Results tagged ‘ relief pitcher ’
The biggest contribution Doug Bird made to the Yankees was surrendering the eighth inning two-run home run to Thurman Munson that enabled New York to win the pivotal third game of the 1978 ALCS against the Royals. Munson’s homer was the only earned run Bird allowed the Yanks in a total of six postseason games he appeared against them between 1976 and ’78. After that series, the Royals traded Bird to Philadelphia where he had an unspectacular 1979 season. When the Phillies released him, the Yankees signed the tall right-handed native of Corona, California and he went 3-0 with a save for the 1980 AL East division winners. He was doing even better in 1981 when New York swung a deal that sent Bird to the Cubs for Rick Reuschel, who had been the ace of Chicago’s rotation for most of the previous decade. Even though Bird was 5-1 at the time of the trade, you had to be impressed with the Yankees’ front office ability to turn a Bird into a Reuschel. As it turned out, Reuschel went 4-4 for New York the rest of that season and then developed arm trouble and missed all of 1982. The snake-bitten Yankees released him in June of 1983. Reuschel would end up rehabbing his arm and become the ace of the Giants staff in the late eighties. In the meantime, Bird was converted back into a starter with the Cubs and after a 9-14 season in 1983 he was traded to Boston and was out of the big leagues one year later. Doug was born in Corona, CA and turns sixty-three-years-old today.
Bird shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee outfielder.
Sergio Mitre was another Yankee relief pitcher who had the full faith and confidence of Yankee skipper Joe Girardi, even though I was never sure what he had done to earn it. I remember hearing the Yankee manager tell members of the Yankee press corps that this big right-hander threw lots of ground ball outs. After watching him pitch in pinstripes for almost three seasons, it seemed to me as if I saw more bombs hit off Mitre than groundballs. During his five seasons in the big leagues before coming to New York. Sergio had a combined won-loss record of 10-23, an ERA of 5.36 runs per game and about six walks for every nine innings he pitched. On top of that he was suspended a year for steroid use and then underwent Tommy John surgery.
In 2009, his ERA as a Yankee was 6.79. The only time Sergio truly impressed me that season was during a start against the White Sox in late August, when he threw six innings of one-hit shutout ball in a 10-0 Yankee triumph. He certainly pitched better for New York in 2010 but not nearly good enough to earn him a shot at starting in 2011. But that was exactly the scenario Girardi set up for him. He let this native of Tijuana, Mexico compete for the fourth and fifth spot in the team’s 2011 rotation on equal footing with Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Ivan Nova. I was not at all surprised when Mitre failed to win that competition. The Yankees then traded Mitre to the Brewers a week before Opening Day, for outfielder Chris Dickerson. Three months later, the Yankees purchased him back from Milwaukee and gave him one more chance to become a key member of their bullpen. He failed to do so and was not offered a contract for the 2012 season. His three year record as a Yankee was 3-6, with 1 save and a lofty ERA of 5.35.
Mitre turns 32 years old today and shares his February 16th birthday with this former Yankee backup catcher.
Joe Girardi was a big fan of former Yankee reliever Damaso Marte and for the life of me I could not figure out why. The Yankees had acquired the Dominican southpaw from Pittsburgh in the same 2008 trade that brought outfielder Xavier Nady to the Bronx. Marte had been 4-0 with 5 saves for the Pirates at the time that trade was made but he finished the ’08 season 1-3 as a Yankee and his ERA ballooned to 5.40. When New York then declined his option, I was pretty sure his Yankee days were over. I was wrong. Brian Cashman instead signed him to a new three-year deal.
Marte got worse instead of better during the 2009 regular season, going 1-3 and his ERA skyrocketed to 9.45. I again predicted his days in pinstripes were numbered but Joe Girardi had other ideas. He put Marte on the New York’s postseason roster. There was something in the Yankee skipper’s head or that famous binder of his that made him think Marte was going to get some huge outs somewhere along the way.
Those outs didn’t happen against Minnesota in that year’s ALDS. In his only appearance against the Twins, he gave up two straight singles and was quickly removed. That’s when the Marte Magic began. In his next seven appearances in that postseason, which included an inning-and-a-third against the Angels in the ALCS and two-and-a-third more against Philadelphia in the World Series, Marte did not surrender a single hit or walk a single batter. He struck out the final two hitters he faced, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on six consecutive pitches. That’s when the Marte Magic ended.
His 2010 season was disrupted by inflammation in his pitching arm and cut short when his left shoulder required surgery. That knocked him out for the entire 2011 season and finally ended his Yankee career. He did not pitch any where in 2012 and it looks as if his big league career is also over.
