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Topps Baseball Card Of The Day

"Everyone has a plan...til they get punched in the mouth.'" -- Mike Tyson (the boxer, not the ex-baseball player)

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I own every Topps baseball set since 1985. For years I thought long and hard how I could put these cards "to use" aside from sitting in their binders until the end of time. The Card Of The Day was born.

I'd hoped to introduce a new card every single day but that quickly proved impossible under the weight of a regular job and fatherhood—now I'm aiming for 4-5 per week.


For years we only profiled Topps cards, but in November 2020 I decided to finally profile Score cards as well; click here to revisit that late, great baseball brand. Otherwise, please enjoy randomly-selected Topps cards from 1987-present (No 1985 and 1986 Topps in this feature—not only didn't I see a lot of those players, but I DID see blogs on both sets that would affect my writing.)

A = Alternate Card  •  B = Bonus Factory Set Card  •  F = Factory Team Set  •  G = Giveaway Set  •  I = Insert Card  •  T = Traded Set  •  U = Update Set


Click on images for larger views.

Topps Jason Kendall
Topps Jason Kendall

2/14/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #191 Jason Kendall, Pirates

More Jason Kendall Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006F 2007 2007U 2008 2009 2010 2010U 2011

Happy Valentine's Day—and I don't mean the June 9 edition.

Kendall, the second-generation big league catcher who was as highly touted as anybody in the early-to-mid-1990's, didn't quite reach iconic status in his decade with the Pirates. But he was a damn good player, one who managed to be both underrated and overrated during his heyday—and one with a number of career highlights that still occupy Top 10 lists today, 13 years after he sat down.

Here, the 24-year-old has just completed his third season in MLB. The Pirates allowed their young prodigy to start an unusually high 143 games behind the plate in 1998, but with Kendall batting .327 with a .411 OBP—both team-highs—for a club ranked 15th in runs and 16th in home runs (of 16 NL teams)...I can sorta see where manager Gene Lamont was coming from. Kendall also paced the Bucs in runs and walks.

THIS CARD: Ever since I, while playing in my amateur league, narrowly avoided taking a wild throw to my exposed head while sliding home in 2005, I'm a tad sensitive about dudes running the bases with their helmets off—especially dudes like Bryce Harper who'll at times deliberately flip said helmets off as they chug. Kendall seems okay here, as (who I believe to be) Twins 2B Todd Walker corrals the throw.

Kendall appears to be taking second base via steal, which he did successfully 20 times in 1998 (he stole third four times and home twice). It's unlikely Kendall could produce any kind of double where the throw to second would come from behind him.

More from Kendall's 1998 season: he was selected to his second NL All-Star team in his three MLB seasons (1996) and delivered a B9th pinch-hit single off Anaheim's Troy Percival. Kendall hit .366 in April, taking just three oh-fers in 24 starts, and on 9/6, he walked off Minnesota with a B10th home run off RP Dave Stevens—the first of two walk-off jacks he hit in his career (4/22/2001 off the Cubs' Jeff Fassero). One has to wonder if this front image is from that game; it's definitely from that series.

(flip) As you see, Kendall was born in San Diego. His papa Fred was a Padres C from 1969-76 and 1979-80, and according to, Fred not only played 6/26/1974—things were different back then—but he also tripled home three runs in a 4-0 Padres win over my Giants!

Jason Kendall's 4-for-4 effort—and stolen base—against the Tigers that day could not prevent a 3-0 Pittsburgh loss, as Brian Moehler went the distance.

Holy Tony Gwynn—56 BB against 22 K for Carolina in 1995? Impressive, and a sign of things to come; Kendall walked more than he whiffed in seven of his 15 MLB seasons, retiring with 721 BB versus 686 K.

AFTER THIS CARD: Kendall was slashing .332/.428/.511 when he obliterated his right ankle running to first base 7/4/1999 against the Brewers—it wasn't pretty at all. He recovered to make his third and final NL All-Star team in 2000 (and first as a starter), then was extended by the Pirates for 6Y/$60M that November.

Kendall remained in Pittsburgh through 2004, but even as he continued to hit for average, his power all but vanished and he didn't run as much (understandable after the injury). With the Bucs mired in mediocrity, they dealt their pricey star to the A's in November 2004. With Oakland, Kendall hit exactly one home run in 1,153 AB 2005-06, but he did find another very creative way to cross the plate. 

The Athletics moved Kendall to the Cubs in July 2007; he then signed with the Brewers for what ended up being 2Y/$10.25M including incentives and his vested option for 2009. Though Kendall reached 2,000 career hits in '09, overall he hit just .244 with 15 steals in those two Milwaukee seasons.

Still, Kendall received a 2Y/$6M deal from the Royals in December 2009; he was batting .256 with no homers and 13 errors in 118 games when he underwent rotator cuff surgery in September 2010. That was followed by a second such operation in July 2011, and though he re-signed with KC (minors deal) in July 2012, Kendall wound up retiring five days later at 38. He remains the Pirates all-time leader in games caught.

Jason Kendall appeared annually in Topps 1993-2011, except an inexplicable omission from the 2006 set despite appearing in 150 games in 2005. Kendall also appeared in 2005, 2007 and 2010 Topps Update and does also have a 2006 Topps Athletics Factory Team card (which I immediately purchased upon learning of its existence 18 minutes ago).

