Monday, December 31, 2012

My baseball article in today's Modesto Bee

Yes I have an article in the paper and its about a local who became a big league pitcher in the 1970's. Here is the link or the address:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

#41-Matt Williams

One of my favorite Giants of all-time (up there with Willie McCovey, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Buster Posey and Panda Bear.) Drafted by the Giants in the 1st round of the 1986 draft he was called up the next season and the next and again in the Giants' pennant winning year of 1989. However, those three years he hit a miserable .198. His 181 K's over 137 hits didn't help and his .243 OBP indicated how bad he was. Williams was starting to appear to be a classic 4A hitter after tearing the cover off the ball for the last three years at AAA Phoenix. He had spent the previous two years getting set up with fastballs and then swinging and missing on breaking pitches. Even I was getting a little cynical about his potential.  In the September 25 game at Dodger Stadium Williams came up in the 5th inning against John Wetland and the same old scenario was playing out. Down 0-2 Wetland was now going to finish off Williams with a breaking pitch and this time Williams sat back, waited and smashed hit his 18th homer of the season. He was more than just a fastball hitter after that and the season of this card was his breakout year hitting .277 33 homers and driving in 122. 
After 1990 he became one of the best power hitters in the National League and would make 4 appearances on the All-Star team. His excellent fielding also helped make him a complete player. In 1994 he was on a pace to break Roger Maris' home runs in a season record of 61 however, the players went on strike thus scuttling his attempt at the record. After the 96 season he went to Cleveland in a trade that came down to Williams for Jeff Kent the Giants future MVP and all-star second baseman. Before the 98 season he was off to Arizona where in 2001 he won his third pennant-he also won in his one season in Cleveland, but lost to Florida-and his first World Series after hitting .269 with a home run and driving in 7 runners in the seven game series. After winning the Series the last two seasons his playing time declined and in 03 he was released by the Diamondbacks. 
Hired by Arizona manager Kirk Gibson as a coach in 2010 he has since served as a first and how is the D-Back's third base coach. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Article in today's Modesto Bee

While, again, its not sports related I have an article in today's Modesto Bee and here is the Link

Sunday, December 16, 2012

#40 Jay Howell

Drafted out of the University of Colorado in the 31st round of the 1976 draft by the Reds. Working as a starting pitcher he was called up from AA in 1980 and quickly showed he was in way over his head. After that season he was sent to the Cubs fro Mike O'Berry. In 81 he made 10 appearances with a 2-0 record and a 4.84 ERA. Over the off-season he went to the Yankees to complete a deal for Pat Tabler.  Spending 82-83 bouncing between the minors and the bigs he was used as a starter and was awful again. In 1984 though he was sent to the bullpen and his one start that year would be his last in the majors. Serving as a setup man to Dave Righetti Howell dropped his ERA to a low 2.69 to go along with 7 saves and a then career high WAR of 2.8. His reward was to be sent to the Athletics in the mammoth Rickey Henderson deal. As the A's closer in 85 he saved 29 games  but spent the next two years struggling with injuries-in spite of those setbacks he was named to the 1987 American League All-Star team held in Oakland that year. Normally you'd get a warm reception when representing your team in your home park however, Howell who was having a bad year was roundly booed by the home fans in an ungracious gesture from the Oakland fans. With the emergence of Dennis Eckersley as the A's closer Howell was again sent packing in another mammoth deal that also sent shortstop Alfredo Griffin to the Dodgers for pitchers Bob Welch and Matt Young. Both Oakland and Los Angeles sent players to the Mets in the trade was a winner for the A's and Dodgers and a failure for the Mets. 
In 1988 the Dodgers won the World Series and Howell would play his part but getting to the series would be a struggle.  In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Mets Howell was found to have pine tar on his glove. After a one game suspension the Doges won the pennant and Howell was able to get his revenge on those A's fans by picking up a save in the Series the Dodgers won against Oakland. 89, the year this picture was taken, would be Howell's best season with 28 saves-his second best career total-and a meager 1.58 ERA. He also set his career best WAR with a 3.3. 
After the 91 season he left LA as a free agent and signed with the Braves where he contributed to the Braves comeback against the Giants to win the National League West. He didn't make any appearances in the NLCS which the Braves lost to the Phillies. In 1993 he pitched for the Rangers but was not as effective and at the age of 38 his career came to an end with the strike.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#39 Curt Ford

Drafted by the Cardinals in the 4th round of the 1981 draft Curt Ford by 1983 he was hitting .290 with 20 home runs and 91 RBI's at A ball Springfield. As for that power display that was the last time he'd reach 20 homers in a season. Debuting with the big club on June 23, 1985 Cards' manager Whitey Herzog told Ford during the 8th inning "you're going to win the game for us." With one out in the 10th inning and a runner on second singled to right off of Cubs' pitcher Lee Smith driving in the winning run. After the game  Ford said "No I wasn't nervous. I might b twice the next time. I like to hit in situations like that. Every time I walk between the lines, I want to be a hero, the big shooter." Whitey also said that Ford was " the most impressive young player we had in spring training." 
Ford came back the next season and in 85 games hit .248 and stole 13 bases. Still a reserve in the pennate year of 87 he set career highs in batting-.285-home runs-3-runs scored-32.  He also set career highs in WAR with a 1.4 and he also set a career high in dWar with a 1.1. However, it appeared in August he would miss the rest of the season when he broke his hand. Come post-season he was back and in the NLCS against the Giants he hit .333 in 4 games over 9 at-bats. Playing in 5 games of the World Series he was over .300 again with 2 RBI's but was caught stealing in his only attempt in the series the Cards lost to the Twins. In Game 5 he hit the game winning single off of Twins started Bert Blyleven in the sixth inning. In 1988 he dropped below the Mendoza line and in the year shown on the card was a Phillie after being traded to along with Steve Lake for outfielder Milt Thompson. Phillies general manager Lee Thomas described Ford as "the type of guy who will give manager NIck Leyva some maneuverability because he can play three outfield positions as well as first, second and third. He's also a good pinch hitter." 
The year this card came out he struggled to a miserable .111 BA in 22 games and a trip back to the minors didn't help and at the end of the season was allowed to leave Philadelphia as a free agent. The next seven years were spent wandering the wilderness of minor league baseballs with stints in the minor league systems of the Philies again, the Tigers and another return to the Cards along with trips to the Independent leagues and a season with the Marlins AAA team. At the age of 36, in 1997, he played his last season of pro ball with Amarillo of the Independent Texas-Louisiana League. His career amounted to 406 games but just 743 at-bats being used as a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#38 Wes Gardner

