Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out on the Flip Side: Ruppert Jones

I’m pretty sure I picked this card out of the thousands I go through because I thought Ruppert was misspelled (it isn’t) and the name makes me chuckle. It probably makes me chuckle because of Family Guy, but, in my head, Ruppert is really Higgins from Magnum PI – the mind does funny things.

I figure I also liked the rather mundane factoid as well. He enjoys both karate and racquetball (presumably not at the same time). I don’t really like either. Karate wasn’t my thing and I’m not a fan of Martial Arts movies (unless it is Mortal Kombat or stars JCVD). Racquetball I enjoyed a little, but it reminds me of old fogies with short shorts and smelly socks. I also hate squash (the game, not the food, acorn squash soup is delicious).

Anyway, the reflexes and agility required by both enjoyed activities must have helped Jones during his career. In 1977, he made 465 putouts, the 27th most in a season ever. In a game on May 16, 1978, Jones recorded 12 putouts, thereby tying the major league record for putouts by an outfielder in an extra-inning game. He batted fourth in the contest, went 1/6 with two Ks and his average stood at .213. Former flip-sider Shane Rawley took the loss.

The following year, 1979, Jones recorded 453 putouts, the 44th most ever in a season. The man could track down balls (even though his defensive abilities seem suspect – 2.2 dWAR for his career).

Even before all that, Jones was the first pick in the 1976 expansion draft by the Seattle Mariners, after being selected in the third round of the amateur draft by the Royals in 1973.

His 1977 season made the Mariners look like geniuses. He went .263/.324/.454 with 24 bombs – he was worth 3.3 wins above a replacement player.

However things wouldn’t progress. Aside from his record setting put-out game in ‘78, his season was a disaster. But he bounced back and played well for the Mariners in ’79, finishing his career there worth 6 WAR.

He’d spend one year with the Yankees and then three with the San Diego Padres. He played his best ball for the Padres (7.5 WAR), but they granted him free agency after the 1983 season. He signed with the Detroit Tigers.

He appeared in just two games for the Tigers in the postseason that year, didn’t contribute much, but was part of a win in the World Series against the Padres.

The majority of his post-season experience came the year before this card was printed. He went 3/17, but walked 5 times for the Angels against the Boston Red Sox. And that would wrap his last real season in the majors.

He came back in 1987 but couldn’t buy a base hit. He played another year in Japan before hanging it up and focusing on Karacquete, a new sport that never quite caught on.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Bob Shirley

Man, I just don’t know where to start. I should probably get some housekeeping out of the way  because “I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.”

I imagine that was thrown around dugouts throughout the 80s, the heyday of Shirley’s career. Certainly the early 80s was the greatest time to be a ballplayer…named Shirley (what with the wife swapping, amphetamines, cocaine, etc.). So, it’s no shock that Shirley likes watching Bill Murray movies. I mean it’d be shocking if someone didn’t like watching Bill Murray movies, he’s awesome. StripesRushmoreCaddyshackWhat about BobLost in Translation! GhostbustersGhostbusters IIAnd others!

In fact, Shirley was such a funny guy (and apparently baseball’s most ardent lover of alliteration) that he named his kids Charles, Clinton and Clayton. Could be a law firm or the starting receivers for the Rams.

For such a dominant personality (more on that later*), Shirley’s career was somewhat pedestrian. After being drafted three times from 1972 – 1976 by the Dodgers, Giants and Padres, Shirley started 35 games for the Padres in 1977. He wasn’t bad (3.70 ERA) but wasn’t very good either (1.46 K:BB rate, 4.17 FIP). He pitched pretty mediocre (mostly
in relief) for the Padres until 1980. At that point, he was traded along with Rollie Fingers and Gene Tenace to the St. Louis Cardinals for a slew of guys I’ve barely heard of (Terry Kennedy, John Littlefield, Al Olmsted, Mike Phillips, Kim Seaman [seriously], Steve Swisher and John Urrea). No shit.

He pitched one mediocre year for the Cardinals, then another for the Reds. Then it was 1983 and the Bronx Bombers and Donnie Baseball wanted him. Sandwiched between two bad years, Shirley was pretty useful from 1984-1985 for the Yankees. He was worth about 4.2 WAR. While his 1986 campaign was mediocre, he logged an impressive 105.1 IPs in relief. Then, in 1987, he pitched just 41.1 IPs.

Why, you ask?

Well, he was involved in a bit of boring, boys will be boys, clubhouse roughhousing with Don Mattingly. Mattingly, like Apollo Creed, was unable to deal with a southpaw and ended up on the DL as a result of the fracas. *Shirley, surely, was released shortly thereafter. Presumably he has spent the rest of his days with Charles, Clinton and Clayton quoting Bill Murray.

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h2h Corner~ You’re Killing Me Smalls: Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter, average draft position: 56.

