Leftover notes on Cameron and more

December, 17, 2009

Sifting through some random notes, quotes and gloats (as one of my journalism heroes, Bob Verdi, used to write):

  • We'll start you off with a trivia question, courtesy of Red Sox researcher Mark Simon:

    New Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron was a .250/150 player last season, meaning he had a batting average of .250 or less with at least 150 strikeouts; Cameron hit .250 on the nose with 156 Ks.

    Only one Red Sox player in history was a .250/150 guy. Can you name him?

    (Answer at bottom. Hint: 1966.)

  • When Cameron played in Seattle, his agent Mike Nicotera said, at the first game of every homestand he would spend an hour sitting on top of the dugout, signing autographs. During his stint with the Mets in New York, he played Santa at the team's charity Christmas party.

    The Negro Leagues Museum selected Cameron as the 2009 recipient of the John Henry "Pop" Lloyd Legacy Award , given annually in recognition of "Baseball and Community Leadership." The award recognizes the work Cameron has done with urban youths in the Milwaukee area. Cameron is to receive his award at the museum's annual awards dinner Jan. 30 in Kansas City.

    "We've discussed that Mike will be the only African-American player on the Red Sox,'' Nicotera said. "I think he sees that as a opportunity to get very involved in the community.''

  • I learned a few things about Cameron from reading the prospectus Nicotera put together to present to teams interested in his client.

    First, this testimonial from former Mariners teammate Jay Buhner:

    "He comes in every day with a smile on his face, grinning from ear to ear. His overall love and joy for the game rubs off on everyone. He has a unique way of loosening up guys and keeping things in perspective. He's a great kid, and I love him to death. I tried to keep him going through his strikeout streak. Everyone was making such a stink about it. I told him to remember, 'You'll get your moment.' A thing he did that made me feel special was after his big game in New York, he remembered me during his TV interview. He always recognizes his teammates. When he's in the middle of the spotlight and he steals the show, he always gives credit to his teammates."

    Now, some numbers:

    In his 11 seasons with the Reds, Mariners, Mets, Padres and Brewers, his teams have averaged 90 wins a season.

    Cameron led all National League center fielders in a number of defensive categories last season, including total chances and putouts, and ranked second in Ultimate Zone Rating/150 at 10.3. By contrast, Jacoby Ellsbury scored a -18.3 in UZR/150, and the Red Sox were last in the majors in center field at -19.6.

    Cameron compares favorably to center fielders in a number of offensive categories. He is the only center fielder in baseball to have hit 25 or more doubles and 20 or more home runs in each of the last four seasons. He and Torii Hunter are the only center fielders to have hit 20 or more home runs in each of the last four seasons; the same pair are the only center fielders to have knocked in 70 or more runs in that span. Cameron and Curtis Granderson, newly acquired by the Yankees, are the only center fielders to have 50 or more extra base hits in each of the last four seasons.

  • Between a $3 million signing bonus and his $18.5 million salary in 2010, John Lackey will be paid $21.5 million in 2010. At the moment, according to the indefatigable Mr. Simon, only A-Rod ($33 million) and CC Sabathia ($23 million) will be paid more. Johan Santana of the Mets will make a tick less, $21 million.
  • The last time the Red Sox opened a season at home against the Yankees was 1985, when they blasted the Bombers, 9-2,.Jim Rice, Tony Armas and Dwight Evans hit home runs, and Oil Can Boyd went seven innings for the win. In case you missed it during all the fandango this week, the Sox-Yankees game will open the 2010 season April 4, a Sunday night, at Fenway Park . The game will be aired on ESPN2 and NESN at 8 p.m.

    The Red Sox announced Thursday afternoon that the second and third games of that series will now be played April 6 and 7, a day earlier than originally scheduled.

  • The Can wore No. 23, the same number new outfielder Mike Cameron will wear next season. The last player to wear No. 23 for the Sox was outfielder Joey Gathright, who inherited it from Adam LaRoche. Dave Morehead wore the number when he threw his no-hitter in 1965, Dick Williams had it on when he managed the Impossible Dream Team, El Tiante showed it to opposing hitters when he turned his back on the plate, and the Belleville Basher, Brian Daubach also wore No. 23.

    We're lucky to have http://www.redsoxdiehard.com/players/unifnums.html to look up the numbers worn by Sox players, which is how I was reminded why we should hope that John Lackey fares better than the last stud Angels starter who came to the Sox, Bartolo (Bailout) Colon.

  • Small world department: Terry Francona was Cameron's hitting coach in rookie ball for the Chicago White Sox, and managed him in Double-A. Lackey, meanwhile, was recruited to play at Oklahoma State by John Farrell, now the Sox pitching coach. Cameron's hitting coach in Seattle was Gerald Perry, now the new hitting coach in Triple-A Pawtucket.
  • Here's hoping Andre Dawson follows Jim Rice into the Hall of Fame.

    The Hawk underwent a dozen knee operations in his 17 seasons in the big leagues, yet still produced these numbers: 438 home runs, 2,774 hits, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases, He is one of three players to have 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases. The other two? Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

  • Check this out: Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc. ("JML"), the Boston-based not-for-profit baseball history organization that produces Jewish baseball cards and Hall of Fame programs honoring Jews in the game, is currently
    conducting online balloting for Jewish Major Leaguer of the Decade. The winning player will be announced in January. And check out the card sets: Pretty unique, with Kevin Youkilis, the organization's player of the year in 2008, prominently featured. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was '09 player of the year, with Scott Feldman of the Rangers pitcher of the year.
  • Trivia answer. George Scott, in 1966. The Boomer, a rookie that season, batted .245 with 152 whiffs.

    Cameron has had three seasons of .250 or worse, 150+K. The only players with more are Rob Deer (5) and Adam Dunn (4).

    "Mike takes his walks, and I know he strikes out a lot but that doesn't scare us,'' Sox GM Theo Epstein said at his introductory press conference. "We have a lot of productive hitters here who have struck out a lot. Strikeouts are OK as long as they come, as they often do, with walks and home runs. And in Mike's case, they certainly do.''

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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