The Double E Stops in Cleveland; Congrats to a Proud Father’s Son; Happy Birthday Jerry Koosman

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on the Friday before Christmas or Hanukkah.

After a ton of speculation  Edwin Encarnacion got a new job for Christmas. He’ll get to move to Cleveland from Toronto. Cleveland was the team that beat his own Blue Jays in the last ALCS and came within a gnat’s eyelash of winning the World Series.

Encarnacion wasn’t the only man with his particular talent for hitting baseballs out of sight that the Indians could have gotten. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo, Chris Carter (now unemployed) and the Indians’ own Mike Napoli were still out there. But they went with the Double E, on a 3-year contract that will take him to the age of 36 as a player. He turns 34 next month.
One thing the Indians may have found out before signing this man: He has demolished certain key pitchers in the Boston starting rotation. Against the most recent Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, EE has hit 5 doubles, 3 home runs and all told has 13 hits in 40 trips. That’s a smidge over .300. Against David Price he has put up a double and 4 home runs in his 12 hits off that particular lefty. Against the latest Red Sox acquisition Chris Sale, Edwin has 5 hits in 13 AB’s, .385 with a home run. If the two teams meet in the playoffs and if all the above-mentioned stars are healthy, the facts stated above should make for an interesting confrontation considering the Tribe swept the Red Sox in 3 games last year.
Charleston, South Carolina native  Nick Ciuffo, a top catching prospect  has been invited to spring training by the Tampa Bay Rays for 2017. He’ll turn  22 during camp in March.  As a boy of 16 he competed for Team USA in Mexico in the World Youth Baseball Championship where the USA won gold. Had ne not gone pro he was set to play for the Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina.    His dad Tony Ciuffo broadcast games for the College of Charleston when Bret Gardner was playing there. Tony also broadcast basketball for the College of Charleston and I was treated to his broadcasts for a number of years when I lived in the area.  He was exciting to listen to and was clearly a fan at the mike in the mold of Harry Caray. He had plenty to say about basketball refs and baseball umpires regarding calls they made that went against the Cougars-his team. Nick was raised in the beautiful city of Charleston and was a top draft pick by the Rays out of Lexington High School. He has played winter ball in Australia. As things stand now Nick should be in AA with the Rays this spring.

Two quality pitchers of the past have the birthdays today.  For starters there’s Brad Lidge who turns 40. A Sacramento native, he lasted a decade in the difficult world of the major league closer. He had a 26-32 record but 225 saves. He was a rarity-a star baseball player from Notre Dame, much better known for football and women’s basketball greatness.  He began with the Astros when they were still in the National League, and played for them from 2002–07. He spent 4 seasons in Philadelphia and half a season with the Nationals before calling it a career. He was an All-Star twice-in 2005 with Houston and 2008-the year the Phillies won it all. That year he was Comeback Player of the Year as well as an All-Star. He pitched the last of the 15th inning in the All-Star game and gave up the game-winning scoring fly ball as the American League won in the last All-Star game at the old Yankee Stadium. In the regular season he converted all 41 save chances he had, then went 7 for 7 in the postseason. In 2009 he was 0–8 with an ERA over 7-and still saved 2 games in the NLDS and 1 in the NLCS.  He got his first win of the season later in the NLCS as the Phillies advanced to face the Yankees in the World Series.

Jerry Koosman is 73 today. While officially his birthplace is listed as Appleton, Mets’ fans and particularly fans of broadcaster Bob Murphy will remember Koosman as being from Morris, Minnesota. His career lasted nearly two decades but he’s mostly remembered with the Mets up to and during their few good years.  With no draft, he was signed when he came out of the Army.  One of his catchers at Fort Bliss was the son of a Shea Stadium usher and he sent the word back on Koosman.  He broke in with the major league Mets  in April, 1968 and won 19 games as a rookie.  Koosman  was one of their standouts during both 1969 and 1973. In 1969 he won games 2 and 5 of the World Series as the Mets demolished the heavily-favored Orioles in 5 games. He won game 3 of the NLCS and game 5 of the 1973 World Series but the Mets lost to Oakland in 7. On a bad Mets’ team he won 21 games in 1976 and came in second in the Cy Young voting.      All told he had a career record of 222–209. He was a Met through 1978, then played for the Twins, White Sox and Phillies. He was an All-Star in 1968 and 1969. When he was traded to the Twins, the Mets got Jesse Orosco who would be their heroic closer in 1986-when they won their second World Series and their last to date. With 140 wins as a Met Koosman is third behind Tom Seaver (198) and Dwight Gooden (157.)

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