When crusty old baseball managers and crusty old baseball writers get together, sometimes crazy things happen. I'm pretty sure that whatever caused Hal McCoy's story in yesterday's Dayton Daily News was one of those crazy things, because McCoy's story contains some vintage Dusty that hasn't been heard since the "clogging bases" days. Check out this doozy of a quote:
"We have a whole wall full of guys who at one time were good players expected to be star-calibre players," said Baker. "You look at Jonny Gomes - he was almost rookie of the year. There is Jacque Jones, a star at USC and a big-time player at Minnesota just a couple of years ago. Look at Darnell McDonald - a first round draft pick (Baltimore, 1997). Then there is Laynce Nix - he was a high-round draft pick (Rangers, fourth round, 2000).If it's in there, it's in there! Someone call Brien Taylor! Someone tell Bobby Bradley he can quit trying to be a poker player and go back to baseball! I mean, sure, there are Ryan Ludwicks and Josh Hamiltons out there, but Ludwick had a very good year with the Cardinals and their AAA affiliate in 2007, so his 2008 wasn't a complete surprise. Can we please look at he guys that Baker just named and the assertions he made about them?
"At any give time or day, they could play like they were touted," said Baker. "It is just a matter of if they can put it all together for an extended period of time. I keep looking for a guy like (Ryan) Ludwick - a No. 1 draft pick and highly touted and it took him a while, four or five organizations, then 'bam,' he got it. And it's possible. Because if it is in there, it's in there. They just have to get it out."
-- Jonny Gomes, "almost rookie of the year." With a .235 average and 413 strikeouts in 415 big league games. Yes, he's got pop. Yes, he's moving to the NL. Yes, he struckout well more than once a game in his minor league career. He is what he is, and he's not having a breakout at age 28 this year. And "almost rookie of the year?" Bob Hamelin was rookie of the year and look at where that got him!
-- Jacque Jones, "star at USC and a big-time player in Minnesota just a couple of years ago." Jacque Jones is 34 years old and he hasn't had an above-average OPS since 2006 when he was 31. In his entire career, he's had one year with an OPS+ of above 120. But what he did at USC is relevant because guys just naturally improve magically at the age of 34, right?
-- Darnell McDonald "a first round draft pick." 29 years old, in AAA since 2002, and a career minor leaugue OPS of .724. Next.
-- Laynce Nix, "a high-round draft pick." Do you know what I think about when I hear Laynce Nix's name? I think, "Hey! That's the dude with the huge head." Yeah, Dusty probably shouldn't put too much faith in him.
Once upon a time there were a group of really smart men that got this idea that if they combined the right amount of chemicals, heat, and magic, they could turn lead in to gold. They tried this for a few hundred years and then they finally gave up because they realized it was impossible. They also failed to realize that if everyone turned lead into gold, gold would be worthless but that's neither here nor there. But what they were doing is not all that different from what Dusty's trying to do with his scrap-heap players in Cincy. It didn't work for Paracelsus and it's not going to work for Dusty Baker.
And don't even get me started on his assertion later in the story that baseball "is going back to speed in the post-steroids era." I'd need another 1000 words to tackle that.