A place where Colorado Rockies baseball card collectors (all 3 of us) can waste some time reading about our favorite sport. The Rockies and their cards will be the primary focus, but I like to go off on tangents as well so anything and everything baseball related may be covered here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rating the Rookie Cups - 1986

This week I am going to show off the last (to date) Rookie All Star Team that did not feature any Rookie Cups on the card.  The set in the spotlight this week is 1986 Topps.  Some of you may have read about my personal feelings for this set in my Best Topps Set Countdown.  Obviously this set means a lot to me.  However, the set is definitely not known for a great, hobby-friendly, rookie class.  But there were some decent players to begin their careers in 1985.  This team is also notable for two reasons. First, for having no second baseman and two shortstops on the team.  Second, for having a tie vote for the right-handed pitcher, the first time since 1978 with more than 10 players on the team.

Let's take a look at some of the best rookies from 1985.

Once again ratings will be on a 1-10 scale for both rookie year and career.

Mark Salas - Minnesota - C -                 (Rookie)   6   (Career)  2
Glenn Davis - Houston - 1B -                 (Rookie)    7  (Career)  5
Chris Brown - San Francisco - 3B -        (Rookie)   7   (Career)  2

Ozzie Guillen - Chicago (AL) - SS -       (Rookie)   6  (Career)  6
Earnie Riles - Milwaukee - SS -             (Rookie)   5  (Career)  3

Vince Coleman - St. Louis - OF -           (Rookie)   9  (Career)  7
Oddibe McDowell - Texas - OF -          (Rookie)   7  (Career)  3
Larry Sheets - Baltimore - OF -              (Rookie)   3  (Career)  2

Brian Fisher - New York (AL) - RHP -               (Rookie)  6  (Career)  2
Roger McDowell - New York (NL) - RHP -       (Rookie)  4  (Career)  5
Tom Browning - Cincinnati - LHP -                     (Rookie)  9  (Career)  6

Strongest Team Members (in 1985) - Tom Browning, Vince Coleman, Oddibe McDowell

Strongest Team Members (Career) - Vince Coleman, Ozzie Guillen, Tom Browning

Weakest Team Members (in 1985) - Larry Sheets, Roger McDowell, Earnie Riles

Weakest Team Members (Career) - Larry Sheets, Mark Salas, Brian Fisher

Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 0

Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams)    3
In 1985 this was a very strong team, but most of these guys peaked in their rookie years.  There are no hobby superstars or anyone that even sniffed the Hall of Fame, but there are a few solid careers amongst the mostly disappointing ones.


Here are the players I feel should have been on this Rookie All Star Team.  This is based on rookie year data only.

Catcher - Mark Salas - Minnesota
Although his career never took off, Salas was the best rookie catcher in 1985 over the likes of Mickey Tettleton and Tom Nieto.

First Baseman - Glenn Davis - Houston
This was probably the easiest choice of any.  Davis had an outstanding rookie year and there wasn't competition other than a half season of Sid Bream.

Second Baseman - Jim Pankovits - Houston
I made this change not because Pankovits was better than Riles or Guillen (he wasn't), but because neither Riles nor Guillen played a single game at second base in 1985.  There were only two rookies that played second even a little in 1985 and Pankovits was better than Paul Zuvella.

Third Baseman - Chris Brown - San Francisco
Once again, this was a relatively easy choice.  Brown had a very strong rookie year and his competition of Tim Hulett and Steve Buechele just didn't measure up.

Shortstop - Ozzie Guillen - Chicago White Sox
This was the position with the toughest battle in 1985.  It was neck and neck between Guillen and Earnie Riles.  In the end, I chose AL Rookie of the Year Guillen because he was much better defensively at a premium defensive position.  Others considered were Mariano Duncan, Jose Uribe, and Shawon Dunston.

Outfield - Vince Coleman - St. Louis, Oddibe McDowell - Texas, Larry Sheets - Baltimore
Topps got this one right.  Coleman, the NL Rookie of the Year, and McDowell were easy choices, but I looked really hard to find a better choice than Sheets.  It just wasn't there with Ivan Calderon of the Mariners and Steve Lyons of Boston among others.

RHP - Rick Aguilera - NY Mets
Topps went the route of using both Big Apple rookie closers as the RHP.  I think a third New Yorker should have been the pick.  Best known later as the Twins closer, Aguilera had a very good rookie year as a starter and gets the nod over Fisher, McDowell, and Kirk McCaskill.

