Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, October 2021
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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10/31/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #36 Craig Wilson, Pirates
More Craig Wilson Topps Cards: 1996 2002 2003 2005 2006U 2007
Like Jayson Werth, Craig Wilson appeared on a 1990's Topps Draft Pick card. Like Jayson Werth, Craig Wilson was drafted as a catcher but made his major league impact as an outfielder. Like Jayson Werth, Craig Wilson had a lot of power.
Unfortunately for Wilson, that's where the similarities with the former All-Star and World Champion Werth end, but he still had an okay career. Most of that was spent with the early 2000's Pirates, who acquired 20-year-old Wilson (and five other youngsters) from Toronto in a megadeal for OF/1B Orlando Merced, IF Carlos Garcia and RP Dan Plesac in November 1996.
Here, the 26-year-old has just completed his second full season in the majors. Statistically, Wilson's 2003 resembled his promising 2002 campaign except his SLG rose nearly 70 points and he was drilled "just" 13 times, down from his NL-high 21 in '02.
THIS CARD: Wilson, who had one of the quietest batting stances of his time, swings away at a road ballpark that I cannot identify offhand. He appears to be going to right field here, something he did very well throughout his career.
Wilson wore #36 as a Buc; that number was repeatedly recycled by the Pirates before and after Wilson's six-season (though longtime Pirate Kevin Young had it for a while before switching.) In 2021, young RP Nick Mears claimed #36 for the Pirates.
I can't clearly make out the number of the on-deck hitter (it isn't #54; no Pirates player wore that in '03) but if it's #57, it's righty-batting RP Mike Lincoln fooling around with his lefty swing.
More from Wilson's 2003 season: he started 83 games at five different positions—more on that below—while batting mostly in the 5-thru-7 holes. On 8/13, his solo homer off Cardinals RP Cal Eldred broke a 4-4 tie and aided an eventual 6-5 win. And on 7/17, Wilson smoked a PH grand slam—the only one he ever hit in MLB—off Milwaukee's Wayne Franklin, but the Bucs still fell 7-5.
(flip) Officially, Wilson was one of three PTBNL in that Trade With Blue Jays, who'd drafted him just 18 months prior.
I can safely say Topps did not deliberately issue Wilson card #36 to match his uniform number.
Wilson is listed exclusively as an OF, but he played about the same amount at 1B in 2003. He also made 21 appearances (15 starts) behind the plate and DH'd a couple of times.
It took me several reads to understand what Topps was trying to communicate in the blurb. At first, I thought they meant Wilson was the only major leaguer ever to reach 29 homers in 530 or less at-bats. Then I realized what the company was actually saying: Of all major leaguers with 530 or less career at-bats entering 2003—a far shorter list—Wilson had the most homers.
AFTER THIS CARD: Wilson started 150 games for the 2004 Pirates and enjoyed what would be his finest MLB season (.264, 29, 82) despite being hit by a major-league high 30 pitches. His salary more than doubled to $3M for 2005, but separate finger and hand injuries** kept Wilson sidelined for huge chunks.
Wilson was enjoying a fine bounce-back 2006 campaign for the Pirates when the Yankees' Deadline trade offer of P Shawn Chacon was accepted. Initially given the 1B at-bats that had been going to the unimpressive Andy Phillips, Wilson didn't perform any better and found himself on the Yankees bench in the final weeks.
The now-30-year-old opened 2007 with Atlanta, but was let go in mid-May after going 10-for-58 with 25 K. MiLB deals with the White Sox, Reds and those old familiar Pirates 2007-08 did not lead to a big-league opportunity, nor did a 2008 sale to the Mariners. Just like that, Wilson was done in the majors, forever frozen on 99 career home runs (though he did manage exactly 100 career doubles).
Craig Wilson debuted as a Draft Pick in 1996 Topps, then appeared in the 2002-05 and 2007 base sets. He's also got a 2006 Update card as a new Yankee.
** in May 2005, Wilson tore finger tissue while swinging and underwent surgery. In July 2005, an errant Greg Maddux pitch broke his left hand.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates
More October 2021 Topps Cards Of The Day
10/2/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #259 Rico Brogna, Mets
More Rico Brogna Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1995 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2001T 2002
Let's be real here: if not for this profile, how many of you would have remembered Rico Brogna ever existed?
Mets and Phillies fans could probably shake Brogna from memory with a prompt or two, but among players of his era and caliber, the guy simply didn't stand out, at least not with the bat. Which isn't to knock the guy—he was a very good player for a decade in MLB.
But Brogna peaked in an era where first basemen like Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Andres Galarraga, Jason Giambi, Carlos Delgado and several others were putting up ridiculous offensive numbers, while his own numbers were "merely" terrific.
Here, Brogna has wrapped his first season (1995) as the Mets' primary 1B. Early in the year he shared time at the position with switch-hitting Bobby Bonilla, but eventually manager Dallas Green gave Brogna the job outright. In the season opener, Brogna drilled the very first of what is now 652 billion home runs at shiny new Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.
THIS CARD: Brogna takes a cut at old Shea Stadium. His stance was similar to current Braves star Freddie Freeman's, but his swing decidedly was not. At Shea in 1995, Brogna slashed .292/.351/.510, with 13 of his 22 home runs.
Brogna wears #26, and off the bat I cannot recall any other notable Mets with that number. (That is because next to Brogna, reserve C Kevin Plawecki is the most notable Met to wear #26 during my fandom.) From 1975-76 and again from 1981-83, the much-maligned Dave Kingman slid on #26 for the Mets, blasted many homers, and whiffed at an obscene (for the times) rate.
More from Brogna's 1995 season: he led NL first basemen by fielding .998, charged with just three errors in over 1,200 chances. On 9/17, Brogna went 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBI in a home win over Philadelphia. In fact, the Mets—69-75 overall in 1995—went 14-7 in games Brogna went deep! Hopefully, someone told him that.
(flip) Brogna, in fact, was an All-American in high school who was recruited by none other than Clemson University! (Back then, Clemson wasn't making annual championship runs as it did recently, but that's still pretty prestigious.)
Brogna was selected #26 overall by the Tigers in 1988. Of the 25 young men preceding him in the draft, maybe seven had equal or better MLB careers.
Those 72 runs, 22 home runs, 76 RBI and 27 2B in 1995 all led the Mets. Not bad for a virtual rookie.
AFTER THIS CARD: Brogna's 1996 campaign was shortened by July shoulder surgery, and that November he was dealt to the Phillies for a pair of mediocre relievers. Brogna enjoyed a decent comeback 1997 season, then in 1998 he became the first Phillies 1B with 100 RBI since Bill White in 1966! In 1999, the 29-year-old batted .278, 24, 102—salient 1B numbers for just about any era except the one Brogna played.
It all went downhill for the veteran masher in 2000, however. An errant pitch broke his arm in May and when he returned in July, his job belonged to rookie slugger Pat Burrell, much to Brogna's displeasure. He soon landed with the Red Sox via waivers, but only hit .196 in 56 scattered AB and was not retained that winter.
Instead, Brogna signed with the Braves for 2001 ($1.5M plus incentives). But by mid-July, having lost playing time to newcomer Ken Caminiti and battling a lengthy slump as well as an arthritic condition, Brogna announced 2001 would be his final season. Days later, Atlanta DFA'd him, ending his MLB career at 31 (a little sooner than he planned).
Since 2010, Brogna has worked in pro baseball in a variety of roles; in 2021 he managed the Class A Stockton Ports (Athletics) to a 42-75 record.
Rico Brogna appeared annually in Topps 1992-2002, except 1994. He's also got a 2001 Traded card as a new Brave.
CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, New York Mets
10/1/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #283 John Jaha, Brewers
More John Jaha Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Jaha, who when healthy—which, sadly, wasn't frequently—was one of the AL's steadiest power hitters across the mid-late 1990's. Because injuries curtailed and eventually ended his career, Jaha is rarely talked about today outside of Milwaukee, although he probably sneaks his way into Oakland conversations when the topic is Billy Beane's scrap heap discoveries.
But Jaha was a good, good player who probably would have hit 250-300 home runs if blessed with a body that could withstand professional baseball.
Here, he's still getting his career off the ground, but the signs were encouraging. After earning 32 starts as a 1992 rookie, Jaha started 143 games at 1B for the 1993 Brewers, finishing second on the team in runs and home runs despite not hitting his first long ball until 5/14.
THIS CARD: Jaha appears in COTD for the second time; we presented his 1999 Topps card back in February 2019.
Milwaukee busted this look out on 7/6/1993 against Texas as part of "Turn Back The Clock Day", even though you could turn said clock all the way back to the Brewers' 1970 birth and never find them wearing it. No shame in wanting to feel included and participating in a popular trend, is there? Jaha is one of several Brewers showing off the look in 1994 Topps (we presented one, Billy Spiers, in COTD back in February 2021).
Jaha wears #32; he's easily the best #32 in franchise history. RP Jeremy Jeffress had some fine years with Milwaukee, but the finest were with #21 on his back.
