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Tadahito Iguchi: The Life of an MLB Player Can Be Short, But Sweet

Name the infield for the 2005 Chicago White Sox.

You have that jerk at catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who everyone knows. Paul Konerko, of course, Juan Uribe before his backside developed its own zip code, and Joe Crede.

Who was that one guy at second base? Why can’t I remember his name? He was Asian, wasn’t he?

Tadahito Iguchi.

It’s interesting, but at the same time a little sad, how a player in baseball can go from the “always remembered” category for a fanbase to the “perfect trivia question” that fans know will annoy them upon finding out the answer. And, of course, the “Ohhhh wow” response that follows when the answer is revealed.

Iguchi has become that in White Sox lore.

So where is he now?

First, we must remind everyone of who he was.

After an eight-year career with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League, where Iguchi batted .271 with a .349 OBP, 149 home runs, 507 RBI and 159 stolen bases, the 30-year-old Iguchi signed a two-year, $4.95 million deal with the White Sox in 2005.

In 2005, Iguchi hit .278 with a .342 OBP, while hitting 15 home runs, stealing 15 bases, scoring 74 runs and driving in 71 in 135 games, while teaming up with shortstop Uribe for a nice double-play tandem in the middle of the White Sox infield.

Iguchi was best known for getting runners over, finishing third in the American League in sacrifice hits.

He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Iguchi is probably best remembered for his two-out, go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the 2005 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox with the Red Sox up 4-2. The White Sox won the game 5-4, the series 3-0 and eventually the 2005 World Series. 

In 2006, Iguchi put together his best MLB season, hitting .281 with a .352 OBP, 18 homers, 67 RBI, 94 runs and 11 stolen bases in 138 games. Iguchi’s most memorable play, however, came on defense when he put together this gem.

From there, things get a bit hazy.

After agreeing on a one-year $3.25 million extension with the White Sox, Iguchi struggled in 2007, batting .251 with six homers, 31 RBI and eight stolen bases in 90 games. He would be traded to the Philadelphia Philliesfor pitcher Michael Dubee, making him the first Asian-born player to join the Phillies.

In 45 games with the Phillies, Iguchi batted .304 with a .361 OBP in 138 at-bats.

In December of 2008, Iguchi signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres, but after hitting just .231 with a .292 OBP in 303 at-bats, the Padres dropped him on Sept. 1. The Phillies would sign Iguchi four days later, but he would only have seven at-bats with the team.

In January of 2009, at the age of 34, Iguchi returned to Japan to sign a three-year deal with Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines.

Iguchi batted .281 with a .391 OBP, 19 home runs, 65 RBI and 71 runs in 2009 for the Marines and .294 with a .412 OBP, 17 home runs, 103 RBI, and 88 runs this season, as the Marines will be competing in the Japanese Series Title, beginning this weekend.

Iguchi is known a tad more in Japan than in the states. But it’s funny how, in the MLB, you can leave a dent that will be remembered forever by at least a select few only to seemingly disappear a couple years later. 

Iguchi is a prime example of a baseball player that is easily forgotten. But, for some, he will always be remembered.

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2010 AL MVP: With Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera Out, Is Paul Konerko It?

Probably not, but I figured someone owed Paul Konerko some publicity since ESPN often either forgets to do actual reporting and research or simply forgets to be logical.

As of Wednesday, Miguel Cabrera is out for the season due to a sprained ankle, so his numbers are concrete at .328 BA, .420 OBP, .622 SLG, and a 1.042 OPS to go along with 38 home runs, 126 RBI, 111 runs, and three stolen bases in 150 games played.

On the other side, Josh Hamilton is set to return Friday, meaning he will finish with, at most, 133 games played. He is currently hitting .361 with a .414 OBP, a .635 SLG, and a 1.049 OPS to go along with 31 home runs, 97 RBI, 94 runs, and eight stolen bases.

Let us not forget we ran Carlos Quentin out of the MVP race two seasons ago because he missed the final month of the season after punching his bat when the Chicago White Sox were in the heat of a pennant race, thus handing the award to Dustin Pedroia, although Kevin Youkilis deserved it. Quentin finished with 130 games played.

Are we going to judge the MVP by an injury or when it occurs? If Quentin was hurt in the first month of the season rather than the last month, would he have been MVP?

