Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Time for Big Players to Step Up

Big players step up in big games. There are no bigger games played during the baseball season then the contests played during the stretch drive.

In 2000, Jason Giambi carried the A’s through the final month leading the team to its first division championship since 1992.

In 1967, Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski hit over .500 in an out- of- this- world last twelve games leading the Red Sox to its “Impossible Dream” pennant.This year the AL Wild Card race has turned into a five team affair.

Two teams will get automatic berths into the post season by virtue of winning either the AL East or West. The remaining three will fight each other right down to the last week of the season with one playoff berth at stake.

Which players might be the “Yaz” of 2005?

The Angels’ Bartolo Colon has turned into a legitimate Cy Young candidate. With relievers Francisco Rodriguez and Scott Shields running out of gas, Colon will be counted on to give the Halos eight strong innings each time he takes the ball.

Garret Anderson is the key to the Angel offense. If the outfielder is healthy then Vladimir Guerrero will get pitches to hit. If Anderson can’t give Vlad protection in the line up, then opposing managers will work around the clutch hitting slugger.

The A’s need production from Mark Kotsay and Eric Chavez. If the two veterans have big final months, then there will be less pressure on youngsters Nick Swisher, Dan Johnson, and Bobby Crosby to produce as the games get more intense.

The A’s need to be cautious with injured starter Rich Harden. The club will face tough games the rest of the way starting with a three game series against the Angels Tuesday night in Anaheim.

Barry Zito has been consistently fine all year. Joe Blanton might be the hottest pitcher in the league right now. Still the A’s need their young ace Harden to team with Zito down the stretch. There might not be a better one two punch in the league than these two when Harden is healthy.

Cleveland has to hope that at least one of their young hitters Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, or Travis Hafner crushes the ball over the final month.

Pitcher CC Sabathia needs to continue his resurgence on the mound. However, the key to the Tribe’s success is closer Bob Wickman. Cleveland can score some runs, but you have to get those final three outs to win a game. The veteran Wickman will be Cleveland’s MVP if the Tribe makes it to October baseball.

Boston’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez must continue to swing the bat every day as they have this season for the Boston offense to be successful.

Boston also needs either Curt Schilling or David Wells to step up and stabilize a very tenuous starting rotation. If neither pitcher becomes a stopper for Boston, then get ready for another Yankee-Red Sox soap opera right down to the final game of the season.

The key for New York will be its starting pitching. Manager Joe Torre needs either Jaret Wright, Mike Mussina, or Shawn Chacon to step up and help Randy Johnson September.

If healthy Johnson can carry a pitching rotation. If The Unit pitches like a Hall of Famer during the stretch, then he will take his place with the all time Yankee greats. If he doesn’t, then the Yanks might be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start.

The question remains as we enter September who will step up and be immortalized in baseball history this year?

For the answer, check back on October 2nd.

The Hall of Fame is conducting a special election next year to choose a former Negro League player for enshrinement in the Hall. Legendary good will ambassador to baseball Buck O’Neil is the only logical choice. Forget statistics which are difficult to reconstruct from O’ Neil’s playing days, O’Neil has meant more to the game over the past 50 years than any African American player not recognized in Cooperstown.

This week a columnist in the “USA Today” proclaimed Angels skipper Mike Scoscia a genius in the dugout for playing fast paced “Scosciaball” with the Halos.

Not so fast.

The real geniuses in the dugout are the A’s Ken Macha and the Twins Ron Gardenhire. These two skippers annually lead their teams into the playoffs with team payrolls that are $50 to $100 million less than those of the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Cards, and Dodgers.

Now that’s managing.

Mets third baseman David Wright, in his first full major league season, is a pleasure to watch. The kid hits with tremendous power, fields his position superbly, plus he plays the game with the moxie of a veteran.

Are the Diamondbacks really thinking of replacing manager Bob Melvin with former first baseman Mark Grace? Grace is currently the team’s television broadcaster. Melvin might not be the most energetic manager, but it would be a mistake bringing in Grace to run the club especially if Grace names his pals Todd Stottlemyre and Matt Williams as his pitching and hitting coaches.

San Diego’s Jake Peavy is throwing the ball better than any starter in the National League. The Cards Chris Carpenter looks like a lock to win the NL’s Cy Young award, but if you have one game that you need to win, take Peavy as your starter.

There’s trouble brewing in Detroit. It will take some nerve to wield the ax, but don’t expect manager Alan Trammell and his hitting coaching Kirk Gibson back next season.

For all those hoping Felipe Alou will choose an early retirement, don’t count on it. With Barry Bonds a good bet to try to return to play next season, the Giants won’t bring in a new manager to deal with Bonds and the media frenzy that will surround the slugger in 2006.

Alou will continue to ignore everything that surrounds Bonds and the rest of the team, making Alou the man for the job for one more season


1 Anonymous { 08.29.05 at 12:46 pm }


I’m a big fan of Buck O’Neil as well. I love hearing about his Negro League stories—“I Was Right On Time” is a great book. I read it again a couple weeks ago, and had forgotten Charlie Finley signed Satchel Paige to pitch one game at the age of 58 for the KC A’s. Buck mentions Paige’s bullpen catcher was a young, 20-year old rookie by the name of Rene Lachemann—now the A’s bench coach. Marty, I bet Rene has some great stories to share about his relatively short encounter with Paige.


Josh Brown

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