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Hot Stove: 2/20

Another star retired, while we highlight the career of a Hall of Famer passed away.

Major League Baseball players are beginning to report to Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. Baseball is almost here!

African American Player Profile

Ken Griffey Jr. (1989-2010)

Ken Griffey Jr. may have been up in the realm of greatest player of all time had injuries not slowed him. Still a sure-fire Hall of Famer, Griffey is one of eight players with 600 home runs. He debuted in 1989 at just 19 years old and was an All Star at age 20. Griffey broke out in 1993 with 45 home runs, 109 RBI, and a .309 average with 17 steals in 156 games. The best was yet to come. In 1997, the greatest year of his career, he hit 56 homer runs, 147 RBI, batted .304, and stole 15 bases in 157 games. Combined with the 49 he hit in 1996, the 56 in 1998, and the 48 in 1999, Griffey hit 209 home runs (52.25 per season) and knocked in 567 runs (141.75 per season) in just four years. With 417 home runs and not yet 30, Griffey looked on track to break the home run record of 755 (now 762) by the end of his career. The Reds dealt for him in February in the famous deal that included Mike Cameron, who just retired yesterday, and Brett Tomko. After hitting 40 home runs in his first year, the all-out style of play that made him famous in Seattle finally caught up to him and he would not hit more that 35 home runs or play in more than 144 games in a season for the rest of his career. By the end, he had hit 630 home runs, knocked in 1,836, and batted .284 with 184 stolen bases in 2,671 games.

Free Agent Signings

Yankees agreed to terms with Clay Rapada (2-0, 6.06 ERA, .230 BAA, 2012 age: 31) on a minor league deal.

Reds signed Brett Tomko (0-1, 4.58 ERA, .246 BAA, 2012 age: 39) to a minor league deal.

Giants resigned Justin Christian (0 HR, 4 RBI, .255 AVG, 3 SB, 2012 age: 32) to a minor league deal.

Other News

17-year veteran Mike Cameron announced his retirement at age 39.

Gary Carter passed away at age 57. From last update, to be highlighted in this one.

Mike Cameron signed on to be a Nationals back up this year, but instead decided to retire two months later. The LaGrange, Georgia native played for eight teams over his 17-year career, was played in the 2001 All Star Game, and won three Gold Gloves for his outstanding defensive work. He was an 18th round pick in 1991 by the White Sox out of LaGrange High School, and reached the majors in 1995, though he would not see significant action until 1997. That year, he became the White Sox' starting center fielder and hit 14 home runs with a .259 average and 23 stolen bases in 116 games. In 1998, his numbers dropped off, as he hit just eight home runs and batted .210 with 27 stolen bases in 141 games, so he was traded to the Reds. That would be the first of two very notable trades in as many years. In a one for one swap, he was sent from Chicago to Cincinnati for a man who would hit 389 home runs in his time with the White Sox that went by the name of Paul Konerko. In his first season and only season with the Reds, the 26-year-old would hit 21 home runs and bat .256 with a career high 38 stolen bases. He was then sent to Seattle with Brett Tomko and a couple of minor leaguers for the great Ken Griffey Jr. It was with the Mariners that Cameron would see his greatest years; he was part of the new influx that helped the Mariners to huge success in the early part of the decade after superstars Griffey, Alex Rodriguez, and Randy Johnson departed and Jay Buhner headed toward retirement. 2000 was a solid year, as Mike hit 19 home runs and batted .267 with 24 stolen bases in his first year back in the Junior Circuit. It was 2001, though, that Cameron, young teammates Ichiro, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Joel Pineiro, Freddy Garcia, and newcomers Bret Boone and John Olerud lead the Mariners to an all-time record 116 wins. Cameron provided a solid middle of the order bat with 25 home runs, 110 RBI, and a .267 average with 34 stolen bases in 150 games. He earned his only All Star trip and his first of three Gold Gloves. The Mariners did not end up with a World Series appearance, as the Yankees knocked them out in the ALCS. Cameron did not come back quite as strongly in 2002, as he hit 25 home runs again but batted just .239 with 31 stolen bases. His numbers dropped again in 2003 as he hit just 18 home runs and batted .253 with 17 stolen bases in 147 games. After picking up a second Gold Glove, he departed for the Mets where he posted his first 30 home run season. In 140 games in 2004, he hit 30 home runs and batted .231 with 22 stolen bases. Despite setting a career high in batting average at .273 in 2005, he homered just 12 times and stole 13 bases. After being traded to San Diego for Xavier Nady, he saw a revitalization for the Padres, beginning with 22 home runs, a .268 average, and 25 stolen bases in 2006 and earning his third and final Gold Glove. 2007 was solid too, as he hit 21 home runs and batted .242 with 18 stolen bases. Joining another new team in 2008 in the Brewers, he hit 25 home runs and batted .243 with 17 stolen bases in 120 games. 2009, his final with Milwaukee, would be his final productive season, as the 36-year-old hit 24 home runs, batted .250, and saw his stolen base tally drop to seven. The Red Sox signed him in 2010, but he hit just four home runs and batted .259 in 48 games. He began 2011 with Boston but ended up in Florida by year's end, hitting nine home runs and a combined .203. Over his 17-year career, he hit 278 home runs (161st all time), batted .249, and stole 297 bases (also 161st all time) in 1,955 games (262nd all time). His 383 doubles tie him with Kenny Lofton for 205th and his 867 walks rank him 186th.

