Tag: Armando Galarraga

Imperfect: How a Blown Call has Defined Our Generation

Just five games into his 2012 return to the major leagues, Armando Galarraga has been designated for assignment by the struggling Houston Astros and faces an uncertain future. For Galarraga, it is the most recent in a series of setbacks that have brought on the realization that his job as a professional athlete is in jeopardy.

In a career that has been defined by spectacular ups and downs – Galarraga was once a promising young arm set to emerge as a solid starter behind superstar Justin Verlander in Detroit – he looked to add another winning chapter when he toed the rubber for the Astros on July 28, 2012. After toiling in the high minors for more than a year, he reveled in the sights and sounds of a big league ballpark, seeing it with a fresh set of eyes belonging to a more seasoned, mature and smarter pitcher than we’d seen in the past.

Of course, there’s nothing like witnessing the birth of your first child less than 24-hours earlier to provide a new perspective on life, but after driving to Houston from his home in Austin, Texas, Galarraga gave up three runs on five hits as the Astros lost to the Pirates. Unfortunately, a lack of success and inability to command his once-devastating sinker has left Galarraga in an all too familiar situation – fighting to get back into the major leagues.

Even at such an obvious and imposing juncture, it is unlikely that anything Armando Galarraga does during his playing days, good or bad, will eclipse his infamously imperfect moment on June 2, 2010. He had already been optioned to the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo in March and, back with the Tigers in late May, aimed to prove he belonged with the best players in the world. Still, no one could have expected the kind of dominating performance he would deliver against the Cleveland Indians that day.

Perfection, in life and sports, is fleeting. In baseball it is defined as twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down. No hits, no walks, no errors—nothing but two men and a glorified game of catch while mystified batters shake their heads as they return to a silent dugout. As fate would have it, Armando Galarraga would, on that day, retire all twenty-seven men he faced, but because of a blown call by first base umpire Jim Joyce, would have to face a twenty-eighth.

In a moment that is sealed in the annals of baseball lore, Galarraga stared in towards the Tigers dugout, knowing full well that his one brush with sports immortality had been whisked away by the fickle baseball gods. The look on his face as he pondered his flirtation with perfection was an impressive mix of the incredulous and the dignified, but he, as professionals always do, composed himself, settled in and recorded the final out.

As a reflection of society, baseball is fraught with cheaters, liars, criminals and those wise enough to know how to use the rules to their advantage. The mind reels at the thought of lesser men who have been elevated to baseball super-stardom and with what degree of class they might have responded in that same situation. An incredible, nearly unfathomable amount of self-discipline and character was no doubt required for Galarraga to maintain that, despite the historic circumstances and despite everything he’d been through to get on the mound that day, the twenty-eighth batter was just another out.

There was a time, not very long ago, when perfection was considered an honorable goal. Unrelenting focus and dedication were considered the trademarks of this country and the immovable force propelling it into the twentieth century. But anti-heroes and everyday people have replaced Superman in the national conscience over the course of several generations as they settled into an uncomfortable reality: true, sustained perfection is impossible. Instead, the one constant, unwavering trait that supersedes all else in the hearts and minds of sports fans is the lust for justice.

It is entirely possible that Armando Galarraga’s imperfect game will be viewed by future generations as a harbinger of instant replay, a pivotal moment when baseball decided to abandon the human element and rely on systematic automation to dictate its game. Since the underlying goal is to satisfy baseball’s authenticity — to always get the call right — it would seem to be adequate evidence to support this paradigm shift.

Yet it is even more likely that Armando Galarraga is perhaps more widely known for his distinguished and proud response to injustice than he ever would have been had he joined the ranks of Len Barker, Tom Browning and Dallas Braedon. A perfect game is a remarkable performance, but if Joyce made the correct call, Galarraga would be just another pitcher who pitched one exceptional game, his memory eventually lost to all but the most ardent fans.

