What happens when one in the sports world retires? Do they stick close to the sports world they’ve spent so much of their life in and around? Do they go pursue other careers that maybe they didn’t have the time or energy – or even knowledge – of doing and devoting their time to? Do they wind up in prison – well, we’ll do our best not to talk about these guys today.
Instead, let’s talk about players who have taken their ex-baseball careers to another level and managed to stay productive without spending any time in prison…or six feet under the ground. Specifically, those who shipped up to Boston for some time with the Red Sox, pitching bad games on the mound or not contributing much on the field.
For as easy as it’d be to talk about what beloved Red Sox stars like Mike Lowell (an analyst on MLB Network), David Ortiz (writing a book and enjoying retirement), or Curt Schilling (refusing to understand that it’s not his beliefs that anger people, but how he expresses them) are all up to, let’s go visit some of the less-memorable Beantown players- or, if you don’t live in Boston, players you’ve most likely completely forgotten about.
As with some of our other retrospective articles on retired players, some basic rules apply. We’re not talking about dead players and we’re looking at players who have spent time in a Red Sox uniform from 2000 on; if they debuted in the 1990s with the team and were on the 2000 roster, that’s fine, but don’t expect guys like Jim Rice or Dave Henderson to pop up here.
Ready to re-visit the past? Let’s do it.
15. Kevin Cash: Tampa Bay Rays Manager
In Cash’s defense, the lifelong veteran backstop wasn’t expected to be a ‘star’ for the Boston Red Sox; his purpose was simply to be the emergency catcher if Jason Varitek and/or Doug Mirabelli went on the disabled list, which meant the Red Sox really didn’t care about him slashing .188/.279/.266 with three homers and 20 RBI in 102 games. Cash also won the 2007 World Series with the Red Sox, though his lone postseason action came the following year.
Now, Cash is already in his third year as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, helping lead a rebuilding movement that is seeing the team…actually produce at a more competitive level than most people probably expected in 2017. Though they’re not likely to remain around .500 for the bulk of the year, the team’s effort and competition is impressing many – and helping Cash’s case to be the long-term manager.
14. Eric Hinske: Chicago Cubs Assistant Hitting Coach
Again, Hinske’s overall stats with the Red Sox – a .229/.327/.406 slashline with seven home runs, 26 RBI, 20 doubles, three triples, and an 84-36 K-BB ratio over the 2006 and 2007 seasons may not sound awful, but they were. Hinse was mainly a platoon player with the Red Sox and won a World Series in 2007 with the organization, but the production expected from the 2002 American League Rookie of the Year never became what Theo Epstein likely imagined it’d be in Fenway Park.
But, Hinske has found a new home in Chicago, where he’s in the midst of his fourth season as a coach – and his third as the assistant hitting coach following a 2014 stint as the team’s first base coach. Following his retirement after the 2013 season, Hinske actually spent a couple months with the New York Yankees as a scout, but it’s Chicago where he’s calling home – and winning World Series rings.
13. Alfredo Aceves: Mexican League Star
How can one put a pitcher who went 16-13 with a 3.94 ERA in 135 games with the Red Sox on this list, you ask? Easy: Aceves fell apart when the team most needed him. When Aceves posted his second double digit winning season in three seasons with a 10-2 showing in 2011 to go along with a 2.61 ERA, he seemed like a main piece for the Red Sox’s future as they contemplated a potential rebuild for their pitching staff. However, Aceves would go 6-11 with a 5.21 ERA over his next 80 games with the Red Sox, waling 53 hitters in 121 innings and returning to the New York Yankees in 2014.
After that stint didn’t go well, Aceves returned to Mexico where he now pitches for Sultanes de Monterrey. In 2016, Aceves went -3 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts for Monterrey but has yet to record a decision in the 2017 season.
12. J.T. Snow: Founder of the Jack and J.T. Snow Foundation
Yes, Snow once left the San Francisco Giants to play for the Boston Red Sox and no, we shouldn’t have expected much better than a .205/.340/.205 slashline in 38 games when he was 38 years old. Fine, maybe we should have expected a bit better, but it’s not like Snow is why the Red Sox missed the 2006 postseason entirely.
After officially retiring as a member of the Giants in September 2008, Snow has dabbled in broadcasting work while also running his own charity group: the Jack and J.T. Snow Foundation for Scientific Research. Unlike other athlete-driven groups which will mainly focus on camps and public events, the Snow Foundation’s website explains that the organization “is a voice for rare disease, working towards a cure for Wolfram Syndrome and developing novel therapies for diabetes, vision loss, hearing loss and neurodegeneration.”