LHP - Tom Browning - Cincinnati
Usually the LHP category is the weakest, but in 1985 it was arguably the strongest.  Browning won 20 games, so he was an easy selection.  In just about any other year, Teddy Higuera or Joe Hesketh would have been easy choices.


Last Week's Question - What are the four franchises that have had the fewest total members of the Topps All Star Rookie Team?

San Diego Padres - 10  (most recent - 2005 Khalil Greene)
Tampa Bay Rays - 8  (most recent - 2012 Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings)
Colorado Rockies - 6  (most recent - 2008 Troy Tulowitzki)
Arizona Diamondbacks - 3  (most recent - 2008 Chris Young)

Unsurprisingly, three of the four were 90s expansion teams.  The fourth team from the 90s, the Marlins, came in with 12, which makes sense considering the amount of fire sales and starting over that has happened in Florida.  The Padres surprised me quite a bit.  I just figured since they never really had that many good teams, there would probably be a bunch of rookies.  At least three of these teams have a good shot at adding to their total next year, so all is not lost.


As of 2012, which franchise has gone the longest without a single player appearing on the Topps Rookie All Star Team?  (Hint: The player is still active)


The 1992 team appearing on 1993 Topps.

Thanx for reading.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Todd and the Todd-lers Thursdays #4

Last week I skipped Todd and the Todd-lers Thursday in order to take a look back at my pre-season predictions.  When the Rockies had their starting rotation set at the beginning of the season, the names involved were Guthrie, Moyer, Chacin, Nicasio, and Pomeranz.  That was a LOOOONG four months ago.  Now the Rockies have a widely ridiculed 4 man 75 pitch limit rotation.  Only Guthrie and Pomeranz remain and each of them went through a demotion to the bullpen and the minors respectively.  My favorite player collection, Christian Friedrich takes up the 3rd slot in the new rotation.  The 4th and final slot in the rotation is this week's Todd-ler of the Week, Jeff Francis, who began the year with the Reds in AAA. 

Let's take a look at one of only 3 remaining members (along with Helton and Tulo) of the Rockies 2007 World Series team.


Jeff Francis
Total Cards Owned = 82

2003 Topps #666

Jeff Francis was drafted by the Rockies in the 1st round (9th overall) of the 2002 Draft out of the University of British Columbia.  Francis breezed through the minors and made his major league debut on August 25, 2004.  Following Larry Walker, Francis became the 2nd Canadian to play for the Rockies.  Ironically, Walker was traded to the Cardinals three weeks prior to Francis's promotion.  

This card is Jeff's rookie from 2003 Topps.  I am not a huge fan of Draft Pick cards.  While it is kind of cool if the player turns into a major leaguer, more often than not you end with a player who couldn't get past AA.  

Card grade - B

2005 Ultra #218

To no one's surprise, Francis won a spot in the 2005 rotation out of Spring Training.  What did surprise some was that, due to injury and ineffectiveness, Francis turned out to be the most reliable Rockies starter in 2005.  He ended the season with a 14-12 record with a 5.68 ERA in 33 starts and finished 6th in NL Rookie of the Year voting.  That might not read impressively, but for the 67-95 2005 Rockies it definitely was a good sign for the future.

This card is from one of my least favorite Ultra sets.  While it may appear that this is a Gold Medallion parallel, it is actually his "rookie" card.  The rookies from the 2005 set had a bronze tint applied to the backgrounds and in my opinion they are hideous.

Card grade - F

2006 Topps Opening Day Red Foil #46 Serial Numbered 0928/2006

Prior to the 2006 season, Francis pitched for his native Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  Francis started the 3rd game of the Classic for Canada and got lit up by Mexico to the tune of 6 runs in just over 1 inning in a 9-1 loss.  The big deficit proved costly as Canada didn't move on to Round 2 due to run differential.  

This card is a foil parallel akin to the blue borders in the current Opening Day set.  It is a decent wind up shot and my only red foil parallel to date.  It looks better in person than scanned.

Card grade - B+

2007 Topps Allen & Ginter #343

By just about anyone's count, the 2007 season was a career year for Jeff Francis.  He had come into his own as the ace of the Rockies and responded with a 17-9 record and a 4.22 ERA.  He was a huge part of the September winning streak that led to the Rockies first playoff berth in 12 years.  He became only the second Rockies pitcher to ever receive votes in the NL Cy Young voting following Marvin Freeman in 1994.  He finished 9th with 1 point.

