Scott Downs – 2012 Topps

February 10, 2012

I Can’t Believe How Much Bandwidth We Wasted On Him In 2000

Ok, let’s get this out of the way.

A. I like this design. I really do.

B. I can see why some people don’t like it. I don’t like Nutella.

C. I’m not writing angsty posts about why I hate it and why Nutella is the ruination of all that is right and true and just.

D. I’m especially not writing angsty posts about how special flavors of Nutella will be the death of us all as a society.

E. I may be exaggerating a tad.

F. There are more important things to worry about than a damn squirrel on a baseball card.

Anyway…Scott Downs.

Downs was already a favorite Cubs trading chit before 2000. The reason the Cubs had Mike Morgan was that Downs was shipped off to Minnesota for him after the season in 1998. Then, in early 1999, Downs came right back along with Rick Aguilera for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.

He was a young lefty starter in 2000 that was having young lefty starter issues, but still he was a young lefty starter. The Cubs weren’t going anywhere (65-97) and they needed help everywhere. Their lineup was old and creaky (Ricky Guitierrez! Damon Buford!) The youngest regular was Willie Greene, who at 28 basically burned down the shed that held his tools.

The bench was full of guys like Jeff Reed, Jeff Huson and Jose Nieves. Of course, they never wanted to give a player like Roosevelt Brown a fair shake, they were the Cubs!

Never mind that their pitching staff was equally wretched. Kerry Wood was just coming back. Kevin Tapani was on his downward trend. Ismail Valdes was just awful. Besides Downs, immortals like Rueben Quevedo, Daniel Garibay, Steve Rain, the non-NBC news Brian Williams, and Andrew “Quiche” Lorraine were there.

So they needed help, everywhere.

Rondell White was a super-phenom who had already gained a reputation of being injury-prone. He was 28 and the Expos were probably sick of him missing big chunks of time. So they were looking for a deal. And they offered him to the Cubs for Downs.

A 28-year old whose body has failed him on many occasions for a 24-year old lefty starter who went 8-1 with a 1.35 ERA for the Cubs AA team in 1999? Sign me up!

Oh, how I hated that deal. I knew White had the potential for greatness in theory – in practicum he was good for 2/3 of a season. Downs was a lefty starter that had a chance to be pretty good.

Downs started one game for the Expos, immediately got hurt and didn’t get into another big league game until 2003. He left Montreal after 2004 and wound up in Toronto, and each year I was surprised to see him in a box score. “Scott Downs? He’s still around!” Yep, it’s a yearly ritual.

White, as you know, continued to be star-crossed. He played just 18 more games in 2000. He was fantastic in 2001, but in just 95 games. The Cubs got rid of him. He was horrible in 2002, rebounded in 2003 and 2004, but got hurt again and faded away.

I guess I was right, since Downs is still pitching. But Downs would have recovered from his arm woes right into the hands of Dusty Baker if he stayed as a Cub.

Lord know if he would even have a stump of a left arm if he had to pitch for Dusty.

 

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