Jan 25, 2015

Short Time Mets Catcher: Taylor Teagarden (2014)

Taylor Hill Teagarden was born December 21st 1983 in Dallas, Texas. The six foot right hand hitting catcher attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a star player. He was named Bug Twelve Conference Freshman of the Year & helped the 2005 Longhorns win the College World Series, making the All Tournament team as catcher. He was soon signed by his home town Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft.

 2005 was a rough year for him as he needed back surgery as well as Tommy John surgery. In 2008 he played on the US Olympic Team that won a Bronze medal. That year he also made his debut with the Rangers for two quick games in July & playing in 14 more games that September, batting .316.

 In 2009 he played in a career high 60 games backing up Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the second place Rangers. He threw out 38% of would be base runners, while batting .217 with 6 HRs & 24 RBIs. Teagarden would spend four years in Texas as a part time player. He would then go to the Baltimore Orioles as a player to be named later.

He spent parts of 2012 & 2013 with the Orioles batting under .200 both seasons playing 22 & 23 games respectively. In 2014 he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. He played with the Gulf Coast Mets (4 games) St. Lucie Mets (2 games) & AAA Las Vegas for 55 games.

On June 10th Teagarden was brought up to catch in a game with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. That night he also got the biggest hit of his career, a grand slam HR off Marco Estrada in the bottom of the 6th inning. He put the Mets ahead 6-1 on their way to a 6-2 victory. He got seven starts with New York that June over a two week period. He hit just .43 in 28 at bats in nine games.

At the end of the year he was granted free agency. In a seven year career he is batting .202 with 100 hits 21 HRs 26 doubles & 68 RBIs.

Short Time Met & Belinda Carlisle's ex-Boy Friend: Mike Marshall (1990)

Michael Allen Marshall was born January 12th, 1960 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The big six foot five right handed hitter was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 6th round of the 1978 draft.

He developed as a power hitter in the minors, winning Minor League Player of the Year as well as the Triple Crown in the Pacific Coast League in 1981. He hit 34 HRs with 137 RBIs while batting .373 at AAA Albuquerque.

The big season got him a September call up & in his first MLB at bat he hit a line drive HR over the Dodger Stadium wall. The ball hit a stairway & came back to the field where outfielder Jack Clark played the ball & threw it in to second base immediately. Marshall was robbed as the umpire called it a double due to Clark's quick reactions.

Marshall would play in 14 games and at have an at bat in the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Dodgers 1981 Championship season. In 1982 he batted .388 in 66 games, winning the AAA Player of the Year Award once again. In 1984 he became the Dodgers regular right fielder batting .284 with 17 HRs & 65 RBIs.

Playing in Los Angeles has it's advantages, especially for the higher profiled players. He began dating Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle of "We got the Beat " fame & the two became a Hollywood celebrity couple. The highly publicized romance supposedly inspired Neil Simon's movie "The Sluggers Wife". The two settled in a beachfront Marina Del Rey condo where Carlisle battled an addiction to cocaine, as admitted in her 2010 book.

The next two seasons he hit twenty plus HRs making the NL All Star team in 1984 & having his best year in 1985. He batted .293 with 28 HRs (7th in the NL) 27 doubles 95 RBIs (8th in the NL) & a .342 on base %. In the outfield he posted a .991 fielding % with 10 assists in 1985 (3rd in the NL) & then led the league two seasons later at .987%.

He would lose time to injuries over the next two seasons but still had 16 plus HRs each year despite playing in no more than 104 games both years. In the Dodgers 1988 Championship season, Marshall remained healthy enough to play in 144 games, 90 in the outfield as well as 53 at first base. He led the club in RBIs with 82 (10th in the league) hitting 20 HRs (second on the club to Kirk Gibson) while batting .277.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the NLCS against the New York Mets he had three hits & drove in three runs off David Cone in the Dodgers 6-3 victory. In Game #5 he had three more hits including an RBI triple off Roger McDowell.

In the final Game #7 he reached on an error scoring a run in the Dodgers five run 5th inning at Dodger Stadium, as they went on to clinch the pennant. He drove in five runs in the series batting just .233. In the World Series he hit a HR in Game # at Dodger Stadium in the Dodgers 6-0 win over the Oakland A's.

1989 was another season where he battled injuries; playing 105 games with 11 HRs 42 RBIs & a .260 average, as he was back as a full time outfielder. That December Marshall along with team mate Alejandro Pena got traded to the New York Mets for Juan Samuel.

Marshall began the year as the Mets Opening Day first baseman. He hit HRs in back to back games against the Cubs in mid April, & had the teams first game winning walk off hit of the year, an infield hit on April 24th against the Atlanta Braves. On May 22nd he had a huge day in Los Angeles against his old Dodger team mates.

