Finalmente con mi Padre! twitter.com/JuanUrbina51/s…— Juan Urbina (@JuanUrbina51) December 23, 2012
Remember this face? He was most recently seen in a Venezuelan court room and before that pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005. After the season, Urbina was involved in an incident that led to him being charged and convicted for attempted murder of five workers on his Venezuelan ranch. However, Urbina had some troubled times even before this incident.
Prior to the 2005 season, Urbina's mother was kidnapped in his Venezuelan town. Such incidents have happened frequently enough in Venezuela to high-profile athletes and their families in search of ransom money. Wil Ramos, Nationals catcher, was recently kidnapped herself.
Then, during the 2005 season, Urbina was involved in an incident on a Detroit Tigers team charter plane that reportedly led to Urbina's exit from the team. The Phillies felt Urbina would be the perfect compliment in the bullpen to closer Billy Wagner and the Phillies sent the Tigers Placido Polanco, who went on to have the best seasons of his career with the Tigers. Urbina has not played since the 2005 season with the Phillies.
The former big leaguer has said he is in good physical condition and some reports claim that his fastball marked 90 miles per hour when it reaches the plate while playing in prison.
In the report former Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu gave Urbina a good report card (in my best translation):
I am very happy because my friend is free. He is ready to start a new life outside bars. He is a working man, passionate ballplayer, a great friend. Anyone who knows him well knows his humanity, regardless of the bad moments of his life. I love and respect him a lot.
Ruben Amaro Jr. gave a 38 year-old Jose Contreras a two-year contract, so why not give Urbina a chance? The Phillies probably don't have much room to give a guy a chance, with high-priced Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams on the roster alongside many young, promising arms.
One scenario where a team could give him a chance is the New York Mets. Urbina's son Juan, pictured above, is a Mets prospect. The Mets are not expected to contend in 2013 and a small contract with an invitation to Spring Training wouldn't hurt them too much.