Sports Outside the Beltway

Former MLB Pitcher Billy Hoeft dead at 77

He won 20 games for the 1956 Detroit Tigers and once was selected for the All-Star game. RBilly HoeftIP.

From Baseball Library- Hoeft was a mainstay in the Tigers starting rotation in the 1950s, then embarked on a second career as an itinerant lefthanded reliever, changing teams six times between 1959 and 1966. He spent most of his rookie season in the Detroit bullpen, then struggled as a starter in 1953-54, winning only 16 games over the two seasons. In 1955 Hoeft was still only Detroit’s third starter in terms of starts and innings, but he led the AL with seven shutouts on his way to a 16-7, 2.99 record and a spot on the AL All-Star team. In 1956 Hoeft became the first Tiger lefthander since Hal Newhouser to win 20 games, posting a 20-14 mark, but after mediocre seasons in 1957-58, Hoeft returned to the bullpen for the balance of his career.

He was traded to the Red Sox for Ted Lepcio and Dave Sisler in May, 1959, then shipped to Baltimore for Jack Harshman six weeks later. Hoeft enjoyed his best seasons in relief with the Orioles, recording a 2.02 ERA in 1961 and four wins plus seven saves in 1962, then was traded to the Giants and later to the Braves, spending single seasons with each club. On July 14, 1957 Hoeft hit two of his three career home runs.


Major League Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra retires

He was a great player without question. A very good defensive shortstop who hit for power, Nomar wasn’t the prototypical player at shortstop. Hitting shortstops like Nomar usually have a tougher time proving their worth. Baseball historians usually see a shortstop with power as a lesser defensive player than his contemporaries. Of his generation, Nomar was no better than the 3rd best defensive SS out there. Omar Vizquel and Derek Jeter ranking but was there any one else?

Thanks for the memories Nomar.

Longtime Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra retired from baseball on Wednesday morning, signing a one-day contract with the Red Sox in order to retire as a member of the team.

“I’ve always had a recurring dream, to be able to retire in a Red Sox uniform,” Garciaparra said at a press conference at City of Palms Park. “Thanks to [owners] Mr. [John] Henry, Mr. [Tom] Werner, Mr. [Larry] Lucchino and [general manager] Theo [Epstein], today I get to fulfill that dream and retire as a Red Sox.

“Earlier today, I did sign a minor league contract to be a part of the organization once again. I was getting choked up then, and I’m getting choked up now. I’ve got the chills.

“But to be able to have that dream come true, I really just can’t put into words because of what this organization has always meant to me, meant to my family, the fans. I always tell people Red Sox Nation is bigger than any nation out there, and to be able to tell people that I came back home to be back to Red Sox Nation is truly a thrill.”

Garciaparra will join ESPN as a baseball analyst. He will be seen primarily on “Baseball Tonight” but will also serve as an occasional game analyst.

The 36-year-old Garciaparra spent the first nine seasons of his 14-year career in Boston, where he developed into a fan favorite, a perennial All-Star and the best shortstop in team history. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1997 and won batting titles in back-to-back seasons in 1999 and 2000. His career average with the Red Sox stands at .323, with 178 homers and 690 RBIs.


He finished his career with 229 home runs, 936 RBIs and a .313 batting average in 14 seasons.


MLB Infielder Mark Loretta announces his retirement

He is taking a job in the front office of the San Diego Padres. From ESPN-

Mark Loretta has announced his retirement as a player and has been hired by the San Diego Padres as special assistant to baseball operations.

Loretta’s playing career spanned 15 big league seasons. He played with the Padres from 2003-05. Loretta most recently was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


A two-time All-Star, Loretta finished his career with a .295 batting average with a .360 on-base percentage. His best season came in 2004 for the Padres when he set career highs in batting average (.335), homers (16) and RBIs (76).

Loretta originally came up with Milwaukee. He was a good player, more valuable with the bat than with the glove. Last year he had a very poor year by his standards, so it was probably a good time for him to retire.


Winter League Manager throws punch at Umpire

Former Major League Baseball player Jose Offerman is up to his old tricks. From AP-

Former major league All-Star Jose Offerman threw a punch at an umpire during an argument in a Dominican winter league game Saturday night, the second time in 2½ years that he’s attacked someone on a baseball field.

