Results tagged ‘ Davey Johnson ’

Steinbrenner, Piniella under consideration for Hall

Former Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner and one of his favorite lieutenants, Lou Piniella, were among 10 candidates announced Monday by the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the Today’s Game Era ballot that will be voted on Dec. 5 during the Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md.

Steinbrenner was one of three executives along with former commissioner Bud Selig and longtime general manager John Schuerholz named to the ballot and Piniella one of two managers along with Davey Johnson. The other five candidates are former players who were passed over previously in elections by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America — outfielders Harold Baines and Albert Belle, first basemen Mark McGwire and Will Clark and pitcher Orel Hershiser.

Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee will earn election to the Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown, N.Y., July 30, 2017, along with any electees who emerge from the 2017 BBWAA election, which will be announced Jan. 18, 2017.

The Today’s Game Era was one of four Eras Committees identified in July when the Hall’s board of directors announced changes to the Era Committee system, which provides an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons.


Steinbrenner purchased controlling interest in the Yankees in 1973 and oversaw the franchise’s path to seven World Series championships. An early adopter in baseball’s free agency era of the mid-1970s, Steinbrenner’s Yankees compiled a winning percentage of .565 and totaled 11 American League pennants in his 37 full years as the team’s owner. Steinbrenner was also influential in various marketing initiatives, including revenue-building enterprises such as cable television, the creation of the Yankees’ own network (YES) and the construction of the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, the year before his death at the age of 80.


Piniella, 73, is being considered for his career as a manager, which included two stints with the Yankees, a team for which he wore many hats. “Sweet Lou,” a fan favorite, served the Yankees as a player, coach, manager, general manager and television analyst. In 23 seasons as a manager for the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs, Piniella won 1,835 games, the 14th highest total in major league history. He won a World Series in 1990 with the Reds in a four-game sweep of the Athletics and piloted the Mariners to an AL-record 116 victories in 2001. He won Manager of the Year Awards in both leagues, in 1995 and 2001 in the AL with the Mariners and in 2008 in the National League with the Cubs. Piniella batted .291 in his 18-season playing career and won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1977 and ’78.

The 10 Today’s Game Era finalists were selected by the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee (disclosure: I am the committee’s chair) from all eligible candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the time period from 1988 through the present.

Eligible candidates include players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 15 or more seasons; and managers, umpires and executives with 10 or more years in baseball. All active executives age 70 or older may have their careers reviewed as part of the Era Committee balloting process, regardless of the position they hold in an organization, and regardless of whether their body of work has been completed.

The Today’s Game Era ballot was determined this fall by the HOC comprised of myself as well as 10 other veteran historians: Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (formerly New York Daily News); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (; Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); Dave van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).

The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Today’s Game Era ballot will be announced later this fall. The Today’s Game Era Committee will meet twice in a five-year period, with the next meeting scheduled for the fall of 2018.

The Eras Committees consist of four different electorates: Today’s Game (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1988 to the present); Modern Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1970 to 1987); Golden Days (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1950 to 1969); and Early Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball prior to 1950).

The Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras will be considered twice each in a five-year period, with the Golden Days era considered once every five years and the Early Baseball era considered once every 10 years.

DL bug finally reaches Yanks’ bullpen

The bullpen had been the one area of the Yankees’ roster unstained by injury in the first month of the season. That situation has changed.

The Yankees placed righthander Joba Chamberlain on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 28, because of a right oblique strain. They called up righthander Preston Claiborne from Triple A Scranton where he had three saves in three opportunities with a 3.48 ERA and 10 strikeouts in eight relief appearances totaling 10 1/3 innings. To create room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated righthander Cody Eppley for assignment.

In addition, David Robertson is also ailing with soreness in the area behind his left knee. The righthander was not available for Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Athletics.

Without Chamberlain and Robertson, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will have to maneuver his bullpen differently in the late innings. Even relying on matchups won’t help much considering that Claiborne, recent call-up Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren have limited experience. Girardi said he may have to rely on veteran Shawn Kelley more in late-inning spots.

