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Thread: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

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    O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Hello,

    I picked off this idea from the ORG during a post where Rojo pointed out that many thought O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell were all going to work out. Or, at least, at the time there were opinions favoring each player strongly.

    That got me wondering, what was your impression of those players at the time?

    To start, in retrospect, for me, I have trouble fully understanding 2 things:

    1) How was it clear that Stillwell was inferior to Larkin?

    Stillwell - #2 overall pick in 1983 - rose quickly (perhaps rushed) through the minors and at 20 was hitting .264 in AAA Denver. In 1987 he OPS'd .690 in Cincinnati, then was traded to KC where he reached his pinnacle - the 1988 ASG. From there his career faded, never showing any offensive promise.

    Larkin - #4 overall pick in 1985 out of U of M - batted .329 and slugged .525 in AAA in 1986, then by 1987 he was OPSing .678 with Cincinnati. About the same as Stillwell to that point. Larkin appears to have had better speed. The rest, of course, is Reds history.

    I'm guessing this was a no-brainer, just watch the two play and you'd be able to see the superior athlete, but for someone who only has stats now to go from, it's interesting to see how "close" it may have been. Any stories about the two playing together during that 1987 season? What was the talk? Was there tension? Why did Stillwell make the ASG in '88 anyway?

    Down the road, perhaps a similar scenario may come about between Alonso and Grandal, two similar players drafted two years apart with similar skills at the plate...

    2) What happened to Kal Daniels?

    I hear some things off hand about his hustle, desire, mentality, but I don't hear enough about his ability. He was a pretty good hitter, and some years that was putting it lightly.

    Picked 7th overall in 1982, he smoked through the minors, hitting .310 and slugging .507, and ended up in Cincinnati in 1986 at 22. In half a year in 1986 he put up 2.1 WAR. In 1987 - 4.3 WAR. In 1988 - 5.1 WAR.

    In 1989 he looks to have been injured, then traded to LA for a Tim Leary rental and Mariano Duncan, who's minors #'s were not impressive. I know Duncan was a key player in 1990's Championship team, but what couldn't Daniels have done that year? Was this a smart trade?

    In 1990, Daniels was a 4.8 WAR player. Then, at 27 and 28, almost inexplicably, he hit the skids and retired. Wha? He must have been Albert Belle's cousin if the end was welcomed so quickly by all parties. Strange.

    What were your opinions at the time of Daniels?

    __________________________________________________ ___


    Other than that, Tracy Jones was a bust, eh? Plain as day? That's what I thought.

    Thoughts on O'Neill? His career arc in the minors was measured and slow, kind of like Votto, but how frustrating was he early on? He never hit for much average as a Red.

    At the time, I was learning how to read with 1986 Topps series cards, I think I had every one of these Reds players, so I'd love to hear from those who were following the Reds what impressions this batch of prospects left them. Perhaps we can gleen some sage wisdom for our current situation, another gaggle of prospects. Thanks in advance.
    2015 Rotation: Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani

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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    The idea that Stillwell was in the same class as Larkin was a joke. I laugh everytime I hear it brought up.

    Larkin hit .311/.361/.462 in the minor leagues.

    Stillwell hit .275/.373/.352 in the minor leagues (not counting his days later on in the minors).

    Essentially Larkin was everything that you wanted Stillwell to become one day. Why it was a tough decision still confuses me.

    As for Stillwell and the 88 AS Game. His first half was pretty strong, as he hit .261/.337/.428 before falling off a cliff in the second half.

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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    The idea that Stillwell was in the same class as Larkin was a joke. I laugh everytime I hear it brought up.

    Larkin hit .311/.361/.462 in the minor leagues.

    Stillwell hit .275/.373/.352 in the minor leagues (not counting his days later on in the minors).

    Essentially Larkin was everything that you wanted Stillwell to become one day. Why it was a tough decision still confuses me.

    As for Stillwell and the 88 AS Game. His first half was pretty strong, as he hit .261/.337/.428 before falling off a cliff in the second half.
    So it was patently obvious. That's what I suspected, but to hear the tales of caution, you'd think the Reds simply lucked out not trading Larkin instead of Stillwell.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    When these guys were coming up, the prototypical SS was the guy with the smooth glide over in front of the ball, the weak stick and sure hands. An athletic stud like Larkin with power and speed just wasn't supposed to be capable of handling SS on a daily basis and many didn't thnk he could stay there.

