Monday, September 19, 2016

Notes, quotes and comment

While pretty much everybody else in Minnesota was watching some football game Sunday night, I was watching the Yankees-Red Sox game on ESPN.

Mookie Betts made two sensational catches in right field. This is nothing unique for Betts; ESPN said he leads the majors, all positions, in runs saved.

We Twins fans have a chronic bellyache about all the infielders the Twins have tried to play in the outfield the past several seasons. Danny Santana. Miguel Sano. The Eduardos, Nunez and Escobar. Jason Bartlett. None of them have been good outfielders, and other than Sano, none of them figured to hit the way you want an outfielder, particularly a corner outfielder, to hit.

Betts is a converted infielder; his "real" position is second base, but that is kinda occupied in Boston by Dustin Pedroia. The conversion certainly worked for Betts. Of course, he is faster than any of the infielders the Twins tried this with except maybe Santana, and that might have something to do with the difference.


As the Twins continue their search for new front office leadership, the San Diego Padres offer an example of what to avoid. A.J. Preller got a one-month suspension last week for misleading the Red Sox on the medical history of pitcher Drew Pomeranz. It's actually the second time Preller's been suspended by the commissioner's office for rule violations; he got nailed while with Texas for illegalities in negotiations in the Dominican.

As I suggested a couple weeks ago in a Monday print column, September is about as slow as it gets for a baseball front office, so Preller's suspension may not be much of a setback for the organization. But the man is getting a bit of a reputation as untrustworthy, and that matters.


Last week I wrote about Davey Johnson's 43-homer season and noted in passing that another future manager of note, Dusty Baker, hit 21 homers for that same Atlanta Braves team.

Going further down that rabbit hole: The primary catcher for that team was Johnny Oates, who managed for 11 years and won three divisional titles with the Texas Rangers. (Oates was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after resigning as Rangers manager and died a few years later).

Oates' managerial record was 797-746. Johnson's was 1,372-1,071. Baker is still active, of course; he's at 1,750-1,565 after Sunday's loss. That's not the most impressive collection of future managers on a team in baseball history, but it's not bad. (The 1918 Pirates had three future Hall of Fame managers on their roster in Casey Stengel, Bill McKechnie and Billy Southworth.)

The 1973 Braves were managed by Eddie Mathews, Hall of Fame third baseman who is better remembered for his power exploits than for his dugout wizardry. I daresay none of those managers would cite Mathews as an influence. But they did have an interesting confluence of Hall of Fame managers. Johnson spent much of his career playing for Earl Weaver; Oates came up with the Orioles under Weaver and later played for Tommy Lasorda with the the Dodgers; and Baker had some of his best seasons under Lasorda.

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