Category Archives: Past Players

Articles or News involving past Yankee players

Yankees re-acquire Alfonso Soriano in trade w/Cubs

alfonso_soriano_by_cool_sports_players_1Next February, it will be an even ten years since the Yankees decided to trade for Rangers star shortstop Alex Rodriguez. At first, a deal with Boston was vetoed by the Commissioner’s Office, so Texas turned their attention to what New York had to offer.

Seeing the potential success A-Rod could bring to the team on and off the field, the Bombers parted with their fan favorite Dominican second baseman Alfonso Soriano, along with a player to be named later. That “PTBNL” ended up being infielder Joaquin Arias, selected from a pool of prospects that included international signee Robinson Cano.

To say the least, things haven’t quite worked out for the Yanks. However, they have now made a move to bring this controversial and monumental decade in franchise history full circle.

So, here it is. The Yankees have re-acquired Alfonso Soriano in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has agreed to pay 18 of the 25 million dollars still owed to Soriano, and in exchange pitching prospect Corey Black will be heading to the Windy City.

“Sori” is a different player than he was when he last wore the pinstripes. No longer a speed demon, leadoff hitter, nor infielder, Soriano has played left field since his one and only season with the Washington Nationals in 2006. He has managed to stay mostly healthy throughout his career, as now at 37 years old Sori has been a lock for at least 20 home runs, 70 RBI, and a slugging percentage in the .400s each year.

So far in 2013, the seven-time All-Star is batting .254 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI, which instantly makes him the Yankees’ best [active] right-handed hitter. Yet, sabermetrics suggest this won’t be that big of a boost to the lineup (0.7 WAR, 100 wRC+). Defensively he is also a liability, perhaps even worse than Raul Ibanez who faked his way as an everyday left fielder in 2012.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Soriano’s deal runs through 2014, so he now joins Ichiro and Vernon Wells as another old, washed-up outfielder that is practically irremovable considering all the money owed to him by now both Chicago and the Yankees.

This is not to say Soriano can’t be a somewhat productive player for this year and next, but it’s unlikely he will be as productive as a younger, perhaps cheaper alternative (Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Kubel to name a few).

However in the interim, as in the rest of this season, this definitely will help out the Yankees lineup. They are desperately searching for power from the right side of the plate and it appears Soriano can provide that. He will likely bat in the middle of the order, and probably will DH more often than not with Vernon Wells still being a capable defensive outfielder.

But, this probably can’t won’t be a season-changing addition, and certainly without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, [maybe A-Rod] and perhaps another bat via trade, this deal could go down as a useless one.

It will be nice to see an old face back in pinstripes, but it may be nothing more than that. Don’t expect an offensive turnaround with Soriano now in the fold; as mentioned it will take a lot more than him to get this team back into legitimate playoff contention.

Still, let’s all welcome back to the Yankees Alfonso Soriano. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

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(UPDATE) Yankees close to re-acquiring Alfonso Soriano

Thursday, 8:00pm: According to Cubs manager Dale Sveum, the deal is “99%” complete, as Soriano has been scratched from the lineup and is saying his goodbyes. Reports say Chicago will pick up $25 million of Sori’s remaining $36 million on his contract. In exchange, the Yankees are rumored to be sending prospects Joel De La Cruz and Chase Whitley to the Windy City.

Tuesday, 12:00pm: Word broke late last night via the New York Post’s George King that the Yankees were close to trading for their former rookie sensation and current Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. They would apparently surrender no more than a mid-level prospect, and Chicago would cover most of Soriano’s remaining contract (2 years, $36 million) that expires next season.

However, there are conflicting reports on the potential deal. Just read what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer had to say on MLB Network Radio earlier today:

Even if a deal is reached, Soriano has 10/5 rights and can veto a trade to any team. But, it’s been reported several times in the past few years that if a return to New York was on the table, Soriano would gladly accept. The 37-year old is currently batting .256 with 17 home runs, 51 RBI, and a .471 slugging percentage, a right-handed power bat which the Yankees have lacked all season.

