Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, January 2020
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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1/31/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps Update #83 Andrew McCutchen, Giants
More Andrew McCutchen Topps Cards: 2005U 2009U 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Andrew McCutchen was/is not an all-time great, but he was the best Pittsburgh player to come along since Barry Bonds. And for much of the 2010's, like Bonds, McCutchen was an annual MVP candidate. Unlike Bonds, however, people liked Cutch.
The #11 overall pick out of Fort Meade HS (Florida) in 2005, McCutchen was in MLB to stay by 2009, and an All-Star by 2011 (he made five straight All-Star teams thru 2015, in fact). In addition to playing a Gold Glove CF, McCutchen hit home runs, stole bases, drew walks, came through in the clutch and didn't bitch about anything.
It was no coincidence the Pirates, who'd endured 20 straight losing seasons before Cutch's emergence, turned things around and became a playoff contender once he blossomed—and fell back into mediocrity when he leveled off beginning in 2016.
Here, with that mediocrity having taken hold and several holes needing plugging, the Pirates decided to move their franchise centerpiece while the getting was good. Enter San Francisco, who was coming off a 98-loss season and desperately needed an infusion of talent—they traded for two franchise centerpieces that winter, acquiring Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria along with McCutchen in the winter of 2017-18.
THIS CARD: McCutchen's first four Giants games took place at Dodger Stadium; no doubt this image is from that series. (Although said series was one to forget for McCutchen and every other Giants hitter sans Joe Panik.)
McCutchen's entire right arm is orange. I'm not a pro athlete or even an amateur athlete anymore, so when I say that wrap looks cumbersome, what the hell do I know.
I will never, and I mean NEVER, get used to McCutchen with short hair. He famously sported long braids until 2016, and much like Ryan Howard's numbers irreversibly tanked after he lost weight, McCutchen's numbers noticeably dipped after he got that trim.
(flip) Those 2013 numbers don't leap off the page, but they won McCutchen the NL MVP award and a Silver Slugger. He finished third in MVP voting 2012 and 2014, and fifth in 2015.
One of those game-ending knocks was an unforgettable three-run walk-off home run vs. the Dodgers (HELL YEAH!) that capped a six-hit night on 4/7. Three days later, his 9th-inning RBI single sunk the Diamondbacks.
That Trade With Pirates sent RP Kyle Crick and OF Bryan Reynolds east. In 2019 Reynolds was a surprise Rookie Of The Year candidate while Crick got into multiple fights.
AFTER THIS CARD: The Giants decided to pull the plug on 2018 early, and traded McCutchen to the Yankees in August; he slugged a fine .471 while alternating between LF and RF for New York. In December 2018, McCutchen inked a 3Y/$50M deal to be the new Phillies LF. Sadly, he tore his left ACL against San Diego in early June trying to escape a pickle, but the 33-year-old is expected to be recovered in time for 2020 Spring Training.
Andrew McCutchen debuted as a Draft Pick in 2005 Topps Update, returned in 2009 Topps Update as a new Pirate, then appeared annually in Topps 2010-present.
CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps Update, San Francisco Giants
More January 2020 Topps Cards Of The Day
1/1/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #237 Eric Wedge, Indians
More Eric Wedge Topps Cards: 1993 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009
Happy New Decade!
Eric Wedge accumulated 100 plate appearances during his playing career, most of them in two stints with the Boston Red Sox (there were also a handful with Colorado). His managerial career began at age 30 in Class A; a few years later he was promoted to AAA Buffalo (Indians) and went a combined 70 games over .500 in two seasons, earning Minor League Manager Of The Year for 2002.
"He's a blue-collar worker, a hard-nosed guy, extremely honest and consistent," Indians GM Mark Shapiro once said of Wedge, who took over a rebuilding Cleveland team for 2003. By September 2005, the Indians were within 1.5 games of first place in the AL Central, and Wedge was runner-up for AL Manager Of The Year.
Here, Wedge has piloted the 2007 Tribe to 96 regular-season wins and a return to the Postseason, although the run ended with Cleveland blowing a 3-1 lead to Boston in the ALCS.
THIS CARD: Wedge receives his fifth straight Topps card since becoming Indians manager; he received exactly one Topps card as a player (1993, with the new Rockies).
Wedge captained a 2007 Indians squad that was never comfortably ahead of the Tigers until opening things up in the final month with a 22-9 run. Re-adding Kenny Lofton down the stretch helped, as outfielders Jason Michaels and a washed-up Trot Nixon got way more run than they should have on a contending team.
More from Wedge's 2007 season: his expiring contract was extended for three years in July. Also, he was ejected 4/28 (yelling about the strike zone) and again on 8/31 (non-balk call).
(flip) Wedge became the youngest MLB manager since an also-35-year-old Bobby Valentine took over Texas in 1985.
That elusive AL Manager Of The Year award finally went to Wedge in 2007, as his club tied the Red Sox for baseball's best record.
Topps had a habit of regurgitating blurbs on each annual manager card; I really hope that is not the case with Wedge as I've used up pretty much all my Indians material on him (except Milton Bradley).
AFTER THIS CARD: The Indians fell back into mediocrity in 2008-09, and Wedge was fired with a year remaining on his contract. He resurfaced with the 2011 Mariners, who were riding a nine-year streak without playoffs. But under his leadership, the club finished last in back-to-back years; Wedge suffered a stroke in 2013 and declined a contract extension to remain Seattle's manager...here's why.
As recently as 2017, he was interviewed to succeed Joe Girardi as Yankees skipper, a job that ultimately went to one of Wedge's former players, Aaron Boone.
