Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Card #29: Dwayne Murphy

Who Can It Be Now?
Dwayne Keith Murphy was born on March 18, 1955, in Merced, California.  He attended Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California, and graduated in 1973.  According to his still-available biography on the Toronto Blue Jays website, Murphy had an offer to play football at Arizona State University but chose instead to play baseball.  He was drafted straight out of high school by the Oakland A's in the 15th round of the 1973 June Amateur Draft as the only player of any baseball value in that round.  

It took Murphy a little while to find his feet in professional baseball, as he spent 3 seasons in A-league ball from 1973 through 1975.  In fairness, Murphy was always young for each of those leagues, so the fact that, as a 20-year-old, he hit .291 with a .400 OBP at Modesto in the California League in 1975 was a good sign that the A's had a real player in Murphy.  At every stop in the minors, Murphy walked more than he struck out and had excellent on-base skills.

Murphy made it to the major leagues in 1978, a year in which he served as a late-inning defensive replacement, a pinch hitter, and a pinch runner for the most part from April through June and again from July through August.  He struggled with the limited playing time, but he never went back to the minor leagues after 1978 until he was on the downside of his career in 1988.

In 1980, Murphy had one of his best seasons as a hitter in the major leagues, and he won the first of his six straight Gold Gloves.  He hit for his highest batting average that year, got on base at a .384 clip, and slugged .380.  He hit 13 home runs and stole 26 bases.  

That was the year that Billy Martin took over as manager of the A's.  Billy Ball had taken hold in Oakland, meaning that the young pitching staff threw ridiculous amounts of innings and complete games -- 94 in total, which was 46 more than second place Milwaukee's 48.   Murphy's defense in center field helped that club to an 83-79 record.  

The pitching staff could throw flyballs all day, though, due to the incredible outfield that the A's had put together.  That outfield consisted of the 25-year-old Murphy, a 21-year-old Rickey Henderson and 26-year-old Tony Armas. Together, they totaled 62 fielding runs above average -- an impressive total that, by itself, was a total of 4.1 wins above replacement.  Add in their respective offensive WAR -- Murphy at 4.5, Henderson at 6.9, and Armas at 3.5 -- and you have an outfield that was 21.6 Wins above a replacement outfield.  

Murphy's best offensive year on overall surface stats might have been his 1982 year. Despite a .238 batting average, he still carried a .349 OBP while hitting 27 homers, driving in 94, and stealing 26 against only 8 times caught.  As he got older, though, he stopped taking as many walks -- likely because he was not seeing pitch outs by the opposing team to stop Rickey Henderson from stealing second or third base.  

Staying in Oakland until 1987 thanks to a 4-year, $3.375 million contract signed in 1983 and a $759,000 contract in 1987, Murphy found himself unable to reach a deal with Oakland after two straight seasons in which he did not top 100 games played -- due, in large part, to injuries.  In 1986, he ruptured a disk in his back in a violent collision with a wall in Fenway Park.  Then, in 1987, he had to have knee surgery after colliding with Mike Davis.

Murphy left Oakland after the 1987 season and signed with Detroit.  He found himself in the undesirable position of being 33 years old and spending half a season in Triple-A at Toledo.  He was released at the end of spring training in 1989 and caught on with the Philadelphia Phillies for that season before calling it a career in America at the end of that season.

He finished his playing career in 1990 with 34 games for the Yakult Swallows where, no surprise, he hit for a poor average but got on base at a tremendous rate.

After retiring from baseball, Murphy coached high school football during the 1990s before joining up with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.  He stayed with the Diamondbacks from the time that they began in the National League until 2005, when the Toronto Blue Jays hired him as their minor league hitting instructor.  In 2008, he was named first base coach for the Jays, and then became the hitting coach in 2010.  He went back to first base coaching in 2013 before informing the Blue Jays that after 2013 and at the age of 59, he wanted a break from the day-to-day grind of Major League Baseball.

The Verdict
I know -- another category.  But even if this category does not get used again, it's a good one here.  The Paul Newman courtroom drama was based on a screenplay by David Mamet.  It received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture (which went to Gandhi over E.T., Missing, Tootsie, and The Verdict).  

People familiar with MC Hammer know that Hammer was a batboy for the Oakland A's and it was his resemblance to Hank Aaron that got him the nickname "Little Hammer."  Hammer a/k/a Stanley Burrell served as a batboy for the A's from 1973 through 1980.  He was struggling in small venues as a rapper in the mid-1980s when he hit up a couple of his pals from his days as a batboy -- Outfielder Mike Davis and Outfielder Dwayne Murphy. Wikipedia provides a dead-link citation to a 1990 article in Ebony magazine to state that Davis and Murphy each loaded Hammer $20,000 to start his record label called Bust It Production. 

A law firm which apparently was involved somehow archived a People Magazine article about the way that this business relationship was resolved.  Murphy is quoted in the article from 1990 as saying that "[a]fter I saw him dancing I thought maybe it would work."  Each ballplayer signed a contract with Hammer saying that they would each get 10% of all royalties, endorsements, concerts, promotions, and other monies in perpetuity.  The $40,000 was not enough, so the players agreed to take out another $125,000 as a loan from a bank to support Hammer.  In return, they thought they had an oral agreement for each to receive 15% of Hammer's incoming money.

Hammer did not pay the players money back, and unsurprisingly the bank wanted its $125,000 back.  Murphy claimed that Hammer refused to pay any part of his revenues from his career to them, and that Hammer screamed at them that he would "rather pay an attorney a million dollars before I pay you a dime."  Lawyers love clients like this.

They eventually settled, but not before Davis almost lost his Los Angeles home as a result.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Dwayne Murphy was a great supporting player for the Oakland A's in the early 1980s. When he stepped to the plate, he changed his approach depending on whether Rickey Henderson was on base or not.  As a Brewers fan, I was never happy to see Murphy at bat.  He feasted on Milwaukee pitching, hitting more home runs, stealing more bases, and having a better OBP and SLG against the Brewers than he did against any other American League team.

As the Blue Jays biography for Murphy stated, he turned down the opportunity to play football at Arizona State to pursue his baseball career.  While that sounds all romantic and warm and fuzzy, Murphy's reality was harsher: as the Los Angeles Times article about him from 1994 noted, Murphy had married his junior high school sweetheart, Brenda, immediately after high school, and, even before he graduated high school, Dwayne and Brenda had a Dwayne Jr. to care for.  He chose getting a job in baseball over a college scholarship because he pretty much felt he had to do it.

Some today might say that it was a real shame that Murphy had to forego his opportunity in the sport he truly loved -- football.  To me, though, Murphy is a person whose story could serve as a true guidepost to follow: he was not concerned only about himself and what he "wanted" but instead stepped up, was responsible, and did what was best for his family.  

Also, he provides the key lesson in life that Samuel Goldwyn of MGM fame provided:  "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on."

Wise words to live by.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Card #28: John Urrea

Who Can It Be Now?
John Goody Urrea was born in Los Angeles, California, on February 9, 1955.  He went to Rio Hondo College, a junior college in Whittier, California, and it was from there that he was selected in the first round of the 1974 January Draft with the 14th overall pick by the Cardinals.  

He signed with the Cardinals, and appeared in 6 games in the Gulf Coast League (a rookie league) before moving up to St. Petersburg in the Florida State League in 1974 for one game.  As an article in The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg) written during his next far more extended trip to St. Petersburg in 1975 mentions, Urrea's 1974 season was cut short by a pulled muscle in his throwing arm.  Playing on the same Single-A team in 1975 with Urrea were future big leaguers Tito Landrum and Garry Templeton -- who was called up mid-season and replaced on the roster by future Phillies Manager Nick Leyva.

Urrea had an excellent 1975 season in the Florida State League -- though, in fairness, it was a league that favored pitchers -- so he moved up to the Texas League in 1976 and pitched pretty well there.  He was getting hit by batters with regularity, to be fair -- 10 hits per nine innings -- but his 11-8 record convinced the Cardinals to give him a shot in spring training in 1977.  

The 1977 season for Urrea was a fairy tale of sorts.  He pitched well -- a 3.16 ERA, 8.1 hits per 9 innings, and a K/BB ratio of 2.31 all speak to that.  He saved 4 games.  In fact, his first three appearances were saves, including the third game of the 1977 season against the Pirates.  After that game, then-Cardinals manager Vern Rapp said, "I don't want to be too predictable.  Eventually, we have to prove to other teams that there is more to our bullpen than just [Al] Hrabosky. . . . I'm not discrediting Hrabosky, either, but one man can't do the work all season.  You've got to establish your other relievers."  Quite a stark change to today's bullpen construction where everyone knows who everyone else's "closer" is, certainly.  

Later in the season, Urrea was moved to the starting rotation where he started twelve games and completed two of them, including a 3-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves in July. Indeed, his first five decisions as a starter were wins as well.  All the usual happy stories started appearing in newspapers -- a headline in the Southeast Missourian over an AP story, for example, sang, "Success fails to spoil John Urrea."

Urrea's career went south after his initial success.  He slumped to a 5.38 ERA in 1978 -- even though his FIP was pretty much the same as his previous season.  The real problem he had was that his walk rate shot up after that first year in the majors, going from 2.3 BB/9 in 1977 to 4.3 BB/9 in 1978 and, from there, never lower than 5.1 BB/9.  This control issue caused his K/BB ratio to fall as well -- going to 1.3 K/BB in 1977 and, thereafter, never reaching 1.0 again.  So, at the end of July, the Cardinals sent Urrea down to Triple-A Springfield and called up Aurelio Lopez to replace him.

He got a cup of coffee in 1979, appearing in three late season games, and then was called up at the end of June in 1980.  He stayed in the majors for the rest of that year.  

 Whitey Herzog had become the field manager and general manager at the start of the 1980 season, and he began shaping the team in the image he wanted it to have.  Urrea was to be a part of that shaping, but as one of the guys exiting St. Louis.  As it was, at the winter meetings in December of 1980, Urrea was involved in one of the most incredible flurries of trades of at least the early 1980s.  On December 8, 1980, he was shipped to the San Diego Padres with Terry Kennedy, John Littlefield, Al Olmstead, Mike Phillips, Kim Seaman, and Steve Swisher in exchange for Rollie Fingers, Bob Shirley, Gene Tenace, and Bob Geren.  The very next day, Herzog traded Leon Durham, Ken Reitz, and Ty Waller to the Cubs for Bruce Sutter.  Not wanting to have two closers, apparently, Herzog took three days to find a trading partner for Fingers, sending Fingers, Pete Vuckovich, and Ted Simmons to the Milwaukee Brewers for David Green, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano, and Lary Sorensen.

The Padres were in full-on salary cutting/rebuilding mode; a review of their transactions from 1980 shows a team selling players, trading veterans, and releasing players left and right.  Urrea came to the Padres in this atmosphere at the age of 26 and pitched creditably, though he walked 1.6 batters per nine innings more than he struck out.  After that performance, the Padres released Urrea, and he never pitched in the major leagues again.

Nanu Nanu
This card is John Urrea's last appearance on a Topps baseball card and, as I mentioned above, Urrea did not pitch in 1982 or thereafter in the Majors.  

What happened to him?  Well, he pitched for both Veracruz and Poza Rica in the Mexican League in 1982.  Baseball-Reference loses him for a couple of years before Urrea resurfaces with the Mexico City Tigers in 1986 at the age of 31.

After that, it appears that he moved back home to the Los Angeles area -- Cerritos -- where I believe he still lives today.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Urrea was a guy whose card I would look at in 1982, 1992, 2002, or 2012 and say, "I must have 12 of this one."  He did not make an impression on me, though I definitely have his 1979 Topps card photo ingrained in my head for some reason.  

One interesting to me issue that came up while trying to find something about Urrea that I could write about was the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from which I took Vern Rapp's quotes about his bullpen use.  That same news story provides a throwback to the days 37 years ago -- or, for that matter, about 15 years ago -- when it seemed that sportswriters would or could only compare athletes to other athletes of a similar ethnic background.  

You may not realize it by his name, but Urrea is definitely a Mexican-American.  In fact, the name Urrea is famous from the Texas Revolution, as General Jose de Urrea was one of Santa Anna's top generals.  Under Urrea, Mexican forces never lost a battle.

