Who’s Cool (Besides Jason?)

Well, Section 36 sent me some of his unwanted cards, and most all of them were in sets that I haven’t collected but now I am toying with a couple three. Thanks, much!

Colbey sent me his last group break stuff with some packs to rip. He’s got another group break now. I’m sitting this one out so there’s more for everyone!

Nachos Grande sent me his side of a trade, which I now need to go through my Reds parallels, etc. and also send him the two autos that I received. That makes 9 packages to go out…yikes!

So with that and some other purchases I made – it took me a while to sort out. I finally got them sorted and I was ready to put them in my storage boxes tonight when the doorbell rang.

“Scott, you have a package. It’s baseball cards from…Troll???”

Yep, the Troll sent me somethin’. A past due trade, so he made up for it. He gave me some of what I needed to complete sets, added a bunch of random packs (which knocked about seven cards off of my 1990 Score list!), some boxes that I haven’t even opened yet of random stuff…and a couple of really groovy things that I haven’t scanned.

First was a 1972 Bert Blyleven.

Second, was a 1986 Topps Phil Bradley. Big deal, right?

It’s an autographed 1986 Topps Phil Bradley.

I’m going to have to scan that and do a post on Phil Bradley (and also one on Mickey Brantley, who had one of the best APBA cards one year). All I can tell you is this about why Bradley is a special player to me (and he Troll didn’t even know it…but he’s cool like that. I mean way down in his blog he has his mug posted – he’s a sophisticated raconteur he is. However, I speak for the majority of heterosexual males in requesting more Esther photos (Esther being his roller derby queen)) because Bill James got me thinking about runs scored vs. RBI as a stat. James said that Joe Carter’s 100+ RBI was due to circumstance, and Bradley’s 100+ runs scored was skill. Especially since Bradley played for the moribund Mariners.

Bradley was quite underrated, and his career abruptly came to a halt after a poor (for him) 1990, and a trip to Japan. He played in AAA in 1992 and that was it. Kaput. Done.

Anyway, when I also hear Phil Bradley I think of Phillip Bailey…

Anyway, to all youse guys…Jason Heyward says you’re cool just like him.

 

 

 

Duck, It’s Coming Right For Us!!!

Ah, Butch Henry. Ah, 1992 Pinnacle. Ah, baseball’s leaping off of the cardboard.

El Paso’s own Floyd Bluford Henry (I hope to God that’s a family name – and I would go by Butch too…) was part of the ‘haul’ the Astros received when the Reds traded for Bill Doran. Doran was done, yes, but he was a good player and a good guy and it was kind of a shame he didn’t end his career with the Astros.

Henry was the only one of the three players wrangled for the Reds to have any type of career. He didn’t really have a pedigree for success in the bigs. A 15th round draft pick, he had an OK year in AA before trundling to the Astros, then had a middling year in Tuscon. He was a ‘crafty’ lefty that had to pitch to contact and get grounders to survive.

The operative word there is…lefty.

Butch did make the Astros as a rookie prospect in 1992, and scuffled a bit as a starter. His 4.02 ERA looked fine on the surface, but he pitched in the Astrodome, so that added up to a slightly negative WAR and an ERA+ of 83.

The expansion draft took Henry to Colorado, where pitchers without sinking sinkers sink. Somehow, a 2-8, 6.59 slate was good enough for Montreal to trade for him straight up for Ken Bottenfield. The laugh was on Colorado, as Bottenfield did his Butch Henry imitation in Denver, whilst after a trip to Ottawa, Henry settled down and had 2+ good seasons in Montreal.

In 1995, he was hurt after a 7-9, 2.84 season. His last game was August 15, when he was taken out during a gem against the Mets. Boston picked him up on waivers, paid him to rehab in 1996 and eased him into the pen in 1997. He went 7-3 with six saves and a nifty ERA (for the AL in that season) of 3.52. That earned him a couple million.

