Thursday, November 29, 2018

#OldFriends and coaching jobs

This corner of the interwebs speculated at one point that the Twins were holding the coaching job that eventually went to Bill Evers for Chris Gimenez. Perhaps that was even an option, but -- obviously -- the job went to Evers.

And Gimenez will be on the Dodgers coaching staff, with the title of "game planning coach." That sounds like it might be the kind of job Rocco Baldelli held with Tampa Bay before the Twins made him manager, but the Rays called him "major league field coordinator."  Both are titles the Twins haven't put on a coach, now or in the past.

Jeff Pickler, whose coaching job with the Twins involved working with outfielders and assisting with game strategy -- which also sounds a good bit like Gimenez's probable responsibility with the Dodgers -- declined a front office job with the Twins and will be a coach on the Reds staff.

Somebody, I don't remember who, described the Twins job offer to Pickler as a "promotion." I suspect Pickler didn't see it that way. And while I don't know the financial specifics of any of these jobs. as a uniformed coach with the Reds Pickler will continue to accrue service time in the players pension plan, which is probably no minor consideration for a guy who spent eight years playing minor league ball for peanuts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

On C.J. Cron

The Twins picked up C.J. Cron on waivers Monday. I am not impressed.

There is an obvious attraction to a player who hits 30 homers, which is what Cron did last season for Tampa Bay. Thirty bombs is more than anybody on the Twins hit in 2018. Cron had 59 extra-base hits; nobody on the 2018 Twins did that either. Power is an important tool, and Cron has it.

The problem is, that's pretty much all Cron has going for him. He is one-dimensional. He's a right-handed hitter who is limited afield to first base and winds up getting his at-bats as a designated hitter. He sports atrocious walk-to-strikeout rates. He's not (yet) on the wrong side of 30 (turns 29 in January), but he's not young enough to carry any sense of projection.

This is his prime time. He hit 30 homers last year, and the Rays responded by casting him aside. We can do better. 

There's something else that designating Cron for assignment and then waiving him tells us: There was no trade market. None of the other 29 teams (including the Twins)  was willing to give the Rays anything beyond the $50,000 waiver fee for him.

Something Alex Cora, the Red Sox manager, said during the World Series has been resonating with me for a few weeks:

"We live in an era that hitting .210 with 30 homers and 70 RBI is acceptable and it's a good season. We don't believe that."
Cron hit better than that -- .253 with 30 homers and 74 RBIs -- but he's the kind of player Cora was talking about.

Of course, adding Cron doesn't come in a vacuum. Joe Mauer -- pretty much Cron's opposite as a hitter -- isn't going to be the Twins first baseman next season. Kennys Vargas is gone to Japan.

First base in Minnesota is available. Cron may be the front-runner, but there isn't much difference  between him and Tyler Austin other than that Cron is about 30 months older and has more than five times the major league at-bats.

Invest 500 at-bats in Austin, and he'll hit 30 homers too. But I won't guarantee that he'll do enough other things to make him a better player than Cron.

The Rays figure they have better ways to use the roster spot and $5 million (a reasonable projection of the arbitration-eligible Cron's salary for 2018). I would like to think the Twins do as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Sunday Funnies

Think you can stand another Frankie Pytlak story? So can I.

As with last week's tale, this supposedly came during Pytlak's rookie season. Pytlak's teammates told him that the elevators in their hotel were only free for the first eight floors; after that it was 10 cents a floor.

Pytlak's room was on the 33rd floor, so he decided to save $2.50 a trip and take the stairs.

After a few such excursions, his "buddies" told him that they had arranged with hotel management for him to ride free.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving and a final coaching hire

It's not Thanksgiving on the blog without this turkey
of a photo.

The Twins on Wednesday wrapped up their revamp of the coaching staff with another hire out of the Tampa Bay organization.

Bill Evers has coached in the majors with the Cubs, Yankees and Rays, but none of it in the past decade. He's spent much of his career in professional baseball managing in the minors. According to his Wikipedia entry, he has a career record of 1,381-1,206, which means he has seen a heck of a lot of bush league baseball.

