Posts Tagged ‘1991’

h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: David West/Frank Viola


And I thought the grammar on the back of the Topps cards were bad. Man, Upper Deck, which was so hot in 1990, really flubbed this one. There are so many missing words in this that it’s ridiculous. How hard would it be to write: “West was key part of 5 pitcher deal to the Mets for Frank Viola. He was drafted #4 by Mets in June ’83.” And, by #4 they mean a fourth rounder, not that he was the fourth overall pick.

So he wasn’t as big of a bust as you would surmise. He did spend 10 seasons in the majors, finishing with a 4.66 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 1.41 K:BB rate in 569.1 innings. He had one decent year for the Twins, in 1991, when he started 12 games and finished with a 4.54 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He really helped the Twins get to the World Series that year, as he threw 5.2 innings in relief in the ALCS without allowing a run. Of course, his World Series was terrible, as he finished with an ERA of infinity (he allowed four runs without recording an out).

Two years later, he had arguably his best season (2.92 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 1.71 K:BB) for the Phillies. Thanks to Mitch Williams, his utter relief failures are not as heavily remembered. In the NLCS, he allowed five runs/four earned in 2.2 innings and in the World Series, he allowed three earned runs in just one inning of work. He made well over $2.5 million in his career, tasted victory and defeat and even played in Japan. Still, he was by no means the key part of the Frank Viola trade (at least in hindsight).

In addition to West, the New York Mets sent Rick Aguilera, Tim Drummon and Kevin Tapani to the Twins.

Adding in those elements makes this not a particularly astute move by the Mets (but what else is new). While West was worth -0.3 WAR for the Twins, Aguilera was worth 16.1 WAR, Drummon was worth 0.7 WAR and Tapani was worth 17.5 WAR. At the time of the deal, Aguilera (who has an awesome beard) was 27 and owned a career 3.58 ERA and 1.29 WHIP for the Mets over 473 innings. Aguilera was especially valuable in 1991, posting a 2.35 ERA with 42 saves and a 1.07 WHIP – heck he even received some MVP votes. He also threw 8.1 innings in the play-offs, earning five saves and allowing just one earned run.

Tapani also turned in a banner season in 1991: 34 starts, 244 innings, a 2.99 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 3.38 K:BB rate. He finished seventh in the CY Young voting, but you could make the argument that he deserved to be top four, at least. Tapani didn’t fare so well in the 1991 ALCS, getting shellacked by the Toronto Blue Jays. But he redeemed himself in the World Series: he started two games, pitched 12 innings and went 1-1.

That’s a blueprint for building a championship there. The Twins gave up one decent starting pitcher who was near 30 for a bunch of younger cheaper pieces.

So what about Viola? At the time of the deal, Viola was 29 and would be worth 9.6 WAR for the Mets. He was effectively done after 1993, just four years after the deal.

Still, he had a fantastic career. He gave up the 3,000th hit to Rod Carew in 1985. When it was all said and done, Viola started 420 games, the 27th most in baseball history by a southpaw. He won 176 games of those games, the 43rd most by a lefty. Of course he also lost 150 games, tied for the 34th most by a southpaw (with Hal Newhouser and Ken Hotlzman). Viola finished with 1,844 Ks, the 26th most all-time by a lefty. Not bad.

I always love looking at these types of deals – it seems that giving tons of young cheap talent for near-30s “stars” comes back to bite the team giving the young talent more often than not. Still, you have to give the Twins credit for dealing Viola who had just helped them win a World Series two years before.

Follow h2h_corner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/h2h_corner

Advertisements

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Scott Servais

scottservaisback

I know you can’t assume a level of intelligence in your audience. However, what is the likelihood that people would think that Scott Servais and Scott Service are related, merely because their last names are pronounced the same?

It’d be like me explaining that Tom Green and Graham Greene, although they arent related, pronounce their surnames the same. No crap – there’s an e on the end of one! (Also in Greene’s homeland they pronounce it HER-b, because there’s a fucking ‘H’ in it!). See more Izzard here!

