Hot Stove: 2/18

Baseball both lost one of its Hall of Famers and a possible future Hall of Famer hung up his cleats after 19 seasons.

African American Player Profile

Josh Gibson (1930-1946 [Negro Leagues])

Josh Gibson is arguably the greatest catcher of all time, yet he didn't even appear in a single MLB game.  He terrorized the Negro Leagues, the Mexican League, the Puerto Rican League, you name it.  Statistics from these leagues are scarce, but it is believed that Gibson batted .347 and hit over 800 home runs over his professional career.  One story of his monumental power stands out.  One day, he hit a home run that left the stadium.  Nobody saw it land.  Then next day, while playing the next game in the series, a ball randomly dropped into the stadium from outside.  The same team was in the field, and a fielder caught the ball.  Next thing heard: "Gibson, yer out!  From yesterday!"  While obviously the ball did not travel around the world, it is a tribute to how well he was respected as the premier power hitter of baseball.  "The Black Babe Ruth" died in 1947 at just 35 because of a stroke, mere months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.  In 1972, Gibson was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Free Agent Signings

Dodgers signed Jamey Wright (2-3, 3.16 ERA, .246 BAA, 1 save, 2012 age: 37) to a minor league deal.

Red Sox signed Ross Ohlendorf (1-3, 8.15 ERA, .364 BAA, 2012 age: 29) to a minor league deal.

Giants signed Ramon Ortiz (1-2, 4.86 ERA, .244 BAA, 2012 age: 39) to a minor league deal.

Rays signed Chris Gimenez (1 HR, 6 RBI, .203 AVG, 0 SB, 2012 age: 29) to a minor league deal.


Yankees traded A.J. Burnett (11-11, 5.15 ERA, .260 BAA, 2012 age: 35) and $20 million to the Pirates for minor leaguers Diego Moreno (2-4, 3.63 ERA, .218 BAA, 5 saves at High Class A and AA, 2012 age: 25-26) and Exicardo Cayones (0 HR, 12 RBI, .228 AVG, 3 SB at GCL and Class A Short Season, 2012 age: 20). 

The Yankees are finally rid of flopped signing that turned out to be A.J. Burnett.  Signed to a large deal after winning 18 games for Toronto in 2008, Burnett has done nothing but pitch mediocrely over his three years in New York.  The Yankees still have to pay Burnett the $20 million he is owed over the next two seasons because the Pirates would not except the deal without the money.  Burnett, a strikeout pitcher, has been inconsistent over his career. He broke out with the Marlins in 2002 by going 12-9 with a 3.30 ERA, 203 K's, and a National League leading five shutouts in 31 games (29 starts), but then managed just four starts in 2003 and 20 games (19 starts) in 2004.  Back for a full season in 2005, Burnett was 12-12 with a 3.44 ERA in 32 starts.  He was signed by the Blue Jays in 2006 but made just 21 starts en route to a 3.98 ERA, then made 25 in 2007 where he dropped his ERA to 3.75.  2008 was best with Toronto despite his worst ERA, as the Arkansas native was 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA and an American League leading 231 K's in 35 games (34 starts).  The Yankees picked him up on a mega-deal, and Burnett pitched at least on par with expectations in his first year in 2009 by going 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 33 starts.  2010 was where it all unraveled.  By year's end, he was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA and numerous conduct issues in 33 starts.  2011 was ugly as well, though the numbers were not quite as bad.  In 33 games (32 starts), he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA.  Over his 13 year career dating back to 1999, he is 121-111 with a 4.10 ERA and 1,791 K's in 314 games (309 starts).  

The Yankees acquired a couple of fringe prospects who don't project to amount to much.  Diego Moreno is a right-handed reliever who has spent the last two seasons shuffling between High Class A Bradenton and AA Altoona.  Over his evolution as a pitcher, he pitched extremely well up through Bradenton: 11-8, 2.05 ERA in 112 games (6 starts) over five years.  In AA games, he yet to receive a win or a loss in 14 appearances over two seasons but holds a 5.79 ERA.  Now 25 years old, he needs to begin ascending the ladder a bit more quickly.  The other prospect is Exicardo Cayones, a left-handed outfielder with little pop but can get on base.  He is very young, having only turned 20 last October, and has not played a game above Class A Short Season, which is where many draft picks go to play.  Cayones has never played in more than 65 games in a season, but over his three year minor league career, he has hit one home run, knocked in 68, and batted .272 with 14 stolen bases in 148 games.  65 were for the Venezuelan Summer League (2009), 73 for the GCL Pirates (2010-2011), and 11 for Class A Short Season (2011).  

