August 2012

August 13 – Happy Birthday Boone Logan

It wasn’t too long ago that pitcher Boone Logan’s claim to fame was as a traveling companion to former Yankee pitcher, Javier Vazquez. When Vazquez was dealt by the White Sox to the Braves after the 2008 season, Logan went to Atlanta with him. Than when Brian Cashman decided to give Javier a second chance in pinstripes in 2010, it was again the left-handed reliever who accompanied the starting pitcher back to the Bronx.

Vazquez’s second tour of duty as a Yankee was no more productive than his first but Logan seems to have found a home in New York. He’s appeared in more than 50 games for the Yanks in each of his three seasons. At first, Joe Girardi used him pretty much as a left hand relief specialist but Logan’s role has gradually expanded into more of a traditional late-inning set-up guy and Girardi now trusts him to also get out right-handers in plenty of situations. He’s put together an 11-3 record thus far wearing the pinstripes and a decent ERA of 3.28. Logan’s sidearm slider is particularly effective against lefty hitters and he also has a fastball that he can throw in the mid nineties. I thought he did a good job in last year’s ALDS versus Detroit and when David Robertson went on the DL right after Mariano Rivera tore his ACL this season, Logan did a great job in an expanded role out of the bullpen. He turns 28-years-old today and shares his birthday with this former Yankee shortstopthis former Yankee starting pitcher and this former Yankee outfielder prospect.

The statistics cited for Boone Logan’s 2013 season in the following grid are as on August 14, 2013:

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 2.93 51 0 8 0 0 0 40.0 34 13 13 3 20 38 1.350
2011 NYY 5 3 .625 3.46 64 0 6 0 0 0 41.2 43 20 16 4 13 46 1.344
2012 NYY 7 2 .778 3.74 80 0 8 0 0 1 55.1 48 23 23 6 28 68 1.373
2013 NYY 3 2 .600 2.20 48 0 6 0 0 0 32.2 29 9 8 5 8 44 1.133
8 Yrs 22 12 .647 4.30 407 0 64 0 0 2 297.1 312 156 142 35 127 298 1.476
NYY (4 yrs) 17 7 .708 3.18 243 0 28 0 0 1 169.2 154 65 60 18 69 196 1.314
CHW (3 yrs) 4 4 .500 5.87 144 0 29 0 0 1 110.1 137 79 72 16 49 92 1.686
ATL (1 yr) 1 1 .500 5.19 20 0 7 0 0 0 17.1 21 12 10 1 9 10 1.731
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/14/2013.

August 12 – Happy Birthday Michel Hernandez

One year before “El Duque” fled Cuba and signed with the Yankees and a year after his older brother, Livan did the same, there was another Cuban named Hernandez who made the same escape. His first name was Michel, he was no relation to the Hernandez siblings and he was a 23-year-old, highly heralded catcher. The Yankees managed to sign him but not without controversy. Major League Baseball began an investigation of allegations that some of the necessary paperwork filed by New York was forged.

As it turned out, Michel was not quite good enough to enjoy a long career as a Major League catcher. He spent five unspectacular years in the Yankee farm system before getting his only shot at the parent club. That opportunity came in September of the 2003 season. Joe Torre got him into his first four games as a late-inning replacement for Jorge Posada and then started him against the Orioles. He got his first hit against Baltimore’s Rodrigo Lopez when he led off the bottom-of-the-eighth inning of a tied game with a line drive single. Torre then sent Alfonso Soriano into run for him and Michel Hernandez’ Yankee career was over.

The following January the Yankees put him on waivers and he was claimed by the Red Sox. It would take the catcher another five years to get his second shot at the Big Leagues and by then, he was a member of the Ray’s organization. In 2009, he got into 35 games for Tampa as their back-up catcher and hit his first and only big league home run against Josh Beckett. He’s still playing minor league ball for the Cleveland organization.

The only other Yankee born on August 12th is this pitcher. One of my favorite actors of all time, John Cazale, who played Fredo in the Godfather movies, Sal in Dog Day Afternoon and Stosh in the Deer Hunter was also born on this date in 1936. He died on March 12, 1978 from lung cancer during filming of the Deer Hunter. Cazale was only in five movies during his short lifetime and all five were nominated for the Academy Award’s Best Picture Oscar.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 NYY 5 5 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .250 .400 .250 .650
3 Yrs 45 127 118 14 28 3 1 1 12 2 8 16 .237 .286 .305 .591
TBR (2 yrs) 40 122 114 14 27 3 1 1 12 2 7 15 .237 .281 .307 .588
NYY (1 yr) 5 5 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .250 .400 .250 .650
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/13/2013.

