“I hate that guy. Rad would get
you 0-for-4 and you’d go home wondering, ‘How did he do it?’ That’s the
type of guy he was. He was one of the best pitchers they had in a long
time.” -Ozzie Guillen
- Twins induct Brad Radke into franchise Hall of Fame
Radke was honored
in a pregame ceremony before Saturday’s loss to the White Sox, and that
turned out to be the only thing worth watching in that game (well,
maybe Joe Crede’s two homers). I’ve written a piece about Radke here, and I think this is the perfect time to post this commercial he did for SEGA “World Series Baseball” way back in the day:
Radke has always been a fan favorite, and it’s really no wonder
why. Besides being a consummate professional and (as far as we know)
decent human being, he gave us something to cheer for during the lean
years when there wasn’t much to look forward to. To be honest, he was
really the only decent starter on the staff for about half of his
career, and though his career numbers certainly aren’t good enough to get him into Cooperstown, they sure look good compared to Frankie Rodriguez.
Fans probably love Radke the most, though, because he turned down
more lucrative offers from other teams to remain in Minnesota. He had
never been particularly overpowering, and he certainly wasn’t a
dominant pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but his ability to
rack up strikeouts and eat innings was valuable enough that he could
have gotten a better deal elsewhere. The era of free agency was just
hitting its peak, and pretty much everyone was eager to cash in. Not
Radke, though. He opted to re-sign with the Twins simply because he
liked it here. He liked the organization, his family loved the area,
but he also wanted to see the team through its rebuilding process.
After years and years of being one of the worst teams in baseball, the
Twins had finally started to put together a decent team, culminating in
a string of four playoff appearances from 2002-2006. Unfortunately,
his arm started to give out during the 2006 season, and he decided to
retire rather than have surgery and try to keep his career (and chances
of winning a World Series) alive.
- The late George Brophy was inducted, as well
Brophy is often overlooked by fans, since his job as the director of
scouting and minor-league operations was mostly behind-the-scenes, but
he did play an important part in building the 1987 World Series-winning
team. Patrick Reusse wrote a very good article (as well as this one
from 1998) about former farm director last week, detailing the conflict
within the organization at the time and his thankless task of trying to
build a championship-caliber team on a shoestring budget (seriously,
then-owner Calvin Griffith made the Pohlads look like the
Steinbrenners). Obviously he played a key role in drafting and
developing players like Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett, but he made a
number of other moves that would help shape the 1987 team. He was the
one who insisted that the Yankees throw in Greg Gagne as part of the
Roy Smalley trade, and demanded the Angels throw in Tom Brunansky as
part of the Rob Wilfong-Doug Corbett deal. He also found guys like Larry Hisle, Bobby Darwin, and Doug Corbett (who, like I said, was instrumental in bringing Brunansky to the Twins). Brophy
was one of the original members of the Twins’ front office when he was
hired in 1961. He was later fired by then-team president Howard Fox in
1985 (the two never did get along), and he served as a scouting
assistant for the Astros before his ill health forced him to retire in
1996. Sadly, he passed away in 1998.
- Brad Radke will be inducted into Twins’ Hall of Fame
It’s not a big surprise that longtime fan-favorite RHP Brad Radke is going to be inducted into the Twins’ Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony on July 11th. Radke was the anchor of the starting rotation for 12 seasons, and was really the only decent starter the Twins had for the longest time. Although he was never considered a big star by anyone outside of Minnesota, he did make one All-Star appearance in 1998 and finished third in Cy Young voting once in 1997 (behind Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson). As a soft-tossing righty, Radke never really had what you would consider dominant stuff. He was, however, famous for his circle changeup that changed speeds during its trajectory (and was once clocked at 56 mph). It was this changeup that he reportedly taught a young, struggling Johan Santana and, well, we all know how that story ends.
Radke had pretty decent stuff, though he never threw particularly hard ( I doubt he ever hit more than 90 mph on the radar gun). He was mostly known for his excellent control, walking only 445 batters in his career. Unfortunately, he also had a reputation for giving up the gopher ball, having surrendered 72 homers in his first two seasons (although he was much stingier later on, giving up a grand total of 326 in his career). At one point there was even a commercial for a video game that proclaimed itself to be “real as Radke” that showed him watching one of his pitches leave the ballpark (I can’t remember which game this was, nor can I find any video anywhere).
It’s really too bad that the Twins were so awful for most of his career, and he had to retire without ever winning a championship. Radke actually pitched well in most of his postseason starts, his overall record is 2-3 with a 3.60 ERA. His final playoff appearance was in game 3 of the 2006 ALDS, when he gave up two 2-run homers in four innings. The Twins went on to lose 8-3, and get swept by Oakland. The 2006 season was one of the worst of Radke’s career, and it’s obvious that his shoulder was really bothering him. He suffered a torn labum, and then a stress fracture, that had sidelined him for several weeks during the regular season. Although he was still fairly young at the time (34), Radke decided to hang it up rather than undergo surgery to repair his shoulder. He announced his retirement at a press conference on December 19, 2006.
- At least somebody is going to miss Dennys Reyes
Joe Christensen wrote a nice piece on former situational lefty Dennys Reyes, aka The Big Sweat. I have to admit, I’m going to miss him, too. Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense for the Twins to let him go. Craig Breslow and Jose Mijares could easily fill his spot in the bullpen, at a much lower price (probably more effectively, too). Reyes has reportedly drawn interest from the A’s, Mets, and Dodgers, so he’ll probably get a fairly lucrative contract from somewhere. Unfortunately for him, it’ll likely only be half of the 3-year, $12 million he would command in a better market.
Reyes had been a journeyman pitcher until he signed a contract with the Twins prior to the 2006 season. He had seen time as both a starter and relief pitcher, but struggled a lot and was bounced around between eight different teams in as many years. It wasn’t until he signed with the Twins that he found his niche as a lefty specialist, and has been a very effective one at that. He’s been very good against some of the toughest lefties in the American League, holding the likes of Bobby Abreu, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, and Jason Giambi to a tidy .202/.250/.287 line (except for Jim Thome, but few Twins pitchers have ever had much success against him. Hence the “I Hate You Jim Thome” tag). He’s starting to become more hittable, though, posting a 2.33 ERA with three blown saves last season, so the Twins are wise to let him sign elsewhere.
On a side note, Reyes kind of reminds me of Goldy the Gopher. Perhaps they were separated at birth?