Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, July 2022
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A = Alternate Card B= Bonus Factory Set Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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7/31/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #87 Brad Hawpe, Rockies
More Brad Hawpe Topps Cards: 2006 2007 2008 2010 2011
Now don't get me wrong—Brad Hawpe was a very good Colorado Rockie for a few years. But the only time anybody was comparing him to, say, David Ortiz or any other top lefty masher of the 2000's, was when:
A) the somebody was me, and
B) Hawpe was opposing me and my Giants in MLB '11: The Show.
As I've previously explained in COTD, for budgetary reasons my copy of that video game had to suffice far longer than it was meant to. Meaning I battled the Padres—Hawpe's 2011 team—a LOT over the years, and for whatever reason facing Hawpe was like facing a 'roided-up Joe Mauer with trash cans and TV monitors in use.
I really had to strategize and dig in to get the guy out; he hit the ball hard frequently, was rarely if ever fooled, and seemingly never swung and missed against anybody except RP Javier Lopez.
Putting aside the many general updates, improvements and innovations that make MLB '16: The Show worth the PS3 investment I made last year, one of the game's best features is that it does NOT include Brad Hawpe—or any other player with similarly distorted skillz.
I'm telling you now, Sony—when MLB '23: The Show is released, an epic STRUGGLE should not be necessary to retire Eric Hosmer in Veteran mode.
THIS CARD: Hawpe appears to be ceasing his advancement to second base, most likely after a foul ball, I'd guess. He wasn't too fast or slow, but he rarely attempted to steal bases as a professional.
In the Rockies' 30-season history, they've only issued #11 to six players. The slugging Hawpe—pronounced "HOP", by the way—is easily the best of the bunch; second-best is current wearer Jose Iglesias, hitting well over .300 at last check. (Tom Runnells also wore #11 from 2009-16, partially explaining the dearth of players with those digits.)
More from Hawpe's 2008 season: in Spring Training, Colorado locked him up for 3Y/$17.4M, then watched him—eventually, see blurb—produce his usual numbers despite missing two weeks with a hamstring strain towards May's end. In late August, Hawpe reached base in 10 straight PA—two shy of the franchise record (NINE of those PA came against my Giants, the bastard). Thanks, MLB.com.
(flip) Hawpe hadn't been higher than .263 all season prior to the tear referred to in the blurb. For the record, his Rockies—who were 74-88 overall—went 22-18 in those 40 games, emphasizing why Colorado gave him that deal.
Those 76 BB in '08 led Colorado, and those 25 homers in '08 tied for the lead (with Matt Holliday).
When Hawpe's career ended, his highest career OPS against (10 PA) was still Snell, though reduced to 2.092. Broxton and Hendrickson had been replaced by Mike Thompson—a Padre in 2006-07 who I forgot ever existed—and Felipe Paulino for second and third place.
AFTER THIS CARD: Hawpe hit .285, 23, 86 in 145 games for the 2009 Rockies, making his sole All-Star team and shaking off an early-season hospitalization after taking a pickoff throw to the neck. The 31-year-old slipped a bit in 2010 and (to my surprise) wound up released by Colorado in August. Tampa Bay signed him the next day, but he went just 7-for-39 in 15 games down the stretch.
As mentioned, Hawpe joined the Padres for 2011 at 1Y/$2M (with a $6M mutual option for 2012 and a $1M buyout) with designs on him taking over at 1B for the traded Adrian Gonzalez. However, Hawpe was not very productive for SD and underwent UCL surgery in August. He resurfaced with the Angels for 17 games in June 2013, but after managing but five singles in 27 at-bats, the Angels gave 34-year-old Hawpe his career-ending release that August.
Brad Hawpe appeared in 2006-11 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Colorado Rockies
More July 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day
7/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps Update #198 Kevin Jepsen, Angels
More Kevin Jepsen Topps Cards: 2015U
I used to get Kevin Jepsen and Angels bullpen mate Jordan Walden confused for a time—not even Walden's unique delivery distinguished him in my cluttered mind. Then Walden was traded to the Braves. Then Walden's career suddenly ended after rotator cuff surgery. Then I had no real problem telling Jepsen from Walden.
A burly, hard-throwing reliever, 2010 marked Jepsen's first season spent entirely in MLB; he spent nearly seven full seasons in MiLB before debuting with the Angels as a 2008 September call-up. Here, he's just kicked off the 2011 campaign; opposing batters were just 4-for-24 (.167) against Jepsen during Spring 2011.
