Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, April 2021
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4/29/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #744 Kelly Mann, Braves
More Kelly Mann Topps Cards: n/a
There isn't much to say about Kelly John Mann, whose major league career lasted 18 games over the 1989-90 seasons. Mann was a defensively-skilled catcher who started out in the Cubs system (and was a 1988 Carolina League All-Star), but was moved to Atlanta in mid-1989 via trade (for RP Paul Assenmacher).
THIS CARD: Mann, if nothing else, looked good in the Braves uniform.
More from Mann's 1989 season: a September call-up, he started all seven games in which he appeared and threw out 4 of 10 enemy basestealers. Mann's first major league hit was a 4th-inning double off San Diego's Ed Whitson 9/4, and in his last start he enjoyed his first multi-hit game.
(flip) In a strange coincidence, NFL/MLB stars Brian Jordan and Bo Jackson both went in the same draft round as Mann. They were the only three from 1985 Round #20 to reach the majors.
Just glancing at those MiLB stops, I'm guessing Charlotte is the only franchise still in operation.
AFTER THIS CARD: Mann was a September call-up for the 1990 Braves as well, and at one point he started 7 of 10 games for them. But he went just 4-for-28 (albeit with his first HR) and never sniffed the bigs again. Mann's affiliated pro career ended in 1993, back in the Cubs system; he also played in an Independent League in 1995.
Kelly Mann appeared in 1990 Topps. (He can also be found in 1991 Donruss.)
CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Atlanta Braves
More April 2021 Topps Cards Of The Day
4/1/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #49 Jason Simontacchi, Cardinals
More Jason Simontacchi Topps Cards: 2002T 2004 2007U
Jason Simontacchi was one of the feel-good stories of 2002. The 28-year-old made his major league debut for the Cardinals in May, and threw so well that he stayed in their rotation for the rest of the season. Simontacchi had been previously let go by the KC, Pittsburgh and Minnesota organizations and to say the odds of him ever making a major league impact were next to nil would be accurate.
But the "kid" never gave up, and immediately after getting "The Call" to replace Josh Pearce in the St. Louis rotation, Simontacchi threw seven strong innings to beat the always-tough Braves.
THIS CARD: Simontacchi works at a road ballpark that I would try to identify if I wasn't three days behind on COTD. I CAN tell you that on the road in 2002, he was 5-3, 4.88, but that ERA drastically improves if you toss out an 8/2 start at vengeful Atlanta (nine ER in one inning).
Simontacchi wears #46; between SP Pete Vuckovich in the late '70's and star 1B Paul Goldschmidt today, those digits were passed around a LOT, with lefty RP's Ken Dayley and Kevin Siegrist being the most notable wearers.
That could be a changeup on the way; Simontacchi had a good one. He threw hard enough, cutting and sinking the fastball with a slider to round out his repertoire. (According to the SFGate.com, Simontacchi once featured a curve; I don't know if he ever busted it out in the bigs. And that same article talks in detail about Simontacchi's voyage to the major leagues...it's a good read.)
(flip) Not only is this guy a San Francisco Bay Area native (like me), but he also shares a birthday with my kid...nice.
As you can see, Simontacchi dealt for Springfield, then of the Independent Frontier League, in 1998. Named league Pitcher Of The Year, that one season eventually got him elected to the Frontier League Hall of Fame (in 2019).
I'm going to guess Tom Urbani was that 1993 Cardinal who started 5-0. (Upon research, the correct answer is: Allen Watson, who started 6-0. There's wrong, and then there's OBSCENELY wrong.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Simontacchi opened 2003 in the Birds' rotation, but was moved to the bullpen in July with a 6.64 ERA and kept there for the season's duration. Though he opened 2004 with St. Louis, he was sent back to AAA, but was repeatedly called up during the season and got in 14 games for the NL Champions—including a 4/10 blowout in which he pinch-hit and finished the game in LF!
Let go after the '04 season, Simontacchi sat out 2005 after labrum surgery, failed to make the 2006 Cubs, but got another major league shot with the 2007 Nationals.
After recovering from a Spring Training groin injury, Simontacchi joined the Nats' rotation in May and went 6-7, 6.37 in 13 starts; a bad elbow ended his season in July and he never returned to an MLB mound (though he did return to the Independent League 2008-10).
Later on, Simontacchi began his coaching career; he's worked in the St. Louis and Kansas City organizations.
Jason Simontacchi appeared in 2003-04 Topps. He's also got a 2002 Traded card as a Cardinals prospect, and a 2007 Update card as a new National.
CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals
4/2/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #242 Matt Kemp, Dodgers
More Matt Kemp Topps Cards: 2005U 2006U 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015 2015U 2016 2016U 2017 2018 2018U 2019
For a time, I all but despised Matt Kemp. As a lifelong Giants fan, I kind of had to; he was the Dodgers' best player. On top of that, he once took a couple menacing steps toward Tim Lincecum after being hit by a pitch—the same Tim Lincecum who could fit inside one of Kemp's legs.
If that weren't enough, he dated Rihanna, something that about 100 million Americans wanted (or still want) to do.
But after hearing Kemp in a couple of interviews—and seeing him get traded out of Los Angeles—I softened a great deal toward the guy. I'll stop short of saying I liked him, but I no longer simmered with rage whenever he smiled after a base hit.
Here, Kemp is fresh off a 2012 season that could have ended in the MVP award that eluded him in 2011—had his hamstring and shoulder behaved. Kemp wound up missing 56 games (57 if you count the 2012 All-Star Game.)