I have made my feelings known about Allen and Ginter ever since I started this blog, but I do like chocolate.  Anyway, I do like this card somewhat, except for the green gas cloud behind him.  

Card grade - C

2008 Finest #69

During the 2007 playoffs, Francis etched his name into the baseball history books not once, but twice.  He became the first Canadian-born starting pitcher to win a postseason game with a 4-2 Game 1 victory over the Phillies in the NLDS.  He also won game 1 of the NLCS versus the Diamondbacks.  His second record was being the first Canadian-born starting pitcher in a World Series game.  That game wasn't nearly as successful with the Rockies losing 13-1 to Boston.

This card is from the underrated 2008 Finest set.  I like the hexagonal photo.  It is a very underused shape on cards.

Card grade - B

2009 Topps Chrome Blue Refractor #105 Serial Numbered 091/199

The 2008 season seemed like a bad dream for both Jeff Francis and Rockies fans.  The follow up season to the World Series run was not a success by any means.  Francis started only 22 games due to shoulder soreness and had a record of 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA.  The shoulder soreness led to Francis missing the entire 2009 season because of arthroscopic surgery.

Although I am a Rockies fan and one would think that the purple chrome refractors are my favorite, I actually prefer the blue ones.  They seem to pop just a little bit more.  

Card grade - B+

2010 Topps #406

Francis finally made it back to the big leagues in May of 2010.  He was no longer counted on as the ace due to the emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez, but he was still needed.  His comeback season looked an awful lot like his 2008 season.  He ended up 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games.  Following the season, Francis joined the Royals as a free agent.

I thought for the longest time that this would be one of the last Jeff Francis cards I would own (even though he should have had a 2011 Topps card).  That would have been a shame, because no one should have their last card in the awful 2010 Topps set.  It is nice to see the purple jersey on a card again though.

Card grade - D

So far so good with Francis this year as he has a 2-2 record with a 4.76 ERA.  Not bad, but for the 2012 Rockies he looks like Pedro Martinez in his prime.  I am hopeful that he will get more Rockies cards in the future because thus far Francis has yet to have a great card.  He has a few good cards, but doesn't yet have that standout card that I am waiting to see.  If he keeps it up, there might be several more years of Rockies cards in his future.

Thanx for reading.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday Bombers #5

I'm back on track after a one day absence with the next installment of Wednesday Bombers.  As you may recall, I have been delving into the Rockies deadline deals from the 20th century and checking out the results of said deals.  First, I looked at the Bret Saberhagen deal from 1995 and last week I wrote about the Bruce Hurst deal from the expansion 1993 team.  Both of those deals were designed to improve the Rockies pitching staff which has been an ongoing project since the Rockies were born.

Today's deal will be involving offense and a big contributor to their short history at the time.  Much like the Hurst deal with the Padres, this trade was also completed intradivisionally with the Giants. 

Let's take a look and see if this deal was a tad more successful than that one.

July 31, 1998

Rockies receive                                                                Giants receive
OF - Darryl Hamilton                                                       OF - Ellis Burks
RP - Jim Stoops
SP - Jason Brester (as PTBNL August 18, 1998)


Darryl Hamilton was the key major league piece of this trade for the Rockies.  He immediately took Burks' spot as the starting center fielder upon arrival from San Francisco.  Hamilton wasn't bad for the Rockies.  He hit .335 for the remainder of the 1998 season, but he did not have the power or speed of Burks.  He was mainly a singles hitter, which is useful for a team.  Hamilton would spend exactly one year on the Rockies roster, but I'll explore that more next week.

Jim Stoops was a high Class A relief pitcher in the Giants organization with an ERA under 1.00 at the time of the trade.  The Rockies immediately promoted him to AAA.  He barely missed a step with a 1.23 ERA in Colorado Springs which earned him a September call up to the big leagues.  He pitched in 3 games and got a victory over the Giants in 1998.  Unfortunately, he would never see the big leagues again.  He spent the next two seasons in the Rockies minor leagues before moving on to the Yankees.

Jason Brester was potentially the jewel of this trade.  He was the Giants 2nd round pick in 1995 out of high school and had already moved up to AA.  AA proved to be Brester's peak as a pro ball player though.  He stayed with the Rockies until mid-1999 before being sent to the Phillies.


