Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Day!! Sort of.

So today was Opening Day! Well, kind of. The Rangers don't open the season until tomorrow. Still, baseball was happening.

Ivan Rodriguez, shown here on his 2005 UD Game Face Gear card numbered GG-IR, and his Washington Nationals lost to the Braves 2-0. The Evil Empire beat the Tigers 6-3. The Reds stunned the Brewers with the season's first walk-off win 7-6. The Royals stumbled early as they lost to the Angels 4-2. The Padres beat the Cardinals in the first extra inning affair of the season 5-3. Right now the Dodgers and Giants are scoreless in the second inning.

Great thing to see those scores posting. Baseball is back and it's time to put on your game face.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Does Nolan know?

Nolan Ryan, seen here on card number 166 of the 1990 Donruss set, says that he expects Texas to win 90-95 games this season. He isn't discounting the A's and Angels but says he thinks the Rangers will repeat as the division winners.

Ryan also said that if the Rangers need to, they have the flexibility to make a big acquisition this year like they did last year when they landed Cliff Lee. That might have something to do with his win total prediction.

Well, the season starts tomorrow and time will tell if Nolan knows. What do you think? Is he too optimistic or does he know his stuff?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

1974 Topps - Jim Merritt.

Well the Rangers finalized their Opening Day roster today. Chris Davis, Craig Gentry, Brett Tomko, and Taylor Teagarden are all headed for Triple A. Mark Lowe, Pedro Strop, and Mason Tobin made the final spots in the bullpen.

With the season about to start I decided to make a quick trip back to 1974. As things get going and there is news concerning the current team this regular feature may get pushed aside temporarily.

Today we see Jim Merritt on card number 318 of the 1974 Topps set. Merritt and Jim Shellenback were the only two left-handers to appear out of the bullpen on a regular basis for Texas in 1974.

Merritt's 1974 season was interrupted by a three week stint on the disabled list in June. When he returned to the mound in August he was on fire. In 14 relief appearances in August and September he allowed just one run. Compare that to the period before his injury when he had allowed 14 runs in 12 trips to the mound. Despite his comeback he ended the season with no saves and no wins.

Even the late-season performance couldn't save Jim's 1974 season. His ERA would end up at an unsightly 4.13 and his WHIP tallied to 1.592. That in just 32.2 innings. In spite of a stunning end to the season there were still question marks as to Jim's future. He would need to keep up the post injury performance and avoid further damage if he wanted to be a part of the Rangers relief corps in 1975.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kansas City bound.

So the Rangers sold Matt Treanor to the Kansas City Royals today. Royals catcher Jason Kendall is down with a sore shoulder and they needed somebody for opening day. Matt was available and expendable. Too bad, I was liking Treanor. I'd post a card of his but I don't have a Rangers card of him.

As the club moved Treanor they also moved Alexi Ogando, internally though. Ogando is moving to the starting rotation to take Tommy Hunter's place. I'd post a card of Alexi but I don't have a Rangers card of him.

The resulting hole in the bullpen will be filled by Mason Tobin. Tobin makes the team in part because the club wants an extra deep pen and Treanor's departure leaves an extra roster spot. No bother even checking to see if I have a Rangers card of Tobin.

Mike Napoli just had his duties reevaluated. He was supposed to split time between DH, catcher, and first base. With no Matt Treanor he will be the number two catcher. That will cut into his time at first and will severely limit his DH at bats. No Rangers card of Napoli either.

I did find this 2002 MLB Showdown card of Michael Young, number 342 in the set. Why post it? Well, each of the other players discussed has benefited from the Matt Treanor trade. I would argue that none have been impacted more than Young has. With Napoli pretty much out at DH Mike will get more at bats there. With a light bench to make up for the extra deep pen there is one less player to sub in. That will give Mike more playing time in the field. Napoli will need to be saved for catching so Mike will also possibly get more time at first. Looks like Michael Young gets more playing time no matter how you cut it.

