Friday, December 18, 2015

1971 San Diego Padres (6th): 61-100, .379, 28.5GB

Buzzie Bavasi had assumed the role of President of the San Diego franchise, and turned over the VP/GM role to Eddie Leishman. Following the Padres’ encouraging improvement of 1970, Leishman swung one major trade over the winter, and it was a doozy: right-hander Pat Dobson, who’d stepped forward as the anchor of the Padres’ pitching staff in 1970, was traded along with 28-year-old right-handed reliever Tom Dukes to the Baltimore Orioles. In return, San Diego received right-handed pitchers Tom Phoebus, Al Severinsen, and Fred Beene, and young shortstop Enzo Hernandez.
This was a most curious deal from the Padres’ perspective. Leishman apparently felt that Phoebus would replace Dobson, or perhaps be an upgrade. But while Phoebus had once been a potential star, he’d developed a tender arm and had regressed in both 1969 and ’70, and at the age of 29 no longer appeared capable of a full-time starting workload; Dobson meanwhile was the same age as Phoebus, and had put together an outstanding workhorse performance in 1970. Dukes was nothing special, a journeyman reliever, but neither were Severinsen or Beene: at 26 and 28 respectively, together they had a total of 19 games of major league experience; the realistic upside for either was what Dukes was already providing.

The key to the trade was Hernandez. The Padres were sorely lacking at shortstop, and if the 22-year-old Hernandez could step in as a quality major leaguer, the deal would make sense. But there was little in Hernandez’s meager resume to inspire confidence: in four minor league seasons in the Houston and Baltimore organizations, he’d shown nice speed (stealing 14, 7, 26, and 17 bases), but a featherweight bat, hitting .187, .225, .249, and .271 with a combined total of four home runs. Only 102 of his minor league games had been as high as the Triple-A level.

The deal failed utterly. Phoebus bombed, and neither Severinsen nor Beene had anything substantial to offer (indeed Beene was simply cut by the Padres in the spring of 1971 and returned to the Baltimore organization). Manager Preston Gomez gave Hernandez the San Diego shortstop job, and left him there come what may. What came was a steady flow of soft groundouts; Hernandez proved to be adequate defensively, and a highly effective base stealer, but his bat never approached acceptability. Deployed as the full-time leadoff hitter in 1971, the rookie produced a .295 on-base percentage, an OPS+ of 61, and 12 RBIs (yes, 12 RBIs) in 618 plate appearances. 

Hernandez’s futility at the top of the lineup was emblematic of the Padres’ ‘71 season. The offensive improvement they’d demonstrated in 1970 vaporized. Right fielder Ollie Brown’s hitting regressed, and center fielder Clarence Gaston’s imploded (as his great 1970 performance would prove to be a flash-in-the-pan). Only slugging first baseman Nate Colbert remained a consistent run producer, and the team’s OPS+ sagged to 88.

The Padres were saved from complete disaster by breakout performances from two of their young pitchers, 23-year-old hard-throwing right-hander Clay Kirby, and 26-year-old control artist left-hander Dave Roberts, both of whom emerged as first-rate starters. But the team’s record was a dismal 61-100, they were still buried deep in last place, and their attendance—which had shown small signs of life in 1970—declined to 557,000, barely more than half of that of the next-lowest in the National League. The Sporting News Baseball Guide’s summary of the San Diego franchise’s third season concluded with this ominous paragraph:
Failure at the gate brought rumors the Padres would move to Washington D.C., Toronto, or New Orleans, but after listening to offers, co-owners C.A. Smith and Buzzie Bavasi announced the Padres would remain in San Diego for at least another year.
 --This synopsis was furnished by:

In total I needed to create 21 new cards to complete the team set.  Most of the photos were supplied by Jeff D, unless otherwise noted.