In the 6th inning he hit a grand slam HR off Mike Hartley & drove in two other runs, totaling six RBIs in the Mets 8-3 win. After 53 games in early July, Marshall was batting .239 with 6 HRs & 27 RBIs when the Mets traded him to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. By this time the Mets had fired Davey Johnson & Bud Harrelson took over as manager. Dave Magadan took over as the first baseman. He would bat .328 on the season.

Marshall played with the Red Sox through the following summer when he was released. He was picked up by the California Angels playing in just two games before injuries ended his playing career at age 31. In 11 seasons he batted .270 with 971 hits 148 HRs 173 doubles 8 triples & a .321on base % in 1035 games.

Retirement: For the past decade Marshall has been a manager, team president & general manager for teams in the Independent Northern League. Marshall was of course mentioned in Belinda Carlisle's 2010 autobiography " Lips Unsealed".

Short Time 2006 N.L. Eastern Champion Met: Eli Marrero (2006)

Elieser Marrero was born November 17, 1973 in La Habana, Cuba. He attended high school in Corals Gables Florida outside of Miami. He was drafted in the third round of the 1993 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent five years in the minor leagues getting to the big league club by 1997 debuting in an inter league games against the Chicago White Sox as a September call up.

He would spend seven years in St. Louis playing at catcher, first base & in the outfield. He began the 2000 season as the Cardinal catcher but lost a lot of time due to a bout with Thyroid cancer. That same season he caught a September no hitter thrown by Bud Smith. 

In the Cards 2000 NL Central Division Champion season he played in 53 games with 5 HRs & 17 RBIs in 102 at bats although he only hit .225.

Post Season: In the NLCS against the New York Mets he got the start at catcher going 1-3 with an RBI hit against Al Leiter in the Mets 6-5 victory.

He had his best year in 2002 playing in 131 games batting .262 with 18 HRs 19 doubles 14 stolen bases & 66 RBIs as an outfielder. Marrero got to two more post seasons with St. Louis hitting a HR in the 2002 NLCS in Game #3 against Jay Witasak & the San Francisco Giants.

In December 2003 he was Traded along with J.D. Drew to the Atlanta Braves for Jason Marquis Adam Wainwright & Ray King. As a fourth outfielder with the Braves he batted a career best .320 with a .374 on base %, 10 HRs & 40 RBIs playing in 90 games. In 2005 he would play with both the Kansas City Royals & Baltimore Orioles becoming a free agent at the end of the year. For 2006 he signed with the Colorado Rockies playing in 30 games batting .217.

On June 9th he was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Kaz Matsui. Marrero debuted on June 11th in Arizona coming into the game as a pinch hitter. He stayed in & played centerfield doubling in two runs in his next at bat as the Mets went on to a 15-2 victory. 

On June 22nd he hit a pinch hit HR at Fenway Park batting for Xavier Nady. In his next game he got a start in leftfield in the subway series hitting a solo HR off Randy Johnson in the Mets 8-3 win. He would get two more hits as a Met but his average fell to just .204 by August 8th.

In 25 games as a Met he hit just .182 with two HRs & five RBIs. In 2007 he played one game at AAA Memphis before getting released ending his playing career at age 34. In ten seasons he hit .243 with a .303 on base %, with 463 hits 99 doubles 12 triples 66 HRs & 261 RBIs.

Retirement: In 2011 he was named batting coach of the Billings Mustangs a minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. He is the uncle of minor league player Chris Marrero.

1999 NL Wild Card Mets Reserve Player: Jorge Toca (1999-2001)

Jorge Luis Toca was born on January 7, 1975 in Cuba. The Cuban defector was signed by the New York Mets in 1998 as an amateur free agent.

The first baseman /outfielder got to the Mets as a September call up in the Wild Card winning season of 1999. He got a hit in his first MLB at bat, a single at Dodger Stadium. He went 0-3 the rest of the way, being used mostly as a pinch hitter.

The next season as the Mets were winning the 2000 NL Pennant, Toca was batting .272 at Norfolk getting another September call up. He got into eight games and batted .429 which was good for three hits in seven at bats.

His moment in the sun came on Saturday September 30th against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. Toca hit a line drive bases loaded double to left center field off Javier Vazquez clearing the bases to help lift New York to a 4-2 victory. The next day he got another pinch hit single closing out his season.

He made no post season appearances but did return in 2001 for 13 games, only batting .176 and never returning to the big leagues. Toca held the bat very loosely & on more than one occasion had it fly out of his hands & into the stands.

In 2003 his contract was purchased by the Pirates but he was released. After minor league stints with four more teams he was found guilty of violating the minor league drug policy & was suspended. He was last seen playing in the Mexican League in 2008.

Late 2000's Mets Relief Pitcher: Elmer Dessens (2009-2010)

Elmer (Jusaino) Dessens was born on January 13th 1971 in Hermosillo Sonora Mexico. The five foot eleven right handed pitcher was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1993.

