Thursday, October 30, 2014

Card #123: Danny Goodwin

Has it really been a week since I posted? Travel, work, and other life events have conspired to limit me this month. I'll keep on it, though.

Who Can It Be Now?
Danny Kay Goodwin was born on September 2, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri. His family moved to Oakland, California, for several years before returning to the Midwest to Peoria, Illinois. 

In Peoria, Goodwin became a local legend while attending Peoria Central High School. The local legend came with a prodigious home run he hit during his senior year of high school, the story of which is told at Hardball Times. He lettered for four years in baseball and played varsity basketball as well. He was named to the all-conference baseball team three times. In his senior year in 1971, Goodwin was named to the Topps High School All-American team as its Catcher.  

As it stood in 1971, the sort-of local Chicago White Sox had the first overall draft pick in the June Amateur Draft. They did not hesitate to select the Peoria product with their pick, turning down the opportunity to select Frank Tanana, Jim Rice, and Rick Rhoden (all first round picks) and, also, two of the best third-basemen ever to play the game -- George Brett and Mike Schmidt -- who were selected in the second round.

A funny thing happened, though, on the way to the big leagues for Goodwin: he turned down the money-- a less-than-impressive $60,000 (about $350,000 today) -- on offer from the White Sox.  Goodwin, though, came from a well-educated family, as his father was an agricultural chemist with a master's degree who worked for the government and his mother was a grade school counselor. His family had instilled in him the value of a college education. As he told the AP in 1971, "The bonus is important, of course, but my parents and I also consider a college education very important. If I sign a professional contract, I'd like to make certain some arrangement can be made for a part-time educational program."

Whether it was a lack of money or a desire for an education, Goodwin turned down the White Sox.  Instead, he enrolled at Southern University -- a historically black college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- without ever visiting the school before his first day of classes. 

At Southern, he again was a star -- with a .394 AVG, 20 HR, and 166 RBI -- on his way to being named as the College Baseball Player of the Year for 1975 by The Sporting News. Surprisingly, Goodwin was never selected in any of the secondary drafts for players who had been drafted before, nor was he drafted after his junior year of college. He chose to keep himself ineligible for all of those drafts and stayed in school for all four years of his college eligibility. 

Once he graduated, though, and on the heels of his stellar senior season, the California Angels made Goodwin the first overall pick of the 1975 June Amateur Draft. It seemed as though Goodwin could not miss, after all. The Angels assigned Goodwin to Double-A El Paso immediately after he signed, and Goodwin did well enough there to get a call-up to Anaheim before the end of the season.  Even before he got to El Paso, however, he suffered a shoulder injury -- working his arm too hard in his first baseball in two months.  This shoulder injury hampered Goodwin throughout his career.

Yet, though he made it to the majors for a cup of coffee in 1975, he would not surface again in the big leagues until 1977. Indeed, Goodwin would appear in just 63 games over three different seasons for the Angels, who realized that he had the throwing arm of a designated hitter and the bat of a backup catcher and never let him play the field. 

As a result, the Angels made a difficult decision: to cut their losses and pawn Goodwin's untapped potential off on another team while trying to make a run at the World Series in 1979. As a result, Goodwin and Ron Jackson were traded to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Dan Ford. 

Goodwin's arm troubles sapped him of any hope of being a catcher, and his footwork and agility did not lend themselves to being a first baseman. So, he was a designated hitter who did not hit for power in his limited opportunities in the major leagues. Yes, in notorious hitters' ballparks -- like El Paso in 1978, when the 24-year-old Goodwin went back to Double-A and beat the hell out of pitchers who averaged being over a year younger than him (.360/.469/.637 in 449 plate appearances) with 25 HR and 89 RBI, or in Ogden in 1979 in Triple-A (.349/.434/.608 in 435 plate appearances; team numbers: .288/.371/.412) -- Goodwin still looked like a future superstar. 

The reality was that Goodwin was a limited player without a position. His 1979 season with the Twins was his most productive as a major leaguer -- .289/.335/497 with 5 homers in 172 plate appearances. It was also the season in which he had his biggest opportunity to play, playing every day after July 20 for the Twins. 

1980 was far less successful. Goodwin made the Twins out of Spring Training. On a team with Ron Jackson at first playing 131 games and with the surprise of 35-year-old Jose Morales hitting .303 in nearly 100 games, Goodwin's opportunities were limited to just 134 plate appearances.  Goodwin did not seize on the opportunities he was given, either -- hitting just .200/.301/.270 with 1 HR in those trips to the plate.  

And 1981 was not much better at the plate for him -- .225/.298/.318 in 169 plate appearances. Yes, he played a higher percentage of the Twins games, but all that earned him at the age of  was his unconditional release from the Twins on November 27, 1981. By this point, the Twins had 21-year-old Kent Hrbek ready to play -- or at least ready for an opportunity to play -- and the team wanted to give their minor league youth a chance. That 1982 Twins team was bad, but it formed the basis for the 1987 World Series team (after adding HOF OF Kirby Puckett, of course).

Goodwin latched on with the Oakland A's for 57 plate appearances and 17 games in 1982, splitting time between Oakland and Triple-A Tacoma. He kept plugging away at Tacoma through 1985 and hit very well there. But all that proved was that he probably was a Quad-A player -- not good enough for the majors, too good for the minors. After a 1986 season in which he put up an unimpressive .231/.292/.414 in Japan for Nankai, Goodwin called it quits on his playing career.

Mustache Check: Goodwin is sporting one hell of an impressive mustache on this card.

Trivial Pursuit
It is low-hanging fruit, but Danny Goodwin still holds the distinction of being the only player to have been chosen twice with the first overall pick in the June Draft.

Orange You Smart
As I mentioned, Goodwin finished up his degree at Southern before he was drafted. In his post-baseball life, Goodwin has earned three master's degrees. He has a Master of Science in Project Management (Construction) from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia, which he earned in 2001 (more on that later). 

Then, from 2002 to 2005, while working for a construction management company, he earned his Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University's Michael J. Coles College of Business.

Finally, from 2009 to 2011, he earned his second Master of Science degree from SPSU, this time in Information Technology.

Nanu Nanu
This 1982 Topps card of Goodwin is his final appearance on a major release baseball card during his playing career. Oddly, despite being the #1 overall selection twice, he did not appear in the 1985 Topps "First Draft Pick" subset.

Of course, he appeared in the TCMA Tacoma sets for his time in Triple-A in 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985. He also appeared in the 1986 Takara Nankai Hawks set while playing in Japan.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Danny Goodwin was not a player whose presence or lack of presence on the playing field was something I noticed back in 1982. I probably had no idea about the trivia bit about him either at that point. 