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates

More February 2023 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps John Smoltz
Topps John Smoltz

2/1/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #535 John Smoltz, Braves

More John Smoltz Topps Cards: 1989 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

Here, the talented, hard-throwing Smoltz has just completed his first full season in the major leagues. It was a giant leap forward for the 22-year-old, as he inished with the ninth-most K in the NL and was Atlanta's only pitcher to reach 200 innings. 

THIS CARD: As you see here, young Smoltz with minimal facial hair wasn't all that intimidating. That would soon change.

We see Smoltz about to deliver either his mid-to-upper-90's fastball, his big curve, his hard slider, or his effective changeup. I'm fairly sure Smoltz didn't have his vaunted splitter when he entered MLB, but I wasn't able to find evidence either way.

More from Smoltz's 1989 season: anytime you finish 12-11 for a team that lost 97 games, you've had a good year. But  for a time, Smoltz was headed toward a great year—the youngster was 11-6, 2.10 thru 7/7 but slumped horribly to open August, dropping to 11-11 on 8/14 before winning his next start. Smoltz was shut down after his 9/5 outing (elbow pain).

(flip) While Smoltz is surely proud of his three amateur championships, it doesn't make for a good Topps blurb. I would have accepted "John was a 1989 NL All-Star". Which he was.

As you can see, one of Smoltz's 1988 Braves stats are NOT correct; I'm pretty sure he did not allow 340 runs in 64 innings pitched. The actual total was 40; I thought Topps might have made a factory set correction since this card was from a wax pack—but they evidently did not. (The error is fixed in 1991 Topps, however.)

Another incorrect item: Smoltz is listed as "Signed" rather than drafted. The Tigers took him #22 in 1985, but this was not shown on Smoltz's Topps cards until 1996.

AFTER THIS CARD: Over the next four seasons (1990-93), Smoltz made two NL All-Star teams and won 58 games for the Braves, but he's probably best remembered for a game he didn't win. After the abbreviated 1994 season, Smoltz underwent elbow surgery, but by 1996 he was a 24-game winner and recepient of the NL Cy Young Award. That was one season after his Braves defeated Cleveland in the World Series!

Smoltz re-upped with Atlanta (4Y/$31M) in November 1996, then turned in good-to-great 1997-99 seasons even with ongoing elbow pain that eventually required UCL surgery. Smoltz—despite missing all of 2000—was re-signed by Atlanta for 3Y/$30M in March 2001; he returned briefly as a starter that May before more elbow woes led to a bullpen transition. By late August, he was closing games.

From 2002-04, Smoltz racked up 144 saves in mostly dominant fashion, and re-signed with Atlanta for 3Y/$28M (including signing bonus and exercised 2007 option) in December 2004. His long-standing itch to start again was finally scratched in 2005; the now-legendary Brave averaged almost 15 wins annually 2005-07, made two more NL All-Star teams and was extended thru 2008 for $14M.


But three DL stints (including labrum surgery) wrecked Smoltz's '08 season and his pricey 2009 team option was declined. The 42-year-old spent his final MLB season looking strange in Red Sox and Cardinals uniforms, finishing 2009 at 3-8, 6.35 in 15 combined starts.


Smoltz finished up with 213 wins and 154 saves across 22 seasons—plus eight NL All-Star selections, his 1992 NLCS MVP Award, his 1996 NL Cy Young Award, and for good measure, his 1997 Sliver Slugger! Cherry on top: Smoltz's 15-4, 2.67 postseason record; his #29 was retired by Atlanta in 2012 and he entered the Hall of Fame first-ballot in 2015.

After a stint with TBS, Smoltz has worked alongside Joe Buck on FOX MLB broadcasts since 2016, but his MLB Network run came to a sudden end in 2021. Click here for some quirky Smoltz trivia.​

John Smoltz appeared annually in Topps 1989-2010 (yes, he's got a Cardinals Topps card which doubles as his sunset card). He's also got some excellent variants I wouldn't mind owning one day.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Atlanta Braves

Topps Benji Gil
Topps Benji Gil

2/2/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #536 Benji Gil, Angels

More Benji Gil Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1993T 1994 1995 1996 2001 2002

Benji Gil was, at one time, the Rangers "shortstop of the future". And he did eventually claim that job. But poor offense coupled with back surgery prevented him from holding the job for very long, and he spent two seasons of his prime back in the minor leagues.

Gil resurfaced with the 2000 Angels, and even served as their regular SS for much of the first half—despite scuffling on both sides of the ball—while incumbent Gary DiSarcina recovered from rotator cuff surgery. Gil returned to Anaheim in 2001 and hit a surprising .296 in a utility role; here, he's fresh off a 2002 campaign that began with a long injury interruption but ended with a very strong postseason performance for the World Series champion Angels (partially at my Giants expense....grrr.)

THIS CARD: I tend to forget that Gil was/is not a small man. It must be his name that causes me to forget he was a solid 6'2", 210 lbs. during his career.


In Angels history, #10 has been worn by many notable players A) who were just passing through, or B) on a temporary basis. Among them: Tony Armas Sr., Dave Hollins and Vernon Wells. Pricey OF Justin Upton had #10 for his final two Angel seasons after switching from #8. Gil had worn #22 and #23 during his Texas days.

