It seems obvious to me that the attention Dave Parker receives in comparison to
other players, and particularly to Jim Rice, has much to do with where they
played. When Parker was the focal point of his team it was when he played
for the Pirates. I think it's fair to say that the Pirates are as
underexposed a team as the Red Sox are overexposed due to the relative size
of the media markets in which they play. Let's face it, the big coastal
markets like Boston, New York and L.A. get far more media exposure
generally, regardless of the topic, than other cities/markets do. And the
Boston Red Sox are the most identifiable baseball team besides the Yankees.
As a result, Rice got far more attention from the press than Parker solely
because of where he played, and that makes him stick in our consciousness.
I don't think it's necessarily what these guys did as much as where they did
It’s certainly easier to get
attention when you play for a large market, especially when the market
is as baseball-friendly as Boston. On the other hand, as a lot of
other readers have pointed out, playing in Boston didn’t make any
difference for Dwight Evans. Evans is arguably more qualified for the
Hall than either Parker or Rice, but he was dropped from the ballot
after just two years.
When you mentioned that "Mystery Player X" had a fantastic corner outfield
arm, I immediately assumed you were talking about Dwight Evans. Then I
looked up his numbers...
Evans: 385 HR, 483 2B, 4230 TB, 2446 H
Parker: 339 HR, 526 2Bm 4405 TB, 2171 H
Evans has a huge edge in HR, and was a better defender. If we're going to
talk about the Parker as a candidate, Dewey is deserving of a mention.
You’re absolutely right about Evans. I
focused on Parker only because he’s still on the ballot. Someone
should write a column about all the players who in recent years have
inexplicably failed to receive enough votes to even stay on the
ballot: Evans, Darrell Evans, Bobby Grich, etc. Unfortunately
Lou Whitaker joins the list this year.
Maybe the mainstream media - even the mainstream sabermetricians - ignored
ignored Dave Parker, but not everyone did.
The real scandal is how Lou Whitaker was dropped from the ballot. I
defy any writer who voted against him - or anybody else, for that matter -
to name ten players who had better careers at second base. And no cheating
with active players the jury's still out on or guys like Rod Carew who spent
half their careers at an easier position.
I agree with a lot of what you said in your column, but I don’t agree
with your reasoning regarding Parker and Rice. You give the thumbs up
to Rice, partly because you believe he was better than Tony Perez.
But you give thumbs down to Parker largely because he didn’t live up to
expectations during what should have been his peak years.
I know that’s only part of what you wrote about the two players, but I
think it raises another possible reason behind the inconsistency of
the treatment of Rice and Parker in HOF discussions. Rice is held up
to the standards of existing HOF inductees. By contrast, Parker is
held up to the (extremely high) standards of his own first five years.
I think Jayson Stark may have been guilty of this
in his Hall of Fame column.
Stark compared Rice to other players, ultimately deciding against him
because he was deemed too similar to non-HOFer Dick Allen. But Parker
is given seemingly little consideration, with the explanation that he
"was a great hitter at times but didn’t maintain the discipline to
sustain his greatness."
I completely agree with you about Whitaker.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
I have to admit that I'm completely in the dark about my White Sox's
maneuvers. I can't figure out what they intend to do with Jose Valentin.
I heard that they're shopping Herbert "The Dairyman" Perry for a CF, and
if they do that, then signing Valentin makes absolutely no sense to me--he's
a man without a position. And if Joe Crede is ready, then I'm Bill Melton.
to believe that unfortunately both Perry and Valentin had career years last
year (actually, Valentin has done as well with the bat in the past, just
not better), and the Hose will decline just for that reason. It would
have been nice to sign Charles Johnson, but there's no reason to think he'd hit .240
next year, and Josh Paul ought to give them that, even if he's got no pop.
I'm also skeptical about their so-called pitching surplus. Last year,
they were begging for middle relievers and low-level starters, and the best
they could do was guys like Rocky Biddle, who couldn't get my grandfather out
(although to be fair he was an excellent semi-pro ballplayer with MLB
From what I know about the Sox’ intentions about Jose
Valentin, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play a good
amount of third base, with some spot duty at short against
tough right-handed pitchers, and a few spot starts in center
(where he has some winter experience to rely on). Making
him a rover still brings to the fore that the Sox won’t be
doing the really smart thing, which is to keep Royce Clayton
and Chris Singleton off the field as much as possible.
Don’t bet on Josh Paul to hit .240, let alone a useful, power-laden
.240. He’s an organizational favorite, but that’s it.
As for the pitching surplus, they have discarded Aaron Myette
and Kevin Beirne, which makes them that much more reliant
on Jon Garland, Kip Wells, Mark Buehrle or Biddle
up front, with the wave of ’99 led by Jon Rauch due to
start arriving later on. Don’t get down on the Sox’ pitching
prospects just yet: they’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of talent,
and a partial month’s worth of experience is a less than
representative sample of what any of them are capable of. That
said, they are pitchers, and some of them will fail. The key
here is that the Sox have a number of them to take a look at.
This isn’t like the Royals and Jose Rosado or the Tigers and
Jeff Weaver, where the team has one good pitching prospect
and he’d better turn out OK. Strength through numbers is
the only way to go in pitcher development, because it will always
be easier to remember the successes than it will be to remember
the Rod Boltons.
Scott Servais is not
make the 2001 Tigers squad. Say it with me: we wouldn't
waste a roster spot on a has-been, never mind a never-was like Servais.
After all, this is the Tigers, the most well-managed team in the majors, that
we are talking about here.
That said, who is Box O'Rocks? Is that Randy Smith? Mr. Pitchback?
Is that Ilitch or Phil "Phailure" Garner?
you raise the correct point about Scott Servais’ value, I regret to
say that the Tigers are not the kind of team that would give Box
O’Rocks a break. Having never actually swung a bat, Box is sort
of a latter-day Eddie Gaedel. There isn’t a pitch thrown that he
doesn’t have the courage to take, and he’ll crowd the plate as long
as the batboy pushes him a little closer. Bill Madlock has already
made it clear that he likes his hitters hacking, so if Box O’Rocks
were to sign with los Tigres, I think we could expect Mad Dog to
wig out as he shouts at Box to make contact day after day, while
Box silently takes pitch after pitch, working the count.
His legendary patience aside, Box O’Rocks has other skills. Although
he has less value against the running game than Dave Nilsson (just
barely), as a receiver he gets uniform praise from his pitchers: he lets
them call their own games, and has always deferred to their judgment.
Sadly, Box doesn’t win many friends. He’s not quotable, and while
there has been speculation that there’s a language barrier of some
sort, since no one has heard a single word come from the stony
depths of Box’s implacable cardboard exterior, there is the
possibility that he’s mute.
There’s also the past controversy over the true age of Box O’Rocks
when he signed his first contract. While some scouts insist that his
interior dates to the Cretaceous period, sixteen-year old cardboard
is generally only found in basements or bachelor pads. The union has
not issued a formal statement, and since nobody can identify which
country Box comes from, there are no official records to confirm or
deny his age.
The mystery of Box O’Rocks remains a mystery, and while he’s a
deserving candidate for a job over people like Scott Servais, there
are plenty of deserving minor league catchers who deserve
consideration first: Tom Wilson, Mandy Romero, Creighton
Gubanich, Adam Melhuse, Danny Ardoin, Kevin Brown or Tim
DeCinces. Those guys can play, and deserve a few breaks.