Before he went back to school, Goodwin served as the Director of Community Relations and as President of the Atlanta Braves Foundation for all of the 1990s. He then worked for the City of Atlanta for a couple of years during the time he was in school at SPSU for the first time.

Now, it's entirely possible that I have met Danny Goodwin and not known him for being a former major league baseball player. Back in the early 2000s, the law firm at which I was working had lawyers teaching construction law to the project management students at SPSU. I was one of the lawyers who taught there, so I might have had him in the class.

Frankly, I couldn't tell you who any of those people were in the class, nor do I recall at this point whether we were teaching in 2001. I seem to recall that the timeframe was a bit later, but it's a little hazy right now. Also, I don't recall ever getting a class roster to use -- the more senior attorneys who graded papers and tests handled those. So, I might have taught Goodwin about some arcane issue in construction law, such as performance bonds or materialman's liens or bankruptcy.  I don't know.

After Goodwin finished that first master's degree, he went to work for almost 3-1/2 years for a company called Boyken International, which has since been purchased by another company called Hill International. Boyken International provided construction management services as well as supporting construction claims. In my work with my second Atlanta law firm, we employed Boyken International to serve as our experts for a large series of cases relating to a particular project in Florida for approximately 10 years -- from 2002 through 2012. 

I recall having meetings at Boyken with some of their experts as early as early 2005. Danny left there in August of 2005. So, I might have met him then too.

These days, Danny has his own company called First Choice Management Services, LLC. It appears to be a catch-all type company for him -- it provides construction and claims analysis, community relations services, non-profit and fundraising assistance, information technology services, and small business marketing and finance.

Those sound like the types of areas in which Danny Goodwin has master's degrees. 

Perhaps I need to meet him soon. I do have a couple of LinkedIn contacts who are connected to Danny...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Card #122: Jamie Easterly

Who Can It Be Now?
James Morris Easterly was born on February 17, 1953, in Houston, Texas. Easterly grew up in little Crockett, Texas, a city of about 7,000 people located about midway between Houston and Dallas in Houston County, Texas. 

Despite the rural setting, baseball scouts were well aware of Easterly's exploits in high school. As a result, Easterly was drafted by the Atlanta Braves straight out of high school in the 1971 June draft in the second round (34th pick overall). 

Easterly tore up the Western Carolinas League in 1971 and 1972, putting together a 15-appearance run of 53 innings pitched in which he allowed a grand total of 3 runs (2 earned), allowed 25 hits, walked 22, and struck out 62. I mean, allowing 4.2 hits per 9 innings while striking out 10.5 batters per 9 innings is good nearly anywhere, and doing it as a guy who was 2 to 3 years younger than his competition made the Braves look like they had a future star on their hands. 

While in Greenwood in 1971, he also got his nickname of "Rat" from a guy called Stan Babieracki. Stan said that Easterly looked like a rat and ate a lot of cheese. Stan never made it past Double-A, though, so I guess Easterly won that exchange. 

Back to Easterly. After his dominance at Single-A in both 1971 and 1972, the Braves pushed Easterly aggressively through their farm system. At age 20, he made the jump to Double-A Savannah in the Southern League for the 1973 season. He pitched just 67 innings that year for some reason, but he pitched reasonably well.

Despite not having any experience at Triple-A, the Braves promoted Easterly all the way to the major league roster to start the 1974 season. His first appearance against the Reds was not bad -- a clean inning. But, his next two appearances were pretty bad: 1-2/3 innings (note the discrepancy on the back of the card above which states that Easterly pitched three, and not 2.2 innings), 6 hits, 7 runs, 5 earned runs, 4 walks, and no strikeouts. Easterly was summarily dispatched to Triple-A Richmond for the remainder of the 1974 season and did not even receive a September call-up that year.

Easterly's 1975 season was more of the same. He made the team out of spring training, but he pitched just 4 times in the Braves first 34 games. As a result, he went back to Richmond for a few weeks to pitch. After that, the Braves used him 4 times in June, July, and August and 5 times in September. This time, though, the Braves plugged him into the starting rotation to see what they had with Easterly. As it turned out that year, the Braves did not have a heck of a lot -- as a starter, Easterly went 2-9 with a 5.52 ERA. In 58-2/3 innings, he allowed 63 hits, walked 32 batters, and struck out just 31 while giving up 43 runs (36 earned). Ugly.  His relief appearances over 10 innings were far better though, even if he walked a batter an inning while striking out just 3.

Things did not improve in 1976 for Jamie. While he spent most of that season as a swingman in Triple-A and putting up good surface numbers -- 7-6, 2.96 ERA -- his walks nearly equaled his strikeouts -- 88 v. 91 over 137 innings. Still, the Braves seemed to remember that he was a high draft pick and gave him another chance to be a starter in September of 1976.

1977 and 1978 were years that Easterly probably wouldn't mind forgetting on a professional level. While he was in the majors for the entirety of both seasons, he pitched terribly. For those two seasons, he went 5-10 with a 5.86 ERA (4.58 FIP). In 136-2/3 innings, he gave up 163 hits, 75 walks (10 intentional), and 79 strikeouts. These pitching performances earned Easterly the title of 14th worst pitcher in Atlanta Braves history and fourth-worst reliever in Braves history from the Rowland's Office blog.

It should be no surprise, then, that he spent most of 1979 in the minor leagues. What is a little befuddling is that Easterly split that season between the Braves and Expos farm teams even though his transaction log on Baseball Reference says that the Expos did not purchase his contract until after the 1979 season or, as the newspapers put it, he was traded to the Expos for "a player to be named later or cash."

I guess his playing at Denver was a quirk in the rules back then; it reminds me of the loan system in European soccer/football. At any rate, after the Expos purchased his contract, Easterly had all the appearances of being a pitcher on his way out of baseball. The Expos did not call him up at all to the major leagues in 1980, and Easterly served as the Denver Bears closer that season at the age of 27. That's usually not a recipe for success.

Into the breach stepped Harry Dalton and Dee Fondy. Dee Fondy was the last man to bat at Ebbetts Field as a player, and for the Brewers he served as a scout and as an assistant to Dalton. At the end of the 1980 season, the Brewers needed a better lefty in the bullpen than the fungible Jerry Augustine, and, as Daniel Okrent's Nine Innings: The Anatomy of a Baseball Game recounted, the Expos were willing to part with him. Dalton wanted a left who could come in as a middle reliever and force the other manager's hand to switch out the lefties who started against right-handed starters before a right-handed closer came into the game.

