NY Sports Dog: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

David Wright Nearing Impressive Doubles Feat

With two doubles in yesterday's loss to the Nationals, David Wright now has 38 on the season. With two more, it will give him his 5th consecutive season with 40 or more doubles, a very rare achievement.

He only has 4 games left to reach the mark, so in a season with nothing left to root for, it gives us another reason to watch.

From what I can gather, the major league record for consecutive 40 or more doubles in a season is seven.

Wade Boggs had 40 or more doubles in a season from 1985 to 1991.

Joe Medwick, one of the games all-time great hitters, also had seven in a row from 1933 to 1939.

Todd Helton had five in a row from 2003 to 2007.

David Wright is next at four, and he is the only one with an active streak of more than two seasons.

Multiple Seasons with 50 Doubles

Player Seasons Seasons & Teams
Tris Speaker[4] 5 1912 Boston (AL); 20-21, 23, 26 Cleveland
Paul Waner[5] 3 1928, 32, 36 Pittsburgh
Stan Musial[6] 3 1944, 46, 53 St. Louis (NL)
George H. Burns[7] 2 1926-27 Cleveland
Chuck Klein[8] 2 1930, 32 Philadelphia (NL)
Charlie Gehringer[9] 2 1934, 36 Detroit
Billy Herman[10] 2 1935-36 Chicago (NL)
Joe Medwick[11] 2 1936-37 St. Louis (NL)
Hank Greenberg[12] 2 1934, 40 Detroit
Edgar Martínez[13] 2 1995-96 Seattle
Craig Biggio[14] 2 1998-99 Houston
Todd Helton[15] 2 2000-01 Colorado
Nomar Garciaparra[16] 2 2000, 02 Boston (AL)
Albert Pujols[17] 2 2003-04 St. Louis (NL)

Seven Seasons with 40 Doubles

Player Seasons Seasons & Teams
Tris Speaker 10 1912, 14 Boston (AL); 16-17, 20-23, 26 Cleveland; 27 Washington (AL)
Stan Musial 9 1943-44, 46, 48-50, 52-54 St. Louis (NL)
Harry Heilmann[18] 8 1919-21, 23-27, 29 Detroit; 30 Cincinnati
Wade Boggs[19] 8 1983, 85-91 Boston (AL)
Napoleon Lajoie[20] 7 1897-98 Philadelphia (NL); 1901 Philadelphia (AL); 03-04, 06, 10 Cleveland
Rogers Hornsby[21] 7 1920-22, 24-25 St. Louis (NL); 28 Boston (NL); 29 Chicago (NL)
Lou Gehrig[22] 7 1926-28, 30, 32-34 New York (AL)
Charlie Gehringer 7 1929-30, 32-34, 36-37 Detroit
Joe Medwick 7 1933-39 St. Louis (NL)
Pete Rose[23] 7 1968, 74-76, 78 Cincinnati; 79-80 Philadelphia (NL)
Craig Biggio 7 1993-94, 98-99, 2003-05 Houston
Todd Helton 7 2000-01, 03-07 Colorado

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fred Wilpon vs Bill Veeck

As we near the end of the 2009 Mets season, the team is “pulling out all the stops” to put fans in the seats and say thanks for what can only be described as the single most disappointing season in team history.

It’s as if the team is borrowing from the book of Bill Veeck, the legendary baseball owner who was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1991.

Bill Veeck was an absolute master at putting fans in the seats. He owned the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and Chicago White Sox at various times in his life, and he had one goal: to make the fan experience fun.

As Mike Brewster wrote in his great article for Business Week, Veeck was a baseball renaissance man:

He was born on Feb. 9, 1914, in Chicago. His father, Bill Veeck Sr., was a Chicago Cubs beat writer for years before being hired as a team employee and eventually becoming Cubs president. By the time he was 13, Bill Jr. was selling popcorn, showing patrons to their seats, and checking turnstile numbers. He even had the idea, as a teenager, to plant ivy on the walls at Wrigley Field.

Here are some of Veeck's contributions to the game:

  • Fan appreciation night
  • Player names on uniforms
  • Fireworks displays
  • Electronic scoreboards
  • Improved food choices at the park
So how does Mets owner Fred Wilpon compare to Bill Veeck?

