“Yes, Smed. I’ll Get Right On It…No Problem!”

Hi, Cal Ripken here.

I just wanted to remind you to sign up for Smed’s Spring Cleaning. There are some good teams and sets left. Start a set, get a bunch of parallels, shiny or relics for your team, or just see what’s in a grab bag. Email Smed at smedindy@gmail.com and claim your team today!

Good Call, Topps!

First of all, thanks to BA Benny for his great group break, and much thanks to Heartbreaking Cards for a great haul of 2009 Heritage. My want list for Spring Cleaning has been updated!

Second, I’m still sorting my spring cleaning. I hope to have 6 teams shipped out soon. My job at Target has been keeping me busy.

As I sit here in the ugly, gloomy afternoon, watching what amounts to a split-squad lineup for the Twins with the realization that Anthony “Mr. 6.21″ Swarzak starting game two of the day/night DH, I have come to the sad realization that the 2011 Twins are cursed, at least right now. Already, they’ve had seven call-ups and last night had one healthy bench player, the backup catcher.

(Another reason why I hate 12-man staffs…but…)

And one player who has NOT been called up, but could realistically come up soon if Alexi Casilla continues to stank is Trevor Plouffe. If he comes up and sticks, this will be a rare dual prospect card with two ‘hits’ as it were. Jason Kubel, as you know, is a regular major league player. He’s not going to be a super-star, but he’s a good player, and excellent for a 12th round pick. (Though now he’s a bit more hirsute that he was in this photo…)

Kubel got his first taste of action in the majors in 2004, while Plouffe was the Twins’ first-round pick. The Twins didn’t think they had a need in the middle infield so Plouffe has been parked in Rochester for a long time. Frankly, he may not be a regular every day player, but still he’s got a chance to be better than Casilla, Brendan Harris or Nick Punto.

And frankly, it’s also a wonder that Topps was pretty prescient and had two players on the card that in 2005 that are still in the mix in 2011. Ever look at the “Rookie Stars” in 2009 Heritage? How many have been DFA’d?

Oh, Hello!

Hi, Scott Brow here. I just wanted to barge in to my action shot to tell you about Smed’s Spring Cleaning! There are some teams left and most again are ‘virgin’ and plenty of stuff from sets if you have a need to start a set or have a neighbor or kid or total stranger that wants to start one.

You see, my career didn’t amount to much. My ERA in the majors was 6.06, which in any era isn’t so good. And my ERA in AAA was 5.05 in over 500 innings. That’s why I need this gig, so I’m here to tell you about the Spring Cleaning. Look at the pages for what teams and sets are available and sign up!

Deep Thoughts With Bobby Thigpen?

Can a man with a mullet have deep thoughts?

I mean, you don’t ask Barry Melrose about Hegelianism, or the plight of the serfs in 14th century Europe and how that relates to modern day service workers, or parsing the differences in the Gospels as to the fate of Judas Iscariot, do you?

I think Thigpen was thinking about how one can go from 57 saves to 30 at the drop of a hat….

Relief Pitchers = Dime A Dozen

First off, thanks to Cards on Cards for a great plug on the Spring Cleaning. I tell you many of the teams left are “virgin” – so if you are a White Sox, Indians, Royals, Angels, A’s or Pirates collector or know someone who is, plenty of cards available.

I’m surprised that my old Braves, Giants, Tigers and Blue Jays partners haven’t stepped up. HINT! HINT! Swoop in and take ‘em when you can!

The Nats will get you any of my duplicate Expos (since I’m keeping the single non-set specific Expos).

Now…Mr. Naulty.

Or, Tony Fiore.

Or, Pat Neshek.

Or, Larry Casian.

Or….you get the point.

Every year, on almost every team, there’s a relief pitcher that has an unexpectedly good year. Usually, it’s a combo of pitching in lower-leverage situations, teams not having a scouting report, a trick pitch or delivery, luck, or ‘one of those baseball things’.

Naulty’s 1996 earned him this card. He had an ERA+ of 135 and 56 K’s in 57 innings. (So he had 35 walks; that ruins the narrative…picky picky…)

His WAR was only 0.9 though.

23 of his 49 appearances were ‘low leverage’.

He had four saves, just five holds and five blown saves and one appearance where he had a save situation but did not qualify for any of the above (usually facing a batter(s) in a save situation without recording an out or blowing the save – this he did.

Naulty also struggled with injuries throughout his career. His 1996 was truncated by an injury. That’s usually par for the course as well – these pitchers tend to have a lot of  minor league arm wear and exert themselves when they get to the bigs to ‘prove’ themselves.

Of course, after 1996 the Twins had high hopes for Naulty, but they faded soon. Well, with a bullpen full of the likes of Greg Hansell, Mike Milchin, Erik Bennett, Scott Klingenbeck, and ‘closer’ Dave Stevens, anyone with a pulse and an ERA under 4.00 would be a ‘relief’ as it were.

But next time an unknown relief pitcher has a good ERA, and you wonder “how the heck did that happen”, check into it. It’s probably just a small sample size mirage. And yes, one season can be a small sample size.

A Missed Opportunity (-ies)?

Reminder! Reminder! Spring Cleaning is upon us! I’ll ship out the first sets soon. Plenty of teams available. Sign up!

If you’re looking for Syketo in Baseball Reference, he’s known as Keto Anderson. Still, the premise is the same.

Syketo missed his opportunity. He hit well in the rookie league and the Northwest League, but was still raw in some baseball skills (20 for 36 in steals, 13 walks in two seasons in the AZL.)

In 2001, he led the Northwest League in batting average (.376), runs (70), and hits (109). He then played a few games in the Midwest League but didn’t hit well. Still, with some work he could have an impact. His brother, Marlon Anderson, was already in the bigs and baseball does love it some nepotism. So does Topps, and that’s why he probably got a card in Total.

