On this day in 1998, the Padres released Archi Cianfrocco, effectively ending his major league career. Cianfrocco was coming off the worst season of his career, in which he posted career-lows across the board; he headed to Japan for the 1999 season, but faltered in 15 games with the Seibu Lions and didn't sign with anyone when he returned to the states.
The card above is from happier days, right after Cianfrocco's first season in San Diego. He was picked up from the Expos in 1993 as a preemptive replacement for Gary Sheffield at third base; Sheffield was traded to the Marlins the very next day.
The 1994 Leaf set is one of my all-time favorites, and while the fronts are nice, the real action is on the back section. It's a really nice theme, with the ticket motif and the team-specific stadium-shot backgrounds tying together perfectly. Of course, all of that left just enough room for a single season of stats, but luckily for Cianfrocco he set career highs in five of the nine listed categories that year. His dozen homers -- 11 of which came as a member of the Padres -- were twice his next-best total, set in his rookie season.
Cianfrocco scuffled in 1994, slashing .219/ .252/ .356 in 157 plate appearances over 59 games. He rebounded in 1995 with a line of .263/ .333/ .449 in 133 plate appearance, and also added value by playing everywhere beside pitcher, catcher, and center fielder. That OBP and SLG were career-highs; his best BA came the next season when he hit .281 in 79 games and added catcher to his resume.
1997 saw Cianfrocco dial his defense back to just the infield, save for three innings in right field. He had a modest slash line of .245/ .328/ .355 in 89 games, but did set a career-high with 25 walks. It was enough to secure a roster spot for what would become his final season.
Archi got off to a slow start in 1998. He was hitting .143/ .213/ .250 in 62 plate appearances after playing in 26 of the team's 46 games when he was placed on the disabled list in late May. He came back a month later, collected one single and one walk in 17 plate appearances spread over the span of the month, and was demoted to AAA Las Vegas until September roster expansion. He pinch-hit and struck out in one game, played an inning of defense in three others, and was not included on the postseason roster. Cianfrocco finished the season with three doubles and a homer in 80 plate appearances, and a .125/ .192/ .208 line, all of which led to the decision which took place 16 years ago today.