THIS CARD: Kemp races around to score; that's also how he re-injured his hammy in late May. Can Getty confirm if this was the play in question? (No. I found a ton of pics of Kemp with Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere, but not this one.)
#27 has some noteworthy Dodgers history. In addition to Kemp, there's current wearer Trevor Bauer and superstar Kevin Brown. Mike Sharperson made the 1992 All-Star team wearing #27, and when he pitched for the Dodgers, it was Tom Lasorda's number. Kemp wore #27 his whole 15-year career except 2020 with the Rockies—some guy named Trevor Story has a firm grip on it there...for now.
More from Kemp's 2012 season: he was slashing .359/.446/.726 when he first injured his hamstring in mid-May. Going forward, Kemp slashed .280/.333/.461—hardly bad numbers, but far from the insane MVP pace he'd been on. He walked off the Nationals 4/28 and the Phillies 7/18 with extra-inning home runs.
(flip) Kemp's hamstring injury first disabled him for two weeks. He returned, played two games, aggravated the injury (knee-breaking a bat in anger) and missed the next two additional weeks. I'm not sure where Topps got six weeks from.
Of those 12 April home runs, the first six were against San Diego (none were against San Francisco, though it sure felt like it). All 12 were solo or two-run shots.
Regarding Kemp's Career Chase, today he stands 1,266 away from Aaron's RBI record. I'd say the late Aaron has a better shot at RBI #2,298 than 36-year-old, unemployed Kemp does at this point.
AFTER THIS CARD: Kemp's 2013 was ruined by shoulder, hamstring and ankle woes, but he followed that up with a 25-homer 2014 season. But three years into his 8Y/$160M deal, the Dodgers sent Kemp to San Diego via trade (with C Yasmani Grandal the main return).
Now 32, Kemp lasted 1.5 seasons with the still-mediocre Padres before being shipped to Atlanta; he totaled 35 homers and 108 RBI for the two clubs in 2016. More hamstring issues limited Kemp in 2017—the former 40-40 flirter didn't log a single steal that year.
After rejoining the NL-champion Dodgers for 2018, Kemp headed to Cincinnati in a blockbuster deal...but was unemployed by early May 2019; MiLB deals with the Marlins and Mets that summer led nowhere. Kemp did resurface in MLB with the 2020 Rockies, enjoying a decent (shortened) season as Colorado's part-time DH. As mentioned, he is currently unsigned.
Matt Kemp appeared in Topps 2007-19, with Update cards in 2005-2006, 2015-2016 and 2018.
CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
4/4/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps #336 Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
More Miguel Cabrera Topps Cards: 2000T 2003T 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Once again, we have a Card Of The Day subject who has been in the news recently—you may have seen Cabrera, on Opening Day 2021, perform the rare act of homering through a snowfall and then perform the equally rare act of sliding into second base on the play! Nevermind that he justifiably thought it was a double before umps cleared things up; MLB.com and MLB Network gave the play a lot of run.
Here, we catch up with the Hall-of-Famer-in-waiting after his 17th major league season; after missing most of 2018, Cabrera was at least healthy for the majority of 2019. Though his personal performance and that of his team didn't turn many heads, Cabrera still managed to jump from a tie for 36th place into a tie for 31st place on the all-time homer list, passing the likes of Chipper Jones, Willie Stargell and Stan Musial.
THIS CARD: Cabrera stops by for the third time in COTD; we presented his 2011 Topps card in November 2019 and his 2007 Topps card in September 2020.
While I am grateful that 2020 Topps is regularly appearing in the Randomizer, it would have been more interesting to you TSR visitors to profile somebody not found in many (if any) other Topps sets, like Meibrys Viloria or Isan Diaz or Mike Yastrzemski...my bad.
More from Cabrera's 2019 season: on 6/4 vs. Tampa Bay, he drove home five runs and missed the cycle by a triple. And he went yard in each of the season's final two games (at the White Sox).
(flip) "Only" 1,6944 career RBI at this point doesn't seem accurate, but it is. I never used to appreciate how difficult it is to pass 1,500 RBI in a career, but Cabrera has helped change that.
Cabrera is listed as an exclusive DH, but to my surprise, he got in 26 games at 1B in 2019. And I don't think Ron Gardenhire would have put him there if he were a serious liability, contract or not.
13 years later, two of the players obtained by the Marlins in the Cabrera trade are still in MLB (Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin). Unfortunately, RP Frankie de la Cruz, who pitched 26 games for four teams 2007-11, died at 37 in March 2021.
AFTER THIS CARD: As we mentioned, Cabrera's dormant power swing re-introduced itself as 2019 drew to a close, and it carried over to the abbreviated 2020 season during which he hit almost all homers and singles (10 home runs in 204 AB). As of right now Cabrera is 12 homers away from 500 lifetime, and 132 hits away from 3,000 lifetime; he is signed through 2023 and to his credit, hasn't publicly complained about being stuck on a bottom-feeding Tigers team in recent years.
Miguel Cabrera debuted in 2000 Topps Traded as a Marlins prospect, returned in the '03 Traded set, and has appeared annually in the base set since 2004.
CATEGORIES: 2020 Topps, Detroit Tigers
4/5/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #329 Dave Justice, Braves
More Dave/David Justice Topps Cards: 1990T 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Former 95.7 The Game radio host Mychael Urban once told a story from his days covering the A's for MLB.com.
