We’ll talk the Hall of Fame results, Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell and Jack Morris. We’ll also talk the Cubs latest moves, the fate of the Oakland Athletics, Jorge Posada’s retirement, Ryan Braun, Brett Lawrie, the Baltimore Orioles, the Reds 2012 prospects, the Chicago White Sox, Tyler Chatwood, the Phillies line-up issues, the Marlins and Josh Johnson, and go through some fantasy baseball and roto projections/ranks
Posts Tagged ‘baltimore orioles’
Matt Wieters: Awesome Catcher for the Platoon Advantage: http://www.platoonadvantage.com/2011/12/matt-wieters-awesome-catcher.html
It’s been an incredibly tough season/off-season for Orioles fans. After the way the club finished 2010 and a pretty good 2010 offseason (sure they made their share of bad signings, but, this time, they were limited to one-year deals!), which saw them deal fringy relievers for solider major league players, Orioles fans could smile a little smile that the team was at least sort of going in the right direction. On April 9, the Orioles were 6-2 and 5.5 games ahead of Boston and Tampa Bay. Of course, reality set in and the Orioles continued to completely and utterly fail to develop minor league talent at the major league level and finished 69-93, 28 games behind the Yankees. Then, the 2011 off-season came and GM candidate after candidate turned them down. Eventually, they hired Dan Duquette (who has been out of baseball almost as long as it has been since the Orioles finished above .500), and, sadly, it didn’t seem nearly as embarrassing as it could have been. Of course, the one joy Orioles fans had throughout the season was the defense of Matt Wieters. It was beautiful to watch him play baseball well. Then, when the Fielding Bible and Gold Glove Awards recently came out, we had validation for our love of Wieters.
What I didn’t realize is that DeShields was Kenny Lofton before Lofton was. DeShields had a full ride to run point for Villanova before being the 12th overall pick in the 1987 MLB draft by the Montreal Expos. And, of course, there was that little tidbit of him Spud Webbing a dunk contest in a battle across sports (I assume this was a Rock n Jock, but can’t find the video).
He made quick work of the minors, posting great OBPs and made his debut in 1990 at 21. He hit .289/.375/.393 in 129 games.
Unfortunately, a lot of that average was BABIP driven as he hit .349 on balls in play that year. He came back to earth in 1991, hitting .238/.347/.332 and would lead the league with 151 Ks. In addition, his .9623 fielding percentage that year was the seventh worst by a second baseman in a season since 1946. But he got on base and ran, accumulating 56 SBs. You combine his steals with Marquis Grissom (who had 76 swipes) and you get the 11th most prolific stolen base combo in MLB history.
His average bounced back in a major way in 1992, as he hit .292/.359/.398 with 46 steals. Again, if you pair him and Grissom (78 steals) you get a bad ass burglar combo – the 16th best duo in history. After four years with the Expos, he had a .277/.367/.373 line and 187 SBs.
The Dodgers, evidently thinking he was the next Lou Whittaker, traded a promising young pitcher by the name of Pedro Martinez for his services. That didn’t work out so well. DeShields struggled in LA, going .241/.326/.327 in three years.
After leaving the Dodgers in free agency, he played well for the Cardinals for two years, and then signed with the Baltimore Orioles. His first two seasons with the Orioles went well, but his third was horrid. He hit .197/.312/.309 and made the last out in Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter. The Orioles released him and the Cubs scooped him up. He played better for the Cubs and combined went 23/25 in SBs that year, tied for the 28th best stolen base percentage in a season in MLB history (min. 20 SBs).
Speed was clearly DeShields calling card from a positive standpoint. He ended his career with the 45th most SBs in MLB history: two ahead of Bobby Bonds and two behind Eric Young, Sr.
Of course, striking out and poor fielding would be DeShields calling card from a negative standpoint. He finished with 1,061 Ks, the 29th most in MLB history by a lefty (two behind Any Van Slyke, another erstwhile Oriole). The 151 Ks in ’91 were the 29th most in a season by a lefty (tied with fellow Flip Sider Ray Lankford). Hey, hopefully he can appreciate symmetry.
