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Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-5-2021

Wheeling Intelligencer, January 5, 1921:

The Continental Baseball League, Incorporated, which its promoters say will put baseball teams into several major league cities, held its first meeting [yesterday] and elected Andrew F. Lawson, of [Boston], as president.

Franchises were assigned by states as follows:
Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and possibly the Province of Ontario, with a team at Toronto.

Mr. Lawson announced that it has been agreed to have no salary limit, and that “in the event of the Red Sox not accepting the offer to sell, a park would be built in Boston.”

The franchise for the Boston team was awarded to Fred Lundy as agent for certain interests. The Indiana franchise was awarded to Donald Jones, of Indianapolis, and Charles H. Mack, of Philadelphia, was given the franchise for New Jersey.

I confess I haven’t spent more than 10 or 15 minutes looking into these guys, but I have no clue who any of them are and Google didn’t help much. There was a constable in Boston around this time named Fred Lundy, but I don’t know if it’s the same guy.

Presumably the teams would have been in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Toronto, and either Newark or maybe Camden. For the investors’ sake, I hope they pulled the plug quickly.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 05, 2021 at 10:47 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 05, 2021 at 10:48 AM (#5997518)
A heck of a Birthday Team today. Everybody in the starting lineup, all five starting pitchers, and the relief ace all had 10+ career WAR.

C: Earl Battey (18.8 WAR)
1B/SP: Bob Caruthers (59.6 WAR)
2B: Jim Gantner (22.4 WAR)
3B: Bill Dahlen (75.3 WAR)
SS: Art Fletcher (47.0 WAR)
LF: Riggs Stephenson (32.5 WAR)
CF: Benny Kauff (29.0 WAR)
RF: Milt Thompson (18.6 WAR)

SP: Charlie Hough (38.4 WAR)
SP: Danny Jackson (17.1 WAR)
SP: 1910s Red Sox Rube Foster (12.5 WAR)
SP: Jack Kramer (11.3 WAR)
RP: Jeff Fassero (23.7 WAR)

Manager: Luke Sewell
League President: Ban Johnson
1B when Parisian Bob pitches: C.J. Cron (7.6 WAR)
Ballplayer or cartoon character?: Wally Wolf
Finder of amphibians: Newt Hunter
Fun name/Noted entomologist: Zaza Harvey
Inexplicable 2006 All-Star: Mark Redman (9.49 WAR)
Not that one: Tom Kelley
Twin brothers: Damon Minor (0.1 WAR)
Twin brothers: Ryan Minor (-2.5 WAR)
User of Q-tips: Henry Cotto
Umpire: Brian Runge
   2. Mefisto Posted: January 05, 2021 at 11:19 AM (#5997525)
It's kind of weird that Al Bridwell and Art Fletcher have back to back birthdays. They were fairly similar players and teammates for a while before Fletcher replaced Bridwell at SS.
   3. Ron J Posted: January 05, 2021 at 11:31 AM (#5997528)
#1 Could have gone for an airplane joke with Cotto too. Bill James used him as the player to contrast with Ken Phelps and had a line something like -- If Henry Cotto is a major leaguer, I'm an airplane.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 05, 2021 at 12:00 PM (#5997531)
all five starting pitchers, and the relief ace all had 10+ career WAR.
Either you missed someone or I'm Antonio Alfonseca.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 05, 2021 at 12:16 PM (#5997535)
Either you missed someone or I'm Antonio Alfonseca.

He's probably referring to Parisian Bob.
   6. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 05, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#5997558)
6th starter Mark Redman also managed 11.1 pitching bWAR. He must be pretty far down a lot of batting lists, though: -1.7 bWAR in only 173 plate appearances, .052 average with no extra-base hits, and a -62 OPS+.
   7. Ron J Posted: January 05, 2021 at 02:53 PM (#5997560)
Found the quote:

"See, on the one hand you've got the Henry Cottos, and on the other hand, you've got your Ken Phelpses. If Henry Cotto is a major league ballplayer, I'm an airplane."
   8. puck Posted: January 05, 2021 at 03:53 PM (#5997580)
Huh, Henry Cotto had positive bWAR (4.1). I'm sure it's well within error bars of being 0, but still. Ken Phelps' bat, Ken Phelps' bat, 9.4. (OWAR actually 10.5.)
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 05, 2021 at 03:57 PM (#5997581)
Ballplayer or cartoon character?: Wally Wolf


