Rusty Meacham – 1995 Flair

April 13, 2011

Spring Cleaning Coming Together!

Hey, I have the rules of Spring Cleaning ready to go. I’ve given some of my friends a preferred chance at some of their favorite teams or sets of doubles. But every team has some choice nuggets…like the above!

(Look for the Spring Cleaning post over the weekend – and if you got the early email make your choices now – thanks to several of you who have already claimed teams, etc.

I just turned on the Twins game and saw Liriano give up six to the Royals in the fourth. So I went through my box and found a Royals card to change the voodoo. And why not a card from a set that would have worked for a smaller, more premium set but not one of 432 cards.

And not for players like Rusty Meacham.

Rusty Meacham belongs in base sets. I read someone lamenting that with the emphasis on rookies in the base Topps the subs and middle relievers are either relegated to Update or forgotten altogether. That’s a shame. I also know that sets like Heritage should be a bit more picky about players. The more premium the set, the more that the checklists are limited. A set like Flair would cost a LOT of money to collect one-by-one in the day and you’d probably have a box full of doubles of guys like Andres Berumen.

Looking at the Flair Checklist – I can’t see people wanting to spend premium dollars for a pack that contains a Jason Bates, Mike Oquist or Dave Mlicki unless they were a team collector. I got this on the secondary market, I believe (or got it from someone who got it on the secondary market), which yes you can find some Flairs seeded in with the 1989 Topps in those assortments at Target.

Meacham had an interesting story. He was a 33rd round draft pick by the Tigers in 1987 and not signed until 1988 as a JUCO draft-and-follow. He was a side-arming righty (as you can see on the card) that blazed through the Tiger system and had a good 1991 in Toledo. He struggled a bit in the majors but there was potential.

Then the Tigers put him on waivers. That, I don’t get. You have a 23-year old pitcher whose worst full-season minor league ERA was in AA in 1990 – and it was 3.13 (with a 15-9 record). Your staff had guys like Tanana, Gullickson, Gleaton, Terrell, Cerutti, Paul Gibson, Petry and Jeff Kaiser. I mean, why waive a 23-year old with promise?

The Roayls actually made some good baseball decisions in the 90’s and they snapped Meacham up quickly. The Tigers fell to 6th in the AL East with the worst ERA in the AL – thanks to guys like Terrell, Eric King, Les Lancaster, Scott Aldred, Buddy Groom and Kevin Ritz with ERAs over 5.

Rusty had a good year for KC: 10-4, 2 saves, 2.74 ERA, 1.9 WAR, 15 holds, and 31% of his 55 inherited runners scored.I think the Tigers would have rather had that than whatever Dan Gaekler or Kurt Knudsen gave them.

But then, the injury bugaboo hit him. Relief pitchers that throw over 100 innings in a season do have a history of breaking down more often than not – and Meacham had elbow problems which caused him to miss a lot of 1993 and then become less effective as time wore on. His 1992 promise was not filled, but Meacham has continued in pro ball, being a pitcher and pitching coach in the minors and independent ball. In fact, he threw 2 innings LAST YEAR!


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