Guess Matt Treanor was the one who became expendable once the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli, not Michael Young. All along Matt Treanor should have been concerned about being squeezed out. Perhaps that's why he went to the media and made a big deal about feeling slighted and wanting to be traded. Wait, you say that wasn't Matt Treanor? Well, well, well.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Senators Saturday - Ed Hobaugh, 1962.

After spending the entire 1961 season in the Majors, Ed Hobaugh spent part of the 1962 season in the minors. Interestingly, he pitched in the same number of games for Washington both years.

Hobaugh, shown here on card number 79 of the 1962 Topps set, appeared in 26 games for the Senators in 1962. The big difference from the year before was that he was primarily a reliever, only starting two games. As such his innings pitched fell by almost half to 69.1 for the season. His ERA and WHIP also fell - to 3.76 and 1.313 respectively. That gave him the third best ERA and the best WHIP of any Senators' reliever that year.

Ed was still struggling though. He struck out 37 of the 291 batters he faced but he also walked 25. A better ratio than the year before but still one that needed improvement. Another troubling note was that while the number of batters he faced dropped by close to half, the number of home runs he surrendered only dropped by about a quarter. That was a number that also needed watching.

In Ed's and the Senators second season things had not gone as well as might be hoped. Hobaugh had lost his bid to remain in the starting rotation. On top of that there were some potentially ominous trends in his stats to go along with the improvements that he had been able to make. He would need to address those weak areas if he hoped to hang on in the bullpen in 1963.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spoke too soon.

Guess I spoke too soon regarding Kevin Millwood's possible retirement. Today the Yankees announced that they had signed Kevin to a minor league contract. There is already speculation that he could be a part of the Evil Empire's starting rotation at some point during the season.

I have to admit, I am starting to wonder about the Yankees and their fixation with players who dominated in 2005. Sully over at Sully Baseball is the first place I heard about the theory but it sure seems to be holding up. In 2005 Millwood, shown here on card number 173 of the 2006 Fleer set, led the American League in ERA. Last season though he had a horrendous year and posted a 5.10 ERA and led the the league in losses with 16.

In spite of his signing with New York I do wish Kevin all the best. Hopefully he has a great season - just not against Texas.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Well, that didn't take long.

So the Rangers announced their 2011 starting rotation just after lunch today. As set the rotation is: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter, and Derek Holland. Brandon Webb will start the season on the Disabled List. Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando are returning to the back-end of the bullpen. Michael Kirkman will go to Triple A and continue to start there.

At 1656 this afternoon T.R. Sullivan reported that Tommy Hunter had strained a groin muscle in today's game against the Reds. Tommy is saying that he will be ready for opening day but the club isn't so sure. The official word is that he is questionable. This is the third verse of this particular tune for Hunter. Somewhere Michael Kirkman's ears just perked up.

The bullpen is in flux as well. Apparently Mark Lowe has pitched himself out of being a lock for a slot. Now he, Pedro Strop, Brett Tomko, Dave Bush, and Mason Tobin are in the hunt for the final two bullpen spots. Could be a day before decision there.

In unrelated news, the Rangers scouted Doug Davis today. Davis, shown here on a signed 2002 MLB Showdown card, is a free agent after a very questionable season with the Brewers last year. I like Davis' story but I am just not sure that would be a good signing right now. He is a lefty though and so must be given his chances.

Well, at least Michael Young and Jon Daniels have supposedly kissed and made up. Now to get the pitching settled and healthy on Opening Day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trolling for trades.

Not a lot going on today. Guess that's why I decided to post this 2008 Dr. Pepper card of former Ranger Kevin Millwood. Kevin is still unsigned at this point and it looks like he's probably headed for retirement.

Speaking of retirement, there are a couple of players that I haven't moved any cards for from my tradelist in quite awhile. Looking at retiring them from the list and moving their cards to the commons box. Let me know if you see anything on the list you would like to work a deal for.

In case you need some ideas as to what you might be able to trade me my Rangers wantlist and Senators wantlist are also as up to date as I can get them.

