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Everystros XXXVII

It’s the 37th chapter of the Everystros Countdown.

Houston Astros v Chicago Cubs
C.J. Fick, Houston Astros

Everystros Countdown, Chapter XXXVII

This offseason, I’m running down all 975 players to appear on the field in a Houston Astros regular season game. We’re still in the fourth bracket of such players, those who collected between 101 and 500 plate transactions with the team. In today’s chapter, we’re looking at Astros who were replacement level while with the team and between 103 and 204 Astros PA/BF. We also reach the midpoint of the countdown.

495. George Throop is a six-foot-seven right-handed pitcher from Pasadena, CA. Born on November 24, 1950, he was a 16th-round selection of the Kansas City Royals in 1972 out of California State University-Long Beach. He reached the majors with the Royals in 1975, and eventually appeared in 16 games in relief for them over parts of four seasons, walking 14 and striking out 12 in 20 innings, with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.600 WHIP.

On April 27, 1979, the Royals sent Throop to the Astros for PTBNL Keith Drumright (850). From the time of the trade through the middle of August, he pitched in 14 games in relief. Not really a high-leverage reliever, with an aLi of 0.57, he pitched two perfect innings in his highest-WPA game of the season, in a 7-6 win against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 22 13 innings with the Astros, Throop was 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA and 15 strikeouts versus 11 walks. He allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on 23 hits for a 1.522 WHIP. It was his last major league appearance.

494. C.J. Fick is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Thousand Oaks, CA. Born on November 30, 1985, he was a 15th-round choice of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2007, out of California State University-Northridge. He reached the bigs with St. Louis in 2012, and pitched 1 23 innings over two relief appearances, spending most of the campaign in the minors. On June 27, the Astros claimed Fick off waivers.

Fick spent the remainder of the season with Houston at their top level, and pitched in 18 games out of the bullpen, all in lower leveraged situations, for an aLi of 0.45. On September 12, he struck out three over 1 23 innings, giving up a solo homer but nothing else in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Fick was 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA through his Astros career, with 17 walks and 17 strikeouts in 23 innings. He allowed 13 runs, 11 earned, on 24 hits for a 1.783 WHIP. Fick remained in Houston’s system in 2013, later appearing in the minors also for the Colorado Rockies, but he didn’t get back to the majors.

493. Jim Fuller is a six-foot-three right-handed first baseman and outfielder from Bethesda, MD. Born on November 28, 1950, he was a 26th-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1969, out of San Diego City College. After going unsigned, the Baltimore Orioles chose him a year later in the second round out of San Diego Mesa College. He eventually reached the majors with the Orangebirds (73 games, .209/.251/.386, nine homers, 32 RBI).

After two complete seasons in the minors, the Orioles cut ties with Fuller, who turned around and got a chance to play for the Astros. A weak-hitter on offense, Fuller was a defensive stalwart who was consistently better than the “average” MLB fielder, going by advanced metrics not available at the time. He made one error in 224 13 innings in left field, but also collected five assists. Extrapolated over a full season, he would have been worth over a win above replacement, just on defense. He also played three innings at first base and eight in right field.

At the plate, Fuller was 16-for-100 with six doubles and two homers. He drew 10 walks, scored five runs, and drove in nine, striking out 45 times. He did have one moment of offensive glory. On June 22, he hit two home runs for four RBI in a 7-0 win against the Montreal Expos.

Houston traded Fuller to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dave Augustine on March 30, 1978, but Fuller never again played at the major league level.

492. Gary Geiger was a six-foot lefty-batting righty-throwing centerfielder from Sand Ridge, IL. Born on April 4, 1937, he was a member of the Cleveland Indians organization when he got to the majors in 1958 (91 games, .231/.330/.272, one home run, six RBI). He later played seven seasons for the Boston Red Sox (618 games, .253/.338/.422, 71 home runs, 246 RBI, 57 stolen bases) and the Atlanta Braves (147 games, .214/.328/.333, five home runs, 15 RBI).

After the 1968 season, in which Geiger was relegated to the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Astros chose him in the rule 5 draft. Kinda weird...he had already played 856 major league games. Does anyone have memories of the rule 5 draft in the 1960s?

Anyway, Geiger was a mainstay for Houston through the 1969 campaign, with 93 appearances. That ranked him ninth on the team, which means he was the fourth outfielder. (Marty Martinez had more plate appearances, and was the “actual” utility player, whereas Geiger was used in the outfield only). On July 27, tied with the Philadelphia Phillies at two apiece with two outs in the bottom of the 11th, Geiger hit the walkoff single, scoring Joe Morgan for a 3-2 victory.

