Saturday, June 28, 2014

Senators Saturday - Mike Brumley, 1966.

1966 was a rough year for Mike Brumley, shown here on card #29 of the 1966 Topps set. Breaking into the Majors in 1964, Mike served as the Senators starting catcher that year. In 1965 he was the most often used backstop in a platoon situation with Doug Camilli. Several other young catchers also made appearances that year for Washington. The least-used was a young Paul Casanova.

Liking what they saw from Casanova in his 1965 cameo, the Senators made him their starting catcher in 1966. To add insult to injury for Mike Brumley, Doug Camilli served as Casanova's backup. Mike Brumley was the extra wheel.

Extra wheels usually get stored somewhere and Mike was no exception. He spent the majority of the 1966 season at Triple A Hawaii. He did get into nine games with Washington and made 18 plate appearances. His .111 batting average and identical on-base percentage were not calculated to get him more playing time.

It looked like Mike Brumley's shot at catching for the Senators was past. 1966 appeared to mark the end of the professional road for Mike. It wasn't though. After not playing in 1967 and 1968, Brumley attempted a come-back with the Astros. He played two seasons at Double A in the Houston farm system before hanging up the spikes and mask for good following the 1970 campaign.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1978 Topps - Kurt Bevacqua.

The Rangers picked up Kurt Bevacqua, shown here on card 725 of the 1978 Topps set, during Spring Training in 1977. The Mariners released the 1975 Bazooka Gum bubble blowing champion and Texas thought they would take a chance on him.

He spent most of the 1977 season at Triple A Tuscon but got the call to Arlington on July 21st and spent the rest of the season with Texas. Bevacqua turned in a career year following the call-up and the Rangers were viewing him as a late bloomer coming into the 1978 season.

Kurt spent the entire 1978 season with the Rangers in a utility role. He played 381.2 innings at third base, 79 innings at second base, and eight innings at first base. He also appeared in 16 games as the Designated Hitter.

Bevacqua made 271 trips to the plate in the course of the 90 games he appeared in. He put together a .221 batting average and a .271 on-base percentage. Both were almost 90 point drops from the previous season. His .343 slugging percentage was a drop in the 250 point range from the previous season. Needless to say, Kurt's offense was a disappointing follow-up to 1977.

If the Rangers were right about Kurt Bevacqua being a late bloomer it looked like his time had not yet come. Versatile utility players are great but the sudden absence of Kurt's bat had to be causing concern for both him and the team.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Minor League Monday - Bill Losa, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

I have no idea why my scanner all of the sudden does not like Star's 1990 design. Whatever the reason, these cards are badly mis-cut but not poorly printed.

Bill Losa appears on card number 23 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers set. He didn't appear much for the Charlotte Rangers in 1990. Bill ended up being the least used of the four four catchers on the team.

Selected by the Rangers in the 18th round of the 1987 draft, Losa started his pro career the same year with the Rookie League Gulf Coast Rangers. He split the 1988 season between the Gastonia Rangers and the Butte Copper Kings. 1989 found him with the Charlotte Rangers and he stayed with the team for the 1990 season.

Losa caught in just 13 games for Charlotte in 1990 and saw 83 chances. He ended the season with a .940 fielding percentage. That was a 35 point drop from the previous season.

In his 64 trips to the plate Bill managed to put together a .264 batting average and a .391 on-base percentage. Both were significant jumps from 1989. Losa experienced a significant power outage though as he hit just three doubles and no triples or home runs.

Bill Losa appeared stalled out at Single A and passed up by Ivan Rodriguez. With the way Pudge was progressing it was looking less and less likely that the Rangers needed to spend a lot of time on 18th round draft picks who were struggling to merit a promotion to Double A.

Probably for those reasons, 1990 was Bill Losa's last season in the Rangers farm system. He played at Single A in the Indians system in 1991. After his bat completely failed him there he hung up the spikes on his pro career.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Senators Saturday - Les Narum, 1965.

Leslie Ferdinand Narum arrived in Washington on March 31, 1964. His late arrival is probably the reason card number 86 in the 1965 Topps is his first Senators card. The Senators sent a player to be named later to the Orioles for Narum. In August they finally completed the deal by send a young minor leaguer named Lou Pinella to Baltimore.

Buster Narum was primarily a starter and made 32 starts for the Senators in 1964. His nine wins were second only to Claude Osteen on the staff. His 4.30 ERA and 1.347 WHIP indicated his wins might be more the result of luck than skill.

With all the pitching upheaval going into 1965 it looked like Narum had a good shot at the starting rotation. Instead he served more as a swingman, making 24 starts in 46 appearances. Combined he tossed 173.2 innings during the season and ended up with a 4-12 record. His ERA tallied to 4.46 and his WHIP to 1.537. Both numbers were higher than in 1964 and neither was calculated to help a pitcher lock down a spot in the rotation.

