More former Ranger news.
Pudge finally signed with the Tigers on Monday. Today we traded
Mike Lamb to the Yankees for Class A pitcher Jose Garcia.
Yesterday former Ranger 3B
Dean Palmer retired from the Tigers. He was a player I liked in the
past, and it’s sad that injuries claimed his career.
Juan Gonzalez signed a 1 year contract with the Royals today. Thanks for Jimmy Gobble, Mr. Baggy Pants. :(
Ken Caminiti was picked up by the Braves today. Details and discussion here:
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI (TICKER) — The Kansas City Royals addressed needs for a utility player and veteran leader on Friday by signing free-agent Luis Alicea to a one-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Alicea, 35, spent the last three seasons of a 10-year career in Texas, where he enjoyed his best offensive campaign in 2000, hitting .294 with six home runs and 63 RBI — all career highs.
A switch-hitter, Alicea started at second base for the Rangers but became expendable with the acquisition of veteran Randy Velarde from Oakland.
Alicea also can play third base, which is occupied by Joe Randa in Kansas City. He is expected to battle Carlos Febles for playing time at second.
“Luis will be a great addition that will upgrade our utility role for the 2001 season,” general manager Allard Baird said. “He is a switch-hitter with a high on-base percentage that will also supply us with veteran leadership.”
A native of Puerto Rico, Alicea ranked second among American League second baseman in batting average behind Cleveland’s Roberto Alomar (.310) in 2000.
Alicea is a .260 lifetime hitter in 1,134 major league games, also playing for Anaheim, St. Louis (twice) and Boston. He was a first-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 1986.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Infielder Luis Alicea and the Kansas City Royals agreed Friday to an $800,000, one-year contract.
Alicea, 35, can make an additional $400,000 in performance bonuses, getting $50,000 for appearing in 80 games and $50,000 for each additional 10 games through 150.
Alicea, who made $1.15 million last year, spent the last three seasons with Texas, hitting .294 last year with 85 runs, 159 hits, six homers and 63 RBIs.
He has a .260 career average in 10 major league seasons with 42 homers and 367 RBIs.
“Luis will be a great addition that will upgrade our utility role for the 2001 season,” Royals general manager Allard Baird said. “He is a switch-hitter with a high on-base percentage.”
- Former Ranger Roberto Kelly signs with the
Colorado Rockies – his 9th team.
CLEVELAND (AP) — One year. That’s all Juan Gonzalez wanted to prove he was still one of baseball’s best players.
And the Cleveland Indians were more than happy to give it to him.
Gonzalez, limited to just 115 games last season in Detroit because of injuries, signed a $10 million, one-year contract with the Indians on Tuesday.
He’ll fill the club’s hole in right field and in the cleanup spot created when Manny Ramirez left.
Gonzalez, who has had a history of back problems, passed a team physical before signing the deal, which includes a $14 million mutual option for 2002 and a no-trade clause.
“Last year, I had a lot of health problems,” said Gonzalez, a two-time AL MVP. “My production went down a little bit because of the injuries. But I’m going to come back and put up great numbers. I’m excited.”
So are the Indians, who lost 38 homers and 122 RBIs when Ramirez signed a free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox last month.
Gonzalez was a terror to Cleveland pitching as an opponent in Jacobs Field. He batted .344 (45-for-131) with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 30 career games at the Jake. The 12 homers are the most ever by a visiting player at the hitter’s-friendly ballpark.
It’s scary to think what he might do in a full season there. Sixty homers? 170 RBIs?
Scott Boras, Gonzalez’s agent, said he did a double-take when a study factoring in the ballclub’s dimensions, Cleveland’s potent lineup and Gonzalez’s production spit out some scary numbers.
Asked how scary, Boras joked, ”268 RBIs.”
Boras was serious when he talked about Gonzalez’s commitment to making things work in Cleveland.
The 31-year-old outfielder struggled with injuries and an uncertain future with the Tigers last season, and hit .289 with 22 homers and 67 RBIs — less than half his average the past four years.
“Juan’s decision to come here was very, very simple,” said Boras, who said he negotiated with five other teams. “Juan could have gotten three times the amount of guaranteed money that he took from Cleveland. The reason he came here was to play for a winner.
“He wanted to get back to an environment that allowed him the opportunity to win, and an environment where he felt there was a future. He wanted a winner.”
Boras said the mutual option allows either side to get out of the deal, and added it was unlikely he would negotiate a new contract with the Indians during the season.
