Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Congratulations to Beltre on #400.

First off, let me say congratulations to Adrian Beltre, shown here on card 14 of the 2011 Allen and Ginter set. Beltre hammered his 400th career home run on Friday to give the Rangers a lead. unfortunately the pitching could not hold and Texas ended up losing the game. 400 dingers is a milestone though and it legitimately puts Adrian in the Hall of Fame discussion. He's definitely got a shot in my opinion. Year in and year out he's been one of the best defensive third baseman in the game and a consistent threat at the plate. Easily the best in Texas at the hot corner since Buddy Bell. If Beltre can keep it up for a couple of more years he should have enough on his resume to make a very strong case.

Secondly, I want to thank you for putting up with my pre-scheduled posts for the past couple of weeks. While the Rangers demoted Rougned Odor to the minors and overhauled their bullpen, I was on a family trip to Hawaii. Mrs. Spiff is from there and still has quite a few relatives on the islands. It was time for great-grandma to meet the grandkids she'd never seen and for the kiddos to get a feel for where mom grew up. Very enjoyable but I'm glad to be back. I intended to post while I was gone, at least on Thursdays, but the laptop I took with me developed a propensity to crash so that didn't happen. The five hour time difference didn't help either. Back in action now and looking to get on top of things. Thanks again for your understanding.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Minor League Monday - Brad Arnsberg, 1990 CMC.

By the time Brad Arnsberg appeared on card 157 of the 1990 CMC set he already had some Major League time under his belt. Originally debuting with the Yankees in September of 1986, Brad split the 1987 season between Triple A Columbus and New York.

In November of 1987 the Rangers sent Don Slaught to The Evil Empire in exchange for Arnsberg. There were some concerns since Brad ended the 1987 season in the Disabled List for a right elbow problem but Texas thought he would be good to go in 1988. That was not the case. Brad re-injured the elbow in Spring Training and underwent Tommy John surgery on April 6, 1988. He missed the entire season in rehab.

Coming back from the injury in 1989, Arnsberg won a spot on the Rangers Open Day roster as the long reliever. He struggled though and Texas sent him down to Triple A Oklahoma City on May 22, 1989. Brad spent most of the rest of the season with the 89ers, returning to Arlington on September 2, 1989. He finished out the season with the Rangers.

Brad failed to win a spot on the roster to start the 1990 season and was assigned to Triple A. The 89ers experimented with using Arnsberg as a starter, giving him three starts in the 14 games he appeared in. He was noticeably better out of the bullpen though and it didn't take long for him to get back there.

Over the 29.2 innings he pitched, Arnsberg put up a 5.16 ERA and an 1.517 WHIP. This is where the difference between starting and relieving shows up. The above numbers are combined. In his three starts Brad went 0-3 and posted a horrendous 10.33 ERA over 11.1 innings pitched. Out of the pen Arnsberg lasted 18.1 innings and put up an impressive 1.96 ERA. He did not allow a single run in his last 7.1 innings pitched over six games with OKC.

Needing relief help, the Rangers purchased Brad's contract from the 89ers on May 26, 1990. He would go on to see heavy use and put together a very decent season, all in relief. He would not be back to Triple A for the remainder of the season.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Senators Saturday - Ed Stroud, 1969.

 There is no excuse for the photo of Ed Stroud Topps used on card 272 of the 1969 Topps set. I'm not sure if this is a minor league uniform or from when Ed was with the White Sox. Either way, Topps should not have used it. After all, they had a photo of Stroud in a Senators uniform they used on his 1968 Topps card. At least they could have re-used that picture.

Coming into 1969, Ed Stroud was the Senators starting right fielder. The mid-season acquisition of Lee Maye knocked Stroud out of the starting role and cut into his playing time. Even with that happening, Ed still played in 123 games for Washington and made 240 trips to the plate. He posted a .252 batting average and a .353 on-base percentage. He had a bit of power as his five doubles, six triples, and four home runs showed. Stroud scored 35 runs of his own and bumped in 29 more.

Meanwhile Ed played in all three outfield positions during the course of the season. His appearance in center was a one game two inning cameo but he had significant time in both corner positions. He played 110.2 innings in left field over 26 games. He committed no errors in center or left. Of course, Stroud was primarily a right fielder and he played 331.1 innings over 59 games there. He muffed two plays for a .976 fielding percentage. That was two points higher than the league average. Ed had significantly less range than the league average though and that probably helped open the door to a challenge for playing time from Lee Maye and Sam Bowens.

