Bubba Trammell – 1997 UD Collector’s Choice

May 26, 2011

Run, Bubba, Run! There’s Free KFC And Pie At Home Plate!

Wow, Spring Cleaning is nearly finished. The last of the original packages go out today and then the grab bags will be assembled soon. Thanks to everyone, and I mean everyone, who participated. More to follow!

In 1971, the Trammell’s of the Knoxville, TN area had a son, and named it Thomas. Needing a middle name, they chose…

Bubba.

And a short-lived folk hero was born!

After making the bigs with Detroit in 1997 (after smashing 33 home runs in AA and AAA combined in 1996 and 28 more in 1997 in Toledo), the Devil Rays took Bubba in the expansion draft. Well, the Tigers thought they were stocked in the outfield with Higginson, Nieves and Hunter with Hamelin at DH.

Yeah, right…

So Bubba goes to the Bay of Tampa and finds himself…blocked…

In 1998 he dutifuly goes to Durham and whaps 16 homers in 56 games. Then gets called up and hits . 286 with 12 dingers in 59 games and an OPS+ of 130.

In 1999, he’s SENT DOWN AGAIN after his performance in the bigs and no doubt was pouting a bit, but he came up and then whacked it around the park again – hitting .290 with 14 homers in 82 games and an OPS+ of 125.

Sure, Bubba was rather ham-fisted in the field, but for an expansion team, you’re going to have to outscore the other team anyway, so why not just let Trammell play in a corner, hit 30 homers and drive in runs?

Well, the Devil Rays wanted these guys to play instead:

Mike Kelly

Quinton McCracken

Dave Martinez

Paul Sorrento

Randy Winn

Rich Butler

Terrell Lowery

Um…what?

Bubba basically forced his way into a full-time spot in 2000. Well, at least a majority of a platoon spot. The Rays at that time were fooling around with Gerald Williams and Jose Guillen as well. Then, in July, the Mets needed some bench help for their run to the World Series and dangled a couple of shiny coins in front of the Devil Rays.

So Bubba went to the Big Apple and the Devil Rays got…

Jason Tyner and Paul Wilson.

A man whose arm was held together with solder and scotch tape and an outfielder who had ONE career home run in over 1,450 career plate appearances.

The Devil Rays wanted speed and defense – I guess so they could run as fast as they could to the buffet table after getting pasted 8-2 every night.

Bubba plays his role as righty masher off the bench, including a huge 2-RBI pinch single off of Andy Pettitte in Game One.

The Padres are smart, and convert a middle reliever into an everyday player, sending Donne Wall to the Mets for Bubba. He has one good year and one fair year over there at Jack Murphy and the Yanks decide in Spring Training of 2003 to deal Rondell White to the Padres for him.

You Yankee fans probably know the rest. Trammell struggles to start the season and then begs off the rest of the season because of depression. There were howls of derision, as I recall. But you know, both his mother and sister had cancer and he was going through a divorce. I’d have some issues then as well.

Bubba makes a few comeback attempts (2004 and 2007) but is no longer on the scene. Too bad. He could have been a true folk hero in Tampa Bay if, you know, the management and front office knew what the hell they were doing.

Which is why that every day I see the standings and see the Rays over .500, I wonder if I’ve inhaled peyote or something. The long standing stain of prior incompetence still lingers, even after Joe Maddon and company have succeeded.

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