Tag Archives: Milwaukee Brewers

The 1989 Project Day 15: Bill Spiers

1989 Donruss The Rookies

Now we get into a player that I contemplated collecting back in 1989. Bill Spiers wasn’t exactly a giant hit in our neighborhood, but I liked him, and I thought he had a solid future in the majors. I briefly flirted with the idea of collecting his cards, but decided to pass after all, as I had no real connection the Brewers outside of liking Paul Molitor and Robin Yount.

Bill was the Brewers’ 1987 first-round pick from Clemson University. He had hit 17 home runs as a shortstop there, hitting .325 with a reputation for slick fielding, as well as serving as the team’s punter, averaging 39.2 yards a punt. He was expected to anchor the kicking team for Clemson in 1987, but when he accepted the Brewers’ offer, the football team had to scramble for a solution.

Here’s a shot of Bill from his time with the Clemson team, scoring against Wake Forest:

I also found a picture from his time with the Peninsula Oilers of the Alaskan League:

1989 Fleer Update

Bill started with rookie league Helena in 1987, hitting .409/.480/.455 in 6 games there before getting moved up to A-level Beloit, where he hit .298/.344/.380 in 64 games. It was a damned good start for a shortstop, especially one with a good defensive reputation. He was already getting a bit of a reputation as a fiery player, though.

In 1988, he got some time with the team in Spring Training before being sent down to high-A Stockton, where he hit .269/.353/.377 in 84 games. The Brewers advanced him again, this time to AA El Paso, where he spent the rest of the season hitting .280/.344/.387.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

Spiers was invited back for Spring Training in 1989 and made the team in a surprising decision, splitting time with Gary Sheffield before Sheffield was moved over to third despite his protests. Spiers’ first game was April 7th, at home against the Tigers, where he had no hits; his first major league hit would have to wait until April 10th, when he started against the Rangers in Arlington. He wouldn’t get a hit again until April 17th. He came into the game hitting .063/.158/.063, but went 2 for 2 that day with his first homer, a grand slam off of Brad Arnsberg to put the game out of reach in the top of the 9th. Unfortunately, he would only get one more hit in April, going .154/.258/.269 for the month.

May would be a little kinder, though. He only played in one game between April 30th and May 6th, getting no hit, but he broke out again on the 6th, going 2-for-3 with a run, bringing his line up to .194/.297/.290. Between then and the end of the month, he would go .288/.373/.346 with 3 doubles and 4 stolen bases.

1989 Topps Traded

June was a disaster, though. He hit just .200/.259/.200 before he was sent down to AAA Denver, where he would hit .362/.423/.574 with 2 homers in 14 games before being called back up.  He made his return to the majors as a defensive replacement on July 16th, then a late-inning replacement again on the 17th, getting a hit there and earning a start on July 18th. He went 1-for-4 in that game, and began to steadily hit, his numbers increasing throughout the month. He hit .341/.333/.341 with two homers in July, boosting his numbers to .262/.317/.302. This was about the time I started to notice him, as I recall.

He got steady play throughout August, but failed to match his torrid pace from July, hitting .180/.232/.213, falling to .231/.286/.269.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

But the Brewers stuck with him, and he improved his game in September, hitting .308/.327/.477 for the month, ending at .255/.298/.333. Obviously, the OBP was a concern, but overall the Brewers were happy with his glove, especially. At this point I would have declared his career at a crossroads; plenty of players had arrived at this point and never gone anywhere in the past, but he was only 23 and had time to improve. He hit worse in 1990 and returned to AAA again for a bit, then rebounded in 1991, finally showing the offensive promise he had shown in the minors. Then he got injured in 92, missing almost all of the season and moving off of SS permanently, as his range was much reduced. He stuck around in the majors until 2001, though, spending time between AAA and the majors with the Mets and the Astros. His final career line was .271/.341/.370 with 37 home runs and 97 stolen bases. Certainly not what was predicted for him, but I can’t hate on him for a career like that.

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The 1988 Project Phase 2 Day 7: Milwaukee Brewers

Okay so we have Don August, Tom Filer, Darryl Hamilton, Jeffrey Leonard, and Dave Stapleton. I was just barely familiar with Stapleton coming into this, and he doesn’t have a whole lot of cards to speak of because he didn’t have much of a career to speak of. 1988 was his last season in the majors, and he left with a 2-0 record and a 3.81 ERA. Hamilton went on to a pretty respectable major league career, if not exactly the star that he was projected to be. Leonard was probably the star of this group, though his star was fading considerably by the time he became a Brewer. In his half-season with the Brewers, his only time on the team, he had a 72 OPS+. Filer had an off-and-on ML career that never really amounted to much, and the same goes for Don August.

