Duncan should get ticket to Cooperstown

Updated: May 31, 2009

Nick Laham/Getty Images

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan (far right) has been a steadying hand in the majors for years.

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is a guy who most fans have heard of, but I'm not sure most fans really appreciate how good he has been over the years.

There's no question that Tony La Russa is a great manager and is no doubt ticketed for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but coaches should also earn consideration. Duncan, La Russa's former teammate and longtime pitching coach, most famously in Oakland and then St. Louis, would be the first guy on my ballot. He was never a pitcher himself, but catchers get to know pitchers as well as anyone, and Duncan was a catcher for years in the big leagues. Above all, he is a guy that gets it.

Just look at his results. Pitchers on Duncan's staffs have won four Cy Young awards: LaMarr Hoyt (1983), Bob Welch (1990) Dennis Eckersley (1992) and Chris Carpenter (2005). All his pitchers rave about him and his no-nonsense approach.

His staffs have consistently had among the lowest ERAs in the majors. Where does St. Louis rank in the majors right now? Sure enough, they are first overall with a 3.60 ERA.

Look at what he did with guys like Dave Stewart and Eckersley with the A's and, more recently, with guys like Carpenter and Jeff Suppan with the Cardinals. Before he got to them, they had varying degrees of success, but he helped all those guys -- and many more -- reach their full potential.

It's not just me either. Most people respect La Russa's opinion, and I bet if you asked Tony, he'd say Duncan deserves a spot in the Hall as well. It's time to give baseball coaches their due, and let's get Dave Duncan to Cooperstown.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: May 28 | May 27 | May 26 | May 25 | May 24

WEB GEMS SCOREBOARD

Touch 'Em AllThis season, "Baseball Tonight" will be tracking Web Gems. We'll publish a leaderboard on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page each Monday. In addition to listing the leaders in appearances (both players and teams) on "Baseball Tonight," we'll offer up the leaders in Web Gem Points.

Web Gem Points will be calculated by awarding five points for the night's top defensive play, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Scoring will be based on the Web Gems from the last "Baseball Tonight" show to air on a given night.

Web Gem Points leaderboard
Brandon Inge 22
Ryan Sweeney 19
Nick Punto 17
David Wright 17
Michael Bourn 13
Ryan Zimmerman 13

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (players)
David Wright New York Mets Third base 8
Brandon Inge Detroit Third base 7
Ryan Sweeney Oakland Center field 5
Nick Punto Minnesota Infield 4
Michael Bourn Houston Center field 4
Ryan Zimmerman Washington Third base 4

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (teams)
Washington 15
Texas 13
Philadelphia 13
New York Mets 13
Oakland 9
Boston 13

ON DECK: MONDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Reds at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Reds welcome Edinson Volquez back from the disabled list after the right-hander missed the past two weeks with a bad back. Volquez was hit hard in his one outing earlier this month against the Cardinals, giving up seven runs in 6 2/3 innings. He walked away with a no-decision in a game the Reds lost 8-7. Todd Wellemeyer, meanwhile, has won his past two starts.

Phillies at Padres, 10:05 p.m. ET

The Phillies have had very little trouble on the road this season, and enter this game 16-6 away from Philly. Joe Blanton is coming off his best start of the season; he struck out 11 and did not allow a run over seven innings in a win against the Marlins. Blanton will want to be careful around Adrian Gonzalez, who has homered in each of his past two games and in three of four. He leads baseball with 20 homers this season.

Yankees at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET

In his last time out, Joba Chamberlain struggled with his control, which has been a problem for him all year. He walked four and threw 84 pitches in only four innings against the Rangers. He has walked at least four in four starts and is 10th in the American League in bases on balls issued (25).

For the rest of Monday's schedule, click here.

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BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Peter Gammons, Dave Winfield, Chris Singleton
12:20 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Peter Gammons, Dave Winfield, Chris Singleton

BBTN MINUTE: MAY REFLECTIONS

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Insider Who went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
K. Youkilis, Bos8TorRomeroTop 1: 2-1, 2 Outs. None on.
N. McLouth, Pit9HouHamptonBot 1: 0-2, 0 Outs. None on.
C. Coste, Phi2WasLannanBot 2: 2-0, 2 Outs. None on.
B. Harris, Min3TBGarzaTop 2: 0-0, 2 Outs. None on.
C. Granderson, Det13BalBerkenTop 4: 1-0, 1 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Sunday's homers

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at the strong starts put forth by Edwin Jackson, Nick Blackburn and John Maine, pointing out these were not isolated performances. The three pitchers have been pitching well lately:

Pitchers on a roll
Jackson
(past 5 starts)
Blackburn
(past 3 starts)
Maine
(past 4 starts at home)
W-L 4-1 3-0 4-0
ERA 1.49 1.35 0.75
K-BB 29-8 10-6 16-10

WEB GEMS

SUNDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Adrian Gonzalez• The Padres have won 12 of 15, and Adrian Gonzalez is largely to thank. Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in Sunday's win against the Rockies. In May, he hit 10 home runs and drove in 17 runs for the Padres, who head into June at .500 (25-25).
WORST
David Aardsma• The Mariners appeared set to pick up their fourth consecutive win … until David Aardsma entered in the ninth against the Angels and gave up three runs as Seattle turned an 8-6 lead into a 9-8 loss on the road. Walks were the biggest issue for Aardsma, who he handed out four in the ninth.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Edinson Volquez returns from a stint on the disabled list because of back spasms to face the Cardinals on Monday. The Cincinnati Reds right-hander (4-2, 4.25 ERA) hasn't been nearly as dominant as he was a year ago at this point (7-2, 1.46 ERA in 2008).

The biggest drop off for Volquez is with his inside fastball, which is getting hammered this season:

Batters vs. Volquez's inside fastball
April and May 2008 vs. 2009
2008 2009
BA against .143 .318
SLG .161 .636
HR 0 2
Strikeouts 18 3
Overall ERA 1.46 4.25

Though it has been hit hard, he may want to feature the pitch against the Cardinals, because they are hitting just .235 against inside fastballs, below the league average of .256.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF MONDAY'S GAMES

Adam Madison examines the nine games on Monday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Monday. Daily Notes