Dick Balderson had a three-year tenure as the general manager of the Seattle Mariners, and former Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said that during that time, Balderson made the two most significant moves in the franchise’s history.
Balderson swung the trade that brought Jay Buhner to the Mariners from the Yankees for Ken Phelps on July 21, 1988, days before he was fired by then owner George Argyros. Just a year earlier, Balderson was behind the Seattle’s selection of Ken Griffey Jr., with the first pick of the 1987 Draft.
It wasn’t easy.
Argyros was pushing for Mike Harkey, a college pitcher, but Balderson and scouting director Roger Jongewaard were sold on Griffey. They were so sold that when Griffey and Harkey both came up with scouting scores of 80, they had senior scout Bob Harrison, who had the trust of Argyros, make adjustments that had Griffey emerge as the clear favorite.
The other player in consideration was outfielder Mark Merchant, a high school player from Orlando, Fla.
The Mariners hit the jackpot. Griffey put together a Hall of Fame career, and he will be inducted into Cooperstown on Sunday. Coverage of the induction begins on MLB Network and MLB.com at 11 a.m. ET/8 PT, with the ceremonies beginning live at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT.
Trevor Story homered in the fourth inning Sunday, his 27th of the season. That extends his NL record for a rookie shortstop. He also is one one home run shy of the Rockies overall home run record for a rookie, which is held by Wilin Rosario.
Story has appeared in 89 games, and still has more than two months of playing time to try to break the major-league record for a rookie shortstop of 30 set by Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox. Troy Tulowitzki is third on the NL list for home runs by a rookie shortstop with 24 in his first season with the Rockies. Carlos Correa of the Astros last year and Bobby Crosby of the A’s in 2004 are tied for fourth with 22. Correa was an in-season call up and reached 22 in 99 games, which is 11 more games than Story has played so far.
Cal Ripken Jr., ranks sixth with 20 home runs as a shortstop in 1982.Now Ripken did hit 28 home runs that season, but eight of them came as a third baseman.
The all-time leader for home runs as a rookie, any position, is Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in 1987 for the A’s. Wally Berger in 1930 with the Braves and Frank Robinson in 1956 with the Reds are tied for second at 38, and Albert Puljos with the Cardinals in 2001 and Al Rosen of the Indians in 1950 are tied for fourth with 37.
On the all-time rookie home run list, Story is among nine players tied for 38th.
DENVER — Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich got the attention of the baseball world in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline a year ago.
That has created an anticipation for what Bridich might do to add some life to the Deadline party this year, and the focus has been on the possibility of moving Carlos Gonzalez.
There are no guarantees in baseball. But as of today, the odds are Gonzalez will still be in a Colorado uniform come Aug. 2.
Here are five reasons why the Rockies would keep Gonzalez instead of moving him at the Deadline:
KANSAS CITY — There are dreams. And there is reality. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti understands the difference.
So in an offseason where the likes of David Price was signing a seven-year, $217 million deal in Boston and Zack Greinke agreed to a six-year, $206 million deal with the D-backs and Jason Heyward picked up an eight-year, $184 million guarantee with the Cubs, Antonetti never even pretended to be a player in that market.
Nope. He had his budget. He had his holes. And with his guidance, the Indians, more than any other team, turned their offseason bargain hunting into as big a bonanza as any team could want.
Check out the standings. With a 7-3 victory against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night, the Indians have an American League-best record of 55-38, a 6 1/2-game lead over the second-place Tigers, and an eight-game lead on the defending World Series champion Royals.
They do have a sterling starting rotation, which leads the AL with a 42-23 record and 3.61 ERA and is second in the league with 573 2/3 innings pitched, helping ease the demands on a bullpen they would like to improve before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Do not, however, overlook the impact of offensive free agents Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis andJuan Uribe, who signed one-year deals for a combined investment of $16.24 million. That’s less than half the annual average value of $34.4 million that Greinke is earning, a bit over half of the $31 million Price will average in his time with the Red Sox, and well below the $23 million AAV the Cubs owe Heyward.
For the better part of the past 44 years, Terry Ryan had been with the Minnesota Twins in various roles ranging from a Minor League pitcher, signed out of high school, to two terms as the club’s general manager.
Through it all, Ryan never lost touch with reality.
And so it was earlier this month when he learned of the plans to replace him as the general manager at season’s end, Ryan asked that the move be made sooner to open the door for ownership to begin working on its plan to restructure the team’s front office.
Not wanting to take away from the Twins Hall of Fame ceremonies during the weekend, in which outfielder Torri Hunter was honored on Saturday and broadcaster John Gordon on Sunday, the decision was made to make the move on Monday.
Rob Antony, who had been Ryan’s assistant, assumed the GM duties for now, but the feeling within the organization is a major overhaul will ensue. Among the first names to surface was Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine and J.J. Piccolo, assistant general manager of the division-rival Royals, who face many of the same small-market challenges as the Twins.
All the right things were said by the team’s management, and Ryan issued a statement in which he expressed his gratitude to an organization he originally joined as a 35th-round Draft choice out of high school, who then spent three years finishing up a degree from the University of Wisconsin and five years scouting for the Mets before returning to the Twins in a front-office capacity.
Pete Incaviglia didn’t waste time getting to the Major Leagues.