More from Gil's 2002 season: with Shawn Wooten injured and Scott Spiezio suspended, Gil opened '02 as the Angels 1B. That setup lasted one inning into the season's fourth game, when Gil collided with runner Rusty Greer while racing him to the bag. The resulting sprained ankle kept Gil out most of the first two months, but he bounced back with a .345 average in his first 22 games off the DL! On 9/18 at Oakland, Gil started at 2B and went 3-for-3 with two doubles.

(flip) Not shown in the stats: the 1998 and 1999 seasons, which Gil spent with AAA Calgary for two different organizations. How?

Calgary went from a White Sox affiliate in '98 to a Marlins affiliate in '99, and those same Marlins acquired Gil in the minor league phase of the now-defunct Rule V Draft. Such draftees were not required to spend the next year in the bigs, as with the major league phase of the draft. So Florida stashed Gil at Calgary as Chicago had.

That historic fifth inning included 13 Angels batters and three Yankees pitchers (SP David Wells—who was allowed to cough up seven hits by manager Joe Torre—plus relievers Ramiro Mendoza and Orlando Hernandez). Gil, who finished up 8-for-12 during the '02 postseason, scored the second of those eight Anaheim runs.

All three of those 2002 home runs were hit against left-handers; Gil went 27-for-87 (.310) overall against southpaws that year.

AFTER THIS CARD: Released by Anaheim in August 2003, 30-year-old Gil signed MiLB deals with—or was purchased by—Cleveland, Colorado, the Cubs, Detroit, Seattle and the Mets over the next two years; that was followed by six more years playing in Mexico. But Gil never made it back to MLB in any capacity until re-joining the Angels as a coach in 2022. He is set to manage Mexico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Benji Gil appeared in 1992-1996 and 2001-03 Topps. He's also got a 1993 Traded card.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Anaheim Angels

Topps Andres Galarraga
Topps Andres Galarraga

2/3/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #295 Andres Galarraga, Braves

More Andres Galarraga Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

Galarraga, who from 1993-98 was among the most dangerous hitters around, was right in the middle of his most productive MLB stretch when this card was released. Proving his ridiculous 1996 line of .304, 47, 150 was no fluke, "The Big Cat" nearly matched those numbers in 1997—and might have if given equal at-bats—the final year of a 4Y/$16M deal (including incentives) he signed in December 1993.  

In November 1997, Galarraga signed with Atlanta for 3Y/$24.8M, replacing the traded Fred McGriff as the Braves' first baseman. The deal dwarfed Colorado's 2Y/$12M offer.

THIS CARD: Galarraga STUNS us all; remember that Topps Traded & Rookies was on a three-year hiatus 1996-98 so 1998 Topps featured many players with their new teams for the upcoming '98 season.

We present Galarraga in COTD for the second time; way back in November 2014 we profiled his 2001 Topps card. It didn't feel like that long ago; in fact, I can still remember researching his 2000 performance in preparation.

More from Galarraga's 1997 season: he started 150 games for Colorado, all at 1B, where he made a career-high-tying 15 errors but compensated with his prodigous bat. On 5/31, Galarraga did this. And on 7/14, he smoked a two-run homer off Dodgers reliever Mark Guthrie for career RBI #1000. He earned his third NL All-Star selection (1988, 1993), all as a reserve.

(flip) Even though the blurb acknowledges Galarraga's 1997 NL RBI title, the stats do not—he finished his Topps career without those 140 RBI ever being bold/italicized.

Since 1997, there has been exactly one back-to-back NL RBI champ: Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado, 2015-16. And yes, I checked and re-checked.

Just by smiling, Galarraga looks several years younger in his reverse image compared to his front image. He's like a reverse Troy McClure

AFTER THIS CARD: Galarraga enjoyed a .305, 44, 121 season for the 1998 Braves, but was just 5-for-33 in the postseason—albeit with an NLCS grand slam—before sitting out 1999 for cancer treatment. He returned in 2000 and was especially strong in the first half, securing the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.


The now-40-year-old spent 2001 with the Rangers and Giants, then joined the Expos (again) Giants (again) and Angels from 2002-04 in part-time roles—even beating cancer a second time in 2004! Sitting on 399 homers entering 2005, Galarraga went to camp with the Mets but retired at age 43 before the season started.


Andres Galarraga debuted in 1986 Topps Traded, then appeared in every Topps set from 1987-2003. He was omitted from the 2004 set despite playing over 100 games and amassing nearly 300 PA's (with 12 homers) for San Francisco. Galarraga also has 1992-93 and 2001-03 Traded cards; as far as I can tell he has no cards as an Angel.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Atlanta Braves, Goofs

Topps Jose Berrios
Topps Jose Berrios

2/4/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #506 Jose Berrios, Twins

More Jose Berrios Topps Cards: 2016U 2017 2019 2020 2021 2022

Berrios, who exudes confidence and control on the mound, came up to the Twins in late April 2016 and did not have a smooth experience in either of his two stints with the team that season. But here, the 23-year-old has completed a 14-win campaign for the 85-win 2017 Twins, showing ace potential along the way. Berrios pitched at least five innings in each of his first 11 starts for Minnesota but battled inconsistency and fatigue in the second half.