[Complete non-sequitur] For some reason I can’t divorce him from José Offerman in my head…and what do you know, Offerman is #1 on his similarity score.
Still, DeShields was a fun Luis Castillo-like player. He also put in work after his playing career, co-founding the Urban Baseball League and raising some athletes. You know about his son, but his eldest daughter appears to be the next preeminent female dunker.
In his work with the Urban League, he travels with fellow Flip Sider Oil Can Boyd as part of the Oil Can Boyd Urban All Stars.
I can understand the joy of electric trains…I think. When I was a kid, I had a long looping wooden track. I had hundreds of trains/cars/trucks, etc. I would set them up bumper to bumper in some order that made sense to a five year old. Then I would start with one and push them around. I would then swap some vehicle positioning and push them around the track again. My little mind found this incredibly fun and pleasing.
Hey to each his own, Rayford clearly needed a hobby to take his mind off the trials and tribulations of life in the minor/major leagues.
Rayford was drafted in 1975 by the California Angels and reached AAA in 1979. The following season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with a bag o’ cash for Larry Harlow, who had a decent season in 1980 for the Angles but would be out of baseball after 1981. Rayford wasn’t ready for prime time, however, as he spent the majority of 1980 and ’81 in the minors, appearing in the longest game in baseball history, a 33-inning, eight hour and 25 minute affair.
He got to play sparingly in 1982 with the big league club and was replaced by Cal Ripken at third on May 30, thus launching the longest consecutive games played streak in baseball history.
He was bounced between the Cardinals and Orioles for the next few years and would be finished in the majors after the 1987 season, the year this card was printed. Still, he had successes in limited opportunities. In 1985, he hit .306/.324/.521 and 18 HRs in 372 plate appearances.
Before he officially retired form ball, he played in the minors from 89-91, appearing in just 81 games as a player. He actually had a tougher task than playing, as he was a player-coach the last two seasons.
I do hope he got a World Series ring for 1982, that could be the centerpiece of this model train set.
So Jeff Suppan was the Todd Van Poppel of the mid-90s? That was my initial reaction to the blurb on the back of the card.
However, that’s not really true.
As the card points out, Suppan had all the promise and pedigree of a highly touted young pitcher (he had more stuff than fluff which was the case with Van Poppel). And you can’t really fault those press clippings, as Suppan tore through the minors. In 1996, at AAA and just 21-years-old, Suppan had a 5.68 K:BB rate.
For whatever reason, though, his stuff at that time just couldn’t fool major league hitters. While he posted nearly a K per inning in the minors, he struggled to strike out more than five batters per nine with the Red Sox. After three unsuccessful seasons and 39 appearances (29 starts) with a 5.99 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 1.83 K:BB rate, the Red Sox left him unprotected in the 1997 expansion draft* and the Diamondbacks pounced (that’s probably a poor onomatopoeia).
He pitched horribly for Arizona and they soon sold him to Kansas City. While his tenure with the Royals was unspectacular, he pitched over 200 innings during each of his four full years there (from 1999-2002), combining for a 4.79 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 1.60 K:BB rate. Dude just ate innings, pitching the seventh most during that span – just behind Livan Hernandez, Mike Mussina, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson.
After 2002, he signed as a free agent with the Pirates, who quickly traded him and Brandon Lyon to the Red Sox for Mike Gonzalez, Freddy Sanchez and dollar dollar bills. Talk about a deal involving some average players who ended up making serious bank. It was a one-year deal, so Suppan found himself a free agent again in 2003.
That’s when he met the god that is Dave Duncan. From 2004-2006, he threw 572 innings for the Cardinals, posting a 3.95 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 1.67 K:BB rate. Sure it was mostly smoke and mirrors, but that’s some quality durability.
He also came through when it matted. He went 3-3 in the post-season for the Cardinals during that stretch and dominated the New York Mets in 2006. He threw 15 innings and allowed one earned run. He was the MVP of the NLCS that year and even took Steve Trachsel (a very similar pitcher) deep in game three.
