Thursday, September 25, 2014

Short Term Stops: The All-Dodgers Team


I don't know if I've ever written a more well-timed post than this one.

As you might already know, the Dodgers clinched the NL West with a resounding 9-1 victory over the Giants last night. I'm convinced that Clayton Kershaw is and might always be the greatest pitcher I'll ever see in my lifetime.

I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing him dominate in the Dodger blue for a long, long time.

That said, tonight's post isn't about the Kershaws of the baseball world. We're here to discuss the more short-lived players in Dodger history.

It's no secret that the boys in blue have the biggest following here in the blogosphere. I can think of probably about five or six different blogs devoted to the Dodgers off the top of my head, and I'm sure I'll be hearing all about the team's playoff run in the coming weeks.

Tonight, though, I hope you'll join me in taking a look at some of the more forgotten Dodgers.



Pitchers

1982 TCMA #21 Wes Ferrell

"Short Term Stops" Dodgers Accolades:

Wes Ferrell (1940 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1 game)

We start off with a rare "ultimate" short-term stop nominee.

It's not often you see a card of a guy who played in one game for a particular franchise, yet that's exactly what we have here. 

Six-time 20-game winner Wes Ferrell (note the misspelling on this TCMA issue) pitched in exactly one contest for the 1940 Dodgers, giving up three runs in a four-inning relief appearance for a 6.75 ERA. (He earned a no-decision.)

I honestly didn't know that Ferrell was a one-game wonder until I did a little research for this post last night. Funny, considering I've had this card for years.

The discoveries in this hobby never end.



1995 Topps Archives Dodgers #216 Tom Lasorda

Dodgers Accolades:

Tom Lasorda (1954-55 Brooklyn Dodgers, 8 games)

Tom Lasorda cemented himself as one of baseball's greatest personalities during his 21 years at the helm of the Dodgers.

What sometimes gets lost to history, however, is that he had a mediocre stint as a pitcher for the franchise in the mid '50s. 

He played in eight games (two starts) for the Dodgers over two seasons, posting a 7.62 ERA and never registering a decision. He'd close out his short big league career with the A's in 1956.

This card of Lasorda on the 1955 Topps design doesn't really exist. It's a faux-reprint that was included as part of the gargantuan 1995 Archives Dodgers checklist.

It's a dream of mine to one day own Lasorda's actual rookie card.



2007 Topps Update #UH-15 David Wells

Dodgers Accolades:

David Wells (2007 Los Angeles Dodgers, 7 games, half-year stint, sunset season)

This card looks like it belongs in a beer league oddball set, not Topps Update.

I'll hand it to Topps, though. Although this isn't a great photoshop job, they went out of their way to include David Wells in their Update checklist in '07. 

"Boomer" signed with the Dodgers in late August of that year after being dumped by the Padres a couple weeks prior. That left barely over a month for Topps to get him into Update. But doggone it, they did it.

Wells pitched what would turn out to be his final seven big league games with the 2007 Dodgers, going 4-1 with a 5.12 ERA in those contests.

If this card didn't exist, I'd probably never remember that David Wells once donned the Dodger blue.

Honorable Mentions:

Mudcat Grant (1968 Los Angeles Dodgers, 37 games)
Octavio Dotel (2010 Los Angeles Dodgers, 19 games, third-of-a-year stint)
Greg Maddux (2006, '08 Los Angeles Dodgers, 19 games, sunset season in '08)



Catcher

1992 Topps #45 Gary Carter

Dodgers Accolades:

Gary Carter (1991 Los Angeles Dodgers, 101 games)

The Dodgers have a lot of strong short-term stops candidates at the catcher position, but I can't go against The Kid. 

Gary Carter hit just .246 with six homers during his lone year in Los Angeles. He'd return to the Expos for his final big league season in 1992.

This is one of 14 different cards I own of Carter as a Dodger, and not a single one of them looks right to me.

