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.