Saturday, May 31, 2014

Earl Weaver (#516)

Here is long-time Orioles' skipper Earl Weaver. Weaver never played in the big leagues, but had a long career as a minor-league 2nd baseman with the Cardinals (1948-53), Pirates (1954-56), and Orioles (1957-60).

He eased into managing during his final seasons as a player (1956-59), then was a full-time manager in the Orioles' chain from 1961 to 1967.

Earl took over the reins in Baltimore midway through the 1968 season, replacing Hank Bauer. The Orioles had won the World Series in 1966, but struggled for the next 2 seasons, mostly because of injuries to their starting pitchers.

The O's returned to glory in Earl's first full season, winning the AL Pennant in 3 straight years (1969-71), and winning it all in 1970. Earl also guided the team to the 1979 pennant, but narrowly missed the 1983 World Championship, as his 1st tenure as manager ended after the 1982 season.

Weaver returned to the skipper's chair for most of 1985 and all of 1986, before retiring again. Earl was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Weaver passed away on January 19, 2013 (the same day as Stan Musial's passing) while on an Orioles' cruise in the Caribbean. He was 82.  Fellow blogger John Hogan from the "Cards That Never Were" blog marked the occasion with a custom 1968 card of Weaver.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The 1969 Expos

Here is a photo of the 1969 Montreal Expos. They posted a 52-110 record in their first season, 10 games better than the expansion Mets in 1962.

It appears that the Expos started the season with a rotation of Mudcat Grant, Bill Stoneman, Larry Jaster, and rookie Carl Morton, with rookie Mike Wegener getting the odd spot start. By mid-May, rookie Jerry Robertson had replaced Morton in the rotation, and a month later, Grant and Jaster were out, replaced by Howie Reed and rookie Steve Renko. In mid-July, Gary Waslewski replaced Reed.

Bill Stoneman, Jerry Robertson, and Mike Wegener were the "Big Three" starting pitchers for the expansion Expos. In only his 3rd big-league season, Stoneman was the ace of this staff, leading the team in wins (11), starts (36), innings pitched (235) and strikeouts (185).

Robertson and Wegener were alike in many ways. Both were making their major-league debut in 1969, both had only 5 wins, and were very close in starts, innings pitched, and strikeouts. All 3 of these pitchers were also used occasionally in relief.

Dan McGinn was the team’s closer, notching 6 saves. His 132 innings were 4th on the team (after the 3 starters above). McGinn appeared in 74 games, with only 1 start.

Howie Reed (6-7) and Gary Waslewski (3-7) both had unimpressive records, and pitched in 30 games, starting half of them. Waslewski came over from the Cardinals in mid-June in exchange for Mudcat Grant.

Other key members of the bullpen were Don Shaw (65 innings in 35 games, 1 start ) and veteran Elroy Face (59 innings, 44 games, no starts) who at age 41, was in the final year of his 16-year career (which ended with his August 15th release).

Steve Renko was acquired in mid-June from the Mets in exchange for Donn Clendenon. He was 6-7 in his debut season. Other starters getting some time in on the ground floor were Larry Jaster (1-6 in 26 games, 11 starts), Mudcat Grant (1-6 in 10 starts prior to his mid-June trade), and rookie Carl Morton (0-3 in 5 starts). Morton was sent down in early May, but stormed back in 1970 to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Others pitching only in relief were veteran Dick Radatz (0-4 in 34 innings), Carroll Sembera (0-2 in 33 innings), native French-Canadian Claude Raymond (who was acquired in mid-August from the Braves and became a fan favorite), and Steve Shea (15 innings over 10 games).

These eight had the most playing time at each position. Ron Brand made 79 starts behind the plate, sharing the catching duties with ex-Astros teammate John Bateman. Bob Bailey started 83 games at 1st base, sharing the job initially with Donn Clendenon, then with Ron Fairly. By mid-August Bob was relegated to the bench in favor of Fairly.

Gary Sutherland went from a seldom-used utilityman in 1968 for the Phillies, to starting 138 games for the Expos in '69. Bobby Wine also came over from the Phillies, and (after Maury Wills was traded away) started 110 of the final 112 games at shortstop.

