He Knew When It Was Time To Leave

Carney Ray Lansford (for some reason I always used to hear announcers say that) had a good, long career, and after 1992, at age 35,  he said it was time.

Now he may have received a quiet jolt of reality from the A’s since Craig Paquette was around (and LaRussa seemed to like him). But at age 35, he had an OPS+ of 100, a WAR of 2.5, and was average defensively at third.

He could have played another three or four years, easily. Or at least tried.

But he didn’t. He hung ’em up at 35, on his own terms and in his own way.

That’s so rare in baseball. Most of the time, baseball tells YOU when you’re done.

 

 

Advertisements

“No, I’m Dwayne. Butch Isn’t Here Yet…”

First, a note or two.

A. I’ve had some stuff going on, personally, that have left me in a tizzy. I can still receive packages (yay!) but any trade returns I may owe will be a while.

B. Yes, I know I haven’t updated my want lists on site. See A about the tizzy.

C. I do have my scanner with me, but haven’t had a chance to scan yet. But you know me, it won’t ALL be about 2011. Because that’s how I roll.

Well, now back to Mr. Henry.

Collectors who were casual Astros fans may have just noticed the name “Henry” in box scores in 1991 and 1992 and assumed they were the same one.

Butch came up in 1992. By this time Dwayne was long gone.

Even though Dwayne was 3-2, 3.19 with 2 saves, the Astros cut him in November. The Reds signed him up, and he was in Cincy in 1992.

However, a close look at the stats in 1991 show that 49% of his inherited runners (17 of 35) scored. That wasn’t an aberrant number. He had the same problem in Atlanta in 1990 (11 of 21) and in Cincy in 1992 (14 of 37).

Henry was supposed to be, well, relevant. He was a 2nd round pick by Texas and had good stuff.

But his problem was…well…

(His name ain’t baby…it’s Dwayne…it’s Dwayne…Mr. Henry if you’re nasty…)

He just couldn’t throw strikes consistently, and Texas finally got fed up and sent him to Atlanta. Atlanta got fed up and released him. Then the Astros, as noted above. The Reds had him for 1 1/4 seasons, and sent him to Seattle. They got rid of him and he finally wound up in Detroit. He then pitched in the minors in 1996 for Colorado (can you imagine a wild, straight fastball in Denver? Yikes!) and then in the independent leagues.

Many players don’t get the chances Henry got. Many players can’t throw in the 90’s. But there’s getting the chances, and taking advantage of them. Dwayne had what it took to get there – not what it took to stay there.

That, and he was no doubt picked on for his two pop culture references, two Dwayne’s from television.

Hey, hey, hey!

Now, if I were compared to either one, it would shake my confidence too.

Even if I didn’t wear those flip-down glasses.

Jody Reed – 1992 Upper Deck

February 12, 2011

Now Appearing At The Bolshoi…Jody Reed

Those are some mighty fine ballet skills there, Jody. You know, I could look up ballet terms on Wikipedia like arabesque, brise, echappe and the like, but I won’t except for one sidebar:

I did not know derriere was a ballet term. I thought it was a Match Game term.


 

 

 

 

Well, back to Mr. Reed.

Was it just me or were most of the Red Sox second basemen from Doerr to Pedroia either unappreciated or over-appreciated?

Billy Goodman – underrated, though he got a lot of All-Star votes.

Pete Runnels – underrated.

Mike Andrews – underrated.

Doug Griffin – overrated. Won a Gold Glove when he had -1.1 defensive wins against replacement  in 1972.

Denny Doyle – overrated, but thanks to his 1975 no one will say so.

Jerry Remy – overrated. Sorry Red Sox Nation, but as a player he wasn’t that much.

Marty Barrett – overrated. Got MVP votes for being the David Eckstein of the 1986 Red Sox.

Reed – overrated.

Scott Fletcher – underrated, due to his excellent defense, especially in 1993, when his 2.1 DWAR was almost half of his total WAR. That ain’t hay!

Jeff Frye – underrated. His injury killed what could have been a fine career.

Jose Offerman – underrated, though that’s because he was the devil incarnate in 2000 and 2001. He had a fine 1999, though.

Mark Bellhorn – underrated though he whiffed way too much and that forced him out of the league after his great 2004.

Except for Fletcher, the underrated players were perceived as offensive players stuck at second base, while the overrated players looked good as second basemen and hit like a middle infielder ‘should’.

Pedroia has kind of wrecked that, because he’s a good defender who isn’t a slappy.

When players bunted all the time, teams put their second best infield defender at third, and second base was more of an offensive position. When teams stopped bunting, and cared more about turning the DP, they moved that player to second. So even today, the perception of a second baseman is more of a smaller, scrappy type than a hitter. And that’s even after Ryne Sandberg, Lou Whitaker and others.