1965 was not kind to Narum. With Osteen gone the Senators needed help in the starting rotation. Les didn't provide much. Indeed, he would be lucky if he was able to put on a Senators uniform in 1966 instead of being sent to the minors.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1978 Topps - Juan Beniquez.

Juan Beniquez, shown here on card number 18 of the 1978 Topps set, was coming off a great 1977 season and seemed to have the Rangers center field job nailed down.

Juan played in 127 games for Texas in 1978 and put in 1097.2 innings on defense. All of his time in the field was in center field. Beniquez saw 328 chances and handled all but nine of them without mishap. Those nine errors led to a fielding percentage of .973. For the first time as a Ranger Juan was below the league average fielding percentage.

On the other side of the ball, Juan made 510 trips to the plate and ended up with a .260 batting average. His 20 walks and three hit by pitches bumped his on-base percentage up to .292. Both numbers were drops from the previous season with the on-base percentage being a significant drop. Beniquez did manage to retain his power at the plate with 17 doubles, three triples, and  11 home runs. The doubles and home run totals were very similar to the previous season but the triples were only half of what he hit in 1977. Perhaps the reason for the lower number of triples was that Juan was slowing down. He had just 10 stolen bases while getting caught 12 times.

1978 was not the best follow-up to 1977 for Juan Beniquez. After battling hamstring issues in 1977 he seemed to be having difficulties again as his speed was ebbing. His glove had also failed him. Juan needed to address the glove issue as soon as possible. He wasn't a power hitter and his defense and speed on the bases is what carried his career to this point. If he was losing his speed he would need more glove to pick up the slack.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Last minute random auto.

Almost didn't get a post in today but here I am at 2330 on Thursday throwing up a random Rangers autograph.

Today we have Jerry Brown on a signed 1987 Donruss card. I traded for this autograph in the early 1990's. Got it from a Yankee fan friend of mine. I have no idea why he had it. It was the first autograph I ever traded for.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1978 Topps - Len Barker.

It seemed that Len Barker, shown here on card 634 of the 1978 Topps set, had a lot to be optimistic about heading into the 1978 season. Perhaps that's why he's smiling so big on this card.

After all, 1978 looked to be Barker's year to make his final break into the Majors. He'd had a cup of coffee with Texas in 1976 and split his time between Triple A and Arlington in 1977. Perhaps he could get a permanent spot in 1978. The Rangers thought he might. They liked what they saw in 1977. During one of his appearances in Arlington they clocked Len's fastball at 96 miles an hour, just a mile slower than they registered Nolan Ryan at the same year when the Angels were in town.

Barker did indeed spend most of the 1978 season with the Rangers, a short stint in Triple A not withstanding. He appeared in 29 games for the Rangers in 1978, all out of the bullpen. Over the 52.1 inning he pitched, Len compiled a 4.82 ERA and a 1.758 WHIP. Those numbers were nothing to smile about.

Len Barker still had promise. Texas either didn't see it or didn't have time to wait. They traded Barker and Bobby Bonds to the Cleveland Indians on October 3, 1978 for Jim Kern and Larvell Blanks. As for Len, he went on to develop well with an All-Star appearance and a perfect game to his credit before injuries forced his retirement in 1987.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Minor League Monday - David Perez, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

The Rangers injury woes continue unabated with Mitch Moreland undergoing surgery on his ankle and Roughned Odor possibly headed to the Disabled List with a shoulder injury. If things keep up the team will soon be playing Single A players like David Perez.

David Perez shows up today on card #21 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set. Perez was in just his second year of pro ball in 1990, having been drafted by Texas in the 27th round of the 1989 draft. He played for the Butte Copper Kings in Rookie Ball in 1989 and got bumped up to Single A for the 1990 season.

Perez was a starting pitcher, making all 14 of his appearances in that role. He tossed 83.1 innings and ended the season with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.092 WHIP. Significantly, his walk to strikeout ratio was very good with 28 walks compared to 83 strikeouts. He ended the season with a 6-4 record.

Apparently the Rangers liked what they saw from David Perez. During the off-season they promoted him to Double A Tulsa to start the 1991 season. If Perez could keep the success he saw at Charlotte rolling he might be headed even further than Double A.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Senators Saturday - Ed Brinkman, 1965.

Ed Brinkman shows off his farmer's tan today on card 417 of the 1965 Topps set. Coming out of the 1964 season Brinkman had one big area he needed to improve on, his offense. In '64 he was the lightest hitting Washington regular. Perhaps that was due to his arm size. Whatever the cause, the Senators would like to see him improve.

