Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, August 2014
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8/2/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #728 Prospects
The first Prospects card to appear on TSR. Before my collecting days (and birth) Topps did feature some variation of Prospects cards in at least some of their sets—the first Topps appearance of my favorite player, Rickey Henderson, was on such a card; Nolan Ryan also debuted on one.
But by 1987 they'd taken a hiatus, one that would last until the 1992 set. Prospect Cards (though occasionally under different titles) would regularly appear in Topps thru the 2005 set, when new licensing rules forbade the inclusion of any player lacking time on an MLB roster.
THIS CARD: Despite the timing, the selection of this card had nothing to do with the recent trade of Jake "Peavey" to my Giants—it was actually chosen well before the trade, even before the selection of the previous COTD but put on hold to celebrate Barry Bonds' 50th birthday on 7/24. "Peavey", by the way, served up Bonds' 700th home run.
Phil Wilson never made the majors or even AAA. A 19-year-old A-baller at the time of this card, the very tall righty was, in 2000, the Angels #6 prospect as ranked by Baseball America. But he slipped badly in 2001-02, and underwent elbow surgery in 2003. Wilson never impressed again and was out of pro ball by the end of 2007.
Following six years as an afterthought in the Yankee chain, Cubillan split the 2000 season between the Toronto and Texas organizations, dominating both (0.81 WHIP in 32 minor league games.) At 27, he finally toed big league rubber—in 20 games for the Rangers, Cubillan recorded a WHIP above 2.3 and an ERA nearing 10.
"Peavey", in his first full season as a pro, tied for 2nd in the Midwest league with 13 wins in 2000. His 164 K tied for first, and tied for 3rd with 11 K/9—not shabby at all for a 15th-round pick!
AFTER THIS CARD: Cubillan's greatest impact on MLB was being packaged with eventual star Michael Young to Texas in a deal for P Esteban Loaiza in 2000. He became a decent closer for AAA Ottawa, racking up 47 saves over a two-year span. In the bigs, a different story—6.85 ERA and 2.0 WHIP over 56 total MLB games spread over three seasons. He finished up in Japan, and never appeared on another Topps card (though he did find his way into Topps Total.)
"Peavey" went on to a Cy Young award win with the Padres (2007) and a five-year run as one of the game's top RHP. He also starred for the White Sox before a trade to eventual World Champion Boston in 2013. On the day of this posting, Peavy was perfect into the 7th vs. the Mets before taking the loss—dropping his 2014 record to 1-11. He received a 2001 Topps Traded individual card with his name corrected and has appeared in every Topps set since 2003.
CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Subsets
8/10/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #543 Donovan Solano, Marlins
More Donovan Solano Topps Cards: 2014
The Colombian Solano is the younger (and thus far, more successful) brother of ex-Nat Jhonathan (sic) Solano. Because he doesn't have much power, or much speed, he toiled in the Cardinals' minor league system for years until Miami rescued him.
THIS CARD: The 2013 Topps cards are noticeably thinner than ever. I recently extracted my 2007 Topps set—it is stored in an album the same size as 2013, uses the exact same protectors as 2013, and only has eleven more cards than 2013 (Mickey Mantle plus 10 of the 20 special factory-exclusive rookie cards). Yet 2007 is tangibly heavier than its' 2013 counterpart—Solano's card feels like a business card.
Solano barely missed earning a roster spot in 2012 Spring Training. He was called up in May and stayed up for the duration and started 56 times at 2B and eight each at 3B and the outfield—fairly certain the young infielder is at second base on this card. Only Justin Ruggiano (.313) topped his .295 average among Marlins with 90+ games played. Solano committed only two errors as a second baseman—both in September.
(flip) As you can see, 2010 is the only year of Solano's decade-long pro career in which he spent the whole season in one uniform (AA Memphis).
Check out this interesting 2012 quote from his first MLB manager, Ozzie Guillen, who was asked about giving Solano playing time in the outfield: "I don't see why not. He's a tremendous athlete. Is he a good outfielder? No. Am I afraid to put him out there? No. I think this kid can play any position he wants." (courtesy of KFFL.com)
AFTER THIS CARD: Solano spent most of 2013 with the Fish, starting 92 games at 2B wrapped around a month-long DL stint (oblique). He was to start '14 in the minors but when wayward baseballs took out Derek Dietrich (batted) and Ed Lucas (pitched), Solano got a repreive and stayed in the majors until a June demotion.
CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Miami Marlins
8/15/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #142 Eric Young, Sr., Dodgers
More Eric Young Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Young, an outfielder by trade, converted to second base as a professional after the Dodgers selected him in the 43rd round in 1989 out of Rutgers. He posted back-to-back 70+ steal seasons in his first two full years as a pro and was chosen by the Dodgers to replace the released Juan Samuel in midseason 1992 on the strength of a .337 average at Albuquerque.
Last-place LA won four of its first five with "EY" in the lineup but soon both he and the club stalled, and the team decided to leave Young unprotected in the 1992 Expansion Draft (on that same day the Dodgers acquired newly-drafted Jody Reed from the Rockies to man 2B in 1993.)
Young shuffled between the outfield and second base throughout his first three Rockie seasons before settling in at second in 1996; that year all he did was lead the league in steals and make the NL All-Star Team (as a reserve.) Now arbitration-eligible, his salary skyrocketed into the $3 million-plus range.
Still, Young felt unappreciated in Colorado, and was re-acquired by the Dodgers for the stretch run in late 1997. He remained thru the 1999 season.
THIS CARD: Young appears to be hustling back to second base after perhaps going halfway on a fly ball, but how many card images are taken from that angle? As I look a little closer, perhaps that is third base he's returning to. Then again, he doesn't appear to be slowing up...I can't figure it out. Could it be one of those plays where the runner is certain the ball won't be caught, but it is, and he has to scamper back two bases?The cropped Atlanta Brave (?) doesn't help.
Whatever base it is, Young sure as hell better not be rounding it going in that direction.
(flip) That pic...I don't recall ever seeing Young that slender. He's one of those guys who just seems chunky, no matter his actual measurements.
More details about Young's big Rockies home debut: it was actually at Mile High Stadium, not Coors Field—for 80,000 people to fit there, about half of them would need to be babies on their parents' lap.
Colorado beat Montreal 11-4, with Kent Bottenfield giving up Young's longball. Bryn Smith (?!) threw seven scoreless for the win. All Expo runs came in the 9th off Steve Reed, including a three-run jack by future teammate Mike Lansing.
AFTER THIS CARD: Young lasted thru the 2006 season for a number of clubs, playing regularly into 2004. (He even cameod with my Giants in '03, though I'm the only person I know who remembers that.) He'll be best remembered as a Rockie—Young officially retired as one in 2008 on a one-day contract, and today coaches for the team. He wrapped his playing career with 465 steals, and appeared in Topps set thru 2005 (he only played 116 MLB games over his final two seasons.)
Eric Young, Jr. has also worn the Denver pinstripes and also been a stolen base champ. He's best known for accidentally breaking Tim Hudson's ankle as a Met in 2013, however.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
8/19/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #507 Jeff Suppan, Cardinals
More Jeff Suppan Topps Cards: 1996 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Suppan was what's colloquially known as a "get by" pitcher—never at any point in his career did he possess great stuff, yet he always seemed to not only get by, but often excel. "Soup" was drafted by Boston out of high school by Boston in '93 and debuted for them at age 20 two years later. One rough start (3.1 IP, 8 ER vs. Minnesota) skewed his final numbers in two trials that year.
After '97, the Sox chose to leave him unprotected in the draft; Suppan toiled briefly in Arizona before finding a home along Jose Rosado and friends in the Royals' rotation. Suppan took the ball without fail for four years with the Royals, amassing 132 starts and averaging 213 IP (though few of his other numbers impressed.) The now-27-year-old's salary shot from the near minimum when originally signed to over $4M.
THIS CARD: The classic "Spring Training New Uni" (STUN) posed shot. At first glance, it appears the rear and primary pix were taken in the same session but upon further inspection, you can discern two separate jersey collars and two hats. Suppan's mitt seems slightly larger than I'm used to seeing. As a pitcher, who could blame him if it was?
