(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien this weekend for the Dodgers series.)
Well, it’s trade deadline day, and here we are. Not exactly brimming with anticipation at a pending move, but hey, that’s probably a good thing. I still bet the Braves add a piece for the bullpen if they can. I can’t remember the last July 31st where they did nothing.
Though I have to say we’ve had much more activity on the trade front earlier this season than normal, for the Braves, so that might skew things. Nate McLouth was a big trade, so was Jeff Francoeur, all things considered.
And it does seem this trade deadline around baseball has featured more early moves than some years. Every day this week has been boom, boom, boom.
DOB is going to follow the trade situation today – the deadline is 4 p.m. – and I’ll be covering the game, but either way, you folks will be getting your news.
So we have the Dodgers in town this weekend, as the big series keep coming. They’ve had quite a season, these Dodgers, who bring the best record in baseball to town at 63-39 (.618). And only the Angels (28-20) have a better road record than the Dodgers, who are 29-22 on the road this season.
They do come in on a little down-note. After going 5-2 coming out of the All-Star break, the Dodgers have gone 2-5 since, including a season-worst four-game losing streak, while dropping series to the Marlins and Cardinals.
Manny Ramirez has been cool too, going 4-for-26 (.154) in his last six games with nary an RBI. And that was the least of his problems yesterday, when it was revealed both he and David Ortiz were among the infamous 104 who tested positive for PEDs in 2003.
Neither one is a big surprise, at this point, but to have that kind of black-and-white confirmation puts a big old taint mark on the magical Red Sox 2004 World Series, no matter how you look at it.
Speaking of tainted, I’m wondering how Rafael Furcal will be received tonight at the Ted in his first trip here since the free agent fiasco of this past winter, when the Braves made a run at signing Furcal, only to, it appeared, get used by Furcal’s agent Paul Kinzer to get a better deal with the Dodgers.
Furcal has denied that he or his agents had agreed to a deal with the Braves. He was always a fan favorite here for his speedy and gritty play. I have a feeling all is not quite forgotten though. Not yet. But we’ll have to see.
NEW LA RELIEVER:
The Dodgers just picked up Orioles closer George Sherrill, a left-hander, to help lighten the load for their bullpen coming down the stretch. That adds to an already formidable back end with Jonathan Broxton, an NL All-Star, who has 24 saves in 27 chances. Sherrill had 20 saves for the Orioles. Sherrill will join the Dodgers tonight in the ATL.
(I pause to tell you it’s pouring outside my window right now. My window could be a car windshield in a car wash. Let’s just get this all out before tonight, is all I’m asking. Yeah, looks like chance of rain decreases as the night goes on 40 percent at 6 p.m., 30 percent at 7 p.m., 20 percent at 10 p.m.)
We’ll also see an old friend in Jason Schmidt, who hasn’t pitched against the Braves since August 29, 2006, when he was with the Giants. He gave up eight runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings that day and walked four.
Schmidt won his first game in two years on July 20, coming off multiple shoulder surgeries, holding Cincinnati to three runs in five innings. But then on Sunday, he gave up five runs in three innings to the Marlins. He’s teetering on something, and he’s got to hope it’s not the end of his career. He’s 36 now and has been in the majors for 13 years.
I have a happy memory of writing about Schmidt though, one of those neat little stories you come across. He’d told me about an eighth grade teacher who asked his class to talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up, and when Schmidt said major league baseball player, the teacher was skeptical and told him to come up with something more realistic. I ended up tracking down that teacher and talking to him for the story. He was a good interview and had gotten a kick out of seeing Jason reach the bigs.
I just looked back to see Schmidt only pitched two seasons with the Braves, after coming up through their minor league organization – 1995 and 1996. Shoot, he’s started more games against the Braves (18) than he did for them (13). He’s 5-6 with a 6.45 ERA in 22 games (13) as a Brave. He’s 5-8 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 games against them.
CRIME DOG TO THE HALL?
It’s a fitting topic for trade deadline day, if you ask me. To discuss this, I steal from Mr. Marc Topkin, a veteran Rays beat writer for the St. Pete Times who happens to be a super nice guy and a member of our notes group.
Here’s what he wrote about former Brave Fred McGriff, who will go on the ballot for the next Hall of Fame election (from here to the end is written by Topkin):
“With each new revelation about steroids and PED use, his all-natural candidacy should look better and better.
McGriff, who is now a special advisor for the Rays, should measure up pretty well numbers-wise with 493 homers, 1,550 RBIs, a .284 average. Further research by Rays VP Rick Vaughn makes them look even better, noting that all eligible players with similar triple crown category numbers are in, and that McGriff compares very favorably with other first baseman in the Hall, as well as those in his era.
And then there’s this: ‘I take a lot of pride knowing I worked hard to play the game for 18 or so years,’ McGriff said. ‘I know I can take to my grave I didn’t do steroids, performance-enhancing drugs, whatever you want to say. I played the game the correct way.’
That being said, the question then becomes how much better McGriff’s numbers should look given that so many of his contemporaries have either admitted, been accused of or caught cheating.
McGriff is cautious to provide the answer. ‘To say my numbers should be judged better because some of those guys are considered having used steroids, I don’t know if that’s the right wording,’ he said.
He’d prefer to be judged on his consistency, on his reputation among his peers, and his work ethic, and not on the flaws of others.
Former Rays GM Chuck LaMar said there should be little debate. ‘Fred McGriff is a Hall of Gamer in my mind,’ he said. ‘And there’s no question he did it the right way.’
McGriff vs. 1Bs in Hall of Fame
HRs OBP SLG BA
Fred McGriff 493 .377 .509 .284
Orlando Cepeda 379 .350 .499 .297
Harmon Killebrew 573 .376 .509 .256
Willie McCovey 521 .374 .515 .270
Eddie Murray 504 .359 .476 .287
Tony Perez 379 .341 .463 .279
OK, there will be plenty of updates coming your way this afternoon. More from the ballpark….