Honorable Mentions:

Sandy Alomar Jr. (2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, 27 games, half-year stint)
Mike Lieberthal (2007 Los Angeles Dodgers, 38 games, sunset season)
Brad Ausmus (2009-10 Los Angeles Dodgers, 57 games, sunset season in '10)



First Base

2010 Topps Heritage #418 Jim Thome

Dodgers Accolades:

Jim Thome (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 17 games, half-year stint)

The few issues I own of Jim Thome as a Dodger exposed a loophole in my organizing methods.

I've said in the past that I defer to the position listed on each individual card in sorting my collection. It's a fairly efficient method, but a few problems have popped up over the years. This is one of them.

The White Sox traded Jim Thome to the Dodgers late in the 2009 season. He managed to get into 17 games during his short time in Los Angeles. In those 17 games, he collected exactly 17 at-bats. He was exclusively a pinch-hitter as a Dodger, never playing a single inning in the field for the franchise.

And yet I classify him as a first baseman. That's because all my cards of him with the Dodgers list him at first. Makes sense, considering I've never seen anything from Topps with a pinch-hitter designation.

Although part of me has always considered making a special pinch-hitter section in my Dodgers binder for Jim Thome, I've kept him at first.

My OCD just won't allow it.

Honorable Mentions:

Moose Skowron (1963 Los Angeles Dodgers, 89 games)
Al Oliver (1985 Los Angeles Dodgers, 35 games, half-year stint, sunset season)
Doug Mientkiewicz (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 20 games, sunset season)



Second Base

2000 Pacific Crown Collection #139 Craig Counsell

Dodgers Accolades:

Craig Counsell (1999 Los Angeles Dodgers, 50 games, half-year stint)

I've always been a huge Craig Counsell fan.

I remember being fascinated by his odd batting stance as a kid. That, admittedly, is what first drew me to him.

It wasn't until later that I found out Counsell scored the game-winning run in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Or that he was once a Dodger. The Marlins sent him to Los Angeles in June of 1999 for the immortal player to be named later.

Counsell would play in 50 unremarkable games for the Dodgers, hitting just .259 in that span. For a long time, I assumed he never had a card issued in the Dodger blue. That changed when I found out about this obscure Pacific issue earlier this year.

It's one of the centerpieces of my growing Craig Counsell collection.

Honorable Mentions:

Orlando Hudson (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 149 games)
Mark Loretta (2009 Los Angeles Dodgers, 107 games, sunset season)
Ryan Theriot (2010 Los Angeles Dodgers, 54 games, half-year stint)



Shortstop

1988 Pacific Legends #107 Zoilo Versalles

Dodgers Accolades:

Zoilo Versalles (1968 Los Angeles Dodgers, 122 games)

Zoilo Versalles is probably the most obscure player to have ever won an MVP award.

He captured the title with a remarkable season for the '65 Twins, leading the AL in runs, doubles, triples, and total bases. 

Just three years later, he was hitting a miserable .196 for the '68 Dodgers.

Versalles is the definition of a one-year wonder.

Honorable Mentions:

Jose Hernandez (2004 Los Angeles Dodgers, 95 games)
Angel Berroa (2008 Los Angeles Dodgers, 84 games, half-year stint)



Third Base

1998 Ultra #233 Paul Konerko

Dodgers Accolades:

Paul Konerko (1997-98 Los Angeles Dodgers, 55 games)

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of this year's Jeter-mania is the fact that baseball has basically ignored the legacy of another legendary player.

Paul Konerko.

Though he'll never be as well-remembered as Jeter, "Paulie" (one of the few Hawk Harrelson monikers I actually enjoy) is a Chicago icon and perhaps the most underrated player of his generation. 

Because of his ties to the White Sox, it's easy to forget that Konerko came up as a Dodger. Drafted as a catcher, he began his career as a hybrid first/third baseman. (The majority of my 43 Dodger cards list him at third, so under that position he goes.)

