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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 Butch Huskey
Topps Butch Huskey

3/24/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #535 Butch Huskey, Rockies

More Butch Huskey Topps Cards:  1994 1996 1997 1998 1999 1999T 2000 

 

I usually can't think of Butch Huskey without at least flashing back to this less-than-graceful moment in his career. And when that happens, I laugh. So I'd like to thank the big guy for sacrificing himself in order to bring laughter my way for a quarter-century and counting.

Huskey, one of MLB's most intriguing power prospects of the mid-1990's, came up with the Mets and spent parts of five seasons there. 1997 was his best; he batted .287, 24, 81 while finding time at both corner infield and outfield spots.

After that, Huskey kept his bags packed—his acquisition by the Rockies' in July 2000 meant four  MLB uniforms in two seasons (Mariners/Red Sox 1999, Twins 2000). For Huskey, the trade represented a rescue of sorts, as Minnesota had just outrighted him to AAA Salt Lake eight days prior.

THIS CARD: Huskey was not as "husky" as his name would imply, though make no mistake, he was a big guy. Interestingly, he was listed at 244 lbs. on all seven of his Topps base cards.

Three of Huskey's final Topps base cards depict him charging out of the batters' box after making contact. Which makes sense—nobody, not even Huskey himself, knew where he'd be on defense any given day.

More from Huskey's 2000 season: he won a job with the Twins out of Spring Training and initially split time at DH with David Oritz while also serving at 1B and the OF. But by May Huskey was at .214 with two homers in 24 games—he lost playing time, and in early July he was outrighted to AAA Salt Lake in favor of top 1999 Twins rookie OF Chad Allen.

But a week later, the Colorado trade went down and Huskey was back in MLB. Before leaving Minnesota, he roped his 500th career hit at Oakland 5/21.

(flip) So DID Huskey give Colorado a boost outside of Coors? Kind of. His road average as a Rockie  was better (.371 in 17 games compared to .333 in 28 home games), but he drove in 13 runs at Coors versus five everywhere else.

I would look up Huskey's numbers a Met at Coors (1995-98; the Rox played at Mile High Stadium during Huskey's debut 1993 season), but my Stathead membership is currently expired and I'm not renewing right now.

That Trade sent Huskey, along with ex-Twins phenom Todd Walker (who'd also been outrighted to Salt Lake early in 2000) to Colorado in exchange for 1B prospect Todd Sears. Sears—a Rockies #3 pick in 1997—went on to play 31 games for the 2002-03 Twins and nine more for the 2003 Padres before disappearing from MLB.
So even though neither Huskey or Walker lasted in Denver past mid-2001, the Rockies still easily destroyed Minnesota in this trade (at least on the field; there were extenuating circumstances).

I don't know why Huskey is listed exclusively as a DH when he played half the '00 season with Colorado under 1973-2019 and 2021 DH rules (none in the NL). The majority of Huskey's Rockies run came as a PH/DR, and even while still in the AL with the Twins, his DH and defensive action was nearly even.

AFTER THIS CARD: Not much. Huskey signed a MiLB deal with Cleveland for 2001, but wound up back in the Rockies system—he spent the entire '01 season batting .323, 19, 87 for Colorado Springs but was not heard from again in pro baseball.

Butch Huskey appeared as a Future Star in 1994 Topps, returned on a shared "AAA" card in 1996 Topps, then received standard commons in the 1997-2001 Topps sets. He also shows up as a new Red Sock in 1999 Topps Traded & Rookies.

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Colorado Rockies

More March 2023 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Mike Simms
Topps Mike Simms

3/1/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #463 Mike Simms, Astros

More Mike Simms Topps Cards: 1991 

For a time, Mike Simms appeared to be the heir apparent to Glenn Davis as the Astros' first baseman. Simms could mash the ball a little bit himself and held his own in a short MLB trial in 1990.

Unfortunately for Simms, the Astros acquired prospect Jeff Bagwell from Boston late in the 1990 season, converted him from 3B to 1B the following Spring, and turned him loose. Let's just say Baggy did very well with the opportunity, forcing Simms to try cracking the Astros' roster as an outfielder. 

Here, Simms has completed his first extended MLB trial. He spent nearly all of the second half of 1991 with the Astros, starting frequently in RF from late July thru August—though he was almost always subbed out in the late innings—after Tuffy Rhodes and Eric Anthony each failed to claim the position for themselves. While Simms ended the year in a 5-for-44 (.114) slump, he did homer in two of his final three games.

THIS CARD: We see Simms holding down first base, which tells us this pic is likely from Spring Training '91. During the regular season, Simms was only used in the outfield by the 1991 Astros, playing 41 games (38 starts) in right field and one inning in left field.

Defensively, overall Simms wasn't anything special from what I saw/remember, but he was good enough to start a 9-5-6 triple play on 8/4/1991 against the Dodgers—one described by the Los Angeles Times as "a pie-in-the-face triple play". Simms also finished off a triple play at 1B for the 1990 Astros.

The mostly-obscured number we see on Simms' back is #30. Other notable Astros to wear #30 include 1979 NL Rookie Of The Year runner-up OF Jeffrey Leonard, budding star OF Luke Scott in the 00's, and presently, rising star OF Kyle Tucker—who coincidentally has smacked exactly 30 home runs each of the past two seasons!

Simms would later switch to #22 and #23 during his Houston tenure.

(flip) As you see in the stats, Simms finished at .203 for the 1991 Astros. But before the aforementioned slump, he was at .253 and—in spite of this horror—had batted .289 in 18 August games (all starts), albeit with little thump. 

Check out those 39 home runs for 1987 Asheville (A); it's rare for a minor leaguer to reach homer totals that high (especially for one team) because they usually get promoted when 30 is within reach. But even if Houston was down to promote Simms from Class A to the majors, they had Davis—the NL MVP runner-up one season before—firmly blocking him at 1B.

RIP Astrodome. Well, not exactly. It's still standing, but not in favorable condition and largely unused since the Astros left after the 1999 season and nearby NRG Stadium opened for the NFL's Houston Texans in 2002. Which is tragic considering its unofficial status as a World Wonder in the 1960's.

AFTER THIS CARD: Simms got in 15 games for the 1992 Astros, but was let go in Spring 1993. He spent that year belting 24 home runs for AAA Las Vegas, then opened 1994 with AAA Buffalo (Pirates) before rejoining the Astros organization. Simms went 1-for-12 with the '94 Astros, but stuck for over two months with the 1995 Astros, initially as a fill-in for the injured Bagwell. He hung around with Houston for most of 1996 as wlel, but didn't play much or well (49 games, .176 with one home run).

Next, Simms won a job with the 1997 Rangers, slugging .459 in 59 games before missing the final month with torn knee cartilage. He enjoyed his finest MLB season by leaps and bounds in 1998, batting .296 with 16 homers—which tied MLB's HR record for under 200 AB—in 86 games for the division champion Rangers.

Unfortunately, the 32-year-old couldn't build on that momentum; Simms tore his left Achilles in Spring Training 1999, and while he was able to bat twice for the Rangers that September, a hip problem put him on the 15-day—and later, 60-day—disabled list prior to the 2000 season, and he never made it back to pro baseball.

 

Mike Simms only appeared in 1991-92 Topps. Even his career year of 1998 was largely ignored by card companies as only Fleer produced a 1999 Simms card.

CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Houston Astros

Topps Dioner Navarro
Topps Dioner Navarro

3/2/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #519 Dioner Navarro, Rays

More Dioner Navarro Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

Dioner Navarro lasted over a decade in MLB, much of that as a starter. What I most remember him for is his insane durability throughout the 2008 Postseason; Navarro caught every inning of Tampa's 16 Postseason games that year. and did so well—at least offensively, cracking at least one hit in 13 of 16 games (but nabbing just three of 15 potential base stealers).

Navarro also caught eight innings of the 15-inning 2008 All-Star Game that probably had commissioner Bud Selig on the verge of violent nausea.

We'll have much more on both events below, as this card represents Navarro's breakout 2008 season. On his third MLB team at the tender age of 24, Navarro went 3-for-4 with a double and RBI on Opening Day 2008, and never looked back as his .295 average led the '08 AL Champion Rays.

THIS CARD: Where I come from, that hand signal means homie is a lil' drunk; don't take his words personally. Today, I'm sure someone's come up for some type of racist connotation.

As you can see here, Navarro was/is not a small fella, and he was certainly not blessed with speed. Yet, during his five-season (Devil)Rays career, the man bunted for nine hits and added two more as a 2011 Dodger!!

More from Navarro's 2008 season: his mother's illness delayed his arrival to Spring Training, then in the season's second game, he lacerated the middle and ring fingers on his right (throwing) hand and sat out nearly three weeks. From there: prosperity—Navarro was hitting .352 at May's end and on 6/9 at the Angels, he went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a homer and four RBI! Plus, Navarro reduced his error total from 14 in 2007 to five in 2008 (across 55 more innings, no less).

(flip) For the first time, I'm not giving the specialized data at the top any COTD attention...it's kinda weak this time. (Unless you count the previous sentence as attention.)

