Sports Outside the Beltway

Bucky Showalter named new Manager of the Baltimore Orioles

He replaces Interim Manager Juan Samuel. From ESPN-

Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, his latest rebuilding project in a major league career full of them.

Showalter’s first game will be Tuesday night at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels.

Baltimore had the worst record in the majors at 31-70 going into Thursday night against the Kansas City Royals and is headed toward its 13th straight losing season. The Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on June 4 and replaced him on an interim basis with Juan Samuel.

“Buck Showalter’s proven track record makes him the right choice for manager of the Orioles,” president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in a statement. “We believe Buck’s extensive experience and expertise will be a major benefit to us as we look towards a more successful future.”

Samuel will return to his job as the team’s third-base coach. Baltimore went 16-31 with him in charge.

While I’ve always liked Showalter since his days as Skipper of the Fort Lauderdale Yankees, it will take a lot more than a good manager to reverse Baltimore’s fortunes.


Texas Rangers’ Manager Ron Washington used cocaine last season

Besides former Seattle Mariner Manager Maury Wills, has there been any other MLB Manager who admitted to using drugs while leading a team? From the Dallas Morning News-

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted on Wednesday that he used an illegal drug in the first-half of last season and tested positive for a random drug test.

Washington did not reveal the type of drug, saying the circumstances aren’t important. Sources, though, said he took cocaine.

He completed a major-league mandated treatment program — which included counseling and giving submitting to urine tests three times a week — only two weeks ago.

The Rangers are satisfied that this was a one-time incident because of the honesty he displayed after the drug use, and that Washington did not have a drug habit.

“I fully understand that I disappointed a lot of people — my family, my players, coaches — as well as the team’s leadership, especially Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels, as well as young people who may have looked up to me,” Washington said.

“I am truly sorry for my careless, dangerous and, frankly, stupid, behavior last year.”

Should Washington be fired? He didn’t set a good example for his players but I’m willing to give him a second chance. As long as this issue doesn’t detract from his work managing the Rangers.


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.


Former MLB Pitcher Jim Bibby dead at 65

I remember Bibby quite well. He was a good MLB pitcher who went 111-101 in a 13-year career. He was most remembered for his time in Texas and Pittsburgh but played for St. Louis and Cleveland also. Here’s something you probably won’t hear in reports on his death.Jim Bibby

He was originally in the New York Mets organization. A poor man’s black version of Nolan Ryan. Hard throwing righty with arm and control issues. The Mets gave up on Bibby at the same time they did the same with Ryan. Ryan went to California for Jim Fregosi and Bibby went to St. Louis for among other others Jim Beachump and Harry Parker. A pinch hitter and long reliever respectively on the 1973 pennant winning Mets but hardly compensation for a pitcher who went on to win 111 games. The Mets made a lot of bad trades and this is one of them though it was lesser known than others.

Thanks for memories Jim Bibby. RIP.

Community Funeral Home in Lynchburg said Wednesday that Bibby died Tuesday night at Lynchburg General Hospital. The cause was not disclosed. The family asked for privacy but said a statement would be released later.

Bibby played 12 years in the majors and pitched the first no-hitter in Texas Rangers history, beating Oakland 6-0 in 1973.

He was a member of the Pittsburgh team that won the 1979 World Series, starting two games against Baltimore — including the deciding seventh game.


Former Major League Infielder Hillis Layne dead at age 91

Like so many players of his time, Layne lost some of prime baseball years to World War II. He played for the Washington Senators before and after serving in the Army.RIP.Hillis Layne

Hillis Layne, 91, a Whitwell native, played in the major and minor pro baseball leagues. For much of his career, Layne played for the Seattle Mariniers of the Pacific Coast League. His play on the field earned him the nickname “Mandrake” after the magician in the comics and the league’s batting championship in 1947.

Other playing stops for Layne included the Chattanooga Lookouts and the major league Washington Senators.

Layne was a scout for many years for the Texas Rangers. Altogether, Mr. Layne spent 40 years playing, managing and as a scout for professional baseball teams.


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.


Detroit Catcher Gerald Laird and his brother arrested after brawl

Were they the last professional athletes to be arrested in 2009? From AP-

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, New York Yankees infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena, according to police.

Phoenix police said Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault Wednesday night and 22-year-old Brandon Laird was cited for disorderly conduct. Police said the Lairds and a third man were arrested at U.S. Airways Center after the fight during the Phoenix Suns-Boston Celtics game.

Police said arena security previously contacted the group of men about their loud behavior. Two of the men were allowed back into the lounge after a conversation with security, but a melee broke out shortly afterward and the Laird brothers allegedly assaulted the security guards.

Brandon Laird is a infield prospect in the New York Yankees farm system.


Texas Rangers sign P Darren Oliver

This will be his third stint with the team. From the Dallas Morning News- Darren Oliver

The agreement between Darren Oliver and the Rangers is now official. He will receive $3 million in base salary this season with a vesting option worth $3.25 million. The option would vest if Oliver appears in 59 games in 2010. He has averaged 58 games a season over the last three years. If the option is not picked up, Oliver would receive a $500,000 buyout, guaranteeing him at least $3.5 million.

Oliver is a good acquisition in my opinion. Originally a starting pitcher, he has been a reliever of late. And not a left handed specialist, Oliver has been tough on right handed hitters during his career. The last two years of which was spent with the Los Angeles Angels where he went 12-2 with an ERA under 2.85.

A little known fact about Oliver is that he swings a pretty good bat. He has a .221 lifetime batting average. Of course in the Designated Hitter ruled American League Oliver is unlikely to be called upon to hit.

Note- I’ve always liked Oliver. Partly due to the fact he was a pitcher on my first ever Star Tournament Championship team back in October 2000.


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.


Washington Nationals sign C Ivan Rodriguez

The Nationals will be Pudge’s 5th team in three years. From the Washington Times-

The Washington Nationals have agreed with former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez on a two-year deal, according to a club source. The deal is believed to be worth $6 million, and it gives Washington the veteran catcher who can both spell and mentor Jesus Flores that general manager Mike Rizzo said he’s been looking for.Pudge

The move came shortly after the midnight deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers. Rodriguez declined arbitration, instead landing a multi-year deal at the age of 38.

What the Nationals will primarily be getting is experience; the future Hall of Famer has played nearly 2,400 major-league games and reached 14 All-Star Games. He has thrown out 46 percent of baserunners during his career.

Washington has been searching for an insurance policy behind the plate with Flores trying to return from shoulder surgery. He also won rave reviews for his work with a young pitching staff in Detroit from 2004-08, and will be counted on to duplicate those efforts with the Nationals’ young arms, particularly top overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals goals of having Rodriguez tutor Flores and Strasburg are realistic. Pudge’s goal of playing 70 or more games next season, is more problematic. He is 38 and with almost 2,300 games under his belt. I don’t think he is capable of maintaining a heavy and productive workload but that’s my opinion.


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