So, Easterly came to Milwaukee in 1981 for a two-and-a-half year tour of duty. The problem with Easterly in Milwaukee was not his pitching. I mean, a 3.71 ERA in 84 games (104-1/3 innings) is not great and is not terrible either. But, the real issue was that the guy couldn't stay healthy. First, as this "he's doing great" article from 1981 in The Milwaukee Journal reported, he had shoulder tendinitis issues in his first spring training with the club. He stuck with the club because he was out of options and the team did not want to lose their investment in him.

Then, in mid-1982, Easterly suffered a strained knee that put him on the 21-day disabled list and led to the team calling up Pete Ladd. That knee issue kept Easterly out until September roster expansion and, further, it probably led to his not being used and I think not even being on the post-season rosters for the playoffs and World Series that year.  

His time in Milwaukee ended in June of 1983. He was a part of a trade that was extremely unpopular in Milwaukee, as he and pitcher Ernie Camacho joined Milwaukee blue-collar icon Gorman Thomas in being traded to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for lefty Rick Waits and centerfielder Rick Manning. Joel McNally of The Milwaukee Journal did a satiric send-up of the caterwauling Brewer fans by replacing the beloved Thomas with Easterly in this piece. It's tongue-in-cheek, of course, but it is reasonably humorous (especially for being a newspaper article).

Easterly spent the rest of 1983 and four additional years in Cleveland. The Indians signed Easterly to a 2-year, $500,000 contract after the 1983 season in large part because the Indians (a) did not realize how fungible relief pitching really is and (b) the Indians were a really poorly run team in the 1980s. Also, Easterly did enjoy his best season in the major leagues in 1983 with Cleveland, so that run of 57 innings convinced Cleveland to overlook the remaining 340 innings of work that had come before it.

Easterly did make some headlines -- or at least the Mental Floss list of the 24 most bizarre injuries in baseball history -- in 1984 for an offseason training regimen which included running backwards. Like most of us, Easterly doesn't have eyes in the back of his head and he tripped over a gopher hole. That injury kept him out until June of 1984.  

The Indians gave Easterly two more seasons after that 2-year deal ran out. Eventually, at the age of 34, even being left-handed couldn't save Easterly from the unemployment line. On October 29, 1987, the Indians released Easterly and no one else signed him. That was the end of his playing career prior to the Senior League.

Mustache Check: Definitely. For the years that Easterly was in Milwaukee, he sported a full beard. 

Trivial Pursuit
Two trivial tidbits for Easterly come up in the research. The first is on the back of his card -- that he threw a 7-inning perfect game with Denver while on loan to Montreal on July 14, 1979.

The other occurred the previous year -- 1978 -- while Easterly was a member of the Atlanta Braves. In the second inning of the first game of a doubleheader on June 30, 1978 -- a doubleheader that the 69-93 Braves improbably swept from the San Francisco Giants -- Easterly faced future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey. On a 0-1 pitch from Easterly, McCovey teed off and sent the ball over the wall for his 500th Home Run as a major leaguer.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
I remember Easterly nearly entirely for his injuries. I mean, if I were engaged in one of those word-association games popular with interviewees who don't have a clue what to ask someone, my response the minute Easterly's name came up would be "shoulder pain." 

He was usually generous with his time after games and would sign autographs regularly for the kids like me who hung out after the game. I can't recall any time when I thought he was mean, rude, or otherwise anything but a gentleman.

Easterly came up in the Cleveland news during the 2014 baseball season. Zach McAllister, an Indians pitcher, went on an injury rehab stint and ended up getting sent down right after the rehab time ended. The story went on to recount how Easterly refused to go on an injury rehab assignment for fear that the team would not bring him back at the end of it. 

Gabe Paul, the Indians president, then tried to trade Easterly as a result. In the end, the team ended up needed a pitcher and activated Easterly without the rehabilitation time. Based on when Easterly and Paul overlapped in Cleveland, that had to have occurred in 1984.

These days, Easterly is back in his hometown of Crockett, Texas. He and his wife Stacy appear to be fairly active users of Facebook. Jamie still has his mustache -- it's white now, of course -- and those glasses are still on his face too. He posts a lot of old photos of his dad and of himself from his youth. On the darker side, he is a Dallas Cowboys fan.

In all, though, it appears that his retirement is treating him well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Card #121: Ed Lynch

Who Can It Be Now?
Edward Francis Lynch (whose Baseball Reference website address is an unfortunate "lynched01.shtml") was born on February 25, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York to parents who soon after his birth moved to Miami, Florida. Lynch spent his formative years in Miami, attending Christopher Columbus High School there (other major leaguers to attend that school: Orestes Destrade, Jorge Fabregas, Izzy Molina, Rob Murphy, and Jon Jay).

Lynch was not drafted out of high school. He earned a scholarship from the University of South Carolina in basketball, playing forward on the reserve team. Based entirely on individual testimonials about Lynch on the Ultimate Mets website, it appears that his nickname at USC(east) (as we trolls in the SEC World call Gamecock U.) was "Bus." Bus earned his way in athletics by being a pitcher at USC(e).  Despite his 6'6" frame, Lynch was not a power pitcher and as a result was not drafted until the 9th pick of the 22nd round of the 1977 June Draft. 

Lynch signed shortly after being drafted, and he was assigned to the Gulf Coast League in 1977. He pitched decently in his 13 appearances (6 starts), leading the Rangers to move him up in 1978 first to Asheville in the Western Carolinas League. He pitched far better in Asheville than in Florida, leading the Rangers to promote him to Tulsa in the Texas League. 

It was in Tulsa where he really opened eyes, albeit in a 7-start stint. In 54 innings in a league with a league ERA of 4.22, Lynch went 4-3 with a 2.67 ERA (with the caveat that 9 of his 25 runs allowed were unearned). He walked just 14 batters and struck out 44 to give him his highest ever K/9. 

All of these numbers were better than the league averages, leading the Rangers to promote Lynch to Tucson in the PCL -- another notorious hitters' paradise. Lynch did not fare as well on pure numbers, but in comparison to league averages, he was solid.  Yet, the Rangers chose instead to send Lynch to the New York Mets as the player-to-be-named-later in exchange for 38 games of Willie Montanez in 1979. 

For the 1980 season, the Mets kept Lynch at Tidewater in the International League. Lynch responded well, putting up probably his best minor-league season -- 13-6 record and 3.15 ERA (12 unearned runs out of 69 allowed) with 91 Ks and 42 BB in 163 innings. That year earned Lynch a call-up at the end of August in 1980 -- a debut which included his first major league start -- and win -- against the Chicago Cubs, a team that would figure prominently in his career.

Lynch split the 1981 season between Triple-A Tidewater and Shea Stadium. He started 13 games for the Mets and 15 games for the Tides. It may be my supposition, but I am guessing that the Mets sent Lynch to Triple-A prior to the strike to keep him pitching and keep him on track for his development. Lynch pitched better (and luckier) for the Mets after the strike (2.38 ERA; .204 BA against) than before the strike (3.95 ERA; .339 BA against). 

