UPDATE: It looks like this thing might actually happen. Bernardo Fallas of the Houston Chronicle reports that Astros assistant GM David Gottfried contacted Taveras’
agent, Barry Praver, soon after the outfielder’s release on Tuesday. A minor league contract was indeed discussed.
7:41pm: According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Astros general manager Ed Wade is open to the idea of bringing back outfielder Willy Taveras on a minor league deal.
Taveras (and the $4 million remaining on his contract) was released by the A’s this afternoon after garnering zero interest on the waiver wire. The 28-year-old batted .240/.275/.285 in 404 at-bats last season for the Reds and, as Aaron noted earlier, has hit just .246./.293/.291 in 235 games over the past two seasons.
“Willy brings the
speed element and he’s a very popular guy in town and with our
organization,” Wade told Crasnick on Tuesday.
Taveras played for the Astros from 2004-2006 and never finished with an OPS over .675 or more than 25 extra-base hits. It doesn’t seem like a wise pickup for an organization that should be handing any available playing time to youngsters, but this is Houston we’re talking about. Wade and Co. have a long history of questionable moves, which is why the club is in such a poor state heading into the 2010 season.
Come to think of it, the perennially disappointing Taveras should fit right in with the Astros’ crop of aging, overpaid veterans. It’s going to be a long season in oil country.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.