Service didn’t have much of a playing career (although it did span 11 seasons). He finished with a .245/.306/.375 line in 2,778 plate appearances. He showed promise in 1993 as a 26 year-old, smacking 11 HRs and posting a .244/.313/.415 line (it was before steroids were invented, so that’s legitimate power) in just 291 PAs. The following strike-shortened season saw him, mostly, replicate those power numbers (nine HRs) in 251 PAs.

scottservai

After the strike, he’d hit 13 HRs in 304 PAs, but wouldn’t get full-time playing duties until he was shipped (along with Luis Gonzalez) to the Chicago Cubs for Rick Wilkins in 1995. He’d be in Chicago for parts of four years — and over his three full seasons with the club he averaged 428 PAs, eight HRs, and a .251/.311/.364.

Clearly, the highlight of his playing career was on May 25, 1992, when he singled and scored a run off his nemesis Scott Service. For his career, Servais would be 2/6 against Service with a walk, two Ks, and a sacrifice. It’s quite the Professor X.-Magneto battle.

But in reality, Servais’ sweeping success would come later. He is the director of player development for the Texas Rangers…who have seen a great farm system allow the major league squad superior flexibility (Neftali Feliz as a closer instead of starter, Justin Smoak got them Cliff Lee, Mitch Moreland stepped in, Nelson Cruz became good, Ian Kinsler developed, etc.).

As for Service, well, he’d finish with a 4.99 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 8.9 K/9 rate and a 3.9 BB/9 rate. He was also once purchased by the Chunichi Dragons from the Montreal Expos and part of a trade involving Neon Deion Sanders. Outside of that, his best year would be 1998 (oddly enough, or not, the year he pitched the most innings). He threw 82.2 innings and recorded 95 Ks.

Other than the Japanese experience, his biggest baseball moment was probably being in the bullpen for the first game in Colorado Rockies history. Ahhhh, who am I kidding, it was clearly the 10 times he faced the diabolical Scott Servais.

Swear to god, I just realized, their forenames are pronounced the same, but, I just checked, and they’re not related!

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Chris Hammond

hammond1bac2 hammond1bacI was going to write about the 1996 Chris Hammond card awhile ago, but it got lost in the shuffle. Over Thanksgiving, I was at my parents house and rummaged through a few boxes of old cards and stumbled upon this 1992 Studio Club card of Hammond that seemed equally interesting. As the Spice Girls said tonight is the night when 2 become 1!

At first, my inclination with Hammond was to prove another sample size issue that was frequent in baseball as little as just 14 years ago (see also: Johnson, Mark). It is in fact true that Hammond posted a pretty nice slash line in 1995 (.271/.364/.375) – a line that would make Russell Martin blush at this point. He also hit one of the four HRs of his career that season. Oddly enough he hit two dingers in 1993, his slash line that year: .190/.292/.317.

So what happened in 1995? Hammond got a pitcher’s typical 40+ ABs, and anyone can look like Mickey Mantle in 48 ABs. When you blow out Hammond’s career (238 ABs) you get a typical pitcher Mendoza-line triple slash: .202/.285/.290. The lesson, as always, one season and a scant number of ABs does not make a career.

Other than his 1995 year at the plate, it was an altogether forgetful career – think of him as a Rheal Cormier doppleganger, or if you prefer akin to Dan Schatzeder (who loves home video!).

However, personally, he seems like an interesting dude. Like Mark Johnson (see above link), he has an affinity for deer. He also, oddly enough, collects matches. I assume this should read matchbooks. Right? I mean there is nothing different about matches, they aren’t snowflakes. Now, matchbooks can remind people of where they have been and the histrionics that ensued somewhere. I still have a matchbook from a formal in college, for instance.

Lastly, I assume Hammond is a fan of the band, Alabama — and really who isn’t – not the state. The band has some phenomenal songs paired deliciously with fantastic beards. Although, Hammond did live in Birmingham, so maybe he’s just a fan of the state. That’d be kind of odd – maybe they have a lot of matches there? Or at least some choice match factories?

Speaking of odd things and Hammond: only 20 times has a lead-off home run won a game 1-0. Hammond, on September 14 1993, gave up a lead-off round tripper to Carlos Garcia. The Marlins lost 1-0 and Hammond joined Walter Johnson, Frank Tanana, Gaylord Perry, Randy Johnson and others in the record book as the only pitchers on the losing end of this type of a game.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

hammond2fronthammond1front

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Matt Stairs

stairs backstairs frontThis card is from 1992. Apparently at that point in time, Matt Stairs was svelte enough to play second base. But, in all fairness, he probably wasn’t. In reality, I assume Matt Stairs wasn’t moved off second base because of the logjam, but rather because he couldn’t field the position worth a lick – and that is okay.