(flip) Jaha only hit .220 through 5/13/93, but a solid .274 thereafter.
At no point do I believe Jaha the big leaguer weighed 195 lbs. He was listed in the 220s on his final Topps cards, and even that seemed generous. Not knocking him in any way; he was just a sturdy dude.
Check out the huge years Jaha had for 1989 Stockton (A) and 1991 El Paso (AA). He earned Texas League Player Of The Year honors for the latter effort, and his .344 average was second in the league only to some 28-year-old who never reached MLB named Mark Howie.
AFTER THIS CARD: Jaha would only reach as many as 140 games twice more in his 10-year MLB career thanks to a litany of physical problems. Let's see: there was the groin injury in 1995 (two DL stints), a torn labrum in May 1997, foot and hamstring injuries in '98 which disabled him thrice, shoulder surgery in 2000, and a groin injury suffered while dodging a fastball in '01 (I thought that only happened to Mike Piazza!)
It should be said that Jaha remained healthy in 1996 and gave the Brewers 34 homers and 118 RBI while batting .300, but after two more years of aches, Milwaukee decided to move on. Jaha settled for a MiLB deal with the 1999 Athletics.
How'd that turn out? Not only did Jaha win a job, but he also hit .276, 35, 111 and made the All-Star team as Oakland's primary DH! The A's rewarded the 33-year-old with a 2Y/$6M deal that winter, but the aforementioned shoulder surgery ruined his 2000 campaign and contributed to his retirement in June 2001.
John Jaha appeared annually in Topps 1992-2001.
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers
10/3/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #532 Tom Brunansky, Red Sox
More Tom Brunansky Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1988T 1989 1990 1990T 1991 1992
When I first began collecting baseball cards full-time in 1990, I had a bit of a fixation on Tom Brunansky. You see, the Cardinals of those days were composed of a load of speedy black guys who stole 50+ bases per year...with one glaring exception: Brunansky the white masher who was decidedly not good at basestealing.
As a big kid with little speed myself, I pictured myself having a role like Brunansky's one day—stand around and hit baseballs very far while the smaller guys use up their energy racing around the bases.
Best known for his six-plus seasons with the 1980's Twins, "Bruno" was a 1985 All-Star who led Minnesota in home runs three straight years (1983-85). And for good measure, he also threw out a dozen or more guys per year from his RF position. Brunansky was an absolute beast in the 1987 ALCS, powering the Twins to the World Series which they eventually won (over the Cardinals).
Here, however, Brunansky is over four years removed from his Twins days, having joined the Boston Red Sox in an early 1990 trade. He started 124 games across RF, 1B and DH for the 1992 Sox, leading the team in 2B, HR and RBI.
THIS CARD: We mentioned Brunansky's throwing arm; in 1992 he threw out six runners in 92 games, but also was charged with four errors. And despite his inning of MLB experience at the position, Boston started Brunansky 18 times at 1B in the first half while expected 1B Carlos Quintana recovered from a car wreck and future 1B Mo Vaughn developed.
More on Brunansky's throwing: he ranked 4th in AL outfield assists each year 1983-85.
More from Brunansky's 1992 season: he belted his 250th career home run in Game 2 of a 7/31 doubleheader, victimizing Baltimore's Richie Lewis. And on 6/30, he drove in his 800th career run. Using that pattern, I'm sure he did something noteworthy on 8/31, too, but I'm too behind on updates to research.
(flip) There was no misprint above; those 15 HR and 74 RBI did indeed lead the 1992 Red Sox, who were very weak on offense that year (.246, 84 HR, 599 runs). Hard to imagine given how today's Red Sox treat the bandbox that is Fenway Park.
Both of those slams powered Red Sox victories (home wins over the White Sox and Rangers, respectively). They brought Brunansky's career total up to six; he'd hit one more slam in 1994.
I never knew Brunansky was an Angels draft pick and played for them briefly. Did. Not. Know. At. All. This is partially why COTD exists; I admit to not scanning each and every last card I own in depth.
AFTER THIS CARD: Brunansky signed a 1Y/$1.1M deal with the Brewers in January 1993, and got a lot of run for them despite hitting under .200 with lacking power; he missed the final two months after straining his lower back. Somehow, Milwaukee chose to exercise Bruno's $1.1M option for 1994...only to trade him to the Red Sox in mid-June after he continued to show little offense.
In 48 games (42 starts) for Boston, the almost-34-year-old batted .237, 10, 34 and slugged .475—production Milwaukee would have gladly taken. The August strike ended the 1994 season, as well as Brunansky's pro baseball career.
After a few years as a hitting coach in the Twins' system, Brunansky served in the same role for the major league team 2013-16.
Tom Brunansky debuted in 1982 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1983-93 (with disappointing omissions in 1994-95). He's also got 1988 and 1990 Traded cards.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Boston Red Sox
10/5/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #457 Josh (Dean) Fields, White Sox
More Josh (Dean) Fields Topps Cards: 2004T 2007 2010
I love, love, LOVE when a player who outright stinks and has shown nothing to indicate that will change demands a trade. Clearly forgetting in order for a trade to happen, another club must be interested in you. Josh Fields, briefly the 3B of the Chicago White Sox until his strikeouts and defense became unsatisfactory, was one such player.
How do you even consider asking for a trade when you're fresh off a .156, 17-K-in-32-AB showing? Are teams lining up for guys like that? I'd ask for my release first as a matter of respect for my employer.
Here, Fields has just completed his first extended major league run, taking over at 3B after Sox incumbent Joe Crede underwent back surgery in June 2007 (Fields shifted to LF for a few weeks late in the year, however). Fields took a while to warm up but found his stroke in August, during which he enjoyed a burst of four homers in four games 8/10 to 8/14.
THIS CARD: Though some players, such as Anthony Gose this past season, convert to pitching after falling short as a major league hitter, Joshua Dean Fields was not one of them. Joshua David Fields, big league reliever 2013-18, is an entirely separate dude.
Welcome back to the fold, 2008 Topps! We hadn't had a COTD selection from that set since May of this year. I'd like to do some tweaking to the random selection process to reduce the odds of such gaps, which means I probably will in August 2023 or something.
I may not be high on Fields, but this is one of my favorite front images in my entire 46,000+ card collection. Later on, in my baseball/softball days, I tried to recreate this angle and sky whenever doubling as a photographer. Never quite could.
(flip) No, Frank Thomas was not one of those rookies, but only because he was called up halfway through his rookie season and lost official status. Jose Abreu didn't come up for another seven seasons. The answers are (through 2007) Ron Kittle (35, 1983) and Zeke Bonura (27, 1934). Since then, Abreu (36, 2014) and Daniel Palka (27, 2018) have passed Fields.
We mentioned Fields' strikeout issues above; now viewing his stats, one might think 125 K in 373 AB is par for the course with power hitters. But it was a different time in 2007-08; guys like 2021 Matt Chapman would have been quickly iced for batting .210 with 202 K in 529 AB, not awaiting contract extensions.
How bright was Josh's future? From manager Ozzie Guillen the next year, after Fields questioned said future with Chicago: "Oh, you better be careful for what you say and what you wish. It's not my fault that we brought [Gordon] Beckham here. If [GM] Kenny [Williams] brought Beckham here, it's because Josh Fields was not doing his job. Am I wrong?" Well, no one bats 1.000.
AFTER THIS CARD: Crede resumed his role as White Sox 3B in 2008, leaving Fields back in AAA until callups in late July (for about 10 days) and again in September. Despite the aforementioned statline and his remarks, Fields did get one more shot as Chicago's 3B to open 2009. But after two months, he was back on the bench and received most of his run as a PH/1B going forward. The Sox traded Fields to Kansas City (for Mark Teahen) that fall.
Fields missed the bulk of the year (hip surgery), but returned to go 15-for-49 (.306) with three homers for the Royals in September. That represented his final MLB action; a partial season in Japan and a few MiLB deals followed until Fields' playing career finally ended in 2013.
Josh (Dean) Fields debuted in 2004 Topps Traded as a Draft Pick, then appeared in the 2007, 2008 and 2010 Topps sets.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Chicago White Sox
10/6/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #502 Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
More Brandon Webb Topps Cards: 2003T 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
48 hours before talented young righty Logan Webb prepares to open the 2021 NLDS for my San Francisco Giants, we present to you another pretty good Webb—Brandon (no relation).
Actually, for a time Brandon Webb was more than just "pretty good". He was the 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner and a three-time All-Star who simply pounded batters into submission with his 90-MPH sinker. (Think Kevin Brown, only far more likable.) Webb was good enough to have perhaps challenged for a spot in Cooperstown one day, had his arm held up...more on that later.
Here, Webb is fresh off a debut season that saw him place third in NL Rookie of the Year voting (behind Dontrelle Willis and Scott Podsednik) and 10th in strikeouts. The Diamondbacks sorely needed Webb's contributions, as co-aces Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling were limited by injuries.