Konerko being a top MVP candidate is no laughing matter.

Konerko currently is hitting .310 with a .390 OBP, a .581 SLG, and a .971 OPS to go along with 38 home runs, 107 RBI, and 88 runs.

Konerko has Hamilton in all the eye-appealing stats and one could point to the 16 more games played and 32 more at-bats as reason for the massive difference in the percentage numbers. 

But then again, one could point to the more at-bats as being the reason for the difference in home runs and RBI.

Robinson Cano is a dark horse in this whole thing, only because the above players have played on a different planet.

Cano is hitting .316, with a .376 OBP, a 528 SLG, and a .904 OPS to go along with 28 home runs, 106 RBI, 100 runs, and two stolen bases.

It looks as though, unless something drastic changes, Cabrera’s numbers hold up for the MVP. But with Cabrera being done for the year and Hamilton having three games tops to add to his resume, a hot streak for Konerko or Cano could completely change the race.

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King Felix Hernandez Reigns Supreme: Top AL Cy Young Candidates Pitch Tuesday

Felix Hernandez is your 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner…if only it were that easy.

In reality, it should be that easy.

After going eight innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks while striking out five, Hernandez got the all-important erroneous stat. 

The stat that for some reason voters and baseball fans feel is nerdy to overlook.

Hernandez got the win and is now 13-12. Happy?

Oh, he also has the best ERA (2.27), most quality starts (30), most innings pitched (249.2), most strikeouts (232), and lowest batting average against (.212) in the American League. He is second in WHIP (1.06) to Cliff Lee, not CC Sabathia or David Price.

Sabathia and Price were also in action Tuesday.

Sabathia went 8.1 innings, giving up one earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight.

He too picked up another win, pushing his record to 21-7. Wins is the only category Sabathia leads the AL in.

Sabathia now has a 3.18 ERA with 26 quality starts, 237.2 innings pitched, 197 strikeouts, a 1.19 WHIP, and a .239 batting average against.

Impressive numbers, but they do not match Hernandez.

Price went eight shutout innings, giving up six hits, zero walks, and striking out eight, and picked up a win to move to 19-6. Price does not lead the AL in any pitching category. 

He has a 2.73 ERA, 25 quality starts, 207.2 innings pitched, 187 strikeouts, a 1.20 WHIP, and a .222 batting average against.

Also impressive, but they do not match Hernandez.

Baseball is a bunch of individuals playing a team sport. All you can control in the field, at the plate, or on the mound is what you do.

Luck occurs here and there, but after so many games and so many innings, luck tends to run out and at the very least things even out.

If your lineup is weak around you, then you will not score runs or have a high number of RBI, so we look at your on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS to see your value.

If your team does not score for you or play defense behind you while you’re on the mound, then we look at strikeouts to see how often you take your defense out of the equation and ERA and WHIP to see how often you put your weak offensive team in position to win.

One stat that is based on the sum of a team’s parts is wins, and that stat generally earns a World Series championship, but basing an individual award on it is completely and ridiculously unfair.

A Cy Young Award is not a Most Valuable Player Award where we can argue the definition of “value.” The Cy Young Award is simply for the best pitcher.

Voters got it correct last year, giving the Cy Young to Zack Greinke with an all-time AL Cy Young-low 16 wins, and in the National League Tim Lincecum won it with a 15-7 record.

Hernandez’s offense has supplied him with zero runs while he was on the mound in seven of his last 14 starts, and he has pitched into the seventh inning in a team-record 25 consecutive starts.

I think he has done all he can to win for the Seattle Mariners.

Anyone with eyes can see Hernandez has the best pitching numbers. Sabathia and Price have the better team stat, so they were awarded with the playoffs.

The Cy Young, however, should clearly be awarded to Hernandez.

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Chicago White Sox: Why the Twins Will Always Be AL Central Favorites

Why would anyone pick the Chicago White Sox to win the American League Central?

I know I sure didn’t going into this season and it was simply because they can’t beat the Minnesota Twins.

Until the Chicago White Sox prove they can beat the Twins, there is never any reason to pick them to win the AL Central.

People continually wonder why the White Sox get no “respect” in the division and how the Twins keep winning the division with players no one heard of. The White Sox get no respect because they can’t beat the Twins, but they’ll continually smirk at them, knowing they’ll be one and done in the playoffs.

