Posts Tagged ‘yankees’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Candy Maldonado

Maldonado backMaldonado frontReally? I mean, really? Travelling is an enjoyable experience? Maybe the mid-80s were different — there weren’t interminable security lines and strip searches that would make Demi Moore blush. Maybe back then you could bring whatever food you wanted on a plane and meet people at the gate.

I didn’t fly much as a youngster in the 80s — my family drove places. It was not a good thing…for anyone. The only saving grace was the Game Boy and Tetris.

I abhor travelling, but I like vacationing. Occasionally, air travel is fun – like on an overseas flight that isn’t too long but full of free booze. That’s my kind of travelling. But in reality, getting from point A to point B has gotten more painful than ever before.

I’m sure this isn’t want Maldonado meant when he marked “travelling” under the “enjoyable experiences” portion of the questionnaire. But I’m literal.

It’s a good thing Maldonado liked to travel, as baseball, at each level, involves a fair bit of it. In addition, Maldonado played 15 seasons in the pros for seven different teams (Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Blue Jays, Rangers, Cubs and Brewers). He was traded three times…for Alex Trevino, some nobodies and Glenallen Hill (more on him later). As mostly a part time player, he’d earn just 9.7 WAR for his career.

That doesn’t do justice to his career though. When you play 15 seasons in the Bigs you accumulate some interesting stats and, as it turns out, Maldonado was quite adept at hitting pinch-hit HRs. For instance, Maldonado is tied for 16th all time in MLB history for pinch-hit HRs. He hit 11, just two behind Hill and five behind Willie McCovey.

Perhaps the oddest thing about Maldonado’s career: only three times in MLB history has a pinch-hit homerun been the only run of the game. Maldonado accomplished this “feat” against Mark Davis on April 13, 1985.

Speaking of pinch-hitting, Maldonado had the 16th best season in MLB history in terms of pinch hit average — .425 in 1986. Not too shabby. He also earned roughly $9 million in his career – enough to make travelling at lot more relaxing…

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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: Kerry Wood

Wood back Wood front

I must admit that I’ve always scoffed at Kerry Wood — especially when he came to the big boy league. However, when he was traded to the New York Yankees and I pulled the above card, I simply had to write about him.

In baseball, there are revered names — one of the biggest in George Herman Ruth – otherwise known as the Babe and a litany of other sandlot nicknames. Outside of boozing and chasing skirts, if you are linked to the Babe you are linked to baseball immortality. Quite simply, legends never die.

Anyway, it was shocking to me that, in the history of baseball, Wood and Ruth are the only two players with at least 1,200 innings while allowing fewer than 1,000 hits. Of course, like Wood’s career, all good things must come to an end. If you look at the card closely, you’ll realize that Wood finished the 2009 season with 995 hits allowed. And sure enough, he allowed a few more hits this year to inch over the 1,000 threshold to give the Babe back another solo record.

Regardless, Wood was a real good pitcher for a few years – the heir apparent to Roger Clemens who was the heir apparent to Nolan Ryan. In three of his first five healthy seasons in the majors, Wood had a K/9 rate in double digits. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Wood would post a 3.34 ERA, 483 Ks and a 1.22 WHIP. Not bad.

Will his career resemble a glorified Kelvim Escobar? Sort of – but so what. For a couple of years he was absolutely unhittable and he happened to share a record with one of the most hallowed names in all of sports.

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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 Harper

harper back harper front



As previously noted, mining the 1986 Topps set for interesting tidbits hasn’t been overly fruitful — at least I pulled a Ripken All-star card, Clemens, Eddie Murray and Mike Schmidt recently.

Anyway, the Terry Harper card above fits the “stringent” parameters that would allow for a Flip Side posting. I’m a huge baseball fan, in case you couldn’t tell, but I never knew Hammerin’ Hank Aaron had a brother – let alone one who made it to the majors. Heck the internet barely knows – if you search for “Tommie Aaron baseball ref”, Hank’s page comes up first.

Tommie was signed by the, then, Milwaukee Braves as a free agent in 1962. That was eight years and 298 HRs into hank’s career. Tommie would do some decent things in the minors — posting a .285/.333/.439 slash line and stealing 33 bases in 45 tries. The majors would be a (sort of) different story, as Tommie would not succeed (.229/.292/.327) and steal just nine bases in 17 tries.

For his career, Hank would steal 240 bases in 313 tries. He’d steal 28 bases in the 1968 season and never more than nine in a season during the rest of his career. Tommie would steal three bases in 1968 and never another for his career.

Regardless of HR or SB totals, you have to think that one of the greatest memories the brothers have is of September 24, 1968. With Tommie on first and Hank on third, the duo would execute a flawless double steal. Hank, after scoring and wiping the dirt and dust from his uniform, must have looked into the sun across the diamond to see Tommie knocking the dirt and dust from his uniform and smiling back. Outside of back-to-back HRs, a double steal by brothers would be pretty special.

