Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dial M's for many losses

The 2nd year expansion Mariners lost a lot of games, which didn't take a MENSA candidate to figure out.  What we do notice, especially since we have hindsight, is that this was not a franchise with a plan designed to head them in the right direction.  Darrell Johnson's boys with the Trident on their cap finished a woeful 56-104, which gave them sole posession of the cellar in the AL West 35 games behind the division winning Royals.  If anything the M's were at least consistent.  They finished dead last in pitching in the AL and next to last in offense.  This was a team that could hurt itself on both sides of the ball to steal a football term.  Only 2 starters logged more than 150 innings (Paul Mitchell & Glenn Abbott).  This would explain why 4 guys from the pen had over 100 innings.  Only two of the 15 men to toe the rubber had a winning record on this staff.  Closer Enrique Romo posted an 11-7, 3.69, 10sv record and setup man Tom House was 5-4, 4.66.  Night in and night out the M's would find a way to lose.  They did have two decent young pitching prospects who were taking their lumps in the majors.  24 year old Rick Honeycutt was 5-11, 4.89 and 22 year old Shane Rawley 4-9, 4.12 were the only 2 guys with any upside here.

Leon Roberts carried the offense posting the only .300+ season in the hitter friendly Kingdome.  Roberts (.301-22-92) was the only Mariner to hit more than 20 homers.  Bruce Bochte and Bob Stinson were tied for 2nd with 11 homers each.  Teams playing in the Kingdome needed to go yard frequently.  The M's finished 13 out of 14 in that category, which meant the fans sitting in the bleachers threw back more balls than they kept.  Julio Cruz stole 59 bases, but hit just .235.  He was a decent prospect who would develop into a steady second sacker with speed.  Ruppert Jones had a good glove in center, but he too hit .235.  Once the two of these young stars developed Seattle would start scoring runs.  On a team that hit .248 it's tough to have any bench support.  Tom Paciorek, a 31 year old veteran without a regular spot in the lineup, provided a .299 average off the bench and a spot starter in the outfield and DH.  Leroy Stanton, the team's regular DH, slupped badly from his breakout year in '77.  Stanton hit just .182 with 3 homers and looked like he was more like 52 instead of 32.

