Sports Outside the Beltway

Former MLB Pitcher Jeriome Robertson dead at 33

Robertson played for Houston and Cleveland in his short career. The Houston Astros/Colt .45′s have had quite a few players die young in their short history. Everyone remembers Don Wilson who threw two no-hitters, and Jim Umbricht who died of malignant melanoma and had his number retired. But other Astros who went before turning 40 include Darryl Kile, Johnny Weekly, Walt Bond, Brian Powell, and Ron Willis at least. I think that’s the most of any MLB franchise in the last 50 years, including the jinxed Angels. RIP Jeriome Robertson.Jeriome Robertson

Former major league pitcher Jeriome Robertson, whose 15 wins led all rookies in 2003, has died. He was 33.

Robertson was killed Saturday when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, the California Highway Patrol said.

The left-hander went 15-9 with a 5.10 ERA for Houston in his one big year and topped the team in victories. Robertson was traded to Cleveland before the next season after the Astros signed free agents Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.

Robertson’s last game in the majors came in July 2004 — he hit Magglio Ordonez with his final pitch and was ejected. He later played in the minors for the Mets and Reds, and finished in 2007 in the Mexican and independent leagues.

Astros star Lance Berkman recalled Robertson’s success.

“When you play with someone a year, you remember them. It’s certainly a tragedy and what more can you say? It’s a bad deal,” Berkman said before Tuesday night’s game against Washington.

“He won 15 games for us. That’s what I remember about him that year. He was solid every time out. He made a big step forward in his development. Then we traded him and really he kind of dropped off the face of the earth,” he said.

Robertson pitched in only eight more games in the majors after getting dealt to Cleveland. He finished with a career record of 16-12 with a 5.71 ERA.


Cleveland Pitcher David Huff Hit In Head During Freak Play

A scary moment during yesterday’s Yankees-Indians game:

NEW YORK — It is the worst nightmare of both the pitcher and the hitter, the ball that is hit so hard there is simply no time to duck, no time to react, no chance for the elemental reflex of self-preservation.

It happened in the third inning of Saturday’s Yankees-Indians game, and for several heart-stopping, breath-holding minutes, it was easy to imagine that the worst thing that could happen on a baseball field had just happened, in full view of 46,000 spectators.

Cleveland right-hander David Huff threw a pitch to Alex Rodriguez, and before either of them could possibly have known what was happening, the ball was back in the pitcher’s face, smacking with a THWACK! off Huff’s left temple that must have been audible in the remotest sections of the ballpark.

Huff, a 25-year-old in his second big-league season, fell face down and motionless on the pitcher’s mound. Rodriguez, reacting with a hitter’s instinct, barreled around first base and into second. Nick Swisher, on second base, came around to score. The baseball, ricocheting as sharply as if it had hit concrete, wound up in right field.

And the hearts of 46,000 people leaped into 46,000 throats as a crowd of teammates, trainers and paramedics rushed to the mound and the fallen pitcher.

Rarely has Yankee Stadium been as quiet as it was at that moment and rarely has a ballgame there suddenly seemed so unimportant. As the medical staff worked over Huff, who did not move for what seemed like hours, Rodriguez and Swisher dropped to their knees, their eyes focused on the ground.


Huff was taken to an ambulance waiting by the service gate beyond the left-center field fence and rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where a CT scan revealed no neurological damage. The pitcher was kept briefly for observation and then sent back to Yankee Stadium.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez, who was visibly affected by the incident, left the ballpark immediately after the game and called a Yankees publicist from his car for the location of the hospital, hoping to visit Huff before he was released.

Learning that Huff was on his way back to the ballpark, Rodriguez was given the player’s cellphone number and was trying to reach him Saturday night.

“Your heart stops. You want so badly to take it back,” Rodriguez said in a statement relayed through Jason Zillo, a Yankees publicist. “You’re scared. You think of him, you think of his family. You think of a million other places that the ball could have gone, other than where it did. Why there?

“I mean, we’re playing a game. A game. I know it’s a business, too, but to all of us, playing it should always be a game first, and when something like that happens right in front of your eyes it makes you think long and hard about things much bigger than throwing or hitting a baseball or running around the bases for a few hours a day. I’m so thankful that he’s going to be OK.”

It really is just a freak accident of physics. A move to the left or the right, a little more or less force on the ball, and things would’ve turned out differently. Fortunately, Huff is okay.

Here’s video of the incident, which is still cringe-inducing even when you know that the injury wasn’t bad:


MLB Outfielder Brian Giles retires

This is strange. For the second straight day, a member of a Star Tournament team that I came in 2nd with in 2001, has retired. First Nomar Garciaparra, now Giles. Giles was also a member of a winning tournament team of mine. Actually his two-run 8th inning triple won me Game 7 in that event.

Star Tournament sentimentality aside, Giles was a very good left fielder for over a decade. Just under 1,900 career hits and 300 homeruns. Good luck in retirement Brian.

