The July 31 MLB Trade Deadline is quickly approaching and that means contenders are looking to fine tune their ball clubs for the stretch run. The guys who always seem to be in demand are left-handed relievers.
Ron Villone has been traded six times and three times on July 31.
- On July 31, 1995, Seattle traded him to San Diego for Andy Benes and Greg Keagle.
- On July 31, 1996, San Diego traded him to Milwaukee for Greg Vaughn and Gerald Parent.
- On July 31, 2005, Seattle again traded him, this time to Florida for Mike Flannery and Yorman Bazardo.
Up until the start of July, Villone enjoyed a sub-3.00 ERA this season. However, the veteran reliever has allowed runs in five straight appearances, driving his ERA up to 4.50. But remember, he’s a lefty. And they’re like cockroaches. If Villone does get traded by the deadline, he has the chance to make MLB history. During his 15-season career, Villone has played for a record 12 teams, including Seattle and Houston twice. If he is traded to one of the 18 MLB teams he hasn’t yet played for, Villone will have suited up for the most teams in baseball history.
So here’s hoping history is made. But Ron is far from the only pro athlete apparently on the run. And now forgoing anymore clever leads, here are Pro Sports’ U-Haul All-Stars.
Ron Villone – 12 (1995-present; SEA, SD, MIL, CLE, CIN, COL, HOU, PIT, FLA, NYY, STL, WAS).
A reliever for most of his career, Villone is still playing. And if he starts to throw the way he did for the Nationals to start the season (3-1, 0.53 ERA in his first 20 appearances), he might find team No. 13 by the July 31 trade deadline. The useful lefty began his career in 1995 with the Mariners, but ended the season with San Diego. He split his second season between the Padres and Brewers. In 1997, he actually managed to finish a season with the team he started it with (Milwaukee). But the Brew Crew let him walk to Cleveland a year later. Next it was off to Cincinnati where the Reds converted him into a starter. He started 45 games for the Red Stockings going 19-17 with a 4.82 ERA. Villone split 2001 with Houston and Colorado. Then it was off to Pittsburgh then back to Houston.
He went back to where it all started (Seattle) for 2004 and part of the 2005 season, which he finished in Florida. He appeared in 32 games for the Yankees from 2006-07 before spending last season in St. Louis. And now, he’s a Washington National. Twelve teams in 15 seasons proves what I like to call the Jesse Orosco Effect. Lefty relievers can last forever and are always wanted, no matter how mediocre they are.
Career line: 59-60, 4.69 ERA over 1,070 games with a respectable 7.1 K per 9 inni ngs(78th best in MLB history).
Mike Morgan – 12 (1978-2002; OAK, NYY, TOR, SEA, BAL, LAD, CHC, STL, CIN, MIN, TEX, ARI).
An All-Star in 1991 with the Dodgers, Morgan debuted in 1978 as an 18-year old with Oakland. He compiled a 2-13 record in his first two seasons and found himself in the minors for three seasons before resurfacing with the Yankees in 1982 (the year of my birth). The Blue Jays gave him two starts a season later before he settled in with the Mariners for three campaigns (1985-87). He lost a league-leading 17 games in 1986 and matched that number a year later with another 17 Ls.
After a cameo in Baltimore, Morgan landed with the Dodgers where he went 33-36 from 1989-1991. In 1990, he tied Padres ace Bruce Hurst for the National League lead with four shutouts. He followed that up with his only All-Star campaign (1991; 14-10, 2.78 ERA). His next season would be his best. After signing a free agent deal with the Cubs, Morgan went 16-8 with a 2.55 ERA. He lasted two and a half more sub par seasons before landing in St. Louis for parts of two years. Cincinnati gave him 31 starts in 1997, going 9-12.
He spent most of 1998 in Minnesota before returning to the Cubs for five games. Then he was on the road again, this time to Texas, where he actually had a winning record (13-10). In 2000, a 40-year old Morgan settled in Arizona for his final three Major League seasons. Prior to Arizona, Morgan had made just one postseason appearance in his lengthy career (1998 with the Cubs). In 2001, Morgan pitched eight times during the Diamondbacks’ World Series run. In the World Series against the Yankees, Morgan threw 4.2 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit on his way to winning a much deserved World Series ring. He lasted one more year in Arizona before retiring after the 2002 season at the age of 42.
Career line: 141-186, 4.23 ERA over 22 seasons. Not terrible.