Or Formula One racing team.
   10. Ron J Posted: January 05, 2021 at 04:14 PM (#5997585)
#8 But James' point was that Phelps lost several years because managers focused on what he couldn't do rather than what he could (he only did two things well but hitting home runs and walking are important)

He got his first serious shot at 29, put up a 149 OPS+ (not at all out of line with what he'd shown in the minors) and lost his job. (won it back a year later and continued to hit)

He didn't age well, had a fairly large platoon split and if he had any defensive value never got to show it. Still from age 29 to 33 he put up a 149 OPS+ in 524 games. There may be a team that couldn't have used him more and sooner, but they're few and far between.

   11. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2021 at 04:32 PM (#5997591)
Yep, Cotto with 4.1 WAR, -3.7 WAA ... a standard 4th/5th OF, a 1-WAR player. Heck of a baserunner (130/26 SB/CS, much more than I recall; +22 Rbaser) and decent defense in CF. Nobody ever gave him more than about 400 PA but he was in the majors for 10 years. James had no idea what he was talking about.

Now Henry Cotto's _bat_ wasn't ML-quality and Phelps's certainly was. Nobody ever gave Phelps more than about 450 PA. In one way, he timed his career well -- clearly nobody thought of him as an everyday player or as anything but a DH but pitching staffs weren't yet so crowded that teams wouldn't carry a part-time DH (his R/L PA ratio is a whopping 8:1). Hard to say if a modern team would live with the limited defensive value and the likely terrible vLHP performance to give him a roster spot. His oafball style is all the rage of course but the guy could only manage a 239 BA while K'ing 20% in a 14% environment ... what would his K-rate and BA look like today? Tampa seems to have a soft spot for mixing/matching hitters of limited defensive ability but Dan Vogelbach may well be his current comp.

Anyway, if you need a platoon DH, go get Ken Phelps. If you need a backup CF, defensive replacement, pinch-runner, 25th man, go get Cotto. (Phelps's role clearly more important than Cotto's.) In the current game, both roles barely exist anymore. I suppose the roster expansion to 26 and pitcher limit at 13 will create a few such spots and it will be interesting to see how many teams use that flexibility to add Phelps and how many to add Cotto (or his IF equivalent).
   12. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 05, 2021 at 05:05 PM (#5997597)
Roster construction was so different in the 1980s. I've always thought that the classic example was the 1985 World Series Champion Royals, who in Hal McRae and Jorge Orta, carried both a righty DH and a lefty DH, neither of whom played an inning in the field all season.
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 05, 2021 at 05:16 PM (#5997598)
Roster construction was so different in the 1980s. I've always thought that the classic example was the 1985 World Series Champion Royals, who in Hal McRae and Jorge Orta, carried both a righty DH and a lefty DH, neither of whom played an inning in the field all season.

My favorite is the '77 Yankees who played the post-season with a 24-man roster because they sold Carlos May to the Angels in Sept. and weren't allowed to replace him.

How's that for no shits given. 25 man roster? We don't need no stinkin' 25-man roster. We'll take the cash.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2021 at 05:23 PM (#5997599)
We don't need no stinkin' 25-man roster.


Well, they didn't.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2021 at 05:24 PM (#5997600)
#10: By the same token nobody gave Cotto a serious shot until age 27 (Seattle with 95 starts).

Phelps didn't really do much in the minors until his age 25 season which earned him a short call-up. He started his age 26 season in the bigs and hit 118 through the end of May in limited (nearly all PH) use and got sent down. I'm not sure how much was strike and how much injury but he only had 101 PA across majors and minors so I assume at least some injury.

He demolished AAA again at 27 and should probably have been called up by the Expos. He then went to the Ms who had him on the opening roster ... and sent him down after 95 PA (again a lot of PH) of 214/284/405 that wasn't helping anybody. He again crushed AAA and came back up when rosters expanded and did hit 279/333/535. The Ms should have used him more in 84 but he was terrible in 85 ... but they stuck with him and he had his two biggest seasons in 86 and 87.

