Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Help yourself to some Twin-kies

By late July the Twins fell behind by double digits in the AL West and never recovered.  A typical underachieving/underwhelming Gene Mach team finished 16 games under .500 and 19 games behind the division winning Royals.

What they did right:  The Twins led the league in OBP, which was a stat that wasn't valued by many in baseball circles during the 70's.  They finished 4th in Batting average.
WHat they did wrong:  They were dead last in homers and middle of the pack in runs scored.  Due to their lack of power the Twins stranded a lot of runners.  Their pitching staff was also nothing to write home about either.  That staff was ranked 10th in ERA in the AL.

Indidvidual highlights:  Rod Carew won his 7th (and final) batting title in what would be his final season in Minnesota.  Carew hit .333, which was actually 55 points lower than his near .400 average of a year before.  With the lack of power behind him in the order he only scored 85 runs.  None of the regulars in the lineup hit close to .300.  Part time DH Jose Morales hit .314, but he only had 242 at bats.  The Twins did have a strong bench.  They just didn't have anyone who could hit the long ball.  Roy Smalley (19) and Dan Ford (11) were the only players in double digits in this most important power stat.  Both also ecliped the 30 mark for doubles, but no one else came that close.  Ford actually was in double figured for doubles (36), triples (10) and homers (11).

Minnesota's top 3 starters all logged over 200 innings and posted .500 or better records.  Dave Goltz (15-10, 2.49) had a fantastic season.  This team just didn't possess a reliable 4th or 5th starter as Mauch spent the year trying to find one of his 20-something year olds to fit that bill.  Veteran Mike Marshall saved 21 games and pitched 99 innings in 54 appearances.  He posted a 10-12, 2.45 record.  Greg Thayyer and John Sutton were marginal at best in supporting Marshall.  The rest of the pen was a crapshoot at best.

Thanks to a great post card set issued by the team for 1978 and 1979 I was able to collect a lot of good photos for these updated cards.  12 of the 16 updated cards posted here were created from that postcard set.

