Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ryan Kohlmeier, 2001 Topps Traded #T35

With less than twenty-four hours to go until the non-waiver trading deadline, it's looking less and less likely that the Orioles will trade their rags-to-riches closer, All-Star George Sherrill. "Flat Breezy" was a great story earlier this season, as the ex-independent leaguer and throw-in to the Erik Bedard trade was collecting nail-biting saves by the dozen and his teammates and fans alike were flipping up the bills of their hats in homage. But as the summer wears on, he's looked increasingly vulnerable and most of the fan base is itching to deal him away for the first offer.

While I certainly understand that Sherrill's value will likely never be higher, and that he's looking pretty rough right now, there are worse things than having a reliever who is tough on lefties, can keep his cool under pressure, and is under team control for several more years. Even though the Moneyball philosophy holds that closers are largely overrated and should be flipped for prospects, and that any slob can get three outs, even if they happen to be at the end of a game, the Orioles' trials and travails show that it's not always so cut-and-dried. Take Ryan Kohlmeier for example.

Late in the 2000 season, with the Birds going nowhere fast, they traded every veteran that wasn't nailed to the dugout bench. Among those dealt was veteran closer Mike Timlin. With nothing to lose, the O's handed the ninth inning over to an obscure rookie named Ryan Kohlmeier. The righty from Kansas set tongues wagging, saving 13 games in 14 tries and allowing just one home run in 26 and one-third innings. His 2.39 ERA was almost half as low as the league average. Surely, thought many, the Orioles have found their closer of the future! Sure, his 1.7 base runners per inning was a cause for concern, but that could be fixed.

Not so fast.

Whatever Ryan had during his initial go-round, he lost it in 2001. While allowing hits and walks at a similar rate (1.65), he also started serving up home runs like they were ice cream: 13 in 40 and two-thirds innings. As a result, his ERA ballooned to 7.30 and he quickly lost his closer post. The Birds waived him in November, and he spent three years at AAA with the White Sox before dropping out of organized baseball altogether. As quickly as he had burst onto the scene, Ryan Kohlmeier had disappeared back into the ether.

So George Sherrill may be finishing games in Baltimore for at least two more months, if not longer. I can think of worse things.

1 comment:

William said...

Ryan Kohlmeier! Wow, talk about a blast from the past. I have so many star rookie cards of him, worth a combined wood nickel.