THIS CARD: According to Getty Images, we're seeing Berrios in his 8/12/2017 start at Detroit. That day, the youngster went 3.1 innings, allowing six runs (all earned) on six hits while striking out exactly none. Opposing SP Jordan Zimmermann, however, was just as bad for the Tigers, and Berrios still left with a 7-6 lead! His Twins eventually fell 12-11 on a walk-off, two-run homer by OF Justin Upton.

Berrios is about to deliver either his mid-to-high-90's four-seamer, his slightly slower two-seamer, his sinking changeup, or a curveball that might well be the best I've ever seen—I can still remember watching Berrios for the first time and being wholly mystified by the snap on his hook.

More from Berrios's 2017 season: he allowed just one earned run across his first two starts (15.1 IP) and was 7-1, 2.67 thru eight starts. He then went 3-4, 6.20 over his next nine starts, and alternated strong outings with not-so-strong outings.for the rest of the season. Berrios last started 9/24; Minnesota wanted him available in relief for the AL Wild Card Game and only used him once after that (a 1.1-inning relief appearance 9/29 vs. Detroit).

(flip) Berrios's Twitter account—unconventional handle and all—remains active, although there's been no public posts since May 2022.

Berrios did not make his 2017 Twins debut until 5/13; he was recalled from AAA Rochester after opening the year 3-0, 1.13 in six starts.

Of those 139 K for the '17 Twins, 11 came in a win versus Colorado in his second start 5/18. Berrios matched that total 8/30 against the visiting White Sox.

AFTER THIS CARD: Berrios earned back-to-back All-Star nods in 2018-19, winning a combined 26 games for the Twins and emerging as their unquestioned ace. After a so-so 2020, Berrios—who ended that year with a well-pitched ND against Houston in the ALWCS—got off to a bright start for the 2021 Twins (7-5, 3.48 in 20 starts), catching Toronto's attention; the Jays sent two top prospects to Minnesota to acquire Berrios at the Deadline.

Berrios finished '21 at 12-9, 3.52 in 32 starts, and was signed to a 7Y/$131M extension by Toronto that November. However, 2022 proved difficult for the now-28-year-old, who was blasted on Opening Day (by Texas) and finished 12-7, 5.23 with AL worsts in hits (199) and earned runs (100) allowed.

Jose Berrios debuted in 2016 Topps Update, and has appeared in the Topps base set annually since 2017.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Minnesota Twins

Topps Carlos Lee
Topps Carlos Lee

2/6/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #261 Carlos Lee, White Sox

More Carlos Lee Topps Cards: 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2012U

Carlos Lee was, for a time, one of baseball's most productive players. He smacked over 350 homers—including 17 grand slams—drove home nearly 1,400 runs, and made three All-Star teams. 

Yet, I best remember Lee for a lone run he scored for Houston in May 2007 against the Reds.

You see, Lee didn't get a great jump, and as he raced home from 2B on Hunter Pence's double, teammate Luke Scott practically climbed his back as he attempted to score from 1B.

Runners sprinting home ridiculously close together is my FAVORITE play in sports, and to this day I regret not saving the video when I had the chance more than all but maybe three other things in my life.

Oh, well. It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved...

Here, however, Lee is still an unheralded White Sox youngster, one who enjoyed a very promising rookie season after joining Chicago in early May 1999. Despite the late premiere, Lee finished second on the Sox in RBI (behind OF Magglio Ordonez's 117) and was at .300 as late as 9/25 before a season-ending 4-for-26 dip.

THIS CARD: Lee begins his chug down the first base line. I could best describe the big fella as a fast slow guy, or a slow fast guy—he got his share of steals every year, true, but he did not cover much ground at all in the outfield.

In White Sox history, #45 has also been worn by the likes of SP Stan Bahnsen (who delivered both 20-win and 20-loss seasons for the early 70's Sox) "interesting" CL Bobby Jenks in the late 00's, and talented young lefty Garrett Crochet since 2020. #45 is the only number Lee ever wore in MLB.

More from Lee's 1999 season: after a torrid start in AAA, he joined Chicago 5/7, and within hours became the first White Sox player to homer for his first big league hit (against visiting Oakland's Tom Candiotti). Lee was named AL Player of the Week for August 23-29, as he launched a 15-game hit streak from 8/23 thru 9/6. On 9/18 at Toronto, Lee's T9th, three-run homer off Paul Quantrill broke a 4-4 tie and sent Chicago to victory.

(flip) TOLD YA he was red-hot before joining the White Sox...although to be clear, that production did not occur over just two games (actually 25 games). That error appeared annually in Topps until Lee's MiLB stats were purged in the 2003 set.

What the hell does "boffo" mean? Is that even an English word? I have a pretty solid vocabulary, but that just looks like gibberish.

Though no one would ever compare him to teammate Frank Thomas in the discipline department. those at-times obscenely low BB totals did improve for Lee over time. To his credit, he went from 13 BB in 518 PA as a 1999 rookie to 75 BB in 576 AB in 2002!

AFTER THIS CARD: Lee remained the White Sox' LF thru 2004, hitting .288 with 152 homers while averaging 151 games 2000-04. Next, Lee—who was extended for 2Y/$15M by Chicago in December 2003—joined Milwaukee in a December 2004 trade (sending OF Scott Podsednik south), putting up a .265, 32, 114 line for the 2005 Brewers.

Now 30, Lee—whose $8M club option for 2006 was exercised by Milwaukee—was on his way to a monster '06 season when he was dealt to Texas (along with future Rangers force Nelson Cruz) that July.

