Friday, March 21, 2014

Assaulting the 80's

As I mentioned in a recent post, The 80's Called, They Want Their Cliches Back, I mentioned that one of my side-quests in my All-Time Roster Collection is to obtain a card of every Cub who has played since 1980.  I'm getting very close to achieving this and today I can cross two more names off of that list thanks to super-cheap eBay auctions.

These two were career minor-leaguers who were served a few cups of coffee in the mid-80's, but never amounted to much:

In fact, Botelho was already pretty much a lost cause by the time he ended up with the Cubs.  The pitcher was a 2nd round pick by the Phillies in 1976.  He was traded to the Cubs just 2 years later in the Manny Trillo deal and appeared in 4 insignificant games with the Cubs AAA affiliate before being released.  Game over, right?

He took a year off before latching on with the Royals in A-ball.  He had a good run in the organization and by 1982 he made his Major League debut, getting into 8 games (2-1 4.13 ERA, 24 innings).  But the next year went poorly for him in AAA, posting an ERA well over 5, and the Royals traded him away, back to the Cubs, before the 1984 season began.

He was purely organizational filler by this point and he pitched in the Iowa rotation.  Then, 1985 happened.  It seemed like every pitcher in the Cubs organization pulled up lame, with the entire starting rotation eventually ending up on the DL.

Enter Derek Botelho.  He got into 11 games (7 starts) as the Cubs turned to desperation mode while trying to find live bodies to stand on the mound, with a line of 1-3, 5.32 ERA.  Once the Cubs got healthy in 1986, Botelho's MLB career was over.

Derek Botelho today, pitching coach extraordinaire, with another former Cub, Luis Salazar

After bouncing around in the minors for a few more years, he called it quits in 1988.  Starting in 1990, he then took up coaching, which this card notates.  He's still in the game today as a pitching coach for the Class A-Advanced Lynchburg Hillcats, his 24th year as a coach and 38th in professional baseball. 

But, if he'd hung around in the bigs for just 1 more year, he might have pitched to our next subject...

...Mike Martin, a catcher who had been toiling in the minor leagues for 8 years before finally getting a shot with the 1986 Cubs.  He was the Bobby Scales of his generation.

He was a 1st round draft pick out of college by the Padres in 1978, but never lived up to his promise.  The Padres cut ties with him in 1984 and he signed as a minor-league free agent with Milwaukee.  He was to be their starting catcher at AAA, a tenure which this card pictures, but only got into 77 games and batted just .230.  He was cut loose again at the end of the year and the Cubs took him on to be their AA catcher in 1986. 

1986 was an All-Star and Gold Glove season for Jody Davis, but there wasn't much talent behind him that year.  Steve Lake was unproductive, Steve Christmas was injured and Keith Moreland was an emergency option at best.

Thus, Mike Martin's chance in the majors finally came.  In August, he was called up as a backup backstop (say that 5 times fast!) and batted .077 in 8 games, obviously not enough to push himself ahead of the crowd, even with as weak as it had been.

Mike Martin catching, with Reggie Jackson at the plate, in spring training 1987

He stayed on through spring training of 1987 before finally being cut from the roster.  I guess one stint in the majors was good enough for him, as he never played professionally again.  He's now the president of a baseball academy in Las Vegas.

This 1985 release from Cramer Sports Productions' excellent Pacific Coast League set was the only card that I could locate for Mike.  There is a card that pictures him as a member of the Cubs' AA affiliate at the time, but it's a tough find.  I'll take this one though, as I love minor league cards and this set is amongst my favorites of such pieces.


Two more obscure Cubs down.  I now have 1,158 Cubs out of 1,988 all-time (58.25%).  As for my quest to complete the Cubs roster from 1980 through today, I have just 23 to go:

Gene Krug - 1981
Bill Johnson  - 1983-1984
Johnny Abrego - 1985
Mike Maksudian  - 1994
Joe Kmak - 1995
Roberto Rivera - 1995
Ramon Morel - 1997
Ramon Tatis - 1997
Steve Gajkowski - 1998-1999
Derrick White - 1998
Richard Barker - 1999-2000
Doug Creek - 1999
Brad Woodall - 1999
Raul Gonzalez - 2000
Mike Mahoney - 2000, 2002
Mike Fyhrie - 2001
Angel Echevarria - 2001
Ron Mahay - 2001-2002
John Gaub - 2011
Jeff Beliveau - 2012
Lendy Castillo - 2012
Chang Yong-Lim - 2013
Zac Rosscup - 2013
Have you seen these men?

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