October 30 – Happy Birthday Jonathan Albaladejo
The 2009 Yankee team would not have challenged for a World Championship without a group of relievers who had a knack for holding down the opposing team’s offense while the Yankee lineup got their bats untracked and took the lead. The combined 2009 won-lost record of Alfredo Aceves, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was 35-9.
Albaladejo had become a Yankee via a December 2007 trade that sent the promising Tyler Clppard to the Nationals. A native of Puerto Rico, this right-hander’s huge 6’5″ 250 pound frame made him an imposing site on the mound and his ability to throw a fastball in the mid-to-high nineties made him even more intimidating. He spent most of his first season in the Yankee system on the DL and then pitched himself onto the Yankee roster during the 2009 spring training season.
He would put together several stretches of spot-on pitching during the 09 season, but it seemed as if once a month, his control would abandon him and he’d get shelled. Girardi called on him 32 times that year and he held the opposition scoreless in 24 of those appearances. But even though he finished the regular season with a 5-1 record, he was left off the Yankees’ postseason roster. He was then demoted to Scranton-Wilkes Barre in 2010 but he sucked it up and pitched brilliantly as that team’s closer, saving 43 games. The problem for this guy was that the Yankees already had Mo Rivera and Rafael Soriano on their roster so they released Albaladejo and he ended up pitching in Japan during the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard blossomed into a very effective closer for the Nationals in 2012.