THIS CARD: Webb goes after the Giants at the former Pacific Bell Park, where he started twice in 2003. He won on 9/5 and took a ND in a 7/24 loss, allowing a total of three earned runs in 15 innings.
In addition to the sinker, Webb also featured a tough curve (which I believe we're seeing here) as well as a fine changeup.
Yes, Webb wore #55 as a rookie before switching to his more-familiar #17. Personally, I'd retire that number in his honor in spite of his abbreviated career—he was that damn good.
More from Webb's 2003 season: he opened the year with AAA Tucson but was called up when Johnson's knee misbehaved; after a relief appearance 4/22, Webb slid into the rotation and didn't leave for six seasons. In August, Webb reached double-digit K's in three of six starts despite not going past seven innings in any of them!
(flip) That lone 2003 SHO came 6/28 at Detroit; Webb scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out a pair in a 102-pitch beauty. He was the first Arizona rookie to fire a shutout, and according to MLB.com, only two of his 27 outs recorded were in the air!
Among NLers, only Jason Schmidt (Giants, 2.34) Brown (Dodgers, 2.39) and Mark Prior (Cubs, 2.43) topped Webb's 2003 ERA.
I've got to do a better job A) scouring the blurbs on my older Topps cards, and B) retaining what I find. I'd have never remembered/known about that bizarre-yet-amazing August stat if not for COTD; Webb should have channeled Satchel Paige and sat his outfielders around the mound!
AFTER THIS CARD: Webb missed not one start through the 2008 season, winning 87 games (including 22 in 2008), earning two Cy Young Award runner-up finishes in addition to the 2006 win, and helping Arizona back to the playoffs in 2007.
What I'm trying to tell you is Webb, despite his high walk and wild pitch totals, was among THE very best pitchers in the game for six years. Arizona recognized this by extending him for 4Y/$19.5M in January 2006.
In his potential walk year of 2009, however, Webb started for Arizona on Opening Day and was pounded. He quickly hit the DL with a bad shoulder and underwent August surgery that kept him out all of 2010 (in spite of the surgery, Arizona picked up his $8.5M option for 2010). By year's end, Webb was throwing to D'Backs minor leaguers and seemed to be hopeful of a comeback.
Texas signed Webb for 2011, but after four uninspiring MiLB starts, he underwent a second shoulder operation that July. When he still experienced pain while rehabbing in early 2013—a year-and-a-half after the surgery—Webb understandably decided to retire at 33.
After debuting in 2003 Topps Traded, Brandon Webb appeared annually in Topps 2004-10.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Arizona Diamondbacks
10/7/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps Traded #26 Edgar Diaz, Brewers
More Edgar Diaz Topps Cards: 1991
Edgar Diaz was a guy with the inside track to the Brewers' shortstop job back in 1987. But during Spring Training that year, he dislocated his shoulder, allowing Dale Sveum to establish himself at SS. After recovering, Diaz couldn't get so much as a September callup back to Milwaukee for three full seasons.
Here, however, Diaz has re-emerged with the 1990 Brewers—even starting 32 of their first 36 games at shortstop! He hit .259 with a .328 OBP in that role, but an anemic .288 SLG left his starting job vulnerable to takeover.
THIS CARD: PHOTOGRAPHER: "Hey, Edgar, you mind if I kneel down here by your crotch and take your photo?"
DIAZ: "Uh, I guess not?"
PHOTOGRAPHER: "Good, cuz I was going to do it anyway."
More from Diaz's early 1990 season: on 4/16, he went 3-for-4 with three RBI, a BB and two runs scored in an 18-0 win at Boston. He opened the year batting .529 (9-for-17) in his first five games!
(flip) You're just not going to find too many people named Holly Diaz running around.
Check out Diaz's numbers for 1986 Vancouver (AAA). Despite switching AAA affiliates to what had to be a friendlier hitters' atmosphere in Denver, Diaz was never quite able to reach his '86 level again. That injury must've been a doozy.
That 1989 home run was the only one Diaz ever hit as a professional. (I could not unearth who served it up.) As you see, he found himself demoted back to AA for a period in '89; Diaz probably thought that killed his chances at an MLB return.
AFTER THIS CARD: In late May 1990, Milwaukee went with the more offensively-gifted Billy Spiers at shortstop, but Diaz hung around all year as a utilityman and finished at .271 with 17 errors in 86 games. Released at the end of Spring Training 1991, Diaz kicked around the minors through 1995 without ever returning to MLB.
Edgar Diaz appeared in 1990 Topps Traded and 1991 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps Traded, Milwaukee Brewers
10/9/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #725 Mike Boddicker, Orioles
Here, we catch up with Boddicker following an uneven 1987 season, his final full campaign as a Baltimore Oriole. The 30-year-old was 7-4, 3.21 on 7/16, but went 3-5. 7.21 over his next 10 starts.
THIS CARD: Random selection process my butt. This is the third Boddicker card we've selected for COTD in 2021, including back-to-back months. Why we're getting so much Boddicker when I'm still waiting to select Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, Juan Gonzalez, Lee Smith and so many others for the first time is beyond me.
Boddicker wore #52 throughout his entire major league career. RP B.J. Ryan is the only other notable Oriole to wear #52 over any real period of time.
More from Boddicker's 1987 season: following the aforementioned 10-start slump, he turned in two strong efforts, including a CG 2-0 loss to the Yankees 9/26. On 7/8, Boddicker threw a very rare 10-inning CG, beating the White Sox despite allowing five earned runs!
(flip) Boddicker was originally taken #8 by the Expos in 1975, but didn't sign. Mike Fitzgerald, Tim Flannery and Mike Marshall (the 1B/OF) were other notables taken in 1978 Round #6.
As you see, Boddicker finished 10-12 in 1987, but he was 10-7 before dropping his final five starts (three of which the Orioles were shut out).
1988 Topps was heavy on blurbing minor league accomplishments. Of those 55 MiLB wins, 39 came with AAA Rochester 1979-83.
AFTER THIS CARD: Boddicker was traded to the contending Red Sox in mid-1988 (for prospects Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling). He was big for Boston down the stretch that year, earned an extension, then won 17 games and a Gold Glove for the 1990 Sox (the AL East champions).
That fall, the Royals came calling, offering Boddicker 3Y/$9M in November 1990. He took it, but was only so-so for Kansas City in 1991. In 1992, he lost his rotation spot and lingered most of the year in long relief.
The Royals sold Boddicker to the Brewers in April '93; the veteran posted a 5.67 ERA in 10 Milwaukee starts and then announced his retirement mid-season. He was later elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.
Mike Boddicker debuted in 1981 Topps on a shared Orioles prospects card, then appeared annually 1984-1993. He's also got a 1991 Traded card as a new Royal.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Baltimore Orioles
10/10/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2020 Topps #517 Dylan Moore, Mariners
More Dylan Moore Topps Cards: 2019U 2021U
Initially, to me, Seattle's Dylan Moore was just the latest Moore promoted to the majors solely to cause me confusion. With Adam and Andrew and Tyler still floating around pro baseball and Scott not that far removed, the last thing I needed was another marginal player named (common first name) Moore in MLB.
Then RP Sam Coonrod of my Giants beaned the hell out of Moore on 9/16/2020. And though that permanently ended any confusion on my part regarding Dylan Moore for the rest of time, the baseball gods had Houston's Brandon Bielak bean Moore again on 9/22/2020 just to be SURE his identity was driven home.
One week. Two beanings. "NO MOORE!" I'm sure Dylan shouted at some point.
Here, however, Moore has just completed his first major league season. He won a job with Seattle out of Spring Training and went on to start 67 games across SEVEN positions for Seattle during the 2019 season. Moore's overall average could have been better, but from 8/31 to 9/5 he hit in five straight games—three of them multi-hit affairs!
THIS CARD: Researching GettyImages.com, we were able to nail down the date of this pic: 6/15/19 at Oakland. The A's spanked the Mariners 11-2 that day despite a double and a run by Moore, who started at 2B.
Ironically, 80's starter Mike Moore is the most notable #25 in Mariners history. SP Chris Bosio switched to #25 in the 1990's, but he threw his no-hitter for Seattle wearing #29. Future All-Star OF Adam Jones wore #25 before being traded to Baltimore.
More from Moore's 2019 season: from 8/31 to 9/20 he started semi-regularly at SS and batted .289 (13-for-45) with a .511 SLG before tailing off in the season's final days. On 4/27, Moore pitched the final inning against Texas, who tallied four runs, five hits and two walks against him.
(flip) Only two other Mariners rookies (Phil Bradley, 1984 and Donell Nixon twice, 1987) have matched Moore and Ichiro's feat.
Those seven games with Tacoma? Four came during Moore's brief late-May demotion when star 3B Kyle Seager was activated off the IL. The other three were part of a rehab assignment for a wrist contusion earlier in May.
Mississippi was/is Atlanta's AA affiliate.
