Tag:Randy Johnson
Posted on: July 23, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Blyleven on K list: "Clemens did it illegally"

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- One of the big reasons I've cast an annual Hall of Fame vote for Bert Blyleven for the past decade is because, until a few years ago, the Dutchman ranked third all-time on baseball's strikeouts list and ninth all-time on shutouts.

Chew on that one for awhile. It is beyond impressive.

Anyway, while Blyleven is still ninth in shutouts, he's now fifth in strikeouts after both Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson went around him.

"I look at Johnson, Johnson did it for real," Blyleven told me when we talked recently. "Clemens did it illegally, I think. It is what it is, kind of like Hank Aaron. It's a completely different thing but, you talk about Barry Bonds, to me, Hank Aaron is still the Home Run King. And I think good baseball fans, good baseball people, know that.

"They don't need an asterisk in Cooperstown. People know."

With the piles of circumstantial evidence surrounding Clemens regarding performance-enhancing drugs, and given the trial that was aborted earlier this month and is set to resume this fall, does it anger Blyleven to see Clemens' name now ahead of his on the all-time strikeout list?

"No," Blyleven says. "He had a great career, but it was at the point where Boston was letting him go. To be honest with you, if somebody told me in '92 when I went through my shoulder surgery, if someone told me they could inject something in there to make me continue my career, I may have tried it. Who knows?

"Who knows what an individual goes through? I personally never knew of anybody, even though it was around. You could see it in Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in the late '80s. They hit all the home runs, the Bash Brothers ... you could see they were getting bigger and stronger, but I never imagined that it could ever help me. I didn't know anything about it.

"But that's also when weights were coming in. Oakland was the first club to put a weight room in their park. We never had weights. We had little five-pound dumbbells."

Likes: The last 10 days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline are always fun, but they're also so out of control. The ratio of bad rumors to stuff that really will happen is somewhere around 50 to 1. And I may be badly underestimating that. ... Hot summer days, but the 100-degree temperatures blanketing the country are out of control. Drink plenty of water, and stay safe.

Dislikes: Border's Books closing for good. I remember spending hours on Saturday afternoons at the original Border's location in Ann Arbor with my family. One of my mom and dad's favorite things to do back in the 1970s, and what a magical place it was. Books everywhere, from floor to ceiling.

 

Posted on: January 6, 2010 5:47 pm
 

Hall of Fame election, random thoughts

A few final random thoughts on Wednesday's Hall of Fame election results:

-- Though falling five votes short of election surely is agonizing, Wednesday also should be heartening for Bert Blyleven. At 74.2 percent of the vote and with two more years of eligibility, Blyleven -- who looked like a longshot a few years ago -- almost certainly is a lock.

And incidentally, you should have heard what Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said of Blyleven on Sirius/XM radio's MLB Home Plate channel Wednesday morning during an interview with hosts Seth Everett and Jim Duquette:

"I hit against him and if there was a finer pitcher than he was then, I don't know who it was," Aaron said. "I only went to bat maybe 10 or 15 times [against Blyleven]. I don't think I ever got a hit off of him. But he was quite a pitcher.

"I know that he didn't win 20 games, but sometimes you don't need to win 20. I think it's just a matter of how you carried yourself and what you did for your other teammates. Just to have him in that rotation for that many years with Minnesota, [he] was somebody that you didn't look forward to hitting against."

Aaron wasn't too far off in his memory. Lifetime, he was 0 for 7 against Blyleven with one strikeout.

-- I didn't expect former Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin to make it, though I do think he's deserving and I did vote for him. Within that, I thought his vote total would have been higher than 51.6 percent (he finished fifth).

-- In what essentially was the first true test of a designated hitter's place in the Hall, former Seattle DH Edgar Martinez notched only 36.2 percent of the vote, which placed him seventh overall.

A day earlier, during his retirement announcement, this is what Randy Johnson had to say about his former Seattle teammate's Hall of Fame chances: "I'm hoping he gets a lot of consideration. I know it's been debated whether a DH is worthy. During my time, I've never seen a better pure hitter than him.

