Why the Red Sox Are Not Okay with Dice-K

The continuously disappointing Daisuke Matsuzaka took to the hill for the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians. To the surprise of no one, Dice-K was gone after five innings in which he allowed six hits, three walks, three earned runs and was charged with the loss in the 8-4 drubbing.

You will remember that Matsuzaka arrived on the scene in 2007 to enormous hoopla.

Management, fans and sports writers were convinced that Matsuzaka was worth every dime of the Red Sox $100 million dollar investment.

According to reports, Matsuzaka had not only the usual repertoire of pitches but he had two kinds of sliders, a fork ball and the never-before-seen gyro-ball that was, admirers claimed, certain to baffle every hitter in the league.

Matsuzaka madness included a CD titled “Music from the Mound” that included as the first cut, “Gyro Ball, Dice-K” If for some inexplicable reason you want to add the disc to your music collection, you’re out of luck. It was pulled from the shelves when batters immediately started knocking Matsuzaka’s gyro ball all over the park.

Fast forward to today when Matsuzaka’s career includes long stints on disabled list where he was sent for the various reasons including “shoulder weakness” after the World Baseball Classic and weight problems. Other Matuzaka issues over the years involve his polite but insubordinate refusal to change his pitching style that’s created resentment among his lesser paid teammates.  They also wish he gave up fewer walks and picked up his pitching pace before they fall asleep playing behind him.

The disappointing truth about Dice-K’s limited talent has been hard for many Sox fans both here and in Japan to come to grips with.

But former ESPN announcer and Hall of Fame great Joe Morgan spotted it immediately.

While I was listening to the 2007 World Series, Morgan in a moment of unusual candor said about Matsuzaka: “He’s not as good as the Red Sox thought he was.”

Only a week into the 2011 season, the Red Sox (0-6 entering into the weekend series against the New York Yankees) are in complete disarray. Whether Red Sox manager Terry Francona will continue to trot Matsuzaka, barely holding on to his fifth starter’s slot, out to the mound for another shellacking or whether he’ll reach down to Pawtucket for a substitute is hard to tell.

One thing is sure. Fickle Red Sox fans won’t put up with much more of Matsuzaka’s underachieving.

The Great Friday Link Out: Baseball in full swing

  • Good news for fans of Cal baseball. It looks like the program will be continuing beyond this season.
  • Manny Ramirez is retiring, the federal government’s perjury case against Barry Bonds has gone to the jury, and baseball’s Steroid Era takes another sad turn. On a side note, next Tuesday’s edition of Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? will be on Manny. I’ll do one before too long on Barry, as well.
  • Rob Neyer offers a look at what Manny’s departure could mean for his final team, the Tampa Bay Rays. Short answer: It’s not good.
  • With all of Nick Swisher’s struggles in recent years (read: most, if not all of his career, though I like the guy from having covered him in the minors) it would seem like apt advice to tell him to break a leg. This can’t be what was meant, though.
  • Regular contributor Rory Paap writes of the Giants’ bullpen and something called Shutdowns and Meltdowns in a post for Bay City Ball of the ESPN Sweet Spot Network. Rory does a good job absorbing obscure metrics and told me recently they’re not hard to pick up, somewhat intuitive really. Whatever you say, dude (I’m amazed I have a basic grasp of OPS+ and WAR.)
  • Adam Morris suggests Jim Palmer might have been the most overrated pitcher of all-time. My vote’s Catfish Hunter, Rube Waddell, or Dizzy Dean.
  • Non-baseball link: It’s Masters time which means we get some golf-themed blog fare this week from Joe Posnanski, who began his newspaper career two decades ago as a young reporter in Augusta. I interviewed Posnanski back in September, and in a portion I didn’t include in the transcript I posted, he told me he once met legendary sportswriter Jim Murray in the press tent there.

Any player/Any era: Honus Wagner

What he did: I read something in The Glory of Their Times on Wagner, the Deadball Era legend and arguably the greatest shortstop in baseball history. Tommy Leach spoke of learning of Wagner’s prowess when he joined him on the Louisville ball club in 1898, shortly before both men were transferred to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Leach spoke of getting stuck behind Wagner at third base, his position in the minors, but how “it turned out for the best” since the two became part of the first baseball dynasty of the 20th century.