Three seasons later, Dessens was pitching in the big leagues, spending three seasons seeing brief action in the Pirates bullpen. Hewould become a journey man pitcher first as a starter in Cincinnati with the Reds (2000-2002). In 2000 he was 11-5 with a 4.28 ERA then going 10-14 the next year pitching in 205 innings.

In 2002 he posted a 3.03 ERA which was 6th best in the NL. He would move on to the Arizona Diamondbacks (2003-2004) and eventually become a middle reliever. He pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-2006) Kansas City Royals (2006) Milwaukee Brewers (2007) Colorado Rockies (2007) & Atlanta Braves (2008) before signing a minor league contract with the New York Mets in 2009. 

He began the year at AAA Buffalo and was 3-2 with 11 saves posting a 2.31 ERA with the Bison's before getting called to the Mets staff in June. Dessens debuted at Citi Field pitching two innings of a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

He next appeared in the subway series where he allowed three runs in his first of two game appearances. He pitched in 28 games for the Mets earning no decisions posting a 3.31 ERA with 14 strike outs in 32 innings pitched. In 2009 he was the team captain for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, going 1-0.

In 2010 he was 5-0 with six saves at AAA Buffalo getting to the Mets staff at the end of May. In his first game he allowed two runs to the AL New York team taking a loss in the subway series game at Citi Field. 

On June 8th he was credited with his first Mets win when Ike Davis hit an 11th inning walk off HR. He would earn another win in Florida at the end of the month, and another in Houston a month later. Dessens pitched well getting credit for 11 holds, posting a 2.30 ERA while going 4-2 with just one blown save in 53 appearances.

He was nicknamed by a sportswriter as "Unknown" because he will work in any pitching capacity the Mets put him in & yet he always flies under the radar. He was granted free agency in the winter and wasn't signed. He ended his big league career at 52-64 with 5 saves a 4.44 ERA 693 strike outs & 348 walks in 441 appearances.

Remembering the Great Ernie Banks (1931-2015)

Ernie Banks is best remembered in many ways, a gentleman on & off the field, he was nick named "Mr. Cub" as well as "Mr. Sunshine". What baseball fan can not love the fact the Banks loved the game so much his most famous quote was "let's play two". Something many of the All Stars that came after him probably would't have time for.

Ernie Banks was a two time NL MVP & 14 time All Star who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. His cheerful nature made him one of the most popular Cubs players ever, as well as one of the games most respected & popular players of all time. He was the first player to have his uniform number (#14) retired by the Chicago Cubs. He was the first player to win back to back MVP Awards & was the 9th MLB Player to hit 500 career HRs. Banks must be remembered as one of the all time best hitting short stops, especially in an era when the position had mostly weak hitters.

Ernest Banks was born on January 31st 1931 in Dallas, Texas. He began his career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs signed by non other than Cool Papa Bell. In 1951 he was drafted into the Army & after his two year stint returned to the Monarchs. In September 1953 he signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs & joined the team right away without playing in the minor leagues. At first he was signed to give the Cubs Gene Baker, who was suppose to be thier first black player some company. Instead Baker got injured & Banks was the Cubs first black player. He remained in the Cubs line up for 424 straight games.

In 1954 he hit 19 HRs which was a shortstop record for 53 years. He came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Wally Moon but ahead of Hank Aaron. In 1955 he blossomed into a super star, he became the first short stop to hit 30 plus HRs & drive in 100 plus RBIs, something he would do four times. He hit 40 plus HRs (44) for the first of four straight years. That season he also hit a record five grand slams.

The next two seasons were both MVP seasons for Mr. Banks, he led the NL in HRs (47) RBIs (129) slugging (.614) games (154) & at bats (617) batting .313 (6th in the NL) with 119 runs scored (second in the NL). His 47 HRs are still a record for short stops. In 1959 he led the league in RBIs (143) & games (154) hitting 45 HRs (second to Eddie Mathews) & batting .304. In 1960 he regained the HR crown hitting 41 while driving in 117 runs. 

In 1961 he was moved over to first base in order to prolong his career from the wear & tear on his aching knees. He would play more games at first base than short stop in his career. In the 1960's Banks would be a consistent All Star, but not lead the league in any more major categories. He would hit 30 plus HRs three times, with 20 plus seasons seven times. He drove in over 90 runs five times & over 100 runs three times. He did not hit over .300 again which hurt his career batting average. In 1962 he suffered a brutal beaning that left him on the field unconscious, he spent two days in the hospital & returned to the line up four days later hitting two HRs. In 1963 Banks Cubs had their first winning season since the 1940's.

In 1966 the Cubs hired Leo Durocher as manager, he felt Banks was not the same player he was in the 1950s but he had to play him. He could not trade him or bench him because the fans loved him so. Durocher & Banks remained together until 1971 when Ernie hung 'em up. 