THIS CARD: We mentioned Walden's delivery, but Jepsen's motion wasn't exactly basic, either—forgoing a windup, he'd just sort of half-squat and explode the ball to the plate. Jepsen offered a high-90's fastball, a curve, and a slider/cutter; in 2014 he restored his old changeup.
It still seems a little blasphemous for any Halos righty reliever not named Troy Percival to be wearing #40, but here you go. Other notable #40's in Angels history include 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon, and flamethrowing lefty Frank Tanana in the 1970s. (Jepsen's original Angels number was #65, BTW.)
This pic was shot 5/15/2011 as the Angels clashed with the Rangers; that day Jepsen faced one batter, Elvis Andrus, and induced a flyout in the B8th.
More from Jepsen's early 2011 season: he made five appearances before being demoted to AAA Salt Lake for a month. He then made 11 more appearances before a second demotion; one horrific outing (five ER in one inning 5/17) skewed his numbers.
(flip) Those 54 games with the 2009 Angels: Jepsen struggled early, hurt his back, was demoted to Salt Lake after healing, but returned to the Angels for good in early June.
If you do the games/innings math, you can figure out that Jepsen was a regular starter early in his pro career. In fact, he started 27 games as a 20-year-old for A Cedar Rapids in 2004! But he switched to the bullpen for 2006 and never looked back.
Couldn't Topps have figured out SOME way to use the sidebar for past Traded/Update cards, as the 2011 Topps base set did? As I've said before, I DUG the random past Topps cards in those sidebars.
AFTER THIS CARD: Before he could return to the majors from his second AAA demotion of 2011, Jepsen required season-ending right knee surgery. He got in 94 mostly-effective games for L.A. in 2012-13 while still finding time in AAA, then enjoyed a standout 2014 campaign (2.63, 1.046 WHIP in 74 games) for the 2014 Angels—to date, the last Angels team to reach the postseason.
Los Angeles dealt the now-veteran reliever to Tampa Bay for OF Matt Joyce in December 2014; the Rays then swapped Jepsen to Minnesota at the 2015 Trade Deadline. The 31-year-old took over Glen Perkins' role as Twins closer and finished the year with a combined 15 saves! He was again asked to fill in for the injured Perkins as closer in early 2016.
But that year, Jepsen was battered (5.98 ERA, 1.671 WHIP) in 58 combined games for the Twins and Rays, who re-acquired him after his July release by Minnesota. The 33-year-old spent 2017 on MiLB deals with Arizona (Spring Training) and Washington without any major-league call-ups, as he did not exactly dominate AAA batters.
After a delivery tweak at AAA Syracuse, however, Jepsen recaptured some lost velo and won a job with the 2018 Rangers out of Spring Training. But he walked 11 and allowed four homers in 16 regular-season innings, and he was granted his career-ending release about seven weeks into the season. Jepsen finished up with a 4.00 ERA and 27 saves in 469 career MLB games.
Kevin Jepsen appeared in 2011 and 2015 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps Update, Los Angeles Angels
7/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #436 Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
More Ricky Nolasco Topps Cards: 2004T 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013U 2014 2014U 2015 2016 2017 2018
The 2008 Giants were not a good team, especially on offense. I specifically remember the call-up of rookie Pablo Sandoval that year and how strange (and welcome) it felt to watch a Giants hitter beat good pitching.
The low point HAD to be 8/19, when young Marlin SP Ricky Nolasco—a capable fellow but no Tim Lincecum—shut the Giants out on two hits. One of those hits was a B1st infield hit by Randy Winn. The other was a pinch-hit, B9th double by Sandoval. Meaning at one point, 24 straight batters failed to get a hit off Nolasco (one did draw a walk, at least).
I never forgot that game.
Here, however, Nolasco is fresh off his rookie season of 2006. Initially a reliever for Florida, Nolasco joined the rotation in mid-May and while he did take some lumps in early July and late August especially, the kid showed plenty of promise as he posted the best BB/9 of ALL Marlins pitchers (2.6). He went 3-2, 2.62 in five June starts!
THIS CARD: Nolasco was one of those guys who managed to look bigger than he was AND smaller than he was all at once. Here, we see him trying to decide on throwing the four-seamer (low-to-mid-90's), the two-seamer, the slider, or the splitter that he used as a changeup. Nolasco added a cutter later on and also supposedly had a curve, though I don't remember it in his arsenal.
