Results tagged ‘ utility infielder ’

November 2 – Happy Birthday Wilson Betemit

I always thought Wilson Betemit could become a big league All Star. He is a switch-hitter with decent power who can play a decent third base and even an adequate shortstop in an emergency. He saw quite a bit of action with the Yankees in 2008 and the more he played the better he seemed to hit the ball. I knew he wasn’t going to see much action in the Yankee’s All Star infield that year but still, when he was traded to the White Sox, after that season I was sort of disappointed to see him go. The fact that the Yankees got Nick Swisher for him turned out to make the swap pretty much a steal for New York.

Betemit signed with the Royals in 2010 and hit .295, while smacking 13 home runs and driving in 43 for KC in just 84 games. He began the 2011 season with the Royals but was traded to the Tigers that July. Detroit Manager Jim Leyland credited Betemit’s play during the second half of that year as one of the key reasons why his Tigers rallied to win the AL Central Division race. In 2012, he signed with the Orioles and became Buck Showalter’s starting third baseman. He hit a creditable .261 with 12 home runs but lost his job when the O’s brought up the very impressive 19-year-old Manny Machado in August of that year. Betemit sat the Baltimore bench from that point on and was released in September of 2013. He is still just 32 years old but it looks like he might never get the opportunity to put together that all star season I thought he could.

Also born on this date is the only member of the Yankee’s all time roster to have been born in Aruba.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 NYY 37 92 84 11 19 4 0 4 24 0 6 33 .226 .278 .417 .694
2008 NYY 87 198 189 24 50 13 0 6 25 0 6 56 .265 .289 .429 .718
11 Yrs 805 2335 2093 264 558 126 8 75 283 9 211 612 .267 .332 .442 .774
ATL (4 yrs) 233 550 495 69 139 28 4 13 52 4 47 131 .281 .341 .432 .774
KCR (2 yrs) 141 541 479 65 139 35 1 16 70 3 56 132 .290 .362 .468 .830
LAD (2 yrs) 139 385 330 41 78 15 0 19 50 1 49 94 .236 .332 .455 .787
NYY (2 yrs) 124 290 273 35 69 17 0 10 49 0 12 89 .253 .286 .425 .711
BAL (2 yrs) 108 386 351 41 89 19 0 12 40 0 31 106 .254 .313 .410 .724
DET (1 yr) 40 133 120 11 35 7 3 5 19 1 11 47 .292 .346 .525 .871
CHW (1 yr) 20 50 45 2 9 5 0 0 3 0 5 13 .200 .280 .311 .591
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/2/2013.

October 31 – Happy Birthday Paul Zuvella

ZuevellaRemember when Ken Griffey Jr. was in his prime and told everyone that he would never play for the Yankees? That’s because “The Kid’s” father, Ken Griffey Sr. felt the same way. Of course, by the time the elder Griffey had figured that out, he had already been wearing Yankee pinstripes for a year and then had spent the next three and a half seasons with the team begging to be traded.

He would finally get his wish on the last day of June, during the 1986 season when the Yanks sent the unhappy outfielder to the Braves in exchange for Claudell Washington and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Press reports describing the trade at the time indicated the Yankees expected to start Claudell Washington in left field and Paul Zuvella at short.

I was one of those faithful Yankee fans who really hoped Griffey would be a star in New York and since that hadn’t happened, I wasn’t sorry to see him go. I knew Washington would be an adequate starting outfielder for that Yankee team but I also knew Paul Zuvella had no shot at becoming the team’s starting shortstop.

The shortstop position had been an anomaly for New York since Bucky Dent had been traded in 1983. Lou Piniella was the manager of that ’86 team and he wasn’t exactly known for being patient with his players, especially with an even more impatient owner like George Steinbrenner watching over his shoulder and breathing down his neck.

Zuvella had played his college ball for Stanford and had a good run with the 1978 version of Team USA. That got him drafted by Atlanta and he made his big league debut with the Braves in 1982. It took him four seasons to earn just the utility infielder’s job there and then he lost even that at midseason and spent the second half of 1985 back in the minors.

He started his first season in New York with an 0 – for – 25 slump and and at the end of his first month with the team the guy was hitting .083. Piniella, Steinbrenner and Yankee fans had seen enough and Zuvella was banished to Columbus for the rest of the season. He reappeared at the Yankees 1987 spring training camp and found himself in a battle with Bobby Meacham for the Yankee’s utility infielder slot. Though Meacham outplayed him in every facet of the game that spring, it was Zuvella who headed north with the team for Opening Day. Why? Because George Steinbrenner did not like Bobby Meacham, so the Yankee owner ordered Piniella to demote him and keep Zuvella.

The native of San Mateo, California was able to double his average during his second abbreviated season in the Bronx but that still meant he hit just .176. Zuvella’s Yankee career was over. He was released that October and spent the next couple of seasons with Cleveland. He eventually became a minor league manager in the Rockies’ organization. His claim to pinstriped fame? His name appears at the very end of an alphabetized version of the Yankees’ all-time roster.

Zuvella shares his birthday with this former Yankee outfielder, this former Yankee catcher and this other former yankee infielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1986 NYY 21 57 48 2 4 1 0 0 2 0 5 4 .083 .170 .104 .274
1987 NYY 14 36 34 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .176 .176 .176 .353
9 Yrs 209 545 491 41 109 17 2 2 20 2 34 50 .222 .275 .277 .552
ATL (4 yrs) 97 246 221 18 53 9 1 0 5 2 20 18 .240 .306 .290 .595
CLE (2 yrs) 75 206 188 19 46 7 1 2 13 0 9 24 .245 .283 .324 .607
NYY (2 yrs) 35 93 82 4 10 1 0 0 2 0 5 8 .122 .172 .134 .307
KCR (1 yr) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/31/2013.

August 29 – Happy Birthday George Zeber

You have to be a very good and long-time Yankee fan to remember when George Zeber played for the Yankees. It was back in 1977, and Zeber surprised everyone by making the team in spring training. That year’s Yankee squad were the defending AL Champions. Manager Billy Martin liked the fact that Zeber could play second, short and third so he brought the native of Elwood City, PA north that April and made him one of his primary utility infielders.

At the time, Zeber was already 27 years old and his path to the Majors had been anything but a cakewalk. His Dad had died when he was just five years old. Fortunately, the man his Mom then married was a great guy and baseball fan who got his new stepson involved in the game. He was a fifth round draft choice of the Yankees in 1968 but after just one year in the minors he was drafted and actually spent a year in front line combat duty in the jungles of Vietnam. He survived the war but when he returned to the minors he suffered a severe knee injury that pretty much stalled his development for two years. All that adversity would serve him well when he became part of Manager Martin’s Bronx Zoo Clubhouse.

He got his first big league at bat that May and remained on the roster the entire season, appearing in 25 games, getting 75 plate appearances and hitting a healthy .325. He even made that year’s World Series roster getting two at bats against the Dodgers but striking out both times. In 1978 he lost his roster spot to Brian Doyle and was sent back down to Syracuse, never again appearing in a big league game. He played the 1978 season with the Yankee’s Tacoma affiliate and then hung up his spikes for good. He then got into real estate and built a successful career for himself. It probably didn’t hurt that he was wearing a New York Yankee World Championship ring when he introduced himself to new realty clients.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1977 NYY 25 75 65 8 21 3 0 3 10 0 9 11 .323 .405 .508 .913
1978 NYY 3 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
2 Yrs 28 81 71 8 21 3 0 3 10 0 9 11 .296 .375 .465 .840
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/29/2013.