That said, however, John Urrea is as American as any other person born in the US -- whether it was to immigrant parents or otherwise.  Yet, the Post-Gazette from 1977 first compares Urrea to golfer Lee Trevino, saying that Urrea bore a "slight resemblance" to Trevino.  Here's Trevino from about that time:

I guess that slight resemblance is that he had dark hair and dark eyes?  Now, in fairness to the 37-years-ago beat writer, perhaps Urrea looked more like Trevino then than he did five years later on the 1982 Topps card.  But when Urrea was first introduced in the story, he was described as "the Merry Mexican who last year pitched Class AA ball for the Cards' Arkansas farmclub in the Tecas [sic] League . . . ."  Urrea is then described as having "eyes that sparkle and dance with similar merriment [to Trevino's eyes]."  

I'm not a politically correct person by any stretch of the imagination, but seeing a story written in that way today is a jarring reminder of how far we have come in how we view people.  I am glad that we have progressed at least somewhat.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Card #27: Tom Herr

Who Can It Be Now?
Thomas Mitchell Herr was born on April 4, 1956, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  In a story he wrote about his faith for Guideposts magazine (a Christian magazine), Herr about his background that, "[a]ll my life I've triumphed at sports.  Back in Lancaster at Hempfield High I starred in track, baseball, basketball, football.  You name it.  If you could kick it, throw it, bat it, catch it or run after it, I was good."

Herr was not drafted to play baseball out of high school, so he went to the University of Delaware for a semester.  He never played a game as a Blue Hen, however, as he signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent.  

Herr progressed slowly at first through the Cardinals system, spending his first three years in the system in A-ball or a short-season rookie league.  He then spent a half-season in AA followed by a year and a half at Triple-A Springfield.  At each stop along the way, Herr walked more than he struck out and stole bases with a good success rate -- 153 SB and only 39 CS in his 531 games in the minor leagues.

1981 was his first full season in the major leagues even though he was no longer a rookie based on appearing in too many games in 1980.  Herr had a successful year at age 25 -- even garnering 7 points -- 2% of the possible points -- in the 1981 MVP race.  

For he and the Cardinals in 1982, the year was a storybook season as they defeated my Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series in 7 games.  Those were the light-hitting, all-speed Cardinals under Whitey Herzog -- George Hendrick led the team with 19 homers followed by Darrell Porter's 12, and the team as a whole hit just 67.  At age 26, though, Herr was a key contributor on a world champion team -- not a bad start to a career.

Herr would appear in two more World Series for the Cardinals in 1985 and 1987 -- both losses.  Herr's best season in the majors was certainly the 1985 season, when he hit a career-high 8 home runs, drove in 110, stole 31 bases against only 3 times caught, was an all-star, finished 5th in the MVP voting behind teammate Willie McGee, and had a slash line of .302/.379/.416.  

The article mentioned above from Guideposts came billed as being how Herr coped with being traded to the Minnesota Twins.  In an unusual move, the two 1987 World Series teams combined on a trade in April of 1988 which saw Herr go to the Twins straight up for Tom Brunansky.  While Herr's article about searching through the Bible for help in dealing with his trade is nice, the reality is that Twins fans hated the move.  Indeed, at the end of 1988, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune included Herr as its Second runner-up for "Turkey of the Year."  Why?  Here's what the newspaper said:
Second runner-up: Tom Herr.  The Iron Horse came to Minnesota with a chance to play an important role on a team trying to defend a championship.  Herr brought with him the enthusiasm normally associated with being called to an IRS audit.
So, maybe thumbing through his Bible didn't give Herr the comfort he was seeking -- or at least the enthusiasm. 

The Twins recognized their mistake quickly and shipped Herr off to Philadelphia in the offseason.  As part of the trade, Herr came to an agreement with the Phillies on a contract paying him $825,000 a year.  Herr then was traded at the end of August in 1990 to the Mets, where he played nearly one full season before being released and signing for two months with the San Francisco Giants.  Herr was released by the Giants after the 1991 season, and that was the end of his major league career.

Family Ties
Tom Herr has two sons with his wife Kim -- Aaron, who is 33, and Jordan, who is 28.  Aaron was a first round pick (40th overall) of the Atlanta Braves in the 2000 MLB June Amateur Draft.  He never reached the major leagues -- spending the better part of three years at AAA with the Reds and Indians -- before getting out of baseball after being released by his hometown independent league team, the Lancaster Barnstormers.  

Jordan played at the University of Delaware for a year before transferring to Pitt.  He then was drafted by the Cubs in the 41st round of the 2007 June Amateur Draft.  He did not play in the Cubs system as far as I can tell from Baseball Reference, but he did get 36 games at Lancaster with the Barnstormers.  

During the 2009 season, Tom Herr served as bench coach to former Philadelphia Phillie Von Hayes while Aaron was on the team.  He just missed out on coaching Jordan, since Jordan's time on the team was in 2008.

Tom had managed the team in 2004 through 2006, left to manage at Single-A Hagerstown for the Washington Nationals but left that organization when they refused to make him manager of the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.

The World According to Garp
In 1998, Herr released a book called A View from Second Base that he wrote.  The Amazon page for the 164-page book calls it an "in-depth look at the great game of Baseball from a former Major League All-Star's perspective."  Herr said he wrote the book because he saw "a lot of incorrect teaching and incorrect approaches, and just a general lack of baseball knowledge . . . in the world of youth baseball."  So, he wrote the book to give "a perspective of someone [who's] played the game, and played it at the highest level . . . ."

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
My Milwaukee Brewer fandom makes me somewhat biased against nearly every member of the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals.  Let me be clear -- it is not a rational thought process.  It is one driven by the hurt that a 10-year-old kid whose team lost in the World Series felt then.  So, I'm not exactly sympathetic to Herr generally.  

But some of the things I found in researching Herr for this post are cruel.  For instance, one item which popped up in a couple of places and which appears to have no basis in fact is a rumor that Herr's wife was having an extramarital affair with African-American outfielder Tito Landrum and, further, that a child was born from that affair.  As I said, there appears to be no basis in fact for this rumor whatsoever, but it is out there.

One issue that also came up that is more factually based is justifying the 1988 trade to the Twins.  An excellent write-up of the reasons why the trade made perfect sense to the Cardinals can be found on RetroSimba -- a website relating "Cardinals history beyond the box score" and one whose name is a paean to the great Ted Simmons.  Basically, the reasons were (1) Jack Clark had left as a free agent, which left a gaping hole in the middle of the Cardinals lineup for a heavy hitting run producer; (2) Herr's contract expired at the end of the 1988 season; and (3) Luis Alicea was ready to come up from the minor leagues and step in at second base.  All of those reasons make sense, and the fact that it was Tom Brunansky in the trade from Minnesota was not from a lack of Dal Maxvill not trying -- he wanted Gary Gaetti or Kirby Puckett first.