11. Bobby Jenks: Recovering Addict
We’ll give Jenks a pass here, as his struggles with the Red Sox in 2011 – a 6.32 ERA in 15.2 innings and a 17-13 K-BB ratio with the Red Sox in 2011 – have been chalked up to back surgeries, an addiction to painkillers, and depression. Now over four years sober, Jenks is speaking openly about the tribulations that he went through while with the Red Sox.
“It’s like waking up all over again,” Jenks said in 2014. “I have done a lot of things in my life that don’t make me very proud, but I don’t regret them, because without them I wouldn’t be sitting here today sharing anything that I can with anybody. It made me who I am right now. For that, I am grateful.”
10. Joel Piñeiro: Finally Officially Retired
With all respect to some of the other guys on this list, I think Joel Piñeiro is the first player we’ve gotten to so far that really infuriated Red Sox fans – and that’s saying something because there were a lot of fans upset at Alfredo Aceves during the 2012 season. Once a solid starter with the Seattle Mariners in the early 2000s, Piñeiro was used solely as a reliever in pitching to a 1-1 record with a 5.03 ERA in 31 games out of the bullpen for the Red Sox in 2007 before being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline.
Piñeiro immediately returned to a solid form with the Cardinals, going 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch for the defending World Champions; that was the start of a nice stretch, as the ex-Mariner went 32-26 with a 4.07 ERA from 2008-10 with the Cardinals and Angels. Piñeiro spent 2012-15 in the minor leagues with various organizations and, following an appearance in this year’s World Baseball Classic, finally retired. What he will do next is yet to be seen.
9. Josh Bard: Los Angeles Dodgers Bullpen Catcher
Bard not only has one of the shortest tenures as a member of the Red Sox (seven games in 2006 with a .278/.381/.333 statline), but one of the greatest stories on this entire list – which is why he’s on this list. After the Red Sox sent backup catcher Doug Mirabelli, who was Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher because he could catch the knuckleball well, to San Diego for second baseman Mark Loretta, Bard was brought in as the replacement.
In his first five games catching Wakefield, Bard had ten passed balls and was simply unable to catch anything Wakefield threw his way, so he was traded to the Padres for…Mirabelli! To Bard’s credit, he hung around to have some productive seasons in San Diego and now serves as the bullpen catcher in Los Angeles, where he (thankfully) isn’t catching knuckleballs…yet.
8. Matt Clement: Summer Baseball Team Owner
So as it turns out, you’re not allowed to mention Matt Clement to Red Sox fans because of how much he frustrates them even over a decade later. See, Clement seemed on the verge of becoming a really good pitcher for the Red Sox after going 10-2 with a 3.85 ERA and a 97-35 K-BB ratio in his first 18 starts with the Red Sox in 2005 – and even made the All-Star Game as a replacement – but went 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA in his final 14 starts. Well, it can’t get much worse, can it?
Well, Clement finished his Red Sox career with an 18-11 record in 44 games, but a 5.09 ERA and a 189-106 K-BB ratio in 256.1 innings after pitching terribly in 2006, so there’s that. Since retiring, Clement has shrugged off a ‘meh’ career to become a popular basketball coach in Butler, Pennsylvania; oh, and he owns the Butler BlueSox, a collegiate league team. That’s pretty cool!
7. Mark Melancon: San Francisco Giants All-Star
Melancon is the only active player on this list and for good reason: when he was with the Red Sox, he was awful to the point where it became depressing to watch. As we mentioned earlier this year, After four games, Melancon had an ERA of 49.50 and finished the 2012 season with a 6.20 ERA in 41 games with the Red Sox. Yikes…
So, what happened after he left Beantown? Maybe it was a case of a guy getting his confidence back after being part of such a bad team and in a cancerous clubhouse or maybe it was Melancon breaking out, but the guy has been one of the game’s best closers over the past five seasons. Since 2013, Melancon has pitched to a 1.83 ERA with 153 saves and a 278-46 K-BB ratio in 300.2 innings for the Pirates, Nationals, and Giants, making three All-Star Games in the process.
6. Craig Hansen: Independent Stock Trader
So here, we have an example of a top prospect being rushed to the major leagues and having his confidence completely destroyed. I mean that with all due respect, of course, but there’s no denying that Craig Hansen should not have been in the big leagues even after dominating the minor leagues the way he did. Going 3-5 with a 6.15 ERA in 74 games for the Red Sox from 2005-08…yeah, let’s leave it at that.
