Sports Outside the Beltway

Texas Rangers trade P Kevin Millwood to Baltimore

Baseball’s winter meetings are under way and that means it is trade time. From ESPN-

The Texas Rangers have traded veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood and $3 million to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Ray and a player to be named later, the club announced Wednesday.


Millwood, who turns 35 later this month, earned that vested option after pitching more than 180 innings in 2009. He was 13-10 with a 3.67 ERA in 198 2/3 innings pitched. He did have lower back and gluteus muscle soreness in September but returned to finish the season.


Ray was a former closer for the Orioles before surgery to repair ligament damage in his right elbow set him back. He was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in 46 appearances in 2009. Ray, 27, has 49 career saves for the Orioles. Ray’s best season was 2006, when he sported a 2.73 ERA and had 33 saves.

Texas made this trade strictly for financial reasons. Acquiring Ray in light of recent health and performance. The worth of Millwood to the Orioles, who will be his fifth MLB team, isn’t likely to be a whole lot more in light of Millwood’s age and lack of durability. This could end up as a nothing for nothing deal.


Are the Florida Marlins talking to Bobby Valentine?

The former Texas Ranger and NY Met manager is supposedly itching for another chance to lead a major league baseball team. From ESPN-

At a time when Bobby Valentine has begun the process of talking with teams about a possible return as a manager in Major League Baseball, sources said he is in communication with the Florida Marlins about a possible position with that team — less than eight months after Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez received a two-year extension.

Gonzalez, 45, has managed the Marlins the last two seasons after replacing Joe Girardi, and Florida has contended in both years. Gonzalez was named The Sporting News Manager of the Year in 2008. Gonzalez agreed to a two-year extension with the Marlins in spring training, and he is signed through the 2011 season.

However, there has been concern on the coaching staff this week after they were told that no decision has been made about whether to bring them back for 2010. Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins’ owner, is meeting with club executives after the end of the regular season.

Valentine, 59, has managed the Texas Rangers for eight seasons and the Mets from 1996-2002, and over the last six seasons he has managed the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Valentine is supposed to be a candidate for jobs in Cleveland and Washington. Have the Marlins really talking to Valentine? I make a bet they did. Will they hire him as the team’s next manager? Loria is an unpredictable idiot owner as can be seen by his firing of Joe Girardi three years ago. He has also made it clear he won’t spend any more amount of money on the Marlins than he absolutely has to. Valentine is not going to be a cheap hire for a MLB team. I therefore don’t see him as a future Marlins manager.


Ichiro Suzuki sets new hit streak record

He becomes the first MLB to record 200 hits in nine consecutive seasons. From AP-

Ichiro beat out an infield single to become the first player in major league history with at least 200 in nine straight seasons as the Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 5-0 to split a doubleheader after losing the opener 7-2.

In his second at-bat of the nightcap, Suzuki hit a slow roller to shortstop Elvis Andrus, beating the throw for No. 200 and driving in a run for a 2-0 lead.

Suzuki, who went 1 for 5 in the second game, received a standing ovation from the sparse crowd, stepping off first base and doffing his batting helmet to thank the fans.

The old record, held by Wee Willie Keeler, had stood for 108 years. I think its a foregone conclusion that Suzuki will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame one day. The only way he won’t is if some scandal overwhelms his accomplishments.


Texas Rangers release pitcher Orlando Hernandez

Is El Duque’s MLB over with? From AP-

El Duque’s comeback attempt with the Texas Rangers has ended.

Texas released Orlando Hernandez from his minor league contract Friday, making the right-hander a free agent just more than a month after he signed.

Hernandez was 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in eight relief appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City since being activated three weeks ago. He had 12 strikeouts and four walks in 11 innings.

General Manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers had no plans to add Hernandez to their major league roster by Monday, when the pitcher would have been able to opt out of the contract.

“The reports that we got were about what you would expect, stuff-wise. … The velocity was not an issue or anything like that, just rust,” Daniels said. “With more time and innings, he may very well be ready, but he had the out in his contract and he was going to take it.”

Hernandez last pitched in the majors for the New York Mets in 2007 before toe surgery. Hernandez’s numbers with the Mets in 2007, suggest he should still be able to pitch in the majors. The toe injury could have adversely affected his ability to pitch. Hernandez’s age may also factor into how strong his arm is.

The Cuban pitcher’s age has been questioned at times, and is listed as high as 43 by some accounts. The Rangers said he was 39 when they signed him last month, though Daniels sounded less certain about that Friday.

“Ask the Census bureau,” he said.

No need to. The smoking Gun has a copy of El Duque’s Cuban divorce decree. It clearly says he was born in 1965.


Ivan Rodriguez sets all time record for games played as a catcher

He broke the record held by Carlton Fisk. From AP-

Ivan Rodriguez was praised by fans and teammates Wednesday night for becoming the all-time leader in games caught.


