July 10 – Happy Birthday Buddy Groom
It seems the Yankees have been short on left-handed relievers forever. At least that’s the reason Brian Cashman gave to the press to explain why he had offered a then 39-year-old well-traveled southpaw named Buddy Groom, a one-year $850,000 contract if he could make New York’s roster out of the 2005 spring training season. The Yankees had only 38-year-old lefty Mike Stanton in their bullpen at the time and the Yankee GM felt Groom was better than any alternatives the organization had in their farm system.
Groom had come up to the big leagues with the Tigers in 1992 and did not win a game during his first three seasons in MoTown, going a combined 0-7, while picking up two saves. He finally got his first big league victory for Detroit in ’95 but was traded to the Marlins that same season. He then signed as a free agent with the A’s in 1996 and went 5-0 during his first of what would be four seasons with Oakland. Groom next signed with the Orioles in 2000 and stuck around Baltimore for the next five years, setting a career best in saves with 11 for the Birds 2001 team. He had been used frequently by all three of those teams and at one point had put together seven consecutive seasons of seventy or more appearances and nine straight of sixty or more.
Joe Torre started calling on his new reliever during the latter part of April in 2005 and the Dallas native was practically un-hittable during his first six appearances in pinstripes. He then went through a rough patch in late May that included appearances against Yankee arch rivals, the Red Sox and Mets, during which Groom got lit up pretty good. He then rebounded with a fantastic June, not surrendering a single run in his seven appearances that month. But he struggled again in July and Cashman sent him to the Diamondbacks at the trading deadline as part of a conditional deal. New York then replaced Groom with another lefty reliever named Alan Embree. Groom would lose his only decision with Arizona and then hang up his glove for good. He ended his 14 year big league career with a 31-32 record and 27 saves.