He will be, easily, the oldest member of the Twins coaching staff. His duties will include catching instruction. And presumably, being the voice of experience on a staff with a novice manager and a pitching coach who has never been in pro ball on any level in any role.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More roster stuff

On Tuesday I suggested that Luis Arraez is a better prospect than Nick Gordon. Later in the day, the Twins added Arraez to their 40-man roster. I am quite sure it is coincidental.

In another move Tuesday involving somebody who actually has played in Target Field, the Twins sold reliever Alan Busenitz to a Japanese team. The Twins yo-yo'd him last year, and he wound up with a really odd looking stat line: 4-1, 7.82. The ERA was a more accurate reflection of how well (poorly) he pitched than his won-loss record, of course. Twenty-five innings with 14 walks and 37 hits, including eight homers? Ouch.

I don't think he's really that bad a pitcher, but the Twins have plenty of other guys to pick from to staff their bullpen in 2019. Busenitz will get paid, and if he does well in Japan, he can try again in the States.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Roster additions

Today is the deadline for teams to add minor leaguers to their 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. On Monday the Twins added infielder Nick Gordon and outfielder LaMonte Wade, bringing their 40-man roster to 38.

Wade and Gordon were generally viewed by outsiders as guys the Twins had to protect or lose in the draft next month. I guess I agree, if only on the basis that Gordon was a high first-round pick and among the Twins top 10 prospects a year ago, and somebody would take a shot at that as free talent. But I've been skeptical of him as a hitter for sometime now, and certainly nothing he did in Triple A has shaken that skepticism.

Unprotected, at least at the moment, is another infielder, Luis Arreaz. He's a level behind Gordon and has never been seen as a potential shortstop; he's strictly a second baseman. But he's always hit better than Gordon, and in my view that makes him a better prospect.

Wade, too, didn't hit worth a darn upon reaching Triple A last summer, and his stat lines are generally lacking in power. I'm not sure either was really an obvious choice to be claimed if left off the 40.

If the Twins were looking to "game" the system and protect the most likely claimants, I think they missed him. Tyler Jay has the Gordon high-draft pick pedigree. He's had injuries and didn't fare well in Double A last year -- but he's a left-handed pitcher. In an era of 13-man staffs, I can see somebody claiming him and figuring that they can carry him for the season as a LOOGY or even as an opener.

He's a more likely Rule 5 loss than either Wade or Gordon (or Arreaz). But lsat year demonstrated that the current front office isn't very concerned about losing minor league relievers in Rule 5.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Thoughts on the coaching staff

There's still a coach to be named, but the Twins this weekend largely filled out the coaching staff. A few thoughts:

* The era when coaches were largely the drinking buddies of the manager are clearly past, at least in Minnesota. It appears that the only one of these seven with a previous connection to Rocco Baldelli is Derek Shelton, and he's a holdover who's probably only with the Twins until he can land a managerial job elsewhere.

* A concept the Twins had emphasized a few years ago when restructuring the coaching staff -- positional coaches -- seems to be less of a focus. Last year, for example, Jeff Smith had the catchers, Gene Glynn the infielders and Jeff Pickler the outfielders. There is no former catcher on the staff right now, and Tony Diaz and Tommy Watkins were identified as third-base and first-base coaches respectively.

* Baldelli answered a question at his introductory presser with a brief commentary on the need for a highly diverse coaching staff. This crew has at least three guys with skin too dark to be acceptable in the pre-Jackie Robinson era, two native Spanish-speakers and a career college coach who apparently never played pro baseball. Yeah, this is a staff of varied backgrounds.

* Jeremy Hefner is identified not as "bullpen coach" but as "assistant pitching coach." Perhaps he'll be stationed in the bullpen during games, perhaps not. I rather suspect that the holdup on the final coach is that they'd like it to be Chris Gimenez, and Gimenez is checking to see if there's still a playing opportunity first.   

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Sunday Funnies

Another story featuring Willie Kamm and Frankie Pytlak, the duo of last week's tale.

Kamm was an established veteran when Pytlak was a naive rookie, and Kamm told him when their team, the Cleveland Indians, made their first trip to New York that they had to contribute $5 a day to the local gangsters or the gangsters would enter their hotel rooms and tear up their clothes.