Up next: Eleven players have played for 11 different teams in league history. Who could forget Gus Weyhing (1887-1901), Deacon McGuire (1884-1912) or Joe Gerhardt (1873-1891)?
The other guys are more recognizable and six of these eight cats played for the Cubs at one point: Paul Bako, Royce Clayton, Kenny Lofton, Terry Mulholland, Matt Stairs, Julian Tavarez, Rick White and Todd Zeile. (White and Clayton are the non-Cubs).
Jim Jackson – 12 (DAL, NJ, PHI, GS, POR, ATL, CLE, MIA, SAC, HOU, PHO, LAL).
One of my new favorite people because when Jim Jackson is talking in the Big Ten Network’s studios, it means Gene Keady isn’t. Never really the same star he was in college, Jackson enjoyed a decent NBA career. His best statistical season came in 1994-95, his third year in the league, when he averaged 25.7 points a game for the Mavericks. It was Jackson’s only season scoring in the 20s. He soon became a hired gun, never spending more than a season and a half with one team after the 1996 season. He retired after the 2005-06 season, which he spent with the Lakers, and was the last Laker to wear No. 24 prior to that guy who wears it now.
Career line: 885 games played, 14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.2 apg.
Chucky Brown – 12 (1990-2002; CLE, LAL, NJ, DAL, HOU, PHO, MIL, ATL, CHA, GS, SAC).
Born with the 694th most popular name in the U.S., Clarence “Chucky” Brown played for 12 teams in 13 years. Bravo, Clarence. Brown also played in the CBA for the Grand Rapids Hoops and Yakima Sun Kings and had a three-game stint in Italy in 1992.
Brown is now an assistant coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBDL. It’s actually a step up from his last gig. Because if you think D-Fenders is a whack name, Chucky came from the Roanoke Dazzle. Dazzle? Really? Who’d they let pick the team name Richard Simmons? Chucky won a title with the Rockets in 1994-95 and a season later posted his best statistical campaign, starting all 82 games and averaging 8.6 points a game and 5.4 rebounds per contest. Brown would start just 61 more games over the next six seasons and finished his career with an 18-game stint as a reserve with Sacramento in 2002.
Career line: 5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg in 694 games, including 265 starts.
Tony Massenburg – 12 (1991-2005; SA, CHA, BOS, GS, LAC, TOR, PHI, NJ, VAN [MEM], HOU, UTA, SAC).
Massenburg came close to playing for a 13th NBA franchise, but the Wizards waived him in 2007 in a failed comeback attempt. A sometime starter, Massenburg also spent stints overseas in Italy and Spain, winning two championships in Spain. He averaged double-digit scoring in two seasons (1995-96 and 1998-99). His best season came with the Grizzlies, when he averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds a game. The well-traveled Massenburg enjoyed two stints with each the Spurs and Grizzlies.
Career line: 6.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg in 683 games, including 233 starts.
Up next: Active players Damon Jones and Kevin Ollie have each played for 10.
Chris Chandler – 8 (1988-2004; IND, TB, PHO [AZ], LA [STL], HOU [TEN], ATL, CHI).
Known more fondly as Crystal Chandelier because of his brittleness, Chandler lasted 17 seasons in the NFL despite the ability to be concussed while sneezing. To his credit, he was sacked 380 times in his career, which ranks 12th most all-time. He is the only quarterback in league history to start for eight different teams. And he is also the only quarterback to achieve single-game passer ratings of both 0 and 158.3 (a perfect rating). As an Oiler in 1995, Chandler was 23-of-26 for 352 yards and four touchdowns against the Bengals giving him the perfect rating. In his final NFL season, in his second go-round with the Rams franchise, Chandler threw six interceptions against Carolina in 2004.
A third round pick out of Washington, Chandler started 13 games as a rookie for the Colts and despite throwing more interceptions than touchdowns (12 to 8), Chandler won nine games for Indianapolis. He started just three games in 1989 and was deemed expendable when the team took Jeff George (a veteran of seven different NFL teams) No. 1 overall in 1990. After a miserable stay in Tampa Bay (0-6 with five TDs to 14 INTs), He played decently in 1992 with the Cardinals, but the team didn’t win. He landed with the Rams (then in Los Angeles) for a season, getting six starts. The Oilers made him their starter in 1995, and he held the job for two seasons. But when Steve McNair was deemed ready to start, Chandler found himself in Atlanta, where he enjoyed his best success.