There was a lot made of the racial relations between him & Durocher, Banks later said "My philosophy about race relations is that I'm the man and I'll set my own patterns in life. I don't rely on anyone else's opinions. I look at a man as a human being; I don't care about his color. Some people feel that because you are black you will never be treated fairly, and that you should voice your opinions, be militant about them. I don't feel this way. You can't convince a fool against his will... If a man doesn't like me because I'm black, that's fine. I'll just go elsewhere, but I'm not going to let him change my life".  Banks may not have been a loud crusader but he certainly made a difference & set examples that all races have to respect.

In 1969, the year the Cubs had one of its strongest teams ever, Banks at age 37, hit 23 HRs with 19 doubles driving in 106 runs batting .253. His slugging in HRs & RBIs was second to Ron Santo, on a team with four future Hall of Famers (Banks, Santo, Billy Williams & Fergie Jenkins). That year the Cubs blew an 8 1/2 game lead in August, to the Amazing New York Mets who went on to win the World Series.

In his spectacular 19 year career Ernie Banks (2528 games) never played in a playoff or World Series game. In his time the Cubs had just six winning seasons, finishing second & winning better than 85 games just twice.

In 1970 he hit his 500th HR & retired from playing baseball the next year. He served as a Cubs coach for two seasons but was a life long team ambassador. He was named honorary Cub in 1984 when the team won the NL Eastern Division. In 1999 he was named short stop on baseballs All Century Team. A statue of him was unveiled outside of Wrigley Field in 2008.

Outside of baseball he worked as a banker & made many wise investments, listening to the advice of team owner Phil Wrigley. By the time he was 55 years old it is said he was worth over $4 million. He was partners in a Ford dealership, was appointed to the board of directors for the Chicago Transit Authority & even met the Pope receiving a medal from him. He was involved in many charities base in Chicago as well. 

Family: Banks was married four times & had three children. 

On January 23rd, Banks passed away due to a heart attack at age 83. He was honored by the mayor of Chicago, the president & by Major League Baseball. He will be missed.

Jan 24, 2015

Former N.L. Cy Young Winner & Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Randy Jones (1981-1982)

Randall Leo Jones was born January 12, 1950 in Fullerton, California located in Northern Orange County.  The tall six foot lefty was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fifth round of the 1972 draft. He only spent parts of two seasons in the minors blowing through AA at 8-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 1973 getting brought right up to a needy Padre pitching staff. 

He made his MLB debut at Shea Stadium on June 16th against Jerry Koosman, allowing two runs in four innings but getting no decision in the Mets 10-2 win. Jones then lost his first two decisions before earning his first career win in Los Angeles on July 3rd. Overall he went 7-6 in 1973 with a 3.16 ERA & became known with the nickname “The Junkman”.

In 1974 he led the league in losses (22) going 8-22 on a Padre team that lost 102 games. He had losing streaks of four straight to begin the season, then five straight from May into June. The year got worse as he lost seven straight including going 1-8 in the final two months. Overall he threw over 208 innings while striking out 124 batters while posting a 4.45 ERA.

Somehow Jones turned it all around in 1975, and won the NL Comeback pitcher of the Year Award. He threw a four hit shout for nine innings on Opening Day but got no decision. He threw another four hitter the next month & one July 3rd pitched a one hitter against the mighty Big Red Machine.

By the end of the first half of the season he was 11-6 with one of the league's best ERA's at 2.25. He made the All Star team earning the save pitching a scoreless 9th inning, retiring the Minnesota Twins Rod Carew for the last out.

The 1975 Padres won 71 games (71-91) finishing in fourth place under manager John McNamara, Jones finished with 20 wins himself (20-12) the second most victories in the NL. He led the league with a 2.24 ERA, was second with 18 complete games & in shut outs (6). He had the second best walks per nine innings ratio at 1.76 & made 36 starts.

In the bicentennial year, he won the Cy Young Award beating out the Mets Jerry Koosman. Many Mets fans (myself included) believed Koosman should have won the Award; he was 21-10 (second in wins) with three shutouts, 17 complete games, a 2.69 ERA (4th in the NL) & 200 strikeouts (3rd in the NL) in 247 innings pitched.

Jones led the league in wins (22) complete games (25) starts (40) and an incredible 315 innings pitched. His 2.76 ERA was sixth in the league behind some very good pitchers.

The junkman only struck out 93 batters & in his career never had more than 124 strikeouts in a season. That season Jones set a record for most chances by a pitcher without an error (112), posting a perfect fielding percentage (1.000. ) He also tied the NL pitchers season record for the most double plays with twelve.

He began the year at 4-0, in May he pitched five straight complete games besting his record to 9-2. In June he shut out the Mets at Jack Murphy Stadium allowing seven hits in a 3-0 win over Tom Seaver.

He was 16-3 at the All Star break, and got the start against Mark the Bird Fidrych at the All Star game in Philadelphia. He pitched three scoreless innings allowing just two hits earning the victory.

