Sports Outside the Beltway

Colorado Reliever Alan Embree’s right leg broken by line drive

The injury has to be considered career threatening. From AP-

Colorado Rockies left-hander Alan Embree is out for the season after a line drive fractured his right tibia on Friday night.

Embree will have surgery Saturday.

“There will be some type of compression screw put in there,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Atlanta’s Martin Prado hit a 3-2 fastball from Embree back up the middle in the seventh inning Friday night. The ball ricocheted off Embree’s right shin to third baseman Ian Stewart.

“It sounded awful,” Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta said. “I couldn’t even track the ball it was hit so hard. It sounded really bad.”


Embree, who signed as a free agent with the Rockies this past offseason, was 2-2 with a 5.84 ERA in 36 appearances.

Embree is 37-43 lifetime in a career that started in 1992. Other than 4 games he started in 92 for the Cleveland Indians, he’s been exclusively a left handed relief specialist for 10 MLB teams. I have always liked Embree, he was a key part of a winning Star tournament team of mine, but his career looked to be in decline before this injury. If he reestablishes himself as a quality pitcher in 2010, I’ll be greatly surprised.


St. Louis Manager Tony LaRussa gets to 2,500 career wins

A Cardinal victory over Kansas City got him to that career milestone.

Albert Pujols comes through Kansas City once a season. The Royals wouldn’t be too disappointed if he never came back.

Pujols finished off a three-day romp in Kansas City with two homers and six RBIs, helping the St. Louis Cardinals rout the Royals 12-5 Sunday in win No. 2,500 for manager Tony La Russa.

Only Connie Mack and John McGraw have won more games as a Manager. Mack’s record is out of reach but LaRussa could surpass McGraw(2762 career wins) in as little as three years. Before taking over the Cardinals, LaRussa managed the Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox.

Albert Pujols also equaled some St. Louis Cardinals records.

Pujols tied Stan Musial’s team record of nine career grand slams and matched the season mark of three shared by Jim Bottomley (1925), Keith Hernandez (1977) and Fernando Tatis (1999).

So far as Grand slams go, Pujols is a slacker. I mean Richie Sexson has hit sixteen in his career.


Back injury may end Oakland Athletic 3rd baseman Eric Chavez’s career

He has only played on a limited basis since 2007. From the San Francisco Chronicle-

The next time Eric Chavez’s back goes out, it will be the end of his career.

“Pretty much game, set and match,” the A’s third baseman told The Chronicle by phone from his home in Phoenix.

Chavez is rehabbing his most recent back problem in Arizona in the hopes of rejoining the A’s on their next homestand. Doctors, however, have told him that a herniated disk in his back could go at any time, even if he sneezes.

If that happens, Chavez will need to have his previously repaired vertebra, the L4-L5, fused with the vertebra that is currently herniated, which is the L3-L4. Another microdiscectomy such as the one Chavez had in October, 2007, is out, because it would leave his spine too unstable, Chavez said.

Spinal fusions don’t allow for the type of physical activity performed by pro athletes.

If a spinal fusion causes Chavez give up ballplaying it will be sad but necessary. His long term health is more important.

If Chavez retired today, he is certainly one of the top 100 3rd baseman in baseball history. Prior to the 1930′s, most players at that position were closer to modern day shortstops offensively than to today’s 3rd basemen. Harlond Clift was the first to ever hit 30 homeruns, and he did that in 1938. That’s eight years after the big offensive year of the era.(1930) Chavez has hit over 220 homers in his career, with a .268 career Batting average and career on base percentage of .344. Those are more than solid numbers plus Chavez was multiple time gold glove 3rd baseman.

Chavez was a favorite Star Tour player of mine in the last year I played in those tournaments. He was my regular 3rd baseman for my 2nd place finishing team in this tournament and this.


Miguel Tejada pleads guilty to charge of lying

Based on Mark McGwire’s luck with the Baseball Writers of America, I think it is safe to say Tejada won’t ever make the Baseball Hall of Fame now. From AP-

All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball.

Tejada was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2002 while playing for Oakland. He now plays for the Houston Astros.

