Old Friends, Various Places, 2006 Edition
After having been traded to the Reds (where he hit .235 and slugged .329), Royce Clayton signed with the Blue Jays who inexplicably (the perfect word to sum up the latter half of his career) gave him enough ABs to sink their season (.253 .303 .342). They released him, he signed with the PawSox (why do so many of our players go there to die?) and then got called up by the Red Sox, which should automatically disqualify them from post-season contention.
Alfonso Soriano didn't put up the 50-homer season most of us imagined was possible, but he's still slugging almost as high. He's battled a quad injury most of the year, cutting his steals down to just 18, but if the Cubs are disappointed, it's only because their expectations were so high to begin with. Marlon Anderson starred for the Dodgers down the stretch, slugging .813 -- no, that's not a misprint -- and being part of their back-to-back-to-back-to-back game-tying homer barrage against the Padres. As good as he was for them last year, he stunk this year, before getting released and bouncing to the Mets AAA team. Despite not hitting there, the Mets called him up and he's rewarded them with a terrific .323 .353 .565 line. Good friend Damian Jackson was released early this season by the Dodgers and left with the same chipper attitude he displayed here: "I no longer have anything to do with baseball," an angry Jackson said before clearing out his locker, furiously shoving equipment and clothes into his duffel bag and knocking down two chairs on his way out. Waterbug Bernie Castro was last seen not hitting for power as an infielder for Columbus. Last year's secret weapon, Daryle Ward, picked up right where he left off, mashing lots of pinch hits for the Cubs. Alex Escobar bought a house in Florida to ease the rehab process. (To be fair, he did play in 14 games this year) Matt LeCroy did NOT retire to a forest, instead choosing to spend the summer in Rochester, before earning his callup to the Twins. There, he's 1/3 in limited play, but at least the ol' bug-muncher got one more hit in. Last year's backup catcher, Brandon Harper, struggled to hit .180 to the delight of Columbus' poor oppressed fans. The nomadic Wiki Gonzalez came out of hiding long enough to catch for the Charlotte Knights, smacking 10 homers in the process. Folk Hero Brandon Watson was last seen hitting .313 for the Clippers, a higher average then Nook Logan ever had in the minors, and fielding like a drunken water buffalo. Future Braves Superstar George Lombard spent his 9th straight year at AAA. Everyone's favorite utility infielder, Melvin Dorta, (The Venezuelan Denny Hocking) struggled to hit .236 while bouncing between AA and AAA. Mike Vento -- I know you don't remember him -- played a mean RF for the Syracuse Sky Chiefs, slugging .403 in the process. After proving that it's never a good idea to give playing time to a Baltimore Orioles castoff 'prospect', Luis Matos bounced between Pittsburgh's and the Mets' AAA teams, delighting the fans of neither city. The Worst Pitcher In The World (aka Ramon Ortiz) flamed out of a starting job with the Minnesota Twins, earning his release. Colorado, who apparently was either dumb or reallllly desperate (if not both), picked him up and he promptly pitched about as well as you'd expect Ramon Ortiz to pitch in COL: 8.25 ERA. Irish Mike O'Connor returned to AA where, based upon his post-injury pitching (7.07 ERA), he's likely to stay for a while. Pedro Astacio was last seen rehabbing somewhere, which is nothing new. Beltran Perez, who was some people's darkhorse candidate for this year's rotation proving that basing a decision off of 20 innings of ERA is silly, especially when there are fundamental stats that show a different case /soapbox, was last seen pitching marginally effectively for AA and stinking for Columbus. I have no recollection of Ryan Wagner pitching at all this year, which speaks wonders to the work my therapist has been able to do. Bill Bray has spent the year (at least the parts he's not injured) demonstrating why gnashing your teeth over giving up a reliever in a trade is generally a waste of time. Roy Corcoran took his squash goggles to Florida, well, to the Dukes, at least, and adjusted quite well to the altitude. Felix Rodriguez seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth, so rest easy. Last year's 14.29 ERA wasn't enough to scare off potential suitors for the services of Kevin Gryboski, although the Pirates farm teams probably wish it had been: 5.63 ERA. Brett Campbell spent the year pitching for Harrisburg striking out a bunch of guys while walking too many. I know you don't remember Santiago Ramirez, but after being released by the Nats, he's vanished into the ether.