Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati reds’

Dusty Gets A New Arm To Wear Down for Razzball

Dusty Gets A New Arm To Wear Down for Razzball on the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres trade involving Mat Latos, Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez and a fringe releiver with a cool name.

Article available at http://razzball.com/dusty-gets-a-new-arm-to-wear-down/.

h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Brett Tomko

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).

And the most interesting thing about Tomko: his father won a contest naming the Cleveland Cavaliers; his entry stated, “the name Cleveland Cavaliers represents a group of daring, fearless men.”

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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.

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

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Ozzie Virgil

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I’ve never flown a model airplane – unless we are talking the paper variety in second grade religion class. I made some model airplanes, but mostly got bored when I had to glue all the little pieces together — logistics weren’t my thing. Still, I can think of two scenes that involve flying model airplanes and I imagine you can think of more.

The first is in Rushmore when Max first meets Margaret — maybe I’ve seen that movie too much – but it’s a poignant and understated scene. The second is from the hilarious Modern family when Jay rams Phil in the face — good comedy includes violence — trust me.

Anyway, I feel like Virgil would have enjoyed the later. He’s a stout dude (6’1 180) who caught for part of 11 seasons in the majors (mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies) and was a two-time all-star. Over a two-year span (from 1984-1985), he’d catch 272 games, post a respectable slash line (.254/.330/.433) and hit 37 HRs. In 1987 he hit 27 dingers for the Atlanta Braves.

He would finish his career as a more productive player than his father, Ozzie Virgil, Sr. who would finish his nine-year career with a .231/.263/.331 slash line. Regardless, here’s hoping they shared a few chuckles about the pitchers they caught while flying model airplanes.

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

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Max Venable

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As you likely know, this series started because I bought a bunch of cheap 1987 Topps packs off the internet, opened them and found good cards but, more importantly, interesting nuggets of info on the backs. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t start with the 1986 set. Man it is totally George Blanda — if there is info, it is usually such-and-such ballplayer collected his first hit on such-and-such date – yuck.

Occasionally there are some “Talkin’ Baseball” sections which seem to be the precursor to SCOOTER, i.e., they are inane. The one you see on the back of Venable is actually not the only one to reference player’s names and palindromes – apparently that was a set-wide motif.

So why did I choose this one out of the myriad of boring palindromes captured forever in the 1986 set? Because Max just happens to be Will Venable’s father. Will got his first full-time action this year for the San Diego Padres in his age-27 season and performed kind of well. In fact, I believe he had a truly bizarre, yet effective season. Sure his 0.1 WAR would suggest otherwise, but he did hit 13 HRs and swipe 29 bases. Maybe he is more of a roto, specifically h2h, player, then real-life, but I see a guy who, if he could stay healthy for 162 games, would put up a 20-30 season. His average and OBP aren’t great, but they aren’t as bad as some other regulars people trot out there.

Still Will will likely have a shorter major league career than his pops. Max played in parts of 12 seasons, finishing with a .241/.302/.345 slash line predominantly for the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. He only once played in over 100 games and would hit just 18 HRs in his career.

The oddest thing about the father/son combo? They both drew the attentions of the Baltimore Orioles but never played for the organization. In February of 1988, the Orioles signed Max, but released him in March of the same year. On June 7, 2004, the Orioles drafted Will in the 15th round, but would not sign him.

As for old palindrome Eddie Kazak? He’d play parts of five seasons, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals before being traded to the Reds along with Wally Westlake for Dick Sisler and Virgil Stallcup. Talk about some interesting (old-timey) names. Kazak would appear in just 13 games for the Reds and bat .067. Those were the last hacks he took in the big leagues. Oddly enough, Dick is the son of baseball legend George Sisler.

Baseball is often described as the great bridge between fathers and sons. It’s also a game where just showing up can land you in the (obscure) record books…just ask Kazak who was a Red for 13 games.

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

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Angel Bravo

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Was 1970 all that long ago? It was just 40 years, yet things sure have changed in Major League Baseball. Signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela by the Chicago White Sox in 1963, Bravo had to work as an electrician in the off-season to make enough money to support his playing days—days that ended up being fairly short.

Bravo, at 26, showed some promise over 27 games for the White Sox in 1969. He hit .289, the only HR of his career and stole the only bases (2) of his career. However, in the off-season, he was traded to the Reds for Gerry Arrigo who would pitch in just three games for the White Sox and post a 12.83 ERA. That was the last season in the majors for Arrigo.

The Reds didn’t give Bravo a ton of run in 1970, as he saw only 65 games. Still, he hit a respectable .277 and posted a pretty darn good .365 OBP. However, after a slow start to the 1971 campaign, Bravo would again be traded–this time for Al Ferrara. Ferrara, like Arrigo, would play in only one year for his new club. Ferrara posted a .182 AVG and .270 OBP for the Reds in his last major league season.

In total, Bravo was traded twice and both times the players were out of baseball within a year. Bravo himself was out of the majors after the 1971 season. He would play one more year in the minors, but was never heard from again. Hopefully the electrician thing worked out. At the very least, Bravo can say that his Baseball Reference page has been visited 13,922 times.

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