Ron Robinson – 1991 Score

November 1, 2010

The ‘True Creature’

First, congrats to the Giants. “The Giants win the pennant!”

Second, thanks thanks thanks to Cards On Cards. What a nice package of cards. Yes, most were junk wax, but there were things I needed. I’ve updated my want list summary, plan on sending the revised list to three or four souls, and will scrape around my local card shops for the leftovers. Thanks to everyone who traded! Woot.

Third, tomorrow (today if you are reading on Tuesday), please VOTE! There should be no enthusiasm gap. Vote!

Ok, now with those things out of the way…

Ron Robinson’s nickname, the one I heard Marty Brenneman (and even Pete Rose, I think) say and the one on his APBA card, was indeed “The True Creature”.

He was the #19 pick in the draft when he came out of high school, and zipped through the minors, reaching AAA at age 21 at the end of the 1983 season. He split time in 1984 and started 1985 in the minors but hit the majors full time at the end of that season.

For some reason, Rose didn’t want Ron in the rotation full time. His rookie year he was in and out of the rotation. In 1986 he was the secondary closer (10-3, 14 saves backing John Franco). Both Robinson and Franco threw 100+ innings in relief.

In 1987, Robinson joined the rotation in mid-season. I wrote about the train-wreck decisions Rose made in my Guy Hoffman piece (side note: he still looks like a middle manager at Office Depot.)

Now, it’s hard to say if being jerked back and forth during two seasons and throwing over 100 innings of relief in a third put strain on his arm, but Robinson was hurt in portions of the next two seasons.

But just saying ‘jerked back and forth’ allows me to post this without a stretch. Well, much of a stretch.

In 1990, Ron started the year as the Reds #5 starter. On June 4, Robinson was lit up by the Giants, giving up 8 runs in 3 2/3. Even though the Reds were 33-13, Lou Piniella probably didn’t appreciate that effort. Lou also realized that with Todd Benzinger being an offensive suck, and the bench consisting of Hal Morris and a bunch of slappies, that some power was needed.

Thus, a deal was swung (a deal swang?) and The True Creature went to Milwaukee for Glenn “The Manster” Bragg and Billy “My Only Hit As A Red Led To A World Series Win” Bates. As you can see above, moving to Milwaukee didn’t make Robinson any less of a “True Creature”.

In fact, the red beard probably exacerbated the look. But he probably fit into the wild woods of Wisconsin up around Spooner or Hayward or Rhinelander or Lac du Flambeau. (Oui!)

And Topps again is put to shame because they actually have a shot of Robinson in a Milwaukee uniform for this card. You can tell because of Robinson’s beard. He wasn’t allowed to have that on the Reds.

Reds fans were a bit nervous about the rotation after the trade, I bet. It’s not widely known that Norm Charlton wasn’t just a “Nasty Boy”, he also started 16 times in July, August and September. Robinson put together a great half-season for the Brewers. He was 12-5 with a 2.91 ERA for a team that was 74-88.

For the most part, the Brewers were 74-88 because of their pitching. Robinson led the team in wins! So there was hope in Brewer land. With Robinson anchoring the staff, and an improved bullpen (as in, it couldn’t get much worse), the Brewers could become relevant again!

Well, no. Robinson gave up a bundle of hits (158 in 148 1/3) and didn’t strike out many batters (just 57). He also had 12 unearned runs. However, don’t let facts get in the way of dewy-eyed optimism, especially amongst baseball fans and card collectors!

Ron started the third game of the season, against the Blue Jays. He lasted just 4 1/3. After a Devon White triple and an intentional walk, Robinson hit Robby Alomar with a pitch and was lifted for Julio Machado.

He was done for 1991.The optimism of the Milwaukee fan about Robinson’s season were left on mound in Toronto.

In 1992, he was slated to make $1.1 million, a result of his fine 1990. He started on the DL and made some rehab starts, and in late May he joined the Brew Crew ready to contribute and earn his large coin. Dan Plesac (!) filled in as the fifth starter until Robinson was ready.The Brewers had built a pretty decent pitching staff, and were contending.

Robinson made 8 starts, and that was it. Back on the DL, for his career, after a 1-4, 5.86 effort.

During those 8 starts, he gave up 51 hits and 14 walks in 35 1/3 innings.

There was one glimmer of hope, as he pitched 7 shutout innings in his fifth start (his only win). That was followed by a mediocre outing, then a bad one, and then his final one:

Staked to a 1-0 lead, Robinson gave up three runs in the first, and then came out for the second inning.

Curtis Wilkerson greets him with a home run. Yes, Curtis Wilkerson. Three more singles score a run, and Robinson is replaced by Bruce Ruffin.

Now, the Brewers finished second by four games. There was no way to know that Cal Eldred (Robinson’s rotation replacement) would have the spectacular year he had. So it’s not fair to say that Robinson cost the Brewers the pennant. He made a valiant effort. But giving up a home run to Curtis Wilkerson, who hit eight career home runs, was the signal that this was a zombie pitcher. He didn’t have the stuff, and Milwaukee had to go to Plan B (which turned out OK for them in 1992…)

He left his arm back in Toronto the year before. That’s where the True Creature was slain.


One Response to “Ron Robinson – 1991 Score”

  1. […] didn’t pitch well for the Phillies and Reds in 1989, and then was traded to the Brewers with Ron Robinson for Glenn “Manster” Braggs and Billy […]

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