Soriano was the Yankees’ starting second baseman from 2001-2003, but was dealt to the Texas Rangers in February of 2004 for – yep, you guessed it – Alex Rodriguez. As A-Rod faces another injury and a possible suspension, Alfonso Soriano coming back now would be irony at its finest.

We will update you as more news comes in.

The magic and determination of “42″

Today, we honor number 42 for changing baseball forever

Today, we honor number 42 for changing baseball forever

Outside of baseball, 42 is a random number. It could be an age or how much of something one person possesses.

But in baseball, 42 takes on a whole new meaning.

42 was the number that belonged to none other than Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier on April 15, 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers (now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers). And because of Jackie Robinson, baseball is what it is today.

Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, the youngest of five children. When he was a high school student, he took up multiple sports ranging from track-and-field, football, tennis, basketball and most importantly of all, baseball. He was the shortstop and catcher on his school baseball team, quarterback on the football team and guard on the basketball team. It was no secret that Jackie Robinson was an athletic individual but he would face challenges that gave him a whole new perspective on the game.

When Robinson enrolled in Pasadena Junior College, he made the baseball team. He was the lead-off man and the shortstop but most importantly, most of his teammates were white. Robinson developed his combativeness towards racial antagonism when he was arrested in 1938 after he vocally disputed the detention of a black friend to police. Robinson was hit with a two-year suspension and after his brother Frank Robinson was killed in an automobile accident, he transferred to UCLA to be closer to Frank’s family.

Like other ball-players in the early 1940′s, Robinson was in the Army although he was never sent overseas. He served as an army athletics coach until he was honorably discharged in 1944. It was then when a former player of the Kansas City Monarchs suggested that Robinson write a letter to the Monarchs co-owner Thomas Baird to ask for a tryout. And that’s exactly what Robinson did. He received an offer in 1945 from the Monarchs to play for their ball-club. The contract was $400 ($5,101 in 2013 dollars) per month, and Robinson couldn’t say no.

While Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs, few major league teams were interested in adding a black player to their ball-club. The Red Sox were one of the first teams to show interest, although it was later revealed to be a farce, and were the last team to integrate their roster fourteen years later. The team that showed the most interest in Jackie Robinson–the Brooklyn Dodgers, run by Branch Rickey. Rickey interviewed Robinson, and in a famous three-hour conversation, questioned whether or not Robinson could control his tempter against racial antagonism.

 “Are you looking for a Negro who’s afraid to fight back?” Robinson was aghast.

 “No.” Rickey replied. “I need a Negro player with guts enough not to fight back.”

Robinson agreed to turn the other cheek and on November 1, 1945, Robinson was signed to a minor league contract, beginning the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals.

In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers purchased Robinson’s contract, making him their opening day first baseman. He didn’t have a base-hit his first game, but walked and scored in the Dodgers 5-3 victory. Robinson was received generally positive, although mixed with newspapers and white major-league players. However, there was racial tension in the Dodgers clubhouse. Players would sign petitions and order they wouldn’t play unless Robinson didn’t, but Dodgers managing wouldn’t have it. Robinson was here to stay.

He also faced racial discrimination among other teams, some teams targeting Robinson physically during games. With the antagonism and despair, most players would have given up. But not Jackie Robinson. Robinson had support from players such as his own teammate Pee Wee Reese, who put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder in response to the racial slurs Robinson was receiving during a game in Cincinnati. Pee Wee Reese once famously said these words:

 “You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”

At the end of his rookie season, Robinson’s line was .297/.383/.427, earning him the award for Rookie of The Year.

After nine years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson retired from baseball, but his impact on the game will forever be imprinted on the number Robinson wore the last nine years: number 42.