Ricky...that signature...is NOT a signature. That is a too-fancy sketch of the Oldsmobile logo. (It seems Nolasco "signed" his birth name, Carlos Enrique Nolasco.)
That's #47 partially concealed on Nolasco's jersey; he wore only that number in his 12 MLB seasons. The best of the dozen or so other Marlins to wear #47 is probably Junior Felix way back in 1993, though RP Jimmy Yacabonis has looked good wearing it so far in 2022.
(flip) Nolasco was acquired from the Chicago Cubs with fellow pitching prospects Sergio Mitre and Renyel Pinto in exchange for OF Juan Pierre, who played well for Chicago. But since he was only there one season, the Marlins win this deal because of Nolasco's achievements (see below).
That home run doubled as Nolasco's first MLB hit; SP Sean Marshall served it up. Nolasco finished his MLB career with 382 official at-bats, but never homered again.
Those 11 wins in 2006 made Nolasco one of four Marlins rookies (Anibal Sanchez, Scott Olsen and Josh Johnson) to win in double digits; they were the first such rookie quartet in MLB history! That group, along with veteran star Dontrelle Willis, became the first Marlins quintet with 10+ wins each.
AFTER THIS CARD: Nolasco lasted with the Fish well into the Miami era; after missing most of 2007 with elbow inflammation, he went a combined 42-25 from 2008-10 despite ERA and H/9 totals that sometimes ran on the high side. Florida rewarded the 28-year-old with a 3Y/$26.5M extension in December 2010.
In mid-2013, with the Marlins going nowhere, Nolasco was dealt to the Dodgers and won eight games for them down the stretch (boo). But he lost what ended up as his only MLB postseason start (non-boo).
Minnesota then signed the free agent to a 4Y/$49M deal in December 2013, but never really got their money's worth as Nolasco was waylaid by ineffectiveness (15-22, 5.44 in 57 games as a Twin) and injury (just nine games in 2015 due to elbow inflammation and ankle surgery) until being traded to the Angels in mid-2016.
Nolasco looked much better as a 2016 Angel (4-6, 3.21 in 11 starts), but after a WILDLY inconsistent 2017 campaign—for example, he followed a shutout with a start of eight runs in 1.2 innings—he ended up signing a MiLB deal with Kansas City for 2018. They released him before the opener; Nolasco wasn't seen on a mound again until 2019 in the D'Backs system, where he made his final 11 pro appearances.
Today, Ricky Nolasco remains the Marlins' all-time leader in starts (197) wins (81) strikeouts (1,001) and innings (1225.2). He debuted in 2004 Topps Traded before appearing in 2006-18 Topps as well as 2013-14 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, Florida Marlins
7/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #216 Joe Randa, Royals
More Joe Randa Topps Cards: 1995 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006
Randa was not your prototypical major league third baseman; he didn't have the power most clubs seek at that position. But the man could hit, as evidenced by his four seasons over .300 and his career .284 average, so he got full-time run with the Royals, Pirates and others for a decade in MLB.
Here, Randa has closed the book on a promising 1996 season. Given 89 starts (80 at third base) by the Royals, the youngster tied with veteran Jose Offerman for the team lead in average (.303) while demolishing lefties at a .340 clip.
THIS CARD: Randa makes his second appearance in COTD; we profiled his 2004 Topps card in January 2021.
A Royal not named Bo Jackson or Billy Butler wearing #16?! Blasphemy! OF Andrew Benintendi currently wears #16 for the Royals—at least until the trade rumors become trade reality.
Nothing against Randa, but there wasn't a strong rookie crop of third basemen in 1996 and he sort of defaulted into that trophy. Personally, I'd like to think the All-Star Rookie third baseman would have been Russ Davis of the Mariners had he not gotten hurt in May, or Bill Mueller of my Giants had he been called up a month sooner.
(flip) This is the rare image of Randa without a happy expression on his face; his mouth was naturally shaped into a smile and announcers often commented on it.
Check out that .545 SLG for 1991 Eugene (low A); Randa couldn't have slugged .545 in MLB unless A) he hit 100 doubles in a season, or B) Kansas City moved its home games a couple states over to Colorado.
The California Angels picked Randa #30 in 1989 out of something called Indian River State College. A smattering of future major leaguers went there, the best known probably being former OF/1B and 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce.
AFTER THIS CARD: In December 1996, KC traded Randa to the Pirates, for whom he posted nearly identical numbers in 1997 as in '96. He was then taken in the 1997 Expansion Draft by Arizona, then immediately flipped to Detroit.