Please feel free to take a look and let me know if a deal might be possible. Haven't had an online trade for a bit and would like to get back into the swing of things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1974 Topps - Jim Mason.

Jim Mason, pictured here on card number 618 in the 1974 Topps set, wasn't with the Rangers in 1974. He had been with the team since being drafted by the Senators in 1968 but had lost the shortstop job to Toby Harrah.

After playing backup in 1973 Jim was sold to the New York Yankees on December 6th. This wouldn't end Mason's career as a Ranger though. He would play for the Evil Empire for three seasons. In November of 1976 the Toronto Blue Jays would grab him from New York in the expansion draft. During the 1977 season he would return to Texas in a trade with the Jays. What happened after that is a topic for a future post.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pitching changes.

The Rangers have a unique situation in camp this spring. They are making pitching moves that actually count. It's been quite awhile since that happened but it's a nice position for the team to be in.

One of the pitching surprises this year spring has been Eric Hurley. Hurley, pictured here on card number FG29 of the 2006 Bowman set, was once a top pitching prospect. However he missed the past two seasons with injuries and that hurt his ranking within the system. He showed up at Spring Training healthy and ready to do business and managed to pitch himself back into view.

In spite of his impressive spring the Rangers felt that Eric wasn't ready for a Big League assignment. Likely a good choice considering how much time he has missed. A couple of days ago they sent him to Triple A.

Today they sent pitcher Tanner Scheppers to minor league camp. Tanner had done well in camp but not as well as Hurley. He also looks promising but could use some further seasoning. That knocks two pitchers out of contention for the starting rotation.

In the meantime Neftali Feliz has hurled himself into contention for a rotation spot. There had been some early talk about moving Feliz to the rotation but that had died, in part because Neftali said he preferred to remain a closer. Within the past week or so he changed his mind and said he would pitch where the team needs him. He then proceeded to put on quite the show as a starter. Good enough to impress Nolan Ryan. Good enough that he may be a starter on opening day.

If Feliz moves to the rotation he will join Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson there. The other two spots are still up in the air. Derek Holland thinks he'll get one. Tommy Hunter was hoping for one but has stumbled in camp. Matt Harrison seems to be trying for one. Brandon Webb would like to be in there as well but needs to play catch-up. A few other guys are hanging tough and looking for an opening as well.

Of course if Feliz is starting the team will need a closer. Alexi Ogando has said he would be willing to give it a shot. Mark Lowe would like to as well. Darren O'Day needs to find his groove again quick. Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes will be in the pen on Opening Day. Dave Bush would like to be but Mason Tobin is making a run at the long relief spot and Brent Tomko is making a case as well.

Over all it looks like the Rangers will have some depth at Triple A. They should also have some guys coming back from rehab early in the season. Nice to know that nobody is going to just fall into a spot on the pitching staff this year. Hopefully the club won't miss Cliff Lee all that much.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Senators Saturday - Jim Piersall, 1962.

Yes, this is the Jim Piersall. Washington traded for him on October 5, 1961. In return they sent Dick Donovan, Gene Green, and Jim Mahoney to the Indians. Not sure if this is an Indians jersey that Jim is pictured in on card number 90 of the 1962 Topps set.

1961 was one of the best, if not the best, season of Piersall's career. The Senators gave up a lot for him and expected a lot in return.

On defense the team got their return. Jim played 1073 innings in center field. In 320 chances he committed just one error for a fielding percentage of .997. That was well over the league average of .986. Those numbers are even more impressive when one stops to consider that Piersall had better range than the average American League centerfielder in 1962. Surprisingly, in spite of leading the league in fielding percentage for centerfielders, Jim didn't win a Gold Glove.

While the Senators seemed to get their money's worth from Jim on defense he was a bit of a disappointment at the plate. In 515 plate appearances he posted a .244 batting average and a .301 on-base percentage. Both were significant drops from his 1961 numbers. His walks, doubles, triples, home runs, and RBI totals all dropped off as well. About the only offensive numbers that went up were stolen bases, caught stealing, and strikeouts. Not good, over all just about the worst of any of the regulars.

