Friday, May 31, 2013

#56-Franklin Stubbs-

Another of the legion of future Dodger's playing at Albuquerque in the early 80's was Franklin Stubbs. After several years in the minors he arrived in 83 with the Dukes.  His teammates included Sid Bream, German Rivera, Candy Maldonado and Orel Hershiser. Excluding Hershiser the other hitters were sluggers and like their alum Greg Brock and MIke Marshall they were all part of a group that were expected to rip the cover off the ball in the majors. Once there however, it was learned that their prodigious power numbers in AAA were the result of the thin, warm air of Albuquerque. Playing as a reserve in 84 and 85 he became a starter in 86 with a promising 23 homers and 58 RBI's.Those would remain his career high with the Dodgers.  87 would see a nightmare .233  and just 8 homers and only 23 RBIs. He was so bad he racked up a WAR of -0.8! 

During the World Championship session of 88 he spent most of his time on the bench. In the World Series he hit .294 and drove in 2 runs along with hitting a pair of doubles. In 89-the year this picture was taken-he a career high .291 but just 4 homers and 15 RBIs in only 69 games. By the time this card came out he was a Houston Astro after having been traded before Opening Day to Houston for Terry Wells. 

In Houston's notorious pitcher's park he tied his career best 23 homers and set his personal mark of 71 RBIs. Setting his career best WAR of 2.8 he also put up a remarkable 2.7 dWAR in the mammoth outfield of the Astrodome. After his career year he entered free agency and sighed with the Brewers upgrading his salary from $450,000 in 90 to $1.8 million in 91 and $2.1 million in 92. While his pay increased his WAR was only a 0.2 over his two years with Milwaukee. Only able to get a minor league contract he spent 93 with the Red Sox AAA team in Pawtucket  and in 94 he played in Mexico. Returning to the majors in 95 with the Tigers he appeared in 62 games hitting .250 with a couple of home runs and 19 RBI's. Entering free agency his playing career came to an end. Since the end of his playing days he has worked steadily in the minors as a hitting coach returning to Albuquerque for the 2013 season in that role. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#55 Darrell Evans

As a Giant's fan since the late 70's Darrell Evans has always ranked as one of the most frustrating players I've ever seen. Having a superb batting eye he could walk, in an off year,  80 times in a season sometimes even receiving as many as 126 as he did in Atlanta in 1974. He also had a .248 career batting average and 414 homers (its a typo on the back of the card adding 10 more homers to his career totals) but with that ability to get walks and his power those are two numbers it was always difficult to understand why he didn't hit at least .265 to .270 and knock out 500 homers. 
Drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in 1967 he was taken by the Braves in the 1968 Rule 5 Draft. His breakthrough season came in 1973 when he hit .281 with 41 home runs and 104 RBI's-both of which were career highs. Evans also had an awe-inspiring WAR of 9.0! A high he wouldn't really get close to again.  Hitting 47 homers over the next two years he was sent to San Francisco in 1976 in a mid-season multi-player deal that sent Willie Montanez to the Braves. With the Giants he hit his Giant's career high with 20 homers twice in 1978 and 1980 along with his best RBIs of 78 in those two years. However, those numbers were surpassed in the final year of his Giant's contract in 1983 with 30 home runs and 82 RBI"s and his first All-Star Game appearance since his monster 1973 season. 
Signing with the Tigers for the 1984 season Evans struggled in his new league as the 37 year-old his just 16 homers and drove in only 63 runs. In the postseason he hit .300 with an RBI in the League Championship Series which the Tigers swept the Royals in three. In the World Series he only hit .067 with another lone RBI against the Padres who were defeated in five games and Evans won himself a World Series Ring. In 85 he had a great season hitting 40 homers and driving in 94.  A good 87 saw the Tigers lose to the Twins while Evans hit .294 but had no RBI's or runs scored.
Signing with the Braves for 89 he was a reserver who hit just .207 but added 11 homers in his final season making this card his final one and also contains all his career numbers.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

