Only twenty four players in the history of Major League Baseball have ever gone on to win 300+ games in their careers, making the 300 Win Club one of the most exclusive groups in the game. Randy Johnson was the last to join the group – defeating the Washington Nationals on June 4, 2009 in the first game of a doubleheader when Johnson was a member of the San Francisco Giants – and with the way the game has continued to evolve and change over the years, it’s becoming increasingly more likely that we’ll never see another 300 game winner in the Major Leagues again.
On this date back in 2005, fans in attendance in Houston were able to witness a historic matchup as it was the last time that a pair of 300 game winners faced one another on the mound. Greg Maddux and the Chicago Cubs were in town for the game against the Houston Astros, who countered with Roger Clemens on the mound. Maddux pitched fairly well in the game – allowing a pair of runs on seven hits over six innings – and earned the win, his first of the season and the 306th of his career.
Houston did their damage offensively early in the game. Mike Lamb doubled in the bottom of the 1st, scoring the speedy Wily Tavares from second base with ease. The other run came in the 3rd on a solo home run by Jeff Bagwell. Chicago also saw most of their offense early, picking up a pair of runs in the top of the 2nd. Jeromy Burnitz singled to left field, driving Derrek Lee in from second. Todd Hollandsworth would step up next, doubling down the left field line to bring home Aramis Ramirez. The two sides would remain tied until the 7th, when Burnitz lead off the inning with a solo home run off of Clemens – who’d allow the three runs on seven hits in seven innings of work – that would give the Cubs the lead for good.
Maddux finished his career with 355 wins, one more than the 354 victories that Clemens would be responsible for.
Today, eight years after their memorable matchup, let’s take a quick look around the rest of FanSided MLB and see what other big moments we might look back on in the future.
Plenty has been said and written about the woes facing the Seattle Mariners’ offense on the season to date – including a piece I wrote myself this past week here at CttP – but J.J. Keller at Sodo Mojo has taken things from a slightly different angle, openly questioning whether the team is cursed instead of just simply bad. Keller focuses mostly on the struggles of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Jesus Montero – a trio of prospects who arrived in Seattle to big expectations, but who’ve all failed to live up to that billing in their respective careers to date. Keller tried to decipher the “luck” that the organization has had in developing their own prospects, examining the success rate of each organization’s top prospects from the past five years to see what percentage of those players have turned into MLB regulars. His results are interesting (we won’t spoil them here):
So while that doesn’t look that bat, it is below average. Add to that the fact that arguably their two most successful during that time, Adam Jones and Brandon Morrow, now play for different teams with little of anything to show for it in return and it feels even worse. I am sure that fits what most people would assume about the organization. They don’t produce all that many good players and the ones they do end up on another team. That notion has been repeatedly said, written, and probably yelled by numerous Mariners fans over the years.
Countering the discussion about Seattle’s inability to develop prospects, there’s no denying that the Tampa Bay Rays have had plenty of success in the area. That success has come moreso on the mound than in the field, but there still are a number of quality position prospects climbing their way through the organization. The injury to shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, however, serves as a reminder of just how quickly a promising season can change, as Robbie Knopf at Rays Colored Glasses discusses. Lee has long been known for his abilities in the field – he’s arguably one of the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues – but his struggles have always remained constant at the plate. As Knopf writes, he’d shown some improvements early on this season but a scary knee injury suffered in a collision at second base has effectively ended his year prematurely and it’s those type of plays – the ones we can’t predict – that remind us how quick things can all end:
Some people say that baseball isn’t a team sport. Only one batter goes to the plate at a time and all focus is placed on them while all of the other players fade into the background. Double plays, however, are some of the most teamwork-involved plays in all of sports. When a groundball is hit to the second baseman, he has to throw to the shortstop in the right place at exactly the right time to let him not only catch the ball, but avoid the incoming runner and throw to first base. If the timing is off, the ball could go into the outfield or even worse, a scary injury could occur. Unfortunately, the latter was the case on Saturday.
There’s been ample speculation about what the Boston Red Sox will do with enigmatic right-hander Alfredo Aceves, who was optioned to the minor leagues late this past week. The pitcher has shown some flashes of talent on the mound, but has shown just as many concerns off of it thanks to his peculiar personality and apparent short fuse. Rumors and rumblings have suggested that the Red Sox could (and perhaps should) look to move him, as any opportunity to get him out of the organization could be beneficial to all involved. Steve Peterson at BoSox Injection happens to agree, concluding that the time has come for Aceves to go:
John Farrell said that Aceves got sent down strictly based on performance, which if that was the only yardstick by which he was measured then he certainly deserved to go down. Aceves is 1-1 with an 8.66 ERA. The root issue is his completely unprofessional behavior and that’s got to be a bone stuck in Farrell’s throat at this point.
Finally, this past week our own Lewie Pollis at Wahoo’s On First sat down with former Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd for an extensive and candid interview. The right-hander discussed a number of topics – from his history with the Indians organization and his views on sabermetrics to his use of HGH and what he’d like to change about the game, plus everything inbetween. Pollis’ interview was split into two parts, which can be found here: Part One and Part Two.