Results tagged ‘ starting pitcher ’

March 24 – Happy Birthday Chad Gaudin

Talk about a lousy birthday present, New York announced they were releasing this right-hander on his 27th birthday. He had been competing in Spring Training for the fifth starter’s spot in Manager Joe Girardi’s 2010 rotation but was beaten out by Phil Hughes. If the Yankees kept him on the roster and put him in the bullpen, they would have had to pay his full $2.7 million salary so they released him instead. Gaudin landed a job on the A’s staff a few days later but when Oakland released him in May of 2010, he again joined the Yankee bullpen. He originally had impressed me during his first 11 appearances in pinstripes in 2009 but he did little for New York upon his return in 2010. He pitched a bit for the Washington Nationals in 2011 and then caught on with the Marlins in 2012, followed up by a strong season out of the Giants’ bullpen in 2013. The Phillies brought him to their 2014 spring training camp but he was cut from their roster early on.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2009 NYY 2 0 1.000 3.43 11 6 4 0 0 0 42.0 41 16 16 7 20 34 1.452
2010 NYY 1 2 .333 4.50 30 0 17 0 0 0 48.0 46 27 24 11 20 33 1.375
11 Yrs 45 44 .506 4.44 344 87 80 1 0 2 836.1 859 459 413 92 382 673 1.484
OAK (4 yrs) 20 20 .500 4.25 127 40 28 1 0 2 343.1 346 179 162 35 164 254 1.485
TBD (2 yrs) 3 2 .600 4.25 41 7 10 0 0 0 82.2 96 45 39 8 32 53 1.548
NYY (2 yrs) 3 2 .600 4.00 41 6 21 0 0 0 90.0 87 43 40 18 40 67 1.411
SDP (1 yr) 4 10 .286 5.13 20 19 0 0 0 0 105.1 105 69 60 7 56 105 1.528
WSN (1 yr) 1 1 .500 6.48 10 0 1 0 0 0 8.1 12 10 6 1 8 10 2.400
CHC (1 yr) 4 2 .667 6.26 24 0 5 0 0 0 27.1 29 21 19 5 10 27 1.427
SFG (1 yr) 5 2 .714 3.06 30 12 4 0 0 0 97.0 81 34 33 6 40 88 1.247
MIA (1 yr) 4 2 .667 4.54 46 0 11 0 0 0 69.1 72 39 35 6 26 57 1.413
TOR (1 yr) 1 3 .250 13.15 5 3 0 0 0 0 13.0 31 19 19 6 6 12 2.846
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/13/2014.

January 13 – Happy Birthday Darrell Rasner

Yankee fans do not have fond memories of the 2008 season. It was Joe Girardi’s first year at the helm and the team went into the regular season betting heavily that Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were going to provide at least two fifths of New York’s starting rotation, with Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina. Not only did the three youngsters fail miserably, Wang ruined his season with a freak base-running accident and Pettitte had a sub-par year going 14-14. Only 20-game winner Mike Mussina delivered better than expected results and by the end of the season, the Yankees found themselves out of the race for a postseason berth.

Besides Mussina, the only good story among the Yankees’ 2008 menagerie of starters was the jolt provided by Darrell Rasner when Gerardi inserted the Nevada-born right-hander into the rotation in early May. Rasner had broken into the big leagues in 2005 with the Nationals. The Yankees got him off waivers just before their 2006 spring training camp opened. In ’06 and ’07 he had bounced back and forth between New York and just about every farm team in the organization. When he got off to a great start in Scranton in 2008, he was called up and thrust into a starting role. He then proceeded to win his first three starts for New York and suddenly the pundits were wondering if it might be Rasner instead of Joba, Hughes or Kennedy who would actually solidify the Yankee rotation. That expectations balloon burst when he went on to lose ten of his last twelve decisions, but for that brief three-week stretch in May, he captured the attention and felt the admiration of Yankee fans.

