February 2011

February 14 – Happy Birthday Tyler Clippard

The first few times I watched Tyler Clippard pitch in a Yankee uniform, I did not think he was going to be a particularly effective big league pitcher. I suppose one of the reasons I formed that initial opinion was the right-hander’s very unorthodox windup. Clippard is tall and thin and during his delivery, it seemed as if he could fold his back into a right angle and puff out his chest to a point where you thought it was going to explode. At the same time, he stretched and waved every appendage on his body to their furthest points. After winning 31 games during his four-year stay in the Yankee farm system, he made his big league debut against the Mets in May of 2007, pitching six strong innings and getting a win. Just 22 years old at the time, Clippard seemed to pitch less effectively in each successive start. He had a fastball in the very low nineties, he walked a lot of batters and he gave up a lot of fly balls. As a right-hander in the old Yankee Stadium that was not a good recipe for success on the mound. But Clippard did have an outstanding change-up, which made his very low nineties heater much more sneaky fast. New York’s front office gave up on the Yankee Clippard after the 2007 postseason, trading him to the Nationals for Jonathan Albaladejo. Clippard has evolved into a real force in Washington’s bullpen. He saved 32 games for the Nats in 2012. Meanwhile, Albaladejo did nothing but struggle for the Yankees.

Clippard was born on Valentine’s Day, in 1985. This “Voice of the Yankees” was also a Valentine’s Day baby as was this former Yankee relief pitcher and this one-time Yankee utility infielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2007 NYY 3 1 .750 6.33 6 6 0 0 0 0 27.0 29 19 19 6 17 18 1.704
7 Yrs 30 21 .588 3.00 345 8 82 0 0 33 420.2 286 146 140 52 176 466 1.098
WSN (6 yrs) 27 20 .574 2.77 339 2 82 0 0 33 393.2 257 127 121 46 159 448 1.057
NYY (1 yr) 3 1 .750 6.33 6 6 0 0 0 0 27.0 29 19 19 6 17 18 1.704
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/26/2014.

February 13 – Happy Birthday Drew Henson

Drew Henson first became part of the Yankee organization in the third round of the 1998 MLB Amateur Draft. Even though the high school football star quarterback had already announced he would attend and play football at Michigan, the Yankees drafted him in the third round that year, gave him $2 million and hoped for the best. Henson spent the next two football seasons mostly sitting on the Wolverine bench watching starter Tom Brady throw all the passes. He got his chance to replace Brady his junior year. As the team’s starting QB in 2000, Henson led Michigan to a Big Ten title and a victory over Auburn in that season’s Citrus Bowl. He threw 18 touchdown passes that year and just 4 interceptions. He had proved he could lead a big-time college football team successfully, but he would forsake his senior year in Ann Arbor to prove he could play big league baseball as well.

While he had spent his last three falls playing football, Henson was spending his summers advancing up the rungs of the Yankees’ Minor League farm system. Problem was, his play was really not good enough to climb those rungs. His biggest problem seemed to be pitch selection at the plate. He struck out way too much and hardly ever walked. He had OK power but not enough to make up for all those whiffs. That’s probably the biggest reason why New York included Henson in the four-player package of prospects they used to acquire starting pitcher Denny Neagle from the Reds right around the 2000 All Star break. He did no better during his 18-game career in the Reds’ farm system and ended up back in pinstripes when New York reacquired Drew in exchange for Willy Mo Pena during the final weeks of the 2001 spring training season.

New York’s front office got him back because they were convinced if Henson concentrated only on baseball he would become the Yankees’ next starting third baseman. That explains why the team gave him a six-year, $17 million contract upon his return from the Reds. Henson accomplished two things on the baseball field during the next year and a half. He got his first Major League at bats in pinstripes, going 1-9, and after collecting about ten million Yankee dollars, he convinced himself that he would be better off trying to become an NFL quarterback and not the Yankees’ next third baseman.

Another Yankee born on today’s date was once accused of throwing baseball games by his own Manager. You won’t believe what happened next. Find out here. This long-ago Highlander outfielder and this one-time Yankee shortstop were also born on February 13th.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2002 NYY 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
2003 NYY 5 8 8 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .125 .125 .125 .250
2 Yrs 8 9 9 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .111 .111 .111 .222
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/26/2014.

February 12 – Happy Birthday Pat Dobson

Former Yankee starting pitcher, Pat Dobson was born in Buffalo, NY in 1942. In 1974, Dobson and fellow starter, Doc Medich, each won 19 games for a rejuvenated Yankee team that finished just 2 games behind Baltimore for that year’s AL Eastern Division crown. I’ve always felt that if Mel Stottlemyre did not tear his rotator cuff that same season, that Yankee team, managed by Bill Virdon, would have won their division. If they had won in ’74, perhaps George Steinbrenner would not have brought in Billy Martin to replace Virdon the following year. Martin did not like Dobson and told the Yankee GM, Gabe Paul to get rid of him. Paul obliged by trading the right hander to Cleveland for Oscar Gamble.

Dobson’s best year in the big’s had been 1971, when he was one of four Oriole starters to win 20 games in a season, only the second time this had been accomplished in Major League Baseball. Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar were the other three Baltimore pitchers involved. Dobson was known for his curveball and during his 11-year pro career he won 122 games while losing 129. When his pitching days were over he became a pitching coach, then a scout and finally a front office executive with the San Francisco Giants. He died in 2006, a victim of leukemia, when he was just 64-years-old.

Dobson shares his February 12th birthday with this one time Yankee first baseman, this former utility infielder and this WWII era Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1973 NYY 9 8 .529 4.17 22 21 0 6 1 0 142.1 150 72 66 22 34 70 1.293
1974 NYY 19 15 .559 3.07 39 39 0 12 2 0 281.0 282 111 96 23 75 157 1.270
1975 NYY 11 14 .440 4.07 33 30 1 7 1 0 207.2 205 105 94 21 83 129 1.387
11 Yrs 122 129 .486 3.54 414 279 51 74 14 19 2120.1 2043 939 833 197 665 1301 1.277
NYY (3 yrs) 39 37 .513 3.65 94 90 1 25 4 0 631.0 637 288 256 66 192 356 1.314
DET (3 yrs) 11 20 .355 3.06 124 20 41 3 1 16 279.1 227 107 95 29 114 191 1.221
CLE (2 yrs) 19 24 .442 4.49 68 52 4 6 0 1 350.2 381 192 175 36 130 198 1.457
BAL (2 yrs) 36 26 .581 2.78 76 73 2 31 7 1 550.2 468 193 170 37 132 348 1.090
ATL (1 yr) 3 7 .300 4.99 12 10 0 1 1 0 57.2 73 33 32 1 19 23 1.595
SDP (1 yr) 14 15 .483 3.76 40 34 3 8 1 1 251.0 257 126 105 28 78 185 1.335
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/26/2014.