On April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball universally retired the number 42, although players that already had the number would be grandfathered in, allowing them to keep the number until the day they retire. Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera is the last player to wear the number 42. Rivera considers it an honor, and is thankful for what Jackie Robinson had done for baseball.

 “Jackie Robinson was a great man.” Rivera told ESPN over the weekend during the Baltimore Orioles series at Yankee Stadium. “I have always said that wearing this number is a privilege and a great responsibility. To represent what Jackie Robinson represented for us, as a minority, and for all of baseball in general, it’s tremendous.”

To the Yankees, Jackie Robinson represents a lot. If  Jackie Robinson didn’t have the courage or strength to do what he did, we wouldn’t see players such as Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia or Robinson Cano on the roster–or in the Major Leagues.

 “As a baseball player, number 42, without it, I’m not here talking to you.” Curtis Granderson said during an interview with MLB.com. “42 has done amazing things for not only Africans-Americans…but for the globalization of the game.”

 “The way he handled himself was unbelievable.” Cano, who pays homage to Jackie Robinson by wearing 24 (the reverse of number 42) said. “I don’t know if I would of had the same courage he had back in the day. That’s somebody that we truly learn from. Not only fighting for ourselves but look how he opened the doors for everybody. Look how different is baseball today. It’s not about one country, it’s about one world. “

 “Doesn’t matter where you came from, doesn’t matter what your background is. Your effective impact moving forward is the way that your life should be, and that’s what Jackie did.” Granderson said. “He came from where he was, he broke through the barriers, continued to move in and we still continue to talk about his name now and we will continue to talk about his name forever.”

Remembering the ’62 Classic on National Hat Day

Richardson (hatless) runs towards his swarming teammates after the final out while the ump admires his gift (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

Yesterday was National Hat Day–don’t ask me who comes up with these things–and that gives us an occasion to remember an interesting story about an old Yankees cap.

On a Tuesday afternoon at Candlestick Park the Yankees carried a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning of Game 7.  The Bombers had taken the lead in the 5th when Bill Skowron scored from third after Tony Kubek grounded into a double play.  Ralph Terry, in a masterpiece, had allowed just 2 hits over the previous 8 innings, but ran into trouble as the Giants attempted to stave off elimination.  Matty Alou led off with a single, but Terry was resilient as he struck out Felipe Alou and Chuck Hiller.  Down to their last gasp, the Giants sent Willie Mays to the plate who doubled to right, putting the tying and winning runs into scoring position for Willie McCovey, who had 1 of San Fran’s 4 hits.  Terry, who in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series yielded the iconic home run to Bill Mazeroski, dealt to the Giants’ slugger who roped what for a moment looked like the winning hit.  Bobby Richardson, who had moved to his left after McCovey had pulled a ball down the right field line, stuck his glove just over his left shoulder to snare the screaming liner and preserve the 1-0 Yankee victory and a 20th World Championship.  However, what happened just prior to the final pitch of the 1962 Fall Classic is just as noteworthy.

When I spoke to Richardson over the phone several weeks ago he recalled the moments leading up to one of the most important defensive plays in Yankee history.  “What I remember most is McCovey was up, Hiller was on 3rd, Mays was on 2nd and I walked over to 2nd to talk to Kubek,” recollected the 8-time All-Star.  “We talked a lot.  Kubek says to me, ‘I hope he doesn’t hit it to you!’  I asked, ‘Why?’  He said, ‘Because you already made one error.’  We both laughed.”  He also remembered a strange request by a National League umpire standing near him.  “The other thing I remember is right before the pitch the ump turned to me and asked for my hat for his little cousin.  So I caught the ball and flipped the hat to him.”  What shines through in this anecdote is more Richardson’s class than the umpire’s audacity, adding yet another interesting fragment to the annals of Yankee lore.

Posada to announce retirement Tuesday

Posada to announce retirement Tuesday

by Matt S.

