Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Randy Johnson wins his 300th game

The Big Unit is headed to Cooperstown. From AP-

Randy Johnson had to wait a while for his shot at 300 wins. The crowd was small, and the weather was wet. His performance, however, was more than worthy of the occasion.

The Big Unit hit the big number on Thursday, becoming the 24th pitcher to reach one of baseball’s most revered milestones. Johnson tossed two-hit ball over six innings, leading the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Washington Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader.

Johnson allowed only an unearned run and threw 50 of his 78 pitches for strikes. He faced four batters above the minimum and got spotless relief from his bullpen.

He left leading 2-1 and nearly wound up with a no-decision. The Nationals loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Adam Dunn was called out on strikes with a full count on a knee-high fastball from reliever Brian Wilson.

Some of the few thousand fans who witnessed Johnson’s victory — the Nationals have trouble drawing a crowd for anything these days — chanted “Randy! Randy!” in the bottom of the ninth. When the game was over, he gave hugs to teenage son Tanner, who served as a Giants batboy, as well as all of his teammates. Johnson then tipped his hat to the cheering crowd before entering the dugout.

Johnson is one of six lefthanders to notch 300 wins. Another member of that exclusive company, Tom Glavine, was just released yesterday. For pure dominance, Johnson is the greatest lefty of all time. For consistency, Warren Spahn gets the nod.

Without a 300th win, there was little doubt Johnson would make the Hall of Fame eventually. He is arguably the best pitcher of his era, and that should have been good enough in baseball writer’s eyes.


Veteran reliever Salomon Torres announces his retirement

He saved 28 games last year and was still pitching well. From AP-

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Salomon Torres retired Tuesday after 12 major league seasons.

The 36-year-old reliever issued a statement through the team saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and faith.

Torres also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Brewers GM Doug Melvin was very understanding of his decision.

“I had a wonderful experience in Milwaukee but he knows I am serious about it,” Torres told the newspaper.

Torres was 7-5 with a 3.49 ERA and a career-high 28 saves in 71 relief appearances last season. He had a 44-58 career record with a 4.31 ERA and 57 saves for San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.

Torres remains on the roster of the Brewers, who have until Saturday to exercise a $3.75 million option with a $300,000 buyout.

Torres took a pass on a great deal of money, there has to be a good reason. The ‘I want to spend more time with my family’ explanation probably shouldn’t be applied to athletes like it to politicians and coaches. Maybe Torres has some family issues. Good luck in retirement Salomon Torres.


Royals Continue to Pick Up Pitchers

The Royals added veteran set-up man David Riske to their bullpen today.

From the Kansas City Star:

Riske, 30, has made a name for himself as one of the better setup men in baseball. He is 18-14 with a 3.59 ERA in 328 appearances in a seven-year career with Cleveland, Boston, and the White Sox.

Riske appeared in a total of 140 games in 2003 and 2004, and since has seen his strikeout totals diminish. He struck out 76 batters in a combined 116 2/3 innings the last two seasons.

This makes six pitchers General Manager Dayton Moore has signed this off season who will likely make the opening day roster, completely overhauling what was the worst pitching staff in 2006, a season in which the Royals allowed seventy-two more runs than the second-worst team in the majors.

The Royals also signed Zach Day to a minor-league contract. Day fell of a cliff the last two seasons after showing promise early in his career, though part of that may have been due to a shoulder problem.

Day is 28 and missed the last half of 2006 after undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. He went 2-5 with a 6.75 ERA in eight starts for Washington and Colorado and made $600,000. He is 21-27 with a 4.66 ERA in his career. His 2.25-to-1 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio is baseball’s seventh highest since 2002.

Groundball pitchers tend to do well when they have good defenders playing behind them. Mark Grudzielanek may have won the Gold Glove last year, but Angel Berroa did not, so we’ll have to wait and see if this proves to be a steal for the Royals.

Of course, if Day’s shoulder is healed, then it certainly can’t hurt to have another pitcher with actual major-league experience on the team.


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