Results tagged ‘ relief pitcher ’

April 30 – Happy Birthday Jumbo Brown

brownWhen CC Sabathia shed 25 pounds after the 2010 postseason, he also shed the mantra of being the heaviest full-time player in MLB history. That honor now reverts back to another Yankee pitcher named Walter Brown. Brown was 6’4″ tall, three inches shorter than Sabathia and tipped the scales at 295 pounds. As a result, he was better known as “Jumbo” Brown. Born in Green, Rhode Island, he broke into the big leagues with the Cubs in 1925 and then pitched for the Indians during the  1927 and ’28 seasons. Not yet ready for prime time, the big guy then returned to the minors.

He became a Yankee in 1932 and spent four of the next five seasons as a member of the Yankee bullpen and one of manager Joe McCarthy’s occasional starters. Unfortunately for Brown, those Yankee teams of the 1930’s were loaded with talented pitchers. One of Brown’s biggest problems, according to author Stephen Lombardi in his book “The Baseball Same Game,” was the fact that his fingers were too short and too stubby to throw a curveball so he was limited to throwing only a fastball. Though Brown’s heater was a good one, it was not good enough to break into that Yankee rotation because after one time through a lineup, opposing hitters had a much easier time squaring up to a one-pitch pitcher.

By 1934, Jumbo was forced to pitch in Newark where he again got a chance to start and won 20-games for the Yankees’ top Minor League franchise. He was 19-16 during his stay in pinstripes, earning two saves and pitching two shutouts. The Reds purchased his contract in 1937 but he quickly returned to the Big Apple when the Giants bought him from Cincinnati that same season. He spent his final five big league seasons pitching very effectively out of the bullpen at the Polo Grounds. His one pitch repertoire was much more suited to relief work, during which hitters faced the rotund right hander and his fastball just once. Brown actually led the NL in saves in both 1940 and ’41 before joining the US Navy. His baseball career ended for good when his military service began. Jumbo is the only member of the Yankee all-time roster to celebrate his birthday on the last day of April.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1932 NYY 5 2 .714 4.53 19 3 9 3 1 1 55.2 58 30 28 1 30 31 1.581
1933 NYY 7 5 .583 5.23 21 8 8 1 0 0 74.0 78 48 43 3 52 55 1.757
1935 NYY 6 5 .545 3.61 20 8 6 3 1 0 87.1 94 41 35 2 37 41 1.500
1936 NYY 1 4 .200 5.91 20 3 8 0 0 1 64.0 93 47 42 4 29 19 1.906
12 Yrs 33 31 .516 4.07 249 23 147 7 2 28 597.1 619 316 270 26 300 301 1.539
NYG (5 yrs) 13 12 .520 2.93 150 0 104 0 0 26 267.1 237 106 87 13 104 131 1.276
NYY (4 yrs) 19 16 .543 4.74 80 22 31 7 2 2 281.0 323 166 148 10 148 146 1.676
CLE (2 yrs) 0 3 .000 6.48 13 0 10 0 0 0 33.1 38 29 24 3 41 20 2.370
CIN (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 8.38 4 1 0 0 0 0 9.2 16 10 9 0 3 4 1.966
CHC (1 yr) 0 0 3.00 2 0 2 0 0 0 6.0 5 5 2 0 4 0 1.500
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2014.

April 21 – Happy Birthday Jesse Orosco

From 1983 until 1987, Jesse Orosco was one of the best relievers in all of baseball. He joined the Mets in 1979 as the player to be named later in the deal that sent the veteran Jerry Koosman to Minnesota. In the next few seasons, the southpaw would perfect a deadly slider and a backdoor curve that could at times make him unhittable, especially against left-handed batters. He went 13-7 with 17 saves and a 1.47 ERA in 1983 and followed that up with a 10-6, 31-save effort a year later. In the Mets magical 1986 season, Jesse and his right-handed closing counterpart, Roger McDowell practically guaranteed the Mets would win any game in which they led after seven innings. It was Orosco who nailed down the final outs in both the 1986 NLCS and World Series.

In 1987, Orosco had his first bad season as a Met and since 1988 would be the final year of his contract, New York decided to trade him before his free agency commenced. Thus began a fifteen year, nine team odyssey for Jesse, during which he was transitioned into one of the Game’s most effective situational left handed relief specialists. That was the role the Yankees needed filled when the Yankees acquired Orosco from the Padres at the midway point of the 2003 season. By then, he was 46 years-old, was pitching in his fourth decade, and had surpassed Dennis Eckersley as the Major League’s all-time leader in games pitched. Unfortunately, he had also lost the ability to get left-handers out.

Orosco appeared in 15 games as a Yankee, pitching a total of just 4.1 innings. He walked six batters, gave up 4 hits and compiled a horrible ERA of 10.48. On the last day of August during the 2003 season, the Yankees sent him to the Twins where he won the last of his 87 big league victories. He retired at the end of that season, his 24th in the big leagues, with 144 lifetime saves.