Biloxi (AA) and Colorado Springs (AAA) were Milwaukee affiliates in 2018; the former remains but the latter relocated to San Antonio after the '18 season. Rookie-level Helena immediately relocated to Colorado Springs, which remained a Brewers affiliate for 2019-20 before their league (Pioneer) went independent. Got all that? If so, that makes one of us.
AFTER THIS CARD: Moore slugged .496 across 38 games for the 2020 Mariners before a wrist sprain and concussion (from the second beaning) limited his availability in the final weeks. In 2021, Moore started 101 games across multiple positions (again) for a surprising Seattle squad. Though he homered 12 times, strikeouts continued to be a serious problem (34.5% of his career at-bats, in fact.)
Dylan Moore has appeared in 2019 Topps Update, 2020 Topps, and 2021 Topps Update (according to the checklist for the upcoming set).
CATEGORIES: 2020 Topps, Seattle Mariners
10/11/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #136 Dave Schmidt, Expos
More Dave Schmidt Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990
Schmidt was a #26 pick who made good, lasting five seasons with the 1980's Rangers mostly as a reliever with a handful of starts mixed in. He even closed for Texas in the second half of 1984! After appearing in a career-high 51 games for the Rangers in '85, he was swapped to the White Sox in the Scott Fletcher trade.
Schmidt had a good year for the '86 Sox despite playing for three managers (who answered to a broadcaster) in a 72-90 season. Still, he was cut that December and landed with Baltimore.
The O's alternated between starting and relieving Schmidt each of his three seasons there; during the first two years he led Baltimore in ERA and tied for the lead in victories. But the team's plan to start Schmidt full-time in 1989 had to be aborted in late July due to his struggles on the mound.
Here, the veteran righty has completed his first and only full season (1990) with the Expos. Used out of the bullpen, he started strong and even closed for a time. But then Schmidt slumped badly, and his season ended with major shoulder surgery in August.
THIS CARD: As someone who played amateur baseball for years, I could never keep my mouth shut while delivering a pitch like Schmidt is here. There would be better odds of me smiling while being branded.
Schmidt is delivering either his sinker, slider, curve, or his out pitch, the palmball. He did not light up the radar guns and heavily relied on his control and his defense.
More from Schmidt's 1990 season: when Expos CL Tim Burke broke his leg in late May, Schmidt was elevated to closer and saved 10 of his first 12 chances before blowing two of his final four. Five of those saves were of the two-inning variety, not uncommon when Schmidt's career started but increasingly less common by 1990.
(flip) Trying to find out about 1979 Sarasota led me to BaseballReference.com, which lists Schmidt's 1979 team as the Gulf Coast League Rangers. In fact, all teams in that league were prefaced with Gulf Coast League. All I can tell you is the current Sarasota Reds are not the same team Schmidt supposedly broke in with.
Schmidt's mark with A Asheville was doubly notable because A) he was only 4-6 for AA Tulsa that year, and B) Asheville was only 69-71 overall in 1980.
That 1985 shutout came in Schmidt's season finale against the very capable California Angels. Schmidt completed the whitewash despite Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson going 3-for-4 with two doubles against him. Another Hall-of-Famer, Rod Carew, stroked his 3,053rd and last career hit off Schmidt in the T1st.
AFTER THIS CARD: Little. Schmidt returned to the Expos in July 1991, but a 2.538 WHIP bought him his release after four appearances. He was next seen with the Mariners in May 1992, but he allowed 10 of 19 batters to reach base and was cut after three games. That ended Schmidt's major league career at 35.
As far as Schmidt's post-playing baseball exploits, I know he worked in the Baltimore system for many years and was their Florida and Latin America Pitching Coordinator as of 2019. But that's as far as I got.
Dave Schmidt appeared annually in Topps 1982-91. He can also be found in 1986, 1987 and 1990 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Montreal Expos
10/13/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #773 Cliff Brantley, Phillies
More Cliff Brantley Topps Cards: 1992
No known relation to Jeff, Mickey or Michael.
Cliff Brantley showed promise in a handful of starts with the 1991 Phillies, but here, he's coming off a 1992 season split between AAA and MLB. Brantley started and relieved for Philadelphia, allowing only two home runs in his first 61.1 IP!
THIS CARD: As you see on Brantley's sleeve, he wore #51 with Philadelphia. But it'll take a generation or two before #51 evokes memories of anybody but Carlos Ruiz. (Most recently, massive RP Enyel de los Santos claimed #51 from 2018-21; Hans Crouse received it after the former was cut in September 2021.)
Brantley delivers at what looks like Olympic Stadium in Montreal. He made one appearance there in 1992, throwing 3.2 innings of relief 7/30 in his first game back after a six-week demotion to AAA.
More from Brantley's 1992 season: he was far more effective at home (3.66, 18 K in 11 games) vs. away (5.28, 14 K in 17 games, all six home runs allowed). In a 5/22 start vs. the Reds, Brantley went seven innings and allowed two runs (none earned) despite walking seven. Skipper Jim Fregosi allowed the rookie to throw 136 pitches, which would lead to a tarring and feathering today.
(flip) As you see in the stats, we weren't kidding about Brantley's 1991 promise. He was inserted into the Phils' rotation in September and was solid after a challenging debut.
As you can also see in the stats, Brantley's MiLB walk rate was manageable, but he had great difficulty throwing strikes in Philadelphia. In his 34 MLB appearances, he issued at least one walk in 31 of them—even though many lasted an inning or less.
Brantley was the first inaugural winner of that award, distributed to high schoolers for all 50 states (plus one national winner). Past New York winners include Marcus Stroman, Dellin Betances, Pedro Alvarez, Manny Ramirez and Steve Karsay; you haven't heard of any winners since Stroman in '09.
AFTER THIS CARD: Brantley opened 1993 in the minors, then was waived by the Phillies in late May. He got in a few games for AAA Ottawa (Expos) before "shoulder problems"—according to a report from silive.com—shortened his career. Brantley's son Cliff Jr. was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2014, but only lasted in pro baseball through 2015.
Cliff Brantley appeared in 1992-93 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies
10/14/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #225 Robinson Cano, Yankees
More Robinson Cano Topps Cards: 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Thirty years from now, somebody unfamiliar with present-day MLB will come across Robinson Cano's career stats and honors, and just like with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, that person will sit there wondering how it is Cano could put up numbers like that from the second base position and not even reach 20% of the Hall of Fame vote.
At that point, somebody who IS familiar with present-day MLB will be forced to explain that, just as with McGwire and Sosa, Cano had "help" putting up many (if not all) of those numbers. He was suspended twice for PED use, greatly weakening the teams paying him $25M annually to bolster their lineups.
It's truly unfortunate, because Cano might have been an all-time Top 5 second baseman based solely on his accomplishments.
Here, Cano is still just a youngster, fresh off his second major league season (2006). Batting everywhere in the lineup except leadoff and cleanup, he finished third in the AL batting race, made his first All-Star team, and was named AL Player Of The Month for September 2006. This all despite missing five weeks—including the All-Star Game—with a hamstring strain!
THIS CARD: WHAT in the hell does that say? The only thing that signature could possibly be: Cano's middle name of Jose (his papa Jose played briefly in MLB) with a butterfly representing his last name.
It's hard to look at any Yankees card from 2007 Topps and not expect a president or Yankee legend to be visible somewhere.
More from Cano's 2006 season: he was at .325, 4, 27 when injuring himself legging out a double against the Marlins 6/25 #2. He returned 8/8 and hit .365, 11, 51 after returning—including seven hits and five XBH in his first 14 at-bats!
(flip) Of those 15 home runs for the 2006 Yankees, seven came in September, a month during which he also hit .377 with 28 RBI. Not a hard choice for that aforementioned American League POTM award.
As you can see in the bio box, we post this one week before Cano's 39th birthday, which is odd to me because he's one of those guys who always seemed older than he was. I don't mean that in a bad way necessarily.
Cano's team-leading 41 doubles for the 2006 Yankees contributed to his .525 SLG, second on the team to Jason Giambi's .558.
AFTER THIS CARD: Let's see: a pair of 200-hit seasons, seven more All-Star selections, a 2009 World Series ring, tons of durability leading to loads more hits and doubles, nine more .300 seasons and 305 more home runs. Cano signed a 10Y/$240M deal from Seattle in December 2013 and continued to produce on the West Coast, but was handed his first PED suspension in May 2018 and sat 80 games.
In December 2018, Seattle traded Cano and CL Edwin Diaz to the Mets (the return included current M's Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn). The 36-year-old endured a down 2019, but erased "washed-up" talk with a strong 2020 bounce-back.
That is, until he was suspended again for PED use that November, this time for 162 games (the entire 2021 season). He's not talked about much at all these days, but with two years left on his deal, I imagine the Mets will run him out there in 2022.
Robinson Cano has appeared in Topps 2006-20; he was omitted from all three 2021 Topps releases. Cano also has a First Year card in 2003 Traded as well as a 2019 Update card as a new Met.