He shares his Valentine’s Day birthday with this Hall-of-Fame Yankee announcer and this one-time Yankee pitching prospect. My father-in-law, Lou Rossi of Boynton Beach, FL, turns 93-years-old today. Happy Birthday Lou!
You can’t make this stuff up Yankee fans. The New York Yankees once had a pitcher with the same name as the star correspondent of the 60-Minutes television show, Mike Wallace. Guess what the lifetime record of the pinstriped Mike Wallace was as a Yankee? 6-0!
I actually remember the Yankee Mike Wallace pretty well. That’s because he joined the Yankees from the Phillies during the 1974 regular season. That was the same year New York was making a surprising run at the AL East Division flag under manager, Bill Virdon, despite the fact that Mel Stottlemyre had torn his rotator cuff and his wonderful pitching career was over.
Doc Medich and Pat Dobson both took up the slack caused by Stottlemyre’s absence, when each won 19 games. Dick Tidrow and Rudy May rounded out the surprisingly decent rotation and Sparky “the Count” Lyle, held court in the Yankee bullpen. Wallace joined the team in late June and Virdon used him as his primary left-handed middle reliever the rest of that season. He appeared in 23 games for New York and in addition to the perfect 6-0 record, his ERA was just 2.41.
We all hoped the Gastonia, North Carolina native would be more than just a flash in the pan but that was his fate. After three appearances for the Yankees in 1975, Wallace’s ERA climbed to over thirteen and he was sold to St. Louis. He was out of the big leagues by 1977 and he is now a baseball commentator on the Mid Atlantic Sports network.
Born in East Chicago, IL on January 24, 1953, Stoddard came to New York from San Diego during the 1986 season and almost immediately won four games in relief for the Yankees. The huge right-hander spent the next two seasons in the Yankee bullpen and earned a total of 10 wins and 11 saves while wearing the pinstripes. His best years were with Baltimore, including a 26-save season in 1980.
The Baltimore-New York connection was an historical one. Before the Yankees moved to New York (as the Hilltoppers) in 1903, they were the Baltimore Orioles. Beginning when the relocating St Louis Browns brought AL baseball back to B’town in 1954, many former Baltimore players have worn the pinstripes and vice-versa. Some guys who have worn both include;
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 1950, long before the two Major Leagues expanded to their current day six-division, thirty-team format, there were only 16 ball clubs competing for just two postseason berths. In the AL that season, the Yankees found themselves in a tight race for that year’s flag with Detroit, Boston and Cleveland. By mid-June it was Detroit who stood in first place with a game and a half lead over the Bronx Bombers. Casey Stengel had one of baseball’s best starting rotations that year but New York’s bullpen had fallen into disarray as both closer Joe Page and Fred Sanford, the team’s best right-handed reliever were experiencing mediocre seasons.
In an effort to shore up the team’s relief corps, GM George Weiss acquired two pitchers from the St. Louis Browns. One of them was a left hander named Joe Ostrowski who would not contribute much during his first half-season in pinstripes but would pitch very well out of Stengel’s bullpen in 1951. The second reliever Weiss got from the Browns was a 35-year-old veteran named Tom Ferrick. This native New Yorker had made his big league debut with the Philadelphia A’s in 1941. His career was interrupted by military service in WWII and since his return from that service, he’d pretty much been living out of his suitcase. The Yankees were to be his fifth different team in five years.
Ferrick’s pinstriped career began with two scoreless appearances but in his next three, he was hit hard and often. He then pitched four innings against the Senators in a July 4th contest and got the save. That began a hot streak for Ferrick that would last two solid months during which he would win seven straight decisions and save seven more. By the end of August, the Yankees had grabbed a two game lead over the second place Tigers. They would go on to win their second straight pennant and successfully defend their World Championship. Tom Ferrick played a huge role in both. He won eight games during his first half-season as a Yankee and saved nine more. He was also the winning pitcher in Game 3 of New York’s four–game sweep of the Phillies in the 1950 World Series.
Though he would only pitch in eight games for the Yanks the following year, Ferrick would play a valuable role in the team’s third straight pennant and third consecutive world championship. That’s because the Yankees used him in a trade with Washington that brought reliever Bob Kuzava to New York. Kuzava would go on to duplicate the eight second half victories Ferrick gave the Yankees a year earlier and then save the sixth and final game of the 1951 World Series.
Joe Torre did a lot of things when he managed the New York Yankees but one of the things he did most often, especially during his final two seasons in the Bronx, was summon Scott Proctor from the bullpen to pitch. In 2006, the right hander led the AL in appearances with 83 and probably would have led it again the following season if he hadn’t been traded to the Dodgers for Wilson Betamit in July of 2007.
