2012, What You Got?

Well, another year has come and gone, and another HOF election has come and gone. Barry Larkin deserved induction, but what do players like Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Alan Trammell need to do to get in? Knock off the old geezers in the BBWAA so people who understand how to compare players in a contextual manner can vote?

Anyway, people have been batting around what they’re going to do in 2012, so I guess I will.

First, I’ll follow my Manifesto. Unless I don’t. But mostly, I will.

Second, because of some tight money issues, I’ll need to really curtail purchases in the first half of 2012. Which means probably just going for Topps Base thus far. I’ll probably get to Heritage and either Gypsy Queen or A & G, and then Topps Updates. But no to Bowman, and no to Opening Day. At least for now.

Now, what to do about some of my older sets. I may want to rethink what I’ve got in my collection. Maybe I don’t need my Opening Day collections. Maybe I don’t need my Bowmans. But who would want them, and would I use them as trade bait or sell them outright? I need the cash but I’d love to get some more of my sets completed.

Think, think, think….

Unfortunately, some HOF voters don’t do that.

Bobby Brown – 1983 Topps

November 4, 2011

Which Bobby Brown Is This Not?

That’s a silly question.

We know he is the outfielder that floated through several teams in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was quite peripatetic, playing for the Blue Jays, Yankees, Marines and Padres (with a side note of a Rule V spring training with the Mets).

He was originally an Orioles farmhand, was released, signed by the Phils, traded to the Yanks with Jay Johnstone for Rawly Eastwick, then Rule V to the Mets. The Blue Jays offered him back to the Yanks, and he was a rarity – a rule V returnee that played in the majors the same year he was returned to the team that lost him in that draft.

Bobby had a good run, and retired after 1985 when he realized that it was over. Of course, a .390 OPS had a lot to do with that decision.

Bobby Brown, of course, is quite a common name, especially in sports and entertainment.

In baseball:

There’s Dr. Bobby Brown, former Yankees pitcher and AL President.

There is Bob Brown, who had an *interesting* career. Lifetime he was 16-21 with an 85 ERA+, but had one awesome year in 1932 at age 21 (14-7, 3.30 ERA, 114 ERA+ and finished 11th in MVP voting). It had to be arm issues, but he wasn’t work especially hard in either the minors or his big year for the Boston Braves.

There are six Bob Browns that played in the minors, and five Bobby Browns who never hit the big time either.

You also know Bobby Brown, R & B singer:

Of course, I prefer him in New Edition:

(If I like the girl, who cares who you like)

But there’s one other Bobby Brown, and the lyrical content is NSFW:

I’d knew you’d be surprised…



Rudy Law – 1983 Topps

October 31, 2011

“Strike? You Sure Blue?”

The internet was going gangbusters today. In fact, Twitter broke for a minute or five, so I found out. This is what happens when there’s a disturbance in the Kardashian universe. Well, that and Herman Cain’s issue and with the retirement of Tony LaRussa, plus all of the regular “Had soup. Was good. Need nap #yummy” tweets out there, it’s no wonder that the service was slow.

While I never really liked LaRussa’s methods when it comes to bullpen management, and unlike George Will I never thought he was a super-genius, I do have to respect his accomplishments in St. Louis. His two WS champs there are from teams that really were afterthoughts when the playoffs started.

He also wasn’t afraid to try something unconventional, like batting the pitcher 8th (which actually isn’t a bad idea if you put a decent OBP guy in the #9 hole) or his try in the 90’s to solve a woeful starting staff by partitioning the games out in chunks to a group of pitchers a night. Which also isn’t a bad idea if you have no ace.

LaRussa was never afraid to give a job to someone out of the blue. Witness Mr. Law.

The White Sox traded for Law at the very end of spring training in 1982, sending away a minor leaguer and Cecil Espy to the Dodgers for him. Law had an unusual career for LA. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1975, but was fast tracked after hitting .386 at Lodi in 1977. He had a cup of coffee in LA during 1978, but didn’t make the show in 1979 (due to an injury, as he played just 72 games in Albuquerque).