Responding to A Niche In History, I'm going to guess three of the switch-hitting All-Star catchers of the past were Mickey Tettleton, Ted Simmons and Jorge Posada. If I really wanted to, I could guess two more, but instead, I'll tell you that since Navarro, Rays catchers Wilson Ramos (2018, starter) and Mike Zunino (2021, reserve) have also been named All-Stars—though Ramos was a DNP due to injury.

That Trade With Dodgers sent Navarro, SP Jae Seo and OF Justin Ruggiano to Tampa Bay in exchange for C Toby Hall, P Mark Hendrickson and $. Navarro alone easily won the deal for the Rays.

AFTER THIS CARD: Navarro fell all the way to .218 in 2009, and wasn't any better in the first half of 2010—at which time the Rays optioned him to AAA for over two months. He was not re-signed that winter and returned to the Dodgers on a 1Y/$1M deal for 2010.

For the 2011 Dodgers, Navarro lingered in the .150's as Rod Barajas' backup; that, combined with differences with manager Don Mattingly, would have cost him his roster spot in June had Barajas not sprained his ankle and missed several weeks, elevating Navarro to #1 duty—which only delayed the inevitable as he was cut in August with a .193 average in 64 games. He then spent the first four months of 2012 with AAA Louisville (Reds) before batting .290 in 24 games with the Reds.

From there, Navarro was able to put together a pair of strong offensive years for the 2013 Cubs (.300/.365/.492 in 89 games) and the 2014 Blue Jays (274, 12, 69 in 139 games), who signed Navarro to a 2Y/$8M deal in December 2013 after he completed his 1Y/$1.75M deal with Chicago. Unfortunately for the resurgent veteran, the Jays chose to sign free agent C Russell Martin and attempt to trade Navarro.

Ultimately, Navarro remained in Toronto for all of 2015 as one of Martin's backups. He signed with the White Sox in December 2015, but by late August he was back with Toronto via trade. The 32-year-old—after sitting out 2017—resurfaced for 20 games in 2018 with the Independent League. Navarro's final pro action was with AAA Columbus (Indians), for whom he hit .211 across 30 games in 2019.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays

Topps Minnesota Twins
Topps Minnesota Twins

3/3/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #181 Minnesota Twins Team Card

More Minnesota Twins Topps Team Cards:  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2015 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

2014 was a nightmare year for the Twins and longtime manager Ron Gardenhire in what would be his final season in Minnesota. Expectations for the 2015 Twins—a franchise not quite as financially challenged as they once were, but not exactly on the Yankees' level—generally predicted more doom, what with a noob (Hall-of-Fame 3B/DH Paul Molitor) taking over for Gardenhire, a fading superstar in Joe Mauer and a pitching staff mostly intact from 2014 (when it finished dead last in the AL in ERA).

The '15 Twins, however, managed to finish with a winning record despite a 1-6 start and a 5-16 stretch in July/August. Boosted by the play of All-Star 2B Brian Dozier (28 homers) and rookie SP Tyler Duffey (5-1, 3.10 in 10 starts down the stretch), the squad had pushed to an 83-76 record and Wild Card hopes entering their final series, but absorbed a three-game sweep by the visiting Royals to finish at 83-79—12 games behind division champion (and eventual World Champion) Kansas City.

THIS CARD: We're seeing #19 DH Kennys Vargas as he chugs home following his walk-off home run against Cardinals RP Carlos Villanueva on 6/18. The blast, which gave the Twins a 2-1 win, represented just the third run allowed by Villanueva in 24.2 innings to that point in 2015.

A few months ago, I FINALLY replaced my 2016 Topps set (featuring a stamp of the All-Star Game text) with an un-stamped set. Best investment EVER. I look at this set far differently now; this MAY be the first 2016 Topps COTD we've pulled since the old set was DFA'd, at least from the base set.

Somewhere in that pile (we presume) is OF/DH Torii Hunter, the former Twins/Angels All-Star and Gold Glover who quietly returned to Minnesota for his 19th and final big league season. Hunter, who turned 40 just after the All-Star break, started 121 games in RF and 14 more at DH. He finished at .240, 22, 81, the latter total just five behind 3B Trevor Plouffe for the team lead!

(flip) Minnesota entered play 10/3 at 83-77, two games behind Houston for the second AL Wild Card spot with two to play. But the Twins dropped both games to the division rival Royals (by a combined score of 11-2), locking up the Astros' spot.

Dozier did blast a then-career-high 28 homers, but hit just .236 (including 2-for-his-final-24). DH Sano (.269, 18, 52) LF Rosario (.267, 13, 50) did show promise, but Buxton hit just .209 with two homers in 46 games—Hunter or even OF Aaron Hicks (.256, 11, 33) should have been listed before Buxton was.

58-year-old Molitor—the Twins DH from 1996-98, his final seasons as a player—entered the year  with no managerial experience at any level; he'd coached under Gardenhire in 2014 and served as an organizational instructor for a decade before that. Per an ESPN article, Dozier described Molitor as "probably the most knowledgeable guy about the game of baseball I've ever been around," not long before his hiring.

AFTER THIS CARD: Under Molitor, the 2016 Twins completely collapsed, dropping their first nine games and finishing at 59-103 with a league-worst 5.08 ERA. But just one year later, the Twins were 85-77 and in the AL Wild Card Game (which they dropped to the Yankees). After a 78-win 2018 season, Mauer retired after 15 seasons and Molitor was let go as manager.

Minnesota, now led by yet another rookie manager in Rocco Baldelli, won 101 games in 2019 and went 36-24 in COVID-shortened 2020; both years ended with postseason berths for the Twins. Unfortunately, they were swept out of the 2019 ALDS by the Yankees and out of the 2020 Wild Card Series by the Astros. Since then, the Twins have played .466 ball, but hope that the brittle Buxton—now an All-Star—and the $200M man Correa can help improve that.  

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Minnesota Twins

Topps Ed Hearn
Topps Ed Hearn

3/4/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #433 Ed Hearn, Mets

More Ed Hearn Topps Cards:  1988 1989

I've spoken several times about my inability to differentiate between similar players from the same era who I wasn't exposed to on a regular basis. 00's outfielders Jeremy Reed and Jeremy Hermida, for example. '10's pitchers Ross Detwiler and Ross Ohlendorf, too.

But the Eds Hearn and Lynch might be my oldest—and least comprehensible—example of two dudes I confuse strictly because of when they played and their matching first names. Ed Lynch was an older swingman pitcher for the Mets and Cubs 1980-87, while Ed Hearn was a younger catcher for the Mets and Royals 1986-88 (yes, with that overlapping Mets stint in '86, it's probably for the best that their careers predated my MLB fandom).

And unlike Lynch, who went on to work in the Cubs front office and later scouted for the Blue Jays, Hearn is best known in the baseball world for a transaction he had no control over...more on that later.

Here, Hearn has just wrapped up his first and only season with the New York Mets, who called him up to back up superstar Gary Carter in mid-May and even used him regularly in August as Carter recovered from a knee injury!

THIS CARD: Holy Eric Sogard! You know it's the 1980's if a player sports glasses on his baseball card; post-80's, there was Lasik for those with subpar vision. Pre-80's, well, I guess most of those guys weren't given opportunities.

See? THIS is why Card Of The Day exists—prior to this writing, I always thought Hearn was a lefty-hitter. But that is not a lefty hitter's batting helmet, is it? Hearn was a righty hitter and evidently always was.

More from Hearn's 1986 season: the 25-year-old made a splash in his MLB debut 5/17, going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk! His reward? Not playing again for eight days—remember, Carter was a pretty decent catcher in his own right. On 8/20 at the Dodgers, Hearn went 3-for-4 with an RBI—the only three-hit game of his MLB career, as it turned out.

(flip) Hearn spent 1979 "On Disabled List" after surgery to repair a right shoulder originally injured playing quarterback for Fort Pierce Central High School (Florida) in 1978.

Check out those four homers Hearn hit for the '86 Mets; his first was a B6th, three-run shot off Pittsburgh RP Cecilio Guante 6/15. The last was a B9th solo shot off Dodgers star Fernando Valenzuela 8/31—which I note because Valenzuela was still allowed to complete the eventual 7-4 Dodger victory. Today, if a guy allows a home run in the B1st, they get the bullpen up.

Stuart, Florida is not really located near any of the state's largest cities; it lies on the east coast about halfway between Miami and Orlando. West Palm Beach lies about 40 miles south, down I-95.

AFTER THIS CARD: Ultimately, not very much. Hearn went to Spring Training 1987 with the defending World Champion Mets...but shortly before camp broke, he was sent to the Royals in a five-player trade that sent then-unproven SP David Cone back to the Mets. Cone, of course, was a 20-game winner for New York by 1988 but Hearn—who began the '87 season as Kansas City's #1 catcher—went down with a shoulder injury in mid-April.

Reconstructive surgery was needed, and Hearn did not return to MLB until September 1988 (still with the Royals). He spent all of 1989 at AAA Omaha, but was released by the Royals in Spring Training 1990 and spent that year in the Indians' farm system. Not feeling he had much of a MLB future, Hearn then retired.

Since then, Hearn has battled numerous health issues, which include a pair of kidney transplants and hopes for a third this past winter.

Ed Hearn appeared in 1987-89 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, New York Mets

Topps Kevin Gregg
Topps Kevin Gregg

3/6/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps  Update #166 Kevin Gregg, Cubs

More Kevin Gregg Topps Cards: 2005 2007U 2008 2009U 2010 2010U 2011 2011U 2012

No known relation to the actor Clark or the pinch-hitting whiz Tommy.

Quick: from 2007-13, what closer saved 176 games for the Marlins, Cubs, Blue Jays and Orioles?

Joe Borowski? Nope. Antonio Alfonseca? Nope. B.J. Ryan? Nope. Ryan Dempster? Nope.

Big Kevin Gregg would NOT be anybody's guess for the seventh-most saves in MLB during that period, behind guys like Rivera, Papelbon, K-Rod and Nathan. I'm not sure Gregg would be anyone's guess for the 47th-most saves in MLB during that period. Outside of the cities he played in, Gregg didn't receive a ton of pub even in his best years. 

Here, Gregg has just returned to the Chicago Cubs, for whom he closed for much of 2009 before being replaced by Carlos Marmol. Gregg opened 2013 dominating Spring Training for the Dodgers...but they had no space for him and he ended up back in Chicago. Gregg debuted 4/19 and went unscored upon in his first 14 outings!

THIS CARD: I'm going to predict this is a legit—non-airbrushed—image of Gregg; I can't imagine Topps going through the trouble of picking a Gregg image that would require a second person to be airbrushed.

Upon research, it turns out the image is authentic; we're seeing Gregg celebrating with C Welington Castillo after closing out a 4-2 win over the host Marlins 4/26. Gregg delivered a 1-2-3 B9th, striking out one and throwing 15 pitches. 

In Cubs regular-season history, #63 has also belonged to RP Carmen Pignatiello (six games 2007-08) and RP Brian Schlitter (71 games 2014-15). Gregg wore #63 during both of his Cubs stints and everywhere else he pitched in MLB except for his career-ending 11-game stint with the 2015 Reds (where #63 was claimed by sixth-year Reds reliever Sam LeCure).

More from Gregg's early 2013 season: he converted his first 12 save ops successfully, and his ERA didn't go over 1.00 to stay until 6/22. Gregg's sixth save of '13, recorded on 5/12 at Washington, was the 150th of his career. 

(flip) Those two teams who cut Gregg would be the Orioles (in mid-September 2012 after a four-run implosion against the Yankees 9/9) and the aforementioned Dodgers during Spring Training 2013.

"But the Cubs solved their closer issue when signed him in April." There's a "they" missing from that line.

As for the Career Chase, remember Rivera was still active in 2013, so he "only" had 608 of his eventual 652 saves when this card was released. And no, it wasn't those final 44 that kept Gregg from passing Rivera up.

As you see in the stats, Gregg generally didn't surrender a ton of hits. But what you don't see in the stats: a high number of those hits left the ballpark—Gregg finished his career having allowed 78 homers in 720 career innings. For some context, contemporary CL Jonathan Papelbon allowed 57 in 725.2 innings.

AFTER THIS CARD: Gregg finished 2013 with 33 saves in 38 chances, although he nearly finished 2013 unemployed due to a supposed misunderstanding. Still, he went unsigned into the 2014 season, when he at last accepted a MiLB deal with Miami that ultimately paid $1.4M (prorated from $2.1M).
Gregg was activated in mid-June and lasted about a month with the Fish, posting a 10.00 ERA in 12 games before going on the DL; he eventually underwent season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.

As mentioned, Gregg's final MLB action came with the 2015 Reds, who inked the 36-year-old to a MiLB deal that February. Though Gregg did win a job out of Spring Training, he gave up runs in seven of 11 outings (10.13 ERA), leading Cincy to cut him in early May. Seattle signed him a week later but let him go after less than a month at AAA Tacoma, and that was it for Gregg in MLB.

Kevin Gregg appeared in 2005, 2008 and 2010-12 Topps, as well as 2007, 2009-11 and 2013 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps Update, Chicago Cubs

Topps Paul Byrd
Topps Paul Byrd

3/7/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #436 Paul Byrd, Braves

More Paul Byrd Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

Here, we catch up with the journeyman starter Byrd as he kicks off his second of two stints with the Atlanta Braves. Byrd, a 17-game winner with the 2002 Royals, re-joined the Braves on a 2Y/$10M deal—a substantial increase from his $1M salary in '02—on the same day Atlanta traded for Giants ace SP Russ Ortiz as it worked to replace departed legend Tom Glavine and prepare for the potential loss of fellow legend Greg Maddux (who ultimately re-signed for 2003).

 

Unfortunately for all involved, Byrd went down with injury toward the end of Spring Training 2003...more on that below.

THIS CARD: Byrd appears in COTD for the second time; we selected his 2007 Topps card back in August 2020.

As we mentioned back in that August 2020 profile, for whatever reason Topps went heavy on the STUN front images for Byrd, even when one wasn't really necessary. This was the first of three STUN images Byrd received among his seven Topps base cards.

More from Byrd's 2002 season: he won 17 for the 100-loss Royals, and led their staff in every key pitching category. He won each of his first four starts of '02, and didn't walk a single batter in any of them! Weird fact: on 9/9 against the White Sox, Byrd went eight innings...and allowed 10 earned runs while throwing just 112 pitches.

(flip) Check out Byrd's 3.90 ERA in 2002; if you subtract the aforementioned 10-run outing, and a one-inning, six-run clunker on 9/4 at Oakland, Byrd's season ERA drops to 3.52—just outside of the AL's Top 10.

Those 228.1 innings in 2002 ranked sixth in the AL, and third among right-handers. Toronto's Roy Halladay led with 239.1.

As you see in the stats, Byrd led the AL with seven CG in 2002. Four of those were consecutive, from 7/13 thru 7/29! (And all were at least eight innings.)

AFTER THIS CARD: Byrd's Spring injury, unfortunately, turned out to be a torn UCL; the ensuing surgery kept him out until June 2004. He went 8-7, 3.94 in 19 starts that year, then signed with the Angels (1Y/$5M) that December and went 12-11 for the 2005 AL West Champions. Byrd then joined the Indians for 2Y/$14.25M in December 2005.

Despite allowing a lot of hits and posting a 4.73 ERA, Byrd finished 25-17 over the 2006-07 seasons, and Cleveland picked up Byrd's $7.5M option for 2008—apparently not put off by this news during the ALCS. Still, the 37-year-old was traded to Boston in August 2008, and went 4-2 down the stretch. 

Unsure of his desire to continue pitching in 2009, Byrd sat...and sat...and sat, until August, when he rejoined the Red Sox for seven appearances. That off-season, he retired for good at 38, the winner of 109 big league games (plus three more in postseason).

Paul Byrd appeared annually in Topps 2000-08, except 2002. He had no Traded or Update cards; if you want a card of Byrd with Boston, 2009 Heritage is pretty much your only option.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Atlanta Braves

Topps Rod Beck
Topps Rod Beck

3/8/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #429 Rod Beck, Giants

More Rod Beck Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1998 1999 2002

The 1993 San Francisco Giants won 103 games—not bad for a team that, less than a year prior, was set to move to Tampa Bay. But by 1996, the team was on very hard times—most of the 1993 heroes had moved on, or in cases like 2B Robby Thompson, 3B Matt Williams and CL Rod Beck, regressed significantly. 

Not that Beck was terrible in 1996, but he'd set such a high standard in '93 that 35 saves in 42 chances could be viewed as a significant regression. Beck was actually brilliant in the early going, saving 16 of his first 17 with an 0.71 ERA. But then came a nightmarish two-week stretch where his ERA neared 10; the 28-year-old was hit-and-miss from that point on, even as he converted 18 of 21 save ops over the remainder of the season.

THIS CARD: Without fail, each time I see a full-size photo of Beck pitching, I flash back to the "Headlines" segment of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno—one "Headline" featured Beck's photo with a caption referencing a bulging disk in his lower back. Zooming in, clearly visible, was a can of chew in Beck's back pocket...easiest "bulging disk" treatment ever.

If I had to guess, I'd put Beck at Veterans Stadium in Philly or Riverfront Stadium aka Cinergy Field in Cincy. Beck pitched four times at Philadelphia —balanced schedule!—and twice at Cincinnati in 1996.

More from Beck's 1996 season: his first save of the season represented #128 of his career, moving him past Gary Lavelle for first in team history...more on that below. After blowing his first save op of August, Beck converted 10 straight, albeit with a 5.79 ERA. On 8/26, Beck got the final two outs of the Giants' 1-0 win over the visiting Phillies, as SF made Glenallen Hill's B1st RBI single off Curt Schilling stand up.

(flip) As you can see here, Beck was large, and early in his career he had the fastball one would expect from a man of his stature. But by 1996, his stuff was merely ordinary, and he relied mostly on guile and location to retire hitters.

"Shooter" still stands atop the Giants' single-season save leaderboard with those 48 in 1993, but he's since been pushed down to second by Robb Nen (206 to 199). Later on, Brian Wilson moved Lavelle to fourth with his 171 saves.