"That's no disrespect to any teammates I've had or played against. I think anybody would agree who watched Edgar during that era how good he was. I'll be pulling for him because of what he meant while I was on the mound."

-- Tim Raines's 30.4 percent of the vote is ludicrously low. The guy reached base more times and scored more runs than Tony Gwynn. He wasn't anywhere near the hitter that Gwynn was, but Raines, together with Rickey Henderson, changed the way the leadoff slot in the lineup was viewed.

-- Glad to see Jack Morris' vote total increase to 52.3 percent (from 44 percent last year), but he's still way too far off for my liking. People need to get over his 3.90 ERA and look at the rest of his game. Nobody was more dominant than Morris throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

-- The near-misses this year -- Blyleven and Alomar -- also will have their chances increase dramatically in the near future because the next two Hall of Fame classes just aren't very good.

Next year, among the names that come onto the ballot for the first time are Jeff Bagwell, John Franco, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker and Juan Gonzalez.

In 2012, it's even worse: Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra and Tim Salmon are the biggest names who come eligible.

Likes: Andre Dawson is a class act and a deserving Hall of Famer. ... Matt Holliday back in St. Louis. ... The film Precious. ... The DVD Revolutionary Road. ... Wilco (The Album). ... Lyle Lovett's Natural Forces. ... The shift in focus to college basketball in January. ... My wife's homemade pizza, on deck this Thursday night while the college football national title game between Alabama and Texas is played. ... Former Los Angeles Times rock critic Robert Hilburn's memoir Cornflakes with John Lennon. Some great stories and behind the scenes stuff. ... John Meacham's American Lion: Andrew Jackson and the White House, an excellent biography. ... Alicia Keys doing a version of Empire State of Mind on Stephen Colbert's show last month with Colbert rapping about the suburbs. Very amusing.

Dislikes: Christmas vacation is finished already?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Come on children, you're acting like children
"Every generation thinks it's the end of the world
"All you fat followers get fit fast
"Every generation thinks it's the last
"Thinks it's the end of the world"

-- Wilco, You Never Know

Posted on: January 5, 2010 9:14 pm
 

Big Unit last of the 300-game winners? Not likely

Mark it down: Randy Johnson's retirement, January 5th, 2010.

There goes the last of the 300-win pitchers?

With closers and specialists and hyperactive managers and increasingly fragile starting pitchers who too often don't even stick around long enough to earn decisions, pundits have been predicting for years that pitchers who win 300 games soon will become as extinct as dinosaurs.

So is Johnson the last Tyrannosaurus Rex to stalk the earth?

With his retirement Wednesday (and assuming that Tom Glavine, at 305 wins, is finished), the list of the game's winningest active pitchers now reads like this:

1. Jamie Moyer, Phillies, 258.

2. Andy Pettitte, Yankees, 229.

3. Pedro Martinez, free agent, 219.

4. John Smoltz, free agent, 213.

5. Tim Wakefield, Red Sox, 189.

At 37, Pettitte and Pedro are the youngest pitchers of the lot. Of the 30-to-35 set, Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (32) probably has the best odds to reach 300, and he's at 148. Which means, if he averages 18 wins a season, for the next eight-plus summers, he'd be in position to win 300 when he turns 40.

Of course, now that Halladay is in the NL, he easily could average 30 wins a season and win his 300th six seasons from now (attention, that was a joke).

While it's surely going to be several years before we see another 300-game winner, I find it hard to believe that we'll never see one again. Two younger pitchers who are well-positioned to make a run: The Yanks' CC Sabathia is just 28 and has 136 wins, and the White Sox's Mark Buehrle is just 30 and is at 135.

While reporting a long feature on the Big Unit early last season during his quest for 300, I talked to one coach and one young pitcher who had completely different views on the subject:

"That's something that's never going to be done again," Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa told me. "Now you've got your set-up men, your closers, starting pitchers are out of the game after 110 pitches even if they have their good stuff.