Leach said:

And it also turned out that while Honus was the best third baseman in the league, he was also the best first baseman, the best second baseman, the best shortstop, and the best outfielder. That was in fielding. And since he led the league in batting eight times between 1900 and 1911, you know that he was the best hitter, too. As well as the best base runner.

A few chapters later, another contemporary, Sam Crawford echoed Leach, comparing Wagner with Ty Cobb and saying Wagner “could play any position” and became “the greatest shortstop of them all.” Wagner spent the bulk of his career at shortstop, 1,887 games, but also logged time at every other infield position, played 373 games in the outfield, and pitched 8.1 scoreless innings between 1900 and 1902. He also hit .328 lifetime with 3,420 hits, and it all makes me wonder what he might do if he played today.

With his stocky 5’11” and 200-pound build, I think it unlikely Wagner would be groomed in the minors as a shortstop. My hunch is that in the current game, he might excel at a position he never played: catcher.

Era he might have thrived in: We’ll put Wagner on the Minnesota Twins where he might rival Joe Mauer as the best-hitting catcher in the game today.

Why: This is all based on a big assumption, of course, that Wagner’s bulk and versatility could make him a great backstop. His arm might also lend itself to the position, seeing as a scout signed an 18-year-old Wagner after watching him chuck rocks across a river. He was tough too, supposedly splitting Cobb’s lip with a hard tag in the 1909 World Series after the Georgia Peach yelled, as recounted in Ken Burns Baseball, “Watch out, Krauthead, I’m coming down. I’ll cut you to pieces,” and Wagner replied,  “Come ahead.” It seems Wagner would be a tank guarding home, and I wonder why he never played catcher. I think he’d be a natural.

Regardless of whether Wagner could muster Gold Glove-caliber defense behind the plate, though, he’d be something special on offense for the Twins. I ran his numbers through the stat converter on Baseball-Reference.com, seeing how he’d do for Minnesota in 2010. Seven of his seasons would be good for a batting average of .360 or better, and his 1908 season converts to a .400 batting average with 12 home runs and 154 RBI to go with 254 hits, 24 triples and an OPS of 1.074. That would trump Mauer, who in his 2008 American League MVP season put up a career-best 1.031 OPS along with a .365 batting average, 28 home runs, and 96 RBI.

Playing today, Wagner might not have the same appeal to a massive influx of immigrants in the early 20th century, which made him so representative of his time as iconic players often are from Babe Ruth to Hank Greenberg to Jackie Robinson. One of the contributors here, Joe Guzzardi, wrote in a recent column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “When immigrants watched Wagner, the ‘Flying Dutchman,’ at shortstop, they saw a mirror image of their hard-working selves. Wagner was one of five children born to German natives, and at age 12, he left school to join his father and brothers in the coal mines.”


There might not be the same connection for fans today. All the same, Wagner’s unique abilities would be hard to deny in any generation.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth, Bad News Rockies, Barry Bonds, Bob Caruthers, Bob Feller, Bob Watson, Denny McLain, Dom DiMaggio, Eddie Lopat, Frank Howard, Fritz MaiselGeorge CaseHarmon Killebrew, Harry Walker, Home Run Baker, Ichiro Suzuki, Jack Clark, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Wynn, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr., Lefty O’Doul, Matty Alou, Michael Jordan, Nate Colbert, Paul Derringer, Pete Rose, Prince Fielder, Ralph Kiner, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Clemente, Sam Thompson, Sandy KoufaxShoeless Joe Jackson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, The Meusel BrothersTy Cobb, Wally Bunker, Willie Mays

Remembering Gus Zernial

In January, one of my favorite all time players died. Gus Zernial passed after a long battle with congestive heart failure and other ailments.

To casual fans, Zernial was an above average journeyman who had brief, injury-riddled but nevertheless productive stints with the Chicago White Sox, the Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics and the Detroit Tigers. Over his 11-season career, Zernial hit .265 with 237 home runs and 776 runs batted in. In 1951, Zernial lead the league in homers and RBIs with 33 and 129; in 1953, he slugged 43 homers. From 1951 to 1957, only Mickey Mantle hit more American League round trippers than Gus.

Zernial, no slouch, hit 25 or more homers seven times and knocked in more than 100 four times.

