"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Glory Days Revisited: Pitching

For some reason, who can say why, TBL has been feeling nostalgic for that incredible run of winning seasons and (less-winning) postseasons from 2002 - 2004. And she started to wonder, whatever happened to those boys?

So TBL decided to hit the Google and find out!

Today we will hunt high and low for long-lost, newly-lost and gladly-lost pitchers from those magical seasons.

Grant Balfour missed 2005 recovering from surgery (and being paid by the Twins). He signed a minor-league contract with the Brewers and rehabbed there until mid-2007, when he returned to major league play and posted a 20.25 ERA in three appearances over 10 days. He was then traded to the Devil Rays and finished out the season with them. He is currently on their spring training roster.

Jack Cressend pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 2003 and actively sabotaged them in 2004. That about did it for his career.

Tony "Palmball" Fiore was last spotted in 2006, playing for an independent league. He has not played in the MLB since his stint with the Twins ended in 2003.

Aaron Fultz pitched for the Phillies from 2005-2006, then was picked up by the Cleveland Indians on a one-year contract with a 2008 option. He is in spring training with the Indians but is struggling.

"Everyday" Eddie Guardado went from Twins closer to Mariners closer, playing there from 2004 to mid-2006, when he was traded to the Reds in July. In August, he blew out his pitching elbow and did not return to major league action until August 2007. His return did not go well. He is now in spring training with the Rangers.

Seth Greisinger played briefly for the Braves in 2005. He then moved on to a career in the Japanese leagues; he will be pitching for the Yomiuri Giants this season.

Following a disastrous stint as closer for the Cubs, LaTroy Hawkins has pitched in a setup role for the Giants, Orioles and Rockies. He is currently pitching for the Evil Empire.

Mike Jackson dropped off the radar in 2003 and pitched poorly for the White Sox in 2004. He is now retired.

Matt Kinney pitched for the Brewers for almost two seasons after his last with the Twins (2002). Designated for assignment in August 2004, he was claimed off waivers by the Royals and finished out the season with them, whereupon he signed with the Giants. He played briefly in San Francisco in early 2005 and then in the minors through 2007. He is currently pitching in Japan.

After the Twins traded Kyle Lohse and his bad attitude to the Reds in mid-2006, he continued to earn less than half his money and was traded to the Phillies in mid-2007. He did well enough there but they did not extend him a contract, and he sat home well into spring training before signing with the Cardinals for (a faintly ludicrous) 4.25 million on March 14th.

Joe Mays signed with the Royals when the Twins declined to offer him a 2006 contract; he was released by the Royals six weeks into the season. Most pitchers would have changed their names and left the country after that, but not Joe. He caught on with the Reds and lasted a whole seven weeks with them. The next season he signed a minor-league contract with the Dodgers but, failing to turn his spring training invite into a major-league job, requested and was granted his release. He has not pitched since but is generally listed as an unsigned free agent rather than a retired player.

Having missed most of 2003 due to injury, Eric Milton was traded to the Phillies for Carlos Silva and Nick Punto in the offseason. The Twins got the best of that deal, as his best post-Twins ERA is 4.75, and that was from 2004. He spent 2004 with the Phillies, then got himself a huge 3-year contract with the Reds which drove fans crazy until his tenure with the team came to an end last May with a season-ending injury. At the time of this writing he is an unsigned free agent and is not, so far as TBL can determine, even in spring training with anyone.

After two seasons with the Twins, Terry Mulholland pitched briefly with the Diamondbacks in 2006 and then retired.

Mike Nakamura pitched for Toronto in 2004 and is currently the closer for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. (Hee!)

Brad Radke pitched through 2006 and then retired with a career record of 148-139, 4.22, which is more impressive than it sounds--consider that he pitched for the Twins during the abysmal years of 1995-2000.

Rick Reed retired after going 6-12, 5.07 for the Twins in 2003. Probably a wise move. Still, he was a great help in 2001 and 2002, and for that we thank him.

Joe Roa played in the minors for the Pirates for a year following his 2004 season with the Twins and is now retired.

Kenny Rogers (aka "The Human Rain Delay") has done quite a bit since bidding Minnesota goodbye after the 2003 season. He spent 2004-2005 with the Rangers, pitching in 65 games and beating up two cameramen before moving on to Detroit, where he got himself a World Series ring and made the Twins hitters look foolish at every available opportunity.

JC Romero spent a season with the Angels, half a season with the Red Sox and half a season with the Phillies after the Twins traded him for Alexi Casilla after the 2005 season. He is still with the Phillies after a posting excellent numbers in the second half of 2007. No word yet on whether he continues to devote his spare time to teaching toddlers how to throw a proper tantrum.

You all know where Johan Santana is. Dammit.

Carlos Silva signed a staggeringly large 4-year contract with the Mariners in the offseason.

TBL can find no trace of Bob Wells after his nigh-apocalyptic 2002 season with the Twins.

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