1982 was Lynch's first Topps card and his first complete season as a major leaguer. He served in a swingman's role during that season -- starting 12 games, finishing 11, and saving 2 with a 4-8 record. His career with the Mets followed a bit of an odd progression from 1982 through 1985. In both of the even years (1982 and 1984), Lynch was a swingman and relieved more than he started. In the odd years (1983 and 1985), Lynch was a member of the rotation for the most part -- relieving in just 5 games over the course of those two seasons combined.

When 1986 rolled around, everyone in New York felt that the Mets were going to have a special season. Having missed out on the NL East title in 1985 to the St. Louis Cardinals by three games and with a starting rotation of Gooden, Darling, Ojeda, Fernandez, and Aguilera all bringing heat, it was easy to see why people had that feeling. 

Lynch pitched just one game during that season for the Mets -- on April 12. Shortly thereafter, he was placed on the 21-day disabled list with damaged cartilage in his left knee and underwent surgery to repair the knee. By the time he was healthy again, he was a member of the Chicago Cubs. He found himself the odd-man-out of the Mets bullpen and rotation, and the Mets decided they wanted two minor leaguers more than they wanted to figure out who would have to be sent down or released to make room for Lynch.

The move broke Lynch's heart. He was quoted as saying, "it was like living with a family all year, then getting kicked out on Christmas Eve." At least, according to some sources, the family that kicked him out still sent him gifts: the Mets voted Lynch a full World Series share despite his pitching just one game.

Lynch's pitching career in Chicago lasted only through 1987. Lynch tried to catch on in spring training in 1988 with the Boston Red Sox -- a tryout marked by an absolute moonshot getting hit off him by Kent Hrbek, apparently -- but he did not make the team. He ended up signing with the independent Miami Marlins in the Florida State League, where he pitched well enough to get a look in Triple-A from the Giants. He did not get called up, however, and 1988 was the end of his active playing career.

Mustache Check: Ed's face is as smooth as a baby's bottom.  Cleaner, though.

Orange You Smart
After his playing career was over, Lynch attended law school at the University of Miami. He completed his law degree, but he never practiced law. Instead, he was hired by Joe McIlvaine in 1992 to serve as the Padres director of player development. 

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
I think most people know Ed Lynch today more for being the general manager of the Chicago Cubs from October of 1994 to midway through the 2000 season. Lynch became the GM in Chicago on the same day that current Brewers GM Doug Melvin got the Rangers' GM position. Unlike Melvin, however, Lynch never has received another opportunity to be a GM.

So, I posit this question: should Lynch have gotten another chance?

Looking solely at wins and losses during Lynch's time as GM, the Cubs made it to the playoffs just once -- as the wild card in 1998. The Cubs had finished 12.5 games behind the division winning Houston Astros and 1 game ahead of Wild Card runner up San Francisco (thanks to beating the Giants in a 1-game play-in game). The Cubs had to face an Atlanta Braves team that finished 106-56 and which sported a team ERA nearly a full 1.25 lower than that enjoyed by the Cubs. Add in the fact that the Braves' team OPS was 24 point higher -- effectively equal -- and the outcome of a Braves sweep looks about right.

Other than that season, the Cubs under Lynch finished 73-71 (1995 strike-shortened season), 76-86, 68-94, 67-95, and 39-53 (as of the date Lynch was fired). That 90-win season -- which, by the Pythagorean Win-Loss method, overshot the Cubs expected result based on runs scored and allowed by 5 wins -- was a bit flukish.

Outside of wins and losses, what important roster moves did Lynch make?

1994-1995 offseason:
Traded a minor leaguer and a pitcher named Derek Wallace to the Royals for Brian McRae. McRae played in two-and-a-half seasons for the Cubs, patrolling center field and hitting reasonably well. Definite WIN for Lynch.

1995 season
- cut Glenallen Hill out of spring training. Hill signed with the Giants and hit 24 HR in 1995. BAD move. Also signed Howard Johnson off the scrap heap. Hojo hit .211 with 10 HR in Colorado the previous year. 206 AB that could have gone somewhere else. BAD

- traded two minor leaguers and Mike Morgan to St. Louis for Todd Zeile. Zeile left after the 1995 season in free agency. PUSH

- traded catcher Rick Wilkins to the Astros for catcher Scott Servais and OF Luis Gonzalez. Gonzalez hit 22 HR in 223 games for the Cubs at the ages of 27 and 28, making his 57 HR output in 2001 at age 33 look a little off. Servais stayed a cub through 1998. The fact that Servais became the Cubs starting catcher is a minor WIN for Lynch. But, why not make a move to build the farm system?

1995-1996 offseason & 1996 season
Other than screwing around on the fringes of the roster with guys like Jaime Navarro, Dave Magadan, Felix Fermin, and Tanyon Sturtze, Lynch did nothing important with the roster other than getting Ryne Sandberg to come back and play.

1996-1997 offseason & 1997 season
- August 8, 1997: traded Brian McRae, Mel Rojas, and Turk Wendell to the Mets for Lance Johnson, Mark Clark, and Manny Alexander. Not a great trade for Lynch. McRae was nearly done due to injuries, and Rojas was a shadow of his former self, but Lance Johnson was an older version of McRae if you took away McRae's ability to hit for power.  That is not to mention the fact that Wendell stayed with the Mets as an effective reliever from 1997 through 2001.  LOSS for Lynch.

1997-1998 offseason & 1998 season
- Traded Doug Glanville to the Phillies for Mickey Morandini on 12/23/97. Pretty much a LOSS even though Morandini played well during the 1998 fluke season -- .380 OBP good, .385 SLG not so good. Glanville had several 

- got Mike Morgan back for the stretch drive from the Twins in exchange for minor league P Scott Downs. Morgan posted a 7.15 ERA (8.96 FIP) in 22-2/3 innings for the Cubs down that "stretch."

1998-1999 offseason & 1999 season
- Traded OF Brant Brown to the Pirates for Jon Lieber. WIN, due to a 20-win season in 2001 for Lieber.

- Traded minor league P Kyle Lohse and P Jason Ryan to the Twins for the skeletal remains of Rick Aguilera's career and Scott Downs. It's tough to call this anything more than a PUSH. If you view the trade as Ryan for Aguilera and Lohse for Downs, well, Downs was closer to the majors by two years than Lohse. Of course, this trade wouldn't have had to be made if not for trading Downs away for Mike Morgan a few months earlier.