For a kid like me who grew up in Hollywood and lived and died with the Pacific Coast League Stars’, “Ozark Ike” as manager Fred Haney called Zernial, was Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle rolled into one. (See a cartoonist’s version of “Ozark Ike” here

Zernial had two spectacular seasons with the Stars; in 1947, he hit .334 and the following year, Zernial tore the cover off the ball. Get a load of these numbers: Games,186, AB’s-737, H-237, HR-40, RBI’s 156 and BA .322.

Adding to my adolescent fascination with Zernial, Gus once had his picture taken with Marilyn Monroe. (See it here). Zernial’s image also appeared on my favorite baseball card which I own to this day.

After his career ended, Zernial returned to Clovis, CA. worked odd construction jobs, broadcast Fresno State University baseball games and did commercial spots for automobile dealers.

In 1990, Zernial was diagnosed with cancer. Down but not out, Zernial took a community affairs job to help bring the AAA Grizzlies, the San Francisco Giants’ top minor league affiliate, to Fresno. Zernial did color commentary for Grizzlies’ games until 2003. (To learn much more about Zernial, please read my Society for American Baseball Research colleague’s outstanding Baseball Biography Project here.)

Late last year, I learned that Zernial’s autobiography, “Ozark Ike: Memories of a Fence Buster,” had been released. Only 237 copies were printed, the exact number of homers Gus smashed.

Through his publisher I contacted Zernial and we exchanged a few emails. When my copy arrived, the inscription read: “To Joe, my wish to you, all the best, God Bless. Thanks for being my friend all the way back to Hollywood.”

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Alan Trammell

Claim to fame: A six-time All Star and 20-year cornerstone for the Detroit Tigers, Trammell might have been one of, if not the best, shortstops of his generation (without diving through rosters and WAR rankings from Trammell’s years in the majors, 1977 to 1996, Cal Ripken Jr. probably ranks in front.) Trammell retired with a .285 lifetime batting average and 2,365 hits, which would place him ahead of a number of shortstops already in Cooperstown. Bill James ranked him as the ninth-best shortstop of all-time in 2001. Whether this makes Trammell something more than a very good player and, in fact, Hall-worthy is another story.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Trammell made his 10th appearance on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for Cooperstown, receiving his highest vote total yet, 24.3 percent. He’s doing better with the voters than double play partner Lou Whitaker, who was famously lasted just one year on the ballot, though Trammell looks like one of those players who will go the full 15 years on the ballot with no hope of getting the 75 percent of the vote needed for enshrinement but with a large enough base of support to remain on the ballot. These sorts of players have done well with the Veterans Committee.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Trammell seems like the kind of candidate the Veterans Committee will love: conservative without any hint of scandal, a baseball person who’s stuck around the game to coach since retiring, and a solid and consistent, if not legendary player. He’s his generation’s Nellie Fox or Pee Wee Reese or Red Schoendienst. I’m guessing the Vets will get Trammell into Cooperstown in the next decade or two, whether it’s deserved or not.

I don’t know if I’d have any problem with Trammell’s enshrinement, but it’s not a cause I’m rushing to embrace either. There doesn’t seem any great injustice in overlooking a player with a lifetime OPS+ of 110 or career WAR of 66.9 or a .285 batting average without spectacular defense. I’d sooner give a plaque to Deadball Era shortstop Bill Dahlen, who has a roughly identical OPS+ of 109, better WAR at 75.9, and more hits at 2,461. Dahlen played in the shadow of Honus Wagner most of his long career and seems forgotten today by all but baseball researchers and historians and people who frequent Baseball-Reference.com like myself.

Dahlen’s exclusion comes closer to injustice, but even with him, I’m not vehemently in this camp. As I’ve said before, I’ve become more welcoming to having more people in the Hall of Fame since I started writing this column almost a year ago, seeing how many solid players I’ve found that there are outside of Cooperstown, but there doesn’t seem anything otherworldly about the talents of Dahlen or Trammell or so many others. They’re very good sure, but if Cooperstown is purely for the greats, it doesn’t seem like they belong. Granted, if the Hall of Fame took this tact retroactively, I’m sure a lot of players would need to be removed from the museum.

As I’ve said before with others, I doubt the museum would be any worse for Trammell’s presence, and I’m sure many fans would be thrilled to see his plaque, but is that enough?

