Dec 30, 2018

centerfieldmaz TOP ALBUMS of 2018



BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Original Soundtrack) - QUEEN 

BEATLES - WHITE ALBUM (50th Anniversary)















(50th Anniversary)




VOLBEAT - LETS BOOGIE (LIVE from Telia Parken)





Dec 28, 2018

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Edwin Almonte (2003)

Edwin Almonte was born on December 17, 1976 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. The six foot three right hander came to New York & attended Seward Park High school on the Lower East side of Manhattan.

He got drafted by the Chicago White Sox way down in the 26th round of the 1988 draft. He spent five seasons in the Sox minors as a reliever, before getting traded to the New York Mets along with Royce Ring for Roberto Alomar in August of 2003.

He made his debut at Shea Stadium against the Atlanta Braves that month allowing a run over two innings of relief. Overall he allowed 13 earned runs over nine innings into early August when he was demoted to the minors. At AAA Norfolk that summer he was being groomed as a closer, going 1-1 with six saves & a 2.55 ERA in 16 games pitched.

He returned in September pitching in just three more career games. He finished the year with a 11.12 ERA, before getting placed on waivers. He was picked by the Boston Red Sox but never made it to the big leagues again.

Almonte was last pitching in an Independent League in Illinois.

Three Time New York Giants World Series Outfielder: Jo Jo Moore (1930-1941)

Joseph Gregg Moore was born on December 25th 1908 in Gause Texas. The five foot eleven left hand hitting outfielder would be nicknamed the Gause Ghost.

He would make brief appearances for the New York Giants in 1930 & 1931 while he was tearing up the minor leagues batting .350 or better both years.

In 1932 long time manager John McGraw finally retired & the club was taken over by Bill Terry. That year Moore slowly worked his way into a starting outfield job by the end of the year. He hit .305 while having a twenty game hit streak despite playing in just 86 games (361 at bats).

In 1933 the Giants went on to win their sixth World Series title, with Moore as their leadoff man. Moore was notorious for swinging at the first pitch, especially starting out a game. Opposing managers were known to fine their pitchers if they threw Moore a strike on the first pitch.

Many times pitchers would throw at him right away & try to keep him off the plate. His room mate Hank Lieber once threatened Dizzy Dean that he'd break every bone in his body if he didn't stop throwing at Moore. He was a great contact line drive hitter who never struck out more than 37 times in a season.

In his first full season he batted .292 hit no HRs & drove in 42 runs. In the 1933 World Series win over the Washington Senators he batted just .227 with an RBI in the Giants six run Game #2 6th inning at the Polo Grounds.

The next season he batted .331 (7th best in the NL) with 192 hits 106 runs scored (7th in the NL) making the All Star team & earning votes for the MVP Award. That year he established himself as having one of the league's best left fielders arms & being a fine defensive player for the remainder of the thirties. He would lead all left fielders in assists three times (1936-1937-1939) fielding, games played & errors one time each.

After two more seasons the Giants won back to back pennants in 1936 & 1937. Moore would hit over .310 both seasons & continue a stretch of making the All Star games five straight years.

In 1936 he had 205 hits (5th in the NL) , his second straight 200 hit season, leading the league in singles (160). He posted a .358 on base % & scored 110 runs (6th in the NL), the third straight season with over 100 runs scored.

Post Season: He struggled again the World Series loss to the AL New York club batting just .214 but did score four runs, tied with Mel Ott for second most in the Series. He hit a HR in the final Game #6 driving in his only run of the Series.

He followed up batting .310 in 1937 with a .364 on base %, setting a record with nine hits in a five game World Series. Although the Giants lost that World Series, they were the NL Champions once again. Moore had his best Series hitting .391 nine hits, an RBI & a run scored.

He would bat over .300 for the last time in 1938 as the Giants fell to third place. He would be a life long Giant playing there from 1930-1941 in 1335 games.

He batted .298 with 1615 hits 79 HRs 258 doubles 53 triples 809 runs scored 513 RBIs & a .344 on base %. In 5427 at bats he struck out just 247 times. He made six All Star appearances & three World Series appearances winning one Championship.

As a left fielder he played in 1249 games (32nd all time) making 109 assists (18th all time) with 2365 put outs (31st all time) making 64 errors (28th all time).

Passing: Moore lived until 92 years old, passing in Texas in 2001.

Dec 26, 2018

Early 2000's Italian / American Mets Pitcher: Jeff D'Amico (2002)

Jeffrey Charles D’Amico was born December 27, 1975 in St. Petersburg Florida. The tall six foot seven right hander was known as “Big Daddy".

He was the Milwaukee Brewers first round draft pick (23rd overall) in the 1992 draft. D'Amico went 13-3 with a 2.39 ERA in his first minor league season at A ball Beloit.

He came up to the Brewers rotation in June of 1986, making his first start against the Texas Rangers pitching 5.2 scoreless innings for the win.

