Thursday, July 17, 2014

#421 Dave Palmer



Card thoughts: Dave Palmer looks like a very linear man. Straight and narrow. On all his Fleer and Donruss cards, Dave is always identified by his full first name, David.

The player: Dave Palmer pitched in the same high school rotation as future major league pitcher Dave LaPoint. He made the majors just two years out of high school, making his debut at the age of 20. In 1979 and 1980, Palmer apprenticed as a swing man, with his best season coming in the former year where he was 10-2, including being unbeaten in seven starting decisions (among 11 starts).

Unfortunately, arm troubles hit Palmer in 1981, and he didn’t pitch in the majors that year. 1982 saw him come back for 13 starts, where he was fairly effective (6-4, 3.18 ERA). Unfortunately, 1983 saw him miss time once again, this time for the whole season with an elbow injury (it’s likely that today, Palmer would have been a candidate for Tommy John surgery).

With his history of injury, the Expos were hesitant about putting him in the rotation early in the 1984 season. After a long relief stint, Palmer was selected to pitch the second game of a doubleheader. He pitched 5 perfect innings, before rain halted the game. Although Palmer got the win, as the game was official, he was not credited with a perfect game. But the injuries were taking a toll, and the rest of the season Palmer struggled, with his ERA rising by almost half a run over the previous season (he also missed the entire month of August). Missing August again the following year, Palmer made just 23 starts, but his ERA (3.71) was high for low-scoring Olympic Stadium, and he had his first losing record (7-10).

Given his inability to stay healthy, and his slowly declining effectiveness, it wasn’t surprising that Palmer wasn't resigned by the Expos. Signing with the Braves, Palmer finally had a season where he was able to make all of his scheduled starts. Pitching at homer happy Fulton County stadium (aka “The Launching Pad”), Palmer saw his ERA climb, and an increase in walks showed his home stadium was getting to him (107 walks in 209 2/3 innings). But his 11-10 record was pretty good for a last place team, and his better health had the Braves expecting they could rely on him the following year. However, his arm was still fragile, and he reverted back missing significant chunks of the season. When healthy, he was ineffective, as his ERA shot up to 4.90, and he won only 8 games against 11 losses.

Palmer was not signed after the season, and went to the Phillies, where the familiar story emerged: Couldn't stay healthy, and a losing record and high ERA when he pitched. He did memorably have quite a blooper, tripping over third base and landing on his face while advancing on a wild pitch thrown by Cubs pitcher #330 Rick Sutcliffe.

A cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1990 (5 starts, 7.79 ERA), and a few minor league appearances for the Indians, and Palmer was done. He is currently the pitching coach for a suburban Atlanta high school.



Rear guard: All I can say about that factoid is this. Manny Mota is better known as being a great pinch hitter, especially with the Dodgers. But when the Expos drafted him, he was a high-average hitting, fourth outfielder. He had a card as an Expo in 1969, but he was badly airbrushed on that one. The Expos only held on to him for a few months in 1969 before he was traded to the Dodgers for Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich (Popovich was traded later in the day to the Cubs for Adolfo Phillips and Jack Lamabe). Here Mota's 1970 card, his first with the Dodgers.

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