Veeck lost his right leg in the South Pacific during World War II to the recoil of an anti-aircraft gun. Veeck wore the wooden leg he had for the rest of his life and actually had an ashtray built into the bottom of it.

Fred Wilpon lost an arm and leg to the Bernie Madoff scandal. Wilpon won’t disclose how much he lost to anyone other than longtime friend Larry King.

Veeck bought the troubled St Louis Browns and desperately needed help getting men on base. To solve that problem he enlisted the help of a midget—Eddie Gaedel, who walked in his only appearance in the big leagues. The commissioner’s office frowned upon Gaedel and instituted a minimum height limit on the diminutive one, effectively ending a promising career.

Fred Wilpon’s team was decimated with injury in 2009, and they also badly needed baserunners. To help fix this they brought up the super slender Wilson Valdez and his career .264 OBP earned over parts of 6 big league seasons.

Bill Veeck did a lot for the game, including signing the first African-American player in the American League, the great Larry Doby. He also signed 41-year old Satchel Paige in 1948. Paige went 6-1 that year, and Larry Doby went to six all-star games during a Hall of Fame career.

Fred Wilpon signed 34-year old Livan Hernandez, who went 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA prior to being released. He also brought in 40-year old Gary Sheffield, who had some success during those times he was able to stay on the field. When the opportunity came to move Sheffield by trade or waiver wire, the Mets held on, negating any opportunity to get younger players for the National League's DH/DL leader.

In 1941, Veeck bought a minor league franchise and began a series of giveaways designed to get more absurd as the season went on. Early in the year, orchids were given to all the women attending one game. Then, a customer went home with three live pigeons. A midsummer night's 200-pound cake of ice followed for one lucky fan, only to be topped later in the season by the gift of a horse.

Fred Wilpon gave away a hot dog.

Here are some other ideas the Mets have on the drawing board to help the Wilpon’s raise money and put fans in the seats:

New Tidy-Bowl pay toilets at Citi Field. 50 cents for a #1, $1.00 for a #2 or get the combo pack for a buck and a quarter. (Toilet paper not included)

Add A Met to Your Health Insurance Night. Hey fans, here is your chance to adopt a Mets player and add them to your Blue Cross/Blue Shield GHI AFLAC or whatever health insurance policy you have. (Optional rider not included)

Jeff Wilpon's Valet Parking Lot. Let Jeff or David Howard or Uncle Saul Katz park your car for you at Citi Field. $25 per car and a 3% off coupon good for one item at any Mets Team Store. (minimum purchase of $100 required)

Education assistance week. The New York Mets, in conjunction with Queens College, are proud to offer a course in public speaking by the great orator Omar Minaya. At the end of one semester you will be able to answer any question with "At the end of the day" and "you know what I mean." Confuse your friends, Family and Co-workers. (successful completion of the course entitles you to go on to graduate school at Professor Reyes University)

Somehow I think Bill Veeck would actually appreciate those efforts.

As a final note, Bill Veeck was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 shortly after his death. His plaque reads: "A Champion of the Little Guy."

Fred Wilpon plans to visit Cooperstown during the month of December for half off wings at Teddy’s Bite O’ Buffalo.
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Mets Days of Note

As the Mets long season winds down, it's time to look back at some interesting days on the calender, both from a team and player perspective:

May 10: Carlos Delgado's last game
May 10: Mets longest winning streak...7 games in a row
May 15: Mets last day in first place
May 19: Ryan Church misses third base and costs the Mets a win
May 20: Jose Reyes' last game
May 29: Last day Mike Pelfrey's ERA was under 4.00
May 31: Mets best record of the season...7 games over .500
June 4: Mets get swept by the Pirates
June 6: John Maine's last start before today
June 13: Luis Castillo drops game ending pop-up, Mets lose
June 28: Mets get swept by the Yankees
July 5: Mets get swept by the Phillies
July 25: Omir Santos' last homerun
August 7: Frankie Rodriguez' last blown save...he's converted 7 in a row
August 14: Bobby Parnell's last win...he's lost 4 in a row
August 20: Johan Santana's last start....seems like much longer ago
August 23: Luis Castillo's last stolen base
August 26: Mets longest losing streak...5 games
August 28: The last day Daniel "Eagle Eye" Murphy drew a walk...41 at-bats ago
September 10: Mets get swept by the Marlins

Team Win/Loss Splits

Overall 63 79 599 674 .444
Home 36 36 307 319 .500
Road 27 43 292 355 .386
Month by Month
April 9 12 96 97 .429
May 19 9 138 111 .679
June 9 18 108 146 .333
July 12 14 93 108 .462
August 10 19 117 151 .345
September 4 7 47 61 .364
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Interesting Baseball Developments (Updated)

Last month I wrote about other interesting baseball developments and thought it would be a good time to update the numbers.

