Monday, February 16, 2015

The 1969 cards: Bunning and Bouton

The 1969 set arrived the other day, and two issues immediately arose.

No. 1: Jim Bouton is not coded to start. No. 2: The Dodgers have TWO Hall-of-Fame pitchers with no room in the rotation.

Taking the latter first: In the Ringo bracket, I made a point of using a pair of washed-up Hall of Fame pitchers in the first round: Steve Carlton (Twins) and Phil Niekro (Blue Jays.) Both started Game Four; Niekro won and Carlton lost, but their teams advanced. I intend to find first round starts, at least, for Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz with their 2009 teams.

But the 1969 Dodgers have Jim Bunning and Don Drysdale. Neither is coded to relieve, and both rank behind the durable trio of Bill Singer, Claude Osteen and Don Sutton, a group that even under the restrictions I laid out before play began could start every game of every round without penalty.

Making things more difficult: Unlike the Jays and Twins, the '69 Dodgers figure to be underdogs in their first round to the '09 Dodgers.

Bunning was a 200-plus inning guy in 1969. Unlike the others, he wasn't ineffective and just hanging on. He should be in a rotation in this tournament. He also spent more time, made more starts and pitched more innings in 1969 with the Pirates than with the Dodgers, and the '69 Pirates can use him. So I shall reassign him to the '69 Pirates. Drysdale will remain with the Dodgers. He may not get a start.


Bouton made one start in 1969 with the Pilots and one with the Astros. He has two cards and is listed as a reliever.

My intent was to have him start the opener for Seattle. I may still do that -- declare a fifth-inning point of weakness and use him to start. The Pilots certainly don't figure to be a threat to make noise in this tournament.

On the other hand, I have (at least so far) avoided giving multiple starts to pitchers with fewer than 100 innings on their cards. This is why Doyle Alexander, John Tudor and Pascual Perez were saved until their teams Game Four in the Ringo bracket. Ditto Eric Nolte of the Padres, and keeping him from starting Game Seven might have saved the Cardinals bacon in that first round.

I doubt I'll have Bouton start for the '69 Astros. They have plenty of superior starting candidates. The Pilots are another matter, It requires more thought,

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