October 27 – Happy Birthday Martin Prado

Bt54BlfCMAAxoPGWhen I first heard that the Yankees had acquired veteran Martin Prado from the Diamondbacks at the July 31st trading deadline of the 2014 season, I smiled. My aging in-laws in Florida have been huge Braves’ fans for years and the Venezuelan-born Prado had been one of their favorite players during his first seven big-league seasons, all spent with Atlanta. Since we watched plenty of Braves’ baseball whenever my wife’s parents were visiting, I could see why they liked the guy. His entire game was solid, not flashy but dependably solid.

That’s the reason why it was Prado the Diamondbacks accepted in a 2013 preseason trade that sent the multi-talented Justin Upton to Atlanta. After a year and a half with his new team, Arizona decided it did not want to pay his $11 million salary for the next two seasons so they sent Prado to the Bronx for minor league slugger, Pete O’Brien, a Yankee catching prospect who had already hit 33 home runs for two different New York farm teams during the 2014 minor league season.

The reason I liked Prado in a Yankee uniform was his versatility and style of play. He can play second, third or the outfield plus he’s a good fit offensively anywhere you need to put him in the lineup. His intangibles are solid as well. The guy hustles all the time and all indications are he’s a great teammate.

Sure enough, during the 37 games he wore the pinstripes last year, he played second, third and all three outfield positions and belted 7 home runs which is a pace that translates into a 30-homer full season. The only downside was the fact that he ended the year on the DL. I don’t expect this guy to be a 30-homer hitter for New York but we desperately need players who can stay healthy for full seasons.

With the December, 2014 signing of Chase Headley, the Yankees made it clear that they intended to make Prado their everyday second baseman in 2015. If he stays healthy, he won’t make Yankee fans forget Robbie Cano but he will win over New York fans big time..

Update: So as soon as I post a blog praising the Yankees for getting Prado Cashman trades him to the Marlins with David Phelps for the young unpredictable arm of Nathan Eovaldi and back-up first baseman Garrett Jones. I did not like the trade at all because I was ready to watch Prado have a great year for the Yankees. I do not think Eovaldi will even be an upgrade over Phelps in pinstripes. The only way this deal ever helps the Yankees is if Teixeira again falls apart physically and Jones steps up big-time or if Domingo German, the minor league pitching prospect New York also got in this transaction continues to pitch the way he’s been pitching in the lower rungs of minor league ball. So long Martin Prado. Yankee fans hardly got to know you.

Prado shares his October 29th birthday with this former Yankee outfielderthis other former Yankee outfielder and this former Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2014 NYY 37 137 133 18 42 9 0 7 16 1 3 23 .316 .336 .541 .877
9 Yrs 981 4036 3691 487 1075 230 22 78 426 36 270 441 .291 .340 .429 .769
ATL (7 yrs) 683 2799 2546 355 752 168 16 52 286 30 197 308 .295 .345 .435 .780
ARI (2 yrs) 261 1100 1012 114 281 53 6 19 124 5 70 110 .278 .326 .398 .725
NYY (1 yr) 37 137 133 18 42 9 0 7 16 1 3 23 .316 .336 .541 .877
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/18/2014.

Yankee Connections to 2014 World Series Teams

The Yankees did not make the 2014 World Series and have just two members of their all time roster participating as players in this year’s Fall Classic, both with the Royals; Raul Ibanez & Jayson Nix. Ex Yankee closer Dave Righetti is the Giants’ very successful pitching coach. There have been however, many former and current Yankees who also played for the Royals or Giants. Here’s my all-time lineups for such players:

All Time Lineup of Yankees who were also Royals
1b Steve Balboni
2b Chuck Knoblauch
3b Wilson Betemit
SS Bucky Dent
C   Don Slaught
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Lou Piniella
OF Johnny Damon
DH Raul Ibanez
P   David Cone, Lary Gura
CL Steve Farr
MGR Dick Howser