And then, his arm fell off again. He pitched nine innings for the Red Sox in 1998, then signed a contract with Seattle. After two good starts and two bad starts, he was DL bound again. Butch was activated for three games in September, and then spent four years trying to heal himself in the minors or spring training before finally giving up in 2003.

Later, he became manager of his hometown El Paso Diablos, proud member of the new American Association. He was let go, though, in December. These things happen. Just like crafty lefties developing arm problems.

Hey, At Least It Was A Good Photo-Op

Thanks to the wonders of Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.com, we can kinda guess when this play happened.

I’d gather this is in Milwaukee. It doesn’t look like a night game, but it could have been in the early evening. The Nats ventured to Miller Park once in 2008, a four game set (Thursday – Sunday) in August.

Thursday, nothing really happened in CF that would cause this photo. Friday, Corey Hart slammed a homer to CF in the fifth, but I think even then it would be a bit darker. Saturday’s 13-inning affair didn’t have anything that would cover this, but Sunday, August 11 did.

Ricky Weeks led off the home half of the first with a shot to deep CF off of Garrett Mock that tied the game at 1.

Of course, I could be totally off base. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Baseball Is A Tough Game, But Let’s Get Some Perspective

I often talk about how baseball shows no mercy and gives no quarter.

Baseball doesn’t care who you are, or what you did yesterday. It does not care what you will do tomorrow. Baseball cares about today. And today, you could go 3-4 with 5 RBI against Roy Halladay, or go 0-4 with 3 K’s and a foul out against Charlie Morton.

It was often said that Jason Bay would be a household name if he didn’t play in Pittsburgh. Well, he played in Boston and while he played well, he wasn’t beloved, and played poorly in the ALDS. He then signed a big McLarge Huge contract with the Mets. The Mets being the Mets, Bay didn’t show the power he had in Boston (but Citi Field is a big-time pitchers park, and I swear the jets from LaGuardia do SOMETHING to the air around there), and then scrambled his brain on the wall of Chavez Ravine.

Bay has limited what the Mets can do, payroll-wise and may be damaged goods for the rest of his career. Concussions suck, and post-concussion syndrome is no laughing matter.

Yet, let’s keep the game in perspective. You may think you’re tough trying to play through a concussion, but St. Simeon Stylites doesn’t want to hear about playing a game when you are injured.

See, back in his day (5th Century CE), monks were the stars of the world. And his fans kept bugging St. Simeon Stylites while he was trying to do monk things. So, he decided to climb a pillar. He liked it and he stayed there. FOR 37 YEARS!

People brought him food, and they even erected even taller pillars for him to stand on, but he never came down from a pillar for that many years.

And I have no idea how to weave St. Simeon Stylites back into Jason Bay, except to say that they were both male human beings that lived on planet Earth at some point. Other than that, Simeon is dead, Syrian and a Roman Catholic monk. Bay is alive, Canadian, and not a Roman Catholic monk. Bay may have received votes for the MVP title, but Simeon no doubt won the MVM (Most Valuable Monk) award based on the votes from Antioch and Constantinople.

Now, If you will excuse me, I need to see about erecting a column in my back yard. I think that may be the easiest way to get away from my kids…

 

Rondell, It Ain’t That Cold!

Meet the player that would win any vote for “Most Disappointing” not because of his performance, but because of his injuries.

Had he not been made of particle board, he could have been one of the best players of his era. He was a plus defender in center, could hit, run, throw, steal bases and had some power.

I remember when the Cubs got him, he did great but couldn’t stay in the lineup. I’d gladly take a player with a .900 OPS in left field, but not if they can only play 90+ games and the replacements were Delino Deshields (in LEFT?), Matt Stairs (rather much a defensive liability) and Rosie Brown. That 2001 Cubs team needed White in the lineup – it needed Baylor to let Deshields play second when they got him and bring Eric Young off the bench. It needed to stop wasting at-bats with Gary Matthews Jr., Ron Coomer and Corey Patterson (where have we heard that before?) and build a team that could get on base for Sosa.