Chandler spent five seasons with the Falcons and made the Pro Bowl his first two years with the club. In 1998, he led them to the Super Bowl, posting career highs in passing yards (3,154) and touchdowns (25). Chandler and the Falcons regressed over the next three seasons and the crafty vet was replaced by yet another top draft pick, Michael Vick. He landed in Chicago in 2002 and joined the Bears’ quarterback carousel for two campaigns, getting 13 starts during that time, winning five of them. Chandler’s final season came in 2004 when he was given a chance to lead Mike Martz’s high-flying Rams attack. However, the 39-year old showed his age and in his first start for the team threw six interceptions. “It is tragic that that position (when played by Chandler) holds this team hostage.” He started just one more game for St. Louis and was done.
Career line: 28,484 passing yards, 170 TDs, 146 INTs, 58.1 completion percentage, 67-85 record as a starter.
Jeff Brady – 8 (1991-99; PIT, GB, LA [STL], SD, TB, MIN, CAR, IND).
The dude played for as many teams as there are Brady Bunch family members, Alice excluded of course. Drafted by Pittsburgh in the now non-existent 12th round, Brady bounced around during his first five seasons, spending time with six different clubs. He didn’t start a game until 1995 with the Vikings when he started seven times at middle linebacker for Minnesota. He spent two more years as the Vikings’ starting MLB before joining Carolina in 1998. Brady’s lone season with the Panthers was his best as a pro, starting all 16 games with 104 tackles, four sacks and four interceptions. A year later, he played three games with the Colts and then was done.
Career line: 53 starts, 373 tackles, 8.5 sacks and nine interceptions.
Mark Royals – 8 (1987-2003; PHI, STL [AZ], TB, PIT. DET, NO, MIA, JAX).
OK, so he’s a punter and saying he “played” for eight teams might be a stretch. But if you last 15 seasons in the NFL, you’re doing something right. During his career, Royals punted 1,116 balls, 10th most in league history. His 47,021 yards are ninth best. His best seasons came in New Orleans kicking in the windless confines of the Superdome. As a Saint, Royals led the league in 1997 averaging 45.9 yards a punt. After two seasons in the Bayou, Royals got an early start on retirement on a Floridian tour spending three years with the Bucs and splitting his final two years in Miami and Jacksonville. Since retiring, Royals has done radio and TV because, you know, everyone wants to hear what a punter has to say. He was the color commentator for Tampa Bay Storm games. But with the Arena League in purgatory, he’s out of a job.
Career line: 1,116 punts for 47,021 yards (42.1 avg.) in 224 games.
Karl Wilson 8 – (1987-1995; SD, PHO [AZ], MIA, LA [STL], NYJ, SF, TB, BUF).
A starter in just 23 of his 103 career games played, Wilson’s well-traveled nature career was best illustrated in 1993 when he played for three teams in one season (five games with SF, five games with NYJ and two games with MIA). A defensive end out of LSU, Wilson’s season-high for sacks came in 1990 with the Dolphins when he brought the quarterback down four times. That’s as good as it gets.
Career line: 103 games, 23 starts, 15 sacks and 143 total tackles.
Up next: Jeff George played for seven teams.
Mike Sillinger – 12 (1990-2008; DET, ANA, VAN, PHI, TB, FLA, OTT, CBS, PHO, STL, NAS, NYI).
Suitcase Sillinger is an unrestricted free agent and could potentially add to his record number of clubs. The 38-year old has been traded nine times, tied for most in NHL history with Brent Ashton. His best season came in the 2003-04 campaign he split between St. Louis and Phoenix. Sillinger posted a career-high 63 points with his only 30-goal season (he scored 32 times). Sillinger missed all but seven games last year for the Islanders because of hip surgery.
During his 17-year career, Sillinger has a plus/minus rating of -191. Which means, his teams have been scored on 191 more times than they’ve scored when he’s been on the ice. Off the ice, the Regina, Saskatchewan native co-founded a children’s charity in his hometown with fellow NHLer Jamie Heward.
Career line: 240 goals, 308 assists (548 points), 644 PIM in 1,049 games.
Up next: Michel Petit and J.J. Daigneault each played for 10 different teams.
But all these guys pale in comparison to the King of Relocation, Lutz Pfannenstiel. Pfannenstiel, a German soccer player, suited up for 24 different teams and played professionally on all six inhabited continents.
So here’s to you, Lutz. Keep on keepin’ on.