When the 2008 season ended, Rasner faced a big decision. The Yankees were interested in re-signing him but his agent got him a bigger offer to play in Japan. The difference in dollars was at least a million bucks. He loved pitching in New York and he had lots of apprehension about playing and living in Japan. But his wife was expecting the couple’s second child and the then 28-year-old Rasner knew the money he could make in Japan would help him solidify his growing family’s future so he made the move. After a rough first couple of years as a starter for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League, Rasner was converted to a reliever and he’s become very good in that role. He registered 17 saves for the Eagles in 2013. If the name of his Japanese team sounds a bit familiar to Yankee fans, its because Rasner has been Masahiro Tanaka’s teammate for the past five seasons. The Yankees are about to offer the moon to Tanaka to make him part of their starting rotation in 2014.

Rasner shares his birthday with this not-well-remembered Yankee shortstop.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2006 NYY 3 1 .750 4.43 6 3 1 0 0 0 20.1 18 10 10 2 5 11 1.131
2007 NYY 1 3 .250 4.01 6 6 0 0 0 0 24.2 29 14 11 4 8 11 1.500
2008 NYY 5 10 .333 5.40 24 20 1 0 0 0 113.1 135 74 68 14 39 67 1.535
4 Yrs 9 15 .375 5.00 41 30 3 0 0 0 165.2 187 101 92 20 54 93 1.455
NYY (3 yrs) 9 14 .391 5.06 36 29 2 0 0 0 158.1 182 98 89 20 52 89 1.478
WSN (1 yr) 0 1 .000 3.68 5 1 1 0 0 0 7.1 5 3 3 0 2 4 0.955
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/13/2014.

January 8 – Happy Birthday Carl Pavano

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. Pavano ended up signing a new $17 million two-year deal to remain with Minnesota. Turns out Cashman and New York avoided another bad deal.  He was a combined 11-18 for the Twins during the two years covered by that contract and his 2012 season was limited to just 11 starts by a shoulder injury that required surgical repair. Then in January of 2013, Pavano slipped and fell while shoveling the driveway of his home in Vermont and ruptured his spleen. He was contemplating a comeback at the time of that mishap but it looks as if his pitching career is now over.

Pavano was born on this date in 1976. This former Yankee who led New York in RBIs four different times, also celebrates a birthday today as does this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2005 NYY 4 6 .400 4.77 17 17 0 1 1 0 100.0 129 66 53 17 18 56 1.470
2007 NYY 1 0 1.000 4.76 2 2 0 0 0 0 11.1 12 7 6 1 2 4 1.235
2008 NYY 4 2 .667 5.77 7 7 0 0 0 0 34.1 41 23 22 5 10 15 1.485
14 Yrs 108 107 .502 4.39 302 284 3 17 8 0 1788.2 1971 955 873 200 425 1091 1.340
MON (5 yrs) 24 35 .407 4.83 81 78 0 1 1 0 452.2 493 264 243 55 159 304 1.440
MIN (4 yrs) 33 33 .500 4.32 88 88 0 10 3 0 579.2 654 303 278 63 101 311 1.302
NYY (3 yrs) 9 8 .529 5.00 26 26 0 1 1 0 145.2 182 96 81 23 30 75 1.455
FLA (3 yrs) 33 23 .589 3.64 86 71 3 4 2 0 485.0 492 212 196 40 112 313 1.245
CLE (1 yr) 9 8 .529 5.37 21 21 0 1 1 0 125.2 150 80 75 19 23 88 1.377
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.

January 6 – Happy Birthday Joe Lake

LakeThis Brooklyn born right hander took 27 years to make his big league debut with the New York Highlanders and unfortunately, it happened during the worst season in the franchise’s history. Joe Lake had caught everyone’s attention when in his first-ever season of minor league ball in 1907, he won 25 games for the Eastern League’s Jersey City Skeeters. That same year’s Highlander team had finished with a mediocre 70-78 record. New York’s manager, Clark Griffith knew he had to find some younger arms because his top two starters, 33-year-old Jack Chesbro and 34-year-old Al Orth were both getting a bit long in the tooth. He had received a scouting report praising a hard-throwing young right-hander named Walter Johnson, but the kid had only pitched on sandlots and for company-sponsored semi-pro teams. This lack of experience caused Griffith to hesitate reaching out to Johnson and by the time he did, the Senators had already signed the future Hall of Famer.

