Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, June 2018

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6/4/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #223 Odalis Perez, Royals

More Odalis Perez Topps Cards: 2000 2003 2004 2005 2006 2009

 

If only we'd picked Perez's card one week later—he turns 40 on June 11, 2018 and could have been TSR's first random AND special selection.

 

Of course, I'm the editor of this site and had I been so moved, I could have delayed the post to coincide with Perez's birthday. But I didn't because A) Perez was a longtime Dodger, and B) Perez, IMHO, was a dirtbag whose poor work ethic got him shipped out of Los Angeles—the only thing worse than a Dodger is a lazy Dodger who takes his success for granted.

 

Originally, Perez was an Atlanta Brave, making 28 appearances (17 starts) for them in 1998-99 before Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2000.  He recovered in time to open with the 2001 team, spending most of the year with Atlanta (there was an August DL stint.)

 

Along with Brian Jordan and a prospect, Perez went west in the infamous Gary Sheffield "liar" trade of January 2002. He promptly turned in a career year, winning 15 times while leading a good Dodger rotation in innings, ERA, and WHIP (by a lot; Perez walked 38 in 222 IP). Additionally, his two shutouts—two more than any other Dodger—helped him to a 4th-place finish in NL ERA and an All-Star nod.

In other words...Perez arrived.

 

Little did anyone guess Perez had already peaked at age 24. After the 2004 seasons—one of the worst hard-luck pitching seasons in recent memory—Perez re-signed with LA as a free agent for 3Y/$24M. However, as told in Ned Colletti's book The Big Chair, Perez's preparation and work habits didn't measure up to his salary; fed up, the team shipped him to Kansas City in July 2006.

 

Here, Perez has ended his first full AL season on notes both high and low—while he won his final two starts, they both came in mid-August; the 29-year-old closed 2007 on the DL with a bum left knee.

 

 

THIS CARD: Given Perez's truncated year posting poor numbers for a poor team, he was hardly a lock for inclusion in a mid-2000's Topps set. But Topps obviously opted against a second straight year of exile—Perez was largely a forgotten man the year before.

Because of that, and the blue Royals uniform he sports, I almost sorted Perez's card with the Dodgers.

 

I've browsed my usual and not-so-usual sources and haven't found a splitter in Perez's repertoire, but what else could that grip be? He did add a new "sinker" in Spring 2007...

 

The signature reads Olelur Perz. (For clarity's sake, Perez's first name is pronounced "Oh-Dallas". For the longest time I thought he was the latest Pascual Perez sibling...turns out he's not. (Though he probably says otherwise.)

 

(flip) Well, Perez the Royal did have a knack for getting out of jams...after two or three runs had scored. I understand managers have to build guys up, but come on, Buddy. Compliment his looks or something. Don't lie to us.

 

Note the 6.83 ERA with the '06 Dodgers; that's about where he was when LA demoted him to the bullpen after six starts. And he actually complained publicly about it. For Christ sake. (Well, this IS a world where Ron Artest asked the Indiana Pacers for time off to rap...just gotta remember that.)

 

For most other dudes, I'd tell you where La Matas de Farfan was. But Perez sucks, so who cares.

 

The "Trade With Dodgers" sent journeyman RP Elmer Dessens back to LA (where he'd played in 2004-05); two minor leaguers and cash accompanied Perez to KC.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Perez, to his credit, turned a minors deal with Washington into an Opening Day starting assignment (though, let's be real—it was largely by default.) Overall, he was decent as a Nat, but nowhere near his 2002-03 peak. Yet, he refused to honor the new minors deal he signed with Washington for '09, and never pitched in MLB again.

 

Perez will go down as a guy fortunate enough to reach MLB, and fortunate enough to get a second chance after blowing out his arm...who then took his opportunities for granted, grossly over-inflated his worth, only did charity work for the recognition and felt the game owed him eternally for the one All-Star season he managed—even when he stunk.

What else do you expect from a former Dodger? The game was, and is, better off without him.

 

Odalis Perez debuted in 2000 Topps as a Brave. Following his surgery comeback, he appeared annually in Topps 2003-09, except 2007.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Kansas City Royals

 
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6/6/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps Traded #113 Red Schoendienst, Cardinals

More Red Schoendienst Topps Cards: n/a 


Unless you're the baseball nut I am, I can assure you—you just pronounced Red Schoendienst's name incorrectly.