He had a rough August 2-6 and a rough September as well 2-4. At the end of the season he injured a nerve in his pitching arm and required surgery. He was never the same pitcher, going just 6-12 the next season with a 4.58 ERA pitching 27 games.

He then two had a pair of sub .500 seasons, first in 1978 he was 13-14 but lowered his ERA to 2.88 on a Padre team that was 84-78 finishing fourth. In 1979 he was 11-12 with a 3.63 ERA.

1980 was an injury ridden season again as he lost a month of action from June 14th -July 10th. He then was lost from August 22nd through September with more injuries. He went 5-13 with a 3.91 ERA in 24 starts.

On December 15, 1980 Jones was traded to the New York Mets, for John Pacella and Jose Moreno.

He made his Mets debut in the third game of the 1981 season at Wrigley Field, pitching six innings allowing just one run getting no decision. It was one of his best starts, after that he lost his first five decisions as a Met, pitching past the 6th inning just once. After being 0-5 he finally got a win, beating the Cubs at Shea Stadium, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings of work. 

Jones then lost three more games although he pitched well in two of them. He pitched six innings allowing two runs at Houston on June 5th but was beaten by Nolan Ryan who threw a five hit shutout striking out ten Mets. 

His next start was at Shea, Jones went into the 8th inning on a two run five hitter but lost to the Reds Mario Soto who pitched a 2-0 twelve strike out shut out. Jones then went on the DL for three months returning in September for two more appearances. He finished the year at 1-8 with 12 starts striking out 14 batters walking 38 in 59 innings pitched posting a 4.85 ERA.

1982 would be his last year pitching as he rebounded a bit, starting the year at 2-0. He was given the start on Opening Day by manager George Bamberger. Jones beat Steve Carlton in Philadelphia, allowing just one run in six innings of work. On May 2nd he pitched 8 innings of shutout ball in San Francisco as the Mets beat the Giants 3-1 in the night cap of a double header. Jones threw a complete game victory against the Padres on May 10th besting his record to 4-1.

He had a fantastic May going 4-2 pitching seven or more innings in all but one of seven starts. On May 23rd in Houston he threw his best Mets game, a four hit six strikeout performance in 2-0 win over Joe Niekro. After entering June with a 6-3 record he then went on to lose six straight decisions going 7-10 posting a 4.60 ERA on the year.

Injuries only had him make one appearance after August 25th, on the year he allowed 11 HRs, with 51 walks, in 107 innings striking out 44 batters. The Mets released him that winter; and he finished his playing career.

In ten career seasons he went 100-123 with a 3.42 ERA & 735 strikeouts 503 walks in 1933 innings in 305 games. In 285 starts he had 73 complete games & 19 shut outs Jones is the only Cy Young Award winner to have a career losing record.

Retirement: He is the owner of Randy Jones Big Stone Lodge, the home of his catering business that sells a famous Randy Jones BBQ sauce.

In San Diego’ s Petco Park he has a concession stand named after him called the Randy Jones BBQ. He also does Padres local radio broadcast for pregame shows.

Jones was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions and has his number retired by the Padre team as well.

Mid 2000's Mets Relief Pitcher: Royce Ring (2005-2006)

Roger Royce Ring was born on December 21, 1980 in La Mesa, California. The six foot left hander was the star closer for San Diego State University getting signed by the White Sox in the first round (18th pick overall) of the 2002 draft.

Ring was considered a top prospect and a future big league closer; when came to the New York Mets with Edwin Almonte in the Roberto Alomar trade of 2003. He soon fell out of grace with the ballclub, starting with his nonchalant attitude about working out. He then appeared in Spring Training a bit out of shape with a few extra pounds on him, which also angered management.

But he had a good spring Training in 2005 & made the staff as a reliever. He made his debut against the Washington Nationals on April 29th in DC, pitching a third of an inning. After three games he was back to AAA Norfolk but returned a month later to fill a roster spot. Ring got credit for three holds but earned two losses as well.

On June 15th he allowed a ninth inning leadoff walk in Oakland & was relieved by Roberto Hernandez who allowed that runner to score, giving him his first career loss. He was back to the minors after going 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA allowing ten walks, ten hits and six earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched.

In 2006 he was 2-2 with 11 saves & a 2.97 ERA at AAA Norfolk, getting brought up to the Mets in early August. But was sent back down two weeks later to open a roster spot when the Mets acquired Shawn Green. He returned in September and posted a 2.13 ERA with two holds over 13 games that season. He did not appear in the post season.

That November in a horrible deal, he was traded along with Heath Bell to the San Diego Padres for Ben Johnson. After 15 games (0-1) he was traded to the Atlanta Braves playing there for two seasons as a mid reliever.

He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals going 5-2 at their AAA club in 2009 then was granted free agency. He spent five games pitching for the A.L. New York club in 2010 but after posting an ERA of 15.43 he was granted free agency.

Ring was back in the minors at AAA Pawtucket in 2011 with the Red Sox organization & then signed with Colorado in 2012 but did not make it back to the big leagues.

In his five year MLB career he is 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA, 55 strike outs & 42 walks in 99 games.

In May of 2013 he was signed as a left handed specialist for the Long Island Ducks. He appeared in just four games, taking a loss posting an ERA over eight.

Family: His cousin is former Chicago White Sox pitcher: Bill Simas (1995-2000). In his six year career Simas was 18-19 with 23 saves, posting a 3.83 ERA in 308 appearances, all in relief.

Retirement: In 2014 Ring retired from playing the game & became the pitching coach for the Rookie ball level Gulf Coast Mets.

Former Mets Pitching Coach: Vern Ruhle (2003)

Vernon Gerald Ruhle was born January 25, 1951 in Coleman Michigan. The right hander was drafted out of Olivet College in Michigan, where he had a pitcher’s mound built outside his fraternity house.

In 1972 he was drafted by his home state team, the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round. By 1975 he was in the Tiger rotation having his best season in Detroit going 11-12 with a 4.03 ERA. After going 24-29 in four seasons in Detroit he signed as a free agent with Houston in 1978. After seeing 14 starts or less in three years at the Astrodome he had a big season in 1980. He went 12-4 with a .750 winning percentage, posting a 2.37 ERA with two shut outs & six complete games.

He allowed three runs, pitching seven innings in the 1980 NLCS getting no decision against the Phillies. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he was 4-6 with one save (15 starts in 20 games) but still posted an ERA under three (2.91).

Post Season: In the 1981 NLDS he lost a 2-1 pitchers duel to the Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela in Game #4. Ruhle pitched 8 innings allowing just two runs on four hits, but one was a HR to Pedro Guerrero.
He began pitching more as a reliever posting three saves with an 8-5 record in 1983 then fell to 1-9 in 1984 completing a seven year career in Houston. He went to the Cleveland Indians & California Angels, pitching his last career game in the 1986 ALCS vs. Boston. In his13 year career Ruhle finished at 67-88 with 11 saves and a 3.73 ERA.

Coaching: After his playing days he became a coach for his old Astros team (1997-2000) then the Phillies (2000-2002).

In 2003 he became the New York Mets pitching coach under manager Art Howe. The Mets lost 95 games finishing in fifth place with the leagues 10th best ERA (4.46) that season. On a good note, Ruhle’s staff did have two 15 game winners in Al Leiter & Steve Trachsel.

Tom Glavine didn’t seem to understand Vern’s coaching style since he went 9-14 in his first season in New York. Ruhle only served one season as the Mets pitching coach & was replaced by Rick Peterson the following season. He was originally assigned with another position in the organization.

Passing: Ruhle went on to coach the Reds until 2006, when he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away in

Houston, Texas in January 2007, he was only 55 years old.

Late Sixties Mets Pitcher: Bill Graham (1967)

William Albert Bill Graham was born on January 21, 1937 in Flemingsburg, Kentucky. The right handed Florida Gator was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1957.

He had a long minor league career going 64-69 with a 4.02 ERA in 183 games between A & AAA ball. Almost a full decade later he broke into the big leagues at age 29, pitching in two scoreless innings for the Detroit Tigers. His contract was purchased by the New York Mets in August of 1967 getting place on the staff right away.

He debuted on September 3rd against the Chicago Cubs pitching well until the 5th inning when Billy Williams & Ron Santo hit back to back HRs off him. He took his first loss, as the Mets got shut out by Hackensack, New Jersey's own Bill Hands. Hands would win 16 games or more for the Cubs from 1968-1970.

In Grahams next start he only gave up one earned run over seven innings, but took another loss, as the Cincinnati Reds Gary Nolan shut out New York 2-0.

After two no decisions Graham finally got his first & only career win. It came on September 29th, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a complete game 5-1 victory. He finished the season 1-2 with a 2.63 ERA, 14 strike outs in 27 innings pitched.

Graham finished his playing career after the season at age 30 retiring back in Kentucky. He passed away in 2006 at age 69.

Jan 23, 2015

The Relief Pitcher Traded To Get Keith Hernandez to New York: Neil Allen (1979-1983)

Neil Patrick Allen was born January 24, 1958 in Kansas City, Kansas. The six foot three right hander was selected by the New York Mets out of Bishop Ward high school in Kansas City, Kansas in the 11th round of the 1976 draft.

In 1977 at A ball, with the Lynchburg Mets, Allen was 10-2 with 126 strikeouts & a 2.79 ERA. The next year he was brought up through the ranks going 7-16 but posted a strong 2.79 ERA, getting a promotion to the Mets staff for 1979. He made his debut on April 15th, 1979 against former Met Nino Espinoza & the Phillies, 1979 and took the loss while giving up four runs.

Allen struggled as a starter losing his first five decisions, two to both the Phillies & Dodgers as well as one to the San Diego Padres. By July he was put into to the bull pen and found a new home. From there on in he had four straight winning decisions & five saves before taking another loss in mid August. He would finish up 6-10 with eight saves, second on the team to Skip Lockwood & a 3.55 ERA.

In 1980 he got the save against the Chicago Cubs to start the season on Opening Day in relief of Craig Swan in front of just 12,000 at Shea Stadium. He finished April with four saves a loss & two blown saves, with an inflated 8.22 ERA. He then had a good May saving five games with two victories. In that month he he only allowed three earned runs in 17 innings.

On June 4th he pitched three innings of relief but the one hit he allowed was the game winning HR to St. Louis Ken Reitz. Three days later he pitched three innings again, this time a Ron Hodges walk off RBI single got him a win. He also had a strong August with five saves and a 1-1 record. He would save a career high 22 games on the season (4th in the NL) going 7-10 with a 3.70 ERA striking out 79 batters in 97 innings pitched.

In the 1981 strike shortened season, he saved 18 games (3rd best in the NL) going 7-6 posting a 2.97 ERA, while becoming one the league’s best closers. At the same time Jeff Reardon was also developing into a fine relief pitcher on the same Mets club.

The Mets were trying to improve their team by shopping for a good hitting outfielder. The Expos were willing to trade star outfielder Ellis Valentine but wanted one of the Mets young reliever’s In return. The Mets chose to give up Reardon, at the end of May he & Dan Norman were sent to Montreal for Valentine.

Allen remained with the Mets & started out 1982 with a good April posting five saves not blowing an opportunity until the end of the month. He finished out May with 13 saves & 2.03 ERA. At the All Star break he had 17 saves but the rest of the season didn’t go as well, he finished with a 3-7 record 19 games (6th in the league) while posting a .306 ERA.

In 1983 after a 2-4 start with a two saves & a blown save the Mets converted him back to a starter. Allen made his first start since 1979 against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium on May 25th allowing five runs in 4 innings of work. His next start in San Francisco wasn’t much better as he allowed another four runs over 4.2 innings of work. He went 2-7 with an ERA over four into June, but was still considered a good young pitcher with a great future.

Meanwhile the new Mets ownership were hard at work trying to make a big deal behind the scenes. As the St. Louis Cardinals, Whitey Herzog & Keith Hernandez were having their issues, a deal was worked out with New York. On the trade deadline of 1983, Allen was sent to the 1982 World Champion Cardinals (along with Rick Ownbey) for All Star Keith Hernandez. What a deal for the Mets, one of their best ever.

At the time of the trade the Mets were playing the Cardinals & Neil Allen had a two strike count on a hitter when a rain delat came. The next time the two teams faced off, the rain delay was picked up, Allen was now pitching for the Cards & struck out the Mets batter who was filling in his old spot in the batting order with two previous strikes on him. You can say Neil Allen is the only player in history to strike himself out.

Allen made his first start for the Cardinals against the Mets at Busch Stadium a few days later. He was spectacular pitching eight innings of shutout ball allowing just four hits while striking out six. He pitched well for the Cards, including back to back shut outs in July against the Dodgers & Padres. He finished the year at 10-6 in St. Louis going 12-13 overall (8th most losses in the NL) with a 3.94 ERA. His three shutouts were 5th best in the NL, & his eight wild pitches within the top ten most.

In 1984 he was 9-6 & was put back in the bullpen for the 1985season. Allen struggled & wasn’t as effective as he was in the past. The Cardinal fans let him have it and he was traded to the AL New York team mid season. Over the next three seasons he would bounce from the Bronx to the South Side of Chicago & pitch for the White Sox.

In 1986 the White Sox put him back in a starting role & in May against his old AL New York team mates he pitching a four hit victory against Ron Guidry. Next month he tossed a two hit shutout against them in New York as well. He went 7-2 that year with a 3.82 ERA. He finished his playing career in 1989 with Cleveland going 0-1. 

In his 11 year career he saved 75 games with a 58-70 record and a 3.83 ERA in 434 games. He struck out 611 batters with 417 walks in 988 innings.

Retirement: Since his playing days Allen has been a pitching coach in the minor leagues. He was with the Toronto Blue Jays organization the Staten Island A ball team & more recently in the Tampa Rays organization.

Former Mets First Round Pick (2002): Scott Kazmir

Scott Edward Kazmir was born January 24, 1984 in Houston, Texas. He was a star quarterback & pitcher in high school, who once tossed four straight no hitters. He verbally committed to his home state Texas Longhorns college football team, but instead went with baseball.

He was chosen by the New York Mets in 2002 as a first round draft pick (#15 overall). The left handed Kazmir began with the Brooklyn Cyclones at A ball in 2002, pitching in five games (0-1) with a 0.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched.