    The Reds asked Larkin to move to 2B and he publicly rejected the idea and made no secret that he was unhappy about it. He claimed that he was a SS and wasn't moving to accomodate anyone. At first he was considered kind of selfish for it, but he went out and showed everyone why he shouldn't be the one to move. Stillwell was dealt and Larkin ushered in a new era at SS that was quickly overshadowed by the Jeter, Nomar, A-Rod trio. Larkin is a Hall of Famer, IMO, who really was one of the first in a changed profile for the position and people who couldn't see it coming (which was a majority as I recall) were the ones touting Stillwell.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    The idea that Stillwell was in the same class as Larkin was a joke. I laugh everytime I hear it brought up.

    Larkin hit .311/.361/.462 in the minor leagues.

    Stillwell hit .275/.373/.352 in the minor leagues (not counting his days later on in the minors).

    Essentially Larkin was everything that you wanted Stillwell to become one day. Why it was a tough decision still confuses me.

    As for Stillwell and the 88 AS Game. His first half was pretty strong, as he hit .261/.337/.428 before falling off a cliff in the second half.
    And I laugh every time I hear you say that. If you weren't old enough to live it at the time, I wouldn't call it a joke.

    Is Chris Heisey vs. Drew Stubbs a joke? Because the difference between them is pretty damn similar to Larkin and Stillwell in the late 1980s.
    Last edited by Benihana; 07-20-2010 at 11:39 PM.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Kurt Stillwell crushed more balls to the warning track than any other Reds player I have witnessed. Had he not fallen in love w/ the long ball and honed a line drive stroke (like Barry) he may have had a more productive career.

    Kal Daniels was a pleasure to watch hit, pure pure pure. He appeared to have the sam interest and drive for baseball that I do for having my fingernails removed with pliers. I think that is one player that walked away from a crazy amount of money, because he had talent.

    Tracy Jones was on the other side of the spectrum. Effort, determination, work ethic, desire. Just a little thin on talent.

    I was never a huge fan of Paul Oneil.....he was by far the least talented of Davis/ Daniels/ ONeil....
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benihana View Post
    And I laugh every time I hear you say that. If you weren't old enough to live it at the time, I wouldn't call it a joke.

    Is Chris Heisey vs. Drew Stubbs a joke? Because the difference between them is pretty damn similar to Larkin and Stillwell in the late 1980s.
    Heisey/Stubbs isn't close to this comparison. Larkin/Stillwell went 2nd and 4th overall in the draft. Both had the 'upside' that scouts liked. Heisey simply doesn't have that upside that the scouts are going to fall in love with. Stubbs does.

    As for me not being able to remember it, it doesn't change anything. The scouting reports haven't changed because of time on the two players. They are what they were. The numbers haven't changed either. Both were viewed to have immense upsides. One guy was playing to it in the minor leagues. One guy was showing flashes of it at times. Never should have been a debate. I didn't need to be there for it to know any of that. Odds are that hardly anyone outside of scouts even knew the numbers at the time, they knew what Marty and Joe told them on the radio. Being around at the time wasn't all that important to the issue.

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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    I've heard that the Reds wanted O'Neill to be a power hitter, and they kept tinkering with his swing to try to generate more lift. The Yankees got ahold of him and told him to quit trying so hard and go with a swing that felt comfortable, and he blossomed into a fearsome hitter.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    What scouting reports, doug?

    This was pre-internet and, unless you have an "in" in Cincinnati no one has been privy to, most of those were destroyed long ago.

    As to numbers, sure, Larkin's the better player, but Stillwell was extremely young for all levels and played SS like a demon-- or at least that's what was being told to Red fans at that time.

    Larkin, meanwhile, was much larger, with an odd desire to only play SS and not 2B (thereby getting rid of an aging Ronny Oester), meaning he wasn't a "team player". (There were rumblings of an attitude, and, in Cincinnati, that was difficult to deal with, especially for a young black man.)

    As a kid, I wanted both to play, with Larkin moving to 2B to make the best defensive middle infield in the game. I also really liked Davis and Jones (hustle!), but struggled to like O'Neill (flighty and angry, he'd vaporlock in crucial at-bats, seemingly every night) or Daniels (great talent, lousy work ethic).

