November 23 – Happy Birthday Aaron Small
As the 2005 season began, Brian Cashman thought he had assembled the starting pitching staff New York would need to recapture the AL pennant from Boston and help Yankee fans forget the horror of the Bronx Bombers’ ALCS collapse to the hated Red Sox, the previous postseason. The Yankee GM had traded for Randy Johnson and signed Carl Pavano during that offseason and was hoping those two veterans would combine with Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown to give New York the type of overpowering rotation a team needed to make it to the World Series. That did not happen. Johnson was good but not great, ditto for Mussina and both Brown and Pavano missed most of that season due to injuries. The Yankees were forced to improvise with their starting pitching and they did so by bringing up Chien-Ming Wang from their farm system, trading for a Pittsburgh starter named Shawn Chacon and using a free agent pitcher they had signed the previous January named Aaron Small. Wang and Chacon won 15 games between them but it was Small’s performance that year that won the AL East Division flag for Joe Torre’s squad. The tall right hander won all ten of his decisions including five big wins in September, giving up just 3.2 runs every nine innings he pitched. Small was a high school teammate of Jason Giambi in Covina, CA. That great performance in 2005 earned him a million dollar contract from New York in 2006 but he would never win another big league game. After losing his third straight decision in 2006, he was sent down to Columbus, where he spent the rest of that year. He ended up retiring after that season with a 25-13 record and four saves during his nine years of big league pitching.