Sitting on your couch at home laughing is far more pathetic than going to the playoffs and losing.

Once again, another year, another losing record to the Twins and going quietly into October.

5-12 (my guess is 5-13 after tonight), 6-12, 9-10, 9-9, 9-10.

The White Sox do not having a winning record against the Twins since 2005 and they play them as if they are an older brother they simply can’t beat up, waiting to lose instead of trying to win.

The White Sox manager glorifies the Twins as if they are the greatest team in the history of baseball. Perhaps Ozzie will be lucky enough to be part of their coaching staff soon.

Players on the Twins literally push the White Sox around and there is no push back.

Why has Delmon Young not been plunked after going away from home plate to send his forearm after A.J. Pierzynski’s face at a play at the plate in Minnesota?

Sox used that adrenaline for an inning then promptly blew that game as well in walk-off fashion, pushing the incident aside and of course, glorifying the Twins for good play.

There are no more Metrodome excuses, White Sox. They are a better team until you say otherwise.

Their speed gets on base more and doesn’t get caught stealing as much. Their middle part of the order doesn’t take two months off. Their defense doesn’t have holes in two outfield spots and third base. Their DH spot isn’t struggling to bat over .200 and have an on-base percentage over .300. They hit with runners in scoring position, even with two outs, which I know is a shocking concept to you.

Their team is going to the playoffs and while they very well may be one and done, what does that say about you?

They may win with “nobodies”, but that is better than overpaying old somebodies to lose.

Another year as the favorites topped by the more consistent and better team.

What excuses do you have now, White Sox?

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Chicago White Sox Are Dropping Like Flies: Injuries Coming at the Wrong Time

Dome catwalks, bad umpiring, and opponents forgetting how to play, oh my.

The Chicago White Sox have won seven out of their last eight games and have lost half a game in the American League Central division standings, sitting 4.5 back with 24 games remaining. A yellow brick road is nowhere in sight and mix the above three with the Minnesota Twins and you have yourself a done-for Dorothy, getting no help.

No scarecrow, no tin man, no lion. The White Sox are on their own.

What can’t be added to the fairytale-turned-nightmare is injuries to the White Sox.

Gordon Beckham was hit in the hand Aug. 30, against the Cleveland Indians. On Tuesday, Beckham said the pain was the most intense and that he couldn’t hold a bat. Beckham went on to claim it feels like it hurts in a different place every day.

Not good.

Beckham was scratched from Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers and manager Ozzie Guillen plans to shut him down for a couple days. Beckham hit .354 in July and .309 in August. 

Paul Konerko sat out for the second consecutive day Tuesday due to lower back issues. Konerko said he felt discomfort in the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday. He played in Game 2, but was taken out later in the game.

This injury is not expected to be serious, but the White Sox can’t afford to have their MVP, and at least a top five MVP candidate for the American League in any intelligent sports follower’s eyes (Jayson Stark, if you’re reading…), sit out any games.

This was all before Tuesday’s game.

You’re already looking at having to play Omar Vizquel and Mark Kotsay for Beckham and Konerko. Now the White Sox may need to find another pitcher.

Freddy Garcia had to leave in the second inning of Tuesday’s game due to a sore back, which caused the starter to leave a start last week after four innings.

Garcia has been an unexpected horse this year, and logic says he’s due for an injury. Unfortunately, this is the worst time, especially with Jake Peavy being gone for the season.

The White Sox may have to start thinking of using a four-man rotation rather than wasting every fifth start on a guy like Carlos Torres.

It’s that time of year where logic doesn’t make sense.

And to cap off an injury-filled night, Manny Ramirez left after getting plunked for the second time of the game. Ramirez took a fastball from Tigers’ Robbie Weinhardt after taking a ball in the elbow from Justin Verlander earlier in the game.

Ramirez is thought to be OK, but once again, this is no time for “OK” to mean “be back in a couple games.”

The White Sox are running out of time, while running out of players as well.

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Manny Ramirez To Join Chicago White Sox Tuesday: Does He Help the Team?

The Chicago White Sox announced Monday afternoon that Manny Ramirez had been claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers and will join the team Tuesday in Cleveland.

The White Sox will be responsible for paying $3.825 million of Ramirez’s contract this season.

