Billy Wagner didn’t have a Hall of Fame career, but he was a pretty good closer for a long time. In a 16-year career, Wagner earned 422 saves and went to the All-Star game seven times.
So I was a little surprised to find a pair of autographed baseball cards in a five-for-$10 box along with the likes of Jorge Toca and Geoff Getz at the collectibles shop I visited in Pennsylvania earlier this month.
Wagner’s first certified autograph came in the 1994 Signature Rookies set, released a year after the Houston Astros made him the 12th overall pick in the amateur draft. Can you believe Signature Rookies asked him to sign 8.650 of these cards?
“He’s a seasoned major league coach,” Hinch said. “I think he’s got a real understanding of how to coach an offensive approach and produce runs. I think his demeanor, his connection with players — he’s managing in Venezuela right now — overall everything he brings to the staff is high quality.”
Hudgens did not turn out to be a good fit for the Mets, though whether that was due to his skill as a coach or the Mets’ skill as hitters is something I don’t know how to judge. It will be interesting to see how he does in Houston next season.
Mark Appel, the number one overall pick in the 2013 draft, has struggled with the Single-A Lancaster Jethawks in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League. Appel’s home ballpark is the second worst for pitchers in the league, likely contributing to his 2-5 record and 9.74 ERA this year.
Considering what the Astros invested in Appel, are you really surprised that the team would want to have senior officials take a look at how he’s throwing? Or that they’d want to move him to an environment that they hope will be more beneficial to his development? Who cares if that bullpen session happened at the major league ballpark before an Astros game?
Yes, Appel is getting preferential treatment – he received a $6.35 million signing bonus as the number one draft pick in baseball last year. The Astros are not going to invest that kind of money and treat Appel the same way they would a 20th round pick that got a $50,000 bonus.
That’s kind of the way things have been going forever in baseball.
The Astros’ current players should focus more on improving their own game, or some of them might find someone getting promoted to the majors to their jobs.