He had interviewed then-Oakland Athletic Dave Justice about Father's Day or something like that. Justice mentioned singing to his kid, but DEMANDED that it be omitted from the final article. And when a different writer mentioned the singing in his own article, Justice was PISSED.
I don't know Justice at all, have never met him, but I can't for the life of me figure out why he'd be so embarrassed/ashamed of singing to his child. Is it a masculinity thing? A jock thing? I'm pretty masculine and at one point was almost jock-like, and I freely admit to singing to my daughter, letting her paint my nails and do my make-up, and many other "embarrassing" things.
That story just stuck with me. But hey, we're all different.
Here, Justice has just taken the National League by storm. The eventual 1990 NL Rookie of the Year did it all for the Braves during his first extended big league look, and seemed primed for years and years of stardom (which he achieved).
THIS CARD: Justice was not your ordinary All-Star Rookie. I'll put it to you like this: if the ASR team didn't exist long before 1990, Justice's impact might have led to its creation. He was talked about EVERYWHERE. Even my mom knows who he is!
It's tough to picture now, but most of Justice's early run came at 1B in place of ill Nick Esasky. Only after the mid-season trade of franchise icon Dale Murphy did Justice settle in at RF, with a Tommy Gregg/Francisco Cabrera platoon taking over at 1B.
You can feel Justice's charisma in this pic (or at least I can). He had everything you'd want in a hot rookie: charisma, style, looks and, of course, production. This card was VERY popular back in the day, though I seem to be mistaken about it appearing on the '91 Topps factory set box.
(flip) He's known as Dave here and on his 1990 Traded card, but going forward Topps referred to Justice as "David". Other companies continued to call him "Dave" for years.
Justice was drafted by Wight and Cronin out of something called Thomas More University in Kentucky.
Those 28 homers in 1990 ranked eighth in the NL and are made more impressive by the fact that only five of them came before the All-Star break! In August, Justice enjoyed streaks of five HR in three games and 10 HR in 12 games.
AFTER THIS CARD: Justice took some time to return to his 1990 levels, smashing 40 home runs for the 1993 Braves that blew past my Giants for the NL West title (not a misprint, for those of you under 30). In 1995—the first year of a 5Y/$27M extension Justice signed the previous Spring—his solo home run late in Game 6 clinched the World Series for Atlanta. A separated shoulder wrecked Justice's 1996, and allowed rookie Jermaine Dye to emerge.
So the Braves dealt Justice to the Indians that winter (OF Kenny Lofton was the main return). He rewarded Cleveland's 4Y/$28M extension in May 1997 by making his third All-Star team (.329, 33 HR), and in 2000 he belted 41 more bombs with 118 RBI for the Indians and Yankees, who acquired him via mid-season trade.
Injuries and age slowed Justice down after that; he retired after spending 2002 with the Athletics.
In all, Justice ripped 305 career homers and reached the postseason practically every year (after 1990, all his teams played in October except 1994 when no team did).
Dave/David Justice debuted in 1990 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1991-2003.
CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Atlanta Braves, All-Star Rookies
4/7/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps Update #353 Michael Wacha, All-Star
More Michael Wacha All-Star Topps Cards: n/a
WOKKA WOKKA WOKKA!
I'm a child at heart. Hearing Michael Wacha's last name never fails to evoke Fozzie Bear in my mind.
Though certainly deserving, Wacha was an unlikely 2015 All-Star. He'd made just 19 starts in 2014, then watched his season end in just about the worst way possible (that doesn't involve a trip to the hospital).
However, in the first half of 2015 (and beyond), the talented right-hander excelled for St. Louis. Sporting a 10-3, 2.93 line entering the break, Wacha was voted to the NL All-Star team by NL manager Bruce Bochy.
THIS CARD: Wacha did not actually enter the 2015 Midsummer Classic, so Topps decided to use an image of him being announced. No disrespect to Wacha, but I promise half the ballpark muttered "Who?" to themselves after said announcement.
Usually, on cards of a non-playing All-Star, Topps will use a pic of the player taken during the previous day's festivities in his All-Star uniform, but not this time. No other All-Star was shown being announced in 2015 Topps Update, but Wacha's Cardinals teammate Trevor Rosenthal was shown with all five other St. Louis All-Stars with nothing to indicate which one he was...just thought you should know.
Wacha last pitched six days before the Classic, so it was simply Bochy's decision not to use him.
(flip) Wacha didn't pick up his first 2015 loss until 5/30, against the Dodgers.
That injury was a stress reaction in Wacha's pitching shoulder; he was out from mid-June to early September 2014.
No Cardinals pitcher of any age had started 7-0 since Matt Morris opened the 2005 season 8-0.
By the way, the AL defeated the NL 6-3 in the 2015 All-Star Game.
AFTER THIS CARD: Wacha, who finished 2015 with a 17-7 record, has battled injuries and not made any more All-Star teams, although his 8-2, 3.20 first half of 2018 merited discussion (not that it mattered in hindsight; Wacha suffered a season-ending oblique injury in late June.)
Now nearing 30, Wacha has toiled for the 2020 Mets and 2021 Rays without much luck. At this point I'd describe his odds of returning to the All-Star Game as "long", at best.
This is Michael Wacha's lone All-Star Topps card.
CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps Update, All-Stars
4/8/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps Traded #63 Jim Lefebvre, Cubs
More Jim Lefebvre Topps Cards: 1989T 1990 1991 1993
To those mystified by the pronunciation of Mariners rookie Taylor Trammell's last name compared to the major league Trammells before him, there is similar precedent.
It's always fascinated me that, for decades, there were two Lefebvre's in baseball who A) weren't related, and B) didn't even pronounce their names the same. This Lefebvre, Jim, pronounces it LE-FEVER, while Joe pronounces it LE-FAY.
Makes you wonder if somewhere, there's another Saltalamacchia out there who pronounces it "SAL-TALLA-MAY-SHUH."
Here, Jim Lefebvre has just taken his second managerial job, signed to a three-year deal to succeed Jim Essian as manager of the Cubs for 1992. There was some chirping from his ex-players in Seattle during Spring Training, but in his Cubs debut, Lefebvre beat the Phillies 4-3 behind ace Greg Maddux.
THIS CARD: Lefebvre looks like the ultimate "baseball man", does he not? He spent 47 years in pro baseball as a player, coach and manager.
Lefebvre was hired by new Cubs GM Larry Himes on 11/23/1991, beating out 3B coach Chuck Cottier and ex-Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn (who got the job two years later). Lefebvre was reportedly available because of personality issues; read this for more.
The 1991 Cubs were only 77-83 despite some notable off-season additions that raised expectations. Himes was brought in just before Lefebvre and didn't do much with the roster, so when Lefebvre and his squad didn't exactly tear out of the gate in 1992, it wasn't much of a shock.
(flip) I know Wrigley Field's undergone heavy renovations in recent years...does it still look like this in front? Sure seems to, based on the two dozen or so pics I checked out (though the traffic signal is different today). This is the corner of Addison and Clark in Chicago.
That 83-79 record with the 1991 Mariners was the franchise's first time over .500 in its 15 seasons of play. And yet, Lefebvre lost his job. Seems unfair...until you click that link above.
Lefebvre's MLB playing career lasted 1965-72, all with the Dodgers (followed by four seasons playing in Japan). He was NL Rookie Of The Year in '65 and an All-Star the next year.
AFTER THIS CARD: While the '92 Cubs didn't do much (78-84, 4th NLE), Lefebvre's '93 squad improved to 84-78 despite the losses of Hall-of-Famers Maddux and Andre Dawson. Still, Himes gave Lefebvre the ax at season's end—more for personality than performance reasons, just as in Seattle.
Lefebvre's next, and last, MLB managerial gig was an interim run with the 1999 Brewers (22-27 after taking over for the fired Phil Garner). He lasted in pro baseball 10 more years in a number of coaching roles, the last being hitting coach for the 2009 Padres.
Jim Lefebvre appeared Topps as a player 1965-72, and as a manager in 1990, 1991 and 1993 Topps plus 1989 and 1992 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps Traded, Chicago Cubs
4/10/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps Update #168 Yusmeiro Petit, Marlins
More Yusmeiro Petit Topps Cards: 2007U 2014 2015 2019 2020U
I pulled this card in July 2006 (during an A-Team marathon, but that's neither here nor there.).
If you had told me then that this nondescript righty with less-than-spectacular stuff would someday,
come within an out of throwing a perfect game for the Giants,
retire 46 consecutive batters for the Giants during one stretch, or
fire six shutout innings of relief in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS,
I would have wondered why Murdock was stuck at the funny farm instead of you.
Petit took many years to establish his footing in MLB, but to the teams who've employed him since (most notably the Giants and A's), he's been well worth the wait. But here, Petit is just a young pitching prospect for the stagnant Florida Marlins. Originally called up to replace injured SP Sergio Mitre in mid-May 2006, Petit would wind up making three trips to and from the majors that summer.
THIS CARD: "Okay, Yusmeiro—it's Yusmeiro, isn't it? Okay, great. Listen, I know we're at Stonehenge and all, but could you just stand for a minute like you're throwing that baseball flat-footed? Nice. And while you're at it, can you look as if we programmed you to do that? EXCELLENT."
Petit wears #45, more famous in Florida Marlins annals as Carl Pavano's number during their most recent World Series run (2003). The most recent Miami Marlin to wear it was Peter O'Brien in 2018-19—somehow, even though the COVID-ravaged 2020 Fish went through something like 272 players, not one of them (or their coaches) took #45.
Petit's early 2006 big league run was fairly smooth; he allowed three earned runs over eight innings covering six appearances. He racked up eight K against a lone walk, but was tagged for a 10th-inning walk-off HR 5/19 by (brief) future Giants teammate Aubrey Huff of the Devil Rays.
(flip) Petit earned that 2004 Sterling Pitcher Of The Year award by going 12-6, 2.20 across three levels; he whiffed 200 in 139 innings that year! (If that weren't enough, Petit then dominated the Winter League as well.)
Petit was traded to the Marlins along with 1B Mike Jacobs for superstar 1B Carlos Delgado, who was moved after Year One of a 4Y/$52M deal with Florida.
That was the Athletics and Dodgers going at it in 1974. (The A's won Game 4 by a 5-2 margin, by the way.)
That redundant 2.76 career MiLB ERA could have been replaced with Petit's career WHIP to that point (a divine 0.845). Just sayin'.
AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Petit made three trips to Florida in '06, but he struggled in the final two and was traded to Arizona for CL Jorge Julio in Spring Training 2007. The D'Backs gave Petit extended looks in their rotation and bullpen 2007-09, but he only managed a 9-19, 5.05 ledger.
