September 4, 2002
Around the Majors
No big revelations on my mind today, so I thought I would just take a stroll around baseball and see what catches my attention...
Mr. Bean(e) and the A's
Over at ESPN.com one of my favorite writers, Rob Neyer, has a couple of good pieces currently running.
One is on the Oakland A's and their tendency to win an awful lot of games in the late stages of seasons.
The other is about the man who puts together the Oakland A's, their GM Billy Beane.
When I was little I had a green jacket that had a big yellow "A" on it.
Supposedly the "A" was for Aaron, but I turned it into an Oakland A's jacket.
Later, my uncle was going to buy me my first wooden baseball bat and asked what team name I wanted engraved on it.
I said the Oakland A's.
He (correctly) figured that eventually a little kid would get sick of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and the rest of the A's.
So he vetoed my decision and my bat had "Minnesota Twins" engraved on it (it also said "Powerized," although somehow that never really helped my hitting).
He was right.
After getting to the World Series when I was 5, 6 and 7 years old, the A's slowly started slipping (and that jacket started getting smaller and smaller) and soon Canseco was an ex-A and Mark McGwire was alternating between being a .201-hitting-A or an often-injured-A.
So I moved my full fan attention to the Twins, who (after winning the World Series in 1991) promptly stunk for the next decade or so.
But hey, being a fan is unpredictable and I am not one to switch teams on the fly (are you listening all you new Yankee fans?).
Anyway, turns out he could have gotten me the A's bat, because I have resumed being a big fan of the A's, starting about 4-5 years ago.
Coincidentally, just in time to be beaten by the Yankees in the playoffs the last two years (Slide Jeremy, SLIDE!).
What's my point? Well, as usual, I don't really have one.
But basically I think Billy Beane is the best GM in baseball today.
His teams win consistently (this will be their 4th straight year with over 85 wins and their 3rd straight playoff appearance) and they are always in position to succeed in the future.
He often makes tremendous trades and even when he does make a "mistake" (as most humans tend to do) it can sometimes actually turn out to be a good trade (see Mabry, John Freaking).
And he does it on a tight budget.
Plus, he has my dream job.
40 years old and already in his 5th or 6th year as the GM of a major league baseball team.
And his job is a constant challenge, because the A's payroll isn't gonna be passing the Yankees or Red Sox (or even the White Sox) anytime soon.
If any of my loyal readers owns a baseball team, let me know.
I am 20, I will GM for free, I will work with a low payroll and when I'm 40 I could be in my 20th season as the GM! That would sure blow Beane's 6th season away!
Mueller back in San Fran
Mueller (pronounced Miller, strangely enough) is a solid major league player.
He'll usually hit a little below .300 (lifetime .287 AVG), he'll get on-base at a good clip (lifetime .371 OBP) and he'll hit for doubles power (lifetime .400 SLG).
All in all, a pretty decent pickup for the Giants, especially when they have been giving at bats to some pretty crappy hitters, which I talked about previously.
They can put Mueller at 3B and move David Bell to 2B and Jeff Kent to 1B or they can put Mueller at 3B and put Bell on the bench, or they could use Mueller as a pinch hitter, or...well, you get the point.
Anyway, the question I have is, why the heck did they wait until now?!
If the Giants end up making the playoffs (and I happen to think they will) Bill Mueller will not be eligible for the post-season roster, as he was acquired after August 31st.
What could possibly have held up a Bill Mueller for Jeff Verplancke trade so long as to keep Mueller from being eligible for post-season play?
I think Brian Sabean is a pretty good GM and Mueller will help them down the stretch, but I would have liked the pickup a lot better a week ago.
Welcome to the Big Show
One of my favorite parts of the baseball season is September, which is when rosters expand.
I just love seeing 6 pinch runners used in a game and I like to look at a rookie's stats and see "Games Played: 10, At Bats: 3."
And this year there is added enjoyment to the late season call-ups for me because in the Diamond-Mind keeper league that I joined last year, a player can only be drafted onto a roster after he has appeared in a major league game.
Which means in the next couple of weeks, a whole slew of rookies will become DMB eligible.
One of them will be...
Drew Henson 3B, Yankees
If you don't know Henson from his days as the QB of the Michigan Wolverines, you probably know him as the highly touted future Yankees superstar.
Henson looks like a power hitter and as you might expect of a former QB, he has the necessary arm for 3B.
However, the actual results on the baseball field have not met the expectations (so far).
Before being called up to the Yankees Henson appeared in 128 games with the AAA Columbus Clippers:
471 At bats
The .435 Slugging % is not very impressive, but along with the .240 batting average, it does show that Henson has some power potential (he did hit 18 homers and 30 doubles in those 128 games).
However, the thing that struck me when looking at his stats was his strikeout to walk ratio: 151 Ks and 37 BB.
Now, Henson might very well turn into the next Alfonso Soriano, who also happens to be a Yankee and who has an even worse K/BB ratio of 137/19.
But I wouldn't bet on it.
If Henson wants to become the star third baseman that many envisioned, he is going to have to find a way to improve his plate discipline.
Whether that means taking more walks (which would be a very good thing) or not, he needs to be more selective at the plate and work his way into more pitches to hit.
If he does that, I think he average will go up, his walks will go up and his power, which is already pretty good, will go up too.
I don't think Henson is on the path to stardom, as many had predicted, but he has some tools in place and it isn't too late to switch paths.
But don't expect him to be on my DMB team this time next year.