Instead they got a lineup that was slap-tastic, bunting all the dang time in Wrigley. They had 34 more sac bunts in 2001 than any one else in the NL. WHY? WHY? WHY?

When he got to the Twins, Rondell was basically used up. There was concern when he signed with the Twins because he had no defensive ability anymore, and couldn’t run. It turned out that even though the Twins went 96-66, they had big problems in LF and at DH, thanks to Lew Ford cratering his career, Shannon Stewart being injured, and White being injured and not producing. Jason Kubel wasn’t ready (he soon would be), and when Jason Tyner is your answer, you aren’t asking the right question.

And if Rondell White were healthy, it wouldn’t have been necessary. But Rondell wasn’t healthy. And we wore a stocking cap in his UD card. It’s going to be below zero again this week. Rondell, that’s when you don the cap!

The End Of Tequila Sunrise

The Astros of the 80’s finally realized that their garish “Tequila Sunrise” uniforms were out of control, and started to ease into something a bit more…normal.

 

Of course, fashion is a fickle thing. My high school (colors gold and blue) had blue ‘tequila sunrise’ patterned uniforms in 1981 and 1982 and the JV got to wear them in 1983 and 1984. Those came complete with a piece of black fabric sewn on the back and a whole bunch of velcro letters that I had to attach, so each shirt had a NOB. (OK, I didn’t have to do the JV in 1983 and 1984, but the other manager was a total doofus knucklehead, so I pitched in.)

And you look back at this…

And you realize that the Astros unis were just part of a passing phase of gauche sweeping the nation. And baseball being baseball, it was kind of late to the scene.

(Ok, I gotta put their groovy tune on the post…)

Mizerock was a great disappointment for the Astros. Yes, sorry Dimwit, I’m picking on them again. But catchers, aside from pitchers, always seem to be the one position that’s extremely hard to draft and project. For every Joe Mauer, there’s a John Mizerock – a high draft pick who can catch but can’t hit. Many drafted catchers turn out not to be able to catch in the minors, and then they become Tyler Houston.

If you were drafting a catcher, 1979 wasn’t the year to do so. The first rounders were: Jay Schroeder (well, he’d be the QB on the all-1979 draftee team, I guess), Mizerock, Ricky Seilheimer, Dan Lamar and Bob Geren. The only catchers with a positive WAR in the majors drafted that year were Tim Laudner, Bob Melvin, Mark Parent, Bill Schroeder, Darrell Miller, Mark Salas, and the best of the bunch, Don Slaught. Slaught, of course, was a 20th round pick.

(Looking at past drafts can be either fun, or scary…)

But even with a MLB OPS+ of 65, a .232 batting average in the minors (!), the Miz has some things going for him.

1. He’s from Punxsutwaney, PA. So you know the town really exists.

2. He’s got several built in nicknames – The Miz, the Rock, etc.

3. He made a career for himself in coaching and managing.

So he’s got that going for him.

 

Just What I Needed

Packages will be delayed, again. I’m not through sorting.

The job fell through – someone had cold feet and they didn’t get ‘consensus’. But I’m going forward and moving ahead and all that!

So finding and posting of a beloved 80’s utility man with a cheesy mustache is the tonic.

 

 

“Thumbs Up, Dude!”

If you pulled this card in 2009, you may have guessed that Mr. Galarraga was a good guy. He proved it after his near perfect game this past season. Andres was a good guy as well. Maybe it’s anyone named Galarraga?

Armando has had the good, the bad and the ugly during his short career.

The good, obviously, was the great game against Cleveland and the good publicity.

The bad was the call against him in that game.

The ugly? Well, baseball is generally ugly. It’s cold, caring, insensitive; it’s a cruel mistress. Like Nurse Diesel.

When this picture was taken, Armando was sky high. Finally, after signing at age 16 with the Expos, and being traded twice (once for Alfonso Soriano and another from Texas to Detroit in a transaction that may not have been noticed in the agate section), he got a legit chance in the bigs at age 26 and went 13-7, 3.73. With Bonderman hurt and Verlander pitching ugly, Galarraga was the best starter for that Tigers team.