August 11 – Happy Birthday Bubba Crosby

I wanted Bubba Crosby to make it as a Yankee because I really liked his name. He thrilled us all with a home run in his first Yankee at bat versus the White Sox reliever, Shingo Takatsu. But with a starting outfield of Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams and Gary Sheffield and subs like Kenny Lofton and Ruben Sierra on the 2004 Yankee roster, I knew I wouldn’t be seeing his very cool moniker too often in that season’s box scores. Joe Torre did get Bubba into 55 games during his first year in pinstripes, however it was mostly as a defensive replacement in the late innings. Crosby had only 58 plate appearances that year and hit a woeful .151.

Still, New York’s front office held onto him that offseason and with Lofton gone from the 2005 roster, Crosby did see more playing time in his second Yankee season. In 76 games and 103 plate appearances, the native of Houston, TX hit a more decent but punchless .276. In 2006, when starting left fielder Hideki Matsui broke his wrist in early May, Joe Torre turned to Melky Cabrera to replace Godzilla, which instantly put a dark cloud over Crosby’s future as a Yankee. Sure enough, the Yankees released him in October of 2006 and though he would later sign with Cincinnati and then Seattle, he has never again appeared in another big league game.

The Yankees originally acquired Crosby along with Scott Proctor from the Dodgers in the July 2003 trade that sent Robin Ventura to Los Anegels. Bubba shares his August 11th birthday with the same Yankee outfielder who beat him out as Matsui’s replacement and this former Yankee pitcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 NYY 55 58 53 8 8 2 0 2 7 2 2 13 .151 .196 .302 .498
2005 NYY 76 103 98 15 27 0 1 1 6 4 4 14 .276 .304 .327 .630
2006 NYY 65 96 87 9 18 3 1 1 6 3 4 21 .207 .258 .299 .557
4 Yrs 205 269 250 32 54 5 2 4 20 9 10 51 .216 .255 .300 .555
NYY (3 yrs) 196 257 238 32 53 5 2 4 19 9 10 48 .223 .263 .311 .574
LAD (1 yr) 9 12 12 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 .083 .083 .083 .167
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/13/2013.

August 10 – Happy Birthday Gerald Williams

I first saw today’s birthday celebrant play in 1990 when the “Williams boys,” Gerald and Bernie were patrolling the same outfield for the Albany Colonie Yankees, New York’s double A affiliate in the Eastern League. The two were pretty evenly matched in most offensive categories except one. Bernie walked a lot more than Gerald did and as a result had a much higher on base percentage. It was Bernie who moved up to the Yankees Triple A team in Columbus to begin the following season while Gerald stayed behind in Albany. It was also Bernie who got the first call-up to the parent club and it was Bernie who beat out Gerald to become the starting center fielder for the New York Yankees.

Gerald got his first cup-of-coffee look at Yankee Stadium in 1992 and by 1995 he was a permanent member of the big league team’s roster. He got into 100 games during the ’95 season, often as a late-inning defensive replacement and hit .247 for Buck Showalter’s wild card winners. He was doing even better the following year for new manager, Joe Torre. He was starting in left field and hitting a relatively solid .270 and leading the team in stolen bases. Then in late August, the Yankees made a trade that I remember upset me, not because New York got rid of Williams but because they also got rid of pitcher Bob Wickman. The two players were sent to Milwaukee for shortstop Pat Listach and lefty reliever Graeme Lloyd. I had been a Wickman fan since he went 6-1 as a starter during his 1992 Yankee debut. The Brewers would convert him to a closer and he would eventually become one of the best in the AL. Williams became the Brewers’ full-time center-fielder in 1997, playing in a career high 155 games. Unfortunately, he hit a very unproductive .252 with a woeful .288 on base percentage. He walked just 19 times in 601 plate appearances and it was most likely his lack of discipline at the plate that got him traded to Atlanta at the end of the ’97 season. He played better for the Braves and after two seasons playing for Bobby Cox he signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay. He had his best big league season in 2000, his first as a Devil Ray, when he set single-season career highs with 21 home runs and 89 RBIs, while averaging .274. His career then went downhill quickly.

He got off to a horrible start for Tampa Bay in 2001 and found himself released in June of that year. He was immediately re-signed by the Yankees but his hitting woes continued. He hit just .170 during the second half of 2001 and was 0-19 when New York released him the following June. He then played one season with the Marlins and two more as a Met never getting his average above the .230s and his big league career was over.

