June 2012

June 16 – Happy Birthday Kerry Wood

It did not take long after the Yankees picked up Kerry Wood from the Indians in July of 2010 for me to become a fan of the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year. The big right-hander pitched lights out baseball during the final two months of that season, permitting just two earned runs in the 26 innings he pitched wearing pinstripes. His stuff was electric during that spell and the only weakness he exhibited during his short stay in New York was a tendency to encounter streaks of wildness. I was really hoping the Yankees would sign him to a new contract. He was coming off a huge $20 million two year deal he had signed with the Indians so I could understand the Yankees reluctance to get into a bidding war for a 13-year veteran with a history of DL stays. That’s why I was shocked when Wood signed with the Cubs for just $1.5 million that December and even more shocked when New York then paid Rafael Soriano $35 million over three years to basically replace Wood as the Yankee’s eighth inning bridge to Mo Rivera. According to press reports I read at the time, Wood made the decision to return to the Windy City and the big league team he started with after attending the funeral of Cub great, Ron Santo. He is revered in Chicago and he keeps his family home there. Wood pitched well for a very bad Cubs’ team last season, but recurring blistering problems on his pitching hand prevented him from displaying the type of dominance he had shown in pinstripes. He tried to play again this season but after nine appearances he told the Cubs front office he was through. He then made one final ceremonial appearance against the cross town White Sox a few days later and ended his big league career by striking out Dayan Viciedo on three straight pitches.

Wood was born on July 16, 1977 in Irving, TX. This other former Yankee reliever and this former Yankee right fielder were also born on today’s date .

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2010 NYY 2 0 1.000 0.69 24 0 1 0 0 0 26.0 14 2 2 1 18 31 1.231
14 Yrs 86 75 .534 3.67 446 178 138 11 5 63 1380.0 1083 599 563 148 666 1582 1.267
CHC (12 yrs) 80 68 .541 3.67 341 178 69 11 5 35 1279.0 1000 556 521 137 609 1470 1.258
CLE (2 yrs) 4 7 .364 4.80 81 0 68 0 0 28 75.0 69 41 40 10 39 81 1.440
NYY (1 yr) 2 0 1.000 0.69 24 0 1 0 0 0 26.0 14 2 2 1 18 31 1.231
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2013.

June 15 – Happy Birthday Eduardo Nunez

Joe Girardi has been one of Eduardo Nunez’s biggest fans and boosters since the young Dominican infielder made his big league and Yankee debut in August of 2010. Several of the team’s talent developers have also predicted that Nunez would one day succeed his boyhood idol, Derek Jeter as Yankee shortstop. Members of the Yankee front-office have been quoted as labeling this kid as untouchable. I’m not that optimistic about this guy.

Don’t get me wrong, he has potential. I just have not seen strong enough evidence that he’s anywhere near ready to take over Jeter’s position anytime soon. He was a valuable utility infielder for Girardi in 2011, appearing in 112 games that season and averaging .265 as a fill-in for Jeter and A-Rod who both were forced into long absences with injuries. But his defensive lapses at both short and third were often glaring and far too frequent for a big league infielder.

It was those same defensive shortcomings in several early-season  games this season that finally forced Girardi to OK Nunez’s return to Triple A. I do think he has the offensive skills necessary to play regularly at the big league level but he lacks the power necessary to hold down the Yankees’ DH spot. Making Nunez’s return to the Bronx even more difficult is the fact that he can’t focus his time in the minors mastering one infield spot. With A-Rod, Jeter and Robbie Cano pretty firmly ensconced at their respective positions for the next few years, Nunez must learn to play all three adequately.

Nunez shares his june 15th birthday with this Hall-of-Fame third baseman,  one of the members of the famous Yankee core four and this former Yankee first baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 NYY 30 53 50 12 14 1 0 1 7 5 3 2 .280 .321 .360 .681
2011 NYY 112 338 309 38 82 18 2 5 30 22 22 37 .265 .313 .385 .698
2012 NYY 38 100 89 14 26 4 1 1 11 11 6 12 .292 .330 .393 .723
2013 NYY 27 95 80 9 16 4 1 0 4 2 8 16 .200 .290 .275 .565
4 Yrs 207 586 528 73 138 27 4 7 52 40 39 67 .261 .313 .367 .681
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/15/2013.

June 10 – Happy Birthday Brad Gulden

During the 1979 spring training season, Thurman Munson had nicknamed the then 22-year-old Brad Gulden the “Little Midget” and told the youngster he would one day replace Munson as the Yankees’ starting catcher. I’m sure neither player was thinking that prophecy would be realized just six months later.

The Yankees had acquired Gulden in a trade with the Dodgers in February of 1979. When he was later interviewed for Marty Appel’s book “Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain,” Gulden recalled how Munson befriended and encouraged him that spring and how the two would sit and talk about baseball and flying. According to Gulden, Munson spent much more time with him than a veteran should with a rookie and Gulden loved him for it.

Gulden’s Yankee debut took place the day after Munson was killed, when he replaced Jerry Narron behind the plate in the ninth inning of that evening’s game against Baltimore. Yankee skipper, Billy Martin then gave Gulden an opportunity to take over Munson’s spot by regularly starting him behind the plate for much of the rest of that season. But Gulden hit just .163 in those 40 games and the Yankees instead traded for Rick Cerone during the 1979 off-season.

Gulden did become part of Yankee trivia history in 1980. That November, the Yankees traded him to Seattle for infielder Larry Milbourne and a player to be named later. The following May, the Mariners completed the traded by sending Gulden back to the Yankees as the “player to be named later” part of the trade. This makes Gulden the only Yankee ever traded for himself.

Gulden shares his June 10th birthday with this popular Yankee game announcer and this long-ago Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1979 NYY 40 105 92 10 15 4 0 0 6 0 9 16 .163 .238 .207 .444
1980 NYY 2 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667
7 Yrs 182 491 435 45 87 14 2 5 43 2 45 61 .200 .277 .276 .553
NYY (2 yrs) 42 108 95 11 16 4 0 1 8 0 9 16 .168 .240 .242 .482
SFG (1 yr) 17 24 22 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 5 .091 .167 .091 .258
LAD (1 yr) 3 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
CIN (1 yr) 107 332 292 31 66 8 2 4 33 2 33 35 .226 .307 .308 .615
MON (1 yr) 5 7 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .143 .000 .143
SEA (1 yr) 8 16 16 0 3 2 0 0 1 0 0 2 .188 .188 .313 .500
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/9/2013.