Poor judgement costs both the All-Star catcher and his team.
Watching the tension-filled Cardinals-Brewers game Tuesday, I was prepared for some kind of fireworks. What I didn’t see coming was St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina going ballistic. The All-Star catcher has been hitting well this season, and has been as stellar behind the plate as usual. He’s been a steady producer in a lineup of big hitters and has been a steadying influence for the pitching staff.
So why did Molina fly off the handle Tuesday night? There didn’t seem to be anything brewing between Yadi and home plate umpire Rob Drake. In fact, Drake seemed tardy in warning both benches when Cardinals reliever Jason Motte’s first attempt to hit Ryan Braun failed.
And the pitch that Drake called Molina out on just wasn’t that bad. In fact, it could have been argued by the Brewers had it been called a ball. Evidently, Molina felt the Cardinals’ pitchers weren’t getting the same breaks their opponents were from Drake. But isn’t there a better, more diplomatic way to handle that?
I’m not sure what, but I believe it was more than just one missed pitch that lit Molina’s fuse. He exploded as I’ve never seen before. And his actions will hurt his team. If Molina doesn’t appeal the suspension, which all players do, he’ll miss some or all of the Milwaukee series in St. Louis next week. If he accepts the punishment beginning tonight at Florida, he’ll miss the first game Tuesday night against the Brew Crew — if none of the four scheduled games in Florida are hurricaned out. At any rate, this is not a time for the Cardinals to lose their catcher.
Molina has been one of my favorite players to watch. He battles at the plate, is a defensive force behind it and has a cannon. But this time, his poor judgment could cost his team. And why? No sound reason at all.
The A's Mt. Rushmore goes back further than the city of Oakland — like all the way to Philadelphia.
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
I am continuing the series of MLB Mt. Rushmores. The question was posed earlier this season whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore. That certainly piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. But it isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the arguments begin.
Oakland A's Mt. Rushmore
The Oakland portion of this franchise’s history is but a small part. The Athletics have won nine World Series titles, five in Philadelphia, four in Oakland. In between Philadelphia and Oakland, the organization spent 13 losing years in Kansas City before moving to the West Coast in 1968. For 50 seasons, Connie Mack led the team in his business suit from the dugout. There have been several short impressive stretches for the A’s. From 1910-14 the A’s won four AL pennants and three World Series, then finished in last place the next seven seasons. From 1925-33, the A’s were first, second or third with three consecutive pennants and a couple more World Series. From 1971-75, the A’s won five straight AL West crowns and three World Series in a row. From 1988-92 they won four of five division titles and went to the playoffs from 2000-03. Of their 10 100-win seasons, half of them came in Philadelphia, half in Oakland. Whether it was in Philadelphia or Oakland, the organization seems to have a knack for developing Hall of Famers who spend only parts of their careers with the franchise. That’s certainly the case for the four gentlemen selected for the mountain.
Few, if any, fans living today remember watching Simmons for the Philadelphia A’s. From 1924-32 he was considered among the 10 best players in the American League. He still holds the franchise records for total bases, RBIs and batting average. He’s second in hits and fifth in runs.
Double X was a huge pain for opponents, winning back-to-back MVP awards in 1932-33 as a member of the Philadelphia A’s, and teamed with Al Simmons as a feared 1-2 punch in the lineup almost equal to Ruth-Gehrig. Simmons and Foxx hit 4-5 in the lineup for the 1929-30 World Champs. Foxx is second in average and RBIs, and third in total bases.
The most prolific base stealer of all-time scored more runs than any other player in baseball. All of his stats weren’t accumulated with the A’s, but across his four stints with the club, the six-time A’s All-Star amassed 1,768 hits, 1,270 runs and 867 stolen bases over 14 seasons. He won an MVP award in 1990 and finished second in 1981.
The ace of the dominant Philadelphia teams from 1929-31, Grove spent just nine seasons with the A’s, but led the AL in wins four times, ERA five times, strikeouts seven times and even had what would have been nine saves had that been a statistic at the time to lead the league the same year he led in wins. He was 195-79 for Philadelphia, averaging 22 wins and six “saves” per season. He was named AL MVP in 1931.
Close Calls Eddie Plank was the ace of the staff for its first 14 seasons. During that time he averaged 20 wins a season, totaling 284, most all-time for the franchise.
The franchise leader in games and hits, Bert Campaneris, must get some consideration. Besides, he once played all nine positions in one game.
Mr. October was a different player as No. 9 for the A’s before he became No. 44 in the Bronx. The athletic Reggie Jackson stole bases and was adept in right field with one of the strongest throwing arms in the game. His No. 9 is retired in Oakland.