Arrived in Bavasi's blockbuster trade with Baltimore and appeared in 59 games, all out of the pen, and compiled a 2-5, 3.47 in 70 innings of work.  Along the way he posted 8 saves.  The following season he only appeared in 17 games going 0-1, 2.53 but developed physical issues and wound up out of baseball after that season.  For those NY-centric folks out there Severinsen was born in Brooklyn and went to Wagner College on Staten Island.
1971 was the end of the road for Bravo, who in 2 previous seasons in the bigs was nothing more than a 5th outfielder / pinch hitter.  After hitting .289 and .277 respectively, for the Reds, he started off the '71 season by getting into just 5 games as a pinch hitter before being dealt to the Reds for outfielder Al Ferrara.  In 68 AB's over 52 games Bravo hit a pitiful .155 and did not make the major league roster the following season.  After hitting .279 in Hawaii (AAA) and not being recalled to the Padres Bravo got his release and went on to play 4 seasons in the Mexican League before retiring from baseball.
In 1971 Laxton was selected by the San Diego Padres in the rule 5 draft, then pitched in parts of two seasons for them before being released, finishing with an 0–2 record in 18 relief appearances in the 1971 season and an 0–1 record in 1974 in 30 appearances, all but one in relief. He signed with the New York Mets, who subsequently traded him to the Detroit Tigers along with Rusty Staub in exchange for Mickey Lolich and Billy Baldwin. He pitched in 26 games for the Tigers in the 1976 season, three of them as a starter, ending the season with an 0–5 record.  With his career seemingly over the 1977 expansion draft gave him another chance with the Seattle Mariners, who traded him in September of that year to Cleveland for Ray Fosse.  Cleveland traded him back to the Padres during the offseason, but he did not make the big club roster in spring training as was designated for assignment.  He did not report to Hawaii (AAA-SDP) and so his career was unofficially over.
32 year old Bob Miller, who was already known for being well traveled, split time with 3 different franchises in 1971.  He started the season with the Cubs and pitched ineffectively in 5 outings.  He moved on to San Diego where he compiled an incredible 7-3, 1.41, 7sv stat line for a basement team.  Then as a reward he moved on to Pittsburgh to go 1-2, 1.29, 3SV for the eventual World Champs.
After hitting .316 during the 1970 season (12-38), the Padres expected big things for Robinson.  Those expectations were never realized.  In 7 games (7 AB) Robinson did not collect so much as a hit.  He hit just .118 in Triple A and was released outright.
Kelly, who had some fine years for the Braves during the mid to late 60's was coming off a non-existent 1970 season where injures limited him to just a handful of minor league rehab starts where he said, "The pain was so bad I almost cried". He would go 2-3, 3.47, 2 SV in almost 60 innings of work for a last place squad.  He was sent to the Texas Rangers, but spent all of 1972 in the minors going 1-1, 5.79 in just 9 games as injuries once again took their toll and ended his career.  Shoulder tendinitis was what did Kelley in.  Of course the lack of real knowledge into what caused arm trouble had just as much to do with it.  Kelley landed on his feet after baseball when he was tagged by his pal Joe Torre to run his baseball school in California.  Kelley eventually opened his own pitching school.  Sadly he passed away at the age of 51 due to cardiac arrest.
Mason arrived in San Diego thanks to a December trade with the Giants where he was viewed as little more than a spare part / utility guy.  The Padres had visions of him being their regular secondbaseman, but in 113 games he hit just .212 with only 11 RBI, which would not be enough to sustain a spot in the starting lineup.  The following two seasons saw him spend more time on the DL than on active duty.  At one point during the 72 season he was picked up by the Reds and assigned to their Indianapolis AAA affiliate.  There he hit just .221 and was released and brought back to San Diego where he saw limited action on both the major and minor league level before being released after the 1974 season. 
Ed spent most of the 1971 season in AAA, where he went 12-11 2.72 in 172 innings. On August 10th, the Pirates sent him and Johnny Jeter to the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Bob Miller. Acosta spent the rest of 1971 and all of 1972 with the Padres in the majors before returning to AAA for the 1973 season. He pitched two more years before finishing his career in the Mexican League.  (from
A typical ′′good field-no hit′′ shortstop, Hern├índez was initially signed by the Houston Astros in 1967, and later played in the Baltimore Orioles' minor league system. After being traded, he became the Padres regular shortstop for most of the period from 1971 to 1976, stealing 20 or more bases four times. He also collected 595 assists In 1971, for the 5th highest total ever for a shortstop.  In an eight-season career, Hern├índez was a .224 hitter with two home runs, 113 RBIs, 241 runs, 522 hits, 66 doubles, 13 triples, and 129 stolen bases in 714 games played.  He was a key component in Bavasi's pre-season blockbuster deal that didn't really pan out for the Padres.