Ed didn't have a bad season for Washington in 1969. In spite of Maye's arrival he actually had a little more playing time than the previous season. He used the extra plate appearances to raise both his batting average and on-base percentage. It was a step in the right direction but the Senators outfield was crowded and breaking in full-time in 1970 would be a tough task.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1979 Topps - Fergie Jenkins.

Apparently the Rangers re-thought their 1975 trade of Fergie Jenkins to the Red Sox. On December 14, 1977 Texas sent John Poloni and some cash to Boston to re-acquire Jenkins, shown here on card 544 of the 1979 Topps set.

Fergie returned with an 18-8 record in 1978 and posted a 3.04 ERA over 249 innings pitched. He struck out 157 opposing batters and garnered some Cy Young consideration. That's what Texas was wanting when they brought Jenkins back and they were looking for more in 1979.

Jenkins again served as the anchor of the rotation in 1979. He led the staff with 37 starts and 259 innings pitched. His 4.07 ERA and 1.286 WHIP were not real impressive but the WHIP was the lowest of the starting rotation. Jenkins also led the Texas pitching staff with 164 strikeouts, 10 complete games, and three shutouts. Always susceptible to the gofer ball, he also led the American League with 40 home runs allowed. Fergie ended the season with a 16-14 record.

Fergie Jenkins had a down season in 1979. The Rangers learned their lesson from 1975 though and decided to wait and see if he could bounce back in 1980. If Jenkins could lower his ERA and WHIP he could easily return to 1978 form, or even better. He'd done it before and the Rangers would just as soon he do it for them.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Minor League Monday - Pat Garman, 1990 CMC.

James Patrick Garman, shown here on card 162 of the 1990 CMC set, is something of a mystery. It's always a challenge to find information on minor leaguers and there are several questions left unanswered about Pat.

Originally drafted by the Mariners in the second round of the January phase of the 1985 draft, Garman did not sign. Seattle thought enough of him to re-draft him in the first round of the June phase of the 1985 draft. Again he didn't sign. I have no idea what the hangup with the Mariners was. Texas took Pat in the first round of the June phase of the 1986 draft. He was the second pick overall. This time he signed.

The Rangers started Garman with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rangers. He got one plate appearance there and struck out. I have no idea why he didn't play more. An injury? Delay from holding out before signing? Based on his record with Seattle, the latter is a definite possibility.

Garman split the 1988 season between low A Gastonia and Single A Charlotte. He started 1989 with Charlotte but ended the season with Triple A Oklahoma City. There was no stop at Double A and again, I'm not sure why.

At some point late in the 1989 season or early in 1990 there must have been an injury. Garman played in 73 games in 1988 and 105 in 1989. He would appear in just 26 games in 1990, split between the 89ers and Double A Tulsa. I'm not sure which stint came first so I'll start with the Drillers.

In seven game with Tulsa, Garman made 26 plate appearances. He posted an impressive .360 batting average and a .385 on-base percentage. He didn't have a lot of power but did manage two doubles, a triple, and a home run. in six games at third base he committed two errors for an unsightly .889 fielding percentage.

Over 19 games with the 89ers Pat went to the plate 62 times. He compiled a .236 batting average and a .323 on-base percentage. He got a double, a triple, and a home run. In 16 games at first base Garman committed just one error for a fielding percentage of .993.

Based solely on the numbers and the assignments the previous season, I suspect Garman started 1990 at Triple A and struggled before being re-assigned to Double A. He must have gotten hurt after only a short time there. In the alternate, he could have started the season with OKC, gotten hurt, and come back with Tulsa towards the end of the year.

Whatever happened, Pat Garman's 1990 season was abbreviated. He would be back in 1991 but it would be with the Double A Tulsa Drillers.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Senators Saturday - Phil Ortega, 1969.

Perhaps it is fitting that Phil Ortega appears with a palm tree on card 406 of the 1969 Topps set. After all, he never made it out of Spring Training with the Senators in 1969.

On April 5, 1969 the Senators sold Ortega's contract to the Angels. He would pitch parts of the 1969 season for L.A. to finish out his Major League career. The other parts of the 1969 season saw Ortega in Triple A. Phil spent 1970 with the Halos Triple A team before hanging up the spikes and calling an end to his playing days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

1979 Topps - Toby Harrah.

In a re-occurring theme, Toby Harrah was no longer with the Texas Rangers by the time he appeared on card 234 of the 1979 Topps set. Toby suffered an offensive drop in 1978 and that apparently made him vulnerable to the massive roster shake-up.

On December 8, 1978 the Rangers traded the fan favorite Harrah to the Indians for fellow third baseman Buddy Bell. Toby would spend five seasons in Cleveland and one with the Yankees before returning home prior to the 1985 season. By that time the Rangers would be nowhere near the team they were when he left.