- traded Jose Hernandez and Terry Mulholland to the Braves on July 31 for Joey Nation, Micah Bowie, and Ruben Quevedo. LOSS, even as a dump trade.  Bowie got 11 starts to put up a 9.96 ERA, Nation made two starts in 2000 with a 6.94 ERA, and Quevedo made 21 appearances in 200 with an airliner ERA -- 7.47.  Wow. Terrible scouting, Cubs.

- signed catcher Joe Girardi as a free agent on a three-year deal. LOSS. Girardi was an All-Star in 2000 inexplicably, but giving a three-year, $5.5 million contract to a 35-year-old catcher is just plain dumb.

A lot of these trades taken in a vacuum look decent. As one correspondent wrote to Baseball Prospectus back in 2000:
I think people are missing the point about Ed Lynch's failure as Cubs GM, which is a complicated thing. First, when you evaluate Lynch's moves one by one, it's actually a really good picture. In the vast majority of his deals, you can say that he got a good return. As for Matt Karchner for Jon Garland and signing Joe Girardi to a three-year contract, sure, those were serious blunders, but how many GMs can you name who don't have similar blemishes on their records.
Still, Lynch was a bad GM, but it really boils down to "the vision thing." Sure, he was able to turn Brant Brown into Jon Lieber, but he never seemed to make moves with any sort of coherent plan, either in the short term or the long term. 
Isn't that the biggest problem for GMs in any respect? 

In any case, Lynch has never gotten another opportunity to show he could have done better and now, at the age of 58, it seems unlikely he will ever get another chance.

At least he didn't decide to practice law.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Card #120: Gary Lucas

After a week away for a trip for work, the 1982 Topps Blog is back!

Who Can It Be Now?
Gary Paul Lucas was born November 8, 1954, in Riverside, California. Lucas grew up there and attended Riverside Poly High School. 

He was not drafted directly out of high school, but he was selected in the 1st round of the regular phase of the January Draft in 1973 as a draft-and-follow juco player by the Cincinnati Reds.  He did not sign with the Reds prior to the June Draft in 1973, so the Reds selected him again in the first round of the secondary phase of the June draft. Once again, Lucas did not sign. Lucas completed his juco experience and enrolled at Chapman University in Orange, California. From there, he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 19th Round of the June Regular Draft.

Lucas signed with the Padres and was sent to an age-appropriate Low-A ball team in Walla Walla, Washington. There, Lucas pitched pretty well -- 7-3 record, 3.10 ERA -- and earned a trip in 1977 to the California League. On its face, it appeared that he was hit around a bit in Reno that year with a 4.60 ERA in 176 innings but the reality was that he led the team in innings and, further, had an ERA that was a full run-and-a-half below the team ERA of 6.07.  

The Padres apparently realized the context of his numbers and promoted him to the Texas League in 1978. With Amarillo, Lucas once again had numbers and a record that looked less than impressive -- 8-17 record, 4.87 ERA in 159 innings. Once again, though, context was important -- the team went 44-89 and had a team ERA of 5.23 (and the league was at 4.91). Once again, Lucas earned another promotion. 

In 1979, then, Lucas found himself pitching for Hawaii. In a more normalized environment, his numbers facially improved tremendously. In 24 starts and 178 innings, he had a 2.78 ERA while giving up just 15 HR and 151 hits. Perhaps the team knew all along that Lucas was a good major league prospect since they kept promoting him, but that season in the PCL was Lucas's last in the minors until much later in his career.

Coming out of Spring Training, Lucas made the Padres as a starter/swingman.  Indeed, Lucas made the only 18 starts of his major league career during the 1980 season and was reasonably successful: 4-7 record with a 3.62 ERA (league ERA: 3.60) and a 1.235 WHIP (league: 1.321) in 109-1/3 innings. He only struck out 4.4 batters per 9 innings in a league that struck out 5.1 per 9, but why did the Padres move Lucas to the bullpen? The other two lefties to pitch 150 innings that season were "proven veterans" John Curtis and Randy Jones. and Bob Shirley also pitched 137 innings split between starting and relieving. 

Perhaps the real point was that Manager Jerry Coleman didn't know who he wanted in the starting rotation. Alternatively, the Padres may have been struggling with injuries to guys they were counting on to be starters, leading Coleman to chop and change his rotation regularly. Eleven different pitchers started at least one game for San Diego in 1980, eight pitchers started at least 10 games, but no one started more than 27. Indeed, of the pitchers with 10 or more starts, four of them also had at least one save!

Changes came after the 1981 season. The team traded closer Rollie Fingers, who had saved 23 games in 1980, in a 11-player deal to the St. Louis Cardinals. Dave Winfield left in free agency. The team got much younger (other than 35-year-old Rick Wise and 33-year-old John Curtis, the entire pitching staff was 28 or younger). As a result, at the age of 26, Lucas became the Padres closer for the 1981 season. 

The way Lucas was used in 1981 shows how roles have changed in the major leagues. Lucas led the National League in appearances with 57 and finished 40 games. He only saved 13 of those -- probably because the team was bad -- but, more surprisingly in the strike-shortened 1981 season, he pitched ninety innings all in relief that year.  In fairness, Lucas responded well -- putting up a 2.00 ERA (2.87 FIP), walking 36 (but 15 of those were intentional), giving up just 78 hits and striking out 53. It was a very good year, and those statistics earned him the card ending in zero for 1982.

Lucas remained the Padres closer for 1982 and 1983. After old Hondo -- Frank Howard -- put Lucas through the grinder in 1981, he was treated somewhat better by new manager Dick Williams in 1982. Lucas struggled in 1982 -- at least on the face of his win-loss record by finishing with 1 win against 10 losses.  Usually wins and losses are not the most meaningful stats, but if your putative closer is losing 10 games, it means he has struggled. Williams started platooning at closer in a way, using both Lucas (16 saves) and Luis DeLeon (15 saves) to close out games. 1983 was more of the same, though Lucas lost 8 times and won 5 -- he and DeLeon split 30 saves between them at 17 for Lucas and 13 for DeLeon.

After two consecutive 81-81 seasons, though, Padres brass decided that they needed to shake their roster up. Part of that shake-up was a three-team, six-player trade during the winter meetings in which the Padres sent Lucas to the Montreal Expos.  The Padres received Al Newman from the Expos and Fritzie Connally, Craig Lefferts, and Carmelo Martinez from the Cubs. The Expos also sent Scott Sanderson to the Cubs.  So, the only player that the Expos got for Al Newman and Scott Sanderson was Lucas.

So, Lucas left San Diego just as they were getting to be a good team and jumped on board a sinking Montreal team that already had Jeff Reardon and Bob James in its bullpen. As a result, Lucas moved more into a LOOGY-type role -- 55 appearances, 53 innings -- though in 1984 in the days of the five-man bullpen, LOOGYs really didn't exist.  Lucas spent two years with the Expos and pitched well once again -- an ERA under 3 in 120-2/3 innings over two years with 9 saves.

After the 1985 season, Lucas was traded to the Angels for a minor leaguer and pitcher Luis Sanchez (who would not pitch again in the major leagues).  Injuries limited Lucas to just 27 appearances in the regular season in 1986, and considering the car-crash that was his 1986 post-season, he probably wishes that he had not appeared in the ALCS against the Red Sox. Lucas pitched 2-1/3 innings and gave up 3 hits, a walk, and a hit batsman, leading to 3 earned runs being charged to his account (11.57 ERA). 

Indeed, one of the more infamous parts of the 1986 ALCS was the Dave Henderson home run off Donnie Moore (which in part led to Moore committing suicide). Lucas came into that game in relief of starter Mike Witt to face catcher Rich Gedman. On the one and only pitch that Lucas threw, Gedman was nicked on the forearm. Lucas was then removed from the game for Moore. Moore gave up the two-run home run that put the Red Sox ahead, and Lucas was left only with regrets. As he said in a 2010 interview, "I let a lot of people down. I let myself down. And to be quite honest, it never leaves you completely."

Lucas finished up his major league career in California in 1987. He pitched in the Giants farm system in 1988 but never received a call to come up to the major leagues. As he said later, he had some back problems at the end of his career that he could not overcome, and he hung up his spikes after the 1988 season.

Mustache Check: I can't tell if he has one here or not, but he has always had one during his career and has one on each of his other cards in 1982.  So I'm saying, "Mustache!"

The Message
To be honest, I don't have much for Gary Lucas. He's lived a pretty quiet post-career life. He's been a pitching coach for a long time in the minors. But why "The Message" for him? Because he turned down numerous opportunities to move up in the Twins organization so that he could keep his base of operations in one place throughout the past 15 years so that his daughters could grow up in one place. 

To me, that's "getting it."

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Gary Lucas made no impression on me in the early 1980s. He was a National League player on the West Coast who pitched for a team that hardly got any publicity until 1984 -- and by that time he was gone.

As I said above, Lucas has spent most of the time since he retired in 1988 as a minor league pitching coach. He started his sojourn with San Jose in the California League in 1991. His wife is from the Midwest, so he asked to be located in the Midwest so that his wife and daughters could be around her family while he was on the road all the time. 

So, in 1992 through 1994, he was the pitching coach at Quad Cities. After a few years away, he went back to QC in 2000 through 2004, and moved to Beloit in 2005. He moved up to Double-A New Britain for a couple of seasons in 2006 and 2007, but asked to be back in the Midwest again after that. 

He then went back to Beloit from 2008 through 2012. When that team moved to Cedar Rapids for the 2013 season, he followed. He moved to the Florida State League to be the pitching coach under Doug Mientkiewicz for the 2014 season. That team finished 82-57, but somehow did not qualify for the playoffs.

Despite all that time with the team, the Twins announced on September 26, 2014 that Lucas and the Twins had parted ways. I am hopeful for Gary Lucas's sake that this parting of the ways was mutual and, further, that Lucas simply decided to get off the road entirely. It's possible, certainly, that the reason for the move is that Lucas wants to be back in the Midwest.  

We will see what happens.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Card #119: Joe Pittman

Who Can It Be Now?
Joseph Wayne Pittman was born on January 1, 1953, in Houston, Texas.  Joe attended Kashmere High School in Houston, but he went undrafted directly out of high school. As a result, he eventually enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and played baseball for the Jaguars. 

His last year at Southern, he hit .447/.512/.582, which got the Houston Astros interested in him and led the Astros to select Pittman in the 5th Round of the 1975 June Draft with the 110th pick overall. After he signed, the Astros sent him to Double-A Columbus (Georgia) for his initial professional assignment.

Much of Pittman's value as a batter was wrapped up in his ability to hit for average. He had little power, and getting on base was not his forte. He struggled for a long time to get to the major leagues, as the back of his card shows us. At Columbus, he hit a very empty .268 -- with a .278 OBP and a .296 SLG, I'd be challenged to call it anything but empty. He had 19 hits in 71 at bats -- 17 singles and 2 doubles. 

So, when 1976 rolled around, Houston dropped him a level to Dubuque in the Midwest League. At Dubuque, he played a little short and third while mostly playing second and making 30 errors in just 99 games at that position. His hitting showed some signs of improvement -- more walks and a few more extra base hits led to a slash of .278/.333/.362. But, he was a 23-year-old who was 2.1 years older than the average player in the Midwest League -- he should be hitting better than that. 

1977 led Pittman back to Columbus for a while with a highly unsuccessful stop in the Florida State League. Pittman's 1977 season was not successful at all -- a combined total of .223/.283/.249 over two leagues, 84 games, and 261 plate appearances. Not to be too harsh, but I wonder why Houston kept him in their organization at this point. Pittman had all the appearances of a guy who would never progress at this point because, once again, he was old for both the leagues in which he was struggling to hit.

But, give it to the Astros -- they kept giving the hometown guy Pittman chances to prove himself in Double-A. In 1978, he stayed in Columbus for the entire year. He was not entirely successful as a hitter there -- .255/.300/.291 -- but it was an improvement over the previous year's totals. 

Then, in 1979, Pittman turned 26. As John Benson has pointed out in the context of projecting for fantasy baseball, the types of guys who seem to succeed "suddenly" as major leaguers are guys who are 26 and have played a couple of years in the majors. Around that age is when players' athletic abilities and progress combine with the experience that the players have gained playing in their life to lead to what often is the pinnacle of their abilities as players.  Ron Shandler's team at Baseball HQ will tell you that the 26-year-old threshold does not apply only in the majors, either -- sometimes, guys have their breakout years at that age in the minors.

Such was the case for Pittman. In his fourth season playing at Columbus, it seemed like a light went on for him. His batting average rose to .283, his OBP was up to .341, and his SLG rose to .366.  It appeared that Pittman had finally mastered Double-A, so the Astros moved him up to Triple-A for a taste there in 1979 before assigning him to Tucson in 1980.

I've mentioned before when talking about Billy Sample and Tommy Boggs that the hitting environment in Tucson is conducive to putting up video-game numbers for hitters. Well, that held true for Pittman too. In his age-27 season, Pittman played like he had never played before -- .314/.381/.408 with 54 SB, just 13 CS, 23 doubles, 10 triples, and 61 RBI (with just 1 HR).  Then again, keep in mind that Tucson as a team hit .296/.369/.431 and stole 259 bases. 