Offerman, manager of the Licey Tigers, appeared to hit first base umpire Daniel Rayburn in the face or neck with his fist during a heated discussion in a game against the Cibao Giants. Rayburn fell to the ground.

Offerman was detained by stadium security and taken to a police station to wait until the end of the game to see if Rayburn would press charges.

The Giants were winning 6-0 in the third inning of the final game of the winter league semifinal playoff series when plate umpire Jason Bradley ejected catcher Ronny Paulino for arguing balls and strikes.

Offerman came onto the field to talk to Bradley, but ended up arguing with Rayburn.

It was the latest violent outburst by Offerman, an All-Star infielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and Boston Red Sox in 1999.

On Aug. 14, 2007, he was batting for the Long Island Ducks against the Bridgeport Bluefish in an independent minor league game when pitcher Matt Beech hit him with a fastball. Offerman charged the mound with his bat and swung at least twice, striking Beech and Bluefish catcher John Nathans.

At present Nathans is suing Offerman in Federal court claiming he suffered permanent injuries. Offerman’s displays of temper have probably kept him from a earning a Minor league coaching or managing job in the United States. If I were in baseball, I’d question his suitability for any job related to the sport. Right now he isn’t mature enough to hold any job given to him.


Arizona Diamondbacks sign P Bobby Howry

The right-handed reliever spent the 2009 season with the San Francisco Giants. From AP-

Reliever Bobby Howry signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

The D-backs have a club option for 2011, but terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Howry, 36, pitched for the San Francisco Giants last season, going 2-6 with a 3.39 ERA in 63 games. He has pitched in 731 games during his 12-year career, with 66 career saves.

The Diamondbacks have reshaped their pitching staff in the offseason, trading for pitchers Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in a three-team deal with the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers earlier this month. They also expect Brandon Webb to be ready for the start of the season, following his shoulder surgery last summer.

While I am not optimistic about Arizona’s pitching bouncing back in 2010, I do think the acquisition of Howry, who has never started a Major League game, is a good move. He has been a more than solid setup man for over 10 years. Howry limited opposing batters to a .214 batting average in 2009 and was almost equally difficult on both righty and lefty batters. Any MLB team can make use of a pitcher with those skills and numbers.


Kansas City signs OF Brian Anderson

Is the Royals farm system so depleted they can’t come up with something better? From AP-

Outfielder Brian Anderson and the Kansas City Royals have agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract.

The 27-year old can make an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses under Wednesday’s deal.

He hit just .238 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 185 at-bats for the Chicago White Sox last season, then was traded July 28 to the Boston Red Sox for Mark Kotsay and batted .294 with two homers and five RBIs in 17 at-bats.


Selected by the White Sox with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft, Anderson has a .227 average in five major league seasons with 22 homers and 80 RBIs.

Anderson was eligible for salary arbitration but Boston didn’t offer him a contract. It is little wonder why. Anderson has a career OPS of .660. A good major league outfielder should have one in the high 800′s. Anderson isn’t even close. He should be playing AAA ball and Kansas City is deluding themselves if they think Anderson can ever be a decent backup outfielder, alone a starter.


Texas Rangers sign P Darren Oliver

This will be his third stint with the team. From the Dallas Morning News- Darren Oliver

The agreement between Darren Oliver and the Rangers is now official. He will receive $3 million in base salary this season with a vesting option worth $3.25 million. The option would vest if Oliver appears in 59 games in 2010. He has averaged 58 games a season over the last three years. If the option is not picked up, Oliver would receive a $500,000 buyout, guaranteeing him at least $3.5 million.

Oliver is a good acquisition in my opinion. Originally a starting pitcher, he has been a reliever of late. And not a left handed specialist, Oliver has been tough on right handed hitters during his career. The last two years of which was spent with the Los Angeles Angels where he went 12-2 with an ERA under 2.85.

A little known fact about Oliver is that he swings a pretty good bat. He has a .221 lifetime batting average. Of course in the Designated Hitter ruled American League Oliver is unlikely to be called upon to hit.

Note- I’ve always liked Oliver. Partly due to the fact he was a pitcher on my first ever Star Tournament Championship team back in October 2000.


Atlanta Braves sign Reliever Billy Wagner

The 38-year-old Southpaw pitched for Boston last year. From ESPN-

The Atlanta Braves have agreed on a one-year contract with veteran left-handed reliever Billy Wagner.

