A lot of folks may not remember Joe Frazier. He played for the Indians, Reds, Cardinals and Orioles organizations in the late 40s through the 50s. His highest profile job in baseball was as manager of the Mets, but he only had the job for a short period of time. He took over for the 1976 season and was fired 45 games into 1977.
His firing was sort of symbolic of what was about to happen with the Mets. A still competitive and respectable team in ’76 — they won 86 games that year — in ’77 they started horribly before Frazier was replaced by player/manager Joe Torre. Two weeks later the Mets traded Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman on the same day in what came to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” The franchise was competitively moribund and generally dreary on the eyes of the fan base for several years afterwards. It was only when Strawberry and Gooden showed up that fortunes began to change.
In later years Frazier managed in the minors and held various jobs in and around baseball. He retired to his home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma where he lived with his wife until yesterday, when he died of a massive heart attack.
Good travels, Joe Frazier.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.