I don’t know if this is at all accurate, but this could be the first baseball card that alludes to a player being in the “best shape of his life.” Unfortunately, Tomko’s improved overall strength didn’t exactly help him in the transition to the big boy league:
1999 with the Reds: 172 IPs, 6.91 K/9, 3.14 BB/9, 4.92 ERA, 5.06 FIP, 1.37 WHIP
2000 with the Mariners: 92.1 IPs, 5.75 K/9, 3.90 BB/9, 4.68 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 1.43 WHIP
I find his decline in K-rate somewhat startlingly, sure he went from a league that features the pitcher to one with a designated hitter, but he went from starting most of his games to relieving – perhaps that pitcher was a massive cushion for Tomko. Regardless, he totally needed that strength improvement program.
The card also notes that Tomko has four excellent pitches. While we don’t have pitch value data going back to the beginning of his career, I find it hard to believe he had one excellent pitch. From 2002-2011, his wFB totaled -20.1 and his wSL was -16.1. About the only thing the card got right is that his curveball was improving: his wCB was 3.7 in 2002 and 0.8 from 2002-2011.
Lastly, at the time of the Griffey trade, there was no way people saw Tomko as loaded with talent. If the Mariners thought he was loaded with talent, he would have started more than 12 games over two years and wouldn’t have been traded just two years and 127 innings later.
In fact, he was traded three times from 2000-2002 and, once he made it to free agency, travelled up and down the west coast signing with the Giants, Dodgers, Padres, and Athletics. He, perhaps, pitched poorest for the Dodgers, earning the nickname: “Bombko,” which, in any other sport, might be a positive thing. Tomko’s 1.25 HR/9 from 1997-2011 is the 31st worst during that span (and look at the ballparks he pitched in).
While his career fell short of its promise, his personal life is rosy: Tomko is married to Julia Schultz (her google image search is NSFW but worth it) and has become an artist – I wonder what he wants to paint (certainly wasn’t corners like Bob Tewksbury, hardy har har).