Wednesday March 17, 2004
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
A LOOK BACK:
The 1992 USA OLYMPIC TEAM
Over the course of this week, I will be taking a look at the rosters of the USA Baseball Olympic teams back to the 1984 team. (Check out my posting on the 2003 Team USA Roster)Baseball was an exhibition/demonstration sport in the 1984 Olympic games with an 8-team tournament format. In 1992, it became a medal sport. Some really great players were able to represent America throughout these years. Some of the best college players of those years were chosen for the teams, until the 2000 team, when minor leaguers were allowed to play. Some players have gone on to become stars of the major leagues; some had remarkable college careers that simply did not translate into the professional level. Some were affected by injuries and some became coaches. I will discuss the players on the US Roster, with their big league successes, if any.
Monday – 1984 Olympic Team
Tuesday - 1988 Olympic Team
Today, we will take a look at the 1992 team.
1992 OLYMPIC TEAM
In 1992, Team USA went 5-0 in their early pool play to get them to the semi-finals. However, they had to play Cuba (who hadn’t participated in previous Olympics) and lost 4-1. Then they had to play Japan in the Bronze medal game on no rest and lost by a score of 8-3. So, no medal for team USA, however, they had a lot of future major leaguers and a few future stars.
Head Coach – Ron Fraser
Ron Fraser was the head coach at the University of Miami for 30 years before his retirement after the 1992 season. He compiled a record of 1,271-438 and won two National Championships. He is currently still active in baseball. He has been active in youth programs, as well as been a special advisor for a couple of major league organizations.
Fraser also had a strong supporting cast of coaches around him. His Miami assistant Brad Kelley came along. Long Beach State’s coach Dave Snow coached. He spent the 1989-2001 seasons coaching the Dirtbags. Previously, he had coached at Loyola Marymount. In his 17 seasons, he had a 671-373-5 record. Jerry Weinstein coached at Sacramento City College and was 831-208-12 in his years there.
Willie Adams - RHP - Stanford - Drafted in 1993, 1st Round, 36th overall by the Oakland A’s
The big, tall 6-7 righty was a great performer at Stanford. He was their freshman of the year his first year, and he followed that up by getting better, with two more very strong seasons. He was fortunate to make his major league debut June 11, 1996 for the A’s. He started 12 games for them and was 3-4 with a 4.01 ERA. He made 12 starts in 1997 and went 3-5 with an 8.18 ERA. Combined, he was 6-9 with a 5.80 ERA. He never played in the major after that.
Jeff Alkire - LHP – U. of Miami – Drafted in 1992 by St. Louis Cardinals
Alkire had a good first pro season. At Class A Savannah, he went 15-6. But he never really progressed through the minor leagues as anticipated. He was still playing independent ball in 2001. He actually started 36 games for the St. Paul Saints of the Independent Northern League.
Darren Dreifort - RHP – Wichita State - Drafted in 1993, 1st Round, 2nd overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers
The "What Ifs?" of Darren Dreifort's career are countless. However, they all have to do with injuries. A great pitcher and hitter at Wichita State, he became a full-time pitcher for the Dodgers. He made the Opening Day roster for them to start the 1994 season. After 27 games, he was 0-5 with a 6.21 ERA. He developed arm problems and missed the 1995 season. He came back to the Dodgers in the bullpen in 1997 and 1998. His performance meant that he would be moved to the rotation. He made at least 26 starts each of the next three seasons. In 2000, he had his best season to date, at 12-9 with a 4.16 ERA. Somehow that translated into a HUGE contract extension. He made 16 starts in 2001 before encountering another debilitating arm injury which cost him the rest of the season and the 2002 season. He came back late in the 2003 season and started 10 games for the Dodgers. This spring, he is battling for a spot in the Dodgers bullpen, with an outside chance at their 5th starter spot.
Nomar Garciaparra - SS – Georgia Tech - Drafted in 1994, 12th round by Boston Red Sox
Nomar was a star at Georgia Tech, but he was a little shortstop, known for his glove as much as his bat. He made his big league debut with the Red Sox on August 31, 1996, and has been their regular shortstop ever since. He added power to his game and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1997 when he had 209 hits and hit .306/.342/.534 with 44 doubles, 11 triples, 30 homers and 98 RBI to go with 22 stolen bases. In ’98 he hit .323 with 35 homers and 122 RBI. In ’99, he hit a league-leading .357 with 27 homers and 104 RBI. In 2000, he again led the league with a .372 average to go with his 51 doubles, 21 homers and 96 RBI. He played just 21 games in 2001 because of an injury. But he has come back strong the last two years again. For his 7+ big league seasons, he is a combined .323/.370/.555 with 173 homers and 669 RBI. He has played in five All-Star games. And, now he’s married to Mia Hamm.