Beck's zero blown saves across 28 chances in 1994 now ranks as the fifth-highest in MLB history.

Eric Gagne firmly ranks #1 (55-for-55 for the 2003 Dodgers), with Jose Valverde (49-for-49 for the 2011 Tigers), Zach Britton (47-for-47 for the 2016 Orioles) and Brad Lidge (41-for-41 for the 2008 Phillies) rounding out the Top Five.

AFTER THIS CARD: Amidst the boos from Giants fans, Beck emerged as a hero for the 1997 Giants, then signed with the Cubs for 1Y/$4M in January 1998. He saved 51 games for the 1998 Cubs and earned a new 2Y/$9.5M deal that November, but was beset by elbow surgery in 1999 and basically given away to Boston in August.

Now in a setup role, Beck went 9-5, 3.46 with nine saves for the 1999-2001 Red Sox, although he lost half of the 2000 season to neck issues that sidelined him twice.

Beck sat out 2002 (UCL surgery), then re-joined the Cubs on a MiLB deal for 2003 (his comeback attempt gained notoriety). Still stuck in AAA in May, the team allowed him to join the Padres, who were minus injured CL Trevor Hoffman—Beck dazzled, saving all 20 of his ops with a 1.78 ERA and 1.012 WHIP! 

 

Sadly, Beck was well into drug addiction by then, and missed the first two months of '04 while attempting rehab. He couldn't duplicate his '03 magic upon returning to SD, was released that August, and never pitched professionally again. Beck could not maintain sobriety and passed away in October 2007, age 38; the big fella is still remembered fondly in San Francisco and everywhere else he played.

 

Pre-mullet Rod Beck debuted in Topps with a 1992 Gold card—Topps reproduced the entire 1992-94 sets with Gold foil, subbing the checklists with commons excluded from the regular set.

Beck then appeared annually in the base set 1993-1999, with one final visit in 2002. His 2004 omission gnaws at me to this day—though he was included in that year's Topps Total and Upper Deck sets if you crave a Padres Beck card. 

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, San Francisco Giants

Topps Willson Contreras
Topps Willson Contreras

3/9/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2022 Topps #147 Willson Contreras, Cubs

More Willson Contreras Topps Cards: 2016U 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 

No known relation to Jose. Known relation to William.

The 2016 Cubs beat the Indians in a seven-game World Series, ending over 100 years without a championship. But by the end of 2022, every player from that club had moved on save for SP Kyle Hendricks and C Willson Contreras. The latter was a 2016 rookie, one who started 64 games (41 at catcher, 21 in the outfield, and two at first base) and slugged .488. The next year, Contreras took over as the Cubs #1 receiver and homered 21 times despite missing a month with a right hamstring strain.

Contreras was chosen as a (starting) 2018 NL All-Star, but slashed just .200/.291/.294 after the break. He bounced back in 2019 with 24 home runs in just 360 at-bats (July right foot strain, August right hamstring strain), starting the All-Star Game for a second straight year.

Here, following a forgettable 2020 season, Contreras has just wrapped up a 2021 campaign that saw the Cubs enter full-on rebuild mode. As his star teammates Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez departed around him, Contreras stood as one of few holdovers from the Joe Maddon era. Personally, he put together a so-so '21 season—while he ranked second among NL catchers in homers (21 to the 24 by the Dodgers' Will Smith), Contreras' K rate ballooned up to near 30%.

THIS CARD: This is our first 2022 Topps base card profiled in COTD; we profiled the 2022 Topps Update card of Phillies C Garrett Stubbs back in January, and I believe that's been it until today.

Per Getty Images, this pic was shot 6/22/2021 against Cleveland; that day, Contreras went 2-for-4 with a solo homer off Trevor Stephan—immediately followed by a solo homer from 3B Patrick Wisdom—in the B8th as Chicago cruised to the 7-1 win.

More from Contreras' 2021 season: he never really got hot with the bat, and it took a 5-for-10 finish just to get to his season-ending .237 mark. On 4/17, however, Contreras homered twice in a blowout win against the Braves, and on 5/12 at Cleveland, he banged out four hits in a 2-1 Cubs loss.

(flip) I feel pretty confident in guessing that 1993 Cubs catcher who homered four times in three games was 30-homer man Rick Wilkins. In 2021, Contreras smoked four home runs between 4/13 and 4/17 (he sat twice during the stretch).

I don't get that 2021 WAR. How did it increase over a full point from 2019 even as Contreras' OPS dipped over 100 points? And before you suggest defensive factors, Contreras didn't have a good statistical defensive year, either.

Those 52 walks in 2021 ranked second on the Cubs, to OF Ian Happ's 62. Of course, Chicago essentially trotted out two different clubs in '21 and only two players—Contreras and Happ—accumulated over 400 PA for them.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 2022, the Cubs used Contreras more and more at DH (39 starts at DH versus 72 behind the plate); he finished at .243, 22, 55 and made his third All-Star team but batted just .185 after 7/3. Chicago let him walk as a free agent and he became a Cardinal, tasked with replacing legendary C Yadier Molina on an 5Y/$87.5M deal signed in December 2022. 

Willson Contreras debuted in 2016 Topps Update and has since appeared in 2017-22 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2022 Topps, Chicago Cubs

Topps Tony Womack
Topps Tony Womack

3/11/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #491 Tony Womack, Yankees

More Tony Womack Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2006

No known relation to Lee Ann.

Tony Womack was best known as a base-thieving extraordinaire for the late-1990's Pirates—he led the NL each year 1997-99 at a cumulative rate of 87%, and made the 1997 NL All-Star team as a rookie! During Spring Training 1999, Pittsburgh essentially gave Womack to the Diamondbacks, who shifted him from 2B to RF (though he still found time at 2B and SS).  

While everyone remembers and still talks about Luis Gonzalez's broken-bat single that walked off the 2001 World Series for Arizona, no one talks about Womack's two-strike double to right off Yankee CL Mariano Rivera that tied the score at two and set up Gonzalez's heroics two batters later. Womack—now notably less formidable on the basepaths—remained a D-Back until July 2003, when he was dealt to the Rockies. A month later, the Rockies moved him to the Cubs.

Here, Womack has just joined the Yankees on a 2Y/$4M deal, two months after the conclusion of a 2004 season that saw him bat .307 with 26 steals for the NL Champion Cardinals. The 35-year-old posted a .349 OBP, 35 points higher than his career mark entering the '04 season.

THIS CARD: Classic STUN (Spring Training New Uniform) pic for Womack. My immature side likes to believe Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ordered Womack's signing as a measure of revenge for helping defeat the 2001 Yankees in the World Series, and that once Womack got comfortable in New York and suspected nothing, they'd trade him to the Expos or some other MLB wasteland. 

With the mustache and the perspective, Womack looks more like 2004 Yankee Tony Clark than himself. Womack often (usually?) sported a goatee before joining the Yanks, where such things are not allowed and probably never will be as long as a Steinbrenner runs things.

More from Womack's 2004 season: he played 2B exclusively for the first time in his MLB career after spending the majority of 2000-03 holding down SS. On 4/9 at Arizona, Womack went 4-for-5 with two doubles in a blowout win by the Cardinals. And he backed up his 13-game August hit streak with a 14-gamer in September!

(flip) Instead of a redundant stat like his 91 runs, Topps COULD HAVE used the StatBox to tell you about Womack's aforementioned 2004 OBP of .349...especially since it was his (eight) full-season career best.

Among 2004 MLB second basemen, only the Padres' Mark Loretta (.335) boasted a higher average than Womack. As for the eight active players with more career steals, I can give you Barry Bonds, Steve Finley, maybe Tom Goodwin, Craig Biggio, Kenny Lofton...and that's all the time I wanna spend on it.

Womack joined the Cardinals via late Spring 2004 trade with Boston; RP Matt Duff—not to be confused with Matt Duffy—was the return, continuing Womack's career-long pattern of being traded for virtually nothing. Of the seven total players he was swapped for in his MLB career, five never reached MLB, one—Duff—played just seven MLB games, and one—RP Jason Boyd, who went west in the Pittsburgh/Arizona swap—posted a 5.74 ERA in 113 MLB games.

AFTER THIS CARD: Womack made 58 of his 80 starts in the outfield for the 2005 Yankees, which didn't exactly leave him doing cartwheels. He wound up at .249 with no homers in 108 games—although in two of those games, he swiped four bags—and was traded to the Reds in December.  

Womack started for Cincy on Opening Day 2006, but was cut before the end of April. He got in 19 games with the Cubs later that year, but failed to make the 2007 Nationals roster and was not heard from in MLB again.

If this Womack moment doesn't move you at all, you may not be human.

Tony Womack appeared annually in Topps 1998-2006, as well as 2004 Topps Traded & Rookies.

CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, New York Yankees

Topps Ray Durham
Topps Ray Durham

3/12/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #383 Ray Durham, White Sox

More Ray Durham Topps Cards: 1995T 1996 1997 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2008U 2009

No known relation to Leon "Bull".

