This came through my twitter feed yesterday, and I couldn't ignore it if only for the fact that this guy used to be one of my favorite players: Juan Rincon has been signed to a minor league contract by the Angels. The same Juan Rincon who last pitched in a Major League game in 2010. The same Juan Rincon who Mike Scioscia came down on when he learned of Rincon's failed drug test in 2005, and how Rincon's suspension wouldn't happen until after the Twins played the Angels.
"When Juan Rincon pitches 11 days from now, are the effects from steroids deteriorated to the point where he’ll pitch at the level of his God-given talents? No," Scioscia said at the time. "He’ll still have the benefits of whatever steroids he was taking."
From 2003 - 2006, Rincon appeared in 285 games for the Twins in relief. Largely as the right-handed setup man. He struck out 318 batters in 319 innings, allowing just 265 hits and 14 home runs. His ERA during that period was 2.93.
In 2007 Rincon started to lose the plot (and his command), and mid-way through '08 the Twins had seen enough. They cut bait. Since 2006, Rincon has appeared in just 145 games (just two since the start of 2010), striking out 126 in 153.2 innings while allowing 165 hits and walking 80.
In 2011, for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Independent League, Rincon allowed 43 hits in 45.1 innings, striking out 51 and walking 19. It was a vast improvement for him. Apparently that's spun him one last try with a Major League team, even if it means Rincon will have to earn a spot on the 40-man roster later in the year.
He's still just 33, but that stretch where Rincon was one of the most dominant setup men in baseball seems like two lifetimes ago. Good luck, Juan.
I linked to our record of the end of Juan's career in Minnesota, so here are two more entries which become slightly more interesting considering their context and the fact that we now know how it all ended:
Juan Rincon Is Good (May 2, 2007)
The Hope and Confidence of Juan Rincon (March 18, 2008)