Sports Outside the Beltway

Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan to have season ending elbow surgery

The first major injury of the 2010 baseball campaign. From AP-

Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan will miss the 2010 season because of an elbow injury that will require surgery.

Nathan, who leads the major leagues with 246 saves since 2004, made the decision after playing catch with Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson for 10 minutes on Sunday.

Nathan hopes to have surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow within two weeks. He was injured on March 6 during a 20-pitch outing in a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox.

An elbow injury at Nathan’s age is career threatening. This will hurt the Twins also but I don’t know to what extent.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


One game to go- Minnesota beats Kansas City 5-4

As a result, the American League Central Division is tied with one game to go in the regular season. From AP-

Cuddyer hit a solo home run in the eighth inning, lifting the Twins to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday that moved them into a tie with first-place Detroit.

“This is what it’s all about,” Cuddyer said. “When you break spring training, you hope to experience this. All 162 games are going to count. You can’t go wrong with that.”

The Tigers lost 5-1 to the Chicago White Sox. Sunday is the final day of the regular season.

Joe Mauer delivered his biggest hit in an MVP-caliber season, a two-out single off Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke that broke a scoreless tie in the sixth. Delmon Young added a three-run double later in the inning for a 4-0 lead.

After the Twins bullpen let the Royals tie it, Cuddyer hit his 31st homer of the season off Dusty Hughes (0-2).

The Tigers have let a seven game lead with 4 weeks to go in the season, evaporate. This late season collapse might be the mirror image of what happened in 1987 when the Toronto Blue Jays blew a big lead late in the season and Detroit ended up as the AL East winners.

Jason Verlander will go to the mound for the Tigers today, while Carl Pavano gets the call for Minnesota. I predict both teams win today, then Detroit will win the one game playoff.


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.


Demolition job- Minnesota beats Chicago White Sox 20-1

It was the worst defeat in Chisox history. From AP-

While the Chicago White Sox weren’t exactly showing their best side to Jake Peavy, the Minnesota Twins were taking out their anger on the baseball.

Joe Mauer hit a grand slam, two doubles and drove in a career-high six runs as the Twins routed the White Sox 20-1 Thursday, matching Chicago’s most-lopsided loss in team history.

“I think a lot frustration came out today,” said Mauer, whose Twins had lost the first six games of their road trip before winning big on getaway day. “We had a rough trip. It was nice to get some runs. We kept on saying, ‘Keep at it, keep at it.”

There was nothing nice about the game for the White Sox, whose only other 19-run defeat ever was a 19-0 loss at Anaheim in 2002.

“We did everything wrong we could do,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “You name it, we did it wrong.”

It would seem so. Nineteen run losses are not too common at the pro level. The good news, tomorrow is another day and game. Twice in baseball history has a team come back from being no-hit to having a no-hitter of their own the next day.

What sparked today’s outburst was an attempt at ‘small ball’ by Minnesota.

Minnesota led 1-0 and had two on in the second when Betemit fielded Nick Punto’s bunt and threw the ball off Punto’s helmet. Mauer’s sacrifice fly and Kubel’s RBI single made it 4-0 before Cuddyer lined a three-run homer over the left-field fence. Three pitches later, Crede took Colon deep for an eight-run lead.

Bunting, except when it’s done by a pitcher, is usually associated with what’s called a one-run offense. The botched bunt helped score Minnesota 7 runs in the inning it was conducted. Trust me, that won’t happen again for a while.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

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