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Doug Mirabelli turns 45 today, is still my least-favorite Padres player ever

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The Padres have had their share of unlikable players over the years. Orlando Hudson talking down to fans comes to mind, as does Jack Clark besmirching the Gwynn name. Those two are just cubes falling off the iceberg for a franchise that has employed a pitcher convicted of raping a fifteen-year-old in an airplane bathroom. Since I was in a phase of my life in 2002 that didn't involve me following baseball closely, I didn't know about Cyr or his offense until well after his career concluded. However, by 2006 I was watching closely again and witnessed the disastrous, yet mercifully brief, Doug Mirabelli era.

The Padres acquired Mirabelli on December 7, 2005, in exchange for starting second baseman Mark Loretta, clearing up both a lot of cash and a spot for rookie Josh Barfield. After years of being Tim Wakefield's caddy and Jason Varitek's backup, Mirabelli was initially mollified by having a starting spot. However, San Diego general manager Kevin Towers signed free agent and legend Mike Piazza, bumping Mirabelli back to the bench. He was far from happy about it; as Tim Sullivan of the SD Union-Tribune wrote that year,

Mirabelli did not handle this as well as he does Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. Towers says he received more calls from Mirabelli than from any other player during his tenure, and that the complaints were ceaseless.

"He was (upset) when we got Piazza," Towers said. " . . . He was (upset) because Rob Bowen was hitting in a group with Piazza and it should have been him. . . .

I'm guessing the parenthetical "upsets" are actually KT saying "pissed", but I wouldn't bet on it. At either rate, it gets even more ridiculous.

"The Sunday before the trade, Mirabelli was calling my phone like 5-6 in the morning. I finally get to (Petco) Park . . . I get into the clubhouse and he says, 'KT, can we have some private time?' "

When they were alone, Towers said, Mirabelli told him the Padres might want to start Bowen behind the plate against the Dodgers that day, "because I'm not focused on the game."

"I said, 'What?' " Towers recalled. "He said, 'My boys, the (Red) Sox have been calling me. I got to tell you, it's all I watch on TV; all I think about is the Red Sox. Do me a favor and you guys a favor (and make a deal)."

And make a deal, Towers did. He sent Mirabelli back to "his boys" in Boston, getting their backup catcher, Josh Bard, who couldn't handle Wakefield's knuckler, as well as reliever Cla Meredith. Once Mirabelli got "back to the big leagues" -- as he disparagingly referred to his return in a phone call to Dave Roberts, who was with the Padres at the time and was famously a part of the historic 2004 Red Sox team -- he hit just as poorly. He never approached the Mendoza line (which would be more accurately called "The Andy Green Line") and was worth four fifths of a run less than a typical replacement. That is to say, he kept sucking and it wasn't the scenery's fault. Meanwhile, Bard produced 2.4 bWAR that year alone while hitting .338/.406/.537(.943) in 263 PA over 93 games. He stuck around for three years and continued to contribute, as did Cla Meredith for four years. Meredith also had his best year in '06 after coming over from Boston. He accrued 2.5 of the 3.0 WAR he put up in his entire six-year career, going 5-1 with a 1.07 ERA in 50.2 innings spread across 45 appearances.

Along with capitalizing on Boston's desperation to have someone who could knock down Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, and excising a cancer from his clubhouse, to get the best of Theo, KT also got the last word. From that U-T piece linked above:

"(I)n the worst way, I wanted to trade him to the Yankees. In the worst way."