jim thome indians

Last time the Orioles were in the playoffs …


OK, so by now we’ve all heard plenty about how the Orioles are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1997. October 15, 1997 to be exact, when they lost 1-0 to the Indians in Game 6 of the ALCS on a Tony Fernandez homer off Armando Benitez in the 11th inning.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the boxscore from that game. First of all, the starting pitchers were Mike Mussina for the Orioles and Charles Nagy for the Indians, which is more than enough to get a kid who grew up watching baseball in the 1990s giddy.

And here are the lineups:

1. Omar Vizquel, SS             1. Brady Anderson, CF
2. Tony Fernandez, 2B           2. Roberto Alomar, 2B
3. Manny Ramirez, RF            3. Geronimo Berroa, RF
4. David Justice, DH            4. Harold Baines, DH
5. Matt Williams, 3B            5. Rafael Palmeiro, 1B
6. Jim Thome, 1B                6. Cal Ripken Jr., 3B
7. Sandy Alomar, C              7. B.J. Surhoff, LF
8. Brian Giles, LF              8. Chris Hoiles, C
9. Marquis Grissom, CF          9. Mike Bordick, SS

I mean, where to even start?

Well, first of all Jim Thome batted sixth and played first base for the Indians that day. And tonight, 15 years later, he’ll play for the Orioles.

Omar Vizquel, who led off for the Indians then, just played his final game Wednesday. Sandy Alomar, who caught for the Indians then, just interviewed this week to be the Indians’ new manager. And his brother, Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, played second base for the Orioles then.

Brian Giles, who hit eighth for Cleveland, later went on to be one of the elite hitters in the NL for the Pirates. Brady Anderson, who had 50 homers the previous year, batted leadoff in a Davey Johnson-managed Baltimore lineup that had Rafael Palmeiro fifth and Cal Ripken Jr. sixth.

Oh, and here’s a list of some players who appeared off the bench or out of the bullpen: Eric Davis, Jeffrey Hammonds, Jerome Walton, Lenny Webster, Jose Mesa, Randy Myers, Paul Assenmacher, Mike Jackson.

I’m going to force myself to stop now because I could seriously just stare at the boxscore from now until the Cardinals-Braves game starts tonight and be perfectly happy.

UPDATE: MLB.com has video of Fernandez’s game-winning homer off Benitez:

Thanks to Jake Silver for digging up the video.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.