5×5 rank: 721 (SS: 32nd)

Ownership 94%

.250/.310/.269 – 14 runs, 6 RBIs, o SBs, 2 caught stealings Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Greg Minton

Here is where my “city boy” roots come out. I hate horses. They scare the beejesus out of me. My tiny girlfriend (who grew up in the country owning horses) thinks it’s hilarious that I wont go near a horse (and don’t get me started on donkeys).

I imagine riding a horse hurts. Occasionally, at the dog park, an eager young pup will jump on me as I stand there. Occasionally a paw will strike a testicle. That really hurts. Why would I want to pogo up and down on my testes while traipsing through nature on the back of a horse? I’ll use my own legs thank you very much.

Sure horses are beautiful, but god invented glasses so I can see a horse from a few feet away, ideally with some sort of fence between us.

So what is there to like about a horse that I can’t enjoy from afar? They snort (scary), they kick (scary), they neigh (or whatever it’s called when they get up on their hind legs) (also scary), and they fill in the blank: “Wild ___.” Unless it’s 80s “mental,” I don’t like anything wild. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tim ‘Rock’ Raines

The back of the Triple Play card tells you all you need to know about the way Tim Raines was viewed during one of the greatest careers in baseball. He was basically a base stealer – and he did lead the league for four consecutive years and average 60 a season from 1981-

1992 (yeah 12 seasons).

However, during that stretch he also walked, on average, 78 times a season en route to a .387 OBP. In 10 of his 23 seasons, Raines had an OBP .390 or higher. Heck from 1983-1987, his on base percentage was .406. That’s unbelievable. That’s Ted Williams territory.

Sure, he didn’t hit a lot of home runs or accumulate a ton of RBIs and only posted a paltry .294 career batting average along with 808 SBs – so yeah he was an earlier version of Juan Pierre. Continue reading

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: Herb Perry

perry1bperry1b2I’m going to use a 2002 card to prove a 1996 card somewhat inaccurate. Watch me now.

Almost rightly so, Herb Perry thought his June 17, 1995 game against the New York Yankees would be the finest of his life. He was the main source of power in a three-run victory over the Yankees.

Coming out of the University of Florida, Perry was a second round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 1991. He’d blossom in 1994 in AAA, hitting 13 HRs in 102 games and posting a .327/.397/.505 slash line. Coincidentally (or not) he got his first sniff of the majors that season. He went 1 for 9. Next season would see Perry perform decently in the minors, but, again, get few MLB at bats, although he would show promise, posting a .315/.376/.463 slash line in 184 plate appearances. However, in 1996, he would see just 13 at bats.

In comedy, timing is mostly everything, in another era, Perry might have had a nice early career. The problem with his timing is a future Hall of Famer by the name of Jim Thome, who was both younger and far better than Perry. Not surprisingly, the Indians didn’t protect Perry in the 1997 expansion draft. He was the 68th pick in that draft by the Rays.

After that, he bounced around between Tampa, the White Sox and Texas.

Finally, in 2002, the clouds parted and Perry saw his first full season and he didn’t disappoint: 132 games and a .276/.333/.480 slash line. However, the success would be short lived as he’d appear in only 60 games over the next two seasons before leaving professional baseball.

It’s amazing how Perry peaked relatively early in his career. Most notably the two homerun game against the Yanks, which he called “the greatest day of his life.” However, I’ll counter and suggest that the day, in 1996, that he purchased a thousand-cow dairy farm from his parents was the greatest. In one fell swoop he was able to provide for his parents and own land. There is nothing finer than owning an acre, I believe that is what is called manifest destiny. I imagine his favorite time working on the farm during the off-season was the fall of 2002 – at that point anything must have seemed possible.

Alas, he’d finish his career not soon thereafter with a .272/.335/.436 slash line in 1,889 plate appearances. Along the way he picked up $6.1 million and a dairy farm. Not bad at all!

As a complete non sequitur what is with the name Chan? I don’t get it. Chan Perry would taste only 25 MLB plate appearances and collect only two hits, but he does own a .292/.345/.454 line in 10 minor league seasons. The brothers Perry sure did alright by themselves and their folks!

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perry1fperry2fFor 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: Don Zimmer

Zimmer back 1956Zimmer front 1956I like facts…tangible numbers and arguments that have a basis in verifiable reality. As a kid, I bought into clutch hitting. I knew Derek Jeter would kill the Orioles. I knew Armando Benitez or Jose Mesa would spell the Orioles doom.

As I matured, I began to realize that baseball has undertones of history that belie some of the empirical evidence. As we all know, you can’t trust what you see, right Descartes?

Let me put this out of the way first, Don Zimmer was not a very good ballplayer. In 1,095 career games, he batted .235 and posted a .290 OBP. He didn’t hit for much power (just 91 HRs) or steal bases successfully (45/80 in his career). So what helped him stick in the majors for 12 seasons? Perhaps it was his ability to cover a lot of ground, or perhaps it was the timely hitting he exhibited that drove the Dodgers to the pennant in 1955 (only not really).