After his splendid 2006 regular and post season, Suppan was treated to a four-year $42 million contract by the Brewers (good gosh, my golly, what a folly). He pitched wretchedly for the Brewers, prompting one fan to put Suppan up for sale on eBay.
He was eventually released, but scooped up by the Cardinals. He posted a 3.84 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 1.32 K:BB rate for the Cardinals in 70.1 IPs during 2010. That would be his last season in the majors.
While I was able to mention Suppan in the same breath as Maddux in this piece, he never lived up to those press clippings. However, the $58 million he earned in his playing time, the NLCS MVP, 2006 World Champion and 12.8 WAR suggest he was a far better player than Van Poppel ever was (TVP was worth -2.1 WAR during his career).
*Man, there were four total All-stars in that draft (although possibly a Hall of Famer in Bobby Abreu). One All-star, Damian Miller, I vaguely remember as a subpar catcher. While I was annoyed Esteban Yan was gone from the Orioles, it didn’t hurt as much as Aaron Ledesma being scooped up in the final round. I was 15 when he played for the Orioles – I had no clue he was 26 at the time as I had never heard of him. That year was magical for the Orioles (at least for awhile) and I remember an 11-3 loss to the Tigers pretty well. Jimmy Key continued his second half swoon and Esteban Yan compounded the damage, but a scrappy infielder went 2-4, raising his average to .345. Ledesma hit .352 that year for the Orioles but didn’t make a postseason appearance. The following year he hit .324 for Tampa Bay, then would be out of baseball two years later. The only two HRs he ever hit were for the Orioles and he finished with a .296/.338/.365 line. His dWAR seems average, so I’m surprised his bat never stuck. Maybe he just wasn’t that good…like Luis Mercedes.
Before the summer of 1991, when I was just 9, I thought I knew everything about baseball – and, if not everything about baseball, everything about the Baltimore Orioles. I grew up going to games with my family. I also tagged along with my father and some of his college friends, one of which played “fantasy baseball.” This particular friend was astounded at my ability to recall statistics, trades, etc.
What changed that summer? I rode in a car driven by my father to Cooperstown, New York. We had an old Volkswagen Rabbit (I think) without A/C. I had purchased Pocket Full of Kryptonite (holy crap what a video) before the trip and we listened to it on repeat the entire way – my father must have hated the Spin Doctors.
Anyway, the whole city is amazing, baseball card stores, memorabilia abounds – and that doesn’t include the awesome history-rich spectacle that is the Hall of Fame. On this trip, I opened a 1989 Upper Deck pack and received a Ken Griffey, Jr. card. Magic.
Getting to actually go into the Hall was a special thrill. I got my picture taken in-between the plaques of Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson. Then we wandered around and I saw Hoyt Wilhelm. I had no freaking clue who Hoyt Wilhelm was. I had never studied my Candy Maldonado cards apparently (probably because I hated Maldonado even though I sort of liked the Blue Jays teams from the early 90s…Maldonado always seemed to make errors and lollygag. But, I’ve already written about Maldonado so there’s no reason to dwell).
Wilhelm, who pitched as a 48-year-old, had a career that spanned 21 seasons and 2,254 innings and he racked up a bunch of records on the way.
Wilhelm appeared in the fifth most games in history by a pitcher: 1,070, which trails only Dennis Eckersley, Mike Stanton, John Franco and Jesse Orosco – modern day relievers. He also owns the 30th best ERA (2.52) by a pitcher with at least 1,500 IPs. He owns the most career victories in relief: 124 – a record not likely to ever be broken. He also pitched the most innings in relief in MLB history: 1,871.
And that knuckleball was devastating, resulting in the eighth lowest opposing batting average – people hit just .216 off him – a mark better than Randy Johnson. Hell his knuckleball was so good, the Baltimore Orioles created a bigger mitt so catchers could handle it.
