Daily Archives: November 15, 2010

The 1989 Project Day 9 – Junior Felix

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best

In 1989, I was beginning my love affair with the Toronto Blue Jays. To be honest, rather than being drawn to any one player, as John Olerud was not yet with the team, I was most drawn to the team’s uniforms and logo. Now come on, you have to admit that’s one badass logo, and it would be great if they’d go back to it. Anyway, I was excited to find out the Blue Jays had a cool new rookie that seemed to have five-tool stuff; that guy was Junior Felix.

1989 Donruss The Rookies

Side note: I immediately noticed that this photo and the previous photo are obviously from the same at-bat, same photographer and everything. I mean, not only same at-bat, but seconds apart. I did a double-take when I saw it, but noticed that the flex of the arms is slightly different, and the guy in the background has moved a bit. Still, wow. 1989 Baseball’s Best was a tremendous improvement over the 88 series when it came to photography, but this was one of those choices that showed that the series was still a “B” product at best.

1989 Fleer Update

Junior rose through the Blue Jays system pretty quickly, becoming known for his quick wrists, which produced a lot of power despite his scrawny size, and his speed on the basepaths. I get the impression he wasn’t expected to make the team in 1989, but had a scorching Spring Training, wrapping up with a .314 batting average. The team was forced to send him down at the end of Spring Training, but recalled him at the beginning of May when Manny Lee went on the DL. He debuted on May 5th and became the 53rd player to hit a home run in his major league at-bat, a solo homer off of Kirk McCaskill.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

And hey, he did have a lot of speed…but unfortunately no clue on how to harness it. While he stole 18 bases in his rookie year, a rather good total, he was also caught an atrocious 12 times. At that point, his stolen bases are a net loss, and after that rookie year and his second year, his SB totals dropped like a rock. I’m guessing that once the Angels acquired him and saw what a lousy base stealer he was, they stopped running him.

1989 Topps Traded

Overall, though, he didn’t have a terrible rookie campaign, especially for a 21-year-old at the major league level.  He hit .258/.315/.395 (the OBP was particularly worrying), with 9 homers, 14 doubles, and a great 8 triples. That right there is where his speed really should have shone. And hey, a 105 OPS+ for a rookie outfielder isn’t bad. His defense wasn’t very great, though, which would be another problem. Oh, and he got to the postseason for the first and only time that year, as the Blue Jays played the A’s in the ALCS. He went 3-for-11 in the series, with a double, nary a walk, and two strikeouts. In retrospect, it’s clear that he had glaring flaws in his game, and they would become more and more exploitable as time went on.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

I didn’t care about all of that stuff at the time, though. Felix was another player revealed to me via the Upper Deck High Numbers, and I was excited the more I read about him. I had learned about why it was important to buy in on players who make the majors at a young age, as they have more of a chance of making the Hall of Fame, so I thought he had a shot for sure, and when he hit even better in 1990, I was ecstatic. Then came the trade to the Angels in the 1990 offseason, and I was confused. Were Devon White and Willie Fraser really worth a budding superstar in the making?

Whoops. Yeah, they were. Or at least Devon White was. He would help the team win back-to-back championships, while Felix fell off significantly in California between 1991 and 92 (to be fair, he was stricken with a calf injury for most of 91), then landed with the Marlins in their inaugural season. I’ll let this stuff go for a bit, though, because I’m sure we’ll see more of Junior in future iterations of these projects. Suffice it to say, his career would not live up to the expectations.

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Now Live: Natscards.com

Yeah, I went ahead and ponied up the cash to buy the domain for the next year. I figured it would at least make the site easier to find.

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Card of the Day: 2010 Topps Chrome XFractor Stephen Strasburg

Hang in there, Stephen, and come back strong in 2012.

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Morning Coffee and the Blog Roundup 11/15 – I Love The Holidays edition

I really do. I enjoy the atmosphere of it, the time with family and friends, and…oh yeah, being a good capitalist, I enjoy the sales aspect of it. What I’m trying to say is I’ve been very fortunate on Amazon this year, both selling and buying. While my sales have skyrocketed, I’ve found great deals on sets like 1991 O-Pee-Chee Premier, sets that may not show up on eBay, and if they do, go for a lot more than a 1991 vintage set should go for. I received my 1991 Stadium Club and Fleer update sets on Friday, the OPC set is waiting for me in my PO Box, and the Leaf set has shipped. That leaves 1991 Bowman as the last link in the 1991 Project. After that…I think I might take a break, as the 1992 project is going to damn near kill me financially, between the Fleer Update set and the Bowman set. Not to mention I’m lagging quite a bit behind on the site, so I have some time. It’s been very fun so far, though, and I’ve learned a lot about hobby trends from that era. That’s why a part of me wants to proceed onwards, to see how things continue to morph and change.

Going to be reordering the 1989 project again just a tad. I’ve been so busy at home with other projects (mostly the Amazon sales) that I haven’t had time to do proper scanning, so there are some gaps in the later teams. Rather than put the whole project on hold, I figured I’d reorder things and plow ahead.

Bryce Harper’s doing pretty well in the AFL; color me surprised. Not that I wish the guy to fail or think he will, but it seemed like an 18-year-old, coming to a completely new league with some stiffer competition after no time in the minors and playing with wood bats for the first time, might struggle a *tad*. But he’s hitting (.323/.400/.613) with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 6 RBI’s, 4 walks, 10 K’s and 1 stolen base. That’s an awful lot of K’s, but like I said, total adjustment, so I’m not worried yet. I’m actually quite a bit more excited for him than Strasburg, even if he’s a frontrunner who hasn’t developed a filter for his PR stuff yet.

And now let’s see what other folks said this weekend…

And that’s it for today!

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