He is Wes Gardner pitching probably during Spring Training for the Red Sox coming off a bad 89 as the back of the card shows. Drafted by the Mets in the 22 round of the 1982 draft he went right through the Mets' system and debuted in 1984. While in the minors and in his 2 years with the Mets he pitched as a reliever. In 1986 he went to the Red Sox in the big Calvin Schiraldi for Bob Ojeda trade.
Playing his first full season in Boston in 1987 he saved 10 games but had a 5.42 ERA. In 88 he moved to the starting rotation and had his career best WAR of 2.4. In the playoffs against Oakland he made one relief appearance and that was in Game 3 when Mike Boddicker was knocked out early. The season this pic was taken in Gardner went 3-7 with a bloated 5.97. In 1990-the year this card was released he pitched to the same record and an ERA that was a run lower. In 1991 he was traded to the Padres where he was hammered over 20 innings to the tune of a 7.08 ERA  and finished the year in Kansas. Making his final appearance in August of 1991 and was released that same month ending his career. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

#37-Domingo Ramos

Here is his Wiki entry: "Domingo Antonio Ramos (born March 29, 1958 in Santiago, Dominican Republic), is a former professional baseball player who was an infielder in the Major Leagues from 1978-1990."
Not much you'd have to admit. He was signed as an 17-year-old amateur in 1975 by the Yankees. His best offensive numbers were in 1977 with West Haven when he hit .246 at AA. He was part of the mammoth Sparky Lyle deal with Texas in 1979 in which the Yankees received Dave Righetti as part of the deal. Bought by Toronto he made 5 appearances for them in 1980.  In 1981 he was take by Seattle in the Rule 5 Draft. In 6 years in Seattle he hit .228 with 5 homers and 44 RBI's. While there and playing second, short and third base he had a dWar of 0.5 and an an overall WAR of -1.4. In 1988 he went to Cleveland for part of the season and spent the rest with the Angles. He is pictured on his card as a member of the Cubs where he spent his last two years in the majors.

#36-John Costello

Well, its a nice card and he pitched in the majors for four years. Ehhh. He was drafted by the Cardinals in 1983 going in the 24th Round.  He had an awful debut at Erie going 2-5 with a 6.64 ERA. Spending 84-85 at A Ball as a starter. He moved up the ladder reaching AAA Louisville in 87. A superb 88 saw him go 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA, 11 Saves and a tiny WHIP of 0.818. Called up the big club he made his debut on June 2, 1987 against the Phillies at the Vet. Appearing in the 13th inning he came in with 1 out and the basses loaded in a 2-2 game. First he got Chris James to pop out to shallow right then Mike Young flied out to left and Costello got the Cards out of the jam. With a run in the 14th Costello struck out the side and earned his first major league win. 
Not until July did he give up a run and that was homer to Gary Templeton. He would go on to win 5 and lose 2 with an impressive 1.81 ERA but a high WHIP of 1.389. The year this card's picture was taken he was 5-4 with a 3.31 ERA but his WHIP dropped to a very good 1.091. This card became outdate on April 23 of 1990 when Costello was traded to the Expos for Red Hudler. 1991 saw a trade to the Padres for Brian Harrison where he went 1-0 with a 3.09 but another big WHIP of 1.543. In 1992 he pitched for the Mariners AAA team at Calgary but was hammered over just 5.1 innings for a 13.50 ERA. With that his career came to an end. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

To the viewers from Poland. :)

Since I seem to have a lot of hits coming from Poland all i can say is: Why did Pro Evolution Soccer drop Zbigniew Boniek from its classic players lineup? He was a great passer and finisher. 

#35-Benito Santiago

By 1990 the once promising career of 1987 National League Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago was going into decline. After hitting .300 with 18 HR's and 79 RBI's, having a 34-game hitting streak,  he was coming off his second sub-.250 season. In 88 he threw out a league best 47% of runners, which he did from his knees thanks to his powerful right arm, who tried to steal on him and had a dWAR of 2.7, however, he was  starting to get a reputation for being lazy and by 1991 he was talked about around the league. Santiago's offensive slump was said to be caused by the emergence of Sandy Alomar Jr who worried Santiago so much the Padres traded him to the Indians for Joe Carter. Not everyone understood his worries, the Padres former GM Jack McKeon wondered "What did he have to look over his shoulder for? he was a proven All-Star and the other guy was in Triple A. What kind of competition is that? What Benny has going on his his mind I don't know." It was said to be an example of Santiago's "tiresome insecurity." Also in 91 he was benched by manager Greg Riddoch for lack of hustle both on offense and defense. Expos manager Buck Rodgers was asked, also in 91, about Santiago and he went off criticizing what he saw as Santiago being  'lazy behind the plate. He's living off his reputation. Ever since the guys in the media made a big deal about him throwing off his knees, he lost all his fundamentals. He would have to start all over again from A-B-C. He fell in love with his media reputation. I don't mind the media writing about it, but Santiago has to be smart enough to know it's just words written on paper." 
In December of 92 he signed with the expansion Marlins "who regarded him as the cornerstone of their franchise" and he would hit the team's first home run. Florida was going to be a change for the better, no more booing like he had received from Padres' fans and criticism from management. And, in no more than a few months 
"The boo-birds followed him to Florida. Santiago was criticized by fans and the media for his perceived lack of enthusiasm, not blocking the plate and his anemic .230 batting average." Even Marlins' announcer Gary Carter " criticized Santiago for his lackadaisical play behind the plate. Santiago didn't adequately block the plate last season or smother wild pitches." 
After that came stays in Cincinnati, Philadelphia-where he set career highs in homers with 30 and RBI's with 85-Toronto-where he was involved in a serious car accident that reduced him to 15 games in 98-the Cubs, back to the Reds and a good stay in San Francisco where he batted behind Barry Bonds and won the pennant in 02. He won the National League Championship Series when he hit .300, 2HR's and 6 RBI's in 5 games. In the World Series he slumped to a .231 but drove in 5 with no home runs. While in San Francisco he reflected on his career "When I was young, I was a dummy. I didn't appreciate the beautiful gift this game is to me. It's sad. I had a lot of ability, but no common sense. I wasted a lot of good years." In the previous few seasons he had gained a reputation as being a good teammate, good game caller and a hard worker. 
Santiago signed for Kansas in 04 and played his final game on April 11, 2005 for the Pirates. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

