Friday, December 04, 2015

Greinke is Moving On

Aaugh!  Damn you Dave Stewart!

The wait is now over.  According to Ken Rosenthal on twitter, and confirmed by local beat writer Steve Gilbert, Zack Greinke has decided that he will be playing a little southeast of us.  Zach Greinke will be a Diamondback.
After spending the last three years rooting for Zack I will now have to boo him at every turn.


On a positive note, at least he's not a Giant.

BTW, Ken Rosenthal reports that it's a six year deal at $206 million.  That's $34.33 million a season.  Additionally, Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers maxed out at $31 million a year, and Ray Ratto says the Giants were at six years and $195 million ($32.5 million per).  Also, as compensation for losing Zack, the Dodger will gain an extra draft pick from Arizona in 2016, so all is not lost.  It'll be placed somewhere between the 1st and 2nd rounds. 

For what it's worth, some folks are saying that the Diamondbacks swooped in from nowhere in the last minute.  I don't believe that for a second.  I have no doubt that Arizona had been in the thick of it since the beginning, and that Rosenthal's scoop earlier today was just preparation for the eventual news.  After all, a team doesn't decide to spend this kind of money on a single player on a whim.  They certainly had protracted talks with Greinke and his people.  Via Charlie Wilmoth at MLB Trade Rumors:
Still, Greinke to the Diamondbacks makes a fair amount of sense, and not just because of their ten-figure new TV deal. As FanGraphs’ August Fagerstrom pointed out earlier this week, Arizona already qualified as a sleeper team for next season. The Diamondbacks already had a solid offense headed by two top talents in Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, and an excellent defense headed by Pollock, Nick Ahmed and Ender Inciarte. The chief reason they only won 79 games last season was their pitching staff, which rated 27th in MLB in fWAR. Their rotation already looked likely to improve somewhat next season with a full season of Patrick Corbin, but adding Greinke provides a much bigger shot in the arm. With Greinke in the fold, the Diamondbacks obviously have a much better chance of contending — not only because of the direct impact Greinke will have on their roster, but because they’ll be keeping Greinke from competing against them.
On the Dodgers front, they are already looking elsewhere, via a Ken Rosenthal tweet:
Photo at the very top via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015.

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Vintage Conlon Photo - Brooklyn Catcher Rowdy Elliott at RMY Auctions

RMY has an auction of vintage press photos currently up for sale and it includes an amazing collection of original Charles Conlon photographs.  There are over 450 of them; including 25 different Brooklyn players.  BTW, this RMY Auction ends this weekend, so if you want to add one to your collection you'd better get going. 

As you may know, Charles Conlon is regarded as one of the great Baseball photographers and is well known for his 1910 action photograph of Ty Cobb sliding hard into third base.  See it on the right.

Since this grouping of Conlon photos is rare to come by I thought I would take a moment to write about some of them.  I'll start with the above 1920 Conlon portrait photograph of onetime Brooklyn catcher Harold Bell "Rowdy" Elliott.  See the auction link here.

I was drawn to this Dodger because I had never heard of him and with a nickname like "Rowdy" I figured there's got to be something interesting there.  As it were, my curiosity was satisfied and I was saddened by my research.  

Rowdy Elliott, as he was commonly known, played ball for 23 years - one of which for Brooklyn in 1920.  He was noted for being an average hitter and a good defensive backstop.  Rowdy knew how to handle pitchers, but he also was a bit of a curmudgeon.  Per an entry in Pete Cava's book "Indiana-Born Major League Baseball Players":
Team officials accused him of "not doing his best, dissipating, playing off sick, leading younger players astray and doing nearly everything not intended to promote the best interest of a club, " according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
(Claxton, 1916 Zee-Nut)
That sure fits the bill for someone name Rowdy.  However, his skills on the diamond quickly lead to a player-manager position with the Oakland Oaks of the PCL at the tender age of 25.  While there he made Baseball history by unwittingly managing one of the first African-American ballplayers on a white ballclub.  His name was Jimmy Claxton and as the story goes he brought along paperwork indicating that he was of Native-American descent.  Unfortunately, Claxton's ruse was found out a few days later, and he was soon let go from the team.  Via Tom Hawthorn at The Tyee:
He got to pitch briefly in two games for the Oaks on the same day before being released after about six days on the roster.
"No reason was given," he once said, "but I knew."
By 1918 service in WWI came calling.  He was an Fireman, Third Class, in the Navy and served on the USS Destroyer Ringgold.  Then Elliott returned to Oakland a year later.  In 1920 he was sold to Brooklyn and helped the team steam towards a National League pennant.  Although he was far from being the primary catcher, he did get into 41 games.  One of which was catching a major portion of the record setting 26-inning contest against the Boston Braves on May 1st (boxscore here).  

After that season he returned to the minor leagues and bounced from one team to the next until his retirement from the game in 1929 at the age of 39.  All the while his life appears to have been in shambles.  His wife Helen Kearns, sister of Jack Kearns, former manager of boxer Jack Dempsey, had divorced him in 1924, and he was soon penniless by the time of his death in 1934 - five years after retiring from the game.

Rowdy Elliot had fallen out of an apartment window under questionable circumstances and died of his injuries in the hospital.  One source indicated that he was intoxicated at the time.  He was 43 years old.  Being unable to find relatives willing to take his body he would have been buried in a potters field if not for the donations of a few friends.

Rowdy Elliott was no doubt besieged by demons.  He was wild, and he liked the drink.  At the same time, he was skilled enough to play the game for over two decades; including one as a Dodger.

I'll leave you with this one quote by Elliott found in an 1920 issue of Our Navy from this time as a Dodger during the 1920 World Series: 
My idea of Baseball psychology is to hit the old pill on the nose and run like hell.  When you make an error in the field hit it so hard the next time up that it breaks their feet.  If the fielders are dangerous try to hit it over the fence.  When in doubt hit it again.  That's the only higher Baseball I know."
Hopefully I will be able to take some time to write about a couple of more Dodger ballplayers found in the RMY Auction over the ensuing days.

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

Blog Kiosk: 12/4/2015 - Dodger Links - Some Odds and Ends as we Wait for Greinke

I can't get enough of these vintage Brooklyn Robins checkerboard flannel uniforms.  They're fantastic.  Featured above is an original International Film Service press photo of the two Robins/Dodgers backstops tasked with handling the pitchers during the 1916 World Series, as found on eBay.  On the left is Otto Miller and on the right is John "Chief" Meyers.  Best yet, there are a couple of gentlemanly chaps in the background with their own version of an early-20th century photobomb.

Below are more links to check out:
The real impressive thing about Greinke is how well-rounded he is. He’s an incredible pitcher, sure, and that’s what’s most important, but a part of that comes out of his preparation. He’s also just about unparalleled in terms of his focus, and his control over himself. He pairs his pitching stuff with his pitching intelligence. For a pitcher, he’s become a pretty good hitter, doing plenty to help his own case. And Greinke is an outstanding defender. I don’t think this counts as some sort of revelation — Greinke’s won back-to-back Gold Glove awards, and he’s won those for a reason. But we can go a little bit deeper. Greinke’s terrific in the field. It saves him several runs every year.
  • Awkward!  Considering that rumor about the Dodgers highest paid player (Kershaw) asking Dodger management to trade Puig this bit of news about an upcoming MLB tour in Cuba should be interesting, via a tweet from Tim Brown:

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *