Posts Tagged ‘Jose Canseco’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out on the Flip Side: John Wasdin

Sometimes when I read the backs of these cards, I am like, WTF, what the what, the ladylike, just like me? Yeah I don’t get my brain sometimes either.

I’m not even real sure where to start with this. I’ll go ahead and get the obvious typo out of the way – I don’t think Wasdin “hel opposing hitters…” I’m guessing he held them, held them tight with his clarineting and saxaphoning.

But, let’s dig into the massive factual inaccuracies on the back of the card. I really believe the narrative on the back was written about someone else and they simply assigned it to Wasdin.

I can find no evidence that Wasdin was a classically trained saxophonist or clarinetist. In addition, it’s hard for Wasdin to be a mound Maestro in 1995 given he appeared in just 5 games (and 17.1 IPs) for the Athletics. He didn’t even pitch particularly well: 4.67 ERA and 6.10 FIP. Moreover, he didn’t record a single save in the majors until 1999 and only recorded seven in his major league career and just four in the minors. He might have ranked among the save leaders of those pitchers who appeared on June 11, 1999 – but that’s it.

The actual vignette had to be written about one of a select group: Randy Myers, Tom Henke, Heathcliff Slocumb, Todd Worrell, Roberto Hernandez or John Wettland – as they finished in the top 10 in saves and all had K rates near nine. I couldn’t find any references to Myers, Henke, Slocumb, Worrell or Hernandez. Then, I hit pay dirt (I mean you had to assume it was Wettland, given his first and last name, right?).

Googling John Wettland’s 1996 Topps card leads to this link: So we’ve got a culprit.

Poor John Wasdin, not even good enough to have the anecdote on his rookie card right. And it’s not as if John Wasdin was some career journeyman…yet. He was the 25th overall pick in 1993 and progressed nicely in the minors: before the 1995 season, he was the #53 prospect. The following year he was the #84 prospect.

Unfortunately he could never pitch like Wettland and crisscrossed the country during a 12-year career. In 1997, Wasdin (and cash!) was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Jose Canseco. He played four years for the Red Sox, earned $1.5 million and was worth 1.7 WAR. He was bitten by the Green Monster a lot: 1.4 HR/9, leading to the nickname “Way Back Wasdin” a riff off Jerry Trupiano’s signature homerun call.

Having lived out his welcome in Boston (after two miserable post-season performances against the Indians in 1998 and 1999), Wasdin (along with Jeff Taglienti, Jeff Frye and Bran Rose) was shipped to the Colorado Rockies for Rolando Arrojo, Rich Croushore, Mike Lansing and cash.

He stumbled around from there, pitched a perfect game for the Nashville Sounds that only 750 people saw, and ended up in Japan.

It’s odd to think that the most memorable aspect* of Wasdin’s career is the erroneous back of a baseball card. I certainly never would have investigated his career had I not been initially stunned by the verbiage.

*As Bill Parker, who writes awesomely and uncommonly for the Platoon Advantagepoints out:  John Wasdin’s change-up in one of the late 90s version of Triple Play was randomly clocked at 120 MPHs. If I knew this, I forgot, if I didnt, I’m ashamed. 

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Raul Mondesi/Ruben Sierra

mondesimondesi frontI thought I’d kick of “deck the halls (aka music)” week with a two-fer!

I am in awe of Mondesi’s info. First of all it is supremely awesome to step to the plate in any major league stadium. It must be infinitely more awesome to do so while your own music is playing. It’s like banging the hottest chick in the world on top of a billion dollars while your multi-platinum Barry White cover-CD is playing in the background (yes the one that Sade graciously sung back-up vocals for).

Any who, I kind of feel like I grew up with Mondesi a bit. I was 11 in 1993 and he was one of the first big rookies of my time. I kind of stopped following baseball intently when I hit college which is about when this card was printed. What people seem to have forgotten was how good Mondesi was with the Dodgers. Sure he flamed out in the AL East for the most part, but, for seven seasons in LA, Mondesi put up a .288/.334/.504 slash line. He also earned 21.3 WAR during his time out west.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jays and Yankees he would earn just 6.2 WAR combined with them over 4 years.

