Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

John Stephens, 2002 Upper Deck 40 Man #220

After several days of haggling, the Orioles have their new closer. Yesterday the team agreed to a two-year, $14 million contract with Grant Balfour, a righthanded soon-to-be 36-year-old who spent the last three seasons in the Oakland bullpen. I think he'll be a capable replacement for Jim Johnson. While he's five and a half years older than Johnson, and a bit more homer-prone, he's also cheaper (Jim's arbitration-eligible and expected to fetch more than $10 million for 2014) and much more of a strikeout pitcher. It's always good to have guys with swing-and-miss stuff; while Johnson's sinker can produce ground balls, bad things can happen when those grounders find holes. We saw that last year.

Of trivial interest: Balfour was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. That makes him one of just 28 Aussies to play in the major leagues, and he'll be the third to suit up for the O's. Naturally the Birds will hope for much better results from him than they got from the others, a pair of fellow pitchers. John Stephens was a soft-tosser who couldn't replicate his minor-league success in a 12-game audition in Baltimore (2-5, 6.09 ERA in 2002). Damian Moss had a strong rookie season with the 2002 Braves before being dealt twice in eight months: in December 2002 he was sent to San Francisco in a package for Russ Ortiz, and the following July the Giants swapped him and a couple other young arms to the Orioles for the great (as in immense) Sidney Ponson. Moss lost five of his six decisions with the O's, walking 29 while striking out only 22, and putting up a 6.22 ERA and 1.8 WHIP. He moved on to Tampa Bay in 2004, was even worse in his five games there, and that was that. It's always so cheerful when we get to bring up the recent past on this blog, isn't it?

1 comment:

Ryan H said...

Upper Deck screwed up the picture on the card. The player pictured is actually Orioles pitcher/washout Mike Paradis.