The All-Outsiders Team

I love the 1989 film Major League. I’ve seen it maybe 20 times since childhood to the point that watching it is now more or less an annual ritual. There’s no suspense for me at this point, I’ll admit, as I could probably transcribe much of the script from memory. I know well the story of how a ragtag Cleveland Indian team is culled from the Mexican League, correctional system, and beyond to deliberately lose to spur relocation and how the players begin to win after learning of the ruse. It’s Hollywood contrivance to a large degree, though I also assume there’s some truth in it.

I interviewed Joe Posnanski in 2010, and one thing he told me (that I left out of the interview I published) is that some of the hardships for the club in question, such as a dilapidated team plane, drew from the 1977 Indians. I also assume there’s enough decent players outside of the majors right now to stock a team. This post offers a 25-man roster of such players, life imitating Major League, we could call it.

I believe talent often goes under-utilized and under-appreciated in various walks of life. I can’t say how many good writers I know who don’t currently draw a paycheck for it. I can’t even imagine how many unemployed people in general these days might thrive if only given an opportunity. So much about success in life seems to come down to luck and happenstance, and this extends to baseball.

It’s not hard to put together a roster of former players spread between the minors, independent ball, and the international circuit or the inactive or recently retired ranks. I’ve suggested before that an alternate baseball league could be launched with such players, and there’ve been various attempts at this over the years such as the Continental League in 1959 and the Senior Professional Baseball League in 1989 and 1990. I’m not going that far here, just suggesting that the following team might be able to beat the current Minnesota Twins.

The team is as follows, with the player’s current clubs or lack thereof noted:

C – Ramon Castro, York Revolution, Atlantic League
1B – Derrek Lee, free agent
2B – Cristian Guzman, free agent
3B – Fernando Tatis, inactive
SS – Bobby Crosby, free agent
OF – Matt Murton, Hanshin Tigers, Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan
OF – J.D. Drew, free agent
OF – Fred Lewis, Buffalo Bisons (Mets’ Triple-A team), International League

Bench – Kenji Johjima, Hanshin
Bench – Daryle Ward, Newark Bears, Can-Am League
Bench – Ramon Vazquez, Bridgeport Bluefish, Atlantic League
Bench – Willy Aybar, Ciudad del Carmen, Mexican League
Bench – Freddie Bynum, Somerset Patriots, Atlantic League
Bench – Jose Canseco, Worcester Tornadoes, Can-Am League

SP – Javier Vazquez, retired
SP – Pedro Martinez, retired
SP – Chan Ho Park, Hanwha Eagles, Korea Baseball Organization
SP – Scott Kazmir, free agent
SP – Brad Penny, signed a minor league deal with the Giants on May 18

RP – Byung-Hyun Kim, NEXEN Heroes, Korea Baseball Organization
RP – Armando Benitez, Long Island Ducks, Atlantic League
RP – Chuck James, Buffalo
RP – Scott Mathieson, Yomiuri Giants, NPB
RP – Rich Rundles, Lancaster Barnstormers, Atlantic League
RP – Lorenzo Barcelo, Pericos de Puebla, Mexican League

As the quote goes in Major League from one befuddled Indians executive looking over the prospective roster, “I never heard of half of them, and the ones I do know are way past their prime.” I’ll admit some suspension of disbelief may be required for some of these players. Still, I’d also stress that at least a few may deserve a chance they’re not currently getting. And if I know one thing fromĀ Major League, it’s that sometimes all a person needs is a chance.

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Jimbo
Jimbo
10 years ago

lol at Jose Canseco.

Jimbo
Jimbo
10 years ago
Reply to  Graham Womack

I bet Bonds could still put up an OPS+ better than 110 if he came back next year and DH’d (assuming he is injury free).

Jimbo
Jimbo
10 years ago
Reply to  Graham Womack

I was actually thinking the same thing. Doesn’t he just have to play one game, and that’ll delay the voting? Just a PH stunt with the Giants would be good enough.

brp
brp
10 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

As a Cubs fan, I honestly think Canseco would be a better PH than Daryle Ward…

Baseballs Deep
10 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

I wanted to take Jose. I should have taken Jose.

I wish I had thought of taking Bonds.

I was a big fan of the Senior Professional Baseball League because it afforded me the chance to watch Dave Kingman, Jon Matlack and Mickey Rivers on TV.

Ed
Ed
10 years ago

Rickey Henderson and Julio Franco just called. They want in on this!!!!

Doug
Editor
10 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Tony Phillips too.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
10 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Don’t forget Oil Can Boyd.

StrikeOne
StrikeOne
10 years ago

Buffalo is currently the Mets’ AAA affiliate, not Braves’.

Jimbo
Jimbo
10 years ago

Speaking of Japanese league players, is there a good website for viewing NPB stats?

bstar
bstar
10 years ago
Reply to  Jimbo

I’ve heard Baseball Cube offers that but I have never pursued that avenue myself, Jimbo.