#34-Tony Fossas

Tony Fossas was a left handed specialist who's job was to get lefties.
Why he was so effective against lefties was summed up by then Cardinals manager Mike Jorgensen who said "He's got a little, what do you call it, a Frisbee slider or something, that left-handed hitters don't pick up." Adapting a sidearm motion he said it helped because "I hide the ball well and I have a very good slider, and my control is good." Fossas spent years in the minors some of which he described as "pitiful" and only made his debut in 1988 at the age of 30. 11 years in the minors after being drafted by the Twins in 1978 he spent his first 9 years as a starter but a move to the bullpen moved his career along. He also lost 20 pounds and no longer did he "feel like a beach ball on the mound." Fossas spent 12 years in the major and like many relief specialist bounced from team to team. Debuting with Texas in 88 the next two years were spent in Milwaukee followed by four in Boston, 3 in St. Louis and quick cups of coffee with Seattle, the Cubs, back to the Rangers and five games with the Yankees where his career ended in 1999. 
Fossas one job was to get left-handed batters out and he did that very well in his career. Just look at the numbers of some of the great left-handed batters and how they hit off of him. Not real well while righties hit him hard. 

Batter             AB   H  2B  3B  HR  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF   AVG   OBP   SLG
Wade Boggs         17   3   0   0   0   2   0   3   0   0   0  .176  .263  .176 
Barry Bonds        13   3   1   0   1   2   0   5   0   0   0  .231  .333  .538 
George Brett       18   3   1   0   0   3   0   2   0   0   0  .167  .286  .222 
Carlton Fisk        5   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  .200  .200  .200 
Ken Griffey        24   3   0   0   1   1   0   7   0   0   0  .125  .160  .250
Tony Gwynn         10   2   0   0   1   0   0   1   0   0   0  .200  .200  .500 
Rickey Henderson    6   2   0   1   0   0   0   1   0   0   0  .333  .333  .667 
Chipper Jones       9   3   1   0   0   2   0   4   0   0   0  .333  .455  .444 
Jeff Kent           4   1   0   0   0   1   0   1   0   0   0  .250  .400  .250 
Jeffrey Leonard     4   3   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0  .750  .750 1.500 
Edgar Martinez      4   2   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  .500  .500  .500 
Don Mattingly      10   2   0   0   0   6   1   1   0   0   1  .200  .471  .200 
Fred McGriff       29   6   1   0   0   1   0   9   0   0   0  .207  .233  .241
Kirby Puckett       5   3   2   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0  .600  .600 1.600 
Tim Raines          9   3   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0  .333  .333  .333
Cal Ripken          6   1   0   0   0   1   0   1   0   0   0  .167  .286  .167 
Sammy Sosa          3   2   1   0   1   1   1   0   0   1   0  .667  .750 2.000 
Jim Thome           4   2   1   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0  .500  .500  .750 
Alan Trammell       6   2   0   0   1   5   2   0   0   0   0  .333  .636  .833 
Lou Whitaker       11   5   2   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0  .455  .455  .636 
Bernie Williams     7   3   0   0   1   0   0   1   0   0   0  .429  .429  .857 

#33-Greg Walker

Greg Walker was the first baseman of the Chicago White Sox through most of the 1980's. His fielding wasn't the greatest nor was his offense anything out of the ordinary other than his 85 and 87 seasons. 
Drafted by the Phillies in the 1977 draft he made his debut at Auburn in the New York/Penn League and hit just .255 with 2 HR's and 8 RBI's in 33 games. The next two years were pretty routine-and all were played at A ball level. In December of 1979 the White Sox picked him up on a Rule 5 Draft, but he spent several more years in the minors instead of the normal going right onto the major league roster. In 1980 at Appleton, still in A ball, he hit .280, knocked out 21 homers and drove in 98 runners. A similar season at AA saw him make a short stay at AAA Edmonton in 82 and a call up to the majors that same year. 
In 84, after a slow 83, he hit .294 with 24 Home Runs and drove in 75. One of those home runs caused a bit of ruckus in Chicago when the the scoreboard fireworks went off in the stands. During a game against the Texas Rangers at Comiskey Park Walker homered and the fireworks that would go off, but instead of going off in the air then fall into the stand and sent up six fans to the Park's first-aid station and four went to the hospital. In spite of that he had a career best WAR of 2.0 and a defensive WAR of -1.2. While he had another good stats year in 85 he could only garner a WAR of -0.1 and the same poor numbers on his defense. (I think those WAR numbers must be wrong.) 87 was his last good season with this 27 Homers and 94 RBI's though his average dropped to .256.
From 1988 on his numbers and appearances began to drop. One thing that didn't help was in July of 1988 when Walker, who was fielding ground balls before a game collapsed and suffered a seizure. According to the July 31, 1988 New York Times, "At first, his lips were starting to turn blue," Chicago bullpen coach Dyar Miller said. Four trainers, including Rick Smith of the Angels, were needed to hold Walker down and pry open his mouth to prevent Walker from swallowing his tongue. Walker bit his tongue and chipped a tooth from biting down so hard on a pair of scissors." He had no history of seizures before that incident. Walker recalled "I was pretty much dead, I was probably seconds or minutes away from being dead. That changes your perspective some." He suffered another seizure while in the hospital and the cause was a viral infection in the brain. After that he had no other seizures. In 1990 was released by the Sox though he quickly signed on with the Orioles his slide continued and he played his last game on July 1, 1990 and was released two days later. In 1991 he played in Spring for the Angles but was cut. Currently he works as batting coach for the Atlanta Braves. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