Randa struggled for the 1998 Tigers and was traded that December—first to the Mets, then back to the Royals a week later. Randa went on to spent the next six seasons as Kansas City's third baseman, with his best all-round campaign being 2000 (.304, 15, 106).
The 36-year-old ended his career after stints with the 2005 Reds, 2005 Padres and 2006 Pirates.
Joe Randa appeared annually in Topps 1995-2006, except 1996. He's also got a 2005 Update card as a new Padre.
CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Kansas City Royals
7/4/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #187 Geronimo Berroa, Athletics
More Geronimo Berroa Topps Cards: 1989T 1990 1993T 1994T 1996 1997 1998
If you know the story of current Cubs star Patrick Wisdom, then you might have an idea of the path Geronimo Berroa took to stardom 30 years ago.
Berroa was originally a highly-touted Blue Jays prospect who flamed out soon after arriving in Atlanta via Rule V Draft. He had to pass through four other organizations with just a couple of MLB sniffs before finally getting a true opportunity with the rebuilding 1994 Oakland Athletics at age 29.
Given that playing time, mostly at DH, Berroa went out and led the '94 A's qualifiers in average and slugging, while finishing second in OBP and RBI.
THIS CARD: It's fitting to have a front image of Berroa swinging the bat. It seemed he hit everything hard in 1994, and with 1B Mark McGwire out ⅔ of that season and OF Rickey Henderson merely ordinary, Berroa's offense was needed.
After shuffling through several other numbers, Berroa wore #29 almost exclusively from 1994 on. Other notable #29's in Oakland A's history include: 2B Phil Garner in the 1970's, SP Curt Young in the 1980's, and CL Keith Foulke in the 2000's. Currently, #29 is claimed by A's RP Austin Pruitt.
Berroa is listed as an OF, but as we mentioned, the majority of his 1994 run came at DH, so perhaps a hyphen was warranted? Berroa was also used a handful of times at first base.
(flip) Berroa did NOT bat left. This error was never corrected on any of his Topps base cards or his first Traded card (1989), although 1993-94 Traded correctly lists him as a righty batter.
In David Wells' book Perfect, I'm Not, Berroa is quoted as shouting "What? I can't hear you over all those home run cheers!" when Wells protested his slow amble around the bases. In that Diamond Vision pic, Berroa looks like the type of guy who'd indeed respond that way.
The listed Braves, Reds and Marlins were only some of the organizations to employ Berroa 1990-93. He spent Spring 1991 with the Mariners before being sold to Cleveland, who stashed him at AAA Colorado Springs for the entire 1991 season despite his .322, 18, 91 showing there.
Instead of "decision at", Topps should have said "demolition of", IMHO. Those five RBI would go down as Berroa's career-high, tied in both 1996 and 1997.
AFTER THIS CARD: Eliminating any "fluke" labeling, Berroa batted .278, 22, 88 in 1995 before breaking out with a huge 1996 campaign (.290, 36, 106) that would have earned him All-Star consideration just about any other year.
Come June 1997, however, the first-place Orioles needed to replace the cancer-stricken OF Eric Davis in their lineup—cue a trade for Berroa, who cooled down a bit in Baltimore but homered twice in the ALDS!
From there, unfortunately, Berroa descended into career freefall, only getting in 118 MLB games from 1998-2000 (with the Tigers, Indians, Blue Jays and Dodgers) as one injury after another hit. He batted .222 with two bombs and 24 RBI in that period, and after a stint with AAA Ottawa (Expos) in 2001, Berroa's career ended at 36. (Well, in the States, anyway; he played a season apiece in Korea and Mexico before sitting down for good.)
Geronimo Berroa appeared in 1990 and 1995-98 Topps, as well as 1989, 1993 and 1994 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Oakland Athletics
7/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #385 Curt Schilling, Phillies
More Curt Schilling Topps Cards: 1990 1991 1992 1992T 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 2000 2000T 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2008
I might feel that Curt Schilling belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but not enough of the people responsible for that decision feel the same. This past winter, Schilling wrapped up his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot, and despite strong numbers and being one of the game's dominant and clutch pitchers for over a decade, he remains on the outside of the Hall looking in.
True, his personality and remarks have something to do with that—he damaged his own chances by being, well, tough to like. But we're not talking about a criminal here, and if you're judging Schilling STRICTLY for what he did on the field 1989-2007, and not anything he said 2008-present, he should have a plaque in the Hall along with his old teammates Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. There's no denying what a great pitcher Schilling was.