With 196 hits, Ichiro is on pace for 231....this will mark the 9th consecutive season that he has 200 hits or more, a new baseball record (currently shares the record with Wee Willie Keeler). Pete Rose had the most 200+ hit seasons with 10, and Ichiro is very likely to break that as well in 2 years.

When I wrote this last month Joe Mauer was making a run at .400 and hitting over .380. He has cooled off a bit and is currently batting .367. After batting .391 in August he is "only" hitting .360 for the month of September.

The amazing Albert Pujols is almost on pace for a 50+ HR and near 150 RBI season. This would be the first 150 RBI season in the National League since Sammy Sosa did it in 2001. Pujols will easily get over 50 homeruns (he has 47), but will need a serious RBI push to reach 150 (he is at 124).

Brian Roberts is on pace for an eye-popping 58 doubles (yes, my eyes just literally popped out of their sockets). The all-time single season doubles record is 67, and we haven't seen a player have 60 in a season since 1936! With a bit of a push Roberts can get to 60, and no one is even talking about it outside of Baltimore.

Tim Lincecum's shot at 300 Ks is gone, but he was "almost there". There have been sixty-three 300 K seasons in baseball history and none since 2004. Lincecum was scratched from his last start with back spasms, and there are real concerns for his health for the remainder of the year. By the way, Lincecum is making $650K this year for a Giants team fighting for their playoff lives.

As for the Mets, well, it's certainly nice to get a few guys back from injury. That said, these guys don't seem to be embracing the spoiler role the way a younger team would. It's more like a bunch of guys auditioning for next year.

Thank God for football.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gary, Keith and Ron Main Event: Free Tickets!

Our friends at Gary, Keith and Ron have just announced their latest offer, and it's a BIG one!


When you by 6 GKR t-shirts, you get two tickets to our October 3rd main event! (think Christmas gifts) Scrumptious appetizers and snacks... You will stand on the field's warning track during the National Anthem in your GKR gear. You'll have a chance to win thrilling, one-of-a-kind prizes in our $5 raffles, and now you might even have a chance to attend a player signing! Stay tuned for details!

Plans for the GKR 2nd year-end fundraiser get better by the day.

Not to mention they have more surprises in store for you...

Act now to (Click Here) buy your 6 t-shirts or your tickets to spend this glorious day at the ballpark with your GKR friends and fellow supporters. Please tell us in the message box at check out that you are taking advantage of our crazy offer !

AND - Our 476th ticket buyer wins a visit to the SNY broadcast booth!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Has Lastings Milledge Figured It Out?

Like many of you, I've been paying a lot of attention to other stories of interest around the league. Let's face it, these last few months of watching the Mets have left a void that needs to be filled.

One of the more interesting stories has been the ups and downs of Lastings Milledge.

At one time he was slotted in as a Mets "can't miss star" of the future. He came up quickly, tried to make a splash with his play and his words, the fans treated him like a rock star, and he was promptly smashed down by his teammates for a number of reasons that included his brash and cocky attitude.

If Milledge was the proverbial nail that was sticking up, Billy Wagner and several other vets were willing hammers ready to smash him down.

He was then traded in a controversial move to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, and his career took a decided turn south.

In a sub-par 2008, Milledge struck out 96 times in only 523 at-bats while putting up a 91 OPS+ and displaying more of the maturation issues that got him into trouble with the Mets.

After opening 2009 as the Nationals starting rightfielder, Milledge was sent to the minors just two weeks into the season after arriving late for a team meeting.

He was sent a very clear message. The Nats manager at the time, Manny Acta, damned Milledge with faint praise after the demotion:

"Lastings is going through what a lot of players go through, where they go down at times like this," he said. "We're still . . . I'm still a big fan of Lastings. I think Lastings is going be a good player. I told him on the message that I was pulling for him, and I'm anticipating him being up here again and making a contribution."
That contribution came in the form of a trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates acquired outfielder Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett to the Nationals.

