I saw this in the transactions on espn.com this morning:
Twins: Placed 1B Justin Morneau on revocable waivers.
Generally, once you get past the trading deadline, teams do not announce when they have put a player on revocable waivers (and will usually put their entire team on waivers just to see who gets claimed). Basically, the way it works is that you put a player on revocable waivers for 48 hours. If anyone claims him, you have 3 options:
1) Work out a trade with that team
2) Let him go to that team for nothing in return. (The other team assumes the entire remaining contract for that player)
3) Pull him back off waivers. (You then can’t trade him until the season is over)
If there is more than one team that makes a claim, the only team you get to negotiate with is the one with the worst record at the time of the claim. If no one claims the player during the waiver period, you can then trade him to any team you would like, just like you could before the trade deadline.
Seeing this makes me think there is a deal in place for Morneau and he might be on the move. We shall see.
Occasionally, you will get a guy leading the majors in some statistical category without actually leading either league in that category.
It happened in 1997, when Mark McGwire smashed 58 home runs to lead the majors, but didn’t lead either league due to his trade from the A’s to the Cardinals during the season.
It also happened in 1990, when Eddie Murray lead the majors in Batting Average, but did not lead in NL (he was with the Dodgers at the time) in BA. Murray got traded to the Dodgers in the 1988 off season (for Juan Bell, Brian Horton and Ken Howell – how is that for a bad trade), so it wasn’t that he split his season between two teams. How did it happen then? Well, Willie McGee was leading the NL with a .335 on August 29th with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. McGee then got traded to Oakland, but batted just .274 the rest of the season, dropping his season average to .324, giving the MLB lead to Murray without him actually leading the NL in AVG. In case you were wondering who the 1990 AL batting leader was, it was 37 year old George Brett, who paced the junior circuit with a .329 AVG.
Rick Sutcliffe almost pulled off a similar feat in 1984 after getting traded to the Cubs from the Indians – he won 20 games without leading either league in wins, but ended up tied for the MLB lead with Mike Boddicker and Joaquin Andujar.
At the time the Mariners traded Ichiro to the Yankees, I will be honest, I had absolutely no idea why the Yankees would have wanted him. They were pretty set in the outfield and really didn’t need a DH, so the trade seemed odd, especially since Ichiro has struggled over the last 2 season, particularly against left handed pitching. Something that did not get widely reported by the media in Seattle was this little detail of the deal from ESPN.com:
Before completing a trade to acquire the Japanese star, the Yankees spelled out a list of conditions to Ichiro, a former American League MVP and two-time batting champion.
Ichiro would be asked to switch positions, hit at the bottom of the lineup and possibly sit against left-handed pitching.
Ichiro knows his career is coming to an end and he is probably desperate to win a World Series title and the Yankees are his best hope for doing that this season. I found it very interesting that the Yankees scouting has noticed exactly what I have about Ichiro this season:
He can no longer play above average defense in right field.
He isn’t a top of the lineup hitter considering his sub .300 OBP.
He is cheating on fastballs against left handers and can’t hit them effectively anymore.
He has slowed down (there has been a huge drop in the number of infield hits he has had over the last 2 seasons).
The move to the Yankees has not really helped either – Ichrio had slash totals of 261/288/353 with the Mariners and 265/296/368 with the Yankees, translating to an OPS= of 82 with the Mariners and 77 with the Yankees. His time with the Yankees has been bizarre: he hit in 16 out of his first 17 games with them, but managed to only produce 2 multi-hit games. The Yankees have generally batted him in the bottom third of the lineup and have sat him the last 2 games against a lefty starting pitcher.
I have never been a huge Ichiro fan, but he was a fun and frustrating player to watch and I would love to see him win a championship. I suspect that if he does this season, he will call it quits and in 5 years become the first Japanese inductee into Cooperstown. If he does not, I bet he takes a part time role with a contender to try again next season. I think that even Ichiro has realized that he has reached the end of the line. He is currently 449 hits away from 3000 and I just don’t think he has enough left in the tank to get there.