A Hall of Famer and member of three World Series teams in Oakland, Catfish Hunter won 161 games and a Cy Young award in 10 seasons with the A’s.
One of the relief pitchers who defined the role of closer, Rollie Fingers appeared in more than 500 games and had 136 saves.
Dennis Eckersley redefined his career as a closer in Oakland under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. Eck notched 320 saves for the A’s, earning an MVP and Cy Young trophy along the way.
The Tall Tactician, Connie Mack, is most remembered for wearing a business suit in the dugout for 50 seasons. In many respects, Mack represents the face of the franchise — or at least he did for 50 years as owner/manager.
Sal Bando was the captain of five straight division winners in the 1970s, winning three World Series.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Winners Philadelphia Phillies
After making a run at Carlos Beltran of the Mets, the Phillies acquired Hunter Pence (right) from Houston. It would have been a surprise had the Mets actually dealt with a division rival. It was also surprising that the Phillies focused their efforts on improving their lineup. They must believe getting Brad Lidge back will be enough to deepen their bullpen, which actually had been a strength this season despite being hit hard with injuries.
Strengthened their bullpen with two of the dominant setup men in the game in Mike Adams from San Diego and Koji Uehara from Baltimore. With closer Neftali Feliz set for the ninth inning, Adams and Uehara essential turn Texas games into 6-inning games. In the 95 innings the two have combined to pitch this season, they have 11 strikeouts and only 17 walks with a 1.42 ERA. As the rotation begins to tire, taking pressure off the starters to go deep into games should really bolster the staff. The Texas offense should continue to be no problem. These moves also give the Rangers a better chance to compete with New York and Boston in the playoffs. Right now, the Rangers might be favored in a series with either team.
The Braves traded youngster Jordan Schafer and two Double-AA starters to obtain the MLB steals leader Michael Bourn from Houston. With catcher Brian McCann out for significant time with a rib cage injury, the Braves desperately need to boost their lineup. Chipper Jones should return this week to improve the middle of the order, but Bourn provides a spark at the top of a lineup that will rely more on manufacturing runs. With a pitching staff that keeps the Braves in just about every game, using speed to put pressure on defenses will serve Atlanta well.
It may not be enough to finish off the deal in the AL Central, but acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez was a coup for the upstart Indians. If nothing else, the organization has convinced its fans that it is serious this season. Jimenez, who can be a horse atop the rotation for the stretch drive, is under contract for less than $10 million per season through 2014.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants were able to procure the bat they needed in the middle of their order in Carlos Beltran (right) without giving up multiple players. Blessed with young pitching, the organization felt it could part with Zack Wheeler, a top-50 type prospect currently at the Single-A level.
Suffering through the longest losing streak in franchise history as the trade deadline dawned, the Mariners had a few trading chips and landed lefthander Charlie Furbush and outfielder Casper Wells from the Tigers. Then the M’s received Trayvon Robinson from the Dodgers in a deal that sent Erik Bedard to the Red Sox. Seattle did not have to give up ace Felix Hernandez and improved its organization for the next 3-5 years.
Obviously going nowhere this season, the Orioles parted ways with veteran Derrek Lee and setup man Koji Uehara. In return, the Orioles received Chris Davis, who they believe will be their first baseman of the future and Tommy Hunter, who could become their ace next season. Baltimore now has talented young players at just about every position as well as some young talent in the rotation. The future really is getting brighter in Baltimore.
Having traded or demoted five of the eight Opening Day starters this season, the Astros appear several years from seeing any fruits of their rebuilding efforts. At the same time, there is currently not enough continuity for fans to hang onto. Expect a few more seasons hitting the century mark in losses.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels don’t exactly have the meat in the lineup or the depth in the bullpen to compete with the Rangers. By standing pat, it’s almost as if the Angels are giving up. Not a great message to fans. In its defense, the organization doesn’t want to do anything to compromise the future to take what could be a long shot to win in 2011.
Long out of the race and burdened with a roster filled with veterans with huge contracts, the Cubs were unable to accelerate any rebuilding process by trading veterans for youngsters. Carlos Zambrano was available, but there were no takers. The only two significant trading chips — Marlon Byrd, who has been injured, and closer Carlos Marmol — apparently weren’t discussed at a high level. The Cubs were able to unload Kosuke Fukudome as a salary dump to the Indians, but received very little in return.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him at Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com.
Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s tweet after signing quarterback Peyton Manning to a new contract. The four-time MVP took less money than the club had originally offered in order to help the team’s salary cap situation.