All Time Lineup of Yankees who were also Giants
1b Dave Kingman
2b Jose Vizcaino
3b Jim Ray Hart
SS Hal Lanier
C   Chris Stewart
OF Bobby Bonds
OF Bobby Murcer
OF Melky Cabrera
DH Jack Clark
P   Don Larsen
CL Dave Righetti
MGR John McGraw

July 2 – Happy Birthday Hal Reniff

When relief ace, Luis Arroyo hurt his arm during the 1962 season, the Yankee bullpen struggled to make up for the devastating loss. The front office decided to go into New York’s farm system to find a successor and his name was Hal Reniff. A pudgy right-hander nicknamed “Porky,” Reniff responded well to the challenge.

Reniff, who had been born in Ohio but grew up in California, had been a starter in the Yankee farm system and a good one at that. He had won 20-games for New York’s Class C team in Modesto, CA. But when he went to spring training with the parent club in 1961, then Manager Ralph Houk told him he wanted Reniff to become a reliever. At first, the pitcher resisted but when Houk made it clear the choice was the Yankee bullpen or back to the minors, he made the switch.

After getting sent back down to Richmond to work on the transition, he was recalled to the Bronx that June and put together a strong half-season for that ’61 Yankee team. He appeared in 25 games, won both his decisions, saved two and compiled a stingy 2.58 ERA. But he didn’t make that year’s Yankees’ World Series roster and then spent most of the following season in the military, while Arroyo’s arm was shutting down.

Returning to full-time action the following year, he won 4 and saved 18, establishing himself as Houk’s best reliever on that 1963 Yankee pennant-winning team. He then pitched brilliantly in the ’63 World Series with little fanfare as his three scoreless and hitless innings of relief were lost in the Dodgers four-straight-game destruction of the Yankees in that Fall Classic.

The following year, Reniff developed some arm problems and Yogi Berra began using Pete Mikkelsen as his closer. When Mikkelsen faltered, the Yankees brought in Pedro Ramos. Still, Hal pitched well when called upon. His seven-season pinstripe career ended in 1967 with 41 career saves and an 18-21 Yankee record, when he was sold to the cross-town Mets. When the Amazin’s released him, Reniff returned to the Yankee farm system, pitching for Syracuse for five more seasons until he hung up his glove for good.

In an interview for Maury Allen’s book Yankees, Where have You Gone, Reniff told the author his best friend on the Yankees was Roger Maris. Like Maris, Reniff was mostly quiet and reserved during his playing days. He liked to do his job and go home and he hated all the media attention the Yankees attracted wherever they went.

Reniff shares his July 2nd birthday with this former AL Rookie of the Year and MVP who is now referred to as “The Chemist.”

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1961 NYY 2 0 1.000 2.58 25 0 16 0 0 2 45.1 31 14 13 1 31 21 1.368
1962 NYY 0 0 7.36 2 0 0 0 0 0 3.2 6 3 3 0 5 1 3.000
1963 NYY 4 3 .571 2.62 48 0 30 0 0 18 89.1 63 31 26 3 42 56 1.175
1964 NYY 6 4 .600 3.12 41 0 27 0 0 9 69.1 47 26 24 3 30 38 1.111
1965 NYY 3 4 .429 3.80 51 0 19 0 0 3 85.1 74 40 36 4 48 74 1.430
1966 NYY 3 7 .300 3.21 56 0 29 0 0 9 95.1 80 37 34 2 49 79 1.353
1967 NYY 0 2 .000 4.28 24 0 11 0 0 0 40.0 40 22 19 0 14 24 1.350
7 Yrs 21 23 .477 3.27 276 0 148 0 0 45 471.1 383 193 171 14 242 314 1.326
NYY (7 yrs) 18 20 .474 3.26 247 0 132 0 0 41 428.1 341 173 155 13 219 293 1.307
NYM (1 yr) 3 3 .500 3.35 29 0 16 0 0 4 43.0 42 20 16 1 23 21 1.512
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/2/2013.