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As a baseball player, Dixie Walker was pretty good

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When people think about longtime MLB OF Dixie Walker, the first thing that pops out in one’s mind was his unwillingness to play with Jackie Robinson in 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Yes, Walker did organize the petition with what hoped to get Robinson off the team. But, whether or not Dixie Walker was morally correct has little to nothing to do with what he was as a baseball player. It is a fair assessment if one wants to describe Walker as a bigot. Remember though, he was not the only one who felt that way. Society has done very much in the lines of social equality, that some forget how bad and prejudice people were in the 1940s.
The fact that Walker eventually warmed up to Robinson makes Walker look better than he did when Robinson first made the team. Quite possibly, his initial treatment of Robinson was the reason he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the 1947 season. Walker would play his final two season, 1948 and 1949, wearing a Pirates uniform.
Dixie Walker made his only two postseason appearances with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the team he played with from 1939-1947. He played in all five games of the 1941 World Series against the Yankees as well as all seven games against the same team in 1947. Walker hit .222 (4-18) in the 1941 WS and hit .222 (6-27) in the 1947 World Series. I have written before about the extreme differences between the Pennant winning Dodgers clubs of 1941 and 1947. For a timeframe that was only six years away, it is amazing that there were only four players who played for both of those Dodgers teams. Only Walker, Pee Wee Reese, Hugh Casey and Kirby Higbe played on the Dodgers on both of those teams. Higbe was traded (according to the movie “42, he was traded to Pittsburgh because he did not want to play with Robinson) early in the 1947 season. Leo Durocher was the manager of the 1941 Dodgers and was supposed to manage the 1947 team. That was before he was suspended for the entire 1947 season for his association with gamblers.
Dixie Walker is the only player in MLB history to have played with both Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth. Walker came up as an outfielder with the Yankees in the 1931 season. Walker were teammates throughout the 1933 season and for a little time in 1934. Of course, Walker was teammates witih Robinson in 1947 with the Dodgers.
Walker went from the Yankees to the Chicago White Sox, where he had his first big season. He was claimed on waivers by the White Sox during the 1936 season, In 1937, Walker hit .302, 9, 95 with a league leading 16 3B and 17 sacrifice hits. His best success came when he played for the Dodgers. He hit over .300 in 7 of his 8 full seasons in Brooklyn and consistently drove in runs. He won a batting title (.355) in 1944 and led the NL in RBI (124) in 1945. As much of a run producer Walker was, though, he never hit many HRs. In fact, he topped 10 HR just once (1944) in his entire career.
Walker’s brother Harry was also an OF who played mostly for the Cardinals and Phillies in the 1940s and 1950s. His father, Dixie, pitched for the Washington Senators from 1909-1912 and his uncle Ernie was an OF for the St Louis Browns from 1913-1915. Dixie and his brother became the first set of second generation brothers to play in the big leagues.
Dixie Walker was a very good player and had a solid career. He hit .306 in his 18 big leagues seasons. He finished his career with 2064 career hits, 1023 RBI and finished with a .820 career OPS. He had 376 2Bs, 96 3Bs and 105 HRs in his career. Walker finished with 2 seasons of 100 or more RBI and had 5 seasons of over 90 RBI. The four time All Star finished in the top 25 in the NL MVP award voting 8 times. That includes 5 top 10 finished. 2 of them being 2nd and 3rd place in the vote, respectively. He is not a Hall of Fame player, since his numbers did not dominate. He may not have won the Man of the Year Award for 1947, but I bet the Dodgers don’t hold off the Cardinals and Braves in 1947 without him.

11/19/2013 Damian Jackson interview (Passed Ball Show)

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11/19/2013 Juan Berenguer interview (Passed Ball Show)

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McCutchen over Goldschmidt for NL MVP simply because the Pirates made the playoffs

