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Everystros Countdown Chapter XIII
Chapter 13 of the Everystros Countdown includes players ranked from 798 up through 785. Every player in today’s field totaled between 21 and 100 PA/BF with the team, and finished their time here between negative-0.0048 and negative-0.0038 bWAR per BF/PA.
798. Joe Hoerner was a left-handed pitcher from Dubuque, IA. Born on November 12, 1936, he started his professional baseball career in 1957 with the Duluth-Superior White Sox, going 16-5 with a 2.58 ERA for the C-level club. In November, 1961, the Houston Colt .45s drafted Hoerner in the expansion draft.
In 1962, the Colts employed Hoerner at the Double-A level with the Oklahoma City 89ers, where he pitched 10 innings in seven games, finishing with a 2.400 WHIP. He also played that year at Single-A for the Savannah/Lynchburg White Sox, going 9-1 with a 2.49 ERA. In 1963 for the 89ers, Hoerner was 11-7 with a 3.29 ERA. His consistent good work led to him joining the Colts’ bullpen near the end of the season. On September 27, he pitched a scoreless middle third, keeping the New York Mets scoreless on two hits between the fourth and sixth innings, striking out two. The Mets won, 10-3.
Hoerner started the 1964 season with the Colts, and pitched 11 innings over seven of Houston’s first 24 games. Opponents scored 11 runs during his time on the mound, but only six of those were earned. He also allowed 13 hits, including three home runs, and six walks while striking out only four.
Hoerner was sent back down to the 89ers for additional seasoning, and moved full time to the bullpen. He ended up pitching 62 innings over 51 games and kept his opponents to a 0.871 WHIP, a 1.31 ERA, 4.9 H/9 and 10.3 K/9. Suffice it to say he had found his niche. In 1965, he spent his entire season back in OKC, going 8-3 as a reliever, with a 1.94 ERA. The St. Louis Cardinals then selected Hoerner in the-then annual minor-league draft.
After joining the Redbirds, Hoerner was in the majors to stay, and he wouldn’t see any minor league clubhouses until he was 40-years-old. He played four years for the Cards (19-10, 2.10, 59 saves), four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (13-12, 2.28, 21 saves, one All-Star selection), parts of two seasons for the Atlanta Braves (3-5, 6.50, four saves), a season-and-a-half with the Kansas City Royals (4-3, 4.28, six saves), a year with the Texas Rangers (0-4, 5.14, eight saves) and his final season with the Cincinnati Reds (0-0, 12.71), but mostly with their Triple-A club, the Indianapolis Indians. Five years later, he appeared on the 1983 Hall of Fame ballot, but didn’t receive any votes. He perished in 1996 at the age of 59, in a farming incident. SABR Bio
797. Alan Bannister is a five-foot-11 right-handed outfielder / middle infielder from Montebello, CA. Born on September 3, 1951, Bannister went in the first round of the 1969 draft to the California Angels, fifth overall out of JFK HS. He said, “nope.” Four years later the Philadelphia Phillies took him with the first overall selection in the 1973 draft out of Arizona State. He made his big league debut with the Phils in 1974.
Bannister played two seasons for the Phillies (50 games, .221/.264/.279), four-and-a-half with the Chicago White Sox (442 games, .265/.326/.339), and three-and-a-half with the Cleveland Indians (367 games, .279/.341/.379). Near the end of Spring Training in 1984, the Tribe sold Bannister to the Astros.
On April 24, Bannister went two-for-four with two doubles, a walk, and a pair of runs scored, but that was his only really good game while with the team. In nine games overall, he was four-for-20 with no RBI and two walks. A small positive, he also only struck out twice. Houston traded Bannister to the Texas Rangers for Mike Richardt on May 25.
Over the remainder of 1984 plus the 1985 campaign, Bannister remained with the Rangers, slashing a .278/.373/.359 line to close out his career.
796. Al Cicotte was a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Melvindale, MI. Born on December 23, 1929, Cicotte started his baseball career in 1948 with the C-level Butler Yankees in the Middle Atlantic League, going 7-8 with a 5.49 ERA and a 1.787 WHIP, but he was only 19 at the time, what do you want? Nine years later, he finally got to the majors with the Bombers, pitching 20 times, including two starts. In 65 1⁄3 innings he was 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA a 1.332 WHIP, and a pair of saves.
Cicotte later played with the Washington Senators (22 games, 3-4, 4.06), the Detroit Tigers (14 games, 3-1, 3.56), the Cleveland Indians (26 games, 3-1, 5.32), and the St. Louis Cardinals (29 games, 2-6, 5.28). A month before the 1961 expansion draft, the Houston Colt .45s purchased Cicotte’s contract from the Cardinals.
