24 December 2009

the evolution of the out of place guy, part 1

you know the guy, right? the free agent in decline your team signed but you don't really think of him as a 'member' of the team. the guy who came over in a trade but didn't really fit with the team or was only there for one season. or, the guy you had heard of but who you didn't realize even played for your team until many years into your fandom.

the dodgers have had their share of 'those' players, so here's a primer on the evolution of the dodgers' out of place guy.

we'll kick it off with moose skowron who was shown as a dodger on his 1963 topps card
skowron is best known (and almost exclusively known) as a yankee. he came to the dodgers in a deal for stan williams and had perhaps his poorest season ever, batting just over the mendoza line. he came alive in the 1963 world series though, batting .385 with an ops of over 1.000 against his former mates. his contract was purchased by the washington senators after the 63 season.

fast forward to 1968, and we have zoilo (once called 'zorro' on a topps card) versalleszoilo must have impressed the dodgers in the 1965 world series, because they traded for him two years later, sending john roseboro and ron perranoski (among others) to minnesota. versalles was the al mvp in 1965, but he was in serious decline by 1968. he hit only .196 for the dodgers that year - his only year in la - and was perhaps thankfully selected by the padres in the expansion draft prior to 1969.

so, with versalles gone, jim bunning was brought in to be the out of place guy. by the way, thank goodness for the 1990 target dodgers set, otherwise we might not have a card of jim bunning as a dodger. the phillies had traded bunning to the pirates prior to the 1968 season. after one-and a half seasons in pittsburgh, the dodgers acquired the future senator (united states, not washington) for a couple of minor leaguers and cash. he pitched fairly well for the dodgers (3.36 era in 56 innings) but was released after the season. the phillies took him back and bunning finished his career in philadelphia.

1971 saw dick allen joining the ranks, featured here on his 1971 topps super card (with the dodger stadium scoreboard in the background) allen had spent 1970 with the cardinals after 7 pretty remarkable years in philadelphia. he had a good year for the dodgers in 1971, too, but was traded to the white sox after that lone year in la. all he did the following year was win the al mvp.

on the same day dick allen was traded away, the dodgers traded for frank robinson, shown here on a 1989 smokey dodger greats card
like allen, frobby would spend just one year in la. unlike allen, that year would be pretty mediocre offensively. luckily for the angels (to whom robinson was traded), he would bounce back big time in 1973.

in 1975, juan marichal was a dodger, most definitely out of placehe had spent one year in boston after pitching exclusively for the giants organization and the dodgers decided to give him a shot. he lasted just two starts, completing six innings and striking out 1 before the dodgers released him.

in 1977, there was boog powell the former oriole had been released by the indians after the 1976 season. he came to the dodgers as a pinch hitter, but hit just .244 with no extra base hits in 53 at bats before being released in august of 1977.

we'll finish part one with another oriole, don stanhouse, who signed with the dodgers as a free agent prior to the 1980 season stan 'the man unusual' had saved 45 games for the orioles over the two previous seasons, but did not pitch that well in the 1979 postseason. he pitched even worse for the dodgers, saving just 7 games and posting an era of 5.04 to go with a whip of 1.84. the dodgers released him prior to the 1981 season. i believe that the stanhouse experience (along with fellow 1979 signee dave goltz) was a big reason the dodgers seemed to avoid the free agent market until 1987.

that doesn't mean, however, that they were without any 'out of place guys' during those years, as we will see in part 2.

1 comment:

thewritersjourney said...

Man, those Target cards are awesome. And don't forget Mario Soto, who was traded to the Dodgers in the middle of the 1988 season and even resigned with the team after the '88 season, but never pitched a game for the boys in blue. And he got a card in the 1989 Score set with "LA" on his cap.