Though Lee couldn't continue his insane pre-trade production for Texas, .300-37-116 is still no joke, and the Astros inked him to a 6Y/$100M deal in November 2006. Lee performed well during his first three Houston seasons, but from 2010 on (when he was gradually shifted from LF to 1B full-time) his numbers dipped. Not helping matters: the lack of protection for Lee in tanking Houston's lineup following the trades of 1B Lance Berkman (2010, Yankees) and OF Hunter Pence (2011, Phillies).

In July 2012, the final year of his deal, Houston moved Lee to Miami; he finished that year with just nine homers and 77 RBI in 147 games and retired the following June, one day after turning 37.

Carlos Lee appeared annually in Topps 1999-2012; he's also got a 2012 Update card as a new Marlin.

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Chicago White Sox, Error Cards

Topps Ubaldo Jimenez
Topps Ubaldo Jimenez

2/7/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #138 Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies

More Ubaldo Jimenez Topps Cards: 2007 2007U 2008 2010 2011 2011U 2012 2013 2014 2014U 2015 2016 2018

For one glorious season—well, two-thirds of it, anyway—Ubaldo Jimenez was possibly the best right-handed starter in the National League. Two years later, Ubaldo Jimenez was possibly the worst right-handed starter in the American League, and in the years to follow, you never really knew which one of him you would get on any given day.

Jimenez reached MLB with the 2006 Rockies (briefly), then made enough of an impression in 2007 to earn three postseason starts. Despite some wildness, he threw very well in that year's NLDS (vs. Philadelphia) and NLCS (vs. Arizona), helping Colorado reach their first—and only, so far—World Series! Their magic finally ran out against Boston, but Jimenez was officially "on the map".

Here, the 24-year-old has completed his first full season in the majors. The 2008 Rockies fell to 74 wins (from 90 in 2007), but Jimenez was a bright spot in the second half (10-4, 3.34 from 7/2 on). Despite pitching at Coors Field, he allowed only 11 homers in just under 200 innings!

THIS CARD: Jimenez had one of the highest front leg lifts I've ever seen; I don't know what he did to be so flexible. I just know I can barely raise my foot above my other foot. #Envy

We see Jimenez pitching at Fenway Park; in 2008 the Rockies did not visit Boston, so I'm assuming this pic is from Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. Jimenez started that night and allowed two earned runs on three hits and five walks in 4.2 innings, taking the 2-1 loss.

More from Jimenez's 2008 season:

(flip) When Jimenez's career ended, his monthly ERA broke down like this:

  • March/April: 4.98

  • May: 4.40

  • June: 3.71

  • July: 4.86

  • August: 4.91

  • September/October: 3.43 (Thank you,

See that bloated 2008 BB total, the second-most in the NL (Oliver Perez, Mets, 105)? Not shown are the 16 wild pitches and 10 hit batters Jimenez also accumulated. That's probably how he ended up with just those 11 homers allowed in 198.2 innings—NO SANE BATTER completely dug in against him.

I never knew Visalia and Modesto (both High-A) were ever Rockies affiliates...did you?

AFTER THIS CARD: In 2009, Jimenez—who signed a 4Y/$10M deal with 2013-14 club options in January—greatly reduced his walk rate and improved to 15-12, 3.47, helping Colorado return to the postseason. Then in 2010, he broke out with a 15-1, 2.20 start that included an April no-hitter at Atlanta! Jimenez made the NL All-Star team en route to a 19-8 finish; he placed third in NL Cy Young voting behind unanimous winner Roy Halladay (Phillies) and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).

Jimenez was very ordinary to begin 2011, and when Cleveland offered four prospects—the best of whom ended up being P Drew Pomeranz—at the Trade Deadline, the Rockies jumped. But Jimenez was only 4-4, 5.10 for the '11 Indians, who fell short of postseason play. One year later, the big righy dropped to 9-17, 5.40 for Cleveland, who still exercised his $5.75M option for 2013. After Jimenez posted a 1.82 ERA in his final 13 starts of '13, he voided his club option for 2014 and hit the market.

Jimenez signed with Baltimore (4Y/$50M) in February 2014, but never held traction for very long. His best year as an Oriole was 2015, when he went 12-10, 4.11. But otherwise, Jimenez was only 20-32, 5.72 and was bounced from the rotation in all three seasons.

Out of baseball in 2018-19, Jimenez failed in his attempt to win a job with the 2020 Rockies and retired at 36 that September. His 19 wins in 2010 remain the Rockies' season record; he also holds their career record for starters' ERA (3.66) and WHIP (1.284; minimum 85 starts).

Ubaldo Jimenez appeared annually in Topps 2007-18, except 2017. He's also got 2007, 2011 and 2014 Topps Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Colorado Rockies

Topps Danny Farquhar
Topps Danny Farquhar

2/8/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #584 Danny Farquhar, Mariners

More Danny Farquhar Topps Cards: 2014 2018U

Though most casual fans—if they know him at all—remember former RP Danny Farquhar for the sudden, scary and premature end of his big league career, we're here to focus on Farquhar the player. He was a pretty good one for a short time, one who served as Seattle's closer for the final two months of 2013—even after incumbent Tom Wilhelmsen returned from his month-long AAA exile.

