Results tagged ‘ World Series ’

Luhnow, others receive championship rings

Former Cardinals front-office employees Mike Elias, Sig Mejdal and Jeff Luhnow receive their 2011 World Series championship rings on Wednesday.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and special assistant to the GM/scouting Mike Elias each received their 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series rings prior to Wednesday’s game at Minute Maid Park.

Astros bench coach Joe Pettini, who was former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s right-hand man for 10 years, received his in the clubhouse a few moments earlier.

The rings were presented by Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozielak in Luhnow’s booth. For Luhnow, it’s 10th ring in either the Minors or the Majors while with the Cardinals.

“We work hard in this industry, we work long hours and the reward is when you get win a championship,” said Luhnow, who was hired from the Cardinals in December and quickly brought Mejdal and Elias to Houston. “The celebration and being able to get hardware like this is why we do this, why we’re in this industry. I was glad to be a part of it, and I can’t wait until we do the same thing here in Houston. That’s my ultimate goal.”

DeWitt, who hired Luhnow into the industry in 2003, was pleased to be able to present his former employees with the hardware.

“We’re really pleased to be herd and these guys did such a great job for us,” Dewitt said. “We’re happy to come up here and personally present it. It’s a great honor for us to come do it, and they deserve it.”

Dewitt expects Luhnow to be successful in Houston.

“He’s had a great start with the Draft,” Dewitt said. “We’re all very impressed with that. We hated to lose all of them, but that will speak well for Houston over the years. I’m sure [the Astros] will have a good team before long.”

Elias worked under Luhnow from 2007-11 and as area scout and later as manager of amateur scouting with crosschecking responsibilities. Mejdal worked with the Cardinals from 2005-11, most recently as director of amateur draft analytics.

“It’s a great reminder of the five years with the Cardinals and everything we exprerineced there,” Elias said. “They gave me my first opportunity in baseball – Jeff, Sig, Mo and Mr. DeWitt – and this is probably the best keepsake you could have from something like that. There’s a lot of pride in wearing it.”

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr, GM John Mozielak present Astros GM Jeff Luhnow with his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow shows off his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr, GM John Mozielak present Astros director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal with his 2011 World Series championship ring.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr, GM John Mozielak presented Astros assistant to the GM/scouting Mike Elias with his 2011 World Series championship ring.

So long, Brandon Backe

Brandon Backe, one of the most popular players wear to an Astros uniform in the past 10 years, appears to be done in Houston.

The hometown favorite was designated for assignment following Friday night’s game, meaning the Astros have 10 days to trade him or release him. Backe has the right to demand his release, and based on his comments late Friday it appears that will be what he’s going to do.

The departure of Backe leaves the Astros with only three remaining players from their 2005 World Series team — Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.

Backe was acquired from Tampa Bay in exchange for Geoff Blum on Dec. 14, 2003 and quickly became a fan favorite with his big-game performances and outward passion for the game.

He went 5-3 for the Astros in 2004 in mostly a relief role, before going 10-8 in the rotation in 2005. He struggled with injuries in 2006 before having Tommy John surgery, which cost him almost all of the 2007 season.

He came back healthy in 2008, but didn’t pitch well. He made 31 starts and was 9-14 with a 6.05 ERA, leading the league in earned runs (112) and home runs (36). Surprisingly, the Astros signed him to a $1.55 million contract for 2009, but he strained an intercostal muscle in spring and missed two months. By the time he returned, the Astros really had no use for him anymore with Felipe Paulino showing promise and Russ Ortiz pitching so well.

Backe was a hometown kid from Galveston who possessed great fire on the mound, but more than anything Astros fans will remember him for coming up huge in the playoffs.

In Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS, Backe held St. Louis to one hit over eight scoreless innings in a game the Astros eventually won on Jeff Kent‘s homer in the ninth. He held St. Louis to two hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the 2005 NLCS and delivered in the World Series that year, throwing seven scoreless innings agains tthe White Sox in Game 4.

Backe was understandably frustrated and disappointed over not getting a chance to rejoin the rotation this year after making six Minor League rehab starts. But the Astros have given Backe more than enough chances, including 31 starts last year, to prove he’s a capable Major League starter.

Thus, the Brandon Backe era appears to be over. Here’s hoping another team gives him a shot.