I don’t remember what my exact reaction was back in July of 2004, when I learned that the Yankees had traded Jose Contreras for this tall Mexican right hander, but I don’t think I was too disappointed. Loaiza was coming off a twenty-one win season with the White Sox in 2003 and was 9-5 thus far in 2004 when he became a Yankee. In addition to sending Contreras to the Windy City, New York also had to include lots of cash. Although Contreras had not been a total bust in New York, Steinbrenner had spent over $30 million to outbid the Red Sox for the Cuban defector and the Yankee front office predicted he was ready to win big at the big league level, right away. When that didn’t happen, disappointed Yankee fans started booing and Contreras’ $8.5 million annual salary became an even heavier albatross around New York’s neck. So the Yankees jumped at the chance to replace the Cuban with Loaiza who’s annual salary was $4 million at the time.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, they jumped a bit to soon and the White Sox ended up getting the best part of the deal by a country mile. Loaiza went just 1-2 in pinstripes the rest of that 2004 season and got absolutely hammered in most of his starts. New York released him that October. Contreras would go on to find his bearings at US Cellular Field. In 2005, Jose went 15-7 and then 3-1 in the postseason to help the White Sox capture their first World Series title in over 70 years. Loaiza actually rebounded to pitch well for the Nationals in 2005 and did OK with the A’s in 2006. He’s been out of the big leagues since 2008 and had a 126-114 lifetime record during his 14-season career with eight different big league clubs.
Another Yankee born on the last day of the year was this pitcher who lost the final game of the 1955 World series to Brooklyn.
|PIT (4 yrs)||27||28||.491||4.63||96||87||3||3||1||0||513.1||580||296||264||62||160||292||1.442|
|TEX (3 yrs)||17||17||.500||5.19||64||46||6||1||0||1||307.0||364||189||177||46||93||207||1.489|
|TOR (3 yrs)||25||28||.472||4.96||75||69||1||5||3||0||433.1||526||260||239||53||104||259||1.454|
|CHW (3 yrs)||30||14||.682||3.65||58||55||3||3||1||0||370.0||355||158||150||41||101||291||1.232|
|OAK (2 yrs)||12||9||.571||4.62||28||28||0||2||1||0||169.1||189||95||87||18||44||102||1.376|
|LAD (2 yrs)||2||6||.250||6.94||12||8||2||0||0||0||46.2||50||36||36||12||21||24||1.521|
|WSN (1 yr)||12||10||.545||3.77||34||34||0||0||0||0||217.0||227||93||91||18||55||173||1.300|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||2||.333||8.50||10||6||1||0||0||0||42.1||61||43||40||9||26||34||2.055|
Since no current or former Yankees are born on today’s date, I thought it would be an appropriate time to review the Pinstripe Birthday Blog’s five favorite moments of the Yankees’ 2012 season.
Number 1 – Rafael Soriano replacing Mariano Rivera as the Yankee Closer - In my humble opinion, Soriano deserves to be acknowledged as the Most Valuable Yankee of the 2012 season. Originally skipped over as Rivera’s replacement in favor of David Robertson, all this guy did was save 42 games in 46 chances from May 10th onward and shockingly make this impossible to believe statement true; “If Mariano Rivera was injured in May and couldn’t pitch another game this season, the Yankees would not miss him at all.”
Number 2 – Derek Jeter leads all of baseball in regular season hits with 216 - The Captain may not be immortal but a hits title and batting .316 as a 38-year-old cements his super hero status in my book. He has been a phenomenal Yankee and we are so lucky to have had this opportunity to watch him play the game at his level for so long.
Number 3 – Raul Ibanez ties Game 3 of the ALDS -He pinch hits for a struggling A-Rod in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS versus Baltimore and homers against the Major League saves leader Jim Johnson to tie the game.
Number 4 – Ibanez wins Game 3 of the ALDS – with a twelfth-inning walk-off home run off of Baltimore’s Brian Matusz.
Number 5 - Ibanez’s walk-off HR versus the Red Sox on October 2 – With the Yankees’ AL East lead over Baltimore down to just a half game, Raul Ibanez hit a walk-off home run against the Boston Red Sox reliever, Andrew Miller. The Yankees would win the next day and clinch the AL East division flag.
Honorable Mentions - Andy Pettitte’s return to the rotation; Curtis Granderson becoming the first Yankee outfielder since Babe Ruth to put together back-to-back 40-home run-100 RBI seasons; Robbie Cano going 24-43 (.558) during the last nine games of the 2012 regular season, driving in 15 runs and scoring 11 during that span to help New York hold-off the Orioles in the Division race.
Five members of the Yankee all-time roster passed away in 2012.
Bill “Moose” Skowron
Born: December 18, 1930
Died: April 27, 2012
Years with Yankees: 9 – 1954-1962
Born: June 16, 1923
Died: April 2, 2012
Years with Yankees: 1 – 1947
Born: May 17, 1952
Died: November 1, 2012
Years with Yankees: 2 – 1990-1991