Jorge Posada will hold a retirement press conference Tuesday morning at Yankee Stadium.  The presser will get underway at 11 a.m. ET. Posada had a desire to continue his playing career at the beginning of this offseason, but it fizzled out as interest in him failed to grow. The 40-year-old was a five-time All-Star. He tallied 1,664 hits, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI during a 17-year MLB career and won four World Series rings.

Mailbag – Free Agency, Playoff Rotation, Blown HR, etc….

Here is this week’s mailbag. If you would like your question to be answered in the mailbag, email Mike at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com. Here we go:

@Yankeesandjets8 asked…………….What do you think is going to happen during free agency?

Well, it’s assumed that Sabathia will exercise his right to become a Free Agent. Task #1 for Cashman is to do whatever it takes to lock the big man up. #1 Starters/Horses are VERY difficult to obtain so CC can basically write his own check. Cliff Lee got 5 yrs $120M with a team option so look for CC to get about the same plus a few mil.

Beyond that, look for Cashman to make a move for that elusive #2 starter to team with CC. The top Free Agent pitcher is lefty C.J. Wilson from Texas. He’s a combined 27-13 over the last 2 seasons with a 3.28 era, 7.8 k/9 & 3.6 bb/9.  He will be 31 next year but has only been a starter for 2 seasons so he doesn’t have a lot of mileage on his arm. He’s a true 5-pitch pitcher who limits HRs and gets a lot of ground balls.

If Wilson can’t be signed, Cash may look at Hiroki Kuroda or Mark Buehrle on a 1-yr deal and take a chance on the 2013 Free Agent market where there are a lot of quality pitchers.

Unless Prince can play RF, he doesn't fit with the Yanks.

There are some big name position players on the market in Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, David Ortiz, Lance Berkman & Jimmy Rollins. However, the Yanks are locked up at most positions. If they pick up Nick Swisher’s $10.25M club option as expected, the only opening will be at DH. While those big names would look great mashing in the Bronx, I don’t think the team will sign a long-term DH since ARod will need to DH more and more over the next few years. Plus they have highly regarded Jesus Montero in AAA who should get a lot of ABs as DH next season. They may look to team Montero with a veteran lefty hitter such as Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui or Jim Thome – or ideally just bring back Eric Chavez.

@PrimoBledBlue asked: Do you think the Yankees will use a 4-man rotation in the playoffs?

In 2009, Girardi rode a 3-man rotation of CC, AJ & Pettitte throughout the post-season to win the World Series.  This was only possible because of the numerous days off that year but MLB changed the schedule in 2010 to reduce the number of days off during and in-between series. Now there are only 2 scheduled days off per series making 3-man rotations difficult.

I believe the Yanks will use 4 starters but pitch CC on 3-days rest whenever needed. In the Division Series, the Yanks can employ a 3-man rotation by pitching CC in Game 1 and again on 3-days rest in Game 4 if needed.  The other starters could be used on regular 4-days rest. In an ideal situation, if the Yankees sweep the Division Series in 3 games, CC could then be set up to pitch Game 1 of the ALCS on full rest, then again in Games 4 & 7 on 3-days rest. CC is far and away the best starter and he’s an absolute horse who’s had success pitching on short rest. In 6 career starts on 3-days rest, Sabathia is 4-1 with a 1.52 ERA including successful starts vs the Angels & Phillies in the 2009 playoffs.

The question of who the 2, 3 & 4 starters will be won’t be answered until the end of the year.  All of the starters are basically auditioning for the remaining 6 weeks of the season but if I had to choose right now I’d go with Nova, Garcia & Hughes with Colon in the pen and AJ back home watching on TV. I’d have my non-CC starters on short leashes. Adding Colon to an already stacked bullpen, Girardi will have many weapons to use at the first sign of trouble.

@tousenthesnake asked……..Who has the most golden gloves in Yanks history?