Clearly, Hansen’s post-baseball career has gone smoother. According to Hansen’s LinkedIn page, he is the owner of A&H Capitals where he is “Analyzing and purchasing both residential and Commercial [sic] sized properties. Renting out current owned properties. Rehabbing SFH’s (single-family residence/home) while performing buy and holds on multi unit buildings.” It’s not exactly staying close to baseball like some of these other guys have, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.
5. David Wells: High School Baseball Coach
On paper, Wells’ stats with the Red Sox – a 17-10 record in 38 starts from 2005-06 with a 4.56 ERA and a 131-29 K-BB ratio in 231 innings – don’t sound awful, but Boomer was far from the pitcher that had gone 71-37 with a 4.00 ERA over the previous five seasons. Now, Wells is coaching baseball at Point Loma, a California high school that the three-time All-Star attended in his youth.
“I would have never in a million years thought I’d be doing this,” Wells said in 2015. “I’ve been trying for the last seven years to get into the big leagues and failed miserably. I mean, I thought with all the knowledge and the big games that I’ve pitched and being in the playoffs constantly, I know pitching. I know pitching as good as or better than anybody else that’s ever played. … I’m not an in-your face coach. I don’t yell. If you do something out of character, you start running. That’s all I do. I’ll get them in shape one way or another.”
4. Carl Crawford: Unofficial Free Agent
What? I’m not laughing. Don’t accuse me of that. I’m not giggling either. I’m not smirking – okay, maybe I am because this one, this is amusing. We know how bad Carl Crawford was but for the sake of annoying Red Sox fans, let’s do it again: a .260/.292/.419 slashline in 161 games with 39 doubles, nine triples, 18 home runs, 99 RBI, and 48 stolen bases after signing a massive contract.
After being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second year of that deal, Crawford showed flashes of his All-Star self at times and hit .300/.229/.429 with 23 stolen bases in 2014, but was released last summer and hasn’t latched on somewhere. Some believe he’s retired, but because he’s yet to officially file his papers, he’s a free agent. Sorry, Coral…I mean, Carl.
3. Eric Gagne: Attempting An MLB Comeback
I’ll skip the stuff about Gagne being the All-Star closer with the Dodgers with the save streak because really, no one remembers him with the Boston Red Sox and there’s a reason for that. After pitching to a 2.16 ERA with 16 saves for the Texas Rangers, Gagne was dealt to the Red Sox at the 2007 trade deadline and went 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA…but wait, it gets better! Gagne allowed three runs in 4.1 innings in the postseason for the Sox that year and still won a World Series ring. Now, the bespectacled Canadian is attempting a comeback after not pitching in the big leagues since 2008, though he did pitch in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year.
“I know the game and I know I’m not trying to get to the big leagues tomorrow morning,” Gagne said last month. “I’ve got to pitch and I’ve got to prove myself. Of course I’m willing to go to the minor leagues. I’m open to anything. Even if I can’t do that, I’m open to maybe the Can-Am League or independent baseball. I need to prove myself to people.”
2. Tony Clark: Head of Major League Baseball Players Association
Did you remember that Tony Clark once played for the Red Sox? No? Well, he did, and I actually didn’t really remember until I was looking back at the 2002 roster to see if that was the year Jeremy Giambi was there – and lo and behold, I found Clark, who slashed .207/.265/.291 with three home runs and 29 RBI in his first season outside of Detroit. Who knew?
Well, as we do know, Clark now heads the Major League Baseball Players Association after the passing of Michael Weiner in late 2013. Though Clark was a union rep during his playing days, he’s the first ex-player to lead the union after retiring and, seeing as we haven’t had a lockout yet, seems to be doing a pretty good job. Although, one can only wonder who will mess things up for both sides…
1. John Smoltz: MLB Network/FOX Sports Analyst
Obviously, John Smoltz – a beloved Hall of Famer who could easily have won over 300 games if not for serving as the Braves’ closer for a time in the 2000s – is not the worst player in baseball history to spend time in a Red Sox uniform. However, Smoltz’s 2009 season was beyond bad, as the former Cy Young winner went 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA (bad) and a 33-9 K-BB ratio in 40 innings (good!) while giving up 59 hits (bad) before being released midseason. Granted, Smoltz was 42, but still!
After retiring, Smoltz joined MLB Network and now is the lead analyst on both their showcase team (along with Bob Costas and whichever field reporter they choose) and the main FOX team alongside Joe Buck and field reporters Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal. After so many years of listening to Tim McCarver, trust us when we say Buck has more chemistry with the ex-Braves star than he did his longtime partner.
Which ex-Red Sox players do you think have had the coolest post-baseball careers? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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