Wow, time really flew by! It feels like just yesterday my wife and I were watching the Brewers, when K-Rod blew his first (of many)”set-up” of the season. As is tradition, I threw my hate and cursed at it. Without skipping a moment, my wife said “You aren’t going to miss him, are you?”
No Ashley. No I will not.
From that singular inquiry came this amazing project. I hate to see it go, but I love to watch it walk away…
To finish things off, I have brought in a very special guest. Many of you will know Justin Hull from his radio talk show “Home Stretch” on WSCO Radio in Appleton. He also works in the station as a Producer. If you follow him on Twitter @JH1570, or like his page on Facebook, he posts the links to every show.
In my opinion, Justin is one of the best young radio hosts that the state of Wisconsin has to offer. I would love to listen to him call a ballgame. His show gets me through my work week, so I am honored to have him be a part of this project. Trust me, when you live 2,000 miles away…having some intelligent, Brewers talk radio is just priceless. And he talks with Kyle Lobner on a fairly regular basis, who I am also a big fan of.
Justin has a wealth of baseball knowledge, and he was kind enough to drop two of the finest entrants into the “Hall of Brewers We Won’t Miss”. It’s possible that some of you will read these names…and have no idea who we are talking about. But part of the healing process, is learning from past mistakes.
This is a 5 week project, in which 5 select individuals will nominate two former Brewers as candidates for “The Hall”. At the end of those 5 weeks, RtB will put up a poll in order to induct 2 players in to the first ever class of the “Hall of Brewers We Won’t Miss”.
Ben McDonald - Holy crap…talk about a mind blower. Ben McDonald found his way into the spotlight back in 2009, drawing comparisons to Stephen Strasburg. Ben McDonald was the can’t miss pitching prospect out of LSU, in the 1989 MLB Draft. He was taken 1st Overall by the Baltimore Orioles. Bob Nightengale of USA Today wrote a very impressive piece about the similarities between McDonald and Strasburg. Give it a read. But we are not here to talk about that.
The Brewers went ahead and signed McDonald prior to the ’96 season. For the most part, I remember being excited about it. I was still a little young, but he was a name I had heard of. Which was something the Brewers hadn’t had since Robin Yount retired in 1993. The problem was, I do not ever really recall him pitching for the Brewers.
Overall Grade: C-
56 starts, 20-17 record, 3.96 ERA, 3 Complete Games, 348 hits, 156 Earned Runs, 256 K’s, 103 walks, and no balks (not sure why I added that, but…it stays)
To me, this is the most telling stat: in 1996 Ben McDonald’s WAR was 5.1, but in 1997 it plummeted to 1.5 making him only a game and a half better than a random Triple-A pitcher. So either he was really good in ’96, or the team was terrible…I lean towards the latter.
This is quite the blunder. In 2 seasons for the Brewers, McDonald collected a staggering $7.5 million dollars. This marks the first time that the Brewers were screwed by Scott Boras. Somehow that turd found a team stupid enough to pay big money for an average starting pitcher. Not to mention the fact, that he only made 14 starts in 1995 due to injuries. Yet, the Brewers found it necessary to sign him to a high risk, low reward contract.
McDonald’s deal was reckless and unwarranted. There was no reason to suspect the team would be any better with a sub-.500 “Ace” on the hill. The stipulation of this contract is no Ben McDonald’s fault, but it does not excuse his poor and uninspired play as a Brewer.
Not much bad to say about the guy. While he never lived up to expectations in the big leagues, that hardly makes him a bad dude. These days he is coaching little league baseball for his son on the Louisiana bayou. In all of the pieces I read about the guy, there is nothing that would lead you to believe that he sucked in this category. If anything, he is probably the nicest guy amongst all of our nominees.
When the Brewers signed Ben McDonald in January of 1996, I was ecstatic! A former 1st overall pick, a guy with a sub-4 career ERA in Baltimore (3.89 at the time of signing) and a name that I had heard of. I think the latter was the biggest thing. On a team that featured the likes of John Jaha, Greg Vaughn and Matt Mieske, McDonald was someone that people outside of Milwaukee had heard of. He was supposed to be BIG TIME! Instead he was, just ok. Milwaukee had seen many OK players over its history, but this was supposed to be different…and it just wasn’t. In 2-seasons with the Brewers, McDonald was 20-17 with a 3.96 ERA. Again, OK numbers but I think we were all expecting more. Especially when you consider that he signed a pretty nice contract (made 2-million in 1996 (with a $500,000 signing bonus) and 5-million in 1997) with the Brewers.
Billy Jo Robidoux - If you have never heard of this guy, don’t feel that bad about it. It’s hard to liken him to anyone because he was such a huge deal in Triple-A and never figured it out in the majors. So, I guess he is just like almost every major leaguer ever…
What made Billy Jo Robidoux so depressing (aside from his name and general appearance) was that the team really gave him every opportunity to succeed as a player, and they got squat in return. They gave him 4 seasons to prove that he belonged in the big show, but he could not stick. Robidoux was the first, in a very long line, of strong minor league players in the Brewers farm system, who completely fizzled out when they got to the major league club. He might as well have never been a Brewers at all….luckily for us, he was.
Overall Grade: C
385 AB’s, 85 hits, 4 HR, 38 RBI, .221 batting average, 61 walks (by far his most impressive stat), 83 strikeouts(spoke to soon), and he grounded into 12 double plays. Now none of these seems awful…until you look at his career in the minor leagues.
2236 AB’s, 688 hits, 73 HR, 415 RBI’s, .308 batting average, 404 walks, 360 strikeouts, and a .412 on-base percentage.
Now we can all see why Blo Jo Robidoux belongs on this list.
There is very little record of how much money Robidoux made in his playing days as a Brewer. I think it safe to assume that the mid-80’s were not baseball’s most financially frugal days. While the Brewers made every effort to keep him on the team, there was no reason to over pay for the guy. When his contract came up, they let him sign with the White Sox.
We have had some real whoppers on this list so far, but Robidoux probably scores the highest in this category (or worst, depending on how you look at it). While we won’t miss him because he could not produce on the field, his contract was not a hindrance to the team.
I mean, just look at the guys picture. What else do you need to know?
I am not sure if it was; his .342 average, 23 homers and 132 RBI in double-A in 1985 or his distinction of “Future Star” by Topps Baseball Cards, but Billy Jo was expected to do great things. He never did. After 4-years of raking the ball in the minors, Robidoux bounced back and fourth from the Majors and Minors until 1988. In 4-seasons with Milwaukee, Billy Jo batted just .221 with 4-homers and 38-RBI, a far cry from his expectations. The Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox later gave him a chance to crack the big leagues. Crazy thing was, Robidoux was just 26-years old during his final season in the Big Leagues, 1990 in Boston. High expectation but little results…(where have we heard that before in Milwaukee?)