Saturday Snacks: Leftovers Edition

leftovers.jpg
The holidays put a serious cramp in my news-following style. Not sure how too much time results in not enough time, but that’s what happened over the past two weeks.

  • I was bummed out by the passing of Bill Lajoie and began writing a little something … and then realized I’d already written it back in November.

  • Peter Gammons put together a roundup of 10 “overlooked baseball success stories” from the past year and placed at number-three Miguel Cabrera:

    Cabrera is on the outskirts of history. Whatever mistake he made in September 2009, he addressed, and he has now placed in the top five in the MVP race four of the past six seasons. In his eight seasons playing for the Marlins and Tigers, in ballparks that were not exactly built for hitters, he has averaged just under 31 homers and 110 RBIs. His .388 on-base percentage speaks volumes about his growth, and his OPS+ through age 27 is 145. Pujols’ was 167 at that age, Henry Aaron’s 153, Ken Griffey’s 150, Frank Robinson’s 148. That is the air Miguel Cabrera breathes. In his seven full seasons in the Majors, he’s averaged more than 157 games played. He turns 28 on April 18. The next day, Joe Mauer turns 28.

  • So Zach Miner signs with the Royals.

    “There were a few teams that checked in, and the Tigers and the Royals were the most aggressive,” Miner wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. “But in the end, we just felt like K.C. was going to be a very good opportunity going forward, not only for this year, but for a few years down the road.”

    I can understand the guy wanting a fresh start if he’d had a bad experience in another city, but if the choices are Detroit or Kansas City, how do you choose the latter? I suppose you choose it based on your chances of seeing more action, though I thought Miner had a decent shot at supplanting Armando Galarraga at the backend of the Tigers’ rotation. Maybe not. I thought this quote in Jason Beck‘s story was interesting: “I … loved playing for Jim Leyland.”

    He did? Whenever Leyland came out to the mound when Miner was pitching, it seemed as if Miner wanted to run and hide.

  • Mark Simon at ESPN’s Stats and Info Blog has written a couple of interesting posts on the Tigers’ offseason moves — one here on Joaquin Benoit, another here on Victor Martinez. If you listen to ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast, you’ve no doubt heard Simon from time to time. I enjoy his stuff and, if you haven’t already, recommend you add him to your daily rotation.

It’s almost kickoff time for Michigan State and Michigan. Enjoy the bowl games and have a Happy New Year.

Former Tigers’ GM Bill Lajoie: “I didn’t want to be the Detroit general manager.”

Former New York Times baseball writer Murray Chass has an interesting piece on his blog about baseball general managers — and what happens after they are fired. One of the men he features is former Tigers general manager Bill Lajoie.

Bill Lajoie hasn’t been a general manager for 20 years after a seven-year term with the Tigers that ended following the 1990 season. He left that job voluntarily, and he has passed up subsequent offers to become a general manager again. In the meantime, he has worked for five other teams, currently the Pirates.

“I didn’t want to be the Detroit general manager,” Lajoie recalled, “but I did interview four other jobs and I was offered three of the jobs but I turned them down. So I obviously didn’t want to be a general manager. My wife had died the year before and my kids were in school. There was a lot of stress in that job.”

Lajoie said that two veteran general managers, Pat Gillick and Andy MacPhail, kept recommending him for general manager vacancies, and he asked them to cease and desist.

Lajoie said he was prepared to take the San Francisco job when Peter Magowan was in the process of becoming their principal owner before the 1993 season.

“I had my stuff ready to go,” he recalled, “and then Magowan told me three things I had to do. I told him you don’t have to pay me $400,000 to answer the phone.”

Lajoie, who is one of the most principled baseball men I have ever met, gave up his Detroit job because “I couldn’t get along with Jim Campbell anymore.”

John Fetzer, the Tigers’ owner and the man Commissioner Bud Selig calls his mentor, “took the job away from Campbell and gave it to me and made Campbell president.”

Lajoie is a senior advisor with the Pirates, who need all the help they can get. Before landing in Pittsburgh Lajoie worked for the Braves, the Brewers, the Red Sox and the Dodgers.

In 1989, when I was writing for my alma mater’s student paper, The Western Herald, I interviewed fellow WMU alum Lajoie and he was very generous with his time. We talked about his career as an All-American baseball player for the Broncos (he was inducted into the WMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982), the path leading to the Tigers’ front office and even about how the waiver system works. Just don’t ask me to explain it.

Of course, I can’t find the article anywhere in my college stuff, which is probably good. Based on some of the articles I have found, it’s likely not very good.

A final bit of trivia: Did you know that Lajoie’s 1955 Broncos were national runners up in the College World Series? They lost 7-6 to Wake Forest in the championship game.