Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


Former MLB Pitcher Brian Powell dead at age 35

He was an All American for the U of Georgia and pitched a minor league no-hitter. Powell left behind a wife and three children. RIP.

A sheriff’s official in Georgia says former major league pitcher Brian Powell has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 35.

Capt. Liz Crowley of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office says Powell died Monday at a hospital in Tallahassee, Fla. Powell was from Bainbridge, Ga.

Powell was 7-18 with a 5.94 ERA in 59 games for Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Philadelphia. He last pitched in the majors with the Phillies in 2004, and spent 2005 in Triple-A for Washington.


Pitcher Shawn Chacon arrested on gambling debt related charges

He spent all of 2009 pitching for a Oakland A’s farm team. From the Greeley Tribune-

Greeley police arrested former major league pitcher Shawn Chacon on Monday night on a felony warrant for suspected unpaid gambling debt in Las Vegas.

Police received an anonymous tip at 7:57 p.m. Monday that Chacon was at Highland Park Lanes, 1900 59th Ave. in Greeley, and that tip led to his arrest soon after, according to police reports.

Chacon was taken to the Weld County Jail, and bail was set at $165,125.

The arrest comes after Chacon was wanted in connection with three bad checks written to Caesars Palace in March, each for $50,000, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Chacon was a standout athlete at Greeley Central High School before being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 1996 draft. He made the Major League All-Star team in 2003 before being traded to the New York Yankees in 2005. After his stint with the Yankees, Chacon went on to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros.

The story of Shawn Chacon is a sad one. He was once a promising pitcher, now his career and personal life appear to be in ruins.


Houston Astros fire Manager Cecil Cooper

He becomes the 4th manager to lose his job during the 2009 MLB season. From AP-

The Houston Astros fired manager Cecil Cooper on Monday with 13 games left in another disappointing season.

Third-base coach Dave Clark was named interim manager. The Astros were 70-79 headed into Monday’s home against St. Louis.

Cecil Cooper took over as manager of the Astros on Aug. 27, 2007. Houston went 171-170 under him.
General manager Ed Wade said the change couldn’t wait until the end of the season. He added that more changes could be coming for a franchise just four years removed from its only World Series appearance.

“We’re tasked with evaluating all aspects of our situation,” Wade said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to try to address those off-field issues that exist. We’re not walking away from it. The issue we had to address here, in the short term, was the managerial issue and that’s why we moved forward today.”

The 59-year-old Cooper was hired on Aug. 27, 2007, to replace Phil Garner. Houston went 171-170 under Cooper, who was the bench coach under Garner between 2005-07.

Clark will supposedly be given consideration for the permanent job of managing the Astros. I will be greatly surprised if Houston goes in that direction. As for firing Cooper now, I don’t understand why the team couldn’t wait till the end of the season. Clark isn’t going to change the team’s fortunes, but maybe the team’s management is using these games as test for Clark. Again I think that is unlikely.


P Mike Hampton has a torn rotator cuff

Another setback for the veteran lefty has he tries to re-establish himself in the major leagues.

Houston Astros left-hander Mike Hampton has a partially torn rotator cuff and hopes to pitch again this season.

Hampton (7-10, 5.30 ERA) went on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. He left his last start on Aug. 13 with shoulder soreness. An MRI taken Wednesday revealed the extent of the injury, the team announced.

The Astros said Hampton will not have surgery to repair the injury.

The 36-year-old has started 21 games this season, his most since 2004. He missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons after separate elbow surgeries.

I always thought this type of injury required surgery. If Hampton is operated on at some future date, I think his playing career will be at an end. He was a good pitcher but his career has been downhill ever since his signing with Colorado before the 2001 season.


Aaron Boone back playing minor league baseball 5 months after having heart surgery

He hopes to be back playing in the major leagues before the 2009 season is completed. From AP-

Aaron Boone is back playing baseball, appearing in a minor league game in Texas less than five months after open-heart surgery.

Boone batted second Monday night for the Corpus Christi Hooks, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. He swung at the first pitch and popped up to the first baseman in foul territory. Boone played third base against Midland and was hitless in two at-bats before leaving the game.

“It felt good to get out there and play in a real game,” Boone told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I felt good physically. I always have nerves whether it’s a spring training game or my first game in Corpus.

“I was excited tonight. I think it went really well. I had a couple of balls come my way and got to face pitching for the first time in a long, long time. A little overwhelming, but a necessary step on the way back.”

The 36-year-old Boone had an operation in late March because of a congenital defect in his aortic valve.

Boone is perhaps best remembered for his game 7 winning homerun in the 2003 ALCS. He was a favorite player of mine during the 2001 Star Tournament season. I platooned him with Eric Chavez at both the Fort Lauderdale and Fall Orlando tournaments where I each finished 2nd.

