Posts Tagged ‘play-offs’

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.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Fred Lewis

Fred lewis backWhen you compare the info from the older cards to the newer cards, you see a natural progression. There seems to be more professionalism, better information and a subtle sense of “stat-geek” influences with the new cards. Of course, in today’s modern world it is much easier to edit things and gather information.

Still, I like the neatness of the Fred Lewis card…the card calls his career highlights “unique” because they are – they aren’t “great” or anything he really controls, just unique. The factoids are beautifully odd: Lewis hit safely in his first three at bats, his first homer was part of a cycle, his next two dingers were grand slams, and he stole home twice (the coolest thing besides flying jets).

This card is part of the 2010 Series I, which means it doesn’t include the tidbit that on April 15 he was traded to the Blue Jays for cash/player to be named. Clearly the Giants were willing to give up on the 29-year-old outfielder who had been a second round selection in 2002. It’s not exactly clear why. Set aside the fact that the Giants were not bursting with hitting talent, Lewis managed a useable (especially in the NL) slash line (.277/.355/.420) over 1,528 plate appearances. Not surprisingly, Lewis would post a .262/.332/.414 line in the AL. Given the harder competition it makes sense that he’d hit a bit worse in the harder league.

However, the bizarre thing about this is the decision to trade Lewis for, essentially, nothing. He had done all those cool things — stole home, hit grand slams, hit for the cycle and was decidedly useful. The Giants would use Aaron Rowand (331 ABs), Nate Schierholtz (227 ABs) and an assortment of other players in a spot that Lewis could have manned easily. Sure Lewis earned .8 WAR this year, but Rowand earned a negative WAR and Schierholtz earned just .2 WAR.

Maybe I’m a sucker for players who act like Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez, but I found it incredibly odd the way the Giants handled Lewis this year. At the very least, Lewis has had one of the most unique careers of any baseball player — and that is saying something.

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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: Brian Buchanan

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I really find this card funny – for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is that it allows me to make a little fun of the New York Yankees….

So let me get this straight. Matt Nokes walks in free agency because the Yanks have a young catcher in the minors who is playing pretty well and the team can obtain a supplemental draft pick when he signs with another organization. The Yankees then use that pick on someone named Brian Buchanan – a big 6’3, 190 lbs left-handed pitcher out of high school. Of course, as you (the reader) no doubt see, Buchanan played JV baseball for two years and didn’t pitch his junior season. So, the Yankees drafted a guy with exactly 42.2 varsity high school innings. Not typically the recipe for success.

He’d spend six years in the Yankees minor league system tapping out at AA. He’d finish with not exactly horrible minor league numbers spread over nine years (3.99 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 7.2 Ks/9). What really hurt him was his control; he’d walk 4.1 batters per nine in the minors. Unfortunately, like so many other draft picks, Buchanan would never toe the rubber for a major league ball club.

As for the other Brian Buchanan – and seriously was it the PR departments idea to draft guys with the same name in back-to-back years — he’d log 14 seasons in the minors, finishing with a .279/.341/.450 slash line and 141 HRs. He’d never play for the Yankees as he, along with Eric Milton, Christian Guzman and Danny Mota would be shipped to the Twins in exchange for Chuck Knoblauch. Truly this trade helped both sides. The Twins ultimately got two steady major league performers and Knoblauch played a solid second base for the Yankees. However, Buchanan would do nothing for the Twins – hitting a grand total of 16 HRs in 414 ABs before being traded to the Padres for Jason Bartlett.

Of course Bartlett would put up some great minor league numbers (.299/.373/.417) leading him to become a semi-darling of the stat-community. He was then packaged along with Matt Garza for, predominantly, Delmon Young.

So, the Yankees got no major league appearances from back-to-back Brian Buchanan first round draft picks. Of course, they did turn one into part of chuck Knoblauch — which is a pretty good thing.

You have to love the MLB draft – strange things always seem to happen which is decidedly the case with the only two MLB players to have been named Brian Buchanan.

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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: Terry Mulholland

Mulholland baclkMulholland frontThis is Terry Mulholland’s rookie card. He was a first round draft pick of the Giants in 1984 as a 23-year-old. He’d never perform well in the minors (723.2 IPs, 3.69 ERA and 1.49 WHIP), so it isn’t terribly surprising that he would have to work as a gas station attendant during the off-season. Clearly he wasn’t drawing the Annie Savoy bedroom eye dollars.

It took him four years, but by 1988, the Giants would pay him enough ($70,000) to leave the Chevron behind. However, his finest year wouldn’t come until 1993 for the Philadelphia Phillies for whom he would go 9-10 but post a 3.34 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He’d follow that up with back-to-back 225+ IP campaigns.

Mulholland would also be part of five different trades that included the likes of Steve Bedrosian (who was himself traded three times between the Braves, Giants and Phillies), Dennis Cook, Desi Relaford, Jose Hernandez and Paul Shuey. In addition, Mulholland was part of the oldest battery (along with Pat Borders) in baseball history and pitched the first no-hitter in venerable Veteran’s stadium history.

Given his longevity as a LOOGY, it’s not surprising that his career compares favorably to Jeff Fassaro, Greg Swindell, Shane Rawley and Darren Oliver.

Still, his most memorable start would be game six of the 1993 World Series. He’d give up five runs in five innings of work, but pitch well enough for the Phillies to be in position to win the game when, hells bells, Mitch Williams entered. Unfortunately, Williams would give up a walk-off season-ending home run to Joe Carter that led to the leap of joy.