The battle for the Dodgers’ left-handed pinch-hitting spot was reduced to two players on Thursday after non-roster outfielder Brian Giles, a 15-year veteran and two-time All-Star, retired from baseball.Brian Giles

Giles was with the Padres last season but has not played since June 18. He came to Dodgers camp with doubts as to how the knee would respond, and said the day he reported he would know what he was capable of fairly quickly.

“We went into this with our eyes open to what the challenges were going to be and how difficult it was going to be [for Giles],” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Thursday. “My only regret is that he won’t have a chance to play here. Most of the last 14 years, I’ve watched him do damage to whatever team I was with at the time.”

Giles appeared in two Cactus League games for Los Angeles this spring, both as a designated hitter, going 0-for-4 with a walk.

“The way it felt during the two-week period since I got here, the little bit of testing I did on it, it wasn’t up to my expectations, the way I expect to compete and the things I need to do,” Giles said. “I thought about it last night, talked about it with Ned and my agent. There are no regrets. Obviously, I want to play and feel that I can play but I’m physically not able to do what I expect myself to do.”

After grounding into a force play in the sixth inning Wednesday against Arizona, Giles was lifted for a pinch hitter and jogged off the field, apparently his final act as a major league player.

Giles, a two-time All-Star, is a career .291 hitter with 287 home runs and 1,078 RBI in 1,847 games.


Former MLB Infielder and Manager George Strickland dead at 84

Strickland was mostly a utility infielder who backed up Bobby Avila, Al Rosen, and Chris Carrasquel for the Cleveland Indians. After his playing days were over he was a coach for Cleveland who had brief stints as the team’s manager in 1964 and 66. Before his career in Cleveland, he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also coached in the major leagues for the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. RIP.

George Strickland, the slick-fielding shortstop for the Indians in their historic 1954 season and a two-time interim manager for the team, died on Sunday at 84.George Strickland

The Indians acquired Strickland in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 18, 1952. Playing in an era when the value of middle infielders was determined by their fielding and not their hitting, Strickland batted .233 with 22 home runs and 213 runs batted in for the Indians before he was released on Aug. 3, 1960.

For much of his time with the Indians, Strickland’s glove ably backed the Indians’ famed “Big Four” starting pitchers: Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Early Wynn, and all-star Mike Garcia.

Strickland played 112 games, batting .213 with six homers and 37 RBI, in 1954, when Cleveland set what was then an American League record for wins, finishing 111-43 before being swept in the World Series by the New York Giants.

Strickland was an Indians coach from 1963-69, usually stationed at third base. His first stint as Cleveland’s interim manager began on April 2, 1964, one day after manager Birdie Tebbetts suffered a heart attack, and days before the start of the season. The Indians went 33-39 with Strickland at the helm, before Tebbetts returned on July 5.

Cleveland began the 1966 season 27-10, but had slumped to a 66-57 record when Tebbetts was dismissed as the manager on Aug. 19. Strickland took over, and Cleveland went 15-24 the rest of the way to finish 81-81. Strickland went back to his duties as the third base coach when Joe Adcock was hired as the manager.


Former MLB Pitcher Jim Bibby dead at 65

I remember Bibby quite well. He was a good MLB pitcher who went 111-101 in a 13-year career. He was most remembered for his time in Texas and Pittsburgh but played for St. Louis and Cleveland also. Here’s something you probably won’t hear in reports on his death.Jim Bibby

He was originally in the New York Mets organization. A poor man’s black version of Nolan Ryan. Hard throwing righty with arm and control issues. The Mets gave up on Bibby at the same time they did the same with Ryan. Ryan went to California for Jim Fregosi and Bibby went to St. Louis for among other others Jim Beachump and Harry Parker. A pinch hitter and long reliever respectively on the 1973 pennant winning Mets but hardly compensation for a pitcher who went on to win 111 games. The Mets made a lot of bad trades and this is one of them though it was lesser known than others.

Thanks for memories Jim Bibby. RIP.

Community Funeral Home in Lynchburg said Wednesday that Bibby died Tuesday night at Lynchburg General Hospital. The cause was not disclosed. The family asked for privacy but said a statement would be released later.

Bibby played 12 years in the majors and pitched the first no-hitter in Texas Rangers history, beating Oakland 6-0 in 1973.

He was a member of the Pittsburgh team that won the 1979 World Series, starting two games against Baltimore — including the deciding seventh game.


Minnesota Twins sign 1B-DH Jim Thome

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press-

Jim Thome has 57 career home runs against the Minnesota Twins, more than any other player in team history. For the 2010 season, at least, that number will go static as the 39-year-old slugger works on the number of homers he can hit for the Twins.Twins White Sox Baseball

Thome, who turns 40 in August, agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Twins on Tuesday, pending a physical he will undergo this weekend. The move came one day after White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen announced that Chicago would not re-sign the designated hitter. Thome also can earn up to $750,000 in incentives.

