobs as the starting first baseman against righties in 2010. Tatis would presumably play against lefties.

This scenario would lead to two things.

First, if Murphy loses out to Jacobs, his career in New York is over. There is no way he could have a career in New York after that.

Last year the Mets front office hyped up Murphy as a future star. Now a year later he gets beaten out for a job by Mike Jacobs? He would get kicked out of New York like Gregg Jefferies was years ago.

Second, if Jacobs is the Mets starting first baseman headed into the 2010 season, then the Mets are admitting they have given up on their season before it even starts. I already think the Mets have given up on the 2010 season, but this would really put the final nail in the coffin.

Jacobs has played five years in the major leagues and has a career .254 average with 99 home runs, 114 doubles, and a .313 OBP with the Mets, Florida Marlins, and Royals.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Padres Ink Veteran Catcher, Sign Yorvit Torrealba

February 10, 2010

There were probably a lot of teams that could have used a catcher like Yorvit Torrealba this offseason. Off the top of my head, I could think of at least eight-10 organizations that could have benefited from signing Torrealba.

I know in that first paragraph I am making it sound like Torrealba is Johnny Bench. Trust me, he is not. But I do believe he is a very good catcher and has a lot to offer a team.

Torrealba is headed to San Diego

Thanks to the MLB Package (something I highly recommend everyone purchase), I have had the opportunity to watch the Colorado Rockies and Torrealba the last couple of years. I really like the way he handles a pitching staff during a game.

A catcher’s primary responsibility is to call a good game and be a mentor to the entire pitching staff. Torrealba has done a good job in his tenure with the Rockies doing that.

The San Diego Padres are hoping that Torrealba can help mentor their young pitching staff in 2010. The Padres have signed the 31-year-old catcher to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2011.

The Venezuela born catcher is expected to share the catching duties with Nick Hundley. This is something that Torrealba should be used to as he shared the catching duties with Chris Iannetta in Colorado.

Torrealba hit a career high .291 last year in 64 games. He also had a pretty good series against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS last year hitting .357 in 15 AB’s.

Here is what was fascinating about the catching market this winter. How does Brian Schneider get a two-year deal, but Torrealba and Bengie Molina only got one-year deals? Doesn’t make much sense to me.

Torrealba will be entering his 10th season in the major leagues and has a career .255 average with 38 home runs and a .315 OBP with the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and Rockies.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Brandon Webb Throws Off A Mound, Feels Good

February 10, 2010

Last year I did a two-part series on the “key” players for each team. A “key” player is a type of player that had an injury plagued or down season the year before and if he can make a come back, then the team would be much better off.

I plan on continuing this two-part series again this year and I will give you a little preview today. The “key” player for the Arizona Diamondbacks is RHP Brandon Webb.

Webb threw off a mound yesterday

Webb fits my “key” player title to a tee.

From 2005-2008, Webb was not only one of the top pitchers in the National League, but in all of baseball. In those seasons, Webb was 70-37 with a 3.23 ERA and won the NL Cy Young in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, Webb finished second in the voting.

Pretty impressive.

However, the 2009 season was a lost season for Webb. He made his first start of the season, got rocked by the Colorado Rockies, and never pitched again.

Webb went on the disabled list with shoulder bursitis and eventually needed surgery on his right shoulder. Now trying to make a comeback, Webb finally returned to the place where he has had the most success in his life–the pitcher’s mound.

For the first time since having shoulder surgery last August, Webb threw off a mound yesterday. Webb threw 20-25 pitches at Chase Field in Arizona and said he felt good afterwards.

“I’m right where I expected to be,” Webb said in a statement through the Associated Press. “Having not been on the mound in a year, I am pleased with how I felt.”

The Diamondbacks will take it slow with Webb in spring training, giving him extra days rest between starts and throwing sessions. If Webb doesn’t have any setbacks in spring training, he should be ready to go for Opening Day.

This is very, very good news for Diamondback fans. Arizona has added some nice pieces this offseason, but in order for the Diamondbacks to compete for the NL West title or a Wild Card spot, they need Webb to stay healthy in 2010.

Here is what I wrote about who I think Webb can be back in November:

“Webb’s career is really starting to remind me of Orel Hershiser’s. Hershiser was a sinker-ball pitcher, who logged a lot innings, won a Cy Young, and in the middle of his career underwent rotator cuff surgery.

Sound familiar?

Hershiser was a good pitcher after the surgery, but never was the dominate pitcher he once was. I think Webb can be the same pitcher Hershiser was post-surgery.

That means a pitcher who can still log a lot of inning, strikes out few, has a high WHIP, but can still gut his way out to 10-15 wins.”

The Diamondbacks will only go as far as Webb goes in 2010. If he can make a successful comeback, then Arizona will have a nice three-headed monster with Webb, Dan Haren, and Edwin Jackson. If Webb suffers any setbacks next year, then Arizona will have a massive hole to fill in their rotation.

That is why he will be the “key” player for the Diamondbacks in 2010.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Cliff Lee Has Minor Foot Surgery

February 9, 2010

I really don’t think that is the headline Seattle Mariner fans want to see about a week before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. But the reality is, it’s a true headline.

As the Tacoma News Tribune’s Ryan Divish first reported, Cliff Lee underwent a minor procedure in his left foot to remove a bone spur on the fifth of February. Lee is expected to resume baseball activities in two-to-three weeks and should be ready by Opening Day.

Lee had foot surgery last week

The reason Lee elected to have the surgery so close to spring training is because the injury hadn’t bothered Lee until recently. The other option for Lee would have been to pitch through the pain during the season and receive cortisone shots on a regular basis.

The injury will slow down Lee a little in spring training, but I don’t expect this to slow Lee down during the regular season. Lee is pitching for a big-time contract in 2011 and beyond and I don’t expect him to miss a beat this season.

The surgery was preformed by Dr. Bryan Burke in Little Rock, Arkansas.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Chicago White Sox Unretire Number For Vizquel

February 9, 2010

There is a pretty cool story coming out of Chicago. And no it’s not that Chicago Bears’ coach Lovie Smith got fired or Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry figured out how to be a major league GM.

The Chicago White Sox are the team in Chicago that is doing a cool thing.

Vizquel will wear No. 11 with the Chi Sox

The White Sox are unretiring Luis Aparicio’s No. 11 and giving it to newly signed SS Omar Vizquel. As long as the player whose number is being unretired doesn’t have a problem with this, then this is completely fine by me.

Aparicio clearly doesn’t have a problem with this.

“If there is one player who I would like to see wear my uniform number with the White Sox, it is Omar Vizquel,” Aparicio said in a statement through ESPN.com. “I have known Omar for a long time. Along with being an outstanding player, he is a good and decent man.”

What’s cool about this is that it’s one Venezuelan Hall of Fame shortstop giving his number to another Venezuelan future Hall of Fame shortstop. When Vizquel does hang up his spikes, he will be a HOF’er.

I think it’s great when a player of today remembers of the players of yesterday. If Vizquel can get just one fan to find a new found appreciation for Aparicio, then this decision is worth it.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


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