RJ
RJ
10 years ago

Didn’t a lot of these guys have their chance, before demonstrating that, no, they should no longer be playing major league baseball?

Of course I’ll now immediately contradict myself by pointing out the success of Ryan Vogelsong after years in the wilderness.

RJ
RJ
10 years ago

Please, for the love of all that is good, do not let Armando Benitez be the closer. *Has traumatic flashbacks to 05-07*

Adam Darowski
10 years ago

Love this. JD Drew would never take part though.

I’d love to see his offer go to Alex Ramirez.

And throw one to Kevin Costner, for the hell of it.

bstar
bstar
10 years ago

How about a 38-year-old Jermaine Dye making a play for one of the corner outfield spots on this team? He’s only two years removed from his last full season in the bigs.

Blandman
Blandman
10 years ago
Reply to  bstar

I agree with Dye, I always thought he had a lot more to give, if only given the chance. He had 27 homers in his last full season of 141 games. He could have easily been a bench guy, but I believe he may have wanted too much cash.

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
10 years ago
Reply to  Blandman

I think that Dye also wanted to be guaranteed a role as a starter.

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
10 years ago

The problem is the team is missing a Roger Dorn – “I thought you said you didn’t have any high-priced talent on this team”. “I forgot about Dorn because he’s only high-priced”. I’m thinking Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells in the role of Dorn, although A-Rod might be a player in this role (A-Rod has certainly declined, though he might have been too good in his prime) – tell me you can’t see A-Rod sitting in a solarium wondering whether to take the room Santa Fe or Oriental, or talking about how he doesn’t want to take one in the… Read more »

Andy
Admin
10 years ago

There have been an unreal number of veterans signed in-season off the scrap heap this year…I can’t believe how many more there are in waiting, based on your roster.

Hub Kid
Hub Kid
10 years ago

Almost all of Graham’s list have age as part of the reason for their status on the outside of Major League success. Here is Graham’s team list with the players’ current ages from B-R: C- Ramon Castro- (32) 1B- Derrek Lee (36) 2B- Cristian Guzman (34) 3B- Fernando Tatis (37) SS- Bobby Crosby (32) OF- Matt Murton (30) OF- J.D. Drew (36) OF- Fred Lewis (31) Bench- Kenji Johjima (35) Bench- Daryle Ward (36) Bench- Ramon Vazquez (35) Bench- Willy Aybar (29) Bench- Freddie Bynum (32) Bench- Jose Canseco (47) SP- Javier Vazquez (35) SP- Pedro Martinez (40) SP- Chan… Read more »

Hub Kid
Hub Kid
10 years ago

(My post at 19 was getting so long that I split it into two) Great post, Graham! I love the concept, and totally agree with it as it applies to life beyond baseball. I am a bit biased, since I am currently working part-time in big box retail without any current chances to use my (expensive-but-liberal-arts-related) grad school training. Of course these players, even if they are current “outsiders”, have proven levels of talent that I can only dream of having. I see three types of players here: 1) “too-old” players who probably do have something left but can’t get… Read more »

Baseballs Deep
10 years ago

Allow me to introduce… the Deep! http://baseballsdeep.tumblr.com/post/24199566892/who-you-got-i-was-swapping-tweets-back-and-forth Rotation: Jon Garland, unsigned free agent Shawn Hill, independent York Revolution John Halama, independent Lancaster Barnstormers Jorge Campillo, Mexican League Los Tigres de Quintana Roo Kenshin Kawakami, Japanese Central League Chunichi Dragons Long relief/spot starter: Kei Igawa, Japanese Pacific League Orix Buffaloes Middle relief, right-handers Gary Majewski, independent Sugar Land Skeeters Yhency Brazoban, Japanese Pacific League Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Byung Hyun Kim, Koren Baseball Organization Nexen Heroes Middle relief, left-handers CJ Nitkowski, unsigned free agent Arthur Rhodes, unsigned free agent Closer: Armando Benitez, independent Long Island Ducks Lineup: CF, Lastings Milledge, Japanese Central… Read more »

Jason Z
10 years ago
Reply to  Baseballs Deep

You could hire Jamie Moyer as pitching coach and spot starter.

Gary Bateman
Gary Bateman
10 years ago

Don’t forget the manager. Any Lou Brown wannabes out there working at Tire World?

Baseballs Deep
10 years ago

I’m surprised to see that we only both took the same player four times – Lee, Ward, Kim and Benitez. It would be an interesting series. Maybe someone could do a position by position breakdown =)

nightfly
10 years ago

There are one or two potential All-Stars in there!

For the announcers, I propose Keith Hernandez in the Eucker role (he would absolutely say “Who cares? Nobody’s listening anyway!”). Not sure who could be the color guy.