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The postseason awards are honestly becoming an annoying way to posture why one thinks a player is better than another. Within the last three seasons, both the Cy Young and league MVP discussions have changed from being an award that simply goes to the best pitcher or hitter in each league to one that depends on which stat you choose to go with. The sabermetric community likes to discredit stats such as pitcher wins and runs batted in, which to a point is justifiable, but no one ever talks about the fact a pitcher has to pitch well to win a lot of games and a batter has to actually drive said runs in. It can be debated all day, but the problem lies with the vague definition of the awards. What do you mean by best pitcher or most valuable player? Because there is no set criteria for each award, many choose to use their own definition of the award.
I feel confident that the AL MVP over the past two seasons was and should have been Miguel Cabrera. I think those who thought that Mike Trout should have won had a better case last season than this season. While I think Cabrera was correctly voted AL MVP, I understand the debate for Trout. Trout plays excellent defense, steals bases and probably does more different things to help the Angels than Cabrera does for the Tigers. In spite of Trout, the Angels still finished at 78-84. The critics say Trout did not have much to help him, but I do feel that the success of a team matters, at least to some extent. One who feels Trout should have won the award should agree that the numbers and production of the two are at least in the same ballpark. When that is the case, it is more important to factor in what the players impact had on a team.
Part of the reason I disagree with the choice for the NL MVP is the fact that it was simply given to Andrew McCutchen because the Pirates made the playoffs in 2013. Like I said before, I think a team’s success should factor in to the vote, but only if the players had comparable seasons. Yadier Molina’s value to the St Louis Cardinals cannot be stated more, and maybe he could have been a possibility if there was not a candidate that stood out.
But in 2013, there was a player who performed clearly above the rest. Paul Goldschmidt had an outstanding season, one which saw his numbers rank higher than McCutchen in just about every category. The Diamondbacks finished 81-81 and missed the playoffs, which is what cost Goldschmidt his due consideration. Lets break down the number of Goldschmidt and McCutchen and you make the logical decision, unless the award has changed to be the best player on a team to make the playoffs. I guess that is still up for debate.
McCutchen had a solid season, won the Silver Slugger Award and made the All Star team. In 157 games, McCutchen scored 97 runs, had 185 hits, 38 2Bs, 21 HR and 84 RBI. He had a .317 avg, .404 OBP and .508 SLG for a .912 OPS. Goldschmidt played in 160 games, scored 103 runs, had 182 hits, 36 2B, and led the NL in HRs (36) and RBIs (125). I can hear the sabermetrics people scoffing now. Driving in 125 runs, which by the way, nobody else in the NL did, does not mean the player was valuable. In fact, what a lousy performance! I hope you pick up my sarcasm. But even if you choose to disregard the RBI stat, which you have every right to do, Goldschmidt had a .401 OBP and led the league in both slugging percentage (.551) and OPS (.952). He also led the NL with his 160 OPS+ and 332 total bases. McCutchen was close (158) in OPS+, but not close in the other categories.
One may want to bring the defensive element into play, like they do with Trout. Ok, McCutchen did not win a Gold Glove Award this season, but Goldschmidt did. That should count for something. The only way one can justify McCutchen getting the award this season is because he played on a superior team. I’d like to use that as a tiebreaker if the numbers are close. They were not in this case. Goldschmidt should have been the clear winner, with no tiebreaker needed.
Going back 27 and 26 years ago, respectively, I understand that there were no extensive stats to go by. But the voting system changed. When Mike Schmidt and Andre Dawson won the NL MVP in 1986 and 1987, they got the award because they were the best players in their respective leagues. If we were using today’s formula of “you have to make the playoffs to win an award,” Glenn Davis of the Astros and Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez of the Mets would have finished 1-3. In 1987, the same could have been said about St Louis’ Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark and San Francisco’s Will Clark.
I get the change from a sabermetric perspective, but Goldschmidt was a better offensive player than McCutchen this season and was also the best defensive 1B in the NL. I understand that Goldschmidt cannot play CF like McCutchen, but he is the best defensively at his position. Don’t the sabermetric guys like to incorporate defense into these votes? A guy that wins a GG and leads the league in OPS, OPS+ and total bases should be the most valuable