Nonetheless, this put Pittman on the radar for the Astros in 1981 when the Astros needed help plugging gaps caused by injuries. He got his first major league at bat -- and first major league hit -- as a pinch hitter on April 25, 1981 against the Cincinnati Reds and pitcher Bruce Berenyi. 

He didn't start a game for the Astros, though, until May 26. Art Howe had been placed on the 15-day disabled list, so Pittman got the opportunity to start at third base. He went 3-for-3 with an RBI-triple to give the Astros and Nolan Ryan a 1-0 win over the San Diego Padres. He went on a hot streak in those next 14 games, hitting .304/.373/.391 in 46 at bats

Then the strike stopped baseball for two months.

When play resumed, Pittman played for nearly all of August as the starting second baseman for the Astros. His hitting wasn't great -- .265/.311/.324 -- but it wasn't the worst around on a team that hit .263/.324/.366 (not including pitchers) for the season. But, with Houston in a pennant race, the team decided that they would trade for a proven veteran -- Phil Garner -- to play second base on August 31. So, in September/October, Pittman saw action in just 6 games, all but one -- the last game of the season -- as a pinch-hitter. 

Nonetheless, 1981 was the year that Pittman received the most playing time in terms of at-bats that he ever saw as a major leaguer. In 1982, Pittman received just 11 plate appearances with the Astros. As a result, on June 8, the Astros traded Pittman to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Danny Boone. Pittman played a fair amount for the Padres in 1982 in the same role as for the Astros -- pinch hitter and utility player.

In 1983, the Padres sent Pittman to Triple-A Las Vegas straight out of spring training. Apparently, the Padres determined that they would rather go with the 27-year-olds Juan Bonilla (at 2B) and Luis Salazar (at 3B) over the 29-year-old Pittman. Bonilla was bad, but it's not like Pittman would have provided a significant upgrade (which Alan Wiggins provided in 1984). So, Pittman stayed in Triple-A for all of 1983 and waited.

The Padres, however, decided to move on. They traded Pittman with a minor leaguer to the Giants in exchange for outfielder Champ Summers. Pittman made the Giants out of spring training and played irregularly and infrequently, getting only 23 plate appearances in 17 games. He didn't exactly earn additional playing time, either -- his slash line of .227/.217/.227 (and that is not a misprint; a sac fly brought his OBP down lower than his AVG) does not earn you the right to start.

After that two-month performance, the Giants sent Pittman to Triple-A Phoenix. After the 1984 season, the Giants cut him. For 1985, the Detroit Tigers signed him as an insurance policy at Triple-A. Like most insurance policies, the Tigers never needed Pittman to play with the big club. Thus, at the age of 32 and outside of playing in the senior league later in the 1980s, Pittman's playing career came to an end.

Mustache Check: Joe gets us back on track for the title of most mustaches in a baseball card set.

Everybody Wants You
As I mentioned above, Joe Pittman was traded to the San Diego Padres during the 1982 season. 

And that's all I've got.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Joe Pittman is one of those players about whom I have no recollection whatsoever, except for the fact that I know he has a card in the 1982 Topps Traded set.

After Pittman retired as a player, he served as a scout for the Astros from 1988 to 2003. In his role as a scout, he was responsible for the Astros signing two players identified on The Baseball Cube as making the majors --  pitcher Brian Meyer, who made the majors for 34 games over 1988-1990, and pitcher Brian Williams, who was a first round pick out of South Carolina in 1990.

Pittman finished his degree at Southern in Business Administration, and worked later in life for Bill Heard Chevrolet, Legacy Chevrolet, Yellow Book, and Par Fab Industries. 

Pittman passed away on June 13, 2014. He was living in Columbus, Georgia, at the time, but he passed away while on a business trip in Lake Jackson, Texas. He was 61 years old.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Card #118: Montreal Expos Future Stars

Who Can It Be Now?
As opposed to the Cubs Future Stars, whose rightward looking photos make them appear to be considering the past, all three of our Expos Future Stars are looking left and with a slightly upward tilt. 

Most of you have probably heard of all three of these guys, though perhaps not as players:

1.  Terry Jon Francona (shown here with hair) was born on April 22, 1959, in Aberdeen, South Dakota. My guess is that he was born in Aberdeen because his dad met Terry's mom in Aberdeen back in 1953 as a 19-year-old minor leaguer in the St. Louis Browns system with the Class C Aberdeen Pheasants and, then, when dad Tito was with the Indians, Terry's mom went home to her family to have Terry.  Totally guessing there, though.  

Straight out of high school, Terry was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 1977 draft. He chose instead to go to college, where he was a bonafide college baseball star at the University of Arizona, winning the 1980 Golden Spikes Award and the Most Outstanding Player Award at the College World Series while leading the Wildcats to the World Series title. The Expos grabbed him with the 22nd pick overall in the 1980 June Draft with a pick that the Expos got from the Yankees as compensation for free agent Rudy May. 

After he signed, the Expos sent Francona directly to Double-A Memphis, where he hit .300/.333/.395 over 60 games (224 plate appearances). In 1981, the Expos sent Francona back to Double-A for 41 games before pushing him up to Triple-A Denver. Francona scorched the ball in Denver -- like many hitters do -- and was called up to the Expos shortly after the strike ended.

Francona never satisfied the high expectations that his college career created in large part due to injuries. On June 16, 1982, he suffered severe ligament and cartilage damage when he got his spikes caught in the warning track in Busch Stadium.  That ended his season prematurely and made him a part-time player in 1983. Then, in June of 1984, he twisted his knee trying to avoid a tag. That injury ended his 1984 season.

He played with Montreal through spring training in 1986. He failed to make the club that year and was released by the Expos. The Cubs picked him up as a spare part in May of 1986 and was used mainly as a pinch hitter.  In 1987, he played for the Reds in a similar role. In 1988, it was Cleveland and again it was part-time work. In 1989 and for the first month of 1990, Francona was a Milwaukee Brewer. The Brewers released him in early May and, while the Cardinals picked him up and played him at Triple-A Louisville that summer, he never again appeared in a major league uniform as a player after he left Milwaukee.

2.  James Bradley Mills was born on January 19, 1957, in Exeter, California. Mills was selected by the Expos in the 17th Round of the 1979 June Draft -- also from the University of Arizona. Mills started his professional career in Single-A at West Palm Beach before joining Francona in Memphis in 1980.  