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, New York Yankees
10/15/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #539 Mike LaValliere, Pirates
More Mike LaValliere Topps Cards: 1987 1987T 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
I find ways to get annoyed, or at the very least perturbed, by things that bother exactly 0.003% of the rest of Earth's population.
Case in point:
Sometime in the early 1990's, the Pirates were playing somebody in Pittsburgh, most likely my Giants since I had little exposure to non-Giants/Athletics games in those days.
With a runner on second, the Pirates' opponent got a base hit. The outfielder quickly fired the ball home, forcing the runner to stay at third (which he was almost guaranteed to do anyway).
When Pirates C Mike LaValliere received the throw and scanned the diamond as if to tell the runners "Try somethin'. I DARE you", the home crowd burst into applause.
On every similar throw to the plate I've seen since then, the crowd has applauded almost as much as if the runner had actually been erased. It's one of those baseball quirks I get and don't get at the same time, and I may or may not have once ordered an opposing crowd to "SHUT UP!" in response.
Now, on to LaValliere:
THIS CARD: Look at LaValliere. How can you NOT nickname that guy "Spanky"? I'm not sure a nickname has fit a grown man more. I'm also not sure if the job title of "major league catcher" has fit a grown man more.
The text and trim actually matches the Pirates' colors, which was not a guarantee in 1988-90 Topps.
More from LaValliere's 1987 season: under Jim Leyland, he was generally platooned behind the plate with Junior Ortiz but still started 99 games and won his only Gold Glove. Among '87 Pirates with 300+ AB, LaValliere and Bobby Bonilla were the only .300 hitters, and his .377 OBP led everybody except backup OF John Cangelosi (.427).
(flip) That lone home run of 1987 was a solo shot 8/29...off Nolan Ryan. It was not a game-winner or anything like that, but the B2nd blast broke a scoreless tie in an eventual 8-2 Pirates win.
That switch from 3B to C was a wise one; LaValliere led the league by gunning 45% of attempted basestealers in 1987. And in limited 1993 action, he threw out 24 of 33 would-be thieves...that's 73%, people!!!
That trade was not a particularly popular one in Pittsburgh when it went down, but with LaValliere and Van Slyke, Pittsburgh kicked off a three-year postseason run in 1990. St. Louis made the 1987 World Series with Pena, but didn't return to the postseason again until 1996. I'd say in hindsight, both teams benefitted from this deal.
AFTER THIS CARD: When healthy, LaValliere continued to share catching duties in Pittsburgh with Ortiz through 1989, and Don Slaught 1990-92. In January 1992, LaValliere was even extended for 3Y/$6.15M! But after that season, Bucs stars Barry Bonds and Doug Drabek left in free agency and 2B Jose Lind was traded. Days into the 1993 season the Pirates decided to release LaValliere as well in spite of his contract, giving full-time catching duties to Slaught.
The White Sox brought "Spanky" onboard, and he helped them to the 1993 ALCS as a backup to Ron Karkovice. LaValliere got more run than expected in 1994 when Karkovice got hurt, responding with a .281 average and earning a deal with Chicago for 1995, after which he retired at 35.
Mike LaValliere appeared annually in Topps 1987-94, and also has a 1987 Traded card as a new Pirate.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates
10/17/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #120 Mark Teixeira, Angels
More Mark Teixeira Topps Cards: 2002T 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2007U 2008 2008U 2009U 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
When we presented Mark Teixeira's first COTD (2007 Topps, May 2017), he was newly retired. And I still hadn't gotten over my unwarranted dislike for him.
Now, four-plus years later, I can say I've grown a bit. That dislike has by-and-large subsided, and I feel I can present this COTD objectively. Teixeira was a very good, and at times great, player in MLB for 14 years; my Giants sure could have used somebody like him in the late 00's.
Here, Teixeira has completed what would be his only two-plus months with the Los Angeles Angels. Pending free agency made him a hot commodity as the 2008 Trade Deadline neared, and with the Braves—who themselves had acquired Teixeira in a 2007 Deadline deal—well back in the NL East, a deal was struck 7/29/2008.
THIS CARD: Though I wish it didn't, Angels #25 always evokes memories of then-coach Don Baylor's freak broken leg and his long, pained (but assisted) walk off the field. (Baylor also wore it 35 years earlier as an Angels player, but I was still in diapers when he left the team.) Quite a few notable Angels have also donned #25, including Tommy John, Jim Abbott, Jim Edmonds, Troy Glaus and—until he switched to #20 in 2021—Jared Walsh.
That might well be a Yankees catcher. Wouldn't it be something if Teixeira got a hit here, prompting said catcher to go to management and sing Teixeira's praises SO MUCH that New York signed him that off-season? I like pretending there's a story behind some Topps images; it makes collecting that much more fun.
This isn't Teixeira's first Topps appearance as an Angel. These days, Deadline acquisitions don't make it into that year's Update set, but they did in Teixeira's time—he can be found in 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights as a shiny new Halo.
More from Teixeira's 2008 season: he batted just .196 in his first 13 games before closing April on a 20-for-59 (.339) tear. On 9/14, he smoked his 200th career homer off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (one of six he'd hit off King Felix lifetime, second-most to Bruce Chen's seven). And in August, Teixeira enjoyed back-to-back three-hit games...twice!
(flip) Johnny Ray enjoyed that burst in 1987-88 after joining the Angels via trade with Pittsburgh in August 1987. Ray stroked 44 hits in those final five weeks of 1987 alone—that equates to 237 hits over a full season, 53 more than Ray ever actually had.
Say what you will about young Teixeira—and I have—but early on he was VERY durable, as you can see in the stats. That all changed after his 32nd birthday, unfortunately. Which I can relate to.
That Trade With Braves sent 1B Casey Kotchman and a failed prospect back to Atlanta.
AFTER THIS CARD: In the 2008-09 off-season, Teixeira turned down the Halos' $160M offer for $180M over eight years from the Yankees (a short-term setback for Los Angeles, but a huge long-term victory since they used the compensation draft pick to take none other than Mike Trout in 2009.)
Teixeira's first season in the Bronx went swimmingly; he finished second in AL MVP voting, led the AL with 39 HR and 122 RBI, won the Gold Glove and contributed to a World Series title for the Yankees! Though he continued to be fairly productive through 2012, Teixeira never quite matched the impact he made in 2009.
The veteran slugger missed nearly all of 2013 with a troublesome wrist that eventually required surgery. Though he still showed power, Tex could only muster an aggregate batting average of .222 from 2013 on, and in that stretch he struck out in exactly 25% of his at-bats—a significant increase. And injuries started to mount.
At 36, having completed his megadeal with the Yankees (a rarity for any player/team) Teixeira retired after the 2016 season as only the fifth switch-hitter with 400 home runs. From 2017-21 he worked for ESPN as an analyst.
Mark Teixeira debuted with a 2002 Topps Traded card, received a shared Prospects card in 2003 Topps, then appeared annually in Topps 2004-16. He's also got 2007-09 Update cards.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Los Angeles Angels
10/18/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #505 Robby Thompson, Giants
Days after my 2021 Giants were shockingly erased from the postseason, TSR shines the spotlight on a key member of the 1993 Giants—previously the best Giants team of my time to not at least reach the World Series.
Years later, when remembering that Giants team, we hear names like Dusty Baker and Barry Bonds and Matt Williams and John Burkett and Bill Swift and Rod Beck dropped, but rarely does anyone talk about the team's longtime 2B Robby Thompson and the incredible '93 season he enjoyed. Peter McGowan may have kept the team from moving—and for that we fans will be eternally grateful—but he should not receive more love for the 1993 Giants' on-field success than Thompson.
It truly was a dream season for the steady-but-unspectacular veteran, who set or tied most of his offensive career highs in 1993 while continuing to lock down second base. Thompson was one of five Giants to receive NL MVP votes, and he was rewarded with a 3Y/$11.6M after the season—a healthy chunk of change for those times.
THIS CARD: For the second consecutive Topps set and third time out of four, we see Thompson on the basepaths. He appears to be putting on the brakes around second base here, which he evidently did a lot in 1993 (just two triples for the one-time NL triples leader).
Thompson appears in COTD for the second time; we profiled his 1993 Topps card way back in December 2014. That may as well have been an entirely different site based on my COTD style back then.
More from Thompson's 1993 season: all was well until Padres rookie Trevor Hoffman caved in the left side of Thompson's face with a fastball 9/24; he did not return until the season finale nine days later. Prior to that, Thompson enjoyed numerous milestones, including career game #1000 4/30, career hit #1000 8/15, and career home run #100 8/23.
(flip) Thompson was limited to those 128 games in 1993 by the beaning, a strained left forearm in April and a strained quadriceps in July. Thompson had been voted to his second and final All-Star Game in 1993, but the quad injury sidelined him, just as a nerve injury sidelined him in 1988. That's just mean, universe.
One of those blurbed homers was the milestone #100 we mentioned above. The day before that, Thompson walked off CL Bryan Harvey of the expansion Florida Marlins—the only walk-off homer he'd ever hit in the majors.