#54-Joel Skinner

(Its been another one of those busy patches. Jury duty and a bunch of other little things including the start of the baseball season have all occupied my time of late.) 
Joel looks like he has other things on his mind than baseball when this picture was taken. Drafted by the Pirates in the 1979 draft he was taken by the White Sox in 1982 Free Agent Compensation pick. In the minors with both the Pirates and White Sox he was an average hitter with a little bit of pop but by 1983 he was already being heralded as future Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk's heir to the catcher's gear. The draw back was in 84 he was only 23 and Fisk was 36-one was too young and the other too old (or so they thought) to keep playing. Called up for a brief stay in 83 and 84 he hit .341 in 85 in just 22  games. The next year he was sent to the Yankees for Ron Hassey. In 89 it was on to the team he is pictured with here for Mel Hall. Spending his last three major league season in Cleveland here he is coming off a .230, 1 Homer and 13 RBI season in 49 games. He had a WAR of -0.1 and a dWar of 0.2.  Another two years and his career ended with an overall WAR of 0.0 and a dWAR of 3.9. As for the player he was originally envisioned to replace in Chicago, Fisk played until 1993 and his career ended at the age of 45. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The last week has been hectic with meetings and a half-marathon completed on Sunday-don't ask about the time. I was so slow they didn't use a stop watch for me they brought out a sun dial. :o (3:51:40) Next week is more of the same why just look at Sunday, last episode of Season 3 of The Walking Dead, first episode of Game of Thrones, first baseball game of the season and its Easter. Other than that no problem. I'll be writing again soon. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#53-Mike LaCoss

Drafted by the Reds in the 3rd round of the 1974 draft out of Mount Whitney High School in Visalia, CA, Mike LaCoss moved up through the Reds organization with years stops at Rookie, A, AA and AAA. Debuting in July of 1978  he had a break out season in 79. On June 13, he was 8-0 with a 2.22 ERA. After that he went  4-8 with an ERA over 5, in spite of that he still achieved his career high in WAR with a 2.1.  The next two years went from bad to worse and after Spring Training 1982 he was put on waivers, even though he had pitched well that spring, and was taken by the Astros. 
Pitching out of the bullpen  (41 games, 8 starts) he had a 6-6 record with a 2.90 ERA which would prove to be his career best. A pair of mediocre seasons in Houston lead to LaCoss playing out his option and signing with the Royals in 85 however, he pitched poorly and was not on the post-season roster. The World Champ Royals released him in November and he signed with the Giants in December. After a solid 86 he had a very good 87 going 13-10 with 3.17 and a WAR of 1.6, equalling his second best season of 82. Making two relief appearances in the NLCS versus the Cards he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in a losing effort. After another solid effort in 88 the Giants were in the post-season again in 89 and facing the Cubs in the NLCS. 1 relief appearance of 3 innings and 3 earned runs didn't derail the Giants who won their first pennant since 1962. A poor series and a sweep by the Athletics brought an otherwise great season to an end.
Shown here pitching at Candlestick Park-the lack of fans, the long sleeve undershirt and home uniform all indicate San Francisco, 1990 would be an injured plagued year as would his last season of 1991 with his final game coming in July. A short attempted the next year at the Expos Indianapolis club didn't work out and at the age of 36 LaCoss' career was over. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#52-Jack Daugherty

Jack Daugherty is seen here at the plate during his first season with Texas. Spending most of his career as a first baseman and outfielder 1990 would be his best season when he hit .300 with 6 home runs, 47 RBI's and a WAR of 1.3. 
Not having much power Daugherty hit 10 homers in his career. His career batting average of .256 would make one think his saving grace his fielding but his career dWar was -2.1. He wasn't very fast either stealing 5 bases while being caught twice. With diminishing at bats every year he was traded to the Astros in 93 and on to the Reds before the end of the season. Bouncing around the minors he went to Japan in 1994 and only played 19 games and was released by the Chiba Lotte Marines. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#51-Doug Rader

