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. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bee article

This article, that appears in today's Modesto Bee is not about baseball but its still mine, therefore, here is the link.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

#16-Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson was coming off his first of two season in the majors both with the Angles. Signed out of the University of South Carolina in June of 1984 he would become the second member of his family to play in the bigs. His brother Mike was a reserve outfield for the Phillies, Cards and Orioles during the 1970's.
Kent debuted on April 15, 1989 going 2 for 4 in the Kingdome flying out to Henry Cotto in the 2nd. In the 5th he got his first base hit-a single to center-off Scott Bankhead. The next day, in the sixth inning he drove in his first RBI-scoring Chili Davis. His first error came April 25 while hosting the Orioles.  In 86 games hit .229 with 0 HR's and 17 RBIs. 
In 89 he suffered through some bouts of a strained hamstring that reduced his playing time. In late April 1990, Anderson slammed into Minnesota catcher Brian Harper and knocked the ball lose "He changed the mindset of the whole club with one overt play," Angels manager Doug Rader said. His hitting improved to a .308 clip and he hit his first and only HR on June 24 at the Big A with the Tigers' Frank Tanana being the victim. Put on the DL in August he returned to the DL in late September with more hamstring issues. With Donnie Hill already on the team-having joined the Angles in 1990-and Bobby Rose a younger and cheaper option he spent the next year at AAA with the Angles team in Edmonton and was released following the season. He spent the next several years bouncing between the Cubs and Reds minor league affiliates before calling it a career in the mid-90's. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

#-15-Teddy Higuera

Teddy Higuera was coming off the first, of what would be the norm for the remainder of his career, injury plagued season. Prior to that he had been an  dominating lefty for the Brewers. After spending several seasons in his native league he came to camp with the Brewers in 84, at the age of 26, and made the team the next year.  A 15-8 with a 3.90 and 212.1 innings lead to a 2nd place finish in the Rookie of the Year Award. 
In 1986 he won 20 and dropped his ERA over a whole point. He was also a runner up again though this time it was for the Cy Young Award finishing second to Roger Clemens. Higuera had a WAR of 9.1 that year while Clemens had a 8.6. How great was Higuera that year? He had the best WAR in all of baseball it was so good that Wade Boggs had a 7.9 and was the highest rated everyday player. Mike Scott who had his career year with the Astros had a 7.8. He had two more excellent seasons when in 89 began the injuries. 1990 was his last full season going 11-10 but in 91, 93-94-his missed all of 92-he was a combined 5-10 with a 6.34 over 125 innings. He tried to catch on with the Padres but was released before the season and retired afterward. 
More than likely a spring training shot since the only stadium that had low fences like the ones shown here was County Stadium in Milwaukee and he is wearing the Brewers' road uniform, so more than likely its in the spring. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#14-Mike Fetters

This card makes me want some orange juice. Other than that what else can I say? Mike Fetters was a journeyman who had a very long career in the game going from his debut in 1989 until 2004, thus racking up 16 years in the bigs. 
Pitching out of the pen he saved 100 games in his career his best season being 1996 with the Brewers when he saved 32 games. His reward was to be replaced the next season by Doug Jones. He finished his career with a 31-41 mark and an ERA of 3.86. A high WHIP of 1.465 and a WAR of 6.9. His best WAR season was 1992 with the Angels and a 2.2. His big save season only racked up a 1.3. 
One thing no one could do was take a bad picture with those old style Angels' uniforms. If anyone asks; no I can't stand their current bland red unis. 