The Senators had made a pretty big investment in Jim Piersall. Well, big for them. They definitely got satisfaction from his defensive skills. While his offense was a let down it wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been without the defense to cushion it. The challenge for 1963 would be to rediscover his bat while keeping the glove in top shape.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Random Ranger auto.

Not much going on today with the Rangers. Or in baseball for that matter. Checked out and one of the top articles was on Tim Lincecum getting the munchies and eating a lot of fast food. Pretty common side effect of weed, not sure it needed a full article.

Anyway, with nothing happening I decided to randomly check out the autographs box. Came up with this 1981 Fleer card of Jon Matlack. I got this particular card as part of a lot off of Ebay. Since I have it in my Rangers box that means I have two signed copies. Not Jon's best card but at least it's signed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rangers posts around the web.

In 1998 Pacific had the idea of mixing cards and the Internet. The result was the Online set, demonstrated here by card number 743. Like most Pacific ideas, this one was not real well done. The set was huge and confusing. Not everyone had the Internet yet. Trying to look up your favorite players on a dial-up connection took days. Literally.

Fast forward to today. Pacific is defunct but their idea isn't. Seems like a new card blog pops up every few days to join the hundreds already out there. Like a lot of folks, I read several blogs regularly and a lot from time to time. A normal way for me to get drawn into a blog is through a Rangers-oriented post. With that in mind here are a few from recently.

Night Owl continues to plug away at the 1975 Topps set. His write-ups are always fun to read. The most recent Rangers card is Jeff Burroughs.

Carl Crawford cards takes a lighter look at John Ellis' 1978 Topps card. At least there's no stale smell about this one.

Goose Joak always has some great custom cards he makes up. His recent return to an earlier design is no different. Great way to get a look at a possible ace and new player in their Rangers threads.

Do you know that some Nolan Ryan collectors out there have actually worked for the man? I didn't either until I read Bo's recent post at Baseball Cards Come to Life. May have to see if I have any extra cards of Nollie.

Sully says that the Rangers shouldn't trade Michael Young. I agree Sully, welcome aboard. Sully usually writes and commentates well in spite of living in California and being a Red Sox fan.

While not card related, T.R, Sullivan's blog is some good Rangers reading. Watch for the Latin quotes and cultural and historical references. Don't worry, Toby won't bite.

Well, that's the links I can come up with for recent Rangers posts. Let me know in the comments section if I missed any. If you happen to stop by and leave a comment for any of these guys feel free to let them know that Spiff sent ya.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1974 Topps - Billy Martin.

In September of 1973 owner Bob Short fired manager Whitey Herzog and replaced him with Billy Martin. Long-term the move cost the Rangers a chance to be steered by a Hall of Fame manager. Short-term the move had immediate results.

Martin, shown here on card number 379 of the 1974 Topps set, oversaw the Rangers first truly competitive season. The team went 84-76 to come in second in the American League West. Martin won the AP and UPI Manager of the Year awards.

The season was a success by any standard. A 27 game improvement and a doubling of attendance at Arlington Stadium. Things were looking good for Texas. If things kept going this way the team might finally be able to get on it's feet after the move to Texas.

Unfortunately Billy Martin was not a wholesome influence on his young players and rookies. His alcohol problems are well documented elsewhere and were in full swing during his time at the helm of the Rangers. As a result he had a difficult time maintaining order on the team. That would bode ill for his employment in the future.

On October 2, 1974 Billy made an unusual managerial move. He decided against using the DH and let starting pitcher Fergie Jenkins bat in the lineup. In the sixth inning Jenkins got a hit to end a no-hitter the Twins had going. He later scored and Texas ended up winning 2-1. An odd decision but it panned out for Martin and the Rangers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Minor League Monday - Robb Nen, 1989 ProCards.

Things are getting moving in Spring Training camp. Adrian Beltre finally showed up on the field. Neftali Feliz says his hat is in the ring for a spot in the starting rotation. Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis are tearing it up. Inching closer to Opening Day and Minor League Monday getting spotty again as the season kicks off.

