Jeff Juden – 1992 Upper Deck
January 27, 2011
Star? Um, no.
Well, OK, “Star” if you count that he played for the Astros, who had a star on their hat.
Drafted at age 18. Done, for all intents and purposes, by 30. Part of the star-crossed 1989 first round that included Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, Chuck Knoblauch, Charles Johnson – and guys like Tyler Houston, Roger Salkeld, Earl Cunningham, Donald Harris and Jeff Jackson.
Traded for Mitch Williams. Then traded for Mike Benjamin. Then part of the big ol’ Marquis Grissom deal that netted the Brewers Mike Fetters, Ben McDonald (a fellow 1989 draftee – the #1 overall, as you know) and Ron Villone (who may FINALLY be done after an over 6 ERA in Syracuse last season). Since you all remember the McDonald / Fetters era in Cleveland, you know how big of a deal that turned out to be.
Juden was a big guy. 6’7, 245. (Wikipedia says 6’8, 270) But he had a rep for being free spirited, head case and high strung. He was wild, and he threw inside, which led to altercations. Jim Fregosi called him a ” big, fat, lazy, drunken #%&*?” Well, just because after he got shelled one day, he avoided the press, grabbed some Corona, and drained about 12 on the bus.
I mean, it wasn’t even Budweiser he pounded. It was Corona. Joe Schultz hung his head in shame when he heard that.
He left goodbye notes in lockers to traded teammates.
He broke Pedro Martinez’ CD player.
He played the guitar.
He said this about Milwaukee. “They got a lot of polacks out there. I feel right at home.”
He hit a grand slam, and got the name “The Salem Sledgehammer” because of it.
He had a 1.59 ERA in his last big league season, for the 1999 Yanks. However, in his 5 2/3 innings, he let in eight unearned runs.
Jeff Juden’s career could be epitomized in his last appearance in the bigs.
It was the last game of the 1999 season. The Yanks were in Tampa facing the Devil Rays, and basically Joe Torre was treating it like a Spring Training “B” game. Clay Bellinger in left. D’Angelo Jiminez at third. A young and tender Soriano at short. Sojo at second. And Juden on the hill.
First inning for Juden: Whiff, whiff, 3 unassisted.
Second inning for Juden: E6 (Soriano couldn’t field then…can’t field now.), whiff, whiff, whiff.
Third inning for Juden: Whiff, single, walk, DP.
Not bad eh?
Fourth inning: Grounder to the box, walk, double, whiff, walk, hit batter (forcing in a run), E3 (Leyritz, yeesh), inside the park home run by Terrell Lowery. Chad Curtis was in CF, so it wasn’t Bernie Williams, but still…
Juden, yanked. In comes Mike “Schmuddie” Buddie. Jeff gives up six runs, on two hits, an error, two walks and a hit batter. A calamity of an inning if there ever was one. He whiffed eight in 3 2/3 but took 85 pitches to get to 3 2/3.
If there ever was a pitcher that needed a Crash Davis, it was Juden.