I'm not quite sure what it was that got me thinking about the name "Joel" -- maybe it was the acquisition (and insertion into the rotation) of ex-phenom Joel Pineiro by the Cardinals. Maybe it was the debut with the Nationals of young righty Joel Hanrahan, whose two-game career OPS+ (347!) and ERA+ (130) portend great things. Heck, maybe I just heard a song on the radio by Billy Joel.
Regardless, it was off to BaseballReference.com, where I found that a search for the name "Joel" currently has 25 returns -- and 25 is a magic number in the baseball world. The question is, can we flip that 25 into a passable 25-man roster? Let's see ...
QUICK ANSWER ... Unless we move toward decisions heretofore unmade in these Hall of Names forays, like playing pitchers in the field, this ain't gonna happen ... Only eight of the 25 Joels were position players, so even as we juggle furiously to place some of them at positions where they appeared only briefly in the big leagues, we are still completetely lacking a shortstop of any kind ... Are there any young Joel Shortstops making their way through the minor leagues right now? ... And suffice to say, the bench is sompletely empty -- not even the manager sits there, as he is the team's only viable option behind the plate as well ...
For the record, nobody in MLB history has ever had the last/family name Joel, like the aforementioned Piano Man Billy, and just 14 have had it as their given/first name, though 15 have actually gone by that appellation.
Only two, Joel Youngblood and Joel "Joe" Horlen, have made All-Star teams while just one, Joel Skinner, has actually managed in the big leagues. But, as mentioned, let's see what happens as we meet ...
THE FIRST JOEL
** indicates Hall of Famer (none yet)
* indicates All-Star
Player/MGR Joel Skinner (35-40, 2002 CLE)
C Joel Skinner (.228, 1983-91 CHW, NYY, CLE)
1B Irvin Joel Vigo (Joel) Guzman (4-for-19, 2006 LAD; mostly 3B, some OF)
2B Joel Youngblood* (.265 80 homers, 1976-89; mostly OF/3B; all but P)
3B Cleo Joel James (.228, 1968 LAD, '70-71-73 CHC; mostly OF)
LF John Joel [Johnny] Rucker (.272, 1940-46)
CF Darren Joel Lewis (.250, 247 SB, 1990-2002; '94 Gold Glove)
RF Joel [Joe] Wright (.282, 1895-96 LOU, PIT)
DH Oliver Joel (Jodie) Hunt (4-for-22, 1931-32 STL)
RHSP Joel (Joe) Horlen* (116-117, 1961-72, 2nd in 1967 AL Cy Young)
LHSP Joel Adamson (5-6, 1996 FLA, '97 MIL, '98 ARI)
RHSP Joel Davis (8-14, 1985-88 CHW)
RHSP Alan Joel [Al] Santorini (17-38, 3 saves, 1968-73 ATL, SDP, STL)
RHSP Joel [Joe] Sherman (1-0, 2.40, 1915 PHA)
CL-RH Joel Zumaya (7-4, 2 saves with 2006-07 DET so far)
LH-SET Matthew Joel Smith (0-1, 2006-07 NYY, PHI; part of Abreu deal)
RH-SET Joel Johnson (3-5, 2 saves, 1991-95 KCR, PIT, BOS)
LHRP Joel McKeon (4-3, 1986-87 CHW)
RHRP Joel Peralta (3-5, 2 saves, 2005 LAA, '06-07 KCR so far)
OTHER PITCHING OPTIONS
RHSP Peter Joel Craig (0-3, 1964-66 WASH; 2-for-3 at bat)
RHR/SP Joel Bennett (2-1, 1998 BAL, '99 PHI)
RHR/SP Joel Finch (0-3, 1979 BOS)
LHRP Ronald Joel Flores (1-4, 1 save through 2007; with OAK since '05)
RHSP Joel "Sailor" Newkirk (O-1, 1919-20 CHC)
RHSP Joel Hanrahan (1-0 first two 2007 WSN starts; 2-for-4, 2B, 3B)
Well, if this team is to be eliminated from contention quickly (and with such holes in the roster, how could it not be?), at least we'll take comfort in their being so good -- after all, as The Piano Man once wrote, "Only the Good Die Young."
And hey, look at the skewed number of Joels in MLB history who played for one or both of the Chicago teams (eight of the 25) ... it's not like losing would come as a completely foreign concept ...