Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Padres’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Ed Wojna

wojna backwojna front (1)We have another entry for bizarre job a ballplayer did in the 1980s to make extra money.

We also have another entry for bizarre phrasing on the back of a baseball card. Why didn’t they just write: Ed has experience as a draftsman?

Anyway, if you were me reading the card, you’d think a draftsman was pretty cool. Of course, you wouldn’t really know what it was. In my mind, a draftsman is someone who pours a draft of beer, or potentially brews beer – either way, pretty cool jobs. Of course, now that I think about it, this would be another (redundant) name for brew master? Ok, I guess brew master is better. But draftsman isn’t half bad.

So what is a draftsman, if not a purveyor of fine hops and barley? It’s someone who turns a design idea into a physical picture. Typically draftsmen produce guides for builders – specifically pictures that are incredibly detailed and capable of being used as specifications for manufacturers. Apparently you have to know a lot of math to be a draftsman…the occupation gets lamer by the second eh?

As for Wojna’s career? Let’s just say it was good he acquired experience as a draftsman. He was a 5th round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. He was part of a deal from Philly to San Diego for Sixto Lezcano.

He’d put up iffy minor leagues numbers for the Padres from 1984-1987. He’d pitch best in ’86, going 12-7 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.37 WHIP and earn a promotion during which he pitched 39 innings and posted a 3.23 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with a 1.19 K:BB rate. Unfortunately, he’d only pitch 18.1 innings the following year in the majors and post some horrible ratios: 5.89 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. He was then shipped from the Padres to the White Sox for a player to be named later (Joel McKeon). Then from the White Sox to the Indians.

He’d pitch just 33 innings for the Indians before being released and never toeing the rubber on an MLB diamond again.

Maybe it was a good thing he needed to acquire experience as a draftsman!

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

venable bvenable f

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: Ozzie Smith

Ozzie 1987 backOzzie 1987 Front

So in addition to being the wizard, Ozzie somehow became America’s preeminent casual dresser. I was quite unaware of the fashions of the 80s, as you would mostly find me in He-Man footies, but, given the way Smith patrolled the diamond, it’s not hard to think of him in suave attire.

While he was a sweet fielder, the Padres were never impressed with his bat. As a Padre, he batted .231 with a .295 OBP. While he was second in the rookie of the year voting and accumulated two gold gloves, they had no problem shipping the future better version of Luis Aparicio to St. Louis for, essentially, Sixto Lezcano and Garry Templeton. That would be a big mistake.

In 1982, at age 27, Smith would post a .339 OBP. He would go on to post an incredibly serviceable .352 OBP from 1982 – 1994. According to Baseball Reference, Smith had a higher career WAR than Ernie Banks, Jackie Robinson, Mark McGwire, Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson and a great percentage of players who stepped onto a diamond.

Still, I’m perfectly willing to let the 1987 card put the footnote on an impeccable career that went beyond offensive statistics. The smooth wizard simply knew his way around a blazer and acid-washed jeans combination.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Matt Stairs

stairs backstairs frontThis card is from 1992. Apparently at that point in time, Matt Stairs was svelte enough to play second base. But, in all fairness, he probably wasn’t. In reality, I assume Matt Stairs wasn’t moved off second base because of the logjam, but rather because he couldn’t field the position worth a lick – and that is okay.

In 1991, he did kill the ball in AA, posting a .333/.411/.509 line. He would reach the majors in 1992, but played in only 13 games for the Expos. In 1993, he played in only six games – all in the outfield.

He resurfaced in the majors in 1995, during which he appeared in 39 games for the Red Sox. The following season he played in 61 games for the Oakland Athletics.

Finally, in 1997, as a 29-year-old, Stairs would get full time duties; presumably the function the Expos moved him off second base for six years previous. Stairs would hit .298/.386/.582 with 27 HRs. Over the next three seasons, he followed up with similar campaigns that saw him hit 26, 38 and 21 HRs.

After that, he joined the Cubs, did his usual thing, then went to Milwaukee the following year, then Pittsburgh, then Kansas City for two+ seasons, and then Texas for 26 games and Detroit for 14 games. After Detroit, he was in Toronto for a full season and part of the next, before joining the Phillies, hitting a home run and appearing in 115 games .