It is probably fair to say that most Yankee fans didn’t love Proctor but most of us admired him. Born in Stuart, FL on today’s date in 1977, he was drafted by the Dodgers out of Florida State University, in the fifth round of the MLB amateur draft in 1998. The Los Angeles organization wasn’t sure if the former Seminole should start or relieve so he spent most of his Dodger minor league years switching back and forth between roles. Then in July of 2003, the Dodgers traded him and outfielder Bubba Crosby to New York for Robin Ventura. He began his big league career in pinstripes the following season and gradually grew into the role of Torre’s workhorse. According to New York Times baseball correspondent, Tyler Kepner, Torre ruined Proctor’s pitching arm by overusing him in 2006 and ’07. Ironically, after Scott was traded to LA in 2007, Torre took over as skipper there the following year and again wasn’t shy about using him. Proctor ended up blowing out his elbow and missed the entire 2009 season. After reconstructive surgery, he reappeared briefly last season with the Braves. The pitcher does not hold Torre or the Yankees accountable for his arm injury. He blames drinking as the reason he the Yankees got rid of him. Proctor is a recovering alcoholic who credits Yankee closer Mariano Rivera with getting him to confront his demon. Another great save by Rivera.
Update: Proctor got a second chance to pitch for New York in September of 2011 but was unfortunately, bloody awful. In eight games out of the bullpen he went 0-3 with no saves and an ERA of 9.00. He was the losing pitcher in the September 28th game against Tampa on what turned out to be one of the most exciting days in baseball history. Evan Longoria’s 12th inning home run against Proctor that day capped an amazing come-from behind victory for Tampa. Moments later, Baltimore’s Robert Andino’s single off of Joanathan Papelbon in the bottom of the ninth drove in the winning run and the Soxplosion of 2011 was complete.
When Joe Girardi made a pitching change in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Yankees trailing by five runs in a September 27th game against Tampa in 2012, there was only one thing especially noteworthy about the move. It marked the first time in two years and eight days that David Aardsma made an appearance in a big league ball game. The six foot three inch, right-handed native of Denver had been one of the American League’s most effective closers, saving 69 games for the Mariners during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, when he injured both his left hip and his right shoulder, requiring surgery on both joints.
The Yankees signed him during the 2012 preseason knowing he might never pitch an inning for them. New York GM, Brian Cashman called the signing and “R&D move,” At the time, Mariano Rivera was hinting around that 2012 might be his final season and the Yanks were looking at Aardsma as a possible set-up guy for the 2013 season, taking over either David Robertson’s or Raffie Soriano’s slot, depending upon which of the two succeeded the great Rivera as the new Yankee closer. Cashman gave Aardsma a $500,000 one year deal with incentives and an option for a second season.
In a twist of fate, it is Soriano who won’t be pitching in New York in 2013, after he exercised an option in his contract and became a free agent after a superb 2012 season as Yankee closer. Rivera than announced he will be returning in 2013 and the Yanks have exercised their option on Aardsma and are bringing him back as well. In about five or six months we will know if Cashman’s R&D investment returns any big league dividends. Aardsma’s situation brings back memories of Jon Lieber. The Yankees signed the former Cub and 20-game winner in 2003 knowing he would miss that entire year recovering from arm surgery. Lieber than won 14 games as a starter for New York in 2004. Will Aardsma be another Lieber? Yankee fans certainly hope so.
Jay Tessmer was a tall, Pennsylvania-born, 19th-round Yankee draft-choice in 1995, who had the misfortune of being one of the organization’s top bullpen prospects during an era when New York’s bullpen featured Mo Rivera, Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson and Ramiro Mendoza. So even though the side-arming former University of Miami reliever saved 176 games in the minors, he couldn’t pitch well enough to become a permanent part of the parent club’s bullpen during the prime years of his career.
He got his first call-up to the Bronx in August of the 1998 season, when both Stanton and Mendoza were hurting and he enjoyed immediate success. Joe Torre had used all of his available stalwart relievers in a Thursday night game against the Angels and the score was tied 5-5 going into the top of the eleventh inning. He called on Tessmer, who had just arrived from Columbus that same day to take the mound. The 26-year-old retired the three hitters he faced, striking out both Phil Nevin and Darin Erstad in the process. In the bottom of the inning, Bernie Williams hit a walk-off double, driving in Derek Jeter and Tessmer had a win in his big league and Yankee debut. That would be his first and last big league victory and his only career decision. He would get three more shots during the 1999, 2000 and ’02 seasons but fail to stick more than seven games in any of them.
Tessmer shares his day-after-Christmas birthday with this former first baseman who hit one of the most dramatic home runs in Yankee franchise history.