Finally, I'm not sure if this guy is serious or not, but he says Tom Herr belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Why?  Because as of 2011, only 12 second basemen in baseball history had 1400 games at second base with 250 doubles, 150 stolen bases, a .270 career batting average, and at least 20% of their hits going for extra bases.  Of those 12, 9 are in the Hall of Fame or will be (that number includes Craig Biggio, who fell two votes short this past year).  The other three are Larry Doyle, Del Pratt, and Tom Herr.  

I believe Bill James -- or someone similar -- warned against using arbitrary cutoffs to create classes for arguing that Player A belongs in the Hall of Fame.  This example should show why that type of argument is flawed.  Herr is nowhere near being a Hall of Famer -- never has been, never will be.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Card #26: Jorge Orta

Who Can It Be Now?
Jorge Orta Nuñez was born in Mazatlan in the state of Sinaloa in Mexico on November 26, 1950.  Orta began playing in his native Mexico at the age of 17 for Fresnillo, or at least we assume he did because there are no statistics available for him at that club.  

Orta's father Pedro was a Cuban baseball player.  One source calls Pedro "The Babe Ruth of Cuban baseball," but another site --the Baseball-Reference bullpen, which is one that I trust somewhat more than the first -- notes that Pedro's nickname in Spanish was Charolito, which they say means "patent leather" but which I think means "Little leather" or "little tray" since charol translates either as patent leather or tray.  In fact, it could be that he was a self-promoter because when "charol" is used with the reflexive verb darse (giving oneself something), it means that someone is bragging or boasting.

That Spanish lesson aside, Jorge Orta was born while Pedro was playing baseball in Mexico. Jorge loved baseball and purportedly chose to play baseball in the Mexican League in 1968 over going to UCLA on a basketball scholarship.  Now, this may be true, but the doubt I have comes from the fact that UCLA in that time won its fifth NCAA title in six seasons with the great Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center.  It's certainly possible that Orta received the scholarship offer and turned it down; it's just one of those claims that sounds like something to take with a grain of salt -- like, for example, the idea that Alabama offered someone a football scholarship and it was turned down.  I mean, you have to be a good football player to get "offered", but literally dozens -- well over 100 -- are made each year to get to the 25 to 30 players that Saban signs each year.  And, in the 1960s, there were fewer constraints on scholarships.

All that is not to disparage Orta.  He was an excellent baseball player at a very young age, and the White Sox were impressed enough by his play in the Mexican League to purchase his contract from Mexicali in the Mexican Northern League in November of 1971.  Orta jumped directly to the major leagues and struggled with the bat.  So, in mid-July, he was sent down to AA Knoxville.  There, he crushed the ball to the tune of .316/.397/.526 and got a call-up back to the majors in September, never to play in the minor leagues again.  

Orta had good speed but pretty bad base stealing instincts.  Over his 16-year major league career, Orta had 63 triples and 79 stolen bases -- 40 of those steals came in 1975 and 1976 -- but he was caught stealing 60 times.  That success rate certainly cost his team more runs than it created, as we know now.  That said, Orta was an above-average hitter who had a good batting eye -- he took walks and had a contact percentage above the league average as well.

Orta today is remembered for a play in the 1986 World Series -- a play which some thought would lead to the adoption of instant replay in baseball.  It only took 28 years, but we have that instant replay now.  The play, of course, is the Don Denkinger "blown call" at first base. Orta tapped a slow roller to first base, where Jack Clark fielded the ball.  He tossed the ball to Cardinals closer Todd Worrell.  From one angle, it looked like the ball arrived in Worrell's glove while Worrell still had his toe on first base.  Worrell's foot came off the base around the same time as Orta arrived at first.  Denkinger undoubtedly was out of position -- as you can see in the video, rather than being in fair territory to get a view of when the ball went in the glove and when Orta hit the base, he was behind the play nearly in the first-base coaching box.  That would have been the Series-clinching game for the Cardinals.

Another famous game for Orta came on June 15, 1980.  In a Cleveland Indians 14-5 drubbing of the Minnesota Twins, Orta went 6-for-6 with five singles and a double.  That tied an American League record for most hits in a 9-inning game.

Outside of those two games, Orta had a solid career.  He was a two-time All-Star, in 1975 with the White Sox and in 1980 in his first season with the Indians.  He was not a great defensive player over his career -- especially when playing second base.  He ended his career as a designated hitter, so once his hitting abilities started failing after the age of 34, the Royals released him to end his major league career midway through the 1987 season.  

Orta has stayed in the game as a coach and manager.  His most recent coaching position was in the Arizona League in 2013 with the Texas Rangers organization.  Before that, he spent five seasons coaching rookie league ball for the Cincinnati Reds.

Everybody Wants You
Orta was traded after the 1981 season by the Cleveland Indians to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers traded away second base prospect Jack Perconte -- who was already 26 years old at that point -- and former Rookie of the Year Rick Sutcliffe to get Orta and two minor leaguers (catcher Jack Fimple and pitcher Larry White).  Orta's time with the Dodgers lasted only for the 1982 season -- he was traded twice in the offseason between the 1982 and 1983 seasons.

Trivial Pursuit
When the Toronto Blue Jays played their first game in the old Exhibition Stadium, their opponents were the Chicago White Sox.  In 32-degree temperatures and snow flurries on April 7, 1977,  the White Sox faced off against Bill Singer.  The game started with a walk to Ralph Garr.  Later in the inning, Jorge Orta drove in the first run in Exhibition Stadium history on a sacrifice fly.  Despite the good start in the first inning, the White Sox lost the game 9-5.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Jorge Orta was a tough out generally, and he hit right around his career statistics against my Milwaukee Brewers.  I remember him most as the lefty-hitting half of a DH platoon paired with Hal McRae for the Royals in the mid-1980.  Certainly, I believe that my memory is most likely influenced by the success that the Royals had in that time.