“It’s like a life boat on an ocean cruiser,” Boras said of the option. “You don’t use them very often, but it’s nice to know that they’re there.”
Gonzalez turned down an $143 million, eight-year extension with the Tigers last year and then missed out on a big payday as a free agent this winter while both Ramirez ($160 million) and Alex Rodriguez ($252 million) got long-term deals.
By signing with the Indians, Gonzalez feels he’ll have the best chance to re-establish himself as one of the game’s premium talents. And if things work out just right, he could finish his career with the Indians.
`You always here about players going for the extra dollar,” Boras said. “What Juan Gonzalez will stand for is a player who has turned down the most money to play in a place where he wants to win and is also willing to put forth the greatest amount of risk.”
Before agreeing to the deal, the Indians made sure Gonzalez’s back wasn’t risky. They gave him a full physical on Tuesday and examined test results provided by Boras.
“His health and his back are non-issues,” Indians general manager John Hart said.
However, there were some other issues the club needed to sort out prior to finalizing the deal.
Gonzalez has earned a reputation as being a moody player in the clubhouse. And like other high-profile pro superstars, Gonzalez often traveled with an entourage which sometimes included a personal trainer, spiritual adviser and others.
“I can tell you that that has been addressed,” Hart said. “There will be no one in the clubhouse.”
Boras said when Gonzalez approached him in August with a list of places he wanted to play, the entourage issue was discussed and put to rest.
“Juan will walk into the ballpark like every other player and he’ll leave the locker room like every other player,” Boras said. “And anybody that’s with him in his personal life will be outside the ballpark. It’s something Juan and I took care of. A lot of things are said about Juan because he’s shy.”
Except at the plate where the Indians are counting on him to fill the offensive void left by Ramirez.
Gonzalez has never batted in a lineup like Cleveland’s. He’ll fit nicely into the No. 4 slot behind Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar. He’ll also be protected by Jim Thome, Ellis Burks and Travis Fryman.
Playing at the Jake will help, too. He never got comfortable at Detroit’s new Comerica Park and reportedly asked the Tigers to move the fences in.
“The dimensions are better, not like in Detroit,” he said. “It’s too big for anyone. A lot of times, I hit the ball so hard and it didn’t jump out of the yard.”
Cleveland gets to defer $2 million of his salary, paying $1 million each on April 1, 2002, and Oct. 1, 2002.
He would get a $500,000 bonus if he is elected AL MVP, $300,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for finishing third and $100,000 for fourth or fifth.
“This is a very important season for me,” he said. “I want to stay healthy, play hard inside the lines fnd everything else will work out.”
ST. LOUIS (TICKER) — “The Thrill” is gone.
Veteran first baseman Will Clark, who replaced injured slugger Mark McGwire and helped the St. Louis Cardinals reach the National League championship series this past season, announced his retirement today.
The 36-year-old Clark, a six-time All-Star, played for the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Cardinals in his 15-year major league career.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Clark said. “It was a series of things. First off, 15 years is a long time. I’ve had three elbow surgeries, and by no means am I getting any younger. But having the experience I had in St. Louis, I thought this was the right time.”
A smooth-swinging lefthanded hitter, Clark had a lifetime batting average of .303 with 284 home runs and 1,205 RBI in 1,976 games.
Nicknamed “The Thrill” during his early years with the Giants, Clark batted .345 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI in 51 games with the Cardinals during the final two months of the 2000 season after being acquired from Baltimore at the July 31 trade deadline.
He also batted .345 in the postseason as the Cardinals rolled to a stunning three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the NL division series before falling to the New York Mets in the NLCS.
Clark admitted St. Louis’ success made the decision to retire more difficult.
“The temptation was definitely there (to return),” Clark said. “I had a lot of fun the last two months and the fans here are unbelievable. I definitely weighed the decision to come back for a long time.”
McGwire recently underwent knee surgery and said he expects to be at about “85 percent” for the start of spring training. However, McGwire’s status in no way affected Clark’s decision.
“No, I would not reconsider it,” Clark said of returning if McGwire was not ready to play first base.
Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty was stunned by Clark’s announcement, and left the door open for Clark to remain with the organization.
“This is kind of a sad day for the Cardinals,” Jocketty said. “We were looking forward to having Will come back. What he added in the second half helped put us over the top. We hope he will be a part of our organization in the future.”
The second player selected overall in the June 1985 draft out of Mississippi State by the Giants, Clark homered in his first major league at-bat, belting a fastball from Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan over the center field wall at the Astrodome on April 8, 1986.
“My greatest memory is the first at bat home run off Nolan Ryan,” Clark said. “Second would be the base hit off Mitch Williams in the 1989 NLCS to put us (the Giants) in the World Series. The third would be the last two months in St. Louis. That was an absolute joy ride.”
Clark carried the Giants to the World Series in 1989, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the NLCS. He hit .650 (13-for-20) with two homers and eight RBI as the Giants beat the Chicago Cubs in five games. However, San Francisco was swept by Oakland in the “Earthquake Series.”
Clark played the first eight years of his career with the Giants, setting career bests with 35 home runs in 1987 and 116 RBI in 1991.
The Texas Rangers signed Clark as a free agent in 1994. He helped them win division titles in 1996 and 1998, but averaged just 15 homers and 79 RBI in his five years with the Rangers.
Clark signed with Baltimore in 1999, but was hampered with elbow problems that season and played in just 77 games, batting .303 with 10 homers and 29 RBI.
Before he was acquired by St. Louis, Clark hit .301 with nine homers and 28 RBI in 79 games with the Orioles last season.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Nolan Ryan, baseball’s career strikeout leader, was in stable condition today after emergency double-bypass surgery.
Ryan was in near-perfect health for a 53-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher. Family history, however, made him a perfect candidate for heart disease.
Doctors were hastily summoned Sunday at Round Rock Medical Center, where Ruth Ryan drove her husband after he felt chest pains and experienced shortness of breath during a morning walk in the Austin suburb of Round Rock. Ryan is part owner of a minor league baseball team there.
“The doctors told us he has the heart of a 30-year-old,” Ryan’s eldest son, Reid, said. “We feel confident that he is going to recover fully.”
Mark Felger, who performed the two-hour operation to clear an arterial blockage, and Reid Ryan planned a news conference tonight.
An electrocardiogram and blood tests showed Ryan did not have a heart attack, Texas Rangers spokesman John Blake said.
“However, doctors felt like there was blockage of (an) artery and suggested the Heart Hospital of Austin for an angiogram,” J.J. Gottsch, director of public relations for the Round Rock Express, the team that Ryan and his son own, told the Austin American-Statesman.
When a substantial blockage of the left main coronary artery leading into Ryan’s heart was indicated, Felger performed the bypass at 3 p.m.
The surgery was successful, Gottsch said. Ryan is expected to be hospitalized for about a week, Blake said.
“Today was a total shock to our family,” Reid Ryan, president of the Express, said. “My dad has been in perfect health.”
But the younger Ryan said the family has had a history of heart-related problems and that doctors indicated that heredity played a large part in his father’s condition.
“We feel confident that he … can continue to lead the active lifestyle he is accustomed to,” Reid Ryan said.
Ryan was voted into the Hall of Fame in January 1999. He holds or shares 48 major league, American League and National League records.
He struck out 5,714, pitched seven no-hitters and finished his career with 324 victories. Ryan’s 27 seasons are more than anyone in major league history.
Ryan played for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas before retiring in 1993.
ROUND ROCK, Texas (Reuters) – Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, one of the most overpowering pitchers in baseball history, underwent emergency bypass surgery on Sunday.
While walking around Dell Diamond, home of the minor league Round Rock Express team he owns, Ryan complained of chest pains and shortness of breath. He was rushed to a local hospital by his wife, Ruth.
While test results showed he did not suffer a heart attack, doctors felt there was a blockage and suggested an angiogram. Additional tests revealed substantial blockage of the left main coronary artery. A double vessel bypass was completed by Dr. Mark Felger, who pronounced the procedure a success.
Ryan was expected to remain hospitalized for a week.
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, Ryan is the all-time leader with 5,714 strikeouts, seven no-hitters and 2,795 walks. He pitched his last two no-hitters after turning 40 with his fastball — “Ryan’s Express” — still humming.
Ryan, who pitched for four teams, had back-to-back 20-win seasons with the California Angels in 1973-74 and led the National League in ERA in 1981 and 1987 with the Houston Astros.
He broke in as an erratic right-hander with the New York Mets in 1966 and won his lone World Series championship in 1969, when he served as a long reliever and spot starter.
Ryan recorded at least 300 strikeouts six times, including a major league-record 383 in 1973. He led the American League in strikeouts nine times and the NL twice, retiring after the 1993 season with a 324-292 record, 61 shutouts and a 3.19 ERA.
LAKELAND, Fla. – Juan Gonzalez doesn’t know how he will fare with his new team, the Detroit Tigers. One prediction at a time, and this year’s is reserved for his former team.
“I guarantee you, the Rangers will not win this year,” Gonzalez said. “If the players there don’t like it, I’m sorry. Tell them I’m sorry.”
Gonzalez insisted he is not bitter over the Nov. 2 trade that ended his 14-year relationship with the organization. In fact, in joining the Tigers, the two-time American League MVP says he has found “paradise.”
But during two days of interviews at his new spring-training home in Central Florida, Gonzalez questioned his former team’s fortitude and its commitment to understanding the needs of Latin players. He also said the organization has slipped badly since the resignation of team president Tom Schieffer last April 29.
Gonzalez realized his opinions might upset some former teammates, but he made it clear he only respects the opinions of some, not all, occupants of his old clubhouse.
“I have good friends there, a lot of good friends,” Gonzalez said. “But I see [expletive] there, too. A lot of [expletive]. When they see me, face to face, we can talk, no problem. But not behind my face.”
The word Gonzalez used, a vulgar slang euphemism for weak-hearted individuals, showed the depth of his disdain for some former teammates. But his strongest criticisms were directed toward the Rangers’ front office, which Gonzalez said made him feel pressured and often misunderstood. Former Rangers Spanish-language broadcaster Luis Mayoral, a Gonzalez confidant who resigned to become the Detroit Tigers’ first Latin American Liaison, further accused the club of not doing enough to protect the player’s image during his sometime-turbulent Rangers career.
“The people working there in Texas don’t have good relations with other cultures, people from different countries, in my opinion,” Gonzalez said. “They don’t respect, a lot, the Latin players there.”
Some of Gonzalez’s former teammates couldn’t disagree more.
“I think this organization treats its Latin players fairly,” said Rafael Palmeiro, the Rangers’ Cuban-born first baseman. “They have an understanding of our needs. They treat us the same as any American or African-American player. If [Gonzalez] were here, he would not have said those things. I would not have allowed that, because that’s not him talking.”
“They do great, to me,” Rangers catcher and AL MVP Ivan Rodriguez said. “They’ve always been great to me. They’ve been excellent.”
Rangers infielder Luis Alicea, like Gonzalez and Rodriguez a native of Puerto Rico, said he also believes Gonzalez is mistaken.
“This is the first organization [of four] that I’ve been in where they do so much to help the young [Latin] players,” Alicea said. “I’ve had no problem whatsoever here.
“A lot of those things are not coming directly from [Gonzalez]. They don’t come from his heart. They are not his thoughts, and he is being hurt by them.”
Often conferring with Mayoral during one of his two interviews with The Dallas Morning News, Gonzalez also spoke in vague terms of a deteriorating atmosphere around the Rangers since Schieffer’s departure.
“Schieffer is a different mind, you know? He has an international mind,” Gonzalez said. “When Mr. Schieffer was working in the office, everything was so great. Mr. Schieffer is gone, everything goes down, you know?”
Asked to elaborate, Gonzalez said, “Everything goes down. It’s no longer a family. I don’t want to talk about names, but everything goes down, in my opinion. Everything in general. The team’s going down.” Hicks: ‘It’s silly’
Rangers owner Tom Hicks took exception to that assessment.
“I think Tom Schieffer did a great job, and I think the guys we have now are doing a great job,” Hicks said. “Juan has his feelings hurt and I feel sorry for him. But we’re certainly committed to having the best young players we can, and certainly a lot of those players are going to be Hispanic. We have our [scouting and development] program in the Dominican, we’ve reached out with people in Venezuela. We just want to win. And to say we don’t support our Latin players . . . it’s silly.”
As for Gonzalez’s prediction of a gloomy season for the Rangers, Hicks said, “We made the decision the team we had last year wasn’t capable of winning the World Series. We like the chemistry we have now. I’m not saying anything specifically about Juan Gonzalez, but we want people to be disappointed in our clubhouse when we lose, and that wasn’t always the case last year.”
Jim Lites, the dual president of Hicks’ Rangers and Dallas Stars since last May, also defended the decisions made under his watch.
“The decision to trade Juan Gonzalez was made by the baseball people,” Lites said, referring to general manager Doug Melvin and his aides. “We think we improved our team in both the short and long term. We’ve said nothing but good things about Juan Gonzalez, and there was nothing personal about it.”
The Rangers, who owe much of their organizational success to the development of Latin players such as Julio Franco, Ruben Sierra, Rodriguez and Gonzalez, actually are ahead of many teams in assisting foreign-born players. One weekend each spring, the team stages a cultural diversity seminar for its minor leaguers. The Rangers also make available to players special computers and software to help them learn English at an individual pace.
“The Rangers have always been at the forefront of helping Latin players get comfortable,” said Omar Minaya, the former Rangers assistant general manager now with the New York Mets. “They have always made a good-hearted effort.”
Not all such assistance was available when Gonzalez was ascending the minor league ladder and breaking into the big leagues in 1989 at age 19. Chicago Cubs superstar Sammy Sosa, who like Gonzalez, spoke no English when the two signed with the Rangers at age 16, found that overcoming the language barrier paid off handsomely in popularity and endorsement opportunities.
“For me, it was hard,” Sosa said. “I’m from the Dominican Republic and Gonzalez was coming from Puerto Rico. Neither one of us knew English. We came in and I did the things I needed to do to make adjustments to the language and things. . . . But I kept working and trying hard to learn English to get out of jams.”
Gonzalez, 30, already is regarded as one of the game’s greatest run producers. He joins the Tigers with 340 career home runs, nine more than Detroit Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg and only 60 shy of surpassing the greatest living Tiger, Hall of Fame right fielder Al Kaline.
But Gonzalez’s past also is littered with four failed marriages, instances of moodiness and sometimes petulant behavior, and, last year, his poorly received decisions to skip the All-Star Game if not elected a starter and the Hall of Fame exhibition because his uniform pants didn’t fit to his liking.
The word Gonzalez’s Spanish-speaking peers most often use in evaluating his public persona is “misunderstood.”
“He is like a kid,” Sosa said. “You have to know how to take him and treat him. He’s a really, really sensitive person. . . . If you know how to treat him as a person, he’s the greatest.”
Palmeiro said, “It’s an unfair thing, because [Gonzalez is] not very fluent in English. A lot of times, people misinterpret what he says or is trying to say. It’s not right.”
Rangers manager Johnny Oates admitted he and Gonzalez had their disagreements, but that Gonzalez always respected his authority. He advised new Detroit manager Phil Garner to disregard past reports and start Gonzalez with a clean slate.
“Juan didn’t do everything I liked him to do, and Juan and I talked about it,” Oates said. “Juan did some of the little things that were perceived to give him an image that wasn’t truly him. Juan’s a moody guy, and you understand that. But when it comes time to win the ballgame, Juan will be there for you.”
Garner, excited by Gonzalez’s recent spate of Grapefruit League power, can’t wait to enjoy a season with the type of superstar his previous employers in Milwaukee couldn’t afford.
“What we’re looking for are guys to play and produce,” Garner said, “and he plays and produces. He’s special.”
Trade a blessing
Gonzalez said he was initially shocked by the trade, but has come to count it as a blessing.
“Absolutely,” he said. “A very important thing [is] I work for very professional people, sure people. Everybody here in this clubhouse, you see a lot of smiling faces. Everybody’s relaxed. It’s a big difference here. There was too much pressure [in Texas], unsure people.”
Asked where the pressure originated with the Rangers, Gonzalez said, “Oh, probably from the front office, I don’t know. There were great fans, some of the best in baseball. But, anyway, it’s history. I’m super happy here.”
Gonzalez has spent the spring telling inquisitors he is happier now than at any time in his career. He praised Garner, who is allowing Gonzalez to skip spring bus rides and play only home exhibitions. Gonzalez said, “There [in Texas], they treat me good, but not like here. They treat me better here.”
The Tigers wish Gonzalez would prove his devotion by accepting the eight-year, $140 million contract extension offer that reportedly has been on the table since the end of January. But despite his proclamations of finding “paradise,” Gonzalez has signed nothing more binding than autographs this spring.
“I don’t want to talk about contracts. Right now, my mind is on baseball,” Gonzalez said. “I want to see the future of the team, my adjustment to the city. My family will go up there to see if they like the city. But I feel so great here.
“I guarantee you I feel happy. I’ve been smiling a lot here.”
Staff Writer Evan Grant contributed to this report.