In 1977, Jackson was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of the amateur draft. He made his professional debut in 1978 for the Orlando Twins of the Southern League, and in his very first start he threw nine innings of no-hit ball against the Jacksonville Suns. Unfortunately, the game was tied after nine innings, and Jackson was relieved by fellow future Twin Jeff Holly. Orlando won the game, 1–0, in 12 innings.  After just 10 starts in the minors, Jackson was called up to the Twins in June. In 19 games, Jackson went 4–6 with a 4.48 ERA. He did record one shutout in 1978, on July 7 against the Oakland Athletics.  Jackson split 1979 between the Twins and their Triple-A farm club, the Toledo Mud Hens. In the majors, he pitched in 24 games (including 8 starts), going 4–4 with a 4.28 ERA. 1980 was Jackson's first (and, as it turned out, only) full season in the majors. He set career bests in wins (9), ERA (3.87), and strikeouts (90).  Jackson spent most of 1981 on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, appearing in just 14 games in the majors and 2 at Triple-A. In 1982, the bottom fell out of Jackson's performance, as he went 0–5 and his ERA jumped to a career-worst 6.25. Things were no better in the minors, as he went 1–3 with an even worse ERA of 7.00 in 4 starts. On July 26, the Twins released Jackson, and he never again pitched in organized baseball.
Dave and his two brothers, Mike and Marshall, all played MLB during the same era.  None of the Edwards boys were top tier performers.  Dave made his major league debut in 1979 hitting .250 (11-44) in 15 games for the Twins.  The next two seasons would see him play in more than half the team's games as their 4th outfielder and hit the same .250.  On 12/8/1980 he was dealt to the Padres for Chuck Baker and slumped below .220 during his 2 seasons in SoCAL.  He would move on to play 2 seasons in the Mexican league before hanging it up in 1985.
Serum played two and half season at the major league level for the Minnesota Twins. He was signed by the Twins as an amateur free agent in 1975. He played his last professional season with the New York Yankees' Double-A Nashville Sounds and Triple-A Columbus Clippers in 1982. In 1978 the 21 year old swingman appeared in 34 games (23 starts) for the Twins.  He posted an even 9-9, 4.10 record, while logging 184 innings.  1979 saw his career fall into an abyss with his record plummeting to 1-3, 6.61 in 20 games (64 innings).
This 28 year old career minor leaguer go this one shot in the majors with the Twins in 1978.  A 1-1, 3.80 record in 45 innings worth of work was not able to save him from a return trip to the farm, which is surprising because Minnesota had many pitcher put up worse numbers than his.  He would split the next two seasons between Toledo (AAA-MIN) and Syracuse (AAA-TOR) before being released.
Twins’ 1st-round pick in the 1975 amateur secondary draft, and he patrolled right field for Minnesota from 1978-1981. Powell was then traded to the Blue Jays for Greg Wells.  In 1978 He hit .247 with 3 homers in 121 games.  1979 would be his best year average wise (.293), but he still lacked the power required of a corner outfielder.  His numbers would slip in '80 and '81, which facilitated the trade with Toronto.
Fun Fact:  His college roommate was Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Starting in 1977 Holly spent parts of 3 seasons in the Twins pen.  His '77 season was downright horrible (2-3, 6.89), but he rebounded nicely in 1978 (1-2, 3.57).  1979 saw him drop below his paltry '77 standards, so he was dealt to Detroit for Fernando Arroyo, but never played again in the majors.
On December 5, 1977 Sutton was drafted by the Minnesota Twins from the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 rule 5 draft.  Sutton had a decent 14 games for the Cards in '77 going 2-1, 2.59 out of the pen.  The Twin used him 17 times in '78 and in 44 innings of work he did not have a decision, but did have a respectable 3.45 ERA.  Apparently a lot of the outs that he recorded were of the hard hit variety, because he was sent back to the minors then released.  He bounced between 4 other organizations before giving up on baseball.  1978 would be his last major league opportunity.  This was created using his '79 card.
After Minnesota acquired Morales, he became an effective part-time designated hitter and his pinch-hitting skills remained intact. In 1978 he hit .314 for the Twins and posted an American League leading with 15 pinch-hits. Morales faded the next season (.267), but he rebounded in 1980 hitting .303 with eight home runs (a career-high) as his 13 pinch-hits again led league.  At one time he held the major league record for most pinch hits in a single season.  Because he was such a liability behind the plate people would joke and say he was "a catcher by trade".  Morales spent 8 years in the minors before getting his shot.   Presently he is 8th on the All-Time pinch hit list with 123 in his career.
From 1973 to 1977 Wolfe played in the minor leagues on Twins affiliate teams, making his debut with the Twins in September 1977. After spending the full 1978 season with the Minnesota Twins, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Dave Coleman. He spent the 1979 and 1980 seasons with the Boston Red Sox.  In 1981, Wolfe returned to the minor leagues and played for the Indianapolis Indians, then an affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds. In 1982, Wolfe played in Japan for the Kintetsu Buffaloes. During the '78 season Wolfe hit .234 (55-235), knocked in 25 runs and had very little power for a corner infielder (10 doubles and 3 homers).
After spending the past 3 seasons in the minors Scarce got what looked to be his last chance at a major league career.  In 17 games for the Twins in '78 he would go 1-1, 3.94 and operate solely out of the pen.  He was released by the Twins after the season and never played in pro ball again.  This card was created by using an autographed photo supplied by "the elves"
Interesting tidbit:  In 1975 he faced 1 batter the whole season as a Met and gave up a walk off single.
Marshall ranks right up there in baseball as one of the game's most interesting characters.  If you have time, you can read the interesting interview he gave TwinsTrivia.  Marshall has invented a new more stress free way to pitch that the mainstream has had trouble adapting.  He claims that it will keep pitchers injury free.  Marshall bounced around from team to team due to the fact that he was union activist and not due to his pitching performance.  The 1974 Cy Young Award winner led he league in appearances (106) and innings pitched in relief (208).  During his interview he said his two best years were 1978-79 with the Twins.  During that span he finished in the top 10 for Cy Young voting twice.  In '78 he posted a 10-12, 2.45, 21sv record in 99 innings or relief work.
Wilfong started his pro career with the Twins organization. He made his major league debut in 1977 and was with the Twins until a trade sent him to the Angels in 1982. He helped the Angels win the American League Western Division in 1982 and 1986. He finished his career in 1987, playing two games for the San Francisco Giants. Wilfong played 92 games at 2nd base during the '78 season and hit .266.  '79 would be his breakout season, where he hit .313 in 140 games.  After hitting just .160 to start the 1982 season he was dealt with Doug Corbett to the California Angels for Tom Brunansky, Mike Walters and $400,000. 
Erickson was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the 1977 amateur draft and made his major league debut on April 6, 1978, pitching 6.1 innings and earning the win in a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners. He finished his rookie season (1978) with 14 wins and a .519 winning percentage, second highest on the pitching staff. Much was expected of him after his breakout rookie season, but apparently the 265 innings that he posted put way too much strain on his 21 year old body.  Over the next 5 seasons he struggled for consistency and to log innings.  Midway through the '82 season he was dealt to the Yankees along with catcher Butch Wynegar for a package of spare parts.  After a season and a half of sub par baseball in the Bronx he was sent down to Columbus (AAA), where he was horrible (9-7, 6.04).  He spent all of '84 in Evansville (AAA-DET) and quit baseball for 2 years.  He pitched 29 games in A ball in '87 then took off all of '88.  Finally he gave it one last go with 27 games at Louisville (AAA-STL) before hanging it up.
Harrison was a marginal major league talent at best who had a breakout rookie season with Baltimore in 1972 (3-4, 2.30, 4sv).  The Braves traded for him and in 2 1/2 years as a front-line starter never posted an ERA below 4.00.  Midway through the '75 season he was dealt to Cleveland where his numbers stayed the same.  For the next 3 seasons he would toil at the Triple A level with mediocre results before being called up to Minnesota.  His 9 game showcase at Metropolitan Stadium consisted of 12 innings out of the pen where he went 0-1, 7.50 and was finally released.  The "elves" sent me this weird headshot of him off a white background that I superimposed over a photo of old MET stadium.
This career minor leaguer had two cups of coffee with the White Sox (1971 & 1974) and two with the Rangers (1975 & 1978).  He had moderate success in '75 where he went 3-3, 3.00 in 8 starts.  By 1978 he was a 27 year old getting his final chance.  In 13 games (7 starts) he complied a 2-7, 5.24 record.  On February 13, 1979 the Twins released him.  He resigned with them in the spring and pitched 4 games at Toledo (AAA) before being released outright.  I used his minor league photo from his 1977 stint a Salt Lake City (AAA-CAL).
Norwood won the starting left field spot in Spring Training and played in 125 games for the Twins in 1978.  He hit just .255 with only 8 homers.  The following season his average dipped to .248 and in 1980 it bottomed out at .164, so he was traded to Seattle for future felon Byron McLaughlin.

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