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The Last Man on the Staff

Al Levine was on the 2002 Angels team that won their division in a strike-shortened season.

Al Levine was a right-handed reliever with miserable K/BB ratios and mediocre stuff.

Al Levine was invited to spring training with the Giants. He had no shot at making the team. But he kept…hanging…around.

Again, Al Levine was a right-handed reliever with miserable K/BB ratios and mediocre stuff. The only thing he had going for him were intangibles. He "knew how to pitch." Or, "he perspires the sweet yet salty musk that you’d come to expect from a true veteran." He was guaranteed to give up runs by the metric ton, mind you, but there was a veteran je ne sais quoi about him.

When the season started, and the games counted, Al Levine was lit up like a right-handed reliever with K/BB ratios and mediocre stuff. The organization then said, good gravy, this guy isn’t good! Then he was released.

It was an amazing journey. If, say, I ran a baseball team, I might file this story away so it wouldn’t be repeated in the future. Joe Martinez might make the team as a long reliever, which isn’t a bad idea in the Earl Weaver tradition. Keiichi Yabu might come back as the long man, which is a role he did fine with last season. Ramon Ortiz? Especially after his awful spring? Especially after reading the Parable of Al Levine? Get outta here.

I’d go with Yabu, but I’d be all for Martinez, who could be a magical mop-up man in the Joe Roa mold.

My only strong preference: no Ramon Ortiz. Sorry, Ortizophiles. There isn’t a data point in his favor.