This time of the season is great for two groups of players within organizations of dying (or dead) playoff aspirations. One group is those of young players, some even legitimate prospects. The other is the group of veterans that will fill the gaps as the team’s way of saying thanks for a year of duty. These veterans may be on their last legs, but if their major league careers are soon to die, at least they will always live through box scores.
Jay Gibbons – Los Angeles (N)
The Dodgers are still without Manny Ramirez and recently dumped Garret Anderson. Thus opening a spot for Jay Gibbons, even with Scott Podsednik already around. It’s hard to believe that Gibbons last played in the majors back in 2007 because it seems like his name pops up at least twice a season, but that’s the case. It’s a little too early to declare Gibbons back from a period in which major league teams were inhospitable towards him, but he did have an OPS over .960 for the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in nearly 400 plate appearances and he’s certainly a better player than the aforementioned Anderson.
Phil Humber & Bryan Bullington – Kansas City
These two soak together. In fact, Bullington started for the Royals last night while Humber finished the last two innings.
When the Pirates drafted Bullington as the first overall choice in the 2003 draft, they boasted about his middle of the rotation potential. Naturally, Bullington never fulfilled even that promise, and only pitched in 18 innings for the Pirates before moving on. He tallied more innings with the Indians and Jays over a combined seven games than he did for the big league squad in Pittsburgh. Last night represents his first start with Kansas City, although he’s worked out of the pen for them, and his numbers weren’t too bad (he walked one, struck four out, and allowed no dingers).
A year after the Bullington selection, the Mets tabbed Philip Humber with the third overall pick in the draft. There are about three things Humber is known for:
1) His performance at Rice University
2) His constant battles with injuries
3) Being involved in the Johan Santana trade
Last night marked the first time he appeared for the Royals and that he lasted two innings without suffering another injury is sadly a positive development. For his sake, maybe he can add a fourth item to his trivia card that involves rekindling his career as a middle reliever.