Rodriguez, who began his career at age 19 in 1991 and played 12 seasons in Texas, caught his 2,227th game to break Carlton Fisk’s record.

“I’m tickled for Pudge,” Cooper said. “It’s great he was able to break the record. But it’s unfortunate that it didn’t happen on a good night for us.”

Rodriguez received numerous ovations from the Rangers crowd, but also had his first two-error game since Aug. 26, 2004, and sixth in his career. Both of his miscues led to runs.

Pudge’s rifle arm has been prone to miscues. He totaled double digit amounts of errors in three seasons.

Catcher is the most demanding position position on the baseball field. It puts a lot of wear on a player’s feet, back, etc. That’s why 2,000 games at the position is a huge amount, and why many catchers(Anyone remember iron man Randy Hundley) begin breaking down at half or more the amount of games Pudge played.


Philadelphia Phillie Lefty Jamie Moyer wins his 250th game

He keeps going at the age of 46. From AP-

Jamie Moyer reached a rare mark for a pitcher, becoming the 44th to win 250 games. The veteran Phillies left-hander would have been just as happy if it was his first.

Moyer went six strong innings to lead the Phillies to their third straight victory, 4-2 over the bumbling Washington Nationals on Sunday.

The 46-year-old Moyer is only the 11th left-hander to join the exclusive 250-win list. And despite his teammates’ postgame champagne toast, Moyer’s words lacked the excitement one might expect after such a rare achievement.

“It’s not about the personal things, I’m more excited about us winning,” Moyer said. “I really haven’t thought about [winning 250]. It takes so much effort to prepare and play. I was taught to play the game as a team, not as an individual. When you play 20-some years, some of these things can happen.”

Moyer has been in the majors for twenty-three seasons and has played for seven different teams. He has owned the Florida Marlins. He is 10-1 against them lifetime.

I doubt Moyer will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame after his career is over. Left handers Jim Kaat and Tommy John have more wins and haven’t made it to Cooperstown.


Dontrelle Willis two hits the Texas Rangers

It was the first win for the former Florida Marlin left hander in almost two years. From AP-

Dontrelle Willis finally won again after nearly 20 months.

Willis allowed one hit while working into the seventh inning of Detroit’s 4-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night. It was the Tigers’ fourth straight win and snapped Texas’ seven-game winning streak.

Willis (1-0), making his second start since coming off the disabled list with an anxiety disorder, struck out five in 6 1/3 innings to win for the first time since Sept. 25, 2007. He allowed two baserunners in the first inning, then retired 17 straight.

“He was tremendous,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Hopefully we can build on that.”

I do hope Willis can get his career back on track but if baseball history is any guide, the odds are against it. Hurlers who lose the ability to pitch for non arm related woes, have a poor record of coming back. Take for instance Rick Ankiel, Mark Davis, and Steve Blass. On the good side of ledger, Willis was impressive last night. The book is still open so far as the rest of his career goes.


Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers owner defaults on $525M loan

Tom Hicks claims this won’t won’t affect the teams. From AP-

The company that owns baseball’s Texas Rangers and hockey’s Dallas Stars has defaulted on about $525 million in loans, with owner Tom Hicks saying on Friday that he intentionally made the move to help negotiate with banks.

Hicks told The Associated Press the teams won’t be affected after Hicks Sports Group, his holding company, didn’t make an interest payment on the syndicated bank loans Tuesday. A syndicated bank loan is one made by a group of lenders to one borrower.

“What we want is the banks to allow us to use our interest revenue,” Hicks said. “We need 51 percent approval, which we anticipate. It is hard to get two banks to agree to anything, much less 40 on a timely basis.”

A financial news Web site called FINalternatives first reported Friday that Hicks Sports Group did not make its interest payment on a $350 million bank-term loan, $100 million second-lien loan and a $75 million revolving credit facility.

“Like so many other companies and institutions, HSG has been impacted by a global credit crisis which no one could have anticipated,” Hicks said in a statement. “The company is not asking for additional money; it is only asking for full access to the interest reserve account and revolving credit line as well as some amendments in the debt covenants.”

He said that the negotiations have nothing to with his other assets or his family’s assets.

“This will be a nonevent to players, to the fans, our sponsors, our vendors, anybody,” Hicks said.

Hicks admits he is seeking minority owners for the franchises. I don’t see how these financial problems CAN’T affect the teams Hicks owns. In a few months it will be the time of year when NHL teams sign free agents or try to retain those players they have now. If these teams are unable to pay for a loan, how will they be able to compete in the player market?


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.


Former MLB Catcher John Marzano dead at 45

He died Saturday after a fall down the stairs at his home. John was strictly a bullpen catcher, but he managed to stay employed at the Major league level for 12 years. Afterwards he went into broadcasting. RIP.


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