Not bad for a guy who cycled through FOUR organizations without a big league recall in 2012.

Here, however, Farquhar has settled in as a key Mariners' setup man with All-Star CL Fernando Rodney now on board. Farquhar's 1.127 WHIP was second-best in the Mariners' bullpen (behind Wilhelmsen's 1.046) and he only allowed two homers and a .218 BAA across his first 55 outings.

THIS CARD: Farquhar gears up to fire either his mid-90's four-seamer, his cutter, his 12-6 curve or his changeup. Farquhar was also credited with a slider early in his career but seems to have junked it along the way; he also dabbled briefly with a two-seamer while with Seattle.

Seattle Mariners #40 has an interesting history. Starter and original M Rick Honeycutt wore it during his four-year tenure. P Matt Young was a rookie All-Star and an AL loss leader wearing #40 during the mid-1980's. CL Mike Schooler set the (since broken) club saves record with #40 on his back. And longtime setup man Jeff Nelson wore #40 during his first Seattle stint.

Per Getty Images, we're seeing Farquhar pitching the B7th at Texas on 9/6/2014. That day, he picked up the win with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out one. 

(flip) No, Sacramento was never a Blue Jays affiliate. Farquhar was ping-ponged between the Athletics and Blue Jays systems four times between November 2010 and June 2012.

That Trade With Yankees sent Farquhar and pitching prospect D.J. Mitchell to Seattle in exchange for some Suzuki guy who apparently was quite the hitter, fielder and baserunner. (Mitchell would make four relief appearances for the 2012 Mariners before fading into baseball oblivion 18 months later.)

No blurb, so I'll tell you that Farquhar—pronounced by most as Far-Kwar, by the way—inherited 30 runners in 2014, and stranded 24 of them! That's 80%, people, which is an excellent rate.

AFTER THIS CARD: Farquhar struggled in 2015 and was optioned to Tacoma 5/20 with a 6.46 ERA in 20 games; he'd spend the rest of that season shuttling between Tacoma and Seattle before being dealt to the Rays in a six-player trade that November. Farquhar split 2016 between AAA Durham and Tampa Bay, posting a 3.06 ERA in 35 games with the Rays.

The 30-year-old closed 2017 with the White Sox after Tampa cut him in late July; he finished with a combined 4.20 ERA in 52 games. Chicago retained Farquhar for 2018, but on 4/20—minutes after pitching the B6th against Houston—he collapsed in the dugout, victim of a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Farquhar survived the frightening experience (click here for an oral history produced by ESPN) and after spending the remainder of the '18 season recuperating—save for throwing out the White Sox' ceremonial first pitch 6/1—he attempted to win a job with the 2019 Yankees. But when New York released him from his MiLB contract that June, Farquhar retired and rejoined the White Sox organization as pitching coach for High-A Winston-Salem.

Danny Farquhar appeared in 2014-15 Topps, as well as 2018 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Seattle Mariners

Topps Gary Bennett
Topps Gary Bennett

2/9/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #198 Gary Bennett, Rockies

More Gary Bennett Topps Cards: 2014 2018U

As a Giants fan who has seen them cycle through a litany of backup catchers through the years—few of them noteworthy—I can attest to their value. Especially after watching the 2022 Giants struggle to get any stability at that position after Curt Casali (who wasn't exactly reminding anyone of Johnny Bench himself) was traded. 

Seven different dudes caught at least one inning for the '22 Giants, about twice as many as is ideal. And prospects for 2023 aren't much better at present—while SF hopes Joey Bart finally locks up the #1 catching spot, it is hardly a given, so a serviceable alternative has never been more crucial.

A guy like Gary Bennett would help the Giants immensely. Bennett spent parts of 14 seasons in MLB, the overwhelming majority of that as a backup receiver. He never reached 100 games played in any season and he never hit more than four homers in any season.

But the man could be counted on, if nothing else—Bennett played hard, made few mistakes, and hit enough to keep opponents honest. He was a regular-season hero for the eventual World Champion 2006 Cardinals...more on that below.

Here, Bennett has just wrapped his first and only full season (2002) with the Rockies. He started 85 games for Colorado in '02, sharing time behind the dish with Ben Petrick early, Bobby Estallela midway, and Sandy Alomar Jr. late. Having never played more than 46 games in any of his previous seven MLB campaigns, Bennett obliterated all of his career highs.

THIS CARD: I'm willing to bet that none of my 45K-plus baseball cards depict a catcher giving his pitcher a pep talk in such a fashion that Bennett is giving who I believe to be prospect Jason Young.

I say "believe to be" because no Young appeared for Colorado during the 2002 regular season, which means that this pic had to be shot in Spring Training. I wasn't able to pull up any 2002 Spring rosters, so I'm assuming—while not confirming—this is Jason Young. A #2 pick by Colorado in 2000, Young posted a 9.71 ERA in 10 games with the 2003-04 Rockies and was out of pro baseball after 2005.

That's #29 partially obscured on Bennett's back. In Rockies history, #29 is far and away best associated with SP Jorge de la Rosa, who started 200 games for the Rockies and won 86 of them 2008-16.

(flip) That Trade sent a PTBNL, minor league OF Ender Chavez, to the Mets. That Chavez is not connected to 2006 Mets postseason hero Endy Chavez.

