Tag Archives: Topps Traded

Retro Rookie: Jose Rijo

1984 Topps Traded

1984 Topps Traded

Wow, I had no idea Jose Rijo was 16 when he began his professional career. Utter madness. He actually pitched pretty well as a 16-year old in the GCL in 1981, going 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA. Not stellar, but he was basically a kid. He really hit his stride as an 18-year old, going 18-7 with a 1.88 ERA across A and AA. I guess with how the Yankees were doing in the early 80s I’m not surprised he got the call in 1984, though he didn’t exactly set the world on fire, settling for an 80 ERA+. I guess he was seen as the Yankees’ answer to Doc Gooden that year? Either way, we know which one had the greater skills, though Rijo was a pretty good pitcher. As a matter of fact, I have to admit he was one of my favorite pitchers of the early 90s.
 
Unfortunately, he ruined that reputation with the Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal and the skimming scandal. From Wikipedia:
 
Rijo used to work as a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden of the Washington Nationals baseball team. Starting in February 2009, he took a leave of absence from his position after it was discovered that one of Rijo’s scouting finds, Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez was actually named Carlos David Alvarez Lugo and was four years older than the Nationals believed when they signed him. On February 25, Rijo was dismissed from the Nationals’ organization and his Dominican baseball academy closed down.
 
As for the card itself, what can you say? 1984 Topps is not one of my favorite designs, but I do like the picture. And man does Rijo look young and thin!
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Filed under Yankees Prospects

Retro Rookies: Mark Langston

1984 Topps Traded

1984 Topps Traded

Hahaha, check out that portrait photo. Is that the fakest smile you’ve ever seen or what? Still, this was one of my more sought-after cards later in my collecting “career”. I know Langston wasn’t overwhelming, but he was a pretty good pitcher who I think escaped mainstream attention until he jumped to the California Angels in 1990. Unfortunately, the back half of his career took care of him being much above league average, but I still think he was an asset to his teams.
 
When this card came out, he was coming off of a 1983 minor league season in which he went 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA and a…1.460 WHIP? Yikes. His strikeout numbers for that campaign aren’t available, but he K’ed 161 in 177 innings in 1982. So he wasn’t overwhelming in the minors. I’m curious as to what situation in Seattle necessitated his addition to the rotation in 1984, but he went 17-10 with a 3.40 ERA that year, good for a 118 ERA+. Not bad work for a rookie.

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Filed under Mariners Prospects

Retro Rookies: Barbaro Garbey

1984 Topps Traded

1984 Topps Traded

I thought this would be fun…here’s a failed prospect from the early 80s with whom I’m completely unfamiliar. Garbey started his minor league career relatively late, at age 23 in 1980. I kind of wonder what the story is there, but he had a relatively empty .364 BA that year, which is not the greatest sign for a 23-yaer old in A-Ball. He was moved to AA and AAA in 81, and did okay but not great in AA, while stumbling miserably in AAA. He spent a year in AA in 82 and seemed to figure out AA, which you would expect from a 25-year old. His OBP was a paltry .336, but he smacked 17 home runs, which probably caught Detroit’s attention with the different standards of the day. He spent 83 in AAA, hitting .321 with 14 homers. Again, by those day’s standards, he looked like a pretty good prospect, even if he was a bit old.
 
So he made his ML Debut in 1984, where he hit .287 with 5 home runs. Not too bad for a rookie, right? Well, not so fast. He had a lightweight .716 OPS and 98 OPS+. that presaged his 1985 campagin, where the wheels came off. He managed to improve to 6 home runs, but OPSed only .685. He wouldn’t return to the majors until a 30-game trial with the Rangers in 1988, and then he was gone forever.
 
The lesson? You need to take a closer look at a minor leaguer’s peripherals before awarding them a starting job (or investing them in). Had he been a rookie in 1990, I would have shied away from him for his age, but there were other, stronger indicators of where he would end up.

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Darren Dreifort

1991 Topps Traded

1991 Topps Traded

Oh, the ballad of Darren Dreifort. It’s one I’m sure Dodgers fans would rather forget.  Darren was one of those rare players who jumped straight to the majors, and looked pretty awful doing it at first. He sucked in 1994, then got injured and missed a lot of time before coming back as the Dodgers setup man. I was only vaguely aware of this at the time, as I was pretty much out of being a baseball fan at that point. I remember Dreifort as a highly-regarded college prospect, but “THE CONTRACT” is what I, and I imagine most baseball fans, remember him for. From Wikipedia:
 
A free agent after the 2000 season, Dreifort re-signed with the team, and received a five-year, $55 million contract in 2001, a large contract in spite of the fact that he had had a career record of 39-45, and a history of arm trouble. But, in 2001, with a limited free-agent pitching market, Dreifort’s agent Scott Boras sold the Dodgers on the right-hander’s future potential, hinting he might sign with a National League West rival. The Dodgers responded with the big contract.
Dreifort went on to get injured:
 
Dreifort’s health shut him down during the very first season of the deal; he was finished in early July when he was forced to undergo elbow reconstruction surgery that kept him out until the end of 2002. With continuing arm and shoulder trouble, plus additional knee and hip trouble, Dreifort actually pitched in only three of the five years on the deal, also missing the entire 2005 season and parts of two other seasons during the life of the deal.
 
What a life, huh?

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Filed under Dodgers Prospects