Overall, Orta did have a successful career.  Clearly, one must be successful to last for 16 seasons in the major leagues.  About 7 years ago, the Royals Review on SB Nation rated Orta as the #95 Greatest Royal of All-Time for his years in Kansas City.  Certainly a part of that ranking came from the Denkinger play and the afterglow from that series win, but it does show that Orta's role in Kansas City earned him a measure of respect from Royals fans. 

Orta also was inducted into the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.  When he retired, Orta was the all-time leader in home runs in the Major Leagues for players born in Mexico. He has since been passed only by Vinny Castilla.  Being one of the best players that your country has ever had is certainly a feat worth noting.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Card #25: Jerry Remy

Who Can It Be Now?
Gerald Peter Remy was born in November of 1952 in Fall River, Massachusetts, and he grew up in the Boston area.  He attended Somerset High School in Somerset, Massachusetts, and he was drafted out of high school by the Washington Senators in the 1970 June draft.  He did not sign with the Senators and matriculated at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.  Perhaps college life did not suit Remy, because he signed with the California Angels in 1971 after being drafted by them in the January 1971 Secondary draft in the 8th round.

Remy moved reasonably quickly through the Angels system, punctuated by splitting his age 21 season of 1974 between Double-A El Paso for 2/3 of the year and Triple-A Salt Lake City for the remaining third.  He hit the ball well -- though not with any home run power -- at every stop.  

His career minor league totals show a slap hitter with good bat skills and improving bat control -- a slash line of .307/.359/.409, 144 walks and 276 strikeouts (but with 100 of those coming in one year in the California League at age 19) in 1878 plate appearances.  Remy also showed decent speed but less-than-stellar base-running instincts: 95 Stolen Bases versus 43 times caught stealing.  

Unsurprisingly, this is exactly the player that Remy was when he reached the major leagues with the Angels in 1975.  He got on base at a decent clip, had a slugging percentage that hovered right around the same level as his OBP, and he got caught stealing more times than he should have for as often as he was running.  For example, in his rookie year of 1975, Remy hit .258, had an OBP and a SLG of .311 each, stole 34 bases, but got caught stealing a league leading 21 times.

Remy enjoyed the early success with the Angels, but the Angels needed pitching if they were to contend with the Royals in the late 1970s American League West.  For its part, the Red Sox were looking to improve at second base and upgrade from the 33-year-old Denny Doyle. So, after the 1977 season, the Red Sox sent promising 22-year-old pitcher Don Aase to the Angels for 24-year-old Remy. 

Moving back home to Boston, Remy responded immediately with his one and only All-Star season in 1978.  The future looked bright for both Remy and the Red Sox -- despite the Bucky Dent game.  

Everything changed for Remy on July 1, 1979.  The second-place Red Sox faced their bitter rival Yankees at Yankee Stadium.  Remy hit a triple to lead off the game, and he tried to score when Rick Burleson hit a pop-up down the right-field line that Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph tracked down.  According to one article, Remy had no chance to score on the play, but he tried anyway and, on the slide into home, Remy tore up his knee badly.

Jim Rice came onto the field and carried Remy off:

Remy hardly played in 1979 after the injury, and he appeared in only 63 games in 1980.  He played two full seasons after the injury -- 1982 and 1983 (though playing 88 games in the strike-shortened 1981 season has to be considered as a full season too).  He had had three knee operations by the time 1984 rolled around, and could only make it through one month of the 1984 season before shutting it down.  In spring training in 1985, Remy visited the Red Sox' team physician, Dr. Arthur Pappas, and after that appointment, made the decision to retire at the age of 32.

This Is Radio Clash
The Clash is one of my favorite bands -- one I've liked since 1982 and Combat Rock.  The song "This Is Radio Clash" was released in late 1981 and made its impact on the rock music charts in 1982.  I am going to use it to highlight those players who have gone on to careers in broadcasting.

To most people, Jerry Remy is more known now for being the television analyst on Red Sox games on NESN.  He has worked in broadcasting since 1988 as the color commentator for Red Sox games.

Louisiana Cookin'
Remy is an entrepreneur who has made a good living since his baseball career ended by leveraging his Bostonian background, playing days, and on-air commentating into a number of different ventures.  He's written a bunch of Red Sox-related books (see below), for example.  In addition, he is the "President of Red Sox Nation" which, apparently, was based on some kind of voting among Red Sox fans.  

But, relevant to our culinary category, Remy owns several eateries in the Boston area.  He has a hot dog stand on Yawkey Way called "RemDawgs," he operates "Jerry Remy's Sports Bar and Grill" at three locations, including at Fenway Park, in Fall River, and at Logan International Airport.  Perhaps oddly, there is a separate website for a fourth location at Boston Seaport.

The World According to Garp
Remy has authored a number of books related to baseball.  One series of books is for kids and follows the "journeys" of Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster.  Those titles are Wally the Green Monster and His Journey Through Red Sox Nation!, Hello Wally!, A Season with Wally the Green Monster, Coast to Coast with Wally the Green Monster, and Wally the Green Monster and His World Tour.  Ball Four it's not.

A second book, which Remy has updated four times as far as I can tell, was first published in 2004 and updated most recently in 2008.  It is titled Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game within the Game.

Remy's final book on Amazon is Red Sox Heroes: The RemDawg's All-Time Favorite Red Sox, Great Moments, and Top Teams.

I have not read these books, but feel free to chime in if you have.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
In the early 1980s, I didn't really care about Remy that much. Now, I disliked Rick "The Rooster" Burleson and had fear about what would happen next when guys like Jim Rice and Dwight Evans stepped to the plate.  But Remy was sort of innocuous to me as a fan because he was not a guy who was going to hit the ball out of the park and beat you.  That said, he really enjoyed playing against Milwaukee over his career -- a .300 batting average, 15 stolen bases (though he was caught 10 times), and a .340 OBP.  

Yet, those numbers are skewed by how he absolutely destroyed Milwaukee in his home parks.  In Milwaukee County Stadium, Remy hit just .264 with a .301 OBP.  His career numbers -- including his good batting average -- were helped substantially by his performances in Boston.  Fenway in the early 1980s was a much better hitters' park than a lot of the stadiums around the league, and Remy took full advantage.

