Sports Outside the Beltway

Kansas City Royals fire Manager Trey Hillman

He is the first skipper to get the axe in 2010. From ESPN-

Trey Hillman became the first manager to get fired this season when the Kansas City Royals let him go Thursday after a final win.Trey Hillman

Former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost, who had joined the Royals’ front office in January, immediately took over the team.

The Royals announced the move after beating the Cleveland Indians 6-4, a win that left Kansas City at 12-23 and last in the AL Central.

The 47-year-old Hillman was in his third season with the Royals and went 152-207. Kansas City was 75-87 in 2008 but then dropped into a last-place tie in 2009 at 65-97.

Yost managed the Brewers from 2003-08, when he was fired late in the season with the team in the playoff race. The Royals hired him last winter as a special adviser for baseball operations.

Hillman spent a 12 years working in the New York Yankees’ system and won a couple manager of the year awards in the minors. He then went to Japan for five years and was considered a major league manager-in-waiting.

The Royals have been dreadful since the mid-90′s. A team that once made it against all odds, now accumulating a record almost as pathetic as their predecessors(The Athletics) in KC. If not for Zach Greinke, the Royals would be certain to lose 100 games this year. They still may do it, and a change of manager isn’t about to alter the franchise’s fortunes.


Milwaukee Brewers claim P Marco Estrada

The Mexican born pitcher saw Major League duty with Washington Nationals in 2008 and 2009. From AP-

The Milwaukee Brewers claimed right-hander Marco Estrada off waivers from the Washington Nationals.

The 26-year-old has pitched in parts of the last two seasons for Washington, going 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in one start and three relief appearances last year. He was drafted by the Nationals in the sixth round in 2005.

To make room for Estrada, the Brewers designated right-hander Tim Dillard for assignment.

As I see it, Estrada over Dillard because the former has more potential. Both are 26-year-olds and rate as middle relievers at this moment.

Why I think Estrada has more potential is pretty simple. He strikes out more batters than Dillard. His fastball is in the low 90′s and is said to have a good changeup. The problem Estrada has had in the majors so far, is his tendency to give up gopher balls. Estrada has had the same problem in the minors.

Both these guys are probably going to have little impact in the majors, but if one of them does, I would bet it is Estrada.

Note- This is my 2000th Blog post at OTB Sports since I began writing here in May 2006.


Former MLB Outfielder Curt Motton dead at 69

I remember Motton but not due to my watching him play. For one thing he was an American Leaguer and I was a NY Met fan. Sometimes I watched the Yankees on WPIX, but not all that often and Motton was a utility player who didn’t play all that much. His most prolific year was 1968 when he had 218 at-bats.

Why I recall Motton is because at Christmas in 1970 or 1971, I got a game called ‘Gil Hodges Pennant Fever‘. For a few years I played many games, mostly with the 69 NY Mets which GHPF attempted to recreate, but sometimes with the Baltimore Orioles. I used Motton as my primary pinch hitter and still remember that 35 plus years later. RIP.

Former Baltimore Orioles outfield Curt Motton has died after a long battle with stomach cancer.

Motton died Thursday at his Parkton home. He was 69.

Motton played for the Orioles from 1967-71, when he was traded to Milwaukee. He returned to Baltimore in 1973, and finished his playing career in 1974.

Motton also served as a bench coach for the team in 1991.


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.


Los Angeles Angels announcer Rory Markas dead at 54

He also used to do Milwaukee Brewer, Los Angeles Clippers, and USC Trojan broadcasts. RIP.

Los Angeles Angels broadcaster Rory Markas has died. He was 54.

Markas was found dead at his home in Palmdale, Calif., on Monday and the cause of death was not immediately available, Angels spokesman Tim Mead said Tuesday. Markas had surgery for a blood clot on his brain in late 2008.

Markas was with the Angels for eight seasons. Many remember his call in the 2002 World Series when center fielder Darin Erstad was about to make the final out: “Erstad says he’s got it! Erstad makes the catch! The Anaheim Angels are the champions of baseball!”

Markas also did broadcasts for the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Clippers, USC men’s basketball and Pacific Coast League baseball. He had been a sports reporter for KNX Radio and a sports anchor for KTTV.

During Markas’ six seasons with the PCL, he spent three years doing radio broadcasts for the Salt Lake City Gulls and three for the Vancouver Canadians.

“The entire Trojan family is shocked and saddened to learn of this sad news about Rory,” USC athletic director Mike Garrett said in a statement released by the school. “We held him and the outstanding broadcasting work he did for us in the highest regard. He was a consummate professional and a well-loved individual. He’ll be a very difficult person to replace. We want to extend our support and condolences to his family.”

“Rory was one of the great professionals in the business,” said Jim Hefner, who worked with Markas as the analyst on USC radio broadcasts, in the USC statement. “But more importantly, he was one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever been around. I’m sure that everyone who worked with him will truly miss him. He was one of a kind.”