Jason Giambi – 1B – Long Beach State – Drafted in 1992 in the 2nd Round by the Oakland A’s
Jason Giambi took a little longer to make it to The Show. He played his first major league game in May of 1995. He played in 54 games with the A’s and hit .256/.364/.398. Early, he split time between 3B, 1B, LF and DH until Mark McGwire was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. When people think of Giambi, they think power, and he has averaged over 40 homers the last four seasons. But, equally impressive is his on-base percentage. He had hit over .290 every year after his rookie year, until he hit just .250 last year. However, his on-base percentage remained above .400 for the 5th straight season. The 2000 American League MVP has hit a career .302/.415/.549 with 287 doubles, 269 homers and 904 RBI. Amazingly, for a hitter with such power, he has walked 824 times and struck out 854 times. He is a four time All-Star. Giambi goes into his third season in the Bronx with a cloud over his head, but I would expect a return to All-Star form.
Rick Greene - RHP – Louisiana State - Drafted in 1992, 16th overall by the Detroit Tigers
Another example of a highly drafted pitching prospect who never really met expectations. The Tigers traded him to the Brewers after the 1997 season. The following offseason, he became a free agent and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. 5 2/3 innings pitched, 7 hits, one walk, three strikeouts, four runs, three earned runs. Those numbers are from his line in his one and only big league game, one he pitched for the Reds in 1999. That’s a 4.76 ERA, if you were wondering. He played for an independent team in 2001, and in 171 innings, he struck out 175 batters. He then became the pitching coach for the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League.
Jeffrey Hammonds - OF – Stanford - Drafted 1st round in 1992, 4th overall by the Baltimore Orioles
Hammonds was another in a long line of big-time Stanford prospects. He made his major league debut less than a year after being drafted. With the O’s, in 33 games, he .305 with three homers. After that start, injuries piled up on Hammonds, one after another. He has played in the major leagues every season since 1993, yet has never played more than 128 games in a season. He has always had the talent. In 2000, in just 122 games, he hit. 335 with 20 homers and 106 RBI. That earned him a three year deal with the Brewers, where he continued to be injured. He was released early in the 2003 season and signed by the San Francisco Giants. He played well for them and helped them to the NL West crown. His numbers for his eleven year career have been .274/.339/.454 with 107 homers and 416 RBI. He is in camp again battling for an outfield spot. The question remains, can he stay healthy? Well, he will be out about 4-6 weeks with a fractured hand.
Rick Helling - RHP – Stanford - Drafted 1st round in 1992, 22nd overall by the Texas Rangers
Rick Helling’s career has been somewhat cyclical. He came up to start the 1994 season with the Texas Rangers, the team that drafted him. He struggled into the 1996 season, when he was traded to the Florida Marlins. He pitched primarily out of the Marlins bullpen most of the season. However, that was the year that the Marlins bought the World Series championship. Late in the season, needing a left-handed reliever, Helling was traded back to the Rangers in exchange for Ed Vosberg. 1998 was the year that Rick Helling made himself a name, and gave himself some career stability. That year, in 33 starts, Helling went 20-7 (despite a 4.47 ERA). He pitched over 210 innings each of the next three seasons with the Rangers with a record of 61-42. He gave up hits and some home runs, but he did enough to let the potent Ranger lineup win some games. He spent 2001 in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation. Last year, he started 24 games for the Baltimore Orioles, but they decided to go a different direction and released him. He re-signed with the Florida Marlins and pitched 11 games out of the bullpen going 1-0 with a 0.55 ERA and earning that World Series ring. This offseason, the North Dakota native comes to the Minnesota Twins with a good chance to be in the Twins starting rotation. If he can pitch 180 innings (which with the physical specimen that he is should not be a problem so long as his control is not his downfall) and have an ERA in the 4.40 range, he will be a great help to the Twins. His career record (10 seasons) is 90-78 with a 4.77 ERA.
Charles Johnson - C – U. of Miami – Drafted 1st Round in 1992, 28th overall by Florida Marlins (had been drafted 10th overall in 1989 by the Expos, went to college)
Johnson came to the majors with a reputation as a great defensive catcher. He certainly proved to be that, winning four Gold Gloves. His lone problem throughout his career has been healthy too. After spending the first four-plus seasons with the Florida Marlins (and helping them to the ’97 World Series Championship), Johnson was traded in 1998 as part of the Marlins massive sell-off. In May ’98, he was traded to the Dodgers and spent the rest of the season in L.A. One December 1, 1998, he was traded by the Dodgers to the Mets. Then later that day, he was traded from the Mets to the Orioles where he spent the 1999 season and half of the 2000 when he was traded to the White Sox. He spent 2001 and 2002 back with the Marlins before being traded to Colorado in the Mike Hampton trade. For his 10 year career, the two-time All-Star is a career .246/.328/.435 with 154 homers and 518 RBI.
Daron Kirkreit - RHP – U. Cal - Riverside - Drafted 1st Round in 1993, 11th overall by the Cleveland Indians
Kirkreit is another guy who is hard to research because, despite his high draft position, his career was basically over by 1996. He had rotator cuff surgery in 1995 and missed most of the 1996 season. He was with the Indians organization through the 1997 season. He spent time with the Reds, Royals and Brewers organization before taking a shot in an independent league. He is now out of baseball.
Chad McConnell - OF - Creighton- Drafted 1st Round in 1992 by the Philadelphia Phillies
Another ‘bust’, McConnell spent four seasons in the Phillies organization, more than half of it in AA. In 1997, he had back surgery and never was the same after that.
Calvin Murray - OF - Texas - Drafted 1st Round, 7th overall, in 1992 by the San Francisco Giants (had been drafted out of high school in 1989, 11th overall by Cleveland but went to college)
Calvin Murray is still pursuing his big league career. The Giants sure stood by Murray. He was drafted very high in 1992, but didn’t make his big league debut with the team until late in the 1999 season. An incredibly fast defensive outfielder who can run the bases very well, Murray’s only problem was finding a way to get on base. Well, in his four attempts in the big leagues, that was definitely the case. In 2000 and 2001, he played in over 100 games a season with the Giants, splitting centerfield duties with the likes of Marvin Benard. He hit .244 during those years. In 2002, he started the season with the Giants going 0-12 in 11 games. The Texas Rangers had the malcontent Ruben Rivera in centerfield, and when he wasn’t there, Carl Everett, the no-range outfielder was there. So, the Giants sold Murray to the Rangers. In 48 games, he got 89 at bats and hit just .169. He was let go after the season. He spent the 2003 season with the Dodgers AAA team. He is currently in the Cubs training camp, reunited with his former Giants manager, Dusty Baker.
Phil Nevin - 3B – Cal State-Fullerton - Drafted in 1992 1st Round, 1st overall, by the Houston Astros
Early in his career, the #1 pick in the entire 1992 draft looked like a bust. From his debut in 1995 through the 1998 season, he failed miserably in attempts with the Astros, Tigers and Angels. At the end of the 1999 spring training camp, he was traded from the Angels to the Padres in exchange for Andy Sheets. Since his arrival in San Diego, Nevin has been very good, earning an All-Star appearance. He hit 24, 31 and 41 homers in his first three years with the team. He hit .269, .303 and .306 those years, showing his potential. The last two years, he has been very productive, when healthy. Last year, he injured his shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield and missed over 100 games. He returned and did well, hitting 13 homers in 59 games last year. He had hoped to come back strong in 2004, but he dove for a ball again in a spring training game, this time at 1B, and re-injured his shoulder. He isn’t expected to be out too long.
Chris Roberts - OF/LHP - Florida State – Drafted 1st Round, 18th overall, by the New York Mets
I remember watching Chris Roberts in college. He could flat-out hit and played a solid left field, but then he would come in at the end of the game and shut the door. To illustrate, in his three seasons at Florida State, he hit .301 with 32 homers and 175 RBI. He also went 23-8 with a 3.30 ERA. He was drafted by the Mets and became a full-time pitcher. He was with that organization until 1997. A recurring theme with this Olympic roster seems to be injuries! Roberts had shoulder surgery in 1996. He spent 1998 with the A’s organization and 1999 in the Rockies minors. He played the 2000 season for the Chiba Lotte team in Japan. In 2001, he played with the Brewers organization. That was it for his playing days, but he soon became the pitching coach for Western Carolina, which he did for two years. This year, he became the pitching coach for North Carolina State.
Michael Tucker - 2B - Longwood College - Drafted 1st Round, 10th overall by the Kansas City Royals
Tucker was a small, Division II middle infielder who put up huge offensive numbers, earning him a spot on the Olympic roster and a high draft position. He came up to the Royals late in April of 1995 and hit .260 in 62 games. After two seasons in KC, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Jermaine Dye. He had two quality seasons in Atlanta before he was traded to the Reds in a package for Bret Boone. He stayed in Cincinnati until the trade deadline of 2001 when he went to the Cubs for a couple of minor leaguers. After the season, the Cubs traded him to the Royals for a minor leaguer. Injury cost him much of the 2003 season. This offseason, he signed a big free agent contract with the San Francisco Giants. For his 9 big league seasons, he has hit .259/.338/.432 with 106 homers and 424 RBI.
Jason Varitek - V - Georgia Tech – Drafted 1st Round, 14th overall, in 1994 by the Seattle Mariners (taken 21st overall by the Twins in 1993, but did not sign)
I remember seeing Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra (and Jay Payton) play a game in the Metrodome in 1993. I remember Varitek making a throw to second on a line. It was incredible. He has always been a good defensive catcher, but if you look at his offensive numbers they are no worse than average for a catcher. He made his major league debut on September 25, 1997 and in his one plate appearance, he singled. Last year, he made his first All-Star appearance and deserved it. His numbers last year were .273/.351/.512 with 25 homers and 85 RBI, impressive because he primarily batted 9th in the Sox lineup. He has one more year left on his current contract with the Red Sox. In his 6 seasons in the big leagues, he has hit .265/.338/.444 with 79 homers and 345 RBI.
Ron Villone - LHP – U. of Massechusetts - Drafted 1st Round in 1992, 14th overall, by the Seattle Mariners
Villone is a left-handed pitcher, so what does that mean? Well, he gets chance after chance. He came up with the Mariners in 1995, and has since made appearances with the Padres, Brewers, Indians, Reds, Rockies, Astros and Pirates. In the last few years, he has been given a chance to start. In 9 years, he had pitched in 338 games (83 starts) and is 39-43 with a 4.91 ERA. This offseason, he signed a contract to return to Seattle, where his career began.
BJ Wallace - 3B - Mississippi State - Drafted in 1992 in 1st Round, 3rd overall by the Montreal Expos
In the Olympic tournament, Wallace had a 14 strikeout game against Italy, which is still the record for strikeouts in a game. After being drafted in ’92, the lefty had to have shoulder surgery in 1994. AFter stints in the Expos, Phillies and Red Sox organizations, he was retired and out of baseball by the age of 25. He began volunteer coaching at his hometown high school. His life has certainly changed in the last year. On June 14, 2003, he was driving down the road. A car in front of him was stopped at a light. For some reason, Wallace did not even slow down and rear-ended the car. The impact killed a 59 year old man and injured his wife. Wallace had a blood-alcohol level of .01, well below the legally drunk level of .08 and even the law’s opinion of .05 where a person should even be affected. Wallace was charged with drunk driving and later for criminally negligent homicide. He was released in January.
Craig Wilson - IF – Oklahoma State - Drafted 1992, 13th Round by the Chicago White Sox
There have been three Craig Wilsons who have played in the major leagues in the last five years. So, it was difficult to verify which was the one who played on the 1992 Olympic team. But, I am sure I picked the correct one because this one was drafted in 1992 whereas the others would have been out of the range to have played. Anyway, this Craig Wilson was an infielder for Team USA who played parts of three seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 1998 to 2000. In all, he played in 139 games and got 372 at bats. He hit .272/.328/.376 with 7 home runs and 40 RBI.
Chris Wimmer - OF – New Orleans - Drafted 1st Round in 1988, 29th overall by the San Francisco Giants
Wimmer was known as a very speedy player for Team USA who could play any infield or outfield position. He played in the Giants system for four years. He then spent time with the Cubs and Cardinals organizations but never made it to the big leagues.
Those are the members of the 1992 USA Olympic Baseball team. If you have any information, stories or anything on any of these players, please e-mail me.
TUESDAY - Twins 5, Blue Jays 4
The Twins had another come-from-behind win yesterday in Grapefruit League action.