Friday night marked the 1,000th managerial game over seven seasons for Girardi, who had a 574-425 (.575) overall record – 496-341 (.593) in 837 games in six seasons with the Yankees (2008-present) and 78-84 (.481) in one season with the Marlins (2006) when he was received the National League Manager of the Year Award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Regardless of Friday night’s outcome, Girardi will have the best winning percentage among all managers with at least 1,000 games at the helm since Hall of Famer Earl Weaver compiled a 1,480-1,060 (.583) mark over a 17-year managerial career (1968-82 and ‘85-86), all with the Orioles. Among active managers, Girardi ranks second in winning percentage behind the Rockies’ Walt Weiss (17-11, .607), who is in his first season as a skipper, and ahead of the Nationals’ Davey Johnson (1,301-1,009, .563).

Friday night was also an anniversary for Robinson Cano, who made his major-league debut on this date eight years ago. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Cano has more career hits (1,495) for the Yankees than any other player in franchise history through his first eight calendar years in the big leagues. Cano has played more games (1,241) with the Yanks than the other 12 position players on their active roster combined (1,074).

Joe makes some history with 500th victory

The Yankees’ victory at Nationals Park Friday night was career No. 500 as a manager for Joe Girardi. He became the 123rd manager in major league history to reach that plateau.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, with a 500-373 record Girardi was the first manager to get 500 victories with fewer than 380 losses since current Nationals manager Davey Johnson in 1989 with the Mets when he got to 500 April 29, 1989 with 329 losses.

The only other managers to do so in the expansion era since 1961 were Hall of Famers Sparky Anderson and Earl Weaver. Girardi was also the first manager to collect 500 victories prior to his 48th birthday since current Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen, who was 45 years, 227 days old when he got to 500 Sept. 4, 2009 with the White Sox.

The Yankees have signed the following picks from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft: C Austin Aune (second round), RHP Nick Goody (sixth), RHP Taylor Garrison (seventh), CF Taylor Dugas (eighth, RHP Derek Varnadore (ninth), 1B Matt Snyder (10th), LHP Caleb Frare (11th), C Chris Breen (12th), LHP James Pazos (13th), RHP Andrew Benak (14th), RHP Stefan Lopez (16th), LHP Timothy Flight (17th), LHP Dietrich Enns (19th), OF Danny Oh (27th), 1B Saxon Butler (33rd), LHP Eric Erickson (34th) and RHP Charles Basford (37th).

Girardi has many reasons to savor 500th victory

Joe Girardi’s 500th managerial victory will be easy for him to remember because so many things went well for the Yankees. When two teams with six-game winning streaks collide, something has got to give, but all the American League East leading Yanks gave the National League East leading Nationals Friday night was trouble.

In their 7-2 victory, the Yankees got another strong start from Phil Hughes, they got big hits with runners in scoring position, had a hit with the bases loaded and came within one out of winning a game without hitting a home run. Curtis Granderson ruined that possibility when he slammed his 20th homer with two down in the ninth, but that was fine for Girardi.

The manager was even able to work David Robertson into the mix by using him in a non-save situation in the ninth. Robbie showed some rust by allowing a run on a pair of doubles, but it was nice to see him back in a game for the first time in more than a month.

Hughes scattered six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings to win his third straight start. It was a one-run game while Hughes was on the mound in a duel with Nationals lefthander Gio Gonzalez, who is 8-3 this season but sustained his fourth straight loss to the Yankees as his career record against them fell to 1-5.

Actually, Gonzalez was out of the game by the time the Yankees broke it open. Manager Davey Johnson lifted Gonzalez, who seemed none too happy about it, after he gave up a leadoff single to Andruw Jones in the seventh. The Yanks then roughed up relievers Brad Lidge and Mike Gonzalez for four runs.

Derek Jeter got the bases-loaded hit, a single. Another run scored on a wild throw by shortstop Ian Desmond. Granderson doubled in two more runs. The Yankees had 4-for-8 (.500) with runners in scoring position. Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada provided a shutout inning of relief apiece before Robertson worked the ninth.