It sounds as if Boone was born with a bicuspid heart valve and had AVR(Aortic Valve replacement) surgery. Something I have more than a passing familiarity with. I had AVR performed on me one year ago this week. Boone is stronger than me, I don’t know if I would be swinging a baseball bat so soon. I wish him well in his recovery and comeback.


Tampa Bay Rays acquire Reliever Russ Springer

There must be a ‘I need another ancient relief pitcher’ virus going around the offices of MLB teams at this moment. From the St. Petersburg Times-

The Rays had interest in adding veteran Russ Springer to their bullpen anyway. After going through two extra-inning games in four days, they believed it was even more important to make a move.

The 40-year-old right-hander was claimed on waivers from Oakland, with the Rays assuming the nearly $1 million remaining on his $3.3 million contract.


Springer was 0-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 48 games with Oakland but had a 1.61 ERA over 25 games since early June.

The addition of Springer required Tampa to make another personnel move.

The Rays’ decision to designate IF Joe Dillon for assignment to make room for Springer wasn’t cut-and-dried. Ultimately, the Rays decided to go with eight relievers and three bench players in large part because they had played two extra-inning games this week.

Though Dillon rarely got off the bench, Maddon said he didn’t like having to cut him loose. In addition to being a fan of Dillon’s approach to the game, Maddon will have to be especially creative with the way he uses his bench.

That’s an understatement. Only three bench players severely limits a manager’s options. One of those backups has to be a catcher, the most likely player to get injured in any given game. Managers are a cautious lot, and will be cautious in using their only backup catcher. That limits a team’s strategy moves with only three bench players even more.

Springer, like the recently traded David Weathers, has been all over the major leagues for fifteen plus years. He is a decent reliever, but for the reasons I already stated, I don’t understand why Tampa needed this guy.


Return engagement- Milwaukee Brewers acquire reliever David Weathers

He is one of the last original Florida Marlins to still be playing in the Major Leagues. From AP-

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired Cincinnati right-hander David Weathers for a player to be named later.

Weathers is 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 43 games. He pitched one inning and got the win in Friday’s 10-5 comeback win over the San Francisco Giants.

The 39-year-old reliever starts his second stint with Milwaukee. He previously pitched for the Brewers from 1998-2001.

Weathers, who first came up with Toronto in 1991, is still putting up decent numbers. Anyone want to take a guess how much longer he can keep on pitching in the majors?


Houston Astros Reliever Wesley Wright treated for dehydration, released

He had to be removed from a game last night against the Chicago Cubs. From AP-

Houston Astros reliever Wesley Wright was out of the hospital Wednesday after being treated the previous night for dehydration.

Wright had to take the mound in the second inning of Houston’s 11-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs after Astros ace Roy Oswalt hurt his lower back.

Oswalt on Wednesday returned to Houston, where he was to be examined by a back specialist.

One of baseball’s best pitchers this decade, Oswalt has had back problems before, including a stint on the disabled list in 2006 for a mid-back strain.

Wright allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings and got his first career hit before he had to be rushed to Northwestern Hospital. Team officials originally thought he might have had appendicitis because he had complained of discomfort in that area of his body.

The Astros said Wright was staying at the team hotel Wednesday but probably would be back with the club for Thursday’s series finale.

Athletes need to drink plenty of fluids while a game is being played and more so during summer time. I remember a member of the 1969 New York Mets, J.C. Martin, being taken to the hospital after a game was played on a July afternoon in Chicago. In that instance, team trainers worried may be having a heart attack. It proved to be heat exhaustion or dehydration like in Wright’s case.


Ivan Rodriguez sets all time record for games played as a catcher

He broke the record held by Carlton Fisk. From AP-

Ivan Rodriguez was praised by fans and teammates Wednesday night for becoming the all-time leader in games caught.


Rodriguez, who began his career at age 19 in 1991 and played 12 seasons in Texas, caught his 2,227th game to break Carlton Fisk’s record.

“I’m tickled for Pudge,” Cooper said. “It’s great he was able to break the record. But it’s unfortunate that it didn’t happen on a good night for us.”

Rodriguez received numerous ovations from the Rangers crowd, but also had his first two-error game since Aug. 26, 2004, and sixth in his career. Both of his miscues led to runs.

Pudge’s rifle arm has been prone to miscues. He totaled double digit amounts of errors in three seasons.

Catcher is the most demanding position position on the baseball field. It puts a lot of wear on a player’s feet, back, etc. That’s why 2,000 games at the position is a huge amount, and why many catchers(Anyone remember iron man Randy Hundley) begin breaking down at half or more the amount of games Pudge played.


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