"I think if a starting pitcher wins 200 games, that will be the next milestone."

Mets left-hander Johan Santana, with 122 victories at the age of 30, isn't so sure.

"I guarantee you that if you go back and ask Randy when he had [116] wins if he thought he'd get to 300, he'd say, 'No, no way,'" Santana told me. "You don't know what your future is. There's a lot involved in winning a game. There's a lot involved that has to go right. You have to pitch well, the team has to score runs, the bullpen has to do its job. Now, imagine that 300 times."

When Johnson was Santana's age -- 30 -- he had only 78 wins.

So if you're going to insist that we'll never again see another 300-game winner, proceed with caution.

Posted on: January 5, 2010 5:10 pm
 

Randy Johnson expected to retire tonight

Randy Johnson has scheduled a conference call for later today, at which time the five-time Cy Young award winner is expected to announce his retirement.

The call comes on the eve of Wednesday's Hall of Fame voting results, a fitting time being that five years from now, it will be Johnson who almost certainly will be inducted into Cooperstown.

Johnson, 46, won his 300th game last summer pitching for the San Francisco Giants, becoming just the 24th pitcher in history to reach that level. That, though, turned into the highlight of his season. Not long after, he suffered a tear in his rotator cuff, missed the next several weeks and finished 8-6 with a 4.88 ERA for the Giants.

Only Roger Clemens (six) won more Cy Young awards than Johnson, who helped pitch the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title in a memorable triumph over the Yankees. Johnson and Curt Schilling were co-MVPs during that series, during which one of the most memorable moments came when Johnson entered Game 7 in relief in the eighth inning and earned the win after being the winning pitcher in Game 6 the night before.

Over 22 seasons with Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, the Yankees and the Giants, Johnson went 303-166. His 4,875 strikeouts rank second all-time to Nolan Ryan (5,714). He also pitched 37 shutouts.

Posted on: September 14, 2009 9:28 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2009 12:25 am
 

Big Unit eyes bullpen comeback

SAN FRANCISCO -- Faced with a must-win series against Colorado this week -- that's must-win every night, not must-win as in must take two of three -- San Francisco's bullpen has help on the horizon: Randy Johnson threw 48 pitches' worth of a simulated game Monday and hopes to pitch in and help the Giants bullpen soon.

It won't be during the Rockies' series, but manager Bruce Bochy said that if Johnson comes through it and feels fine on Tuesday, he'll likely be activated soon.

He hasn't pitched since July 5 because of a torn rotator cuff.

"It's not strained or bruised, it's torn and I've been out for two months," Johnson said following his mid-afternoon workout. "I've recovered from the injury as much as I can."

Meaning: It's time to roll.

"I know [the Giants] bullpen is pretty beat up and we're playing a lot of teams with left-handed hitters," Johnson said, anticipating spot relief duty.

Bochy was pleased with what he saw, and everyone knows it's all-hands-on-deck now.

"It says a lot about Randy and how competitive he is," Bochy said.

Johnson looked strong, and backup outfielder John Bowker no doubt can attest to that: Bowker was hit by a Johnson pitch early in the outing. The only Giant who got decent wood on the ball was utility infielder Kevin Frandsen, who sliced a ball toward right-center field.

Johnson technically threw 53 pitches overall, if you include his warm-up tosses. There does not seem to be a sense from Johnson or Bochy that the big left-hander needs another simulated game before pitching in a real game.

"What happened today was encouraging," Johnson said. "I feel I'm ready to go. The first step is to be activated. The next step is finding out when I'm going to pitch again. Hopefully, it will be in a real game."

Likes: Randy Johnson working in a quiet ballpark at 3:30 in the afternoon. ... Terrific run along the Embarcadero on a stunningly gorgeous Monday morning in San Francisco. You could not have ordered up better weather. ... Lefty O'Doul's in San Francisco. I can still vouch for the corned beef.