Baseball’s first time managers in comparison to the last two seasons

During this offseason, four teams have hired new managers with no MLB managing experience. The Cubs just hired Rick Renteria, the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus, the Nationals Matt WIlliams and the Reds Bryan Price. Of course, the Phillies hired former Cubs star and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg as manager during the 2013 season. Sandberg joined Walt Weiss (Colorado), Mike Redmond (Miami) and Bo Porter (Houston) as first time managers in 2013. Prior to the 2012 season, the Cubs hired Dale Sveum to be their new manager. The Chicago White Sox shocked when they hired Robin Ventura to be their manager as Ventura had never managed or coached on any professional level. Of course, the Cardinals would go the same root with Mike Matheny, but the performance of the Cardinals over the past two seasons make him look like he had tons of experience.
Of course, one thing every MLB manager has in common is the fact that they too were a first time manager at one point. Most of the veteran managers have retired, with few proven candidates seeking a new job. The ones that are are, in some cases, in their 60s (Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel) and in others, have not had a track record of success (Eric Wedge, Manny Acta). The “new blood” in regards to MLB managers is something that has to happen every 15-20 years. If it happens gradually, it is not as noticeable. It obviously has not been gradual as we have seen 11 first time managers over the past three seasons. Some will have to prove their ability to develop young players and do more with less. Some will have the pressure to win right away. A successful manager is measured by one thing… winning.
The Cubs have hired their second first time manager in three seasons. Renteria is a good baseball man who has had the opportunity to coach for a couple different organizations. The key with the Cubs is how their three young potential star prospects, who have not played a game in the major leagues, impact the team. In my opinion, Renteria stays in Chicago for a while.
The Reds did not take much time hiring their pitching coach, Price, as manager. Price has a great track record as a MLB pitching coach in Seattle, Arizona and Cincinnati. A former minor league pitcher, he continues to trend of pitchers getting an opportunity to manage in the big leagues. He inherits a team that has the ability to win the whole thing. With that, comes the responsibility to maintain it. In my opinion, the Reds success of the first two seasons will determine whether Price is long for the job. However, if things do not completely implode, I think he can get another chance even if the Reds digress during his run as manager.
Brad Ausmus has been a top managerial candidate over the past couple seasons. He has probably the biggest responsibility, as he takes over the Detroit Tigers, a team who is a perennial playoff team that lost in the ALCS last season following a World Series appearance in 2012. He inherits a team that is most ready to win now. The only major moves that will be made will probably be within the bullpen. Many have said Ausmus will be a successful MLB manager. Odds are he will be based on the team that he is now in charge in. However, if the Tigers fade over the next couple seasons, the first finger pointed will be at Ausmus.
The Nationals are a very good team that won 98 games in 2012. They won just 86 last season, but had to deal with some injuries and an overall sophomore slump. Williams may have the biggest challenge as he is to right a ship that started sinking last year. The Nationals did finish strong, but had struggled so mightily in the first half of the season, they could never get back in the race. The fact is, the Nationals have one of the more talented rosters in all of MLB. They are going to be picked by many to win the NL East division this season. If Williams leads them back to prominence, he looks like a good hire. In addition, he probably will be there long term. In things do not go to well, GM Mike Rizzo will blame him and odds are, he will not be around that long.
The bottom line is that is managers in MLB win, they look great. When teams lose, it is always the managers fault. Renteria in Chicago probably gets the longest opportunity as the Cubs are the farthest away from contention. The onice will be on the other three to set a winning pace early. My prediction: one of these three; Ausmus, Price, Williams will be a victim of circumstance and will not last long in their post. We will see how it turns out.

11/7/2013 Ron “Papa Jack” Jackson interview (Passed Ball Show)

Ron Jackson interview

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Passed Ball Show #104 10/29/2013 Part 1

Passed Ball Show #104 Part 1

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Analyzing the Peavy, Iglesias, White Sox trade

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Jake Peavy took the ball in game three of the 2013 World Series for the Red Sox. For Peavy, this is the 3rd time he has been part of a postseason team (2005, 2006 Padres). The Red Sox acquired him in a deadline deal which included the White Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox got Peavy, the Tigers SS Jose Iglesias and the White Sox OF Avisail Garcia in the three way trade. But, as with all trades that involve more than two teams, factors like how much did the Red Sox give up to get Peavy and how much the Tigers gave up to get Iglesias are not answered without separating the deal into three individual trades.
In addition to the White Sox trading Peavy to the Red Sox, the Red Sox sending Iglesias to the Tigers and the Tigers dealing Garcia to the White Sox, Brayan Villarreal was sent from Detroit to Boston and Boston traded minor leaguers Cleuluis Rondon, Francellis Montas and Jeffrey Wendelken to the White Sox.
To get Peavy, the Red Sox gave up four players: Iglesias, Rondon, Montras and Wendelken. The Tigers picked up Iglesias in exchange for Garcia and Villarreal. The White Sox dealt Peavy for Garcia, Rondon, Montras and Wendelken. In my opinion, Iglesias is a better overall player and has proven more at the big league level than Garcia. Because of that, the Red Sox gave up more than the White Sox actually received for Peavy. Yes, Garcia has a chance to be an everyday OF for the White Sox, but Iglesias has already established himself as one of the top defensive SS in all of MLB. Iglesias for Garcia and Villarreal seems like a fair deal, with Detroit giving up the extra player in case Garcia does not pan out.
For the White Sox, it will be interesting to see what becomes of the players obtained from Boston. Rondon is a 19 year old SS who has struggled to hit at the low levels of the minor leagues, finishing off my hitting .202 in 29 games at A Kannapolis in the White Sox system. Montras is a 20 year old RHP who is a starting pitcher with a plus fastball and a high K percentage. Spending the whole season at A, he was 5-11, 5.43 with 127 Ks in 111 IP. Wendelken is a RHP who has always been a reliever. He moved up to A+ Winston Salem after the White Sox acquired him.
If Chicago gets a contribution from all four players they added, they could get the best of this trade. The Tigers gave up the least, but also got Iglesias, who has not proved that he is a good enough hitter to be an everyday player. I think the Tigers will neither consider Iglesias a steal nor see either of the players that went the other way become big time players. As for the Red Sox, they have Peavy for 2014 as well and, if they win the World Series, would have to consider the deal for Jake Peavy a success.

10/1/2013 Brian DuBois interview (Passed Ball Show)

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Brian DuBois interview

10/1/2013 Brian Johnson interview (Passed Ball Show)

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Brian Johnson interview

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