November 2013

November 25 – Happy Birthday Mark Whiten

MWhiten“Hard Hittin” Mark Whiten had his career year in 1993. On the final day of spring training that season, this then, 25-year-old, switch-hitting native of Pensacola, FL was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Cardinals. He joined a starting outfield in St.Louis that included Bernard Gilkey and Ray Lankford and he led that team with 25 home runs and 99 RBIs. On September 7, 1993 he made baseball history by smashing 4 home runs and driving in 12 runs in a single game.

The Players Strike disrupted Whiten’s second season with the Cards and there would be no third. He was traded to Boston at the start of the ’95 season, which began an odyssey that would put the outfielder in six different big league uniforms over the next four years. The fifth of those uniforms was pinstriped. The Yankees signed Whiten as a free agent in January of 1997. In New York, he was reunited with Joe Torre, the same guy who managed him during his career year with the Cardinals.

Torre began the season by platooning Whiten and Darryl Strawberry in left field. Big Mark got off to a great start at the plate and was still hitting over .300 the first week of June. But when Strawberry went down with a bad knee, it would be Tim Raines who took over as the team’s starter in left. Whiten was left to battle Chad Curtis for the fourth outfielder’s slot and when Curtis won that battle, the Yanks released Whiten that August. He then signed on with Cleveland and appeared in his last big league game as an Indian in 2000.

Whiten shares his November 25th birthday with this former Yankee infielder, this recent Yankee outfielder and  this Hall-of-Fame Yankee center fielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1997 NYY 69 248 215 34 57 11 0 5 24 4 30 47 .265 .360 .386 .746
11 Yrs 940 3523 3104 465 804 129 20 105 423 78 378 712 .259 .341 .415 .756
CLE (5 yrs) 320 1167 1024 142 265 49 8 23 103 22 126 218 .259 .343 .390 .732
PHI (2 yrs) 120 461 394 71 100 18 1 18 58 20 64 125 .254 .361 .442 .802
STL (2 yrs) 244 1000 896 138 240 31 6 39 152 25 95 185 .268 .338 .446 .784
TOR (2 yrs) 79 260 237 24 57 5 4 4 26 2 18 49 .241 .292 .346 .638
ATL (1 yr) 36 107 90 12 23 5 1 3 17 2 16 25 .256 .364 .433 .798
BOS (1 yr) 32 117 108 13 20 3 0 1 10 1 8 23 .185 .239 .241 .480
NYY (1 yr) 69 248 215 34 57 11 0 5 24 4 30 47 .265 .360 .386 .746
SEA (1 yr) 40 163 140 31 42 7 0 12 33 2 21 40 .300 .399 .607 1.006
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

November 24 – Happy Birthday Bob Friend

Strangely, Bob Friend almost helped the Yankees win the 1960 World Series. I use the word strangely because Friend did not become a Yankee until 1965. At the time of the ’60 Fall Classic he was still the ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ staff, who had won 18 games during that regular season and would end up winning 192 decisions before being traded by the Bucs to New York for reliever Pete Mikkelsen. The veteran right-hander, who was nicknamed “The Warrior,” started the second and sixth games of the Series and was plastered by the very talented Yankee lineup. Friend pitched a total of just six innings in those two appearances, surrendering thirteen hits and nine earned runs in the process. He would never again pitch in the postseason. When he started his one and only season in pinstripes losing four of his first five decisions, the Yankees sold him to the Mets. The Lafayette, IN native finished that season with a 5-8 record for the Amazin’s and then retired.

Another Yankee born on today’s date was this popular infielder with Hollywood good looks and this former Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1966 NYY 1 4 .200 4.84 12 8 2 0 0 0 44.2 61 25 24 2 9 22 1.567
16 Yrs 197 230 .461 3.58 602 497 56 163 36 11 3611.0 3772 1652 1438 286 894 1734 1.292
PIT (15 yrs) 191 218 .467 3.55 568 477 46 161 35 10 3480.1 3610 1575 1372 273 869 1682 1.287
NYM (1 yr) 5 8 .385 4.40 22 12 8 2 1 1 86.0 101 52 42 11 16 30 1.360
NYY (1 yr) 1 4 .200 4.84 12 8 2 0 0 0 44.2 61 25 24 2 9 22 1.567
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

November 23 – Happy Birthday Dale Sveum

sveumBorn in Richmond, CA, Dale Sveum was the Milwaukee Brewers’ first round draft choice in 1982 and considered to be the heir apparent to the great Robin Yount. By 1987, in just his second year in the big leagues, the 23-year-old switch hitter blasted 25 home runs and drove in 95 as Milwaukee’s starting shortstop. He would continue playing through 1999 and never again come close to matching either of those numbers.

The Brewers gave up on him after the 1991 season and traded him to the Phillies. During the next five years he played for five different teams. The Yankees signed him as a free agent in November of 1997 and the following April, he was on the Opening Day roster of a Yankee team that was about to win more regular season games than any team in franchise history. Sveum spelled Tino Martinez at first base plus saw some occasional time at the hot corner. What he didn’t do was hit. At the All Star break his average was just .155 and the Yanks gave him his walking papers.

After an unsuccessful comeback try with the Pirates the following year, his big league career was over. He got into coaching and in 2008, he became the interim manager of the Brewers for the last 12 games of the season. In 2012, Theo Epstein hired Sveum to manage the Chicago Cubs. Epstein himself had just been hired as the team’s president and given free reign to rebuild the organization from the bottom up. He had chosen Sveum as the new skipper because his plan was to bring Chicago’s best prospects up and play them. That required a manager who could communicate with and develop young talent and Epstein felt those were Sveum’s greatest strengths. Unfortunately, after two years of putting this plan in action, the performances of the Cub prospects had regressed. When Epstein fired Sveum the day after the 2013 regular season ended, he absolved his departing skipper for the failure of those prospects to develop, inferring that the organization may have simply overestimated their abilities.

