Tag Archives: Donruss Traded

The 1989 Project Day 13 – Rob Murphy

1989 Donruss Baseball's best

Rob had been a solid Reds player up to this point, identified with the team in most card sets, even making some team leaders cards after an amazing 1987 rookie campaign in which he threw a 0.72 ERA in 50.1 IP as a reliever. Of course, he was already 27, so that was kind of his peak, but he had a 2.56 ERA to go with 209 strikeouts in 230 IP for the years he had with the Reds.

1989 Donruss Traded

On 12/13/88, the Reds dealt Murphy and Nick Esasky (who will be featured in the 1990 project) to the Red Sox for Todd Benzinger, Jeff Sellers, and Luis Vaszquez. Apparently, this was a consolation trade for the Red Sox, who had tried to send Mike Greenwell to the Mets in exchange for Ron Darling. The Reds seemed to be reluctant to deal Murphy, but he was a key part of getting rid of Esasky, who had gotten into Pete Rose’s doghouse. Murphy, however, seemed to be happy about getting out from under John Franco’s shadow, as he had been Franco’s setup man.

1989 Fleer Update

Murphy would not, however, be a closer in Boston; he was slotted into the same setup role as in Cincinnati. But it didn’t matter. He had a 2.74 ERA in 1989 with the Red Sox, striking out 107 in 105 IP. A 151 ERA+. He won the Red Sox Fireman of the Year and set a Red Sox record for 74 appearances by a left-handed pitcher. One hell of a year for a middle reliever, in other words.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

The manufacturers sure jumped on him changing teams, though; he was one of the guys was standard for the traded sets that year, as you can see, and I was completely nonplussed. Come on, he was a setup guy, and for a 13-year-old, a middle reliever means almost nothing. There were lots of Red Sox prospects that I felt would have made better candidates at the time, but now that I see Murphy’s career in retrospect, I understand.  Yeah, he was a middle reliever, but he was an amazing setup man. Relievers are overvalued these days, but given the state of relief back then, Murphy was probably pretty undervalued.

1989 Topps Traded

Unfortunately, Murphy’s 1989 success would be short-lived; 1990 would be an absolute disaster. He had a 6.32 ERA, his HR/9 ballooned from .6/9IP to 1.6/9IP, and his BB/9 skyrocketed, too. I can only surmise that it was a bout of bad luck OR his velocity was falling off, as he still struck out 54 in 47 IP and would rebound for the next few years. The Red Sox had had enough, though, and gave up on him in 1991, trading him to the Mariners for Mike Gardiner. He rebounded nicely in Seattle in 1991, his HR/9 dropping back down to a 0.8 rate, he had a 3.00 ERA, but I guess the problem was his velocity dropping off, as his strikeout rate sustained its drop and would do so for the rest of his career. Makes sense for a flame-throwing reliever, honestly.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

His career would last until 1995. From 1992 to 1995, he went 13-13 with a 4.90 ERA, 3 saves, 115 K in 174.2 IP, and had a 1.391 WHIP, good for a 79 ERA+. According to Wikipedia, though, his post-baseball career has been pretty interesting:

horse racing and thoroughbred training expert, Murphy has devised his own method for handicapping and breeding. Rob’s company, M375 Thoroughbreds, Inc., has bred, raised, and raced such successful horses as Platinum Tiara, Swing and Miss, Diamond Studs, Strike Three, and Golden Spikes.

Good for him! Always good to hear players making a life for themselves after the game.

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The 1989 Project Day 7 – Eddie Murray

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best

This was a travesty. No, hell, this is a travesty. Eddie Murray was supposed to be like Cal Ripken and spend his entire career as an Oriole. Young O’s fans were devastated when this trade went down. I had thought that time, appreciation of Eddie’s career, and becoming a Nationals fan would soften the blow of contemplating Eddie as anything other than Oriole, but it’s still just as maddening as the day Mike Mussina went to the Yankees. Now, let me clarify, I don’t blame the Dodgers or hate them the way I hated the Yankees for the Mussina thing. If you had a shot to get a surefire Hall of Famer, wouldn’t you take it? Not to mention that Eddie wanted out of Baltimore, so the Orioles kind of didn’t have a choice.

1989 Donruss Traded

It’s interesting to look back at the potential packages that were batted around at the time as compared to what he was actually dealt for. He was actually dealt for Juan Bell (ugh), Ken Howell, and Brian Holton, but other names in the package included Mike Devereaux and Tim Leary. Of course, the O’s would eventually get Devereaux anyway at the end of 1989 Spring Training, but that’s a story for another day. Murray seemed happy with the deal too; LA is his hometown, and of course he was going to play for the then-Champions.