Instead we are left with the image of a professional athlete who understood the unusual gift he was given. With the eyes of the sporting world fixed on his every move Armando Galarraga gave sports fans something even more spectacular: he reacted like a champion, he overcame adversity, persisted and succeeded. He provided onlookers with an all-too-rare glimpse of honor and integrity.

Whether he throws another pitch in a big league game or not, Armando Galarraga has come to represent a throwback to the baseball characters once adored by a nation. Surrounded by superstars with million-dollar contracts and only a faint concept of loyalty, Galarraga is continuing his fight, but has already won over the hearts of many with his enduring performance on that cloudy afternoon in Detroit. Despite the gravity of the misjudgment, it was a class act by a classy player that represents the kind of honest, driven effort given by millions of Americans every day who all seek the same goal.

It was an impressive pitching feat that no one saw coming. It was an even more impressive response that few could have imagined and in the days, weeks and months that have followed, it has become something even better…


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Baltimore Orioles: 5 Surprise Players That Could Break Camp with the Club

Spring training can be a different experience for each player. Some players have roster spots locked up and just need to work on getting ready for Opening Day. For others, it’s a battle to snag one of the scarce roster spots.

The people fighting for spots often have very different stories. Whether they are an aging veteran looking for a final shot or a young gun looking to break into the league, they will fight for their lives to avoid being sent back to the minors.

In the past, a lot of players have surprised in camp and managed to make a huge impact. Bartolo Colon, Jason Heyward and Casey Kotchman have all been examples of players not expected to be a part of the major league team that snuck in late.

Here are the top five candidates to win a job with a strong spring.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Preview: Daniel Hudson and Arizona Diamondbacks

For a team with 70 or fewer wins in the last two seasons, the Arizona Diamondbacks actually have several useful fantasy players.  

The first of those players to come to mind for most people would be position players.  Guys like Justin Upton, Chris Young (still cannot believe he is useful again), Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero are all useful fantasy hitters.  

Also, the addition of J.J. Putz means 2011 will not be a constant closer guessing game in Arizona as it was in 2010 (at least until Putz gets hurt).  

However, Arizona’s rotation may be somewhat overlooked.  While their staff may not be among the league’s elite, there are certainly fantasy relevant guys in the rotation.

No matter what the depth chart on the D’Backs home page says, Joe Saunders is not the No. 1 starter on this team.  

Although Saunders won 17 games in 2008 and 16 games in 2009, he really was not that good and only accumulated four Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over those two seasons. 

Not exactly sure what that means?  Let me put it this way: Gavin Floyd had a 4.3 WAR last year with only 10 wins and a plus-4.00 ERA.  Saunders clearly benefited from playing on two AL West-winning Angels teams.  

Saunders’s ERA has been over 4.40 in all but one fluke season, and his career K/9 is 5.14.  As you can see, Saunders is no staff ace, but more like a third or fourth starter on a team with a very thin rotation.  He might be useful in deep NL-only leagues, but for where you will have to draft him to get him, you should probably avoid him altogether.

In my opinion, the true “ace” of the staff is Daniel Hudson. 

Click here to continue reading this preview.

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Armando Galarraga Takes His Befuddling Act to Arizona Diamondbacks

It was one of the most famous newspaper leads in sports history.

It came the day after Don Larsen pitched his perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

“The imperfect man,” New York columnist Dick Young wrote, “pitched the perfect game.”

It was true, for sure; Larsen was an average pitcher who had the day of his life.

But so was it true for many of the pitchers in MLB history who, for one game, were unblemished.

The roster of men who’ve pitched perfect games would not bowl you over with its abundance of talent. Few of them were anything remotely close to stars.

Armando Galarraga is not on that roster. But we know better, of course.

Yet Galarraga’s status, that of the Imperfect Man Who Met the Imperfect Umpire, doesn’t change the fact that Armando, too, is a blind squirrel who (almost) found his nut.