This former Yankee starting pitcher and this one too were also born on November 23rd as was this one-time Yankee first base prospect.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1998 NYY 30 64 58 6 9 0 0 0 3 0 4 16 .155 .203 .155 .358
12 Yrs 862 2810 2526 305 597 125 13 69 340 10 227 656 .236 .298 .378 .676
MIL (5 yrs) 511 1878 1702 210 413 80 10 46 236 9 137 426 .243 .299 .382 .681
PIT (3 yrs) 187 459 411 46 107 30 2 16 65 0 40 115 .260 .324 .460 .784
PHI (1 yr) 54 153 135 13 24 4 0 2 16 0 16 39 .178 .261 .252 .513
OAK (1 yr) 30 96 79 12 14 2 1 2 6 0 16 21 .177 .316 .304 .620
NYY (1 yr) 30 64 58 6 9 0 0 0 3 0 4 16 .155 .203 .155 .358
SEA (1 yr) 10 29 27 3 5 0 0 1 2 0 2 10 .185 .241 .296 .538
CHW (1 yr) 40 131 114 15 25 9 0 2 12 1 12 29 .219 .287 .351 .638
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2013.

November 22 – Happy Birthday Rich McKinney

mckinneyThough the transaction took place over four decades ago, I know I screamed in anguish when I heard about the trade. Three weeks before Christmas in 1971, the Yankees sent their 1968 Rookie-of-the-Year-winning right-hander, Stan Bahnsen to the Chicago White Sox. They took a guy who had won the impressive total of 55 games for some mediocre New York teams during the previous four seasons and sent him to the Windy City in exchange for a 25-year-old utility infielder named Rich McKinney.

I knew what Yankee skipper Ralph Houk and the team’s GM, Lee MacPhail were thinking when they pulled the trigger on that one. New York desperately needed a good starting third baseman. They hadn’t had one since they traded Clete Boyer to the Braves in 1966.

McKinney, a native of Piqua, OH, had been in the big leagues for just two seasons and was coming off a decent year in which he had averaged .271 in 114 games as Chicago’s primary utility infielder. There was nothing in his resume that indicated he was going to be anything special, but after trying to win with guys like Charley Smith and Jerry Kenney at the hot corner, Houk and MacPhail figured this kid was worth a shot. But he wasn’t worth Stan Bahnsen!

The veteran right-hander took his “Bahnsen Burner” to Comiskey Park and won 21 games in 1972. Meanwhile, McKinney was a complete bust in the Bronx. He started out slow and never got better. By June he was playing down in Syracuse and the Yanks were using the infamous Celerino Sanchez as their starter at third. That November, McKinney’s Yankee career ended, when he was traded to Oakland in the deal that brought Matty Alou to New York.

This hitting star of the 1998 World Series, this former Yankee shortstop, this long-ago Yankee pitching prospect and this current Yankee catcher all share McKinney’s November 22nd birthday.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1972 NYY 37 128 121 10 26 2 0 1 7 1 7 13 .215 .258 .256 .514
7 Yrs 341 980 886 79 199 28 2 20 100 4 77 124 .225 .286 .328 .615
OAK (4 yrs) 147 306 277 22 53 10 0 7 30 0 24 49 .191 .252 .303 .556
CHW (2 yrs) 157 546 488 47 120 16 2 12 63 3 46 62 .246 .312 .361 .672
NYY (1 yr) 37 128 121 10 26 2 0 1 7 1 7 13 .215 .258 .256 .514
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/22/2013.

November 21 – Happy Birthday Todd Erdos

The only member of the Yankee All-Time roster I came across, who was born on November 21 is this right handed reliever who pitched in a total of 20 games for New York during the 1998, ’99 and 2000 seasons. He recorded just one save in pinstripes during that time and had an ERA that exceed five runs for every nine innings pitched. The 1998 trade that brought Erdos to New York from the Arizona Diamondbacks was the same one that ended Andy Fox’s Yankee career. I happened to be a huge Andy Fox fan. Why? Because Andy was a member of the last Albany Colonie Yankee Team in the Double A Eastern league. That was 1994 and the following season, the Yankees switched their Double A affiliation to Greenwich, CT. The Albany ballpark was just a half-hour’s drive from my home in upstate New York. Me and my kids got to see some great future Yankees play in Albany from some very very good seats. In addition to Fox, that team’s final roster for that 1994 season included Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mo Rivera. Erdos is one of two Major League pitchers to be born in Washington, PA. The other one was also a relief pitcher for the Yankees by the name of Joe Verbanic.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1998 NYY 0 0 9.00 2 0 1 0 0 0 2.0 5 2 2 0 1 0 3.000
1999 NYY 0 0 3.86 4 0 1 0 0 0 7.0 5 4 3 2 4 4 1.286
2000 NYY 0 0 5.04 14 0 6 0 0 1 25.0 31 14 14 2 11 18 1.680
5 Yrs 2 0 1.000 5.57 63 0 21 0 0 2 93.2 105 62 58 12 45 58 1.601
NYY (3 yrs) 0 0 5.03 20 0 8 0 0 1 34.0 41 20 19 4 16 22 1.676
SDP (2 yrs) 2 0 1.000 6.23 33 0 10 0 0 1 43.1 49 33 30 6 21 29 1.615
BOS (1 yr) 0 0 4.96 10 0 3 0 0 0 16.1 15 9 9 2 8 7 1.408
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/21/2013.