Rookie Coco Laboy started 147 games at the hot corner. Mack Jones started 120 games in left field, while smacking 22 homers. The Expos employed a carousel of 10 players in center field. Adolfo Phillips led the way with 48 starts, almost all of them in the 6 weeks following his mid-June acquisition from the Cubs.

Rusty Staub started 154 games in right field (the most by any Expo at any one position). Staub was acquired from the Astros in January in exchange for Jesus Alou and Donn Clendenon. When Clendenon refused to report, the Expos sent pitcher Jack Billingham to Houston.

Here are the 2nd-line batters. Ron Fairly came over from the Dodgers in mid-season, and started most of the games at first base afterwards, along with 18 starts in center field. John Bateman started 64 games, splitting the catching duties with Brand. Ty Cline was the team's 4th outfielder (primarily sharing center field with Phillips). After 2 seasons as the Pirates' 3rd baseman, Maury Wills started 46 of the first 50 games at shortstop, then was traded back to the Dodgers in mid-June.

Donn Clendenon was drafted from the Pirates.  He was ticketed to the Astros in the Staub deal, but refused to go.  Excellent decision, Donn! After 21 starts at 1st base and another 9 in left field, he was traded to the Mets for pitcher Steve Renko and infielder Kevin Collins. Clendenon was the MVP of the '69 World Series, batting .357 with 3 home runs.

Jose Herrera began the season in the minors, but played 47 games in the final 3 months, mostly as a LF/CF/PH. Don Bosch was the team's center fielder early-on, and after playing in 49 games he was sent to the minors in early-July, never to return to the majors. Kevin Collins arrived in the Donn Clendenon trade in mid-June, and started the 15 games at 3rd base that Laboy didn't.

Manny Mota shared the center field job with Bosch and Cline until his mid-June trade to the Dodgers. John Boccabella was the 3rd "B" in the Expos' catching corps.  He played in 40 games, with most of his 19 starts coming in May and June.

Angel "Remy" Hermoso played in triple-A most of the season.  He started 16 consecutive games at 2nd base in mid-July (presumably Sutherland was on the DL), and returned in September. Jim Fairey was selected from the Dodgers, but spent the '69 season in triple-A.  He played in 20 games during a September call-up.

Garry Jestadt pinch-hit 5 times in late September, and made his only start on 10/1. After 8 1/2 seasons with the Phillies, Gene Mauch got canned in mid-June 1968.  No matter, he scored the skipper's job with the Expos, where he stayed for 7 seasons. Jack Billingham and Jesus Alou were selected in the expansion draft, but traded to the Astros for Rusty Staub prior to the season.

Also playing in 1969 were pitchers Leo Marentette (3 games) and Bob Reynolds (1), 2B Marv Staehle (6) and outfielder Don Hahn (4).

The Expos had 3 Rookie Stars cards in the '69 set. Floyd Wicker played in 41 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter.

The back of the team card shows Rusty Staub and Bill Stoneman leading the team in most categories.

25-man roster analysis:
(There is some overlap by a few days on 1 or 2 players)

Transactions from team inception until the end of 1969:

10/14/68 expansion draft: (also here)

From the Mets: Don Shaw, Ernie McAnally (P), John Glass (P)
From the Phillies: Gary Sutherland, Mike Wegener, Larry Jackson (P)
(When Jackson retired, the Phillies sent Bobby Wine as a replacement.)
From the Pirates: Manny Mota, Donn Clendenon, Maury Wills
From the Cubs: Bill Stoneman, Garry Jestadt, John Boccabella
From the Cardinals: Jerry Robertson, Larry Jaster, Coco Laboy
From the Braves: Skip Guinn, Remy Hermoso, Carl Morton
From the Reds: Mack Jones, Dan McGinn, Jimy Williams
From the Astros: John Bateman, Jose Herrera, Ron Brand
From the Giants: Jesus Alou, Bob Reynolds, Ty Cline
From the Dodgers: Jack Billingham, Jim Grant, Jim Fairey

10/16/68 - Purchased Don Bosch from the Mets.

10/21/68 - Purchased Bob Bailey from the Dodgers.

12/02/68 - Drafted Don Hahn from the Giants in the rule 5 draft.
12/02/68 - Drafted infielder Juan Rios from the Mets in the rule 5 draft.
12/02/68 - Drafted Carroll Sembera from the Astros in the rule 5 draft.
12/02/68 - Drafted Floyd Wicker from the Cardinals in the rule 5 draft.