Galarraga, after his unofficial perfect game last June 2, went the next 21 starts for the Tigers garnering only two wins.

That, more than anything, is why he’s no longer a Tiger.

Galarraga has been dispatched to the Arizona Diamondbacks, safely out of the American League and in one of the farthest reaches of the country, where he can do the Tigers little harm.

Let’s see what Arizona manager Kirk Gibson does with Armando.

Replacing Galarraga in the Tigers’ rotation is veteran righty Brad Penny, whose body has been imperfect. If Penny can stay healthy, the Tigers have made an excellent swap in their starting five.

Galarraga has been a frustrating, confusing pitcher for the Tigers since 2008, when he exploded onto the scene in Detroit and went 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA. He was, as a rookie, one of the few bright spots on a Tigers team that was a huge disappointment.

But since then, Galarraga has alternately pitched himself out of and back into the rotation several times. He’s shown those flashes of his ‘08 brilliance—and then some—but has withered back into just another mediocre pitcher. And he’s sometimes done this from start to start.

The last nail in the coffin for him in Detroit, I believe, was that 21-start streak last summer that lasted through the remainder of the season, when he produced just the two wins.

I highly doubt you’d throw Penny out there for 21 starts and get two wins in return.

Yeah, you can crab about run support and all that, but two wins in 21 starts is what it is. Somewhere in there a pitcher has to suck it up and pitch so good he can’t help but win the game.

Galarraga never got his footing back since his rookie year. Until the Penny signing, Galarraga was penciled in to be the fifth starter. But it was hardly a guarantee. You always had the feeling that if the Tigers could find someone better, Galarraga would be usurped. You also got the feeling that the team was shopping for an upgrade, even as they spoke of him as the No. 5 starter.

The Tigers found their upgrade in Penny, a Cy Young candidate several years ago and someone with postseason experience. If he stays off the DL, of course.

Galarraga is gone, and he leaves behind memories that this baseball town will never forget. He was thrown into a blender with umpire Jim Joyce and the two of them have been pureed ever since, combining to form an inseparable mixture of triumph over tragedy.

Another imperfect man who, for one game, was perfect—almost.

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Detroit Tigers 2011: Imperfect Trade, You’re Going to Regret This One Dombrowski

On January 24th the Detroit Tigers traded Armando Galarraga to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a couple of low level prospects.  This is a risky move that officially ends the Tigers‘ rollercoaster relationship with the occasionally talented, soft-throwing righthander best known as the poster boy for good sportsmanship following Jim Joyce’s blown call on his almost perfect game last summer. 

He and Joyce were a great story about forgiveness and understanding in a sports world that is flooded with too many bad stories and will be an answer to trivia questions for years to come.  Apparently he’s not Dave Dombrowski’s answer to the Tigers pitching questions.

Galarraga was acquired from the Rangers prior to the 2008 season and burst onto the scene with a solid rookie campaign for a very disappointing Tigers team.  He finished with 13 wins, a sub four ERA and a fifth place finish in the AL rookie of the year voting.

He regressed greatly in 2009, eventually losing his spot in the rotation.  In 2010, he stepped back into the rotation when Rick Porcello, Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis all struggled as starters.  Although he was far from great, Galarraga was an adequate fifth starter who was on the wrong side of several pitching duels.  He finished the season with a 4.49 ERA but only 4 wins.

Going into the season the Tigers rotation will be Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Brad Penny.  Justin Verlander is a sure thing and I’m going to go out on a limb and say Scherzer turned the corner as a quality #2.  However, the other three all bring question marks.  Rick Porcello struggled mightily the majority of last year before finally hitting a groove over his last ten or so starts, Phil Coke is a valuable bullpen guy being transitioned back into a starter, his role coming up in the Yankees system and Brad Penny is coming off a back injury that kept him out of nearly the entire 2010 season. 