Thome said the Rays and White Sox were his other suitors. Guillen told reporters Chicago would not bring Thome back because the team would have trouble finding enough at-bats for him. Thome said neither Chicago nor Minnesota promised him a certain number of at-bats and that he decided on the Twins for two reasons — Minnesota showed the most interest and he wanted to return to the American League Central, where he is familiar with pitchers he’ll face.

What team guarantees what number of at-bats a player should get? If any do, they’re nuts. If a franchise is serious about winning, you use the players that can most help you do that. A veteran who can’t produce, will be benched by a well run team and in a worst case scenario, released out right.

That said, Thome can still be useful as a role player. He still has some pop in his bat, and that and the length of his contract make his signing look like a reasonable move by Minnesota IMHO.


Former MLB Manager Bobby Bragan dead at 92

He made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies where the recently deceased Stan Benjamin was also a player. Later on Bragan would manage three franchises, and be the first skipper of the Atlanta Braves after the team moved from Milwaukee. RIP.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Bobby Bragan, who earned the nickname “Mr. Baseball” and was dedicated to seeing baseball blossom in Fort Worth, died at his Fort Worth home on Thursday night. He was 92.Bobby Bragan

“We are dealing with the loss of one of the great ones,” former Rangers manager Bobby Valentine told “He was a true renaissance man. He was amazing, so incredibly special. He had such great knowledge of baseball, such retention. He could talk baseball on one hand, recite poetry on the other. There was no one else quite like him.”

Bragan, a native of Birmingham, Ala., arrived in Fort Worth in 1948 as a player and manager after parts of seven seasons in the majors, ending up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a backup catcher for the Dodgers before spending two years in the military. He returned for the 1947 season. The Dodgers went on to lose the World Series that year to the New York Yankees, and Bragan had a pinch-hit double in his only World Series plate appearance.

The next season he was in Fort Worth helping the Cats become a winner. He stayed through the 1952 season and his teams won regular season titles in 1948 and 1949, never finishing below .500 during his tenure.

Bragan went on to manage in the majors for Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958), Milwaukee (1963-65) and Atlanta (1966). Bragan was the first manager of the Braves after they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. He managed Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Bob Lemon and Warren Spahn, compiling a 443-478 career record.

Bragan also was a major league coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Colt .45s. His minor league managerial stops also included the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.


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.


Former MLB player and scout Stan Benjamin dead at age 95

He played for the Phillies from 1939 to 1942 and for the Cleveland Indians in 1945. RIP.

Stan Benjamin, a former scout for the Houston Astros, passed away Thursday at the age of 95, as announced by the team.Stan Benjamin

Benjamin joined the Astros in 1965 and worked in the organization for nearly 40 years, evaluating talent as a scout at the amateur and professional levels. His duties included serving as a Major League scout covering the American League East clubs for several seasons. Benjamin also served as Houston’s amateur scouting supervisor for the Northeast section of the country.

“Stan was a vital cog in the Astros organization,” said Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith in the team’s release concerning Benjamin’s passing.

“He was a keen judge of talent and had great personal associations throughout the game as a result of his long career as a player, high school coach, college basketball official and scout,” Smith added. “All of us who knew Stan will have great memories of him.”


Chicago Cubs trade OF Milton Bradley to Seattle

Do not pass Go, and do not collect $200*. From ESPN-

The Mariners and Chicago Cubs have announced a trade that sends outfielder Milton Bradley to Seattle for right-handed pitcher Carlos Silva.

According to sources familiar with the deal, the Mariners will send a total of $9 million to the Cubs in the deal — about $3 million in 2010 and about $6 million in 2011.

That money could allow the Cubs to obtain a center fielder and move Kosuke Fukudome back to right field. They’ve expressed interest in free agents including Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik.

But they’ve also explored potential trades for a center fielder — most prominently, Curtis Granderson, before he was traded to the New York Yankees.

Silva is owed $11.5 million for both 2010 and 2011; in 2012, he is due either a $12 million option or a $2 million buyout. Bradley is owed about $23 million on his deal.


Bradley batted .257 with 12 home runs and 40 runs batted in last season. He has a .277 career batting average, but his time in the majors has been beset by injuries and run-ins with teammates and fans. Through 2009, he’s played for seven teams in nine seasons, with 115 HRs and 439 RBIs.


Silva signed a four-year, $48 million deal with the Mariners after the 2008 season and has been a disappointment in Seattle, going 5-18 the past two seasons. He appeared in eight games last season, going 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA.

For his career, he’s 60-64 with two saves and a 4.72 ERA in 295 appearances with the Phillies, Twins and Mariners.

For whatever it is worth, reports from Venezuela say Silva’s arm is healthy again.

So why would Seattle trade him? Salary perhaps, or concerns about Silva’s arm may still be persisting. I see this trade as two teams wanting to rid themselves of high priced and risky property. Your guess is as good as mine if Chicago or Seattle make good from this deal.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

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