As a 20 year old 14th overall pick in the 1968 expansion draft Kendall was rushed to the majors and performed miserably (.154).  1970 saw him get just 9 unsuccessful AB's.  1971 was the year he finally saw extended action, yet the results (.171) were quite similar.  A modest improvement in 172 (.216) didn't foreshadow the breakout season he would have in 1973 (.282-10-59) where he was voted the team's MVP.  A drop back to reality during the following 3 seasons led to him being shipped off to Cleveland where he spent one season.  The following year he played just 20 games in Boston and hit .195.  The end of the road was near, but the Padres took a chance on bringing back one of their original members hoping to catch lighting in a bottle.  Kendall hit .167, yet was given another shot the following year where he hit .292 in limited action and was unceremoniously given his release at the age of 31.
Who doesn't love a photo of a pitcher posing with a bat in his hand.  Just one of the playful ways pitchers would mess around with the baseball card photographers.  Norman was a hard luck 3-12 in San Diego as his 3.32 ERA would attest.  Still he wasn't complaining since his early season arrival from St. Louis freed him up from anonymity and gave him a chance to ply his trade.  Norman learned his craft well and was rewarded even more when the Padres sent him to Cincy during the middle of the '73 season.
Jestadt appeared in 176 Major League games played — all but nine of them with the Padres. His 118 MLB hits included 18 doubles and one triple, as well as six home runs. He played 11 seasons of minor league baseball, as well as two campaigns in Japanese baseball.  As a utility ballplayer in 1971 he hit a solid .291 in 189 AB's with 13 doubles.
On the surface the numbers (0-1, 6.35, 5 2/3IP) were bad.  In fact they were dreadful, but that's not the real story here.  The real story is that 18 year old Jay Franklin was the Padres #1 pick in 1971.  After signing him he was fast tracked all the way up to the majors by September.  Arm injuries put his chances of fame on the backburner and by 1977 he was barely holding on in the minors.  After a 8-4, 5.16 season at AAA in 1977 he was released.  His life, both personally and professionally, began to spiral downward.  Click here to read the full Washington Post Article.
After arriving from Pittsburgh via trade Jeter impressed with a .320 average in 75 AB's while playing a solid centerfield.  The following season he was given the starting job and his numbers dropped to .221-7-21.  Realizing he wasn't the answer to their outfield woes the Padres sent him to the Chisox where he was only slightly better (.240-7-26).  The following season he bounced to Cleveland and hit .353 (6-17), yet never got another chance to play in the majors.  A brief stint in the Mexican League and the IAML kept him active in baseball until he was 34.  His son Shawn was a prospect in the White Sox chain during the early 90's.
In June 1971, after three seasons with the Cardinals, Leron was traded to the San Diego Padres where he had nineteen multi-hit games, including one memorable game against Cincinnati where he had three hits, including two doubles. In 1972 Leron batted .300 with an amazing thirty four multi- hit games, including six three-hit games.  On July 4, 1972, Lee broke up a no-hit bid by Tom Seaver of the New York Mets. Lee singled with one out in the ninth inning.  Once again, after three seasons with the Padres, Leron was purchased by the Cleveland Indians where he had thirteen multi-hit games. In a game against the Royals he hit a home run then a grand slam to drive in all five runs for a 5-2 victory.  After signing with the Dodgers as a free agent, he remained for two seasons before ending his major league career to pursue a baseball career in Japan.  (from wikipedia)
Caldwell was drafted in the twelfth round of the 1971 amateur draft by the San Diego Padres after graduating from NC St..  He made his major league debut on September 4, 1971 against the Atlanta Braves.  In 6 games with the Friars he would go 1-0, 0.00.  The following two seasons would see him get extended action in which he posted sub .500 records due to lack of run support.  After the '73 season he was traded to San Fran in a deal that sent future HOF'er Willie McCovey to the Padres.  After a breakout 1974 season (14-5, 2.95) with the Giants he found himself mired in mediocrity until arriving in Milwaukee where he found his stride in 1978 coming in second in the AL CY Award voting.  His 22-9, 2.36, 23CG season was only topped by Ron Guidry's season for the ages.  Six straight double digit win seasons in Milwaukee ended with a 6-13, 4.64 1984 season that would be swan song.  After the season was over he voluntarily retired posting a 137-130, 3.81 career record spanning 14 seasons.