Oh, well. Maybe one of those 12 Veterans Committees will agree with my reasoning someday...
THIS CARD: Schilling was one of those guys who seemed fat, even though he really wasn't. It's because of images like this.
You can see the #3 on Schilling's back and the #8 on his sleeve; I wonder if the Phillies would retire Schilling's #38 if he ever did reach Cooperstown. Unlikely, since his very best years were with Arizona and Boston.
Schilling is the only Phillies pitcher with a common in 1999 Topps; they only had seven players total (Mike Lieberthal, Desi Relaford, Bobby Abreu, Rico Brogna, Scott Rolen and Doug Glanville were the others; no Mark Lewis (518 AB in 1998), no Mark Portugal (10-5 in 26 starts), no Mark Leiter (23 saves). Geez, Topps, it wasn't collector's fault that some guy named Mark vandalized your building.
(flip) My daughter came within five minutes of sharing a birthday with Schilling. Instead, she popped out at 11:55pm on November 13th...a Friday (cue spooky music).
15 complete games in 1998 by Schilling alone; there might not be 15 total complete games in MLB here in 2022! MAN, I love high IP and CG totals...
The four others before Schilling with consecutive 300-K years: Rube Waddell, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and J.R. Richard; Johnson later became the sixth. Fun fact: Schilling reached an even 300 punchouts in 1998 with exactly 150 home and away!
AFTER THIS CARD: Not much, just a blockbuster trade to the D'Backs in July 2000, 132 more wins including a stretch of three 20-win seasons out of four, three more All-Star appearances (making it six in all), three Cy Young Award runner-up finishes, a blockbuster trade to the Red Sox in November 2003, a very famous sock and a key role in three World Series championships (2001 Arizona, 2004 and 2007 Boston) before career-ending shoulder surgery in 2008.
Oops, almost forgot: Schilling also became the 14th pitcher with 3,000 K; he ranks 15th all-time today. Sorry, Nick Swisher, but somebody had to be the victim.
Schilling worked as an analyst for ESPN from 2010 until his 2016 firing for, let's just say, giving one non-baseball opinion too many. Ironic, since two years prior, he beat mouth cancer.
Curt Schilling appeared annually in Topps 1990-2008. He's also got 1992, 2000 and 2004 Traded cards.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies
7/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps #569 Checklist/South Side Swag
More 2020 Topps Checklists: n/a
Topps reintroduced Checklist cards to its base sets back in 2010. From that Topps set through the 2015 Topps set, Checklist card fronts were dedicated to the past season's highlights, except 2013 Topps, whose fronts were dedicated to the Record Chase—milestone chase, really—of several dudes. The actual Checklist appeared on the reverses.
From 2016 Topps through today, Checklist card fronts have featured an assortment of images meant to promote the game's top stars and present them in a fun light. The card titles do occasionally fall into the "trite" and/or "cheesy" column, but the majority are at least a little inspired. Since these titles seem geared toward the younger collector/fan, we will refer to them as the "Teen Titles" here in COTD.
I personally would rather still have the Highlights, but as long as Checklists are back, they could have batboys, umpires or even vendors on the front and I wouldn't complain. (Unless the umpire is the reproachable Angel Hernandez.)
THIS CARD: Much to my surprise, this is the first Checklist card we've presented in COTD from the "Teen Titles" era. I thought I was going to have to do some editing, since before today I didn't pay much attention to the front of Checklist cards and would not have featured the Teen Title in the card description, but nope.
Tim Anderson (right, #7) has made much news for non-baseball reasons in 2022, but let it be known he is a FINE baseball player and one who was voted to start the 2022 All-Star Game. Eloy Jimenez (left, #74) is no slouch either when healthy, but he's missed a LOT of time since smoking 31 jacks as a 2019 rookie.
Per Getty Images, this pic was shot 9/11/2019, shortly after Jimenez ripped a B1st three-run homer off Kansas City's Glenn Sparkman. Still, the Royals won 8-6 that day.
(flip) ERROR—Anderson did not hit the home run.
The word "Swag" used to make me retch—what can I say, I'm a middle-aged man, get off my lawn—but after hearing it used on a number of honorable individuals such as Stephen Curry and Justin Timberlake, it's no longer vexing. "YOLO", on the other hand...
