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.


Hall of Famer Pitcher Robin Roberts dead at 83

He won 286 games pitching for the Phillies when the franchise was mediocre or worse most of the time. Roberts gave up more homeruns than any pitcher in baseball history. Basically he challenged hitters to hit him but Roberts was one of those pitchers(Catfish Hunter, Tom Seaver, Jack Morris) who could do it and win even if some of them were home run prone. Roberts served in the Air Force and attended Michigan State before his pro baseball days. After he was through playing, Roberts was head baseball coach at the University of South Florida. RIP.

Philadelphia Phillie trivia- Who is the only Phillie pitcher since 1930 to win the National League MVP award? It is not Roberts. The answer will be at the bottom of this post.Robin Roberts

Long before pitch counts, setup men and closers, Robin Roberts usually finished what he started.

Roberts, the tireless Hall of Fame pitcher who led the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1950 National League pennant as part of the famed “Whiz Kids,” died Thursday at his Temple Terrace, Fla., home of natural causes, the Phillies said, citing son Jim. He was 83.

“He was a boyhood hero of mine,” team president David Montgomery said. “Then I had a chance to meet him personally. I remember pinching myself knowing I was talking to Robin Roberts. His career and stats speak for themselves. But first and foremost he was a friend and we’ll miss him badly.”

The right-hander was the most productive pitcher in the National League in the first half of the 1950s, topping the league in wins from 1952 to 1955, innings pitched from ’51 to ’55 and complete games from ’52 to ’56.

He won 286 games and put together six consecutive 20-win seasons. Roberts had 45 career shutouts, 2,357 strikeouts and a lifetime ERA of 3.41. He pitched 305 complete games, but also gave up more home runs than any other major league pitcher. Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer is on the verge of breaking that mark. The 47-year-old Moyer has given up 498 homers, seven fewer than Roberts.

Roberts played in an era when pitchers expected to go the distance. Put it this way: In the past 25 years, Phillies pitchers threw a total of 300 complete games — five fewer than Roberts all by himself. Roberts made 609 career starts, finishing more than half.

“Robin was one of the most consistent, competitive and durable pitchers of his generation and a symbol of the Whiz Kids,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “Robin truly loved baseball and always had its best interests at heart.”

Long after his career ended, Roberts followed the Phillies closely and was still popular in Philadelphia, drawing boisterous applause from fans each time he came back.


Former Cy Young winner Mike Cuellar dead at 72

I remember Cuellar very well. He was the ace of the 1969 Baltimore Orioles pitching staff that faced off in Games 1* and 5 against my favorite team, the New York Mets. Do I really have to recall what happened in that World Series?Mike Cuellar

Cuellar was dominating then. A left-handed screwball pitcher. He was tougher on righty batters than lefties, or at least Cuellar was in 1969. Cuellar was a mainstay of the Orioles pitching staffs from 1969 to 1974. He ended his Baltimore career with subpar years in 75 and 76 and apparently complained to manager Earl Weaver. Weaver replied “I gave Mike Cuellar more chances than my first wife.” Cuellar was a very good pitcher(but not strong enough for the who ended his career in 1977 with the California Angels and tallied 185 career victories. RIP.

*- Cuellar made his first WS appearance in 1969. He was on the roster(along with NY Met Ron Taylor who also pitched in Game 1) of the 1964 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Cuellar didn’t appear in the post season that year.

Mike Cuellar, a crafty left-hander from Cuba whose darting screwball made him a World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner with the Baltimore Orioles, died Friday. He was 72.

The Orioles confirmed Cuellar’s death, but did not release other details. According to The Baltimore Sun, Cuellar died of stomach cancer at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida.

Cuellar made his major league debut in 1959 and bounced around Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston for almost a decade before a trade sent him to Baltimore. Wearing the black-and-orange bird logo, he blossomed as part of one of the most imposing pitching staffs in baseball history — in 1971, he was among the Orioles’ four 20-game winners.

A four-time All-Star, Cuellar was 185-130 overall with a 3.14 ERA. He was voted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame.

“He sure was an ace,” Hall of Fame teammate Brooks Robinson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday night. “He had a way of making good hitters look bad, making them take funny swings.”

Cuellar joined the Orioles in 1969, and that year became the first Baltimore pitcher to win the AL Cy Young Award, sharing the honor with Detroit’s Denny McLain.