The deal will pay Wagner $7 million in 2010 and includes a $6.5 million club option for 2011, as well as a $250,000 buyout. The option would become guaranteed if Wagner finishes 50 games next season.

“We feel this is a great start for us to put together a championship-quality team for 2010,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said in a statement. “Billy has been at the top of our list as a player we wanted to acquire for some time, and we’re excited to have him anchoring our bullpen.”


The Boston Red Sox offered salary arbitration to Wagner, so they’re entitled to draft-pick compensation when the deal with Atlanta becomes official.


Wagner, 38, ranks sixth on baseball’s career list with 385 saves, second among left-handers behind John Franco (424). He posted a 1.72 ERA and struck out 26 batters in 15 2/3 innings with the Mets and Red Sox last season after returning from Tommy John surgery.

The Wagner signing looks like a reasonable if pricey gamble to me. Based on this 2009 stats, I think Wagner can still help a team.


Florida Marlins trade OF Jeremy Hermida to Boston

He was the team’s first round draft selection in 2002. From AP-

The Red Sox acquired outfielder Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins Thursday in exchange for left-handed pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.

Hermida, 25, hit .259 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs over 129 games with the Marlins in 2009 and set a career high with 56 walks. The left-handed hitter appeared in 81 games (73 starts) in right field and 51 (40 starts) in left. He made just one error in 205 total chances for a .995 fielding percentage, sixth among qualifying National League outfielders. He appeared in only three games after Aug. 31 because of an intercostal strain on his right side.

What the move means

ESPN’s Peter Gammons thinks the Red Sox’s acquisition of left fielder Jeremy Hermida gives them flexibility. Story
Hermida, Florida’s first-round pick (11th overall) of the 2002 draft, has a .265 career batting average with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 516 games.


Jones, 25, made his major league debut this season with Boston and appeared in 11 games in relief. The left-hander posted a 9.24 ERA with the Red Sox, compiling nine strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. In 36 relief outings with Triple-A Pawtucket, he was 4-3 with two saves and a 4.25 ERA. The Red Sox signed Jones as an undrafted free agent out of the Cape Cod League.

The 20-year-old Alvarez combined to go 9-4 with a 2.26 ERA, 74 strikeouts and 16 walks in 26 games (12 starts) between Class A Salem and Short-A Lowell in 2009. He led the New York-Penn League with a 1.52 ERA while recording eight wins over 14 outings (12 starts) with Lowell. Signed by the Red Sox as a nondrafted free agent on July 2, 2005, Alvarez has compiled a 23-15 record and a 3.21 ERA in 76 career minor league appearances (48 starts) in the Red Sox system.

As usual with ninety percent of the trades made by the Marlins, the main motivation is monetary not the talent received for the player they are trading. Hermida was eligible for salary arbitration this off season.

Hermida after a good start to his pro career has been disappointing the last two years. Alvarez sounds like a good prospect, Evans on the other hand is 25 which is a late age(but not unheard of) to be trying to establish themselves as a MLB pitcher. The Marlins may come out all right from this trade but we won’t know for a few years.


Brad Mills is next Houston Astro Manager

His last MLB was bench coach for the Boston Red Sox. From AP-

Brad Mills is the new manager of the Houston Astros.

The 52-year-old Mills has been Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston for the past six seasons. He’ll manage in the majors for the first time, though he’s managed a total of 11 seasons in the minors, with affiliates for the Chicago Cubs (1987-92), Colorado Rockies (1993-96) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2002).

The Astros fired Cecil Cooper on Sept 21. Third-base coach Dave Clark served as interim manager for the final 13 games and Houston finished 74-88. Clark was one of 10 candidates to interview for the full-time position, and he spoke for a third time with the team on Tuesday.

The Astros made an offer to former Nationals manager Manny Acta over the weekend, but Acta accepted the Cleveland Indians’ offer instead.

Mills will have work to do. The Astros have endured two losing seasons in the four years since reaching the World Series in 2005, and Mills is the fourth manager hired since the middle of the 2004 season.

If Mills don’t get help from the Astros’ front tenure, his tenure in office won’t be much if all more successful than those of his last few predecessors. The Astros thought Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz could help the team in 2009. Is this team’s farm system that worthless? Anyone could have told the Astros that Hampton is way past washed up.

Note- Mills was a utility infielder with the Montreal Expos in the early 1980′s.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.