July 19, 2009

The life of a major league catcher...


The pros of being a catcher are obviously that you are in on every play and you’re the guy they depend on. It all starts from behind the plate and then it goes up through the middle. There is a joy to be able to call every pitch and to have collisions at home plate, which brings out the football mentality, I like that.

The cons, well, 12 knee surgeries and two knee replacements, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Catching brings out foul tips and collisions and you’re more prone to injuries.

Historically, catchers have made such good managers because you have the whole perspective of the field in front of you and you’re like the second manager on the field. You keep looking over to the dugout for signs and you have to recognize and see everything that’s in front of you.

Plus, I think you have a rapport with all the pitchers. You have an idea on what makes them tick and that’s a huge facet of the game. The biggest thing is that you understand the game and you’re calling every pitch and you have a great feel as the game is going on. It got to a point where I would run the meetings when we would go over the lineups of the others teams. I just knew the opponent so well and they trusted me and my thoughts.

July 17, 2009

Baseball in New York: First-half recaps


With the baseball season halfway through, the Ducks will look to capture the top spot in the second-half standings in the Atlantic League, the Yankees are in good shape to secure the wild card, if not the division, and the Mets will need to get the core of their lineup off the disabled list in order to salvage the season.

The Yankees started off a bit slow without Alex Rodriguez but once he came back everything started to click. A.J. Burnett is starting to come around and Mariano Rivera is just lights out. It was just a matter of time before they took off.

The story for the Mets has been the injuries. They have been devastated. Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and J.J. Putz, just to name a few. They need to get healthy.

As for the Ducks, we lost a couple good players in the beginning to affiliated ball and we have been also been hit by injuries. Preston Wilson has been hurt and now Alex Prieto. Nagging injuries have hurt us too, with Troy Cate and John Pachot and Randy Leek. I think the Ducks need to stay healthy and play sound fundamental baseball....and also score more runs than the opponent.

July 15, 2009

All-Star game should just be about bragging rights


I don’t agree with All-Star game crowning home field advantage, I think it should go by alternate years. It should just be an All-Star game where the best team wins and that’s it.

When I played, I remember Pete Rose stepped up and said, “I’m playing for my league.” It was just bragging rights, nothing else.

Interleague play on the same page takes away from the World Series as well. It’s just more fun when two teams are playing for the whole thing and they haven’t met earlier in the year.

July 13, 2009

Mid-season awards


Now that baseball has reached the All-Star break, it is time to hand out some mid-season awards.

Roy Halladay
for the Cy Young in the AL and Jason Bay for MVP in AL. They are both having tremendous seasons. Ichiro and Mark Teixeira are having great years too.

In the NL, Albert Pujols hands down for MVP but the Cy Young is a little tougher. I don’t think there has been any one who stands out, maybe Trevor Hoffman because the Brewers are doing well. It might be time to start thinking about relievers for the Cy Young.

AL Manager would probably be Terry Francona and Ken Macha in the NL. Both have led their teams very well. Joe Torre is right there too, L.A. is having a great year.

Rookies so far, I am not really sure, it’s too early to tell.

July 11, 2009

From Montreal to New York...


The biggest difference between playing in Montreal and playing in New York was the media. New York is media capital of the world and we all know how many newspapers there are. In Montreal, there was one English writer and two French writers, compared to 50 in New York.

When I heard about the trade it was in the winter of 1984. I was disappointed but receptive to move on. The trade came to fruition on December 10th and I had already heard the rumors. My wife and I talked about it and we thought there was a better opportunity to get to a World Series with the Mets compared to the Expos. I came to New York and was welcomed with open arms and I was excited about the possibility of winning a championship.

July 8, 2009

The art of motivation


Question from Shelby: How did each manager you played for motivate you?

When it comes to motivating my own players, I took a little bit from every manager I played for.

Karl Kuehl was my manager in the minors and he was great. He was very caring, but he did yell and scream from time to time. I had Gene Mauch who was known as the "Little General" and everyone was fearful of him and I didn’t like that. I think a manager should be open with his players and players should feel comfortable going up to him. Bill Virdon was a disciplinarian and everyone was treated the same. Felipe Alou knew everything that was going on.

So, I got a little bit from everyone of them. I don’t feel I miss much during the game while I coach third base. Also, you have to give pats on the backs and give credit where credit is due. I also think you need to get on guys who are not hustling. But I think they see me going out, working hard and they want to do the same.

July 5, 2009

Teams are evenly matched without a salary cap...


I don’t believe baseball should have a salary cap because it would have too many restrictions.

It seems like teams are pretty evenly matched and the teams with the highest salaries haven’t enjoyed too much of an advantage. The Yankees have had the highest payroll for quite some time, but haven’t won in nine years, and right now, there are 10 teams under .500, 10 over .500 and 10 teams about .500. The parity part looks like its working. I don’t just don’t foresee a cap because it has been attempted.

