today’s piece nearly turned into a quick drive-by because of church and a family party we had. I have added more material, but if you’ve experienced a party involving 3 small children and a small dog, you can understand why i might not have done.
To start with, the Orioles signed Yovanni Gallardo to a 3-year deal ending his suspense at last. After 7 years with the Brewers he joined the Rangers in 2015 getting him out of the baseball Hell that is Milwaukee. The Brewers would be one of many teams I would contract to increase the talent pool for more successful teams, But that’s for a different day. Gallardo, a native of Michoacan, Mexico will be 30 this coming Saturday. He has an outstanding 102-75 record up to now, and was an All-Star in 2010. He started and lost game 1 of the 2008 NLDS to the Phillies. He won game 1 of the 2015 NLDS for Texas against Toronto. I have wondered most of the winter why he wasn’t snapped up before now.
The Indians signed Juan Uribe, depriving the Mets of a warm body who could have backed up at first base if Lucas Duda got hurt. In the last year I’ve become the world expert on what happens when you lack a warm body in a vital position, even a warm body without a smidgin of talent. you get awfully cold.
Former Washington Nationals pitcher Casey Janssen has signed a minor league deal with the Padres and is headed to spring training in Arizona, rather than Florida where the Nationals held theirs. He’s 34 now, and has played for the Bluejays until last year when he joined the Nationals. The Jays took him early in the draft out of UCLA and quickly got him to the show.
Yesterday we lost Jim Davenport, best known for his play with the Giants between 1958 and 1970 at third base. Mets’ broadcaster Bob Murphy called him “Gold Glove Davenport.” He took the Gold Glove in 1962 and was an All-star for both games played that year. For the 3 prior seasons he had led NL third baseman in fielding percentage. After his playing days he was coach and manager in both the minors and majors, and a Giants scout. His son Gary has been a Giants minor league coach since 2004.
Oscar Azocar was born this day in 1965 and died in 2010 at age 45 of a heart attack. He was a Yankee in their horrendous year of 1990, then a Padre for the next two seasons. My Azocar moment is a game at Yankee Stadium I attended with Jim Lucas and Chuck Manka. Chuck had the mike for our tape recorder and he was doing play-by-play. Jose Canseco launched one. Chuck said “Bang zoom, deep to left, Azocar makes a great catch against the wall.” Azocar had been a Yankee farm hand since 1983. He pitched until 1987, then became an outfielder.
Alan Trammell is 58 today. He seems to be the man most talked about when the subject comes to men who are not in Cooperstown but should be. Normally if you have to make a case for a guy he shouldn’t bbe there. But I see their point about Trammell. He played for the Tigers for his entire 20 year career, then managed them along with managing Arizona. He was an All-Star 6 times and World Series MVP in 1984 when the Tigers dominated the league and won the series in 5. This was his last chance to be voted in by the writers and he never got more than 36 percent, not even half the required 75%. In his first year as Tiger manager, 2003 the team lost 119 games, almost matching the 120 lost by Casey Stengel’s 1962 Mets. The Tigers had to win 5 of their last 6 to not lose 120 for the season.
Jack Billingham is 73 today. He was an outstanding starting pitcher. You might say it was in his genes, since he is a distant cousin of Big 6, Christy Mathewson. Billingham was a major figure with Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Dennis Menke and Ed Armbrister in a 1972 trade between the Reds and their then division rival the Astros, in which the Astros got Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart. that massive trade launched the great years of the Reds. They lost the 1972 World Series, lost the NLCS a year later to the Mets, then won back to back in 1975 and 1976 all with Billingham in a major starting pitching role. He stayed with the Reds through 1977. He was an All-Star in 1973 and won game 1 of the NLCS 2-1 over Tom Seaver before faltering in game 5. He won 19 games in 1973 and 1974 despite giving up Henry Aaron’s 714th home run to start 1974.