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

Others in this series: Adrian Beltre, Al OliverAlbert Belle, Allie Reynolds, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Billy Martin, Cecil TravisChipper Jones, Closers, Dan Quisenberry, Darrell Evans, Dave Parker, Dick Allen, Don Mattingly, Don NewcombeGeorge Steinbrenner, George Van Haltren, Harold Baines, Jack Morris, Jim Edmonds, Joe Carter, Joe Posnanski, John Smoltz, Juan Gonzalez, Keith Hernandez, Ken Caminiti, Larry WalkerMaury WillsMel Harder, Moises Alou, Pete Browning, Phil Cavarretta, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Rocky Colavito, Ron Guidry, Ron Santo, Smoky Joe Wood, Steve Garvey, Ted Simmons, Thurman MunsonTim Raines, Will Clark

A starting lineup of my favorite writers

Josh Wilker posed an interesting question last week on his blog. Expanding on a list of his five favorite authors, Wilker offered an Opening Day batting order of his top nine writers. He asked about other people’s starting lineups, and I’m happy to offer mine here:

2B- Lawrence Ritter: A second baseman gets a lot of chances in the field, and who better for this than Ritter, who interviewed a couple dozen former greats in his outstanding oral history, The Glory of Their Times.

LF- Bill Watterson: The author of Calvin & Hobbes is perfect in the outfield, where his protagonist once accidentally stayed after his team went to bat and wound up catching one of its fly balls.

3B- Tobias Wolff: It’s a dream for any team to have a great infielder who can also hit, and Wolff could be its star. His memoirs This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s Army are two of my favorites– vivid, touching, powerful– and there may be no finer short story than Bullet in the Brain. Wolff is the Albert Pujols of this squad.

RF- John Krakauer: The author of three fine books in my collection, Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven, Krakauer writes with a forceful, masculine style. He’d be the power hitter here.

1B- Joe Posnanski: How to protect Krakauer in the order? By having a bat behind him as good as Poz, the Sports Illustrated writer, inspiring blogger, and two-time Associated Press Sportswriter of the Year. With his warm, gentle style, Posnanski would do capable work at first base as well.

DH- David Sedaris: A designated hitter has one job and one job only: hit well. David Sedaris does not spur any great introspection in me. His essays leave no real lasting impact on my life. But they make me laugh, consistently. As a humorist, Sedaris is a .350 hitter.

CF- David Halberstam: A great center fielder has superb range, which Halberstam certainly had, starting as a Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam correspondent for the New York Times before transitioning into writing sports books, among them the classic Summer of ’49.

C- John Irving: Catchers need to be sturdy and dependable, and Irving is a hallmark of this, having written good books since 1970. A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my absolute, top favorites, I read most of The Fourth Hand in one epic night, and I appreciated The World According to Garp, even if that sucker was long.

SS- Joan Didion: The lone female author here (though I also like what I’ve read of Sarah Vowell and Isabel Allende, to name two), Didion went to the same high school as me, albeit 50 years earlier, C.K. McClatchy in Sacramento. We both wrote for the campus newspaper, and supposedly when Didion did so, she’d crumple her articles and throw them away in frustration, only to have them retrieved by classmates. She went on to UC Berkeley and a lifetime of writing essays, screenplays, and books. Slouching Toward Bethlehem and The Year of Magical Thinking are both excellent.

Things I Hope To See During the 2011 Major League Baseball Season

1.  Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes have healthy seasons.

They are two of the most dynamic players in baseball and are game changers offensively and defensively.  They bring an excitement to the park few other players can and both play one of the most important positions on the diamond. Although both have been criticized in the press for their less than stellar past couple of seasons, good health should silence the critics.

2.    No Tommy John candidates.

Nothing brings excitement to the old ballpark like a dominating pitcher, especially one with a dynamite fastball.  All of us remember the first game pitched by Stephen Strasbourg last year and none of us will forget the disappointment when he got hurt. Pitchers with this dominating a talent can transcend team loyalties-they are that exciting. Here’s hoping David Price, Felix Hernandez and all the other young pitching stars stay healthy.

3.    Come June 1, teams such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals (just to mention two of several) are still in the pennant race.

It’s, of course, unrealistic to expect these teams to be in the pennant race come late September but lasting past May 1 would be delightful.  Watching these teams last season became very painful, very quickly, with even their winning efforts difficult to take.  Many of these teams have exciting young players in their farm systems, players who hopefully will get promoted and have an impact sooner rather than later.

