He was the funny-looking one. The last to join the quartet, he had a big nose, a weak chin, a penchant for rings and worked sitting down. His contributions to arguably the greatest ensemble in his field have always been overlooked. Yet, even moreso than his Beatles analog, Ringo Starr, Jorge Posada was an equal partner in baseball's fab four, the quartet of Yankees teammates who debuted in 1995 and won seven pennants and five World Series together (though Posada, who played in just eight major league games in 1996, sat out the first of those).
Baseball America's Prospect Handbook is going to press, and it's hard to describe the book to my non-baseball friends (a short list, but I have had a few such discussions). It's a book of 900 scouting reports on the game's top minor league players: 30 for each of the 30 major league organizations. To give you a taste of the Handbook, I presented my own ranking of the farm systems earlier this month, and that proved prescient, as the Phillies showed their system's strength by using it (and Cliff Lee) to deal for Roy Halladay. The Phils won't be in our top five when the book comes out, not after dealing one of the game's top 20 prospects. In another example of what you'll find in the Handbook, here are my personal top 20 prospects in baseball.
1. The Liars Club. The setting: Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The game's biggest stars, the head of the MLPA, baseball execs and more TV crews than had covered the impeachment of Bill Clinton converged here on March 17, 2005, for a hearing on steroids in baseball. There was Mark McGwire choking up, Rafael Palmeiro wagging his finger, Sammy Sosa suddenly forgetting how to speak English. There was the clown with the permatan, Jose Canseco, the only honest guy in the room. It was, as a congressman put it, "theater of the absurd." It was preposterous -- and utterly gripping to watch.
So, it looks like I spent another sports year feeling pre-agitated about things that did not come especially close to happening. Zack Greinke won the Cy Young Award ... he won it rather easily. There was no sudden and overpowering push to get Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame while Bert Blyleven writhes in baseball limbo. The Cleveland Browns did not hire Eric Mangini.
The baseball actuarial tables have been rewritten. As clubs continue to place greater value on young players under control (witness the new religion about not losing compensatory draft picks), the older free agent is being severely devalued. What has been a slow market for almost every player not negotiating with the New York Yankees has become downright cruel for the aging position player.
One thing that has always baffled me is how baseball scouts missed on Albert Pujols. The baffling part is not that Pujols was a 13th round pick in the 1999 amateur draft -- hey, there are quite a few late-round success stories in baseball. Jim Thome was a 13th round pick too. Ryne Sandberg went in the 20th. Heck, Mike Piazza lasted until the 62nd.
When Mike Piazza announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday, there were no tears shed on camera. There were no reporters or exploding flash bulbs. There was no backdrop featuring a Mets logo, nor a general manager offering a heartfelt introduction.
Covering the White House is a thrill for a political junkie like me, but nothing prepared me for the euphoria of reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's Mass at Nationals Park for about 46,000 worshippers here on Thursday.
Roger Clemens' denials are getting louder and somehow less convincing as he attempts to extricate himself from the steroid allegations made against him in the bombshell, worth-every-penny Mitchell Report that contains 8 1/2 pages of compelling, detailed evidence against the would-be Hall of Famer.
There are many significant fantasy performers rumored to be moving in major deals, and with the trade deadline on July 31, expect some major movement in the next couple of weeks. The Rangers, A's, White Sox, Reds and Royals are all confirmed sellers. (Half the Texas roster can be had in a deal.) After a trade, you will see a lot of postmortem analysis of whether a move was good or bad for a particular player. By that time, however, it may be too late to pick him up off waivers if it's a good move. Conversely, it may be too late to unload him in a deal if the move is damaging.
For the first time in the 11 years since interleague play began, the New York Mets head into the first of two annual Subway Series meetings as clearly the better team. Both teams are old -- the average age for the Mets is 31.3 to the Yankees 30.2, but the Mets have pitched better, fielded better and shown more life and cohesiveness than their counterparts in the Bronx, who bring a losing record into the series for the first time.
When injuries and ineffectiveness disintegrated their starting rotation, the Yankees implemented the mother of all Plan B's by allowing Roger Clemens to resume his summer job as major-league ace.
SI.com: Who's He?updated: Tue May 08 2007 16:17:00
Isn't it great when the biggest news of the week was the signing of minor league free agent contract to a last-place team? The Yankees and Roger Clemens stole the baseball spotlight but others have been quietly been making news and for at least another month likely will have a bigger impact on the major leagues than The Rocket. Here are this week's relative unknowns and whether or not you should know them for your fantasy team.
Does it occur to you, too, that baseball has an '80s fixation? That the coverage of the sport seems skewed toward guys who were playing when cool guys wore Members Only jackets and grooved to A Flock of Seagulls on their Walkman?
With its diligence and reverence for record keeping, baseball is often held up as an exact science. Ted Williams chose to play on the last day of the 1941 season because .39955 -- his batting average that morning -- was not actually .400. The discovery in 1977 of an overlooked RBI for Hack Wilson in his record 1930 season was akin to scientists finding a new element, and thus made sacred the number 191.
When it comes to the Athletics, success like winning the 2006 AL West title is more as a result of stellar starting pitching than impressive offensive numbers. Led by the new Big Three of Rich Harden, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton, Oakland's pitching adds a lot to your fantasy rotation. The hitting is, pardon the pun, more hit and miss.