Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, March 2020

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Topps Kevin Kiermaier
Topps Kevin Kiermaier

3/31/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #158 Kevin Kiermaier, Rays

More Kevin Kiermaier Topps Cards: 2014U 2016 2017 2018 2019

 

My standout Kevin Kiermaier memory has to be that glorious night he managed to get caught stealing twice in one inning just minutes apart (in April 2019). He was thrown out trying to conventionally steal second base by Baltimore's Jesus Sucre...but 2B Jonathan Villar dropped the ball. Villar was saddled with an error, while Sucre was credited with a CS—did you know that was possible? Me, either!

Kiermaier kept the base, wandered too far off, and was picked off by the pitcher Mike Wright—which went down as another CS. There's just no way this will happen again in the major leagues; we'll see a player get 5,000 hits before we see a repeat of Kiermaier's misfortune.

That was Kevin Kiermaier the sixth-year veteran. Here, he's fresh off his rookie season of 2014, a season that saw him fill in capably for injured veteran teammates; Kiermaier handled RF in Wil Myers' mid-season absence, and later shifted to CF when Desmond Jennings was sidelined. Through it all, the kid was solid, and even claimed the Rays Heart And Hustle Award at season's end.

THIS CARD: Kiermaier didn't, and probably won't, mature into a star—his bat and durability just haven't measured up. But when healthy, the dude is among the game's best center fielders, and has taken home three Gold Gloves to back that up.

The patch on Kiermaier's sleeve is in memory of Don "Zim" Zimmer, who spent 66 years in baseball —the last 10 as a senior advisor for the Rays—before passing away in 2014.

More from Kiermaier's 2014 season: he smoked an inside-the-park home run at Boston 5/31, mostly because Red Sox CF Jackie Bradley was shaken up on the play. That contributed to a .450 SLG that placed third among AL rookies with 100+ games played...and first on the Rays as well! He also paced the team with eight triples.

(flip) A police "offer", huh?

As you see, as a #31 pick Kiermaier beat long odds to even reach MLB. In fact, no one else from that draft round who signed made it to the majors (although sluggers Aaron Judge and Hunter Renfroe were among those who did not sign).

That one game in 2013? Kiermaier was summoned from AAA specifically for the Rays' Wild Card tiebreaking game #163 at Texas. He played the 9th inning in CF; Tampa won and advanced.

AFTER THIS CARD: After winning his second straight Gold Glove in 2016 (despite missing 48 games with a broken hand), the Rays locked Kiermaier up for 6Y/$53.5M.

Unfortunately, he's since been plagued by injuries and slumps—Kiermaier lost two months of '17 with a hip fracture, then two months of '18 with a torn thumb ligament. He managed to get in 129 games in '19, but slashed just .228/.278/.398 and was benched against many left-handers (although he did rip an impressive three-run jack off Houston's Zack Greinke in the 2019 ALDS).

 

The dude didn't take his batting problems to the outfield, however, and was rewarded with Gold Glove #3—you know Kiermaier must have been special to win that award hitting .228.

In 2015, this happened to Kiermaier as he tried to rob a Kendrys Morales home run.

Kevin Kiermaier debuted in 2014 Topps Update, and has appeared annually in the base set since.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays

 

More March 2020 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Gary Mota James Mouton
Topps Gary Mota James Mouton

3/2/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #782 Coming Attractions

More 1994 Topps Coming Attractions: n/a

Manuel "Gary" Mota was the son of famed Dodgers PH Manny Mota and for a time, a top prospect in his own right (hence his appearance on this card) That status was short-lived, and Mota's pro career wrapped without any MLB appearances.

James Mouton (Moo-tawn) was a minor-league speed demon who played infield on the farms, but got all of his MLB run in the outfield.

THIS CARD: I just now made the connection between the cursive font here and the cursive font on standard 1994 Topps commons. I can be a little slow sometimes.

When I first began collecting this set, I was initially fooled into thinking Coming Attractions featured one image of two players. About a week in, upon closer examination, I realized my mistake.

Mouton wears #40 here, but he only wore #18 and #6 upon reaching the Astros.

Here, Mota is known as "Gary" but on his earlier cards with other companies, he's "Manny Mota Jr.".

(flip) I've owned 1994 Topps for 26 years and never noticed the scout information. Deutsch scouted 27 years and among many other notable Astros, signed Morgan Ensberg and Jason Lane. He also inked Gary Mota's brother Andy (who did reach MLB, albeit briefly.)

In the very-old Pacific Coast League, Mouton was the first Tucson Toro to win MVP. His 126 runs led MiLB.

Mota played just 27 games in '93 due to a wrist injury, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. His stature as a 1992 SAL (A) MVP probably got him included in this set.

Mouton was a 2B at the time, but not a very good one statistically (84 errors 1992-93). That, combined with the presence of some Biggio guy in Houston, led to his outfield conversion upon reaching MLB.

AFTER THIS CARD: Mota returned to AA Jackson for '94, but hit just .239 and was through in the Astro organization...for one season. He played '95 in the Phillies' chain, returned to the Houston system for '96, but saw his pro career end with a handful of games for 1997 Bend (Independent).

Mouton fared much better, opening '94 as Houston's RF and primary leadoff man. But despite the support of Astro fans chanting "MOOOO!" when he stepped up, Mouton eventually played his way out of the job. He still received considerable run for the 1995-96 Astro squads but was let go after a .211 1997 season.

Over the next four seasons, Mouton moved through San Diego, Montreal and Milwaukee as a PH/spare outfielder. Following 2002 MiLB stints with Montreal and Arizona, his pro career ended at 33.

This is Gary Mota's lone Topps card. James Mouton appeared in 1994-95 Topps; just about every other major company produced a 1997 Mouton card except Topps. He does appear in 2002 Topps Total as a Brewer, I should add.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Subsets

 
Topps Toronto Blue Jays
Topps Toronto Blue Jays

3/4/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #781 Toronto Blue Jays Team Card

More Toronto Blue Jays Topps Team Cards: 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2010 2011 2015 2016 2017 2018

Toronto went into the 2000 season with lukewarm expectations, having made no real improvements to its' 84-win roster of 1999. Which isn't to say they didn't make changes—OF Raul Mondesi was acquired in a trade with the Dodgers for OF Shawn Green, and ace P Pat Hentgen was traded to St. Louis after a performance that didn't quite match his salary.

A few times during the year, the Jays—who were sold in August 2000—stood eight games over .500; they finally climbed 10 games over with a walk-off win vs. the Rays 9/23. Meanwhile, the first-place Yankees were skidding, allowing Toronto to pull within 4.5 games of first place. Ultimately, the Jays ran out of schedule before closing that 4.5-game gap, finishing 83-79. For some reason, manager Jim Fregosi was fired post-season.

1B Carlos Delgado (.344, 41, 137) was an all-round force, while 3B Tony Batista (.263, 41, 114) proved his breakout 1999 was no fluke.

THIS CARD: Even 30 years after his MLB debut, I could spot Mickey Morandini (#1 front row) anywhere.

David Wells (#33 back row) looks thrilled to be a Blue Jay (if you've read his book, you know he was not thrilled about returning to Toronto in the Roger Clemens trade with the Yankees).

Trainers? Balldudes? Hitmen? Your guess on the identities of the non-uniformed guys is as good as mine. Topps doesn't always allow non-players/coaches to be shown on team cards, and whenever I tour the company I'll track down an explanation.

(flip) Toronto led the AL East by as many as three games on 6/30. They were never really in the wild-card hunt. 

Those 244 home runs set a franchise record which stood until 2010 (257).

Fregosi won #1,000 on 7/27, with a 7-2 win at Seattle. He finished 2000, and his career, with 1,028. Wells earned win #20 with a CG gem over the visiting Yankees 9/21...had to feel good.

The Randomizer chooses card #781 immediately after choosing card #782, and also chooses our fourth Blue Jays card in 27 days. It's getting less and less random with age.

AFTER THIS CARD: For the next couple of years, Toronto was sub .500 before winning 86 games in '03. But they bottomed out in '04 with 94 losses and despite a number of winning seasons 2006-2014, the Jays didn't really contend again until consecutive playoff berths under John Gibbons 2015-16. You may remember their intense rivalry with the Texas Rangers during those seasons.

For each of the past three seasons, Toronto has finished 4th, but they enter 2020 with a strong core of second-generation big leaguers, a talented outfield and the newly-signed ex-Dodger Hyun-Jin Ryu...third place or bust!

(Oh, and they better dedicate a patch or something to Tony Fernandez this year.)

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays

 
Topps Mike Fiers
Topps Mike Fiers

3/6/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #496 Mike Fiers, Astros

More Mike Fiers Topps Cards: 2013 2015 2015U 2016 2018 2018U 2019

Given many of its mystifying selections, I officially no longer believe the Randomizer is truly random. There is some higher power—perhaps a baseball god—at work.

I'd like to remind you the visitor yet again that we use an allegedly random selection process for over 90% of the cards featured on Topps Card Of The Day (we specially select players/managers who have recently passed on, or a milestone birthday here and there). I do not dig through my albums and yank out a guy I happen to like. I don't specifically select members of my favorite team, the Giants. And I definitely do not surf for dudes who happen to be in the news for whatever reason—that's what Topps Now is for.

The Random Selection Process is supposed to be exactly that—RANDOM. 

Yet, here we are, presenting perhaps THE biggest newsmaker of the entire 2019-20 off-season. Not only that, but he's wearing the uniform directly connected to the news he made! Do YOU see any randomness in that? 

We could not have chosen a more topical card in March 2020 if we tried!!!

THIS CARD: Fiers might be ripping off his vaunted curveball. He's got low 90's heat which he can also cut, and adds a slider and changeup to the mix. His delivery might look a tad wonky in this image, but in real time it's pretty standard.

Fiers usually wears #50, but donned #54 during his entire Astros career (and not because anyone of status already claimed #50).

More from Fiers' 2016 season: he was up and down, failing to complete five innings against the 103-loss Twins one start, then three-hitting the AL Champion Indians in the next. Manager A.J. Hinch did not allow him to surpass seven innings or 104 pitches in any start, yet Fiers came away with 11 victories for the 84-win 'Stros.

(flip) In that Trade With Brewers, the Astros received Fiers and OF Carlos Gomez, while the Brewers received four prospects—one of whom was Josh Hader.

Told you Fiers had a special hook.

Fiers' last Twitter activity was a 2016 retweet. Staying off social media is probably in his best interests these days.

AFTER THIS CARD: Fiers remained with Houston through their now-tainted 2017 title run, then signed with Detroit for 2018. The Tigers traded him to the Athletics in August 2018 and he's been a rotation fixture since, firing his second no-hitter in 2019 (the first came as a 2015 Astro) and leading the staff in wins, starts and innings.

But 20 years from now, all anyone will remember is Fiers blowing the whistle on the 2017 Astros video cheating. Jobs were lost, fines were levied, but worse than any of that: trust in baseball was frayed.

Mike Fiers has appeared annually in Topps since 2013, except 2014. He's also got 2015 and 2018 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, Houston Astros

 
Topps Matt Dominguez
Topps Matt Dominguez

3/8/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #342 Matt Dominguez, Astros

More Matt Dominguez Topps Cards: 2012 2014 2015

Remember the 2011-14 Houston Astros averaging 104 losses per year? Of course you do. Remember them making the postseason jump in 2015 and soon thereafter graduating into a juggernaut? Certainly. (For now, nevermind just how they did that. Just play along.)

Despite some subpar offense, Matt Dominguez had been the starting 3B on the 2013-14 squads, but by 2015 Houston was ready to end its rebuild and actually compete for a playoff spot—nothing made this clearer than when young Dominguez was demoted to AAA during Spring Training 2015. The Astros were ready to win, and what had passed for acceptable in those lean years wasn't going to suffice anymore.

Here, Dominguez is just a prospect, one who spent most of the 2012 season in the minors but did play about a month's worth of games in the bigs with Houston. He slugged a solid .477, and three of his five home runs were three-run blasts! One such shot came against the great Aroldis Chapman and won a game for Houston in the 9th inning.

THIS CARD: All four of Dominguez's Topps cards depict him fielding. He was among the best fielding 3B in the AL, which is part of why his sinking batting average/OBP didn't cost him his job right away.

Privately, I've been clamoring for some 2013-2017 Topps COTD; we've had a dearth of them lately. Now we've had 2017 and 2013 Topps in consecutive selections...excellent. Even if they're both Astros.

I am not consistent: when the Brewers moved to the NL, they immediately moved to the NL section of my albums going forward. It took four years for me to accept the Astros as an AL team and so here, they're still arranged with the NL. It looks so out of place now, but I haven't the time or energy to fix it.

Without enlarging the pic, it is hard to see the orange tint on the bottom of the card; perhaps if the tints were more prominent, I wouldn't have so much difficulty immediately distinguishing 2013 and 2014 Topps.

(flip) None of Dominguez's many minor league seasons jump out at you statistically, though he wasn't half-bad at A Greensboro (Marlins) in 2008.

That Trade With Marlins sent Carlos Lee from the Astros to Miami; prospect Rob Rasmussen also went to the Astros (but never played for them).

The only way Dominguez had a shot at catching PETE ROSE (since Topps won't say his name, I will) on the all-time hit list was if MLB started counting swings as base hits.

AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Dominguez held down 3B for the 2013-14 Astros, and while he did hit 37 combined home runs, he almost never walked and his average sunk to .215  in 2014. He would be waived twice in 2015, and though the Brewers and Blue Jays picked him up, Dominguez did not play MLB in 2015.

