Last week Burton stirred up some old emotions with his look back in anger of the MLB players' strike of 1994. The strike caused over 900 games to not be played, including the postseason of '94 (meaning no World Series). The dispute was between the players association and the owners over salary cap. Salary cap was never stipulated thereafter, and payrolls have been ballooning since. In the spring of 1995, teams decided to go forth with the season and replacement players took real MLB players roles on the rosters. Guys from independent leagues, minor league vets, veterans out of work, and guys that thought they'd never get a look otherwise crossed the picket line. No official MLB games were played with these "scabs", their harsh nickname, as the owners and players association devised the collective bargaining agreement and the work stoppage ended in time to gear up for a slightly abbreviated '95 season. The replacement players were then blacklisted from the players association, meaning they won't ever receive pension and other benefits that come along with membership. The following roster is a team made solely of players that were considered "replacements". This is the best-of-the-best. You won't find any A-Rods, K-Rods, or Mannies, but there are some all-stars mixed in.
1. Benny Agbayani (CF) - 5 MLB seasons, making a name for himself as a Met (also a Rockie and Red Sock). Career line: .274/.807, with solid on base skills. This Hawaiian once allowed 3 runs to score because he forgot the outs and handed the 2nd out fly ball to a kid in the stands.
2. Frank Menechino (2B) - 7 years in the Majors with the Athletics and Blue Jays. Played 2nd, 3rd, and SS. Career line: .240/.358/.383, great at taking walks (as in base on balls, not on the beach). Frank is the hitting coach for the Yankees Double-A affiliate the Trenton Thunder.
3. Kevin Millar (RF) - he's the team captain, and is still going strong in MLB today. He's spent 11 seasons in the bigs now with the Marlins, BoSox, and Orioles. Career line: .277/.818 with 619 r, 670 rbi, and 163 homeruns. During the 2003 playoffs, Millar came up with the phrase "Cowboy Up," and in 2004 referred to his team as "idiots" to keep his teammates loose during the stretch run to the World Series Championship.
4. Brian Daubach (1B) - Dauber can play outfield too, but we need him to concentrate on bopping longballs. Career line: .259/.817 with 93 homeruns over 8 seasons with the Red Sox, White Sox, Marlins, and Mets. He currently is the manager of the American Defenders of New Hampshire of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.
5. Shane Spencer (LF) - this 7 year vet played out his glory days in a Yankees uniform, but also spent time as a Ranger, Indian, and Met. Career line: .262/.754. Gained fame in his rookie season of 1998 has he blasted 10 homeruns, including 3 grand slams, for the World Seires winning Yanks in just 67 at bats.
6. Angel Echevarria (DH) - this former Rockie, Cub, and Brewer will handle DH duties, although he can play corner outfield and 1st base too. Career line: .280/.798. Like many of players on this list, he wound down his career playing ball in Japan.
7. Damian Miller (C) - this former all-star played 11 seasons behind the dish for the Twins, D'backs, Cubs, A's, and Brewers. Career line: .262/.740. Damian shares the same birthday as me (October 13th), so you know he's gotta be a good guy.
8. Lou Merloni (SS) - veteran of 9 MLB seasons, who played all infield positions, spent most of his time with the BoSox, but was also a Padre, Angel, and Indian. Career line: .271/.716. Was shipped back and forth between the majors and minors so often that it became known as the Merloni Shuttle.
9. Chris Truby (3B) - the former Astro, Expo, D-Ray, and Tiger didn't have a very good eye, taking only 38 walks in 819 at bats spanning 4 seasons. Career line: .231/.657. There's a longstanding Internet joke that Truby is a Satanist...hahaha, I don't get it?!
*Keith Osik (C, 1B, 3B, OF) - say hello to our versatile backup catcher, who suited up for the Pirates, Brewers, O's, and Nationals. Career line: .231/.629. Osik is now coaching Farmingdale State College, a Division III institution located on Long Island in New York.
*Chris Latham (OF) - saw limited action with the Twins, Yanks, and Jays. Career line: .202/.557. Participated for Team USA in the World Cup of Baseball in 2005.