As for Terry Harper? He was just as bad a hitter (.253/.321/.371) and base stealer (37/65) as Tommie. Both would also go 0-1 in their only post-season at bat and achieve a negative WAR for their careers. If only Terry had a brother like Hank…

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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 Virgil

Virgil back Virgil front

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

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: Dale Murphy

dale murphy back dale murphy front

This card reminds me of that annoying, yet funny, GEICO commercial with Andres Cantor. I know people like chess, gamble on chess, play chess, etc. but to be enthusiastic about chess? That’s usually reserved for hoity toity intellectuals, not professional ballplayers.

Then again, Dale Murphy was a heckova special ballplayer. Murphy won back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983. From 1980-1987, Murphy averaged 100 runs, 161 hits, 33 HRs, 96 RBIs and a .284/.374/.517 slash line. That’s a pretty darn good peak. Of course, starting in 1988, he would never bat over .245 for the rest of his career, which ended with a whimper in 1993.

If only he would have petered out like an Eddie Murray, we’d be looking at a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, he didn’t. Through 1987 he accumulated 40.7 WAR, he’d finish his career with 44.2 – tied with Carlos Delgado. He isn’t that far behind Nellie Fox or Kirby Puckett and is ahead of Thurman Munson and Phil Rizzuto, but his peak precluded something greater.

That’s the thing about baseball, you never really know. Murphy did make nearly $20 million in his career. Here’s hoping that bought a really nice chess set that can take his mind off of what might have been.

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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: CJ Wilson

CJ Wilson backCJ Wilson frontTypically I poke fun at the inaccuracies, poor grammar and just weirdness on the backs of these cards. However, I can’t do that with C.J. Wilson’s – it is that spot on.

Wilson has a phenomenal twitter and blog presence. He has also done a ton of stuff with the creators of Lost – a show that got as esoteric as any show in history. He is also into racing. By the way, I wrote this entire paragraph from memory – that is how (scarily) well I know Wilson.

Well whatever Wilson is doing, I’m cool with it. He was a pretty out-of-this world reliever last year – way beyond LOOGY status. He pitched 73.2 innings and posted a 10.26 K/9 rate. He actually had a better K/9 rate against righties (10.96) than lefties (9.11). Adding those innings, k-rate and ability to work against righties and lefties made him a super valuable reliever in 2009.

But that wasn’t enough.

In 2010, C.J. would transition to starting. How would that go? He’d pitch 199 innings, post a 7.51 k-rate and a 3.35 ERA. Sure he benefited slightly from a .271 BAbip and a lower HR/FB% than he normally does, but we’re still looking at a 3.60 FIP guy.

In short, C.J. is one of (if not the most) interesting starters in all of baseball. Hat tip to Topps for identifying the interesting aspects of Wilson in his 2010 card.

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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 ~ 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.

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

Wilson Betemit – Betemit’s frequent Katy Perry appearances have dried up of late. That is, until he clocked two HRs, batted .440 and added nine RBIs over the last seven days. He is batting .317 in 230 ABs this season, what more do you need from him? I’m not sure why Pedro Alvarez is owned more than Betemit.

Hideki Matsui – As John McCLane would say, “Welcome to the party pal!” Matsui has been a hibernating Godzilla for most of the year. However, he has come alive of late (.400 AVG and two HRs over the last seven days). Over his last 75 ABs, he is hitting .360 with five HRs and 20 RBIs. He is someone I’d be much more comfortable running out there than Alfonso Soriano.

Ryan Kalish – Kalish makes the second appearance on Katy’s All-stars of his young career. And what scout wouldn’t beam with pride because of this accomplishment? Something tells me the scout that pushed for him is a bit prouder of his last seven days of performance (.273 AVG, seven RBIs and one SB). He probably won’t help much in the AVG department, but he will score some runs and knock some in, while providing some light speed. There are many a-league where that’ll play.

Orlando Cabrera – Quick, which baseball player with the last name Cabrera had the best last seven days? No, not Daniel Cabrera. No, it wasn’t Orlando either. It was a trick question. Miguel Cabrera had the best last seven days, but Orlando was a close second (seven runs and a .346 AVG). Orlando is hitting .412 since returning from the disabled list and will bat amongst a potent Reds line-up. Really, at this point, you might rather have O-Cab than Elvis Andrus.

Felix Pie – Judging by my readership numbers, the majority of the 50 of you are Americans. What do Americans love most besides explosions, big breasts, celebrities, cheeseburgers, paradise, and Budweiser? Pie!!! Yet the fantasy playing community hasn’t gotten behind good old Felix? Over the last seven days, he was as sweet as mom’s apple pie cooling on the ledge (.333 AVG, five runs and a stolen base). Sure he has been dinged up this year, but no worse than the General Lee. Flat-out, when he’s healthy he has produced. If you want an outfielder who can pop the occasional homerun, score and steal a base, gobble, do not sex, the Pie.