We next saw Petit in MLB in late 2012 making an emergency start for the Giants. Petit resurfaced with the Giants in 2013, closing the year in their rotation and coming within an Eric Chavez single of perfection 9/6 against Arizona. 2014 saw Petit at long last spend an entire season in the majors, working as a swingman and coming through big-time in that year's NLDS. He spent one more year in SF before joining Washington on a 1Y/$3M deal for 2016.
Since then, Petit has been a very effective middle man for the 2017 Angels, and 2018-present Oakland Athletics (who originally signed him for what amounted to 3Y/$15.5M, then re-signed him for 2021 at $2.55M). He led the AL with 80 appearances in 2019 and is off to a fine start to 2021.
Yusmeiro Petit appeared in 2006-07 Topps Update, returned for the 2014-15 and 2019 base sets, then dropped by 2020 Topps Update. (If you want Petit as a National, turn to 2016 Topps Heritage. If you want Petit as an Angel...too bad.)
CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps Update, Florida Marlins
4/11/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #453 Draft Picks Rick Asadoorian, Vince Faison
More 2000 Topps Draft Pick Cards: #450
This will be brief.
Rick Asadoorian was a righty-hitting outfield prospect for the early 2000's Red Sox.
Vince Faison was a lefty-hitting outfield prospect for the early 2000's Padres who turned down a football scholarship for the diamond.
Plagued by strikeouts, neither man ever reached the major leagues, unfortunately.
THIS CARD: "Okay, Vince. Just look at the camera and smile....oh, you ARE smiling? Ok, good then. Yes, whatever you say, Vince. No problem."
There has got to be a better place for the "Rookie Card" logo. It's barely legible crammed in there next to the Topps logo.
(flip) Northridge High hopefully has an official statistician today. They work cheap, you know. Asadoorian went 17th overall in the 1999 draft, obviously based solely on scouts' observation.
Some pretty gaudy numbers for young Faison, who went 20th overall in the 1999 draft. As far as my research can tell, no other pro baseball player has come out of Toombs County HS.
AFTER THIS CARD: After being traded out of the Boston system for P Dustin Hermanson in December 2001, Asadoorian became a minor league journeyman, one who struck out far too much for the modest power he showed.
In 2006, while in the Reds system, he converted to pitching, and had some early success, but struggled for 2008 Jacksonville (Dodgers) and spent his final four pro seasons in the Independent League (where he split time between pitching and the outfield).
Faison's early K issues were even worse; he was sent to Seattle in a package for 3B Jeff Cirillo in January 2004. One year later, Faison was an Indy Leaguer, and though he'd noticeably curtailed his strikeouts by that time, he spent 2006-07 in the Oakland system without ever coming close to The Show. Faison then joined Tennessee as a football player, but high blood pressure cut that pursuit short.
Besides this one, the only other Topps card for either Rick Asadoorian or Vince Faison is a 2000 Traded & Rookies appearance for the former.
CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Draft Picks
4/13/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #67 Ryan Franklin, Mariners
More Ryan Franklin Topps Cards: 2004 2009U 2010 2011
Though he lasted in the majors over a decade, righty Ryan Franklin is generally remembered for his fantastic 2009 season. That year, Franklin saved 38 of 43 for the Cardinals, made the NL All-Star team, and recorded the division-clinching out on a force at first base.
It had been a long, winding road to major league success for the 2000 Olympian. A middle reliever on the historic 2001 Mariners, by September 2002 Franklin was taking regular turns in the Seattle rotation, where he remained in 2003. Franklin was only 11-13 that year, with a league-worst 34 homers allowed, but his 3.57 ERA ranked 9th in the AL.
Here, like the entire Mariners team, Franklin has just endured a rough 2004 season. Still, he made every one of his rotation turns, shut out the Angels 1-0 on 9/15, and from 4/15 to 6/17 he pitched fewer than six innings just once.
THIS CARD: As the pic suggests, Franklin was a lot of arms and legs flying at the hitter.
Franklin makes his second straight appearance in Topps after being passed over during his run as a reliever. He'd then disappear from Topps until 2009 Updates and Highlights.
More from Franklin's 2004 season: the Mariners lost 99 games, and at one point Franklin lost 11 consecutive decisions after a 3-4 start. But he did post a 2.71 ERA indoors (as opposed to 6.24 outdoors) and in four starts against the Angels, his ERA was 2.79.
(flip) More testament to Franklin's strike-throwing prowess: in 2004, he made five walk-free starts of five or more innings.
Instead of the redundant 4.10 career ERA in the stat box, Topps could have given you that 2004 indoors ERA we told you about. There weren't any other real impressive stats, 2004 or career, for Franklin at that point.
To my surprise, three others from Franklin's low draft round reached MLB, including C Bobby Estalella and RP Chad Fox (both of whom were halfway decent).
AFTER THIS CARD: Franklin's 2005 season was even rougher than 2004; he was 8-15, 5.10 to go along with a 10-day PED suspension. Non-tendered by Seattle, Franklin signed with the Phillies, who shifted him back to the bullpen. He would never start another major league game.
Franklin finished 2006 with the Reds, then signed with St. Louis for 2007; so effective was Franklin as a setup man that he was extended for 2Y/$5M at mid-season. Franklin took over as Cardinals closer for much of 2008 in the wake of Jason Isringhausen's injuries and ineffectiveness, then enjoyed his All-Star 2009 season with Isringhausen departed.