Pytlak handed over the money. Kamm kept it for a month before returning it.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mining the colleges

Johnson is believed to be the first major league pitching coach to be hired out of the college ranks without serving a minor league apprentanceship first. Such cross-pollination between the pros and college is routine in football and basketball but rare in baseball.

But cross-pollination -- a variety of backgrounds and experiences -- seems to be something this front office is prioritizing. Hefner has pitched in the majors, been a video guy, been an advanced scout. (And is only 32.) 

As for Johnson, this from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Whole Hog Sports website story on Johnson's departure: 

Johnson is known for developing power pitchers. His two Arkansas staffs finished with a combined 1,238 strikeouts in 133 games, and several Razorbacks saw significant increases to the velocity of their pitches as a result of Johnson's emphasis on lower-body workouts and pitch-mechanic analytics.
At Johnson's urging, prior to the 2017 season Arkansas installed a radar system called TrackMan that records and analyzes 46 data points for pitchers on every pitch.
“If you get into biomechanics, you find out really fast that a pitcher cannot repeat his delivery," Johnson told WholeHogSports in 2017. "You’ve got over 600 muscles in the body. To think that the roughly 240 that we use in pitching are going to fire at the same time - you’ve got a better chance at winning the lottery. TrackMan gives me a chance to show guys a consistent release height and some things we can repeat."
The Twins installed TrackMan at their minor league facilites a few years back, during the Terry Ryan administration. but they are hardly unique in that. 

And that said, none of this has been officially announced yet. As of this morning, the Twins website has changed only the manager on its coaching staff page.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Time marches on

A big week for the Mauer family:

Shooter's tweet was followed in my timeline by a bunch of predictable "Twins first round pick in 2035 born" jokes. Which may well be ... but I'll be the age at which my father died when this Mauer is 18. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Notes, quotes and comment

Eric O'Flaherty, a 12-year major league pitcher, asked on a Twitter thread about the Joe Mauer spray chart I wrote about Tuesday where the "450-foot doubles" were hit.

There are some pretty long doubles pinpointed. My guess is the longest were hit at Fenway Park to that "triangle" just to the right of dead center field. There are some cheap homers hit in Fenway; there are some really long blasts that that ballpark holds as well.


Manager of the Year is a a bit of a death knell honor. It seems a lot of recipients are fired soon after winning it -- see Molitor, Paul, as an example.

So I doubt any of the guys who didn't win the award Tuesday are all that upseat. Brian Snitker of Atlanta and Bob Melvin of Oakland took teams to the playoffs, and few writers before the season saw those clubs as contenders, so they got the votes. That's emminently predictable.

I'm still more impressed with Alex Cora, who inherited a Red Sox team loaded with talent and wrung out all the drama; with Kevin Cash, who -- with a lot of help and support from his front office, to be sure -- essentially reinvented the wheel with the Rays pitching staff; and with Craig Counsell, who worked around the Brewers weaknesses to emerge with the best record in the National League.

Not that Snitker and Melvin are undeserving winners. I was just a bit more impressed with the others.


This has little to do with baseball and more to do generically with my occupation, but I saw that a reporter said to NBA star Kevin Durant: "Talk about the game," to which Durant replied, "Ask a question about the game."

Love it. "Talk about" is a copout signaling that the questioner hasn't given the topic any real thought and just wants to be bailed out.

But there was a similar moment during the baseball postseason, involving the Red Sox' Chris Sale. Reporter: "Talk about your success against the Yankees." Sale: "No."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mauer's spray chart

This graphic fascinated me over the weekend:

Feel free to check the count of the little dots.

This is a true spray chart -- Mauer's hits were truly scattered all over the field. I dare say that such a chart for Kent Hrbek, to pull an example out of the previous generation, would look markedly different. 

We think of Mauer as an opposite-field hitter, and there is no question that this chart shows that he peppered the left-field line for doubles. But his singles flood the middle depth of the outfield, pretty much foul line to foul line. He went opposite field more often than his peers, for sure, but he is not lacking for pulled extra-base hits.

