Tag:Alan Trammell
Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:37 pm

On 2012 Hall ballot, it's no, no and no

The first (and easiest) part of the Hall of Fame voting process is crossing off the names that obviously don’t fit.

This year, it's far too easy.

I counted 13 new names on the 2012 ballot that was announced Wednesday. It took me about 13 seconds to realize that I won't be voting for any of them.

Jeromy Burnitz? Bill Mueller? Tony Womack?

No, no, no.

Vinny Castilla? Brian Jordan? Bernie Williams?

No, no, no.

And here's my problem: I only voted for two guys last year (Robbie Alomar and Jack Morris), and one of them (Alomar) got in.

That leaves me with one holdover (Morris) and no newcomers. That leaves me with one name on my ballot, and it leaves me with one big question:

If I'm only voting for one guy (voters can pick up to 10 names), am I being too picky?

I don't know the answer yet. I've got a month to figure it out, because the Hall ballot must be postmarked by Dec. 31 (with results announced Jan. 9).

If I decide that my standards have been too strict, the two guys I'm most likely to add to the ballot are shortstops Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell. Both have good (and similar cases), and they were the last two players I eliminated a year ago.

I'll look at other names, too.

I'm not sure yet. It's going to take a lot of time, and a lot of thought.

A lot more than 13 seconds.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:19 am

3 to Watch: The honoring Sparky edition

The home team is honoring Sparky Anderson this weekend at Comerica Park.

So are the visitors.

The Tigers will finally, belatedly, retire Sparky's No. 11 in a ceremony on Sunday. The Diamondbacks -- the first-place Diamondbacks -- will show that baseball as Sparky taught it still works.

It's ridiculous that the Tigers waited until this year, until Anderson died in November, to do this. It's great, and perfectly fitting, that they chose to do it this weekend, with Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell and the team that they have tried to craft in Sparky's image in town to see it.

"Sparky meant the world to them," Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said, and anyone who knows Gibson or Trammell just a little bit knows that's 100 percent true. "He was their mentor, and their idol."

In the three years Trammell managed the Tigers, with Gibson at his side as a coach, they tried hard to teach the game as Sparky had taught it to them. For various reasons, mostly a lack of talent on the field, they lost 300 games and were never in first place after April 17.

Now Gibson is in his first full year managing the Diamondbacks, with Trammell at his side as bench coach. And this time, the Diamondbacks are in first place, ahead of the World Series champions, in the final days of June.

This time, with better talent, baseball as Sparky taught it is working the way it worked all those years for Anderson.

"I think Gibby gets the majority of the credit," Hall said. "I'd also give a lot of credit to [new general manager] Kevin Towers, and to the coaching staff. They're all on the same page like I've never seen a coaching staff."

They play baseball the way Gibson teaches it. He teaches baseball the way he learned it from Sparky.

Is there any better way to honor a Hall of Famer?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When he took over for Mike Hargrove four years ago in Seattle -- after Hargrove stunned everyone by quitting in the middle of a long winning streak -- John McLaren said: "I have always wanted to manager, but not on terms like this." OK, John, how about these terms? The Nationals have won 11 of 12, and Jim Riggleman just stunned everyone by quitting. Oh, and this time, the team is saying you're only the interim manager until they find a new interim manager, maybe by Monday. Have fun, and bring us a win, in Nationals at White Sox, Friday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field.

2. The last time Tim Wakefield pitched in Pittsburgh, Jim Leyland was the Pirates manager. And Barry Bonds was in left field. The Pirates were a playoff team. And Wakefield was pitching for them. He's appeared in 574 major-league games since then, none of them in Pittsburgh. Now he returns, in Red Sox at Pirates, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at PNC Park. As an added bonus, perhaps Red Sox manager Terry Francona will put Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield, for the first time in six years and just the second time in his big-league career.

3. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said that Gibson has been looking forward to this weekend's series in Detroit, but mostly because he'll get to see his family. But you've got to believe it means something to him to take a first-place team into town, and you know that the Sparky Anderson ceremony, to be held before Diamondbacks at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park, will mean a lot to him. You also know that Gibson's main goal this weekend is to win games. "That's the way they were brought up by Sparky," Towers said.

Posted on: April 22, 2011 8:06 pm

When shortstops get old

NEW YORK -- Alan Trammell was 35 when Sparky Anderson first moved him off shortstop.

He was 38 when he became a utility man, in what would be his final big-league season.

He understands as well as anyone what happens when shortstops get old. He understands why only one player ever got to 3,000 hits while still playing shortstop, even if he wasn't aware that it was Honus Wagner, 97 years ago.

"What it tells you is yes, it is that demanding a position," said Trammell, now the Diamondbacks bench coach. "You put your heart and soul into it. At shortstop, you've got to be on your p's and q's every pitch.