In sum, after 16 years of playing, Stairs went to the post-season with the Phillies and changed baseball history. I didn’t even remember that Stairs, a Canadian, started his career with the Expos. I certainly had no idea he started out as a second basemen. It’s funny, this game. You begin as a bright-eyed 24-year-old power hitting infielder who can take a pitch, and low and behold 16 years later you hit one of the most important homeruns for the city of Philadelphia.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tony Gwynn

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

Tony Gwynn Back1987Tony Gwynn Front 1987

First things first, Tony Gwynn loves San Diego. Not only did he spend his entire 20-season career in the beautiful whale’s vagina, but he went to college there and was drafted by the basketball team. Oh, yeah, he also, currently, coaches San Diego State University’s baseball team.

Second things second, someone my age—who didn’t really know baseball in the late ‘80s—thinks of Tony Gwynn as this slow slap hitter that didn’t do much besides hit singles. Kind of like an Ichiro without speed or Wade Boggs.

When, in fact, judging by Gwynn’s prowess at basketball he was an incredibly athletic dude. From 1984 – 1990, he averaged 32 steals per season. Meanwhile, from 2005 – 2010, Ichiro averaged just five steals more per season.

This card really made me re-think the way I looked at Gwynn’s career. Certainly, I had mad respect for the guy, especially when his career compares favorably to Rod Carew, Boggs, Roberto Clemente and George Sisler. But I always saw him as the most boring of one-dimensional station-to-station players. That simply isn’t the case of the man who lead the league in hits in seven out of the 16 fullish seasons he played.

I just thank god he didnt go to the Clippers and incur the curse.

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h2h Corner ~ Katy Perry (Hot ‘N’ Cold Fantasy Baseball) All-Stars

Players get hot and cold over a seven-day period, it’s as sure as the samples are small.

That is why Katy created the Hot ‘N’ Cold All-stars.

I know you’re just waiting for football to start (Go Eagles!), but, for those of you still winning, I’ll post some quick guys to think about down the stretch, then you can get back to football.

Cause you’re hot…you’re yes…you’re in…you’re up

Jim Thome – For some reason, I’ve written a ton about Thome this year, maybe it’s because he keeps putting together pretty good seven day stretches (most recent = three HRs and a .455 AVG). The dude has 21 HRs on the year. If you need power, he’s available and willing to relocate.

Ryan KalishLost in the Red Sox lost season is the work Kalish has been doing. Over the last seven days, he has two steals and a .333 AVG. He got on base in the minors (.284 AVG and .372 OBP) and swiped bases and a nifty clip (84% success rate), so he could be a cheap source of steals and runs down the stretch. There could be an adjustment period, though, so don’t go adding him if you are worried about your ratio categories.

Austin Jackson – Left for dead not too long ago, Jackson has been doing work lately (eight runs and a .310 AVG over the last seven days). He is still existing based on a ridiculous BAbip (.418), but he has shown the ability to stay hot. During his hot streaks, he’ll score and steal a ton. I don’t see any reason not to add him at the moment. When he starts to strike-out again (which he will), simply dump him.

Ike Davis – The Ike test might be a great generational question. When you say the name Ike, who does it remind you of, the character from South Park or a former general turned president? Well, for Mets fans, if Ike Davis turns in seven day stretches like he has recently (two HRs and a .364 AVG), they’ll forget all about the animated series and 34th president. While his average won’t help you, he does have 17 HRs on the year. See if he continues his recent surge and, if so, add him.

Nick Hundley – I had a billion Todd Hundley rookie cards when I was a kid, which makes me kind of despise Nick Hundley. However, Nick has been real good over the last seven days (two HRs, seven RBIs). In fact, over his last 40 ABs, he has hit .293. Unlike, say, Miguel Olivo, Hundley won’t destroy your batting average. Sure he doesn’t hit for a ton of power, but you can do a lot worse at catcher.

Jordan Zimmerman – It is always nice to see players bounce back from injuries. In this case, Zimmerman has come back from a lengthy lay-off to get major league hitters out – no small feat (just ask Brien Taylor). Over the last seven days, Zimmerman pitcher 10 innings, struck out 11 and posted a 0.90/0.80 ERA/WHIP. He won’t throw a ton of innings, so his value is limited. However, in the interim, there is nothing wrong with someone who is going to strike-out a batter an inning.