The misdemeanor charge of making misrepresentations to Congress can lead to as much as a year in jail. But federal guidelines call for a lighter sentence.

The case stems from Tejada’s statements to House investigators in 2005 when he denied knowing anyone in baseball who used performance-enhancing drugs.

Tejada got himself in this spot with his own words and actions. The first thing a person who has committed a crime should do when questioned by the police, is ask for an attorney. Of course if they were smart enough to know that, then they may not have broken the law in the first place.

I bet $5 Tejada doesn’t spend a day in jail. As for MLB, I don’t expect the shortstop to get anything more than a slap on the wrist.


Former MLB Dock Ellis dead at 63

I remember Ellis from his days pitching with the Pirates. He was a good pitcher, an excellent one in 1971. The story of his pitching a no-hitter while on LSD just doesn’t sound credible. The effect of that drug on people can make even simple activities impossible. RIP.


Colorado Rockies, Alan Embree agree to 1-year deal

Should there be a new saying in MLB? Old lefthanded relievers never die, they just keep getting opportunities. From AP-

The Colorado Rockies and reliever Alan Embree agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2010.

Embree went 2-5 with a 4.96 ERA in 70 games for the Oakland Athletics last season. Oakland had declined its $3 million option on him.

The 38-year-old played on nine major league teams including Oakland. He pitched in two World Series, with Cleveland in 1995 and Boston in 2004.

This is a risky signing for the following reasons.

1 Embree is coming off a subpar year
2 Coloardo is the worst pitcher’s park in baseball, Oakland one of the best
3 Embree is 38 years of age.

A one out left handed specialist can’t do a ton of harm. Except if the one or two games that are blown by the pitcher come back to haunt a team in a tight pennant race.

Note- I like Embree. He was a reliever on one of my two winning Star Tournament championship teams.


Ken Macha hired to manage Milwaukee Brewers

He will replace interim manager Dale Sveum who took over from Ned Yost barely a month ago.

MILWAUKEE – Ken Macha was hired Thursday as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, taking over from Dale Sveum following the team’s first postseason appearance since 1982.

The 58-year-old Macha, who managed Oakland to a pair of AL West titles, agreed to a two-year contract. He replaces Sveum, who became interim manager when Ned Yost was fired with 12 games left in the regular season.

“It means a tremendous amount to me,” Macha said. “The players are the guys that go out there and win or lose the games for you, and I think the job of a manager and a coach is to get these players as prepared as you possibly can.”

Macha immediately tried to dispel the notion that he lost touch with his players in Oakland, including Jason Kendall, now the Brewers catcher.

“I’ve got a couple things to say about that. No. 1, the job of the manager is really not to be buddies with all the players. You have to make very difficult decisions over the course of the year,” he said. “Sometimes players get a little personal and think it’s personal. It really isn’t.”

Macha led Oakland to a 368-260 record. He was fired two days after the Athletics were swept by Detroit in the 2006 AL championship series, a result that frustrated players.

I don’t think Macha got a fair shake in Oakland. Will he keep the Brew crew in contention? I think we have to wait one more year to see if the team is for real.


Catcher Mike Piazza announces his retirement

He was one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. From AP-

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Mike Piazza is retiring from baseball following a 16-season career in which he became one of the top-hitting catchers in history.

“After discussing my options with my wife, family and agent, I felt it was time to start a new chapter in my life,” he said in a statement released Tuesday by his agent, Dan Lozano. “It has been an amazing journey … So today, I walk away with no regrets.

“I knew this day was coming and over the last two years. I started to make my peace with it. I gave it my all and left everything on the field.”

The 39-year-old Piazza batted .275 with eight homers and 44 RBIs as a designated hitter for Oakland last season, became a free agent and did not re-sign. He was not available to discuss his decision, according to Josh Goldberg, a spokesman for Lozano.

Taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, Piazza became a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.

“He was one of those hitters who could change the game with one swing. He was certainly the greatest-hitting catcher of our time, and arguably of all time,” said Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine, Piazza’s former teammate on the New York Mets.

Piazza finished with a .308 career average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBIs for the Dodgers (1992-98), Florida (1998), Mets (1998-05), San Diego (2006) and Oakland (2007).

