It's the end of a catching era; Pudge Rodriguez is hanging up the spikes.
Ivan Rodriguez is scheduled to announce his retirement on Monday, closing the curtain on a 21-year career in which he set standards for all-around play and longevity among catchers. Rodriguez played just 44 games with the Nationals last year, and while his name surfaced as a potential stopgap for the Royals when Salvador Perez went down with a knee injury in mid-March, the 40-year-old backstop apparently did not receive a formal offer from the club. No matter, his career is as complete as a Cooperstown résumé need be without crouching around waiting for Jonathan Sanchez to find the strike zone.
On Monday, Cumberland informed the Padres that he is retiring from baseball. The neurological disorder, known as bilateral vestibulopathy, had taken its toll, and—combined with Cumberland’s history of concussions—proved to be too much to overcome.
Prince Fielder's new deal has albatross potential, but the Tigers hope it doesn't turn out like one of John's picks for the worst contracts of the free-agent era.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
As your mind reels at the size of Prince Fielder's payday, take a look at this list of 10 free-agent deals that didn't work out well for the teams that handed them out, which originally ran on February 20, 2007.
What players surprise you when you learn that their primary team hasn't retired their number yet?
Last Sunday, the Detroit Tigers retired Sparky Anderson's #11 in front of the Arizona Diamondbacks and forty-thousand Tigers fans. Sparky, as you may remember, died last November at the age of 76. In his 17 years with the Tigers, Sparky won over 1,300 games and captured one World Series title. He also won Manager of the Year twice for the club. Two members of the Diamondbacks coaching staff - Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell - were key cogs in Anderson's best teams, so it's good that they could be in attendance for the ceremony.
But it raises a good question: why haven't the Tigers retired Trammell's #3 jersey? My guess is that they are waiting for Trammell to get elected to the Hall of Fame. He is easily one of the best shortstops of the last fifty years, if not more, and it's always nice to have a Hall of Fame number retiring ceremony at your home ballpark. But, the way things are going, it's very unlikely that Trammell will get voted into the Hall by the writers. In his tenth year of eligibility, Trammell only earned 24.3% of the vote. It will take an upsurge of epic proportions for Trammell to be inducted into Cooperstown in the next five years. What happens then? Will the Tigers retire his number? How long will they wait? By the time he falls off the ballot, Trammell will have been retired twenty years. That'd be like the Brewers finally getting around to retiring Robin Yount's number in 2013.
Can the Astros and Mariners do anything to improve their moribund offenses?
Nothing a baseball team does, from lead-gloved defense to late-inning bullpen disasters, makes a team look more incompetent in the eyes of its fans than a consistent inability to score runs. The emotional toll of watching the home nine put up zeros inning after inning dulls dedication as even post-season heartbreak cannot. This year, fans of the Mariners and the Astros have suffered silently while their teams limped out of the box to an early turn at the bottom of the standings. How desperate is the futility, and what can be done about it?
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The D'backs are primed to compete, the A's go back to high school, plus news and notes from around the major leagues.
One of the more enigmatic teams heading into the 2009 season has to be the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were the surprise winners of the 2007 National League West despite a very youthful lineup, and they swept the Cubs in the NLDS before being swept themselves by the red-hot Rockies in the NLCS. They then got off to a 19-7 start last season and built a 6 1/2-game lead by late April, but they sputtered from then on and finished second at 82-80, two games behind the division-winning Dodgers.
The contracts being offered, the teams in the mix, the players and their demands, and news and notes from around the major leagues.
On Friday the market for free agents officially opens when teams can begin making offers to players other than those who finished the season with other clubs. The Brewers and Dodgers got the ball rolling at this past week's general managers meetings in Dana Point, California, with the Brewers offering left-hander CC Sabathia five years and $100 million to stay in Milwaukee, and the Dodgers offering two years and $50 million in an effort to keep left fielder Manny Ramirez in Los Angeles.
John reviews the biggest deals from this winter, and names his list of the ten worst free agent signings of all time.
Enough big-money contracts were given to free agents this past offseason to make anyone's head spin. Barry Zito and Carlos Lee became beneficiaries of two of the only 14 nine-digit contracts in baseball history. The Giants lured Zito across the bay from Oakland for seven years and $126 million, while the Astros got Lee, the slugging left fielder and Panamanian cattle rancher, to stay in-state by signing him away from the Texas Rangers for six years and $100 million. In all, nine free agents signed contracts worth at least $45 million despite the class of available players being considered below average. However, the deals given to Zito and Lee were as much head scratchers as head spinners.
While Zito is seemingly coming into the prime of his career at 28, he has been on a downward trend since 2004. In his first four major-league seasons from 2000-03, Zito was 61-29 with a 3.12 ERA in 119 starts, and boasted nine-inning rates of 7.2 hits, 10.9 baserunners, 7.2 strikeouts, and 3.4 walks. Over the past three seasons, Zito went 41-34 with a 4.05 ERA in 103 starts and his nine-inning rates were 8.3 hits, 12.5 baserunners, 6.6 strikeouts, and 3.7 walks. PECOTA doesn't expect Zito to suddenly transform back into the pitcher who went 22-5 and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, projecting mediocrity in his next five seasons. Most telling is that PECOTA projects Zito's worth, in terms of MORP, from 2007-11 to be $34 million. Conversely, the Giants will be paying him $80 million in that span.
A Pedro-Dontrelle matchup makes for a bonus edition of the Game of the Week.
For the Mets, the season has turned into an exercise in avoiding complacency and injury. While a 13 game division lead in early August does not guarantee a playoff spot, it's pretty darned close. The Postseason Odds Report has the Metropolitans with a 99.49% chance of winning the division, 99.83% of making the playoffs. So the Mets are trying to avoid any more bad cab rides, at least until October.
Lou Piniella calls it quits, Hawk Harrelson's still proud to be a homer, Ozzie Guillen's turning to soap operas, and Rafael Palmeiro threw Miguel Tejada under a bus.
"We decided it's probably best that Raffy not dress with the club for the rest of the year. It was physically coming back and getting in shape and playing again, as well as the distraction of everything else." --Orioles GM Jim Beattie, on Rafael Palmeiro not rejoining the team this year (Baltimore Sun)