Where Have The Deep Cuts Players Gone?

On my way home from work, ye olde Ipodde threw on “Dirty Little Girl” by Elton John for my ears. Now, you may not be familiar with that track. Heck, I had really forgotten about it. The song wasn’t a single; not even a B-side. It was side 3, track 3 of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

A true deep cut. A true sign that the artist and / or album was truly someone / something of quality and distinction.

Do we really have those in music anymore? And does anyone miss them?

My posse in high school loved the Cars. They loved the hits, but they loved the deep cuts more. How many people can quote”Down Boys” or “You Wear Those Eyes”? Our group could. But in this epoch of single track purchasing and alternate methods of recording procurement, do deep cuts matter? Are they relevant?

Same with baseball cards. Do we really have deep cuts anymore?

It used to be that every set had bunches of guys like Mr. Dybzinski. The scrubs. The fill-ins. The dreaded utility guys. You needed them.

Now part of it may be the way baseball rosters are inanely cobbled together now. It used to be you had 15 players and 10 pitchers (sometimes 16 and nine). Then it went to 14 and 11 and that seemed sensible.

But now we’re at 13 players and 12 pitchers and some idiotic teams go for 12 and 13. And those pitchers are usually on a conveyor belt between the majors and the minors. The transaction pages are filled with players being DFAd and being called up.

The 1973 San Diego Padres (60-102) used 12 pitchers all freaking season, and two of those (Bob Miller and the wonderfully monikered Frank Snook) pitched in 18 games each and another (Fred Norman) was traded halfway through the season to the Reds. The other nine guys carried the load, and lost a shit-ton of games.

This year’s version of the Padres have already used 26 pitchers. Yes, 26. Twenty. Six. Pitchers.

With all of these pitchers yo-yoing up and down and the short short benches, there aren’t a lot of scrubs around.

Coupled that with the limited amount of cards in the base set (660 for 30 teams) and it’s no wonder that the Topps releases seem like stars, pitchers, and prospects and that’s it.

No room for the Dybzinksi’s of the world.

I think that’s a sad thing, actually. Not every card has to be a star or could-be-star. You gotta have the regular folks and the ones on the margins to represent a baseball ecosystem. Just like in music you need the singles and the deep cuts.

At least I think so.

Oh, well, time to look for my Dybzinski’s and listen to some deep cuts. Rock and roll and all that.

Joe Pettini – 1984 Topps

December 17, 2011

The Lifer

Joe Pettini was Tony LaRussa’s bench coach forever. In fact, he was the interim manager in 2011 when LaRussa was down with his shingles.

When Mike Matheny was named manager, Pettini wasn’t retained on the staff. But he’s still employed by the Cards. Because what else would Joe Pettini do? He’s been in pro baseball since he signed with the Expos as a NDFA out of Mercer back in 1977.

Pettini was and is an organizational solider, a utility infielder, a minor league coach and manager and a trusted lieutenant in the majors.

He just wasn’t a good major league ballplayer.

After a trade, he made the bigs in 1980 as a Giant, mainly because he wasn’t Johnny LeMaster or Roger Metzger. But he was Joe Pettini and over his career amassed a negative WAR. His OPS+ was just 46, he never had an OBP or SLG over .300 and his defense was adequate at best.

He was out of the bigs for good when this card came out.

But he had ONE day in  the bigs that he’ll remember.

It was against the Cubs (of course), and it was a 14-6 Giants win. Pettini hoisted his only big league home run against Willie Hernandez.

He blasted his only big league dinger against a future MVP!

But then again, he blasted his only big league dinger in the seventh inning of a laugher where the future MVP left with a 5.10 ERA and came into long relief after Doug Capilla was found wanting (of course). And he never really replaced Johnny LeMaster.

Still, how many big league home runs have I hit?

One less than Pettini!

Pawnee’s Own…

 

Step Forward If You Are The Shortstop Of The Future. Not So Fast Lenny…

Ah, to be young and a Minnesota Twin. Well, in 1982 that meant you got to play. And play. And play.

Faedo was the first round pick of the Twins in 1978, and had two cups of coffee for the big club in 1980 and 1981 as a fuzzy cheeked youngster. He debuted for Elizabethton in the Appy League in ’78 (been to that ballpark, it’s pretty and cheap but I think it’s a dry county. All of the booze is in Johnson City), then moved to AA Orlando in 1979 and 1980. As a 19 and 20-year old in AA he did OK. In 1981, he moved up to AAA and was loaned to Cleveland for a bit. But he still was in the Twins plans.

1982 was the year of the rookie in Minnesota. The ‘old time’ regulars were John Castino at 27  and Bobby Mitchell at 28. Ron Washington was the utility man at the grizzled age of 30. But the regulars were guys like, oh, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, and Tim Laudner. They weren’t ready for the spotlight quite yet.