There is one item that lingers today when talking about Jerry Remy, and that is his son Jared Remy.  In recent months, Jerry's role as the Red Sox color commentator has been called into question by the fact that Jared is accused of killing the mother of one his children, Jennifer Martel. The Boston Globe recently printed a stunning story portraying Jared Remy as a steroid-addled, serial domestic abuser whose father's money was able to buy the best lawyers to get Jared out of trouble on multiple occasions -- nearly 20, in fact.  As one paragraph stated:
JARED REMY WAS THE KING of second chances.  A review of hundreds of pages of court files and police records revealed accounts that he terrorized five different girlfriends starting when he was 17, and that courts repeatedly let him off with little more than probation and his promise to stay out of trouble.  He rarely did.
A second quote puts some of the blame on Jerry Remy -- at least indirectly -- for this series of lenient decisions happening: 
"This is an old story for the American judicial system.  You get a high-priced attorney, you get better justice," said [Joshua E.] Friedman, the former Lowell prosecutor.  "If he had been Jared Smith from a well-off family, he may have gotten the same result."
But he was not Jared Smith.  He was the son of the man recognized as the president of Red Sox Nation, Jerry Remy -- the home-grown infielder-turned-broadcaster and air-guitar-playing commercial pitchman, best-selling author, and restaurant impresario revered as "The RemDawg."
I do not place blame on Jerry Remy's door for what his son did or even for how courts treated his son.  Yes, you get a better lawyer and you get a better result.  It works that way in many types of cases -- both civil and criminal.  Sure, Jerry Remy and his wife should have done a better job of raising their son so as to keep him off steroids.  

And, I totally agree that the Remy family should have taught their son that treating other people -- not just women, but everyone -- with respect is a requirement to being a human being.  Finally, the Remy family failed to teach their son that violence is not the proper way to solve one's problems.

All that said, if Jared Remy did stab and kill Jennifer Martel -- I have not followed the story, know nothing about it other than what I've read for this write-up, and have no opinion on his guilt and innocence -- the one responsible for that is Jared Remy and the one who will be punished for it is Jared Remy.
Yet, if Jerry is any kind of parent, he must feel anguish over this incident for the rest of his life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Card #24: Dave Frost

Who Can It Be Now?
Carl David Frost was born in November of 1952 in Long Beach, California, and he attended Millikan High School there.  During his years in high school, his baseball team won the CIF championship in 1969 and the CIF basketball championship in 1970.  Straight out of high school, he was not drafted by any major league team, so he went to junior college.  

He first attended Long Beach City College, where he played both baseball and basketball.  At LBCC, he was the MVP of the 1971 State Basketball Championship for junior colleges on a team coached by basketball coaching legend Lute Olson.  After a year at LBCC, he enrolled at Stanford University and again played basketball and baseball there.  Seeing his athletic ability, the Chicago White Sox decided to select Frost  in the 18th Round of the 1974 June Draft with pick number 412.

Frost started in rookie ball and pitched well -- a 1.80 ERA, as one would expect for a college pitcher in rookie ball.   As teams were more likely to do in those days, Frost skipped A-ball and went to AA in 1975, throwing 171 innings at a 3.21 ERA despite a 5-14 record. The White Sox saw his record and thought he needed another year in AA, and kept him there through 1976.  In 1977, he got a September callup to Chicago.  

After the 1977 season and in what have been a dream opportunity for a Southern California kid, Frost was traded with Brian Downing and Chris Knapp to the California ANgels for Bobby Bonds, Thad Bosley, and Richard Dotson.  He pitched a half-season at Triple-A Salt Lake City in 1978 before making his Angels debut on June 24.  He didn't get any run support from his teammates, but Frost pitched decently in losing 3-0 against Jon Matlack (who threw a two-hit shutout).

1979 was Frost's big year in the majors, as Jim Fregosi rode the big righthander for 239-1/3 innings in 33 starts and, by advanced metrics, Frost was the team's best pitcher.  The Angels won the American League West Division title that year for owner Gene Autry, and, despite losing the ALCS to the Baltimore Orioles 3 games to 1, things seems bright for the Angels and for Frost.

But two starts into his 1980 season, Frost's elbow started to hurt -- badly.  According to Baseball in Long Beach by Bob Keisser, tests found fourteen bone chips in Frost's elbow. Today, Frost would have had surgery to remove the chips, fix any issues in the elbow, and perhaps had Tommy-John surgery.  He would miss a year, but he would continue forward in his career.  In the early 1980s, though, baseball tended to subscribe to the theory of "rub some dirt on it and it will get better."  So Frost tried to pitch through the pain.  

That didn't work, and the elbow problems forced Frost into an early retirement at the age of 30. 

Orange You Smart
Not only did Frost play two varsity sports at Stanford University, he also earned his degree in political science from there.  

After his baseball career ended, Frost spent four years in Chicago as a commodities broker. Frost commented on this period in a news article in 2006:
Not really the happiest time in my life.  I was a Long Beach guy living in Chicago, and working in a business I didn't particularly like.  And I wasn't exactly the world's greatest commodities broker.  When you come from a field in which you have to be among the world's best to work in -- major league baseball -- and then you find yourself working in something you're mediocre in, it was hard to take. And I'm sure I felt sorry for myself because of the premature finish of my baseball career.  The transition to regular life was tough for me.
He returned to Long Beach and, then, went to Azusa-Pacific and obtained a Master's degree in psychology.  At the time of the news article, Frost was serving as a counselor and facilitator for a group of domestic violence offenders to help rehabilitate them.  

Everybody Wants You
After Frost's 1982 Topps card went to press and was issued, the Angels allowed Frost to leave.  Within two weeks, the Kansas City Royals picked Frost up and signed him to a one year contract. 

Don't You Want Me?
The Royals were not enamored with Frost putting up a 5.51 ERA (which was identical to his ERA the year prior) and released Frost after the 1982 season.  Frost caught on with first Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia on minor league deals in 1983, but even in AAA in 1983, Frost put up a 5.50 ERA.  Amazing consistency is not always good.

A Few Minutes With Tony L.
In 2014, it seems strange to hear about a pitcher whose career ended due to bone chips in his elbow.  A quick Google search for "Pitcher bone chips" (not in quotes, obviously) shows that surgery to remove bone chips is very common.  A few examples of pitchers who have had bone chips removed or treated include New York Met Jennry Mejia, Washington National Stephen Strasburg, Cincinnati Red Mat Latos (who has since followed that surgery up with knee surgery and more forearm problems), Tampa Bay Ray Jeremy Hellickson, Colorado Rockie Tyler Chatwood, and Atlanta Brave Brandon Beachy (whose bone chip was followed by his second Tommy John surgery in less than 2 years).