So the Highlanders went and got today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant instead and Griffith put him in his 1908 starting rotation. It looked like a genius move when both Lake and the team got off to a quick start that season. New York was actually on top of the AL standings with a 20-15 record on June 1st. They then lost 12 of their next 16 games and after arguing with the front-office over the team’s reversal of fortune, a frustrated Griffith was let go and replaced by Yankee starting shortstop, Kid Elberfield. The “Tabasco Kid” proved to be a much better player than he was a manager. He skippered the team to a dismal 27-71 record and a last-place finish. Every Highlander starter ended the year with a losing record including Lake, who at 9-22 led the league in losses.

Still, when the team’s 1909 spring training camp opened, new manager George Stallings told the New York press that Lake figured prominently in his pitching plans for the upcoming season. It was a wise move on the part of Stallings. Lake already had a decent fastball and Chesbro had helped him improve his knuckleball. The second-year hurler used both pitches efficiently enough to fashion a noteworthy 14-11 record in ’09 with an outstanding ERA of just 1.88. But instead of keeping Lake, the Highlanders traded him to the Browns in December of that year for a 37-year-old veteran catcher named Lou Criger, who would end up hitting just .188 for New York in 1910.

Lake went on to do some very good pitching for some very bad St. Louis ballclubs the next two seasons before ending his big league career as a Tiger in 1913. He shares his January 6th birthday with this former Yankee starting pitcherthis one-time Yankee shortstopthis former 20-game-winning pitcher 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
1908 NYY 9 22 .290 3.17 38 27 11 19 2 0 269.1 252 157 95 6 77 118 1.222
1909 NYY 14 11 .560 1.88 31 26 5 17 3 1 215.1 180 81 45 2 59 117 1.110
6 Yrs 62 90 .408 2.85 199 139 53 95 8 5 1318.0 1329 671 417 19 332 594 1.260
SLB (3 yrs) 22 39 .361 2.88 76 60 15 42 3 2 533.2 558 272 171 5 133 238 1.295
NYY (2 yrs) 23 33 .411 2.60 69 53 16 36 5 1 484.2 432 238 140 8 136 235 1.172
DET (2 yrs) 17 18 .486 3.18 54 26 22 17 0 2 299.2 339 161 106 6 63 121 1.341
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/6/2014.

January 2 – Happy Birthday David Cone

“Conie” joined the Yankees in 1995 and helped them reach postseason play in each of the six years he wore the pinstripes. A five-time All Star (twice as a Yankee), David had two 20-victory seasons during his 17 years in the big leagues and posted 21 shutouts. The year before he became a Yankee, he had been voted the AL Cy Young award-winner for his 16-5 season with the Royals. The Royals then traded him to the Blue Jays and Toronto traded him to New York after the 1995 All Star break for three Yankee prospects. Cone finished with a 64-40 record as a Yankee and 194-126 lifetime. His best year in New York was his 20-7 season in 1998. His absolute greatest moment in pinstripes occurred on July 18, 1999, when he pitched a perfect game against the Montreal Expos. Does anyone out there remember who made the last out of that game for the Expos? It was Expo shortstop Orlando Cabrera whose popup was caught in foul territory by Yankee third baseman, Scott Brosius.

Mr. Cone won a total of five World Series rings including four with the Yankees plus one with the Blue Jays in 1993. The right-hander had an overall 8-3 record in the postseason including his six wins and a loss in pinstriped fall ball.