But who knows? With Donald Fehr, the head of the union, retiring, we might see something be put into action. The only thing that probably needs work is players’ pensions. Salaries have escalated so much and I just don’t see it going backwards.

July 2, 2009

Russell "The Kid" Martin??


I was recently asked which current player reminds me most of myself.

Right now, I'd say Russell Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is a catcher and probably a better athlete than me. He does play some others positions and I played some catcher and outfield. I am just really impressed with his overall play and I see some of me in him.

June 28, 2009

Which manager is best for the job?


JRJ asked in the comment section which current MLB manager I would pick to run an up and coming ball club.

I hate to pick just one manager, but Joe Torre certainly has a great track record. He has really matured through the ranks of the Mets, Cardinals, Braves and obviously the Yankees. He is now with the Dodgers and they have the best record in baseball.

Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox are right there as well. Ron Gardenhire is a great manager and was a teammate of mine. He has done a great job with a relatively young ball club.

June 26, 2009

Uproar from my ultimate baseball team selections


Some readers took exception to some of the selections I made on my ultimate baseball team. Why choose Jeff Kent over Pete Rose? Omar Vizquel over Derek Jeter or Cal Ripken? Trevor Hoffman over Mariano Rivera?

I would put Pete at the top as an all-around player. Not just second baseman. Pete was excellent at first, second, and third. Ripken was a different player than Omar. Ripken was bigger and set the trend for home runs at the shortstop position, while Omar played great defensively, hit singles and stole some bases. Jeter is a good hitter, good fielder and a great representative of the team as captain of the Yankees.

As for Rivera and Hoffman, I would take either one of them, because they are both so dependable. I remember Trevor when he came up the Marlins and that devastating changeup and obviously he has had a great career. Rivera in my mind is the most dependable reliever, so it’s really difficult to choose one. They’re both at the top of the list.

June 21, 2009

The most impressive of the Flock


A lot of my players have really impressed me this season. Ray Navarrete is one – he goes out and plays hard every day. He has been consistent and has played really well.

But then there’s Estee Harris, who started off on the bench and really has risen to the occasion. He has come on and won an outright job to play left field everyday.

John Pachot is right there too. He has really impressed me with the bat and we knew what we were going to get with him defensively.

Joe Valentine and Billy Simas have been lights out for me too out of the bullpen.

June 17, 2009

Where must the Ducks improve?


The main area we are focusing on improving is our starting pitching staff right now. We have been hampered by injuries. Randy Leek won 12 games last year and is off that pace so far this year. Troy Cate had been injured and we missed him. Ken Ray was signed by the Cleveland Indians and he was our number one starter.

Pitching is key for us and if we could strengthen our starting staff, that would help us tremendously. We are doing some tinkering with the position players too, but we are not far off. I am very pleased with this team and it won’t be too long before we click on all cylinders.

June 14, 2009

My ultimate baseball team


Dawn recently asked me in the comment section which players throughout the history of baseball I would pick to build the ultimate baseball team. I would go with six different players in the outfield. Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Frank Robinson.

At first base, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Lou Gehrig and Eddie Murray, who I went into the Hall of Fame with.

Second base would be Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg and Jeff Kent.

Definitely Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel at shortstop. Vizquel is deserving of the Hall of Fame too.

Third base I would say Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson and George Brett.

At catcher, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and yours truly. I never got to see Roy Campanella, but he would be right there too.

Pitchers, there are a ton of them, but Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux and Steve Carlton for sure. Carlton was absolutely filthy. Relievers are Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage and Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman has been unreal.

June 13, 2009

Give each manager two challenges per game...


A lot has been made of the use of instant replay in baseball this season. I think it’s good to determine whether it’s a home run or not. As for plays at first base or pitch calls, that can’t happen, those have to be spontaneous. Instant replays on home runs are already taking five to seven minutes. Everyone is waiting and waiting and it delays the game. You don’t want to take away too much from the umpires, but the most important thing is getting it right. What I’d like to see happen is to have what head coaches have in the NFL – give each manager two challenges per game to help determine the right call. This way everything isn’t reviewed and time is not wasted all throughout the game. Managers would have to pick their spots. But overall, I do think the replay is good in terms of the home run.

June 10, 2009

You better run out everything....


We saw a couple of instances recently when the Mets weren't running out the ball. I was asked in the comment section what I thought of Fernando Martinez, a rookie, not running when he popped up in a game against Washington.

I had Fernando in 2006 and he’s a good kid. I think what happened was obviously a mistake. He played hard for me. But whether it’s Fernando or with anyone, if you’re given the gift to play in the majors, you better run out everything. The one time that happened in my career, I hit a shallow ball into center field and I didn’t run hard in Bill Virdon’s eyes and he benched me. It was in 1982 and I learned my lesson. Actually it started way before in the minors. If we didn’t run hard or hustle to our positions or hustle after a walk, we would have to run extra and that definitely stayed with me.

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