Ellis Burks had spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Rockies after being signed to a five year free agent contract in the 1993 offseason.  The Rockies believed they were going to lose him at the end of the year, so they decided to trade him.  The Giants were trying to track down the Padres in the NL West, so they bit.  Burks played well for the Giants in 1998, but not as well as he did in Colorado and the Giants faded to a 2nd place finish.  He did re-sign with the Giants and spent two more years there where he proved he was no Coors Field fluke. 


On the surface, it appears that the Giants won this trade by a large margin.  However, a deadline deal involving a star for prospects usually means a team is loading up for a playoff run that year.  The Giants fell short in this case, losing the wild card by 1 game to the Cubs.  If Burks had not re-signed, this trade would have been a push.  Since he did re-sign, Hamilton didn't match Burks's stats in Colorado, and the pitchers proved to be not much more than minor league filler, I'd have to say the Giants win this one.  But not by as much as it you first think.

This is also the last trade completed between the Giants and Rockies.  It is the longest current trade drought for the Rockies with any team in the majors. 

The Rockies lose this trade as well to bring their deadline deal record to 1-2.  There was one other deadline deal in the 20th century which I will explore next week.  Will it bring the Rockies up to .500 or will it just drag the record down even further?  Tune in next week to see.

Thanx for reading.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mashburn Mondays #5

Major life decisions happen all the time when one is in college at 19 or 20 years old.  Is the girl (or guy) you are currently with the one you want to spend the rest of you life with?  What should I major in and what kind of career path will be the result of that major?  Will it really hurt me if I take drugs or drive a little tipsy?  Each of these decisions and many others will have a huge impact on the rest of your life.  For star college basketball players one additional significant question presents itself at that age...should I leave school and go pro?  On today's Mashburn Monday, both of the players I am profiling decided to leave school early.  It can arguable whether that is ever the correct decision for any player, but I am not going to get into that debate here.  I am just going to focus on these two players in a vacuum.  So let's take a look at both Jamal Mashburn, who left after his junior year in 1993, and today's Random Cat of the Week Kelenna Azubuike, who left after his junior year in 2005, and see if the decisions were wise.

Let's take a look.

Jamal Mashburn
Total Cards Owned = 502

 1995 Upper Deck Electric Court #78

Mashburn was on the Kentucky team that lost in that god-awful Duke game that gets replayed every single year.  I could write a 20 page paper about my feelings regarding that game, but I'll spare you for now and talk about his junior year team.  The 1993 Cats squad was a #1 seed had a great chance to win it all with Mashburn's leadership.  My favorite memory of that team was in the SEC Tournament when they beat Tennessee by 70 in Allan Houston's last college game ever.  This card is a stamped parallel much like the Electric Diamond in baseball.  I don't like stamped parallels much, but the photo is great and he is against one of better defending big men of all time.

Card grade - A-

Other players on the card
Nuggets - Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo
Mavericks - Popeye Jones

 1998 Metal Universe Emeralds #83

After rolling through the SEC Tourney, Kentucky was awarded the #1 seed in the Southeast Region and continued rolling through the first four games of said region.  It was one of the most dominant regional performances ever with the closest game being a 21 point drubbing of Utah.  This set up a Final Four match up with the Fab Five of Michigan.  This card is a color parallel in the usually dull Metal Universe line.  This card would also tend to be slightly dull, except for the fantastic deer-in-the-headlights expression on Mashburn's face.  Easily one of my favorite Mashburn cards.

Card grade - A

Other players on the card

2004 Ultra #124

The Final Four game with Michigan is one of those games that deserves to be remembered more than it is.  The reason it is mostly a footnote is due to Chris Webber's time-out debacle in the final game that year.  However, that semifinal game was one of the better games that I have ever seen, despite my team coming out on the short end of the stick.  Following the overtime loss to Michigan (since vacated), Mashburn crushed the hearts of (but didn't surprise) many Kentuckians by announcing he was going pro.   The 2004 Ultra set is one of favorite sets of all time in both basketball and baseball.  I fell in love with that script name from the first time I ever saw it.

Card grade - A-

Other players on the card 
76ers - Glenn Robinson (ironically traded for Mashburn the next year)


Kelenna Azubuike
Total Cards Owned = 7

 2007 Ultra #60

Following the graduation of Erik Daniels and Gerald Fitch, Azubuike became the star of the 2004-05 Kentucky Wildcats.  He led the team to an Elite Eight double overtime loss to Michigan State (a fantastic game BTW).  Against the advice of many, including the Director of NBA Scouting Marty Blake, Azubuike decided to forgo his senior year and join the 2005 NBA Draft.  This card is a simple free throw photo, but I love it simple for the uniform.  That is one of those uniforms, like the Astros rainbows, that is so ugly it's cool.