For today though we take a look at Robb Nen on card number 1003 of the 1989 ProCards set. According to the back of the card, the Rangers took Robb as the 34th selection in the 1987 draft. Baseball-reference says that he was selected in the 32nd round. Maybe he was the Rangers' 34th choice and they got to that slot in the 32nd round. However it happened, they drafted the son of former Senators pitcher Dick Nen in 1987.

By 1989 Robb had worked his way up to Single A Gastonia after playing in the Texas system for two seasons. In 1989 he would play in 24 games for Gastonia and would start all of them. He would pitch 138.1 innings in route to a 7-4 record. His ERA was a nice 2.41 and his WHIP tallied to 1.243. He also struck out 146 batters while walking 82, almost a 2-1 ratio. Typical of a young pitcher trying to work out some kinks he also let loose with 15 wild pitches.

In spite of the wild pitches Robb Nen appeared to be well on his way. If he could hold things together and continue to improve he had a decent shot at making the Bigs. Of course it is a long road from A Ball to the Majors and a lot can happen on the way.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Senators Saturday - Hal Woodeshick, 1961.

So the Rangers are starting to whittle down the numbers as Opening Day gets closer. Four players went to the minors today. There will be more following as the team pares down the 52 players still in camp.

In December of 1960 the team had the opposite problem. They didn't have enough players. As part of the process of getting some they drafted Hal Woodeshick from the Minnesota Twins. Woodeshick looks to still be in his Twins uniform on card number 397 of the 1961 Topps set.

Woodeshick was primarily a starter for the Senators in 1961. He started six of the seven games he appeared in for them. in 40.1 innings pitched he posted an ERA of 4.02 and a WHIP of 1.537. In spite of those numbers Hal had a 3-2 record.

On June 5, 1961 Washington traded Woodeshick to the Tigers. In return they got infielder Chuck Cottier. After less than a season with the new franchise Hal had moved on.

Speaking of moving on, this is the last card in the 1961 Topps Senators team set. Starting next week we will return to 1962.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Management maneuvers.

So there's been more drama with the Rangers front office. After the mid-season bidding war last year I was hoping that things would settle down for awhile. Apparently not.

Seems that Chuck Greenberg has stepped down as managing partner and chief executive officer. As you may recall, Greenberg was supposed to run the business side of things while Nolan Ryan, shown here on card number 93 of the 2005 All-Star Classics set, took care of the baseball side. Apparently that didn't work out too well and now Greenberg is gone and is selling his interest in the Rangers.

No official word on why Chuck left. He did issue a statement that said in part, "Unfortunately, Nolan Ryan, the co-chairmen and I have somewhat different styles. While I am disappointed we did not work through our differences, I remain wholeheartedly committed to doing what's right for the franchise."

Not sure what all that refers to but there was evidently a division and Ryan came out on top and is now running the ship. Nolan was named the replacement CEO and will oversee all aspects of the ballclub. Neither Ryan or Greenberg holds a majority stake in the franchise so there were other partners involved in what went on.

Jon Daniels says that nothing has changed as far as the baseball side of things. Hopefully that's true and there is no trickle-down to the players.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No idea post.

Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday. Ended up having to work late and then doing the Wednesday night church thing. Didn't seem to have a lot of post ideas so I'm not sure you missed much.

Still don't have a lot of ideas today either. Spring Training keeps moving along. So far the Rangers have avoided any major injuries. There actually seems to be some competition for spots in the starting rotation and a couple of guys appear to be poised to break out. Would be nice to see the pitching hang in there and give the team another great ride this season.

With the dearth of post ideas I am presenting this cyan printing plate from the 2005 Upper Deck set. This particular plate is from card number 220 - Frank Francisco. I know Frankie's no longer with Texas but it isn't every day that I can show off a 1/1. Guess there is an upside to not having any post ideas.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

1974 Topps - Elliot Maddox.

Elliott Maddox appears today on card number 401 in the 1974 Topps set. In 1974 he did not appear at all for the Rangers. They sold him to the New York Yankees on March 23rd of that year.