Mike Ivie was drafted first overall in the 1970 Major League Baseball Draft as a catcher by the San Diego Padres. He began his career in the Padres' minor league system, where he once hit 21 homers in 21 games. He made his major league debut as an 18-year-old in 1971. Even though he was a catcher in the minor leagues, he occasionally started as a third baseman, but was then moved to first base and made the Padres in 1974. During the 1978 off season, he was traded from the Padres to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Derrel Thomas.  (from wikipedia)
Webster started the '71 season in San Diego hitting .125 in 8AB's.  He moved on to Oakland where he didn't collect a hit and finally finished the season with the Cubbies hitting .313 (5-16).  Not one to give up he spent the next 3 seasons at AAA, but never getting the call to the big club.  A brief stint in the Mexican league in 1976 was followed up by a 7 game stint playing for his native Panama in 1979.
Forever linked to the 1969 Miracle Mets Rod Gaspar was a bit player for the Padres over the course of the next 6 seasons.  Gaspar was a gold glove caliber outfielder with speed and a rocket arm.  What he didn't posses was good timing or patience.  After the Mets won he reported to camp out of shape and blew his chance at a major league spot.  He did that again in San Diego after he was traded there.  His best seasons were spent playing for the Hawaii Islanders (AAA-SDP), where he typically batted close to .300 and won a few minor league PCL championships.  After hitting .294 as a 30 year old in 1976 he realized his chances of making it on the major league level were gone, so he hung it up and went into the Financial Services Industry.  He also won a number of Pro Handball Championships making full use of his phenomenal eye hand coordination.
Pitching for a struggling young team, Arlin led the National League in losses in both 1971 and 1972 (19 and 21 respectively). In both seasons, however, he posted a respectable earned run average: 3.48 in 1971 and 3.60 in 1972. The 1972 season was an especially curious one for Arlin: he pitched a one-hitter, three two-hitters (in one, on July 18 against the Phillies, he had a no-hitter broken up by Denny Doyle with two out in the ninth—to date, the closest a Padre has come to pitching a no-hitter), and a 10-inning stint in which he allowed only one hit. Yet he finished 10–21. In 1973 Arlin recorded a personal best 11 victories against 14 losses, but with a 5.10 ERA—nearly a run and a half above his career ERA to that point. Midway into the 1974 season the Padres traded Arlin to the Cleveland Indians.  (from Wikipedia)
Phoebus was supposed to be the savior for the Padres staff.  After enjoying success and two World Championships in Baltimore he was looked upon as a true veteran leader and workhorse.  Due to his lack of consistency (3-11, 4.46) and availability (133 IP) Phoebus became more of a footnote for the Padres disastrous 1971 season.  Due to arm trouble he would never be right again.  1972 saw him split time between the Padres (0-1, 7.94) ad the Chisox (3-3, 3.78) before being waived.  The Braves took a flyer on him and assigned him to their Richmond AAA affiliate where he was 7-11, 3.38 in 125 innings or painful work.  Realizing his arm just couldn't withstand the load anymore he retired from the game at the age of 31.

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