Mills was called up to the major leagues in June of 1980 to replace the injured Larry Parrish on the Expos roster, and his first major league hit led to a funny event. He started in Game 2 of a doubleheader against St. Louis and singled for his first big league hit in his first at bat. Notice of the hit being his first was put on the scoreboard to polite applause. Then, the crowd erupted loudly and the game was briefly delayed. Mills appeared to think that the applause was for his hit, but the reality was that the scoreboard had given fans confirmation that the Mets had beaten the Expos' Eastern Division rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mills claimed later that he was just nervously stroking his hair under his helmet and not doffing his cap to acknowledge the crown.

Mills played in bits and pieces of the 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983 seasons for the Expos. The Expos traded him to the Houston Astros in 1984, but Mills never reached the major leagues with the Astros. His final season as a player was in 1986 with the Iowa Cubs, where he played 18 games before calling it a career as a player.

3.  Bryn Nelson Smith was born on August 11, 1955, in Marietta, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta). He was raised in Santa Maria, California, however. Smith was drafted in the 49th round of the 1973 June draft by the St. Louis Cardinals -- one of just two selections in that round -- but he did not sign. But, in December of 1974, the Baltimore Orioles stepped in and signed Smith as an amateur free agent.

He pitched two very successful seasons in the Florida State League for the Orioles' affiliate in Miami. The team then moved him up to Double-A Charlotte for the 1977 season, where he posted a 15-11 record with a 2.75 ERA and 16 complete games in 27 starts (206 innings overall). That raised Smith's profile as a prospect, leading to other teams wanting him.  

As a result, Smith became an Expo when, in December of 1977, the Orioles sent him, Rudy May, and pitcher Randy Miller to Montreal in exchange for pitchers Joe Kerrigan and Don Stanhouse and outfielder Gary Roenicke. So, two of the three guys here owe their Expo-dom to Rudy May.  The Expos moved Smith up slowly through their system after he was bombed in Denver in 1978 (6.83 ERA in 54 innings). So, he found himself spending both 1979 and 1980 in Memphis before returning much more successfully to Denver in 1981. That 1981 season was impressive too -- 15-5, 3.05 ERA, 183 innings with 127 Ks and 42 BBs.

Smith got his first taste of major league baseball in September of 1981, pitching in 7 games out of the bullpen -- including picking up his first major league victory by getting the final out in the top of the 17th inning against the Phillies in a game that finished 1-0 when the Expos finally scored a run off reliever Jerry Reed. By the way, the total game time for that game was 4 hours, 28 minutes.

Smith stayed up with the Expos for good after a brief stint in Triple-A in 1982. His best season for the Spos was in 1985, when he went 18-5 with a 2.91 ERA (2.81 FIP) and a 1.052 WHIP in 222-1/3 innings.  He stayed with Montreal until after the 1989 season. He signed a three-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals for the 1990 through 1992 seasons. His stay in St. Louis ended with a whimper, as he pitched just 21-1/3 innings in 1992.

The Rockies signed him for the 1993 season. After a 2-4 record with a very unlucky 2.49 ERA (FIP of 4.67, which is pretty respectable for the Mile High Experience), the Rockies released the 37-year-old Smith on June 2, 1993.

Mustache Check: Bryn Smith makes this card a solid one-for-three.

Family Ties
Most people know that Terry Francona's father Tito -- real name: John Patsy Francona -- was a major league outfielder/first baseman from 1956 through 1970. 

Bryn Smith also has a family tie. His son Cody Smith was a pitcher at Hancock College (Juco) and then Fresno State before spending three seasons in the Texas organization, a season and a half with the Royals organization, and then four games with Lake Elsinore in the San Diego organization before Cody called it a baseball career.

Trivial Pursuit
Each of these guys has a good little trivia nugget attached to their careers.  First, for Francona -- both he and his father finished their careers with the Milwaukee Brewers. Tito spent 52 games in 1970 with the club while Terry tallied 93 games. 

Of course, Terry's other claim to trivial fame was being the first Boston Red Sox Manager since Ed Barrow to win the World Series.

Mills's trivia is somewhat more ignominious. On April 27, 1983, the Expos played the Astros. Mills came in to pinch hit for second baseman Doug Flynn. Mills had not played in 10 days since his previous pinch hitting appearance, and Manager Bill Verdon was asking him to hit against Nolan Ryan. As one might expect, Flynn struck out. However, that strikeout was the strike out that moved Ryan into first place all-time in career strikeouts for a pitcher past the great Walter Johnson.

Smith's trivia is a far better one, though not quite as good as Francona's. On April 9, 1993, the Colorado Rockies squared off against Smith's former team, the Montreal Expos, in the Rockies' third-ever game. Smith shut out the Expos on 6 hits over 7 innings to earn the Rockies first-ever franchise victory.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
In looking at the roster at Triple-A Denver from 1981, one can see that the Expos were not exactly blessed with a deep minor league system by this point in their history. Yeah, Dave Hostetler put up big numbers there, but keep in mind that this is Denver we are talking about here. 

All three of these guys have gone on to coach or manage baseball teams. Obviously Francona has been far more visible than the other two guys.  That started back in 1997 when he became the Phillies manager back in 1997 after serving as the bench coach for the Detroit Tigers for a year and spending 5 years in the minors managing.  After losing his job in Philadelphia, he served as a scout for a year for the Indians before being the bench coach in successive seasons for the Rangers (2002 under Jerry Narron) and the Oakland A's in 2003 (under Ken Macha).  Then, he was appointed to the job of Boston Red Sox manager, where in his first season, David Roberts's steal of second base led the amazing come back against the Yankees.  That led to the first of his two World Series Titles with the Boston Red Sox. After a year away in 2012, he won the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2013 in his current job managing the Indians. 

For his part, Mills got started in management in baseball before either Smith or Francona did, jumping right into management in 1987 after his playing career was over. Mills hooked back up with his old college, minor league, and major league teammate Francona when Terry got the Phillies job back in 1997 by serving as Francona's first base coach. Mills took 2001 off before managing in Triple-A Las Vegas in 2002. In 2003, he served as Frank Robinson's bench coach with the Montreal Expos before Terry Francona came calling again. Mills joined the Red Sox in 2004 as their bench coach through 2009. Then, the Astros appointed Mills as their manager from 2010 to 2012. Mills was fired midway through 2012 when he couldn't get the Astros to play better baseball -- though, to be fair, I'm not sure who could have done that with those two teams.  Nonetheless, he and his pal Terry are back together in Cleveland. Mills was the third-base coach in 2013, and he served as the bench coach in 2014.

Smith has not had any similar high profile jobs. His baseball jobs were all as a pitching coach in the minor leagues -- at Salem in the Carolina League in 1997, with Portland in the Northwest League in 199, with Carolina in the Double-A Southern League in 2001 and 2002, and with Triple-A Salt Lake in 2005.  Since that time, he founded the Santa Maria Valley Packers as a way to give back to his old hometown in California where I think he still is today.