The 2-1 lead Hughes worked with was supplied by RBI singles from Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. For A-Rod, the RBI was career No. 1,924, which tied him with Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for sixth place on the all-time list. In the fifth spot is another Hall of Famer, Stan Musial, at 1,951. And just the other day, Rodriguez matched Lou Gehrig’s grand slam mark of 23. A-Rod is running elbows with an awful lot of Hall of Famers these days.

Hughes, whose record improved to 7-5, has pitched to a 1.29 ERA over his past three starts, all victories. Going back further, over his past eight starts since May 6, Hughes is 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. The righthander has lowered his ERA over that stretch from 7.48 to 4.50. Hughes also ran his career record in inter-league play to 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA.

It was the Yankees’ first game at Nationals Park. They are 19-18 in their debut games at new stadiums in the expansion era dating to 1961.

First timers enjoy Old Timers’ Day

I have come full cycle with Old Timers Day, one of the great traditions at Yankee Stadium where it all began with a day to honor Babe Ruth in 1947. The first one I attended was in the late 1950s and getting to see Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Tommy Henrich, Red Ruffing and other stars of my parents’ generation’s youth. My father was actually a Giants fan when they still played in New York, but my mother’s family was all Yankees fans.

When I started covering the Yankees in the 1980’s, Old Timers’ Day was a favorite because I would not only get to see the Yankees stars of my youth such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer and Moose Skowron but also to talk to them. Bauer was one of the best interviews ever; blunt, outspoken, colorful.

One of my favorite stories came from Bauer’s old platoon partner, Gene Woodling. (Bauer, by the way, was not crazy about Casey Stengel, who platooned him early on in the outfield before he became the regular right fielder.)

Back to Woodling; he talked of a time when players were so worried about keeping their jobs that he played for about a week with a broken bone in his heel. It swelled so much, Woodling said, that he cut out the back of his cleat and spread black shoe polish on the heel so no one would notice and stayed in the lineup. Finally, Dickey, the Hall of Fame catcher who was then Casey’s first base coach, saw Woodling’s shoe with the big hole in it in his locker and told him that he needed treatment.

Think of something like that happened today when disabled lists are almost as big as rosters!

At Sunday’s Old Timers’ Day, I was reminded of the passage of time when I encountered so many players whom I covered when they broke into the majors – Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and David Cone in my years on the Mets and Bernie Williams, Pat Kelly and Kevin Maas during my time with the Yankees. I had them as rookies, and now they’re Old Timers, so what does that make me.

Don’t answer that.

This was Bernie’s first Old Timer’s Day, and he was one of the big hits of the afternoon. He got a rousing ovation from the crowd during the introduction ceremonies. Fans were on their feet again when he doubled to the warning track in left-center in the two-inning Old Timers’ game. Then the Stadium really exploded when Bernie’s old teammate, Tino Martinez, popped a two-run home run to right off Cone, another old teammate.

I teased Bernie around the batting cage before the game after he had told writers that he still did not consider himself retired. “But I think that’s closer now,” he said.

I told him that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America was in the process of putting together the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot that will go out to voters in December, and that he would be on it; in other words, like it or not, Bernie, you’re retired.

He was asked during the press conference what his favorite memory from his playing career was. Williams could not limit it to just one and gave a very thoughtful answer.

“I would say that three things stick out – winning our first World Series championship in 1996, winning the batting title in 1999 and being on the field before the last game at the old Stadium,” he said. “I got announced after Yogi, which was pretty cool.”

Bernie officially joined the pantheon of Yankees legends Sunday, and he sounded proud of it.

“It’s a really big thing for me,” he said. “If you take the word ‘old,’ I think I’d be a little uncomfortable with it. But when I was playing, I looked forward to these days. To me, it was a reminder of the fact that we’re part of a family that has been going on for 100 years, and thinking I was part of something that was bigger than myself. And now I’m on the other side, being in the same situation, so it’s good. It’s great. I’m just really proud of this organization. When I chose to stay and have my whole career as a Yankee, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Also back for the first Old Timers’ Day appearance were former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre. “Sweet Lou,” who served the Yankees in nearly every category there is (players, coach, manager, general manager, broadcaster) put on the pinstripes for the first time since 1988. He had been busy elsewhere after that, winning a World Series with the Reds in 1990 and helping to build the Mariners into a viable franchise.