With three trips to the DL this season and the inability to play defense, Ramirez will most likely slide immediately into the DH spot, which has been a black hole for the White Sox thanks to Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay.

The White Sox have lost nine of the team’s last 14 games and have fallen to 4.5 games back of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central with three remaining against their division rival. The White Sox are about to begin a 10-game road trip that includes stops in Ramirez’s former homes of Cleveland and Boston.

Ramirez should be in uniform for both series unless he plans on another trip to the DL.

Ramirez is batting .311 with eight home runs and 40 RBI but has only played in 66 games this season due to injury.

With dreadlocks flopping, Ramirez became a fan favorite in Los Angeles and performed so remarkably down the stretch of his first season that the Dodgers signed him to a two-year, $45 million deal.

After Ramirez’s 50-game suspension due to a failed drug test and his injuries this season, Los Angeles’ feelings toward him have soured. He has not spoken to reporters since spring training, when he announced this would be his last year in Los Angeles.

Ramirez has never handled disdain for a situation too well. In fact, he’s been downright unprofessional, having those feelings spill out onto the field.

We saw what he did in Boston when he was not happy, eventually forcing a trade.

And how did he leave the Dodgers? By getting thrown out of the game by the home plate umpire, pinch-hitting with the bases loaded after seeing one pitch with his team hanging by a thread in the National League wild-card race. 

Joe Torre even benched Ramirez for Scott Podsednik. Yes, you read that correctly. Manny Ramirez for Scott Podsednik. It sounds like a laughable offer you get from a friend in fantasy baseball.

What the White Sox have going for them is the fact that, like a child learning to walk, they aren’t asking Ramirez for much. Be a great hitter who doesn’t ever have to play the field for 31 games, and you will receive a good contract from some idiotic team in the offseason. 

It’s baby steps. Seeing as Ramirez is done pouting, perhaps he can start stepping.

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Man Ram Watch: Chicago White Sox Awarded Manny Ramirez

According to a source monitoring the waiver wire, the Chicago White Sox have been awarded the claim on Manny Ramirez today.

It was reported that no National League team put a claim on Ramirez, but two American League teams did outside of the White Sox. Since the White Sox won the claim, the other two teams must have had better records than the Sox, so one would imagine the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers were the other two teams to put in a claim.

Now the White Sox have until Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. ET to complete a trade. The Dodgers remain just five games out of the NL wild-card race, so they will most likely not have this as their first priority.

Ramirez’s no-trade clause is the other obstacle, as he has to approve any deal.

The Dodgers can either pull back Ramirez, keeping him and working out a trade with the White Sox, or simply let him go to Chicago via the waiver claim. If the Dodgers worked out a trade, they would most likely have to pay for some of Ramirez’s contract, but if they let Ramirez go via the waiver claim, the White Sox are responsible for the rest of Ramirez’s contract.

White Sox will have to pay $1.1 million to Ramirez this year and about $3.3 million at a later date.

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Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa Angry No. 21 Is Not Retired in Chicago

He just won’t seem to go away.

Sammy Sosa said in an interview with Chicago Magazine his number should be retired in the Chicago Cubs organization.

“That number should be untouchable because of the things that I did for that organization,” Sosa said. “That right there shows me that they don’t care about me and they don’t want to have a good relationship with me.

“My numbers don’t lie,” Sosa continued. “Everything that I did was so big — my career was so good — that even if people want to scratch it from the board, it’s not going to happen. Those numbers are going to stay there forever.”

It is funny how Sosa’s English only seems to work when he’s trying to promote himself. Apparently, his English dictionary goes out the window when summoned to appear in court to answer questions regarding steroids.

In the interview, Sosa seems to also forget corking his bat in 2003, leaving a game early in 2004, being an awful teammate who would blast his music in the clubhouse, and the report that he was one of the 104 players who failed a drug test in 2003.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Sosa said regarding the steroid report. “Let’s talk about something else.”

Needle got your tongue, Sammy?

And here I thought steroid users were supposed to hide from the spotlight.

Okay, nothing has been proven yet regarding Sosa and steroids, but anyone with eyes, and even some without, could see he wasn’t just taking Flintstones vitamins, as he claimed.

Currently, Tyler Colvin is sporting the No. 21 for the Cubs and pitcher Jason Marquis had it before him.