The Yankees would hold on the Elliott until January 20, 1977 when they traded him to the Orioles. He would play one season for Baltimore before being granted free agency in October of 1977. On November 30, 1977 he signed with the New York Mets. He would stay with them until released on February 5, 1981. In June he signed with the Phillies but never appeared in a game with them. After eleven seasons his Major League career was at an end.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Minor League Monday - Kyle Spencer, 1989 ProCards.

Kyle Spencer, shown here on card number 1002 in the 1989 ProCards set, was the 26th selection in the 1988 draft. He played in Rookie ball that same year. In spite of a horrendous 4.14 ERA he earned a promotion to A ball.

In 1989 Kyle appeared in 43 games for the Gastonia Rangers. All but two of those appearances were in relief. In 85 innings he struck out 105 batters while walking 39. Four of those walks were intentional. He did struggle with his control a bit as he hit nine batsmen and threw five wild pitches.

Spencer's ERA for the season came out to 2.22. That was good for almost a two point drop from the previous year. His WHIP tallied to 1.153, another significant drop. Kyle also handled 23 chances at his position without an error.

All in all 1989 had been a success for Kyle Spencer. He had improved his numbers while pitching in 25 more games and a level higher than the year previous. That was good enough to earn him a promotion. In 1990 he would play for the Charlotte Rangers in A+ ball.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Senators Saturday - Coot Veal, 1961.

Coot Veal, who lends his name to one of the newest blogs out there, was snagged by the Los Angeles Angels in 1960. They took him from the Tigers on December 14th in the expansion draft and traded him to Washington the same day for Ken Aspromonte. Since Veal is shown on card number 432 of the 1961 Topps set we actually get to see him in a Senators' uniform.

Shortstop was a platoon position for the Senators in 1961 with Veal and Bob Johnson sharing duties there. As a result Coot played in just 69 games during the season. In those 69 games he logged 510 innings on defense - all at shortstop. He made just eight errors in 310 chances for a fielding percentage of .974. That was well above the league average of .955. Veal also had a better range factor than the league average.

Veal made 252 trips to the plate and posted a .202 batting average. His 19 walks helped bump his on-base percentage up to .273. A typical middle infielder of the time, Coot didn't have much power. He went the entire season without a home run or triple and managed just 10 doubles. His slugging percentage was a lowly .248. One interesting stat I found was that Coot stole just one base in 1961 while getting caught eight times. Not a good ratio and one wonders why Mickey Vernon kept running him.

Veal's offense wasn't pretty. It was better than some middle infielders of the day though and his defense was pretty decent. He was also 28 years old, getting a little on the older end for a shortstop. Perhaps that's why Washington sold him to Pittsburgh on November 21, 1961. After just one season the player with one of the top monikers in club history was no longer with the team.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Random Ranger bit.

Have my youngest child's birthday party today so I don't have much posting time.

Checked out the game-used and autos box and came up with this random card. Hank Blalock appears on 2004 Topps card number HBL along with a piece of one of his home white jerseys.

Looks like Hank's without a job so far this spring. Could be retirement is in the offing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ripping off Night Owl.

So, Night Owl has been listing all 30 Major League teams in order of his preference the past couple of years. I have long thought this was a pretty neat idea and decided to steal it from him.

1. Texas Rangers - Of course. Liked these guys when I was 5 years old. Still on board. Finally got to see them in a World Series so 2010 might have been the best season yet.

2. St. Louis Cardinals - Before he was a Rangers fan my Grandfather was a Cards fan. My Dad never made the switch. Of course he hasn't really followed them since the 60's either. I grew up hearing about Dizzy and Daffy Dean, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Curt Flood, etc.

3. Kansas City Royals - Hey, I live in their territory. To make things even more appealing, in the past couple of years I met a fan. A real live Royals fan. I had no idea those existed. Mark knows the team and the players and makes it fun to talk about them.

