Monday, July 11, 2005

July 11th, 1967

Donnie Wall Born

Donnie Wall was drafted as a starter by the Astros in 1989 and performed that task for a few years (he was tied for ninth in shutouts--with one--in 1996) until he ended up in San Diego where he was converted to middle relief. His path to San Diego was an odd one; he was waived by the Astros and picked up by the Reds in October. On November 11th, he was traded with catcher Paul Bako to the Tigers for Melvin Nieves. Just a few days later however, on November 19th, he was traded from the Tigers with Ryan Balfe (a minor-leaguer who never made it) and Dan Miceli to San Diego for a pair of players.

I really don't know what the story is here. For one thing, while Wall was a decent pitcher, and one who would have a fantastic year in 1998 for the Padres (Game One of the World Series aside) it would be a stretch to say anything in Wall's performance to that point suggested it. He had never posted an ERA of better than league average, and in 1997 had a gruesome 6.26 ERA despite playing in the cavernous Astrodome. I suppose it’s a bit like the cliché about pitchers who lose twenty games "You have to be pretty good to lose 20." That takes its truth in that you have to be a pretty good pitcher to have a team keep trotting you out there despite constant losing but not too good, otherwise you wouldn't lose twenty games. This is also true of Wall. He obviously had something that caused teams to keep wanting him--three held his rights within the course of six weeks--but obviously not too much something, because teams kept letting him go.

After all his moving and shaking in the 1997 off-season, Wall would stay with the Padres for a while, not leaving until a trade in the 2000 off-season to the Mets for Bubba Trammel. He finished his career after a season for the Mets and Angels, the season with
Anaheim being notable for the first in an eight year career that Wall, as a free agent, got to pick his team. Hope he was happy with the decision.

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