Longtime White Sox 2B Ray Durham began his San Francisco Giants career at the exact same time my child's mother and I began to cohabitate. She took an interest in baseball, since I had it on ALL THE TIME, and she would often notice things about the players that the average guy fan would not. Such as Durham's butt.

And because of her semi-fixation on said butt, Durham's play is not the first thing that comes to mind when I recall his Giants tenure. It's kind of like the situation with fellow ex-Giant Brian Wilson—what comes to mind first when he's mentioned? His 171 saves and three All-Star berths with the Giants, or the thing on his face?

Here, Durham has just wrapped his third season with the White Sox. He finished up with numbers very similar to those from his first two seasons, although with OF Albert Belle on scene, he scored 27 more runs than in 1996. Durham batted .324 in September and led Chicago in steals for the second straight year.

THIS CARD: Durham lunges to his right, either to spear a line drive or an off-target throw. Durham the defender had his share of critics over the years, but from what I saw he wasn't too bad at all at second base. Maybe my standards are just different than most.

I don't know of a 1997 ballpark that had a tall, green RIGHT FIELD wall other than the Oakland Coliseum, unless we're seeing Durham playing some other position than second base (which he did not do during the '97 regular season). Even still, that just doesn't look like the Coliseum...

More from Durham's 1997 season: on Opening Day 4/1 at Toronto, Durham drew a T10th BB and came around to score what stood up as the deciding run in Chicago's 6-5 triumph. Two of his homers were of the leadoff variety. And Durham enjoyed three hit streaks of 11+ games, including a 14-gamer in September.

(flip) Durham placed 6th in AL steals, 9th in AL runs, and T5th in AL singles.

#5 has a good White Sox history. In addition to Durham, 3B Jimmy Dykes made two AL All-Star teams wearing #5 for Chicago in the 1930's. 1B Roy Sievers was a 1961 AL All-Star. SS Juan Uribe made some big plays for the World Champion 2005 White Sox. And Yolmer Sanchez was a Gold Glove 2B for the late-2010's Sox. 

As you see in the bio, Durham was taken by the White Sox in the 1990 Draft. Also going to the Sox in that draft: SPs Alex Fernandez, James Baldwin and Jason "Raspberry" Bere—plus RP Bob Wickman, who was later part of a package to acquire 2B Steve Sax. A pretty fruitful draft.

AFTER THIS CARD: Durham remained with the White Sox into the 2002 season; he was picked to start the 1998 and 2000 All-Star Games and reached 20 homers for the first time in 2001 (along with a career-high 42 doubles). He was extended for 4Y/$20M in February 1999, but with the Sox going nowhere by 2002—Durham's walk year—he was moved to the A's near the Deadline. Talk of outfield run never came to fruition; Durham received 80% of his Oakland run at DH with the rest at 2B.

Durham signed with my Giants in December 2002 (3Y/$20M), but after playing 150+ games every year in the AL, he was affected by dual hamstring issues, a left patellar tendon strain and numerous other nagging injuries in 2003-04 that cost him over 90 combined games. But he played well when healthy, batting between .282 and .290 annually 2003-05. Durham exercised his $7M player option for 2006 and delivered a .293, 26, 93 line that year!

 

San Francisco re-signed Durham for 2Y/$15M in December 2006. Following a rough 2007 (.218), Durham bounced back with a solid 2008 split between the Giants and Brewers, who traded for him that July. The 37-year-old refused an MiLB deal with the 2009 Nationals and never played professionally again. 

Ray Durham debuted in 1995 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1996-2009. He's also got a 2008 Update card.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Chicago White Sox

Topps Award Winners
Topps R.A. Dickey

3/13/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #632 R.A. Dickey, NL Cy Young Award 

More Topps Cy Young Award Cards: 2008 NL 2014 AL

If, after the 2006 MLB season, a poll was conducted asking which active pitcher (age 30 or less) had the LOWEST shot at winning a Cy Young award in 2012, R.A. Dickey might have "won". Truthfully, many might have voted for Nolan Ryan in his present state (age 69) had a better shot than ol' RAD.

But Dickey completely reversed his career trajectory after leaving the American League for the New York Mets. From 2010-11, he was only 19-22, but with a 3.08 ERA and 1.209 WHIP—a massive improvement from the 5.43 ERA and 1.572 WHIP he "boasted" in the AL. Then in 2012, Dickey's run support improved by 25%—the result was a 20-6 campaign for a 74-88 Mets team and 27 of 32 first-place votes for the NL Cy Young Award.

THIS CARD: This photo angle gives the appearance that we're watching Cotton Hill pitch rather than R.A. Dickey. Knuckleball pitchers aren't generally known to have exaggerated deliveries or expressions...but Dickey did throw other pitches.

Per Getty Images, we're seeing Dickey as he deals against the Pirates 9/27/2012. That day he allowed three runs in 7.2 innings, matching his season-high with 13 K as Toronto held on for the 6-5 win—Dickey's 20th of the season!

(flip) It's just as well that Dickey struggled against the 2012 postseason teams (Nationals, Braves, Reds, Cardinals, Giants, Yankees, Orioles, Tigers, A's, Rangers). The Mets, as mentioned, were just 74-88 in '12, so it's not like Dickey was a weak link during a pennant drive.

I never once noticed the total pitches listed on the back of this card! Those 3,359 offerings ranked 13th in the NL, but only 26th in MLB. Then again, leading the league in pitches thrown isn't necessarily a good thing—it could mean you're durable, but it could also mean you're command-challenged. Or that your manager has no confidence in his bullpen and is willing to run you into the ground to protect his job.

AFTER THIS CARD: So amazed by Dickey's 2012 Cy Young performance were the Mets that they...swapped him to Toronto two months after he received his award. Though Dickey continued to pile on innings over the next few years, he never finished more than one game over .500 again, and accordingly, he was unable to secure even one additional Cy Young vote over his final five MLB seasons. 

Dickey went 49-52, 4.05 for the 2013-16 Jays, then 10-10 as a 42-year-old Atlanta Brave in 2017. He then sat down, having notched 120 career wins after managing just 15 thru age 30.

This is R.A. Dickey's lone Cy Young Award Topps card.

CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Subsets

Topps Brandon McCarthy
Topps Brandon McCarthy

3/14/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #334 Brandon McCarthy, Dodgers

More Brandon McCarthy Topps Cards: 2005U 2007 2008 2009U 2010 2011U 2012 2013 2014 2014U 2015 2018 2018U

Veteran righty Brandon McCarthy won't be having his number retired by any franchise anytime soon, nor will he watch proudly as a statue is hoisted outside any of the major league stadiums he called home. But team's don't win without guys like McCarthy—guys who can compete without their best stuff and who keep their team in most games, even with an arsenal that by (big league standards) wouldn't "wow" many.

A World Series champion as a 2005 White Sox rookie, McCarthy had made the rounds by 2015—the Dodgers represented his sixth team across 11 major league campaigns. Despite a 5.87 ERA, the 32-year-old opened '15 with a 3-0 record in his first four starts. Sadly, those would be his only four starts of the season.

THIS CARD: That's McCarthy as he follows the path of his 92-93 MPH two-seamer with heavy movement, his curve or his slider. He also cut and sank the fastball.

Per Getty Images, we're seeing the veteran McCarthy on 4/19/2015 vs Colorado; that day he threw six shutout innings, walking two, scattering three hits and striking out six in a 7-0 Dodgers win—their seventh straight (boo). It was also McCarthy's first win over the Rox in five career tries.

In Dodgers history, #38 has also been worn by closers Todd Worrell (1993-97) and Eric Gagne (2001-06 after previously having #48). Young reliever Yency Almonte currently claims #38.

(flip) As you can see in the stats, McCarthy's 2015 campaign was a short one: he underwent UCL surgery on 4/30, five days after feeling tightness in his elbow at San Diego. It was the first year of a 4Y/$48M deal McCarthy signed the previous December.

In 2016, McCarthy ran that streak of 117 starts with three or less BB to 122. He then walked exactly five hitters in three straight starts because baseball is confounding like that.

If you can math, you see that McCarthy reached exactly 200 innings in 2014 between the D'Backs and Yankees—the only time in his career he ever came close to that figure. Off the top of my head, I don't know anyone in my era to land right at 200 on the dot.

AFTER THIS CARD: For McCarthy—who you'll recall, suffered serious injuries when Angels SS Erick Aybar lined one off his head in 2012—his "Tommy John" surgery was far from his worst physical setback; he was back on the mound in July 2016 and started 2-0, 1.61 in four starts before a "hip injury" contributed to a dropoff.

McCarthy went 6-4, 3.98 across 19 games (16 starts) in 2017, but was disabled twice (left shoulder dislocation, yips) and ended the year in relief. He did make his first ever postseason appearance, taking the extra-inning loss in Game 2 of the World Series vs. Houston.

 

2018 proved to be McCarthy's final MLB season; he was 6-3, 4.92 across 15 starts for the Braves (who acquired him in the blockbuster December 2017 trade sending OF Matt Kemp back to the Dodgers) when knee tendinitis sidelined him in July. He retired at season's end, age 35, and went to work in the Rangers' front office. McCarthy's final line: 69-75, 4.20 across 13 active seasons.