You can’t learn to pitch sitting in the bullpen, and that’s what I’ve been doing the last ten years. — Cicotte, The Sporting News, May 31, 1961
Cicotte spent most of the 1962 baseball season with the Oklahoma City 89ers, Houston’s Triple-A level affiliate. He was 10-8 with a 3.08 at the minor league level, with 117 K’s in 158 innings and a 1.184 WHIP. He also appeared in five games for the Colts, four of them were good ones. On April 26, Cicotte allowed a hit but struck out the side in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. In total, he pitched 4 2⁄3 innings, striking out four and giving up one walk and eight hits for two earned runs (and two unearned). Cicotte didn’t appear in professional ball again. SABR Bio
795. Tony Peña is a six-foot right-handed catcher from Monte Cristi, DR. Born on June 4, 1957, Peña started his career in 1975 with the Pittsburgh Pirates at their single-A level. In 1980, he reached the majors for the Bucs, and made the All-Star Team with the club four times over his seven seasons. Overall, he appeared in 801 games and hit .286/.327/.411 with 63 home runs and 340 RBI. Peña also surpassed the league-average CS-rate in every season after his short rookie campaign, which no doubt helped him win three Gold Gloves.
Peña later played for the St. Louis Cardinals (406 games, .248/.303/.342, 1989 All-Star appearance), the Boston Red Sox (543 games, .234/.290/.313, 1991 Gold Glove), the Cleveland Indians (198 games, .248/.295/.344), and the Chicago White Sox (31 games, .164/.250/.179). On August 15, 1997, the Pale Hose traded the 40-year-old catcher to the Astros for minor leaguer Julien Tucker.
You need to have a really good memory to remember Peña’s time with Houston. Between August 17 and September 28, he appeared in nine games, including six starts behind the plate. He went four-for-19 with three doubles, two walks, two RBI, and two runs while striking out only three times. Defensively, he caught one-of-eight trying to steal, and in 52 innings of backstop duty was subject to three wild pitches but zero passed balls. He later appeared in two of Houston’s postseason games as a defensive replacement, but the Astros were swept in the best-of-five by the Atlanta Braves.
Peña was released by Houston after the season, and that would be the end of his playing career. From 2002 through 2005, he managed the Kansas City Royals to a 198-285 record, winning the 2003 AL Manager of the Year.
794. Jason Green is a six-foot-one right-handed pitcher from Port Hope, ON. Born on June 5, 1975, the Astros took him in round number 30 of the 1993 draft out of Port Hope and District HS.
Green came up through the Houston system at a generally steady rate of ascent, excepting the 1996 season, which Green missed entirely due to injury. Green really put his best step forward in 2000, locking down a mark of 10-3 with a 2.00 ERA, with a 1.167 WHIP and 66 K’s in 54 innings between the Astros Double-A Round Rock Express and their Triple-A New Orleans Zephrys.
Interspersed throughout the 2000 season, Green joined the Astros twice. In 14 appearances, he was only bad once, giving up five earned runs in two innings versus the Atlanta Braves in a 13-5 loss on July 29. Otherwise, Green was solid.
On July 25, Green pitched a scoreless seventh in a 7-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds. On September 12, he struck out two over a scoreless seventh in a 9-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Overall, Green pitched 17 2⁄3 innings and allowed 13 earned runs on 15 hits and 20 walks. He struck out 19 and finished with a 6.62 ERA.
793. Gary Sutherland is a utility infielder from Glendale, CA. Born on September 27, 1944, he started his professional career with the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A team for the Philadelphia Phillies. It was also the Phillies for whom Sutherland made his major league debut, hitting .255/.302/.320 in 173 games over three seasons. He also played three seasons for the Montreal Expos (368 games, .234/.287/.299).
In June 1972, the Expos traded Sutherland to the Astros for minor leaguer John Dolinsek and a cash settlement. After joining Houston’s organization, Sutherland reported to the Oklahoma City 89ers in the Triple-A American Association, where he appeared in 79 games and hit .299/.367/.373. At the very end of the season Sutherland joined Houston for five games. After going 0-for-4 as a pinch hitter in his first four games, he started on October 4 and went one-for-four with an RBI.
The 1973 season would pass for Sutherland rostered at the Triple-A level with the AA Denver Bears, Houston’s new affiliate at the level. In 134 games he hit .294/.345/.386 and drew 45 walks versus 27 strikeouts. When September rolled around, Sutherland again joined Houston.
Sutherland appeared in 16 of Houston’s final 22 games of the season. Three times, he posted multiple hits in a game, including September 25, when he hit a single and a double in a 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants. During the offseason, Houston traded Sutherland to the Detroit Tigers with Jim Ray for Fred Scherman and a cash deal.