Dislikes: Seeing Hall of Famer Willie McCovey struggling to walk with his arm brace/crutches. If only Stretch's knee injuries could have come with medicine and surgeries as advanced as they are today. ... The Virgin Records Megastore in downtown San Francisco? Out of business. ... Kanye West apparently is a punk.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Nighttime on The City of New Orleans,
"Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee.
"Half way home, we'll be there by morning
"Through the Mississippi darkness
"Rolling down to the sea.
"And all the towns and people seem
"To fade into a bad dream
"And the steel rails still ain't heard the news.
"The conductor sings his song again,
"The passengers will please refrain
"This train's got the disappearing railroad blues"

-- Steve Goodman, City of New Orleans

Posted on: July 11, 2009 2:02 am
Edited on: July 11, 2009 3:13 am
 

Giants' Sanchez paints his masterpiece

San Francisco has two legitimate candidates to start Tuesday's All-Star Game in National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. The Giants have another starter with five Cy Youngs who has thrown one no-hitter and one perfect game in Randy Johnson. And they have a fourth starter with a Cy Young award in Barry Zito.

Yet it was a little known, unheralded underachiever who turned up the heat on the meat-less San Diego Padres on a cool Friday night by the Bay and fired the Giants' first no-hitter since John "The Count" Montefusco in 1976.

Jonathan Sanchez has no such stylish nickname, and he had been bumped from the rotation three weeks ago because he was so ineffective. He had never thrown a complete game in the majors. He had won only two games for the Giants this season, and none since May 25.

Yet for one incredible evening, in an 8-0 triumph, he was as dominant as any of his bigger-named rotation mates has been.

For one incredible evening, he threw the same magic as Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, each of whom also produced no-hitters as a Giant.

Now, maybe this is what propels Sanchez to the dizzying heights the Giants have long thought he could attain. And if it does, that should be one scary thought for opponents scheduled to face a team already rich in pitching.

Until now, Sanchez, 26, mostly was one of those names that kept popping up in trade rumors. It happened endlessly last winter.

But Giants general manager Brian Sabean was adamantly against the idea of dealing the rough-around-the-edges left-hander, even though it was clear that what the Giants needed to do was figure out a way to score more runs and maybe Sanchez could have been a chip to help them add those pieces.

One Pablo Sandoval and one Travis Ishikawa later, the Giants still don't hang crooked numbers on the board very often.

But they can pitch with the best of them, and this is why the Giants have a real chance to become the surprise team of 2009.

One night after Lincecum carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Sanchez finished the job against the Padres.

He was 2-8 with a 5.30 ERA when he threw his first pitch to rookie Everth Cabrera, just another arm with a lot to learn. He had 68 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings, but he also had walked 46 and had major difficulty with opponents after the first two times through the order.

Just 109 pitches later, maybe Sanchez sees things now that he didn't before. Granted, the Padres aren't very good -- especially this lineup, with David Eckstein and Brian Giles on the disabled list -- but they still run All-Star Adrian Gonzalez out there.

Sanchez worked his fastball early, got ahead of hitters, and used his curve beautifully. On this night, he didn't struggle with his control. He hit his spots. And he gave the Giants a preview of what could be.

Going into this season, Sabean said he couldn't imagine trading Sanchez because the Puerto Rico native was bigger and stronger.

Four months later, Sanchez remains a work in progress.

But he's never looked bigger, or stronger.

The Giants look pretty good themselves right now, too.

Posted on: April 17, 2009 3:46 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2009 4:07 pm
 

The Giants have issues, the Boss doesn't

The only drawback with that clever MLB 2K9 video game advertisement in which San Francisco Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum offers his animated double some tips on how to behave in the major leagues is this: It doesn't include wisdom from the real Lincecum that helps drag the Giants out of their crappy start.

They limp home this weekend carrying with them one of the game's two worst records. Difference between the Giants (2-7) and the Washington Nationals (1-7), however, is the Giants at least were supposed to have a first-class rotation, and even that's been disappointing.

