Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


Former MLB Outfielder Willie Davis dead at 69

Willie Davis was an excellent defensive center fielder and a very good player overall but this was obscured by a variety of reasons.

The three errors he made in one inning of a 1966 World Series game
That he played his prime years in a pitcher’s era(the late 1960′s
That Davis made his living trying to hit in Dodger’s Stadium, one of the toughest hitter’s parks in baseball during his time.

Davis still amassed very good numbers. 2561 career hits, .279 career batting average, and more. I grew up watching and remember Davis very well. Thanks for the memories Willie and RIP.Willie Davis

Known as “Three Dog” for his ability to often hit triples and because he wore number three on his uniform for most of his career, Davis played on the Dodgers’ World Series championship teams in 1963 and 1965.

Davis set a Dodgers team record in 1969 with a 31-game hitting streak and remains the franchise’s all-time leader in hits, extra-base hits, at-bats, runs, triples and total bases.

“He was beloved by generations of Dodger fans and remains one of the most talented players ever to wear the Dodger uniform,” Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement.

“Having spent time with him over the past six years, I know how proud he was to have been a Dodger. He will surely be missed and our sincere thoughts are with his children during this difficult time.”

Davis was found dead in his California home on Tuesday by a neighbor who often brought him breakfast, Burbank police told Reuters. There were no signs of foul play and police said they expect Davis died of natural causes.

Davis spent his first 14 seasons with Los Angeles from 1960 to 1973 before going on to play for Montreal, Texas, St. Louis, San Diego and California.

During his career, Davis won three Gold Glove Awards, led the league in triples twice, and stole 20 or more bases in 11 consecutive years.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Texas Rangers sign Vladimir Guerrero

The contract he signed pays 5.5 million and has performance bonuses. From ESPN-

The Texas Rangers have signed free-agent slugger Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011.

Sources said Saturday that the deal is around $5.5 million and includes performance bonuses. Guerrero, who passed his physical on Monday in Arlington, gets $1 million if the club elects not to exercise the option. He can walk away from the contract without penalty after 2010 if he chooses.

“We’re excited to welcome Vlad to the Rangers family,” general manager Jon Daniels said in a statement. “This is a guy we’ve both admired and feared for years from across the field. He’s been one of the most dangerous hitters in the game for over a decade. He’ll bring a presence to the middle of the order, and a winning pedigree to the club.”

More on the Rangers

Richard Durrett and the rest of the team have the inside scoop on the Rangers, the American League and Major League Baseball. Blog.

Guerrero, who turns 35 in February, will fill a void for a right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup after the team lost Marlon Byrd to free agency. Guerrero likely will be the club’s designated hitter.


Guerrero has a .321 career batting average, fifth among active players. He has played the last six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, and he hit .295 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in 100 games last season. He had two stints on the disabled list, including one nearly month-long stretch with a strained left knee.

Guerrero’s Slugging percentages have decilined every season dating back to 2004. He has always hit for a good batting average but he isn’t a real disciplined hitter. The Rangers are hoping Vlad can help them and see the the one-year contract has having little risk. I just don’t think it is going to work.


MLB Pitcher Luis Ayala unharmed after kidnap attempt

He pitched for the Minnesota Twins and Florida Marlins last season and is currently under contract to the Los Angeles Dodgers. From AP-

Relief pitcher Luis Ayala was unharmed during an apparent attempted kidnapping by gunmen at his home in the northern Mexico state of Sinaloa.

Martin Robles, a spokesman for the state prosecutors’ office, said investigators believed Ayala was the intended victim, whom police prevented from being abducted.

Robles said gunmen in three vehicles forced their way into Ayala’s home near the city of Los Mochis on Monday by shooting open the door.

Police arrived at the scene after receiving a call to an emergency number, and soldiers dispatched to the scene apparently scared off the assailants.

Ayala’s family was unhurt but police found him in handcuffs when they arrived.

With the drug related violent crime rampant there at the moment, Mexico might be the last country in this hemisphere I’d want to visit.


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.


Former MLB Pitcher Jackie Collum dead at 82

He was a journeyman reliever for six teams. I remember Collum’s name well from my playing of Strat-O-Matic Baseball past seasons. RIP.

Collum, who was born in Victor and lived in Grinnell for much of his life, pitched in the 1950s and 1960s.

He died Saturday at Mayflower Health Care Center in Grinnell. Memorial services were held Thursday.

Collum served in the U.S. Army in World War II in the Philippines. He returned home to pursue his major-league dreams.

As a minor leaguer in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1948, he had a 24-2 record.

Collum reached the majors in 1951 and compiled a 32-28 record and a 4.15 ERA with six teams: St. Louis, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota, Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs.

Collum played alongside Hall of Famers such as Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax and Ernie Banks.

He pitched until 1958, then had stints with the Twins and Indians in 1962. He was known as a good hitter, too, with a .246 career batting average.

He won a career-best nine games in 1955 with the Reds.


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