From 1993 to 2004, Sosa hit 545 home runs for the Cubs and is one of only seven players with more than 600 career home runs. He is the only player in history to have three seasons of 60 or more home runs.

All this would mean something, if there wasn’t a steroid cloud raining needles on all of his numbers.

Sorry, Sammy, you don’t go from hitting 36 home runs to hitting 66 home runs, no matter what color Flintstone vitamins you’re taking.

The Cubs traded Sosa in 2004 to the Baltimore Orioles after he left the final game of the 2004 season early, angering management and players. Sosa hit .221 with 14 home runs, 45 RBI, 84 strikeouts and a .295 OBP in 102 games with the Orioles in 2005 and ended up sitting out the 2006 season.

Sosa retired after hitting .252 with 21 home runs and 92 RBI for the Texas Rangers in 2007.

Strangely enough, every single offensive number for Sosa fell from 2001 on. People may lie, but numbers do not. 

Ernie Banks (14), Ron Santo (10), Ryne Sandberg (23), Greg Maddux (31), Billy Williams (26) and Fergie Jenkins (31) are the owners of the six current Cubs retired jerseys and I don’t recall any of them expecting their numbers to be retired either, but rather being honored by the fact they were.

Until hell freezes over and the Hall of Fame comes knocking, Sosa won’t stop talking. But someone tell Roger Clemens to remind him not to do his talking, no matter what language, in a courtroom.


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Manny Ramirez Set to Hit Waivers This Week: Where Will He End Up?

Manny Ramirez‘s days with the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be coming to an end, as the general consensus around baseball is that he will end up on waivers early this week. 

Monday was the first opportunity the Dodgers had to put Ramirez on waivers because it was the first business day after Ramirez came off the disabled list, but they are not expected to do so.

According to baseball sources, the only thing that will come in the way of Ramirez being on a different team before Aug. 31, the deadline for playoff roster eligibility, is his no-trade clause. 

Ramirez’s contract is not as bad as one would think for teams pondering the need for a DH. 

Any team that makes a move for Ramirez would owe a portion of his $20 million salary that is divided. What makes Ramirez’s contract affordable is the fact three-fourths of the salary is deferred.

Playoff contenders like the Chicago White Sox, who are getting no production at DH with Mark Kotsay or Andruw Jones, or a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, who don’t have a solid DH, would have to pay Ramirez $1.1 million for the rest of this season and around $3.3 million in deferred salary.

It all comes down to Ramirez waiving his no-trade clause. He can use his no-trade clause to reject any waiver move or trade to any team. He also could even ask for money just to waive his no-trade clause.

If Ramirez were claimed by another team via waivers and he proceeded to veto it, then the Dodgers would have to remove him from waivers. They would be unable to trade him for the remainder of the season as well.

Not a bad idea for a rival of a possible playoff team to do, solely to keep Ramirez away from another team. If you’re out of the race, why not claim Ramirez off waivers, knowing he’ll reject it, and keep him away from a contending rival?

Dirty, yes. Hilarious also.

No one knows what you’d get out of Ramirez, however. He has missed 59 games this season due to injury and just came off the disabled list for a calf strain.

On the other side of that, Ramirez does become a free agent after this season, and if he would like to get paid again, he may suddenly have a breakout last month of the season.

Ramirez is a huge risk, but he’s an improvement for a couple American League playoff contenders—when he decides to play.

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Pitchers Joe Mauer Can’t Hit: They Do Exist

Game after game, we see a hitter’s numbers versus the pitcher on the mound pop up on the television screen, and we usually dismiss it.

Of course, each batter varies from pitcher to pitcher.

Even the best have a few pitchers they simply can’t hit.

For Joe Mauer, however, it seems as though anytime those stats pop up, he’s hitting, at the very least, .330 against the pitcher on the mound, no matter who it is, no matter which arm they throw with, and no matter how many at-bats he has against them.

This is what happens when you’re a hitter who never strikes out and one of the best hitters in the game. 

Out of curiosity, I felt the need to see if there are really any pitchers out there who can get Mauer out on a consistent basis.

The results are a bit odd, considering the pitchers who have actually had success against him.

I found that there really is no stopping Mauer. There is only a false hope that he may not feel like running the bases when he faces you, so he will get out on purpose.

We can all dream, can’t we? 

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