Thursday, April 9, 2015

Random Ex-Brave: Roman Colon

During the offseason, the Random Ex-Brave column ran on Sundays, but during the season, Random Prospect Sunday gets that preferred spot largely because its name literally has the day of the week in it. So, like a TV show getting moved to a new time, Random Ex-Brave will be a Thursday special here at Walk-Off Walk.net. Our first victim's best ERA with any one team in the majors came as a member of the Braves. Bad news...it was still 4.69.

S. Cunningham | Getty Images
Born in the Dominican Republic on my oldest sister's birthday, August 13, 1979, Roman Colon would sign his first professional contract the day after he turned 16. Guess the Braves really wanted him. I remember him as kind of lanky, but B-R has him at 245 pounds, so he definitely filled out his 6'5" frame. The righty was never a big prospect. He spent the first three seasons of his career climbing the latter, even playing for short-season A Jamestown. The Braves no longer carry a short-season A squad anymore. After 2000 was lost to injury, Colon strung some decent years together where his ERA was around 3.50 and he looked the part of an okayish starter with decent control and a penchant for keeping the ball in the park. Midway through 2003, the Braves began to shift Colon to the pen, where his limited arsenal was better suited and he followed with the best K numbers of his short career in 2004.

By late August, an injury to the Braves pen had them reeling so they brought Colon up to fill in. In his first outing against the Dodgers on August 21, Colon pitched an innings in a 7-4 loss, striking out former Brave Jose Hernandez and future Brave David Ross. Colon followed that up with a pair of similar outings where he faced the minimum in garbage time before getting touched up for two runs in his fourth game. On August 30, Colon worked a quiet ninth against the Giants, including retiring Barry Bonds, and in the bottom half of the inning, Julio Franco tripled in a game-tying run before Andruw Jones singled in Mike Hampton, who was running for Franco, for the walk-off pitcher scoring win. It was the first of eight major league wins for Colon.

He would continue to receive steady work throughout September, but would not appear in the majors. The following year, because of his available service time, he became one of the Baby Braves. He opened the year in the pen, but was pretty awful. His ERA was an awful 8.50 in mid-June when an injury moved Colon to the starting rotation. His first start came against the Orioles and he stifled the O's for no runs over six innings, though the former Brave Bruce Chen was doing the same to the Braves. Finally, after Colon had left, the Braves jumped out to a 4-0 lead. They would watch that lead disappear over the final two innings, largely due to Chris Reitsma sucking. Andruw would bail them out with a homer to leadoff the bottom of the ninth for the win. Colon would lose his next start, but cruised in a 5-1 victory against the Cubs on July 5. He would receive one more start before being shifted back to the pen for one game. On July 31, the Braves moved him, and Zach Miner, to the Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth would blow in the NLDS. Screw Farnsworth.

Colon finished the year with the Tigers and got 20 more games with Detroit the following year, including his only major league save (three inning variety). His last game with the Tigers would come on his 27th birthday. In 2007, he began the year on the DL and once finally healthy, he went on a rehab assignment. He would get into a fight with teammate Jordan Tata and inadvertently punched Jason Karnuth, another Mud Hens pitcher who tried to break up the fight. Karnuth would require a titanium plate to be screwed into his head. Colon pleaded no contest to assault and did 200 hours of community service. Moral of the story - don't break up fights. Shortly after a suspension halted his rehab assignment, Colon was traded to the Royals for a minor leaguer. He would appear in just one more minor league game that season before returning in 2008 for 33 games in the minors, including ten starts. He was no great shakes, but the Royals of the Oughts didn't care about such things. He was a former Brave.

So, in 2009, it was of little surprise that he appeared in 43 games for the Royals to fairly ugly results. The 2009 Royals did lose 97 games and Colon was tagged for 27 of the 842 runs their staff gave up. The presence of Colon helps answer the question of how bad does the rest of your staff have to be to have a team ERA of 4.83 and waste years by two of the most promising pitchers in baseball at the time in Zack Greinke (2.16 ERA) and Joakim Soria (2.21 ERA).

Colon would open the 2010 season in the majors, but even the Royals had their limits and demoted him after an ERA of 18 in five games. Yeah, that's eighteen with an 18. He briefly played in Omaha before testing his luck in Korea. He actually wasn't all that bad, which says more about the level of play in Korea. Interestingly, Kia wanted Colon to return the following year. They submitted a qualifying offer for 75% of his prior contact. I'm not exactly sure what that would have been and Colon didn't know about it at the time because his agents never informed him. His next contract brought him back to the states for $12,500 a month. He sought a million in the lawsuit and stated he would have immediately signed with Kia had he been told about the offer so I imagine it was a fairly lucrative one for him, especially considering he only garnered minor league contract interest.

In 2011, the Dodgers needed some depth in the minors and brought Colon aboard for a year. Then, the Royals called...again. Seems they just couldn't quit Colon. He returned to Omaha to open the year and had a 3.09 ERA in 40 games with 7 saves so the Royals naturally did what the Royals did back then. Brought him back to the majors. It only took them three games this time to realize that Colon was better suited to stick in AAA.

The year of 2013 was one of movement for Colon. He started the year trying to make the Pirates roster, but naturally headed to Indianapolis. For one game. It appeared the Braves needed an arm so why not Colon? They purchased their former non-prospect for seven games with Gwinnett before trying to return Colon to the store for a full refund. The Pirates policy was no returns so the Braves put Colon on Craig's List, where the Rockies purchased him in May. He played two games in their system.

Last year, Colon found himself in Taiwan with the Brother Elephants. Can we change our mascot to the Elephant? No real idea how he did there and I don't care enough to research it. Colon is currently signed to the, you guessed it, Royals. He's schedule to open 2015 with the AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals. His last action in AA also came with Northwest Arkansas. That came in 2008.

It's actually fairly impressive that the now 35 year-old is still around almost twenty years after becoming a professional at the age of 16 and 1 day. You have to respect the resolve. Or the stubbornness to not quit.

More Random Ex-Braves
Ray Holbert (1998)
John Burkett (2000-01)
Derrek Lee (2010)

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