Kevin Coffman – 1989 Topps
October 22, 2010
What, No Airbrush??
Kevin Coffman was traded from the Braves to the Cubs in the Jody, Jody Davis deal in very late 1988. I don’t know if the Braves catchers were drunk, stoned or dead (but it being a Chuck Tanner managed team…odds are…oh, wait Russ Nixon managed the team in the last part of the year – but it wasn’t like he was Billy Martin or even Larry Bowa), but it’s not normal to trade someone like Davis for two quasi-prospects in late September during a season where both teams were going nowhere fast.
Ozzie “My Dad May Be Why I Have A Job” Virgil and Bruce “Eggs” Benedict were the catchers for the 1988 Braves, a robust and stalwart squad that gallantly won 54 games while losing 106. But hey, two were rained out! So there’s that! Davis was traded on September 29, and he started for the Braves on September 30 and October 1, leaving Benedict to start October 2.
It may have been an injury to Virgil, but he finished the game on September 29 behind the dish and pinch hit twice. So maybe the Braves were scrambling for something or other to change their trajectory?
After the season, the Braves got rid of Virgil, along with Juan Eichelberger, Rick Mahler, “Dead” Jim Morrison, Jerry Royster, Chuck Cary, Ed Olwine, and Albert Hall. Many of those filed for free agency, but I don’t think the Braves foamed at the mouth sign them.
The next year was another heinous year in Braves land, but except for the stalwart Dale Murphy (though he had a bad OPS+ of 89), Lonnie Smith (OPS+ of 168 and a WAR of 8.7. Who knew?), Benedict, Davis and the Zombie Darrell Evans, at least it was a younger team of suck.
The rotation was Smoltz, Glavine, Lilliquist, Pete Smith (all 22 or 23), and either Zane Smith (traded to Montreal after a tough luck 1-12 record) or Clary. So perhaps Davis and Benedict were helping the pitchers along – and Blankenship and Coffman (the alleged subject of this essay) were expendable.
The Cubs, meanwhile, needed pitchers. They have needed pitchers since Miner Brown, Ed Ruelbach, Orval Overall and Jack Pfiester retired. So why not grab Blankenship and Coffman?
They did give up a folk hero (thanks to Harry! Caray!) but thanks to four years of abuse in the mid-80’s Davis was a mere shell of his old self, and Damon Berryhill was the new kid on the block. They also had these kids in the minors – Rick Wrona and Joe Girardi (heard of him?) that could easily replace Davis and Jim Sundberg. So, for whatever reason, the Braves dangled Blankenship and Coffman, and the Cubs said, “WTF? What do we have to lose now?”
It’s not like the denizens of Wrigley Field would boycott the place.
Blankenship didn’t pan out – he pitched just 22 2/3 innings for the Cubs from 1988-90. He did start a late season game in 1988 – in place of Mike Harkey.
Coffman didn’t pitch for the Cubs in 1988, nor in 1989. He did show up in 1990, and was rather much a disaster from stem to stern.
He then drifted through the minors for a while.
And the few readers I have left, are screaming “GET TO THE POINT!”
Well, the point is this:
I would have thought that a late September trade was enough notice for Topps to get their airbrush artists off of the bong and back to work to paint Coffman in Cubbie Blue and not Braves…um….gray with red and blue.
For shame, Topps, for shame.
As far as Kerry’s challenge, maybe Juan Pierre 2007? The back of Brad Mills’ 2010 Astros card?