If all three of those guys pan out, keep your October open because the Tigers are going to the playoffs.  Conventional wisdom will likely prevail, though, and at least one of those guys won’t last in the rotation.  Porcello will continue to regress, Coke will flame out as a starter or Penny will fulfill his durability concerns.  Even if they all pitch well, there will be injuries or skipped starts that will require a 6th starter.  Additionally, the Tigers two most effective long relievers (Eddie Bonine and Zach Miner) the last two seasons were lost in free agency so that role is needed as well.

In my opinion, Galarraga would have been perfect for a long relief/emergency starter role. At the very least, Galarraga has proven to be a capable end of the rotation guy who can give you innings.  In 2010 he only let up more than 5 earned runs in 2 of 24 starts and only went less than five innings in seven of his starts.  With the Tigers improved offense, I could see the Detroit scoring more than five runs on a lot of occasions and they just need an emergency guy who can keep them in games.  With this move, the Tigers lost a lot of insurance.

Currently, the contingency plan would be one of the Tigers heralded young arms: Jacob Turner, Andrew Oliver or, to a lesser extent, Charlie Furbush.  There is no evidence that any of these three is ready to contribute this year.  Oliver looked lost in his brief stint with the Tigers last season, Turner has only one season of pro experience and Furbush has only been a middle tier prospect.

Dombrowski and Leyland don’t see Galarraga as a long relief candidate so it appears their answer could be another dose of Bondermania as a minor league deal for the righthander might be a possibility.  The fact that Bonderman has had no offers and little interest and the fact that the Tigers had supposedly high interest in Galarraga, further points to the fact that trading Galarraga was a bad move. 

I’m not saying that Armando Galarraga is a Cy Young candidate, but for a team with a  high scoring offense, he’s capable enough to give them a shot in most starts.  Unless there is something behind the curtains with the relationship between Galarraga and the front office, this move makes little sense to me.  I hope the starters all pan out and this move becomes a blip on the season’s transactions, but I don’t see that happening and I believe that Dombrowski, Leyland and company will regret this move in the long run.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Sign The Nearly-Perfect Armando Galarraga

On Monday afternoon, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced the signing of right-handed starting pitcher Armando Galarraga to a one-year contract for $2.3 million.

You may remember Galarraga from last year, as he was only one out away from a perfect game. But, in what may go down as one of the worst blown-calls in major league history, umpire Jim Joyce missed an obvious call that kept him a few feet away from a perfect game (literally).

Galarraga has a career 23-26 record in 87 games thrown. Galarraga has the ability to strikeout batters and has 301 strikeouts in 475.1 innings. What he needs to limit if he wants to progress further in his career, is his ERA (an up and down 4.58 coming into this season).

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said, “Based on this guy’s history and what he’s done, he’s got a fairly good shot of being in our rotation.” In my opinion, anyone that shows up to the ballpark has a chance in the Diamondbacks’ rotation.

In the trade with the Tigers, the Diamondbacks got rid of two minor league pitchers, Kevin Eichorn and Ryan Robowski. Eichhorn recorded a 5-6 record in 15 minor league starts last season, while Robowski was 2-4 in 35 relief appearances in the minors last year.

Let’s hope Galarraga, as well as the rest of the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff, performs well this season.

Last season the Diamondbacks were 28th-worst in the MLB with a 4.81 ERA, only converted 33 of their 59 save opportunities, and allowed a league-worst 210 home runs.

I think that Galarraga will be a good addition to the rotation, and I hope he earns a spot.

The other starters he will most likely be competing against will be Ian Kennedy, Barry Enright, Joe Saunders, Aaron Heilman, Dan Hudson and Zach Duke.

The Diamondbacks will begin spring training in their new stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 26th against the Colorado Rockies.