Ian Desmond – I swear, even though I live in D.C., I’m not a Nats fan. Katy Perry, even though she wants to establish residency in a far inferior country, just seems to like the gleam in their player’s eyes. Desmond has long been a favorite and keeps putting up usable weeks (five runs, four RBIs and a .476 AVG). You can (and probably are) doing much worse at the middle infield position.

Luke French – It’s easy to overlook what French has done this year (just 26 Ks in 59.1 IPs), however he keeps putting up useable turns (seven shutout IPs and a 0.57 WHIP over the last seven days). He has been a tad lucky (.250 BAbip) so his season-long ERA (3.64) is a bit nicer than it should be. However, I see no problem with spot-starting him at home against weaker hitting ball clubs.

Chris Sale – Awhile back, I spoke with Joel Henard about the Chris Sale call-up. At the time, the White Sox bull-pen was in fine form, so I saw Sale as nothing other than an incredibly useful situational lefty. Well, over the last week, with relievers not getting their Rolaids, Sale struck out five batters over 4.2 IPs, got a win and a save and didn’t allow a run. For those chasing saves, he is a pretty attractive option.

Madison Bumgarner – For some reason, I find Bumgarner’s name distasteful, like a mouth-full of sand. Anyway, that’s about all I can find distasteful, as he keeps putting up solid turn after solid turn. Over the last seven days, he hurled 13.1 IPs, struck out nine and posted a 0.68/1.05 ERA/WHIP. He has been a tad lucky with a strand rate near 80%, but other than that he is a super useful pitcher. He is a nice add in mid-sized leagues.

Then you’re cold…then you’re no…then you’re out…then you’re down

Tommy Hunter – What a great name! He’s no Tommy Gunn, but, well, Gunn did end up in the trash, while Hunter should simply end up in the free agent pool. Seriously how many weeks does he have to have like the most recent (12.2 IPs, only seven Ks and a 6.39 ERA and 1.58 WHIP) before you drop him? On the year, he has a .257 BAbip and 80.7% strand rate – he has been real lucky. While his ERA is a smidge below 4.00, he has pitched much more like a pitcher with a mid-5.00 ERA. Do yourself (not your opponent) a favor and drop him for, say, Madison Bumgarner.

Javier Vazquez – The thing people haven’t realized about Vazquez is that, even amid his horrific year, he’s been lucky! That’s hard to do. Yet people still went out and added him when he got a rotation spot back. Well, he rewarded them, with 4.2 IPs, a 9.64 ERA and 1.71 WHIP over the last seven days. He has a .269 BAbip. Pinstripes turn him into something vile, just ditch him.

Anibal Sanchez – Sanchez did some damage to teams when they needed him most (11 IPs, a 5.73 ERA and 1.27 WHIP last week). Well, I’m going to ignore that and say you need to trust him this week. He has been legit all year (.316 BAbip, 70.7% strand rate and 7.01 Ks/9). Sure, he has somehow completely limited his HR/FB rate (just 3.7% this year), but I still think he is a definite match-ups play.

Carlos Pena – This is the typical spot where I say that players like Pena will end up here a lot because they strike-out a ton and thus have wide average swings. However, I’ve not going to do that. Instead, I think weeks like the last one (0/17) have become commonplace for Pena. If you don’t care about AVG and really need power, sure keep him around, but that’s the only reason to own him.

Adam LaRoche – Second-half juggernaut LaRoche hasn’t been very X-men villain-like. Sure his slugging is up a bit, but he’s on pace to hit the same amount of HRs as he did in the first half. What’s worse is that he seems to be sputtering toward the finish line (just .182 AVG over the last seven days). With the depth of the first base pool, I wouldn’t be waiting for a vintage LaRoche endgame.

Pablo Sandoval – As Jack Bauer would say, “you’re running out of time!” Seriously, Sandoval has yet to kick it in gear (.111 AVG over the last seven days) and I don’t think you should wait on him. Miguel Tejada makes a more attractive third base option at this point.

All stats as of noon September 7, 2010.

FB101’s 411: Be sure you know how to judge a hot streak. Thome, Jackson, Zimmerman, Desmond, Sale and Bumgarner make good adds. Keep your eye on Kalish, French, Hundley and Davis. You are allowed to sort of give up on Javier Vazquez, Carlos Pena, Tommy Hunter, and Pablo Sandoval.

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