In 2003 he struck out 145 batters in 109 innings pitched at A ball St. Lucie & Capital City. He was highly touted by the time he got to AA Montgomery, rated as the #7 prospect in the country by Baseball America in 2004. That year he struck out 104 batters in 101 innings pitched between A & AA ball.

On July 30th 2004 the New York Mets made an unpopular trade that sent Kazmir to the Tampa Rays in exchange for Victor Zambrano & Bartlome Fortunato. The trade was highly criticized at the time & still is by the Met fans & New York media. The trade led to GM Jim Duquett's demotion within the organization, he had taken over after the dismissal of Steve Phillips. Kazmir went on to success & Zambrano went on to fail miserably in New York.

Kazmir made his debut in August of 2004 in Seattle pitching five scoreless innings against the Mariners earning his first career victory. He went 2-3 the rest of the way coming back in 2005 to go 10-9 leading the league in walks (100) posting a 3.77 ERA.

In 2006 he was the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher (22 years old) since Dwight Gooden took the mound for the 1986 Mets. That season Kazmir made his first All Star team, throwing a perfect sixth inning, retiring Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Beltran, and Albert Pujols at the All Star game in Pittsburgh. At that point he was 10-6 with a 3.27 ERA. After the break he limited to just five starts due to injuries, finishing the year at 10-8 & a 3.24 ERA.

In 2007 Kazmir had his best season going 13-9, while leading the AL in strikeouts (239) averaging over ten strike outs per nine innings. He also led the league in starts (34) pitching 206 innings, posting a 3.48 ERA which was ninth best in the league. That year Tampa finished a lowly fifth but things were quickly turning around.

The following season in 2008, the Rays surprised everyone, going all the way to the World Series. In Spring Training Kazmir strained his elbow, delaying the start of his season until May 4th. After taking a loss that day, he went on to six straight victories. By the All Star break he was 7-5 with a good 3.04 ERA, as he made the All Star team. He earned the victory for the AL after pitching a scoreless 15th inning in the 4-3 win. A good second half had him finish the year at 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA.

Post Season: In the ALDS he got the win in Game #2 at Tampa, beating the Chicago White Sox 6-2. In the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, he allowed five runs in just four innings in Game #2 at Tampa. He earned no decision as the Rays won in extra innings. He returned to throw six shutout innings in Game #5, but the Rays lost the game 8-7 at Fenway Park.

In the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Kazmir lost the opener 3-2 at Tropicana Field, after allowing two runs in the first inning.

The next season, after going 8-7 through the end of August, he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for two minor leaguers. He went 2-2 the rest of the way, getting into another post season.

Post Season: In the ALDS win over the Red Sox he gave up five runs in Game#3 but earned no decision, as the Angels went on to a 7-6 win.
In the ALCS, he was roughed up for four runs in four innings of Game #4 taking the loss. He appeared in relief in Game #6, pitching 0.2 of an inning.

He continued to have arm issues & was losing velocity on his fastball. He was also problems with his mechanics & was known to throw a lot of pitches, which didn't help.

In 2010 he was 9-15 (second in the AL in losses) walking 79 batters (6th in the AL) posting one of the worst ERA’s among starters at 5.94. In 2011 things got worse, as he only appeared in one game at the major league level. At AAA Salt Lake, he was 0-5 with a 17.02 ERA in just 15 innings in five games. It seems as though the once promising career was in jeopardy of being over before age 30.

In 2012 he had no MLB team interested in him, and he pitched in the Atlantic Independent League, for the Sugar Lake Skeeters. There he was noticed by the Cleveland Indians even though he pitched mediocre at best. He got an invitation to Spring Training & through hard work won himself a roster spot. Just before Opening Day he got injured & missed the first three weeks of the season.

On April 20th he debuted against the Houston Astros & gave up six runs over three innings. On May 4th he earned his first win in almost three years as he beat the Minnesota Twins, pitching a solid six innings. He went .500 through August going 7-7, making a good comeback. As the Indians chased a wild card spot in September, Kazmir went 3-2 winning his last two starts. The Indians won 92 games (92-70) but lost the Wild Card game 4-0 to the Tampa Rays.

Kazmir ended the year at 10-9 with 162 strike outs & 47 walks in 158 innings pitched in 29 games, posting a 4.04 ERA.
In the off season he signed a deal to pitch for the Oakland Athletics in 2014.

In 2014 Kazmir became one of the A's top pitchers as he led the team in wins, going 15-9. His 15 wins were 8th best in the AL. He started out the year at 4-0 & by mid season was 11- with a 2.38 ERA. He was rewarded by making his third All Star team. He pitched two complete games (6th in the AL) made 32 starts while posting a 3.55 ERA, striking out 164 batters walking 50 in 190 innings pitched.

 In a ten year career he is 91-79 with a 4.07 ERA. He has 1318 strike outs with 570 walks in 1370 innings of work in 241 appearances.