    Of course, I thought ED was going to re-write the record books, too, as a Willy Mays-like CF god. I thought he'd eventually steal 100 bases in a season and perhaps hit 50 homers in either that or another season as well. And play GG CF. For a decade.

    Sigh.

    At least Larkin worked out.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Heisey/Stubbs isn't close to this comparison.
    You're right. The spread between Heisey and Stubbs' performance in the majors and minors is GREATER than the spread between Larkin and Stillwell's prior to the trade.

    Larkin/Stillwell went 2nd and 4th overall in the draft. Both had the 'upside' that scouts liked. Heisey simply doesn't have that upside that the scouts are going to fall in love with. Stubbs does.
    Again, more reason why Larkin/Stillwell was a closer call than Heisey/Stubbs. Well, except for the fact that Heisey has outperformed Stubbs by MORE than Larkin outperformed Stillwell.

    As for me not being able to remember it, it doesn't change anything. The scouting reports haven't changed because of time on the two players. They are what they were. The numbers haven't changed either. Both were viewed to have immense upsides. One guy was playing to it in the minor leagues. One guy was showing flashes of it at times. Never should have been a debate. I didn't need to be there for it to know any of that. Odds are that hardly anyone outside of scouts even knew the numbers at the time, they knew what Marty and Joe told them on the radio. Being around at the time wasn't all that important to the issue.
    Here are the FACTS Doug, like 'em or not:

    (Numbers are AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS respectively)

    Code:
    	Major	Leagues
    Heisey	278	369	542	911
    Stubbs	257	323	433	756
    DIFFERENCE	21	46	109	155
    EDGE	Heisey	Heisey	Heisey	Heisey
    				
    Larkin	255	313	380	690
    Stubbs	249	313	325	640
    DIFFERENCE	6	0	55	50
    EDGE	Larkin	None	Larkin	Larkin
    				
    	Minor	Leagues		
    Heisey	296	367	459	826
    Stubbs	269	364	401	765
    DIFFERENCE	27	3	58	61
    EDGE	Heisey	Heisey	Heisey	Heisey
    				
    Larkin	311	361	462	823
    Stillwell	275	373	352	725
    DIFFERENCE	36	-12	110	98
    EDGE	Larkin	Stillwell	Larkin	Larkin
    Or put another way, comparatively speaking:

    Code:
    	Major Leagues	
    Heisey		Larkin
    over		over
    Stubbs		Stillwell
    21	AVG	6
    46	OBP	0
    109	SLG	55
    155	OPS	50
    		
    	Minor Leagues	
    Heisey		Larkin
    over		over
    Stubbs		Stillwell
    27	AVG	36
    3	OBP	-12
    58	SLG	110
    61	OPS	98
    Couple all of this in with the fact that Stillwell, unlike Heisey, was a top draft pick and was drooled over by scouts AND played very similar if not better defense than Larkin AND a year younger. Then please tell me how the comparison was "a joke" whereas Heisey vs. Stubbs isn't.

    I was born and raised in the same neighborhood, played for the same little league franchise, and went to the same college as Barry Larkin- not to mention followed and cheered for him his entire career in a Reds uniform. But to say that he was the easy choice over Kurt Stillwell in the mid to late 1980s is just not being historically honest or accurate.
    Last edited by Benihana; 07-21-2010 at 02:22 AM.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Benihana View Post
    Here are the FACTS Doug, like 'em or not:

    (Numbers are AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS respectively)

    Code:
    	Major	Leagues
    Heisey	278	369	542	911
    Stubbs	257	323	433	756
    DIFFERENCE	21	46	109	155
    EDGE	Heisey	Heisey	Heisey	Heisey
    Heisey has less than 75 at bats in the majors, so a numerical comparison of their major league numbers is about meaningless. Even still, he can hit. I won't argue that. I like him. Here is what isn't shown there though:
    Glove - Stubbs
    Speed - Stubbs
    Arm - Stubbs

    The major difference is that Heisey/Stubbs doesn't possess the issue where one player was performing exactly like what we would have hoped the other would one day be. Heisey has hit better in the majors in a limited sample where his at bats can be cherry picked to his favor (though coming off the bench is certainly hard.... but lets be honest, Heisey is not a .900 OPS MLB bat over a full season). Now, while I could listen to an argument that Heisey is the hitter that we all want Stubbs to be one day (though I think Stubbs has more power), Heisey will never be the defender that Stubbs is or the threat on the bases. Larkin was already doing everything that Stillwell supporters was hoping he would do one day. All of it. He hit for average, he got on base at a good rate, he hit for power, he stole bases and he was a very good defensive shortstop. That is why the comparison isn't close to the same.