Hooray! Most Topps Checklists from 2010 on feature at least one rookie who I have no clue about, despite owning his card. But I at least have basic knowledge of everyone listed here. Even Yonathan Daza.
At the time of this set's release, Hiura, Lowe, Jansen and Calhoun seemed headed toward good things—perhaps even stardom. (One or more of them may have even had the Future Stars label on their 2020 Topps card.) But Hiura has dropped off substantially after a strong 2019 rookie campaign, Jansen is a lifetime .213 hitter in five seasons, Lowe—after hitting 39 homers in 2021—is stuck on the 60-day IL with a .212 average this season, and Calhoun has been buried in AAA for most of 2022.
Baseball is beautiful, but it can also be cruel...
CATEGORIES: 2020 Topps, Checklists
7/8/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2019 Topps #20 Jose Urena, Marlins
More Jose Urena Topps Cards: 2015U 2018 2020 2021 2021U 2022
Though he's fighting for his career at present, hard-throwing Jose Urena was a fine big league pitcher for a few seasons, and at one point was the ace of the Miami Marlins—I know, I know, somebody had to be, but still, Urena was legit.
Unfortunately, a lot of non-Marlins fans will best remember him for intentionally drilling young Braves OF Ronald Acuna in 2018 for no other reason than Acuna enjoying and succeeding at the game of baseball in Urena's presence. The 4th-year pitcher was ejected and served a six-game suspension for his actions, and his career has steadily declined in the years since.
Here, Urena has completed that 2018 season, one which wasn't going so well up until that August suspension (3-12, 4.74, 10-day DL stint in June with shoulder impingement). But the veteran righty caught fire after returning, going 6-1, 1.80 in his final seven starts! Somehow, Colorado's German Marquez claimed NL Pitcher of the Month for September with a 3-1, 2.14 line that paled in comparison to Urena's 5-0, 1.20 performance (the former did have four 11-K games, but still.)
THIS CARD: According to GettyImages, this pic was shot on 3/29/2018—Urena received the Opening Day nod against the Cubs but was tagged for five runs, six hits, four walks and three HBP in four innings. (It took a while to find this pic since I could not tell if Urena was wearing a home or road jersey; that's the primary issue I had with the Miami uniforms of the mid-2010's.
We see Urena with what appears to be a slider grip; Urena features a high-90's four-seamer, a very hard sinker, the aforementioned slider and a power changeup that can reach 90! His reach-back-and-fire motion is anything but compact and anything but deceptive, but his arm has always been healthy—liners notwithstanding (see below).
More from Urena's 2018 season: he led Miami in wins and innings, was their only pitcher to make 30 starts (nobody else topped 26) and of the 13 Marlins pitchers to top 50 innings, Urena's 1.184 WHIP ranked second to Adam Conley's 1.086. On 8/19, Urena went the distance on 108 pitches at Washington, allowing two walks and hits apiece in beating the Nats 12-1.
(flip) I'm still stunned that someone with Urena's velocity/stuff strikes out so relatively few—even though he doesn't really try to strike guys out, in THIS era, you'd think K's would happen organically. Those 130 whiffs in 2018 average out to 6.7 K/9; fittingly, Urena's 2018 game-high for K was seven.
It's not too often a team's original #5 starter winds up its leader in wins (by four) and places second in innings, but that was Urena in 2017. That 2-0 win at Baltimore went down 6/15; Urena might have pitched the B9th (rather than CL Kyle Barraclough) had he not already fired 112 pitches.
To me, anyway, Urena's slider is more fluttery than sharp. But I've never stood 60', 6" away from him.
This is the seventh COTD we've presented from 2019 Topps base—and the fifth to be numbered in single or double digits...just a random oddity I felt compelled to share.
AFTER THIS CARD: In 2019, Urena again started for Miami on Opening Day, but he missed nearly three months with a back strain and pitched in relief upon his September return. Urena then missed the first month-plus of 2020 with COVID; he wound up 0-3, 5.40 in five starts that year and was non-tendered by the Marlins (who now had several other viable rotation options).
Detroit brought Urena onboard with a 1Y/$3.25M deal in December 2020—only to watch him go 2-8, 5.96 (in 18 starts), visit the IL twice (forearm/groin strains) and lose his rotation spot. He wasn't much better out of the 'pen and signed a minors deal with Milwaukee for 2022.
Urena won a relief job out of Spring Training but was cut by the Brewers after only four games; just two days ago he turned in a fine start for the Rockies (suck on THAT, Dodgers) that he can hopefully build upon going forward.