1989 Fleer Update

Eddie’s first year in LA, however, was not up to the par he had established during the rest of his career. He hit .247/.342/.401 with 20 home runs and 88 RBI. He especially started off lousy, hitting .210/.246/.323 with 2 homers in the first 16 games. He broke out on April 25th, going 3-4 with 2 doubles, at which point he started hitting again. Unfortunately, for the month of June, he hit .200/.326/.273 with 1 home run, and continued to bounce back and forth. Extremely streaky, which wasn’t really Eddie’s forte. But hey, he did hit a grand slam!

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

But all these numbers don’t really cover what Eddie meant to a lot of us. When you combined him with Cal Ripken, you kind of got this immovable iconography of Orioles fandom; the guys had led the team to a World Series victory, after all, in the years when the Orioles actually meant something. Even in the years when I didn’t know a whole lot about baseball, I knew about Eddie Murray. Even before I collected baseball cards, an Eddie Murray card meant something. I remember when one of my friends got the Eddie Murray rookie card…he might as well have scored an ounce of pure gold. Amazing stuff. I’m just sad I never got to see him play with the Orioles.

1989 Topps Traded

Ultimately, Eddie would only spend three years in LA. He had a damned great 1990, hitting .330/.414/.520 with 26 home runs and 95 RBI, winning a silver slugger. In all, he hit .278/.359/.440 during his time with LA, knocking 65 home runs. Compare that to his time in Baltimore, when he hit .295/.371/.500, and I guess I can live a little easier with what the Dodgers got from him. And, of course, they got his decline years, even though he was a LONG way from done; he hit .273/.329/.440 in his post-Dodgers years, which we’ll get to if the 1992 Project ever happens.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

The Orioles ended up retiring Eddie Murray’s number, despite a lot of rage about it, especially in 1989; fans felt he had betrayed the team by complaining and wanting out. In the meantime, Randy Milligan took Murray’s spot, and while Murray’s output was missed, we generally liked the Moose. I mean, he hit .268/.394/.458 in 1989. Look at that OBP!

But he was never Eddie. He was missed.

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The 1989 Project Day 5 – Jim Clancy

Donruss Traded

This has to be my least-anticipated entry of the entire project, but who else was I going to choose for the Astros? Barely anyone made the sets that year, but of course, the 1989 Astros weren’t too bad, and they were stuck in between Biggio and Bagwell/Luis Gonzalez’s debuts. And Clancy was a thoroughly pedestrian pickup.

Fleer Update

Clancy signed with the Astros in December 1988. It was a three-year contract worth 3.45 million, or 1.15 million on average (he’d actually make 900,000 in 1989, a respectable sum for that time). He’d had an okay year in 1988 with the Blue Jays, going 11-13 with a 4.49 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Sports writers, being sports writers, asked whether he was being signed to fill the shoes of Nolan Ryan, who had departed to join the Rangers. Clancy brushed it off, of course, as the two pitchers had nothing in common. He did, however, say that he could go out and pitch 200-250 innings a year for the Astros. His IP total in 1989? 147. And that would be his high for the years there.

Score Rookie and Traded

So tell me if this rotation sounds like a recipe for success: Clancy, Mike Scott, Bob Knepper, Bob Forsch, and Jim Deshaies. If you answered no, congrats, and you’re smarter than then-GM Bill Wood. Scott was a 20-game winner, and Deshaies was good, but Knepper went 4-10 with a 5.89 ERA, Clancy went 7-14 with a 5.08 ERA, and Forsch ended up in the pen for the year. But hey, Clancy did lead the team in Intentional walks. And his first outing with the Astros was a good one – he had 8 strikeouts in 8 innings against the Padres, including two each against Roberto Alomar, Jack Clark, and Garry Templeton. Astros fans had reason to be optimistic, but it was all downhill from there.

Topps Traded

Clancy stuck around for 89, 90, and part of 91, getting dealt at the 91 trade deadline ahead of free agency. He seemed happy to have been dealt – he knew it was coming, and he knew people in Atlanta. Not to mention he’d been something of a bust for the Astros. He was traded for Matt Turner and Earl Sanders, neither of which would suit up in Houston, so the whole Clancy thing was an overall bust. Clancy finished out 1991 as a reliever for Atlanta, and his career was done.

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