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award has only been awarded since 1957 so many of the all-time great Yanks weren’t eligible. But the Yankee with the most Gold Glove awards is Don Mattingly with 9.  Donnie Baseball won every year at 1B from 1985 to 1994 with the exception of an injury shortened 1990 season.

Current Yankees with Gold Gloves are Eric Chavez (6), Derek Jeter (5), Mark Teixeira (4), Alex Rodriguez (2) , Russell Martin (1) and Robinson Cano (1).  If I had a vote, I would vote for Martin, Tex, Cano & Brett Gardner to win Gold Gloves in 2011.

 @tazc23 asked…….Are the Yankees concerned that the final Royals’ game may have an effect at the end of the season?

 Dana DeMuth made a terrible decision on Billy Butler’s HR that wasn’t, and that run was the difference in a 5-4 loss. Girardi should have protested the call since the umpires clearly made a decision against the rules. However, a blown call in the 4th inning of  Game #121 of the season shouldn’t be the reason why the team doesn’t win the Al East or Wild Card. The Yanks had several opportunities in the game to score but went just 1-for-10 with RISP and Cano & Posada both failed to deliver with the bases loaded in the 9th. So while the call was horrible, the team has moved on and will not dwell on it.

@tazc23 also asked………Are teams told what actually constitutes a HR in some stadiums ?

Yes, the umpires go over the stadium grounds rules and exchane lineup cards with a manager or coach from each team prior to the first game of every series. Yankees 3B-coack Mick Kelleher went over the rules before Monday’s series opener. Kelleher said that his understanding was that the ball needed to also clear a chain-link fence and padded railing to be a home run.

“We went over the ground rules and they were pretty explicit and clear, but there was one question that I had: it was about the top rail in left-center field,” Kelleher said. “It was padded; the ball had to leave the ballpark. We talked about that twice. … It doesn’t make sense to me. The ball never left the ballpark, so how could it be a home run?”

@ehom87 asked: Even with review the umpire could make the wrong call. Is there anyway to improve the review process to ensure the right call is made?

In this case, replay verified what the umps saw live but the problem was with misinterpretation of the stadium ground-rules.  Someone from the league office should have been called to clarify the ground-rule. Steve Palermo, an umpires supervisor who was in attendance at Kauffman Stadium, took the crew out to the left-field fence after the game and pointed out the discrepancy between the ground rule and what was called. If Palermo was at that game, why didn’t he intervene during the replay? I think an umpire supervisor or league exec should be on call to answer questions like these during replay reviews.

Checking on players recently traded by Yanks

With the trade deadline looming, I thought it would be interesting to check in on some ex-Yankees. I found a lot of the pitchers recently included in deals are performing well.  This bodes well for the team in future trade negotiations as it shows that the Yanks are developing good players and that Cashman gives good value in deals.

There are a lot of ex-Yankee pitchers doing well . Off the top of my head, Ian Kennedy, Tyler Clippard, Micheal Dunn, Daniel McCutcheon, Jose Veras, Mark Melancon & Jeff Karstens are all having very good years.

Karsten surprised me the most….he’s 8-5 with a 2.28 ERA which is 2nd in the NL. However, he seems to be having excellent luck with a 4.41 FIP and only a 4.8 k/9. Then, how does he do it? Well, he limits walks with a 1.49 bb rate which is 2nd in the NL and he’s pitched awesome with runners on base. He has a MLB-leading 86.6% Left on Base % and is 2nd in the NL with a minute .227 BABIP, which means he is due for a serious regression. But good for Jeff and the Pirates. there are a lot of former Yanks on the upstart Pirates.