That Gold Glove would be Thompson's first and last; he also took home a Silver Slugger Award which the hit streak surely had something to do with. Said streak ran from 5/8 to 6/1 and only ended when Thompson entered Game 2 of the 6/1 doubleheader late and took an 0-for-1. DUSTY....
AFTER THIS CARD: A lot of aches and pains, unfortunately. Myriad injuries—most notably operations on both shoulders—restricted Thompson to 193 of 411 possible games from 1994-96, during which he hit just .217 and took his share of criticism.
With Thompson's contract expired after the '96 season, San Francisco traded for 2B Jeff Kent of Cleveland. Ironically, Thompson tried to hook up with Cleveland in Spring Training 1997, but received a career-ending release prior to Opening Day.
Next, Thompson coached for the Giants, Indians and Mariners, serving as interim manager for the latter in 2013 as Eric Wedge missed a month following a stroke. (He is not to be confused with Rob Thompson, who served as Yankees 3B coach for a time.)
Robby Thompson appeared annually in Topps 1987-1996.
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, San Francisco Giants
10/19/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #114 Alex Fernandez, Marlins
More Alex Fernandez Topps Cards: 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 2000
He was a first-round pick out of high school. He was a first-round pick out of college. And throughout the mid-1990's, he was one of the most successful and dependable RHP in the major leagues. Unfortunately, Alex Fernandez's big league career didn't last as long as anybody—except opposing hitters—would have liked, but man, it was pretty good while it lasted.
After being drafted in 1990, Fernandez spent about two hours in the minor leagues before being promoted to the White Sox. By 1993, the 24-year-old was an 18-game winner on the division-winning Sox. By 1995, he was their #1 starter. In a hitter's year, Fernandez put together 16 wins and a 3.45 ERA in 1996, placing sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting. The Marlins, as part of their spending spree, imported the Florida native for 5Y/$35M in December 1996.
Here, Fernandez has had a fourth straight season impacted by injury—he'd torn his rotator cuff in the 1997 NLCS, missed the entire 1998 season recovering, and returned to the DL three separate times in 1999. A strained elbow ligament erased the final four months of Fernandez's 2000 season represented on this card.
THIS CARD: Fernandez wore that #32 his entire MLB career. In spite of his numerous health issues, Fernandez was easily the most notable Marlin with that number for almost 20 years until UT Derek Dietrich emerged.
We can narrow down where Fernandez is working in this image, since he was limited to just two road starts in 2000. Away from Joe Robbie Stadium, Fernandez won at Wrigley Field 4/14, and lost at Dodger Stadium 4/30; this image must be from Wrigley.
More from Fernandez's 2000 season: he received a decision in all eight of his starts, literally alternating wins and losses until hitting the disabled list in late May. He threw six or more innings in all but the final start (five); his best outing was a 4/24 win against Philadelphia (7.2 IP, one run).
(flip) Topps is a bit misleading here. Fernandez was disabled with an elbow injury in 2000, not a rotator cuff injury. Initially he tried rest and rehab, but the Marlins shut him down around mid-season.
I doubt any of my other 47,000+ baseball cards features the word "gallant".
You see Fernandez's four seasons with the Marlins; he was their second longest-tenured player by the time of this card's release (behind Luis Castillo), spared from their 1997-98 fire sale only because of his uncertain health.
AFTER THIS CARD: Little. Fernandez continued to rehab his tattered arm through the 2001 season, but when nothing improved, he announced his retirement that September at age 32. Fernandez doubted he'd remain in baseball, and he hasn't.
Alex Fernandez appeared annually in Topps 1991-2001. except 1999.
CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Florida Marlins
10/21/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps Update #1 Vladimir Guerrero Sr., Rangers
I'm not going to bag on Vladimir Guerrero, because I have too much respect for him as one of the game's greats during my early adulthood. But I will always be grateful that Vlad the Ranger did not play at all up to his capabilities against my Giants in the 2010 World Series...at least, not after his first at-bat (a go-ahead RBI single).
His two errors in RF late in Game 1 allowed San Francisco to put Texas's deficit out of reach, and put his usually dangerous bat on the bench for Game 2 (which SF also won). Back at DH in Texas, Guerrero then proceeded to go 0-for-13 over the final three games, including a 9th-inning groundout in the clincher as the Giants clung to a slim lead.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise superb year for the Hall-of-Famer-in-waiting.
THIS CARD: I won't bore you with the details of our COTD random selection process, but I will tell you we were just one card off from choosing one of the hottest cards of its time, 2010 Topps #661 Stephen Strasburg. I'll have a lot to say about that card whenever it IS chosen.
Guerrero seems to be hustling from 1B to 3B here, something that once came easy for him but by 2010 often seemed difficult and laborious (remember his brutal CS in Game 3 of the 2010 World Series?) Multiple accounts from Vlad's Texas stint mention how poorly he moved in the postseason—especially for a guy who was nearly 40-40 once. The man did play RF for eight seasons at Olympic Stadium, which also famously tore up Andre Dawson's legs.
More from Guerrero's early 2010 season: he batted .600 in his first four games (9-for-15), and enjoyed nine multi-hit games in April overall. Guerrero's first Rangers home run (on 4/7) was #408 of his career, breaking a tie with Dodgers Hall-of-Famer Duke Snider.
(flip) 2010 marked Guerrero's second year as a primary DH, but this is his first time identified as such on a Topps card. Even his 2010 Topps base card still labels him an outfielder, despite the fact 93 of his 95 starts in 2009 were at DH.
Once the Angels decided to move on, Texas acquired Guerrero the Free Agent for what amounted to 1Y/$6M—a base salary of $5M plus a $1M buyout of his 2011 option. There were also incentives which, given his All-Star performance, were likely met.
As you see, Guerrero was limited to 100 games in 2009—a torn chest muscle shelved him in April, and he strained a hamstring and a muscle behind his knee while playing defense (for the second and final time all season) in July. Angels manager Mike Scioscia was known for preferring a fluid DH spot, which no doubt factored in the decision to let Vlad walk that winter.
AFTER THIS CARD: Guerrero finished the 2010 regular season at .300, 29, 115 before his challenging World Series. He then signed with the Orioles for 1Y/$8M in February 2011, and despite becoming the Dominican Republic's all-time hits leader in September, Guerrero's overall production nose-dived by roughly 50% from 2010. Interest was tepid that winter, and after a 2013 Independent League that ended before it started, Guerrero retired in 2014 as an honorary Angel.
In 2018—his second year on the ballot—Guerrero was elected to Cooperstown on the strength of a .318/.379/.553 career slashline, 449 homers, 1,496 RBI and 2,590 hits. You may have heard of his son, who stands a good chance of claiming the 2021 AL MVP Award.
Vladimir Guerrero Sr. appeared annually in Topps 1996-2011; he's also got 2010-11 Topps Update cards. (Guerrero sort of appears in the 2012 Topps set, on a record-breaker/checklist card.)
CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps Update, Texas Rangers
10/22/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #489 Joakim Soria, Royals
More Joakim Soria Topps Cards: 2007U 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013U 2014 2014U 2015 2015U 2016U 2017 2021
Today, he's generally a middle/setup man, but late in the (former commissioner) Bud Selig era, Joakim Soria was among the least-heralded but most-effective closers in the major leagues. But after a run of 160 saves and two All-Star berths over five seasons with the Royals, Soria underwent (his second) UCL surgery; since recovering, he's developed a pattern of
going from a bad team's closer to a good team's setup man at mid-season, or
setting up all season for a decent-to-good team.
It's worked for him; Soria has just completed his 15th major league season, and since his surgery he's been in or near the postseason almost every year while earning anywhere from $3M to $9M annually! Not bad at all, except for all the moving vans.
Here, however, Soria is still just a pup—albeit one with a limitless future. He made the jump from Class A to Kansas City's bullpen in 2007—more on that later—and served as their closer during the first two months while Octavio Dotel's oblique healed. Once Dotel was traded in late July, Soria got the ball in the 9th once again!
THIS CARD: Soria looks almost exactly the same at 37 as he did at 23. That's not knocking his younger version—that's praising his older version.
It couldn't be more obvious that Soria is sitting in front of a photo background, could it? I can picture the whole thing falling down once he stood up.
This is our first 2007-08 Topps COTD subject who only signed his last name. Somewhere, Liberace approves.
(flip) For those of you unfamiliar with the Rule 5 Draft, which is held every December, it essentially works like this: players who've spent 4-5 seasons in the minors without being added to an MLB team's 40-man roster are subject to be plucked by any of the other 29 teams—provided they're kept on the new team's roster or injured list for the entire following season. A number of dudes have broken through this way, with Johan Santana a notable example.
Despite those rookie-best 17 saves in 2007, Soria garnered a single vote for AL Rookie Of The Year. Damn Dotel...
That gap in the statline? Soria spent 2003-04 recovering from his first UCL surgery, then spent 2005 (and early 2006) in the Mexican League. I don't think I've ever seen a foreign league's stats on a Topps card besides Japan and maybe Cuba...