Gary Carter was a leader of Expos and Met clubs for more than 15 years and ended up playing for four teams over his 19-year career. A quiet man, Carter was not the typical Reggie Jackson of the day, often putting family first and never getting into trouble off the field. This payed off later, as his numbers, which alone would probably not earn him a ticket into the Hall of Fame, were given a boost with his charitable work and love for the game. After a solid debut in 1974, he began his reign as a future Hall of Famer in 1975. In 144 games, the Montreal's rookie backstop hit 17 home runs and batted .270 to claim his first All Star ticket. After a dismal 1976, Carter rebounded in 1977 with a huge season. In 154 games, he hit 31 home runs and batted .284 to entrench himself as the Expos' catcher for years to come. He hit 20 home runs in 1978 and batted .255, then one-upped those numbers with 22 home runs and a .283 average in 1979, earning his way back to the All Star Game for the first of ten straight seasons. At the beginning of the new decade, he hit 29 home runs and batted .264 while reaching the century mark in RBI at 101 and bringing home his first Gold Glove of three straight Gold Gloves. His numbers dropped off a bit in 1981 with 16 home runs and a .251 average in 100 games, but that didn't stop writers from giving him the National League Silver Slugger Award for catchers.  He rebounded with one of the best years of his career in 1982, as the 28-year-old hit 29 home runs and batted .293 in 154 games. His numbers dropped again in 1983, as he hit only 17 home runs and batted .270, but he rebounded yet again with a huge 1984. In 159 games, he hit 27 home runs, lead the NL with 106 RBI, and batted .294. The Expos could no longer afford his services, so they sent him to New York for a quartet of young players. Carter failed to disappoint in his first year with the Mets, as he hit 32 home runs and batted .281 in his first year there. He helped to lead the Mets to the famous 1986 World Series with 24 home runs and a .255 average. It was not known at the time, but he would begin to decline from there. In his final productive season in 1987, the 33-year-old hit 20 home runs and batted .235 in 139 games for the Mets. 1988 was worse, as he hit only 11 home runs and batted .242 in 130 games, and he lost the starting job in 1989. That year, he hit just a couple of home runs and batted a dismal .183 in 50 games. After the season, he picked up the Roberto Clemente Award, which was a tribute to his charitable work off the field. San Francisco picked him up in 1990, and Carter somewhat rebounded with nine home runs and a .254 average in 92 games. He then joined the Giants' rivals, the Dodgers, in 1991 and hit six home runs and batted .246 in 101 games. The Expos brought him back in 1992 for his final season. In 95 games, the 38-year-old hit five home runs and batted .218. That concluded a 19-year career that would earn him a ticket to the Hall of Fame in 2003. Over the 19 years, he hit 324 home runs (104th all time), knocked in 1,225 runs (135th all time), and batted .262 with 39 stolen bases in 2,296 games (107th all time).  

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Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. BAA: batting average against. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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