In 1991, he did kill the ball in AA, posting a .333/.411/.509 line. He would reach the majors in 1992, but played in only 13 games for the Expos. In 1993, he played in only six games – all in the outfield.

He resurfaced in the majors in 1995, during which he appeared in 39 games for the Red Sox. The following season he played in 61 games for the Oakland Athletics.

Finally, in 1997, as a 29-year-old, Stairs would get full time duties; presumably the function the Expos moved him off second base for six years previous. Stairs would hit .298/.386/.582 with 27 HRs. Over the next three seasons, he followed up with similar campaigns that saw him hit 26, 38 and 21 HRs.

After that, he joined the Cubs, did his usual thing, then went to Milwaukee the following year, then Pittsburgh, then Kansas City for two+ seasons, and then Texas for 26 games and Detroit for 14 games. After Detroit, he was in Toronto for a full season and part of the next, before joining the Phillies, hitting a home run and appearing in 115 games .

In sum, after 16 years of playing, Stairs went to the post-season with the Phillies and changed baseball history. I didn’t even remember that Stairs, a Canadian, started his career with the Expos. I certainly had no idea he started out as a second basemen. It’s funny, this game. You begin as a bright-eyed 24-year-old power hitting infielder who can take a pitch, and low and behold 16 years later you hit one of the most important homeruns for the city of Philadelphia.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Willie Wilson

For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

Willie Wilson back 2Willie Wilson back 1

Holy crap, Willie Wilson was a freak athlete. I wasn’t really recruited for any sport, so I don’t know how many scholarships real athletes receive, but 200 seems like a ton especially because there are currently only 211 Division-I NCAA baseball teams and most go pro in something other than sports.

But baseball wasn’t Wilson’s only sport. Clearly he had the build (6’3 and 190) and speed (668 career SBs) required to succeed at multiple sports. In fact, according to Wikipedia, he was a three sport star from Summit, New Jersey (the hometown of several of my college buddies, let’s call them Lippdale and Roni or Kevo and Timbo).

What limited Wilson from being a superstar was his propensity to strike out (1,144 times in 7,731 ABs), while not being able to walk much (just 425 BBs). In the 1980 World Series, Wilson set a record by striking out 12 times. Now, he did lead the league in hitting in 1982 with a .332 AVG; however, he only posted a .365 OBP. That 1982 season should be remembered as the luckiest of his life (.380 BAbip compared to .329 for his career). Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Sammy Sosa

For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

Sosa - 1991 Back
Sosa - 1991 FrontFortunately this card was printed before George W. Bush became the 43rd president. Otherwise the back of the card might read “President George W. Bush once traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox!”

Thankfully, for these purposes (and many others), the people who write the backs of baseball cards aren’t prescient. If they were, we wouldn’t get the wonderful tidbit that Sosa was signed way back in 1985 by Omar Minya and Amado Dinzey. Now, the second name has absolutely no relevance for me and many of you.

The first name, however, is the guy in charge with screwing up the Mets. By most accounts Minya has a darn good scouting eye, especially with Latin-born ballplayers. I never gave that sentiment much thought.

Well, PEDs-or-not, Sosa was a terrific find. There have been many people in the history of baseball who saw a 16- or 17-year-old and decided he had to sign him. But how many of those players ended up with over 600 career home runs? I’m going to guess none. I hope Minya gets a tremendous amount of joy talking about the day he discovered Sosa – he and Dinzey deserve it.

That said some other baseball men messed up as Sosa was traded twice: once by the Rangers (with Wilson Alvarez) for Harold Baines; and three years later for George Bell. What’s funny (mostly to me) is that, as a youngster, going to games at Camden yards I’d call Harold Baines grandpa when he would ground into double play after double play for the Orioles. In fact, Baines grounded into 80 double plays while with the Orioles. That might be true, but a case could be made that he was every bit as much the offensive player as Tony Perez, Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.

One more interesting tidbit – Sosa was traded alongside Wilson Alvarez who no-hit the Baltimore Orioles in 1991. I was nine and in the stands. I’d never been so devastated watching baseball history…that is until 1996.

Follow h2h Corner on Twitter (http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner)