Daily Archives: August 24, 2011

RIP Mike Flanagan: Former MLB Pitcher with Orioles and Jays Passes Away

Wednesday August 24, 2011



MLB reports:  We are sad to report that Mike Flanagan, ex-MLB pitcher was found dead in Baltimore County today.  Flanagan was 59 years of age.  While the news is still trickling in, it is currently being reported that Flanagan’s body was found on a trail near his home.  The body has just been recently identified as being that of Mike Flanagan.  After some distresses relating to finances, Flanagan apparently took his own life.  A very spirited baseball man, Flanagan was a beloved figure in the sport and his death has sent shock waves through the baseball community.  Mike Flanagan devoted his life to baseball and we are all very saddened by the new of his passing.

Mike Flanagan was originally a 7th round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1973.  Flanagan spent 18 productive seasons in baseball, with 15 coming in Baltimore.   In addition to pitching for the Orioles, Flanagan spent part of 4 years with the Blue Jays.  Although he pitched only a short time in Toronto, Flanagan’s name is still tossed around as one of the all-time favorite Jays pitchers.  Such is the effect this man had on pitching.  But Flanagan will forever be linked with the Baltimore Orioles, the club that he came up with and ultimately retired from.  Here is a look at the career numbers of Mike Flanagan:


1975 BAL 0 1 2.79 9.2 6 7 1.552
1976 BAL 3 5 4.13 85.0 33 56 1.365
1977 BAL 15 10 3.64 235.0 70 149 1.298
1978 BAL 19 15 4.03 281.1 87 167 1.273
1979 BAL 23 9 3.08 265.2 70 190 1.186
1980 BAL 16 13 4.12 251.1 71 128 1.389
1981 BAL 9 6 4.19 116.0 37 72 1.250
1982 BAL 15 11 3.97 236.0 76 103 1.309
1983 BAL 12 4 3.30 125.1 31 50 1.324
1984 BAL 13 13 3.53 226.2 81 115 1.297
1985 BAL 4 5 5.13 86.0 28 42 1.500
1986 BAL 7 11 4.24 172.0 66 96 1.424
1987 TOT 6 8 4.06 144.0 51 93 1.382
1987 BAL 3 6 4.94 94.2 36 50 1.458
1987 TOR 3 2 2.37 49.1 15 43 1.236
1988 TOR 13 13 4.18 211.0 80 99 1.422
1989 TOR 8 10 3.93 171.2 47 47 1.357
1990 TOR 2 2 5.31 20.1 8 5 1.770
1991 BAL 2 7 2.38 98.1 25 55 1.108
1992 BAL 0 0 8.05 34.2 23 17 2.106
18 Seasons 167 143 3.90 2770.0 890 1491 1.334
162 Game Avg. 12 10 3.90 203 65 109 1.334
BAL (15 yrs) 141 116 3.89 2317.2 740 1297 1.323
TOR (4 yrs) 26 27 3.94 452.1 150 194 1.393


Flanagan made his major league debut in 1975.  He started to come into his own in 1978, with a 19 win season and 4.03 ERA, to go along with his only all-star game appearance.  The real breakthrough came in 1979, when Flanagan won 23 games, with a  3.08 ERA and a whopping 190 strikeouts.  Flanagan that year won the AL Cy Young award, in addition to finishing 6th in the AL MVP voting.  Flanagan played in the World Series in 1979 with the Orioles, losing to the Pirates.  The Orioles and Flanagan were back though in 1983, beating the Phillies to win the World Series.  In 1987, Mike Flanagan was traded to the Jays for hurlers Oswaldo Pereza and Jose Mesa.  Flanagan played in the ALCS with the Jays in 1989, his final MLB playoff appearance.  In 1991, Flanagan re-signed with the Orioles as a free agent and he continued with the Orioles until retiring in 1992.  Mike Flanagan and the Baltimore Orioles will forever be linked in baseball history.  Flanagan spent the majority of his career in Baltimore, the sight of his greatest baseball triumphs. 

Following his retirement from the game, Flanagan continued in Baltimore in many capacities.  In addition to serving in the broadcast booth, Flanagan served as the Orioles pitching coach, as well as Vice-President/Co-GM (unofficially with Jim Duquette).  The man gave his heart and soul to the city of Baltimore and was a beloved sports figure in the eyes of the Orioles fans.   It is a tragedy when the MLB family loses one of its members and today we have lost a great one in Mike Flanagan.  We will remember Mike for his time in the game, as a player, broadcaster, coach and executive.  I had the pleasure of watching Mike pitch on many occasions.  He was a gamer.  Flanagan always gave it his all and was a steady presence on every pitching staff that he played with.  We thank Mike Flanagan for the memories and remember him fondly on this very sad day.