Jose Urena debuted in 2015 Topps Update and has since appeared in the 2018-22 Topps base sets. He also appears as a new Tiger in 2021 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2019 Topps, Miami Marlins
7/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #147 Quilvio Veras, Braves
More Quilvio Veras Topps Cards: 1995 1996 1998 1999 2000 2001
I couldn't have been the only one who didn't expect much when young Quilvio Veras took over as the Marlins' second baseman in 1995. He was tiny and not a great hitter; I figured MLB pitching would overmatch him.
But by the end of 1995, he'd not only held his own against MLB pitching, but he was also the league's top basestealer and the second runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year! "Q" remained with Florida for one more season before being traded to the Padres (for P Dustin Hermanson) in November 1996.
With San Diego, Veras batted as high as .280, continued to steal bases (not at his 1995 pace, but better than most) and helped the Padres reach the 1998 World Series! But after the 1999 season Veras, a pending free agent, was part of a six-man blockbuster trade between the Padres and Braves (the one that sent Ryan Klesko to San Diego).
Here, Veras has just finished up Year Two with Atlanta...sort of. After missing half of 2000 with a torn ACL, Veras returned to the Braves in 2001 but was plagued by an ankle sprain and a rib cage injury; Atlanta cut him in July to make room for newly-acquired SS Rey Sanchez.
THIS CARD: Veras holding down second base at an unidentified stadium; all but 6.2 innings of Veras's defensive MLB career came at the keystone (he played two games in the outfield for the 1995 Marlins).
The #41 patch commemorates Hall-of-Fame Braves 3B Eddie Mathews, who passed away in February 2001 at 69.
It's very rare for Topps—today and back in the day—to include a player with a team who didn't employ him at season's end/beginning. But here we have Veras, who was cut by the Braves in August 2001 yet turned up in 2002 Topps as a Brave months later. Off the top of my head, I can think of Sean Bergman in 2001 Topps and Jeff Samardzija in 2021 Topps as players featured under similar circumstances.
(flip) Here, Veras slightly resembles late soap actor Kristoff St. John, which I'm sure he got ALL the time.
Veras was limited to 73 games in 1996 by a hamstring injury and a demotion to the minors when Luis Castillo was promoted.
That is one of the most random, least interesting blurbs in the history of modern Topps. IT'S JUST A FRIKKIN' COINCIDENCE, PEOPLE!!! RIP Odalis Perez. Even though I didn't like him.
AFTER THIS CARD: In--Nada. Veras signed MiLB deals with the Red Sox in August 2001 and the Dodgers in December 2002, but neither facilitated a return to MLB.
Quilvio Veras appeared in 1995-2002 Topps, except 1997.
CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Atlanta Braves
7/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #120 Travis Fryman, Tigers
More Travis Fryman Topps Cards: 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Fryman, the longtime Tigers SS/3B who at one point displaced future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Alan Trammell, had just wrapped up his seventh major league season when this card was released. It was a good year for Fryman, who led the 1996 Tigers in runs, hits and RBI. He singled for career hit #1,000 on 9/20 at Milwaukee.
THIS CARD: Fryman drives one to left at Tiger Stadium, where he batted .271, 10, 45 in 1996. The year before, Fryman had been decidedly better at home than away, but in '96 his home/road splits were pretty close to even—exactly what you'd expect from a player like him.
Through the years, Fryman received a good blend of front images from Topps. He's shown batting and fielding almost evenly, and at different points he's seen laying out for a grounder as well as making a diving tag...well done, Topps.
More from Fryman's 1996 season: he opened the year on fire, with four straight multi-hit games and eight total RBI in those games! He enjoyed an 11-game hit streak from late August into September, and on 4/4 he homered twice in a 15-inning win against Oakland.
(flip) For some reason, Fryman's three league-leading stats are bold and italicized but not colored red. This was corrected on his 1998 Topps card.
The other compensatory draft pick Detroit received for Parrish was used on Bill Henderson, a high school catcher who spent three seasons in the low minors. I'd like to believe one person too many asked if Henderson was related to Rickey or Dave and he snapped, ran out of the ballpark, and never returned.
Of those 22 home runs in 1996, one was a late grand slam off Seattle's Rafael Carmona that put a close game game out of reach 8/2.