4.    Let’s have another surprise World Series matchup, one to rival last seasons’ Giants-Rangers showdown.

It’s only natural to cheer for the underdog (unless you live in New York, Boston or Philadelphia) and while those teams are all but certain to finish in the postseason and deservedly so, another David vs. Goliath pre World Series playoff run would be fun.  Certainly those types of matchups have the potential to be babes to the slaughterhouse but as both Texas and San Francisco proved in 2010, stranger things have happened.  Cubs vs. A’s anyone?

5.    No freak injuries like breaking legs celebrating a home run (Kendry Morales.)

No fan, no matter of which team, would want to see a team’s season potentially ruined by fluke injury. Maybe players could keep the potentially vastly overdone NFL style celebrations after each play away from the game.  A Sammy Sosa fingers to the chest and pointing to the sky doesn’t seem warranted after a bases empty single. Maybe a little quiet dignity would be in order.

6. Nice weather from the start of the season to the end.

Last season we couldn’t have asked for better weather, and here’s hoping for more of the same. September doubleheaders due to rainouts in April can be very draining on a team especially in a heated pennant race. No one wants the No. 2 starter from Triple A starting the crucial game of a season which happens to be the back end of a made up twin bill. Not fair from either end.

7. The expansion and a greater usage (within acceptable limits of course) of some of the newer stats with explanations which we non-math experts can understand.

The time honored baseball card stats don’t really tell a true value story anymore in light of these and player evaluation is much more interesting.  I still like the 20 win and .300 average yardsticks maybe because I’m used to them (I mean who doesn’t hate metric except scientists) as they are a nice reference point even though too team dependent.

Finally a short wish—let’s have no money talk, elimination of franchises talk or speeches from Bud Selig. Let’s enjoy the 2011 season for all it’s worth.

Any player/Any era: Eddie Lopat

Editor’s note: I apologize for the lateness of this week’s edition of “Any  player/Any era.” I’ve gotten behind in my writing recently and will work to maintain a regular posting schedule in the future.

What he did: Part of the triumvirate of New York Yankee aces in the late 1940s and early ’50s with Allie Reynolds and Vic Raschi, Lopat figured into an interesting passage of David Halberstam’s classic, Summer of ’49. Halberstam wrote of Lopat, “He was a converted first baseman who had become a pitcher in the minor leagues during the war. His friend Reynolds thought, and he did not mean it pejoratively, that if not for the war years, Lopat would never have made it to the majors. He did not throw particularly hard, and in normal times he would have been weeded out for lack of a fastball.”

It’s an intriguing idea, though I don’t know if I agree. Halberstam made note of Lopat’s intelligence (“like having an additional pitching coach”) and use of a slow curve ball that he learned from Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons, attributes that seem like they would serve Lopat well in any generation of pitchers. And junk ball hurlers have long had their place in baseball from Lyons to Gaylord Perry to Barry Zito. I’d like to think Lopat could have had another ticket to the majors besides World War II.

Era he might have thrived in: Lopat, Raschi, and Reynolds may have been the Zito, Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson of their time, another trio of hurlers instrumental in helping non-elite offensive teams into the postseason, so we’ll substitute Lopat for fellow slow-tossing southpaw Zito. At least statistically, his converted 1951 season where he went 21-9 with a 2.91 ERA might approach Zito’s 2002 American League Cy Young campaign.

Why: I don’t know if any era in baseball history would maximize Lopat’s talents, but Oakland in 2002 would offer much of what worked for him. For one thing, he’d be going from one great club to another, seeing as the ’51 Yankees went 98-56, scoring 798 runs and allowing 621, while the 2002 A’s were 103-59 with 800 runs scored and 654 allowed. He’d once again be in a pitcher’s park, playing under savvy management (both teams exceeded their Pythagorean win totals.) I’m also guessing Oakland would be willing to consider an unconventional, older pitcher like Lopat, who made the majors at 25, given its penchant for drafting college hurlers.

That being said, I’d be curious to see how Lopat would do playing in the Moneyball system. For all the talk of those A’s being masters of on-base percentage (though Moneyball was about much more than that), the ’51 Yankees carried a slightly better club OBP, .349 to .339. Neither team was renowned for its offense. Both clubs hit in the .260 range with a couple outstanding hitters, Eric Chavez and 2002 American League MVP Miguel Tejada for the A’s, and 1951 AL MVP Yogi Berra on New York. Other than that, it’s a wonder either team scored as many runs as it did with such nondescript casts.