And, really, it wouldn’t be until he joined the Orioles that his career would take off. He spent eight seasons with the New York Giants, St. Louis, and Cleveland, until the Indians gave up on him and Baltimore claimed him off waivers. He pitched for parts of five years for the Orioles, amassing 14.7 wins above replacement player, a 2.42 ERA and 2.28 K:BB walk rate. Eventually he would be part of a trade that brought the Orioles Luis Apiricio.
Then, the following year, on August 6, 1959, Wilhelm almost pitched a no-hitter in relief. Entering the game at the start of the ninth inning, Wilhelm held the White Sox hitless for 8⅔ innings before finally surrendering a hit in the 17th.
Wilhelm also fought in Europe during World War II and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Purple Heart.
I’ve found my way to a number of Hoyt Wilhelm cards over the years (all pictured here). I realize he’s a borderline Hall of Famer, at best, but his career remains terribly fascinating to this day. I stumbled upon his life much the same way I stumbled onto this topic – just cruising through baseball history looking to soak up knowledge. Who knew something good could come from Candy Maldonado?
I think, initially, this card stuck out for two reasons. One, I love Gary Roenicke (more on him later) and, two, tennis is one of the more exasperating sports (second only to golf in my opinion). What is it with rich people and bizarrely intricate athletics?
When I was a kid, it was important to my parents that I be fluent in the art of the hardcourt. They had grown up without much money, put themselves through school and ascended to the upper middle class. So, on vacations, I’d always have to take tennis lessons. Mostly, during these lessons, I pretended I was Ken Griffey, Jr. or Barry Bonds and tried to hit every return over the fence. Exasperated, the tennis “pro” would send me off to the wilderness to retrieve the balls. Repeat this for one hour and you get the gist of my lessons. (Why I always emulated lefties is beyond me – maybe because I had a horrid backhand).
Anyway, I’d also play my father in tennis at the end of every trip. While he isn’t all that athletic, he was better at tennis than me. I was faster/quicker and in better shape, but I could never get the ball to go where I wanted (maybe it had something to do with those lessons). My dad would play well enough to keep me around in the match. Invariably (because we’re both poor losers and intensely competitive), though, he would put me away and I would get frustrated. I knew it was happening and couldn’t stop it. Well, I knew one way to stop it. I would slam my racket on the ground like a petulant child. Consequently, tennis is not relaxing but anxiety producing – worse than swinging a driver and missing the ball completely.
Roenicke had no problem with hand-eye coordination though, so tennis must have come easily to him. After all, he was a first round pick of the hometown Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977. He never really lived up to that billing though. He wouldn’t make it to the majors for four years (1981), when he was 24-years-old and he didn’t fare well in 22 games that year.
However, he did show some promise the following season, going .259/.359/.336. Sure, you’d want more power from a corner outfielder, but this was 1982 and he did get on base.
The Dodgers would release him in the middle of the following (unproductive) season, however. He bounced around for awhile, catching on here and there and not really getting to prove himself. From 1984-1986, he played for three teams and posted a .252/.389/.379 line in 535 plate appearances. That had to have been the highlight of his career (and he even played in a post-season with the Padres). It’s a shame he never got to show what he could do on the field. He finished with a .238/.353/.338 line.
So, why did the name Roenicke stick out (I pulled this card from a pack before he became the Brewers manager)? Well, his brother, Gary Roenicke, was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1977 (along with Joe Kerrigan and Don Stanhouse) for Rudy May, Randy Miller, and Bryn Smith. He was an Earl Weaver type of player.
From 1979-1985, he appeared in 823 games for the Orioles, posting a .250/.356/.447 line. He hit lefties really well throughout his career (.255/.363/.454) and did a ton of damage for Earl Weaver as a platoon player. Gary finished with a .247/.351/.434 line, appeared in two World Series and won one. His final numbers are eerily similar to his brother.
I like to think that what Gary learned from Earl Weaver maybe had a little to do with how Ron Roenicke manages. But really, I just like to see Weaver and they heyday of the Baltimore Orioles in any successful baseball squad.