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Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Birthdays

Mike Brown CAL b. 1959, played 1983-1985, 1988. Along with southpaws Pat Clements and Bob Kipper, one of three players sent to the Pirates in the trade for lefty starter John Candelaria, lefty reliever Al Holland, and OF/1B/DH George Hendrick. For the Pirates, it was a salary dump; Candelaria and Hendrick both made the Top 100 Angels list. Brown, a 7th-round draft pick in 1980, had an insignificant career with the Pirates, returning to the Angels in 1988 after his 1987 release that took him through the Braves, Chisox, and Tigers. He lasted 18 games before retiring from the majors.

Bruce Brubaker LAN b. 1941, played 1967

Hank DeBerry BRO b. 1894, played 1922-1930, d. 1951-09-10

Craig Grebeck ANA b. 1964, played 1997

Rod Nichols LAN b. 1964, played 1993

Devon White CAL,LAN b. 1962, played 1985-1990, 1999-2000, All-Star: 1989, 1993, 1998. A nearly powerless switch-hitter but an excellent defensive centerfielder who won seven Gold Gloves. A Top 100 Angel upon whom the team gave up on far too early, he was traded to the Blue Jays in December, 1990, where he started for three straight division winners and two World Series champions. The return the Angels got wasn't so hot; Junior Felix and Luis Sojo were both busts, especially after it turned out that Felix was older than the Angels thought. Two of White's All-Star seasons happened in uniforms other than the Angels' (Toronto and Arizona).

After stints with Florida and Arizona, the Dodgers ended up with him in 1999, a typical Kevin Malone pickup, in what was his first free-agency signing as Dodgers' GM. Malone justified the 3-year/$11.5M deal by saying of the soon-to-be 36-year-old, "He can hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases, he's a run producer and he can bat anywhere in the order. He can do so many things for you."

In fact, he had hit 22 homers — his best since 24 with the Angels in 1987 — and he had stolen 22 bases only the year before. But White's glove had started to decline in Arizona (97 Rate2, the worst such score in his career), declining further in Los Angeles (96 and 94 in 1999 and 2000). Worse, as an aging player, he was liable to break down.

Sure enough, White went on the DL with a partially torn rotator cuff on May 5, 2000, and didn't play again until July 24. In the interim, the Dodgers replaced White with the increasingly offense-challenged Todd Hollandsworth. After much grousing about playing time by Hollandsworth, whose bat had badly eroded his playing time, the former 1996 Rookie of the Year got shipped to the Rockies for his replacement in center, Tom Goodwin. Manager Davey Johnson had Goodwin and White evolve into a platoon arrangement, as Goodwin struck out too frequently to be effective in a leadoff role, while White could no longer bat from the left side.

In February, 2001, the Dodgers sent him to Milwaukee for Marquis Grissom and a PTBNL (reliever Ruddy Lugo, brother of Julio). He finished his career there with the strongest season since his All-Star year with Arizona, platooning with Jeffrey Hammonds in center.


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