Earl Williams, who won the NL Rookie of the Year for the Braves in 1971, died Monday at age 64. Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star Ledger writes that Williams was diagnosed with leukemia last July.
Williams was a catcher/first baseman who played eight seasons in the majors for the Braves, Orioles, A’s, and Expos from 1970-1977. In addition to his strong rookie year Williams was an above-average hitter in each of his first four full seasons, averaging 29 homers per 160 games, but hit just .235 with a .679 OPS after age 25 and was finished in the majors at age 28.
He was traded from the Braves to the Orioles in a deal that sent current Nationals manager Davey Johnson to Atlanta, and Castillo notes that he clashed with Baltimore manager Earl Weaver to the point that Williams was suspended for “a reluctance on Williams’ part to listen without interruption.”
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.
It’s been a tough season for the mythology of Jonny Gomes‘ veteran clubhouse savior reputation.
First he signed with the rebuilding Braves and performed poorly while Atlanta fell apart after a surprisingly decent start. Then he was traded to the Royals, for whom he played just 12 games and hit .167. And now Kansas City has left Gomes off the ALDS roster.
It makes sense, though. Gomes’ only real use to the Royals would be as a pinch-hitter versus left-handed pitching, but manager Ned Yost rarely pinch-hits and will no doubt be more willing to use 25th man Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner in the late innings.
Beyond that, not many surprises on the Royals’ roster for their series against the Astros. They went with 11 pitchers, which means both Chris Young and Kris Medlen are on the roster. Jeremy Guthrie is not.