Ed would appear in 154 games for the Senators in 1965, he played in the field in 150 of those games. That made him the most often used player on the team.

Appearing only at shortstop, Brinkman was still the go-to guy at that position for Washington. In 1177.1 innings he saw 686 chances. He muffed 25 of them for a field percentage of .964. That was a five point drop from 1964 but still two points better than the league average. It also dropped him out of his role as the best man on defense among the starting nine.

Brinkman made 492 trips to the plate in 1965. He posted a woeful .185 batting average and .251 on-base percentage. Both, along with his .257 slugging percentage, were the lowest of any regular Senators player. Amazingly, Ed still hit 13 doubles, two triples, and five home runs.

1965 was not a good year for Ed Brinkman. He saw his reputation as a slick fielder take a hit and his bat almost completely disappeared. That was a concern. So far the front office had concerned itself with overhauling the outfield and pitching staff. If Ed couldn't get his bat at least respectable he might soon catch their attention and end up the target of an improvement himself.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sam who?

I'm still a Rangers fan and I'm still following the team. No bandwagon moves here. Still, it's hard to come up with positive things to blog about when the team is a game below .500, in fourth place, and eight games out of first. Sometimes finding a subject for a post can require some real creativity.

Makes things even harder when all the familiar names seem to be hitting the Disabled List and the team is grabbing guys from the minors to try and hold the line. Yesterday Alexi Ogando headed to the DL. Sometimes I listen to a game, hear a name, and think who?

Wondering who was the same reaction I had in 2008 when I got this signed 1997 Bowman card of Sam Marsonek in a trade. I had never heard of Sam Marsonek. Some quick research showed there was a reason.

Sam was the Rangers first round pick in 1996 when they drafted him right out of high school. Fans usually hear about first round picks but I wasn't really following baseball in 1996. Marsonek lasted in the Texas farm system until 1999 without ever getting above Single A. In December of 1999 the Rangers sent Sam to the Yankees in the Chad Curtis trade. He pitched in relief in one game for New York in 2004 and that was it for his Major League career.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Working on the lists.

Spiff Jr and I made our trek over to Duane's Sportscards today. Both of us have been putting back a little here and there for several months in anticipation of the trip. It did not disappoint.

Got to the shop without much trouble and arrived just as they opened at 1100. For most of our visit we were the only customers in the shop but a few others did drop in.

I left Spiff Jr to do his own browsing while I looked around and then picked up some supplies. Time to get out the checklists and start looking. I had two main goals, work on my Senators sets and try to pick up some cards of guys on the current roster for future posts.

Starting with the Senators I hit several vintage boxes. Duane's has a great selection of older cards if that's your game. A lot of card shops don't anymore and it's a delight to get to one that does. Managed to pick up a few Senators from 1965 - 1969 Topps. Made major headway on the 1970 Topps team set.

Moving over to the modern team I managed to grab some 2014 Bowman of a few of the current guys and a smattering of other brands. I also picked up this 2008 Upper Deck X Die-Cut card of Josh Hamilton which I thought was fitting. The card is cut in the shape of an X and I was busy crossing cards off my checklists. A 2012 Topps Gypsy Queen card of Bob Gibson rounded out my purchases.

Almost two hours after getting to the shop, Spiff Jr and I were on the way home. He seemed happy with his purchases, sitting in the back seat thumbing through the cards he picked up. Pudge, Blalock, Ryan, Fielder, a 1963 Topps Chuck Hinton, Choo. Choo? Where did he find that one? In a Rangers uniform? Yep. Augh! Out-searched by a nine-year-old. I never saw any Choo cards in a Rangers uniform.

Oh well, gives me a reason to go back as soon as my finances are recovered.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

1978 Topps - Sandy Alomar.

By the time Sandy Alomar appeared on card number 533 of the 1978 Topps set he had been in the Major Leagues for all or parts of 14 seasons. Most of Alomar's time had been in the National League but he'd been with Texas in 1977 during their push for the American League West crown.

Nicknamed The Iron Pony, Alomar was aging by 1978 and served the team as a pinch-hitter and utility player. He would appear in just 24 games.

In the 32 plate appearances Sandy made he posted a .207 batting average and a .233 on-base percentage. His only extra base hit of the year was a double.

Aside from pinch-hitting and serving as the designated hitter, Alomar also put in time at first base, second base, short stop, and third base. In the 84 innings he played on defense Sandy made just two errors, both on the right side of the infield.

Sandy Alomar was still proud of his glove but his bat was obviously gone. The Rangers liked him because he was a good mentor for their younger players. That worked for Alomar since he wanted to move into coaching after his playing career. The way things were going it appeared that move would happen sooner rather than later for The Iron Pony.