#32-John Farrell

Who is John Farrell? Well he isn't Bobby Valentine and in Boston that is all you need right now to become manager of the Red Sox. After Valentine's awful year-though some of the blame has to be put at the feet of the front office for the poor team they put out on the field this year-Farrell, who is supposed to be more a Terry Francona style manager, is bound to have more time to turn things around. 
Before he became a manager he was also a major league pitcher who was drafted by the Indians in the 2nd round of the 1984 draft. He picked up his first professional win on August 28 for Maine against the Syracuse Chiefs with a 8-1 win. The only run he allowed coming from a Kelly Gruber home run in the seventh inning. In just three years he was pitching for Cleveland making his debut on August 18, 1987.  Nine days later Farrell ended the Brewers Paul Molitor's 39 game hitting streak by getting him to hit into a double play, bouncer to short and reaching base on an error. Farrell threw a complete game shutout. Molitor signed a ball to Farrell with the words "To John, Wishign you a great career, my best always, Paul Molitor." Finishing out the season with a 5-1 and 3.39 ERA but he had a high WHIP of 1.304 and a poor K/BB rate of 1.27. In his first full season he went 14-10 with a high 4.24 and a WAR 2.6. 1989 was an unusual one for Farrell who's record dropped to 9-14 but he lowered his ERA to 3.63-his career best along with this K/BB rate of 1.86-and had his best WAR of 2.8. In June of that season his manger, Doc Edwards tinkered with Farrell's mechanics. "The coaches determined he was standing up too straight during his delivery."  'He had screwed up his mechanics' Indians manager Doc Edwards said. 'He was up too straight and couldn't get the ball over the plate consistently.' Farrell was happy with the results since a victory came right after the changes. After that he went 7-6 the rest of the season and had an ERA of 3.03 which lowered his season ERA from 4.39 down to 3.63. The season this card is for was the start of his injuries and he would only make 17 appearances in 1990 and none for 91 or 92. An elbow injury knocked him out for most of 1990. 
Signed as a fee agent by the Angles in 92 he struggled in 93 to a 3-12 and 7.35 with a WHIP of -0.9. After making only three appearances in 94 he returned to Cleveland and made just one appearance. In 1996 he made two appearances for the Tigers and was ineffective and his career came to an end. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

#31-Henry Cotto

Henry Cotto's card shows him at what appears to be Tiger Stadium and is enjoying his time having his picture taken. He was signed by the Cubs in 1980 and was sent to the Cubs Gulf Coast League team where he was sent up to Quad Cities, where he spent all of 1981at the Cubs A level team. 82 was Double A Midland and in 83 he was at AAA with Iowa. He debuted with the Cubs in 1984 and hit .274 with 8 RBI's in 105 games while playing all three outfield positions. 84 would also be his best WAR season with a WAR of 1.2 and a dWAR of 0.7. After the season the Dodgers tried to  get him from the Cubs in a deal for Ron Cey. Los Angeles also wanted Joe Carter in the deal, but the Cubs turned that version of the deal they eventually made down. Finally he was sent to the Yankees with Porfi Altamirano, Rich Bordi, and Ron Hassey for Brian Dayett and Ray Fontenot. The Yankees general manager, Clyde King said he was going to give Cotto a shot at the center field position because "we know he is an outstanding defensive center fielder and has the potential to be a good hitter some day." Well, he wasn't either with a WAR of -0.2 and a dWar of 0. 
From 84-87 Cotto was riding the elevator between the Yankees AAA team at Columbus and the Yankees. In 1987 he was called up five times by the Yankees from Columbus. During the 1985 Winter Meetings the Yankees offered Cotto along with Joe Cowley, Rich Bordi and Dennis Rasmussen to theExpos for Andre Dawson and Bill Gullickson.  The Expos were interested but wanted to switch Cotto for Dan Pasqua which the Yankees wouldn't do so the deal died. 
Sent to the Mariners after the 87 season where he started but even in the Kingdome displayed little power setting his career high in 89 with 9 HR's. In 1990, the season of this card, Cotto his .259 with 4 HR's and 33 RBI's in 127 games. Traded during the 1993 season he joined the Marlins and after the season was a free agent where he signed with the Orioles but ended up playing for the Yomiuri Giants in 1994. In game six of the Japanese World Series Cotto when 3-3 with a triple, a single and a homer-his second of the series-and the Giants wrapped up their 4 games to 2 victory. He returned to the US and played 17 games for the White Sox AA team at Nashville where he only hit .131 and his career came to an end. He is now working in the Giants farm system .

Friday, November 16, 2012

#30 David Cone

In the 40's there was Spud Chandler, in the 70's Don Gullet and the 90's had David Cone-he'd win a lot, lose few and have great ERA's and none of them made it to Cooperstown, Chandler was 29 when he debuted in the majors, therefore not enough time to pile up the numbs, Gullet and Cone suffered injuries that derailed their careers. 
Cone was drafted by the Royals in the 3rd round of the 81 draft and spent his first two years in their farm system dominating the Rookie and A Leagues he pitched in. However, in 83 injuries took him out for a year and upon his return in 84 he struggled for the next two years until returning to form in 86 and getting his first call up that year. In March of 87 the Royals committed one of those rare but often marveled at deals, a deal so bad you wonder what they were thinking? Cone along with Chris Jelic were sent to the Mets for Rick Anderson, Mauro Gozzo and Ed Hearn. 
After a mediocre 87 he helped the Mets win the National League East with his 20-3 and 2.22 ERA. Pitching to a 1-1 with a 4.50 the Mets were knocked out by eventual World Series winners the Dodgers. His next three seasons were all 14 win seasons but in 92 he was traded to the Blue Jays for Jeff Kent, that is what we call a win-win since both teams got something out of it-unlike the Royals in their boneheaded deal. Another 1-1 in the LCS but the Jays won the pennant. In two Series starts he had no decisions but the Jays won the first of what would be five World Series appearances for him. 
Realizing their blunder of years previously the Royals signed Cone as a free agent. (Yes Virginia, there was a time teams in small markets like Kansas City signed big name free agents.) Two-and-a-half good years including a Cy Young Award in 94 resulting in a return trip to Toronto in 95. Again all the Royals got in return was David Sinnes, Tony Medrano and Chris Stynes. Mind boggling really. 
Half way through the 95 season he was sent to the Yankees, in another bad deal, and his career reached a new level of success. 
Injuries limited his regular season appearances in 96 to just 11 games but in the post-season he went 1-1 with his win coming against the Braves in the Series which the Yankees won. In 98 and 99 he won Series games and had a no-decision in 99 all of which the Yanks won again. 
In 2000 he slumped to a miserable 4-14 and next year was in Boston where eked out a 9-7 mark, he was out all of 2002 and made a brief comeback with the Mets in 2003 but made his final appearance in May of 03. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#29-John Cangelosi