Eric Wedge appeared in 1993 Topps as a player, and 2004-09 Topps as a manager.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Cleveland Indians
1/3/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2019 Topps #361 Taylor Davis, Cubs
More Taylor Davis Topps Cards: 2018U
One publication described him as "built like a tree stump and looks like he just walked off a construction site." After being drafted in the 49th round in 2008, the Marlins didn't even bother to sign him. ONE college offered him a baseball scholarship, after which he returned to the draft...but found no takers this time. He waited nearly seven years in the minors before getting "The Call".
The moral of Taylor Davis's story: drop the word "quit" from your vocabulary (unless it is in reference to smoking.)
Here, the 28-year-old catcher is a Cubs September call-up for the second straight year. He only received five at-bats, but rapped PH singles in two of them—one of which drove home a key run for the Cubs.
THIS CARD: Finally, a return to 2019 Topps! I've owned this set for seven months, but only once before had it come up in the Randomizer. (#60 Kyle Tucker, Astros).
With a little help from Getty Images, I was able to pinpoint the date of this photo thanks to the fan in the green shirt. This is Davis batting 9/6/18 at Washington (Game 1 of 2); he lined out to RCF, scoring Chicago's 2nd run of a 10-3 loss—Max Scherzer went the distance.
Davis makes his way into the set despite barely being on the 2018 radar. In all five of his games he entered in the 8th inning or later, and Chicago was being blown out in three of them.
I see bare hands. I don't see all the hair Davis showed up in 2019 with.
(flip) At first I was impressed with all of Davis's .300 outputs, until realizing they were all in limited showings.
Davis seems to be active on Twitter, but most of his recent tweets are just to promote his podcast.
Not shown in the minor league stats: Davis's three pitching performances (in 2012, 2013 and 2017; he added a 4th in 2019).
AFTER THIS CARD: The Cubs didn't wait until September to recall Davis in '19; when C Victor Caratini broke his hand in April. Davis returned to MLB. On May 4, in his second start, he ripped a game-tying grand slam off St. Louis SP Michael Wacha—which, given Davis's history with the Cardinals, had to feel especially sweet.
Davis stuck around through mid-May 2019, but was outrighted off the roster in September—the Cubs had Caratini, Willson Contreras and, as of August, ex-All-Star Jonathan Lucroy to handle the catching. Still, Davis is just 30 and could well resurface for the Cubs or somebody else—I, for one, sure don't expect him to quit.
Taylor Davis debuted in 2018 Topps Update, and returned in 2019 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2019 Topps, Chicago Cubs
1/5/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #151 Mat Gamel, Brewers
More Mat Gamel Topps Cards: 2009 2012 2013F
Ben's big bro Mat Gamel was a talented Brewers third/first base prospect for what seemed like forever. Even though his AAA skipper didn't seem to be a fan, Gamel's hot bat (.329/.395/.537 for AA Huntsville in 2008) would not be denied a 2008 major league debut.
Here, Gamel is coming off of a mixed-bag 2009 season. Sure, he received his first bit of extended MLB run, sharing time at 3B with Bill Hall and serving as a pinch-hitter. But with the sporadic playing time, Gamel never really got hot, and K'd 54 times in just 128 AB with the Brewers.
THIS CARD: Going by the fan in the Braves hat, odds are Gamel is taking this rip at Turner Field. He started three games there in 2009, going 3-for-11.
Gamel wears #24, shared by ex-Brewers CF Darryl Hamilton and brief but notable Brewers slugger Jesus Aguilar.
I'm prejudiced against guys named "Mat" because of Mat Latos, quite possibly the biggest suckbag of my MLB fandom. Mat Gamel wasn't around long enough to truly earn my scorn, however.
(flip) Topps was wrong; Gamel was actually called up from Nashville last May; he was returned in July.
Topps was right; Gamel did seem a good bet to be Milwaukee's 3B for 2010, but he tore a shoulder muscle during Spring Training.
Gamel was Milwaukee's 3rd selection in that 2005 draft; their first was none other than Ryan Braun. (Their second pick never made it to MLB).
AFTER THIS CARD: That shoulder injury allowed Casey McGehee to swallow up Milwaukee's 2010 3B opening; Gamel had to settle for a few scrap AB's in September. Toe surgery led to weight gain entering 2011 camp, during which a strained oblique shot down any remaining shot he had of making the team. Gamel got in just a handful of June/July MLB contests, batting .115.
On his 7th life, Gamel was given the first crack at replacing departed Brewers 1B Prince Fielder in 2012, but shortly into the season, he tore his right ACL pursuing a popup. Gamel rehabbed...only to tear the same ACL again in 2013 Spring Training (did anything good ever happen to Gamel in Spring Training?)
Milwaukee finally cut ties that winter; Gamel got brief camp looks by the 2014 Braves and 2015 Yankees but was ultimately cut by both, ending his pro career.
Mat Gamel appeared in 2009, 2010 and 2012 Topps. He also received a 2013 Factory Team Set Topps card.
CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers
1/7/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps Traded #83 Keith Moreland, Tigers
More Keith Moreland Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1988T 1989
Moreland was kind of a big deal at the University of Texas; he hit .388 there and aided the 1975 team's CWS championship run. Next, he was a #7 pick by the Phillies, who initially used him at C but eventually added 3B (his main college position) and OF to his resume.
Moreland—no relation to current player Mitch—was a part-timer on the 1980 World Champion Phillies, and when his manager Dallas Green left Philly to be the Cubs GM for '82, he quickly traded for Moreland.
