Results tagged ‘ january 8 ’
Back during the 1995 season, Yankee manager Buck Showalter decided to give four of the Yankees’ young pitching prospects a shot at becoming part of the parent club’s starting rotation. The quartet included Andy Pettitte, Sterling Hitchcock, Mariano Rivera and today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant, Brian Boehringer. It was rough going for all four at first. At the end of June Hitchcock was 3-4 with an ERA over five. Rivera was 1-2 with an ERA over nine. Pettitte was actually pitching pretty effectively with an ERA in the mid three’s but he’d managed to lose four of his seven decisions. Boehringer couldn’t get anybody out. His ERA was just under twelve and with the Yankees mired near the bottom of the AL East standings, you couldn’t blame Showalter for being ready to throw the towel in on his prospect experiment and ask the front office to go get him a reliable starter.
Just one-month later, the Yankee skipper was in a much better mood. Pettitte, Hitchcock and Rivera had all pitched much more effectively in July and on the 29th of that month, the Yankees pulled off a stunning trade that brought David Cone to the Bronx from Toronto for three Yankee minor leaguers. Cone’s addition to the starting staff freed up Rivera to go to the bullpen. A Yankee team that was 26-31 at the end of June, finished the strike-shortened season at 77-65 and made the playoffs.
Of the four young Yankee starters included in the experiment, only Boehringer failed to make an impact on that ’95 playoff team. He did a bit better the following year after getting called up from Columbus in August and even got the decision in one of the Yankees’ ALDS victories over the Rangers in the ’96 postseason. But it wasn’t until 1997 that he really hit his stride as a Yankee. That year he appeared in 34 games for Joe Torre’s AL Wild Card winners, going 3-2 with a career-best ERA of 2.63. I remember he pitched real well during the last month of that season, surrendering just a single earned run in his final twelve appearances. That’s why I also remember being a bit surprised when the Yankees left this right-handed native of St. Louis unprotected in the 1997 AL expansion draft. He was the 30th selection in that draft, going to Tampa but he was immediately traded, on that same day to San Diego. He then put together two decent seasons for the Padres before injuring his arm. After a couple of surgeries, it took Boehringer a while to regain his arm strength and the Yankees actually re-signed him as a free agent in the middle of his comeback. He struggled through two seasons, going a combined 0-7 in 2000 and ’01 before landing in the Pittsburgh bullpen in 2002. He went 10-10 as a Pirate reliever during the final three years of his big league career. Instead of hanging his glove up for good after Pittsburgh released him in 2004, he pitched three more seasons of minor league ball.
In 2009, Jason Giambi had concluded a seven year contract with New York that paid him about $120 million. Jason was one of baseball’s self-admitted steroid user. He was also a terrible defensive first baseman. The Yankees made it to only a single World Series during his seven years with the team, after having played in five during the previous six years. So there’s no way you can feel sorry for this guy, right? Wrong, at least according to my lovely wife and passionate Yankee fan, Rosemary.
In June of 2005, Rosie’s birthday present to me was two tickets to a Yankee game against the Pirates. At the time, the Yankees had been playing .500 ball and Giambi was contributing next to nothing. Yankee fans remember that 2004 had been the year they found a tumor on Giambi’s pituitary gland, ending what had already become the worst season of the slugger’s career. During the 2004 post season, reports of Giambi’s admitted steroid use became public and he then issued his famous “sort of an apology”. So when Rosie and I took our seats in the first row of Yankee Stadium’s right field upper deck, Giambi was lost at the plate and New York skipper, Joe Torre, was actually batting him eighth in that day’s lineup. What surprised me a whole lot more was the volume and fierceness of the jeers from the fans that met Giambi when his name was announced before his first at-bat in the bottom of the second inning. That’s when my wife stood up and began screaming “Let’s Go Giambi, you can do it.” When she sat down I asked her when she had become such a huge Giambi fan and she told me she felt sorry for him. On that day, Giambi became her new favorite Yankee. Jason proceeded to smash a hard line drive single to right field.
In his next three at bats he did not reach base and struck out twice but the Yankees did rally from a four run deficit to force the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the tenth, Giambi came up with the winning run on second and with Rosemary standing on her feet and screaming at the top of her lungs, smashed a Jose Mesa fast ball into the right field upper deck for a game-winning two-run home run.
Remarkably, Giambi proceeded to go on a tear at the plate. When that day’s game against the Pirates started, Giambi’s batting average was .238 and he had a total of 4 home runs and 17 RBI’s for the season. By the end of that season Giambi had hit 32 home runs, driven in 87 and raised his average to .271. The Yankee record from the day of that game was 63-35 and they captured the 2005 divisional title.
His December, 2004 free agent signing turned out to be one of the worst moves in Yankee front-office history. After paying him $40 million to pitch the next four seasons, the right hander left New York at the conclusion of that contract, having appeared in just 26 games in pinstripes with a 9-8 won-loss record. That equates to more than $1.5 million per start or a bit more than $4 million per victory. Rubbing just a bit more salt in the Yankee’s wounds, Pavano then won 31 times in his first two post Yankee seasons, including a 17-11 record with the Twins in 2010 that had Brian Cashman even considering bringing the guy back to the Bronx in 2011. That didn’t happen and Pavano went 8-11 last season, after once again signing with the Twins. He was born in New Britain, CT on this date in 1976.