Friday, December 16, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: Mike Munoz

With some players from the Rockies' olden days, I don't have much of a memory beyond a gut reaction. Mike Munoz is one of those. As I was scanning the 1993 roster trying to decide who to write about next, my eyes landed on Munoz's name and I immediately felt nervous. I can't be sure if it was Huston Street levels or not, because nervous when you're 10 is not the same as nervous when you're 28. But something buried deep in my psyche is afraid of what will happen to my team when Mike Munoz comes to the mound.

No disrespect to him. At times he was a competent lefty specialist, and he occasionally went multiple weeks without giving up a run. It's just that when he imploded, he did it so spectacularly that, if I remember right, people covered their heads and ran for the exits. Granted, this was pre-humidor Coors Field, and a lot of Rockies pitchers had sizable ERA's. Munoz just happened to be one of the worst. And it wasn't even the home runs that did him in. The most he ever gave up was 9, in 1995, and in no other season did he allow even half that many.

A big issue was his ratio of strikeouts to walks. It usually hovered somewhere in between 1 and 2, which, for reference, is where Jason Hammel's was last season. And when the hits came, they came in bunches. Here's a fun case in point: in a September 1993 game against the Padres, Munoz came into the game in the top of the 9th with the Rockies up 11-0. He gave up 4 hits and a walk en route to allowing 4 runs to score. Don Baylor left him in, because not even Mike Munoz gives up 11 runs in one inning, but that's a line to mamke you cover your face in embarrassment.

Still, I've got mad respect for all pitchers who ever signed as a free agent with the Rockies back in those days, and Munoz did it twice. I have no idea where he is now, but I hope it's a less stressful place than Coors Field in the '90s. He deserves it.

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