In all, Mulholland would pitch 20 seasons and earn $20.1 million — enough to buy a lot of cool baseball cards. Along the way, he would make stops in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Minnesota, Chicago, etc. That’s a lot for a guy who started off needing to pump gas in the off-season. Oh, and one other thing, he recorded a win in 18 consecutive seasons, tied for the 51st longest streak in major league baseball history.

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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: Cody Ross

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Sometimes I just don’t get these cards and I probably shouldn’t take them literally, but, heck, it’s more fun that way.

When I was a youngster, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. When Cody Ross, professional baseball player, was growing up he wanted to be a rodeo clown. Do you know what rodeo clowns do? They distract bulls…purposefully…bulls that are intent on gorging….not exactly a profession a ton of people aspire to.

I think the baseball community can thank their lucky stars that Ross found his way to the diamond instead of the rodeo.

It wasn’t easy though. Ross, a fourth round draft pick in 1999, would post decent minor league numbers for the Tigers, ultimately hitting .287/.333/.515 at 22 in AAA. However, he’d net just 19 ABs (and one blown knee) for the major league club before they traded him to the Dodgers for Steve Coyler (who would pitch just 32 major league innings for the Tigers and post a 6.47 ERA) in April of 2004.

Ross would do his thing in the minors for the Dodgers (.273/.328/.538) in 2004, but not see the majors until 2005. In 2005, he’d get just 25 ABs and do nothing special. Then, in 2006, he’d be traded by the Dodgers to the Reds for Ben Kozlowski (a career minor leaguer). However, a month later the Marlins would purchase Ross from the Reds.

The Marlins, for whatever reason, decided to turn Ross loose. In 2006, he’d get 250 MLB ABs and post a miserable .212/.284/.396 slash line. But the Marlins would give him another 173 ABs in 2007 and Ross would destroy the ball (.335/.411/.635).

Finally, at age 27, Ross was given a full season to operate and he didn’t disappoint: .260/.316/.488. Numbers most people would think were easily attainable based on his minor league track record. Ross has shown a penchant for slugging some homers and destroying lefties (career: .290/.351/.595). Two skills that have come in super handy during the 2010 play-offs –most notably when he singled off Jonny Venters to give the Giants the series victory over the Braves.

Kudos to Ross for sticking it out through the call-ups, trades and purchases and for choosing baseball over clowning…

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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: Don Slaught

slaught back slaught frontLet’s just hope Don Slaught has a better speech writer than the writer he had for his baseball card…could you imagine trying to incorporate that sentence into a speech? You wouldn’t say “I spend my off-season in Arlington where I’m member of Rangers’ Speakers Bureau.” Very Phil Hartman like!

There are a couple of words missing there – “a member” of “the bureau” would sound a bit better.

Putting that aside, at most we’re talking about 40 Ranges players — how many of them are members of the bureau? Was Nolan Ryan a member? Did he perform a moving soliloquy about the Robin Ventura tragedy? That’d be kind of cool actually – someone should turn the incident into a one-act Greek play and have Ryan act it out.

For all of his speaker’s bureau membership, Slaught would spend just three uneventful years in Texas before being traded to the Yankees. Regardless, Slaught is most known for his days with the Pirates. Before going to Pittsburgh, Slaught, from 1982-1989, posted a .269/.317/.408 slash line. For the Pirates he would go .305/.370/.421. Sure the slugging isn’t there, but a .370 OBP in 1,434 ABs is nothing to scoff at. He’d finished with 20.7 WAR for his career, 9.6 of that accumulated with the Pirates. Unfortunately, like the rest of his teammates in the early ’90s, he’d perform worse in the play-offs. While he got only 40 ABs, he’d hit just .225.

When I think of the Pirates of that era, I think of Slaught and Mike LaValliere. I was a catcher in little league so I naturally gravitated toward backstops. I always thought the duo was a tad underrated and it seems like they were. LaValliere, with the Pirates, posted a .287/.364/.351 slash line. Sure the power was absent but at least he got on base.

Regardless, I’m sure Slaught is a hit a parties with all his stories – he must have some doozies about Bonds and Bonilla. Thanks to the Rangers’ Speakers Bureau he received the training to address parties of all sizes.

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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: Tim Stoddard & Dennis Rasmussen

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The Yankees had one dynamic and athletic pitching staff in 1987. Tim Stoddard started on the North Carolina State team, which, in 1974, beat Marquette and effectively ended UCLA’s run of seven consecutive NCAA basketball titles.

Ras BackNot to be outdone, Dennis Rasmussen played ball (basket variety) at Creighton. While he was there he played against the immortal Larry Bird (who played for Indiana State) and with Kevin McKenna. McKenna would log 243 NBA games and score 1,320 points. Definitely no slouch.

So how did the pitching staff with the best basketball acumen do? They’d throw 1,446.1 innings, give up 1,475 hits, 542 walks, and 179 HRs. They would also strike-out an even 900 batters, and post a 4.36 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. That’d be good enough for 89 wins and the sixth best ERA. Unfortunately the Tigers and their 4.02 ERA would take the division that year.

stoddard frontStoddard would be a decent help to the cause in 1987, logging 92.2 innings out of the bull-pen and posting a 3.50 ERA and 7.6 K/9 rate – both better than his career average. Apparently, not too long ago, relievers were men who pitched nearly 100 innings a season. In addition, Stoddard is the only man in history to win an NCAA basketball title and a World Series (he did so with the Orioles in 1983).

Before being traded, Rasmussen started 25 games, pitched 146 innings and would post an unfriendly 4.75 ERA. A tall guy at 6’7, Rasmussen would go on to have a fine 1988 campaign (200+ IPs, 3.43 ERA) for the Reds and Padres. However, that’d be his last relatively useful season in the majors.
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Still, before he got traded, I hope he had a chance to post up the 6’7 Stoddard.

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