Some thoughts after a couple of days with the Giants this week in Los Angeles:

  • Lincecum's Cy encore is off to a rocky start at 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two starts. Even at that, Lincecum is the least of manager Bruce Bochy's concerns. The manager's take: Lincecum hasn't yet harnessed his fastball. When the command returns, he'll be fine. Lincecum spent a long bullpen session this week working with pitching coach Dave Righetti on mechanics. In layman's terms, right now, Lincecum's upper body is not in sync with his lower body during his delivery.
  • Randy Johnson started the season five wins shy of historic No. 300 and, after two starts he remains five wins away. He's 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA -- but, for now, unconcerned. Johnson pitched very well in his first start, against Milwaukee until surrendering the first home run to a pitcher he's ever allowed. Yovani Gallardo was the villain.

As for Monday's flop against the Dodgers, in which he yielded seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, Johnson produced a thick fistful of charts from his locker during a conversation Wednesday afternoon, charts he keeps on opposing hitters and regularly refers to for intelligence. Among his points: He produced a similar clunker against the Dodgers while facing Hideo Nomo back in May, 2002 (seven earned runs, eight hits, five innings).

"And obviously, I was in my prime then," Johnson said of the season in which he won his fifth Cy Young award. "Bad games happen."

Johnson, 45, is happy and in good spirits because he's healthy. And he remains confident that things will soon get better for him, too.

And as for standing five wins away from 300. ...

"I'm still looking for No. 1 (this year)," he says. "So let's put things in perspective. I'm feeling good, that's the main thing."

Three more strikes vs. the Giants:

  • Mentioning Barry Zito's name mostly elicits cringing around here. He was blasted again by the Dodgers Thursday night, his ERA is 10.00 and scouts who have watched him just shake their heads. There still are no answers, and every day it looks more like there never will be any answers.
  • The young Giants hitters are pressing badly, as evidenced in part by their embarrassing and toothless streak of going 32 1/3 innings between a real, live base on balls from last Friday in San Diego to Wednesday in Los Angeles "We need to do better in situational hitting," says Giants veteran Randy Winn of a club that has left runners in scoring position in several key places during their six-game losing streak. "For a team that's not going to hit a lot of home runs, those are things we need to do."
  • Third baseman Pablo Sandoval had a big spring and looks like a future star. But he's slogging along at .212, and that was after collecting two hits Thursday night. What he mostly looks like now is a young player who is extremely overeager. And that's played right into the hands of opposing pitchers. "I think he's more overanxious," Bochy says. "We know Pablo, he's always in swing mode. But he's expanded his zone even more."

Hanging with the Boss

Two fantastic nights with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band this week at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It never gets old. It's always fresh. And as I've said before, as the band heads East, catch them if you get a chance. It's like getting a chance to see Ty Cobb, or Babe Ruth, or Willie Mays in their primes. Even if you're not ecstatic with their new disc Working on a Dream , it doesn't matter.

The show is tailored to current events, as it always is (this time the economy and the struggles so many people are facing), and there are so many standout moments. The first encore song is culled (and updated) from Stephen Foster's songbook from the 1850s, Hard Times Come Again No More . A bluesy, gospel-sounding take, it's different and cool.

Mike Ness from Social Distortion was a special guest Thursday night and the band ripped through Ness' Bad Luck . What a moment. Ness, Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren all blazing on guitars midway through the song was outstanding.

No Surrender , Growin' Up , Thunder Road , Backstreets , Racing in the Street , The Wrestler ... so many highlights. One of the moments that stands out, and it's part of what keeps people coming back, came Thursday night when Springsteen collected signs for song requests from the crowd (as he has taken to doing) and picked out Proud Mary , the old Creedence Clearwater Revival chestnut (I've always wanted to use that word -- I feel just like a rock critic or something!).