As you see, one too many commas in that first line of the blurb. Kendall was a big league C mostly for San Diego 1969-80, during which time he fathered future Pirates All-Star C Jason.

In that 6/22/2002 clash with the Devil Rays, Bennett singled four times and drew a walk before being lifted for a pinch-runner in the B10th. Colorado eventually won 6-5 in 11 innings.

AFTER THIS CARD: Bennett started 87 games for the 2003 Padres (where this happened), then moved on to Milwaukee as Chad Moeller's backup for 2004. After spending 2005 with the newborn Nationals, Bennett enjoyed the most notable period of his career with the 2006-07 Cardinals.

The '06 Cardinals entered the final week of August in a dead heat with Cincinnati for first in the NLC. That's when Bennett (playing regularly because of Yadier Molina's elbow strain) came alive at the plate, belting all four of his season homers that week and walking off the Cubs twice—with a single 8/26 and a grand slam 8/27—during a 12-for-17 tear! The Cards forged ahead in the division race and ended up as 2006 World Series champions.

When I say "notable", however, I don't mean all positive; Bennett was among those mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report as having purchased HGH. Unlike so many others, Bennett admitted his guilt; days later he joined the Dodgers for 1Y/$875K. Sadly, the 36-year-old developed what amounted to a version of the "yips" early in the 2008 season and was disabled with "plantar fasciitis" He never made it back to pro baseball.


Gary Bennett appeared in 2003-04 Topps; he can also be found in 2003 Topps Traded plus 2006 and 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights.


CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Colorado Rockies

Topps Nelson Liriano
Topps Nelson Liriano

2/11/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #776 Nelson Liriano, Blue Jays

More Nelson Liriano Topps Cards: 1988 1990 1991 1993T

Here, we catch up with the young second baseman as he wraps up his second major league season (1988). Liriano got off to an icy start with the bat, not bringing his average over .200 to stay until early June. But at the end, he flourished, starting each of Toronto's final six games and batting .435 (10-for-23) with five RBI in that span!

THIS CARD: Liriano appears in COTD for the second time; we profiled his 1988 Topps card back in December 2021. In fact, for hours after selecting this particular card, I couldn't shake the feeling that it had JUST BEEN profiled just a few months ago—even after confirming it hadn't.

We see Liriano holding down 2B; he started 65 times there for the 1988 Jays, but was beset by a dozen errors. He cleaned things up one year later, spreading that same error total over 122 games.

More from Liriano's 1988 season: building off the momentum of his promising 1987 performance, Liriano started Toronto's first 11 games at 2B—the first 10 leading off—and 17 of their first 21. But his icy bat got him demoted to AAA Syracuse at the end of April, even though his replacement on the roster, 3B/DH Rance Mulliniks, had been hitting even worse (.131) prior to his 4/11 knee strain.

Liriano returned 5/12.

(flip) That first major league hit came against Seattle's Mike Moore in a 6-3 win.

That first major league home run came against Oakland's Dave Leiper in a 13-3 win.

That first major league double was also against Moore in a 6-5 win.

Just when I think I know all the Dominican cities (thanks to MLB), BOOM! Puerto Plata. That nation really IS a baseball factory...

AFTER THIS CARD: Liriano spent most of 1989 as the Jays' 2B—famously spoiling two 1989 no-hitters in the 9th inning—but at the 1990 Trade Deadline he was swapped to Minnesota for P John Candelaria. From 1991-93, Liriano bounced between three organizations (KC, Cleveland, Colorado) and spent most of that period in the minors, though he did hit .305 in 48 games for the expansion 1993 Rockies.

Liriano became Colorado's regular 2B in mid-1994, then moved on to the Pirates for 1995-96. Though Liriano got in 219 games as a Pirate, most of it was as speed/defense off the bench. The Dodgers added Liriano for 1997 and used him 76 times, almost exclusively as a PH. After spending most of 1998 in the minors (87 games for AAA Colorado Springs, 12 for the Rockies), Liriano retired at 34.

From 2002 to at least 2019, Liriano coached or managed in the Royals farm system.

Nelson Liriano appeared in 1988-91 Topps, as well as 1993 Traded as a new Rockie. If you want Liriano the Pirate, turn to Fleer, Collector's Choice or Donruss.


CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays

Topps Blake Treinen
Topps Blake Treinen

2/12/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2019 Topps #147 Blake Treinen, Athletics

More Blake Treinen Topps Cards: 2017 2018 2020 2022U

Throughout my 30-plus years of MLB fandom, I'm pretty hard-pressed to recall a more dominant one-season-and-done closer than Blake Treinen of the Oakland Athletics. Prior to joining Oakland, Treinen had already established himself as a fine reliever for the Matt Williams/Dusty Baker-led Nationals, posting a 3.07 ERA across 133 games in 2015-16.

But when given the opportunity to close for the 2017 Nats, Treinen imploded, and was swapped to the Athletics in mid-July. Not long after the deal, the A's gave Treinen another shot in the ninth inning and watched him go 12-for-13 in save ops with a 2.36 ERA from 8/11 on.

Here, the 30-year-old has just completed his first full season as Oakland's stopper. Treinen was by and large invincible in 2018, allowing just seven earned runs all season with a 0.834 WHIP and a comically-low 5.2 H/9! Treinen's excellence in '18 not only led to an AL All-Star berth, but also a couple handfuls of AL Cy Young Award votes.