 

Albert Fred Schoendienst (pronounced shane-deenst) is not, and never really was, a household name outside of St. Louis. But within St. Louis, he's as synonymous with Cardinal baseball as Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Bob Gibson—you name it. In the 1940's and 50's, the guy was a stud second baseman on both sides of the ball, and eventually rode his talents to the Hall of Fame in 1989.

 

And to think: his career almost never got started due to childhood vision problems, the details of which I won't get into...you're welcome.

 

Schoendienst reached MLB in '45 and led the NL in steals—ironic, since he stole in single digits in all but one of his final 18 seasons...guess I can't bag on late-career Sammy Sosa quite so hard.

"Red" did too much in his career for me to detail here—just know from 1945-57, he averaged .291, 581 AB, 23 K and made 10 All-Star teams—no Gold Gloves yet or he'd own a shelf of those, as well. And did I mention he played for years with f----n tubercolosis??? How many modern second baseman besides Dustin Pedroia could do that?

 

Schoendienst also spent a season's equivalent with the New York Giants and parts of four others with the Milwaukee Braves—for whom he played in the '57 World Series—before winding down back in St. Louis as a coach/part-time player.

In 1965, two years after his last game, the Illinois native took over as Cardinals manager, holding the position for 12 seasons—a Cards record until Tony LaRussa came along. He took consecutive pennants in 1967-68, beating the Red Sox but falling to the Tigers, respectively.

 

Here, he's Cardinals interim manager after the resignation of another St. Louis legend, Whitey Herzog. Then 67, Schoendienst took over after a 9-2 Independence Day pounding in San Francisco—and promptly won two games at San Diego.

 

 

THIS CARD: This is the only card from my collecting era dedicated to Schoendienst; he memorably shared the front of a 1988 Topps Cardinals Leaders card with catcher Tony Pena—but neither man was identiified.
Despite being a Cardinals coach at the time, it's doubtful the majority of collectors knew who Schoendienst was by 1988. I sure didn't for a while.

 

Schoendienst was only an interim manager, his 24-game stint timed perfectly to receive the Topps Traded card over his successor Joe Torre. Torre was not hired until August 1, far too late for a Traded set inclusion in those days.

 

(flip) Add in Red's 13-11 mark in 1990, and he ended his career 1041-955...not bad. His 2nd-place 1974 squad lost the NLE to Pittsburgh in Game #161.

 

Schoendienst switch-hit because his vision problems didn't completely subside, cutting his military career short and causing right-on-right pitch identification troubles.

 

Germantown, Illinois is 36 miles east of St. Louis—Schoendienst was a "local" success story, even if local was in another state. His then-home city looks like a giant typo.

 


AFTER THIS CARD: Schoendienst remained a Cardinals coach during Torre's tenure and was eventually named Senior Special Assistant To The General Manager (whoever that happened to be.) It wasn't just a title—Schoendienst spent the past two decades as a part-time Spring Training instructor and was in uniform as recently as March 2018. He passed away on June 6 of that year...RIP to one of the all-time baseball greats.

 

Red Schoendienst was featured in Topps as a player in 1952-53, 1956, and 1961-62; no idea why so sporadic. His buddy Stan Musial was a longtime Topps holdout...coincidence?

As a manager, he appeared more consistently—anually from 1965-74, and sort of in 1975-76 (in those days, managers received identified nset shots on team cards. His next and final Topps appearance was 1990 Traded (this card).

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps Traded, St. Louis Cardinals

 
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6/9/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #586 Sunny Kim, Nationals

More Sunny Kim Topps Cards: 2002

 

"Who the hell is this?"

 

Every few Topps sets, I unearth a veteran player whose identity, despite my countless hours immersed in the game over the years, completely stumps me—somebody with a limited or non-existent Topps history who somehow managed to fly under my wide-reaching baseball radar the previous year. 


It happened with  Johnny Giavotella in 2016 Topps—even though I owned his 2012 and 2013 cards. Other past examples include Manny Acosta in 2012 Topps Update, and Matt Karchner in 1998 Topps—they'd been around multiple seasons, not that I knew anything about it.

 

Which brings me to this 2005 Topps set, and pulling the card of "Sunny Kim"...who?! According to his reverse, he'd been in MLB four years—by no means a MLB noob. How had I never heard of this guy?

 

Then it hit me...Sunny Kim must be ex-Boston pitcher Sun-Woo Kim.

I did know this guy after all.  Though Topps IS known to use Topps-centric nicknames (Denny Martinez, Bob Grich), apparently some of the day's publications were referring to Kim as "Sunny" as well, without my knowledge or permission.