The five-time winner of the Gold Glove, while playing for the Astros, is shown here as manager of the Angels. His first managerial job was with the Texas Rangers in 1983 where he led them to a 77-85 record but 84 saw them lose seven more games and after a slow start in 85 of 9-23 he was fired. 
In one of the more regrettable decisions in White Sox history the team fired manager Tony LaRussa and Rader served as interim manager for two games and a 1-1 record. 
In 1989 he returned to managing with with Angels, the season this picture was taken, and saw the team finish in 3rd place in the American League West with a very good 91-71 record. With an offense that only hit .256 and with only two players hitting over 20 homers (Jack Howell, 20 and Chili Davis' 22) pitching and defense were what earned the team its excellent record. Bert Blyleven's 17-5 with a 2.73 and Chuck Finley's 16-9, 2.57 along with Kirk McCaskill's 15-10 2.93 helped give the pitching a 3.28 ERA. Bryan Harvey's 25 saves and a starting rotation that started all but six of the teams 162 games played their role in the fine season. Devon White's 2.6 dWAR lead the team in defense and Dick Schofield (1.9) and Jack Howell (1.2) gave the Angels a very strong left-side of the infield. In 1990 the offense dropped off even more and Blyleven had an off year and Jack Howell's dWar dropped to a -0.3. In 1991 with a record of 61-63 he was fired. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

#50-Glenn Davis

The big slugging first baseman was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1st round of the 1981 draft and made his debut three years later in September of 1984. 
After a split season in 1985 he had his break out season in 86 hitting .265 with 31 homeruns and 101 RBI's with a WAR of 4.2. Unusually for a power hitter he only struck out 72 times and finished 2nd in the MVP voting. However, his defense was blow average recording a -0.7. dWar. In the classic 1986 NLCS his hit .269 with a homer and 3 RBI's but the Astros lost to the eventual World Champ Mets. 
For the next three years he hit .263 and averaged 30 home runs 94 RBI's while playing half his season in the massive Astrodome. In 1990 injuries limited him to only 93 games. After that season Davis was sent to the Orioles in a classic one-sided deal as the Astros received Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling. Three bad season with Baltimore lead to his release in September of 1993 and after several attempts to revive his career in the minors the injuries proved too much and he retired in 1996. 
In his 1990 card Davis is seen in the on-deck circle at what is probably Candlestick Park. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

#49-Tom Lawless

Tom Lawless could be considered the 1980's equal to Charlie Williams. In 1972 Williams was traded to the Giants and in return the Mets received Willie Mays.  In August of 1984 Lawless was sent to the Expos for Reds legend (and should be Hall of Famer) Pete Rose. Like Williams he would never reach the heights of fame of the player they were traded for but in Lawless' case he had some notable moments in his career. 
After one year in Montreal he was off to the Cardinals where he appeared in the 85 and 87 World Series. Though they were both losing efforts Lawless, who hit 2 homeruns over the eight years he spent in the majors hit a homer for the Cards. 
Released by St. Louis after the 1988 season he signed with the Blue Jays, who's uniform he appears in on his 1990 card which would also be his last season after his release by the Jays. During his career Lawless was more often than not the 25th man on a teams roster getting no more 50 at-bats more often than not-his career high coming in his rookie season of 1982 when he had 165. Over those eight years he had only 531 at-bats making over those years the equal of one full season of appearances while playing in 343 games. His glove carried his bat which could only hit at a .207 clip and had a career WAR of -2.2 while his dWAR was -0.5. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

#48-Zane Smith

A 3rd round pick of the Braves in the 1982 draft Zane Smith made it to Atlanta by 1984 and was a mainstay of their pitching staff in 85. Horrible, awful soul crushing 1985. The year of, the late, 1-13 Pascual Perez  and his 6.14 ERA, Steve Bedrosian in the rotation and going 7-15 and what was really the end of Len Barker's career with his 2-9 and 6.35. 
In 87 he won 15 though his ERA was a high 4.09 and the Braves were still awful. Two years later the losing caught up with Smith as he started the season 1-12 with his career worst WAR of -1.3. Traded in July he went to Montreal, who's uniform we see him in on this card and responded with a 1.5 WAR to finish out his season. Speaking of this card, it was outdated on August 8, when he was traded to the Pirates for two players and a player to be named later who turned out to be Moises Alou. That season he went 0-2 in his first postseason. The next year he faced his old team in the NLCS and went 1-1 with a superb 0.61 ERA, however the Pirates lost again. 
Smith stayed with the Pirates until 1995 when he joined the Red Sox but arm injuries lead to a miserable year there and in 96 he was back in Pittsburgh when another bad year made that his last season. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#47-Brian Harper