Perhaps Pedroia, Chase Utley and this generation will change how we perceive second basemen. Maybe we should not ‘perceive’ what players ‘should’ be and revel in what players actually ‘are’.

I’m not saying that defense isn’t important – it is. But offense matters more, and unless you can get a Scott Fletcher in there at second I’d rather have someone who can put runs on the board than someone who ‘looks good’ with the glove. If the guy has defensive struggles at second then that’s why you have utility players for defensive replacements (and why you need to stop the 12-man pitching staffs!).

That’s not to say that you should put Adam Dunn at second base (though I don’t think anyone would try a take-out slide on him), because you do need to have some basic defensive competency at the position. But Mark Bellhorn’s 2004 (3.5 WAR) was better than any season Jody Reed put up.

If I was building a major league team, I would worry about defense at catcher (I’d most likely platoon two decent offensive catchers as long as one was an excellent defender for late innings), shortstop, and center field for my starting nine (but not overly so), and at the rest of the positions I would put the best overall hitters (or platoon) that can reasonably play the position. And I’d make sure I’d have one fast guy who can play three infield positions well on the bench, and not care if he hits just .122 as long as he can pinch run and play defense in the late innings. I’d also have a fifth outfielder who can play all three positions and has a good arm, and then the other subs could play the corners and just mash.

I guess this is a long way of saying that Jody Reed wouldn’t be my first choice at second base. Well, especially not now, he’s 48 years old, for crying out loud!

 

 

Duck, It’s Coming Right For Us!!!

Ah, Butch Henry. Ah, 1992 Pinnacle. Ah, baseball’s leaping off of the cardboard.

El Paso’s own Floyd Bluford Henry (I hope to God that’s a family name – and I would go by Butch too…) was part of the ‘haul’ the Astros received when the Reds traded for Bill Doran. Doran was done, yes, but he was a good player and a good guy and it was kind of a shame he didn’t end his career with the Astros.

Henry was the only one of the three players wrangled for the Reds to have any type of career. He didn’t really have a pedigree for success in the bigs. A 15th round draft pick, he had an OK year in AA before trundling to the Astros, then had a middling year in Tuscon. He was a ‘crafty’ lefty that had to pitch to contact and get grounders to survive.

The operative word there is…lefty.

Butch did make the Astros as a rookie prospect in 1992, and scuffled a bit as a starter. His 4.02 ERA looked fine on the surface, but he pitched in the Astrodome, so that added up to a slightly negative WAR and an ERA+ of 83.

The expansion draft took Henry to Colorado, where pitchers without sinking sinkers sink. Somehow, a 2-8, 6.59 slate was good enough for Montreal to trade for him straight up for Ken Bottenfield. The laugh was on Colorado, as Bottenfield did his Butch Henry imitation in Denver, whilst after a trip to Ottawa, Henry settled down and had 2+ good seasons in Montreal.

In 1995, he was hurt after a 7-9, 2.84 season. His last game was August 15, when he was taken out during a gem against the Mets. Boston picked him up on waivers, paid him to rehab in 1996 and eased him into the pen in 1997. He went 7-3 with six saves and a nifty ERA (for the AL in that season) of 3.52. That earned him a couple million.

And then, his arm fell off again. He pitched nine innings for the Red Sox in 1998, then signed a contract with Seattle. After two good starts and two bad starts, he was DL bound again. Butch was activated for three games in September, and then spent four years trying to heal himself in the minors or spring training before finally giving up in 2003.

Later, he became manager of his hometown El Paso Diablos, proud member of the new American Association. He was let go, though, in December. These things happen. Just like crafty lefties developing arm problems.

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.

 

“Um, Hey, I’m Supposed To Be Here, Right?”

As I said way long time ago in my Sil Campusano essay, Toronto had more than their fair share of hyped prospects that flamed out in spectacular fashion.

Eddie Zosky was one that burst into flames of crimson, orange, and blue.

I had a Zosky jersey, back a few years ago, before I realized that I was a grown man gaining weight and wearing double knits that were worn by baseball players 10 years ago wasn’t the great fashion coup that I thought it was and I should grow up and do something else…

…like collect baseball cards.

Anyways, Zosky had a great name; Zosky screams ‘old school baseball’. Zosky was the 19th overall pick in the 1989 draft, and he was hustled along with great speed. He was ‘composed’ enough to start right away in AA out of Fresno State. Tony Fernandez (who should be remembered more fondly than he is) was the starter, but the Jays wanted a better defender and younger player. So they were fast-tracking Zosky.

In 1990, he repeated AA, hitting .271. Baseball America named him the #22 prospect. And it was said he could ‘pick it’, already. But he committed 31 errors at Knoxville.