 

So basically, my own ignorance is to blame.

Could you imagine Byung-Hyun "Byunny" Kim?

 

Here, Kim—like most of the relocated Expos—has taken his talents to D.C. He'd made strides in establishing himself as a big leaguer in 2004, and hoped to ride that wave to a spot on the inaugural Nationals roster. (He didn't.)

 

 

THIS CARD: Given Topps' history and the timing of 2005 Topps Series 2's release, Kim is a somewhat surprising inclusion. He did not make the Washington roster out of Spring Training '05 and had been outrighted to AAA by the time this card was released in April '05—the company obviously expected Kim to be a big leaguer when the season started based on his 2004 campaign.

 

Kim doesn't even seem capable of growing facial hair. That is one youthful, smooth face.

 

You can probably identify the #31 on Kim's jersey; he wore #31 throughout his ExpoNat tenure. This will be the only time Sunny Kim and Max Scherzer are ever mentioned in the same sentence; #31 may be one day be retired by the Nats in Mad Max's honor.

 

(flip) That mitt looks WAY too big.

 

The "Trade With Red Sox" sent Cliff Floyd—making a pit stop in Montreal—to Boston. (Prospect Seung Song also joined the Expos, but never reached MLB.)

 

As for Kim's 2004 roles, he pitched a lot of long and middle relief, started regularly in May and again in August/September, and occasionally pitched late relief—usually when Montreal trailed. Among his highlights: going 8.2 for the win vs. Philly on 9/24, and going 4.1 perfect innings for the relief win at KC June 10.

 

Since Topps wasted the inset box with a redundant stat, I'll "fill it" with something better: Kim hit 13 dudes in 2004, including all three of Houston's Killer B's, Jim Thome, Jason Kendall and Shawn Green. In fact, of the 13, Eddie Perez and Craig Wilson were the only victims to never make an All-Star team.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Kim returned to MLB in May 2005, but was waived in August. Hooking up with Colorado, in September he threw one of the decade's least likely shutouts—blanking my Giants at Coors Field WITH Barry Bonds in the lineup (I'm glad I didn't see it.)

After that, not much—an early 2006 bruised shin stunted his momentum; Colorado cut him in June and he only made two MLB appearances after that (with the Reds).

 

Sun-Woo "Sunny" Kim appeared in 2002 and 2005 Topps. He also showed up in all three Topps Total sets.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Washington Nationals

 
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6/13/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #87 Larry Owen, Royals

More Larry Owen Topps Cards: n/a

 

TSR breaks the standard random-selection process in memory of Owen, a longtime 4A catcher in the 1980's for the Braves and Royals. I never saw Owen play and information about him has proven difficult to find...even after his death (which itself I've unearthed little about).

 

I will say this—Owen has to rank near the top of the AAA Richmond Braves' games played list; he got in 462 contests for the team 1978-86. Of course, in true Owen fashion, I could not find a Richmond Braves all-time leaderboard, in part because the Richmond Braves no longer exist.

 

Why did Owen stay in AAA so long? Once he graduated A-ball, he couldn't hit a lick.

So...why did Owen stay in AAA so long? IDK, he married the owner's daughter?

 

Seriously, of all the (few) players featured on COTD I didn't actually see play, Owen has proven hardest to learn about. So we'll bypass the usual introductions and jump straight to the card.

 

 

THIS CARD: Owens appeared on two Topps cards: a 1982 shared Future Stars card from his Braves days—well, they got Steve Bedrosian and Brett Butler right—and this one. Offhand, the only other seven-year Topps gapper I can think of is Dave Weathers, though I'm sure there are plenty more from the dark era (1996-2000).

 

Speaking of gapper, Owen—like myself—rocks his tooth tunnel with pride.

 

I've previously mentioned the Sporcle trivia game I play; for the longest time I'd get Larry Owen confused with ex-Royals pitcher Larry Gura. Why did I waste so much of my youth watching He-Man and Scooby-Doo instead of Major League Baseball??

 

(flip) Names of Owen's wife and two daughters, taken from Owen's obituary:  Chris (wed 40 years), Jenny and Emily.

 

Those two 1985 homers? They came in the same game—9/19/85 vs. Cincinnati. Owen tagged two pretty good young lefties: Tom Browning and John Franco, and notched three RBI for the only time as a major leaguer.

Owen's effort allowed the Braves to lose 15-5, rather than 15-2.