This is John Cangelosi's card. He hit 12 home runs in his career. He was usually a fourth outfielder. His best seasons were 87 and 95 when he had a WAR of 1.8. What else can one say? He played for 13 years and then he was done. That's about it. Really. :) 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

#28-Duane Ward

Duane Ward was one of those Braves of the 80's that I thought if he stayed with the team he would have become one of my favorite players.  A 6 ft 4 in right-hander he was drafted by the Braves in the 1st round of the 1982 draft. His first few years in the organization he was used exclusively as a starter and wasn't too successful at it with a couple of shutouts but consistently high ERA's.  Returning with the big club from Spring Training in 1986 the 21-year-old Ward threw a 90-plus fastball with a strong slider. His career blossomed when he was moved to the bullpen midway through the 85 season. He was voted the Southern League's top pitching prospect by managers and scouts. I loved the sight of a tall right-hander who threw hard and three-quarters.  Unfortunately, Ward was traded by the Braves to the Blue Jays in July of 1986 along with Joe Johnson for Doyle Alexander and Jim Acker. The Jays GM had to deny suggestions that the team was throwing in the towel. Johnson did little for Toronto and Acker about the same for the Braves. However, Alexander was traded the next year to Detroit for John Smoltz. 
After two slow seasons shuttling between the minors and Toronto Ward's breakthrough year was 1988 when he went 9-3 with a 3.30 ERA over 64 games. The next two years were struggles for consistency but  in 1991he led the league in appearances with 81,  saved 23 games and had a WAR of 2.6. Two more great season followed with his brilliant 93 with 45 saves and an ERA of 2.13. Having already had two rough post-seasons in 89 and 91, 92 got off to an equally rocky start. A 1-0 record but an ERA of 6.75 didn't stop Toronto from beating the A's and facing Atlanta in the World Series. In four appearances he was 2-0 with no runs allowed in 3.1 innings pitched.  93 witnessed another terrible ALCS against the White Sox but he was superb in the World Series again going 1-0 with 2 saves and an ERA of 1.93 over 4.2 innings. And then his arm pretty much fell off. 
Spring of 94 developed biceps tendinitis. Ward missed all of 1994 and most of 95 with an injured right shoulder. He had surgery on July 8, 1994. Signed with the Cubs in the spring of 96 and pitched in the minors but it was obvious he wasn't the same. Another attempt at a comeback in 97 with the Rangers quickly ended with a DUI arrest . For six season he was a very good reliever and for three years he was lights out brilliant. At the age of 29, his career was all but over due to shoulder troubles and number of innings and appearances he was making. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

#27-Rick Leach

He played football in college and was real good. However, this isn't about his football career its about his time playing baseball. He played at the University of Michigan and went to four bowl games and lost all four. Nevertheless he is in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. Besides being an outstanding football player he was equally so a baseball player and he set Wolverine  records for games, hits, doubles, runs and RBI.  Leach was drafted in 1975, coming out of high school, by the Phillies who drafted him again in 78. Taken in the 1st round, (13th) in the 79 draft by the Tigers he was signed for a bonus of reportedly $200,000. One of the important points in his decision was he said "after looking at all this 280-pound and 270-pound linemen-I decided I'd been taking enough knocks in my career and it was time to get out." 
He debuted in 1981 but only hit .193 with 1 HR and 11 RBIs. Spending three years in Detroit he hit a meager .236 with 7 HR's and 49 RBIs. At the end of spring training 1984 he was released and quickly signed by the Blue Jays. A few months after his release by the Tigers he had some harsh words for the organization which he felt never supported him and that manager Sparky Anderson "never game me a fair chance." 

He spent most of 85 in the minors but came back in 86 to hit .309 with 5 HR's and 39 RBIs. A good season in 87 was marred by a disappearance in August. Disappearing before a Tuesday game in Seattle he showed Wednesday night in Detroit at the airport. The team said it was a 'personal problem with his wife.' Later it was revealed he had an argument with his wife. 
In 1989 Leach signed with the Rangers and is seen here in his Texas uniform. He hit .272 with a home run and 23 RBI's. In May he disappeared again this time in New York. When he returned 24-hours later he found himself under investigation by the police over a packet of marijuana found in his luggage. He was then ordered to undergo drug counseling and testing by the commissioner's office, though he was allowed to rejoin the team. 
After failing a drug test in August of 1990 he was suspended for 60 days by the commissioner and was out of the game for good. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