Williams was born in New Orleans on August 10, 1966. He remains a very close personal friend of Derek Jeter. He shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee outfielder, this former Yankee pitcher and this former Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 NYY 15 27 27 7 8 2 0 3 6 2 0 3 .296 .296 .704 1.000
1993 NYY 42 71 67 11 10 2 3 0 6 2 1 14 .149 .183 .269 .452
1994 NYY 57 91 86 19 25 8 0 4 13 1 4 17 .291 .319 .523 .842
1995 NYY 100 208 182 33 45 18 2 6 28 4 22 34 .247 .327 .467 .794
1996 NYY 99 258 233 37 63 15 4 5 30 7 15 39 .270 .319 .433 .753
2001 NYY 38 54 47 12 8 1 0 0 2 3 5 13 .170 .264 .191 .456
2002 NYY 33 19 17 6 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 4 .000 .105 .000 .105
14 Yrs 1168 3323 3059 474 780 183 18 85 365 106 180 530 .255 .301 .410 .711
NYY (7 yrs) 384 728 659 125 159 46 9 18 85 21 49 124 .241 .298 .420 .718
NYM (2 yrs) 96 170 159 26 37 10 2 5 14 4 9 33 .233 .274 .415 .689
TBD (2 yrs) 208 934 864 117 221 47 2 25 106 22 47 145 .256 .298 .402 .700
ATL (2 yrs) 272 756 688 122 197 43 3 27 112 30 50 115 .286 .341 .475 .817
MIL (2 yrs) 181 700 658 79 162 36 2 10 45 26 23 108 .246 .277 .353 .630
FLA (1 yr) 27 35 31 5 4 1 0 0 3 3 2 5 .129 .182 .161 .343
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/9/2013.

August 9 – Happy Birthday Eli Grba

In the eulogy Bob Costas gave at Mickey Mantle’s funeral, he talked about how thrilled people my age used to be when as kids, we opened up a pack of baseball cards and found a Mantle lying in their between a Pumpsie Green and an Eli Grba card. I had a lot of those Grba cards back in the early sixties and many of them would end up clothes-pinned to the forks of my Schwinn bicycle, rattling like a Harley engine against the spokes of my bike’s front and rear wheels. Grba came up in the Yankee organization in the late fifties. He was a tall, hard-throwing right-hander who would pitch mostly out of the bullpen for Casey Stengel during the 1959 and ’60 seasons, with an occasional start thrown in. He was 2-5 with an ERA over six in 1959 and then improved to 6-4 the following year and lowered his ERA to 3.68. It began to look as if he had a future in pinstripes. Two things prevented that from happening.

The first was booze. Stengel’s Yankees loved to drink it. Grba fit right in. Teammates Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford would invite the wide-eyed rookie to join them for a cocktail or two and Eli was thrilled to accept. He might not have been able to keep up with those two superstars on the baseball field but he quickly proved he could do so in the bars of American League cities around the country. By the end of the 1960 World Series, Eli Grba’s drinking problem was in full swing.

The AL was expanding to ten teams in 1961 and Eli Grba became the number one pick of the Los Angeles Angels in the 1960 expansion draft that was used to create the initial rosters of those two added ball clubs. The newly formed Angels may have had more drinkers on their team than the Yankees. They included Grba and his former Yankee teammates Ryne Duren and Ken Hunt. Eli won the first game in franchise history and went 11-13 during his first season wearing a halo’d hat but the drinking problem also advanced to a full-scale disease. He finished 8-9 in ’62 and found himself out of the big leagues for good by 1964. His post-playing life was mired in failed marriages and jobs until he finally quit the booze in the early eighties.

He shares his August 9th birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this former Yankee manager.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1959 NYY 2 5 .286 6.44 19 6 5 0 0 0 50.1 52 44 36 6 39 23 1.808
1960 NYY 6 4 .600 3.68 24 9 4 1 0 1 80.2 65 45 33 9 46 32 1.376
5 Yrs 28 33 .459 4.48 135 75 26 10 0 4 536.1 513 318 267 62 284 255 1.486
LAA (3 yrs) 20 24 .455 4.40 92 60 17 9 0 3 405.1 396 229 198 47 199 200 1.468
NYY (2 yrs) 8 9 .471 4.74 43 15 9 1 0 1 131.0 117 89 69 15 85 55 1.542
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/9/2013.