But 2009 was not a good year. He was 6-10, 5.64 and it could have been reasonably said that had he pitched better they would not have needed the one game playoff against the Twins.

He started last year in the minors, but was recalled in May. After a good start, a bad start, and a skipped turn where he pitched in relief, he twirled that gem against Cleveland.

But in the next six games, his ERA was 5.61, and he was sent down for a skosh before being recalled. He improved a bit, but then got hammered in September (0-4, 6.15). For the year, he was 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA.

Had he not pitched that wonderful game, there would not have been surprise or alarm when he was DFA’d. Actually, Detroit did him a great favor as the Diamondbacks need pitching, desperately.

I’m going to root for him – he’s a good egg. And no matter what, he’s going to enjoy playing the game. However, the game of baseball will not root for him. Baseball does not play favorites. It is a pure meritocracy.

Chuck Tanner – 1987 Topps

January 27, 2011

The Sad Demise Of A Clueless Manager

Chuck Tanner was well-liked by his players. And why not? He basically let them do what they wanted to. He won a World Series in Pittsburgh, and got the White Sox off of the mat and into the first division.

But then, well, there was the Pittsburgh locker room where Tanner either willfully looked away or was just outright ignorant about drugs – even with players like Rod Scurry and Dale Berra running around coked up.

And then there’s his stint in Atlanta.

He became well known first as manager of the White Sox. They were moribund, and perhaps on the verge of moving to Milwaukee (before the Pilots went bust). Tanner used the arm of Wilbur Wood and the bats of Bill Melton and then Dick Allen to rebuild the franchise. He broke in players like Jorge Orta, Bucky Dent and Brian Downing into the big leagues.

But at what cost? Tanner tried to use a three-man starting staff at times of Wood, Jim Kaat and Stan Bahnsen. Before then Bart Johnson and Tom Bradley were pitched into the ground. His lack of ‘rules’ for Allen backfired on him in 1974. The team floundered at about .500 and then went back to their losing ways, sans AllenĀ  in 1975.

Fired by the Sox, he then went to the Oakland A’s circus. The 1976 A’s were chock full of drama. They had lost Catfish Hunter to free agency thanks to an arbitrator, and everyone in the room knew that most all of the players that were part of the A’s dynasty were as good as gone as soon as they were allowed to play out their option. So it was the last hurrah.

Compound that with Charlie O. Finley going absolutely bonkers on his pinch running idea, and running in general, and then the loss of Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers for two weeks, Tanner did a good job keeping the A’s in the race all season.

Then he was traded (yes traded) to Pittsburgh where he inherited a great team and managed them well for the first few years. He got at bats for Bill Robinson and Mike Easler, broke in Ed Ott and Don Robinson and got the bullpen and rotation humming along.

Then, the money and the cocaine happened, and Tanner couldn’t capitalize on his success. Plus, he remained loyal to dead weight like Berra, Bill Madlock and Omar Moreno and then force fed Marvell Wynne and Sammy Khalifa into the bigs. When they hit bottom, they cratered big time. They were 11th in runs scored and 10th in ERA. They had no power, and the only players with on-base skills were the slugger (Jason Thompson) or a total slappy (Joe Orsulak, who had an OPS+ of 99 even with a .342 OBP).

But Tanner had a rep, Ted Turner had the cash, and off he went to Atlanta in 1986.

Turner had fired Joe Torre after an 80-82 record in 1984. Eddie Haas didn’t even last one season; he was fired and Bobby Wine too over as the 1985 Braves ended at 66-96.

In looking at the 1985 Braves, they gave too many at bats to players with no or limited offensive skills, had kids that didn’t come through, and had pitchers that fell apart due to drug abuse, arm woes, or ineptitude.

There was no reason to be optimistic about 1986, but hey, Tanner had successfully launched some players in the bigs – and the players like him. Why not?