Cuellar went 23-11 with five shutouts that season, including a game in which he held Minnesota hitless until Cesar Tovar’s soft, leadoff single in the ninth inning.

Cuellar helped pitch Baltimore to three straight World Series appearances from 1969 to 1971. He finished off that run by teaming with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson to become the only staff other than the 1920 Chicago White Sox with a quartet of 20-game winners.


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.


Miguel Tejada signs 1-year contract with Baltimore Orioles

The deal is contingent on Tejada passing a physical. From ESPN-

Miguel Tejada will return to Baltimore after agreeing to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Orioles, the slugger told’s Enrique Rojas on Saturday.

The free agent shortstop played in Baltimore from 2004-07, before being traded to the Houston Astros in December 2007 for five players.

The deal includes around $1 million in incentives for playing time registered, Tejada said.

“I am happy to return to Baltimore, it’s like my home,” Tejada told Rojas. “We have great young talent, and I think many good things could happen with the club in 2010.”

Tejada is being slated to play third base, a position he has never played in the major leagues. I think that’s the riskiest part of this signing for Baltimore. There is no way of knowing if Tejada can make the conversion.


Pitcher Randy Johnson announces his retirement

I consider Johnson the best lefty that I personally saw pitch. My baseball viewing began in 1967, so I just missed both Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn. The only lefty since 67 that was in Johnson’s class, was Steve Carlton. Johnson was a more dominating pitcher. Enjoy your retirement Randy.

Randy Johnson is retiring after 22 major league seasons.

The Big Unit, an overpowering lefty who last June became the 24th pitcher to win 300 games, made the expected announcement Tuesday on a conference call.

“I really wanted to go out on my terms,” Johnson said. “I just feel like there’s not a lot more for me to do in this game. I just think it’s a natural progression when you play this long. Eventually you have to say it’s time.”

A Storied Career

A five-time Cy Young Award winner, the 46-year-old Johnson accomplished just about everything in his remarkable career that a player hopes for in baseball.

He owns a World Series ring and co-MVP honors, and was a 10-time All-Star. He threw two no-hitters, including a perfect game, and ranks second on the career strikeout list.

The 6-foot-10 Johnson finishes with a career record of 303-166 and 4,875 strikeouts in 4,135 1/3 innings for Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, the New York Yankees and San Francisco. His strikeouts are the most by a left-hander and second to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.

Johnson overcame several injuries to keep pitching at a high level into his mid-40s. He said before last season ended that he looked forward to going home to Arizona and spending time with his family before making a decision about his future.

“It’s taken this long into January because I definitely wanted to just kind of relax from the season being over and make sure I had a clear head when I made this decision, and that I would be making it wholeheartedly and would be sticking to it,” he said.

Johnson went 8-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 17 starts and five relief appearances for San Francisco last season despite missing more than two months with a strained left shoulder that also had a tear in the rotator cuff. He returned in late September as a reliever, a role he couldn’t see himself embracing in order to keep pitching.


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.”


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.


Washington Nationals sign C Ivan Rodriguez

The Nationals will be Pudge’s 5th team in three years. From the Washington Times-

The Washington Nationals have agreed with former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez on a two-year deal, according to a club source. The deal is believed to be worth $6 million, and it gives Washington the veteran catcher who can both spell and mentor Jesus Flores that general manager Mike Rizzo said he’s been looking for.Pudge

The move came shortly after the midnight deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers. Rodriguez declined arbitration, instead landing a multi-year deal at the age of 38.

What the Nationals will primarily be getting is experience; the future Hall of Famer has played nearly 2,400 major-league games and reached 14 All-Star Games. He has thrown out 46 percent of baserunners during his career.

Washington has been searching for an insurance policy behind the plate with Flores trying to return from shoulder surgery. He also won rave reviews for his work with a young pitching staff in Detroit from 2004-08, and will be counted on to duplicate those efforts with the Nationals’ young arms, particularly top overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals goals of having Rodriguez tutor Flores and Strasburg are realistic. Pudge’s goal of playing 70 or more games next season, is more problematic. He is 38 and with almost 2,300 games under his belt. I don’t think he is capable of maintaining a heavy and productive workload but that’s my opinion.


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.


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