He'd be traded to the Reds midway through the '98 season. Cincinnati, in turn, traded him to the White Sox for Mike Cameron prior to '99. The rest, as they say, is history.

Having lived my entire life around the Chicago area, I'll probably miss Paul Konerko more than Jeter after the 2014 season comes to a close.

Honorable Mentions:

Phil Garner (1987 Los Angeles Dodgers, 70 games, half-year stint)
Adam Kennedy (2012 Los Angeles Dodgers, 86 games, sunset season)
Michael Young (2013 Los Angeles Dodgers, 21 games, half-year stint, sunset season)



Outfielders

1971 Topps #650 Dick Allen

Dodgers Accolades:

Dick Allen (1971 Los Angeles Dodgers, 155 games)

I can say with absolute certainty that this is one of my favorite baseball cards in the history of baseball cards.

I virtually begged my dad to get it for me for Christmas a few years ago, and he graciously came through. This is the only normal-sized card (see: Topps Super) I've ever seen of Dick Allen as a Dodger. The dreaded vintage high-number/short-print combo makes it a tough find.

By Dick Allen standards, his lone season in Los Angeles wasn't up to par. Then again, a .295/23/90 slash line (with a .395 OBP) is nothing to sneeze at.

Dick Allen doesn't smile on a lot of his cards, but he's flashing a wide grin here. And let's not forget about the beautiful Dodger Stadium backdrop. Oh, and we also get the erroneous leg of a Topps photographer in the bottom-left of the frame as well.

How could I not love this card?



2003 Upper Deck #598 Rickey Henderson

Dodgers Accolades:

Rickey Henderson (2003 Los Angeles Dodgers, 30 games, sunset season)

Rickey Henderson never actually retired from baseball.

He became a free agent after his lone season as a Dodger in 2003 and no one signed him. But Rickey never officially called it quits.

Henderson picked up the final three of his whopping 1,406 career steals in Los Angeles, hitting a meager .208 in just 30 games for the franchise at 44 years of age.

Knowing Rickey, I wouldn't rule out an age-55 comeback here in 2014.



2010 Topps Update #US-206 Garret Anderson

Dodger Accolades:

Garret Anderson (2010 Los Angeles Dodgers, 80 games, sunset season)

I've noticed that Garret Anderson's only season in Los Angeles has become kind of an in-joke among Dodger fans.

If someone is going through a rough patch, I'll often hear a crack about the guy being in "Garret Anderson territory" or something along those lines.

It's fitting, since Anderson hit a miserable .181 with the 2010 Dodgers, his last season as a big leaguer. It always saddens me to see a great player go out with a whimper.

At least Topps was nice enough to send him off with an awesome card.

Honorable Mentions:

Frank Robinson (1972 Los Angeles Dodgers, 103 games)
Kenny Lofton (2006 Los Angeles Dodgers, 129 games)
Bobby Abreu (2012 Los Angeles Dodgers, 92 games, half-year stint)

That does it for this edition of "Short Term Stops".

See you next time.

7 comments:

Daniel Wilson said...

Great post! I had no ideas on about half of those guys that they played for the Dodgers! An educational and entertaining post!

Jupiterhill said...

Man, I thought Wells and Dotel played in more games than that as Dodgers. I can't remember Thome playing for them though. Not sure why though. Great post.

gcrl said...

good stuff. dick allen played slightly more third base in his one season with the dodgers than outfield, meaning you could put him at the hot corner and have room for the likes of cesar cedeno or jayson werth in the outfield. other folks you probably considered for this post include boog powell, jim bunning, juan marichal, lloyd waner, kiki cuyler, edinson volquez, willie banks, and the list just keeps on going.

night owl said...

Got to get that Wes Ferrell card.

Matthew Scott said...

Cool post Nick. I forgot about Thome with the Dodgers.

Mark Hoyle said...

Love this post

shlabotnikreport said...

What a fun post! I might do something similar for the Mets, they are the kings of cameo appearances. I'm just afraid of the painful memories it may bring back. ;-D