Cone now is an analyst on Yes Network broadcasts of Yankee games. I like him in that role. When Jorge Posada was struggling with his reduced role with the 2011 Yankees, Cone talked about his own personal fight with the fact he could no longer play the game. His final Yankee season in 2000 had been the worst of his seventeen-year big league career, finishing with a 4-14 record and an ERA near seven. When the Yankees did not try to re-sign him, Cone signed with the Red Sox for $1 million and started for Boston during the 2001 season. He actually pitched pretty well for the Yankees’ arch-rivals, finishing the year with a 9-7 record. His best start of that season took place on the second day of September at Fenway Park against his old New York teammates in a classic pitchers’ duel between him and Mike Mussina.  I remember watching every pitch of that game. Cone was brilliant for eight innings, striking out eight and holding New York scoreless until Enrique Wilson’s ground ball double scored Tino Martinez with one out in the top of the ninth. Mussina was even better, pitching a perfect game until Carl Everett, pinch-hitting for Red Sox catcher Bob Oliver singled with two outs in the ninth. Mussina won the game 1-0 but Cone proved once again that he was a warrior on the mound.

I thought he was gone for good after that season but he reappeared two years later in a Met uniform and won his first start of the 2003 season for the Amazin’s. But then he got hammered in his next three and finally called it quits for good. During that 2011 discussion about Posada coming to terms with the end of his playing career, Cone admitted he wished he had retired after his final year in pinstripes.

Also born on this date was this Yankee middle reliever who led the AL in appearances in 2006.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1995 NYY 9 2 .818 3.82 13 13 0 1 0 0 99.0 82 42 42 12 47 89 1.303
1996 NYY 7 2 .778 2.88 11 11 0 1 0 0 72.0 50 25 23 3 34 71 1.167
1997 NYY 12 6 .667 2.82 29 29 0 1 0 0 195.0 155 67 61 17 86 222 1.236
1998 NYY 20 7 .741 3.55 31 31 0 3 0 0 207.2 186 89 82 20 59 209 1.180
1999 NYY 12 9 .571 3.44 31 31 0 1 1 0 193.1 164 84 74 21 90 177 1.314
2000 NYY 4 14 .222 6.91 30 29 0 0 0 0 155.0 192 124 119 25 82 120 1.768
17 Yrs 194 126 .606 3.46 450 419 9 56 22 1 2898.2 2504 1222 1115 258 1137 2668 1.256
NYM (7 yrs) 81 51 .614 3.13 187 169 4 34 15 1 1209.1 1011 472 421 91 431 1172 1.192
NYY (6 yrs) 64 40 .615 3.91 145 144 0 7 1 0 922.0 829 431 401 98 398 888 1.331
KCR (3 yrs) 27 19 .587 3.29 68 57 5 10 4 0 448.1 364 176 164 37 181 344 1.216
TOR (2 yrs) 13 9 .591 3.14 25 24 0 5 2 0 183.1 152 69 64 15 70 149 1.211
BOS (1 yr) 9 7 .563 4.31 25 25 0 0 0 0 135.2 148 74 65 17 57 115 1.511
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/2/2014.

December 31 – Happy Birthday Tommy Byrne

Tommy Byrne didn’t really have a nickname but if he did, it probably would have been “Wild Man.” This southpaw had a blazing fastball and a great biting curve but he had a real tough time throwing either of them over the plate with any consistency. Over his thirteen season big league career, the Baltimore native averaged just under seven walks for every nine innings he pitched, led the American League in that department three straight seasons and in one of them, 1951, he walked 150 batters in just 143 innings. And when Byrne didn’t walk a batter, chances were good that he’d hit him instead because the guy led the AL in hit batsmen five different times. So how did a pitcher who was so wild stay in the big leagues? There were two reasons really.