The pinstripes looked good on Torre, too, even while wearing a sling after recently undergoing right rotator cuff surgery. The man who won six American League pennants, four World Series and had the Yankee in post-season play all 12 of his seasons as manager had been invited before but was unable to attend because he was managing the Dodgers. Joe is now vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner’s office, but it is not really a desk job as he gets to spend a lot of time in ballparks.

With Jack McKeon (Marlins) and Davey Johnson (Nationals) back in big-league dugouts, I was curious if that gave either Lou or Joe the itch to return.

“There comes a time when you have to walk away, and I knew last year was that time for me,” Piniella said. “It was the same when I was a player. I was never one who wanted another at bat.”

“I was shopping with my wife recently,” Torre said, “and she told me how strange it was that here we were in the middle of a baseball season together and I wasn’t stressed out. I don’t miss all that stress.”

Both proudly wore rings linking them to their Yankees careers – Lou the World Series ring of 1977 and Joe of 1996. Those were the first championships for each.

“You never forget the first time,” Joe said on a day at Yankee Stadium that never gets old.

Lou Gorman, nice guy exec

Please indulge me as I say a few nice words about a former executive for the Red Sox. Now, now, calm down. Even the most rapid Yankees fan would have loved Lou Gorman, who died Friday night at the age of 82.

Gorman was a baseball lifer, serving in the front offices of several organizations in capacities ranging from general manager to assistant farm director. He cut his teeth with the Orioles where he worked under Frank Cashen, who would bring him to the Mets in the early 1980s. That was where I got to know Lou, a delightfully cheerful New Englander who never lost his Rhode Island accent.

Gorman was a writer’s dream of an executive because he always, always returned phone calls and while he was frequently cautious in his remarks he was truthful. “I can’t answer that,” Lou would say rather than tell a lie.

He was particularly effective in building farm systems of expansion teams, first the Kansas City Royals and later the Seattle Mariners before joining the Mets. He left Shea Stadium to take the job of his dreams, that of general manager of the Red Sox for 10 years in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was the GM in Boston in 1986 when the Red Sox came within one strike of winning the World Series only to fall to the Mets.

Red Sox fans never forgave Gorman, however, for the 1990 trade that backfired on them. In need of a relief pitcher, Gorman dealt prospect Jeff Bagwell, then blocked at third base by Wade Boggs, to Houston for Larry Andersen. The righthander pitched in 15 games for the Red Sox and then three more in the American League Championship Series, a four-game sweep by Oakland.

Andersen was eligible for free agency after the season and left Boston to sign with San Diego. Meanwhile, Bagwell moved over to first base with the Astros and went on to a brilliant, 15-year career that may someday earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Yankees fans do owe one debt to Gorman. It was Lou who brought Mel Stottlemyre back to New York as a pitching coach. When Davey Johnson was named Mets manager in 1984, he wanted to hire Wes Stock, a former teammate in Baltimore, as the pitching coach, but Cashen sided instead with Gorman, who wanted Stottlemyre with whom he had worked with young pitchers in Seattle.

Mel did a terrific job with the Mets staff and later worked with Bob Watson in Houston. In 1996, Mel came back to the Yankees as Watson as general manager in the Bronx hired him to be Joe Torre’s pitching coach.

That worked out pretty well, too.

Will stars fall on Girardi?

There was an interesting column in Monday’s editions of the New York Times by Harvey Araton concerning Joe Girardi’s contract situation with the Yankees and the temptation posed by the managerial opening with the Cubs.

Speculation has been heated for some time that Girardi, who is in the final year of his contract with the Yankees, might be persuaded to return to his Illinois roots and take on the challenge of turning around a franchise that last won a championship when Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House.

Yankees fans might think it makes no sense for a manager to forsake a job with a storied team that puts together a championship caliber roster year after year. However, as Araton pointed out and with commentary from former manager Davey Johnson, there is an issue ahead for whomever the future Yankees manager is that makes the role as much of a challenge as there is at Wrigley Field.