Plummer's claim to fame was as Johnny Bench's catch and throw backup for almost a decade.  In Seattle he got a chance to start and showed why he was a prototypical #2 guy.  In 41 games he hit .215 and got farmed out.  He finished his 10 year MLB career with a .188 average.  I used his 1979 Card photo here.
Robertson had some very good years as part of Pittsburgh's famed "Lumber Company" in the early 70's.  Surgery on both of his knees robbed him of his massive power and reduced him to a spot starter and platoon player.  Due to injury he sat out the whole 1977 season and was released by the Bucs.  Seattle, in search of some offensive spark, too a flier on him.  In 15 games he hit just 1 homer and batted a measly .103, before getting injured again.  The M's hoped he could get healthy, but that was just not in the cards and Robertson was given his unconditional release in January 1979.  The photo for this card came from an 8x10 glossy sold on ebay.
Bochte was a line drive hitting machine in search of a home and a position.  With not enough power to play his natural first base he bounced around the outfield for the Angels before being dealt Indians in 1977 and then signing as a free agent with the M's in '78.  In 5 years in Seattle he hit .290 with 58 homers.  Bochte boycotted the entire 1983 season as a personal protest over rising player salaries. He believed that money was destroying the game he loved, but he returned without explanation the next season. Bochte is now an avowed agnostic and is working to "save the Mother Earth from humankind's destructive ways." He states that he has no contact with anyone from his baseball days except for Dusty Baker. It is unknown how and why he and Baker still communicate.  This card was produced using his 1980 super sized card photo
McLaughlin was a marginal major league pitcher who turned into a major international felon.  After his career, McLaughlin allegedly worked in the counterfeit consumer goods industry in Mexico making knock-off athletic footwear, which included shoes designed to look like Converse, Vans, and Adidas. In 1990, he was arrested for trafficking the counterfeit shoes and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to the money laundering charges, and proceeded to post bail. Before being sentenced, McLaughlin fled and his current whereabouts are unknown.  In 1978 he was 4-8, 4.37 as a part time starter part time long reliever.  This photo comes from his Donruss '82 card.
Beamon's 11 at bats in 1978 netted a .182 average.  In 2 succeeding cups of coffee in the majors he would not pass the Mendoza line with the stick.  He would spend a total of 10 seasons in the minors and hit .288 there.  His dad, Charles Beamon, Sr. also mirrored his son's success spending 9 seasons in the minors with 3 cups of Joe in the majors.  I used his 1980 rookie panel card photo for this card.
1978 marked the end of the road for this veteran 32 year old hurler.  1973 was Colborn’s best season; he became the Brewers' first-ever 20-game winner, posting a 20-12 record with a 3.18 ERA. He also was named to the American League All-Star team, but did not pitch in the game.  On May 14, 1977, Colborn no-hit the Texas Rangers 6-0, the first no-hitter by a Royal at Royals Stadium.  He would finish the season with 18 wins for the Royals and appear in the ALCS.  The Royals didn't think he was worth big free agent bucks, so they let him go to Seattle where he was 3-10, 5.35 and was released.  I found this autographed photo on sale on ebay.
In September 1977, the Mariners purchased Pasley from the Dodgers.  In four games with the Mariners that season, he batted .385 with five hits in 13 at-bats. Combined between the Dodgers and the Mariners that year, Pasley had six hits in 16 at-bats, putting his average at .375. On May 8, 1978, he was sent down to the minor leagues.  In the minors, Pasley played with the Mariners Triple-A affiliate, the San Jose Missions. With the team, he batted .261 with 32 runs scored, 94 hits, 19 doubles, one triple, three home runs, and 43 RBIs in 98 games played. He was called-up to the majors in late-August.  On October 1, Pasley hit his first career major league home run during his final at-bat of the game and of the season.  That at-bat would later prove to be his final in the majors.  On March 28, 1979, the Mariners released Pasley.  He would bounce around the minors for the next few years.  This was a heavily airbrushed photo.
In 1978, playing every day with Seattle, Roberts led his team with a .301 batting average, good for 6th in the league. That year, his first hit was a grand slam, occurring on April 9, 1978.  Roberts would have diminishing success with Seattle over the next 3 seasons and would eventually be traded to Texas in a blockbuster deal that brought Richie Zisk to Seattle.  He would spend 11 years in the majors playing for 6 different franchises and compiling a .267 batting average with 78 homers.  This photo came from the M's 1979 media guide.
On December 7, 1977 Parrott was traded by Baltimore to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Lopez and Tommy Moore.  In 1979, Parrott won a career high 14 games for the Mariners. He also led all Seattle pitchers in wins that year.  After winning Seattle's opener in 1980, Parrott lost 16 straight to finish the season at 1-16, the longest such streak of the 1980s.  On March 5, 1982 he was traded by the Mariners to the Milwaukee Brewers for Thad Bosley.  He did not make the Brewers varsity and never again appeared in a MLB game.  Parrott's nickname was Bird, which is neither shocking nor inventive.  In 1978 he was 1-5, 5.14 in over 80 innings of work.
Honeycutt was originally drafted in the 17th round of the 1976 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. After 1 1⁄2 seasons in their minor league system, the Pirates traded him to the Seattle Mariners in August 1977 to complete an earlier trade for Dave Pagan.  He made his major league debut on August 24, 1977 against the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched two innings of relief, struck out 3, allowed 2 hits and no runs. His first start was against the New York Yankees on August 31. He pitched 7.1 innings in that start, allowing 3 runs. He finished the season 0-1, but got his first victory in his first start the following year, beating the Minnesota Twins on April 7, 1978.  Honeycutt would represent the M's in the 1980 All-Star game.  Later that year he was suspended for 10 games for using a thumbtack to doctor the ball.  At the end of the season he was part of the Richie Zisk trade with Texas.  He would have a 21 year MLB career.  Most of it as a lefty bullpen specialist.
Jones' 1977 Topps card was voted as one of the All-Time worst in cardboard history.  It looked more like a fresco drawing by a sub par 5th grader than a major leaguer's only baseball card.  Since Jones was unimpressive in 1977 (1-4, 5.10) he did not rate a '78 card.  Jones was even less impressive in '78 going 0-2, 5.84 in 3 games before being sent down to the farm.  He would post 3 average seasons in AAA before being released.  This photo came from his minor league card.  Due to the hat angle that he had it was nearly impossible to find a Mariner cap to cover the one he had on.  Airbrushing attempts failed, so I took a photo of an old Mariner's cap that I had in the house held at approximately the correct angle and then proceeded to do my version of "arts and crafts".
On December 9, 1977 Rawley was traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the Seattle Mariners for Dave Collins.  The trade turned out to be a wash, since neither player performed all that well.  The trade made little sense to most considering the fact that Cincy had the best lineup in baseball and a dubious pitching staff other than Tom Seaver.  Rawley would spend 4 seasons pitching out of the pen for the M's before being dealt to the Yankees who thought they could make him a front end starter.  He did ok in New York, but the team was starting to stagnate and he never became the dominant lefty they envisioned him becoming.  In 1987 he won 17 for the Phillies and started in the All-Star game for the NL, but quickly faded right after that.  This photo was an autographed shot found on ebay.
Burke had good numbers in his two cups of coffee with the M's.  In '77 he was 0-1, 2.87 in 15 innings and in '78 he was 0-1, 3.49 in 49 innings.  One would have thought that a pitching starved organization like Seattle would have given him another shot, but that did not happen.  Out of sheer curiosity I decided to do some research to figure out why Burke was out of baseball at the ripe old age of 24 despite decent numbers in limited action.  The research didn't take long to uncover his 6.18 ERA at San Jose (AAA) in 1978 and a 6.80 ERA at Spokane (AAA) in 1979.  Apparently Burke could only pitch to major leaguers and the M's weren't smart enough to catch on to that.  This photo comes from his minor league card while at Spokane.
I couldn't find much on Mr. Brown.  Even Wiki-Pedia had just this tidbit, "is a former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Seattle Mariners (1978). He was originally signed by the Kansas City Royals in 1971 and signed with the Mariners in 1977.  He graduated from Neville High School in Monroe."  I clicked on a Google search link and my anti-virus came up saying it was blocking some harmful mal-ware.  At that point I decided that I had taken enough of a risk trying to find out info on a guy who spent all of 6 games in the majors and did not record a decision.  That basically sums up his career and his '78 season in Seattle.  I found this photo on ebay while searching his minor league team.  I airbrushed out the logo on his jersey and pasted a Mariner trident on his cap to make it look like he posed in his team issued undershirt.
Paciorek spent 8 seasons chasing the major league dream as a part time player on the powerhouse Dodger teams of the early 70's and the also ran Braves teams in the latter 70's.  He was so bad in Atlanta, the Braves actually released him after just 9 at bats in 1978.  The M's picked him up and all he did was perform at an All-Star level for them during his 4 year stay off Puget Sound.  During the 1981 strike season he was an AL All-Star and hit .326.  The M's dealt him to the Chisox in the offseason.  In 18 major leage seasons he would hit .282 with 86 homers.  He was a good line drive hitter, who did not hit for enough power to occupy the corner infield and outfield spots that he was most comfortable playing.  I used his '82 Donruss photo for this card.

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