Sidney Ponson is, once again, looking for work

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Yesterday the Royals designated Sidney Ponson for assignment after he went 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA in 58.2 innings.
What’s amazing about Ponson is that he’s pitched for seven different teams during the past seven seasons, including two stints with both the Orioles and Yankees, yet hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since way back in 2003, when he went 17-12 with a 3.75 ERA in 216 innings as a 26-year-old. Since then he’s 33-48 with a 5.82 ERA in 663 innings, including yearly ERAs of 5.30, 6.21, 6.25, 6.93, 5.04, and now 7.36.
Along with the horrible pitching he also comes along with plenty of baggage, yet every year he latches on with another team or two before they come to their senses and cut him loose. At this point there’s no possible reason for a major-league team to give Ponson a roster spot, let alone a place in the rotation, but then again that’s been true for years now and he keeps getting paid handsomely to basically throw batting practice for a few months while dozens of far more capable pitchers rot in the minors.
Seriously, throw a dart at a Triple-A roster and more likely than not you’ll hit someone who can out-pitch Ponson. Does he have a collection of photographs depicting every single big-league general manager in some sort of compromising position and just randomly pulls a picture out whenever he needs a new gig? Every year some major-league team that spends millions of dollars employing experts on evaluating baseball talent signs Ponson and lets him lose a bunch of games while posting a 6.00 ERA.
One of the oft-repeated criticisms when it comes to stats-based analysis is that scouts, managers, and “baseball men” have an eye for talent that simply goes beyond numbers. While certainly true in many instances, Ponson is a prime example of why that isn’t always a positive thing. Based strictly on stats Ponson should have been out of baseball four years and six teams ago, and for all the bad moves made by all the misguided teams his continued presence in the big leagues is the most mind-boggling to me.sidneyponson.jpg

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.