Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jeff Robinson, 1991 Bowman #90

Whenever there's talk about the worst trades the Orioles have ever made, everyone focuses on the deal that sent Pete Harnisch, Curt Schilling, and Steve Finley to Houston for brittle first baseman Glenn Davis. But during that same offseason, the O's made another deal that was downright inexplicable. In January of 1991, they sent popular catcher Mickey Tettleton to the Tigers for the man you see above, righthander Jeff Robinson.

After kickstarting his career with 26 home runs, a Silver Slugger Award, and an All-Star selection in 1989, the Froot-Loops-loving backstop had slumped to .223 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI in 1990. This downturn in production, coupled with the imminent arrival of young Chris Hoiles, must have made Tettleton expendable in the eyes of Birds' brass. But they hadn't really thought things through. He was never a high-average hitter, but he was an on-base machine, taking walks by the ton. Despite the 35-point dip in batting average between his two seasons in Baltimore, Mickey's on-base percentage actually climbed from .369 to .376. Besides, even if the team was looking to create an opening at catcher, they could have given him time at first base and designated hitter, like the Tigers would do.

If Tettleton had an off-year in 1990, Jeff Robinson had a disaster of a year. He lucked his way into a winning record (10-9), but his ERA was an absurd 5.96. He walked more batters than he struck out, threw 16 wild pitches, and gave up 23 home runs. He had won 13 games and ranked sixth in the league in ERA in 1988, but that season was three years past at the time of the trade. What was GM Roland Hemond thinking? What was he expecting?

Hemond almost certainly didn't get what he expected out of Robinson, unless he actually wanted a 4-9 record, a 5.18 ERA, and 1.62 base runners allowed per inning pitched. Given that the O's released the pitcher less than a year after acquiring him, I'd say that Roland was a bit disappointed.

But what of Mickey Tettleton? He would play five full seasons with the Tigers and Rangers after the trade, walking at least 95 times each season and surpassing 30 home runs in all but the strike season on 1994. He won two more Silver Sluggers and played in another All-Star Game.

Talk about your buyer's remorse...or seller's remorse, for that matter.

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