Thursday, January 29, 2004

posted by James - 11:54 PM

Dateline Just North of Wrigley Field

...Beep...Beep ...Beep...Beep...Beep

(Beeping to the tune of Black Sabbath's Iron Man)

We have an update from Just North of Wrigley Field Ugueth Urbina Update Center (I tried my best to find a synonym for Center which starts with "U").

Apparently he's not out of hot water just yet as Venezuelan prosecutors will keep the option to charge Urbina for up to six months according to the Associated Press.

They will investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to charge him with the crimes of possessing a weapon without a license and misuse of a firearm.

Urbina's lawyer said his client had a license for the gun. A judge already ruled there wasn't sufficient evidence to support the charges.

But having his name associated with this type of news hurts his value even further. Hopefully for his pocketbook's sake, this story doesn't get any frequent updates.

But if I'm Urbina, I'm taking any offer that includes six zeroes.

...which he won't get from the Pittsburgh Pirates after they signed Jose Mesa to a minor-league deal.

Yes, that Jose Mesa who lost his job in Philadelphia last year on a team who had nobody better, just nobody worse.

The same Jose Mesa who's left a terrible ending with every team he's closed for (5.65 ERA, 26 saves for three teams).

But there's also good news for the Pirates as he's posted great seasons in his first as closer with those clubs (2.85 ERA, 121 saves). Even though he posted a near-five ERA for Seattle in 1999, he tied the club record for saves with 33, later broken on two occasions by his successor, Kazuhiro Sasaki.

But Mariners fans will never forgive him for blowing the save in the first game at Safeco Field in 99. There was never a more ominous sign from a team with chronic bullpen problems. Then Junior left, followed by A-ROD, then the 116-win season. One of those things does not belong there. One of those things does not belong... but it does.

Robb Nen is also keeping his name in the headlines, telling the San Francisco Chronicle his head is right for closing without saying anything about his surgically-repaired right arm.

Nen has had three surgeries since October 2002, and I already discussed the other options at closer for the Giants in a previous post. This would be a perfect situation for Urbina to vulture a prime spot on a playoff contender with a manager he's familiar with.

Speaking of familiarity, for the Tigers and Ivan Rodriguez it's all over but the press conference. They don't have much chance of competing in the AL Central, but they do have the money to spend and Pudge's former, Marlins-battery mate would be a good mentor to youngsters Chris Spurling and Franklyn German.

So they're now No. 3 on my list of prospective Urbina destinations. And if the Twins won't give him an acceptable offer to close for a contender, he should take the Tigers' money and stick it to them.

It's better than sitting out the year and being forever known as the Couch Potato Closer.

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