01/22/69 - Traded Jesus Alou and Donn Clendenon to the Astros for Rusty Staub. When Clendenon refused to report, the Expos sent Jack Billingham and pitcher Skip Guinn to the Astros to complete the deal.

03/25/69 - Sold Juan Rios to the Kansas City Royals.

04/03/69 - Purchased pitchers Leo Marentette, Howie Reed and Steve Shea from the Astros.

04/27/69 - Signed Roy Face as a free agent.

06/03/69 - Traded Jim Grant to the Cardinals for Gary Waslewski.

06/11/69 - Traded Manny Mota and Maury Wills to the Dodgers for Ron Fairly and infielder Paul Popovich.
06/11/69 - Traded Paul Popovich to the Cubs for pitcher Jack Lamabe and Adolfo Phillips. Lamabe finished out the season (and his career) in the minors.

06/15/69 - Purchased Dick Radatz from the Tigers.
06/15/69 - Traded Donn Clendenon to the Mets for Steve Renko, Kevin Collins, and 2 minor-leaguers.

08/15/69 - Released Roy Face.

08/19/69 - Purchased Claude Raymond from the Braves.

08/26/69 - Released Dick Radatz.

09/13/69 - Acquired infielder Marv Staehle from the Pilots for a player to be named (Floyd Wicker).

12/02/69 - Traded Larry Jaster to the Braves for pitcher Jim Britton.

12/03/69 - Traded Jerry Robertson to the Tigers for pitcher Joe Sparma.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Steve Carlton (#255)

Ok, after much delay, I have finally added text to this blog post. 

Steve Carlton, who is the greatest Phillies’ left-handed pitcher in their history, began his career with the Cardinals in the mid-1960s.

Carlton was signed by the Cardinals in 1963, and spent only one season in the minors (1964), compiling a 15-6 record, before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals in April 1965.

During his rookie season, he pitched in 11 games prior to the end of June, and then not again until late August, when he pitched 4 times over the season’s last 5 weeks. (I assume he was on the DL in July and August, because he has no minor-league record for 1965.)

Carlton was back in the minors to start the 1966 season, and after compiling a 9-5 record in 19 starts, he rejoined the Cardinals in late July, and pitched 9 games in the final 2 months of the season.

Steve began the 1967 season as the team’s 5th starter, and finished the season with a 14-9 record and an appearance in the World Series.

Carlton pitched for the Cardinals through the 1971 season, bouncing back from a 10-19 record in 1970 to a 20-9 record in 1971.

After the season, he was traded to the Phillies for pitcher Rick Wise. Both pitchers were involved in contract squabbles with their respective teams. (Imagine trading away a 20-game winner!)

Here is Carlton's first card as a Phillie.

Lefty’s first season with the Phillies was one for the record books. He led the NL in all these categories: 27 wins (the Phillies only won 59 games that season!), a 1.97 ERA, 310 strikeouts, 41 starts, 30 complete games, and 346 innings pitched. He also only walked 87 batters (a 310/87 strikeout/walk ratio!) All this earned Carlton his 1st of 4 Cy Young awards.

As if worn out by his 1972 feats, Carlton lost a league-leading 20 games in 1973, although he also led the NL in starts, complete games, and innings pitched. He also struck out 223 batters in ’73.

Lefty pitched for the Phillies until late-June 1986. Along the way, he won 20 or more games 4 times (’76, ’77, ’80, and ’82) winning the Cy Young award in ’77, ’80, and ‘82, and led the NL in strikeouts in ’74, ’80, ’82, and ’83. He was also a combined 6-5 in six post-seasons between 1976 and 1983.

After going 1-8 in 1985, and starting the 1986 season at 4-8, the Phillies released their long-time ace on June 24th. In a classic example of not knowing when to retire, Carlton bounced around for several more seasons with the Giants (July ‘86), White Sox (Aug-Sep ‘86), Indians (Apr-Jul ‘87), and Twins (Aug ’87 – Apr ’88) before retiring.

Carlton finished his career with a 329-244 record, 4136 strikeouts, and a 3.22 ERA. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.