Faedo never did hit much in the minors, but in the scheme of things he wasn’t supposed to supply offense. He was to  make the plays at shortstop. And really, he did. In 1982, he did what they wanted him to do. He missed about a month in the season with an injury but was considered the optimal regular.

So Faedo was 23 going into 1983 and ready to fully establish himself. He started opening day, and the was the regular until mid-May. Then, he got hurt again while he was batting .311. Yes, he had a low OBP and SLG, but .311 was better than .250.

He didn’t get back into the lineup until September, and his hitting tailed off. His defense tailed off as well, and this card shows that his hairdo wasn’t the best either.

There was no reason not to think Faedo wasn’t going to be the shortstop in 1984. Lenny probably didn’t think he was in competition for the job.

But he reported to spring camp after one too many cheeseburgers. The Twins managers and staff rather much soured on him them. Faedo started the first 15 games of the season, then vanished. Gone. Poof. His defense wasn’t up to snuff, and Billy Gardner decided that playing a totally overmatched Houston Jiminez (32 OPS+) was preferable to an overweight, injury-prone lazybones.

And when I mean Faedo vanished, I mean, vanished. Exiled. He spent the rest of 1984 being loaned to other organizations, then signed minor league deals with the Royals and Dodgers before ending his career.

One wonders if, during the 1987 and 1991 World Series, if Leonardo Lago Faedo (his given name) felt he was disrespected and passed over. Greg Gagne was in the shortstop position that could have been Faedo’s. Did he feel like Fredo?

You gotta wonder.

Sid Monge – 1984 Fleer

November 7, 2010

Man, That’s…Um…Yellow

(Feeling creative today, and just scanned a bunch of cards for my November posts…so yeah…)

Many of the 1983 Padres in Fleer (and other) sets were photographed in their batting practice jerseys. They may have been one of the earlier teams to have a separate jersey for BP.

And they were…um…yellow. And unlike the all-mustard Padres, they wore these with the game pants which were white. And while monochrome mustard is bad, so is YELLOW! with white pants and orange and brown trim.

Monge came back into the baseball nerdlinger’s conscience recently when it was noted that Benjie Molina would be the first player since Sid to play for each team in the World Series during the season they met in the Fall Classic. (Or something like that…)

But Sid (and Chris Ray of the Giants) weren’t on the post season roster. Still, it’s an accomplishment.

Mr. Monge was a well-traveled lefty reliever (and early on, spot starter) and had some pretty decent years. He wasn’t a LOOGY since teams only carried 10 pitchers, at most, and you couldn’t waste a roster spot LaRussa-ing your bullpen to death.

Sid actually made an All-Star team! Yes! In 1979, when he pitched for Cleveland, he ended the year 12-10 with 19 saves and a 2.40 ERA. That Indians team actually finished 81-80 (though in sixth place), and Monge was Cleveland’s representative. Looking at the stats, Jim Kern took the loss, as he was working in his THIRD inning of relief he left the bases loaded and Ron Guidry walked in the winning run.

You pitch a closer three innings in an All-Star game now, you’ll be hung, probably by the agent of the closer.

Back to Sid…(and no, his wife was not Nancy…sorry…) in that 1979 season 5.3 of his career 7.6 WAR were earned that year, so he did earn his keep. He did blow 7 saves, but also came in 20 times with a tie. He was used when the game was on the line, stats be damned. How refreshing.

Monge started to fall off a bit, and was moved in 1982 to Philly for Bake McBride. Then, in 1983 he was traded to the Padres for Joe Lefebvre (I can’t believe I spelled that right the first time – most times it winds up Lebfvrer or Lefebrvre or Johnson). That’s when the Fleer photogs found him.

Sid had one more move, in 1984. While some kids and collectors pulled this out of their Fleer package, he was sold (for cash money) to the Tigers on June 10. Dick Williams stopped trusting Sid, as he went 7,8 and 14 days between appearances. You can’t keep sharp that way. But frankly, the Padres staff didn’t need Sid, as Andy Hawkins, Craig Lefferts, Dave Dravecky and the Goose sopped up all of the relief innings (when Hawkins and Dravecky weren’t in the rotation).

So the Tigers got him, but Sparky didn’t use Monge much either. I don’t know if he was hurt or just in the doghouse, but he pitched just twice in September, and only five times in August (he gave up 17 hits and three dingers in just 13 innings and a tasty 6.92 ERA). But Sparky didn’t really need Sid, either, except for insurance. Hernandez, Lopez and Bair took care of most of the relief work. And then, Anderson got Bill Scherrer to be the lefty help in the pen in late August. Sid, sidelined.

Sid’s in the Mexican Baseball HOF, he’s been a long-time minor league pitching coach, and is currently the pitching coach for the Monterrey Sultans. And he probably counsels his young charges on pitching by telling stories of when he was the teammate of Nolan Ryan, Jack Morris and Steve Carlton. And Bill Scherrer.

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