They were better in 1986, but 6 1/2 games better only. Chuck thought by just saying good things to Raffy Ramirez, Glenn Hubbard and Andres Thomas, then they’d learn to hit. He thought that Omar Moreno should lead off because he was fast. Rick Mahler wanted the ball every four days, so why not start him 39 times?

The offense was better in 1987, even though Andres Thomas still existed, but the bullpen fell apart and Tanner couldn’t fix it by hoping Gene Garber would turn it around. It went from bad to worse to egregious in 1988, and Tanner was fired. He wasn’t hired again.

He could be given a grace year in 1986 – but in 1987 he should have realized that Thomas and Ramirez and Hubbard were too much of a bad thing, and just thrown it over to Jeff Blauser to play shortstop. He should have realized that you couldn’t win with no power at first base or third and that Gerald Perry’s 42 steals do no good when he can’t get on base consistently. And a last place team doesn’t need to have Ken Griffey Sr., Ted Simmons, Gary Roenicke and Graig Nettles hanging around.

He didn’t question or push anything – he just went along with what was going on – whether it was stealing bases every 5 seconds, or going with a 3-man rotation, or playing an entire team of middle infielders. Why not – if we think it’ll work it should, right?

Star? Um, no.

Well, OK, “Star” if you count that he played for the Astros, who had a star on their hat.

Drafted at age 18. Done, for all intents and purposes, by 30. Part of the star-crossed 1989 first round that included Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, Chuck Knoblauch, Charles Johnson – and guys like Tyler Houston, Roger Salkeld, Earl Cunningham, Donald Harris and Jeff Jackson.

Traded for Mitch Williams. Then traded for Mike Benjamin. Then part of the big ol’ Marquis Grissom deal that netted the Brewers Mike Fetters, Ben McDonald (a fellow 1989 draftee – the #1 overall, as you know) and Ron Villone (who may FINALLY be done after an over 6 ERA in Syracuse last season). Since you all remember the McDonald / Fetters era in Cleveland, you know how big of a deal that turned out to be.

Juden was a big guy. 6’7, 245. (Wikipedia says 6’8, 270) But he had a rep for being free spirited, head case and high strung. He was wild, and he threw inside, which led to altercations. Jim Fregosi called him a ” big, fat, lazy, drunken #%&*?” Well, just because after he got shelled one day, he avoided the press, grabbed some Corona, and drained about 12 on the bus.

I mean, it wasn’t even Budweiser he pounded. It was Corona. Joe Schultz hung his head in shame when he heard that.

He left goodbye notes in lockers to traded teammates.

He broke Pedro Martinez’ CD player.

He played the guitar.

He said this about Milwaukee. “They got a lot of polacks out there. I feel right at home.”

He hit a grand slam, and got the name “The Salem Sledgehammer” because of it.

He had a 1.59 ERA in his last big league season, for the 1999 Yanks. However, in his 5 2/3 innings, he let in eight unearned runs.

Jeff Juden’s career could be epitomized in his last appearance in the bigs.

It was the last game of the 1999 season. The Yanks were in Tampa facing the Devil Rays, and basically Joe Torre was treating it like a Spring Training “B” game. Clay Bellinger in left. D’Angelo Jiminez at third. A young and tender Soriano at short. Sojo at second. And Juden on the hill.

First inning for Juden: Whiff, whiff, 3 unassisted.

Second inning for Juden: E6 (Soriano couldn’t field then…can’t field now.), whiff, whiff, whiff.

Third inning for Juden: Whiff, single, walk, DP.

Not bad eh?

Fourth inning: Grounder to the box, walk, double, whiff, walk, hit batter (forcing in a run), E3 (Leyritz, yeesh), inside the park home run by Terrell Lowery. Chad Curtis was in CF, so it wasn’t Bernie Williams, but still…

Juden, yanked. In comes Mike “Schmuddie” Buddie. Jeff gives up six runs, on two hits, an error, two walks and a hit batter. A calamity of an inning if there ever was one. He whiffed eight in 3 2/3 but took 85 pitches to get to 3 2/3.

If there ever was a pitcher that needed a Crash Davis, it was Juden.

 

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