Card of the Week: Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star

The Card of the Week for January 10-16, 2016 is the 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph of Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley was one of my 2 favorite pitchers to watch as a kid. The other being Dave Stewart. I began watching baseball in the mid-1980s, this was after Eckersley came to the Oakland Athletics and converted into one of the most dominant closers in the game.

Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph

Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph

Eckersley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. He is one of two pitchers with 20-win (1978) and 50-save (1992) seasons. Eckersely was selected to the All-Star game 6 times, 2 as a starter and 4 as a closer. He was also named MVP of the 1988 American League Championship Series, saving all 4 of Oakland’s victories against the Boston Red Sox.

His best season came in 1992 when he posted a 7-1 record, struck out 93 batters in 80 innings and saved a major league leading 51 games. That year Eckersley won the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards.

Fun Fact: In his 24 year career, Eckersley only pitched in the National League for 5 years, 3 as a starter and 2 as a reliever. As a starter for the Chicago Cubs (1984-86), Eckersley hit 3 home runs. 1 in 1985 and 2 in 1986. Not bad for a guy with only 181 career at bats.

Eckersley was clearly one of the most dominant pitchers in the game during the 1980s and 1990s. He was instrumental in the success of the Oakland Athletics in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Eckersley will always be one of my favorite pitchers.

MLB Winter Meetings On Deck

The 114th Annual MLB Winter Meetings are set to take place December 6-10, 2015 in Nashville. This is the time of years we major deals go down and some of the remaining top free agents sign contracts with teams. Executives from all 30 teams will be present, most ready to make deals.

The Oakland Athletics were very active during the meetings in 2014 making a total of 9 deals. This year Oakland will look to shore up it’s league worst bullpen. There are 2 slots they need to fill and there are a couple of good options in Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria of which Oakland could land one of these guys.

The Athletics will likely continue to shop Brett Lawrie and Danny Valencia. One of these players are expendable with the re-acquisition of Jed Lowrie. Lawrie is likely the one to be moved as he can bring a higher return than Valencia.

With the Winter Meetings upon us it is time for GMs to do some Christmas shopping for their teams.

MLB Pitcher Tommy Hanson Passes Away

On Monday, November 9, 2015 Major League pitcher, Tommy Hanson passed away. He was 29. On Sunday Tommy was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He passed away from catastrophic organ failure. The exact reason that led to the failure is unknown at this time.

Tommy pitched for 5 years in the majors. From 2009-12 with the Atlanta Braves and with the LA Angels of Anaheim in 2013. In 121 starts he posted a 49-35 record with a 3.80 ERA.

After being granted free agency by the Angels, Tommy tried to latch on with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox in 2014, but did not make either club. In May 2015 Tommy signed with the San Francisco Giants. In 15 starts with the San Jose Giants and the Sacramento River Cats, Tommy went 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA.

I was fortunate enough to see Tommy pitch for the San Jose Giants in Stockton back on June 30, 2015. That night he pitched well, striking out 5 in 5 innings. The only blemish was giving up a solo home run to Branden Cogswell.

After he was done pitching Tommy was nice enough to stop on the ramp leading to the clubhouse and sign some autographs for a couple fans. That night he signed the 2 cards I brought with me. Thank you Tommy.

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

 

Bob Welch Passes Away at 57

On Tuesday, June 10, 2014 the Oakland Athletics announced that 1990 Cy Young Award Winner, 2-time All-Star and 3-time World Series Champ Bob Welch has passed away. The cause of death was unavailable at the time. He was 57.

Bob Welch was the last player in the MLB to win more than 25 games. In 1990 Bob went 27-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 238 innings. In this day and age of baseball, 25 plus wins is an achievement that may never happen again.

Over 17 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics, Welch amassed a record of 211-146 and posted a 3.47 ERA. He also pitched 28 shutouts to complement his 61 complete games. He was a vital part of Oakland’s run of three World Series Appearances from 1988-90. Bob won World Series rings as a player with Oakland in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1981. He also won a ring as the pitching coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.

During the past few seasons Bob had been working with the Oakland Athletics as a special assistant. He worked specifically with the minor league camp, helping to teach them about the game.

Bob Welch is survived by his sons Dylan (25), Riley (23), daughter Kelly (18) and former wife Mary Ellen.

The Elephant Farm mourns the loss of this pitching legend and sends their condolences to the Welch family.

UPDATE: It was reported late Tuesday night that Bob Welch passed away from a heart attack at his home in Seal Beach, CA.

The New Herd: 2014 Draft Results, Rounds 1-20

With the 2014 First-Year Player Draft wrapping up we wanted to recap the players the Oakland Athletics drafted in the first 20 rounds. Here are the names of The New Herd that could be wearing a minor league affiliate very soon.

Round Pick Player Position School
1 25 Chapman, Matt 3B Cal State Fullerton
2 65 Gossett, Daniel RHP Clemson University
3 101 Graves, Brett RHP Missouri
4 132 Schwartz, Jordan RHP Niagara
5 162 Fillmyer, Heath RHP Mercer County CC (NJ)
6 192 Loehr, Trace SS Rex Putnam HS (OR)
7 222 Cogswell, Branden SS Virginia
8 252 Kelliher, Branden RHP Lake Stevens HS (WA)
9 282 Fagan, Mike LHP Princeton University
10 312 Miller, Corey RHP Pepperdine University
11 342 Seddon, Joel RHP South Carolina
12 372 Willman, Tyler RHP Western Illinois
13 402 Kuhn, Robert 2B Kentucky
14 432 Schroeder, Casey C Polk State College (FL)
15 462 Gilbert, Trent 2B Arizona
16 492 Brizuela, Jose 3B Florida State
17 522 Cheray, Eric C Missouri State University
18 552 Nolan, Michael LHP Oklahoma City University
19 582 Gavitt, Tom C Bryant University (RI)
20 612 Guana, Koby RHP Cal State Fullerton

Note: Rounds 21-40 will be included in a different post.