The first was that despite his aversion to the strike zone, Byrne would win games. He started pitching full time for the Yankees in 1948 and over the next three seasons his record was 38-21. He was a very effective fourth starter for New York, behind their legendary Raschi, Reynolds, Lopat triumvirate. The second reason the Yankees kept him was his ability to hit. Byrne was one of the best hitting pitchers in all of baseball. He averaged .326 in 1948 and .272 two seasons later. He was such a good stick that he was frequently used as a pinch hitter and actually had 80 pinch hits during his career.

So Manager Casey Stengel, Byrne’s Yankee teammates and even most Yankee fans would tolerate the left-handers mind-numbing spurts of wildness because he kept winning games and the team kept winning pennants in spite of them. Unfortunately for Byrne, the one guy who couldn’t tolerate it any longer turned out to be Yankee co-owner Dan Topping. On June 15th, 1951, Topping engineered a trade that sent Byrne to the Browns for another southpaw pitcher named Stubby Overmire. I read that Stengel was livid with Topping when he learned of the trade after it had already been consummated.

The Yankees didn’t miss Tommy at first because they still had the big three in their starting rotation along with a new young southpaw named Whitey Ford. Byrne, on the other hand did not find pitching for the lowly Browns anywhere near as enjoyable as pitching for the mighty Yankees. He went 11-24 during his two seasons in St. Louis and then was traded to the White Sox.

In addition to being wild, Byrne turned out to be pretty lucky too. By 1954, Raschi was gone and Reynolds and Lopat were nearing the end of their careers. Byrne in the mean time, had been sold by the White Sox to the Senators and then released. He spent most of the 1954 season pitching for Seattle in the PCL League, where he went 20-10 on the mound and hit .296 at the plate. That performance caught the attention of the Yankees and the then-34-year-old pitcher suddenly found himself back in pinstripes at the close of the 1954 season. The following year, Byrne rejoined the Yankees’ starting rotation and went 16-5 to lead the AL in winning percentage. He also pitched very well in the 1955 World Series against the Dodgers. Bryne got a complete-game 4-2 victory in Game 2 and also drove in the winning runs with his two-run single. He then held the Dodgers to just one run for five-plus innings of Game 7 before being lifted by Stengel in a game the Yankees would go on to lose.

Byrne pitched two more seasons for New York and then went back to college at Wake Forest. He ended his career with an 85-69 overall record and 72-40 as an eleven-year Yankee. He ended up getting into politics and served as Mayor of the college town for fifteen years. He passed away in 2007, at the age of 87. One of the things I learned about Byrne doing research for this post was that he was considered to be a flake. He was known for talking to opposing hitters during the game and according to Yogi Berra, Byrne’s chit chatting would drive all stars like Ted Williams and Al Rosen absolutely crazy. Often times, he would tell the hitter what pitch he was about to throw. The talking combined with his sharp biting curve ball and lack of control made Byrne Yogi’s choice as the toughest pitcher he ever had to catch.

Byrne shares his last-day-of-the-year birthday with this other former Yankee starting pitcher.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1943 NYY 2 1 .667 6.54 11 2 8 0 0 0 31.2 28 26 23 1 35 22 1.989
1946 NYY 0 1 .000 5.79 4 1 3 0 0 0 9.1 7 8 6 1 8 5 1.607
1947 NYY 0 0 4.15 4 1 2 0 0 0 4.1 5 2 2 0 6 2 2.538
1948 NYY 8 5 .615 3.30 31 11 11 5 1 2 133.2 79 55 49 8 101 93 1.347
1949 NYY 15 7 .682 3.72 32 30 2 12 3 0 196.0 125 84 81 11 179 129 1.551
1950 NYY 15 9 .625 4.74 31 31 0 10 2 0 203.1 188 115 107 23 160 118 1.711
1951 TOT 6 11 .353 4.26 28 20 3 7 2 0 143.2 120 73 68 5 150 71 1.879
1951 NYY 2 1 .667 6.86 9 3 1 0 0 0 21.0 16 17 16 0 36 14 2.476
1954 NYY 3 2 .600 2.70 5 5 0 4 1 0 40.0 36 13 12 1 19 24 1.375
1955 NYY 16 5 .762 3.15 27 22 4 9 3 2 160.0 137 69 56 12 87 76 1.400
1956 NYY 7 3 .700 3.36 37 8 18 1 0 6 109.2 108 50 41 9 72 52 1.641
1957 NYY 4 6 .400 4.36 30 4 16 1 0 2 84.2 70 41 41 8 60 57 1.535
13 Yrs 85 69 .552 4.11 281 170 72 65 12 12 1362.0 1138 688 622 98 1037 766 1.597
NYY (11 yrs) 72 40 .643 3.93 221 118 65 42 10 12 993.2 799 480 434 74 763 592 1.572
SLB (2 yrs) 11 24 .314 4.35 48 41 7 21 2 0 318.2 286 173 154 21 226 148 1.607
WSH (1 yr) 0 5 .000 4.28 6 5 0 2 0 0 33.2 35 17 16 3 22 22 1.693
CHW (1 yr) 2 0 1.000 10.13 6 6 0 0 0 0 16.0 18 18 18 0 26 4 2.750
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/31/2013.