Johnson, who led the Mets to the World Series championship in 1986 and went on to run three other clubs, said one of the most difficult decisions he made as a manager was during his time in Baltimore when it became clear to him that Cal Ripken Jr. needed to come off shortstop. This was not a view shared by Ripken, of course, who balked at the suggestion even though he had to be aware that it was inevitable. Ripken eventually accepted the move to third base, but it would not be long after that Johnson’s tenure with the Orioles ended.

I remember talking to a manager about 10 years ago who had a veteran player on the downside of his career and was forced to make hard choices about reducing his playing time. He told me off the record (which is why I will not identify the manager) that the advice he received from an older manager was the soundest he had received. “Never argue with your general manager about the 25th man on the roster,” he said, “and never let a star fall on you.”

It happens. Think back to Casey Stengel and Joe DiMaggio, Ralph Houk and Mickey Mantle, Johnson and Ripken. There are plenty of other examples. It is a real dilemma for a manager.

Now think of what could be ahead for Girardi. He might have not one but four players in that situation – the vaunted “Core Four” of Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. And in Girardi’s case, the situation is further amplified by the fact that each player is also a former teammate.

I am not suggesting in any way that this quartet is ready to be phased out immediately, far from it. But the years are moving forward, not backward, and the day will come when one or all of those guys will have to face the reality of diminished skills resulting in a decrease in playing time or redefinition of duty.

Will Girardi have with Jeter the same situation Johnson did with Ripken, for example? Will he have to break the news to Posada that more time at designated hitter is in store or to determine that pitchers younger than Pettitte or Rivera are ready to supplant them?

“Give my best to Joe,” Davey told Araton, “and tell him to stay in New York.”

Johnson was saying that Girardi’s current job is still his best option, no matter how strong the tug to Chicago. Still, there is food for thought.

The road not taken

The Orioles are in the market for a manager – again. Reports in Baltimore are that the Orioles are beginning to line up potential candidates for future interviews for the seat vacated by Dave Trembley’s firing that is now occupied by former third base coach Juan Samuel on an interim basis.

Already, some names have surfaced, such as former Rangers and Mets manager Bobby Valentine, now an analyst on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight,” and former Indians manager Eric Wedge, the 2007 American League Manager of the Year. Even Davey Johnson, who starred on two Orioles World Series champions and was Baltimore’s manager in 1996 and ’97, has been mentioned.

The latter one is hard to fathom, considering that Johnson had an acrimonious relationship with owner Pete Angelos, who did not bring Davey back for the 1998 season, the year after he had been named AL Manager of the Year.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Orioles were in a similar situation. In June 2007, general manager Andy MacPhail fired Sam Perlozzo and had another Italian-American in mind to take his place, by the name of Joe Girardi. Think of how different Girardi’s life would have been had he accepted that job? He might not have had the chance to manage the Yankees, a job he long coveted from afar.

Girardi wasn’t thinking about that then, however. He was an excellent candidate in MacPhail’s eyes. After all, Joe was the National League Manager of the Year in 2006, his first and what proved his last year with the Marlins. He and Florida team owner Jeffrey Loria were not always on the same page, so Girardi was not brought back for 2007. He was available to the Orioles, who reportedly were prepared to offer him a three-year contract. MacPhail knew Girardi well from their years together with the Cubs and though he was the guy to steer the Orioles from the depths of the AL East.

There were other issues in Girardi’s life at that time which led him to say thanks but no thanks to MacPhail. Joe still had a year’s guaranteed money coming to him from the Marlins, but the decision was based more on family matters

“My father was in the beginning of the end stages of Alzheimer’s,” Girardi told writers the other day. “We decided that we were going to spend the summer in Chicago with him and my wife’s family. Those were my plans going into that summer, and I just thought I need to see my dad because I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to talk to him.”

MacPhail promoted Trembley, a career minor leaguer, into the position. That October, the Yankees tabbed Girardi to succeed Joe Torre, for whom Girardi played with the Yankees from 1996-99 and served as bench coach in 2005. He has won a World Series and has a .598 winning percentage in two-plus seasons with the Yankees. Trembley had a .398 winning percentage in three-plus seasons with the Orioles.

How different, indeed.