Brandon McCarthy appeared in 2007-08, 2010, 2012-16 and 2018 Topps. He can also be found in 2005, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2018 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers

Topps Steven Moya
Topps Steven Moya

3/16/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #270 Steven Moya, Tigers

More Steven Moya Topps Cards: n/a

I expect this to be relatively brief.

The massive Moya, after six minor league seasons, reached MLB as a 2014 September call-up after leading the Eastern League in home runs (by a lot). But the 22-year-old was only able to extract eight at-bats with the Tigers, who were going down to the wire with the Royals for the AL Central title. 

THIS CARD: Per Getty Images, we're seeing Moya on 9/5/2014 batting against my Giants in an 8-2 loss. Moya entered in the T9th as a (shifted) defensive replacement for J.D. Martinez in RF, then struck out on three pitches against now-reliever Tim Lincecum in the B9th.

What a difference tripling your homer total makes. After appearing in one set in 2014 (Grandstand, whatever that is), Moya shows up in 2015 Topps, Heritage, Stadium Club, Donruss, Panini and Bowman.

More from Moya's 2014 season: he did not start even once for Detroit, serving as a PH, PR and/or DR in all 11 appearances for the team. As a pinch-runner on 9/2 he technically scored the winning run for the Tigers on 9/2 at Cleveland; with the Tigers down 2-1, Moya subbed for Miguel Cabrera on 1B, then scored Detroit's third run when Martinez homered to CF against CL Cody Allen.

(flip) Those home run and RBI records Moya set for Erie still stand nine years later.

That single was against Cleveland RP Austin Adams (the non-active one, not the one currently with Arizona who hit 24 guys in 2021); one batter later, OF Tyler Collins brought Moya in with a three-run homer, also off Adams.

I've always wondered: WAR can be retroactively calculated, so why doesn't Topps—or whoever handles stats for Topps—DO IT ALREADY for minor league seasons? The WAR stat has appeared on Topps cards since at least 2012; that's plenty of time to get 'er done. (OR, as would be my preference, the company could bring back the Strikeouts stat in place of WAR.)

AFTER THIS CARD: Moya was, once again, a September call-up in 2015, going 4-for-22 across nine games for the Tigers. In 2016, he spent huge chunks of May, June and July with Detroit, most of that after Martinez broke his elbow crashing against the Kauffman Stadium (Royals) wall in mid-June. On 6/22, Moya homered twice against Seattle; he ultimately finished at .255, 5, 11 in 31 games with the '16 Tigers.

Out of options entering 2017, Moya seemed to have a shot at a roster spot when Martinez sprained his foot near the end of Spring Training, but the Tigers outrighted him back to AAA Toledo instead and left him there all season. Moya took his bat to Japan for the 2018-21 seasons—I sincerely hope they gave him his own row—but as far as I can tell, has not played professionally since (outside of winter ball in the D.R.)

Steven Moya appeared in 2015 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Detroit Tigers

Topps Gaby Sanchez
Topps Gaby Sanchez

3/17/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps Update #298 Gaby Sanchez, Pirates

More Gaby Sanchez Topps Cards: 2009 2009U 2010U 2011A 2011B 2012 2013 2014

 

Again, not to be confused with the ex-Yankees C Gary Sanchez.

Here, we catch up with Sanchez shortly after his Deadline 2012 trade to the Pirates. The 2011 All-Star opened the year with the new-look, new-name Miami Marlins, but when they got off to a slow start to the '12 campaign—which a cold Sanchez contributed to—pricey veterans were purged. Sanchez followed IF Omar Infante, SS Hanley Ramirez, SP Anibal Sanchez (no relation), and RPs Randy Choate and Edward Mujica out the door in late July.

THIS CARD: Sanchez flips the ball presumably to a pitcher covering the bag...we'll investigate soon, but first I have to tell you that as an ex-amateur player, the 3-1 putout is way tougher than it looks for both parties. It isn't easy leading a pitcher with a toss, and it isn't easy for said pitcher to look for the ball while trying to touch the bag at high speed. 

Hopefully, the new larger bases will help avoid a repeat of the Tim Hudson/Eric Young Jr. disaster of 2013.

Results of the investigation: this pic is from Pittsburgh's 8/9 clash with Arizona; the pitcher racing to cover (shown in the original pic) is Jeff Locke, who went the final 2.1 innings of the Pirates' 6-3 loss that day (D'Backs SS Stephen Drew was the batter). Sanchez, in addition to completing this play, went 3-for-4 with a run scored.

More from Sanchez's late 2012 season: on Deadline Day (7/31), Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett 1-hit the Cubs at Wrigley—the only blemish being a clean single by PH Adrian Cardenas* with two outs in the B8th. That improved the Bucs to 59-44, tied for the NLWC lead with Atlanta and only three games back of the Reds in the NLC—hence the trade for Sanchez and others. On 8/12 vs. the Dodgers, Sanchez drew two walks—double his total for his other 24 games that month!

(flip) As you see in the stats, Sanchez did draw his share of walks prior to joining Pittsburgh, so how he managed to draw just three in a 25-game stretch is baffling.

When the Pirates acquired Gaby, he was "serving" his second month-long demotion to AAA New Orleans after batting just .202 in 55 games for Miami. Pittsburgh immediately promoted him and gave him (the traded) Casey McGehee's job as righty platoon 1B (with lefty Garrett Jones).

The Trade With Marlins sent then-prospect OF Gorkys Hernandez and a 2013 competitive balance Draft Pick back to Miami; minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska—who peaked with two games for 2012 New Orleans—also joined the Pirates organization.

AFTER THIS CARD: Sanchez spent the next two seasons (2013-14) as a part-time 1B/PH for Pittsburgh, batting a combined .241, 14, 69 in 259 games for a Pirates team that returned to postseason play in both those years after a 20-year drought!

Sanchez spent a so-so 2015 season playing in Japan, then was unable to win a job with the 2016 Mariners—ending his playing career. Sanchez has done some pre-and-postgame TV work for the Marlins in recent years.

Gaby Sanchez debuted in 2009 Topps, then appeared in the 2011-14 sets. He's also got 2009, 2010 and 2012 Update cards. (The 2009 Update card was not needed; he had not changed teams, names or positions.)

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps Update, Pittsburgh Pirates

*Former #37 overall pick (2006) Cardenas, who I'd never heard of even immediately after Burnett's gem, was 11-for-60 (.183) in 45 MLB games, all with the 2012 Cubs. Here's why he left pro baseball.

Topps Checklists
Topps Checklists

3/18/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #242 Checklist

More 1999 Topps Checklists: n/a

 

Today, TSR presents to you the second of two 1999 Topps Series 1 Checklists. The set was so damn small, one would have sufficed for each series had Topps not began featuring Insert cards on its Checklists beginning in 1997.

Adding this card to COTD has alerted me to something: I have a very poor sorting method for my Checklists here in my TSR album, one that makes it harder to find Checklists by year than it should be...so I'll probably spend only a few minutes on this profile.

You know what they say—strike while the iron is HOT!

THIS CARD: I believe this is the only individual Topps base card of #188 Gabe Alvarez, a hot prospect at one time who fizzled out quickly with the rebuilding Tigers. (Alvarez does have at least one shared Prospect card, but I forget which set.)

There's not much about collecting that irks me more than when a Checklist doesn't distinguish a subset card from a common card. (Mostly for that reason, I wasn't exactly torn up when Checklists were relegated to Insert status in 2000 Topps.) Here's the subset breakdown:

Cards #200-204 represent the Season Highlights subset. Cards #205-212 are shared Prospect cards. Cards #213-219 are shared Draft Pick cards. Card #220 is a variation; 70 different versions exist (one for each homer McGwire hit in 1998). Cards #221-232 are League Leaders, and finally, #233-#240 cover the 1998 World Series.

(flip) Though I collected most of 1999 Topps thru packs, I was not able to acquire very many Inserts at all, although I did nab a few Picture Perfects (collectors "had to" guess what the card image was showing, and it wasn't always obvious).

I did acquire one of the Nolan Ryan reprints; without looking, I'm pretty sure it was the 1992 edition (#25).

Hmmm...interesting that Power Brokers features two pitchers among its 20 subjects. But it's true—pitchers do provide power, just not the same type as hitters do. If you weren't watching baseball in 1998, just know the very powerful Kerry Wood was insanely good as a rookie Cubs pitcher.

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Checklists

Topps Kevin Elster
Topps Kevin Elster

3/19/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #198 Kevin Elster, Pirates

More Kevin Elster Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1997 2001

 

It's almost laughable to think of the venue currently known as Oracle Park as a bandbox today, a place where power hitters thrive. But after the first game at Oracle (then Pacific Bell) Park 4/11/2000, it was laughable to think it was anything else. That's largely because of the six combined home runs for the Dodgers and Giants that day, three were hit by Dodgers SS Kevin Elster.

There was a time when Elster would need at least six or seven weeks to hit three home runs, but on this day, the 35-year old returned to MLB with a trio of BANGS following a long layoff (see below). No doubt when told of the day's events, most Giants fans responded with something like "You mean, Elster was on base when Adrian Beltre/Shawn Green/Gary Sheffield hit three home runs...right??"