Still only 27, the California native did collect 11 at-bats for the 2016 Jays, but produced exactly zero hits and never returned to MLB. He was last seen in the Japan League in 2018, not exactly lighting it up.

Matt Dominguez appeared in 2012-2015 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Houston Astros

 
Topps Buster Posey
Topps Buster Posey

3/10/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #275 Buster Posey, Giants

More Buster Posey Topps Cards: 2010 2011 2011A 2012 2013 2014 2016 2017 2018 2019

As a Giants fan since 1990, I've seen Gerald Dempsey Posey's entire big league career. Watched him come up in 2009 and struggle. Watched him take over for Bengie Molina as the #1 catcher in 2010 and thrive. Listened in horror as Scott Cousins crunched his leg at home plate in 2011. Beamed with pride as he not only came back from said injury, but won the damn MVP award! Just about wet myself when he smoked the infamous bomb off scumbaggy Mat Latos in the 2012 playoffs.

And every other subsequent high and low.

But my favorite memory of Buster Posey's first 11 MLB seasons has to be 5/29/2017, the day he stood peacefully at home plate as a livid Nats OF Bryce Harper charged Giants RP Hunter Strickland after a drilling. Word has it Strickland told Posey in advance not to intervene in such a circumstance, but I like the idea of Posey recusing himself from the fight because of Strickland's stupidity more than any other potential truth.

Here, in the second year of a 9Y/$167M extension signed in 2013, Posey has just helped the Giants to their third championship over a five-year period. He batted .346 with men in scoring position in 2014, and though Posey's two-year All-Star run ended, he finished sixth in NL MVP voting.

THIS CARD: Posey is likely returning the ball to the pitcher, given the lack of visible urgency. Since his mask is off, I'm guessing he just hauled in a popup or chased down a wild pitch.

Posey may be a C/1B today, but he's never looked like a receiver. Remember, he was a college shortstop early on.

A 2015 Topps COTD selection on the heels of 2017 and 2013 Topps selections...we hadn't drawn any cards from the 2013-17 Topps period in deep before this week. 2015 is one of my favorite Topps sets, and the Giants are my #1 team, so as you can imagine I'm more than a little pleased with this pick. Which was indeed totally random, I must confirm.

(flip) Posey's 5-for-5 came in only six innings against Milwaukee 8/29, and fueled a 13-2 victory. The walk-off home run was hit two days prior, and sunk the Rockies (Juan Nicasio served it up.)

Posey did get off to a slow start (.259 in April/May) but hit .393 in September, third-best in the league according to MLB.com.

As you see, Posey's 33rd birthday looms. He turns 33 four days after I turn 40.

AFTER THIS CARD: Though the Giants were done winning titles for the time being, Posey made the 2015-18 All-Star teams and won his only career Gold Glove in '16. He also took home a Silver Slugger in 2017 but the veteran's power numbers gradually dipped to almost nothing by 2018 as he dealt with a bad hip that required surgery. It was hoped the Posey of old would return for '19 upon healing, but his bat was still MIA (.257, 7 HR in 114 games).

As I said about his longtime teammate Brandon Crawford, Posey is both young enough to bounce back and old enough to be in irreversible decline.

Buster Posey has appeared annually in Topps since 2010.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, San Francisco Giants

 
Topps Johnny Damon
Topps Johnny Damon

3/12/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #295 Johnny Damon, Royals

More Johnny Damon Topps Cards: 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2001T 2002 2002T 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012U

Johnny Damon was a longtime big league outfielder (mostly CF) who, for a brief period, had a shot to be the least-celebrated member of the 3,000 hit club. Don't get me wrong: Damon was a fine player who had some very good seasons, but at no point in his career did he warrant Hall-of-Fame talk, and I doubt even reaching that famous milestone would have gotten him enshrined.

In the end, it didn't matter—Damon tailed off in his final years and fell well short of 3,000. But boy, would it have been interesting to see what the HOF voters did with him...

Damon—Baseball America's #1 high school prospect in the early 1990's—had pop and speed, but took awhile to put everything together in his early days with the Royals (1995-97). By 1998 he was showing the power scouts had assured, and in '99 Damon improved his average 30 points while driving in 11 more runs in 16 fewer games.

THIS CARD: Excellent action shot of Damon ripping one at Kauffman Stadium. Damon appeared on 20 Topps/Traded/Update commons over the years, and did receive excellent front image variety from Topps.

Obscured is Damon's #18; he was #51 as a rookie before switching. Other notable Royal #18's include Bret Saberhagen in his later KC years, and Raul Ibanez in both of his Royals stints.

More from Damon's 1999 season: he walked more than he K'd for the first of what would be three times, enjoyed a 16-game hit streak from 4/27 to 5/12, and led the Royals in BB, SB and 3B (tie). Damon, who earned $2.1M in '99, also moved from CF to LF to accommodate Carlos Beltran.

(flip) At least to me, Damon didn't seem 6'2".

More specifically, Damon ranked 9th in AL doubles and second (tied) in AL triples. His steal streak lasted 7/2 to 9/11, and was ended by C Gregg Zaun of the Rangers 9/12.

Damon's expression is that of someone who's launched a ball very far. In my extensive bat-swinging experience, your mouth only stays closed during the admiration phase.

Damon was limited to 145 games in '99 by a September rib cage strain. It ended his 305-consecutive-game streak, but allowed for one hell of a debut for Mark Quinn.

AFTER THIS CARD: The world saw Damon bloom into a star in 2000, which so impressed the Royals that they swapped him to Oakland after that season. But the veteran shot to fame as a Boston Red Sock 2002-05—during that period he suffered a frightening injury in a postseason collision, smacked a grand slam in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, participated in one of the greatest bloopers of all-time, and adopted the appearance of the typical caveman. So if you ever thought you saw Jesus Christ batting for Boston in the mid-2000's, just know you weren't nuts...it was Johnny.

But the distinctive look had to go once Damon signed with the Yankees for 2006-09. Now 32, Damon reached a new career high in bombs in '06 (24, later matched in '09) and earned his second World Series ring in 2009, a year he moved from leadoff to the #2 lineup spot. Still, the Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson after that season, so Damon took his old spot on the Tigers for 1Y/$8M.

Following a 2011 season spent with the Rays, Damon entered 2012 without a job but hooked up with Cleveland in April. However, the 38-year-old hit just .222 and was part of an August roster purge—though he didn't officially retire, and expressed a desire to continue his career, Damon never played in MLB again. He finished up with 2,769 hits, 408 SB and 235 HR.

Johnny Damon premiered in Topps on a shared 1995 Prospects card. He returned as a 1996 Topps Future Star, then appeared annually 1997-2011. Damon also appears in 2001-02 Topps Traded, as well as 2012 Topps Update as an Indian.