Hearing the E Street band play that song was cool enough, but the best moments were those just before they tore into the song. Bruce held the sign for the band to see what they were going to play next, and the look of incredulity on the faces of those on stage was priceless. Lofgren was shouting across the stage to either bass player Gary Tallent or pianist Roy Bittan ( I couldn't quite tell which), double-checking the key, grinning widely. Lofgren held his hands together in the form of a D -- key of D? was his clear question -- hollering and motioning as the band scrambled to get its signals straight.

During the guitar solo midway through the song, as Springsteen played, Lofgren and Van Zandt played a few steps back, grinning at each other in amusement or amazement. Maybe both. It's one of the greatest things about seeing the band in concert, and it's the same thing that happens every time you walk into a baseball stadium: You absolutely, positively can never be sure of what you're about to see. You never know what the next moment will bring. And sometimes they're incredibly uplifting.

At the Dodgers' home opener on Monday, I watched Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle. While I've covered two no-hitters (David Wells' perfect game for the Yankees in 1998 and Eric Milton's for Minnesota in 1999), I'd never seen a cycle.

Then, Thursday night, I'm watching the E Street Band scramble to get its signals straight before Proud Mary and then, later in the show, I'm watching 18-year-old Jay Weinberg sit in on the drums for three songs for his dad, Max (Lonesome Day , The Rising and Born to Run ). Max is going to miss six or so shows in Europe this summer -- I believe around the time when Conan O'Brien replaces Jay Leno on The Tonight Show in early June (Max is the bandleader on the show, in case you don't know) -- and Jay is going to play those shows for his pop.

Jay just killed -- the kid is really, really good. And making the moment even more special, I looked about 15 feet to my right as he was playing on Lonesome Day (I was lucky enough to score a spot in the front row in front of the stage), and Max had come around from backstage to watch his son. Watching the band, watching Max watch his son, watching Van Zandt grinning and beaming at Max down front while playing guitar in front of Jay ... wow.

With baseball and at a Springsteen show, you never know when the next special moment is coming. You just know that, when it does, you'd better catch it, and hold on for as long as possible.


Likes, Dislikes and Rockin'

Likes: Baseball as a social institution? Check out this study that says the divorce rate among people in major-league cities is significantly lower than that among those who dwell in cities that wanted major-league baseball clubs but didn't get them. Bet the NFL can't say that. ... Step Brothers has some pretty darn funny moments. I'm not so sure I would have been thrilled paying $10 to see it in the theaters, but it's definitely worth a rental.

Dislikes: Was going to check out State of Play with Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams this weekend, but I don't know. I've read two reviews that have scared me off.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And I count my blessings
"That you're mine for always
"We laugh beneath the covers
"And count the wrinkles and the grays

-- Bruce Springsteen, Kingdom of Days

 

 

Posted on: December 9, 2008 2:06 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 2:08 pm
 

Agent pitches Randy Johnson to Cubs

LAS VEGAS -- Alan Nero, representative for free agent pitcher Randy Johnson, is shopping his client to the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs currently have other priorities right now, starting with finding a left-handed hitter that will diversify a right-handed heavy lineup and attempting to complete a trade to acquire Jake Peavy, but Johnson could represent a slight upgrade to their rotation under the right circumstances.

Among the left-handed hitters the Cubs are seriously looking at are free agents Milton Bradley (switch-hitter) and Raul Ibanez. They've also discussed the possibility of working a trade for Kansas City's David DeJesus.

Johnson, 45, also has been discussed by the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. He was 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA for Arizona last season and, more importantly, made 30 starts and worked 184 innings.

His age and his back always will be an issue, but in, say, somebody's No. 5 rotation slot, Johnson could help. Just five career victories short of milestone No. 300 -- he's 295-160 over his career -- he also could be a short-term help at the gate.

Johnson likely wouldn't be of much interest to the Cubs unless they fail to acquire Peavy and fail to trade Jason Marquis, who is owed more than $9 million in 2009.

 
 
 
 
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