 

Cleveland, O? Come on, Topps. The USPS wouldn't accept that and neither should you.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Nothing. When the '88 season ended, so did Owen's pro career. He died of unspecified causes on 6/6/18, age 63.

 

Larry Owen appeared in 1982 and 1989 Topps; he should have been included in 1988 as well but didn't even make the Traded set (he does have a 1988 Score card, however.)

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Kansas City Royals, Now Deceased

 
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6/17/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #441 Prospects

More 2000 Topps Prospect Cards: n/a 


From the time Topps restored group Prospects cards in 1994 through about 1998, only about half of such cards depicted all future major leaguers—I think there exists one or two from 1996 that feature ZERO dudes who escaped the minors.

 

Perhaps due to the rookies-heavy Topps Traded relaunch in 1999,  the company's prospect selection tightened up greatly in the 1999-2000 base sets—in fact, of the 42 total Prospect players (not cards) showcased in 2000 Topps, only four never made the majors. In fact, two are still active today—CC Sabathia and Matt Belisle—in addition to newly-retired Jayson Werth.

 

Here, we have a trio of third base prospects, including two names familiar to San Francisco Bay Area fans—for a while, much-discussed A's prospect Piatt played like the next great homegrown Athletic. And Aubrey Huff, of course, would be an MVP candidate during the 2010 Giants championship season after years upon years in/near the cellar on lowly Tampa and Baltimore squads.

 

Burroughs followed in papa Jeff's major league footsteps, albeit as an entirely different type of player. A high-average lefty hitter in contrast to his righty-slugging dad, Burroughs was starting for the Padres at 22, and not doing half-bad.

 

 

THIS CARD: Huff looks like they just told him "Hey, Huffy, saddle up—you're gonna play six years with the D-Rays!" While Piatt seems to know he'll be part of an annual top contender.

Burroughs seems stunned by the sheer prominence of (future manager) Bruce Bochy's dome.

 

By the time this card was released, Piatt and Huff were in the majors. Buroughs, not quite yet 20, was still two years away.

 

(flip) Burroughs was the #9 overall pick in '98, behind Pat Burrell (#1) Mark Mulder (#2) and J.D. Drew (#5). Oddly, of picks #1-8, the only one who never reached MLB was #6 Ryan Mills—like Burroughs, the son of an ex-big leaguer (Dick Mills) .

Piatt is listed as a third baseman, but the overwhelming majority of his MLB run came as an outfielder...in those days, you weren't cutting into Eric Chavez's playing time unless you had naughty pictures of Billy Beane or something. Huff, on the other hand, split his career almost evenly across the outfield, DH, 3B and 1B (plus one unforgettable game at 2B).

Look at Piatt's .688 SLG and 99 BB in AAA...that contributed to a 1.138 OPS, people. That was better than Jason Giambi that year, and Giambi was the damn AL MVP. That's also better than this year's AL leader, Mike Trout (1.118 at present). 


AFTER THIS CARD: Impressive as a 2000 rookie, Piatt could not sustain his momentum and was waived by Oakland in August 2003, having hit .229 with 89 K in his final 332 Oakland at-bats. Claimed by Tampa—and now Huff's teammate—Piatt whiffed in 16 of 32 at-bats, ending his career at 27.

Huff had by far the best career of this trio, topping 20 homers six times and 100 RBI thrice between 2002-08. After a tough '09, he wound up with the Giants (on a huge pay cut; offers had been few). Eight months later, he wrapped up the Giants WS parade like nobody else ever has or ever will. 

Unfortunately, except for a three-bomb eruption in mid-2011, Huff was pretty much done after that. Read his book.

Burroughs was San Diego's starting 3B for two years, including the inaugural Petco Park season. But by mid-2005 he was back in AAA, and traded to the Devil Rays that winter. Like Piatt, Burroughs teamed with Huff in Tampa, but they cut him in June 2006. Burroughs didn't return to MLB for five years, tallying 88 games with the '11 D'Backs and '12 Twins before fading away.

(Note: thanks to this post, I discovered a 2011 Topps Update Sean Burroughs card I didn't know existed; it was somehow omitted from the set I purchased. WHO ELSE AM I MISSING???)

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Prospects

 
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Topps Alex Rodriguez

6/20/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps Update #280 Alex Rodriguez All-Star

More Alex Rodriguez All-Star Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 

 

Throughout the first five years of Alex Rodriguez's Yankee tenure, he was a two-time Most Valuable Player, four-time All-Star, and as dangerous a hitter as ever. Oh, there were periods of defensive struggle, rumors of discord, and his infamous 2007 contract opt-out. But by and large, he was consistently one of the game's three top offensive forces from 2004-08...however he got there.