The trade was supposedly another one-sided deal in which the Pirates gave up too much for too little. Nyjer Morgan was an immediate hit with the Nationals, while Lastings was sent to AAA.

But then two things happened: Morgan went to the disabled list and Milledge was called up to Pittsburgh after blistering AAA pitching to the tune of a .333 batting average.

After being called up on July 31st, Milledge has continued to rake.

He has a .325 batting average and a 119 OPS+ in 33 games for Pittsburgh. Moreover, he's batting a gaudy .463 over the last 14 days.

Milledge himself credits his success with his own personal happiness.
"It really is a dream come true to play for the Pirates," Milledge said. "With growing up in Bradenton and the Pirates having held spring training there forever, I always thought it would be cool to play for them. I was hoping they would draft me out of high school and was disappointed when they didn't. So when I found out I got traded to the Pirates I was very excited. It's been a great experience so far being in this organization."

"I've done some things I'd take back but I'm a little older and wiser now," he said. "You also can't believe everything you hear or read about someone. Some of the things that have been put out there about me make it sound like I'm the worst guy in the world but that's not the case.

"I like to smile, have fun, and joke around with people. Some people think you're not allowed to do that in baseball. That's the way I've got to be, though. I play the game better when I'm relaxed and having fun."

Milledge's attitude has not been an issue since the Pirates acquired him, though, and he has seemed to assimilate well into his new organization.

"He's been a good teammate and he's worked very hard," Pirates manager John Russell said. "He's done everything we've asked."

So while the jury is very much still out on Lastings, I'm personally very happy to see him playing well. Milledge is a solid baseball talent with maturity issues, and I still believe the Mets should not have let him get away.

As to whether or not he's truly "figured it out", no one truly knows. That said, a strong finish to 2009 could lead to a very big 2010 for Lastings.

2009 Season Stats
Last 7 days6223830032500.364.400.500.900
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Letterman's Top 10

"Top 10 Signs You Wasted Your Summer"

The #1 reason?

"You play for the Mets!"


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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rick Peterson's Impact

Last year when the Mets fired Willie Randolph, Rick Peterson was let go as well. It was a move that was applauded throughout many circles for reasons that came out afterward--Peterson was described as a major "control freak who didn't listen."

When he left it was ugly, and got uglier. He was roundly criticized by many on the staff, including ace Johan Santana and Oliver Perez.

Both of these men are undergoing surgery.

Let's take a quick look at the Mets key pitching stats in 2003, the year before Peterson's arrival:

2003: 4.50 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, 93 ERA+

Pretty poor--the Mets had the second most losses in the NL that year, with 95. The staff featured some good pitchers--Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, and Steve Trachsel, who won 16 games, and reliever John Franco, who had a 2.92 ERA, and Armando Benitez, with a 3.10 ERA.

When Peterson arrived in 2004, the pitching staff remained essentially the same. 4 of the 5 starters stayed in place, and the 5th starter situation remained fluid all year, just as it did in 2003. Benitez was replaced with Braden Looper as the closer, who put up similar numbers.

The overall numbers of the staff improved, which remained a consistent theme throughout Peterson's tenure.

2004: 4.10 ERA, 3.7 BB/9, 104 ERA+
2005: 3.77 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 109 ERA+
2006: 4.16 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 105 ERA+
2007: 4.27 ERA, 3.5 BB/9, 100 ERA+
2008: 4.07 ERA, 3.6 BB/9, 103 ERA+

As we all know, Peterson was fired in June of 2008, but he gets partial credit for last year's performance.

And now we have 2009--Dan Warthen in full swing, injuries up and down the staff. Horrible numbers that look very similar to 2003:

2009: 4.44 ERA, 4.0 BB/9, 96 ERA+

So what was the true impact of Rick Peterson? Let's combine the numbers the year prior to his arrival and after he left, and look at them against the averages from Peterson's tenure:

With R. Peterson: 4.07 ERA, 3.4 BB/9, 104 ERA+
Without Peterson: 4.47 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 94 ERA+

It does make you wonder how much impact Peterson truly had, and what 2009 would have looked like had he stayed in place.

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