I also dare say that a chart of Mauer's outs would look markedly different. A lot of ground balls to the right of second base, a lot of fly balls to left field. Mauer -- this was unique -- almost never hit infield popups. Much less unique, he seldom hit ground balls to his opposite field. The vast majority of grounders are pulled, and Mauer was no exception to that principle. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

BA's top Twins prospects

The issue of Baseball America that showed up in my mailbox Friday includes this winter's top 10 propsects rankings for the AL Central. The Twins rankings are certainly different than last winter's.

Fernando Romero graduated -- he lost his rookie status last season -- so his absence is no surprise. But there are four new names on the list, and Romero was the only graduate. Stephen Gonsalves (No. 4 last year); Nick Gordon (No. 8); and Tyler Jay (No. 10) are all still in the organization, and all slipped out of the top 10.

Added are top draftees Trevor Larnach (No. 5) and Ryan Jeffers (No. 9); trade acquisition Jhoan Duran (No. 7); and international signee Yunior Severino.

I saw Larnach, an outfielder, and Jeffers, a catcher, at Cedar Rapids near the close of the Midwest League regular season. (See comments on Larnach here and on Jeffers here.) Duran, who came from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar deal, eluded me. And Severino, an infielder signed when MLB nullifed a bunch of Atlanta Braves international signings for rule violations, spent the 2018 season in Elizabethton.

There are three pitchers on this list: Brusdar Graterol (No. 3), Duran and Blayne Enlow (No. 8). The writeups describe Graterol's ceiling as that of a rotation-topper, Duran and Enlow as potential mid-rotation starters.

Brent Rooker (No. 6) is the only member of the Top 10 to have reached as high as Double A, so this list is short on immediate help for the major league team.

The list:

1) Royce Lewis, ss
2) Alex Kirilloff, of
3) Brusdar Graterol, rhp
4) Wander Javier, ss
5) Trevor Larnach, of
6) Brent Rooker, of/1b
7) Jhoan Duran, rhp
8) Blayne Enlow. rhp
9) Ryan Jeffers, c
10) Yunior Severino, 2b

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Sunday Funnies

Willie Kamm was a slick fielding third baseman in the 1920s. Catcher Frankie Pytlak was a teammate with a reputation for being, let us say, eccentric.

As Kamm told the story:

“Somebody hit a pop fly between third and home once. I was yelling, ‘I got it,’ but I didn’t hear any answer. Calling for a ball is one thing, but getting the answer is more important. I was running under the ball yelling, ‘I got it’ and wondering where Frankie was. I didn’t hear him so I guessed he was standing back to let me take it. Of course we plowed right into each other. Luckily, Frankie was a short guy and I still reached out and made the catch. But Frankie jumped up and said, ‘Didn’t you hear me waving?’"

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Joe Mauer's Friday night news dump

You -- a business, a government official, a person of reknown -- have a piece of news that you know is of great public interest but that you would prefer get little attention.

So you send out the press release at 6 p.m. or so Friday evening. It's known in the biz as a "Friday night news dump."

Joe Mauer's retirement announcement was treated as a Friday night news dump. It wasn't really a surprise, not after the emotional final game of the regular season and its theatrical one-pitch return to catching. It was impossible to watch that moment without knowing that it would be the last thing he did as a major league player.

Friday's letter to the fans, in which Mauer specifically connected his retirement to his 30-day stint on the disabled list with another concussion, merely made official what we all sensed in that damp-eye moment in late September.

Regular visitors to this space, or of my in-season weekly print columns in the Free Press, know well my view of Mauer's career. He had a decade in which he was as productive as any catcher in baseball history. He milked enough out of the first base years to reach the miminal career milestones expected by the Hall of Fame electorate. He deserves induction at Cooperstown, and I believe he will eventually get that induction.

I have nothing but admiration of his accomplishments, acceptance of his decision to walk away from the game, and gratitude for having gotten to see so much of it.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The "Today's Game Era" field

The Hall of Fame chronically tinkers with its selection process, specifically with what is commonly referred to as the Veterans Committee. Whatever its offical name and activity, the purpose is to have a backstop to the BBWAA voters, and a way to induct nonplayers -- executives, managers, umpires -- who don't fall into the BBWAA's bucket.

