At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Hot Stove Pairings: Morgan-Bagwell, Lucchino-Valentine & Santo-Larkin

Posted by athomeatfenway on January 10, 2012

On November 28, the man who stabilized the Dysfunctional Sox came to Hartford.  Joe Morgan, the Red Sox  Manager who lifted the Sox from 4th  to 1st Place and won the first 12 games of his tenure, appeared  with current Sox game announcer Joe Castiglione at the World Series Club of Hartford County.

Castiglione acted as Morgan’s straight man.  Rather than make a prepared speech, the announcer threw questions to the manager in an easy, rehearsed manner.

And Walpole Joe was very entertaining.  He has that old New England accent heard in Eastern Mass. and Rhode Island.  He’s a down to earth wit.

Morgan spoke about the infamous Bagwell-Anderson trade of 1991 and how he tried to alter history.  When Joe attended a management meeting at which the boss, i.e. Lou Gorman, proposed Bagwell for Anderson, Morgan realized this was a clear mistake. He argued that Scott Cooper was a better bargaining chip; Cooper was young and highly ranked and the Astros would find him acceptable. Joe was poo pooed.  The group went with Gorman.  The Sox missed out on Bagwell’s career .297, 449, 1529.  They got Cooper’s career .265, 33, 211. 

A few years later, the Sox would let Wade Boggs leave Boston via Free Agency.  As Boggs would tell an interviewer in 1996, the Sox made him expendable because they thought they had a budding star in Cooper.  Cooper would be out of Baseball after 1997, while Boggs and Bagwell played on – and completed HOF careers.

Out of left field came a Morgan story about how he made a buck in the off seasons when he was the Paw Sox Manager.  He didn’t make much more than minimum wage driving a snowplow for the Commonwealth.  But he did figure out people were losing dollar bills at the toll booths when the winter winds whipped along the Mass Pike.  Morgan said he found hundreds of dollars along the Pike, pulling off the road and scampering down the banks to claim the lost bills, finding $100 in one spot alone.

Guys like Francona or Valentine, both bonus babies in their day, never hustled like that to make a buck.  Joe never made more than $7,000 a year as a player or a modest salary as a MLB Manager. 

He did get a few things right though.  One of them was his prediction at the WSC on Nov. 28 that Bobby Valentine would be the next Red Sox Manager.

SPEAKING OF BOBBY V,

Jeff Jacobs wrote in The Hartford Courant that the spontaneous combustion of Bobby Valentine in a Red Sox uniform is a future certainty.  Valentine will go up in flames, says Half Baked Jake.  Just a matter of time.

Not sure about that prediction, but Jacobs also says the Valentine candidacy for Manager began here in Hartford on Nov. 5 when Bobby Valentine and Larry Lucchino headlined a charitable dinner at World Affairs Council at the Hartford Club.  I was there.

I  spoke with Lucchino and Valentine at the function.  I made a bee line for Larry.  He was great to chit chat with and he signed a nice white Selig official ball for me. 

Soon enough I was standing near Valentine.  I contemplated getting his autograph as well.  I did not want this former Mets manager and disguise-wearing narcissist to ruin my Lucchino ball with his signature.  I decided to ask him to sign a program instead.  I half heartedly asked what he thought his chances were of getting the Manager job, a question I really felt was meaningless and specious.  He chuckled and said, “Yeah, right !” and strode away.  Truly, his vibe was that even he didn’t think he had a shot.

And that would help to explain his tears of joy and noted speechlessness when he got the job.

Good luck, Bobby.

Hey, Ron & Barry.

Sorry everyone.  I can’t appreciate Ron Santo.  I have tried.  I look at the stats and I see a good player.  He’s a local legend in Chicago.  If his 342 HR’s and 1331 RBI came with a .305 B.A. he’d have been a HOF selection 40 years ago.  But he batted .277.  The 9x AS and 4x Gold Gloves help, but there are no batting titles, RBI or HR crowns, either. Few stolen bases.  Led the league in walks four times.   This much loved Cub comes close.  But he doesn’t make it.

Santo’s BA/HR/RBI totals are similar to Dwight Evans, one of the best fielding right fielders ever.  Putting Santo in will inspire some people to make the case for Evans.  But, unfortunately, neither player should be in the HOF.  They are very good but not All Time Greats.

Barry Larkin’s .295, 198, 960 are terrific for a shortstop.  Ozzie Smith won 7 Gold Gloves in Larkin’s first 7 years, precluding the Cinci-born Barry from copping the award until he was 30 years old.  Still, Barry nailed 3 GG’s.  A 12x AS with 9 Silver Sluggers and 379 SB’s, I’d say the guy was the complete package.

Only 7 other shortstops in history have more RBI’s than Larkin — Hans Wagner, Joe Cronin, Miguel Tejada, Vern Stephens, Luke Appling, Alan Trammell and Ripken.  4 are in the HOF.

Hit.  Hit with power.  Speed.  Arm.  Field.  He had it all.

Congrats to Barry Larkin & to the late Ron Santo, and the families of both men.

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