#26-Don Slaught

Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 7th Round of the 1980 draft Don Slaught was a good glove capable hitting catcher who had a sixteen year career in the majors. Drafted out of UCLA he was an academic All-American with a GPA of 3.4. While he had an interesting career something he did in college was impressive in that he was pushing in the director of sabermetrics. According to the St. Joseph News-Press article of March 3, 1983 Slaught, "an econmomics major, has worked on other baseball-related college projects the last couple of years. 
"One was a statistical analysis in which he determined that in 1921 Babe Ruth… had the most outstanding single-season performance in baseball history. 
"In another, Slaught traced what he calls a player's marginal revenue product in terms of ability and performance contributed to a team and the effects on television and gate receipts. 
"He proposed that the formulas he followed could be self in evaluating trades, arriving at optimal lineups, setting salary structures, identifying strong and weak points of players and making historical comparisons." Dang! 
Debuting with the Royals in 82 he appeared in the 84 post-season where he hit .364 in the Royals defeat to the eventual Champion Tigers. 
Over the winter he was traded to the Rangers in a multi-team deal that saw Jim Sundberg go to Kansas, Danny Darwin and Tim Leary to the Brewers and Frank Willis to the Mets. After three years in Texas it was off to the Yankees for pitcher Brad Arnsberg. In New York the major criticism of Slaught's game was revealed. "The Royals, Rangers and three Yankees managers have criticized the way Slaught called a game." He said the staff had better numbers when he caught but after two years he was traded from the Yankees for Jeff Robinson and prospect Willie Smith in what was seen as a win for the Yanks. In Pittsburgh, the other flaw in his game was noticed. In his first eight years he had been on the disabled list six times. In 86 he suffered a broken nose and fractured cheek bone from an 'Oil Can' Boyd fastball. He missed  nearly two months after that beaning. Pulled groin in 1988 shorted a season where he had gotten off to a good start. 1991 it was a 'freak hamstring' injury and was forced to sit out the last month of the season. 
In spite of the perceived flaws on July 2, 1993 Slaught hit two three-run-home-runs and a sacrifice fly to drive in seven runs against the Reds in a 10-9 win over Cincinnati. Along with his baseball work he was also getting into coaching before his career ended. After losing the seventh game of the NLCS in 1991 drove home from Pittsburgh to Arlington, Texas, it took 24 hours. He got home to find out the Japanese team the Chunichi Dragons wanted him to coach their catchers. 
In the spring of 96 he signed with the Reds and was purchased by the Angles who then traded him, late in the season, to the White Sox. In 1997 he briefly played for the Padres before he was released. 
Slaught served as the Tigers' batting coach but resigned at the end of the 06 season because of missing his family and being away from his business interests.
On the card we have Slaught looking at either a play on the infield during an afternoon game-since he is in pinstripes more than likely at Yankee Stadium, though it could be a spring game. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

#25 Willie Randolph

It is Willie Randolph but not like you expect to him in his Yankees' uni instead here he is rounding second and watching the play unfold while no one is setting in the outfield bleachers at Dodger Stadium. 
Drafted by the Pirates in 1972 he was a 7th round selection and made his made his MLB debut in July of 1975 as a backup to Rennie Stennett. After the 75 season the Pirates wanted more pitching and included Randolph in a deal with the Yankees for pitcher Doc Medich. Replacing Sandy Alomar (Sr.) Randolph spent the next 13 years providing the Yankees with excellent defense at 2nd base  along with 4 All-Star appearances. With Randolph at 2nd the Yankees rolled off three straight American League Pennants and two straight World Series. However, in 1978 he missed the post-season with hamstring issues that occurred in the last week of the regular season.  In 77 Hal McRae bulldozed him to break up a double play. Randolph said "the next time he comes at me, I'll throw the ball right between his eyes." 
The New York Times reported a rumor in 1985 that after Randolph had lost a game with an error he called the San Diego Padres about a trade of Randolph for Alan Wiggins. Thankfully that deal never happened since Wiggins was just out of rehab for a cocaine problem and would have more relapses and his career was over shortly after. 
An injury plagued 1988 season was his last as a Yankee as the team signed Steve Sax from the Dodgers to play second and Randolph signed with the Dodgers to replace his replacer with the Dodgers. He had been negotiating a new contract with the Yankees, but the talks stalled for two reasons: The Yankees wanted Randolph to waive his trade-veto rights, which he was not prepared to do, and the Yankees, at Dallas Green's instigation, vigorously began pursuing Sax, who they eventually signed for three years and $4 million. 
Randolph batter .230 last season, the lowest average of his career. Injuries were primarily responsible. The Brewers and Oakland were two other teams in pursuit of him that off-season. In 1990 Randolph was traded to the A's where he made his last World Series in a losing effort against the Reds. A free agent again he signed with the Brewers in 91 and the Mets in 92. With no takers in 93 he retired and was named to a front-office. 
In 2005 he became manager of the Mets and in 06 lead the team to a 97-65 record an first place in the East. Sweeping the Dodgers they lost in seven games to the Cards. A slow start in 08 resulted in the infamous 3 AM phone call to Randolph in LA  that he was fired. He finished with a 302-253 record but in spite of that was fired and since then the Mets haven't finished above .500. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Another Modesto Bee article

Its that time again for another link to an article from the Modesto Bee by me. It doesn't have anything to do with baseball but it is sports related; and if you have an aversion to links here is the whole url:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

#24-Joe Hesketh

- While he is a legend at the University of Buffalo injuries shorted his promising career. Drafted by the Expos in the 2nd round of the 1980 draft he started the season 7-0 and after he compiled an 8-2 with a 1.92 at the Expos' A league West Palm Beach team he made an appearance with the big league team in the Pearson Cup exhibition between the Expos and the Blue Jays. "I was really kind of scared when the first guy I had to pitch to was John Mayberry" he said after theme. "He went for a pitch that was little outside and filed out to left. I felt a lot more at was after that." In the game he threw three hitless innings, struck out three and walked two plus he got the win.  After a few more appearances at A ball he was promoted to Memphis to finish out the season. He made no progress as an elbow injury knocked him out for the entire 1981 season. 1982-84 were spent moving up through the minor league system and he made his debut in 84 and on August 10th made his first start at the Olympic Stadium against the Cubs. While the Expos won he didn't get a decision. September 28 Hesketh threw a four-hit shutout of the Mets-besides being his first shutout it was also his first complete game. He finished out the season with a 2-2 record and a 1.80 ERA. 
The next season saw a 10-5 with a 2.49 and another shutout. However, his season ended in late August when in a game against the Dodgers he tried to score from first on a two-out double and collided with the Dodgers' catcher. "He beat the ball to the plate, but (Mike) Scioscia had the plate blocked. Scioscia tagged Hesketh after he landed and plate umpire Eric Gregg called him out." Hesketh was described as looking "like a bug hitting a windshield." Hesketh was carried from the field on a stretcher. After that he was 6-5 with a 5.01 and would soon start suffering more injuries and losing his effectiveness. In 1988 he had a good season coming out of the pen and picked up 9 saves. However, another bad year and in the year of this card (1990) he pitched was released twice and pitched for three teams. Released by the Expos he signed with Atlanta and after a short time there was released by the Braves and finally signed by the Red Sox. 
In 1991 he finished the season with a 12-4 3.29 and a tie, with 1985, for his beast WAR numbers when he put up a 3.1. The next three years in Boston only saw him go 19-18 with a 4.44 as he switched time between the pen and rotation. It didn't help that his manager Butch Hobson he no patience with him and would pull him out of games at the first sign of trouble.  By 1993 he was described as a 'hard-throwing lefty when he broke in with Montreal in 1985. Now he relies more on guile than power." He signed a minor league contract with the Yankees 12 days after signing he retired rather that report to the minors after being cut by the Yankees. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

