Grand Cards: The Grand Scheme Takes Home The Bronze

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Grand Scheme Takes Home The Bronze

But first…

Ernie In case you didn’t notice, Ernie Harwell will get top billing here whenever it is appropriate to do so, and yes, it is currently appropriate. His interview with Bob Costas that I mentioned last week aired yesterday and has a full article and a bunch of video clips.

This is a must read/watch, by the way. For baseball history buffs, did you know that Harwell called the famous “Shot Heard Round The World” in 1951 on National TV that, ironically, nobody has heard? That is an awesome story.

Also interesting:
Harwell also offered some revealing insights on Bo Schembechler, the Michigan football coaching great turned Tigers team president who made the decision to let go of Harwell in 1992.

Harwell admitted that he was probably mad at Schembechler at the time for dismissing him, "but I accepted it. I knew that everybody could be replaced. Nobody lasts forever. And if you work for somebody, he's certainly got the privilege and the right to fire you.

It was certainly a blow to me, but I think in the long run, it's probably the best thing that happened to my career, because it brought some undue attention toward me around Michigan and Detroit. I recovered. Mr. Mike Ilitch bought the team, and within a year I was back broadcasting for the Tigers. It was something that I had to accept. Once again, I leaned on my faith, and I knew for some reason this was happening and it would eventually work out for the best."

The two never did make amends, he said, "but I forgave him. It's in the past. He was a great football coach. I had a lot of admiration for him. I never had any problems with him. It's just they felt they were going in a 'new direction.'"

Yesterday was the third anniversary of Bo’s death, and while he has been immortalized in all of our hearts and minds (and rightfully so), it’s funny to remember that people hated Bo for this. It’s nice to see that Ernie Harwell—the man who doesn’t hate anyone, and is universally beloved by everyone who has ever heard him speak—hated Bo too. Ok fine, hate is too strong a word, but he was mad at him. We’ll just call that “Ernie-hate”, as it is probably as extreme as he ever got.

We’re Number Three! Let’s put our hands together for this guy:

2009 Topps U&H #TR116 Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello finished third in 2009 AL Rookie of the Year voting, joining such prestigious company as Jacoby Ellsbury (2008), Brian Bannister (2007), Francisco Liriano (2006), Johnny Gomes (2005) and Daniel Cabrera (2004). Ellsbury aside, this doesn’t appear to be the prestigious company I had envisioned. Apart from 2006 when Justin Verlander won the award, other Tigers to place in the Top 10 include Armando Galarraga, who finished 5th last year and Nate Robertson, who tied for 8th in 2004!

Let’s let that sink in. 1. Nate Robertson finished in the Top 10 of Rookie of the Year Voting. 2. Nate Robertson wasn’t a rookie until 2004. I find that shocking. Also, in 2004 Zach Greinke finished 4th in the voting. Which brings me to…


2009 Topps U&H #TR124 Justin Verlander

The man who picked the Tigers up on his right arm and carried them through the last two months of the season, tied for the league lead in Wins and led the league in Strikeouts finished third in the 2009 AL Cy Young voting to Mr. Greinke. And all is right in the world…almost. Greinke should have been a unanimous winner, but two votes for King Felix and a homer vote by a Detroit writer kept that from happening. But that’s not all.

Mack Avenue Tigers says it best:
So my second disagreement with the writers? How was Verlander listed on only 10 ballots of 28?

That is just not smart voting.

The result: While Greinke had 134 points and Hernandez 80, Verlander had just 14, one ahead of Toronto's Roy Halladay. [ed. Note—CC Sabathia]

In the end, Kornacki's rather homer vote of first place was the reason Verlander placed third.

Cumulatively, the writers got it right. Just for the wrong reasons.

Funny, isn’t it, that Verlander’s first place vote—which he almost certainly did not deserve (read Steve Kornacki’s reasoning here) was the reason that Verlander finished third, by one point, which he almost certainly did deserve. In the end, Greinke gets the award and Verlander gets appropriate recognition for his outstanding season.

Porcello and Verlanders’s respective respectable finishes also provide good reason for me to showcase their Turkey Red Inserts from 2009 Topps Updates & Highlights.

Top 3 Notes: Porcello finished third in the ROY voting , falling one point behind Elvis Andrus, who came in second and a huge margin (43 points) over 4th place . Verlander finished third in the CY Young by finishing one point ahead of CC Sabathia, but 66 points behind second place Felix Hernandez.

Verlander finished in the Top 3 in Wins (T-1), Strikeouts (1), which should spell two nice "League Leader" cards for Tigers collectors next year. Unfortunately, no other Tiger finished in the top three of any baseball card worthy category, although Miguel Cabrera did finish 4th with a .324 Batting Average.

Oh, Billy Chris Jaffe has a new book in which he evaluates baseball managers and today he provides an excerpt from his chapter on the legendary Billy Martin. (Hat Tip: Rob Neyer)

Pitch count? Who needs a pitch count? I liked this part:

In the short run, it worked as Oakland produced the AL’s best record in 1981. Then the A's pitchers' arms fell off and they lost 94 games in 1982. Martin never considered the long-term repercussions. Then again, it was the only time he lasted three full seasons as manager. Martin was so concerned with seizing the day that he never considered what would happen tomorrow.

He always ran his pitchers hard. In Detroit, Mickey Lolich started 45 games, completed 29, and tossed 376 innings—the most by any AL pitcher since Ed Walsh. Lolich actually held up, but it was a dangerously relentless way to handle him.

376 Innings! A commenter on the piece blames Martin for ruining Lolich and robbing him of the Hall of Fame. I wasn’t there, but taking a look at the statistics, it seems like Jaffe is on the ball. Lolich won 25 games that year and followed it up with 22, 16 and 16 the next three years. Sure, he tossed over 300 innings each season, but he was also 33 by the end of 1974. He may have been able to last a bit longer had he not faced such abuse, but that doesn’t seem out of the realm of normal age-related pitcher decline, especially for a guy who broke into the bigs at age 22.

Not that it really matters. I’m guessing that Billy would have one response to any criticism hurled his way.

On Granderson…Blerg. After PANIC PANIC PANIC last week, things have died down considerably and have swung from the standard “TEAM X MUST GET GRANDERSON” to the polar opposite “TEAM X SHOULD AVOID GRANDERSON.” I’m not going to get into specifics, but the 10,000 foot view looks like this:

1. Everyone was excited about Granderson because they thought that the Tigers were in Salary dump mode and they could get him at a shocking discount.
2. That is not the case and the Tigers are asking for a hefty package to get him
3. Fans across the country sour on the idea and claim that Granderson is, at best, “a decent platoon outfielder,” which, come on people.
4. Everything is just rumor at this point, with many trying to figure out what would be a fair package to land any number of Tigers stars. How do I know that these are all rumors? Because stuff like this is being written. Come on, man.
5. A deal could still happen, but it is not a done deal despite last week’s gem from you know who.
The Tigers have likely talked with too many clubs to pull back from any plans to trade either player. They otherwise would not have listened so widely.

There is a deep belief two trades will occur sooner rather than later. The Tigers have plans in place, and, in all likelihood, it's a matter of time until we learn which of the interested teams won, and at what price.

I hate you so much.

Meanwhile, people with brains have analyzed the situation. First fangraphs does a great job:
This just doesn’t pass the smell test. Granderson is a star and a massive bargain. When you’re cutting costs, you don’t start with the guy producing the highest return on investment on the roster. It doesn’t make any sense.

Then, Billfer at the Detroit Tigers Weblog, pulls together some Pulitzer Prize worthy stuff on Granderson’s last three seasons at the plate. If you are even a little bit of a baseball nerd, you will love this. If you are one of the masses who adopted the “Granderson had a crappy year in 2009 because of _______” you must read it now.

Unless something more solid starts floating around, I will tend to avoid the Granderson trade rumors. As I’ve said before, I don’t see how the Tigers trade him without conceding 2010, at which point I’m confused as to why a trade would occur, as he could be a centerpiece in 2011, instead of relying on many prospects all panning out at the same time. Here’s a picture.

Misc. Thorzul notes an Armando Galarraga oddity. I have that card and noticed the same thing. I need to take a closer look. 2009 Topps Legends of the Game cards do digital things. If you are awesome, you need a better autograph. I hate it when this happens.

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