Geiger ended up with a .224/.351/.272 slashline, going 28-for-125 over the season, with four doubles and one triple. He drew 24 walks, scored 19 runs, and drove 16 in, stealing two bases in three attempts. Defensively, he played 183 13 innings in left (.950), 102 innings (1.000) in right, and 16 innings in center.

Geiger stuck around in 1970, but only appeared in five games, going one-for-four at the dish.

491. Anthony Young was a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Houston. Born on January 19, 1966, he was a 10th-round selection of the Montreal Expos in 1984 out of high school, but instead went to the University of Houston. Three years later, he was a 38th-round draftee of the New York Mets.

Young reached the majors with the Mets in 1991, and played in parts of three seasons for them both as a starter (31 starts) and as a reliever (70 times). Overall, he was 5-35 with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.367 WHIP, along with 146 K’s in 270 23 IP. He then spent two seasons with the Chicago Cubs (7-10, 3.87, 156 IP, 80 K).

Before 1996 Spring Training, the Astros signed Young to a deal. He came out of the pen for Houston in 28 of their first 73 games of the season. On June 17, he struck out a pair over two shutout innings in his third win of the season, a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

But Young walked more (22) than he struck out (19), and allowed 36 hits in 33 13 innings for a 1.740 WHIP. He did go 3-3 with a 4.59 ERA, but a FIP almost a run-and-a-half higher (5.93) indicated that even with his so-so metrics he got a lot lucky a lot of the time. Young was granted free agency from the Houston organization following the season.

490. Edgar González is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from San Nicolas de los Garza, MX. Born on February 23, 1983, he reached the major leagues for the first time in 2003 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played in a total of six seasons with the Snakes (14-21, 5.97, 257 23 IP, 168 K), followed with a year for the Oakland Athletics (0-4, 5.51, 65 13 IP, 39 K) and a season with the Colorado Rockies (one game, two innings). Colorado released González on June 19, 2012.

On August 23, 2012, González signed with the Astros through free agency. He joined Houston’s rotation on September 3, and made six starts through the end of the season. He was at his best in his second start, on September 9 against the Cincinnati Reds. He struck out six and allowed one run on two hits and a walk in a 5-1 victory. In 25 innings in total, he walked eight and struck out 18, and allowed 14 runs, all earned, on 23 hits with a 1.240 WHIP.

On April 7, 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays selected González off waivers from Houston. After five weeks in Toronto’s system, during which he put up a 7.88 ERA over eight innings at the major league level, they granted his free agency. He once again signed with Houston.

His second tour with Houston wasn’t nearly as good as his first. He pitched 10 innings and posted a 2.000 WHIP on 17 hits and three walks. He gave up nine runs, eight earned, and struck out eight.

489. Jim Landis was a six-foot-one right-handed centerfielder from Napa, CA. Born on March 9, 1934, he got to major league baseball for the first time in 1957, and ultimately spent the Lion’s share of his career with his first team, the Chicago White Sox (1063 games, .250/.346/.385, 83 home runs, 398 RBI, 127 SB). He also played with the Kansas City Athletics (118 games, .239/.346/.310, three home runs, 36 RBI, eight SB) and the Cleveland Indians (85 games, .222/.317/.343, three home runs, 14 RBI).

On January 4, 1967, the Tribe sent Landis with Doc Edwards and Jim Weaver to the Astros for Lee Maye (273) and Ken Retzer. On April 16, he hit a single and two doubles with an RBI in an 11-8 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On June 3, he went three-for-four with an RBI in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Over 50 games with Houston, Landis hit 36-for-143 with 11 doubles, a triple and a home run. He drew 20 walks, scored 19 runs, and drove in 14. Defensively, he was perfect in 220 13 innings in left, 107 23 innings in right, and nine innings in center for Houston. On June 29, the Astros sent Landis to the Detroit Tigers. He hit .208 in 25 games with Detroit, then finished the season going one-for-seven in five games for the Boston Red Sox.

488. Félix Mantilla is a six-foot right-handed middle infielder/outfielder from Isabella, PR, and the midpoint of our countdown (487 before, 487 after). Born on July 29, 1934, he reached the major leagues in 1956 with the Milwaukee Braves. He played six seasons with the team (402 games, .231/.285/.325, 18 home runs, 78 RBI), later also appearing with the New York Mets (141 games, .275/.330/.399, 11 home runs, 59 RBI), and the Boston Red Sox (349 games, .287/.369/.474, 54 home runs, 171 RBI), making the American League All-Star Team in 1965.

Just as the 1966 season was getting underway, the Red Sox traded Mantilla to the Astros for Eddie Kasko (199). On May 18, he went three-for-three with a double and an RBI in a 4-2 win against the Chicago Cubs. On July 2, he grounded out in his first three at bats, then hit a tiebreaking eighth-inning three-run home run in a 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. On July 14, he entered the seventh inning with two outs and a runner on second as a pinch-hitter, then launched a two-run shot that gave Houston a 6-4 lead. Houston eventually lost, 7-6 on a Joe Torre walkoff home run.