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The 1988 Project Day 17 – Joey Meyer

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

Joey Meyer was a prospect before I knew what a prospect was. It seems like he battled both his weight and expectations early on in his career. A 5th round pick in the 1983 draft, Meyer didn’t play in 83, then picked up in 1984 at Beloit, where he slugged 30 home runs with a .320 BA. He continued to hit 20+ homers all the way up to 1987, but there was concern both about his weight and his swing, which was producing a prodigious amount of strikeouts.

I’m not sure why Meyer didn’t make his ML debut in 1986; yes, his average and OBP could have been better, but he performed fairly well. Apparently it had something to do with a logjam at first; Cecil Cooper was the incumbent, and Billy Jo Robidoux was the favored first base prospect, so they weren’t sure where Meyer fit in. Looking at his minor league numbers, though, it was clear something was going to have to give.

1988 Fleer Update

Joey made his debut on April 4th, 1988, at age 25 (soon to be 26), entering as a defensive replacement. He played his first full game almost a week later, April 10th, going 0-3 with a strikeout against Tommy John and the Yankees bullpen. He hit his first home run on April 17th off of John Candelaria. He went on to a.263/.313/.419 line in 1988 in 103 games. Oh, and he also struck out 88 times to 86 hits.

1988 Score Rookies & Traded

1989 would be Meyer’s last season in the majors. He had a .224/.274/.408 line, bouncing back and forth between AAA and the majors before the Brewers released him in the offseason and he went to Japan. He played for the Naiyo Whales in 1990, then came back to the US with the Twins and Pirates, going out with a .250/.284/.370 line in AA at age 29, and then he was gone from baseball.

Interesting set of cards here. Meyer had a 1988 Topps card, so he’s not featured in the Traded set, though he had a Donruss and a Fleer and still made those sets. I think my favorite here is, oddly enough, the Baseball’s Best card. Meyer was known for his bat, so it was a nice switch to see him in the field with the glove, and the orange border doesn’t present too much clash with some of the orange tones in the picture.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 5

…it is complete. I received the last two cards I needed for the subset yesterday. Woohoo! My first completed subset in…well…a loooong time. That means we will definitely look at the entire thing. I may move on to some other subsets of Timeline, but for right now I’m focused on some of the 2002 issues I talked about yesterday.

Poor Edinson. He looked so brilliant in 2008, then lost most of the last two years to injury. Given Johnny Cueto’s pitching motion, I always figured he would be the first of the two brilliant young pitchers to give out. I’m thinking Cueto will still eventually give out, but for now, it seems the Reds have both of them back in the rotation, along with some other great pitchers. Speaking of which, what the hell happened to Aaron Harang? That guy was a world-beater for awhile there, and now…wow. Just awful.

Anyway, Edinson returned recently and pitched a great game. Good for him! As for the card itself, I like it, but it’s not a standout in the set, exactly. They’ve applied that 92 filter (look at the way the light diffracts on his arm to understand what I’m talking about) that I just love so much (ugh), but the shot is vintage 92. It would definitely have fit in with the original set.

This was another one of those “Who?” cards when I pulled it from the blaster. Iribarren had a blistering 10 OPS+ in 15 plate appearances in 2008, and faired slightly, if not significantly, better in 2009 with a 78 OPS+. He managed a 0.0 WAR in 2009, making him the very definition of a replacement player. Good job? All I can think is he must be a glove guy, because his minor league numbers really aren’t much better. I mean, he had a .680 OPS in the friggin’ Pacific Coast League in 2008. Not exactly what you call a world-beater, but I’m always glad to see a guy like this get a card. Even if he never sticks, he’ll always have this to point to.

Let’s finish it up with a couple of Cubs. First is Reed Johnson. Reed joined the Cubs in 2008, so I wonder if he was included in this set as a sort of “traded” nod, because he’s kind of far from being the sort of young player Upper Deck seemed to be going for here. Reed’s never been the most amazing player, but 2008 was about par for the course, and shows why batting average is not the be-all end-all for judging a player. He hit a deceptive .303, but his obp was .358. Ick. He did, however, manage a 98 OPS+, not great for a corner outfielder and certainly below league average, but he accounted for 1.3 WAR. Not a terrible pickup from the scrap heap.

What a letdown this guy must be for Cubs fans. I remember the hype with him coming in, that he would be the next Ichiro or Hideki Matsui. What they got instead was a corner outfielder who couldn’t muster a 100 OPS+. Hell, even a 90 OPS+. He rebounded a bit last year, mustering a 104 OPS+ with a 3.1 WAR, but he’s back down again this year, and can’t seem to manage to get above a .260 batting average (one of those times when batting average does kind of matter). He’s been especially wretched in July. Just another thing that’s gone wrong for the Cubs.

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Finds and Sales

Welcome to a new weekly column! I’m really excited to do this, as I’m something of a part-time eBayer. I hit up thrift stores, yard sales, and pawn shops for suitable items to sell on eBay and supplement my income. I think I do okay at it (even if July has been a rough month). I come across some very…odd items. And some very unique items, like this plaque of Crosley Field that ended up going for a decent price:

Found it for 80 cents.

