During his reign as the Red Sox general manager from 1994-01, Duquette proved an incurable scrap-heap junkie, and on occasion he did find treasure in another ball club's trash. Troy O'Leary. Brian Daubach. El Guapo. And a certain knuckleballer who is still floating 'em up there for the Red Sox, 15 years and 178 victories after he was discarded by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
There has been some revisionist history among some of my peers in recent years regarding the Duquette Era, the suggestion being that since he brought some supreme and pivotal players to the Red Sox (Pedro, Manny, Damon, Tek, even Nomar via Georgia Tech) and made a couple of historically shrewd deals in 1997 (Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to Montreal for Pedro, Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe) that perhaps he deserved more credit for his contributions to the magic of 2004 than he received.
The reason for such a suggestion is nothing more than habitual contrariness, for it conveniently ignores two of Duquette's fatal flaws as a GM, reasons they never won a title on his watch: building a productive farm system and acquiring high-quality, reliable talent to support the superstars. There were too many retreaded Pat Rapps and Mark Portugals behind Pedro in the rotation, too many dubious Donnie Sadlers and Seung Songs atop the prospect lists. Duquette had a knack for paying the right superstars, but the subtleties of developing and sustaining an organization eluded him.
Anyway, while it's sort of turned in that direction, this isn't meant as a referendum on the Pros and Cons of the Duke. What it is meant as is our silly little Friday baseball post we promised a little while back (and even have delivered upon occasion . . . especially if you don't know the difference between Friday and Sunday).
The idea for this thing germinated while I was doing my homework last week for a gallery of former Red Sox players whose kids are making a name for themselves in pro ball. Looking back through rosters dating back to the late '70s, I found myself both bemused and annoyed when checking out those Duquette teams and remembering just how tenuous a spot on the back end of the roster was in those days.Today's Chris Donnels was tomorrow's Chris James, you know?
Our guys Arquimedez and Rudy up there are veritable Red Sox Hall of Famers compared to some of these guys Duquette ran in and out particularly during the 1995 season, when the Sox set a franchise record for players used (53), only to top it the following season (55).
Which brings us, at last, to our point: What follows is a look at some of the Duquette Era baseball vagabonds whose arrivals and departures with the Red Sox would barely be recalled if not for the memory-jostling magic of baseball-reference.com.
Here are few names that made us exclaim, "Oh, yeah . . . him." OK, so maybe exclaim is too strong a word. But we were made to remember these Red Sox short-timers and temps. Let's see if you remember them, too . . .
Stan Royer: Third baseman had one hit in nine at-bats in 1994; not to be confused with Chris Snopek, who had two hits in 12 at-bats for the '98 Sox. Royer was chosen by the Braves in the 10th round of the 1985 MLB Draft, but did not sign. Later in the same round, the Red Sox selected Brady Anderson. What, you've got a better anecdote?
Brad Pennington: A 6-foot-5 lefty with a Daniel Bard fastball, he shoulda-coulda-woulda been a bullpen stalwart for years, save for one career-killing flaw: He had the command of a blind man suffering from vertigo. In 13 innings for the 1996 Red Sox, he walked 15, whiffed 13, and presumably had every batter he faced stepping into the batter's box in abject terror. As further evidence that hard-throwing lefties will get roughly a half-dozen more chances than they deserve, in parts of five big league seasons, Pennington had a 7.02 ERA, a 2.08 WHIP, and walked 89 in 75.2 innings.
Pat Mahomes: Lit up the radar gun, but his fastball refused to move, and he walked five batters per nine innings over the course of his 11-year career, which included a stopover with the '96 Sox. That's the recipe for three-run homers right there, and he was a Wasdin-like master chef in that regard.
Ricky Trlicek: Duquette acquired the former Blue Jay twice, in 1994 and again in '97. I suspect at least one of the times he thought he was getting Mike Timlin.
Mark Lemke: Admit it: You forgot the former Braves second baseman ever played for the Sox. (It's for real -- he batted .187 in '98.)
There you have our short list. You know there were so many more.
Ken Grundt. Greg Pirkl. Allen McDill. Who can forget Izzy Alcantara? Calvin Pickering. Pickering's righthanded-hitting, eclipse-causing doppleganger, Juan Diaz. The 3.90-WHIP train wreck that was Toby Borland . . .
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.