Brett Wallace – Wallace has been anything but his namesake lately. But he has shown rock-throwing flashes of late (.353 AVG and a HR over his last seven days). He will not get many RBI opportunities and won’t score much given the Astros line-up, but it is good to see he can, at least, hang with major league pitching. While he has the pedigree, I wouldn’t be hanging my h2h play-offs on his performance.

Alex Sanabia – For whatever reason even though there has been ample opportunity, Katy has shied away from naming Sanabia to her All-star squad. With the dearth of usable pitching out there and his recent performance (6.2 shutout IPs, one win and a 0.90 WHIP), she could wait no more. Sanabia has been downright effective all season, going 54.2 IPs and posting a 3.95 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Surely you think the 32nd round draft pick in 2006 is being lucky. Well, not so fast my friends. He has a 3.57 FIP. What concerns me about him is just a 5.4 FB/HR rate – I’m pretty sure he won’t be able to sustain that. Still, there is a lot to like in Sanabia, especially as a streaming option. Be careful about HR hitting line-ups and parks though.

Brad Bergesen – As an Orioles fan, I’m stoked with what Bergesen has done lately (pitching his third career complete game, allowing just one run and posting a 0.78 WHIP). Over his last 35.2 IPs, Bergesen has a 2.52 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Unfortunately, there isn’t much upside for Bergesen with a miniscule 4.32 K/9 rate. Basically, the Orioles have been playing some inspired defense around him lately (.214 BAbip over the last seven days; .227 over the last 14 and .261 over the last 28). Until Bergesen learns to strike more batters out, he is, at best, a fringe option.

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

Alfonso Soriano – There hasn’t been a whole lot to like about Soriano’s season, especially his last seven days (2/15). I hope he isn’t a starter for your team during crunch time. If he isn’t, why not drop him for a streamable pitcher or a hot bat? Frankly, there can’t be too many super deep leagues where it is advantageous to hang onto Soriano as he plays out the string. He is 77 percent owned – that’s way too high. I’d rather have Pie.

Pedro AlvarezWhen Alvarez goes on a binge, it is Tommy Gavin-esque. However, those have been few and far between, especially over the last seven (4/26) and 30 (18/95) days. He is 14 percent owned – which isn’t a ton, but about 13 percent more than it should be. He can’t hit righties and really can’t hit lefties. Grab Wilson Betemit.

Mark Buehrle – I think I told you to drop Buehrle previously, but that was probably 20 Katy Perry All-stars ago. Over the last seven days, he did squads no help (6.75 ERA and 1.67 WHIP with just five Ks in 12 IPs). He hasn’t been a totally useless fantasy entity (4.16 ERA, 4.08 FIP and 12 wins), but his 4.12 K/9 rate is the worst of times. Frankly, he has no upside. If I’m streaming, he is someone I will ignore.

JA Happ – The wheels have come off the Happ bandwagon a bit lately. Over the last seven days, Happ pitched 9.1 IPs and posted a 5.79 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. He did strike-out nine, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Is this the beginning of the performance readjustment that statheads have predicted? Sort of. Does that mean he loses all value? No. Think of Happ as a guy who can post an ERA from 4.00 – 4.50 with a 7.00 – 7.50 K/9 rate. That’ll play in most places as a bench/streaming option. Certainly, I like him more than Buehrle.

James Shields – Man James Shields is killing me. I have him in most leagues and the glimpses of the best of times have been good, but he always seems to muck up the works. To wit: over his last two starts he went 11.1 IPs, posted 12 Ks and a 3.97 ERA. Of course he also had a debilitating 1.50 WHIP. At a certain point, with so little season left, it’s hard to suggest Shields will suddenly morph into the 4.22 FIP pitcher we all expect him to be. The Ks have been there (8.47 per 9) all season, which is nice, but he has been murdered by a .347 BAbip. I like Shields going forward, but you need to be careful with your ratios this time of year, so be cautious with how you deploy him.

FB101’s 411: Be sure you know how to judge a hot streak. Betemit, Matsui, and Cabrera make good adds. Keep your eye on Kalish, Pie, Wallace and Sanabia. You are allowed to sort of give up on Soriano, Buehrle, and Alvarez.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Don Mattingly

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

Mattingly - 1987 BackMattingly - 1987 Front

I’m sorry about all the New York corner infielders, but this one was too bizarre to pass up!

Do an internet search for ‘Don Mattingly birthday’ and you get April 20, 1961. Baseball Reference also has him as being born in 1961.

So how did he get away with this, while Miguel Tejada and others have been caught? I guess it doesn’t matter if it is only one year and the supposed official birth year makes him older, right?

Regardless, Mattingly put together a brilliant first three seasons of a career. Look at all those italics! Unfortunately, he would never lead the league in anything after this card was printed. My baseball consciousness wasn’t fully alive until the early 1990s and, at that point, Mattingly was an old fogey with achy knees. Of course, that old fogey posted a .397 OBP at age 33 in 1994. Or maybe he was really only 32 when he was taking all those pitches?

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