The Cardinals extended Franklin for two more years and watched him convert 27-of-29 save chances in 2010, but the wheels completely came off for the 38-year-old in early 2011 (four blown saves in five chances). Franklin never got right and was released in June with an 8.46 ERA; shortly after, he retired.
Ryan Franklin appeared in 2004-05 and 2010-11 Topps, as well as 2009 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Seattle Mariners
4/14/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps Update #289 Cesar Vargas, Padres
More Cesar Vargas Topps Cards: n/a
For about five minutes early in the 2016 season, Cesar Vargas appeared to be quite the find. Rescued by the Padres after seven years in the Yankees farm system, Vargas opened 2016 with AA San Antonio but was summoned to the bigs in late April after Padres SP Robbie Erlin was deemed to require UCL surgery.
After three starts, Vargas was 0-1...but with a 1.10 ERA!
THIS CARD: The card graphics make it appear Vargas is literally throwing smoke.
Vargas comes with his low-90's fastball, or his sharp downward curve, or perhaps his slider or changeup. Having seen him in action, he might have had a cutter, too.
More from Vargas's early 2016 season: he faced the Cardinals in his MLB debut 4/23, allowing one earnie in five innings. (But the bullpen imploded and SD wound up losing 11-2.) His next time out, Vargas threw 5.1 scoreless innings at the formidable Dodgers—but got no run support. The Padres did rally to win in the late innings.
(flip) Of those seven years in the Yankees system, Vargas made exactly THREE appearances above AA. When I said the Padres rescued him, I meant it.
Vargas had no decisions, but allowed just two ER and four hits allowed in 12.2 innings (covering two starts) for San Antonio prior to his callup.
Only four years of totals are calculated in the stat line because during Vargas's first three years in the Yankee system, he pitched exclusively in the Dominican Summer League. Vargas signed at 17 and obviously New York felt he needed some maturing.
I don't know where Puebla, Mexico is and I'm not going to look it up.
AFTER THIS CARD: Vargas would make seven starts for the 2016 Padres, pitching serviceably in five of them but picking up no victories. After being bombed by the Diamondbacks in the 7th start, Vargas hit the DL with a flexor strain...and to date hasn't made it back to the majors. San Diego DFA'd him in March 2017; he ended up spending that whole year back in the minors. Washington inked Vargas for 2018, but again he couldn't escape the minors.
At last check, Vargas was pitching in a league I didn't know existed: the Japanese Independent League.
This is Cesar Vargas's lone Topps card, and practically his lone ANYBODY card.
CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps Update, San Diego Padres
4/16/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #73 Billy Spiers, Brewers
More Bill/Billy Spiers Topps Cards: 1989T 1990 1991 1992 1993 1995 2000 2001
Billy Spiers (pronounced SPY-ers) did a lot of good things in the majors, but for all he accomplished on the field, he might always be best known for being jumped in RF by an inebriated spectator on 9/24/99 at his old Milwaukee stomping grounds. The attacker, who died in 2018, was given a hurtin' by Spiers' Astros teammate Mike Hampton and arrested. Though he was driven from that game with whiplash, Spiers mercifully escaped with no serious injuries.
Ten years prior to that, Spiers entered the majors as a Milwaukee Brewer, getting extensive run at SS, 2B and 3B early on. With top prospect Gary Sheffield flaming out of Milwaukee fast, Spiers served as the Brewers' primary SS in 1990-91, batting .283 in 125 starts during the latter season. But back surgery wiped out nearly all of his 1992 season, allowing rookie Pat Listach to win AL Rookie Of The Year award in his stead.
Here, Spiers has returned healthy for 1993; he received the bulk of starts at 2B for the Brewers through July before returning to a utility role over the final six weeks. He only managed a .238 average for the year, but did tie his (then) personal high with five RBI on 7/8.
THIS CARD: An adolescent friend of mine once made fun of Spiers's pose in this pic, saying he kind of looked like an "(r-word)". I'll stop short of agreeing with him, though I must admit this Spiers follow-through doesn't look particularly encouraging.
Turn-Back-The-Clock was still a fairly new concept in 1993, and the Brewers didn't let the fact that they were born in 1970 stop them from sporting 1920's-type garb in a 7/6/93 game against Texas. That is #25 Rafael Palmiero trying to bust up the double play; the Rangers won 11-1.
More from Spiers' 1993 season: he never got all that hot, hovering at or near the .240's for the entire first half (remember: the man was recouping from back surgery). Spiers did post a very respectable .344 home OBP, but batting .176 vs. LHP and .201 on the road contributed to his demotion to sub. Losing his full-time job sparked Spiers for a time, as he batted .349 in August.
(flip) Spiers was an effective bunter; in 1993 he executed five bunt hits and nine bunt sacrifices.
The only AL shortstop who hit better than Spiers in 1991 was...I'll guess the MVP Cal Ripken (correct; Cal hit .323 that year. That was a tad too easy.)
Not only was William James "Billy" Spiers drafted by the Brewers #1 in 1987, but his selection came after William James "B.J." Surhoff was drafted #1 by the Brewers in 1985. Milwaukee obviously should have been the first MLB team to hire sabermetrician George William "Bill" James.
AFTER THIS CARD: Spiers returned to the 1994 Brewers as one of several rotating infielders, spent a forgettable 1995 season with the Mets, then re-established himself with the 1996-2001 Houston Astros. Though he played everywhere but the battery, Spiers got extensive run at 3B subbing for Sean Berry and Ken Caminiti, and in 1998 he won Game 2 of the NLDS with a walk-off 1B off the great Padres CL Trevor Hoffman!
