Yankee GM, Brian Cashman recently admitted he’s had his heart broken by glowing spring training assessments of past Yankee bullpens that ended up going bad during the regular seasons that followed. He then specifically mentioned the name Steve Karsay. The Yankees had signed the big right-hander to a four-year $21 million free agent contract after the 2001 season. Up to that point, the Queens native had pitched for three different big league teams and his best years had been 1999, when he won 10 of 12 decisions for Cleveland and the following season, when he saved 20 games for the Indians.
At first, Karsay looked like a great investment for New York. He was a workhorse for Joe Torre during the 2002 season, appearing in 78 games, winning six of ten decisions and even stepping in to save 12 games when Mo Rivera went on the DL that year. But all those innings took a toll and Karsay needed back surgery that November. Unable to work out during the off season, he reported to spring training with his arm out of shape and injured his shoulder. He made a total of thirteen appearances for the Yankees during the next three seasons earning about $1.2 million for every inning he pitched. The Yankees finally released him in May of 2005 and after trials with the Rangers and the A’s, Karsay hung up his glove for good after the 2006 season.
|2003||Did not play in major leagues (Injured)|
|CLE (4 yrs)||15||14||.517||3.23||164||4||71||0||0||22||223.0||210||84||80||15||69||191||1.251|
|OAK (4 yrs)||8||16||.333||4.97||45||36||5||1||0||0||219.0||254||129||121||29||74||145||1.498|
|NYY (3 yrs)||6||4||.600||3.39||91||0||46||0||0||12||101.0||102||41||38||9||34||74||1.347|
|TEX (1 yr)||0||1||.000||7.47||14||0||8||0||0||0||15.2||26||14||13||2||5||9||1.979|
|ATL (1 yr)||3||4||.429||3.43||43||0||21||0||0||7||44.2||44||21||17||4||17||39||1.366|
Most Yankee fans remember today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant as a former Yankee bullpen coach and minor league pitching instructor. He worked for the Yankees in one capacity or another from 1998 until 2008. But I remember Monteleone when he was a Yankee bullpen pitcher in the early nineties. In fact he was a pretty good right-hander for some pretty bad Yankee teams. The Yankees had got him and Claudell Washington from California right after the 1990 season started in exchange for Luis Polonia. Over the next four seasons he fashioned an 18-9 record in pinstripes pitching strictly in a relief role. He became a free agent after the 1994 campaign and signed with San Francisco.
He pitched three more years in the big leagues and one more in Japan before transitioning into coaching. He had one qualification that ideally suited him for a position as a coach in the Yankee organization. He was born and still lived in Tampa, otherwise known as the southern kingdom of George Steinbrenner. Monteleone soon would become a junior member of George’s Tampa based roundtable of baseball advisors.
Other Tampa natives who wore the pinstripes under the reign of King George included Lou Piniella, Dwight Gooden, Tino Martinez, Mike Heath, Fred McGriff, Sam Militello and Gary Sheffield.
|CAL (4 yrs)||3||5||.375||3.42||48||0||14||0||0||0||68.1||74||28||26||9||19||40||1.361|
|NYY (4 yrs)||17||9||.654||4.06||120||0||38||0||0||0||232.2||217||119||105||26||83||154||1.289|
|SFG (1 yr)||4||3||.571||3.18||39||0||8||0||0||0||45.1||43||18||16||6||13||16||1.235|
|SEA (1 yr)||0||0||6.43||3||0||1||0||0||0||7.0||10||5||5||2||4||2||2.000|
Only three Yankee third basemen have hit more than thirty home runs in a season. Graig Nettles did it twice and A-Rod has done it in each of the seven seasons he’s been in New York. Today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, however, is the only third baseman who came up through the Yankee minor league organization to have hit more than 30 round trippers in one year. That happened in 1987, when the player they called “Pags” hit 32 home runs and drove in 87, both of which would end up being career highs for the native of Medford, MA.
The Yankees drafted Pagliarulo out of the University of Miami, in 1981. He made the parent club in 1984 and replaced Toby Harrah as New York’s starting third baseman. Pags was a better than average fielder with good power but he struck out too much and could never get his batting average out of the .230’s. He was a hard-nosed type of player who always seemed to be wearing a dirty uniform. I remember he once got hit in the face by a pitch that smashed both his nose and lip into bloody messes. The next day he was back in the lineup wearing bandages all over his face. Both Billy Martin and Lou Piniella loved the guy but by 1989, both were gone and Pagliarulo’s average had slipped below .200. The Yankees shipped him to San Diego for starting pitcher, Walt Terrell. When he became a free agent after the 1990 season, he signed with the Twins and became Minnesota’s starting third baseman. He hit a career high .279, his first year in Minneapolis and helped the Twins win the 1991 World Series.
Pags played 11 big league seasons in all, retiring in 1995 with 134 career home runs, all but thirty of which were hit while he wore the Yankee pinstripes. He also played one year in Japan and after retiring, started a scouting service that helped Major League teams evaluate Japanese baseball talent. That company played a role in the Yankee signings of both Hideki Matsui and Kei Igawa.
|NYY (6 yrs)||703||2535||2274||291||521||111||12||105||337||7||223||510||.229||.300||.427||.727|
|MIN (3 yrs)||246||780||723||79||197||40||4||9||68||8||40||106||.272||.317||.376||.693|
|SDP (2 yrs)||178||614||546||41||130||30||2||10||52||3||57||105||.238||.313||.355||.668|
|TEX (1 yr)||86||262||241||27||56||16||0||4||27||0||15||49||.232||.277||.349||.625|
|BAL (1 yr)||33||126||117||24||38||9||0||6||21||0||8||15||.325||.373||.556||.929|