It was crazy, but thankfully, that was not a sign of things to come for my 2000 Giants or their shiny new ballpark.

Here, Elster has just ended what would be his first and only year with the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates. Signed as a free agent after a breakout 1996 season with the Rangers, Elster's 1997 season ended in horrific fashion 5/16 when he collided with Marlins IF Kurt Abbott at first base while trying to beat out a bunt, breaking his left wrist. Though it was initially reported he could return around Labor Day, Elster never played again in '97.

THIS CARD: Elster handles the shortstop position as he always had—reliably, as he avoids Braves SS Jeff Blauser around the bag. Elster, of course, once held the MLB record for consecutive errorless games at SS with 88 from 1988-89, but Cal Ripken Jr. ran it up to 95 in 1990. (Elster still held the NL record until another notable Met, Rey Ordonez, played 101 straight errorless games at SS 1999-2000. Mike Bordick—also a onetime Met—holds the MLB record today with 110 in 2002.)

I always..I don't know, appreciate is the word, I guess...when a player receives a horizontal front image following a tough season, or when said player is simply not known by anyone outside of his own clubhouse. I guess it's because I've always been an advocate of, from a card collecting standpoint, representing all reasonably equally. While Elster's '97 season ended up not being much, he still had fans out there. And those fans no doubt appreciated cards like this.

In Pirates history, #10 has also been worn by notable players such as Hall-of-Fame OF Lloyd Waner in the 1930s, speedy SS Frank Taveras in the 1970s, steady SS Jordy Mercer in the 2010s, and current star OF Bryan Reynolds. But THE best #10 in Pirates history, even better than Waner in my eyes, is longtime manager Jim Leyland 1987-96.

(flip) Well, Elster did get a chance to repeat his breakthrough '96. It's just that his chance didn't last as long as anyone hoped or expected. With seven homers and 25 RBI thru Pittsburgh's first 40 games, the veteran infielder was on a pace for about 28 homers and 100 RBI had he remained healthy.

That broken wrist required a lengthy surgery; usually, if anyone ends up hurt in a first base collision, it's the FIELDER, not the runner. But Abbott escaped unscathed. Also: why the hell was Elster—who was leading Pittsburgh in home runs and RBI at the time as their full-time #5 hitter—sacrificing?

Yeah, Elster finished at .225 in '97, but he was warming up prior to his injury, going 9-for-33 (.273) with three homers and eight RBI in what ended up being his final nine games.

AFTER THIS CARD: The Pirates, with a couple younger, cheaper options for SS, watched as Elster returned to the Rangers in December 1997 at 1Y/$1.65M—precisely what he made in '97. But he was not the same player he'd been for Texas two years prior, and when they acquired the younger, flashier Royce Clayton via Deadline trade with the Cardinals, Elster was shown the door.

Elster didn't return to pro baseball until December 1999, when his old Mets manager Davey Johnson requested his services for the 2000 Dodgers. The now-36-year-old won LA's shortstop job out of camp and—as mentioned—blasted my Giants on Opening Day '00. But by June, Alex Cora (yes, that one) was getting most of the at-bats at SS, and by August, Cora was getting virtually all of the at-bats at SS. Elster finished 2000 at .227, 14, 32 in 80 games, with a career-worst .946 FP in 55 games at short. He retired for good that winter. 

Kevin Elster appeared in 1998-92, 1997-98 and 2001 Topps. He never appeared in a Traded set.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates

Topps Alex Cobb
Topps Alex Cobb

3/21/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps Update #159 Alex Cobb, Rays

More Alex Cobb Topps Cards: 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

 

Veteran starter Alex Cobb has experienced near everything as an MLB pitcher.

He's finished with his league's sixth-best ERA...only to be a 15-game loser four years later.

He's undergone UCL surgery, which sidelined him for nearly two full seasons.

He's started and won an AL Wild Card Game. He's been a regular starter on a 115-loss squad.

He's been hit square in the head with a liner.

Whenever Alex Cobb is done, he can look back and say, no matter what, at least it wasn't dull.

Here, Cobb has just made his first handful of big league starts. And he's looked good, ultimately pitching into the sixth inning (or beyond) in all but two of his nine starts.

THIS CARD: Cobb fires a pitch against the Texas Rangers 5/31/2011. At this early, pre-surgery point in his career, Cobb relied on his mid-to-high-90's four-seamer as well as his splitter/changeup. Over time, he began to lean on his sinker more—it's a good one. Cobb also has a good slider as well as the occasional curveball.

More from the game: Cobb went 6.1 innings with three earned runs allowed, taking a no-decision versus the Rangers. He threw 99 pitches, walked four and whiffed four.

More from Cobb's 2011 season: after initially debuting for the Rays on 5/1/2011, he became a regular starter for them beginning 5/31/2011, the date of this image. On 7/24, Cobb threw seven shutout innings in a win at Kansas City. One start later on 7/30, he punched out a season-high nine batters at Seattle.

(flip) Jeremy Hellickson's career outshined Cobb's early on as the latter battled injuries. Hellickson owned 57 MLB wins in 167 starts by age 30, but picked up just 19 more after that. Cobb, OTOH, won 48 times in 115 starts by age 30 but has picked up 29 more and counting since then.

(YES, I know wins don't mean anything to some of you here in the year 2023. But I don't fully embrace sabermetrics yet.)

I wasn't sure if Montgomery survived the MiLB purge of 2020-21, but it did and is about to wrap its 25th season as a (Devil) Rays AA affiliate. The Montgomery Biscuits are presently managed by Morgan Ensberg, which makes me feel SO old, since it seems like just a couple years ago he was a slugging young third baseman for the Astros.

In that first MLB win, Cobb went 6.1 innings, walking none, striking out three and scattering seven hits in a 4-1 Rays win at Anaheim. Cobb's outing avenged a tough MLB debut against the Angels 5/1/2011.

AFTER THIS CARD: Cobb opened 2012 in AAA, but was back by mid-May and finished 11-9 in 23 GS. Cobb's 11-3, 2.76 performance in 2013 sandwiched a vicious liner off his head in June (by the Royals' Eric Hosmer) which cost him two months; he rebounded to defeat Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game! Cobb then went 10-9, 2.87 for the 2014 Rays, but lost most of 2015-16 after UCL surgery. 

 

Following a strong finish to 2017 (12-10, 3.66 after an uneven start), Cobb signed with Baltimore (4Y/$57M) in March 2018. The Orioles were one season removed from a postseason berth, but wound up losing 115 games in '18, with Cobb going 5-15, 4.90. He was limited to three (poor) starts in 2019 by groin, lumbar and hip injuries—the latter of which required season-ending surgery in June. 

After a so-so 2020, Baltimore dealt Cobb to the Angels in February 2021; he went 8-3, 3.76 but was limited to 18 starts by a May blister and right wrist inflammation in August/September. That December, Cobb signed with my Giants (2Y/$20M) and turned in a 7-8, 3.73 line across 28 starts in 2022; he also struck out a career-high 151 batters and is slated to be no worse than San Francisco's #3 starter entering 2023.

Alex Cobb debuted in 2011 Topps Update, and has since appeared in 2012-22 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps Update, Tampa Bay Rays

Topps Richard Hidalgo
Topps Richard Hidalgo

3/22/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #172 Richard Hidalgo, Astros

More Richard Hidalgo Topps Cards: 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005

 

During my 30+ years of MLB fandom, I can't think of many other now-forgotten dudes who enjoyed a more spectacular season than Richard Hidalgo of the 2000 Astros. Though that turned out to be a rotten year for the three-time defending NL Central Champions in their new ballpark (now known as Minute Maid Park; then known as Enron Field), it was a sensational offensive year for Hidalgo, who slashed .314/.391/.636 with 44 homers and 122 RBI!

Because of the continued power surge throughout MLB in 2000—5,693 total home runs set an MLB record that still ranks fourth today—and Houston's poor record, Hidalgo's efforts didn't gain the attention they would have in most other seasons—the man only secured two MVP points at season's end. Hidalgo would enjoy other quality seasons going forward, but none within 10 miles of his '00 campaign.

Here, the young Venezuelan is coming off an uneven first full season in the majors. Hidalgo started 103 times in LF for the 1999 Astros, much of that as Houston's primary first-half LF (remember, incumbent LF Moises Alou missed the entire '99 season with a freak knee injury). He then shifted to CF for a while, but his own knee surgery—to repair a genetic malformation in his kneecap that had hampered him all year—ended his season in early August.

THIS CARD: Hidalgo unleashes a big swing at an unidentified road ballpark. This is not a bad front image in any way. But it was shot in the same venue from the same angle as Hidalgo's 1999 Topps front image. The difference is here, Hidalgo is in mid-stroke, whereas in his 1999 Topps front image, his swing is complete. But they could be from the same rapid-click reel.

That's the partially-obscured #15 on Hidalgo's back; he wore those digits his entire career until being traded to the Rangers in 2005 and switching to #51 (respected veteran C Sandy Alomar Jr. claimed #15 in Texas that year).  