If you recall, those Dodgers were rather stacked in the OF, but Lasorda gave the regular CF job to Rudy in 1980, which made Rick Monday a part-timer. But after a hot April, he cooled down pretty rapidly, and was on the bench most of August. He started about half of the games in September as the Dodgers tried (unsuccessfully) to chase down the Astros for the NL West pennant.

While didn’t have much power or patience, he had speed and played acceptable defense and could have been a bench player in 1981. But the Dodgers had other ideas – they imported Ken Landreaux from the Twins and also used Pedro Guerrero in center along with vets Monday and Derrell Thomas. It worked; the Dodgers won the series. But Law never saw time in the bigs – not even to pinch run in September.

Obviously, during the spring of 1982 it seemed that Law was blocked again as Ron Roenicke was going to be added to the OF mix. Meanwhile, over at White Sox camp, LaRussa was noticing that Ron LeFlore was losing steam quickly. Chet Lemon was the regular CF in 1981, but he was moved to Detroit for Steve Kemp. That pushed LeFlore to center, and he just wasn’t up to the task. So the Sox grabbed Rudy, and grabbed him cheaply.

At first, Law was a fourth OF and pinch runner, starting just five times in April and May. But as time wore on, it was obvious that LeFlore wasn’t cutting it, and was losing some bat speed as well. After a few starts in June, Law took over as the regular CF on July 1. While he still didn’t have a lot of patience or power, he did hit .318 and provided stability in CF. I think that helped Law relax and get acclimated before replacing a popular veteran player in the lineup.

(BTW, in looking at the defensive alignments for the Sox that year: One game it was Kemp / Hairston / Kittle and a few games it was Kemp / Baines / Kittle. Holy doubles in the gap!)

Law wasn’t a great player. He was useful, and filled a need. LaRussa found a role for him, and had a plan to make him the starter during 1982.

I still don’t like 12-man pitching staffs or one-inning closers, though.


Bob Stoddard – 1983 Topps

December 19, 2010

Just Another Generic Mariners  Pitcher

Of all the expansion teams, the Mariners seemed to be the blandest. They weren’t the worst team, they seemingly made decent expansion picks, and they didn’t have colorful characters hanging around.

They could have used a Hot Rod Kanehl or a Coco Laboy.

What they did have was a preponderance of blah pitchers.

Stoddard had a bleah year in the minors in 1982, 7-11, 5.20 with only 86 whiffs in 147 innings pitched. But when he got to the bigs in late August, he put together a decent stretch going 3-3 with a 2.41 ERA. But he didn’t strike many people out and needed a decent defense behind him. Pitching to contact is the vernacular, and sometimes that can backfire.

But you wonder after his good September in 1981 why he was even in the minors in 1982. But that was a big reason the Mariners were bleah – they made incorrect personnel decisions at almost every juncture, collecting a bunch of mediocrities and over-the-hillers.

Stoddard was one of the big hopes for the 1983 Mariners. They had a young staff in 1982 except for Perry. The ‘grizzled’ vets were Floyd Bannister, Mike Stanton (not the Brave), Bill Caudill and Jim Beattie – none older than 27. Mike Moore was 22, Gene Nelson 21, Ed Vande Berg 23. Bryan Clark and Stoddard were just 25. And Ed Nunez was a baby at 19.

But this being the Mariners, these young pitchers were also pretty darn bleah. Except for Caudill shaving 1/2 of his beard they were juts interchangeable pitching automatons (or so it seemed).

They changed some of the parts and got worse as a team in 1983 (60-102) – and they didn’t have any excuses really. They got older and got worse. Their young players didn’t develop. Stoddard went 9-17 even though his ERA+ was 97. The team was last in runs scored. In fact, this was the Mariners team that scored the least runs until the 2010 version.

About the only interesting thing that happened to this team was that Manny Castillo came in and pitched 2 2/3 innings (giving up seven runs) in a 19-7 loss to Toronto. The interesting thing was that it was one of the rare position-player pitching appearances that was not finished by a position-player. Caudill pitched the ninth for the Mariners. Well, only 6,593 people saw this (or bought tickets to see it) so thank goodness for anonymity.

To me, Bob Stoddard is the epitome of the early Mariners – some early promise, some odd decisions, a truly mediocre performance, and then a vanishing act. Stoddard pitched poorly in 1984, worse in the minors in 1985 and was released.