Mitch Meluskey: The Spoiled Brat Learns Second Chances Sometimes Aren't
Mitch Meluskey: The Spoiled Brat Learns Second Chances Sometimes Aren't

1999 Fleer Tradition
Warning Track # 508W
1999 Fleer Brilliants Blue # 148B

OPS is great, but if the player's an attitude problem, most teams, and especially the Astros (who after all would include Mssrs. Bagwell and Biggio), won't care too much about the sabermetrics. While my respect for Neyer is boundless, perhaps Mr. Neyer in preparing the particular ode to cronyism reprinted at right hadn't read this particular column, from 2000:

"In 2000, a twenty-six year-old catcher named Mitch Meluskey batted .300 with fourteen home runs and an .888 OPS in 117 games. Also in 2000, a thirty-one year-old catcher named Brad Ausmus batted .266 with seven home runs and a .722 OPS in 150 games.
Care to guess which catcher Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio wanted behind the plate in 2001? Right. . .they picked the old guy who can't hit. Oh, did I mention that Ausmus had been their teammate in 1997 and '98? Bagwell and Biggio wielded a fair amount of influence with management and on December 11, 2000, the Astros traded three players, including Meluskey, to Detroit for three players, including Ausmus.
Ausmus hit like a little girl in 2001. On the other hand, the Astros' pitching did improve, so it must have been Ausmus, right? Well. maybe. Houston's two worst pitchers had been Jose Lima (6.65 ERA) and Chris Holt (5.35). Holt went to Detroit in the deal for Ausmus, and Lima was even worse for the Astros in 2001 before he went to Detroit, too. Scott Elarton was the Astros' best starter [Oh, really? -- ed] in 2000, and he actually regressed in 2001, eventually being traded to Colorado.
For now, though, the trade looks great. Because not only did the Astros return to the postseason--after finishing fourth in 2000--but Meluskey missed the entire 2001 season and most of 2002 with injuries."

-- Rob Neyer,
Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups

"A season already gone bad took an even darker turn for Houston on Sunday when rookie catcher Mitch Meluskey punched teammate Matt Mieske in the eye during batting practice prior to a 4-1 loss to San Diego. Mieske was cut over his left eye. According to witnesses, Meluskey was late for his turn in the batting cage and jumped in ahead of Mieske. The two exchanged words, and Meluskey hit Mieske when the two were outside the cage. Several veterans were upset with the fight and were not afraid to voice their opinions. "To me, it has everything to do with respect," Craig Biggio said. "You know, some people have it and some people don't. I'm going to leave it at that. There's no way in the world something like that should happen." "This is the time when we have to stick together as a family," said starter Jose Lima, "I don't appreciate something like this happening." There was no immediate word on whether or not the Astros planned to take any disciplinary action against Meluskey. At the very least, you can't call the Astros "punchless" any more. Cha-ching."

1999 Bowman International # 125 2000 MLB Showdown # 064

Meluskey, originally acquired from the Indians with Tony Mitchell for Buck McNabb (the first time we let McNabb go) and Jimmy Lewis, was traded after the 2000 season to the Tigers, in the deal that reacquired the services of Brad Ausmus for the Astros. When Meluskey played eight games over two years for the Tigers coz of a bad shoulder, they released him, and the A's picked him up. They let him go to, and Meluskey went the independent league route, unti signed by Round Rock in the middle of 2003. Then on August 29, 2003, the Astros called him up from AA, and nary a sound was heard about the infamous tirade Meluskey had given him when the Astros traded him to Detroit. "This is definitely a second chance," said Meluskey to the Houston Chronicle, going on to say, "I loved Houston when I played here," and even Bagwell said, "A lot of times when kids come up, it's kind of an overwhelming experience and sometimes they go about their business the wrong way and they don't know any better at the time."
It all rang kind of hollow, but the lovefest ended when Meluskey was granted his free agency through an outright to AAA New Orleans at the end of the year. He was not asked to return for 2004. Meluskey's skills, it seems, had deteriorated, and he should have gotten it right the first time.