In Chicago, Moreland got the extended run that escaped him in Philadelphia, taking over as the Cubs RF in 1983. Though he contributed to the end of Chicago's 39-year playoff drought in 1984, Moreland's best personal year was '85, a year he finished 9th in the NL in hits, 7th in average, 4th in RBI and 4th in OF assists.
By February 1988, however, Green was long gone and the Cubs needed to replace Lee Smith at closer—cue trade with SD for RP Goose Gossage. Moreland, who homered 27 times in '87, went west in the deal but saw his power decrease by 81% as a Padre. Here, he's been swapped to the Tigers just before Halloween 1988.
THIS CARD: Moreland is a shiny new Tiger here, having been acquired in attempt to boost the team's offense. Obviously, Detroit management did not hear or did not care about that 81% power decrease in 1988. Or about Moreland's advancing age.
In the base set, Moreland the Padre is card #773; he's also shown in mid-rip on that card.
Moreland wears #10 with the Tigers, though it looks like #60 in this pic. Other notable Tigers with #10 include...P Tommy Bridges in the 1930's and the great MGR Jim Leyland 2006-13. No Tiger has worn it since Leyland retired.
(flip) Shame on the batteries that allowed Moreland to swipe 12 bags in '85...he was not fast, and was once thrown out at 1B from RF.
More about that 1,000th hit: Moreland doubled late off Reds RP Tom Hume in a 3-1 win at Cincinnati.
If Moreland had truly driven home 13 game-winning runs for the '88 Padres, they would not have swapped him to Detroit (with IF Chris Brown in exchange for SP Walt Terrell). That stat was poorly tracked and ended up being stupid.
AFTER THIS CARD: Little. Moreland, after batting a team-best .299 in 90 games for the Tigers, was dealt to Baltimore for P Brian DuBois in July 1989. But too many cold streaks left him at .215 as an Oriole, and Moreland's career ended at 35 after that season.
His number 3 was retired by Texas in 2010; for a time he did radio work for the university and later, the Cubs.
Keith Moreland appeared in Topps 1981-89. He's also got 1982, 1988 and 1989 Traded cards.
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps Traded, Detroit Tigers
1/9/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #48 Charlie Hayes, Giants
More Charlie Hayes Topps Cards: 1990 1991 1992 1992T 1993 1993A 1994 1995 1995T 1996 1998 2001
What Giants fan doesn't think about "The Brawl" upon any mere mention of Charlie Hayes's name?
Flashback to 4/16/99: Hayes reaches 1B on a fielder's choice off Arizona SP Todd Stottlemyre, and chirps a bit to himself. Stottlemyre believes he's the target of the chirping, and chirps back at Hayes as he chugs into 2B on a single.
Hayes, who already didn't like Stottlemyre, takes great offense and charges the mound from second base. Cue a solid three-star brawl during which Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson accidentally replaces his fallen Arizona cap with a Giants one.
(There's also that time Giants SP Salomon Torres beaned then-Rockie Hayes, but we won't get into that just yet.)
Here, Hayes has returned to the Giants (his original team) for 1998 after a nine-year voyage through MLB. Initially brought on as insurance for young 3B Bill Mueller, Hayes gradually played more as 1B J.T. Snow's struggles against lefties grew. The veteran was especially dangerous on the first of the month—on 4/1 Hayes homered with four RBI at Houston, and on 6/1 he drove home five vs. Cincinnati.
THIS CARD: This has always been a memorable card for me—the camera angle is not one commonly used for Topps pix. 1999 Topps front images all seemed to depict more dirt than any other set; Hayes' card may be the "dirtiest" of them all.
Then you have the subject: Hayes, a 3B/1B, is obviously warming up somebody behind the plate, somebody who isn't a pitcher. And he's waiting on a throw despite having a ball in hand already. And he's using a catcher's mitt! It'd be great to know more about the circumstances of the pic, like was Hayes even in the game at the time?
It is yet another defensive Charlie Hayes front image; of his 10 Topps base cards, eight depict him fielding or about to field.
(flip) Hayes is listed as a third baseman, but in this image he's obviously across the diamond.
That triple play went down 3-6 in the 4th inning at the Cubs; Hayes, the 3, caught Jeff Blauser's semi-liner to kick things off, stepped on 1B to double off Henry Rodriguez, then fired to SS Rich Aurilia to retire Mark Grace at 2B. Still, SF lost 5-4 in 14 innings. The previous TP? 10/3/80 in a 12-0 loss to visiting San Diego.
In that trade, the Yankees acquired RP Alberto Castillo and OF Chris Singleton, both prospects at the time. Castillo didn't reach MLB until 2008, at age 32.
AFTER THIS CARD: As referenced, Hayes did spend 1999 with the Giants, but battled a wrist injury that eventually needed July surgery. He went to camp with the 2000 Mets, got cut, then hooked up with Milwaukee—Hayes started 94 times split evenly between both corner IF spots that year and hit .251, 9, 46.
When he was in the 2001 Astros lineup—Hayes lost time to the bereavement list as well as a suspension for an epic umpire tirade—he was unproductive; Houston cut ties in July, which ended Hayes' playing career at 36.
After many years out of baseball, Hayes returned to the Phillies organization as a minors coach in 2017. Two sons have played pro ball, including Ke'Bryan, who batted .265 for AAA Indianapolis (Pirates) in 2019.
Charlie Hayes debuted in 1990 Topps, appeared annually through 1996 (twice in 1993), then returned for the 1998, 1999 and 2001 sets. He's also got 1992 and 1995 Traded cards.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, San Francisco Giants
1/11/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #627 Andres Berumen, Marlins
More Andres Berumen Topps Cards: 1995
Throughout December 2019, the Topps Card Of The Day Randomizer spit out one established MLB veteran after another. Dudes who played (or will play) for a decade-plus, dudes I'd have no trouble digging up interesting stuff about...from memory or any or my personal sources.
