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Around the League: Colby Rasmus, Jim Thome, Adam Dunn and Aramis Ramirez

  • Mevs over at Diamond Hoggers offers a suggestion on how to spice up the All-Star Game and its other side-stage events: The Pitcher Home Run Derby.  So, who would win? I also applaud Mevs on the inclusion of Mike Hampton’s 1992 Bowman rookie card. That may be the most awkward card series of all time. See for yourself.
  • One of my favorite baseball bloggers, The Flagrant Fan urges the Cardinals to trade Colby Rasmus, and believes that a change of scenery would do the 24-year-old some good.  Over at FanGraphs, though, Steve Slowinski explains why the Cardinals will not be able to trade him. It’s important to note that both articles were written before Colby’s dad burst back on the scene.
  • Jim Thome is four home runs shy of becoming the eighth player in baseball history to reach the 600 home run milestone…and nobody seems to be talking about it.  Considering that Thome has NEVER been linked to any sort of PED use, and is perennially regarded as one of the best dudes in all of baseball, why aren’t people talking about this? Perhaps it’s because three of its current members were known steroid users (and flagrant liars). Babes Love Baseball is dead on when they argue that Thome’s 600th longball is both imminent and a huge deal.
  • With Adam Dunn as well as the majority of the White Sox offense still struggling mightily, Jim Margalus (my favorite White Sox blogger) of South Side Sox lays out several potential trades that Kenny Williams could swing as the trade deadline rapidly approaches.
  • Speaking of the ever-frustrating Dunn, our friend MTD from Off-Base Percentage airs his frustrations over Ozzie Guillen’s reluctance to bench the big man.  Apparently Ozzie will only sit Dunn if he’s not helping the ball club, which seems pretty ridiculous if you ask me.  There’s no way he is helping the team by turning in an 0-for performance every night which includes at least two strikeouts and three or four runners left on base.
  • One of the most frequently mentioned names in trade discussions has been Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who, in the face of a deal that would send him to the Angels, recently stated that he would veto any trade.  With 10-to-5 rights, Ramirez can only be traded if he gives it a thumbs up.  If he’s traded, his potential suitor will be forced to pick up his massive $16 million option for 2012, which seems like nothing given how much the Halos spent on Vernon Wells this offseason.  It comes down to this: Is Aramis Ramirez content with losing, or does he want to play for a contender? Foul Balls weighs in on the issue…
  • MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Tigers designated third baseman/super utility man Brandon Inge for assignment on Wednesday after acquiring Wilson Betemit from the Royals.  Even though he was never a star player, I’ve always had a soft spot for Inge.  No, it’s definitely not because he loaded up with a bunch of lame tattoos over the last few seasons. Rather, it’s because he’s an absolutely freak across the athletic board.  At 5-foot-11, 190-pounds, here is a summary of Inge’s sheer athleticism: can drive a golf ball 400+ yards; can dunk a basketball; MLB All-Star (that’s the obvious one); and he can kick (at least) a 50-yard field goal. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to Laura Downhour’s original article which highlights the team-less infielders abilities. Oh yeah, dude also told a terminally ill kid that he’d hit a home run for him in a game….and did.

Golden Sombrero: Austin Jackson

Bottom 1: Austin Jackson called out on strikes against Joe Saunders

Bottom 3: Jackson walked against Saunders

Bottom 5: Jackson struck out swinging against Saunders

Bottom 8: Jackson struck out swinging against Aaron Heilman

Bottom 8: Jackson struck out swinging against Bryan Shaw

Final Line: 0-for-4, BB, 4 K

Notes: Even though the Diamondbacks out-hit the Tigers 12-to-10 on Sunday, Detroit still won decisively.  Once again, a leadoff hitter wore the sombrero, which has become a disturbing trend this season.  Jackson’s sombrero was highlighted by a pair of strikeouts in the eighth inning, an inning in which the Tigers scored seven runs and sent 12 batters to the plate.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 52

As the final All-Star votes are tallied, let the complaining begin

Picture via @Stuwass55, Twitter.

As the above photo indicates, Tigers take their baseball civics seriously.

But it’s easy to see why they might be miffed if Alex Avila, who trails the Yankees’ Russell Martin by about 500,000 votes, doesn’t land a starting catcher role in the All-Star Game.

Avila leads all catchers with a .304 batting average – 74 points above Martin. He has also thrown out 38 percent of prospective base-stealers, which sits 9 percent above Martin’s league average rate. Additionally, Avila touts a league best RBI total of 45, and his home run total of 10 is third in the league and bested only by those hitting at least 60 points below him.

Yes, as a huge Tiger fan (At age 7, I names my trio of pet snails Sparky, Mickey and Cecil), I’m hardly objective here. But I’m always frustrated when All-Star voting is driven by city size rather than performance.

Is there anyone out there who actually votes on merit? I try to. But I must admit that I tend not to vote for players, who, for mostly silly reasons, I’ve decided are jerk wads.

$4 million Harwell collection a rare, neglected gem

Before it’s too late, baseball history buffs may want to pilgrimage to Motown, home to a neglected and rarely discussed slice of America’s pastime’s past.

No, you can no longer cruise by the corner of Michigan and Trumbull and spot the white, boxy facade of old Tiger Stadium, which has now been put out of its misery.

You have to look a bit harder: into an often dark, locked room in the Detroit Public Library, where you can find $4 million worth of baseball memories compiled by legendary Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell during his 68-year career. It’s a collection that’s trumped only by the treasure housed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In the library you can find more than 2,500 rare baseball cards from as far back as the 1880s, the 106-year old letter that told Ty Cobb to report to the Tigers, and four decades worth of All-Star Game programs, among much more.

Harwell began donating his collection to the library in 1965. But, as the Detroit News reports, the mismanaged, understaffed library system has limited access to the collection, which was visited by just 500 people last year. What’s worse, thieves may have thinned out parts of the collection, much of which is not cataloged.

The paper reports:

“It’s a disaster,” said John King, the owner of John K. King Used & Rare Books. “I am worried they are just continuing the destruction of the library because they aren’t taking care of the collections. We are going to lose this history.

“Ernie wouldn’t be happy. This is an extension of him.”

Theft already has been an issue in the collection that includes thousands of baseball cards, Harwell’s 1968 World Series ring, rare letters, the guides he bought as a youngster with paper route proceeds and other one-of-a-kind artifacts.

Four years ago, a former library staffer was fired for stealing some of Harwell’s baseball cards. The cards were returned, but the employee wasn’t prosecuted, and officials acknowledge they can’t be certain if they got all of the cards back.

That should be heartbreaking to any baseball fan, especially those familiar with Ernie Harwell, whose huge talent in the radio booth (he was the only announcer ever traded for a baseball player, after all) was only overshadowed by his kindness.

So, while Ernie’s collection is still there, make an appointment to see it. And, if you’re still in the mood for more Ernie Harwell lore while you’re in the area, you may want to check out this out.

Golden Sombrero: Grady Sizemore (again)

Top 1: Grady Sizemore called out on strikes against Justin Verlander

Top 3: Sizemore struck out swinging against Verlander

Top 6: Sizemore called out on strikes against Verlander

Top 9: Sizemore struck out swinging against Verlander

Final Line: 0-4, 4 K

Notes: Not too much to point out here beyond the obvious domination by Verlander, who flirted with a no-no and fired a two-hit shutout against the Tribe on Tuesday.  The sombrero was Sizemore’s second of the season (and second since being activated from the DL), and I think it’s a safe assumption that we’ll see a few more from him this season. Go get ’em, Grady.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 42