The current approach is to divide the game's history into "eras" and pick 10 candidates from a given period of time each year for the panel to decide upon. More recent periods are up more often than the older ones, which makes sense; nobody alive ever saw Bill Dahlen play shortstop.

This year's field comes from what the Hall has dubbed the "Today's Game Era," and features six players -- Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Lee Smith -- three managers -- Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel and Lou Piniella -- and one owner -- George Steinbrenner.

I can listen on Johnson, but my instincts say none of this bunch clearly deserves to be in Cooperstown. For those who say Steinbrenner is too important a figure in baseball history to leave out, I say: He's not as important as Marvin Miller. Steinbrenner was the owner of a great team, but the best Yankees teams of his tenure got to be great because he was suspended during their construction.

The thing is, there are more deserving candidates from this time frame than the six players listed. The Hall's fundamental screwup here is that it's using the writers' vote as a guideline for selecting the candidates. Smith once topped 50 percent of the vote, which is pretty darn good -- almost everybody to gets more than 50 percent even once eventually gets in -- but he got 15 chances with the BBWAA and was passed over.

Lou Whitaker, Kenny Lofton, Jim Edmonds -- they were all one-and-done. They deserve a second look more than Lee Smith deserves a 16th.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Notes, quotes and comment

Well, scratch that Monday notion that the Twins might revamp Derek Shelton's role. He is apparently not only staying with the Twins -- not a big surprise after missing out on the Texas Rangers managerial job -- but remaining as bench coach.


There remains a team without a manager for 2019: The Baltimore Orioles. There also remain, as the general managers meetings begin, a couple teams without a general manager, or whatever title they lay on the top figure in baseball operations: The San Francisco Giants -- and Baltimore.

The Orioles may be the most adrift franchise in baseball -- the O's or the New York Mets. The O's might be the most lost. The Mets at least have some top-shelf pitching talent. Baltimore is short on talent, has jettisoned the top baseball people and continues to have an ownership with a reputation for getting in the way.

It's a far cry from the days of Earl Weaver, Hank Cashen and Jim Russo, when the Orioles had a well-earned reputation as the sharpest operation in the game.


I voted early, about a month ago. If you haven't, and you're eligible, go get 'er done.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Thoughts on the coaching staff

Derek Shelton didn't land the Texas Rangers' managerial job. That went to Chris Woodward, who had been the bench coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That obviously improved the Twins' chances of retaining Shelton on their coaching staff. He was Paul Molitor's bench coach last season and, I believe, the guy charged with running things when Molitor was absent.

A few days after Rocco Baldelli was named as Molitor's successor, the Star Tribune reported that most of the 2018 staff had been let go. The only retentions were the hitting coaches, James Rowson and Rudy Hernandez, and, presumably, Shelton. But almost a week after that report, the Twins have made no official announcements, and their website continues to list only one change, Baldelli as manager.

Presumably they are waiting to make the new staff known when they have all their hires made.

But let's say that Shelton is returning to the staff. Teams hiring a competely novice manager -- such as Baldelli -- frequently supplement him with an older bench coach with a deeper managerial background who can serve as a mentor and advisor. Shelton doesn't quite fit that prototype, although he is a about a dozen years older than Baldelli.

And that, beyond Shelton's unsuccessful managerial candidacy, might be part of the holdup. Do the Twins want to fit Shelton into a different role -- and how would that a different role sit with Shelton himself?

Shelton came to the Twins off a job in Toronto as "quality assurance coach," which, as it happens, was the same title Baldelli had in Tampa Bay last season. Shelton, who was open about his managerial ambitions, took the Twins job because he thought the bench coach job was a step up and a useful addition to his resume. I don't know if he would welcome a similar assignment a year later.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Sunday funnies

Today I resume my offseason tradition of Sunday posts intended to elicit a smile, if not a full laugh. Veracity is not guaranteed; tall tales are part of baseball humor. I also, having done this so many years, won't promise I'm not reusing some of them by mistake.


Moe Drabowsky was a pretty good relief pitcher in the 1960s. He was also a world class prankster.

While playing for the old Kansas City Athletics, Moe became quite familiar with the phone system in Memorial Stadium. Then he was traded away, and one day in 1966 was back in the KC park wearing a Baltimore Orioles uniform.