Sutherland played two-and-a-half seasons with Detroit (320 games, .251/.295/.317), a half-season with the Milwaukee Brewers (59 games, .217/.268/.261), a season with the San Diego Padres (80 games, .243/.291/.301) and a cup of coffee in 1978 with the St. Louis Cardinals (10 games, one-for-six).
792. Reggie Baldwin is a right-handed catcher from River Rouge, MI. Born on August 19, 1954, Baldwin went in the third round of the 1976 draft to the Astros out of Grambling State University. In 1978, he made his debut with the Astros.
Baldwin joined the team and got into his first game on May 25 as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning. He went 0-for-1 in his plate appearance, and Houston lost, 9-1 to the San Francisco Giants. Between June 3 and June 10, Baldwin had a six-game hitting streak, going eight-for-26 with four doubles and six RBI. On July 14, he had an RBI-pinch-hit-single that tied the Montreal Expos, 3-3 and sent the game into extra innings. The Astros eventually won, 4-3 in 13 frames.
In 1979, Baldwin again spent a good chunk of the season with Houston, appearing in 12 games between June 18 and July 30, then again in two more in September. In a pinch hitting appearance on June 18, Baldwin entered the game as a leadoff hitter in a 2-2 tie in the 18th inning, and hit a single. A pinch-runner scored the eventual game-winner later in the inning. Overall, Baldwin went four-for-20 with a double and an RBI, with no walks and one strikeout.
Baldwin joined the Tidewater Tides in 1980 in the New York Mets farm system, but he didn’t graduate to the majors again.
791. Jim Lindeman is a six-foot-one outfielder and first baseman from Evanston, IL. Born on January 10, 1962, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the first round in 1983 out of Bradley University. It was with the Cards for whom Lindeman made his major league debut as well, in 1986. In four seasons at baseball’s showcase level, Lindeman hit .203/.244/.343 and cracked 11 home runs with 43 RBI. He later also played with the Detroit Tigers (12 games, .219/.265/.438) and the Philadelphia Phillies (94 games, .313/.384/.381).
Lindeman was granted free agency after the 1992 campaign was in the books, and signed with Houston just before Spring Training got underway. He played 101 games in Triple-A while on Houston’s books, and hit .362/.422/.562 with 12 home runs and 88 RBI, with five stolen bases in five attempts.
Called up to the big leagues at the end of the season, Lindeman made a pretty good case he should have been with Houston all along. In nine games he had multiple hits in four of them, collecting eight hits in those four contests and zero in his other five games. Weird, right?
Lindeman was eight-for-23 with three doubles and two runs scored with Houston. He left via free agency following the season and ended up joining the New York Mets. In 52 games with the Amazins, Lindeman hit .270/.303/.496. To my untrained eye, it looked like Lindeman was getting better and better as his career progressed, but his time in the majors was at an end. After 83 games at Triple-A for the Texas Rangers in 1995, Lindeman didn’t play at any level again.
790. Rusty Meacham is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from Stuart, FL. Born on January 27, 1968, he was a 33rd-round pick in 1987 by the Detroit Tigers out of Indian RIver State College. He got his first look at the majors with Detroit as well, making his debut in 1991 and posting a 5.20 ERA in 27 2⁄3 innings.
Meacham later played with the Kansas City Royals (19-12, 3.79) and the Seattle Mariners (1-1, 5.74). After appearing for them near the end of the 1996 season, Meacham would need to wait four years before getting back to the majors. Released at the end of 1997 Spring Training, he signed on with the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Cincinnati Reds without sniffing the big leagues. On June 26, 1999, Meacham signed with Houston through free agency.
Meacham spent his first season in Houston’s organization ensconced at their Triple-A level with the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he pitched to a 4.94 ERA, a 1.373 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 in 47 1⁄3 innings. In 2000, he spent most of the year with the Zephyrs as well, pitching to a 2.20 ERA, a 0.994 WHIP and 8.8 K/9 in 57 1⁄3 innings.
In September, Meacham joined the Astros and appeared in five of their final 21 games, all in relief. In 4 2⁄3 innings, he gave up six runs on eight hits (including three home runs) and two walks, striking out three. Houston granted Meacham’s free agency following the season. He got into another 24 games out of the bullpen with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2001 (1-3, 5.60), but didn’t reach the majors again after that.
789. Dustin Garneau is a six-foot-two right-handed batting and throwing catcher from Torrance, CA. Born on August 13, 1987, Garneau was a 19th-round selection of the Colorado Rockies in 2009 out of California State University at Fullerton.