 

That is, until the playoffs. True, he wasn't too shabby in 2004. But because of his highly-publicized struggles from 2005-07—you can't go 7-for-44 with one RBI over three Yankee postseasons withouthigh scrutiny—many felt he was no "true Yankee", just an overpaid stand-in, perhaps even an infringer.

 

Rodriguez missed the first month of 2009 following hip surgery, but still finished second on the team in HR and RBI.  Most importantly, he sparkled in October as well—New York doesn't win the 2009 World Series with 2005-07 A-Rod's performance.

 

Here, after a year's absence, the 35-year-old has returned to the All-Star team—managed, of course, by Joe Girardi of Rodriguez's Yankees. Though he began the year cold and had "only" 14 homers and a .269 average at the break, Rodriguez still had 70 RBI, the memory of his strong postseason and Girardi to aid his All-Star push.

 

 

THIS CARD: Selected as a reserve, Rodriguez did not play in the 2010 All-Star Game. I wonder if MLB or Topps asked him for "action" poses—there's no obvious reason for him to warm up in uniform on All-Star Monday, when these tops would be worn—in case of such a development.

 

The game was won by the NL 3-1, their first win since 1996. Girardi, obviously more concerned with keeping "his guy" healthy and fresh than winning, did not turn to Rodriguez's bat or legs at all late in the game...can't say I totally blame him.

 

(flip) Hmm...I've got to start examining the blurbs first; turns out we covered pretty much everything already. We can expand a little, and tell you that only Miguel Cabrera (77) and Vlad Guerrero (75)  had more AL RBI at the break, and that Rodriguez ultimately finished second to Cabrera, 126 to 125.

 

More on the slams: they accounted for #19-21 of A-Rod's record 25, and all contributed to Yankee wins (over Minnesota 5/14, Cleveland 5/31, and Oakland 7/6).

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Beset by his bad hip and PED issues, Rodriguez's 2011 All-Star selection (as a sub) would be his last. A torn meniscus forced him to bow out of that game, with Kevin Youkilis of Boston replacing him on the roster—how many people would guess 2008 as the last All-Star Game Rodriguez actually played in? I wouldn't have.

Most felt he was snubbed for the 2015 Classic, but hey, the dude had just served a year's suspension for PEDs...can't really expect to be rewarded for that. 

 

Alex Rodriguez received All-Star cards in 2003 and 2004 Topps, as well as 2005-08 and 2010 Topps Updates and Highlights once they were shifted there. Often times, the company will include players who forfeited their All-Star spot—but didn't do so in 2011 Rodriguez's case.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps Update, All-Stars

 
Topps Cal Ripken
Topps Cal Ripken

6/23/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #300 Cal Ripken, Orioles

More Cal Ripken Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

 

By 1993, it was known down to the approximate date when Ripken—barring malady—would surpass Lou Gehrig's iron man record (of course, that needed revision after the strike). Baltimore fans perusing the sports page would confirm Ripken's participation in the previous day's game before reviewing the standings (as I've read). It became bigger than Ripken himself, bigger than the team, bigger than the game, even.

 

And all Ripken had to do was show up for work. 

 

Of course, Ripken did a lot more than just "show up"—he starred and even dominated in some years, as his two MVP's will attest to. In a current generation where players sit out due to natural disasters that did not directly impact them, to preserve batting titles, because they high-fived too hard, or even because they simply had something better to do, Ripken's achievement stands out five-fold and should never be understated or undervalued.

 

Here, we began to hear the whispers that The Streak was hurting the Orioles, as Ripken struggled to get his footing in '92 after his fabulous 1991 MVP season. Despite the falloff, he still led Baltimore in RBI, shared the team lead in hits, smacked the first triple in Camden Yards history and won another Gold Glove at SS.

 

 

THIS CARD: Ripken ranges to his right at a park whose identity I cannot confirm despite much effort. But I strongly suspect it's pre-renovation U.S. Cellular Field (then known as Comiskey Park II). Ripken played six games there in 1992; while he drove in but one run, he never once whiffed.

This is the first of four consecutive horizontal-front Cal Ripken Topps commons. It's also the first Topps common to depict him fielding.

 

(flip) As has been well-publicized, Ripken's streak nearly ended at 1,790—a major brawl with the Seattle Mariners in early June 1993 left him with a twisted knee. Yet, there he was the next night batting third (and reaching three times) in a win over Oakland.