Drafted by the then California Angels in the 4th Round of the draft out of San Pedro High School Brian Harper hit so well that just two years after being drafted he was called up to the Angels and debuted in September of 1979 at the age of 19. After a couple more years of hitting well in the minors he was recalled again in 81. In December he was sent to the Pirates for shortstop Tim Foli and Harper began his long sojourn around the majors that would last until 1988. In Pittsburgh he served as a pinch-hitter and reserve outfielder. In 85 he was sent to St. Louis, 86, Detroit, 87 Oakland and in 1988, after being released by the A's signed with Minnesota. Up to this point he was a career .233 hitter with 11 homers and 50 RBI's over 205 games and 390 AB's. His career WAR was a meager -0.9. At this point he was less than a journeyman who had bounced around the majors and at the age of 28 was probably at his last stop. 
In 1988 he set career highs in games and at-bats along with avg. of .295 and tied his best RBI total of 20. Harper who had mostly played as a corner outfielder was now making more appearances behind the plate and in 1989 would become the Twins' regular catcher. The next six season saw Harper at his peak and win a World Series ring in 1991 hitting .381 in the series against Atlanta with an RBI and 2 runs scored. 92 and 93 continued on with his excellent seasons until 94 when injuries and the strike limited his playing time. The injuries carried over when he signed with Oakland in 95 where he only appeared in 2 games before ending his career. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Modesto Bee Article

Here is my latest article in the Bee. Without a doubt this is the goriest article I've written. Its an article so bloody that if Eli Roth read it he would hurl. :) 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

#46-Rob Dibble

Rob Dibble is shown here in his Reds road uniform and with the blue background its probably a shot taken at Shea Stadium durning an afternoon game.  It could have been taken on July 8 or 9, 1989 during the two weekend afternoon games in New York. He went 1.3 innings and gave up 4 runs in his two appearances there. He also was fined $400 by the league for his involvement in a fight between the teams during the Saturday game. He also aggravated his elbow in the fight and several days later was put on the disabled list. 
Drafted by the Reds in the First Round (20th pick) in the June amateur draft (secondary phase) the 6'4 230 Ib right-hander came out of Florida Southern College he was sent to Billings, Montana minor league team. Pitching poorly as a starter by 85 he was sent to the bullpen where he back his climb through the minors and in 88 made his major league debut. In 87 while at Nashville he threw a pitch close to a batter and in what would become a common occurrence in his career lost his temper and charged the umpire for which he was fined.
1989 and 90 were Dibble's his best seasons going 10-5 with a 2.09 ERA in 89 and earning a WAR of 3.9 which he would equal the next season with a 8-3 record and a 1.74 ERA along with 11 saves. He was also striking out batters at a tremendous rate. 12.8 per 9 in 89 and 12.5 in 90. Dibble went on to a 13.6 in 91, 14.1 in 92 before dropping back to a 10.6 in 93. Pitching for the World Series winning Reds in 1990 saved a game in the NLCS against the Pirates. He also struck out 10 batters of the 16 batters he faced giving up no hits and only walking one. In the Series he picked up a win in the Reds sweep of the A's. 
While he was a great striker out pitcher he still had his displays of temper. In the spring of 89 he gave up a home run and after his work on the mound was done went an smashed up a picnic table and threw several chairs into a pond. During the regular season in another fit of rage he threw a bat against the back stop and was ejected for that. Manager Pete Rose didn't mind "that's one reason why he's a good pitcher-his temper and his temperament." 
By June of 1991 Dibble had accumulated a total of seven days of suspensions and $2,000 of fines after abusive language towards a fan, throwing a ball into the stands at Riverfront Stadium and hitting a fan and he also threw a ball behind Eric Yelding of the Houston Astros. After serving a three game suspension Dibble, on a throw to first base on a bunt attempt, hit Cubs batter Doug Dascenzo and the pitcher was thrown out by plate umpire Joe West. 
In 1992 he was involved in a wrestling match with Reds' manager Lou Piniella "after the reliever suggested Piniella had misled reporters about the condition of his pitching shoulder." 91 and 92 were good season but not to the level of his previous years and shoulder trouble reduced him to a 6.48 ERA and a WAR -1.6. Missing all of 94 to rehab after surgery on the troublesome shoulder he pitched for the White Sox in 95 but was suspended during spring training for referring to the replacement players-the regular players were being locked out by the owners-as  people who "would be stuck with the label [replacement player]for life "like child molesters." For those comments Dibble was suspended for conduct unbecoming to a White Sox player. He also said the replacement players were "beer league" and Chicago's minor-leaguers could beat them. It was Dibble's ninth suspension. He would make the White Sox roster but wasn't effective and pitched just one more season in the majors with the Brewers before finally retiring. 
Rob Dibble's time as an announcer with the Washington Nationals was a sadly a short living experience since I enjoyed listening to the Nats game when he was with them. After his firing over comments regarding Stephen Starsbrug's injury I now listen to the other team's announcers since the replacement announcers are just too bland. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