Card grade - A-

Other players on the card

 2008 Fleer #161

He has never come out and said it, but there is a story to indicate why Azubuike went pro when he did.  In February 2005, Azubuike's father was convicted of fraud and ordered to pay several hundred thousand dollars in restitution to his victims.  Kelenna declared for the draft in April of that year.  There is not rock-solid proof that his family troubles were the reason, but it had to play a large factor in his decision.  This card has very nice color going on with both the uniform and the floor in the background. 

Card grade - B

Other players on the card
Heat - Udonis Haslem
Warriors - not sure either Andris Biedrins or Baron Davis

2008 Upper Deck First Edition Gold #56

The 2005 NBA Draft was arguably the decade's second strongest class after 2003.  Because of this, Azubuike went completely undrafted and joined the NBA's D-League.  He was signed by the Rockets, but never called up for a year and a half.  He then signed with the Warriors which turned out to be a great place for him.  He had a breakout year in 2008-09 and all was looking well until a severe knee injury stopped him in his tracks.  He rehabbed for nearly two full years before making it back to pros with the Mavericks last year.  This card is nice because it shows the red-orange Golden State uniforms that I don't even remember (but I don't follow that team closely either). 

Card grade - B+

Other players on the card
Rockets - Luther Head

Mashburn's decision was the right one even though it devastated my 16 year old self.   Had he gone a year later, he probably would have been drafted around the same spot in the 1994 Draft if not a bit lower.  I don't think you will find too many people that think Azubuike made the wise decision by going pro when he did.  Had he waited, he could have gone in the weak 2006 class and not the strong 2005 class.  You definitely can feel empathy for his family situation, but it is a shame that his father put the family in that situation to begin with.  I guess the old Biblical saying that the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son is true in this case.  Despite that, he has forged a fair pro career, although he did have to prove himself in the D-League for two years instead of getting the seasoning in college. Azubuike is currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers following a 2012 draft day trade with the Mavericks.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rating the Rookie Cups - 1991

This week I will be delving into the 1990 Topps All Star Rookie Team as shown on 1991 Topps cards.  The 1991 Topps set is a classic (and was definitely a game changer) in many people's eyes.  But how does the rookie cup team from that year stack up?  Very well, in fact.  Since I gave Topps a little crap last week for choosing poorly in 1980, I must commend them for selecting very well (but not perfectly) this time.

Let's take a look at the best rookies from 1990.

Once again ratings will be on a 1-10 scale for both rookie year and career.

Sandy Alomar - Cleveland - C -               (Rookie)   7   (Career)  6
Hal Morris - Cincinnati - 1B -                   (Rookie)   6   (Career)  6
Delino DeShields - Montreal - 2B -           (Rookie)   7   (Career)  6

Robin Ventura - Chicago (AL) - 3B -       (Rookie)   6  (Career)  7
Jeff Huson - Texas - SS -                         (Rookie)   5  (Career)  2

Felix Jose - St. Louis - OF -                (Rookie)   6  (Career)  3
Dave Justice - Atlanta - OF -               (Rookie)   8  (Career)  7
Larry Walker - Montreal - OF -           (Rookie)   7  (Career)  8

Kevin Appier - Kansas City - RHP -              (Rookie)  7  (Career)  6
Scott Radinsky - Chicago (AL) - LHP -         (Rookie)  3  (Career)  3

Strongest Team Members (in 1990) - Dave Justice, Larry Walker, Sandy Alomar

Strongest Team Members (Career) - Larry Walker, Dave Justice, Robin Ventura

Weakest Team Members (in 1990) - Scott Radinsky, Jeff Huson, Robin Ventura

Weakest Team Members (Career) - Jeff Huson, Felix Jose, Scott Radinsky

Rockies on the team (Present and future) - 2* (Alomar, Walker) *Huson broadcasts Rockies games

Overall Team Rating (1-10 compared to other RAST teams)    7
This is a very strong team, top to bottom.  Walker is still a potential Hall of Famer (screw potential he is one).  Justice and Ventura had very solid careers.  Many of the others had very respectable careers as well.  Huson, Jose, and Radinsky turned into journeymen, but they too had excellent rookie years.