Garneau got to the majors with Colorado in 2015, hitting .199 in 68 games over three seasons. He later appeared with the Oakland Athletics (19 games, .159/.288/.250), the Chicago White Sox (three games, one-for-two), the Los Angeles Angels (28 games, .232/.346/.362) and the Athletics again (seven games, five-for-17). Soon before the 2019 Winter Meetings, Houston inked Garneau to a deal.
Of course, the 2019 season was condensed to 60 games, and Garneau remained with Houston through the entire season. In 17 contests he was six-for-38 with one triple, one home run, and four RBI, with six walks versus 15 strikeouts. He threw out three-of-17 basestealers, and made four errors in 110 2⁄3 innings at the backstop. In the postseason, Garneau appeared in one game versus Oakland in the ALDS as a defensive replacement, and once in the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays, going 0-for-two with two strikeouts.
Garneau has since played in 28 games over two seasons for the Detroit Tigers, with a line of .222/.266/.556.
788. Ray Busse is a six-foot-four right-handed left-side infielder from Daytona Beach, FL. Born on September 25, 1948, Busse joined the Covington Astros at the Rookie-level Appalachian League. In 1971, he played in 92 games with the Oklahoma City 89ers and .271/.319/.458 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI.
Busse debuted with the Astros for two games in July, but went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He rejoined the team in September, and played in eight of Houston’s final 24 games. On September 6, Busse hit two doubles with two RBI in a 6-4 victory against the Atlanta Braves. Overall, he went five-for-34 with three doubles and four RBI with two walks and nine strikeouts.
In 1972, Busse played the entire season back at Triple-A with the 89ers, hitting .207 in 70 games. After the end of the season, the Astros traded Busse with Bobby Fenwick to the St. Louis Cardinals for Skip Jutze and Milt Ramirez.
Busse appeared in 24 games for the Cards in 1973, and hit .143. On June 8, the Cards traded Busse back to the Astros for Stan Papi. in 15 games at the major league level through the rest of the season, Busse went one-for-17.
Busse appeared in 19 more games with the Astros in 1974, going seven-for-34 with a double and three runs scored with three walks versus 12 strikeouts.
787. Oswaldo Navarro is a six-foot shortstop from Villa de Cura, VZ. Born on October 2, 1984, Navarro began his professional career in 2003 with the Everett AquaSox in the Low-A Northwest League for the Seattle Mariners.
Navarro got to the majors with Seattle in 2006, and collected two hits in four plate appearances over four games. He failed to reach the majors again with the Mariners through the next three seasons with the organization. He signed on with Houston between the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
In 2010, Navarro appeared in 14 games for Houston between May 20 and July 18. Although he was only one-for-20 at the plate, he also drew five walks to bring his OBP to .240. He played another season with the Oklahoma City RedHawks in 2011, and appeared in 107 games with a .267/.348/.333 slashline.
786. Gus Triandos was a six-foot-three catcher and first baseman from San Francisco, CA. Born on July 30, 1930, he reached the majors with the New York Yankees in 1953, going five-for-52 in 20 games over parts of two seasons. He later also played for the Baltimore Orioles (953 games, .249/.326/.424, three All-Star games), the Detroit Tigers (106 games, .239/.315/.407), and the Philadelphia Phillies (106 games, .239/.315/.407).
On June 14, 1965, the Astros bought Triandos’ contract from Philadelphia. Triandos then appeared in 24 games for Houston, going 13-for-72 with two doubles, two home runs, and seven RBIs. He scored five times and drew five walks versus 14 strikeouts. On July 20, he hit a two-run homer in the second inning of a scoreless game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers (off of Sandy Koufax, no less), although Houston ultimately lost, 3-2. On August 7, he went two-for-three with an RBI in a 4-0 win against the Milwaukee Braves. Triandos didn’t play again after the 1965 season.
785. Bill Greif is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Fort Stockton, TX. The Astros selected him in the third-round of the 1968 draft. In 15 games following the draft for the Rookie-level Covington Astros, he went 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA, with 92 strikeouts in 76 innings. He moved up a level to the Single-A Peninsula Astros in 1969, and was 1-4 with a 3.30 ERA and 27 K’s in 30 innings.
Greif moved up to the Double-A Columbus Astros and was 10-12 in 27 turns through the rotation in 1970, with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.216 WHIP. In 1971 he was 8-9 with a 3.61 ERA for the Oklahoma City 89ers. That year he also made his first major league appearances, with four games for Houston in July and three more in September. In his debut, on July 19, he struck out six over 6 1⁄3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks, also going one-for-two from the plate in a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Although that was Greif’s only hit of the year, he did pitch another six times. In 16 innings he struck out 14 batters, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on 18 hits and eight walks. He was 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA. Greif later pitched with the San Diego Padres (29-61, 4.42) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1-5, 4.12). SABR Bio