December 26 – Happy Birthday Dustin Moseley

dustin-moseleyWhile the Yankees had a marvelous season in 2009, winning their 27th World Championship, it was a lost year for Dustin Moseley. The right-handed pitcher from Texarkana, Texas strained his right forearm at the beginning of that year and just as he recovered from that injury he found out he needed surgery on his hip, which ended his season. His contract with the Angels was up that same season, so you know he had to be thrilled when the Yankees offered him a contract that winter.

Moseley had his agent include a clause that made him a free agent again if he wasn’t on New York’s 25-man roster by July 1. Getting him there by that date proved to be an easy decision because the defending champions’ bullpen was a complete mess that season. Both Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson were pitching poorly, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin were worse and Alfredo Aceves was on the DL.

So when Moseley made his pinstriped debut as a reliever against Toronto on July 3rd of that season and held the Jays hitless in his two-inning stint, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, his Yankee teammates and plenty of Yankee fans were all simultaneously hoping it was a sign of good things to come. It actually wasn’t. After three more relief stints his ERA was over four. By then however, the Yankee starting pitching situation had fallen upon rough times and Girardi actually inserted Moseley into the rotation.

The 29-year-old stepped up, winning four of his first six decisions as a starter. Even though he lost his last two starts that year, his strong two inning relief stint in Game 1 of the 2010 ALCS against Texas earned him the win and probably was the reason the Yanks tried to re-sign him again following that postseason.Moseley instead decided to take his game to San Diego’s more pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

He pitched well for the Padres in 2011.posting a 3.30 ERA, but poor run support saddled him with a 3-10 record. He also injured his non-throwing shoulder and when he failed to get off to a good start the following year, he was put on waivers.He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since.

Moseley shares his Yankee birthday with this former postseason hero and one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2010 NYY 4 4 .500 4.96 16 9 2 0 0 0 65.1 66 36 36 13 27 33 1.423
7 Yrs 15 21 .417 4.67 101 53 17 0 0 0 358.1 397 202 186 43 117 199 1.434
LAA (4 yrs) 8 7 .533 5.41 64 23 15 0 0 0 168.0 209 102 101 19 52 98 1.554
SDP (2 yrs) 3 10 .231 3.53 21 21 0 0 0 0 125.0 122 64 49 11 38 68 1.280
NYY (1 yr) 4 4 .500 4.96 16 9 2 0 0 0 65.1 66 36 36 13 27 33 1.423
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/27/2013.

December 23 – Happy Birthday Shawn Chacon

Back in 2005, starting pitchers were dropping like flies for manager Joe Torre’s Yankees. Carl Pavano, Jared Wright and Chien Ming Wang were already on the disabled list when in late July, the mercurial Kevin Brown joined them. The Yankee front office responded by going on a starter acquisition blitz. They went out and got Al Leiter, Hideki Nomo and Shawn Chacon.