From 1996-2000, Spiers averaged 126 games and 377 PA while batting .288 for the Astros, but after another back surgery limited him to four pinch-hit at-bats in 2001, Spiers retired at 35. Many years later, he returned to the college football ranks as a coach (Spiers had been a punter at Clemson once upon a time).
Billy Spiers debuted in 1989 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in Topps 1990-95. After a hiatus, Spiers returned as "Bill" in the 2000-01 Topps sets. (No major company produced a Spiers Mets card.)
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers
4/17/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #400 Manny Ramirez, Indians
More Manny Ramirez Topps Cards: 1992 1994 1995 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2008U 2009 2010 2011 2012
When this card was released, Ramirez was among the brightest young stars in the major leagues. He'd been the 1994 AL Rookie Of The Year and rather than even entertain the passing thought of a sophomore slump, Ramirez followed up that effort with an even more impressive 1995 season. The Indians RF went 4-for-5 with a home run on Opening Day (4/27), kicked off May with homers in three straight games, and never looked back.
THIS CARD: I imagine loads of collectors wanted to get their hands on any Ramirez card they could find in 1996; I got it in a six-card wax pack because teenage Skillz was unable to wait for entire sets to be released. Thanks to the strike, no one at my high school gave much of a damn about baseball or baseball cards—yes, I specifically asked—when this card was born, however. Except MOI!
Ramirez chugs around first base; we cannot confirm if A) he'd in fact struck out looking and gotten confused, B) ran anywhere close to hard out of the box, or C) there's even a game going on. With Ramirez, you learned to expect wacky stuff like that.
More from Ramirez's 1995 season: the kid didn't have a great postseason, but his Indians still returned to the World Series after 41 years. In ALCS Game 2, Ramirez went 4-for-4 with two home runs in a 5-2 win over Seattle. Then, late in Game 3 of the WS vs. Atlanta, Ramirez walked and scored the tying run to set Cleveland up for the walk-off win later on—somewhat making up for being picked off 1B late in the previous game.
(flip) At the 1995 All-Star Game at Arlington, Texas, Ramirez pinch-hit for Twins legend Kirby Puckett in the B7th and drew a walk from Montreal's Carlos Perez. Two innings later he drew another walk, this one from Randy Myers of the Cubs.
In 1996, Belle and Jim Thome combined for 86 homers, breaking the previous record of 81 that Ramirez helped set in 1995.
Cleveland took Ramirez out of high school with the 13th overall pick in the 1991 draft.
Despite Ramirez's long run of superstardom, he only received four Topps cards ending in 50 or 00—this was his first and only such card for several years.
AFTER THIS CARD: Five more years of blasting with the Indians, including 165 RBI for the 1999 team. Mega-deal from Boston. Braids. Streak of 11 All-Star appearances. Seemingly constant trade requests out of Boston. 2002 batting title. Leading the 2004 Red Sox to their first WS trophy in 86 years. Cutting off a throw from fellow outfielder Johnny Damon, leading to an inside-the-park homer.
500 home runs. Knocking down a traveling secretary. Finally traded by Boston (to the Dodgers). Domination in LA, where "Mannywood" is born. Fails first PED test and suspended 50 games. Dodgers eventually dump him on White Sox for nothing. Signs with Tampa Bay. Fails second PED test and suspended 100 games. Retires instead. Un-retires and signs with Oakland. Never called up after reduced suspension ends. 555 career homers. Well short of HOF induction.
Manny Ramirez appeared annually in Topps 1992-2012, except 1993 (1992 was a Draft Pick card). He also shows up in 2008 Topps Update as a brand-new Dodger.
CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, Cleveland Indians
4/19/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #623 Melvin Upton Jr., Blue Jays
More B.J./Melvin Upton Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006U 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2015U 2016 2016U
He looked like B.J. Upton. He sounded like B.J. Upton. He even played like B.J. Upton.
But he wasn't B.J. Upton.
As of early 2015, he was Melvin Upton, Jr.
And that's who he'd be for the rest of his MLB career.
The Padres—who acquired Upton from Atlanta about a month after the change—and their fans didn't much care what name Upton used, as long as he broke out of his major two-year slump at the plate. Here, Upton has completed a half-season with the playoff-bound Blue Jays, who traded for him in July 2016 to improve their depth down the stretch.
THIS CARD: After researching, I've confirmed this image to be Upton after his double in Game 3 of the 2016 ALDS vs. Texas (not the Jose Bautista epic bat flip series...that was the year before.) He'd be stranded at third base, however.
Upton appears in COTD for the third time; we picked his 2007 and 2013 Topps cards in successive months back in 2015.
More from Upton's 2016 season: he enjoyed his most productive year since 2012, but was a casualty of the Padres' mini-fire sale in June/July (the purge that brought them Fernando Tatis, Jr. from the White Sox organization). On 5/14 Upton rapped out four hits including a 12th-inning home run that proved decisive against Milwaukee.
(flip) Of those 16 homers with the 2016 Padres, three came in consecutive games at the Dodgers in early July. Good job, Melvin.
On 4/16, Upton smoked a 14th-inning walk-off home run against the Diamondbacks (specifically RP Rubby de la Rosa).
It's a bit of a surprise Upton made it into Series 2, since Toronto cut him well before its release. Often times with modern day Topps, such players find themselves on the outside of that year's set looking in.
Despite going back to the moniker "B.J." in 2019, Upton's Twitter handle remains the same. He's semi-active on the site as of late.