#23-Randy Velarde

Came up in 87 for the Yankees and played for 16 years in the majors as a utility infielder. Played for the Yankees, Rangers and A's. Was a good glove and decent hitter. Was named in the Mitchell Report and testified in the Barry Bonds trial. Yes, he juiced which must explain his .317-16-76 in 1999. In other words he is the baseball equivalent of Scotland's Willie Johnson who was sent home during the 1974 World Cup for failing a drug test which lead to the classic line that a doped up Johnson gave "the sort of performance that gives pep pills a bad name." That's all I gots to say about him. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#22-Bruce Ruffin

In June of 1986 the Phllies called up Bruce Ruffin from their AA Reading club in just his second professional season. Of course for ever action their is an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction or player cut from the team was Steve Carlton, just the greatest Phillies lefty ever, one of the greatest lefties ever-Warren Spahn, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax-and that was how Ruffin was called up.  
He was drafted by the Phillies in the 2nd round of the June of 85 draft. Two picks after Ruffin the Expos took Randy Johnson-if only they had taken him instead. :) Coming out of the University of Texas he won the NCAA title in his freshman year of 83. His teammates included Roger Clemens and Calvin Schiraldi.
Upon arrival he had a fastball and a slider which he called more of a slurve and was working on a change-up. He pitched his first complete game victory against the Braves on July 8 and hit a two-run double. By the end of the season he was 9-4 with an excellent 2.46 ERA and had the best WAR of his career with a 3.6. He also set his personal best in BB/9 with 2.7 and his second best WHIP with a 1.244. In 87 he dropped off to an 11-14 with 4.35 over 204.2 innings. The one stat that stands out was his gargantuan WHIP of 1.51 which would become the bane of his career. The next three years he would win 6 and lose 10 to 13 games a year all with massive WHIP's and high ERAs. After a tolerable season in 91 (4-7 3.78 and a WHIP of 1.37) he was traded to the Brewers for Dale Sveum. A awful season with the Brewers along with a couple of trips to the minors and an ERA of 6.67 didn't deter Colorado from signing him as a free agent. In April of 1994 he combined with David Nied and Darren Holmes to throw the first, of far too few, shutout in Rockies history. Five years with the Rockies saw his best ERA of 3.84 though he pitched mostly out of the bullpen setting his career high in saves in 96 with 24. In 97 his control left him and his BB/9 blew up to an astronomical 7.4 that along with back and elbow issues saw him spend most of the season on the DL.  An attempt at a comeback in 98 didn't succeed and his career was over. 
Currently his son Chance pitches for the Seattle Mariners. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

#21-Jeff Torborg

The Chicago White Sox manger Jeff Torborg is the subject of #21 back when Topps actually made manager cards-and if your reading you really ought to think of going back to making those. Do you really think anyone cares about All-Star cards? I sure as heck don't. Bring back the manager cards or else… you don't and there isn't really much I can do about that. :) 
Jeff Torborg went to Rutgers where his #10 jersey was retired and was signed by the Dodgers in 1963. He had been a catcher in the majors and caught a perfect game of  Sandy Koufax and no-hitters of Nolan Ryan and Bill Singer. He played from 1964 to 1973. He was a no bat-.214 avg.-good glove catcher-dWar of 4.2. In 1971 he was purchased by the Angels before the start of the season where he was again a good backup for three years before being traded to the Cardinals for John Andrews. At the end of spring training 1974 he was released and  after several years of coaching became manger of the Indian on June 19, 1977 replacing Frank Robinson. Robinson was fired after a year of fighting with the front office for what they called 'unrest in the clubhouse.' 
In his time with the Indians he was described as being 'mild mannered' and at age 35 was the youngest manager in the majors. When the end there came it was not a happy experience for Torborg. He was almost fired in June of 79 when the Indians were talking to Bob Lemon about becoming Indian manager but, to prove why he is in the Hall of Fame, turned the Indians down. His players rebelled in support of Torborg by growing beards and ignoring the team's dress code. He was fired July 23.  In his three years in Cleveland he complied a 157 and 201 record for a .439 winning pct.
Ten years later he became manager of the White Sox, after spending time as the Yankees bullpen coach, and was still managing them as the card shows. Improving the team by 25 wins earned him a manger of the year award in the upcoming season with a 94-68 record. One of the moments that convinced the White Sox management that they made the right choice came the year before, 1989, when the he held a one-hour back to fundamentals workout during 100 degree heat in Kansas City. The players responded and the one hour workout became a three hour one. His philosophy in Chicago was  'doing the little things, bunting, hit-and-run, speed, solids defense and a bullpen anchored by 57-game savior Bobby Thigpen.' He was quoted as telling his bullpen coach-Sammy Ellis-to play like every game was the seventh game of the World Series.  "He'd (Ellis) say "What about the bullpen?' and I'd say I don't care about tomorrow." And that was his big flaw, because Thigpen was overworked that year and within a couple of years would be a mere shadow of what he had once been as a closer. 
After a 87-75 record in 91 he went to the Mets for two years putting up a 85-115 record. In 2001 he was managing the Expos to a 47-62 mark. The next year he was in Florida and put together a 79-83 record. In 03 the Marlins got off to a slow start of 16-22 and was fired. His replacement-Jack McKeon won the World Series that year. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

