Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Monday, March 14, 2011

Scott Erickson, 1999 Bowman #26

Scott Erickson really did have some good moments in Baltimore. The Twins traded him to the O's for Scott Klingenbeck and Kimera Bartee, a.k.a. two bags of peanuts, in July 1995. Freed from the dank confines of the Homerdome, Scott went 9-4 down the stretch and dropped his earned run average by more than two full runs (5.95 in 87.2 IP w/MIN, 3.89 in 108.2 IP w/BAL). With Ben McDonald flaming out, the sinkerballer looked like a strong complement to Mike Mussina in the Oriole rotation. The following season his ERA jumped back up to 5.02, but 1996 was crazy everywhere, yo; the entire American League had a 4.99 mark and seven A.L. teams hit at least 200 home runs. Compare that to 2010, when the league average was 4.14 and only three teams topped 200 HR. In that environment, 222 innings of 5.02 ERA was perfectly acceptable. Erickson was really on his game in 1997, leading the A.L. East Champ Birds with a 16-7 record and turning in a 3.67 ERA, his lowest since 1992. Even in the general disappointment of 1998, the righty provided solid numbers: 16-13 with a 4.01 ERA and league-leading totals in innings pitched (251.1) and complete games (11). He slipped a little the next year but was still a mainstay (15-12, 4.81 ERA, 97 ERA+).

Then the bottom fell out. For the last four years of his Oriole career (2000-2003), Erickson totaled 44 starts and 253.1 innings. He missed the entirety of 2001 and 2003 with injuries, and was terrible on the occasions that he did make it to the mound in the other two seasons: 10-20, 6.39 ERA, 1.71 WHIP. After being a workhorse for the first decade of his big league career, his body seemed to betray him. It's sad, but that's often how I remember Scott Erickson: the broken-down veteran who couldn't get out of his own way.

With a couple of weeks left before Opening Day, I'm thinking about injuries more than I'd like. Four probable members of the 25-man roster have barely played an inning of exhibition baseball due to nagging issues. 35-year-old first baseman Derrek Lee had thumb surgery in the offseason and is still experiencing soreness in his wrist from the recent return to activity. 33-year-old second baseman Brian Roberts has been shut down twice with a stiff neck and (surprise!) back spasms. 35-year-old reliever Koji Uehara had some elbow pain and has been out of commission for more than a week. 33-year-old starter Justin Duchscherer is on the shelf for the second time already this spring due to discomfort in his surgically repaired hip. Are you sensing a pattern here?

It's a long season, and several important Orioles are starting it with aches and pains. Toss a little salt over your shoulder, cross your heart, and hope that these guys aren't on the Scott Erickson path.

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