December 21st, 2012

December 21 – Happy Birthday D’Angelo Jimenez

jiminezThe 2000 season was supposed to have been D’Angelo Jimenez’s first full year as a New York Yankee. The native Dominican had completed a noteworthy seven-game-long cup-of-coffee stint in the Bronx the previous September, during which he belted eight hits in his twenty at-bats and drove in four runs. That performance had impressed manager Joe Torre, the team’s front-office and many Yankee fans, including me as well. I can remember being certain that this then 21-year-old switch-hitter would be the Yankees’ fifth infielder in 2000. That didn’t happen.

In an incident that reminded me of the one that had destroyed former Yankee shortstop, Andre Robertson’s big league future, fifteen years earlier, Jimenez broke his neck in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, one month before the 2000 spring training camp opened. A year and a half later, the Yankees traded him to the Padres for reliever Jay Witasick.

While Jimenez had been recovering from his injuries, another Yankee infield prospect named Alfonso Soriano had leap-frogged ahead of him on the organization’s depth chart. Since Derek Jeter, Chuck Knoblauch and Scott Brosius were also firmly ensconced at short, second and third for a Yankee team that had just captured its third-straight World Series, hardly anyone noticed this kid had been traded.

Over the next seven seasons, Jimenez would play for six different big league teams. His best stretch occurred in Cincinnati, where he became the Red’s starting second baseman and Barry Larkin’s double play partner in 2003 and ’04. He hit .290 that first year and than poked 12 home runs and set a career high with 67 RBIs the following season. But after getting off to a slow start in 2005, he lost his job to Rich Aurilia. The Reds released him and he spent the final two years of his big-league career living out of his suitcase, as he played for Texas, Oakland and the Nationals.

Jimenez is still playing baseball. He played for an independent minor league team in 2012 and than joined the Mexican League, where he hit .328 in 21 games. I still think if he didn’t break his neck, he’d have been a great utility infielder for that 2000 Yankee team, instead of Clay Bellinger, who would hit just .207 in that role. That would have put Jimenez in a perfect slot to take over the regular second base job when Knoblauch’s case of Steve Blass throwing disease started. Instead, Jose Vizcaino was given the position and a year later it was Soriano and not today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant who would become a big league all star.

Jimenez shares his birthday with this former home run hitter, this former Yankee reliever and a former Yankee outfielder who’s promising career took a u-turn when he slipped on a wet Shea Stadium outfield.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1999 NYY 7 23 20 3 8 2 0 0 4 0 3 4 .400 .478 .500 .978
8 Yrs 641 2480 2159 290 568 105 17 36 228 36 291 391 .263 .351 .377 .728
CIN (3 yrs) 260 1102 958 124 260 48 5 19 103 22 130 165 .271 .359 .391 .751
SDP (2 yrs) 173 706 629 84 162 30 4 6 66 6 73 131 .258 .333 .347 .679
CHW (2 yrs) 100 433 379 57 100 15 8 8 37 6 48 56 .264 .347 .409 .756
OAK (1 yr) 8 20 14 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 7 .071 .350 .071 .421
TEX (1 yr) 20 68 57 7 12 3 0 1 8 0 10 6 .211 .328 .316 .644
WSN (1 yr) 73 128 102 14 25 7 0 2 10 2 21 22 .245 .379 .373 .752
NYY (1 yr) 7 23 20 3 8 2 0 0 4 0 3 4 .400 .478 .500 .978
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2013.