AFTER THIS CARD: After being cut by Toronto in April 2017, Upton attempted to continue his playing career. He signed a MiLB deal with the Giants, got hurt, wasn't called up upon healing and successfully requested his release. In Spring Training 2018 the Indians let Upton go as well, and to date he has not resurfaced in pro baseball.
B.J./Melvin Upton appeared in 2003-05 and 2007-17 Topps, as well as 2006, 2015 and 2016 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays
4/20/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #409 Ken Dayley, Cardinals
More Ken Dayley Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1990 1991 1992
In the winter of 1990, I was 10 years old and not as well versed on non-Giants as I'd later become. So when Ken Dayley, a 31-year-old long reliever for the Cardinals, was signed to a 3Y/$6.3M deal with Toronto—serious dough at the time—I became kind of obsessed with him for a time, until he disappeared off the radar...more on that later.
A former #1 pick, Dayley had auditioned for starting roles with the 1982-83 Braves, but wasn't able to secure a permanent rotation spot. In mid-1984, he was dealt to the Cardinals, who made Dayley a full-time reliever and part-time closer. During the 1985 and 1987 postseasons, Dayley was damn near invincible until coughing up a grand slam to Minnesota's Kent Hrbek in the '87 World Series.
Here, the 29-year-old has just completed his fourth full season in St. Louis. Used mostly as a setup man by Whitey Herzog, Dayley went unscored upon after August and held righties to a .224 average for the year.
THIS CARD: We see Dayley in action at what has to be a Spring Training yard. He's about to fire either his 90+ MPH fastball or his curve, regarded as one of the game's best. Evidently Dayley also showed an occasional changeup, but I don't think I ever saw it.
A mix of nostalgia and frustration fell over me when selecting this card. Dayley, generally a middle reliever, always appeared in Topps sets. But if he were active today, there's no guarantee he'd appear at all—while some veteran middle relievers can be found in today's Topps sets, many are omitted (though not to the extent of 1996-2010).
More from Dayley's 1988 season: he only pitched once in April due to a torn muscle near his ribcage. On 9/19, Dayley was asked to go the final three innings against Pittsburgh; he took the tough-luck loss when Cardinals RF Tom Brunansky's two-base error set up a Pirates score in the T9th.
(flip) Dayley only made seven major league appearances in 1984 because he was busy going 9-7 in 22 combined starts for AAA Richmond (Braves) and Louisville (Cardinals).
Dayley only made 31 major league appearances in 1986 due to July elbow surgery.
Those 13 September K came in just 10 innings, a very impressive feat in the year 1988 (but fairly commonplace today.)
AFTER THIS CARD: In 1989, Dayley earned 12 saves in place of injured incumbent CL Todd Worrell, and was given first crack at closing in 1990 before St. Louis traded for Lee Smith. Still, as we mentioned, Toronto spent a lot to bring Dayley north in November 1990.
The deal was a disaster. Dayley developed elbow problems and vertigo, and was ultimately cut by Toronto in April 1993 after pitching all of 10 games (five innings) for them. His pro career ended later that year at 34 following a few games in the Dodgers system.
Ken Dayley appeared annually in Topps 1983-92, except 1985. He's also got a 1984 Traded card as a new Cardinal.
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals
4/22/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #486 Bobby Madritsch, Mariners
More Bobby Madritsch Topps Cards: 2006
Bobby Madritsch was not your everyday left-hander.
The Illinois native had a bit of a rough background and well into adulthood, had never even known his mother. (Click here for more of Madritsch's story.) He looked several years older than he actually was. Through it all, however, he displayed a talented left arm and went to the Reds in the sixth round of the 1998 draft.
Cincinnati turned Madritsch loose in March 2001, and it took until September 2002 for him to hook up with another MLB team (Seattle). Here, the 28-year-old has fared very well after joining the M's rotation in August 2004, going 4-3, 3.30 and averaging well over seven innings in his 11 starts.
THIS CARD: Madritsch was listed at 6'2", 190 lbs, but in this pic he looks more like 5'10", 210 lbs. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
What could Madritsch be throwing? Well, he featured a low-to-mid-90's fastball with movement, plus a slider and a very effective changeup. He was aggressive and never wanted to give the ball up—in his final start of 2004 Madritsch threw 133 pitches in a CG win over Oakland!
More from Madritsch's 2004 season: he opened his M's stint with four relief appearances before moving into the rotation. The kid threw 88 innings in all and allowed exactly three home runs! That wasn't solely because of Safeco Field, people.
(flip) "Trying" is putting it nicely. The Mariners fell from 116 wins in 2001 to 99 losses in 2004, but they went 8-3 in games Madritsch started.
Is there no header in the stat box? I could submit this to the Trading Card Database as an error card buuut...nah.
Note the 2001-02 gap in the stats; Madritsch toiled in the Independent League during this time, and apparently using their stats on an MLB card is a no-no.
AFTER THIS CARD: Madritsch made one so-so start in 2005 before hitting the DL with a torn muscle behind his shoulder. By season's end, he'd undergone surgery for a torn labrum and Seattle lost him on waivers to Kansas City.
In the end, it didn't matter much; Madritsch was released by the Royals in September 2006 and other than two games in the Independent League in 2008, never made it back to pro baseball. But even if it was just for a few weeks, Madritsch beat crappy odds to realize the dream.
Bobby Madritsch appeared in 2005-06 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Seattle Mariners