Orosco shares his August 21st birthday with this Hall of Fame Yankee Manager.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2003 NYY 0 0 10.38 15 0 0 0 0 0 4.1 4 6 5 0 6 4 2.308
24 Yrs 87 80 .521 3.16 *1252* 4 501 0 0 144 1295.1 1055 512 455 113 581 1179 1.263
NYM (8 yrs) 47 47 .500 2.73 372 4 246 0 0 107 595.2 480 207 181 40 240 506 1.209
BAL (5 yrs) 15 11 .577 3.35 336 0 83 0 0 11 244.1 173 95 91 26 133 241 1.252
LAD (3 yrs) 4 5 .444 3.00 146 0 36 0 0 10 96.0 82 35 32 11 49 86 1.365
CLE (3 yrs) 10 8 .556 3.11 171 0 77 0 0 5 188.1 164 75 65 20 79 170 1.290
MIL (3 yrs) 9 7 .563 3.74 156 0 46 0 0 9 134.2 112 66 56 11 56 143 1.248
MIN (1 yr) 1 1 .500 5.79 8 0 3 0 0 0 4.2 4 3 3 0 5 3 1.929
STL (1 yr) 0 0 3.86 6 0 0 0 0 0 2.1 3 3 1 1 3 4 2.571
SDP (1 yr) 1 1 .500 7.56 42 0 10 0 0 2 25.0 33 22 21 4 10 22 1.720
NYY (1 yr) 0 0 10.38 15 0 0 0 0 0 4.1 4 6 5 0 6 4 2.308
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/21/2013.

April 18 – Happy Birthday Rich Bordi

imagesIf they played under today’s big league structure with three different divisions and two wild card teams. The 1985 Yankees would have definitely made the postseason and quite possibly won a World Series. That team finished with 97 wins. In  Yankee franchise history, only the 1954 Bronx Bomber team won more regular season games (104) and failed to reach postseason play. That ’85 team had a potent offense, which included Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Ricky Henderson plus perennial all-star, Don Mattingly, who was at the peak of his career. They finished two games behind the Blue Jays that year and if you had to lay the blame anything, it would have to be the thinness of the club’s pitching staff. Ron Guidry won 22 games that year and  46-year-old Joe Niekro somehow managed to flutter his knuckleball enough times to win 16 more. They also had closer Dave Righetti doing his thing in the bullpen. After those three however, you really did need a score card to figure out who was on the mound at any given time for New York. That is unless it was Rich Bordi doing the pitching. That’s because the mustachio’d San Francisco-born right hander was 6’7″ tall, making him an easy read for Yankee fans back then.

Pitching for that particular Yankee team, however was anything but easy as Bordi soon found out. He had originally been drafted and signed by the A’s in 1980. In fact he was the last guy ever signed by Oakland’s eccentric owner, Charley Finley, which explains why he was also rushed into his big league debut that same year. By 1984, he had landed in Chicago with the Cubs, where he put together his best season with a 5-2 record as a starter and some-time reliever. That December, the Yanks sent Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett to the Cubs for Bordi, Henry Cotto, Ron Hassey and somebody named Porfi Altamirano.

Bordi joined a Yankee team that was supposed to have been managed the entire season by Yogi Berra. George Steinbrenner had made that promise to his skipper before the season started. After a 6-10 start, “the Boss” broke that promise by firing Yogi and replacing him with Billy Martin.

Suddenly, poor Bordi, a modestly skilled big league pitcher found himself working for two men who had become famous for making the lives of modestly skilled big league pitchers miserable. The big Californian didn’t do that badly. He became a mainstay of Martin’s bullpen, appearing in a total of 51 games that year which included three starts. He finished the season with a 6-8 record, 2 saves and a decent 3.21 ERA.

I thought we’d see him in a Yankee uniform the following year but I was wrong. He and prospect Rex Hudler were traded to the Orioles for outfielder Gary Roenicke. Then I thought I would never again see him in a Yankee uniform. I was wrong again. The Yankees brought him back to New York as a free agent in 1987. That year, Lou Piniella had taken over as Yankee skipper and Bordi finished the season with a 3-1 record but a sky high ERA and New York released him. He was out of the big leagues by the following year. He returned to California and I believe he is now a scout for the Cincinnati Reds. I bet you he’s glad he doesn’t work for Billy Martin or George Steinbrenner any more.

He shares his birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcher, this long-ago Yankee outfielder and also this now demolished shrine of Major League Baseball.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1985 NYY 6 8 .429 3.21 51 3 16 0 0 2 98.0 95 41 35 5 29 64 1.265
1987 NYY 3 1 .750 7.64 16 1 6 0 0 0 33.0 42 28 28 7 12 23 1.636
9 Yrs 20 20 .500 4.34 173 17 59 0 0 10 371.1 383 196 179 42 121 247 1.357
OAK (3 yrs) 0 1 .000 3.86 5 2 2 0 0 0 11.2 11 7 5 0 6 6 1.457
CHC (2 yrs) 5 4 .556 3.81 42 8 11 0 0 5 108.2 112 52 46 13 32 61 1.325
NYY (2 yrs) 9 9 .500 4.33 67 4 22 0 0 2 131.0 137 69 63 12 41 87 1.359
SEA (1 yr) 0 2 .000 8.31 7 2 2 0 0 0 13.0 18 12 12 4 1 10 1.462
BAL (1 yr) 6 4 .600 4.46 52 1 22 0 0 3 107.0 105 56 53 13 41 83 1.364
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/24/2014.