(flip) Because Soup is featured in his new RedBirds garb, I totally forgot he ever played for Pittsburgh (though I do recall his second Red Sox stint.) He enjoyed an All-Star caliber start to 2003, owning a 2.72 ERA into mid-May (though only 3-6). When Boston re-acquired him at the deadline, he was fresh off a shutout of the Cardinals (albeit a Cardinal lineup without semi-nemesis Jim Edmonds). He made 11 up-and-down starts and was left off the Sox playoff roster.
According to the blurb, only three hurlers exceeded Suppan's 163 starts from 1999-03. They were Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Russ Ortiz (several others tied).
AFTER THIS CARD: During the 2004 postseason, Suppan made baseball history—with his legs rather than his resilient arm. On third base with his team down 1-0 in the 3rd to his former Boston mates, he inexplicably froze halfway home on a grounder to first. The Sox—who were conceding the run—erased the wayward pitcher, stifling a rally en route to victory.
Still, Suppan remained a Bird for two more years and even atoned for his baserunning mishap with a brilliant, MVP-winning 2006 NLCS. He then landed a four-year deal with Milwaukee but did not complete it, pitching his way off Milwaukee's roster in mid-2010 (the final year). Suppan finished 2010 back with the Cardinals.
Failing to win a job with the defending champion Giants in the spring, Suppan returned to the Royals organization. Typically, veteran pitchers on minor league deals exercise "out" clauses in their contract if not called up by a certain date. Either Soup lacked such a clause, or he just enjoyed Omaha cooking, because at age 36 he wound up making 27 starts for the AAA Royals—an entire season—without ever being called to the bigs.
Six progressively worse starts for SD in early '12 closed the book on Suppan; he officially retired in 2014.
Jeff Suppan appeared annually in topps from 1996-2010, with the exception of 1999. He was such a top prospect that...he never had any prospect cards; even during his MLB apprenticeship years he was given standard base cards.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals
8/31/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #146 Tom Glavine, Braves
More Tom Glavine Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
2001 Topps is starting to come up a tad too frequently in my random selection process. It will take a ten-COTD vacation.
Any young pitcher whose career gets off to a rocky start should only look to Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux for inspiration—they went a combined 13-31, 5.03 in their first full MLB seasons (1988 and 1986 respectively). By 2014, they were first-ballot Hall-of-Famers, and winners of an aggregate 685 MLB games—including postseason—and six Cy Young awards.
The tall left-hander didn't succeed by overpowering batters. Rather, Glavine's M/O usually went like this: establish the outside corner, then streeeetch that corner little by little until umpires were unwittingly giving him six inches off the plate. Glavine rang up 192 hitters in 1991, but for the rest of his career, he only exceeded 160 K once.
He pitched 23 seasons—the first 17 and the final one with Atlanta. In between came five years as a Met; Glavine never looked right in the Orange and Blue. He won 20+ games five times, made 10 All-Star teams (starting in '91 and '92) and was the 1995 World Series MVP. If that weren't enough, he was a lifetime .186 hitter and won four Silver Slugger awards!
THIS CARD: Typical Glavine: easy, relaxed motion on the front. I miss the Braves legends being displayed on Turner Field's wall.
(flip) Just feast your eyes on all the red italics on the back, namely the games started. This guy practically never missed a start until his final season (I can't find out exactly why he was shut down early in '89; my guess is fatigue). Steve Carlton (709) and Tommy John (700) were the only two lefties to ever start more games than Glavine's 682, which ranks 12th all-time overall. No active pitcher is even within 225 games of him!
The two books Glavine wrote: None but the Braves: A Pitcher, a Team, a Champion (1996) and Baseball for Everybody: Tom Glavine's Guide to America's Game (1999). Both are available for cheap on Amazon.com.
This card represents Glavine's fifth and final 20-win season; he was N.L. Cy runner-up to Randy Johnson of Arizona.
AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Glavine surprised many by jumping to the division-rival Mets after the '02 season at age 37. He won 61 games over five years in New York, including career #300 in August 2007 (at the Cubs).
Returning to the Braves for '08, he suffered his first major arm injury and underwent two surgeries. Just when he seemed poised to return in June '09, he was unceremoniously dumped instead and never pitched again. Any hard feelings dissolved by February '10, when Glavine officially retired as a Brave and joined their front office. He appeared in Topps thru 2008 but did not receive a 2009 card even though under contract with Atlanta until just before Series 2's release.
CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Atlanta Braves