They will start the regular season with road trips to Colorado and Chicago before coming home for Opening Day on April 8th to take on the Cincinnati Reds.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Acquire Armando Galarraga Hoping To Add Pitching Depth

When the Detroit Tigers signed starting pitcher and former Arizona Diamondback Brad Penny to a contract it began a domino effect that is still rumbling around Major League Baseball. In order to make room for Penny on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated starting pitcher Armando Galarraga for assignment.

This is the same Galarraga who received national attention last season when his bid for a perfect game was broken up by a questionable call by first base umpire Jim Joyce. Both Galarraga and Joyce showed humanity and compassion after Joyce admitted his mistake and Galarraga accepted the umpire’s tearful apology.

Just a few short months after that historic event, Galarraga found himself about to be unemployed. The Tigers had one week to either try to trade the pitcher or allow him to become a free agent.

Given the rather shallow market for starting pitching, the Tigers were said to have several teams interested in trading for Galarraga. One team that didn’t seem to be a fit was the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona had just signed Aaron Heilman with the stipulation that he would be allowed to compete for a spot in the already full starting rotation. It therefore came as a surprise to learn that the Diamondbacks were the leading candidate in the Galarraga sweepstakes.

The Diamondbacks offered minor league pitcher Kevin Eichhorn and another player to Detroit in exchange for Galarraga. The Diamondbacks will assume the entirety of Galarraga’s $2.3 million contract for 2011.

This deal will mean a substantial amount of competition will occur during Spring Training as seven pitchers compete for five rotation spots. That is not a bad place to be and Arizona will have what they have been desperately been lacking the past two years—pitching depth.

Hopefully this deal works out better than the last two the Diamondbacks have made with the Tigers. Edwin Jackson and Dontrelle Willis weren’t exactly the kind of returns you want to see out of a team’s trades.

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Rumors: New York Yankees Will Look into Acquiring Armando Galarraga

Via Bill Madden of the NY Daily News:

“While it is doubtful the Mets would be interested in [Armando] Galarraga at that salary, a Yankee source said the Bombers would at least look into acquiring him. Detroit has 10 days to make a move with Galarraga. If he isn’t traded, he could be sent to the minors.”

First thing, what Madden means by that last part is that Armando Galarraga was designated for assignment. That means if nobody claims him, the Tigers can send him to the minors. If somebody claims him, they can either try to work out a trade with that team or simply let them take him for nothing.

Yesterday I took a look at whether or not Galarraga is better than Sergio Mitre (there isn’t much of a question that Ivan Nova at least has a higher ceiling than Galarraga). What I determined was that he really isn’t necessarily worth it. While his career numbers are better than Mitre’s, they don’t seem to be different enough to justify the upgrade, especially considering Mitre has gotten better while Galarraga has gotten worse.

However, the Yankees may want to add Galarraga because, unlike the other pitchers they are interested in, he’s only 29 (younger than 30) and is likely to actually stay healthy next year. He just signed a $2.3 million deal as well, so he’s cheap, and that’s not counting the chunk the Tigers are going to have to pay.

As an upgrade, he isn’t much more than Mitre, but he’s healthy. If the Yankees want insurance, at least he’s more likely to pitch than alternatives Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Justin Duchscherer.

What do you think? Should the Yankees try to make a move for Galarraga? Or should they look at somebody else instead?


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New York Yankees Should Be All Over Detroit Tiger’s Armando Galarraga

Courtesy of Yankees ‘n More

You remember the Detroit Tiger’s Armando Galarraga, right? Would it help if I had umpire Jim Joyce stand next to him?

Just months after a bad call at first base cost Galarraga a perfect game, the right-hander has been designated for assignment, meaning his time with the Tigers is quickly coming to an end.

Detroit is confident they will be able to trade Galarraga within the allotted 10 days. In fact, the move comes only hours after the Tigers avoided arbitration with the right-hander by agreeing to a one-year, $2.3 million deal.

We’re not sure which teams are involved in the discussions for Galarraga, but if the New York Yankees are not one them, Brian Cashman should be fired for about the fifth time this offseason.