Here are the players I feel should have been on this Rookie All Star Team.  This is based on rookie year data only.

Catcher - Sandy Alomar - Cleveland
I was close to giving this spot to Todd Zeile of the Cardinals because he and Alomar were very close statistically.  For the tiebreaker, I went with team record and the Cardinals finished in last place in 1990. 

First Baseman - Hal Morris - Cincinnati
This is one of the two strongest positions of any from 1990.  Hal Morris had some tough competition in Carlos Quintana and strong half seasons from both Frank Thomas and Kevin Maas.  Morris just hit everything that year though and deserves the win here.

Second Baseman - Delino DeShields - Montreal
An easy choice here because the only other rookie second sacker was the Braves' Mark Lemke and he only played a half season.

Third Baseman - Robin Ventura - Chicago (AL)
Ventura was the only full season rookie third baseman, but Travis Fryman had a heck of a half-season and was nearly better than Ventura.  I had to go with the full time guy though, even if he did have better days to come.

Shortstop - Eric Yelding - Houston
Yelding only played a little less than half of his games at short, but he deserves this spot.  He had 64 steals and 35 more hits than Huson.  Carlos Baerga of the Indians also got a little consideration here.

Outfield - Dave Justice - Atlanta, Larry Walker - Montreal, Felix Jose - St. Louis
Topps got this one right as these three were clearly the top of the heap in 1990.  Others considered were Alex Cole, Greg Vaughn, and Marquis Grissom, but they just weren't good enough in my mind.

RHP - Kevin Appier - Kansas City
This is the other of the two strongest positions in 1990.  Appier's ERA was just too good to change this pick.  Although John Burkett, Kevin Tapani, and Bill Sampen made the decision a little tougher.

LHP - Pat Combs - Philadelphia
Radinsky was unquestionably the weakest selection on this team.  I wouldn't have put him in the top 5 of lefties.  Pat Combs was a tough choice over Steve Avery and a strong half season from Randy Tomlin, but he had a better overall year.


Last week's question
What are the four franchises that have had the most total members of the Topps All Star Rookie Team?

Chicago White Sox - 30  (most recent - 2010 Chris Getz, Gordon Beckham)
Atlanta Braves - 25  (most recent - 2012 Craig Kimbrel)
Minnesota Twins - 25  (most recent - 2012 Ben Revere)
San Francisco Giants - 25  (most recent - 2011 Buster Posey)


What are the four franchises that have had the fewest total members of the Topps All Star Rookie Team?  (Hint: Not all of them are 90's expansion teams)


The 1985 team appearing on 1986 Topps.

Thanx for reading.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012 Season Predictions at the Halfway Point

Normally this is the day for the Todd and the Todd-lers portion of Rockies history, but with MLB starting the second half of the season I figured it was the perfect day for checking in with my 2nd annual pre-season predictions.  Not to worry, Todd and the Todd-lers Thursday will return next week for the handful of you that are actually following along.  For now, let's take a look back, while I cringe and laugh at my horrible prognostication and feel free to make fun of me in the comments.


My Predicted Order
1. Philadelphia
2. Miami (WC1)
3. Atlanta (WC2)
4. Washington
5. New York

Actual Order
1. Washington
2. Atlanta (WC2)
3. New York
4. Miami
5. Philadelphia

Okay, one division in and I am wrong on all five positions so far.  I am taking solace in the fact that I did predict the Braves to be the 2nd Wild Card, but there are three other teams within a half game of taking that spot.  I think Washington will fall apart before the end of the year because of the idiotic decision to shut down Strasburg, but there is almost no chance of the Phillies winning this division. 

My Predicted Order
1. St. Louis
2. Cincinnati
3. Pittsburgh
4. Milwaukee
5. Chicago
6. Houston

Actual Order
1. Pittsburgh
2. Cincinnati (WC1)
3. St. Louis
4. Milwaukee
5. Chicago
6. Houston

I am a little proud of myself here having 4 of the 6 places correct so far and I am not too far away from being perfect here.  I really hope the Pirates can maintain in the second half and not fall apart like last year.  In fact, I am making them my rooting interest for the rest of the season because my team is doing nothing.  This division is divided symmetrically into the haves and have-nots.  I could see any of the top three winning this division.