Frost obviously was not as lucky as these guys -- most of whom seem likely to be able to continue their careers (Beachy being the one possible exception).  Even so, I question why Frost did not get the chips removed rather than pitching through it.  It's not like bone-chip-removal surgery is new -- a quick review of Terry Forster's Wikipedia page, for example, states that he had surgery after the 1978 World Series to remove bone chips from his elbow.

In any event, this could be one of those "sliding door" moments in time.  If Frost stayed healthy, or wasn't out of baseball at age 30, would he have gone into psychology and helped try to rehabilitate domestic violence offenders?  Would he have been able to apply his training in psychology to work with kids in the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton alongside Ken Landreaux and Don Buford

Sometimes, bad things happen to good people for a reason that can't be explained easily.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Card #23: Guillermo Hernandez

Who Can It Be Now?
While the card says "Willie", we will call him what he preferred to be called: Guillermo. Guillermo Hernandez Villanueva was born in Puerto Rico in 1954 in Aguada.  He attended high school in Puerto Rico as well prior to being signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1973.  Before 1990, players out of Puerto Rico were exempt from passing through the amateur draft and were able to be signed once they hit age 16.  Once 1990 came and the Puerto Ricans had to go through the draft, players from P.R. had to wait to sign until they completed high school.  This rule is blamed for the fact that baseball is a dying sport in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as detailed in this 2012 New York Times article.

Hernandez signed at age 18 with the Phillies, but he did not pitch in their minor league system until the next year -- 1974.  Hernandez was a starter through his minor league career with the Phillies and enjoyed a very successful season at age 20, which he split between AA and AAA.  He posted a 14-6 record and a 3.11 ERA over the two levels, and his strikeouts actually increased in AAA over AA on a per-nine-inning basis.  He struggled somewhat at AAA at age 21 in 1976, but those struggles did not deter the Cubs from selecting him in the Rule 5 draft in December of 1976.  

He stayed in the major leagues with the Cubs until the 1981 season.  The Cubs sent him down to Iowa to take another crack at being a starter and to get work during the strike. Even though he was in his fifth season in the majors, Hernandez was still just 26 years old, so the work could not have hurt.

In reality and as his biography on the SABR website points out, the best thing that happened to Hernandez was playing winter ball after the 1982 season and, then, going to spring training with the Cubs in 1983.  In the winter league, former Baltimore Oriole Mike Cuellar taught Hernandez the screwball -- a pitch used to great effect by Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.  Then, in spring training, Hernandez worked with fellow Cub Fergie Jenkins and learned the cut fastball.  The cutter gave him a pitch to bust righty hitters inside, and it gave the perfect set up for the screwball.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Hernandez started using the cutter and the screwball some after the Cubs traded him to the Phillies in May of 1983.  The Phillies used Hernandez exclusively as a relief pitcher once they got him.  He appeared in three World Series games against the eventual champion Orioles that year, pitching four scoreless innings and allowing just two baserunners -- one on a walk and one hit batsman.

The next spring, Detroit saw Hernandez as the lefty reliever they needed to augment Aurelio Lopez -- Señor Smoke -- at the back of the bullpen and traded away up-and-coming outfielder Glenn Wilson to the Phillies (with John Wockenfuss) for Dave Bergman and Hernandez.  Sparky Anderson rode Hernandez hard -- having Hernandez appear in 80 of the Tigers 162 games, finishing 68 and saving 32 while pitching 140-1/3 innings.  Hernandez responded by striking out 112, walking just 44, and giving up only 96 hits.  For that season, Hernandez was both the AL Cy Young Award winner and the AL MVP in addition to being an all-star.  

After that 1984 season, Hernandez remained with the Tigers until the end of his career after the 1989 season.  He never approached the heights of his 1984 season -- and with that workload in relief, that should not come as any surprise -- and even became a lightning rod for Tigers fans' disapproval when something went wrong.  Even Sparky Anderson said that.  

Hernandez also gained some notoriety for showing up as a New York Yankee in 1995 as a replacement player during the spring training portion of the 1994-1995 lockout/strike. Hernandez apparently had been an agent and working for a steel manufacturing firm before coming back, but felt like he had not been given a fair chance to come back after elbow surgery in 1989.  Needless to say, when the regular players came back, Hernandez returned to Puerto Rico.

After baseball, a Toledo newspaper noted that Hernandez was spending his time five years ago as, "a cattle farm owner in the milk business in San Domingo[, Puerto Rico]." 

Rabbit Is Rich
John Updike won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1982 with his novel Rabbit Is Rich.  Here, the category will be used to talk about guys who at some point in their career famously held out or got a big, improved contract in some fashion -- and, more importantly, how it came about.

In Hernandez's case, our story comes from October of 1984.  At that point in time under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, a player could demand a trade by a certain point in the offseason from his current team.  If the player was not traded and did not withdraw the trade request -- read as: got a better contract from his new team -- then the player would become a free agent as of March 15.  

Hernandez was aware of this rule.  In the midst of the World Series, he demanded a trade. By doing so, he was seeking in essence to void the contract he signed with the Cubs prior to his two trades and work out an improved contract with Detroit.  The gambit worked, as he signed a five-year, $5.2 million contract with Detroit prior to the 1985 season.  It would turn out to be his final contract as a major league baseball player, as well.  And maybe, just maybe, demanding a trade in the middle of a World Series is why Tigers fans were quick to boo Hernandez when the opportunity presented itself.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Up until 1983, Hernandez was one of a number of guys toiling away in bullpens and in rotations around the major leagues whose faces and names would be little remembered today.  Hernandez, though, kept at it and picked up some new tools for his arsenal when he learned the screwball from Cuellar and the cutter from Jenkins.  

To be fair, my favorite Guillermo Hernandez story comes from the 1988 season.  Hernandez had a public feud of sorts with Mitch Albom, the smarmy self-important writer for the Detroit Free-Press who later wrote the sappy Tuesdays With Morrie.  Having watched Albom on ESPN's "The Sports Reporters" one too many times, I can honestly say that I would take Hernandez's side on this one no matter what happened.  