Other News

Former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield announced his retirement from baseball after 19 seasons with the Pirates and Sox.  He is 45 years old.

Former Expos catcher Gary Carter died from brain cancer at the age of 57 (overview in next update). 

The Yankees' deal with Hideki Okajima fell through after he failed a physical.

Tim Wakefield, aged 45, will finally put the ball down after 19 years in the majors and 23 years in professional ball.  Like a number of other successful pitchers like icon Trevor Hoffman and 2011 World Series participators Jason Motte and Alexi Ogando, Wakefield began his career as a light-hitting prospect.  He converted to a pitcher in the Pirates minor league system, and took Pittsburgh by storm upon his debut in July 1992.  In 13 starts, the young knuckleballer was 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA and garnered respects and very well may have been seen as the next Charlie Hough if Pittsburgh newspapers hadn't been on strike.  1993 did not go as well as planned, as he finished just 6-11 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 games (20 starts).  After spending 1994 in the minor leagues, he was released by the Pirates and picked up by the Red Sox, and at that point the next Charlie Hough looked like it was turning out.  Wrong.  When 1995 finally started after the strike, Wakefield took Boston by storm just as he had taken surprised Pittsburgh.  In 27 starts, he was 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA, .227 BAA, and six complete games.  Though he would never be a superstar, Wakefield would spend 1995 and the subsequent 16 seasons as a Boston stalwart. 1996 was mediocre, as he finished 14-13 with a 5.14 ERA in 32 starts, but he returned in 1997 with a strong season.  In 35 games (29 starts), he was 12-15 but with a 4.25 ERA.  He won 17 games in 1998 despite a 4.58 ERA in 36 games (33 starts), and Boston turned him into a part time reliever in 1999 after giving him the Boston Club Man of the Year Award.  In 49 games (17 starts), he was just 6-11 with a 5.08 ERA, but saved 15 games in 18 tries.  2000, the Year of the Hitter, didn't go well either, as he finished 6-10 with a 5.48 ERA in 51 games (17 starts).  He turned it around in 2001 by going 9-12 with a 3.90 ERA in 45 games (17 starts).  2002 would end up being his best since his first year in Boston, as he was 11-5 with a 2.81 ERA and .204 BAA in 45 games (15 starts), and earned the Red Sox Jensen Spirit Award.  Turning back into a full time starter in 2003, he was 11-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 35 games (33 starts).  He also earned the final of his 22 career saves.  En route to helping Boston to the 2004 World Series Championship, he was 12-10 with a 4.87 ERA in 32 games (30 starts).  2005 ended up with Wake earning his first Red Sox Pitcher of the Year award since 1995, as the 38 year old was 16-12 with a 4.15 ERA in 33 starts.  He missed time in 2006 due to injury and ended up just 7-11 with a 4.63 ERA in 23 starts.  The Sox ended up with another World Series title in 2007, thanks in large part to Wake's 17-12 record and 4.76 ERA in 31 starts.  He started 30 starts in 2008, and was 10-11 with a 4.13 ERA, and finally reached an All Star team in 2009.  Now 42, the 17 year veteran had never reached the All Star Game, but did so in 2009 by going 11-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 17 starts in the first half.  He didn't pitch well in the second half and ended up 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 starts by year's end.  2010 was the beginning of the end, as he was just 4-10 with a 5.34 ERA in 32 games (19 starts).  He did win the Roberto Clemente Award.  The story of 2011 was his struggle for his 200th win, as he finally reached it in September and finished his season 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 33 games (23 starts).  Retiring a few months later (yesterday), he finished his career 200-180 with a 4.41 ERA and .254 BAA in 627 games (463 starts).  His 200 wins tie him for 109th all time with Chuck Finley and George Uhle.  His 627 games rank him 152nd all time and his 463 starts leave him at 73rd all time after Doyle Alexander.  His 3,226.1 innings pitched put him at #97.

Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs.  RBI: runs batted in.  AVG: batting average.  SB: stolen bases.  ERA: earned run average.  BAA: batting average against.  K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

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