After the season, he was traded to the Padres for Winston Abreu. (Yeah, I had to really dig for that one…Abreu was traded to the Padres from the Braves as part of one of many trades involving Rudy Seanez in the history of baseball. Abreu was released by the Cubs in April of 2002, foreshadowing for Anderson…)

Syketo was sent back to the Midwest League and had a good average, but he didn’t walk and was 11 for 20 in steals. He also had just one home run. So there was work to be done. The scene in Spring Training 2003 probably looked like this:

“Anyone who has a roster spot please step forward. Not so fast Syketo…”

Yes, he was released in Spring 2003. He then spent four seasons in the independent leagues for four different teams before hanging them up after a season in the United League where he led the league in runs scored, hits and stolen bases. But playing for Alexandria in the UL was probably not going to get him to the bigs, so he hung ‘em up.

So Anderson missed his opportunity. But even if he made the bigs there would have been another opportunity lost.

Can you imagine Harry Caray saying Syketo?

Crazy Was Genetic

Hey, you know about the Spring Cleaning, right? You know, sign up for a team and / or a set and get cards for a very reasonable price (as in, be honest with sending me stuff and sending me the postage). Some good teams with LOTS of good stuff are available. Look over ——-> for details.

Carlos Perez, the last of the three Perez brothers to make the show. And yes while Pascual was the most flamboyant, and Melido was probably the calmest, Carlos may have had the most raw talent, and the Eppy Calvin LaLouche 2 cent head.

He had a checkered career in the low minors, but in 1993 and 1994 put up some great numbers and was ready for the big time when MLB resumed after the work stoppage.

In 1995, his rookie year, Carlos had 106 K’s and 28 BB’s in 141 innings. That’s command and control. Then he hurt his shoulder and missed a year. But he rebounded for some decent seasons in 1997 and 1998. During the latter season he was traded to the Dodgers along with all-name-HOFers Hiram Bocachica and Mark Grudzielanek for Vlad’s little bro Wilton, Ted Lilly (what goes around comes around, I guess), Pete “Yeah, I Stunk In Retrospect” Bergeron and a minor leaguer.

So the Dodgers thought he was a safe investment.

Never make a long-term investment in a Perez brother.

After signing a big contract, he went 7-18 with a 6.28 ERA. And no, he wasn’t pitching in Coors Field. His home park was Dodger Stadium and that’s a ERA+ of 69 and a WAR of -2.6 over those two years.

He pitched in Las Vegas in 2001, but the Dodgers then just let him go away, quickly. (Can you imagine a Perez brother in Vegas?? Wow…)

But you know, in looking at this card, you realize why he was exciting and why teams wanted him. He had a joy on the mound. I’d rather have a demonstrative joy than a unsmiling curmudgeon.

SLIDE, YOU $#!^* SLIDE!

Just think if Jeremy slid into home on that fateful play, what would be different (assuming Jeter still tries to make the play)?

That would have tied the game at 1, with the Yanks already down 2-0. That means the Yanks wouldn’t have been around to lose to the Diamondbacks in the World Series.

Jeter would still be Jeter.

The Yankees would still be the Yankees.

The A’s still would be who they were – discarding expensive players for cheaper, and sometimes better, alternatives.

Jeremy would still be out of the league earlier than he should have been thanks to a blatant disregard of defense and a bat that just withered and died.

In effect, nothing would have changed except who the Diamondbacks played in the 2001 World Series, and the possible winner of the 2001 Series. But anything after that…same story.

But damnit, HE STILL SHOULD HAVE SLID!

Announcing Smed’s Spring Cleaning!

Hey guys, gals, trolls and other denizens of the collecting planet! It’s time to announce Smed’s Spring Cleaning!

Go to this page for the idea behind it, and to see what teams / sets are left. The cost? Shipping and whatever cards are on my want list on the honor system!

And what better thing for the announcement of Spring Cleaning than to post a card representing a failed prospect from my former favorite team. Oh, Kevin Orie was supposed to make everyone forget that Gary Scott was mega-hyped and bombed, because Orie was the real deal! He had a .403 OBP in AA in 1996, and he had good instincts at third. He was going to hit and field and be a great 3B for the Cubs for years to come.

And by gosh, in his rookie year he did pretty well. An OPS+ of 102, a WAR of 2.1 and an OBP of .350. He didn’t have much power but he was just 24 and that could develop.

And then…THUD.

He hit .181 with a .533 OPS. He couldn’t hit a beach ball with a howitzer. The Cubs, patient as always, traded him to Florida at the end of July in 1998 for Felix Heredia. (Oh, my…)

Orie played better in Florida, hitting .263 with an OPS+ of 104. But the Marlins traded for Mike Lowell for 1999 and Orie was relegated to the bench, though he got some PT thanks to an injury. But he didn’t hit all that well (SLG under .400 and a low-ish OBP) and was expendable.

So Florida expended him. The Dodgers picked him up on a conditional deal but released him in Spring Training. He then began a transactional odyssey that rivals any AAAA player.

He only made one more trip back to the bigs, for the Cubs ironically enough, in late 2002. But starting in 2000, he signed with the Royals, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs, Indians, Astros, Brewers, Nationals and Astros again.

The taste of success, yanked away too quickly, was what Orie was chasing for almost 10 years.

Terry, Portrait Of A Serial Killer

The look on Steinbach’s face is unsettling. I think the BAU team should be after him.

As for the title…

And of course, you remember Michael Rooker from Eight Men Out as Chick Gandil:

To close the circle, Michael Rooker played a sheriff on a Criminal Minds episode.

I just put those in there to distract you from Steinbach’s scary mug…

Hide the children!

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