He was a young guy full of promise in 1955, so you can’t blame whoever wrote this for trying to make Zimmer’s season seem better than it was. However, in the grand scheme of things, his year was pedestrian just like the rest of his career. In 1955, Zimmer batted .235 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and two outs. In late and close games he would hit just .262. With the game tied, Zimmer batted .196. He hit .286 when he came to the plate in the first – third innings, yet just .209 in the fourth through sixth innings and .217 in the seventh through ninth innings. He did bat .600 in extra innings but that included just six plate appearances.

I don’t mean to pick on Zimmer. I simply wanted to rant on whether “clutchiness” is as prevalent as people think. The card above is very pretty and a great backdrop for this discussion. Thoughts?

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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: Steve Bedrosian

bedrosian back bedrosian frontJudging by his awesome facial hair and hobbies, Bedrosian seems to be the consummate flame-throwing good ole boy (never mind that he was born in Massachusetts). To me, four wheeling and breeding dogs screams hunter — of course, I’m not a hunter, so I might be completely wrong. Either way, given these three things: awesome beard, four-wheeler and breeds dogs, you would absolutely agree that he is capable of 120+ IPs in (predominantly) relief in back-to-back years.

Bedrosian did accomplish that feat and so much more. Outside of 1985, Bedrosian was basically a relief pitcher. It’s kind of odd because in ’85, he threw 206.2 innings and posted a 3.83 ERA. Of course he had a 4.14 FIP and recorded just 5.84 K/9 compared to the 8.71 rate he posted in the previous season. Another reason he’d start zero games for the rest of his career after posting 37 starts for the Braves? The organization would trade him and Milt Thompson to the Phillies for Pete Smith and Ozzie Virgil. The Phillies saw his ability to strike guys out in relief and kept him there permanently.

It’d turn out to be a pretty smart move. Bedrosian finished his career with the 34th most relief wins all time with 65 — one more than Al Hrabosky, he of the awesomest facial hair ever. Of course, on the flip side, Bedrosian has the 31st most loses (61) in relief in MLB History — tied with Bob Stanley and one ahead of Mike Stanton.

You add up that career and durability and you get the pitcher with the 46th most innings pitched in relief in MLB history — just 2.1 innings behind José Mesa (seriously – what? I’m as confused as you are).

However, the most surprising/confusing aspect of Bedrosian’s career would be the 1987 season. He did post a 2.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 7.5 K/9 and lead the league in saves with 40. Not surprising you’d say? A pretty average/above average year? Well, he won the Cy Young that year, yet had only a 2.0 WAR and only 89 IPs. Sure his win was by no means unanimous as he received just 9 first place votes (out of 24). The problem is no one could see through records and recognize the dominance of Orel Hershiser (16-16, 264 IPs, 3.06 ERA, 190 Ks, 1.21 WHIP).

Relievers are often a different breed – fiery and eclectic as always. Bedrosian, while not really remembered and with his Cy Young completely forgotten, is one of the more underrated useful relievers of all time. Plus, you can’t ignore that beard, ahem Brian Wilson.

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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: Shane Rawley

Rawley back Rawley frontThe cadence of this card is stunning. We learn that, seven years prior to its printing, Rawley earned his pilot’s license. Then, of his many interests (we assure you they are numerous) he likes to write. That’s pretty cool; writing is a fun thing to do for some people. Then, oh-by-the-way, Rawley also likes flying. Umm no **** Sherlock.

It would stand to reason if a guy was so motivated to get his pilot’s license it would be because he likes flying airplanes. I would imagine that he wasn’t flying commercial jets in the off-season to pick up pocket change. It’s just funny to me how weirdly worded this card is — there are four sentences that have very little connection with one another – and, in actuality, some are not even complete sentences.

Regardless, the ebb and flow of the narrative is kind of like Rawley’s career. In his first four seasons with the Mariners, Rawley would pitch in 159 games and amass 309.1 innings and 182 punch-outs while posting a 3.75 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. He started only five games for the Mariners.

He would then be traded in 1981 to the New York Yankees. In two+ years, Rawley would start 60 games, pitch in relief in 32 others and post a 4.11 ERA and 1.39 WHIP before being traded to the Phillies, for whom he would start 140 games and appear in only five as a reliever.

He’d be finished in the majors after the 1989 season, his first with the Twins, during which he’d start 25 games.

Given his handedness–he was a southpaw–it’s odd that he left the game just two years after being a 17 game winner. You’d think he’d at least get to be a LOOGY out of the pen. Unfortunately, Rawley would exhibit absolutely no platoon splits — righties hit .271/.340/.405 off him, while lefties hit .272/.333/.371.

He clearly had an up and down career – shifting from starter to reliever — lets hope his flying skills weren’t as rocky.

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