He was honored with two Associated Press Sportscasting awards and received the 2008 Radio Play-by-Play Award from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.


Kansas City sign C Jason Kendall

The Royals two main catchers for 2009 are not returning for 2010. From AP-

Jason Kendall agreed Friday to a $6 million, two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals and is expected to become their everyday catcher.

Kendall is a .290 hitter over his 14-year career. The 35-year-old was an All-Star in 1996, 1998 and 2000 but hit just .241 with two homers and 43 RBIs last season with the Milwaukee Brewers.

He has 376 career doubles, 177 stolen bases and a .369 on-base percentage in a career that has included stops in Pittsburgh, Oakland and with the Chicago Cubs. Kendall also has been hit by 248 pitches, fifth most all-time.

He gets $2.25 million next year and $3.75 million in 2011. He can earn an additional $250,000 each season in performance bonuses.

The Royals did not offer a contract to Miguel Olivo, who led the team last year with 23 home runs, and aren’t expected to re-sign backup catcher John Buck.

While the recently signed Ivan Rodriguez is twenty times more likely to be a future Hall of Famer, Jason Kendall has always been more my type of catcher. If you put aside Pudge’s arm, Kendall is better overall player. He gets on base, doesn’t hit into double plays, and the pitchers he has caught have posted better earned run averages than those working with Ivan. Kendall is certainly a very underrated player, but I have to admit he will never make the Hall of Fame. Ivan, barring some scandal, will make it when he becomes eligible.


Minnesota Twins acquire SS J.J. Hardy from Milwaukee

The 27-year-old shortstop had a off year in 2009 which included a short stint in the minors. From AP-

J.J. Hardy has been traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Carlos Gomez.

The teams announced the deal on Friday.

Hardy, a shortstop, hit .229 last season with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs. He had a combined 50 home runs in 2007 and 2008.

He has a career batting average of .262 with 75 home runs and 265 RBIs in 571 games.

Highly regarded prospect Alcides Escobar is expected to be the Brewers’ starting shortstop next season.

Gomez hit .229 with three home runs and 28 RBIs in 2009. He played in 137 games, often as a defensive replacement.

Hardy will is likely to replace Orlando Cabrera who is at present unsigned. If Cabrera remains a Twin, Hardy is likely to be moved to 3rd base.

I think the Twins came out ahead on this trade. Gomez is a run of the mill 4th or 5th outfielder.


Albert Pujols sets new record for 1st basebman assists.

He broke the previous mark set by Bill Buckner in 1985. From AP-

Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals has set the major league record for assists by a first baseman, getting his 185th of the year in the regular-season finale against Milwaukee.

Pujols topped the record set by Boston’s Bill Buckner in 1985, flipping to pitcher Joel Pineiro covering the bag on Jody Gerut’s groundout leading off the fifth. He earlier eclipsed the National League record of 180 assists by Mark Grace of the Cubs in 1990.

Pujols, a Gold Glove winner in 2006, received a long standing ovation after the Cardinals announced the achievement on a scoreboard.

A high assist total doesn’t automatically mark a 1st baseman as either a good or bad gloveman. Bill Buckner had bad ankles which caused his mobility to be limited and his defense to be subpar. Dick Stuart, Marv Throneberry were poor defensive players with high totals of assists. On the other hand Keith Hernandez was a perennial gold glover and had above average assist totals.

The most common assist for a first baseman is to the pitcher, but he also garners them with throws to 2nd(The shortstop) and to the catcher at home plate. The location of where the 1st baseman gets his assists is important to determining based on his stats if his defense is good or not.

Sound confusing? Welcome to the world of baseball defensive statistics.


20 in a row- Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3

It is over two years since the Bucs won a game in Milwaukee. From AP-

The streak began when Claudio Vargas beat the Pirates more than two years ago as a starter. After he was released, became a reliever and returned in a trade, the Brewers still haven’t lost to Pittsburgh at home.

Vargas (1-0) threw a scoreless inning in relief of Yovani Gallardo, pinch-hitter Jody Gerut doubled to score the go-ahead run and Milwaukee rallied off Kevin Hart’s wildness for their 20th straight win over the Pirates in Miller Park, beating Pittsburgh 7-3 on Saturday night.

“It’s unbelievable. I played here in ’07 and every time they come here, we win, and every time we go there, we lose,” said Vargas, who went six scoreless innings in a 10-0 win on May 4, 2007. “It’s fun because 20 games straight is real impressive.”

Andy LaRoche homered for the Pirates, but they couldn’t avoid the longest streak by one team over another at home since the Indians beat the Orioles franchise 27 consecutive times at Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1952-54.

When I first read this, I wondered why the reporter didn’t just say the St. Louis Browns. Then I remembered the Browns transferred to Baltimore after the 1953 season. Unlike the Indians in the 1950′s, the Brewers haven’t been one of the best teams in baseball the last two years. That makes their winning streak pretty remarkable in my opinion.


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?


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