Today, the Twins will be playing the Toronto Blue Jays down in Ft. Myers at noon. The team scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th to pull out the win. A lot of players contributed. Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-3. Joe Mauer was 2-3 with a 2B. Nick Punto was 2-2. Cristian Guzman, Matthew Lecroy, Gabby Torres and Luis Rivas each had a double. Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer each had RBI singles. Brad Radke went four innings on the mound. He gave up 2 hits, a walk and an earned run, striking out 1. Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless inning. Jesse Crain struggled in his inning, giving up three hits and two run (1 earned). Seth Greisinger pitched the 9th and struck out two in recording the win.
Today, the Twins face the Florida Marlins at noon.
FORMER TWINS PERFORMANCES
Another look at how former Twins players performed Tuesday. Rain affected many of the day’s scheduled games and canceled three. Check out Mike Lincoln’s great inning. Not such good outings for a couple of starting pitchers!
· Chad Allen, LF - Texas Rangers (0-0)
· Kenny Rogers, SP - Texas Rangers (3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K)
· Denny Hocking, SS - Colorado Rockies (1-4)
· Warren Morris, 2B - Detroit Tigers (0-2)
· Jason Ryan, SP - St. Louis Cardinals (2 1/3 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 1 K)
· Mike Lincoln, RP - St. Louis Cardinals (1 IP, 3 K)
· Brian Buchanan, 1B - San Diego Padres (0-3)
· Quinton McCracken, DH - Seattle Mariners (0-1)
· David Ortiz, 1B - Boston Red Sox (0-3)
· David McCarty, 1B - Boston Red Sox (0-1) - (Sidenote- his attempt to pitch appears to be over.)
Check out Rich’s Weekend Baseball Beat. He has been doing an excellent job of keeping us updated on the progress of Long Beach State pitcher Jered Weaver, who is putting up some remarkable numbers this season. His most recent posting does a comparison between Weaver and Mark Prior. It is well worth the stop over there!
Stop by The Hardball Times too. Fantasy baseball fans and participants will want to check out Ben Jacobs’ Fantasy Previews. Those interested in minor leaguers and prospects, check out Aaron Gleeman’s Top 50 prospects list.
Is chemistry important to a baseball team? If so, how? Dick Allen on his self-titled website has a couple of entries on that very topic. It is something that stat-heads don’t agree to because it really can’t be measured in numbers. But chemistry and playing for your teammates has to mean something in the big picture, doesn’t it?
New Site! Be sure to check out a new website, StraightAwayCF. It is primarily a site on the Devil Rays as well as minor league baseball and other baseball information from Central Florida.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
Last night was the first big performance night for the Final 12 American Idol hopefuls. All 12 sang "soulful" songs. I have to admit that I am finding myself agreeing more and more with Simon, and he was actually nice last night when it was warranted. I am going to keep this fairly short. I am going to rank the 12 performers from last night, giving my opinion of the best to the worst.
1.) Jasmine Trias - the best!
2.) George Huff - looks so much younger without the mustache. Very good!
3.) Dianna Degarmo - Just wrote "Wow!"
4.) Fantasia Barrino - She’s pretty good, but I don’t like the Signed, Sealed, Delivered song for her!
5.) Jennifer Hudson - Great voice, still scary!
6.) Jon Peter Lewis - He is actually pretty good, surprisingly!
7.) John Stevens - I like his voice and the typical songs, I didn’t think he was great last night though!
8.) LaToya London - This was good, just no where near as good as she has been!
9.) Matt Rogers - I like the guy, he’s cool! He did well, nothing great.
10.) Camille Velasco - I like her. I like her shyness. But he voice just sounded nasally. Not good!
11.) Amy Adams - She’s not bad, just a bad song, and I didn’t think she hit all the notes.
And who do I think should be voted out of the competition? Someone I didn’t think should have been in it in the first place. That’s right, Leah Labelle. She was horrible. As I was watching it, I thought it looked like she was lip-syncing the words. The cameras were rarely on her face. It didn’t even sound like her, but then at times it would sound like she had in previous weeks, which was awful!
Overall, I think this was a very impressive night of signing. Simon was right; there are a lot of these singers who have the same voice, so how that works itself out could be interesting. Any thoughts? E-mail me.
And on that note, that is it for today! Let me know what you think about the 1992 Olympic information. Also, if you have any information on any other Olympic baseball players from the 1984, 1988, 1996 or 2000 teams, please let me know! Or, if you have any questions or comments on anything, let me know. E-mail me. Have a great day!
Back to Archives Home