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Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #245, Rick Rhoden (Article 47)

by Paul Semendinger

(Continuing a series…)



The numbers for Rick Rhoden tell the story, but they are not his fault.

34 does not equal 24.

It was a mismatch from the start.

And, again, that’s not fair to Rhoden.

But the numbers, oh! the numbers:

11-12, 3.88

15 -7, 3.08

14-12, 2.80

22-6, 2.76 (and a Cy Young Award to boot)

15-14, 3.07

15-11, 2.77

All of that totals 92-62, 3.02.

Ouch.

Those are not Rick Rhoden’s stats. Those numbers belong to Doug Drabek in the six years he pitched in Pittsburgh. Those were the six immediate years after the Yankees traded him to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden.

Want to feel worse? (Why not?)

In his last five years in Pittsburgh, Doug Drabek threw no fewer than 219.1 innings a season and he averaged (averaged!) 237 innings a season.

Over the span of his six years in Pittsburgh, 1987-1992, The Yankees had a grand total of 4 pitchers throw 200 innings. Here is the breakdown year by year.

1987 = No Yankees pitcher threw 200 innings

1988 = No Yankees pitcher threw 200 innings

1989 = One Yankees pitcher threw 200 innings (Andy Hawkins with 208.1)

1990 = One Yankees pitcher threw 200 innings (Tim Leary with 208)

1991 = One Yankees pitcher threw 200 innings (Scott Sanderson with 208)

1992 = One Yankees pitcher threw 200 innings (Melido Perez with 247.2)

Do you think the Yankees could have used Doug Drabek?

And for Drabek, the Yankees got Rick Rhoden.

(Yes, there were other players in the deal. The Yankees also gave up Brian Fisher and Logan Easley, and they did get Cecilio Guante and Pat Clements in return. But, primarily, the deal was Drabek for Rhoden.)

The Yankees got the worst of the deal.

By a long shot.

And that just wasn’t Rick Rhoden’s fault.

24 does not equal 34.

***

In the first year that he pitched for the Yankees, 1987, Rick Rhoden went 16-10, 3.86. He threw 181.2 innings.

In Rhoden’s second year in New York, he went 12-12, 4.29 over 197 innings.

In Rhoden’s third year in New York…

Wait.

There wasn’t a third year. After the 1988 season, Rick Rhoden was traded to the Astros for three players no one has ever heard of. Rhoden went 2-6, 4.28 for Houston to close out his career. And that was that.

The Pirates got Doug Drabek.

The Yankees got Rick Rhoden.

It just wasn’t a fair trade.

Drabek was an up-and-coming 24-year-old pitcher.

Rhoden was a 34-year-old veteran winding down his career.

24 and 34 do not equal each other.

***

At one time, Rick Rhoden was a pretty good pitcher.

In 1976 and in 1986, he was an All-Star.

He pitched on the 1977 and 1978 National League Champion Dodgers.

Six times he threw 200 innings. (This is painful to write, five of those 200 inning seasons were the five years immediately before becoming a Yankee.)

He won 15 or more games three times in his career.

In 1985, the year before he became a Yankee, Rick Rhoden went 15-12, 2.84. He made 34 starts and pitched 253.2 innings. But that just happened to be his last very good year.

Oh, and Rick Rhoden won three Silver Slugger Awards.

The man was a good hitting pitcher.

***

Here are some random batting stats put up by Rick Rhoden:

1976- .308/1/9 (65 at bats)

1980- .375/1/11 (40 at bats)

1984- .333/0/4 (84 at bats)

In 1977 and 1982, he hit three home runs in a season.

The man could hit.

***

In 1988, Billy Martin managed the Yankees, at least for the first 68 games of the year. There were times in 1988, when it seemed that Martin had lost his marbles.

In one game he sent up batting coach Chris Chambliss to pinch-hit. He struck out.

In another game, on June 11, in a game that John Candelaria started for the Yankees, Rick Rhoden was the Designated Hitter. Yes, Rhoden was the DH. He went 0-for-1 with a sacrifice fly.

(A few years previous, in a different stint as the manager, Billy Martin had sent up left-handed hitting Mike Pagliarulo as a right-handed batter. Pags struck out.)

***

Rick Rhoden wasn’t a great Yankees pitcher. He really wasn’t even a very good one. But, he wasn’t bad. Over two seasons, he went 28-22, 4.09.

The problem for Rhoden was that Doug Drabek was great for the Pirates.

And that’s all that most people remember about Rick Rhoden and his Yankees career.








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