#20-Mark Gubicza

Mark Gubicza's card shows him throwing Tom Seaver style with his knee hitting the mound as he gets his last push off while throwing the ball. A second round pick by Kansas City in the 1981 draft it took him only three years to make it to the majors, even though in his first two years in the minros he only threw 104 innings. At AA Jacksonville in 83 he threw 196 ip. 
Though he was only 10-14 with a 4.05 ERA the Royals made the playoffs only to be swept by the eventual World Series winners Detroit Tigers. He didn't make any appearances in that failed effort but the next season he switched his numbers and had almost the same ERA. He did make a couple of appearances in the ALCS going 1-0 with a 3.24 over 8.1 innings. However, he didn't appear in the World Series the Royals won in seven games. 
1988 was his career year when Gubicza went 20-8 with a excellent 2.70 ERA over 269.2 IP's. He had a WAR of 7.5-his career best-and finished out third in Cy Young Award voting, finishing behind winner Frank Viola, and Dennis Eckersley. Viola, though, had a WAR of 7.4 while Eck finished with a 2.2. The season pictured saw Gubicza win 15, lose 11 over 255 innings while seeing his ERA rise to a very good 3.04. At this point in his career the 6,5 right hander was 84-67 with a 3.51. After this he was 48-69 with a 4.61 and was averaging just over a 100 innings a season. Arm troubles including a torn rotator cuff limited his effectiveness and his time on the mound. 
In spite of that he pitched for those next eight years until the age of 34 when he retired. Now he announces for the last team he pitched for the Angles or as I prefer to call them-The Los Angles Angles of Anaheim California. I mean it gets all the possible names they used and no one will be offended by it. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

#19-Al Newman

Al Newman is a happy Twin in this pic which is one of the better ones so far thanks to the contrast between his dark top and the bright red background. The pic also shows why he was and still remains a popular Twin thanks to his lively personality and happy demeanor. 
What can you say about The Al Newman? A switch-hitting infielder who was drafted by the Montreal Expos and traded to the Twins before their first World Series winning season-as the Twins-in 1987. In 1982 he broke Tim Raines' AA record when he stole 63 base with Memphis. He was described in the February 26, 1983 article in the Montreal Gazette as a 'gilt edged prospect.' While he came up an Expo in 1985 he had been traded to the Padres in December of 1983 in part of a three-way deal that sent Scott Sanderson to the Cubs andGary Lucas to the Expos. In July he went back the other way to the Expos for Greg Harris. 
After hitting .196 over two years with the Expos he was sent to Minnesota for Mike Shade. Five years with the Twins saw him win two rings and hit for a .231 average. After the 91 season he was signed by the Reds but released and later joined the Rangers and his career came to an end with his remaining unsigned as a free agent after the 92 season. 
Newman was about to have his best defensive season racking up a dWAR of 1.9 and for his career had a 4.8. He also had his best overall numbers with a 1.3 that year. 
While serving as third-base coach for the Twins in 2003 he collapsed on the field and was taken to the hospital where tests showed he suffered a brain hemorrhage and was in a coma for more than two weeks. Upon his recovery he returned to the Twins and also served in other organizations and today is living in Minnesota where he is still active in the community. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

#18-Carlos Quintana

Carlos Quintana was the 24 year-old first baseman of the Boston Red Sox and was about to make his first post-season appearance. 1990 would be his first of three full seasons in the majors. He won the starting job over a returning Bill Buckner. In 90 Quintana hit .287 with 7 HRs and 67 RBI's. HIs WAR for the season was 1.7 but his dWar was a poor -0.3. His Wiki page claims he was a good glove man but the D numbers show something different. In the LCS vs. the Oakland A's Quintana went 0-13 with 1 walk so he did have a .067 OBP. 
In 1991 his average rose to .295 as did his HR's and RBI's with 11 and 71. His WAR was also an improved 2.7 but the dWar was the sam as the year before. At the end of June he made his debut as a outfielder and promptly dropped a fly ball from Cal Ripken which allowed two runs to score and helped the Orioles win 6-4 at Baltimore. It was also that year that Quintana had a record-tying six RBI's in the third inning as the Sox beat the Rangers 11-6. In the July 30 game he hit a grand slam off of Oil Can Boyd and a two run double off Wayne Rosenthal in an inning where the Sox scored 10 runs.
During the off-season he broke his left arm and right big toe in a car accident  while driving two of his brothers to the hospital after they had been shot. Because of the injuries he missed the entire 1992 season and returned in 93 where he slumped to a .244-1-19. His WAR dropped to a -1.8 and his defense also dropped to a -0.8. With the emergence of Mo Vaughn the Red Sox he had little hope of making the roster and even announced a willingness to play third. It didn't help him as the Sox let him go in March of 1994. Catching on with the Pirates AAA team at Buffalo he hit .236-0-11 in 39 games. He spent the next three years playing in the Mexican League before calling it a career. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#17-Kelly Downs

I remember Kelly Downs when he debuted with the Giants in 1986-July 29 at Dodger Stadium. He lost. Not until August 27 did he get his first win and that was at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Eight innings of five hit ball with 4K's and no walks got him his win over ex-Giant Andy McGaffigan. That win brought his record to 1-4and with another three wins in a row he finished the year 4-4 with a 2.75 ERA. On the 87 division winners he was 12-9 with a 3.63. In his second start of the season he threw his first shutout. Allowing just three hits Downs faced 31 Padres in San Diego, he struck out seven and walked one. He threw two more shutouts that year coming against the Expos and again against the Padres. In the postseason 
he only made one appearance and that was in relief against the Cards.
1988 was his last good season when he went 13-9 with a 3.32. Injuries kept him to a combined 31 game over 89 and 90. The next two season were mostly spent out of the Giants pen. His last two seasons were in Oakland where he was both starting and relieving and according to his WAR numbers he had a combined total of 0. His best WAR season was in 87 with a 1.9. 
     As for the card-not the most energetic of efforts but at least the blue sky in the background gives the card a tolerable look.