20 Dec

a hit parade

Ran across this rather remarkable list in the November/December issue of Baseball Digest. Their editors’ research turned up 127 players who have recorded 50 or more hits in a single month of an MLB season since 1900. Only 127. A few have done it multiple times: George Sisler nine, Ty Cobb seven, Rogers Hornsby six, Pete Rose four, Ichiro Suzuki four, just to pick out a few. George Brett only did it once. Tony Gwynn isn’t on the list. It’s worth noting that three Mississippians appear on that list, and all three were great hitters in their day. Gulfport native Gerald “Gee” Walker did it twice, in August of 1936 and again in August of 1938. Walker was a career .294 hitter. Ellisville’s Buddy Myer, who some say should be in the Hall of Fame, got 50 in August of 1935. Myer was a .303 career hitter. Starkville’s Hughie Critz turned the trick in July 1930. Critz batted .268 over a 12-year career.

18 Dec

wait and see

Jonathan Papelbon, the outspoken former Mississippi State standout, was a phone guest on MLB Network’s Hot Stove this morning, but he offered no news on rumors that Philadelphia is shopping him. “I haven’t heard a whole lot,” Papelbon said. “Right now, I’m a Phillie. … If it happens, it happens.” Papelbon had a solid second season with the Phillies (5-1, 29 saves, 2.92 ERA) but wrankled some with comments about being unhappy playing for a non-contender. The New York Yankees are among teams reported to be interested in Papelbon, who has a big contract and a limited no-trade clause. … Another former Bulldogs star, Mitch Moreland, is still being mentioned as a trade piece in Texas, which now has Prince Fielder to play first base. … Also in limbo are ex-MSU left-hander Paul Maholm, Ole Miss alum Chris Coghlan, Weir’s Roy Oswalt and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product Tony Sipp, all free agents. … Former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton may also be having an anxious winter as he waits, with the rest of us, to see whether Shin-Soo Choo re-signs with Cincinnati or goes elsewhere. (Choo reportedly turned down a lucrative offer from the Yankees.) If Choo leaves, Hamilton figures to get a long look in center field by the Reds in the spring. … Mississippians who already have changed places in the off-season include UM alum Seth Smith (Oakland to San Diego), ex-Rebels pitcher Drew Pomeranz (Colorado to Oakland) and Hattiesburg’s Robert Carson (New York Mets to Los Angeles Angels).

04 Dec

new digs for mr. smith

Seth Smith is on the move again, this time via trade from Oakland to San Diego, where there is the promise of more at-bats than the ex-Ole Miss star got in 2013. The Padres, who have an abundance of outfielders, were seeking another left-handed hitter. Smith, a corner outfielder who got most of his 368 ABs last year against right-handers, batted .253 with eight homers and 40 RBIs, a rather lackluster stat line. He hit 14 homers for the A’s in 2012 and has 73 for his career, with a high of 17 in 2010. That was in Colorado, home to the best hitter’s park in MLB. Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum is a pitcher’s park, and San Diego’s Petco Park is even more pitcher-friendly. Bottom line: The 2014 season could be challenging for Smith, who may be battling for playing time with Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable and Chris Denorfia. Venable is the only other lefty swinger in that mix.

03 Dec

off the rails

The Miami Marlins have finally given up on Chris Coghlan, four years after the Ole Miss product won rookie of the year honors as their left fielder. Coghlan, 28, eligible for arbitration this year, was non-tendered by the Marlins on Monday and is now a free agent. The left-handed hitting Coghlan batted .321 with nine homers, 47 RBIs and 84 runs in 128 games in 2009. Plagued by injuries, he has played just 265 big league games since. He got into 70 games in 2013 and hit .256. Coghlan is a .270 career hitter (.337 on-base percentage) but isn’t really a power source (21 homers) or a speed merchant (27 steals). He has some versatility, having played second base in the minors and some third base this past season. He might fit in somewhere as a bench player, but one expects he’ll have to earn such a job on a minor league contract in spring training. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves ace Tommy Hanson, who once seemed to have such a bright future in Atlanta, was non-tendered by the Los Angeles Angels and also became a free agent. … Various reports have Miami among the teams interested in ex-M-Braves catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had a solid 2013 season with Boston but wasn’t re-signed.