December 5 – Happy Birthday Felix Rodriguez
Together, Yankee skipper Joe Torre had called on 35-year-old Paul Quantrill and 36-year-old Flash Gordon to pitch 166 times during the 2004 season. The question entering 2005 was; “Would the right arms of both these guys endure another season of such heavy use?” Instead of waiting to find out, the Yankees acquired some insurance in a December 2004 deal with the Phillies for a nine-year-veteran reliever named Felix Rodriguez. The native Dominican had spent most of those years as a middle reliever for the Giants, compiling a 34-19 record in that role, with 5 saves and a 3.06 ERA.
New York had almost traded for Rodriguez a couple of seasons earlier. At that time, they had been negotiating with the Rangers to acquire Ugueth Urbina as Mo Rivera’s new set-up man. When Texas sent Urbina to Florida instead, the Yankees’ options became Rodriguez and Armando Benitez. They ended up taking Benitez
Ironically, it would be Rodriguez and not Gordon or Quantrill, who broke down first during that 2005 season, tearing cartilage in his knee in early May. Quantrill, however, could not get anyone out during the first half of that year and the Yankees gave up on him in early July, dealing him to San Diego. When Rodriguez returned from the DL, he took Quantrill’s spot in the bullpen but failed to pitch effectively. His walk ratio went up and his strikeout rate went down, helping his ERA climb over the five run mark. He failed to make the Yankees postseason roster and New York released him on October 27, 2005.
Rodriguez was originally signed by the Dodgers in 1989 as a catcher. He hit .291 in his first season in the LA organization but his throwing arm was so strong, the Dodgers convinced him to convert to pitching. He spent his final big league season with the Nationals in 2006 and then continued his playing career in Korea. Felix shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee outfielder.