Monday, March 28, 2011
Braden Looper, P
Played for Marlins: 1999-2003
Other teams: St. Louis (1998, 2006-2008), NY Mets (2004-2005), Milwaukee (2009)
Marlins fans know him because: Looper (who announced his retirement last week) was acquired from St. Louis in the 1998 Edgar Renteria trade. After spending 3 seasons setting up for Antonio Alfonseca, Looper was tapped to close before the 2002 season, and the results were... underwhelming. Looper lost his closing spot multiple times, forcing the team to trade for Ugueth Urbina during the 2003 season to shore up the bullpen. In short, Braden Looper is the reason the Marlins had to trade Adrian Gonzalez. He was the winning pitcher of Game 4 the 2003 World Series, striking out Aaron Boone with the bases loaded and forcing a John Flaherty pop out in the top of the 12th inning, immediately before Alex Gonzalez hit his walkoff home run. He also won Game 3 of the NLDS against San Francisco, despite giving up a go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning.
Everyone else knows him because: Looper was allowed to pursue free agency after the World Series, as the Marlins preferred to take a chance on Armando Benitez (which worked out pretty well for them), signing with the Mets. He closed two seasons for the Mets, then spent some time in St. Louis, winning a World Series, converting into a starter, and becoming the embodiment of middling (he pitched 199 innings in 2008, with an ERA+ of 102). After failing to catch on with a team in 2010, Looper singed a minor league contract with the Cubs this winter but opted to retire upon learning he would not break camp with the big club.
Best Marlins moment: It does not get better than escaping an extra innings bases-loaded jam, retiring the only two batters you face, and then watching your teammate hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the inning. That times 1,000 if you do it in the World Series. His strikeout of Boone is among the more memorable K's in Marlins history.