Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Card #97: Paul Moskau

Who Can It Be Now?
Paul Richard Moskau was born on December 20, 1953, in St. Joseph, Missouri. He moved to Tucson, Arizona, as a child, where he was an all-star in Little League, Pony League, and Colt League.  He then attended Rincon High School in Tucson and was named to the All-City and All-State baseball teams.  

Strangely, despite making All-State in a baseball hotbed like Arizona, Moskau was not drafted directly out of high school. Instead, he attended his hometown university -- Arizona State.  He eventually left and went to Azusa Pacific however.  In the process, though, he finally received attention from scouts and was drafted twice -- first by the Cleveland Indians in the 1974 January draft (he did not sign) and, eventually, by the Cincinnati Reds in the 3rd round of the 1975 June Draft.

On signing, Moskau made one start in the Pioneer League before going to Low-A Eugene in the Northwest League. He dominated at these low levels, putting up a 10-2 record with a 1.53 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 88 innings.  Moskau spent 1976 in Double-A at Trois-Rivieres in the Eastern league and again appeared to dominate -- 13-6, 1.55 ERA. But, his strikeouts per nine innings dropped by over 3 -- from 9.9 K/9 to 6.2 K/9.  Still, it was an excellent season that showed Moskau might have some promise.

At the beginning of 1977, the Reds sent Moskau to Triple-A Indianapolis. By June 11, the Reds had scuffled to a .500 record (27-27), and decided that there was a need to shake things up a bit. By June 16, the Reds were 5 games into a 7-game winning streak and had remade the pitching staff. Gone were Gary Nolan, Mike Caldwell, Rawly Eastwick, and Pat Zachry. In came Doug Capilla and Tom Seaver.  

That math obviously didn't work out completely, so Moskau got the call from the Reds to report to the major leagues.  He made his first major league start on June 21 against the Phillies. It was rough going at first -- his ERA after his first four major league appearances was 10.45 thanks to the Dodgers tattooing him for 6 runs in 1/3 of an inning on June 26. By the end of the season, however, Moskau had put up creditable numbers -- 108 innings, 6-6 record with two shutouts, 71 strikeouts against 40 walks and a 4.00 ERA (3.77 FIP).  

Surprisingly, though, Moskau found himself back in Indianapolis for the start of the 1978 season. He did not pitch well in spring training -- Cincinnati magazine said that his work in the spring was "a little to casual for Red brass, who, despite their affection and esteem for [Moskau], found him more expendable than pitchers Dale Murray or Manny Sarmiento." Moskau was back with the big club by early May, however, and put up similar numbers to his previous season.  The Reds did very well in his starts -- 18-7 overall -- despite Moskau's overall 6-4 mark.  Still, one red flag appeared in June -- he had to leave a start against the Pirates with a "stiff" shoulder.

His 1979 season looked very similar as well. By this point, he had established a baseline of being pretty close to an average pitcher -- slightly below average, actually, in terms of ERA+ (a normalized measure comparing him to the league and adjusting for his home ballpark). But, 1979 continued the shoulder problems that would end Moskau's career by the end of the 1983 season.  Moskau was about to be sent down to Indianapolis in early August, but a medical exam revealed that he was suffering from "some inflammation in the rotator cuff" of his pitching shoulder.

The next season, however, Moskau spent the entire year in the major leagues. He tallied his career high in innings with 152-2/3, wins with 9, and strikeouts with 94. Still, troubled loomed. In a game on August 28, the game story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette started with the following opening two paragraphs:
With the first slider he loosed, Paul Moskau received a message of distress from his tender right shoulder. "Knock it off," the message read, "or I quit."
A prudent man, Moskau heeded the warning. "I think," he told his catcher, John Bench, in the Cincinnati Reds' dugout following the first inning of last night's game, "we had better stick pretty much with the fastball and the curve."
The story went on to note that Moskau had received a cortisone injection in his pitching shoulder the previous week and, further, that Bench then knew that the injection had not relieved Moskau of his pain. 