Of the three, Yankee fans expected the least from Chacon. His big league career up until that point had been weird to say the least. During his first three seasons in the Majors he had been a starter for Colorado. After going 11-21 his first two years, he had 11 victories by the 2003 All Star break but then did not win another game that season. Then he became the Rockie closer, finishing 2004 with 35 saves but a horrible 1-7 won-lost record.

Chacon ended up being one of the best pitchers on the Yankee staff during the second half of 2005. He won seven of ten decisions with a sparkling 2.85 ERA. He and another journeyman starter, Aaron Small, actually saved that Yankee season, with both guys pitching better than the millionaire’s club of starters the Yankees started that year with.

He got off to a good start for New York in 2006 as well but he got hurt early in the season and then got traded to the Pirates. He ended up with the Astros, in 2008 where he made headlines and got suspended when he scuffled with Houston GM Ed Wade. The right-hander has not pitched a game in the big leagues since. Chacon was born on December 23, 1977 in Anchorage, Alaska and given up for adoption, four years later.

Chacon shares his birthday with another former Yankee starting pitcher and with this former Yankee third-baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2005 NYY 7 3 .700 2.85 14 12 0 0 0 0 79.0 66 26 25 7 30 40 1.215
2006 NYY 5 3 .625 7.00 17 11 0 0 0 0 63.0 77 54 49 11 36 35 1.794
8 Yrs 45 61 .425 4.99 269 134 71 0 0 36 922.0 916 544 511 137 475 619 1.509
COL (5 yrs) 24 45 .348 5.20 150 83 60 0 0 35 552.1 543 338 319 82 293 385 1.514
PIT (2 yrs) 7 7 .500 4.44 73 13 11 0 0 1 142.0 142 74 70 21 75 106 1.528
NYY (2 yrs) 12 6 .667 4.69 31 23 0 0 0 0 142.0 143 80 74 18 66 75 1.472
HOU (1 yr) 2 3 .400 5.04 15 15 0 0 0 0 85.2 88 52 48 16 41 53 1.506
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/24/2013.

December 3 – Happy Birthday Butch Wensloff

wensloffGrowing up in Sausalito, California, Charles “Butch” Wensloff did not have an easy life. He was just six years old and the eldest of three children, when his dad left his mom to marry another woman. In an effort to help his family put food on the table during the Great Depression, Charley quit school at a young age to work at a variety of odd jobs.

In his spare time he pitched for semi-pro teams. Strong as a bull, the young right-hander had an impressive fastball and to keep opposing hitters off balance, he developed a very good knuckler. His mastery of those two pitches got him his first minor league contract in 1937 with the El Paso Texans, a D-level club in the old Aztec League. His 17-10 record that season caught the attention of the Yankees and they purchased his contract and moved him up to their Joplin affiliate in the C-level Western Association. When Wensloff won 21 games during his second year in Joplin, he was sent up to the Yankees double A affiliate in Kansas City, where during the next three seasons he won 49 ball games.

The Yankees finally brought him up in 1943, when he was 27 years old. Manager Joe McCarthy loved the fact that in addition to a fastball and curve, his new rookie hurler had better than average command of his knuckleball. The Yankee skipper wasted little time throwing Wensloff into the starting rotation and by the end of his first year in the big leagues, he had compiled a 13-11 record and a 2.58 ERA.

He didn’t get to throw a single pitch in the Yankees five-game victory over the Cardinals in the ’43 Series because McCarthy had decided to use him as his long reliever out of the bullpen if the need arose. It never did.

Wensloff was one of those guys who never felt as if he was being paid enough and for all I know, he probably had good reasons for feeling that way. When he received his proposed Yankee contract for the 1944 season in the mail, he was unhappy with it and refused to sign it. When the stalemate continued, he was put on the voluntarily retired list and missed the entire 1944 season. He then got drafted into the Army in 1945 and wasn’t discharged until August of 1946, long after all of the Yankees other pitchers had returned from service. The long period of inactivity and his late discharge probably contributed to the sore arm he developed during the Yankees’ 1947 spring training camp.