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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    Heisey has less than 75 at bats in the majors, so a numerical comparison of their major league numbers is about meaningless. Even still, he can hit. I won't argue that. I like him. Here is what isn't shown there though:
    Glove - Stubbs
    Speed - Stubbs
    Arm - Stubbs

    The major difference is that Heisey/Stubbs doesn't possess the issue where one player was performing exactly like what we would have hoped the other would one day be. Heisey has hit better in the majors in a limited sample where his at bats can be cherry picked to his favor (though coming off the bench is certainly hard.... but lets be honest, Heisey is not a .900 OPS MLB bat over a full season). Now, while I could listen to an argument that Heisey is the hitter that we all want Stubbs to be one day (though I think Stubbs has more power), Heisey will never be the defender that Stubbs is or the threat on the bases. Larkin was already doing everything that Stillwell supporters was hoping he would do one day. All of it. He hit for average, he got on base at a good rate, he hit for power, he stole bases and he was a very good defensive shortstop. That is why the comparison isn't close to the same.
    Yep, Kurt Stillwell was clearly a bust who had no hope when we traded him...at age 22. Stillwell had played two years in the majors at an age that most modern day players would still be in rookie league. Not to mention, he was named to the All-Star team a month after his 23rd birthday.

    You talk about scouting reports? Well here is a quote to chew on, especially for someone who in hindsight (although he was too young to remember) calls the dilemma of trading Stillwell a joke/no-brainer/laughable:

    "Our top priority this winter has been to solidify that very key shortstop position. With the acquisition of Stillwell, we believe we have done that. He is regarded as one of the finest young shortstops in baseball and we believe he gives us long-term stability at a very vital position."
    That was said a couple months after the trade by none other than John Schuerholz, a guy that has some fairly decent scouting experience.
    Last edited by Benihana; 07-21-2010 at 01:34 AM.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Larkin had major problems throwing the ball his first few years, doug. IIRC, he had almost 30 errors early in his career in one season. And that's on Astroturf for at least half his games.

    Defensively, Larkin worked to be a great defensive player, but he certainly wasn't one at the outset of his major league career. At all.

    Stillwell, meanwhile, was well above average at the position, with great range and a cannon for an arm. Of the two, Stillwell (like Stubbs, ironically) was the best glove man and it wasn't close.

    Stillwell had obp and D. Larkin had "attitude" issues and a great bat. (Similar to Daniels.)

    Hindsight says Cincinnati chose correctly, but, as many who were around will attest, it was a very difficult choice.
    Last edited by Scrap Irony; 07-21-2010 at 01:26 AM.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Larkin had major problems throwing the ball his first few years, doug. IIRC, he had almost 30 errors early in his career in one season. And that's on Astroturf for at least half his games.

    Defensively, Larkin worked to be a great defensive player, but he certainly wasn't one at the outset of his major league career. At all.

    Stillwell, meanwhile, was well above average at the position, with great range and a cannon for an arm. Of the two, Stillwell (like Stubbs, ironically) was the best glove man and it wasn't close.

    Stillwell had obp and D. Larkin had "attitude" issues and a great bat. (Similar to Daniels.)

    Hindsight says Cincinnati chose correctly, but, as many who were around will attest, it was a very difficult choice.
    Exactly. And for what it's worth, I've heard that it's debatable as to whether it was even a conscious choice by the Reds. I've heard reports that the Reds were fine to give up either, especially if the Royals would sub Mark Gubizca for Danny Jackson. The Royals, from what I remember, preferred Stillwell. That coupled with the fact that Larkin was a local product was the real determining factor in who stayed and who went, at least according to what I've heard- It was that close.

    Even after DJ won 23 games in his first year with the Reds, John Schuerholz said:

    'Well, Stillwell is a guy who made the All-Star team at shortstop. I'd make that trade again tomorrow. I said when we made it that Danny would win 20 with the Reds.''
    But please Doug, continue to deride the situation. It clearly wasn't close at all. You remember it, right?
    Last edited by Benihana; 07-21-2010 at 01:40 AM.
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    Re: O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell: Past Thoughts and Observations?