So far in January...largely the opposite. I'm not about to call any major leaguer a "scrub", but this month we've randomly selected three dudes with almost no MLB resume, dudes who were/will be forgotten the moment of uniform's removal.
In COTD, however, we treat all cards—and their subjects—as equally as possible. So what if the only "interesting" tidbit I could dig up on Andres Berumen was a Spring Training grand slam he gave up to Jacob Cruz after walking four batters? We're going to talk about him anyway.
THIS CARD: Here, Berumen is a shiny new Marlin, having been selected from the Royals #45 overall in the 1992 Expansion Draft. Responding to said draft, Topps gave a lot of otherwise-unworthy players inclusion in the 1993 set, but backed off somewhat in 1998 mercifully.
Look closely and you'll see this is NOT the same exact image on the reverse; Berumen's facial expression is slightly altered and his glove is lowered.
According to my sources, Berumen threw a mid-90's fastball, accompanied by a curve and "evolving" changeup.
(flip) Banning High School is located in Los Angeles.
Foreshadowing by Topps? Berumen receives card #627, and the event he'd later become best known for—his inclusion in the 1993 Gary Sheffield trade with the Padres—went down on 6/27.
A sudden conversion to relief for Berumen for 1992 Appleton, which is Class A. Those 13 saves and 46 appearances led the team, and Berumen only allowed three jacks all year.
AFTER THIS CARD: Berumen eventually got in 37 games for the 1995 Padres, and three more for the 1996 squad. Both years, he was tough to hit but had serious issues throwing strikes—San Diego dumped him off on Seattle in exchange for P Paul Menhart in 1997, and Berumen never returned to MLB. His pro career ended in the Mexican League in 2000.
Andres Berumen appeared in 1993 and 1995 Topps, the latter on a shared On Deck prospects card.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Florida Marlins
1/13/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #290 Edgar Renteria, Tigers
More Edgar Renteria Topps Cards: 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006 2007 2009 2009U 2010 2011 2011U
Renteria was the starting SS for the Florida Marlins at age 19 in 1996; despite his youth, he played well enough to finish 2nd in N.L. Rookie Of The Year voting. One year later, he produced one of the most dramatic hits in World Series history, singling off Cleveland's Charles Nagy for the walk-off Game 7 win.
Fleet and slick-fielding, by 1998 Renteria was an All-Star, making him too valuable for rebuilding Florida to keep—off he went to St. Louis for RP Braden Looper and two others in December 1998.
Renteria would start at SS for the Cardinals through 2004; his 2003 season would be the best of his career as he posted numerous career highs and even earned an MVP vote!
Then the transition began; Renteria changed teams three times in three years beginning in December 2004, when he signed with Boston. They swapped him to Atlanta one year later; here, despite some nice offensive numbers, the Braves—who had young Yunel Escobar looming—moved the now-31-year-old to Detroit in October 2007.
THIS CARD: Check out Renteria the new Tiger—Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski called shortstop the team's "biggest need" for 2008 with Carlos Guillen shifted to 1B, and went after the five-time All-Star.
As we mentioned in April 2017 on Renteria's first COTD (1997 Topps), he is shown defensively on well over half his Topps card fronts. Though his errors were up in 2008, Renteria did not come close to approaching his infamous Boston struggles of '05.
Obvious airbrush job for two reasons:
1) The Tigers did not visit AT&T Park until months after this set was released, and
2) #11 is retired in Detroit for Sparky Anderson; Renteria wore #8 as a Tiger.
(flip) That Trade With Braves sent P Jair Jurrjens and OF prospect Gorkys Hernandez to Atlanta.
The usually-durable Renteria was limited to 124 games in '07 by a twice-sprained right ankle (the second sprain on a swing immediately after being activated from the first sprain.)
In case you're curious, Renteria's robust .332 average in 2007 ranked 4th in the NL.
Renteria is listed here as born in 1975, but according to his own family he was born in 1976; they fudged things so the Marlins could sign Renteria sooner.
AFTER THIS CARD: After the one year with Detroit, Renteria signed with the Giants for 2Y/$18.5M. Much of that time was an injury-muddled mess, but Renteria squashed it all with one swing of the bat in the 2010 World Series—his three-run HR off Cliff Lee in Game 6 sunk Texas and secured MVP honors for the now-34-year-old. He spent 2011 as a Reds part-timer, then retired in 2013.
Edgar Renteria appeared annually in Topps 1997-2011, and in 2005, 2009 and 2011 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Detroit Tigers
1/15/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #495 Daryle Ward, Dodgers
More Daryle Ward Topps Cards: 1996 1998 2001 2002 2005 2006U 2007
Ward was a perennial prospect who was firmly blocked from his natural position, 1B, in Houston by Jeff Bagwell. His bat was too intriguing to ignore, however, so the Astros—then in the National League without a designated hitter—found time for Ward in the outfield, where he was not particularly skilled.
In 2000, despite starting only 54 games, Ward bashed 20 home runs, one of few bright spots on the team that year. Houston was still stacked at Ward's positions in 2001; he started even less that year and saw his production dip.
Here, Ward finally had a position of his own, LF, with the FA departure of Moises Alou to the Cubs. Ward started 117 times in LF (often sitting against tough lefties), once at DH, and played another 18 off the bench. He homered twice in his first six games, and slugged .464 in the second half.