As a Series 1 2000 Topps card, the Astros 1994-99 logo is present on the front. In Series 2, the team's new 2000 logo appears, and several dudes appear in STUN form.

(flip) Note Hidalgo's relatively modest K totals; for his slugging prowess and youth, he did not strike out at ridiculous paces as many of his peers entering MLB (cough Adam Dunn cough) would soon do. In his career year of 2000, Hidalgo whiffed 110 times in 558 at-bats—a more-than-acceptable rate for the production received.

Ok, let's not get carried away, Topps—while young Hidalgo had his moments, you cannot imply the .227 hitter was on the level of the second runner-up in 1998 NL MVP voting. Topps was right about Hidalgo's arm, which produced a league-high 15 assists prior to his surgery.

The patch on Hidalgo's left sleeve commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Astrodome, which the Astros vacated after the '99 season. If you weren't aware, the building still stands, but was condemned in 2009—in the 14 years since, despite much discussion, no decision about the Dome's future has been agreed upon by any Houston officials. Even Whitney Houston at her worst was not this difficult to work with.

AFTER THIS CARD: With Alou back healthy in '00, Hidalgo slid over to CF full-time; we've mentioned his outstanding 2000 season about 13 times already. But after inking a 4Y/$32M deal in January 2001, Hidalgo dropped to .275, 19, 80 that season—in nearly the same amount of run. In 2002, young Lance Berkman received most of the CF run with Hidalgo shifting to RF; his bat grew even colder (.235 in 114 games) as he battled wrist and hip injuries in the second half. Adding insult (and injury) to injury, Hidalgo was shot in the left arm during an attempted carjacking 11/22/2002 in Venezuela!

The 28-year-old recovered and enjoyed a very fine 2003 campaign (.309, 28, 88 and an NL-best 22 assists as Houston's regular RF) but in the midst of a deep slump that cost him playing time, Hidalgo was swapped to the Mets in June 2004, six weeks after being named NL Player of the Month for April. He hit .228, albeit with 21 homers—second-most on the team* despite his late arrival—in 86 games for the Mets before hitting free agency.

Texas inked the now-29-year-old to a 1Y/$5M deal (plus incentives) in December 2004 and gave him the bulk of their RF run. He hit .221, 16, 43 in 78 games before being sidelined for the year with an early August wrist injury suffered sliding into third base. That, shockingly, would be the last sighting of Hidalgo in MLB; excluding winter ball in Venezuela, he last played professionally in the Mexican League in 2009.

Richard Hidalgo appeared on shared Prospect cards in 1996-97 Topps, then received his own commons in 1998-2005 Topps. He also appeared in 2004 Traded as a new Met.

* OF Mike Cameron hit 30 jacks

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Houston Astros

Topps Jon Singleton
Topps Jon Singleton

3/23/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #358 Jon Singleton, Astros

More Jon Singleton Topps Cards: 2014U 2016

 

Not to be confused with the famed, late film director John Singleton.

This Singleton—who was alternately known as Jonathan—might have been the closest thing, in terms of physical imposition in the batter's box, to Mo Vaughn since Vaughn himself retired after the 2003 season. Problem with Singleton was, despite some solid minor league production, he couldn't hit with consistency in his short MLB trials.

 

Singleton, a #8 pick by the 2009 Phillies, received the bulk of playing time at 1B from June on for the 2014 Astros after the tandem of Jesus Guzman and Marc Krauss (who I forgot ever existed) flamed out. Singleton—who was given a 5Y/$10M deal prior to his MLB debut, raising some eyebrows—homered in his first game and continued to clear fences through season's end, but had great trouble making contact and fielded just .987.

THIS CARD: Topps brought back the "Future Stars" label in 2015 after several years away. Singleton, unfortunately, may have been their most glaring miscalculation in that regard.

Since speedster OF Cesar Cedeno donned it throughout the 1970s, #28 has usually been worn by journeymen passing through Houston, or prospects who didn't pan out. The most notable #28 of the past 42 years is probably 00s shortstop Adam Everett; others to claim the number include OF Billy Hatcher in the '80s, UT Bill Spiers in the '90s, and OF Colby Rasmus in the '10s.

Per Getty Images, we're seeing the big lefty as he drives in a run via T7th groundout off Oakland SP Jason Hammel 9/7/2014. It helped Houston to a 4-3 victory!

(flip) Singleton's first homer was a B8th solo job against Angels RP Matt Shoemaker. His slam, hit off CL Glen Perkins in a mop-up situation at Minnesota 6/8/2014, helped Houston to a season-high 14 runs!

Not shown in the stats: Singleton's 134 K in those 310 at-bats, which projects to what would be a record 268 K across a full season.

That Trade With Phillies sent Singleton, SP Jarred Cosart and RP Josh Zeid to the Astros in exchange for OF Hunter Pence and a PTBNL, prospect Domingo Santana (yes, that one).

AFTER THIS CARD: Houston moved slugging Chris Carter from DH to 1B for 2015, and Singleton opened the year with AAA Fresno (for whom he enjoyed a 10-RBI game in May). He ultimately got in 19 games for the Astros, going 9-for-47 (.191) with one homer and 17 K before spending each of the next two seasons exclusively in the minors—even falling back down to AA (Corpus Christi) in 2017.

In early 2018, Singleton was suspended 100 games for an ongoing substance abuse problem; due to that issue plus the 2020 pandemic, he wouldn't return to the diamond until spending 2021 in the Mexican League (slashing .321/.503/.693 with 15 homers in 46 games!).

The Brewers inked the 30-year-old to a MiLB deal in December 2021; he spent 2022 with AAA Nashville (.219, 24, 87) but still hopes to make another big league impact.

Jon Singleton appeared in 2014 Topps Update, as well as 2015-16 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Houston Astros, Future Stars

Topps Butch Huskey
Topps Butch Huskey

3/24/23 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #535 Butch Huskey, Rockies

More Butch Huskey Topps Cards:  1994 1996 1997 1998 1999 1999T 2000 

 

I usually can't think of Butch Huskey without at least flashing back to this less-than-graceful moment in his career. And when that happens, I laugh. So I'd like to thank the big guy for sacrificing himself in order to bring laughter my way for a quarter-century and counting.

Huskey, one of MLB's most intriguing power prospects of the mid-1990's, came up with the Mets and spent parts of five seasons there. 1997 was his best; he batted .287, 24, 81 while finding time at both corner infield and outfield spots.

After that, Huskey kept his bags packed—his acquisition by the Rockies' in July 2000 meant four  MLB uniforms in two seasons (Mariners/Red Sox 1999, Twins 2000). For Huskey, the trade represented a rescue of sorts, as Minnesota had just outrighted him to AAA Salt Lake eight days prior.

THIS CARD: Huskey was not as "husky" as his name would imply, though make no mistake, he was a big guy. Interestingly, he was listed at 244 lbs. on all seven of his Topps base cards.

Three of Huskey's final Topps base cards depict him charging out of the batters' box after making contact. Which makes sense—nobody, not even Huskey himself, knew where he'd be on defense any given day.

More from Huskey's 2000 season: he won a job with the Twins out of Spring Training and initially split time at DH with David Oritz while also serving at 1B and the OF. But by May Huskey was at .214 with two homers in 24 games—he lost playing time, and in early July he was outrighted to AAA Salt Lake in favor of top 1999 Twins rookie OF Chad Allen.

But a week later, the Colorado trade went down and Huskey was back in MLB. Before leaving Minnesota, he roped his 500th career hit at Oakland 5/21.

(flip) So DID Huskey give Colorado a boost outside of Coors? Kind of. His road average as a Rockie  was better (.371 in 17 games compared to .333 in 28 home games), but he drove in 13 runs at Coors versus five everywhere else.

I would look up Huskey's numbers a Met at Coors (1995-98; the Rox played at Mile High Stadium during Huskey's debut 1993 season), but my Stathead membership is currently expired and I'm not renewing right now.

That Trade sent Huskey, along with ex-Twins phenom Todd Walker (who'd also been outrighted to Salt Lake early in 2000) to Colorado in exchange for 1B prospect Todd Sears. Sears—a Rockies #3 pick in 1997—went on to play 31 games for the 2002-03 Twins and nine more for the 2003 Padres before disappearing from MLB.
So even though neither Huskey or Walker lasted in Denver past mid-2001, the Rockies still easily destroyed Minnesota in this trade (at least on the field; there were extenuating circumstances).

I don't know why Huskey is listed exclusively as a DH when he played half the '00 season with Colorado under 1973-2019 and 2021 DH rules (none in the NL). The majority of Huskey's Rockies run came as a PH/DR, and even while still in the AL with the Twins, his DH and defensive action was nearly even.

AFTER THIS CARD: Not much. Huskey signed a MiLB deal with Cleveland for 2001, but wound up back in the Rockies system—he spent the entire '01 season batting .323, 19, 87 for Colorado Springs but was not heard from again in pro baseball.

Butch Huskey appeared as a Future Star in 1994 Topps, returned on a shared "AAA" card in 1996 Topps, then received standard commons in the 1997-2001 Topps sets. He also shows up as a new Red Sock in 1999 Topps Traded & Rookies.

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Colorado Rockies

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