Anyway, Hernandez accused Albom of turning Detroit's fans against him and claimed that Albom called Hernandez "a crybaby" in stories during the 1987 season.  So, let's go to the wire story for the fun:
Hernandez, without saying a word, picked up a large bucket of ice water, poured it over Albom's head, then threw the bucket onto the floor and walked away, muttering.
Albom remained seated, but said: "You're a class act, Willie.  I wasn't even talking to you."
Maybe I'm taking out my dislike of ESPN on Albom a bit here, but this has to be my second favorite ice-water-on-a-reporter moment of all time after the time that Deion Sanders doused the self-important, self-righteous Tim McCarver with ice water in the early 1990s.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Card #22: Jim Beattie

Who Can It Be Now?
James Louis Beattie was born in Hampton, Virginia, but attended South Portland High School in South Portland, Maine and, later, Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. So, he is not the "wild man" from the English band Primal Scream, nor is he the James Beattie who currently serves as the Player-Manager for Accrington Stanley in League 2 in England.

This Jim Beattie was a fourth-round pick of the New York Yankees in the 1975 June Amateur Draft.  As seemed typical in the 1970s, players tended to get moved along relatively quickly, and Beattie was pushed to AAA Syracuse in 1975 at the age of 20.  By age 23, Beattie was in the majors with New York -- starting and winning a game in both the ALCS against the Royals and in the World Series against the Dodgers in 1978.  

His 1978 season was not free of histrionics, though.  On June 21, 1978, Beattie started a game against the hated Boston Red Sox.  He pitched poorly -- giving up five runs on five hits and three walks in just over two innings at Fenway Park.  By the time the sixth inning came, Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner already had sent Beattie back to Triple-A Tacoma -- calling Beattie "gutless."  

Beattie struggled a bit in 1979 -- a 5.21 ERA and a 3-6 record.  It was not that bad of a showing according to more advanced metrics, however, as his Fielding Independent Pitching stats indicate that his ERA should have been nearly a run lower.  But the Yankees were not ones for patience -- shocking, I know -- and decided instead to ship Beattie to the Mariners after the 1979 season so that they could obtain outfielder Ruppert Jones. 

Beattie spent the rest of his playing career in Seattle.  He struggled in 1980, but seemed to turn a corner after that year.  In an interview with a Baltimore sports website, Beattie blamed the fact that his shoulder was not feeling right in 1980.  As he put it, "[i]n 1980 my shoulder did not allow me to throw easily and hard although I kept going out to pitch and tried to battle through it."

In 1981, he split the season between AAA Spokane and Seattle.  He was just 26 years old, and his numbers indicated a pitcher who had figured out that he needed to focus on not walking hitters.  He also got healthy, as Beattie himself said: "When I got healthy during the 1981 season (pitching in the minor leagues during the strike) I came back a different pitcher."

His BB/9 went from 4.7 per 9 innings to 2.4/9 in 1981 and 3.4 in 1982.  These ratios allowed Beattie to finish 8th in the league in 1982 in K/BB with a 2.154 ratio.  Getting to those levels is a good way to have a successful season, and Beattie did exactly that in 1982.  Outside of the surface stat of W-L record -- just 8-12 -- Beattie put up his most successful season as a pro.  He struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings, pitched 172-1/3 innings in 26 starts, and had a WHIP of 1.242.  These days, he would have been a great sleeper for whatever team realized that the surface stats did not provide a full picture of his ability.

Unfortunately, whether due to the mileage put on his arm earlier in his career or due to his stuff just not being that good, Beattie's 1982 and 1983 seasons were to be his best.  By the time he was 31 years old in 1986, he suffered through 40-1/3 horrible innings -- giving up 57 hits, 7 homers, and 14 walks while striking out 24.  Once he no longer was striking out 6 or more batters per nine innings, his results followed nearly immediately.

Orange You Smart
As stated above, Beattie was an Ivy Leaguer, having earned his Bachelor's Degree from there.  But, he was not done with his education at that point.  As soon as he retired from baseball after 1986, he enrolled in the Business School at the University of Washington.  He had started his MBA at Northeastern while still playing for the Yankees, but he did not finsih it until he received his MBA in 1989 and then rejoined the Seattle Mariners organization as the director of player development.  

One could argue with this title being applied to Beattie.  After all, his stints as the general manager for the Montreal Expos from 1995-2001 and as co-General Manager with Mike Flanagan for the Baltimore Orioles from 2003-2005 were not exactly successful.  With the Expos, he was responsible for getting as much of a return as possible in exchange for Pedro Martinez.  Indeed, much of the lengthy Baseball Prospectus interview at that link revolves around the Martinez trade.

With the Orioles, he, Flanagan, and Lee Mazzilli got to answer questions about finger-wagging first baseman Rafael Palmeiro's steroid use:

(Baltimore Sun Photo by John Makely, August 1, 2005)
Perhaps it was not his fault, or ownership's fault, or anyone's fault other than Palmeiro that Palmeiro and others in the game took steroids.  But after reading the Prospectus interview, it seems less and less likely to me that the issue was anything other than blissful ignorance.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
In 1982, Beattie was a guy toiling with a team five years out from joining the league, and his results showed it.  For whatever reason, though, Beatie faced my Milwaukee Brewers less than any other American League team other than the Mariners.  Honestly, Beattie was not the kind of guy that anyone other than a hardcore fan would notice.  

For the past four years, Beattie has served as a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.  He reports to his former gofer in the Montreal front office -- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos -- as a major-league scout to "recommend[] possible trades." 

His career in baseball after his playing career is something that more people are likely to notice.  Interestingly, when he was named GM in Montreal, the Expos sought first to speak to none other than Billy Beane -- then the assistant GM in Oakland.  Wouldn't that be one of baseball history's great counterfactuals?  Would "Moneyball" have ever gotten written if Beane was the person who oversaw the great dismantling of the Montreal Expos prior to their decampment to Washington, DC?

That said, Beattie was not a bad front-office executive.  As Beattie rightly pointed out, even in Montreal, he was able to get some talent -- as the Expos drafted Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips before flipping them to the Indians (after Beattie left) for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.  The fact that Colon was a half-season rental for a team that finished second in the NL East proves both that the Expos had talent and that having the Expos owned by Major League Baseball was a bad, bad idea.  Then again, MLB was trying to contract the Expos and Twins at the time.

Will Beattie get back into a GM role? He won't rule it out, but he is 58 years old.  He just might.