Though he did finally return to pitch for New York again in June of that year, his arm was never the same. After going 3-1 for Bucky Harris’s 1947 AL Pennant winners he finally got to pitch in a World Series that fall. But when he again was unhappy with the Yankees contract offer for the following season, he asked to be traded. His wish was granted when he was dealt to the Indians but after just one painful appearance with Cleveland, his big league career was over. He passed away in 2001, at the age of 85.

He shares his December 3rd birthday with this former Yankee first baseman, this former Yankee pitcher and this one-time Yankee outfielder.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1943 NYY 13 11 .542 2.54 29 27 1 18 1 1 223.1 179 80 63 7 70 105 1.115
1947 NYY 3 1 .750 2.61 11 5 3 1 0 0 51.2 41 17 15 3 22 18 1.219
3 Yrs 16 13 .552 2.60 41 32 5 19 1 1 276.2 222 99 80 11 95 125 1.146
NYY (2 yrs) 16 12 .571 2.55 40 32 4 19 1 1 275.0 220 97 78 10 92 123 1.135
CLE (1 yr) 0 1 .000 10.80 1 0 1 0 0 0 1.2 2 2 2 1 3 2 3.000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2013.

November 27 – Happy Birthday Bill Short

ShortBorn in Kingston, NY and raised in nearby Newburgh, Bill Short was a five foot nine inch southpaw signed by the Yankees right out of high school in 1955. He spent the next five years climbing up the alphabetized ladder of New York’s farm system. At triple A Richmond in 1959, he became a genuine top prospect when he put together a 17-6 record, a 2.48 ERA and captured the league’s pitcher of the year honors.

By the time the Yankees 1960 spring training camp opened, Casey Stengel was ready for Short to prove he had good enough stuff to crack the parent club’s starting rotation. Short pitched well enough to make the team and after his first four regular season starts, he had a 2-1 record and despite an alarming number of bases on balls, a sparkling ERA of just 2.25. But he couldn’t keep it up.

Ironically as his walks went down his ERA went up and he lost his next three starts. He also lost his spot in both the rotation and on the Yankee roster, getting sent back down to the minors to try and get it back together. He spent the rest of his only Yankee season bouncing back and forth between Richmond and the Bronx and he was left off New York’s 1960 World Series roster.

Short then spent the entire 1961 season in Richmond and when the Yankees did not protect him, Baltimore claimed him in the Rule 5 Draft. He did get back to the big leagues, first with the Orioles and later with the Red Sox, Pirates, Mets and Reds, making his final big league appearance in 1969. Never a star at the top-level, Short won 120 games in the minors and is a member of the International League Hall of Fame.

He shares a birthday with this long-ago Yankee pitcher and this much more recent Yankee catcher.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1960 22 NYY AL 3 5 .375 4.79 10 10 0 2 0 0 47.0 49 25 25 5 30 14 1.681
6 Yrs 5 11 .313 4.73 73 16 16 3 1 2 131.1 130 75 69 8 64 71 1.477
BAL (2 yrs) 2 3 .400 4.10 11 6 1 1 1 0 41.2 42 22 19 2 16 30 1.392
NYM (1 yr) 0 3 .000 4.85 34 0 13 0 0 1 29.2 24 17 16 0 14 24 1.281
PIT (1 yr) 0 0 3.86 6 0 1 0 0 1 2.1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0.857
BOS (1 yr) 0 0 4.32 8 0 0 0 0 0 8.1 10 6 4 1 2 2 1.440
CIN (1 yr) 0 0 15.43 4 0 1 0 0 0 2.1 4 4 4 0 1 0 2.143
NYY (1 yr) 3 5 .375 4.79 10 10 0 2 0 0 47.0 49 25 25 5 30 14 1.681
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/26/2013.