Tag Archives: Seattle Mariners

I Was a Teenage Prospector: Brent Knackert

Knackert Donruss

1990 Donruss The Rookies

I’m covering Marquis Grissom’s 1990 Rookies issue on my other site this morning, and it seemed fitting to look at one of the more obscure prospects from that set on this site today. Knackert was not the best prospect, but what he represents is a branching out. He had an okay if not stellar minor league reputation with the White Sox before getting picked up by the Mets as a Rule V draftee. I guess he failed to make the squad and the Mariners picked him up off waivers, deciding to give him a shot at staying on the roster that year, and what an abysmal year it was. I mean, the guy was 21, but he had a 61 ERA+. My branching-out prospecting brain, however, seized on his age rather than his ability and thought he had staying power. Yeah, he didn’t. He made it to the majors again in 1996, then he was done. I still had a lot to learn.

But what really brings me back on this card is that Mariners cap. I loved that logo, for some reason. I guess it was the yellow on blue…it had such a classic 80s feel, yet I didn’t know what that even meant at the time. All I knew was that I had to have one, being a big uniform and cap sucker. I wore that thing with pride for a few years until it was too worn out to carry on, along with my two Blue Jays hats with that classic, awesome logo that made me a Jays fan for so many years.  You know the one.

I felt like I was an oddity for years, until I discovered entire sites dedicated to the subject. And yet no sites dedicated to Mr. Knackert. But hey, he does have a facebook page, with a picture from his Red Sox year.

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Card of the Day: 1999 Upper Deck 10th Anniversary Alex Rodriguez

As much of a weirdo as A-Rod is, and as much as I hate the Yankees, I have to respect what he’s done. I just have to.

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Card of the Day: 1991 Stadium Club Ken Griffey Jr.

Kicking off Thanksgiving week with a classic that will never get old. Love the photography in this set.

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Morning Coffee and the Blog Roundup 11/11: NL Gold Glove Edition

So I sit here sipping on my first gingerbread latte of the season and realize they announced the NL Gold Gloves. I decide to browse on over to bbref.com to see what happened…

*sigh* I don’t know why I get worked up about this stuff. It’s obvious by now that the Gold Glove has little to do with fielding and more to do with hitting. I know this. But come on, Carlos Gonzalez? He was a good hitter, but he wasn’t even the best defensive outfielder on the Rockies, let alone in the top three in the league. And Scott Rolen? He wasn’t necessarily a bad fielder, but he wasn’t the first in any of the significant defensive categories for third baseman – even when it comes to fielding percentage, the hoary old flawed stat, he wasn’t tops. I just…argh, whatever.

Dave Niehaus passed away. I’d never heard the man call a game, and I feel the less for it, as I hear he was amazing. Condolences, Mariners fans.

The Nationals unveiled their new jerseys yesterday.

I never cared for that blue/star-spangled…thing, glad to see it’s back, and the new home jersey is a hideous redesign of the Reds’ jersey. Seriously, Nats, are you ever going to stop riding the Reds’ coattails? It’s getting a little annoying.

Ian Desmond was all stylin’ up on the fashion show, thing though.

Received two trade posts in the mail yesterday. GREAT stuff, but unfortunately I may not be able to post them until Monday. For now, thanks to Rhubarb Runner of E Rayhahn, Rayhahn and Mike of BA Benny’s Card Buffet. You guys rock, and I think I found some good stuff for you.

And that’s all for today. Let’s see what everyone else was talking about…

And that’s all for today. Have a good one!

 

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The 1989 Project Day 8 – Omar Vizquel

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best

The first thing to note is that this is clearly not Vizquel. Hell, the uniform even says “Coles” on the back. Obviously, it’s Darnell Coles, and someone at Donruss dropped the ball. So it was that when I saw Vizquel’s 89 Upper Deck after seeing this card, I was confused, as I hadn’t noticed the Coles writing on the jersey. I wish there had been a corrected version, but…well, it wasn’t going to happen.