As a rookie he went 6-6 with a 5.44 ERA on the season. He earned a spot in the following year’s rotation where he went 9-7, third most wins on the staff with a 4.71 ERA. 

Injuries set him back over the next two seasons, but he returned in 2000 to win 12 games (12-7) topps of the Brewers staff along with Jimmy Haynes, posting a 2.66 ERA (third best in the AL). He walked only 46 batters in 162 innings pitched, giving him the fourth best strike out ratio in the AL.

In 2001 he was expected to lead the Brewers staff but had a huge letdown as arm trouble set him back to pitch in only ten games.

In January of 2002 he was part of a three -team trade going to the New York Mets with Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, & Mark Sweeney for Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch. (The Mets also sent Benny Agbayani & Todd Zeile to Colorado for Ross Gload & Craig House. The Rockies sent Alex Ochoa to Milwaukee.)

The Mets were just one season removed from their NL Championship entering 2002, GM Steve Phillips acquired Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, Pedro Astacio & Shawn Estes along with Burnitz, so there was a lot of promise for the season, but it never worked out.

In New York, D’Amico debuted as the team's fifth starter on April 6th earning no decision at Atlanta against the Braves. He won his next start pitching eight shutout innings at Shea Stadium against the Montreal Expos striking out eight.

On May 15th he pitched the game of his career, it was against the Los Angeles Dodgers, at Dodger Stadium. He tossed a two hit shutout striking out eight batters in the Mets 2-0 win over Kaz Ishii.

At the end of May he was at .500 with a 4-4 record but then lost four straight decisions. He never regained top form losing six of seven & ending the year pitching in relief. 

On the season he went 6-10 with a 4.94 ERA, 101 strikeouts in 145 innings, while again showing good control walking only 37 batters. D'Amico made 22 starts in 29 appearances. In October he was granted free agency & signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2003 he led the NL in losses (16) going 9-16 with a 4.77 ERA and was released. He pitched seven games for the Cleveland Indians in 2004 (1-2) before retiring that season.

Lifetime in his ten year career he went 45-52 with a 4.61 ERA, 498 strike outs, walking only 221 batters in 784 innings in 139 games pitched (131 starts).

Mid Sixties Mets Infielder: Bobby Klaus (1964-1965)

Robert Francis Klaus was born December 27, 1937 in Spring Grove, Illinois.

He is the brother of Billy Klaus who played infield for the Milwaukee Braves, Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, Baltimore Orioles & Philadelphia Phillies in the fifties/ early sixties. In his career Billy Klaus hit .249 with 40 HRs 106 doubles 15 triples a .355 on base % & 250 RBIs over eleven seasons.

Younger brother Bobby Klaus attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign getting signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1959. In 1962 he was the Pacific Coast League’s All Star second baseman while playing at AAA San Diego.

Klaus made his MLB debut against the Houston Astros on April 21, 1964 as a pinch hitter, getting no official at bat, because a runner was caught stealing.

For the 1964 Reds he actually filled in briefly at second base, replacing a struggling young Pete Rose. Rose was hitting under .200 for a brief time, but Klaus was no better, as he only hit .183 with two HRs & six RBIs in 93 at bats. Rose regained form & took over second base the rest of the season.

Klaus hit both his HRs in mid June in back to back games, on the road in Houston against the Astros & in San Francisco against the Giants. That July Klaus’ contract was purchased by New York Mets.

He was brought in to replace the first Mets All Star, Ron Hunt at second base when he had gone down with an injury. Klaus debuted on July 30th against the Los Angeles Dodgers going 0-2. Klaus then got hot getting 13 hits in his first nine Mets games. But Hunt was soon back at the second base position, going to the 1964 All Star game played at Shea Stadium, representing the Mets while batting .303 on the season.

On August 16th at Shea Stadium, Klaus had four hits, and scored three runs in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. On August 23rd he broke a 3-3 tie with the Chicago Cubs, hitting a 7th inning HR off Dick Ellswworth which proved to be the game winner.

That hot streak saw him get 15 hits in the last week of August into early September, including four straight multiple hit games. He closed out the year with a three run HR off the Cardinals Mike Cullear in the next to last game of the season.

Overall for the season he batted .244 with 2 HRs 8 doubles 25 walks & 11 RBIs playing at second & third base in 56 games.

In 1965 he had his only full season in the majors, playing in 119 games all around the Infield. He played 72 games at second, for the Mets, making 11 errors (.968%). He played 28 games at short & 25 games at third base.

On April 15th he had one of his biggest thrills, hitting a walk off HR to beat Claude Raymond & the Houston Astros 5-4. On September 19th he hit his second HR helping New York to a 8-6 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Klaus only hit for a .191 average, with 2 HRs 12 doubles 45 walks & 12 RBIs. He was in the leadoff spot for 50 games but only had one stolen base & a .302 on base % so he was dropped down in the line up to the seventh position.

The next winter the Mets traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies along with two minor leaguers for “Dr. Strange Glove” Dick Stuart.