I only just considered the idea of covering some of my sports-related finds on the blog, but I think there are some potentially very cool ideas lurking out there; for instance, I found a Wayne Gretzky autographed Upper Deck card and a sealed 1986 Donruss Rookies set on the same trip, so why not cover them here, as well?

I sometimes also try to check and see if some items have been listed on eBay for less than they’re worth, and have come across a few real gems that I’ve flipped, such as this Sweet Spot card that I got for 1.50:

Really, is that a great foursome or what?

I was very tempted to hold on to this baby, but business demanded it go. Really though, one of these guys is a lock for the HOF, at least Halladay is a pretty likely at this point, and I think Wagner may eventually make it. Not bad at all.

So what else have I found? How about this:

Yes, that's a Roger Maris bear.

I have no idea WHY a Roger Maris bear exists, but it does, and I found it last weekend at a thrift store. I’m putting it up for sale this week (no links, I’m not eBay whoring here), and I’m very curious to see if anyone wants it. I kind of doubt it, but who knows? I think it’s kind of a neat little find.

Yeah, it’s a Beltran McFarlane miniature figure. I have absolutely no idea why the label is upside-down, but it ended up selling for a decent price. I’ve actually found Beltran to be a fairly common thrift store find, for some reason. Could it be that he fell from grace with Mets fans or something? No idea.

I shipped this one out today; it’s an Andrew McCutchen “canvas wrap”. They gave these out a Pirates game back in May, and this thrift store had about four or five sealed copies. I ended up busting it open to see if I could clean that black smudge off the canvas, but no dice. It still sold for a decent amount, but I’m sure a mint, unopened would go for more. Too bad none were in that condition.

This was another eBay find, possibly one of the most exciting ones I’ve ever come across. I paid $1.50 for it, and regrettably it ended up going for a dollar. How? I don’t understand how a card with some of the best players in baseball could go for so cheap. It was frustrating, and I haven’t really dipped into that well since, as I’d have preferred to just hold onto it for that.

Finally (for this week):

That’s a limited Cal Ripken lithograph print that was sold at Camden Yards. I recognized it, as I have a similar Miguel Tejada. Just shipped this out the other day to a happy buyer.

But wait, you ask – haven’t you found Nationals stuff, living in the DC area?

Oh my, yes, I have, I’ve just kept that for myself…and I’ll cover that in a different column.

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2008 Upper Deck Timeline 1992 Flashback Pt. 4

Well, this set has a few All Stars from this year. I never thought Corey Hart was going to amount to much, being honest, and I was pleasantly surprised, though he has had his down years as well. I do wonder if this year’s power surge is a long-term thing, though. Probably not. He is 28, which would be right around his prime. What I’m saying is I wouldn’t go loading up on Hart rookie cards as an investment, but he’s a solid player. Oh, and once upon a time he was a pretty great player for my Out of The Park team. Heh.

As for this card…eh. Far from my favorite of the set, but it’s another one off the checklist.

Huh. So I was prepared to declare Fred Lewis today’s scrub, but I looked up his numbers and he’s actually not a bad outfielder. Who knew? I mean, I consider myself a fairly savvy fan, and I had no knowledge of the guy. I mean, he has little power and a just okay average, but considering that average he has a pretty great OBP. I mean, yeah, you ideally want more from a corner outfielder, but I wouldn’t kick him off my team.

Really dig this shot. Love the reflection in the shades and the close-up of an otherwise ho-hum pose. So yeah, he’s not a star exactly, but it’s a card worth having, I think.

David Murphy will forever be a Red Sox player in my head; I just associate him so strongly with 2003, the year I got back into collecting. At that time he was a #1 draft pick for the Sox, and I figured he would eventually make the team. Seeing him as a Ranger just feels off, to this day. You know, though, as decent as he has been, I wouldn’t say he’s lived up to being a #1 draft pick. Especially when you look at who was picked after him (Adam Jones, Chad Billingsley, and Carlos Quentin to name a few). Could be worse, I guess. Could have never made the majors.

I like this card, as well. There’s something about this set that makes the players seem larger than life – it’s not just the extreme zoom but also the framing of the shots. I appreciate it.

Breslow has lived the life of a middle reliever, that’s for sure. It’s actually kind of surprising to see him in this set, given the short shrift middle relievers typically get. Relievers are pretty hard to gauge, but Breslow does look like a good one; decent if not eye-popping WHIP, good ERA+s (though they’re almost useless for relievers), keeps the home runs low.  And hey, he’s made pretty good for a 26th round pick. You go, Craig!

This is another example of the larger-than-life shot. I wonder if it’s because 1992 Upper Deck was more zoomed out and modern cards tend to get a tighter shot? I don’t know, but it’s interesting and keeps the set dynamic for me.

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Filed under 1992 Flashback, 2008 Upper Deck Timeline, Throwback Sets