He went directly from the campus of Oklahoma State in the summer of 1985 to hitting fourth in the lineup for the Texas Rangers on Opening Day in 1986. Oh, there were a few rough spots in between.
A first-round Draft choice of the Montreal Expos in 1985, Incaviglia never reached agreement on a contract — leading to the Expos to trade his rights to the Rangers, and prompting baseball to invoke what was known as the “Pete Incaviglia Rule.” The measure, which was rescinded by Major League Baseball a year ago, prohibited teams from trading a Draft pick until a year after he signed.
Incaviglia spent nine years in the Majors before going to Japan in 1995 to play for Chiba Lotte. He didn’t make his Minor League debut until two years later, when he appeared in three games for the Yankees’ Triple-A team at Columbus.
When Incaviglia initially retired from playing, he coached and managed in the Minor Leagues in the Tigers organization for three years and then spent a year at home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. After a year out of the game, Incaviglia caught the bug for life in baseball’s independent leagues.
Incaviglia took the job as manager of the Grand Prairie AirHogs, a Texas-based expansion team in the American Association, in 2008. He has managed in that league ever since — except during the 2011 season, when he was busy helping to create another Texas-based club, the Laredo franchise he currently helms. With his club 32-23 entering Saturday, he is likely on his way to compiling a winning record for the seventh time in eight seasons as a skipper.
Incaviglia has had former Major Leaguers like Pat Mahomes and Nook Logan continue their careers on his team, and he has also provided the opportunity for Jordan Tata, Michael Holliman, Chris Martin, Chaz Roe and Fernando Hernandez to rejuvenate their careers.
Incaviglia is the subject of this week’s Q&A:
Edwin Jackson is scheduled to start for the Padres on Sunday. He will be appearing for his 11th different Major League Team. That is two shy of the record that Octavio Dotel set from 1999-2003. There are three players who appeared with 12 teams — Mike Morgan, Matt Stairs and Ron Villone.
Jackson, 32, was a sixth-round draft choice of the Dodgers in 2001, and made his big-league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 9, 2003, which was his 20th birthday, and allowed one run in six innings against the Diamondbacks.
Jackson spent all or part of three seasons with the Dodgers, Rays and Cubs, two years with the White Sox and all or part of one season with Diamondbacks, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Marlins and Cardinals, and now he will take the field in a Padres uniform.
He is 88-108 with a 4.59 big-league career ERA, and had his only career save during 24 relief appearances with the Braves a year ago. He pitched for the Marlins earlier this season and was 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in eight relief appearances. Released by the Marlins on June 2, he signed with the Padres organization on June 20. He appeared in three games at Triple-A El Paso, working 12 2/3 innings and allowed 13 runs, 10 earned.
Player Career Teams Leagues
The Wild Card was created for seasons like this. Because the odds are against a handful of down-to-the-wire pennant races this September.
With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, and sights now set on the second half of the season, the American League East is the only division where the leader — the Orioles — has less than a 5 1/2-game lead, as Baltimore sits two games in front of Boston and Toronto.
There are, however, 18 teams that went into the break with a winning record, and all of them are within five games of a postseason invitation.
And isn’t that what the Wild Card is all about — giving teams and their fans hope as the calendar turns to August and September? Isn’t that why the Wild Card was added after the Giants won 103 games in 1993 but finished a game back of the Braves in the National League West?
DENVER — The moment remains embedded in Phillies manager Pete Mackanin’s memory.
It was May 4, 1980. Mackanin was a bench player with the Twins. He was hitting .231, and at the age of 28, he was battling to stay in the big leagues, where he had appeared in 73 games the three previous seasons — combined.
“I am in the outfield, shagging fly balls, and [manager] Gene [Mauch] walks up and says, ‘Pete, when you are trying to move the runner from second to third, a deep fly ball to right-center or center will get it done. Don’t sacrifice an at-bat with a ground ball to the right side.
“I told him, ‘I have to stop hitting .230,’ and he says, ‘You’re going to hit .270, .275 when it’s all over. He walks away and I’m thinking, ‘Dang, he thinks I can hit. It’s little things like that that makes a difference. A guy with his stature in the game believes in me and I start thinking, ‘Maybe I am a better hitter.'”
Mackanin hit .271 his final 79 games that season, finishing at .266. Another year with the Twins and his big league playing career was over. More than 35 years later, however, Mackanin, 24 days shy of his 65th birthday, is enjoying his first season as a non-interim big league manager, and those moments with Mauch are with him every day.
It has helped Mackanin handle the challenges of managing a big league team, especially a young team like the Phillies, where the ups can be way up and the downs way down. This is a team that opened the season 25-19, lost 19 of its next 24 and went into Friday having won 10 of the past 14.
Larry Bowa was an overachiever. He was cut from his high school baseball team. He was undrafted. However, the late Eddie Bockman saw Bowa play and liked what he saw so much that he took his own video and drove to Los Angeles, where the 1965 World Series was being played. Using a bed sheet for a screen on the hotel room wall, Bockman showed then Phillies’ general manager Paul Owens the kid he wanted to sign.
Nobody — including Bockman — could ever have imagined the success Bowa would eventually enjoy in the big leagues. He spent 16 years in the Majors and was a five-time National League All-Star.
With this year’s All-Star Game coming up on Tuesday night, Bowa is featured in this week’s Q&A: