Juan Samuel 1990 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for April 30, 2017

2017-04-11 07.49.15

By all accounts, Juan Samuel has had a great baseball life.

He played 16 years in the major leagues. He won the Silver Slugger Award. He was named to three All Star teams and played in the 1983 World Series.

Later he was a major league coach and was briefly the manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Twice he led the league in triples and was a durable players who had the most at bats in the league three out of four seasons.

And despite all of that, he will always represent the shockingly misguided change of direction of a major franchise based upon his half season he spent in New York.

It wasn’t his fault. He was a nice player who had a good career. Just don’t tell that to Mets fans.

The Phillies signed Samuel as a free agent in 1980. A native of the Domincan Republic, he attended the Licey high school in Puerto Rico.

In the Philadelphia farm system, he put up huge numbers in the home run department, was stealing over 50 bases a year and batting over .300. He had star written all over him and was called up in 1983 in time to be on the post season roster.

The Phillies had an aging roster in 1983 with many members of the Big Red Machine having their last hurrahs. One of those players was Joe Morgan, who got some big hits in the 1983 NLCS and World Series. Samuel was a role player in those series, biding his time.

After the World Series, Morgan went to Oakland and room was made for the young Samuel who did not disappoint. OK fine, he led the league in strikeouts in 1984 (he would in 1985, 1986 and 1987 as well.) But he hit for power (36 doubles, 15 homers and a league leading 19 triples) and he could steal (72 bags swiped.)

He was an All Star his rookie year and only the brilliant Dwight Gooden kept him from being named the Rookie of the Year.

The Mets and Cardinals took over the NL East as the Phillies drifted away from contention. But it was not the fault of Samuel, who continued to be the best offensive second baseman NOT named Ryne Sandberg in the National League.

In 1987, he became the first player in MLB history to reach double digits in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases in each of his first four seasons. His defense was sometime suspect and he did not walk much. But the famous line “You don’t walk off the island” is attributed to Samuel.

In 1989, he got off to a slow start in Philadelphia and the team was in flux with the retirement of Mike Schmidt and all connections to the championship years seemingly cut. The 28 year old Samuel looked like he could be trade bait for a Phillies rebuild.

The team shifted him to the outfield where his speed could be utilized and his defensive issues minimized.

Then in July, the Mets called. The team was trying to reshape their image of a wild and crazy party house. They had already pushed out Kevin Mitchell and Wally Backman. But Lenny Dykstra, the hard nose and grind it out centerfielder, was one of the most popular players on the team. He seemed to represent the never say die quality of the Mets that the fans loved. But his act seemed to be wearing thin with management.

Dykstra and colorful reliever Roger McDowell, another fan favorite were shipped off to Philadelphia, a division rival, for Juan Samuel.

The trade was shocking to fans, who also saw another beloved 1986 Met, Mookie Wilson, traded a few days later.

The entire personality of the team seemed to be gutted in a series of moves. In return was a player seemingly playing out of position and whose production plummeted in his 86 games in Queens.

As a lead off hitter, he batted .228 with a .299 on base percentage with an OPS of .599. He stole 31 bases but Met fans did not care. What Samuel represented seemed to supercede anything productive he did on the field.

Ripping beloved players like Dykstra, McDowell and Wilson out of the Mets seemed to take the brash fun out of the team. The intangible swagger was gone and soon the winning was as well. Samuel, along with other less exciting new comers inserted into the team, did not excite the fans nor produce on the field.

What looked like a young dynasty of cocky guys winning and not caring what you think and endearing themselves to New Yorkers, the Mets were a mismatch patchwork of players who didn’t fit. And soon they didn’t win.

It didn’t help matters that Lenny Dykstra helped lead the Phillies to the 1993 World Series and Samuel was long gone with the Mets by then.

Samuel played only a half season in New York. After 1989, he was traded to the Dodgers for Alejandro Pena and Mike Marshall. Essentially, a reliever and an outfielder… almost exactly what he was traded for with the Phillies.

Samuel made the 1991 All Star team with the Dodgers. who bore no ill will to him. He would play until 1998, sometimes as a part time player, and other times starting.

Eventually he would become a coach for the Tigers, a manager in the Mets system and a member of the Orioles coaching staff. In 2010, he served as the interim manager for the Orioles. He managed 51 games, going 17 and 34 along the way before being replaced by Buck Showalter. Since 2011, he has been a coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, who inducted him to their Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park.

Samuel is a beloved Phillies player with a resume and baseball life most would envy. But what he represents to Mets fans is a misguided rebuild. It isn’t fair. But neither is baseball.

10 Reasons why the Philadelphia Phillies winning the 2011 World Series would be good for baseball

The latest entry for the Why Each Team’s Potential World Championship Would Be Good For The Game series will be for the Philadelphia Phillies.

A lot of these entries have been for long shots or teams that are pretty much dead right now (I’m looking at YOU Indians, Giants and White Sox.)

But now it is time for one team that not only has a shot, but should be the prohibitive favorite against any team.

The Phillies were picked by many people (including yours truly) to win it all. And frankly it would be stunning if they didn’t. Now if you are the kind of person who doesn’t like offense, pitching and power, then the Phillies aren’t for you.

Today they clinched a playoff berth.
With 95 wins and 16 games left, they are a cinch for 100 wins.
If they win 102 games, they will have the best regular season record in franchise history.

And with the memory of last year’s stunning loss in the NLCS against San Francisco fresh in their minds, they have gone all in.

The Phillies are the Big Bad Wolf. They could turn the Red Sox or Yankees into underdogs.

So they are another big market Northeastern team with unruly fans using their deep pockets to buy another championship!

What could there POSSIBLY be to root for with a Phillies World Series title?

10 Reasons why the
Philadelphia Phillies
winning the 2011 World Series
would be good for baseball

1. Another World Series title would make Charlie Manuel’s Hall of Fame candidacy very compelling.

Charlie Manuel seems like a cool guy. A classic “Gold Ole Boy” Southern manager who has tamed the wild Philadelphia fanbase and delivered the city’s first Championship in a quarter century.

While the classic Hall of Fame manager seems to be a strategist or a fiery, who can deny the results. With a clinched playoff spot this year (and assuming the Division is inevitable) he will have 5 straight Division Titles, back to back pennants and the 2008 World Series title.

Throw in the fact that his Phillies zoomed past the Mets in the wild 2007 Division race and Manuel could be the best manager in the team’s history. Who is ahead of him?

(He also has another Division Title as a manager of the Indians.) If he wins another World Series title, his Cooperstown resume would start to look convincing.

2. Another title would shine light on the new “Core.”

Jimmy Rollins has been a Phillie for 11 plus seasons. Chase Utley has been a Phillie for 9 seasons. Ryan Howard has been a Phillie for 8 plus seasons. Cole Hamels has been a Phillie for 6 seasons. Ryan Madson has been a Phillie for 8 plus seasons. Carlos Ruiz has been a Phillies for 6 seasons.

They are all home grown players who have been together for all 5 Division Champions. Throw in Shane Victorino who came over to Philadelphia after making his big league debut with the Padres and you have a core of players who have been together through many different Octobers and give the Phillies a sense of stability with the franchise not seen since the Joe Torre Yankee days.

3. The redemption of Ryan Howard’s contract.

Speaking of that core, Ryan Howard has been much maligned since signing his long contract extension. I understand the deal emotionally. Having him play the bulk of his career in Philadelphia would mean that Phillies fans could invest some emotion in the big guy. And he is no doubt one of the more likable stars in the game.

But with his numbers declining (except RBI… the REASON he is paid so much) and the age of sluggers suddenly getting good again seems to be over, the deal looks like it might be an albatross for the next 5 years.

Ahh but what if he helps the Phillies earn ANOTHER World Series title? You could say “Sure he’s over paid and slipping, but that’s the price for an MVP, 3 pennants, an NLCS MVP and being part of 2 of the only 3 World Series titles in team history.”

4. Speaking of redemption, Philadelphia fans can show themselves in a better light.

You might not like it, Phillies fans, but you have one of the worst reputation in sports. I know not ALL of you booed Mike Schmidt… or Santa Claus for that matter. I know not ALL of you got tased or threw up on a little girl. But enough of you have to give Philadelphia sports fans a bad rep.

Want to change that? When the Phillies win the World Series, cheer. Clap. Stomp your feet. Have a great time. But don’t riot. Don’t flip cars over. Show some class. And you can say “Yeah, I’m a Philly fan. At least I’m not a Vancouver fan!”

5. Roy Halladay is great for baseball and deserves to be a champion.

As we move past the Steroid Era and pitchers are becoming more and more dominant, it would be nice to see the BEST current pitcher get a ring.