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Kansas City Royals

 
Topps Tyler Flowers
Topps Tyler Flowers

3/14/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #395 Tyler Flowers, White Sox

More Tyler Flowers Topps Cards: 2010 2013 2014 2015 2016 2016U 2017 2018 2019

"Tyler Flowers could be ready to take over the White Sox' catching duties for 2010." - many publications

(Incumbent A.J. Pierzynski sticks around)

"Tyler Flowers could be ready to take over the White Sox' catching duties for 2011." - some publications

(Free-agent incumbent A.J. Pierzynski sticks around)

"Is Tyler Flowers gonna get a shot to take over the White Sox catching duties for 2012?" - me, and at least one publication

(Incumbent A.J. Pierzynski sticks around)

"Is Tyler Flowers ever gonna take over the White Sox catching duties?" - everyone

(Pierzynski finally departs. Flowers becomes the #1 catcher, but by then is 27 and not what he was in the minors)

THIS CARD: That's either real good, or real fortuitous, timing, snapping the pic with Flowers' mask in mid-air. Also, you don't see a load of catchers with sunglasses.

Could Flowers be at Progressive Field? Assuming this is a 2010 pic, no, since Flowers only caught two road games for the Sox in 2010: one at Oakland, and one at Detroit. The diagonal wall in foul LF gives away Comerica Park—in that 9/7 game, Flowers entered late and did not actually catch any popups. Good hustle, though.

More from Flowers' 2010 season: for the second straight year he performed well in the minors, and for the second straight year he earned a September callup. The kid managed one hit, a single in the season finale vs. Cleveland.

(flip) Roy White was a two-time All-Star OF for the Yankees 1965-79. In 1970, the year represented by the '71 Topps card, White played all 162 games, hit .296, 22, 94, and made the All-Star team.

Not only was Flowers a Baseball America Top 100 prospect, he was the White Sox #4 and #2 prospect in successive years!

Topps lied—Flowers did not get a lengthy look in Chicago in 2011.

AFTER THIS CARD: Flowers, as we alluded to, was in line to take over Pierzynski's job as Sox C in 2011, but the veteran re-signed for two more years. Still, Flowers did receive more than just September run in Chicago over the 2011-12 seasons, playing 90 games and starting 68 of them. At last, the White Sox gave Flowers the #1 job for 2013...but he hit just .195 and lost most of the final two months to a labrum injury that required surgery.

Healthy in 2014, Flowers started 120 games and socked 15 homers...but also whiffed 159 times. He stayed in Chicago one more season before landing in Atlanta for 2016 on a 2Y/$5.3M deal. With his 2018 option picked up and a fresh new extension signed that August, Flowers has served as a part-time receiver for the Braves ever since, starting between 70 and 85 games annually and averaging about 10 HR and 38 RBI. 

Tyler Flowers has appeared in Topps annually since 2010, except 2012. He's also got a (redundant) 2016 Update card with Atlanta.

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Mike Pagliarulo
Topps Mike Pagliarulo

3/15/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #721 Mike Pagliarulo, Twins

More Mike Pagliarulo Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1993

 

At-bat, Mike Pagliarulo—pronounced phonetically except for the silent "G"—was Graig Nettles reincarnated as a young Yankees 3B in the mid-80's; the youngster combined for 60 HR 1986-87 and seemed primed for a long and successful run in New York. But in '88, Pags (as we'll refer to him henceforth) thrice injured his hamstring and hit just .216.

By 1989, with his batting stroke still MIA, Pags had to deal with public criticism by his manager and owner:

 

“I’ve watched (the Yankees) night after night play like Little Leaguers, and at the top of the list is (Mike) Pagliarulo. He’s the last guy on the New York Yankees that should say anything. He isn’t hitting and he’s making a half-million a year. He better learn how to play third base again before saying anything. I don’t even know if he can play baseball anymore. I hope I’m wrong.” - George Steinbrenner, Yankees owner

Ouch.

In July of that year, Pags was dealt to the Padres (probably to his relief) in exchange for SP Walt Terrell, but remained in an offensive funk. He only hit seven homers in 1990 and was allowed to walk after the season.

Here, Pagliarulo has just completed his first season back in the AL as a Minnesota Twin. Splitting time at third with righty-hitting Scott Leius, Pags hit .279—48 points over his career average. He also ripped a clutch 10th-inning HR in the '91 ALCS at Toronto!

THIS CARD: This is a special COTD selection in acknowledgement of Pagliarulo's 60th birthday on 3/15/20. We do these from time to time, but it's been a long while.

We chose Pags' 1992 Topps card because A) he helped Minnesota win the '91 World Series, and B) I don't think we've chosen a Minnesota Twin or a 1992 Topps card in some time.

Pags holds down the hot corner at a park I can't definitively identify, though it could be Cleveland Stadium based on the dark blue wall in RF.

(flip) Pags joined the Twins on a 1Y/$605K deal, helping replace departed 3B fixture Gary Gaetti.

No blurb, so we'll add one: on 5/19/91 at Detroit, Pags went 3-for-3 with two solo homers—the only two road longballs he hit all season. (Tigers still won 8-3.) He was also 3-for-3 with a HR in Game 4 of the '91 World Series!

The late, great Metrodome, where the Twins played to a  51-30 record in 1991. Pags hit .284 there in 1991, with 27 of his 36 RBI. Lifetime, the career .241 hitter ripped .281 in Minnesota.

AFTER THIS CARD: Re-signing with the Twins, Pags lost the majority of '92 to the DL (eardrum and hand surgeries) and hit just .200 in 42 games. Minnesota hung on to him entering '93, then the Orioles traded for him in August to fill a bench role. Pags sat out 1994, but returned to start 59 times for the 1995 Rangers at 3B and 1B; he hit .232 in 241 AB. That would be the end of the 35-year-old's big league career.

Eventually, Pagliarulo returned to organized baseball and served as a minors hitting coach; the Marlins hired him for the same job in 2016, but fired him in early 2019 (nevermind that the woefully-hitting club had been depleted of most of its quality players the year before—it's the coach's fault!)

Mike Pagliarulo appeared annually in Topps 1985-93; he's also got a 1991 Traded card. He should have had a 1994 Topps card as well after hitting .303 and slugging .465 in 116 games in '93.

CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Minnesota Twins

 
Topps Chuck Cary
Topps Chuck Cary

3/16/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #171 Chuck Cary, Tigers

More Chuck Cary Topps Cards: 1989T 1990 1991

 

Tall, lean, screwballing lefty Chuck Cary was a #7 pick of the Tigers out of California in '81; he mostly started in the minors before a switch to the bullpen in 1985 at AAA Nashville (which I never knew was a Tigers affiliate.) In August of that year he debuted in MLB, and reeled off 23 mostly solid innings to close the season.

Here, Cary has once again split the year between Detroit and Nashville. He opened the year in the majors, but was demoted in June after one ugly blown save in which he allowed six runs (one earned). Cary would not return from exile until early September.

THIS CARD: Cary The Tiger's selection marks our 4th consecutive from what is now the American League Central division. Anything but a Dodger.