Zosky was ‘tabbed’ to be the starting SS, but Manny Lee beat him out in the Spring, mainly due to some yips in the field. Eddie went to AAA, and hit .263, then enjoyed a September call-up. He got his first action when Manny Lee asked out of the lineup due to dizziness and Zosky singled. In the “Sportswriters Should Just Stop the Stupid Hyperbole” award category, the Toronto Star’s Dave Perkins compared Lee to Wally Pipp.

Gag.

But, Zosky’s the sure starter in 1992, right? He was still a top 100 prospect, and had to be better than Lee.

Um, no. When you hit .151 and throw the ball all over Dunedin, you get demoted again. Zosky started out in a horrid slump, and while he rebounded it showed that he really had no secondary skills in his offense: no power, no on-base ability, and not much speed or base stealing ability.

But he got more big league time and got to jump in the pile at the end of 1992. And yet again, he was tabbed to take away the starting shortstop job away from Manny Lee in 1993.

This time for sure! Because Lee wasn’t a Blue Jay anymore. And Eddie hit .326 in the Arizona Fall League!

But Zosky had some elbow problems, so Toronto signed Alfredo Griffin and Dick Schofield and traded for Luis Sojo. Zosky had to be shut down, and when he returned he didn’t hit and still committed more errors than the Blue Jays wanted. So during 1993, Zosky was an afterthought, and the Blue Jays then turned to Alex Gonzalez to be their ‘shortstop of the future’ designate. (Zosky had to give away the crown and scepter, but kept the sash. I think he hung it from the mirror in his car.)

In 1994, he showed more power, but absolutely no patience at Syracuse. He also played more second than short. His future, if there was any, was as a utility man.

And so he became a journeyman utility player. He made the opening day roster for Florida in 1995, but that was due to the fact they allowed teams to carry 28 players the first few weeks of the season. Soon, he was down in the minors again.

He made a grand tour of organizations looking for a break: Florida, Baltimore, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Houston and Pittsburgh. His best chance to stick was with the Brewers. In 1998 he was the last cut, sent down to the minors at the last minute after the Brewers nabbed Eric Owens. He was called up in 1999 but didn’t stick on the 40-man and became a free agent. He was invited to spring training by Pittsburgh, sent to AAA and then traded to Houston in August. In September, he batted four times for the Astros, went 0-fer, was dropped off the roster, became a free agent, and then retired.

The Blue Jays gave Zosky every chance to grab the shortstop job and he never could. He may have set a major league record for the most consecutive years as the ‘shortstop of the future’ for one organization. It ain’t handed to you, though, kid, you gotta earn it.

 

Doing What He Does Best

Which is looking furtively down the line to see if his latest thwack at the ball is staying fair or foul.

Incaviglia (or as I called him Inka-Dinka-Doo) was famous for being drafted, and then forcing a trade before he signed. The Expos, always frugal, also didn’t want to start Pete in the majors. Only a very select few are able to go to the majors without any seasoning at all, and most of the time they are excellent athletes, or gate stunts.

Inky, as you can see above, was not a great athlete. And no one really pays to see a DH, do they? This being the NL, there was no DH, and they would have to move Tim Raines to CF in order to squeeze Pete into the OF, which means banishing Herm Winningham and Mitch Webster to spare-part-land (which wouldn’t be so bad). They could have tried Pete at first instead of Driessen, but the Big Cat was lurking in the system.

Montreal traded him to Texas for Bob “Ice Station” Sebra and someone else of little import.

So Texas started him in the majors in 1986. They could use him at DH, but it seems odd to plant a 22-year old just drafted player as the permanent DH and that would squeeze Larry Parrish out of a job. Gary Ward manned LF most of the time, so Inky played RF.

The next year he was in LF as Ruben Sierra moved into RF on a full time basis. Still, he was a butcher, and I saw his handiwork live and in person. He played a harmless Gary Redus fly into a triple and then mislayed a Donnie Hill single for an error.

Now you can live with poor defense if you’re getting some production. Pete had some power, but he also was quite the whiffer, much like Danny Walton. And his first couple of years were promising. He blasted 30 dingers in 1986 and 27 more in 1987. In 1988, his defense improved (he cut way down on errors) and he still was over 1.0 offensive WAR.

But instead of progressing, he regressed. That’s not good for a young player. In his fourth year his OBP was under .300 and he hit just 21 home runs. In 1990, his OPS+ was 100, which is not OK for a defensively challenged corner outfielder / DH. He was released by the Rangers at the end of spring training 1991, and signed by the Tigers, who always seem to collect wayward sluggers. As you can see, the Tiger double-knits were not slimming.

Texas, though, used Pete in CF for 37 games in 1989 and 1990, starting 20.