Mantilla hit .219/.279/.371 in 77 games for the Astros, going 33-for-151 with five doubles and six home runs for Houston in 1966. He drew 11 walks, scored 16 runs, and drove in 22. He stole one base in his only attempt, and struck out 32 times. Defensively, he played 100 13 innings at third base (.938), 97 innings at first base (.990), 68 innings at second base (1.000) and eight innings in left field (1.000). On November 28, following the season, the Astros released Mantilla.

Mantilla signed on with the Cubs for 1967, but tore an achilles tendon and didn’t appear again at the major league level.

487. Ken MacKenzie is a six-foot left-handed pitcher from Gore Bay, Canada. Born on March 10, 1934, he got to the majors for the first time in 1960 with the Milwaukee Braves. After two seasons with the team (0-2, 5.87, 15 13 IP, 14 K), he also pitched with the New York Mets (8-5, 4.96, 138 IP, 92 K), the St. Louis Cardinals (0-0, 4.00, nine IP, seven K), and the San Francisco Giants (0-0, 5.00, nine IP, three K).

After the 1964 season, the Colt .45s purchased MacKenzie’s deal from San Francisco. In 1965, he joined the Astros on the field for 21 games, all in relief. On May 10, he pitched 4 13 shutout innings, striking out four in a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Maybe it’s ultimately indicative of some part of MacKenzie’s game, and maybe not, but the Astros posted a 2-19 record in his appearances, with MacKenzie proper posting an 0-3 record. In 37 innings, he gave up 22 runs, 16 earned, on 46 hits and six walks. He struck out 26 and posted a 1.405 WHIP and a 3.89 ERA.

486. Jared Fernandez is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Salt Lake City, UT. Born on February 2, 1972, he reached the major leagues for the first time in 2001 with the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched in 19 major league games for them over two seasons with the team, he pitched 63 innings and struck out 41 versus 30 walks. After the 2002 season, he signed a free agent contract with Houston.

In 2003, Fernandez joined the Astros in August, spending the rest of the season with the team. He appeared in 12 games, six each as a starter and as a reliever. His best was on August 30, when he earned a win in a start against the Padres, striking out two and holding them to one run on five hits and a walk over six innings, in an 11-6 win over San Diego.

Fernandez was 3-3 for the Astros that season, and walked 12 versus 19 strikeouts over 38 13 innings. He allowed 17 runs, all earned, on 37 hits for a 1.278 WHIP and a 3.99 ERA. He remained with the Astros the following season, but allowed six runs on five walks and six hits inning. His further major league experience was limited to 6 13 innings with the 2006 Milwaukee Brewers, during which he posted a 9.95 ERA.

485. Jeff Tabaka is a six-foot-two lefty pitcher from Barberton, OH. Born on January 17, 1964, he was a second-round selection of the Montreal Expos in 1986, out of Kent State University. By the time he reached the majors in 1994, he was part of the Pittsburgh Pirates (five games, four innings, four hits, eight walks, eight runs, two K’s). He also played for the San Diego Padres (3-1, 4.36, 43 13 IP, 36 K).

On July 19, 1995, Tabaka became a member of the Astros when San Diego traded him, along with Rich Loiselle, to Houston for Phil Plantier (744). After joining Houston, Tabaka pitched in 24 of Houston’s final 63 contests. On August 10, he struck out four and held the Expos to one run over 3 23 innings on two hits and zero walks in a 6-2 loss to Montreal. On September 4, he struck out a pair and held Cincinnati scoreless over three innings, giving up a single and nothing else in an eventual 6-1 loss to the Reds.

Tabaka’s seasonal ERA was 3.43, but when he originally joined Houston it was 7.11. Just counting his time with the Astros, he was 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA, and 19 strikeouts in 24 13 innings. He walked 12 and allowed 17 hits for six runs and a 1.192 WHIP.

In a weird coincidence, Tabaka had a 7.11 FIP in 1996 for the Astros. He struck out 18 in 20 13 innings, allowing 18 runs (15 earned) on 28 hits and 14 walks, putting a 2.066 WHIP and 8.0 K/9. Later in his career, he appeared with the Reds (three games, two innings), the Pirates for a second tour (2-2, 3.02, 50 23 IP, 40 K) and the St. Louis Cardinals (0-0, 7.36, 3 23 IP, three K).

In tomorrow’s dispatch, chapter 38, we’ll be looking at players at or just above replacement level, between 228 and 497 BF/PA with the team.

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