4. Oakland A's - An A.L. West team this high up on the list? Almost completely as a tribute to my poor misguided brother. He has followed the A's since he was a kid through thick and thin. I have no idea what drew him to them.

5. Chicago White Sox - The 1919 Sox have always drawn my interest, Buck Weaver in particular. Throw in Louis Aparicio and Frank Thomas and the team is interesting.

6. Houston Astros - Gotta give the other Texas team a nod. Always did like Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

7. Baltimore Orioles - Teams that have moved appeal to me for some reason. The former St. Louis Browns do. Throw in Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., and the fact that these guys are in the A.L. East and aren't the Yankees and it's all good. Anybody know if the O's claim George Sisler?

8. Los Angeles Dodgers - Have to side with Brooklyn when they were fighting the Yankees. Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser, and Kirk Gibson add to the draw.

9. Pittsburg Pirates - Here as a forlorn hope.

10. Toronto Blue Jays - Because of my sister. I have no idea why she roots for this team. That and Joe Carter's home run in 1993.

11. Cleveland Indians - No idea why this team rates this high. I do like Bob Feller and Larry Doby though.

12. San Fransico Giants - I know, they should probably be lower what with the 2010 World Series and being the long-time home of Barry Bonds. Juan Marichal and Willie Mays pull them up though. They could still drop with Tim Lincecum however.

13. Washington Nationals - Come on guys, do something. Anything.

14. Colorado Rockies - Took them a long time to get postseason success but they didn't just buy it and then break the team up the next year. Besides, they usually make a late season run and that makes things interesting.

15. Boston Red Sox - Prior to 2004 this team rated higher. Seems like since then they have become the Yankees light. It's not all lost though.

16. Atlanta Braves - That was a bad call against them in 1991.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks - A pool? In a ballpark? Liked their early colors better as well.

18. Detroit Tigers - Nothing comes to mind other than Al Kaline and Norm Cash.

19. San Diego Padres - Nothing comes to mind other than Tony Gywnn.

20. Milwaukee Brewers - Nothing comes to mind at all.

21. Philadelphia Phillies - Trying to put together a dynasty. Need to get their fans to get it together.

22. Cincinnati Reds - They would probably rate higher if Pete Rose hadn't been the face of the franchise for so many years.

23. New York Mets - Their unsuccessful attempts to emulate the Yankees are amusing at times.

24. Chicago Cubs - Hapless. If it can go wrong it will.

25. Florida Marlins - Such a merry-go-round of players.

26. Tampa Bay Rays - Why the devil did they drop the Devil off their name? Makes no sense.

27. Minnesota Twins - That 1987 World Series still rankles me.

28. Seattle Mariners - Solely because they are in the A.L. West.

29. Angels - Perennial A.L. West powerhouse. If that's not enough, they can't decide which city they want to be from.

30. New York Yankees - Lots of history to like about this team. The arrogance of the modern players and the apathy of most of their fans towards any team not the Red Sox negates that though.

So there you have it. That's my list. There is the possibility that I could be persuaded to change a few of the rankings. Anyone want to speak up for their team? What's your list look like?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1974 Topps - Joe Lovitto.

1974 was Joe Lovitto's third season with the Texas Rangers. He is seen here on card number 639 of the 1974 Topps set.

Joe played in 113 games for Texas in 1974. 106 of those games were in center field which effectively made him the first string center fielder. In 719 innings in center Lovitto made six errors in 213 chances for a fielding percentage of .978. That was well below the league average of .986. Not good for Joe.

At the plate Joe improved fairly significantly on his 1973 numbers. In 313 plate appearances he posted a .223 batting average and a .285 on-base percentage. Neither number is outstanding but both were a far cry from his dismal 1973 season. Joe also knocked in 26 RBI - a career high.

Lovitto was struggling to catch on in the Majors and to live up to his potential as a first round pick in 1969. He had performed well enough to get another chance in 1975. He would need to improve quickly though if he wanted to meet his goal of earning enough money as a ballplayer to roam the world.