Cary looks to be a bit chipper as he warms up with someone. Topps mixed his (three) front images well; he's got one posed, one inaction, and one action shot.

More from Cary's 1986 season: pitching mostly when Detroit trailed, he allowed just three HR in 33 IP, and on June 2 he pitched 5.1 shutout innings vs. Oakland in relief of the wild Dan Petry and the battered Bill Scherrer.

(flip) 1987 Topps: I genuinely thank you for supplying me with talking material with "On This Date", even though the dates are totally random and in no way connected to the player on the card. Robinson's slam off Ed Rakow of the Kansas City Athletics powered a 6-3 Orioles win.

Whittier, CA is located a short drive east of Los Angeles. BTW wouldn't it be trippy if Topps ever put the bio info at the bottom of the card again?

1981 Draft Round #7 was, well, weak. Cary, he of the 14-26 lifetime record, was by far the most accomplished pick from that round.

AFTER THIS CARD: In January 1987, Cary went to the Braves in a deal for OF Terry Harper; he spent most of that year in the minors and most of 1988 on the DL (knee tendinitis). Released by Atlanta, he found work with the 1989 Yankees, who moved him into the rotation mid-year and did not regret it (4-3, 3.25 in 11 starts).

In '90, Cary—after healing from bone chips in his pitching elbow—spent the whole year in the Yankee rotation and held his own (he was also famously knocked out on the field by 1B Steve Balboni's knee as they pursued a popup). But that success, despite the raves of Yankee coach Mark Connors, did not carry over into 1991—Cary was even demoted back to AAA for a time.

After a short run in Japan in '92, Cary returned stateside to make his final 16 MLB appearances with the '93 White Sox.

Chuck Cary debuted in 1987 Topps, returned in 1989 Traded, and appeared in 1990-91 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Casey McGehee
Topps Casey McGehee

3/17/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #296 Casey McGehee, Brewers

More Casey McGehee Topps Cards: 2005U 2010 2011 2012 2012U 2013 2014 2015U

 

Casey McGehee had his moments as a player, namely with Milwaukee in the early '10's. But in the end, he wasn't much more than a near-automatic double play grounder, and his career petered out relatively fast after a promising start.

Giants fans, of course, will remember McGehee's failed attempt to succeed Pablo Sandoval as San Francisco's 3B in 2015. He had been the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2014 with Miami and seemed like a fairly good acquisition. But the move went up in a bevy of double-play smoke; McGehee only lasted six weeks as a Giants regular.

Here, the Santa Cruz, CA native is just a rookie. Drafted and developed in the Cubs system, McGehee landed in Milwaukee via waivers just before Halloween 2008. Initially a part-time 3B/2B in 2009, injuries to key teammates opened the door to increased playing time, mostly at 3B.

THIS CARD: McGehee seems to line one up at Miller Park.  In 2009 he hit .262 at Milwaukee, compared to a torrid .335 on the road—those splits are often reversed for a lot of dudes.

More from McGehee's 2009 season: he wound up in 5th place for NL Rookie Of The Year (.301, 16, 66),hit .368 in June, and at a time when most rookies are wearing down, McGehee drove home 26 runs in September!

I will actually miss these Brewer uniforms, which I vacillated between liking and disliking depending on the season.

(flip) McGehee finished up as a .258 "Majors" hitter over parts of eight seasons. (BTW, "Career AVG By Classification" is my least favorite of 2009's special categories. Love "Six Degrees Of Mantle" and wonder if it's still doable today.)

On 6/29/09, McGehee drove home four in a victory over the Mets. Then, on 7/4, he drove home five and missed the cycle by a double in a rout of his former Cubs teammates.

You could fit at least one more stat category between those columns...makes me mad that Topps eventually got rid of the batting K column.

McGehee did not weigh 195 when his career ended. Period.

AFTER THIS CARD: Following his strong rookie season, McGehee supplied a pretty good encore: .285, 23, 104 in 2010. But from there, it was pretty much all downhill—Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and the Yankees took turns purging him from their rosters between Decembers 2011 and 2012. McGehee spent the 2013 season in the Japan League.

In 2014, he returned to MLB as a Marlin—in addition to his strong comeback year, you may remember McGehee being front-and-center when the benches cleared after teammate Giancarlo Stanton's beaning and Reed Johnson's subsequent drilling. Then came McGehee's trade to the Giants; we've been over that already.

Once SF cut him, McGehee returned to Miami but continued to be unproductive at-bat. He was last seen in MLB batting .228 in 30 games for the 2016 Tigers, but returned to Japan for 2017-18 and put up numbers similar to his early Milwaukee days...go figure.

Casey McGehee debuted way back in 2005 Topps Updates & Highlights as a First Year player. He then received base cards in 2010-14 Topps, and Update cards in 2009, 2012 and 2015. Fortunately, neither his 2014 or 2015 cards depict him as a Giant, which allows me to pretend his difficult tenure never happened.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps Update, Milwaukee Brewers

 
Topps Brent Dlugach
Topps Brent Dlugach

3/18/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #293 Brent Dlugach, Tigers

More Brent Dlugach Topps Cards: n/a

 

This will be brief.

Dlugach received three plate appearances over five games with the 2009 Tigers. Whiffs aside, he'd had a solid offensive year for the Toledo (AAA) Mud Hens and earned a September look with the big club.

We occasionally present Checklist cards for COTD, and when we do, I like to highlight dudes on said Checklist who I could tell you zero about. Before now, I knew zero about Dlugach.

THIS CARD: Dlugach must have gone up to a Topps rep and asked for this card. Even in Topps' finest years, dudes like him simply are not included in their sets.

From tradingcarddb.com: Dlugach has over 100 different baseball cards somehow. He also appeared in 2010 Topps Finest  and Bowman, in case this card alone doesn't satisfy your Dlugach itch.

Dlugach only played seven defensive innings in the majors: five at 3B and two at SS. Topps should have listed him as a SS-3B.

Not visible here, but Dlugach wore #27, which is currently the number for high-priced Tigers SP Jordan Zimmermann.

(flip) As you see, Dlugach had a fine statistical season for Toledo in '09, bouncing back from labrum surgery which cut into his 2007-08 seasons. He was 0-for-3 with two K during his Detroit callup.

Topps flat-out lied; Dlugach's run was his last. In the 8th inning of a 7-2 win over Toronto, he subbed in for Aubrey Huff (who'd doubled) and scored on Brandon Inge's single.

137 K is way too many for a guy with nine home runs.

AFTER THIS CARD: And 149 K is way too many for a guy with six home runs; that 2010 output bought Dlugach walking papers outta Detroit (he went to Boston in a trade for an even worse prospect.)

After one year in the Boston system, Dlugach returned to the Tigers chain for '12, but had to work his way back up from AA Erie this time. The K's persisted, and the 29-year-old's pro career ended that season.

