September 2010

September 24 – Happy Birthday Jeff Karstens

This native of San Diego was born on this date in 1982. The Yankees drafted the right-hander in the 19th round of the 2003 draft out of Texas Tech. He got his first call-up to the parent club in late August of 2006 and got six starts during the final month and a half of that season, winning two of his three decisions. He didn’t fare as well for New York the following year, going 1-4 with an ERA that ballooned to over 11 earned runs for every nine innings pitched. In 2008, he was made part of the package the Yankees dealt to Pittsburgh for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. He got off to a great start in the Steel City, winning his first two starts and not giving up a single run but then he had a tough time finding success with the poor-hitting Pirates. In 2011, the Pirate offense showed some punch and Karstens numbers have gotten demonstrably better. I was in Pittsburgh earlier this season and got to see him pitch a super game against a very tough Philadelphia line-up. He turns 29-years-old today and I think he’s young enough to put together some solid seasons in the next few years. The question is will the Pirates have a team that can score him the runs he will need to do so.

I’m sure you don’t remember when Dixie Walker wore pinstripes but are you old enough to remember when Eric Soderholm played for the Yankees? Both celebrate their birthday today.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2006 NYY 2 1 .667 3.80 8 6 2 0 0 0 42.2 40 20 18 6 11 16 1.195
2007 NYY 1 4 .200 11.05 7 3 2 0 0 0 14.2 27 21 18 4 9 5 2.455
7 Yrs 26 40 .394 4.44 138 91 14 2 2 0 592.1 636 321 292 80 153 330 1.332
PIT (5 yrs) 23 35 .397 4.31 123 82 10 2 2 0 535.0 569 280 256 70 133 309 1.312
NYY (2 yrs) 3 5 .375 5.65 15 9 4 0 0 0 57.1 67 41 36 10 20 21 1.517
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/24/2013.

September 21 – Happy Birthday Sam McDowell

They called him Sudden Sam and along with one of the best fastballs in big league history, he also possessed one of the game’s worst drinking habits. His career began in Cleveland in 1961 and during his eight seasons as the ace of the Tribes’ pitching staff he threw 21 shutouts and led the American League in strikeouts five times. McDowell would drink himself into oblivion every day of the week with the exception being the day before he was scheduled to pitch. By 1971, the Indians threw up their hands and traded the southpaw fireballer to the Giants for Gaylord Perry. It took San Francisco just over a season to realize their mistake and they unloaded McDowell by selling him to the pitching hungry Yankees. When Sam won five of his first six decisions in pinstripes, Yankee fans thought it was the best deal in franchise history. But McDowell then proceeded to lose seven straight to close out the 1973 season and when he dropped six of seven decisions the following year, New York released him. He signed on with the Pirates but his drinking had become so bad, he was quickly kicked off the team and out of baseball for good. Miraculously, Sam got his alcohol addiction under control and became a very effective substance abuse counselor after his pitching days were over. He was born in Pittsburgh on this date in 1942.

Another former Yankee celebrating his birthday today is the father of a Prince but has no royal blood running through his veins. This long-ago Yankee outfielder was also born on September 21st.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1973 NYY 5 8 .385 3.95 16 15 1 2 1 0 95.2 73 47 42 4 64 75 1.432
1974 NYY 1 6 .143 4.69 13 7 3 0 0 0 48.0 42 27 25 6 41 33 1.729
15 Yrs 141 134 .513 3.17 425 346 39 103 23 14 2492.1 1948 999 879 164 1312 2453 1.308
CLE (11 yrs) 122 109 .528 2.99 336 295 24 97 22 11 2109.2 1603 805 702 138 1072 2159 1.268
SFG (2 yrs) 11 10 .524 4.36 46 28 7 4 0 3 204.1 200 109 99 16 115 157 1.542
NYY (2 yrs) 6 14 .300 4.20 29 22 4 2 1 0 143.2 115 74 67 10 105 108 1.531
PIT (1 yr) 2 1 .667 2.86 14 1 4 0 0 0 34.2 30 11 11 0 20 29 1.442
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2013.

September 19 – Happy Birthday Nick Johnson

Nobody expected Nick Johnson to be a huge star in the big leagues but when he first came up with New York in August of 2001, the Yankee brass made it sound as if he had a good enough bat to force their poor-fielding first baseman, Jason Giambi to the full-time DH role. He turned out to be an OK fielder with a good batting eye but he definitely did not hit well enough during his first tour of duty in pinstripes to deserve the full-time first-baseman’s job. He was shipped to Montreal in 2004 in the deal that made Javier Vazquez a Yankee for the first time.

Since then the injury bug has hit Johnson hard. He was having his best big league season in Washington, in 2006, smacking 23 home runs and averaging a career high .290, when in a late season game he broke a leg when he collided with current Yankee teammate, Austin Kearns. That injury forced Nick to miss the entire 2007 season. Washington traded him to the Marlins during the 2009 season and then Brian Cashman played a hunch and signed Johnson to replace Hideki Matsui as Yankee DH in an effort to save salary. It turned out to be a bad decision for the Yankee GM. The Sacramento native was off to a horrible start last year before an injury placed him on the DL for the remainder of the 2010 season.

Johnson was born on September 19, 1978. He shares a birthday with former Yankee starting pitcher, Jim Abbott, former Yankee first baseman, Nick Etten, this WWII era left fielder and the 1958 Cy Young Award winner.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2001 NYY 23 78 67 6 13 2 0 2 8 0 7 15 .194 .308 .313 .621
2002 NYY 129 441 378 56 92 15 0 15 58 1 48 98 .243 .347 .402 .749
2003 NYY 96 406 324 60 92 19 0 14 47 5 70 57 .284 .422 .472 .894
2010 NYY 24 98 72 12 12 4 0 2 8 0 24 23 .167 .388 .306 .693
10 Yrs 832 3316 2698 430 723 173 5 95 398 29 522 572 .268 .399 .441 .840
WSN (5 yrs) 487 2041 1666 263 467 121 5 56 248 21 326 335 .280 .408 .460 .867
NYY (4 yrs) 272 1023 841 134 209 40 0 33 121 6 149 193 .249 .378 .414 .791
BAL (1 yr) 38 102 87 9 18 4 0 4 11 2 11 26 .207 .324 .391 .714
FLA (1 yr) 35 150 104 24 29 8 0 2 18 0 36 18 .279 .477 .413 .890
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/21/2013.