#13-Mark Williamson

Out of the darkness came the pale man with the word 'Orioles' written in large script on the front of his jersey. Oh, not like you didn't think the same thing too. Williamson was coming off his best season and the next one (1990) would be another good one for him. 
Drafted by the Padres in the fourth round of the 1982 draft. His long stay in the Padres minors took him from Reno in the California League to Beaumont in the Texas League and  Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League. In October of 1986 Williamson was sent to the Orioles along with Terry Kennedy for Storm Davis. Not a great deal for the Padres I think its safe to say. The next season it was the International League and the old O's AAA team at Rochester. 87 and 88 were spent bouncing between Baltimore and Rochester. Pitching out of the bullpen for his minor league career he made the most starts in his pro career with the O's in 88 making 10 starts. 
In 89 he was 10-5 with a 2.93 ERA and a career best WAR of 2.2. Another good season in 90 would be his last as he began a slide. From an 8-2, 2.21 with a WAR of 2.1 he slumped over the last four season to a combined 15-11, 4.25 and a WAR of 0.1. Granted free agency at the end of the 94 that marked the end of his career. 
One highlight came on July 13, 1991 he along with Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan and Gregg Olson combined to no-hit the Oakland Athletics. Starter Bob Milacki went the first 6 innings with no-hits but 3 BB and 3 Ks. Mike Flanagan faced four batters, walking one but kept the no-hitter going. In the 8th Williamson came in and retired his first batter, Mike Gallego on a pop out to first. Pinch-hitter Rickey Henderson hit a ground ball to third and was thrown out at first. Willie Wilson came to the plate and sent a ground ball to the second basemen who threw Wilson out at first. Gregg Olson finished off the game in the ninth by striking out Harold Baines.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

#12-Joe Girardi

Lets sum it up like this, journeyman catcher, awarded Manager of the Year with the Marlins who rewarded Girardi by firing him and went on to manage the New York Yankees and already has one World Series ring. (2009). 
Debuted in 1989 with the Cubs he was a weak hit great glove catcher for the Cubs, Yankees, Rockies and Cards. Was an All-Star for the Cubs in 2000 and won three Worlds Series with the Yankees. (1996, 1998-1999). 
What else can you say about a 70's style catcher? 36 homeruns in his career and not much else. As a manager he certainly has had much more of an impact. 
As for the card itself, it appears it is either a spring training 'in action' shot or taken at the old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#11-Paul Gibson

So far the first couple of player cards have been noting really worth noting, until now. How many ways can you foul up a card? Maybe the flaming purple border or the hideous glasses that even Elton John would have found too big! The reddish orange belt and piping around the jersey top matching nicely with vibrant red seats in the background. Gibson looks like he is all of nine-years-old in the pic and that just adds to the photographic carnage this card front is. 
As for Gibson, he was a journeyman lefty who ended up with a 22-24 record with a 4.07 ERA and a slightly high career WHIP of 1.448. Just in case anyone asks you one day: "What was Paul Gibson's career WAR?" Well little Billy that answer is 2.5. He was about to enter upon his best season in the Majors in 1990 where he had a 5-4 record with a 3.05 ERA. He was an old school lefty who pitched in 97 innings in 61 appearances so he wasn't like todays one out lefties. The next two seasons were a drop off with 92 being spent with the Mets then 93-4 and a brief return in 95 again wearing the pinstripes but wasn't as effective as he had been and his career ended that year. He made his debut in 1988 as a 28 year old with the Tigers where he went 4-2 with a very good 2.93. He also had the misfortune of reaching the Tigers the year after their post-season appearance and his career ended the year the Yankees returned to post-season and won the series. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#10-Barry Larkin

If its #10 it must be a good player and it is. Hall of Famer Barry Larkin who coming off an injury plagued 1989 season. One of the remarkable things about the Reds of the mid-80's was the crop of young players they came up with. Besides Larkin, there was Paul O'Neil, Chris Sabo, Tom Browning, Rob Dibble, John Franco, Norm Charlton and the great one Eric Davis. No wonder they would win the World Series in 1990. 
Larkin debuted in 1986 but only became a regular the next season. One of his best defensive season was 1990 where he racked up a defensive WAR of 2.2 and had a career WAR of 13.8. Named National League MVP in 1995 with a .319 Avg. 15 HR's and 66 RBI's. Not exactly Miguel Cabrera numbers but his 51 SB's and 98 R's helped show how all around his game was . His 6.9 WAR for 1996 was his best season accruing to those numbers with 33 HR's, 98 RBI's and 117 RBI's, but those impressive numbers only got him a 12th place finish for the leagues MVP well behind the confessed PED user the late-Ken Caminiti                                                                                                                                                                                              
                     His career continued on its steady HOF way until 2000 when at the age of 36 his defense began to fall off and his offense the next season. He played on until 2004 when his career came to an end. This year he was, much deservedly, induction in the Hall of Fame.