Well, no kidding. It should come as no surprise that, in October of 1980, Moskau went to visit Dr. Frank Jobe in Los Angeles. He had a portion of his right collarbone removed in the surgery. While the initial thought was that Moskau would be ready for spring training, "ready for spring training" really meant that he would be throwing on the side for much of the spring and that he did not make his debut in the spring until midway through March.

Due to the shoulder issues, Moskau started only one game in 1981. He did not pitch particularly well or, for him, particularly poorly either. He finished with a 4.94 ERA, but his FIP was 4.19 -- which was almost the same FIP as in 1979.  He just could not control his walks in 1981.  

The shoulder problems, though, led the Reds to decide to move on with rebuilding their team in 1982 without Moskau. In early February of 1982, the Reds traded Moskau to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a player to be named later which turned out to be utility infielder Wayne Krenchicki.  

This trade did not go well for Moskau. By the end of spring training, he was on waivers. Luckily for him, he always seemed to pitch well against the Pittsburgh Pirates, so the Pirates claimed him. He pitched okay in Pittsburgh, but his shoulder issues flared up again. On June 27, the Pirates placed Moskau on the 21-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. He gave the team permission to send him to Triple-A to rehab the shoulder, but he only made it back to the major leagues with Pittsburgh for one game in late September. After the season ended, he was released.

The Chicago Cubs decided to take a flyer on Moskau to see if he could help them for the 1983 season. He made the team and made 8 starts for the Cubs. He gave up runs in every start, and after his appearance on May 31 against the Astros -- a 3-1/3 inning, 8-hit, 5-earned-run appearance -- the Cubs sent Moskau down in a transaction that only made it to the agate print

Then, after 11 terrible appearances in Triple-A at Iowa, the Cubs cut the cord on Moskau on August 8, 1983, giving him his unconditional release.

Mustache Check: This card is a whisker-free zone. Kids, say no to 'stache.

Nanu Nanu
Despite the fact that Moskau made 13 appearances in 1982 with Pittsburgh and 8 more with the Cubs in 1983, this 1982 Topps card is the last Topps card on which Moskau appears. He didn't even make it into the Traded set later in the year.

Louisiana Cooking
I will count this because it is cooking. Moskau's Facebook page lists him as working for his old pal Mike LaCoss at "". On YouTube, there are a number of videos posted under the iBaseballChannel name, many of which look like they could be very interesting.  One of these videos is Paul Moskau making his Holiday Peanut Brittle.

Family Ties
I THINK that Moskau's son Ryan Paul Moskau played at the University of Arizona and, then, in the Dodgers system in the late 1990s. I think this because I think this photo is Paul during Ryan's wedding in Atlanta in 2002.  And, I think Ryan is or was a police officer in the Atlanta area. But, I could be wrong.

Yes, another category. I think that it was this Paul Moskau who appeared on one episode of the Michael Landon made-for-those-over-the-age-of-75 series "Highway to Heaven." The episode was called "Popcorn, Peanuts and CrackerJacks" and Moskau was credited as Game Announcer.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Moskau never pitched in the American League in a game that meant anything. In fact, I doubt he ever faced Milwaukee unless the Brewers played against Arizona State in a spring training exhibition. I have no recollection of Moskau except for his name and the fact that I keep wanting to call him "Paul Moskau on the Hudson."

After Moskau quit as a player, he spent time as an assistant baseball coach in Tucson for Sabino High School.  He also spent the years between 1985 and 1988 as the general manager for the Tucson Toros. Otherwise, relying on his spartan LinkedIn biography, Moskau spent 18 years as a school administrator.

Moskau's LinkedIn page also refers to him being the current President of A&P Sports Marketing and Development. If I had to guess, I would guess that A&P refers to "Anna & Paul" Moskau (since that photo from the wedding 12 years ago shows him with a woman I would guess is his wife lighting a candle for use in the ceremony...I'm a sleuth like that).  

He does appear pretty active on Facebook, for what it is worth, and he recently befriended noted NFL Referee -- the one with the guns -- Ed Hochuli. His friend list includes a lot of former players -- everyone from Benny Ayala to Johnny Bench -- so feel free to run through his Facebook friends to see where some of those guys from 30 years ago are today.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to see the evolution of how teams handled arm injuries. Today he would have probably had Tommy John and pitched at least 10 seasons.