Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Slightly More Than One-Year Wonder Pt. 3: Ugueth Urbina

These players made it longer than one full season, but less than two seasons. They do not qualify as one-year wonders. They lasted slightly too long. But they still spent a brief part of their careers with the Red Sox.
He is mostly known for some off-field exploits now (including being convicted of attempted murder), but for a time, Ugueth Urbina was one of the best closers in the game.  Urbina came up with the Montreal Expos in 1996 and was originally a starter, but his fastball and somewhat erratic control made him a better option for the bullpen.  He was converted to a closer in 1997, and stuck.  His strikeout rates soared as his ERA lowered and he racked up the saves.  He was an All Star in 1998 and led the league in saves in 1999.  

By 2001, Urbina was struggling a little bit and the Expos were not going anywhere.  He was deemed expendable, and Boston's closer Derek Lowe was also struggling.  Boston sent Tomo Ohka and a minor leaguer to Montreal to acquire Urbina at the July trading deadline.  Urbina immediately paid dividends even though the team was tanking.  The new closer went 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and an incredible 32 strikeouts versus just three walks in 20 innings.  He picked up nine saves.

Going into the 2002 season, Urbina was in place to be the Red Sox closer.  He ended up having his second All Star season as he saved 40 games.  He was just 1-6, but with a 3.00 ERA and 71 strikeouts versus 20 walks in 60 innings.  Urbina was just the fourth Red Sox closer to save 40 or more games in a season, joining Jeff Reardon, Tom Gordon, and Lowe.  His 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings was a little bit of a decline, but he was effective.

After the season, Boston declined to re-sign him, instead deciding to go with a closer-by-committee, an experiment that failed miserably.  Urbina signed on with the Rangers and was traded to the Marlins later in the season, just in time for their World Series Championship run.  He later played for the Tigers and Phillies, before his career ended due to that pesky attempted murder thing.

1 comment:

  1. I remember him for the tigers and that pesky attempted murder thing. lol