THIS CARD: We see Treinen as he prepares to deliver either his 98-100-MPH sinker (not a misprint), or his hard slider (which he refined in 2022) or possibly his low-90's cutter. Treinen also will bust out a basic four-seam fastball, but not as often as the sinker or cutter.

Per Getty Images, this is a pic of Treinen facing the Mariners on 5/24/2018. That day, he got the four-out save with two strikeouts as Oakland triumphed 4-3.

More from Treinen's 2018 season: he allowed a decisive three-run homer to the Angels' Justin Upton 4/6...then didn't allow another one until 8/23 (a solo job by Minnesota's Max Kepler)! But like nearly every Oakland pitcher who appeared in the '18 Wild Card Game against the Yankees, Treinen was criminally misused, entering in the B6th and coughing up three runs—including a homer to DH Giancarlo Stanton—in his two innings of work.

(flip) Ideally, Topps would have used some reference to "painting the corners" to transition from Treinen's hobby to his profession. But, unlike the precise Eckersley, Treinen is not someone who relies much on intentional corner painting. 

I never knew Treinen was an A's draft pick; he went to Washington in a January 2013, three-team trade that sent 1B/OF Mike Morse from Washington back to Seattle. C/1B John Jaso went from the Mariners to the A's in said deal.

The Athletics re-acquired Treinen from the Nats (along with then-prospects P Jesus Luzardo and IF Sheldon Neuse) via trade for RP's Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.

If I lived, or ever passed through, Ossage City, Kansas, there's no way I could prevent myself from spray-painting a "G" on the City Limits sign and attaching a laminated pic of the Goose himself. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Treinen's first few weeks of 2019 were excellent, but by the end of June, he was injured and soon replaced at CL by Liam Hendricks. Treinen finished '19 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.619 WHIP, and Oakland non-tendered him that winter.

Two weeks later, the Dodgers brought in Treinen for 1Y/$10M to set up CL Kenley Jansen for 2020; Treinen's efforts helped Los Angeles to World Series glory in the abbreviated season. In January 2021, he re-signed with the Dodgers for 2Y/$17.5M.

Unfortunately, after a very strong 2021 season, the 33-year-old went down with a bad shoulder in April 2022 (but was still extended for 2023 at $8M in May). He ultimately pitched just six games that year (including postseason) and underwent labrum and rotator cuff surgeries that November. At present, Treinen hopes to pitch in 2023, but it is not a given.

Blake Treinen has appeared in 2017-20 Topps, as well as 2022 Topps Update.


CATEGORIES: 2019 Topps, Oakland Athletics

Topps Andrew Miller
Topps Andrew Miller

2/13/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #414 Andrew Miller, Marlins

More Andrew Miller Topps Cards: 2007 2009 2010 2016 2017 2018 2019 2019U 2020 2021 2022

Unless the guy is an oaf who spends more time in bars than working on his game, cutting the cord on a failed prospect can't be an easy decision to make. Because for every 10 Scott Ruffcorns and Brian Roses and Ryan Wagners, you have a guy like Andrew Miller who—after years on unsteady MLB ground—finally turned a corner at age 27 after shifting to full-time relief.

Miller was taken by the Tigers sixth overall in the 2006 Draft and in the majors less than three months later, at age 21. Detroit gave him an extended look in their 2007 rotation, and he initially held his own before falling completely apart at the end. Here, Miller has just joined the Marlins via an eight-man blockbuster trade which will be detailed below.

THIS CARD: Miller STUNs it up as he poses at what I presume is the Marlins' Spring Training complex. Or an incomplete miniature golf course.

Now, COME ON, Andrew; even doctors would put that "signature" to shame. Were you signing while wearing your mitt?? Those things are removable, you know.

More from Miller's early 2008 season: he won a job in Florida's rotation after going 3-0, 4.23 in six Spring Training starts plus one relief outing—although given what he cost, only an absolutely disastrous performance would have cost him a spot in all likelihood. Troubled by shaky command while a Tiger, Miller still had difficulty finding the strike zone (16 BB and three HBP in 27.2 IP) and wouldn't be a whole lot better once camp broke.

(flip) For those of you who may be new to collecting and aren't aware, Leyland was Miller's manager with the 2006-07 Tigers—granted, Leyland needed no introduction in the baseball world, but he's nowhere near a household name. And if Leyland truly missed Miller, they were reunited when the former managed the latter for gold-medal Team USA during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Miller was traded to Florida—along with fellow youngsters OF Cameron Maybin, C Mike Rabelo, RPs Burke Badenhop and Frankie de la Cruz, plus minor league SP Dallas Trahern—in the megaswap that sent superstar 3B/1B Miguel Cabrera and ace SP Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers. I'm not sure what's crazier: how quickly Willis flamed out of Detroit, or that Cabrera is STILL THERE.

That 2007 Tigers ERA of 5.63 is deceiving; Miller was 5-3, 3.76 in 10 starts May-July, but was pummeled to an 0-2, 17.00 ERA in three August starts. He finished the '07 season in the Florida Instructional League.

AFTER THIS CARD: Miller remained in the 2008 Marlins rotation through mid-July before knee tendinitis set in; he returned in September as a reliever. But by the end of the 2010 campaign, the command-starved Miller was just 10-20, 5.89 in 58 games (41 starts) with the Fish, and they essentiall