*Jason Hardtke (2B, 3B) - light hitting former Met and Cubbie. Career line: .231/.611.
*Charles Gipson (OF, SS, 3B, 2B) - versatile speedster that never really panned out in 8 seasons in the majors with the M's, Yankees, Astros, and Rays. Career line: .237/.638.
1. Rick Reed - made his MLB debut prior to the strike, but still got the same blackballed treatment as the other players on this list. Pitched for the Buccos, Royals, Rangers, Reds, Mets, and Twins over 15 seasons. Career line: 93-76, 4.03 era, 1.22 whip. Was an all-star twice as a Met and went on to make many millions.
2. Cory Lidle - veteran of 9 MLB seasons with the Mets, Phillies, Yankees, Rays, A's, and Blue Jays. Career line: 82-72, 4.57 era, 1.33 whip. Lidle was a pilot, and died in October of 2006 after he crashed his plane into some New York apartments.
3. Chuck Smith - pitched only 2 seasons in the majors with the Fish, but this Replacement team is hard up for some starting pitching. Career line: 11-11, 3.84 era, 1.37 whip. Smith is now the pitching coach of the Lancaster Jet Hawks in the Boston organization.
4. Joe Slusarski - like Reed, Joe made his debut before the strike, but suffers the same fate of being disowned by the Players Association. Mostly a reliever over 7 seasons with the A's , Brew Crew, Astros, and Braves, but we need him to eat innings. Career line: 13-21, 5.18 era, 1.53 whip.
5. Matt Herges - may have only made 4 career starts, but that's higher than anyone else left on the staff so he slides into the 5th slot of the rotation. Matt is still plugging away in the majors and has played 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Expos, Friars, Giants, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Rox. Career line: 40-34, 3.94 era, 1.45 whip. His brother-in-law is former Rookie of the Year outfielder Todd Hollandsworth. Matt has also had the unfortunate distinction of being named in the Mitchell Report.
*Kerry Ligtenberg (closer) - this 8 year vet locked down 48 games over his career for the Braves, O's, Jays, and D'backs. Career line: 17-20, 48 saves, 3.82 era, 1.32 whip.
*Rich Loiselle (set up) - would have been the team's closer had it not been for a high era and whip. Career line: 9-18, 49 saves, 4.38 era, 1.63 whip over 6 seasons with Pittsburgh.
*Brendan Donnelly (set up) - like some of his other teammates on this Replacement team squad, Brendan is still active in the majors today, playing 7 years with the Halos, Red Booties, and Indians. Career line: 26-9, 4 saves, 3.12 era, 1.21 whip. Donnelly has experienced the high of winning a World Series and being an all-star, but has also felt the low of being pointed out as an HGH user.
*Jamie Walker (LOOGY) - is the embodiment of a lefthanded specialist, pitching in nearly 100 less innings than games appeared. Jamie is still an active MLB player, currently on Baltimore's roster, but also pitched for Kansas City and Detroit. Career line: 19-21, 12 saves, 4.11 era, 1.29 whip. Named his son James Leyland after his beloved manager with his time with the Tigers.
*Ron Mahay (long relief) - this converted outfielder actually made his MLB debut in 1995 in centerfield for Boston and didn't pitch in a game until 1997. Has played 13 seasons with the Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, A's, Marlins, Cubs, and is currently a Royal. Career line: 24-10, 4 saves, 3.81 era, 1.41 whip; batting: 6-28 with 3 doubles and a homerun. Mahay as been an extra on the television program All My Children, now that's something to brag about.
*Pedro Borbon (relief) - 9 years with Atlanta, St. Louis, Toronto, Houston, and the Dodger Blue. Career line: 16-16, 6 saves, 4.68 era, 1.45 whip. Is the son of former MLB closer Pedro Borbon.
*Tom Martin (mop up) - Martin was lefthanded, but faired equally well (or unwell) against righties and lefties alike. Spent 11 seasons with Houston, Cleveland, NY Mets, LA Dodgers, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Colorado. Career line: 11-9, 3 saves, 4.92 era, 1.52 whip. Played the '08 season for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
The Replacements- Kids Don't Follow