I'd try to dig up Dlugach's present day endeavors, but do any of you really care?

Brent Dlugach appeared in 2010 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Rodon_18ToppsFront.jpg
Rodon_18ToppsBack.jpg

3/19/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #264 Carlos Rodon, White Sox

More Carlos Rodon Topps Cards: 2015U 2016 2017 2019

 

Rodon, the #3 overall pick in 2014 after a record-setting career at NC State, was in the major leagues less than a year after being drafted by the White Sox. He wound up making 26 appearances (23 starts) with a 3.75 ERA as one of four lefties in Chicago's rotation, and seemed to be on his way.

Then came the injuries.

Actually, 2016 wasn't so bad; Rodon did sit a bit with a July wrist sprain but still made 28 starts, winning nine. But here, Rodon is coming off what was close to a lost season. Biceps bursitis wiped out the first three months of Rodon's 2017, and he had arthroscopic shoulder surgery near season's end.

THIS CARD: Since he came into the league, I've been trying unsuccessfully to figure out who it is Rodon so strongly resembles. Here, I'm seeing a bit of Eric Hosmer, but not other times. The mystery WILL be solved.

Only a few White Sox have ever sported #55, and despite all the lost time Rodon is the best of them far and away.

More from Rodon's 2017 season: debuting on 6/28, he only won twice but threw up six quality starts. On 7/25 he whiffed 11 in just four innings, and on 8/10 he allowed two ER in eight innings but received a ND. On 9/2—Rodon's final game before being shut down—he was pitching one-run ball against the Rays before rain KO'd him in the 4th.

There exists a variant of this card depicting Rodon standing around in a BP jersey.

(flip) Rodon seems to be active on Instagram; lots of pics of his cute baby. He is very active on Twitter, with posts as recent as today addressing MLB: The Show '20.

Ouch. Rodon took a beating in that one 2017 rehab start at Winston-Salem.

I'm willing to bet Rodon's present 519 K are the most by a Sox pitcher in his first 93 games. I don't think I could research that without Elias's help even if I wanted to.

AFTER THIS CARD: Rodon returned to MLB in June 2018, and at one point threw 6+ IP in 10 straight starts—a rarity for the times. Though his final ERA of 4.18 was skewed by allowing 14 ER in his final 3.1 IP, it was still a fine partial year, and Chicago tabbed him to start on Opening Day 2019!

Off to a solid start that year, Rodon put up two stinkers, then underwent Tommy John surgery. He is targeted to return in summer 2020—if there even is baseball in summer 2020. Provided Rodon's arm can hold up, he's still young enough and good enough to be a 15-game winner in MLB.

Carlos Rodon debuted in 2015 Topps Update, and has appeared annually in the base set since.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Cesar Izturis
Topps Cesar Izturis

3/21/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #299 Cesar Izturis, Pirates

More Cesar Izturis Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006 2006U 2007U 2008U 2009 2009U 2010 2012U

 

All the years Cesar Izturis spent with the train wreck that is the Los Angeles Dodgers, you would think I'd have memories of him laying it to my Giants at some point. Other than being on base for Steve Finley's infamous 2004-ending grand slam, nothing Izturis comes to mind, however—which isn't to say it never happened; my memory does have holes.

Still, it's rare for any longtime ex-Dodger to never end up on my "list", so whatever's going on in Izturis's life, at least he's got that going for him, right?

Izturis was originally a Toronto Blue Jay who went west along with RP Paul Quantrill in a 2002 armed robbery by the Dodgers. For most of '02, he was LA's starting SS, and in 2003 he kept the job full-time despite offensive limitations—Izturis was really good in the field, as validated by the 2004 Gold Glove he took home (batting a surprising.288 that year didn't hurt, either.) LA signed him to a 3Y/$9.9M deal that winter.

In June 2005, your MLB hits leader was...Cesar Izturis?! It's true; for a brief time the 25-year-old was among the league's best two-way threats—and an All-Star—before leveling off considerably. He underwent UCL surgery that September, and the Dodgers signed SS Rafael Furcal during his rehab, forcing Izturis to 3B and then to the Cubs via trade once he recovered in June 2006.

Here, Izturis has just completed a 45-game stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who acquired him from the Cubs mostly as insurance if they traded incumbent SS Jack Wilson (they did not until 2009). 

THIS CARD: Izturis is shown swinging it for the second time following three straight defensive Topps front images. He batted .285 from the right side as a Pirate and just .186 from the right—a huge contrast to his early career when he hit so poorly lefty that he almost gave it up.

I can barely make out any signature thanks to the dugout in the background. There's a "C" and an "S" (which Izturis had more than his share of over the years despite very good speed).

Izturis had seven Topps commons over the years and never once appeared in Series 2, partially explaining why he required five Update cards.

(flip) Izturis is still listed as a SS, but about 25% of his '07 run with Pittsburgh came at 3B.

We would have specially selected an Izturis card back on 2/10, had I been aware it was his 40th birthday.

The blurb was pretty much covered above. The Trade With Cubs sent cash back to Chicago. Initially they were set to receive a player to be named later, as per ESPN.

AFTER THIS CARD: Izturis started 110 games for the 2008 Cardinals; he then moved on to Baltimore for two seasons as their starting (but not always ending) SS, plus a third year ruined by elbow surgery and a groin strain.

After making the 2012 Brewers on a minors deal, Izturis joined Washington via waivers that August. Now a reserve, he found work with the '13 Reds, but upon being cut by the 2014 Astros out of Spring Training, Izturis's career ended at 34.

Cesar Izturis appeared annually in Topps 2003-10, except 2007. He's got Update cards 2006-09, and 2012.

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates

 
Topps Dan Pasqua
Topps Dan Pasqua

3/23/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #74 Dan Pasqua, Yankees

More Dan Pasqua Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994

 

What I remember most about Dan Pasqua: During his final years, the guy struggled to hit at all, having apparently lost his skillz after turning 30. But he seemed to turn it on when the alternative was making negative history.

What do I mean?

On 8/26/92, Pasqua—hitting in the .200's at the time—broke up Todd Stottlemyre's no-hit bid in the 8th inning. On 8/19/93, Pasqua—hitting in the .180's at the time—broke up Danny Darwin's no-hit bid in the 8th inning. That doesn't even include his controversial 1991 drive to left field that initially broke up Bret Saberhagen's no-hitter in the 5th inning but was later ruled an "error".

Here, however, Pasqua is just a youngster coming off his second MLB season. He opened Spring Training 1986 with the Yankee LF job his to lose...and lose it he did (to Ken Griffey, Sr.) Demoted to AAA Columbus, Pasqua did eventually return and played pretty well going forward. 

THIS CARD: On all eight of Pasqua's standard Topps cards, he is shown bat in hand (including his 1992-93 cards which have nearly identical front images). But on his 1994 Topps Gold card, a parallel set that replaced the four checklists with players not included in the standard set, Pasqua is shown at first base receiving a pickoff throw.