#45-Dave Parker

What else does one need to say about Dave Parker other than provide a link to one of the greatest defensive plays I've ever seen! Going into the 1979 All-Star Game Parker was one of my favorite players but those two throws only confirmed it.  I know things didn't end well in Pittsburgh but I just prefer to remember that game and forget about the Pittsburgh drug trials and his spat with Willie Stargell. 
As an A's fan his coming to Oakland via a trade that sent Jose Rijo to the Reds would come back to haunt us the year this set was released and Parker was by then playing for the Brewers. Nevertheless, we did get a ring in 1989, earthquake and all. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

#44-Roger Salkeld

Here is the first of the "#1 Draft Pick" cards and the first one is Roger Salkeld of the Seattle Mariners. Taken with the number 3 pick in the 1st round of the 1989 draft after the Orioles had picked Ben McDonald and the Braves Tyler Houston. Picked out of Saugus High school in California he was asked what he thought about joining the Mariners' organization he replied "All I know about the Mariners is Ken Griffey. He's awesome." Joining Bellingham in the Northwest League he compiled a 2-2 with a 1.29 ERA. The Cal League next season saw him go 11-5 with 3.40. In 91 he started the year at Jacksonville in the Southern League and Salkeld finished at Calgary in the Pacific Coast League. Promotion to Seattle beckoned the next until a injury knocked Salkeld out for 92. 
Called up in September of 1993 Salkeld pitched in 3 games and started 2 of them but had no record. Back to the minors in 94 he pitched for Seattle in 13 games and had a terrible 2-5 with a mammoth 7.17 ERA, and a WHIP over 2. When longtime Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus received the Ford C. Frick Award during the 2008 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony he recalled, in an interview, that in 1994 Rich 'Goose' Gossage "was closing his career with the Mariners. We had a real cocky first-round draft choice named Roger Salkeld. He was down in the bullpen, and he was always chirping, always spouting off about how great he was. Gossage went up to him and said, 'Son, how many Cy Young Awards have you won, anyway?' That stopped that. It showed Goose's demeanor, how tough he was."
In the early part of 1995 he was traded to the Reds for pitcher Tim Belcher. Pitching well at AAA Indianapolis Salkeld was rewarded with a promotion to Cincinnati in 1996 where he went 8-5 with another big 5.20 ERA. After 96 he was back in the minors bouncing from the minor league affiliates of the Astros, Marlins and Indians before calling it a career after the 2000 season. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