THIS CARD: Throughout his Astros tenure, Ward usually had at least a little chin fuzz, so it's odd to see him completely clean-shaven here—Joe Torre and Don Mattingly were both years away from managing the Dodgers.
As you can (kind of) see here, Ward was a big fella, one who had to battle to remain at an acceptable playing weight—at one point being sent to a clinic by the Astros.
Ward even looked good holding the bat; his swing was lauded as one of the most graceful and technically sound in baseball.
(flip) Here is a clip of the grand slam in question. Pirates SP Kip Wells served up the blast, which knocked him out of the game as the Astros now led 8-0. They would win 10-2.
Ward was the first of what are now four men to reach the Allegheny River on the fly (Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, and Josh Bell twice; Ward remains the sole visiting player to splash down.)
That trade sent RP Ruddy Lugo to the Astros, though he never played for them.
AFTER THIS CARD: Ward did not have a good 2003 season, and was not re-signed by the Dodgers. He joined the Pirates for 2004-05, serving as their primary 1B in 2005. Despite no longer having to worry about chasing balls down in the outfield full-time, Ward still could not match his 2000 production level, slugging just .405.
Ward barely saw the field his final three MLB seasons, serving mostly as a PH for the '06 Nats, '06 Braves, and 2007-08 Cubs. The role suited him; he slashed .317/.406/.538 in 2006-07 before a major drop-off in 2008. Ward shuffled around on MiLB deals for the next four seasons, but did not return to MLB.
Today he is a hitting coach in the Reds organization.
Daryle Ward appeared on shared Prospects cards in 1996 and 1998 Topps. He then appeared in the 2001-03, 2005 and 2007 base sets, as well as 2006 Updates & Highlights.
CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
1/17/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #405 Kevin Millwood, Braves
More Kevin Millwood Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2003T 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2010U 2011 2012U 2013
As if the 1990's Braves needed more star pitchers...
In the late 1990's, the Atlanta Braves' Big Three of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were still National League titans, the standard by which all other rotations were measured. But Smoltz's right arm was becoming uncooperative—no problem, just plug in young Kevin Millwood out of North Carolina and watch him go to work.
Millwood, a 1993 #11 pick, hadn't been much early in his pro career but by 1997, he was figuring things out, and went 10-5 at two MiLB levels before Atlanta summoned him in July. Millwood ended up making eight mostly-solid major league starts that year, and opened 1998 in the Braves rotation at age 23.
Here, Millwood has completed his first full MLB season, 1998. On at least half the teams in baseball, Millwood could have been a #1 starter but on the '98 Braves, he was but one cog in a 106-win machine.
THIS CARD: Millwood was/is a big fella, but he didn't throw crazy hard. Low/mid-90's with heavy sink can be just as difficult to square up with a round bat, as it turned out.
Young Millwood gears up to throw either the heat, his very tough curve, or his slider. Later on he added a changeup to his repertoire, but he never really leaned on it until the very end.
I don't like having to do this but...hiatus time for 1999 Topps, since we just picked #48 Charlie Hayes not long ago.
More from Millwood's 1998 season: he won his first three decisions, his final three decisions, and was 7-1 at one point. Additionally, he finished 9-4, 2.72 at home, and posted a 1.82 September ERA.
(flip) OF Jermaine Allensworth recorded the Pirates' lone hit, a 5th-inning double. Millwood threw 131 pitches that day, which would get (manager) Bobby Cox sent to the funny farm in the year 2020.
Millwood appears to get an end-of-game handshake here; he completed two home starts in '98, the other coming 6/14 vs. the Expos (who absolutely creamed him five days later in Montreal).
Gastonia is located about 23 miles west of Charlotte.
AFTER THIS CARD: Quite a bit, actually. Millwood remained in Atlanta thru 2002, battling through shoulder problems to post a 75-46 record as a Brave. But he was due $10M in 2003, far more than the Braves were able to pay, so off Millwood went to the Phillies in one of the most unpopular non-fire sale trades of my time.
In Year One as a Phillie, Millwood won 14 times and threw a no-hitter at my Giants, but elbow woes disrupted his 2004 entering free agency. He'd spend one season with the Indians, one in which he won but nine times despite winning the 2005 AL ERA title.
For 2006, Millwood joined the Texas Rangers on a 4Y/$48M deal. Though he was not as effective as he'd been with the Braves, Millwood did chew up innings while winning an average of 12 games over the length of the contract, including 16 in 2006. From there he hopped between Baltimore, Colorado and Seattle 2010-12—though his overall results were mixed, the veteran did throw the first six innings of a combined Mariners no-no in '12.
Kevin Millwood appeared in Topps annually 1999-2013, except 2012. He's also got a 2003 Traded card and 2010 and 2012 Update cards, and is represented by Topps with all of his teams except the Rockies. (Also, his 2006 and 2007 Topps cards use the exact same front image.)
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Atlanta Braves
1/19/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps Update #247 Hideki Okajima All-Star
More Hideki Okajima All-Star Topps Cards: n/a
I'm more than a little annoyed by this COTD selection. We just pulled Okajima's 2007 Topps base card back in November 2019—less than two months ago. Now, out of all the cards I own that are available to be selected, the Randomizer pulls...Okajima's 2007 Topps All-Star card. Not the card before it (Ben Sheets All-Star) or after it (Roy Oswalt All-Star) on the checklist.
Not any of the nearly 1,000 other available cards from 2007 Topps and 2007 Topps Updates and Highlights.
And that was after trying to saddle me with another 1999 Topps selection!
So displeased am I at this half-assed "random" selection, that I'm going to give a half-assed write-up of the card and hope that you the reader are not viewing COTD for the first time.