Anyway, Omar signed with the Mariners at age 17, in 1984, and actually took his time rising through the minor leagues, suffering some real off-years as he ascended. Early on, it looked like he might have some power, though, as he hit five home runs at low A Bellingham in 1985, when he also hit .225/.270/.353. By 1988, at age 21, he had risen to AAA Calgary, where he hit .224/.259/.327, but was highly regarded for his amazing glove. As such, he earned an invite to Spring Training in 89.

1989 Donruss The Rookies

Vizquel ended up making the team when shortstop Rey Quinones went AWOL for the first week or so of Spring Training while refusing to negotiate his contract. Vizquel ended up winning the shortstop position and Quinones would be dealt to the Pirates in April. It helped that the 22-year-old Vizquel had a nice, sharp Spring Training with both the stick and the glove.

1989 Fleer Update

Manager Jim Lefebvre thought that Vizquel would eventually become a great hitter. Vizquel provided a really interesting quote at the time, though: “I think shortstops in modern baseball need to hit at least .250 or .260. There are a lot of good hitters among shortstops in the big leagues. I got off to a slow start, but I think I can hit .250 or .260.” His career average so far? .273. Very nice, Omar! 1989 didn’t provide much of a hint of that, though.

Oh, and he didn’t hit his first homer until July. His only one of the year. But then again, Omar was never a big home run hitter.

1989 Score Rookie and Traded

So for someone whose forte was the glove, why is this the only card that depicts him with the glove? I don’t get it at all. Of course, this is not my favorite card of Omar from 1989; that honor would go to the Upper Deck High Numbers card, which to me just seems to encapsulate a Spring game. I do appreciate the puffy Mariners hat in this shot. Those things always seemed to make the wearer’s head expand, amusing the hell out of me. It inspired me to pick up my own version, which I wore pretty religiously in my games during the summer of 89.

1989 Topps Traded

Omar stayed with Seattle through 1993, when they traded him to Cleveland for Felix Fermin and Reggie Jefferson, a trade that would live in infamy for Seattle fans, even though A-Rod was in the wings.  For his career with the Mariners, Omar hit .252/.309/.303, but he had one hell of a glove. Total Zone (TZ which is designed to emulate advanced fielding metrics with only PBP data) was 62 during that era.  If you’re not familiar with the scale, that’s REALLY good. Vizquel’s reputation with his glove was definitely earned. I’m sure I’ll talk more about Omar’s career sometime in the future, as I have a great deal of respect for him and what he’s accomplished on the field. For now, I’ll just say that I understand why the M’s moved him, but I understand fans missing him, too.

1989 Upper Deck High Numbers

This is the card I was talking about. It just perfectly captures, for me, what playing baseball on a nice Spring day is all about. I think that’s why I liked it so much; I could relate. The memory of standing like that for the national anthem is still very strong in my mind. It makes me long for my playing days. That’s what I think the best cards evoke: personal experience tied to what you’re seeing. 1989 Upper Deck had some crap photography, that’s for sure, but this one is an example of what I liked about it. My only complaint is that the angle is slightly unfortunate for numerous reasons. A shot from his side would have been better, but eh, it’s really nitpicking. Classic.

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The 1988 Project Day 26 – Henry Cotto

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

I came at Henry Cotto’s career all wrong. I thought he had been a starter for his teams, but didn’t realize that he never had a full season until 1988. That means I was ready to judge him as a starting corner outfielder, and ready to savage him. What I found was…well, still not great, but given that he was a reserve outfielder, better than I would have expected. He never hit double-digit homers, but he did steal up to 27 bases, pretty damn good for a reserve outfielder. He started his career as a Cubs farmhand in 1980, where he hit .283/.328/.386 with 12 stolen bases; he would steal 52 for each of the next two years and 32 at AAA Iowa in 1983. He made the majors with the Cubs in 84, playing in 105 games as a reserve outfielder, where he hit .274/.325/.308.

1988 Fleer Update

In the 1984 offseason, the Cubs dealt him along with Porfi AltamiranoRich Bordi and Ron Hassey to the New York Yankees for Brian Dayett and Ray Fontenot. You can see that’s a whole lot of not much talent going both ways. While on the Yankees bench in 85, Cotto was cleaning his ear with a Q-tip when Ken Griffey Sr. bumped into him, driving the Q-Tip through his eardrum. Crazy stuff. He was up and down from AAA to the majors between 85 and 87, never really putting much together, but also not getting much of a chance.

1988 Score Rookie & Traded

On December 22, 1987, the Yankees dealt him and Steve Trout to the Mariners for Lee GuettermanClay Parker, and Wade Taylor. I guess the Mariners saw something useful in him, but they were a bit off, as he went .259/.302/.373 in 1988, his only full season of play. That’s an 86 OPS+ or a 1.1 WAR, the highest WAR of his career. He would stay with Seattle until 1992, giving them an overall .265/.307/.381 line with a 91 OPS+ and 97 total SB. You see where I was going here – if he was a regular starting outfielder, that’s damn horrid, but as a backup, that’s serviceable.

1988 Topps Traded

Cotto was traded once again in 1993, going with Jeff Darwin to the Marlins for Dave Magadan (interesting coincidence, Magadan is John Olerud’s uncle. Both would end up playing first for the Mariners). He finished out his time with the Marlins going .190/.213/.257. He declared free agency in the offseason and signed with the Orioles, but never made it back to the Show. These days he’s a coach in the Mariners system.

My favorite out of this set is definitely the Score Traded. The only one that’s really bad is the Topps one (and that one is BAD), but the Score one shines, especially with Cotto showing the correct form for bunting. I have to say, this was also a tough choice on who to cover. There were some more intriguing players, such as Pee Wee Briley, but I needed to have someone who had more cards available in the traded sets, and I’d never really looked into Cotto’s career, so I figured this was as good a time as any.

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Box Break: 2002 UD Authentics

I haven’t disguised my love for this set, that’s for sure, and yet I’ve always found the boxes tantalizingly out of reach, either too expensive or difficult to find, so when I found a box going for an obscenely cheap amount on Ebay, I bid and sat on that auction. Yesterday the box finally arrived.

Stated odds, as you can see, are 1 in every 16 packs. The box is obviously meant to echo the 1989 box design, as everything in this set is a loving homage to that original set. Including the setup when you open the box:

As you can see, they’ve used that same paper material that UD used in their 1989 issue:

The whole thing gave me nostalgia goosebumps, down to the authentic (heh) feel of opening the first pack.

Now, as to the actual content of the box. Well, first, I should note that I was supposed to get two reverse-negatives card in this box, but I only got one, this Jason Johnson:

And that’s A-okay by me. The reverse negative gimmick is easily the crappiest, most annoying thing about this set, as I’d have preferred to get the base Johnson, which I still don’t have. Sigh. Oh, I’m also okay with it because I not only beat the odds for relics on this box, I pulverized them. 1 in 16 packs, right? 18 packs in the box, so maybe, tops, I could have gotten two if I was extremely lucky. Yeah, I got four, including a reverse-negative game-used card and a gold reverse-negative game-used card. I didn’t even know the latter existed. My first ever hot box!

Very, very cool stuff. I love it. Oh, I also got two inserts: their version of the Baseball Heroes, numbered to 1989

And a 1989 Flashback Mark Grace, numbered to 4225 (though that Cubs picture is more recent than 1989, he didn’t have that facial hair until the 90s).

I also got a mess of base cards that I needed; only two doubles in the whole box, and a small stack of cards that I already had. Look for those cards to wind up in some trades in the near future.

I’m still quite a bit short of the set, so I may pick up another box when I have some money. Overall, I give the box an A for the presentation, the hits, and the collation. Totally worth the money and exceeded my expectations. Oh, and all these cards save the base cards/reverse negative are available.

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