Andrew Lorraine – 1996 UD Collector’s Choice

December 15, 2010

It’s A Tough Life For An Itinerant Journeyman Lefty

First, some biz to take care of. I received a Christmas Card in the mail from Emerald City Diamond Gems and in it contained the two cards I needed to complete my 2009 Topps Set! Wow, I’d never thought I’d be happy to see Manny Delcarmen or Alex Hinshaw, ever. Thanks, Larry! Your package of Mariners odd-balls will be coming soon.

Above you see Andrew “Don’t Call Me Quiche” Lorraine. He was a 4th round pick from Stanford by the Angels in 1993, and fast tracked his way to the bigs in 1994. He spent 1993 in short-season Boise and was bumped all the way up to AAA Vancouver in 1994. The Angels called him up in late July, out of desperation and lacking other options (Joe Magrane, John Dopson, Russ Springer, and John Farrell were in the 5th spot of the rotation before they went to Lorraine).

It didn’t work out so well – 0-2, 10.61 in four appearances (three starts). But, he’s a 21-year old lefty from the area. He’s pitched pretty well in AAA. The sky’s the limit, even with the strike.

The next year, the Angels were in contention and needed to plug a hole for a 5th starter (again). They reached into their past and got Jim Abbott from the White Sox. To get him and throw-in Tim Fortugno, the Angels paid a price: McKay Christensen, Bill Simas, John Snyder and Lorraine. All four were under 25, and Christensen was the 6th pick of the 1994 draft. Certainly, all four players were prospects in the eyes of baseball. At the time of the trade, Lorraine was 6-6, 3.96 in Vancouver. After the deal, Lorraine struggled in AAA Nashville but played OK in eight innings in the bigs.

But before he had a chance to look for some prime Chicago real estate, Lorraine was moved again in early 1996 to Oakland for Danny Tartabull. Now Tartabull wasn’t what he was before, but he had some value. Yet being traded twice so quickly had to damage Lorraine’s psyche and confidence a bit. “Am I wanted? Do I have what it takes?” Even for a Stanford man, that’s not easy to swallow.

Being traded must have affected Andrew, because he was all kinds of screwed up in 1996. The PCL is a hitter’s league, and Edmonton wasn’t exactly a pitching friendly environment, but his peripherals were bad as well.

Thus this pose on his 1997 card. Pensive, the Stanford alum ponders his future. Is he thinking in line with Sartre’s philosophy on a humanist bent where the idea of ‘class’ as an objective entity was wholly a fallacy? Or is he thinking that if can’t get his breaking pitch over and have command of his fastball then his life as a major league pitcher was wholly a fallacy?

Probably the latter.

His numbers improved at Edmonton in 1997. One thing that was striking was his lack of striking out opposing hitters. It was clear that he would have to have a good defense behind him and good control to succeed. But lefties are a commodity, because YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LEFTY! And Oakland, in the process of building their ‘Moneyball’ playoff teams, needed pitching. Nine pitchers started at least 10 games for Oakland that season, and 12 total. The staff had a 5.48 ERA, worst in the league. Lorraine only made six starts, from late August to early September and then was yanked out of the rotation even though his record was 3-1. His 7.30 ERA had something to do with that.

The pitchers who started games besides Lorraine that year for Oakland? Karsay, Prieto, Oquist, Telgheder, Rigby, Haynes, Wengert, Mohler, Ludwick, Wojciechowski and Willie Adams. Injury cases, closet cases, head cases all, sometimes all three in one!

Lord knows what Lorraine’s head was at. “If I can’t make THAT rotation, how long can I last?”

Not long, at least in Oakland. He was released at the end of the season. A lefty, not even 25, who made the majors a year after being drafted and was moved for two bona-fide big league names, banished from baseball.

Sure, he lasted on the market one whole day before Seattle signed him, but still…

There were two things that happened in 1998. Lorraine moved to the pen in AAA and it was determined by whoever determines it that he wasn’t a prospect, just another roster-filling AAAA player. Do baseball execs meet in a cabal somewhere and brand these players AAAA players? How hard is it to erase that ink on those documents?

Not to say Lorraine didn’t deserve some blame for his predicament. He was a soft-tossing lefty, who was too young to be a ‘crafty’ lefty – like Tony Fossas or Greg Cadaret.

His stats in AAA Tacoma were mediocre, but he did get back up to the bigs and pitched four September games for the Mariners, giving up just one run but walking four in 3 2/3 and whiffing…no one. Still, that was the only sniff of the bigs, and the Mariners staff had such dandy ERAs as put forth by Ken Cloude (6.37), Bill Swift (5.85), Paul Spoljaric (6.48), Bobby Ayala (7.29), Heathcliff Slocumb (5.32) and Bob Wells (6.10).

At the end of 1998, Lorraine had pitched 60 big league innings with an ERA of 7.05. Taken off of the 40-man roster, he was signed by the Cubs. By age 25, he was traded twice, released once and DFA’d once.

He was officially a journeyman.

He made it back to the bigs in 1999 when the Cubs’ staff had issues and went 2-5, 5.55. But that was promising enough for him to be on the 40-man roster going into 2000, and he made the opening day roster (and rotation)!  That promise was short-lived, and the Cubs just flat out released him in May when his ERA was 6.47. Cleveland snagged him, sent him to Buffalo and he resurfaced in the bigs for 9 1/3 innings as an emergency LOOGY in July. Then it was back to the bushes, and minor league free agent contracts.

Aside from one-late season stopover in Milwaukee in 2002, the rest of his baseball life was spent in places like Buffalo, Calgary, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Altoona, Ottawa, Tacoma, Charlotte and finally ending at Long Island in the Atlantic League in 2006. He still kept at it, as a note on his Bullpen page said he pitched in the Caribbean Series in 2008. But his time was short. In 2010, he was the pitching coach for the Pulaski Mariners in the Appalachian League. This season, he’s slated to wear the uniform of the Everett Aqua Sox. as he’s part of their coaching staff.

I hope he likes frogs:

Do you think his 1996 self would have ever thought he’d be an Aqua Sox?

And of course, because I can’t resist another Quiche Lorraine reference:

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