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May 12, 2003 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: The Case for Raffy

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Joe Sheehan

Yesterday, Rafael Palmeiro became the 19th player in major-league history to hit 500 home runs, joining the club with a three-run blast to right field in the seventh inning off the Indians' David Elder. His achievement has been met with lukewarm response, unusual for someone reaching such an important milestone. Not only has no eligible 500-home run hitter ever been left out of the Hall of Fame, none have ever sparked serious debate over their candidacy. Palmeiro's accomplishment, though, is being hailed not as the signature feat of a great player, but as an example of just how "cheap" home runs have become in the early 21st century. Palmeiro's qualifications for the Hall are being questioned, and he's being lumped in not with Reggie and Eddie and Michael Jack, but with modern DHs like

Palmeiro's accomplishment, though, is being hailed not as the signature feat of a great player, but as an example of just how "cheap" home runs have become in the early 21st century. Palmeiro's qualifications for the Hall are being questioned, and he's being lumped in not with Reggie and Eddie and Michael Jack, but with modern DHs like Harold Baines and Jose Canseco.

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April 9, 2003 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: March 25-April 6, 2003

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Christina Kahrl

The Snakes bury John Patterson, the Red Sox sort through a batch of soft tossers, the Marlins vie for a 25-catcher roster, and the Devil Rays solve all their problems by grabbing Al Martin and Damion Easley.

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March 27, 2003 12:00 am

Transaction Analysis: March 20-24, 2003

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Christina Kahrl

The Red Sox have 682 first basemen, the Reds revamp half their bullpen a week before Opening Day, the Rockies' three non-Helton infield spots could be the best collective bargain in baseball, and the Pirates choose one set of jounreymen over another for the back end of the pitching staff.

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A few weeks ago at the BP Pizza Feed in Los Angeles, one of the attendees--sorry, I don't remember who--asked me what we could expect from Jeff Torborg in Florida. The Marlins, as you know, have a large stable of young starting pitchers, including perhaps the game's top prospect, 22-year-old right-hander Josh Beckett. The questioner wanted to know if there was anything we could glean from Torborg's history that would indicate how he might handle the pitching talent on hand.

A few weeks ago at the BP Pizza Feed in Los Angeles, one of the attendees--sorry, I don't remember who--asked me what we could expect from Jeff Torborg in Florida. The Marlins, as you know, have a large stable of young starting pitchers, including perhaps the game's top prospect, 22-year-old right-hander Josh Beckett. The questioner wanted to know if there was anything we could glean from Torborg's history that would indicate how he might handle the pitching talent on hand.

At the time, I had no response. Unfortunately, I hadn't given the matter much thought, and the answer I provided was, translating roughly, "blrxgh."

Thanks to Retrosheet and the genius of Keith Woolner, I can now take a pretty good look at Torborg's record. The short answer is that there's some reason to be concerned for the arms of Beckett, Brad Penny, and Ryan Dempster.

Cleveland, 1977-79
Torborg's first managerial stint was with the Indians. He took over the Tribe from Frank Robinson in June of 1977, and was fired in July of 1979. In that time, he didn't handle much in the way of young starters, so his experience there doesn't tell us much.

In the three seasons in which Torborg spent time as their manager, the Indians would finish fourth, 11th, and 11th in the American League in complete games. I have no breakdowns for 1977, when Wayne Garland finished third in the AL with 21 complete games, and a 22-year-old Dennis Eckersley racked up 12 CGs in 33 starts. It's worth noting, though, that the 1977 Indians are the only Frank Robinson-managed team that has ever finished in the top half of its league in complete games. That's not conclusive evidence, but it's at least an indication that Torborg rode the two right-handers pretty hard in his three-and-a-half months in charge.

In 1978, Torborg lost Garland, who would spend the next nine seasons being known as one of the great free-agent busts. Torborg would get 15 complete games--an unremarkable total for that era--from 26-year-old Rick Waits, and a smattering of CGs from 24-year-old Mike Paxton and 23-year-old David Clyde. Without pitch counts it's hard to say for sure, but Torborg certainly does not appear to be noticeably abusive of the arms he had.


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March 11, 2002 12:00 am

The Marlin in Charge

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Joe Sheehan

At the time, I had no response. Unfortunately, I hadn't given the matter much thought, and the answer I provided was, translating roughly, "blrxgh."

Thanks to Retrosheet and the genius of Keith Woolner, I can now take a pretty good look at Torborg's record. The short answer is that there's some reason to be concerned for the arms of Beckett, Brad Penny, and Ryan Dempster.

Read the full article...

The Internet has spoken. Your choices for this year's Internet Baseball Awards.

It's time to announce the winners of the tenth annual Internet Baseball Awards. More than 2,000 cyberspace baseball fans--a new record--participated in this effort to select the baseball players whose 2001 seasons were most deserving of honors.

This year marks not only our tenth year of balloting (we started in 1991, but sat out the 1994 season in protest of baseball's rude behavior), but also our fifth year of Web balloting. A few of our readers probably remember the good old days of e-mail ballots (as we remember all the fun it was counting ballots by hand), but most of you have been treated only to the extraordinarily comprehensive user-friendly Web ballots designed by BP's Webmaster, Dave Pease. Our thanks go to Dave, who puts in a ton of work to make this process go smoothly.

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