Scott Servais – 1996 Topps Stadium Club
April 7, 2011
“No, Harry! Don’t Lean Out So Far…”
Ah, Scott Servais. How did he make bank and become a regular for the Cubs?
Step 1. Be a backup catcher that shows power in the Astrodome.
Step 2. Be available in mid-season 1995 when the Cubs realize Rick Wilkins was a one-hit wonder. (OPS+ 150 to 83 in one season. Oops…)
Step 3. Hit like Rick Wilkins, 1993, right after you are traded. (OPS+ 144 and 12 home runs in 52 games)
Step 4. Profit
As a Cubs fan in recovery (just starting my Step 4 inventory, where I have revealed the roots of my resentment towards Jeff Blauser…) far be it from me to criticize the Cubs off the cuff.
No, there’s data involved.
Shock of the world, the Cubs and their fan base overrate the value of their players. How confident were they in Servais?
Well, here were the backups after he became a regular in 1996.
Tyler Houston, Brian Dorsett, Mike Hubbard, Sandy Martinez.
They really didn’t leave themselves much choice, did they. But of course, those 52 games in 1995 were the REAL Servais, much like 1993 was the REAL Wilkins.
Really, though, since Gabby Hartnett, the catching of the Cubs hasn’t been good at all.
Yes, Geovany Soto had a great 2010 and 2008, but there was 2009 where he was a replacement player (0.0 WAR). What will 2011 bring?
But the other regulars?
Michael Barrett – I told you about his defense (but still love the punch!)
Tim Blackwell (!!)
Randy Hundley (career ruined by Durocher, but he was overrated)
Chris Cannizzaro (regular in 1971, if you could call it that – Hundley got hurt and six catchers total started for the Cubs – none more than 61 games.)
Between Hundley and Hartnett, it was a train wreck. Players like Joe Garagiola, Hobie Landrith and Harry Chiti were regulars for a year. Clyde McCollugh had potential but was up and down and in the war. Dick Bertell hit .302 in 1962 in part-time duty but he was just a singles hitting catcher – and he stopped hitting singles.
Players like Miller, Berryhill, Davis and Girardi weren’t AWFUL. But they weren’t the paragon of catching greatness. Yet you’d think that talking to some Cubs fans, especially when they compared to the catcher they had NOW. (Man, if Servais was just Jody Davis…when they said that I about had an seizure.)
As for the picture on this card, I sought out when it was. I thought it would be easy to pinpoint, since it was at Wrigley and Servais was traded in late June.
Well, the first series Servais played as a Cub was at home against…St. Louis! There were two later games he played in at home against St. Louis but this looks like a late June shot thanks to the sun.
The first game’s box score shows that John Mabry playing first for the Cards. That ain’t Mabry.
The second game’s box score had Mabry play until the 8th at first when he was replaced by Darnell Coles in a double switch.
In game three and four, Mabry was the sole first baseman. So it should be relatively easy to find this play.
And it is.
Cubs down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth. Tom Henke on the mound. With one out, Servais hits a grounder between short and second that Tripp Cromer bobbles and allows Servais to reach on an error.
Scott Bullett up with one out. Henke deals the 0-1 pitch and Bullett POPS IT UP! You can just hear Harry. “Aw…geeez. What kind of swing was that….” And then he drooled over Stoney.
So there you go. Coles and Servais are immortalized on cardboard thanks to Scott Bullett’s ineptitude against Tom Henke.