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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pickoff Moves

Today's Birthdays

And a good set for a change — been going through a dry patch.

Andy Ashby LAN b. 1967, played 2001-2003, All-Star: 1998-1999. Jon had a nice little All-Star break palate-cleanser post yesterday that asked,

If you could change one thing in Dodger history, from the pitch to Bobby Thomson, to the trade of Pedro Martinez, to the elimination of the double-bagger peanuts at Dodger Stadium, what would it be?
My emotional favorite — and it was something I didn't even realize until I read it — was Daniel Zappala's answer (see comment 374) of getting Reggie Jackson (more correctly, Lou Piniella, as Bob Timmermann points out in the next post) called out on interference in Game 4 of the 1978 World Series; that most likely would have resulted in the Dodgers winning the game and going up 3-1 on the Yankees.

But the other more realistic and recent chronological answer came in comment 9 of that thread (if I'm not mistaken, by the proprietor of Dodger Math), wishing to rid the past Dodgers of the influence of Kevin Malone. It's hard to argue with that one, as Malone was probably the single biggest disaster to strike the team. Incompetent as picker of manflesh, his inclination was to give out surreal contracts to players who often couldn't live up to those lofty dollars. Darren Dreifort was one such, as was baseball's first $100-million man, Kevin "Cap'n Happy" Brown. Yet in my mind, no player represented squandered money paid out for mediocre or worse performance better than Andy Ashby; in fact, Dreifort's threatened exit from the team drove the contract, putting the jittery Kevin Malone under the gun to sign a deal with some name, any name, and Ashby was a body you could stamp the label "starting pitcher" on. Five days later, Malone also re-signed Dreifort, and incredibly, said of the man who had started a grand total of 87 games and missed an entire season due to injury,
"Keeping him with the Los Angeles Dodgers was very important to us," Malone said. "We think now ... we have one of the better starting rotations, or at least comparable to anyone in baseball.

"Darren is a young starter, he is getting better, and he has the potential to be a No. 1 starter."
Well, of course you just don't hand out $55M contracts to guys who haven't proven that potential, just as you don't hand out $22.5M contracts to 33-year-old mediocrities with the ability of a "third or fourth starter", as Malone himself confessed a few days after the signing. Malone was gone after 2001, but his lousy contracts continued to stink up the Dodgers up until last year, when Dreifort finally came off the books.

Billy Ashley LAN b. 1970, played 1992-1997. I just know that Jon would have something to say about Ashley, one of the Dodgers' alleged answers in the outfield in the Buttercup era; he had very nice minor league numbers in the thin air parks of the PCL, but those never translated to major league production. Buh-bye.

Clarence Blethen BRO b. 1893, played 1929, d. 1973-04-11

Brian Brady CAL b. 1962, played 1989

Dick Gray LAN b. 1931, played 1958-1959

Hal Gregg BRO b. 1921, played 1943-1947, All-Star: 1945, d. 1991-05-13. His time on the All-Star team wasn't anything serious as part of a middling 87-67 third-place Brooklyn squad. An 18-game winner that year, he was off the team two years later following arm troubles, and ended his career in Pittsburgh. His replacement at the head of the Dodgers rotation was none other than Ralph Branca.

Binky Jones BRO b. 1899, played 1924, d. 1961-05-13

Ed Ott CAL b. 1951, played 1981. Along with Ed Hug, has the distinction of having the shortest name in baseball history.

Milt Stock BRO b. 1893, played 1924-1926, d. 1977-07-16

Vito Tamulis BRO b. 1911, played 1938-1941, d. 1974-05-05

Donne Wall ANA b. 1967, played 2002. Wall's last stand in the majors was pitching a pair of innings in a 7-2 blowout by the Pirates, of all teams; he was released on June 15th so that Scot Shields could join the big club. Now that was an improvement.

Roster Notes And Silly Rumors Dep't

I'm too young to remember Bobby Thomson's home run, but I still remember the top of the ninth inning of the third playoff game---Oct 3, 1962, the day that for me will forever live in infamy. If I could change ONE thing, it would be for Walter Alston to have grown a brain and NOT have Ed Roebuck pitch in the 9th innning. Roebuck had shut Frisco down for three innings, but was running out of gas. It was clear to everyone except Alston that Rorbuck didn't have it, but Alston sat there like a bump on a log and let him give the game away. A-A-A-A-A-R-R--R-R-R-G-G-H-H-H-H!!!!!!!!
Hasn't it been alleged that the Giants were stealing pitch signs that day? A la a certain team that was accussed this year. You know, one that likes to cheat by running to first on a strike three that wasn't dropped?
Billy Ashley?

What can I say? I was young. I believed.
Re: Milt Stock. I seem to recall that he was 3B coach in Brooklyn in the late 40's early 50's. Is it my imagination but did he wave the potential winning home run on the last day of the 1950 season, only to be tagged out by Andy Seminick?

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