Halladay could win his third Cy Young this year (although it will probably go to Clayton Kershaw) and last year showed his greatness with a regular season perfect game and a playoff no hitter. Today he threw a complete game shutout to clinch a spot in October. He’s already a Hall of Famer. He is lacking the ring and he’ll join Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter as current aces who are also World Champions.

6. Cliff Lee’s bad ass-ness needs to be celebrated.

In 2009 World Series against the Yankees, Cliff Lee casually caught a pop up while barely moving his body. He just was so cool and non chalant. That’s how he plays the game. He is good. He KNOWS he is good. And he’ll just shut you down on HIS terms.

And those terms also means being a cool customer after being traded from the Indians to the Phillies to the Mariners and to the Rangers in two years. And cool in saying “Thanks but to thanks” to the Yankees money and declaring Philadelphia the place to win.

Like Halladay, Lee is one of the stars of post steroid pitching. And save for his two games in the World Series last year, has been as exciting a big game pitcher as you will see in baseball. He should be a champion.

7. Juan Samuel would get his World Series ring.

In the mid 1980s, Juan Samuel was the best second baseman in the National League not named Ryne Sandberg. He was part of the 1983 National League Champion Phillies and looked like he was going to be a staple in Philadelphia for a long time.

Then he went to the Mets, fetching Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell, which turned out to be one of the best deals in Phillies history. Samuel is a baseball lifer. He’s been a coach and briefly managed the disastrous Orioles last year before Buck Showalter arrived.

The three time All Star has been in professional baseball since 1980 but has never been part of a World Series winner. The current member of the Phillies coaching staff has earned it.

8. A World Series ring for Brian Schneider, the last Expo.

There are very few Montreal Expos left in baseball. Schneider is one of them and he played for the team as MLB was screwing the franchise sending them to San Juan, not letting them call up players in September even while Frank Robinson was putting a winning product on the field. When baseball sent an All Star team to Japan after 2004, the Expos last season, Schneider represented the team. When he returned, they were the Washington Nationals. So by definition, Schneider was the last ever Expo.

He’s now Carlos Ruiz’s backup and probably won’t see any action in the post season. But it would be nice to see one of the remnants of that lost team be rewarded.

9. Another title would make this the greatest Philadelphia team in history

If the Phillies win the World Series this year, which Philadelphia team would be better in history than this squad? The Dr. J/Moses Malone 76ers? The Broadstreet Bullies? The Jimmie Foxx/Lefty Grove Connie Mack led A’s?

This Phillies team might be better than them all.

And sometimes it is GOOD to see greatness unfold and the best of something emerge.

10. Sometimes it is good to have the best team win.

Yeah, underdogs are fun to see win. A little team that could like last year’s Giants or the 2006 Cardinals beating the odds can be appealing. But there are other times it is cool to see a team that is clearly the best in the sport take the title and the crown.

Sometimes seeing a champion who was the best from start to finish can be more satisfying than simply honoring whichever team happened to get hot over three weeks. This Phillies team was designed to win the whole damn thing and they played like it since April. There is something to be said for that.

Is there any doubt who the best team in baseball is? Then by definition they deserve to win the World Series!

Oh I know this will be a hard sell for a lot of you. Philadelphia is as bad as New York and Boston in terms of gluttony in many people’s eyes. (The Phillies payroll is now bigger than the Red Sox!) But trust me, the world won’t end if the Phillies win the World Series. And in many ways, it could be a very cool thing.

Show some brotherly love, my dear readers.

If you liked this then go ahead and read the entries for the other teams.


Follow sullybaseball on Twitter

Hey! I still have a job!

I can’t blame Juan Samuel for his team’s 1-4 record.
It’s not like he inherited Palmer/McNally/Ceullar for a team.

And they had a lead at one point tonight.

But alas it was another loss… the 43rd of the year.

And currently the Orioles are on a pace for a 44-118 record.
The .271 winning percentage would be the third worst since the schedule was expanded to 162 games.

And the 44 wins would be only one better than the franchise’s lowest total (the 1939 St. Louis Browns won 43… but in a 154 game schedule.)

Any minute another manager will take over this squad (Bobby Valentine?) It would be nice to give Juan Samuel plural wins.

It won’t happen at THIS pace!
Follow sullybaseball on Twitter