Galarraga had a so-so season last year, finishing 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA. That’s not earth-shattering, of course, but Galarraga saw a bit of a bounce-back season after a horrible 2009. He allowed 143 hits in 144 innings, and his WHIP dropped from 1.566 in 2009 to 1.344 in 2010.

Simply put, Galarraga is in the middle of what should be his prime, he is cheap in terms of both dollars and the likely cost of a trade, and he’s better than anything New York currently has lined up for the bottom two spots in their rotation.

In a market currently highlighted by the likes of Freddy Garcia and Jeremy Bonderman—both of whom have been tied to the Yankees this offseason—there is simply no logical reason for the Yankees not to be in on Armando Galarraga.

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MLB Rumors: Should the New York Yankees Go After Armando Galarraga?

It’s almost the middle of January, and the Yankees quest for pitching depth continues.

It may get even more complicated if, in fact, Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back to the Yankees, or at least, for the beginning of 2011.

The Yankees are rumored to be interested in former Oakland A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer, but he has been on the DL regularly since 2008 and the Yankees aren’t sure if they are interested in him for the starting rotation or the bullpen.

So signing Duchscherer might not be the best or reliable option for the Yankees.

If the Yankees are looking for ideas, I might have one that couldn’t hurt. I mean, it’s just an idea.

This week, the Tigers just added Brad Penny to their rotation. Penny will join a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Max Scherzer, which might eliminate Armando Galarraga from it.

Since Penny was signed by Detroit, it’s been rumored that the Tigers could either demote Galarraga to the bullpen, trade or release him.

If the Tigers do decide to put Galarraga on the trading block or just release him, should the Yankees have some interest in the 29-year-old right-hander?

Galarraga has become infamous for his near-perfect game last year on June 2 against the Indians, but lost it on a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce.

Galarraga handled the situation perfectly by saying all the right things and not putting any blame on Joyce.

Galarraga did finish the 2011 season at 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA for the Tigers, but he did show a lot of signs of promise in his rookie season back in 2008 when he went 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA in 178.2 innings and finished fourth in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.

Now, it seems as if Galarraga, who has been bounced from the majors to the minors in Detroit, may be in fact out of Detroit or at least out of their rotation.

Right now, the Yankees are not looking for a long-term answer for 2011, mostly because they have a lot of young arms developing in the minor leagues. They are just looking for a short-term solution.

Galarraga could in fact be a short-term solution. If anything, he can be an innings-eater who can give a team like the Yankees some depth and durability.

Right now, the Yankees have Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre penciled in for the fourth and fifth spots for the rotation. Nova would probably be best suited to be the fifth starter, while Mitre should be nothing more than a mop-up long reliever at best.

Getting a guy like Galarraga would be a definite upgrade over Mitre and that would move Nova to the fifth spot where he could develop without major pressure.

Now, the major question becomes: Do the Tigers even part ways with Galarraga? They don’t have to release or trade him and can in fact just keep him in their bullpen or send him back to the minors and call him up if a starter goes down with injury.

The other question that can be posed is: Do the Yankees have an interest and make an attempt to go after Galarraga?

I think with the names the Yankees have been linked to—Jeff Francis, Jeremy Bonderman, Duchscherer, guys recovering from major injuries—Galarraga could be the most reliable option considering he hasn’t sustained any major injury while still at a relatively young age.

Is there a better option out on the market for the Yankees than Galarraga? Maybe. If so, I even wonder what it is, along with a lot of other Yankee fans like myself have too this past winter. Especially since Cliff Lee took less money to return to the Phillies.

So now I post the question to you the community. Should the Yankees make an attempt to get Galarraga whether it be a trade or if he gets released and is on the market? Or should the Yankees pass and look elsewhere?

Now, whether or not you agree with the idea, like I said in the beginning of this, it was just an idea and couldn’t hurt.

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