Klaus was drafted by the San Diego Padres in their 1969 expansion season, after having played five seasons in San Diego in the AAA Pacific Coast League. But just before the season began he was traded to Pittsburgh never making it back to the majors.

He closed out his brief two season career with a .209 average 123 hits 2 HRs 25 doubles 29 RBIs & a .297 on base % in 215 games played.

Dec 25, 2018

Late Seventies / Early Eighties Mets Short Stop: Frank Taveras (1979-1981)

Franklin Crisostomo Fabian Taveras was born December 24, 1949 in the Dominican Republic. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1968.

The tall six foot, speedy infielder was a terror on the base paths. Taveras was never scouted as a good hitter, only batting a best of .267 in the minors. But when he did get aboard, he stole a lot of bases.

In 1970 at A ball Gastonia he swiped 35 bases followed by 19 in 1971 at AA Charleston. He made his MLB debut on September 21st, 1971 at Shea Stadium coming in as a pinch runner for Willie Stargell, in a 15 inning Mets 2-1 victory. It was the only appearance he made that season.

He was back in the minors the next two seasons stealing 17 bases in 1973 at AAA Charleston. Tavares made the Pirates team in 1974, replacing Dal Maxvill as their regular short stop. He would be the Pirates main shortstop for the next five seasons, becoming one of the league's biggest base stealers. In his rookie season, he hit .246 while stealing 13 bases in 17 attempts.

In 1975 he batted just .212 stealing 17 bases but the next year he accelerated. In 1976 he stole 58 bases (3rd in the league) hitting six triples & scoring 76 runs. His problem was getting on base, he batted just .258 although an improvement from the previous year, poor for leadoff men of the times. That year he posted a .321 on base %, his best in all his Pirates years.

In 1977 he reached his base stealing peak, as he led the National League in stolen bases with 70. He also set a Pirate record with in stolen bases, while getting caught just 18 times. The same year On August 5th, he hit his first MLB HR, one of just two in his career. It was an inside the park grand slam at Cincinnati in a 10-6 win over the Reds.

Taveras hit a career high ten triples which were fifth most in the league. His best year at the plate was 1978 when he batted .278, with 182 hits (6th best in the league) 142 of them singles (third most in the NL). He hit nine triples (4th in the NL) a career high 31 doubles & drove in 38 runs. He stole 46 bases (second to team mate Omar Moreno) & got caught a league leading 25 times.

Overall with the Pirates, He made two post season appearances, getting only to the first round NLCS. He played in five post season games, going 1-9 with a walk and an RBI both coming in the 1975 NLCS against the Big Red Machine.

At short stop he would be in the league's top three in making errors six different times. In 1978 he made a career high 38 errors while posting a .946 fielding %. In 1979 after appearing in 11 games for the Pirates he was traded to the New York Mets for short stop Tim Foli. As the Pirates went on to win the World Series, Taveras found himself in last place with the ’79 Mets.

After going 0-1 in his first Mets game, against the Philadelphia Phillies he hit in three straight games having two games with multiple hits. On May 20th he had a game winning base hit off the Chicago Cubs Darold Knowles.

He had the distinction of leading the league in games played that year with 164; (11 in Pittsburgh & 153 in New York). He batted .263, with 26 doubles, leading the club in triples (9) stolen bases (42) sac hits (10) at bats (645) & singles (131).

That season he hit the only HR of his career that actually went over the wall, it too came at Cincinnati against the Reds Mike Lacoss. He was busy at short stop, making 287 put outs (2nd in the league) turning over a career high 92 double plays, while committing 28 errors.

In late July of 1980 he stole bases in four straight games, including two against the Cincinnati Reds on July 26th at Shea Stadium. On August 5th in Montreal, he had a big four hit game, driving in three runs although the Mets lost to the Expos 11-5.

On August 5th he had another three RBI day at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Although at times during the season he flirted at the .290 mark, he ended up posting his career best .279 batting average, leading the team once again in sac hits (10) & singles (130).

His 130 singles were also tenth most in the NL. Tavares stole 32 bases ( second to Lee Mazzilli's 41), hitting 27 doubles, with 25 RBIs & no triples.

At short he posted a .959 fielding % turning 63 double plays with gold glover Doug Flynn.

By 1981 his career was already winding down at the age of 31, he his average dropped to .230 while playing in only 84 games during the strike shortened season.

The Mets had decided to go with Ron Gardenhire at short stop & in December 1981 Taveras was traded to the Montreal Expos for Patterson, New Jersey’s own Steve Ratzer, who would never pitch a game for the Mets.

Taveras finished his 11 year career as a .255 hitter with 1029 hits 300 stolen bases, 144 doubles, 44 triples, two HRs & 214 RBIs. 90 of his steals came as a New York Met, placing him 16th all time in that category. Tavares has played 371 games at short for the Mets, seventh most on the all time Mets list.

Retirement: Since his playing days, he has scouted for the Seattle Mariners & coached in their Dominican baseball organization.