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Joe Randa Retires

Randa in The Kansas City Star:

"I'm retired. I pretty much made up my mind before last season started that it would be my last."

Randa, 36, endured an injury-filled season with the Pirates, playing in just 89 games. It was enough to cement his decision to step away from the game.

"Actually, physically, I think I could play more," Randa said. "But mentally, I know I'm ready to move on to the next stage of my life. With the mental part, there was kind of a grind to it. The hotels, the travel, it kind of wears you down.

"Plus, I was on a team with a lot of 24-year-olds and 25-year-olds. The truth is, I don't have that much in common with them anymore."

I'm not a believer in team chemistry, but perhaps Dejan Kovacevic had Randa in mind when he wrote this:

A chemistry that I detected forming with that team -- similar to the one Florida second baseman Dan Uggla recently described to me is happening now in the Marlins' clubhouse -- was altered by creating a roster that is simultaneously very old and very young. Investigate these types of rosters throughout sports: They do not work, by their very nature. One group has one agenda, the other has another. Ask the Marlins. Or, better yet, the Indians or Rockies. Young teams gain a sense of ownership of the product, of a mission, if simply left alone.

In any case, it turns out that Randa's sad 2006 gasp with the Pirates will be his last. He's still decent enough that he could hang on for a couple years as a bench player if he wanted to, but who can blame him for not wanting to?

Randa joined the Bucs in late 1996, when he himself wasn't much older than the players he now says he has little in common with. He hit .302/.366/.451 in 1997 with the Bucs before being lost in the expansion draft to the Diamondbacks, who traded him to the Tigers. After a year with Detroit, he was dealt to the Mets and then to the Royals, where he spent most of the rest of his career. Other than a bad 2001 season, Randa was a reliably average player during that time, posting an OPS+ between 90 and 111 in every other year between 1999 and 2004. He started 2005 with the Reds, and collapsed badly after being dealt to the Padres near the trading deadline.

This should have been a warning sign for the Pirates, and anyway they already had a third baseman in Freddy Sanchez who figured to be at least as good as Randa. But the Pirates went ahead and dropped $4 million on Randa anyway. Sanchez ended up winning the batting title, and Randa is now retiring after spending most of the year on the bench. It's been said a million different times and a million different ways, but boy was reacquiring Randa a stupid idea.

In any case, though, Randa was a solid player most of his career, and it's not his fault that the Pirates decided to waste a bunch of money on him after his skills had begun to desert him.

Happy trails, Joe.