THIS CARD: If it looks like this photo was taken off a TV screen...apparently, even my scanner was displeased with this selection because the card itself doesn't look like this. Any other time I would have performed a re-scan, but not this time. You know why.
Okajima had to settle for a pre-game festivities photo since he was not used in the actual 2007 All-Star Game. He was the sixth Red Sox player added to the roster, btw.
(flip) I frown at Monster as a sponsor because you never know if it's referring to Monster Jobs, Monster Energy Drinks, or Monster Cable. (The Final Vote was in use by MLB 2002-18).
Okajima beat out the likes of Detroit's Jeremy Bonderman, Toronto's Roy Halladay, the Angels' Kelvim Escobar and Minnesota's Pat Neshek to secure the Final Vote 32nd roster spot.
AFTER THIS CARD: Okajima hit a wall in August/September 2007, but not hard enough to prevent Boston's World Series title that year. He would never make another All-Star team but remained a reliable bullpen arm for the Red Sox thru 2009 (and an unreliable one in 2010-11)
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps Update, All-Stars
1/20/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #389 Doug Glanville, Rangers
More Doug Glanville Topps Cards: 1995 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2004 2005
Glanville was not your ordinary jock—before reaching the pros, he graduated from Penn with a degree in systems engineering, which are not just handed out to anybody with a big smile and a nice suit. Since retiring from baseball he's gone on to a successful career as a writer and ESPN personality; listen to him talk and it's obvious the guy has a lot between his ears.
Today, however, we're focusing on Doug Glanville the outfielder. 1991's 12th overall pick by the Cubs, Glanville took a bit of time before reaching Wrigley Field at age 26. And though he hit .300 in a semi-regular role for the 1997 Cubbies, he lacked punch, and wound up dealt to the Phillies—who he rooted for as a child—that winter.
Glanville played every day and led off for Philadelphia; in 1999 he hit .325 with 34 steals, 11 HR, and 204 hits (2nd in the NL, and the first 200-hit Phillie since Pete Rose in '79). And though those numbers came back down to earth in 2000-01, he remained the Phillies main man in CF.
Here, Glanville has just joined the Rangers after a trying 2002. Though his salary had increased to $4M, Glanville's OBP slipped to .292 for the year and he was even benched for a time mid-season. Ending strong, the veteran notched hits in seven of his final 11 at-bats, but Philly had still seen enough. (For the moment, anyway.)
THIS CARD: You could have held a fresh #2 over my favorite brand-new kicks and I would still not have recalled Glanville ever suiting up for Texas. He opened 2003 as their CF and leadoff man, until tearing a hamstring tendon 4/14 against Anaheim. Out six weeks, he was traded back to the Cubs in July...so it's not like he was ever a Rangers fixture.
Lately, we've been featuring new Topps Cards Of The Day bi-daily, but so upset was I at our previous "random" selection that I felt the need to break recent protocol...COTD is supposed to be fun and informative, not upsetting.
In the main pic, Glanville appears to be thinking, "...hold up. They picked YOU to take the picture???"
With two out of the past four selections, 2003 Topps must go on hiatus.
(flip) The other three outfielders to play errorless ball over 100 games? Rondell White (NYY), Dave Roberts (LAD) and Kenny Lofton (CHW/SF). An impressive turnaround for Glanville, who committed a whopping eight errors as recently as 1999.
The Rangers signed free agent Glanville for the tidy sum of 1Y/$1M.
Those 678 AB in 1998 were the 4th-most in Philly history at the time; now they're 6th.
AFTER THIS CARD: Glanville, as mentioned, was swapped to the Cubs (for a no-name prospect) in July 2003, but they'd also traded for Lofton so Glanville was left with scraps of playing time. Still, he smoked a game-winning, 11th-inning RBI triple to win Game 3 of the 2003 NLCS at Florida!
The Phillies brought Glanville back for 2004, but this time around he was used mostly as a 4th outfielder, with Marlon Byrd getting the majority of CF run. Glanville was unable to win a job with the 2005 Yankees, and his playing career ended (with a 293-game errorless streak intact).
Doug Glanville debuted in 1995 Topps on an On Deck (shared prospects) card, then appeared annually in Topps, to my surprise, all the way through 2005.
CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Texas Rangers
1/22/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #579 Highlight/Checklist
More 2012 Topps Highlight/Checklists: n/a
Checklists were a staple of Topps sets forever. In fact, back in the day not only would sets include full checklist cards, but Manager cards would supply an additional team checklist.
Eventually they disappeared from Manager cards, and in 2000 Topps they disappeared from the set altogether, appearing only in insert from that year. And to the best of my research, no checklist cards were produced at all for most of the 2000's (though I may be wrong).
But last decade, in-set checklists returned, sharing card fronts with either combo images (blecch) or season highlights, depending on the year. In this particular year, 2012, Topps buddies up highlights with the checklists.
THIS CARD: One would believe that a season where Uggla became the first 2B with five 30-HR seasons consecutive or otherwise—he was already the only one with four—AND put together a 33-game hit streak would qualify as a successful one, but the dude hit just .233 overall in 2011.
Uggla belted #30 at Wrigley Field 8/22/11 to set the mark, which could fall if current Yankees masher Gleyber Torres stays at 2B.
(flip) I've owned this set going on eight years and do not know who James Darnell is. Could he be related to former The Young And The Restless actor Brooks Darnell? Further more, I do not know who Brandon Dickson is. Lance Dickson, yes. Jason Dickson, sure. But not this character.
I sort of know who Alex White was...pretty sure he played for the Rockies. Ricky Romero is a person I'd long forgotten about.