My Predicted Order
1. Colorado
2. Arizona
3. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. San Diego

Actual Order
1. Los Angeles
2. San Francisco
3. Arizona
4. Colorado
5. San Diego

Ouch, once again.  I did preface that there was not a lot of difference between these five clubs and it wouldn't be surprising to see any of the five win the division.  Any of the top three could win this thing (assuming Arizona is not a seller) and I think the one that makes the best trade at the deadline will come out on top.  The only thing I am hoping for with my Rockies is to not be the worst team in franchise history.  Both the 1993 and 2005 teams finished 67-95...it's gonna be close, but it's looking like this will be the worst year in Colorado history.

My Predicted Order
1. Tampa Bay
2. Toronto
3. New York
4. Boston
5. Baltimore

Actual Order
1. New York
2. Baltimore (WC2)
3. Tampa Bay
4 (tie). Boston
4 (tie). Toronto

I really suck at Eastern picks.  I guess I can consider myself getting a half a point with Boston being tied for 4th.  I thought the Yankees age would catch up with them finally, but apparently their deal with the devil runs at least one more year.  Baltimore was my surprise pick last year and I got burned.  I didn't want to make the same mistake again, so I picked the Jays as my surprise pick.  Lo and behold, it is looking like I made the same mistake again.

My Predicted Order
1. Detroit
2. Kansas City (WC2)
3. Minnesota
4. Cleveland
5. Chicago

Actual Order
1. Chicago
2. Cleveland
3. Detroit
4. Kansas City
5. Minnesota

Boy I stunk here.  Not only did I pick the White Sox to be last in the division, I thought they would be the 2nd worst team in the majors.  They have been one of better surprises of the season though.  This is almost exactly what happened last year in this division when I picked Cleveland last and they led at the All Star Break.  I still think Detroit will ultimately win this division, but the White Sox could be in the running for a wild card berth.

My Predicted Order
1. Los Angeles
2. Texas (WC1)
3. Seattle
4. Oakland

Actual Order
1. Texas
2. Los Angeles (WC1)
3. Oakland
4. Seattle

Even though so far I picked every spot wrong in this division, I don't think I will be far off from the being correct at the end of the year.  The Angels have been motoring since the horrible month of April and I think they will catch the Rangers before the end.  I picked Oakland to be the worst team in the majors and so far I am wrong.  I still they will be at the bottom of the division before it's all over.

My NL Predictions
MVP - Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
Cy Young - Cole Hamels, Philadelphia
ROY - Drew Pomeranz, Colorado
Comeback Player - Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
Biggest Disappointment (tie) - Gio Gonzalez, Washington; Trevor Cahill, Arizona

I am so far happy with my pick of McCutchen since he leads the league in BA and is close in homers and RBIs.  Challenges could come from Carlos Beltran, Joey Votto, and Carlos Gonzalez (if the Rockies get on a run).
Hamels was not that bad of a pick either since he is 10-4 at the moment, but he is probably looking up at R.A. Dickey, who no one probably picked to win.  Hamels probable only chance for winning is a trade to another NL club.
Rookie of the year is always a crap shoot. Pomeranz has been good, but has been in the minors most of the season.  I don't think anyone will take down the hype machine that is Bryce Harper, even if he is overrated.
Comeback player is one of those awards that is easy to predict, but hard to verify because its hard to tell who is eligible.  There is no stats machine for comebacks yet (that I know of anyway).  Wainwright has been decent enough though, so I'll stick with him.
I kind of bit the big one with biggest disappointment since Gio Gonzalez was an All Star and is tied for the league lead in victories.  Trevor Cahill hasn't been great, but he would be hard to call a disappointment at the moment.  So far I would probably call Jeremy Guthrie the biggest disappointment of the year, although Rickie Weeks and Tim Lincecum would be high on the list as well.

My AL Predictions
MVP - Albert Pujols, Los Angeles
Cy Young - David Price, Tampa Bay
ROY - Matt Moore, Tampa Bay
Comeback Player - Adam Dunn, Chicago
Biggest Disappointment - Bobby Valentine, Boston

I don't know that you could call Pujols a disappointment so far, but he hasn't been his old dominant self as of yet.  Right now, I would have to pick Josh Hamilton although rookie Mike Trout is making some serious noise.
I am still fairly confident with my pick of Price since he is leading the league in wins and was an All Star.  Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, and Chris Sale (who saw that coming) could factor in as well.
Matt Moore has been a tad disappointing so far, but the expectations for him were outrageous anyway.  Barring injury, no one is getting this award away from Mike Trout.
Adam Dunn has this award all but locked up.  I predicted a season line of .220/25/85 which he has nearly hit already.  40 homers is in the realm of possibilities.
I think I was correct in my pick of Valentine so far, although both the Royals' Eric Hosmer and the Mariners' Jesus Montero could qualify as well.