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Diamondbacks and Blue Jays Swap Second Basemen: Hill and McDonald for Johnson

Tuesday August 23, 2011



Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports):  The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the middle of a pennant race in the National League West, and yet made a change with their second baseman, Kelly Johnson.  Statistics show that Johnson had been underperforming this year, and GM Kevin Towers said he wanted better defense and infield depth.  With that in mind, Towers got a hold of Toronto Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos to inquire on super utility infielder John McDonald.  McDonald can play 2B, SS, and 3B at an above average level, although he doesn’t do much with the bat. With regular shortstop Stephen Drew lost for the season due to injury, the D’Backs have been forced to start Willie Bloomquist the majority of the games in his absence.  That led to talks involving Toronto’s longest tenured player, second baseman Aaron Hill.  The end result was Arizona acquiring Aaron Hill and John McDonald, with Kelly Johnson going to Toronto.

Aaron Hill had a terrific start to his career, which so far has peaked in 2009 when he hit .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBI.  He was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner that year.  He plays good defense and is a well-liked guy in the clubhouse.  His contract situation is an iffy one, in that he has 2 option years left worth $8M each.  By the end of 2009, it would have been a lock that those options would have been picked up, however, 2010 and 2011 have not been so kind to Hill.  Last year he hit .205 with a walk rate of only 7.1%.  He at least was able to club 26 home runs, which are numbers he has not been able to replicate this year.  Hill in 2011 is walking in 5.4% of his plate appearances, and has only 6 home runs to go along with his paltry .225 average.

McDonald is arguably the most beloved player in Toronto, after Jose Bautista.  He routinely gets standing ovations, and this writer can proudly say one of his favourite moments in MLB history was watching McDonald hit a home run in his first at bat after missing a few games.  The significance was that his father had just passed away, and McDonald promised to hit a home run for him.  So on Father’s Day of 2010, McDonald crushed a home run over the left field wall.  The teary-eyed McDonald crossed the plate and was embraced by every member of the Blue Jays.  McDonald is a phenomenal defender, often used as a pinch runner in key situations, but doesn’t hit much. In his 13 seasons, he has only 21 home runs, with 12 of them coming in his last 3 seasons.   His value comes as a player that will give everything for his team, playing every position imaginable and making highlight reel plays.

Johnson is only a season removed from a .284/.370/.496 slash line, and although scouts often say his defense is sub par, the advanced metrics tell a different story.  His UZR was 7.1 last year, and 3.9 this year, where 0 is average.  Johnson’s production, like Hill, has fallen off the table.  He is still hitting home runs; 18 this year compared to 26 last year.  He takes walks, just under 11% for his career.  But his main problem has been the strikeouts.  This year has been worse than usual, as he has struck out in over 27% of his plate appearances.  Johnson’s line drive rate is just a tick below his career numbers, so his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) being 50 points lower than his career average is probably a good indicator of why his numbers are so low.

All three players are free agents at season’s end.   McDonald and Hill both said during their press conference today that they are very open to returning to Toronto in 2012.  Until then, the Diamondbacks will look to add to their 1.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants with this move.  Should they be propelled to the playoffs, it is likely that an infield of Hill, McDonald, Lyle Overbay, and Ryan Roberts (all former Blue Jays) could face off against another former Jay in Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series.

This deal seems strange from a Diamondbacks perspective, as Hill is a downgrade from Johnson, even with the poor season Johnson has been having in 2011.  The amount of upside the Dbacks get from having McDonald over Bloomquist at shortstop is completely negated by this downgrade.  However, the Dbacks get two great clubhouse characters, who will surely help the club defensively and in teaching the younger players.  For the Blue Jays, this trade makes complete sense.  Johnson is currently set to be a Type B free agent at the end of the year, and with a hot streak, could become a Type A.  As a Type B, he would net the team a supplemental draft pick if he signs a major league deal with another team.  But if Johnson reaches Type A status this offseason, he will also net a first round pick on top of the supplemental pick.  The Jays can use this time to better evaluate Johnson, and by showing him what the organization has to offer, Johnson may sign with the team at the end of the year.

Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson were two players that have been coveted by each team for the last couple of years, but no deal could have been struck.  However, with both players struggling so badly this year, both players were in need of a change of scenery.  A fresh start could do wonders for Hill as he could get back into the groove he was in before the 2010 season, while Johnson could return to his 2010 form.

So at the very worst, the Jays get an extra draft pick as part of this trade, and in many people’s opinions, they will also get McDonald back in 2012 to be their utility infielder.  For the Dbacks, Hill’s production could seriously limit their offense and push them out of a playoff spot.  Both teams are facing risks, but I believe Toronto’s level of risk was much lower, as they are not in a pennant race.  The upside potential of this trade for the Jays makes them the winner in my books.




***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

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