Jim Nash, as the story goes, was throwing a shutout into the sixth inning. Moe picked up the phone in the visitors bullpen and dialed up the home bullpen. "Get (Lew) Krause hot now!" he barked in passable imitation of A's manager Alvin Dark, then hung up.

The A's bullpenners were baffled but obedient -- until Dark noticed the activity. The real manager called the pen and had Krause stop throwing. A few minutes later, Drabowsky called again and restarted the warmup.

Eventually the laughter in the Orioles bullpen tipped off the A's.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Drake, Field gone

The Twins lost reliever Oliver Drake and outfielder Johnny Field on waivers Thursday, reducing their 40-man roster count to 36.

Field was claimed by the Chicago Cubs, Drake by the Tampa Bay Rays.

I wasn't impressed by the Twins acumen last year when they added those two players. but Drake went a long way toward changing my mind down the stretch. He put up prettty good numbers with the Twins, and while it's difficult to trust that delivery, the stuff certainly passed the eye test. 

Drake pitched for five different major league clubs last year, which is a record and should get him nicknamed "Suitcase." The Twins have become the sixth team in four years to decide they have enough better options that they can afford to dump him. They aren't necessarily wrong, but I think I see a few names on the 40 I'd have cut ahead of him.

Picking up Field never made much sense to me, and other than running into a few balls didn't impress me. It's more surprising that the Twins ever played him than that they waived him.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Notes, quotes and comment

The Twins, having opened two spots on the 40-man roster by declining their options on Ervin Santana and Logan Morrison, promptly filled one by claiming Michael Reed on waivers from the Atlanta Braves.

Reed is a right-handed hitting outfielder who turns 26 this month. He had a really impressive minor league season, hitting .342 between Double A and Triple A. He's said to be a speed-and-defense guy who hits lefties well, and he's gotten 37 major league plate appearances over the past three seasons, two with Milwaukee and one with Atlanta.

I can see him being a platoon partner with Jake Cave, a left-handed hitter who really struggled vs. southpaws. But I also believe that the Twins don't want to use an outfield spot to platoon Cave. They want -- need -- the Eddie Rosario-Byron Buxton-Max Kepler trio to be healthy and effective over the full season. That hasn't happened yet.


The Twins have yet to make any official announcments about the coaching staff, and their website continues to list the 2018 staff, with the exception of Rocco Baldelli as manager.


RIP to Willie McCovey, the great power hitting first baseman of my youth, who died Wednesday after a sustained run of health issues. "Stretch" won the NL MVP in 1969, the season I discovered baseball, and hit 521 homers, mostly with the Giants.

The Giants of the 1960s were chronic contenders who seemed to finish second or third every season. Their minor league teams at the time produced outfielders like a southern Minnesota farm produces corn. Off the top of my head, the Giants in the 1960s debuted: Manny Mota, Felipe Alou, Matty Alou, Jesus Alou, Bobby Bonds, Jim Ray Hart, Ollie Brown and Ken Henderson, all of whom because major league regulars at worst. In the early 70s they had Gary Mathews, Garry Maddox and George Foster, each of whom wound up long-term regulars for outstanding teams.

But they got rid of all of them because none of them was Willie Mays.

McCovey and Orlando Cepeda came up at about the same time. Both were great hitters, and both had leg or foot problems that limited them to first base. Alvin Dark, the manager of the Giants in the early 60s, tried each in left field anyway. You can't blame him -- a middle of the order of Mays-McCovey-Cepeda is frightening to contemplate. But what they really needed to have that was the designated hitter rule.

There's a story ... Dark, having decided that playing Cepeda in left wasn't working, moved him back to first and put McCovey in left. Somebody told Dark that McCovey was uncomfortable with the change. Replied Dark: "What else is he gonna do? Catch?"

Eventually, in 1966, the Giants traded Cepeda to St. Louis for a starting pitcher, Ray Sadeki, who was never as useful for the Giants as he had been for the Cardinals. Cepeda won the 1967 MVP; McCovey won the 1969 MVP. The Giants finished second in both seasons. Of course.