Still, Mondesi amassed some impressive numbers. He owns the 56th best slugging percentage in MLB history by a right hander — .485. He is tied with the great, yet somewhat forgotten, Joe Adcock.

sierra backNot to be outdone, six years before Mondesi’s 2002 Topps announced to the world that Raul is a better name then Enrique, Ruben Sierra released his second salsa CD. While that’s somewhat impressive (I mean Ron Artest has released like five million albums), what’s more astounding is that Sierra performed at Madison Square Garden. I would bet his performance was better than anything the WNBA has thrown out there (Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird notwithstanding).

sierra frontLike Mondesi, Sierra was also a hot prospect who put in some serious work for the club who first signed him. In his 10 years with the Texas Rangers, Sierra put up a .280/.323/.473 slash line with 180 HRs and 90 SBs. He was an 18.4 WAR player for them. While his early career resembled Justin Upton, Andruw Jones, and Adrian Beltre, when we look at the totality of it, his numbers look a lot more like Joe Carter and Bobby Bonilla – not bad, but eh.

So what happened? Well, in 1992, the Rangers traded him to spacious Oakland along with Bobby Witt and Jeff Russell for Jose Canseco. While Canseco is largely remembered as a flop with Texas, he was worth 3.4 WAR over three seasons and put up a .269/.363/.512 slash line. Meanwhile Sierra would stumble in his four years in Oakland (.253/.303./.435) and earn -1.7

Still, coming off the juice of his promise, the Athletics were able to turn Sierra into Danny Tartabul. In his first stint with the Yankees, Sierra was worth -1.4 WAR. After rejoining the Rangers in 2000 and posting a positive WAR (0.7) in 2001 for the first time since 1994, the Rangers would move Sierra to the Yankees again. This time it was for Marcus Thames and this time, again, Sierra would be worse than a replacement level player (-0.4 WAR).

In all, Sierra was traded four times and signed by eight different organizations. Outside of the Rangers, he was worse than a replacement level player for every single organization. I feel like there should have been a Mad TV lower expectations commercial about him.

Somewhat shockingly, given Sierra’s lack of non-musical value, he ended up with the 15th most at-bats by a switch-hitter and the ninth most doubles by a switch hitter (428). He also tied for 18th for the most seasons with a HR in MLB history. He hit a HR in 19 seasons, which was also done by Gary Sheffield, Craig Biggio, Barry Larkin, Gary Gaetti, Ken Griffey Sr., Alan Trammell, Willie Stargell, Enos Slaughter and Ernie Banks.

Lastly, let’s hope his salsa music helped soothe and relax him during his career as he ended up posting the 25th most career game-ending outs. Sierra ended a game 113 times (try finding a replacement player that can do that!), two more than Ricky Henderson.

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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: Mike Greenwell

mike greenwell back mike greenwell frontFirst of all, I grew up in an era during which every player on a Little League team received a trophy. There were not MVPs, but most improved, sportsmanship, and Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog. So it’s odd to me to see that Greenwell was the MVP of his squad and that he remembered the fact until he was 22.

What this instantly reminded me of was Greenwell’s 1988 season. As a 24-year-old, Greenwell hit .325, posted a .416 OBP and slugged .531. He would be a distant runner-up in the MVP voting to Mr. 40/40 (no, not Jay-Z) Jose Canseco.

Five years ago, after all of the steroids and PED hubbub, Greenwell made a somewhat bitter case that he should be awarded the 1988 MVP. Did he lose a few million dollars because of it? Probably. Did he already get paid more than most people will make in a lifetime? Absolutely (he made over $21 million in his career).

Life, quite simply, is enjoyable because it isn’t fair. If life were fair for everyone, it’d be dull. Why do Americans enjoy the underdog story so much? Mostly, because the underdog doesn’t have all the advantages that the favored team or boxer might have.

Greenwell was a splendid player, but he never really was an MVP. In fact, in 1988, Greenwell would trail Wade Boggs, Canseco and Mark Gubicza and tie Kirby Puckett in wins above replacement player according to Baseball Reference. So, if we’re being completely fair, it is Wade Boggs who should be all annoyed at Canseco.

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