Reveille 8/27/12

by Jason Epstein

Good morning!

Here are several go-to links to make your Monday a bit more bearable:

  • Via the Arizona Republic: Diamondbacks broadcaster and former Cubs standout Mark Grace has taken an indefinite leave of absence immediately following a DUI arrest in Scottsdale.
  • The Red Sox–Dodgers waiver-wire mega-deal described here was not the only trade that went down this weekend. Via MLB Trade Rumors: The Orioles, who sit 4.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East, obtained southpaw starter Joe Saunders from the D’backs in exchange for reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later.
  • Andrew Martin of Seamheads shares fascinating excerpts from an unearthed radio interview with Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig on August 22, 1939. (Although Gehrig was still on the Yankees roster at the time, he would not play another game in the bigs.)

Gehrig on night baseball — “Well, night baseball is strictly a show and is strictly advantageous to the owners’ pocketbook. But as far as being a true exhibition of baseball, well, I don’t think I can say it is, and it’s very difficult on the ballplayers themselves. Of course, we realize that the men who work in the daytime like to get out at night and really see a spectacle, and we do all in our power to give them their money’s worth. But after all, it’s not really baseball. Real baseball should be played in the daytime, in the sunshine.” . . .

Gehrig on the top young players in 1939 — “I see young [Ted] Williams come out of Minneapolis. He’s around this part of the country. And we’ve got young Joe Gordon with the Yankees. And we’ve got a young fellow by the name of Charlie Keller, and a young man by the name of [Atley] Donald and there’s a couple of young fellas down in St. Louis — a pitcher by the name of [Bob] Harris and pitcher by the name [Jack] Kramer who looks might well. And you’ve got a young pitcher who was sent back for more experience, had a sore arm, with Boston — a fella by the name of [Woody] Rich.”

Gehrig on the possibility of a future players’ union — I don’t see how it possibly could work because at that rate a boy would not be rewarded for his abilities. A ballplayers’ union would put everybody in the same class, and it would put the inferior ballplayer, the boy who has a tendency to loaf, in the same class, as far as salary is concerned, with the fellow who hustles and has great ability and takes advantage of his ability.

6. . . . Meet Kelvin Herrera. Not only is he the hardest thrower this year, but also he’s threatening to be the hardest ever. His average fastball of 98.6 mph is tied with Joel Zumaya’s 2006 fastball for hottest ever. At 97.8 mph, Chapman is closer to Nate Jones (97.4) than he is Herrera.

Herrera also threw the single hardest pitch in baseball this season at 102.8 mph. Chapman just missed that title at 102.7.

As for starters, Stephen Strasburg is the king this season at 95.7 mph, not far behind Ubaldo Jimenez’s record 96.1 mph that he set in 2009 and matched in 2010. After adding an extra mph to his fastball this year, David Price is close behind Strasburg at 95.6.

25. . . . The worst player in baseball this year is Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

FanGraphs says he has been worth -1.7 WAR, which means by using a replacement-level player — some bum from Triple-A — the Royals actually would have won two more games. B-R is even harsher: The site has Francoeur at -3.0 WAR, which ranks as the 11th-worst season for an offensive player since 1901.

With a dreadful August and September, Francoeur could threaten the season both sites agree is the worst ever: Jerry Royster’s 1977 with Atlanta, a -3.7 FanGraphs and -4.1 B-R debacle. The utilityman hit .216/.278/.288 and, the metrics say, played brutal defense. Francoeur isn’t that bad, at .240/.287/.372, with a major league-leading 14 outfield assists, but as Wil Myers sits at Triple-A with a .311/.389/.603 line, 35 home runs and the title of best hitting prospect in the minors, it cannot be anything short of maddening for Royals fans to swallow where part of the cost of their ticket will go.

Kansas City owes Francoeur $6.75 million in 2013. [Or is it the other way around?]

  • Vin Scully, 84, will be back behind the microphone in 2013! The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin has a write-up of the happy news.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week! (And for those of you in Tampa: Have a dry one too.)

Right Field

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