Mike Piazza was one of the all-time steals in the amateur draft. In a time when the Dodgers kept wasting first round picks on pitchers who kept not making the ML roster(Anyone remember Bill Bene, Dennis Livingston, or Dan Opperman? Didn’t think so?), the Dodgers made up with it partially with their selection of Piazza.

Piazza is a certain Hall of Famer. If his glove work had been better, he’d be one of the top five catchers all-time. Still he makes the top ten. Good luck in retirement Mike.


Toronto Blue Jays release Frank Thomas

This comes the day after Thomas vented his anger at being removed from the lineup.

The Toronto Blue Jays released slumping designated hitter Frank Thomas Sunday, cutting the 19-year veteran loose one day after he was angry for being taken out of the lineup.

General manager J.P. Ricciardi said he and Thomas came to “a mutual agreement” after meeting in the clubhouse early Sunday.

“Our best opportunity is to put other guys in the lineup at this point,” Ricciardi said. “Obviously, reduced playing time is not something that he was interested in. In order to let him go forward and get on with his career, I think it’s fair to do it at this point.”

The move leaves the Blue Jays on the hook for the remainder of the two-year $18-million contract the 39-year-old Thomas signed in November 2006.

Thomas was hitless in his past 13 at-bats and had gone 4-for-35 since homering in three straight games April 5-8. Known as a slow starter, he batted .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs for Toronto this season.

Last season, Thomas batted .277, leading the team with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs.

“I don’t know that we have the luxury of waiting two to three months for somebody to kick in because we can’t let this league or this division get away from us,” Ricciardi said.

A team, if it wants to stay in the pennant race, has to often be ruthless in its personnel decisions. John Smith won you 18 games last year, but if he can’t get anyone out this year, a team needs to move quickly or watch a season slip by. This philosophy worked wonders for Casey Stengel with the 1950′s Yankess. Look at the pitching staffs of the Yankees and you’ll see a consistent pattern of pitchers falling out of favor with Casey. Bob Grim, Tom Sturdivant, Johnny Kucks, and more would have a good year one year, and be out of the rotation or even traded the next.

Thomas’ actions and remarks show he is concerned only for himself. He refused to shake the hands of his teammates after the game on Saturday. That isn’t a classy move.

Frank Thomas was a great hitter, maybe still is. If Thomas can still produce, he’ll find employment fast enough.


Kansas City Royals Sign Jose Guillen

If published reports are to be believed, the Kansas City Royals have decided to continue the fine pharmaceutical heritage that began with Ewing Kauffman by signing outfielder Jose Guillen to a 3-year, $36 million deal on Tuesday.

The potential steroid suspension aside, are the Royals spending David Glass’s new found money wisely? How about some charts!

Below are two charts showing Guillen’s On-Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Average (SLG) by age. The difference between the top chart and the bottom chart is that Guillen’s partial years have been removed (in ’99, ’01, ’02 and ’06, Jose appeared in fewer than 100 games for the season).

By removing the partial seasons, we can see that the Dominican fellow has followed a pretty standard career path, peaking at age 27-28 in the power department while maintaining some positive growth in the ability to get on base.

Walks as a percentage of plate appearances:

Again, Guillen has shown an improved eye at the plate over the course of his career.

Extra base hits as a percentage of hits and plate appearances:

Here is where it gets sketchy for the Royals. At first glance, Guillen appears to have a somewhat erratic ability to hit the ball hard when he makes contact, but overall looks like he is trending upward.

However, when you remove the years most likely to be affected by small sample size blips, he begins to look like any typical player. In terms of full-season ability, Guillen’s power potential seems to have peaked when he was 27.

The Royals have just “fixed” their middle order power problem with a guy who looks to be on the decline in terms of hurting the baseball over the next three years.

The good news is that while Guillen now becomes the highest-paid player in team history, his contract is not exorbitant in the current market. Three years is a short enough time frame that Kansas City can cut their losses if Guillen fails to find rejuvenation in the fountains at Kauffman stadium.

That said, I’d still rather see them go after Miguel Cabrera.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

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