To their credit though, the team did bat .262 and most of the lineup, except Alexander, hovered close to that average. The bench was solid. Not a lot of pop, but they were all capable of getting a big hit if by miracle the team was in a close one. The pitching was close to awful. Rick Waits (13-15, 3.20) and Mike Paxton (12-11, 3.86) were the only starters with ERA's below 4.00. Waits had a fantastic year, which also included 15 complete games and 2 shutouts, but more often than not his offense couldn't score for him. The key here is to get to the pen, which was the real strength of this team. Jim Kern (10-10, 3.08, 13sv) was the closer. Paul Reuschel (2-4, 3.11), Sid Monge (4-3, 2.76, 6sv) and Dan Spillner (3-1, 3.67, 3sv) did a fantastic job setting up Kern. The challenge will be: can Cleveland hold a lead into the late innings and hand it off to the pen ?
To round out the "missing Indians" cards I added 20 new 1978 Cards that required various degrees of work.
Briggs hit just .163 in 15 games with the Tribe during the '78 campaign. The Tribe wisely dumped him on the Padres, who used him in '79 as a utility man who hit .207 in 227 AB's. After spending all of 1980 in the minors he would get two final cups of coffee in 1981 (Montreal) and in 1982 (Cubs) before realizing that a career .195 hitting utility player doesn't have too many major league options. I used his '79 card here.
Spillner arrived from San Diego mid season in a deal for Dennis Kinney. Score this deal as one of the few "wins" for the Tribe. For the next 6 1/2 seasons he would serve whatever roll their staff needed. His best season (1982) was as the team's long man / closer. He went 12-10, 2.49 with 21 saves. At the age of 32 after a 4-3, 3.44 season out of the pen in Chicago he wasn't offered a contract by anyone, so he retired. A strange sequence of events showed that he was a victim of baseball's "Collusion" of the mid 80's and later award a cash settlement of almost $450,000. If you want to read a great "Where are they now" article about him from SeattlePI, click here. I found this autographed photo on ebay.
clicking here. I found this photo on ebay.
Kinney was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 10th round of the 1970 Major League Baseball Draft, and he played in their organization through his major league debut in 1978. He was given a chance at closing games for the Indians, notching five saves in 18 games. That June, however, he was traded to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Dan Spillner. Kinney's one full season in the majors came in 1980 for the Padres. That year, he pitched in 50 games as a reliever, compiling a 4–6 record with a 4.25 ERA and one save. In December, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Dave Stegman, but appeared in just six games for the Tigers before being released in the offseason. After a brief trial with the Oakland Athletics in 1982, his major league career was over. I did some airbrushing and cut/pasting on this minor league card photo.
Paxton arrived in the offseason as part of the Eckersley deal. He had an above average (12-11, 3.86) first season in Cleveland and fans were just about to forget "the Eck", but unfortunately he bottomed out in 1979 (8-8, 5.92) and then disappeared for good after a forgettable 1980 (0-0, 12.91).
Rick Wise won 188 games in a solid 18 year career in the big leagues, yet we will all remember him as the guy that was traded for Steve Carlton. At the time, 1972 most pundits though of Carlton as being slightly better than Wise, but definitely on a par with him. Looking at their numbers after 1972 it is easy to see who got the better of the trade. Wise had some realy good years in Boston, culminating in his 19 win sesaon of 1975. By the time he got to Cleveland his skills were beginning to errode. 1978 saw him lose 19 games for the Tribe, which also led the league in futility. He rebounded nicely in 1979 (15-10, 3.73), but that turned out to be his final season as a front line starter. After the '79 season the Tribe let him become a free agent, which turned out to be the correct move since he had 3 sub par years in San Diego. I found this autographed photo on ebay.
Hassey was a 25 year old rookie for the Tribe in '78. He hit just .203 with 2 homers in 74 at bats. The following season would see him become part of the lefty/righty platoon behind the plate with Bo Diaz. He responded favorably by hitting .287. His best season in Cleveland was 1980, where he hit .318 with 8 homers in 390 AB's. In total he would spend 7 above average seasons with the Indians. He had some solid seasons up in the Bronx and on the South Side of Chicago before moving on to Oakland and playing on 3 pennant winners as the lefty part of their catching platoon. I found this great autographed action shot on ebay.
Cox turned out to be one of your run of the mill banjo hitting utility players. In 82 games in '78 he played 5 positions and hit just .233 in 227 AB's. He pretty much duplicated those numbers in '79 before being traded to Seattle for Bud Anderson. After one carbon copy season in Seattle he moved on to Toronto, where he hit .300 in just 50 AB's and was never heard from again as he was banished to the Mexican Leagues.
Veryzer batted .271 with one home run and 32 RBIs in part tie action during the '78 season. His most memorable moment of the season may have come on September 13 when he drove in the winning run of the Indians' 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox with a successful suicide squeeze bunt, knocking the Red Sox out of first place. He would spend 4 seasons as the Indians starting shortstop before moving over to the Mets. I found this photo while doing a Google search.
Horton, who split the '78 season with 3 horrible teams, started the year as the Tribe's starting DH. In 50 games he hit just .249 with only 5 homers, before being moved to Oakland. His stay in Cleveland was quite short and definitely not all that sweet. I found this autographed photo on ebay.