Mainly it's only that season with the Expos ... but no DH and they had Al Oliver at 1B who was not just a durable "star", he was also putting up a 150 OPS+ that year. The Expos used their bench almost not at all that year (top was Francona with a meager 144 PA) -- so they could have stached him on the bench all year but he wouldn't have gotten many PAs, almost all as a PH. (Oliver started 159 games and he wasn't gonna take PA away from Raines, Dawson, Cromartie)

You could argue the 1981 Royals too I suppose but they had Aikens putting up a 143 OPS+ at 1B and tough vet Hal McRae at DH. It's true enough that replacing McRae with Phelps against RHP probably would have been a smart baseball move but nobody alive at the time other than maybe James would have agreed with that. But sure, he could have taken Lee May's 58 PA.

It's a common tale. He didn't really blow the doors off the minors until his mid-20s. He was on teams that had established, good-performing 1Bs (and no DH with the Expos). He struggled in his brief usage in the majors and at least a couple of times started the season in horrendous slumps. There are alternate universes where some team other than the Expos grabs him in 1982 or a team smarter than the mid-80s Ms the next year. But in the actual career he had, teams he was with, performances he had, he didn't deserve substantial ML time before age 29 and at least he was lucky enough to get it.
1985 (his age 30 season) is the only year his managers seem to have really made a mistake, keeping him on the bench in favor of Gorman Thomas.

The real complaint then is aimed at the GMs of any of the other teams who didn't already have a good 1B/DH and could have picked him up for very little. But, other than 1985, his actual teams made perfectly sensible decisions.

Cotto is a completely different story. He never consistently hit for a high average in the minors and of course no power and OK walks. Like a lot of players then and now, his speed got him to the majors and kept him there in a limited role. His first call-up was with the 84 Cubs so he also had the "bad" luck of coming up to a team that had no spot for him -- but that's OK because he wasn't starter quality. He then went to the Yanks where Rickey was holding down CF for a couple of years. He landed on the 88 Ms, on their way to 68 wins, exactly the sort of team a Cotto wants to land on ... where of course he was teammates with Phelps. His competition for the CF job was Mike Kingery (0.6 career WAR). Phelsp was splitting the DH job with Balboni, another not brilliant decision although Balboni was solid enough.
   16. AndrewJ Posted: January 05, 2021 at 06:35 PM (#5997610)
Today's Birthday Team manager, like his Hall of Fame brother, was difficult to fan: 307 strikeouts in 5383 career at-bats.
   17. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 05, 2021 at 10:10 PM (#5997629)
Today's Birthday Team manager, like his Hall of Fame brother, was difficult to fan: 307 strikeouts in 5383 career at-bats.


Their other brother, Tommy, didn't strike out in his entire MLB career. :-)
   18. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: January 06, 2021 at 07:20 AM (#5997643)
Charles H. Mack, of Philadelphia

Wouldn't have been the only guy with that name running a ballclub in that city. (A relative, perhaps?)

This guy, maybe?
   19. Ron J Posted: January 06, 2021 at 08:13 AM (#5997645)
Walt you're normally smarter than this. Assume for the moment that Phelps' extreme splits are an actual ability level. You don't have to give up a roster spot for a platoon partner. Just make sure that your 4th outfielder is right-handed and you're getting among the best DH productivity in the league. 150 OPS+ (it's better against RHP but he'll get platoon busted a certain amount) from the guy who gets the bulk of the playing time and ... nothing special (but with the platoon advantage)

I'd expect a Phelps + guy to be over 130 OPS+ and that's extremely good. How many teams each year do better?

Also the Cotto comment comes at the beginning of a comment about Chuck Cottier making him a regular. James' comment is obviously hyperbole. He's obviously the kind of player who will always be in the mix as backup.

But it was made at the start of a lengthy discussion about Chuck Cottier making him a starter because he felt he could teach Cotto to hit. And since he could already run ...

EDIT: I regret the tone of the first bit. Not the substance. Going to leave it as is. In part as a reminder to have that coffee before posting.

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