Here are some numbers for some recent ex-Yanks:

Pitchers

 

W-L

 

ERA

 

FIP

 

K/9

 

BB/9

 

 

Ian Kennedy

 

11-3

 

3.22

 

3.56

 

7.5

 

2.5

 

 

Jeff Karstens

 

8-5

 

2.28

 

4.41

 

4.8

 

1.5

 

 

Tyler Clippard

 

1-0

 

1.73

 

3.32

 

11.3

 

3.1

 

25 Holds

 

Mark Melancon

 

5-3

 

2.91

 

3.34

 

7.4

 

3.3

 

8 saves

 

Jose Veras

 

2-3

 

3.48

 

3.66

 

9.2

 

4.7

 

19 Holds

 

Dan McCutcheon

 

3-1

 

2.13

 

3.86

 

4.6

 

2.5

 

8 Holds

 

Michael Dunn

 

5-5

 

3.49

 

4.39

 

9.9

 

5.1

 

10 Holds

 

Phil Coke

 

1-8

 

4.68

 

3.81

 

4.5

 

3.4

 

3 Holds

 

Hitters

 

AVG

 

HR

 

RBI

 

SB

 

OPS

 

WAR

 

Melky Cabrera

 

.294

 

12

 

57

 

14

 

.785

 

3.2

 

Austin Jackson

 

.243

 

4

 

23

 

16

 

.668

 

0.9

 

Wilson Betemit

 

.278

 

3

 

27

 

3

 

.737

 

0.3

 

Jose Tabata

 

.265

 

3

 

15

 

14

 

.705

 

1.2

 

What Does it Take to be a Good Fielder? – Outfielder Edition

If you watched Jim Edmonds through his career, you would know how much of a great outfielder he was. What did he display? Fantastic range, solid arm.

In a series of these “What does it take to be a good fielder” sessions, I will deeply examine the qualities we look for in a fielder.

As a very wise college baseball coach I knew once said, “The easiest thing to do in baseball is to catch a baseball.”

That statement is the basis of the derailing of the FPCT stat, used for fielders. FPCT, as you may know, stands for Fielding Percentage or the number of putouts divided by the number of opportunities for putouts. Well, if we go by that statement, that catching a baseball is the easiest aspect of baseball, then FPCT is a fairly useless stat in finding a good outfielder.

That is why, when looking at an outfielder’s fielding, you cannot look solely at FPCT.

In fact, you cannot look solely at stats.

Stats will not show you the great range an outfielder has, although those in favor of UZR or even DRS may beg to differ. Please, although these stats may be helpful, they are not always right, and quite often, are not.

The things you should look for in an outfielder are the following:

  1. Range - An outfielder needs to be fast, needs to get to as many balls as possible. If he can cut off a line-drive to the gap, that could turn a double into a single, or even turn two runs into one. You don’t need much range to have a good FPCT. Look at Jason Bay in 2009. He had a 1.000 FPCT – perfect. He was also looked at as one of the worst outfielders in baseball. Why? Range.
  2. Arm - A good arm is not something that many outfielders have. It is something that is quite undervalued. Let’s simulate a game situation here: It’s the 9th inning. Man on 2nd base. 2 Outs. Tied game. The batter hits a single up the middle. The centerfielder charges it and makes a solid crow-hop throw to the catcher. It is an absolute bullet and hits the catcher at the chest. 3 Outs, no runs scored. That is what a good arm can do for your team.
  3. The Ability to Read- What does this mean? It is how an outfielder sees the ball off the bat. If the outfielder can get a good read on the ball, he will get a good jump, and with a good jump, he will get to more balls. There have been good outfielders who haven’t had the greatest range, but would always get fantastic reads and jumps off the bat. An example of one of these outfielders would be Andruw Jones. Not the fastest guy in the world, but one the best. Those who have both range and good reads are the really extraordinary outfielders. An example of one of these extraordinary outfielders would be Torii Hunter.

    Hunter has been known for these mind-blowing catches.

If you are a MLB outfielder, FPCT should be a given good aspect of your game.

The ability, if you want to call it an “ability”, of catching a baseball, should not be as overvalued as it is today.

After all, it’s an outfielder’s range, arm, and ability to read a ball of the bat that really determines a good outfielder.

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