AFTER THIS CARD: We detailed Soria's 2007-11 Royals run; they let him walk after the 2012 season (which he spent recovering from surgery). Soria returned to MLB in mid-2013 as a Rangers setup man, closed for them in early 2014, then finished that year as a Tigers setup man.
Soria opened 2015 as Tigers closer, saving 23 games before finishing the year as a Pirates setup man. Next came a 3Y/$25M deal to return to Kansas City—but as a middle/setup reliever, as it turned out. (Hey, it's not my money.)
Continuing his old pattern, Soria closed for the White Sox in the first half of 2018 before finishing the year as a Brewers setup man. Next came a 2Y/$15M deal to work middle/setup relief for the Athletics; in 2021 the 37-year-old compiled a 5.06 ERA and six saves in 41 games between Arizona and Toronto.
Joakim Soria has experienced a sporadic Topps run; he's appeared in the 2008-12, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2021 base sets as well as the 2007 and 2013-16 Update sets. That doesn't cover all his teams, but oh well.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Kansas City Royals
10/23/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #378 Andy Pettitte, Yankees
More Andy Pettitte Topps Cards: 1995 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012U 2013
There was nothing extraordinary about anything Andy Pettitte the pitcher. He didn't have a devastating out pitch like his closer Mo Rivera. He didn't light up the radar gun like his teammate and (former?) buddy Roger Clemens. He didn't have a funky motion like rotation mate Orlando Hernandez. He wasn't a character like the Davids Wells and Cone.
Pettitte's "gimmick" was taking the ball every five days and winning far more often than not for 18 major league seasons. Few did it better from 1995-2013, and even fewer were more consistent or dependable.
Here, however, Pettitte has just closed the book on his rookie season. The 23-year-old opened the year in the Yankees bullpen before a brief demotion to AAA Columbus—only to return as a starter in late May with veteran SP's Jimmy Key and Scott Kamieniecki on the disabled list.
THIS CARD: The classic, but basic, Pettitte motion that instantly triggers thoughts of October baseball. In fact, this was the perfect time to select our first Pettitte card for COTD, was it not?
That giant green mass has to be Fenway Park's outfield wall; Pettitte threw three-plus innings of relief at Boston on 5/13/1995, then started (with no decision) there on 8/16/1995.
More from Pettitte's 1995 season: he finished third in AL Rookie Of The Year voting, albeit a distant third behind winner Marty Cordova and Garret Anderson. From 8/30 to season's end, Pettitte made seven starts and threw at least eight innings in six of them! He picked up his first MLB win against Oakland 6/7/1995.
(flip) 90% of the time, Pettitte's September effort would have earned him AL Pitcher Of The Month. Instead, CL Norm Charlton (11 SV, 1.31 ERA for hard-charging Seattle) took the honor.
How in THE HELL did Pettitte last until the 22nd round of the 1990 Draft? Look up all the pitching schmoes who went in Rounds 1 and 2 that year...in many instances, scouting is plain dumb luck.
As you can see in the stats, Pettitte the rookie spun three complete games in 1995—two went the full nine innings; one lasted seven. In 2021, Tyler Gilbert of the D'Backs was the only MLB rookie allowed to go all nine frames even once...and that was only because of the no-hitter he ended up with (against SD).
AFTER THIS CARD: Where do we begin? In short, Pettitte ended up as one of the Yankees' most accomplished pitchers ever, finishing up with 219 wins and three All-Star appearances as a Yankee. That doesn't include the additional 18 wins he added in 40 postseason starts for New York!
In 2002, Pettitte admitted to using a PED to help recover from injury; he apologized and was forgiven basically immediately. The Louisiana native surprised many by jumping to the Astros as a free agent in December 2003 (3Y/$30M); despite tearing his flexor tendon in 2004, Pettitte went 37-26, 3.38 in three seasons with Houston, helping them reach their first ever World Series in 2005!
In '07, Pettitte returned to the Bronx on the first of several one-year deals to follow. He went 14-8, 4.16 for the World Champion 2009 squad, then retired after the 2010 season at 38. But as his old buddy Clemens was known to do, Pettitte unretired in 2012 and gave New York 16 more victories before hanging 'em up for good after the 2013 campaign.
Pettitte was added to the Yankees' famed Monument Park in 2015, and his number #46 was retired as well. The Marlins—run by Pettitte's longtime teammate Derek Jeter—signed his son Jared, also a LHP, as an undrafted free agent in 2021.
Andy Pettitte debuted in 1995 Topps on a shared On Deck card. He then received standard commons annually 1996-2010 and again in 2013. Pettitte also has a 2004 Traded card as a new Astro and a 2012 Update card as an unretired Yankee.
CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, New York Yankees
10/25/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #543 Bud Norris, Orioles
More Bud Norris Topps Cards: 2009U 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013U 2015 2016 2016U 2018
W/L record aside, Bud Norris put together a couple of semi-decent seasons for the woeful Astros of the early 2010's. For most clubs, the burly righty might have had to compete for a rotation spot, but for those Houston clubs, Norris was a top starter. In fact, by 2013, he was their Opening Day starter!
Here, however, Norris is fresh off a 2013 season split between Houston and Baltimore. Sitting five games out of the AL Wild Card at the July Trade Deadline, the Orioles acquired Norris from the Astros—who went on to clobber them 11-0 later that same day.
THIS CARD: That #25 has belonged to budding O's star Anthony Santander for some time now, but 41-year-old me still remembers Raffy Palmeiro putting up big numbers wearing #25 for Baltimore. Norris had worn #20 with Houston and might have continued to do so in Baltimore, but Frank Robinson would have taken serious issue.
Norris appears in COTD for the second time this year; we profiled his 2012 Topps card back in May. In the five months since, we've randomly pulled exactly ONE other 2012 Topps card, which irks me.
We see Norris about to deliver his mid-90's fastball, slider, or fall-off-the-table changeup. As discussed in his previous COTD profile, Norris later replaced that nasty changeup with a cutter.
(flip) In that trade with Houston, young OF L.J. Hoes went to the Astros—as did a 19-year-old Class A pitching prospect named Josh Hader who'd been drafted the prior July. Two years later, Houston moved Double-A prospect Hader to Milwaukee as part of a package for SP Mike Fiers and OF Carlos Gomez, and the rest is history.
As you can deduce from the stats, Norris's overall 2013 Orioles run had some bumps. But one must wonder how he would have fared if he weren't asked—TWICE—to pitch in extra-inning games that just wouldn't end. Norris entered in the 14th and took the loss at Arizona 8/14, then took another loss after tossing the final 2.1 innings of an 18-inning game at Tampa 9/20.
That Rookie Fact was unlikely to do Norris much good come arbitration time, but at least Topps found something positive to report.
AFTER THIS CARD: Norris seemed to be on his way after a 15-8, 3.65 regular season for the 2014 Orioles, followed by 6.1 shutout innings in his lone ALDS start.
Injury and illness had other ideas, and in a move incomprehensible one year prior, Baltimore gave Norris his walking papers in August 2015. From 2015-16, Norris was 9-21, 5.79 in 73 games (30 starts) for four clubs, and his future in MLB was anything but bright.
In 2017, however, 32-year-old Norris emerged as an effective late reliever for the Angels, racking up 19 saves before being replaced as closer by Blake Parker in August. He then saved 28 games for the 2018 Cardinals, but a forearm injury ended his run with the 2019 Blue Jays literally before it started.
The Phillies signed and cut Norris prior to the 2020 opener, and he's spent 2020-21 pitching in independent leagues. With each passing day, it seems less likely he'll resurface in MLB, but you never know...
Bud Norris appeared annually in 2010-18 Topps, except 2017; he's also got 2009, 2013 and 2016 Update cards. (Somehow, Norris's impressive 2018 campaign didn't lead to any 2019 Topps card. Not even Heritage.)
CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Baltimore Orioles
10/26/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps Traded #22 Rob Ryan, Diamondbacks Prospect
More Rob Ryan Topps Cards: 2--
Not to be confused with the longtime NFL assistant coach.
Rob Ryan didn't have a long MLB career, but he got 64 more MLB at-bats than I ever did and was the first batter in the history of the Diamondbacks organization, both of which count for something. The former #26 pick out of Washington State beat long odds just to reach MLB at all.
THIS CARD: After three years on hiatus, Topps Traded & Rookies returned in 1999 with a huge emphasis on the "Rookies". Dozens of dudes who hadn't yet sniffed MLB—and in many cases, never would—filled out the set; Ryan was one of said dudes.
This image, assuming it's legit, had to have been shot during 1999 Spring Training. I would like to believe Topps, in its sudden maniacal drive for valuable rookie cards, did not airbrush a bunch of unknowns into major league uniforms. But I would also like to believe some politicians actually care about society.
That helmet was obviously on loan from the Colorado Rockies.
(flip) As a 1996 junior at Washington State, Ryan slashed .300/.383/.396, homering three times in 230 at-bats. If he'd been eligible to enter the draft as a sophomore, he might have gone much higher after batting .329 with 35 RBI in 231 at-bats.
