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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-2-2014

Former Indians outfielder Buddy Ryan discusses his ex-manager in the Toledo News-Bee, January 2, 1914:

Joe Birmingham is such a joke as a manager that I would be willing to bet that he doesn’t last out next season. What he knows about baseball could be written on a postage stamp.
...
Birmingham is the poorest excuse for a manager in the American league. The stuff he pulled last year would have sent a blush of shame over the face of any Class C manager. He was so much of a farce that the ball players finally threw up their hands in disgust and got along the best they could without listening to him.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ryan never played another game in the majors, despite being a reasonably fast center fielder in his 20s with a career batting average north of .280. He went to the PCL and consistently hit .300 with doubles power for the better part of a decade.

Birmingham led the Naps to a 35.5 game decline in 1914 before mercifully being relieved of his job early in the 1915 season.

Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 02, 2014 at 06:42 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: buddy ryan, dugout, history, joe birmingham

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 02, 2014 at 06:46 AM (#4628030)
This is...not a good defensive infield. Today's Birthday Team:

C/Manager: Jim Essian
1B: Ryan Garko
2B: Bill Madlock
3B: Edgar Martinez
SS: Royce Clayton
LF: George Jackson
CF: Bobby Reis
RF: Ted Gullic

SP: David Cone
SP: Greg Swindell
SP: Jeff Suppan
SP: Garrett Stephenson
SP: J.D. Martin
RP: Scott Proctor
   2. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 02, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4628071)
This has to be the birthday team with the most "recent" players ever.
I've seen Garko, Madlock, Martinez, Clayton, Cone, Swindell, Suppan, Stephenson, Martin, and Proctor all play (live or on TV).
   3. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 02, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4628120)
The Pirates used Madlock almost exclusively in the #6 spot in the lineup in 1979, and I've always thought of him as a prototype for what you'd want in that spot. Doubles and occasional home run power to round off an inning, and speed and on-base skills to serve as a second leadoff man if you wanted to play small ball with the bottom of the lineup. I guess with the smaller parks today you'd probably want more raw power from that spot in the order?
   4. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 02, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4628140)
With the caveat that the math shows that lineup construction doesn't really matter all that much, I like the idea of a guy like Madlock at 6. If you're lucky enough to get to him late in the first inning, you've got a high BA at the plate with guys on base, and if not, he'll often hit early in the second inning. And if he's hitting with two out and the bases empty in the second, you've got problems bigger than who's hitting sixth.

We all know Madlock wasn't much of a second baseman, and Edgar was a third baseman in the sense that he stood in the general vicinity of third base with a glove on his hand, but I wanted to single out Ryan Garko for being a remarkably bad first baseman. We all tend to think that just about anybody who has the baseball ability to play in the majors can be a first baseman without looking too ridiculous out there, but Ryan Garko looked like...like...a side of beef with a mitt taped to it. Sometimes the ball would just bounce off of him, as if there was literally an inanimate object on the right side of the infield.

Eric Wedge threw him into left field a handful of times and he was even worse. Garko was in left the day Andy Sonnanstine hit a double, and while an actual left fielder may not have made the play, he also wouldn't have looked completely ridiculous trying to get there.

So here's to you, Ryan Garko. You could absolutely hit, but not enough to be a constant source of comedy in the field while keeping your job.
   5. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 02, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4628194)
Pinky Whitney or Red Kress could bolster the infield, plus they could add "color" to the team, plus they are on each other's 10 most similar lists.
   6. JJ1986 Posted: January 02, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4628202)
Eric Wedge threw him into left field a handful of times and he was even worse. Garko was in left the day Andy Sonnanstine hit a double, and while an actual left fielder may not have made the play, he also wouldn't have looked completely ridiculous trying to get there.


Why was a pitcher batting in the 4th inning of an AL/AL game?
   7. Davo Dozier Posted: January 02, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4628204)
Ryan Garko was for a few years my go-to example of the worst a player could be while still being a regular on a team with post-season aspirations.

If you were a GM, and you had a guy any worse than Ryan Garko in your starting lineup, you'd spend your time looking for an improvement. Now, you might not find one; but you'd still look. (This isn't counting openings created when your projected starter got injured, like the 2013 Cardinals and Pete Kozma.)

I guess I need to update my references for that. Mitch Moreland was looking good, but then--egads!--the Rangers just did find an upgrade from him this offseason!
   8. JJ1986 Posted: January 02, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4628210)
I guess I need to update my references for that. Mitch Moreland was looking good, but then--egads!--the Rangers just did find an upgrade from him this offseason!


Gaby Sanchez is the Pirates 1B right now.
   9. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: January 02, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4628218)
Why was a pitcher batting in the 4th inning of an AL/AL game?
Maddon goofed.
   10. Davo Dozier Posted: January 02, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4628231)
That Bobby Reis had one awfully strange career, huh? In 1935, he put up a 2.83 ERA in 41 innings (mostly in relief)...then also hit .247/.297/.329 while spending time at all three outfield positions, and first base, second base, and third base.

I'm surprised that players like that have died out these days. In these times of 13-man bullpens, I've always thought teams could use a 25th man on the roster who can literally play anywhere--a super-utility guy who can also pitch a few innings when you're up or down by a lot.

Since I'm a Twins fan, I can't help but be reminded of Drew Butera. Butera is a backup catcher with an almost comical inability to hit (181/229/262 career line), but he's great at defense and (one must assume) is a good clubhouse presence. But...in a blowout game in May of 2012 (the Twins down 16-2), they brought in Drew Butera to pitch the bottom of the 8th...and he pitched a scoreless inning, including striking outCarlos Gomez on an offspeed pitch.

For a guy like him, who's clearly right on the bubble of being worthy of the last spot on the roster...wouldn't it behoove him to spend some time this off-season trying to work on his pitches? Drew Butera, the no-hit good-glove catcher who can also be a passable emergency relief pitcher must be a better sell than Drew Butera...just Drew Butera, right?
   11. Davo Dozier Posted: January 02, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4628408)
Talks between the Twins and Matt Garza are heating up, apparently.
   12. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: January 02, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4628423)
Since I'm a Twins fan, I can't help but be reminded of Drew Butera. Butera is a backup catcher with an almost comical inability to hit (181/229/262 career line), but he's great at defense and (one must assume) is a good clubhouse presence. But...in a blowout game in May of 2012 (the Twins down 16-2), they brought in Drew Butera to pitch the bottom of the 8th...and he pitched a scoreless inning, including striking outCarlos Gomez on an offspeed pitch.


They're not booing, they're saying "Butera".

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