AFTER THIS CARD: In 1997, the fourth year of Fryman's 5Y/$25M deal signed in November 1993, he posted numbers virtually identical to those from '96. But the Tigers slipped in the standings, and they dealt their star 3B to the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks on the night of the draft (for 3B Joe Randa and two others) in a cost-cutting move.
Two weeks later, the defending AL Champion Indians acquired Fryman in a trade for superstar 3B Matt Williams; Cleveland wasted no time extending their newest star for 5Y/$28M.
Fryman enjoyed a fine first season (28 HR) with the Indians in 1998, but sat half of 1999 with back and knee injuries—his first DL trips ever. Healthy again in Y2K, Fryman drove in a career-high 106 runs, batted .321, made his fifth All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove!
But from there, physical problems resumed (torn elbow ligament, shoulder surgery in 2001) and by 2002, he could only muster a .217 average in 118 games.
33-year-old Fryman retired after that season. From 2008-10 and again in 2015, he managed in the Indians' low minors; at last check (2021), he was a roving hitting instructor for the franchise.
Travis Fryman debuted in 1990 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1991-2002.
CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Detroit Tigers
7/12/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #22 John Wetteland, Expos
More John Wetteland Topps Cards: 1990 1993 1994 1995T 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
All I can say is, I hope it isn't true.
There is nobody I hate more than child abusers, especially sexual abusers. I should not have to explain why.
A few years ago, former All-Star closer John Wetteland was arrested for that very crime. He is due to stand trial later this year.
I really don't even want to present this card, and the only reason I am is because I'm a firm believer in innocent until proven guilty. Until Wetteland is proven to have done what he's accused of, and I'm convinced of said proof, I have to treat him fairly.
But if he is proven to have done what he's accused of, you will never see any of his cards presented on TSR again. Can't give positive recognition to a sack of crap like that...can't do it.
THIS CARD: For the life of me, I cannot grasp why Topps did not continue using the photo angles/backgrounds/styles used in the amazing 1995 set. Sure, the clouds are generated, but it's still an awesome background. At least to moi.
I think I had that exact same glove once upon a time.
Wetteland is gripping something here, but in these days he relied heavily on his high-90's fastball. He additionally threw a curve to keep batters honest, as well as the rare changeup.
More from Wetteland's 1994 season: he wasn't the force he'd been in 1993, going just 25-for-35 in save ops. But he still finished fourth in the NL in saves, posted a 1.12 ERA in July, and ended the shortened season with three straight saves at Pittsburgh August 8-10.
(flip) San Mateo is located about 20 minutes (by car) south of San Francisco; it houses the famed Serra High School, once attended by the likes of Barry Bonds and Tom Brady.
"Employed" as a movie critic? Well, in 1994 he was still a couple years away from making the big bucks...ends had to be met.
That Trade was not with the Dodgers, as the stat rows might have you believe. Rather, Montreal acquired young Wetteland from Cincinnati in a five-player deal. Cincinnati had acquired Wetteland from the Dodgers two weeks prior in the semi-blockbuster Eric Davis trade.
AFTER THIS CARD: As with most of the star 1994 Expos, Wetteland was moved prior to the 1995 season, landing with the New York Yankees. He registered 31 saves with a career-low 0.880 WHIP for the 1995 Yankees, but was not sharp at all in the ALDS vs. Seattle (14.54 ERA in three outings). The next year, Wetteland saved a league-high 43 games, made the All-Star team and eventually won World Series MVP—he saved all four Yankee wins against Atlanta.
But with Mariano Rivera waiting in the wings, Wetteland was not re-signed for 1997 and inked a 4Y/$23M deal with Texas in December 1996. Over the first three years, he saved 116 games with a 2.54 ERA, and made the 1998 and 1999 All-Star teams despite not being all that great in the first half of 1999.
In 2000, however, the 33-year-old was bothered by a bad back, and the velocity he lost after elbow bone spur surgery in October 1998 did not fully return. The result was a difficult campaign (4.20 ERA, nine blown saves) and retirement after the season. Wetteland was inducted into the Rangers' Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 2006, Wetteland briefly served as the Nationals' bullpen coach; it didn't end well. He later served in the same role for the Mariners 2009-10 and made news there as well.
John Wetteland debuted in 1990 Topps, then appeared annually in the 1993-2001 base sets. He's also got a 1995 Traded card as a new Yankee.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Montreal Expos
7/13/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #453 Josh Fogg, Reds
More Josh Fogg Topps Cards: 2001T 2002T 2003 2004 2005 2007