The mail didn’t bring many signed baseball cards this week, but I did get a couple back that I had considered lost.
Last spring, I wrote to Washington Nationals catcher Jesus Flores. About 13 months later, I got a signed card back.
Flores was once a prospect in the New York Mets farm system, but they left him off the 40-man roster and lost him to the Washington Nationals via the Rule 5 draft prior to the 2007 season. During the 2009 season, Flores appeared in just 26 games because of a stress fracture in his shoulder. He hit four home runs in 93 at-bats. Two of them came at Citi Field against the Mets… and I was at both games.
Once upon a time, the New York Mets had a can’t miss prospect named Alex Escobar.
According to Baseball Reference, Baseball America regarded Escobar as the 11th best prospect in all of minor league baseball prior to the 1999 season. He remained in the publication’s top 100 prospects for four years.
The baseball card manufacturers liked Escobar, too. Beckett Media lists 304 different cards for Escobar, with the majority showing him as a minor leaguer or a New York Met. He has 31 different cards that feature a certified autograph, including the one at the right from the 2001 Bowman set. I bought it for $2 at a baseball card show earlier this fall.
As a 22-year-old rookie, Escobar played in 18 games for the 2001 New York Mets in three separate stints. He appeared overmatched, but showed some promise, hitting .200 (10-for-50) with 3 home runs and 8 RBI.
During the offseason, the Mets traded Escobar and outfielder Matt Lawton as part of a package to get Roberto Alomar from the Cleveland Indians. It was a deal that didn’t work out for either team.
Escobar never managed to live up to the expectations people had for him. He struck out too much and didn’t get on base enough. He also had the bad fortune to tear his ACL, costing him the entire 2002 season. Alomar, despite being a future Hall of Famer, did not play well in New York.
Escobar’s last major league appearance came in 2006 for the Washington Nationals. His lifetime totals: 125 games, .258 average, 13 home runs and 52 RBI. He played two more seasons in the minors, but left North American baseball behind after the 2008 season at the age of 29.
The Mets were shut out last night, snapping their five-game win streak. Yunesky Maya, a last-minute replacement when Jason Marquis was traded to Arizona earlier in the afternoon, earned his first major league win. Maybe the late switch affected the Mets’ hitters preparation… maybe they were just due have an off-game.
Either way, the game was less interesting than the news coming out of Colorado about Ubaldo Jimenez. The Rockies and Indians were rumored to have a deal worked out, and Jimenez was reportedly scratched from his start. Then he went out to the bullpen to warm up, and he pitched the first inning. Then Esmil Rogers was warming up in the bullpen. Finally, Jimenez was pulled from the game and traded to the Indians for a package of minor league prospects. I’m not familiar with any of the minor leaguers involved in the trade, but it seems like a huge gamble on both sides.
Do you think we’ll see any more big trades before 4 p.m. today?
Today’s baseball card is a green-framed parallel from this year’s Topps Gypsy Queen set. Thanks to a certain blogger who was nice enough to send me three of these, I had to track down the David Wright card to complete the Mets team set.