So far my division predictions (5 of 30 correct) have been historically awful.  In fact if you take out the NL Central, I have correctly picked 1 position correctly (and it was a tie) which is probably harder to do than getting them all right.  I think I have done relatively good with my awards prediction, though.  Who knows how the rest of the season will go, but as you can see from my picks I obviously don't.

Thanx for reading.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Bombers #4

The trade deadline still looms with several Rockies including Jeremy Guthrie, Ramon Hernandez, and Marco Scutaro among others rumored to be moving elsewhere.  With the trade deadline in mind, last week I discussed one of the major deadline deals from the Blake Street Bombers era, that being the Bret Saberhagen trade of 1995.  This week I am going to take a look at the major trade from the expansion year of 1993 involving the Rockies and their division rivals, the San Diego Padres.

The 1993 Rockies had a lot in common with this year's version of the team.  Much like 2012, the 1993 Rockies needed a veteran presence in their youthful starting rotation.  They had attempted to use former Expo Bryn Smith in that role, but he was largely ineffective and was released in June (much like this year's Rockies and Jamie Moyer).  So throughout their first summer in the league, the Rockies had a young and inexperienced rotation that was susceptible to giving up a lot of runs (man, this sounds familiar). 

Let's analyze the fallout from the Rockies' first big deadline deal.

July 26, 1993

Rockies receive                                                Padres receive
P - Bruce Hurst                                                C - Brad Ausmus
P - Greg Harris                                                 P - Doug Bochtler
                                                                        P - Andy Ashby


Bruce Hurst was recovering from shoulder surgery earlier in the season, but the Rockies were confident that he would be okay for the remainder of the season.  They would proven incorrect as Hurst only started 3 games for the Rockies and pitched only 8.2 total innings near the end of the season.  Following the 1993 season, Hurst left the Rockies via free agency and joined the Rangers where he pitched 3 more months before retiring in mid-1994.  The card pictured is actually a Rangers card, but is the closest thing to a Rockies card that Hurst would ever get.

Greg Harris was a great reliever with the Padres that had been converted into a starter a couple of years before.  Harris did not do well with the Rockies by any stretch of the imagination.  Harris had a combined record of 4-20 with a 6.60 ERA over the 1993 and 1994 seasons.  He was released following the 1994 season and pitched one more year in Minnesota before his major league career ended.


Brad Ausmus was selected from the Yankees with the 54th pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft.  He never played in the majors for Colorado, but he arguably had the most successful career of anyone involved in this trade.  He immediately joined the Padres as their starting catcher and played 3 1/2 relatively good seasons for San Diego.  He was traded to the Tigers in mid-1996, before finding his greatest success later in Houston.

Doug Bochtler was selected from the Expos with the 32nd pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft.  Much like Ausmus, Bochtler had never joined the big league club in Colorado.  Unlike Ausmus, it would take Bochtler two more seasons to make the majors.  He joined the Padres bullpen in 1995 and pitched for three seasons with them.  He was pretty good with the Padres posting a 3.78 ERA in 151 games before being traded to Oakland in the 1997 offseason.

Andy Ashby was selected from the Phillies with the 25th pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft.  Ashby was originally a PTBNL in this deal, but he proved to be the crown jewel of the trade (at least for the two teams involved).  Unlike the other two players in this deal, Ashby had already played with the big league club in Colorado going 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA.  He did much better once he joined the Padres.  He spent a total of 8 seasons in San Diego compiling a record of 70-62 with a 3.59 ERA.  He retired after rejoining the Padres in 2005.


This judgment is absolutely simple, The Padres won this trade by a long shot.  Each of the three players the Padres received in this deal proved to be more successful than both of the Rockies combined.  The Rockies have never had a catcher the caliber of Ausmus in their history, so that would've helped the team immensely throughout the late 20th century.  I still have no idea why the expansion Rockies traded prospects for older pitchers other than for leadership.  It made little to no sense then and continues to this day.  Even if the Padres players had not been successful, this trade was a major head scratcher.

The Rockies lose this deal to make their deadline deal record so far 1-1.

Thanx for reading.