At least in this instance, card #600 went to a star. #550? Eh, not so much, but at least Kinsler was no scrub, either. This is one of 10 highlights/checklists in 2012 Topps.
AFTER THIS CARD: Uggla finished 2011 with a career-high 36 blasts, but never hit more than 22 again. His career ended in 2015.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Checklists
1/24/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps Traded #77 Lance McCullers Sr., Yankees
More Lance McCullers, Sr. Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990
You know his son, the hard-throwing Houston Astro who just had UCL surgery and missed 2019. But 30 years before Lance Jr. emerged on the scene, equally hard-throwing papa Lance Sr. was getting it done in the Padres bullpen at the tender age of 21.
Senior got his MLB break when Padres CL Goose Gossage hit the DL in 1985 (knee surgery); he saved all five of his true save ops—all but one were at least two innings—and earned the nickname "Baby Goose".
In '86, McCullers entered the rotation twice, racking up 70 total appearances with a 2.78 ERA. When Gossage missed time in '87, McCullers received more save ops and the two worked as a closing tandem even after Gossage healed. San Diego felt comfortable enough with McCullers as stopper to move Gossage to the Cubs after that season, although it was Mark Davis who emerged as their primary closer during the '88 campaign.
Here, 24-year-old McCullers has just been swapped to the Yankees as part of a package to land star 1B Jack Clark.
THIS CARD: Our second 1989 Topps Traded card of January, but spread out enough to avoid going on hiatus. (The Randomizer, for the 4th time in January, tried to spit out another 1999 Topps card!)
Don't let the baby face fool you: McCullers was a confident, aggressive pitcher who came right at hitters. Much like Gossage, in fact.
McCullers gears up to throw either his 95-mph fastball, slider or changeup. His slider was once more of a slurve until he refined it early in his career.
(flip) The full trade with the Yankees: New York received McCullers, OF Stan Jefferson and P Jimmy Jones in exchange for Clark and RP Pat Clements. By 1992's end, they had all moved on; nobody really won the trade unless you count the Yankees getting rid of the difficult Clark, who went on to clash with Tony Gwynn in San Diego.
When I Googled "Pitchers For Pets San Diego", all that came up was the Jacob Nix incident. Safe to say the organization no longer exists.
Good God, 123 relief innings for a 23-year-old? Could you imagine A.J. Hinch doing that to McCullers Jr.? Baseball has really changed.
AFTER THIS CARD: The middle of 1989 was a major struggle for McCullers, but he did straighten things out by season's end, finishing with 82 K in 84 IP at a time when a K per inning wasn't nearly as common as today. Still, in early 1990 the Yankees moved McCullers to the Tigers in a deal for slugging C Matt Nokes.
McCullers was throwing well for the Tigers when he began experiencing weakness in his arm—there was a blood clot in his shoulder, and McCullers did not pitch after June 24. In fact, he did not return to MLB until early 1992, with the Texas Rangers. That stint lasted five unimpressive games and just like that, McCullers was done in the major leagues.
Lance McCullers, Sr. appeared annually in Topps 1986-1990, with this 1989 Traded card mixed in.
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps Traded, New York Yankees
1/26/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps Traded #123 Willie Upshaw, Indians
More Willie Upshaw Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989
TSR continues its recent voyage through Topps Traded sets of the 1980's with Willie Upshaw, ex-Raider Gene Upshaw's cousin who was a durable, power-hitting 1B for the up-and-coming Toronto Blue Jays of the mid-1980's. In fact, Upshaw even got MVP votes in 1983 after whacking 27 HR and becoming the first Blue Jay ever with 100 RBI in a season.
Upshaw—stolen from the Yankees in the 1977 Rule V draft—was Toronto's main man at 1B 1982-87, barely missing any games at all. However, his production severely dipped after 1983, to the point he was actually an offensive liability by 1986. (There was no obvious reason for the tail-off, though The Scouting Report: 1987 suggested a 1984 wrist injury suffered while swinging.)
With young Cecil Fielder and Fred McGriff looming, the veteran Upshaw became expendable entering the 1988 season.
THIS CARD: The Indians acquired Upshaw via straight sale late in 1988 Spring Training; he'd start 129 times for them at 1B in 1988.
Upshaw appears to be thinking, "Man...I wish I played on that guy's team."
#20 was retired by Cleveland in 2017 for Frank Robinson, who barely played there but did become MLB's first black manager with the Tribe. Between Upshaw and #20's retirement, a lot of dudes wore the number, but no one of note for very long. (Although Rajai Davis hit that huge HR off Aroldis Chapman in the '16 World Series as the final Indians #20.)
(flip) Blanco, Texas is located about 50 miles north of San Antonio, according to Wikipedia.
Told you Upshaw barely sat. Assuming Toronto annually played all 162 of their games 1982-87, Upshaw missed a grand total of 45 games in that stretch. In this "load management" era of the NBA, I appreciate durable players more than ever these days, and Upshaw was a lineup fixture. Even when he probably shouldn't have been.
22-year-old Upshaw returned to the minors for 1979 after being forced by Rule V Draft law to remain with Toronto for all of '78. His 131 hits led Syracuse, and the 25 doubles tied for tops.
AFTER THIS CARD: Upshaw's MLB career as a player ended after the one year with Cleveland; he took his talents to Japan for 1989-90 but returned to the States to find no takers. Upshaw went on to coach for the Rangers and Blue Jays during the '90's before closing the decade as manager of the Independent League Bridgeport Bluefish.