I miss the Pacific Coast League and the other old Minor Leagues. Change and restructuring was needed in MiLB, but wasn't there a way to keep those familiar names around?
Ryan led the TUCSON Sidewinders in those statistics; Tacoma has been Seattle's AAA affiliate forever.
AFTER THIS CARD: Ryan debuted in MLB on 8/20/1999, pinch-hitting for RP Greg Swindell in an eventual loss to the host Pirates. In fact, of his 20 MLB games that year, Ryan was used as a PH in 17 of them.
In 2000, Ryan spent four stints with the D'Backs—almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. Entering '01, his slashline read a respectable .268/.339/.446 in 47 games, but days after taking his lone 2001 at-bat with Arizona, Ryan was dealt to Oakland for OF Ryan Christenson in June. The A's used the 28-year-old seven times down the stretch as a PH/DR.
Despite several MiLB deals through 2004, Ryan never appeared in the majors again. This is his lone Topps/Traded card, though he does appear in 2000 Stadium Club as a "Future Star".
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps Traded, Arizona Diamondbacks
10/27/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #68 David Eckstein, Padres
More David Eckstein Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Back in 2001, David Eckstein's rookie season, I was very busy trying to balance work, college and a new girlfriend. Keeping up with baseball proved to be almost impossible at times, and though I was able to keep an eye on mega-rookies Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols, guys like Eckstein slipped under my radar.
It was all good, though—Topps' annual baseball card set would keep me apprised of all the game's hot youngsters.
Uh, wouldn't it?
Up until the 2002 World Series featuring Eckstein's Angels and my Giants, I spent all of that season believing Eckstein was essentially a rookie. I had no idea he'd been Anaheim's full-time SS in 2001 as well because he had not appeared in the 2002 Topps base or Traded sets for God knows what reason.
Here, Eckstein is a well-traveled veteran, joining his fifth MLB team to kick off his ninth MLB season. After shifting to 2B down the stretch for the 2008 Diamondbacks, Eckstein remained there for the 2009 Padres while the likes of Luis Rodriguez and Chris Burke held down SS for San Diego in the early going...yikes.
THIS CARD: It's not too often a Topps baseball card depicts an infielder making a running catch, but here ya go. This has got to be some Spring Training site.
When recalling Eckstein the defender, his arduous throwing comes to mind first. But overall, he was sure-handed, got rid of the ball quickly and hung in on the double play.
Eckstein also has a 2009 Topps base card with Arizona. Each of his final four Topps base/Update cards depict him showcasing his defensive skillz.
(flip) For his career, Eckstein was charged with five errors in nearly 2,400 innings (roughly two seasons' equivalent) at 2B. I'm gonna go ahead and conclude none of them were costly, either.
I'm not sure how Eckstein went from 29 steals as a 2001 rook to just two in 2008; he never suffered a major leg injury and didn't battle recurring minor ones until later.
Upon his retirement, Eckstein's highest two BAA were still Loaiza and Rusch, but the latter's mark had increased to .500 (10-for-20).
AFTER THIS CARD: Eckstein started 124 games at 2B for the '09 Padres, missing nearly a month with a hamstring strain. He was extended for 2010 at $1M (no misprint) and flirted with .300 into June (including a shocking walk-off homer against the Giants), but lost much of July/August with a calf injury. Eckstein then sat out the 2011 season and, despite expressing a desire to continue playing, he never returned to MLB.
David Eckstein appeared annually in Topps 2003-11, and also has this Update card.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps Update, San Diego Padres
10/29/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #420 Rick Porcello, Tigers
More Rick Porcello Topps Cards: 2009 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015 2015U 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Here, we catch up with the dependable Tigers righty after his fourth season in their rotation. He did not exactly dazzle in 2012, but he did take the ball 31 times for a Detroit team that reached the World Series. Porcello was used out of the bullpen in October.
THIS CARD: This is Porcello's second COTD appearance; we profiled his 2012 Topps card back in October 2018.
Porcello's previously-profiled 2012 Topps card featured him throwing the most obvious changeup of all-time, but I cannot tell exactly what's coming here—it's either his four-seamer (which reached mid-90's in his youth) his heavily-used two-seam sinker, or his slider. In 2013, Porcello restored a curve he'd thrown prior to being drafted.
That's #48 on Porcello's back; he wore that with Detroit 2009-12 before switching to #21 in 2013; explanation on reverse.
(flip) Despite his 22-win 2016 season—which netted him the Cy Young Award—Porcello's quest to break Young's wins record seems to have fallen a bit short. He was able to pass CURT Young, however.
In Spring Training 2013, Porcello went 4-1, 3.00 in six starts. I'd still say his 2009 Spring performance was better (1-1, 2.30 in six games/five starts) simply because it bought him a spot on Detroit's roster straight from Class A.
How does one surrender 50 more hits than innings and remain in a good team's rotation all year, as Porcello did in 2012? Make sure only 16 of those 226 hits leave the ballpark. Porcello allowed just one bomb in June/July combined, and was tagged for multiple homers in only two of his 31 starts.
AFTER THIS CARD: Porcello continued to stave off competition for his rotation spot through 2014; that year he went 15-13, 3.43 with three shutouts while reaching 200+ innings for the first time! Normally, he would have reached free agency that winter, but opting out of his original (and unusual) contract with Detroit kept him under team control through 2015. The Tigers dealt Porcello to the Red Sox for OF Yoenis Cespedes in December 2014, and the Sox promptly locked up their new arm for 4Y/$82.5M (for 2016-19).
After a tough 2015 campaign, Porcello wound up the AL Cy Young winner and Comeback Player of the Year in 2016 (22-4, 3.15). He then led the AL with 17 losses and 38 homers allowed in 2017...only to lead the World Champion 2018 Red Sox with 17 victories. Detect a pattern? Porcello continued his off-on Boston trend with a 14-12, 5.52 effort in 2019.
Next, the 32-year-old signed with the Mets for 2020 (1Y/$10M) but went 1-7, 5.64 in 12 starts. Despite reported interest from Detroit, Porcello ultimately went unsigned for 2021.
Rick Porcello appeared in Topps 2009-20. He's also got a 2015 Update card as a new Red Sock.
CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Detroit Tigers
10/30/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #458 Bobby Munoz, Phillies
More Bobby Munoz Topps Cards: 1993T 1994 1994T
For one fleeting half-season, Bobby Munoz's major league future seemed bright. The former Yankees prospect pretty much defaulted his way into an injury-ravaged Phillies rotation in 1994, and for most of the rest of that abbreviated season, he gave the National League fits! Injuries and ineffectiveness did him in, however.
Here, Munoz is fresh off that mostly-brilliant 1994 campaign. In late May, Philadelphia was down to 2/5 of its original rotation—manager Jim Fregosi turned to Munoz, who'd started regularly in the minors but never in the majors. He didn't regret it.
THIS CARD: Are there any other notable #35's in Phillies history? Well, there IS that Hamels guy, if you count three All-Star nods, a NLCS MVP and a World Series MVP "notable".
Munoz was/is a towering figure on the mound, though this card doesn't completely do him justice. Matter of fact, the 1994 Phillies employed six pitchers 6'6" or taller at one point! None of them were exactly stars, but still.
More from Munoz's 1994 season: he opened the year with a 3.27 ERA in seven relief appearances before sliding into the rotation. He was especially effective in June (4-1, 1.40), when he fell an out short of firing six straight "quality starts" (starts of six or more innings with three or fewer runs allowed).
(flip) More accurately, the Phillies probably thought they'd acquired a future closer in Munoz, considering it had traded for veteran Houston CL Doug Jones two months prior.
That winter deal sent Munoz plus prospects Kevin Jordan and Ryan Karp to Philadelphia in exchange for SP Terry Mulholland and a PTBNL (Jeff Patterson). Philly easily won the deal, as Mulholland lasted one lousy season in New York while Munoz and Jordan at least gave the Phillies something.
As you see in the stats, Munoz spent part of '94 with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was shipped out in mid-April after allowing six runs, six walks and eight hits in his first six innings. Philadelphia recalled him to replace the demoted Jeff Juden a month later.
AFTER THIS CARD: Sadly, Munoz was never able to recapture his 1994 form for long. A torn forearm muscle and eventual elbow surgery limited him to three starts in 1995; he returned to make six starts in 1996, wasn't effective, returned to the DL in August and wasn't seen again in Philadelphia until Spring Training 1997.
Somewhat surprisingly, Munoz opened the year in the Phillies' rotation, but an 8.91 ERA and 1.860 WHIP caused his Phillies plug to be permanently pulled in May. Over the next five years, Munoz signed with no fewer than eight organizations, splitting 24 MLB appearances between the 1998 Orioles and 2001 Expos (for whom he enjoyed a brief resurgence as a starter before backsliding).
Bobby Munoz appeared in 1994-95 Topps, as well as 1993-94 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies