Mets and Cuba Let Players Get away

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I think the Mets are going to be sorry they  let Tyler Clippard get away. He has signed a two-year deal with the Diamondbacks, adding to a monster offseason they’ve already had.   Clippard  was very effective until he hurt his back in September. He’ll be 31 on Valentine’s Day. He has a 2.88 career ERA and a 42-29 record.  He had a 2.78 ERA with Oakland in 2015 before joining the Mets, for whom he had a 3.06 ERA.  This could be a move the Mets regret, like the move I made to donate most of my broadcast recordings to the Seeing Eye, who promptly lost them. Now, since it’s possible to convert them to MP3 format I wish I could get them back.  The Mets aren’t the only ones wondering where their player went. See the entry about the Cuban team below.
The Indians have signed former Nationals reliever Craig Stammen to a  minor league deal. He’ll be 32 in March, and has only played for the Nationals since they signed him in 2005.  He made the show in 2009.
Two Cuban brothers, Yulieski and Lourdes Gurriel have defected after the Caribbean World Series. Yulieski is 31, Lourdes just 22. Yulieski has played for Cuba in the Olympics in 2004 and in all 3 World Baseball Classics. He can play second, third or shortstop, while his kid brother can play shortstop or center field.
Dionner Navarro is 32 today. The Venezuelan catcher has bounced around more than Jim Bouton’s knuckleball since 2011. Before that he spent 5 years with Tampa Bay. He’s been with the Dodgers, Reds, Cubs and Blue Jays and now will join the White Sox in 2016.
Vladimir Guerrero is 41 today.  My broadcast partner Jim Lucas always said Vladimir is the best player whose games we broadcast in our career, while I have said Mariano Rivera and Manny Ramirez. We saw Vladimir in 1996 with Harrisburg, the AA Expos. He was a September callup that same year.  He retired relatively young by today’s standards, at age 36 in 2011. His lifetime average is an outstanding .318 and he was 10 hits shy of 2600. He had 449 home runs and 1496 RBIS. He lasted with the Expos until 2003, then was with the Angels until 2009. He was an All-Star 9 times over, including his 2010 year with Texas. The Angels won 5 AL West titles with him on hand. In 2010 the Rangers made the World Series for the first time with him as DH.  Until 2009 all of baseball believed he had been born in 1976. He owned up to the fact of his earlier birth in 2009. In 1999 he produced a 31-game hitting streak, longest in his league in a dozen years. His retirement became official in 2014 after he signed a one-day contract to retire as an Angel.
The always entertaining John Kruk is 55 today. He began as a Padre, then was an All-Star 3 times with the Phillies before finishing with the White Sox in 1995. The Phillies lost the World Series in 1993 to the Blue Jays but Kruk was known for being one of the colorful characters on that team. In 1986 he had led the Mexicali Eagles to the championship of the Caribbean World Series. Since 2001 he’s been seen and heard on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight,” along with analyzing live games.
William “Mookie’ Wilson is 60 today.  His name is probably still a dirty word in Boston, though the 1986 World Series was 30 years ago. He hit the ground ball Bill Buckner couldn’t field which ended game 6.  Raised in South Carolina, his grandmother gave him the name “Mookie.” He played in the NLCS in 1988 with the Mets, and the ALCS in 1989 and 1991 with the Blue Jays. He has been a Met employee in many capacities since retiring as a player.
Clete Boyer was born this day in 1937 and passed away in 2007. With the Yankees he was as good a third baseman as there was in his day. His Yankees won the 1961 and 1962 World Series before losing to the Dodgers in 1963.   Cletis LeRoy  and his brother Ken, also a third baseman met mano a mano in the 1964 World Series.  Ken hit a grand slam in game 4 to shift the momentum to the Cardinals. They would win it in 7, and it would be a dozen years before the Bronx Bombers played in a fall classic again. Clete went to the Braves in 1967 and was in the first NLCS in 1969 which the Braves lost to the Mets. He remained a Brave until the end of 1971, after which he spent 4 seasons in Japan.

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  • Chuck
    February 16, 2016

    I concur with Jim Lucas regarding Vladimir Guerrero. He was playing at a major league level while in the minors. Routine singles became doubles, and two-baggers became triples. From right field, he threw runners out at second, third and home. Mind you, I saw him do these things in the few games Harrisburg played in New Britain.

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