1735 and 2130? Obviously there was a comma shortage in Pennsylvania 25 years ago.

Just absorb this truth: a 32-year-old, 6'4", 230 lb. slugger in the year 1992 officially batted 637 times and only 50 of those at-bats ended in a K. In a down year, no less. 

For those of you newer baseball fans wondering how Ripken's streak exists if he only played 161 times some years—not all rainouts are made up.

AFTER THIS CARD: Blah blah blah 2,131, victory lap, move to 3B,  2,632, 400th homer, back surgery, homer in final All-Star Game, Hall-of-Fame, mama stolen.

Cal Ripken Jr. appeared annually in Topps 1982-2001; 1982 was a shared Prospects card. Ripken did not receive the honor of a "lifetime stats" final Topps card in the '02 set, although his fellow retired contemporaries Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire did...that still gnaws at me. (Even further upon learning Ripken did appear on a 2002 Topps insert card.)

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Jason Jennings
Topps Jason Jennings

6/29/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #184 Jason Jennings, Rockies

More Jason Jennings Topps Cards: 1999T 2000 2003 2004 2006 2007 2008 2008U

 

For most of the Colorado Rockies' history, any ace pitcher they've employed has slotted into that role by default. I mean, Kevin Ritz was their all-time winner for a while.

 

As time has elapsed in the Humidor era, however, they've managed to draft and develop several arms who've handled themselves at Coors Field as well as can be reasonably expected.

Today we've seen homegrown Rockies such as Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray make strides—though Gray was recently demoted, he'll be back—but Jason Jennings was the first homegrown Rockies SP to win 16 games or make 30+ starts in consecutive years.

 

Though his overall career proved unimpressive, Jennings was still a valuable arm on a pitching-starved team for several years—watching my Giants go through one pitching injury after another these past two years has upped my appreciation of dudes who "take the ball".

 

Here, Jennings has completed his third full year in the Rockies rotation. He began 2004 1-4, 10.57 and came thisclose to losing his rotation spot, but recovered to go 10-8, 4.60 the rest of the way, completing at least five frames in 26 of his last 27 starts—his final 5.51 ERA was a season-low.

 

 

THIS CARD: A nice memento of Jennings' only career appearance at old Yankee Stadium. He started there on 6/10/04, taking the loss after giving up six runs in 5.1 innings. (Jennings did throw twice at new Yankee Stadium while with Texas later on.)

 

Can't really tell what Jennings is gearing up to throw. He wasn't a flamethrower even as a youngster, primarily attacking with a low-90s sinker, slider and change.

 

(flip) The blurb details one of the greatest two-way  major league debuts of all-time. Not only did Jennings whitewash the Mets in New York—he also smoked three hits, one of which was a homer! (Technically, no other pitcher since 1900 filled both the SHO and HR columns in their debut. But usually that doesn't really count.)

 

After reaching pro baseball, Jennings worked to maintain a presence at the plate. He was a career .269 hitter in the minors, with two bombs in 52 AB. In the majors, he batted a respectable .207 with 16 of his 68 lifetime hits going for extra bases—Jennings was even called on to pinch-hit nine times!

Before Jennings, the last rookie pitcher to hit .300 had been Cleveland's Jim Perry, who hit an even .300 in 1959.

 

Jennings was the #16 overall pick in 1999. Arizona made him their 54th-round pick in '96, but he wisely chose Baylor instead.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: You're about to read the word "again" several times.

 

With a new 2Y/$6.9M deal in place for '05, Jennings again started awfully (1-6, 7.05) and again turned it around (5-3, 3.49 in his next 11 starts before a season-ending finger break in July).  Following a very strong '06 (3.49 ERA, 17 HRA in 212 IP), Houston acquired the free-agent-to-be for '07, but his year was ruined by a bad elbow that eventually required season-ending surgery in August.

 

Jennings joined Texas, but again his elbow led to struggle and again was operated on, ending his season in May after six starts. Still, Texas brought him back for '09—44 RA that year ended his big league run, as a minors deal with Oakland for 2010 went nowhere.

 

In a strange sequence of events, Jason Jennings debuted in 1999 Topps Traded as a prospect right out of college, then appeared in 2000 Topps as a Draft Pick. He was featured annually in the base set 2003-08. 

Further strangeness: Jennings appears in 2008 Topps and 2008 Topps Update with the same team (Texas).

 

CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, Colorado Rockies