    Quote Originally Posted by mdccclxix View Post
    Hello,

    I picked off this idea from the ORG during a post where Rojo pointed out that many thought O'Neill, Daniels, Larkin, Jones & Stillwell were all going to work out. Or, at least, at the time there were opinions favoring each player strongly.

    That got me wondering, what was your impression of those players at the time?

    To start, in retrospect, for me, I have trouble fully understanding 2 things:

    1) How was it clear that Stillwell was inferior to Larkin?

    Stillwell - #2 overall pick in 1983 - rose quickly (perhaps rushed) through the minors and at 20 was hitting .264 in AAA Denver. In 1987 he OPS'd .690 in Cincinnati, then was traded to KC where he reached his pinnacle - the 1988 ASG. From there his career faded, never showing any offensive promise.

    Larkin - #4 overall pick in 1985 out of U of M - batted .329 and slugged .525 in AAA in 1986, then by 1987 he was OPSing .678 with Cincinnati. About the same as Stillwell to that point. Larkin appears to have had better speed. The rest, of course, is Reds history.

    I'm guessing this was a no-brainer, just watch the two play and you'd be able to see the superior athlete, but for someone who only has stats now to go from, it's interesting to see how "close" it may have been. Any stories about the two playing together during that 1987 season? What was the talk? Was there tension? Why did Stillwell make the ASG in '88 anyway?

    Down the road, perhaps a similar scenario may come about between Alonso and Grandal, two similar players drafted two years apart with similar skills at the plate...
    FWIW, I think that Grandal and Mesoraco, not Alonso, might be the better comparison for what could happen here. Two players drafted in the first round at the same premium position a couple of years apart- the first from HS and the more recent out of college, making the two players roughly the same age.

    2) What happened to Kal Daniels?

    I hear some things off hand about his hustle, desire, mentality, but I don't hear enough about his ability. He was a pretty good hitter, and some years that was putting it lightly.

    Picked 7th overall in 1982, he smoked through the minors, hitting .310 and slugging .507, and ended up in Cincinnati in 1986 at 22. In half a year in 1986 he put up 2.1 WAR. In 1987 - 4.3 WAR. In 1988 - 5.1 WAR.

    In 1989 he looks to have been injured, then traded to LA for a Tim Leary rental and Mariano Duncan, who's minors #'s were not impressive. I know Duncan was a key player in 1990's Championship team, but what couldn't Daniels have done that year? Was this a smart trade?

    In 1990, Daniels was a 4.8 WAR player. Then, at 27 and 28, almost inexplicably, he hit the skids and retired. Wha? He must have been Albert Belle's cousin if the end was welcomed so quickly by all parties. Strange.

    What were your opinions at the time of Daniels?

    __________________________________________________ ___
    As a kid, I loved Kal Daniels, although I was always weary of his terrible temper/attitude problems. He was almost like a mean-spirited Jay Bruce, being a highly-touted corner OF that tore through the minors and into a starting role in Cincy at age 22. Hopefully Bruce won't go out the same way ol' Kalvoski did. FWIW, I don't think that he will.


    Other than that, Tracy Jones was a bust, eh? Plain as day? That's what I thought.

    Thoughts on O'Neill? His career arc in the minors was measured and slow, kind of like Votto, but how frustrating was he early on? He never hit for much average as a Red.

    At the time, I was learning how to read with 1986 Topps series cards, I think I had every one of these Reds players, so I'd love to hear from those who were following the Reds what impressions this batch of prospects left them. Perhaps we can gleen some sage wisdom for our current situation, another gaggle of prospects. Thanks in advance.
    Also loved Tracy Jones, even more than "Jethro" O'Neill. I didn't mind the Roberto Kelly trade (I thought the original R.Kelly had a lot of potential), but was sad when Jones faded out. Jones was similar to Jonny Gomes, if for no other reason than I remember hearing he was a good guy to have on your team in case a brawl ever broke out.

    Obviously none of these guys held a candle to good ol' #44- my childhood idol. The day they traded ED for Tim Belcher and John Wetteland was one of the more traumatic days of my Reds fandom. I still have his game jersey hanging up in my childhood bedroom.
    Last edited by Benihana; 07-21-2010 at 02:24 AM.
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