"At that position, when guys start to lose it, it gets exposed fast."

The question comes up because Derek Jeter has 2,940 hits, turns 37 in June . . . and is still playing shortstop.

Jeter isn't the oldest shortstop in baseball -- Miguel Tejada of the Giants turns 37 in May -- but he is the one guy who will almost certainly do what only Wagner did before him: Reach 3,000 hits while still playing short.

Cal Ripken Jr. was in his third year as a full-time third baseman by the time he got to 3,000 (at age 39). Robin Yount? He was a 36-year-old center fielder.

Omar Vizquel is still playing at 43 (he turns 44 on Sunday), and he was still a full-time shortstop at 40. He still needs 193 hits for 3,000, and in any case, he's no longer a regular shortstop.

Others, like Trammell (2,365) and Ozzie Smith (2,460) fell short of 3,000, although in Smith's case, it wasn't because he retired early. He played until he was 41, and played shortstop right to the end.

Smith, in fact, was the Cardinals shortstop for three of the seven games of the 1996 National League Championship Series. At 41, he's the oldest player ever to start at short in a postseason game.

Worth noting, since both Jeter and Tejada will be 37 by October, is that only five other teams have used a shortstop 37 or older in a postseason game: The 1955-56 Dodgers, with Pee Wee Reese at age 37 and then 38; the 1955 Yankees, with Phil Rizzuto at 38; the 1984 Cubs, with Larry Bowa at 38; and the 2001 Mariners, with Mark McLemore at 37.

"The unfortunate thing for any player," Trammell said, "is that if he doesn't make a play, they'll immediately say it's because he's older."

Posted on: March 6, 2010 3:12 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2010 5:17 pm

Cubs get bad news on Guzman

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs say that reliever Angel Guzman has a "very unstable shoulder" that is serious enough to leave his career in doubt.

"Obviously, this wasn't good news," general manager Jim Hendry said this morning, after announcing the results from the MRI exam that Guzman had on Friday.

Guzman has a significant tear in a ligament in his right shoulder, and there isn't good history of pitchers coming back from the type of surgery he would need. While the Cubs and Guzman haven't yet decided on a course of action, he could try to treat it for 4-6 weeks and hope that he's able to return without surgery.

In any case, the Cubs won't be able to count on Guzman, who they were hoping to have as one of their main set-up men in front of closer Carlos Marmol.

Hendry said that he has already been looking outside the organization for bullpen help, and that he'll continue to do so. Manager Lou Piniella said that the Cubs could rely on some of the pitchers currently competing for the fourth and fifth spots in the starting rotation.

Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells occupy the first three spots in the rotation, and Ted Lilly will also be there once he is ready to pitch. But Lilly will miss the start of the season, so the Cubs need to choose two more starters from among Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Marshall.

The 28-year-old Guzman appeared in 55 games for the Cubs in 2009, with a 2.95 ERA and a .192 opponents batting average.

"At one point, this guy was as good a prospect as [Carlos Zambrano]," Hendry said.

More revelations from a day with the two Chicago teams:

-- Lou Piniella uses an iPhone. But don't get the idea that Piniella is suddenly becoming tech-savvy. Asked if he used any apps on the phone, he responded with a blank stare. "I'd rather talk to someone face to face than e-mail them," he said.

--Ozzie Guillen said that because he considers Piniella a friend and because he has such respect for Hendry, he doesn't root against the Cubs. "The only reason I don't want [the Cubs to go to the World Series] is the fans," he said.

-- Guillen said that when he wrote on his Twitter account that today was "a big game," he was referring to the other White Sox split-squad game, because Freddy Garcia is starting. But then he said, "I tied Mike Scioscia [on Thursday] and lost to Joe Torre [on Friday]. I hope I can beat Lou Piniella."

-- The Cubs continue to rave about what good shape Geovany Soto is in this spring. The Cubs are counting on bounce-back years from Soto, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Soriano played left field today, and said: "It's great ot play this game with no pain. If I stay healthy, I'll have no problems putting up good numbers for me and the team. Just stay healthy. That's the key."

-- Silva doesn't look slim, and neither does his spring ERA after giving up six runs in two innings (including two long Carlos Quentin home runs) in his Cubs debut today. "I've been working on a lot of stuff, and there's still a lot of stuff to work on," he said.

-- Cubs coach Alan Trammell said he's been asked often about the comparison with 19-year-old Starlin Castro, the Cubs big shortstop prospect who came to camp with a longshot chance to make the team. Trammell had just turned 20 when he made the Tigers out of spring training in 1978, and Castro will be 20 by opening day. "The one thing against him is that we're the Chicago Cubs and we're expected to win," Trammell said. The '78 Tigers were coming off an 88-loss season.

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