#43-Dante Bichette

Drafted by the Angels in 1984 the 17th round selection he played at Salem in the Northwest League where he put up some undistinguished numbers and improved a little bit the next year at Quad Cities. In 86, playing at Palm Springs and Midland he hit .278 knocked out 22 homers and drove in 109. That earned him a promotion in 87 to Edmonton in the Pacific Coast League where he was solid but not really showing what he would do in a few years. 
Debuting in 88 with the Angels he had three more less that memorable seasons racking up a combined WAR of -0.3 over 178 games. In the spring of 1991 he was sent to Milwaukee for Dave Parker. Looking back at his time with the Angels he said "I always had confidence in my ability… . They (Angels) just never showed much confidence in me." In 91 and 92 he was able to play 246 games and had a WAR of -0.7. Five years in the majors and he had a combined WAR of -1. After 92 he was traded to the expansion Rockies and he started to put up the numbers that would define his career.
In 93 he hit .310 drove in 89 and knocked out 21 home runs. After another good season in the strike shortened 94 he had his first big season in 95. A .340 average combined with 40 homers and 128 RBI's was the start of his five great seasons in Colorado. A runner up in MVP voting to Barry Larkin he followed that season up with .313, 31, 141. In the 1995 NLDS against the Braves Bichette hit .588 with a homer and 3 RBI's in 4 games. In spite of his performance the Rockies lost to Atlanta. During those five years he averaged .318, 31, 128. In spite of the terrifying numbers he put up his combined WAR was a miserable -0.5! No chance of Cooperstown after that. His combined defensive WAR was a horrific -11.1. Some of the reason for the poor defensive numbers was a bad knee that was slowing him down and when he got to the Reds in 2000 his decline was clearly in evidence and he was in Boston before 2000 was done. One more year in Boston with more Angel like numbers and a poor spring of 02 with the Dodgers saw Bichette realize his career was over and he retired. 

Modesto Bee article

Forgot to mention that I have an article in Monday's Modesto Bee concerning the Great Valley Museum's 'Great Animal Hall.' Here is the link to the article

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#42-Jeff Robison (Jeff M. Robinson)

Robison had the misfortune of sharing the same name as Jeff D. Robison who was also pitching at the same time. Jeff M. was drafted by the Tigers out of Azusa Pacific University in the 3rd round of the 1983 draft.  A poor debut at Lakeland in that same year saw him return in 84 when his numbers improved and he was promoted to Birmingham where he would also spend 85. He made his major league debut in 1987 going 9-6 with an bad 5.96 ERA and a WAR of -0.7. 
One year later in 88 he became the ace of the staff with a 13-6 record and a strong 2.98 ERA over what would be a career high 172 innings. A WAR of 3.5 and a WHIP of 1.122 were also career high marks for him. On July 28, 1988 Robinson shut down the Royals to just one hit as the Tigers won 7-1 in Detroit. He lost his shut out when a wild pitch and sacrifice in the 4th allowed the Royals their only run of the game. His season ended in late August with injury and the Tigers lost a chance to repeat as American League East Champions to the Red Sox by one game. Alan Trammell believed it was Robinson's loss that hurt the Tigers the most. "Jeff was  our best pitcher last year. Of all our injuries, his was the biggest." 

Injuries in 89 reduced Robinson to just 16 appearances and the year for this card he would have a 10-9 with a high 5.96 ERA. In spite of his career being in decline Robinson on July 24, 1990 he held the Orioles hitless for the first eight innings until Mike Devereaux hit a homer into the second deck at Tiger Stadium. In spite of losing both the no-hitter and shutout he still won with an 8-2 score. 

Over the winter he was sent to Baltimore for catcher Mickey Tettleton. A bad season with the Orioles' would see him released at the end of the season. In 92 he followed up a bad season with another one this time in Texas  where he was mostly pitching out of the pen but still with little success. The second part of his last season was spent in Pittsburgh where he returned to the rotation but was released in July. While he was signed by the Tigers his time in the majors was over.