Sports Outside the Beltway

Manager Tony La Russa announces retirement

This news comes less than three days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

Tony La Russa is calling it a career after 16 seasons as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

La Russa, 67, only days removed from winning his third World Series title, made the announcement during a Monday morning news conference.

La Russa had hinted at a possible return during the NL championship series against the Brewers, expressing excitement about the Cardinals’ talent in place.

But apparently claiming his second World Series ring with the Cardinals — his 1989 Oakland A’s team also won it — was enough of a capstone.

La Russa’s 2,728 regular-season victories over 33 seasons as a manager rank third on the career list behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).

Mack stayed on at least a decade too long. Illness was the cause of McGraw’s resignation and he would die two years later The Giants last World Series appearance with McGraw came eight years previously.(But the Giants did go to the WS the year after McGraw’s resignation) La Russa chose to get out while on top, and I think he made the right decision.


Oakland blasts Angels, Scott Kazmir, 15-1

Kazmir has a 6.92 this season. Ouch. From AP-

The Oakland Athletics have had few nights like this in a first half of the season where scoring runs consistently has been difficult.

Few pitchers have ever had the kind of night Scott Kazmir endured for the Los Angeles Angels.

Rajai Davis capped Oakland’s biggest inning of the season with a grand slam and the Athletics handed Kazmir the worst pounding ever for an Angels pitcher in a 15-1 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Kazmir (7-9) allowed eight runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth, capped by back-to-back homers by Coco Crisp and Daric Barton.

“Today is a tough one to swallow,” Kazmir said. “I can’t have too much confidence after a game like this.”

The 13 runs are the most allowed by an Angels pitcher, topping the 11 Scott Schoeneweis gave up against Baltimore on May 23, 2001. It was the most in the majors since St. Louis’ Jason Marquis allowed 13 to the Chicago White Sox on June 21, 2006.

I wonder why Angels Manager Mike Sciossia left Kazmir out there so long. Was the team’s bullpen overworked and in need of a rest? Most ML teams carry a 12-man pitching staff today and other than overwork I wouldn’t know why a manager wouldn’t throw his worst pitcher(A mop up man out there) to finish up. That was the practice of ML managers when staffs were only 9 or 10 pitchers in size. A pitcher who gets hit that hard is likely to feel less confident about himself, and with Kazmir already struggling before last night, that has be considered a certainty.


Oakland A Dallas Braden throws a perfect game

It was the 19th in MLB history. From AP-

Dallas Braden definitely owns the mound now.APTOPIX Rays Athletics Baseball

Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history on Sunday, shutting down the majors’ hottest team and leading the Oakland Athletics to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Braden threw his arms in the air after Gabe Kapler grounded out to shortstop for the final out, his simmering feud with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez merely a footnote to the first perfect game for Oakland in 42 years.

The closest the Rays got to a hit was Jason Bartlett’s liner to third leading off the game. Evan Longoria tried to bunt leading off the fifth, drawing boos from the small crowd.

Oakland has always been a pitcher’s park. Catfish Hunter pitched a perfect game there in 1968 and an A’s pitcher named Mike Warren threw a no-hitter there too in 1983. The A’s have also been on the wrong end of no-hitters by several pitchers, the recently deceased Jim Bibby threw one of those gems.

On the other hand, Tampa has been the wrong end of the last two perfect games. Mark Buehrle, of the White Sox, did it last July. I’ve never been in attendance at one of these games, unless you count a 3-inning little league game where my team went 9 up, 9 down and lost something like 20-0. I did watch Ken Forsch no-hit the Atlanta Braves in April 1979. The Braves games were televised on WTBS and that was about the only way I could watch baseball then


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.


MLB First Baseman Frank Thomas retires after 19 years

He said the highlight of his career was being part of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. From AP-

Saying he’s “at peace” with his decision, Frank Thomas announced his retirement Friday following a 19-season career in which he hit 521 homers and won two American League MVP awards with the Chicago White Sox.

Considering he didn’t play last season, the news was hardly shocking.

“It took awhile to get to this point,” the 41-year-old Thomas said during a news conference at U.S. Cellular Field. “I know I hadn’t played since 2008, but I had to get baseball out of my system before I made this announcement. I’m happy with this announcement. I’m at peace with it. I had one heck of a career. I’m proud of it.”