The stat converter has Lopat giving the 2002 A’s a 16-10 record with a 3.25 ERA, which seems conservative for his 1951 numbers. Whatever the case, though, he’d have a deserved place in baseball.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth, Bad News Rockies, Barry Bonds, Bob Caruthers, Bob Feller, Bob Watson, Denny McLain, Dom DiMaggio, Frank Howard, Fritz MaiselGeorge CaseHarmon Killebrew, Harry Walker, Home Run Baker, Ichiro Suzuki, Jack Clark, Jackie Robinson, Jimmy Wynn, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr., Lefty O’Doul, Matty Alou, Michael Jordan, Nate Colbert, Paul Derringer, Pete Rose, Prince Fielder, Ralph Kiner, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Clemente, Sam Thompson, Sandy KoufaxShoeless Joe Jackson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, The Meusel BrothersTy Cobb, Wally Bunker, Willie Mays

At Some Point, Back Up Is Better Than Starter—Ask Charlie Silvera

Despite every effort during the off season, the Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t trade catcher Ryan Doumit probably because of his 2011 $5.1 million contract. Although Doumit started last year, the Pirates midseason acquisition of Chris Synder relegated him to part time where he may eventually slip into oblivion.

I’m surprised no American League team bid for Doumit. He’s a switch hitter who has some pop, can catch a little (although is nickname is No-Mitt) and play the outfield in an emergency. Since the Pirates are desperate to dump Doumit’s salary, I’m sure they’re willing to deal.

Even if it may mean the rest of his career as a backup, Doumit should be happy to back his bags. With luck, Doumit could become this generation’s Charlie Silvera.

From 1948 through 1956, Silvera backed up Yogi Berra as the New York Yankees’ second string catcher.

Silvera, during 10 major league seasons, appeared in only 227 games and racked up a paltry 482 at-bats, less than a typical season’s worth for Berra. In 1950, Silvera didn’t bat until June 17, two months into the season. And though his lifetime batting average was .282, the San Francisco native hit only one home run.

Most years, however, Silvera cashed Yankee World Series checks.

Opposing players ribbed Silvera mercilessly, calling him, among other names, “Jesse James, the payroll bandit.” They asked if his paychecks came gift-wrapped.

To Silvera, all the ribbing was wonderful. Looking back on it, Silvera laughed. “They’d say, ‘Do you use anything on the bench to keep your fanny from getting sore?’ I had a lot of fun with it.”

He jokes about his career because perhaps no bench warmer in baseball history enjoyed a more interesting 10-year run than Silvera who played for Yankee teams that won a record five consecutive World Series championships from 1949 to 1953.

The Yankees reached the World Series in seven of Silvera’s eight full seasons in New York, winning six times.

During the last three seasons, Doumit has seen his teammates shipped off to the Yankees, the Braves, Red Sox, Giants, Cubs—all contenders. Wouldn’t the 28-year-old Doumit like to be in the hunt at least once before he’s done? Isn’t playing in the post-season every player’s goal?

That’s not like to happen with the Pirates during what remains of Doumit’s productive years. Even if the Pirates finally break the .500 mark, the team is unlikely to seriously contend for five years.

Since Doumit’s 2005 rookie season, the Pirates finished sixth, fifth, sixth, sixth and sixth. Another sixth place looms this year. The constant losing, with years of more defeats on the horizon, weighs heavily on players and adversely affects their performance.

A part-time role on a winning team may be good for Doumit’s soul. Think of it this way: if you were a commissioned salesman but management never provided you with a product good enough to make any sales, wouldn’t you consider changing employers?

Silvera didn’t mind his secondary status. Now 84 and scouting for the Chicago Cubs, the only other team he played for, Silvera looked back and said: “I had a wonderful career. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

The Great Friday Link Out: Back

Editor’s note: Before I provide this week’s links, there are a few things to say. First, I apologize for missing this link post last week. I have gotten behind in my writing schedule and will work to ensure I don’t miss posts in the future. In that vein, this week’s edition of “Any player/Any era” should go live sometime Saturday. Thanks, and enjoy the links.