Blasphemous! A Yankee wearing #21 who isn't Paul O'Neill?! Who cares if this was a decade before O'Neill's time in New York?

More from Pasqua's 1986 season: in his first start after being recalled from Columbus 5/21, Pasqua walked twice, homered and drove in four. The next day he homered twice! Both efforts aided home wins over Oakland.


(flip) Another '87 Topps card, another gum stain. And I didn't even get to enjoy the gum, as most of my '87 Topps set was gifted to me. 

As the blurb explains, Pasqua could really ball as a youngster. They don't draft you in Round #3 unless you can.

Those 33 HR in '84 were more than double that of any other Nashville (AA) player, and led the Southern League by six over Andres Galarraga.

That .525 SLG in '86 was second on the Yankees to Don Mattingly; Pasqua did lead the team with a .399 OBP, better than Mattingly and even Rickey Henderson!

AFTER THIS CARD: Pasqua's average fell 60 points in 1987 and he reportedly grew disenchanted with New York. Off to the White Sox he went via off-season trade, with SP Rich Dotson the primary return. After leading the '88 Sox with 20 jacks, Pasqua's '89 season was interrupted by an early broken wrist and late knee surgery, but he bounced back well in 1990 (.495 SLG).

In '91, Pasqua started a career-high 114 games, usually against RHP, and slugged .465. But as we alluded to above, his bat abandoned him from 1992 on, and needless to say his playing time was affected as Chicago added big names such as George Bell and Ellis Burks to play Pasqua's usual positions. In early 1994, he underwent another knee surgery, but this time he did not make it back.

Including the Topps Gold set we discussed above, Dan Pasqua appeared annually in Topps 1986-1994. He also has a 1988 Topps Traded card.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Rheal Cormier
Topps Rheal Cormier

3/24/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #138 Rheal Cormier, Cardinals

More Rheal Cormier Topps Cards:  1992 1993 1994 1995T 1997 2001T 2004 2006 2006U

 

Rheal Cormier, the young Cardinal lefty in the early 1990's, finished 1992 very strong and came home with a respectable 10-10, 3.68 line. He couldn't carry it over into 1993, twice being demoted to the 'pen and landing on the DL in August (shoulder inflammation). So no one really knew what Cormier would be able to give the Cardinals in 1994.

Turns out three wins was the answer.

A bone contusion (in his pitching shoulder) in April and a back muscle pull in May teamed up to sideline Cormier for about 2/3 of the 1994 season. It was the story of the Cardinals rotation that year, as all their starters were hurt, ineffective, or both.

THIS CARD: Cormier peers in as Tom Pagnozzi or whoever puts down the signs. What were the signs for? The sinker, plus a curve and slider. Not sure if Cormier had his splitter yet in 1994; that may have come during his "second" career.

Assuming this is a 1994 photo, it shouldn't be too hard figuring out where this pic is taken since Cormier only pitched five road games. One of them was at Florida, and I'm betting this image is from the teal-walled Joe Robbie Stadium. (He was also injured warming up in another would-be Florida start.)

If I'm right, Cormier went eight innings for the win that day (8/8), striking out five, walking two and adding two hits and runs of his own in an 11-1 Cardinal stomping. He was left in for 122 pitches, as the St. Louis bullpen worked 4.2 IP the day before.

(flip) The blurb, while lengthy and interesting, gives me nothing to work with unless I were able to snag an interview with Cormier.

Cormier appears in COTD for the 2nd time; we profiled his 1993 Topps card back in June 2017.

Come on, Topps, bring back Diamond Vision! Or at the very least, reverse photos. They add so much to the card and can clearly be fit without crunching the stats together.

According to baseball-reference.com, Cormier wore #37 at some point in '94, but as you see he's still in #52 here—Michael Wacha's recent number of seven years.

AFTER THIS CARD: Ready to move on, the Cardinals traded oft-injured Cormier to the Red Sox—who insisted on including him in the deal for 3B Scott Cooper. One season later, Cormier joined the Montreal Expos in the Wil Cordero deal.


Then UCL surgery knocked him out for practically two entire seasons; he wound up back in Boston for 1999 as a full-time reliever and stayed through 2000 before signing with Philadelphia.


Cormier remained a Phillie through mid-2006, with 2003 representing his best statistical year (8-0, 1.70 ERA, 54 hits in 84 IP).

The semi-contending Reds traded for Cormier in July 2006 and quickly gave him a one-year contract extension—only to cut the now-40-year-old in early 2007 after an ugly start. Cormier signed with AAA Richmond (Braves) and got in five games before opting for retirement.


Rheal Cormier—by the way, it's pronounced RE-AL COR-ME-AY—appeared annually in Topps 1992-95, dropped by in 1997, and made a comeback in 2001 Traded before two final appearances in 2004 and 2006 Topps. He also has a 1995 Traded card with Boston and a 2006 Topps Update card with Cincinnati. 

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 
Topps Brad Boxberger
Topps Brad Boxberger

3/26/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps Update #16 Brad Boxberger, Diamondbacks

More Brad Boxberger Topps Cards: 2015 2016 2017 2019 2019U

 

You know him as the guy who, during Player's Weekend, simply replaces his name with box and burger emojis. Not particularly creative, but 100% accurate, is it not?

Boxberger has also been a pretty good late-inning pitcher over the years in spite of a few unconventional injuries. Originally a Reds prospect, he joined the Padres in the ill-advised Mat Latos trade of December 2011 (did Cincy really give up four dudes for that clown?) San Diego used Box 42 times over the 2012-13 seasons; he responded with a 2.72 ERA before being sent packing once more.

Boxberger was one of five Padres sent east in a seven-player deal with Tampa Bay in January 2014; he made 63 mostly setup appearances that year and dazzled. One year later, with incumbent Jake McGee hurt, Box was elevated to closer and pitched his way onto the All-Star team!

Then those unconventional injuries hit—Boxberger underwent groin surgery in March '16, returned for 17 pitches, then injured his oblique and sat until late July '16. In '17, he again opened the year hurt (flexor muscle) and wasn't activated until late June. Here, the Diamondbacks have acquired the veteran reliever via trade, as Tampa wasn't about to shell out an arbitration raise at this point.

THIS CARD: I mean this respectfully: Boxberger is one of those rare dudes who looks like an adult and a (hairy) baby all at once.

Other notable #31's in Arizona history: Matt Mantei and Ian Kennedy. Both of whom just barely qualify as notable.

I'm guessing Box has just fired his low-to-mid-90's heat. He's a fastball/changeup guy primarily, but he's got a hard slider in his arsenal as well. (One source also credits him with adding a curveball around 2016, but I can't recall ever seeing him throw one.)

(flip) Archie Bradley was Boxberger's main competition for D'Backs closer in 2018 camp.

I do not know the four quicker NL pitchers to reach 20 saves in 2018, and won't be researching.