With his power and ability to hit for a high average and reach base, Thomas figures to land in the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.

AL Back-to-Back MVPs

A five-time All-Star who batted .301 with a .419 on-base average, Thomas is tied for 18th with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey on baseball’s home run list while driving in 1,704 runs. And in an era clouded by performance-enhancing drugs, he was outspoken against their use.

Thomas split his final three seasons between Oakland and Toronto, but he’ll be remembered most for a 16-year run with the White Sox.

He quickly emerged as one of the best players after debuting in 1990, winning MVP awards in 1993 and 1994 and a batting title in 1997 while setting club records for home runs (448) and RBIs (1,465) before a bitter split following the 2005 World Series-winning season.

Thomas was upset when the club bought out his option for $3.5 million that December, and things got particularly nasty during the 2006 spring training. He sounded off in an interview with The Daily Southtown of suburban Tinley Park, Ill., and general manager Ken Williams responded by calling him “an idiot.”

Thomas was angry with the organization for portraying him as a damaged player, although injuries to his left ankle limited him to 34 games and made him a spectator as the White Sox grabbed their first World Series title since 1917.

He criticized owner Jerry Reinsdorf for not calling him before the team decided to let him go.

“We all know Kenny Williams and I had a big blowup,” Thomas said. “We both moved on. When you’re pretty much considered an icon in a city as a player, it’s always hard to let those players go. It’s never a pretty or nice scene. We’ve seen it over the years. You think of a Brett Favre, [Shaquille O'Neal] leaving L.A., Allen Iverson leaving Philly — he’s back in Philly, I’m happy for him. When players get to a certain level, it’s never easy to say goodbye.”

Thomas wound up going to Oakland and hit 39 homers with 114 RBIs in 2006 before signing an $18.12 million, two-year contract with Toronto. The Blue Jays released him early in the 2008 season, a day after he became angry after being taken out of the lineup. Thomas wound up back in Oakland, appearing in 55 games with the Athletics before a right thigh injury ended his season — and, ultimately, his career.

Bagwell was a great hitter and 1st baseman who oddly enough shared the exact same birthday(May 27, 1968) with another great hitter and 1st baseman, Jeff Bagwell. I think Bagwell was the better of the two players but both are likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame in the future.


Miguel Tejada signs 1-year contract with Baltimore Orioles

The deal is contingent on Tejada passing a physical. From ESPN-

Miguel Tejada will return to Baltimore after agreeing to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Orioles, the slugger told’s Enrique Rojas on Saturday.

The free agent shortstop played in Baltimore from 2004-07, before being traded to the Houston Astros in December 2007 for five players.

The deal includes around $1 million in incentives for playing time registered, Tejada said.

“I am happy to return to Baltimore, it’s like my home,” Tejada told Rojas. “We have great young talent, and I think many good things could happen with the club in 2010.”

Tejada is being slated to play third base, a position he has never played in the major leagues. I think that’s the riskiest part of this signing for Baltimore. There is no way of knowing if Tejada can make the conversion.


Holy Mackerel- Oakland A prospect retires in order to study for the priesthood

I agree with ESPN’s Rob Neyer, who calls this the oddest baseball news.

Oakland Athletics prospect Grant Desme is retiring from baseball to enter the priesthood.

Desme was recently selected the 2009 Arizona Fall League MVP and was considered one of the top prospects in Oakland’s system.

“We respect Grant’s decision and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said in a statement.

The 23-year-old outfielder batted .288 with 31 homers, 89 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 131 games at Class-A Kane County and Stockton last season.

1950′s and 60′s baseball player Frank Thomas supposedly studied for the priesthood before becoming a professional baseball player.

Rob Neyer’s blog post said Desme, who played college ball for Cal Poly, wasn’t a top prospect. In part because of his age and high strikeout rate

Yes, that sounds terribly pessimistic. The point is that Desme wasn’t a sure thing — not a Grade A prospect. He was a Grade B prospect, or maybe a B+ for the people who really loved him. The A’s need star hitters if they’re ever to get somewhere, and Desme didn’t look like a future star.

Coincidentally I’m leaving for a Catholic Men’s retreat in only minutes. This will be my last blog post till Sunday.


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.


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.


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.


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