That brings back flashbacks of seeing Terry Francona in CF for a couple of games for the Cubs (the OF was Matthews / Francona / Mumphrey or Moreland, IIRC).

Well, who flanked Pete? How horrible was it? And did they win?

1990:

Leach / Inky / Sierra   W 6-4

Leach / Inky / Sierra W 9-3

Leach / Inky / Sierra L 7-3

Daugherty / Inky / Sierra L 4-1

Leach / Inky / Sierra L 6-5

1991:

14 games in the second half: Daugherty / Inky / Sierra (except one which was Daughery / Inky / Reimer) – they were 9-5, though they lost the one with Reimer in RF.

Well, it just goes to show…something…

 

Baseball Cards Capture History

Can you feel the nostalgia in this card? It captures an historic moment in the history of…well…Luis Aquino.

July 20, 1991 – Tigers at Royals. The Royals jump on Rusty Meacham and Paul Gibson and lead 8-1 after five. But wily vet Mike Boddicker begins to tire in the top of the sixth. Boddicker gives back three runs on a walk to Fielder, and then back-to-back jacks by Tettleton and Bergman. Wait…Dave Bergman?

Then after two out, Travis Fryman walks. Hal McRae has seen enough. Before he starts drinking straight gin in the clubhouse, he goes and gets Boddicker out of there, and in trots Luis Aquino.

Aquino gets Milt Cuyler to ground out weakly to first to end the threat. No really, that’s what it says on Retrosheet:

Groundout: 1B unassisted (Weak 1B)

Weak…

In the 7th, Aquino runs into trouble. Whitaker singles and Sparky senses something or other so he sends in Skeeter Barnes to run. (Maybe he sensed an injury, since Barnes starts at second the next game). After two out, Tettleton singles and Bergman walks. Wait…Dave Bergman?

McRae peers out to the mound. It’s make or break time. Either Aquino gets Pete Incaviglia or Hal and the Beefeater’s are going to get cozy after the game.

Another weak groundout to first.

Groundout: 1B unassisted (Weak 1B)

Weak…

After that, Aquino cannot be tamed. In the eighth, he gets Livingstone to pop into foul territory between third and the catcher, and Fryman and Cuyler are bamboozled and grab some bench, as it were.

In the top of the 9th, he tells Barnes and Moseby to get back to their hotel with that weak sauce. Fielder tries to make amends by hitting the ball to Independence, but the ball nestles into Eisenreich’s glove and the win has been preserved. Aquino gets his third save, his first of the year at home, and the celebration begins. As you see above, there’s Tom Gordon, and Tim Spehr and the rest of the Royals join in the party.

Woo-hoo! Congrats to Luis on his first home save of 1991!

“Hey, Watch Out! I Called It!”

“Watch out, ________ *!! In about 10 years some nerdballs will name a player projection system after me, and they can’t do that if I’m splayed to the ground concussed to death.”

* I can’t tell who the other player is, and since Pecota played everywhere it’s hard to tell. All I know that it’s a non-Hispanic white guy, and could be playing anywhere but catcher and pitcher (and probably not CF). So you can choose one of the following and I’ll be satisfied:

A. Todd (Benzinger)

B. Kurt (Stillwell)

C. Jim (Eisenreich)

D. David (Howard)

E. Kevin (Seitzer)

F. Sean (Berry)

G. Kirk (Gibson)

H. Russ (Morman)

See, it’s features  like this than enhance the blog reader’s experience!


“Hey, Terry…”

“Yeah, Joe.”

“Is Tony looking at us.”

“Yeah.”

“Anyone up in the pen besides Chitren?”

“Yeah, they got Honey up”

“Man, I’m done. They’ve got a two righties and another lefty and it’ll be Steve and then Honeycutt.”

“It’s your job, Joe. You’re supposed to get the lefties. You and Rick, and you did your job.”

“I know, but, I’d like to throw more in the game. I throw more pitches in the pen than I do in the games.”

“Joe…I don’t know what to tell you, except keep it down and throw strikes. Tony and Dunc have got this lefty / righty thing going, and they’re talking about adding even another pitcher down there?”

“12? I thought 11 was too many. Not enough work for 11.”

“Well, once you get something in Tony’s head, you can’t get him to let go of it.”

“HEY! C’MON BREAK IT UP!”

“Oh, hey Tim.”

“Terry, you and Klink here wrap it up.”

“Chitren takes forever to get loose, sorry.”

“Well, tell Duncan to get out here.”

“Tim, what do you think? You think Tony’s going a bit too far with this percentage thing?”

“Joe, all I know is that you’re holding up the game now, and here comes Duncan.”

“Nice game, Joe.”

“Thanks, Dunc. BTW, can I throw more than one pitch next time?”

“Maybe, Klink, maybe.”