Check out the zero saves in '16 following the AL-high 41 saves in '15: per MLB.com, the last pitcher to post zero saves after leading the league was Duane Ward in 1993-94.

That Trade With Rays, which was more of a preemptive salary dump, sent prospect Curtis Taylor to Tampa; to date he has not reached MLB.

AFTER THIS CARD: Boxberger finished 2018 32/40 in save ops; his issues with walks and the home run ball never fully sorted themselves out. He signed with KC in February 2019, but a 5.40 ERA cost him that job in July. Two other teams signed and cut Boxberger over the next several weeks.

Box is currently with Miami on a MiLB deal which could make or break his major league future.

Brad Boxberger has appeared in 2015-17 and 2019 Topps, as well as 2018-19 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps Update, Arizona Diamondbacks

 
Topps Todd Pratt
Topps Todd Pratt

3/28/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #23 Todd Pratt, Mets

More Todd Pratt Topps Cards: 1993 1994 2000 2003 2004 2005 2006

 

Of all the dudes named in the Mitchell Report, Todd Pratt is one name you read and think to yourself, "...I understand."

During the 1980's, Pratt was buried for years in the Boston organization with no real hope of advancing to MLB. At long last, he exited as a MiLB free agent, but prospects were no brighter in Baltimore. It took being claimed by Philly in the Rule V Draft to get Pratt to the bigs (and even they tried returning him to Baltimore first.)

Pratt backed up Darren Daulton in Philly 1993-94, but Dutch was an All-Star who didn't exit the lineup too often in those days. That, and the emergence of young Mike Lieberthal in '94, left very sparse playing time for Pratt.

Not until 1999 did Pratt exceed 41 games played in a season; by then he was backing up superstar Mike Piazza with the New York Mets and his bat had come around after years of dormancy. Here, Pratt continues to ride the wave that was his magical 1999 NLDS-ending home run—Pratt obviously liked that feeling, since he smoked eight more homers in 2000, nearly doubling his previous career high.

THIS CARD: Pratt takes a rip at old Shea Stadium as what appears to be a Montreal Expo looks on in the background. FYI, Pratt hit just .242 with two homers at home in 2000, as opposed to .296 with six homers elsewhere...blame the airplanes.

Can only make out a small edge of Pratt's #7 here, a digit later made very popular by Jose Reyes. Today, Marcus Stroman wears it.

This is our second 2001 Topps random selection of March 2020, while the 2002-05 sets remain untouched. It's one of those times I want to put a set on hiatus but can't because it technically didn't meet the hiatus standard of appearing twice within six selections. But I'm kind of getting tired of 2001 Topps. (None of that has anything to do with, or is the fault of, Todd Pratt.)

(flip) Used to be if a guy sat out a season entirely, that year didn't even get a row on his Topps card. Per the New York TimesPratt spent 1996 instructing at Bucky Dent's school and managing a Domino's Pizza to make ends meet.

Actually, backing up Daulton gave Todd little chance to shine. Playing behind Piazza got Pratt in a couple games a week; behind Daulton might get him a couple games a month. 

That walk-off home run, in case you somehow forgot, was hit 10/9/99 off Arizona's Matt Mantei in Game 4 of the '99 NLDS. It was Pratt's only hit of the series, and gave New York a 4-3 win. Remember: Pratt was only playing because Piazza's thumb was hurt.

I've never heard of Hawk Taylor. Pratt pinch-hit for RP John Franco and took Terry Adams of the Dodgers deep. (HURRAH).

AFTER THIS CARD: Pratt remained in New York through mid-2001 before returning to Philly to back up Lieberthal for four-plus seasons. He then played 2006 as a Brave before ending his career at age 39 (remember, it was a young 39; Pratt barely played during much of the 1990's.)

In 2017, Pratt resurfaced as manager for Class A Greensboro (Miami); when they switched affiliation to Jupiter in 2019, Pratt took over there, too.

Todd Pratt appeared in Topps 1993-94, again in 2000-01, and yet again 2003-2006.

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Miguel Olivo
Topps Miguel Olivo

3/29/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #445 Miguel Olivo, Rockies

More Miguel Olivo Topps Cards: 2000T 2001T 2002T 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2011 2011U 2012

 

Entering the 2010 season, Olivo seemed to be on the rise after setting career highs in HR (23) RBI (65) and slugging (.490) while with the '09 Royals. He'd been a pretty hot prospect in the early 2000's but could never last long in any one major league organization—we soon found out Olivo ran a little hot, which may have helped wear out his many welcomes. 

Olivo may have led the 2009 Royals in homers, but they still opted to replace him with the literally powerless Jason Kendall for 2010 anyway. Obviously, they were not terribly high on Olivo in spite of the slugging—in addition to his temper the guy had career-long issues with passed balls, and I'm guessing KC wasn't enamored with either.

Instead, Olivo settled for a 1Y/$2.5M deal (plus option) to join the Rockies, replacing Yorvit Torrealba at catcher.

THIS CARD: In this pic, Olivo resembles the love child of Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams.

In all seriousness, I like this pic. In most catching front images, obviously, the subject is masked. (Honestly, any image would have been a step up over 2009 Topps, which was simply a zoomed-out duplicate of Olivo's 2008 Topps front image.)

We catch up with Olivo for the second time, having selected his 2001 Topps Traded card back in September 2019. We also selected a 2010 Topps card earlier this month, but not recently enough to trigger a hiatus for that set.

(flip) HA! Now I see why the Royals wanted Kendall!

Olivo tripled and homered on 6/29/09 vs. Minnesota and again on 8/11/09 at Minnesota, missing cycles by a double both times.

Lord, those are some obscenely low walk totals, even for a hacker.

Am I nuts or is Olivo still in his Royals uniform here? If so, why did Topps apparently have trouble getting fresh photos of this guy?

AFTER THIS CARD: Olivo couldn't repeat his career year of 2009 as a Rockie, but he still made headlines in 2010 for staying in a game after passing a kidney stone! Despite Olivo's clear toughness and his solid statistical year, the Rox did not pick up his option, and Olivo spent 2011-12 back with the Mariners on a 2Y/$7M deal. But a .239 OBP in 2012 bought him extended bench time.

Olivo's MLB career ended in controversial fashion. He walked out on the 2013 Marlins during a game after falling to #3 on their catching depth chart; rather than reward his behavior with the release he sought, Olivo was placed on the restricted list by Miami.

Still, the Dodgers signed him to a MiLB deal for '14, setting up the infamous ear-biting incident with teammate Alex Guerrero while both were in AAA. 


Somehow, that didn't immediately end Olivo's pro career; he went to camp with the 2016 Giants, but not even a .636 Spring average could win him a job. As a Giants fan, perhaps that was for the best.

Miguel Olivo appeared annually in Topps 2004-12, with Traded cards 2000-02 and an Update card in 2011.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Colorado Rockies