Happy Birthday, Matt Walbeck

10.jpgHe’s 39 today.

On Dec. 11, 1996, the Twins traded Walbeck (pictured with Carlos Pena and Matt Anderson) to the Tigers for minor leaguer Brent Stentz. Walbeck played for the Tigers in 1997 and wore number 8. In 47 games, he hit .277 with three home runs.

Then, on Nov. 20, 1997, the Tigers traded him with Phil Nevin to the Angels for minor leaguer Nick Skuse. Another terrific Randy Smith deal.

Fast-forward to March 22, 2002. He was sent back to the Tigers — from the Padres, of course — with Damian Jackson for Javier Cardona and minor leaguer Rich Gomez. This time he wore #45 and played in 27 games for the ’02 Tigers, batting .235 in 85 at-bats. He spent 21 games in the minors that year, hitting just .213.

His final year in Detroit — and in the bigs — was in 2003. In 138 games for the Tigers, and back to wearing number 8, he hit a career-low .174.

After his playing career, according to Walbeck’s Baseball-Reference.com Bullpen Page

In 2004, he became the manager of the West Michigan Whitecaps, a position he held until 2006. In both 2004 and 2006, the White Caps were league champions. 

In 2007 Walbeck was promoted to become the manager of the Erie SeaWolves, AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. With Walbeck at the helm, the SeaWolves improved from near the bottom of the Eastern League (Last place in 2006) to make their first playoff appearance since 2004. Walbeck was named the E.L. Manager of the Year.

In 2008 Walbeck will be the 3rd base coach for the Texas Rangers.

Earlier this week he was fired by the Rangers. Perhaps his birthday present is a new job in the Tigers organization? (Bullpen coach, anyone?)

Happy Birthday, Matt.

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