Giants fans may remember Upshaw from his two seasons as San Francisco's first base coach 2006-07. I personally do not, but back then I really liked beer.
After debuting in 1979 Topps, Willie Upshaw appeared annually in Topps 1982-1989, and of course in 1988 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps Traded, Cleveland Indians
1/28/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #53 Matt Smith, Draft Pick
More Matt Smith Topps Cards: 1994T
First off, I would just like to say "sorry" for the numerous weak COTD pulls over the second half of January. They're all done at random, and the Randomizer is working hard against me right now. I could always make an executive decision to void a random pull, but then the whole integrity of COTD is affected.
What I will do instead is what I did the last time (two weeks ago) I was unhappy with a random selection, which is randomly select another Topps card tomorrow and hope for a pick that A) actually gives me something to work with, and B) interests you the visitor.
Smith was the 16th overall pick of the 1994 Draft by Kansas City, and four years later he was out of baseball entirely—he couldn't cut it as a hitter, and elbow soreness thwarted his efforts as a pitcher.
But here, he's got his whole baseball future in front of him...and football future, too, as it turned out. Read on:
THIS CARD: Tall, stoic and mean is how I'd describe Matt Smith based solely on this photo.
Oddly enough, this Draft Pick card is not Smith's first with the Topps company—1994 Traded included new Draft Picks such as Smith (with the 1995 Draft Pick design, however.)
This selection marks our 13th consecutive inactive COTD subject...that has got to change.
(flip) I thought the whole purpose of "committing" was no longer being able to back out and play elsewhere, as Smith did. He would have played for Bill Walsh had he not uncommitted.
Look at those numbers. LOOK AT THEM! How did Smith manage to lose nine times with a sub-1.00 ERA? His mates must not have offered much offense or defense.
Grants Pass is located in the lower portion of Oregon, nowhere near Portland or Salem but immediately off Interstate 5.
AFTER THIS CARD: KC did indeed execute their plan to make Smith a slugging 1B, but slug he did not (.332 SLG in four MiLB years). So KC returned Smith to the mound—he threw decently enough, but as we mentioned, his elbow didn't hold up. Ultimately, the still-only-22-year-old gave up baseball and joined Oregon as a linebacker (with Stanford's permission).
Smith went undrafted by the NFL; he may or may not have landed on the practice squads of the Colts and Jaguars, depending on my sources.
Matt Smith (no connection to the former Yankees/Phillies RP 2006-07) appeared in 1994 Topps Traded and 1995 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Draft Picks
1/29/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #643 Chicago Cubs Team Card
More Chicago Cubs Topps Team Cards: n/a
Fitting that on the day after Dusty Baker's managerial hire by the Houston Astros, COTD revisits perhaps his most famous team, the 2003 Chicago Cubs.
Though an eventual playoff team, the 2003 Cubs were no juggernaut. They began the season 41-34 and were in first place much of the first half, but went into a 6-14 skid beginning 6/24; during that stretch, rising CF Corey Patterson wrecked his knee stepping on 1B and was lost until the following season.
Down in the division race by as many as 5.5 games as the trade deadline approached, Chicago executed a trade for Pirates Kenny Lofton (OF) and Aramis Ramirez (3B). In time, the team warmed up, eventually going 19-8 in September to clinch the NL Central (88-74).
As you know, the '03 Cubs were in position to reach the World Series, carrying a 3-1 series lead vs. the upstart Marlins. In Game 6, a disastrous eight-run Marlins 8th inning forced a Game 7. Although co-ace Kerry Wood started the game and even homered, the Cubs fell 9-6 in front of sobbing fans at Wrigley Field.
THIS CARD: Somewhere in this pic is 1B Hee-Seop Choi, who was having a fair start to the year before being literally knocked out in a collision with Wood 6/7. He was out three weeks.
Somewhere in this pic is P Matt Clement, a guy I always forget was on those early-'00's teams. All he did was win 14 games and rip off 201 IP...as the 4th starter.
Somewhere in this pic is OF Moises Alou, who had spent notable DL time each of the previous four seasons but stayed mostly healthy in '03. He led the team in hits and was second in runs, HR and RBI to Sammy Sosa (who'd I'd detail, but who knows if he's even in this pic?)
Somewhere in this pic is RP Joe Borowski, who entered 2003 as a middle man but ended it as CL. He took over for injured Antonio Alfonseca early and wound up with 33 saves in 37 chances.
(flip) Sosa hit 40 homers, true, and most would be pleased with that. But remember Sosa had averaged 58 in the five preceding seasons. Oh, well, 40 still led the Cubs by a mile.
Wrigley's current capacity is 41,649.
If only the arms of Prior and Wood, and the head of Zambrano, held up over the long haul...
Never lost more than three straight? Amazing, for just an 88-win team. David Kelton and Angel Guzman both reached MLB but accomplished little.
AFTER THIS CARD: Chicago won 89 more games in '04, but the Astros and Cardinals were the class of the division that year. By '06, the team was awful again and Baker was fired. Under Lou Piniella, the Cubs returned to postseason play '07-08 before falling back into mediocrity. In '09 the franchise was sold, and in '12 ex-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was brought in to do what he did in Boston—end a championship curse.
By 2015 the roster was turned over, MGR Joe Maddon was in place and Chicago was back in the postseason as the second Wild Card team; they advanced to the NLCS but were swept by the Mets. One year later, they outlasted Cleveland in a dramatic 7-game World Series—curse ended. In the years since, however, the club has disappointed (NLCS 5-game loss in '17, WC game loss in '18, missed playoffs in '19) and Maddon was replaced with rookie MGR David Ross for 2020.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Chicago Cubs