Earlier this week, Randy, Bobby, Derek, and I drafted former Yankee seasons to impose on 2021 for the greatest impact. We stipulated that it had to be from our lifetimes, just to make it a little narrower. Ironically, Randy, the oldest among us, picked the most recent Yankee season. Now, instead of just limiting to four picks, I’m going to run through the years to pick the best season from each position and make a ‘roster’ of seasons/players to pick from.
Catcher: 2007 Jorge Posada. .338/.426/.543. Enough said, right? One of the best seasons by a Yankee catcher ever.
First base: 2002 Jason Giambi, as Randy mentioned in his write up and the podcast. .314/.435/.598. By OPS+ (172) this is actually Giambi’s third best season ever, behind only his monster 2000 and 2001 campaigns. Big G was and is underappreciate by Yankee fans, but his addition to this team would be a boon (as much as we love Luke Voit, of course).
Second Base: 2012 Robinson Cano. Derek mentioned this at the end of his writeup the other day and I have to agree. .313/.379/.550 (149 wRC+)? Hell yeah. That would make people forget about DJLM, right? Not that we want to do that, but you know what I mean.
Third Base: 2007 Alex Rodriguez. 54 homers. .314/.422/.645. This is one of the best seasons by a right-handed batter, ever, let alone Yankee seasons. Grand by any stretch of the imagination, this season alone could will the Yankees into the playoffs.
Shortstop: 1999 Derek Jeter as I mentioned in the post. Probably should’ve won MVP.
Left Field: Despite the Yankees being generally great for my whole life (1987), left field hasn’t been a shining spot for them. My first thought was 2004 Hideki Matsui (.912 OPS/137 OPS+, 31 homers, 162 games), but I’ve settled on 1988 Dave Winfield. In the year I turned one, Winfield hit .322/.398/.530/.927 for a 159 OPS+. As much as we all love Clint Frazier, it’s doubtful he does that this year.
Center Field: 1998 Bernie Williams. .339/.422/.575. A 160 OPS+. Led the league in batting average. Socked 26 homers. Walked 74 times to only 81 strikeouts. This was Bernie’s best season and the best season by a Yankee CF since Mickey Mantle, probably (though Bernie really just had to best himself there, right?). This sort of up-the-middle offense would be killer.
Right Field: 2017 Aaron Judge. This season should’ve won MVP. And even though he’d be replacing himself, which is a little amusing, it’s hard to argue against .284/.422/.627 and 52 homers. Like the A-Rod season, this alone could lift the 2021 Yankees (with everyone else around, of course) to the playoffs.
Starting Rotation: 2011 CC Sabathia, 1997 Andy Pettitte, 2001 Mike Mussina, 1997 David Cone, 2010 CC Sabathia.
Bullpen: Just every single year possible of Mariano Rivera. Let’s take his eight best, then? 1996, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 1999, 2009, 2011.
What would your roster be? Let us know in the comments!
It’s January 5th and the Yankees have yet to do anything of significance to improve the current roster. Perhaps now that the holiday season has come and gone, things can get moving again so bloggers like us can resume publishing currently relevant content. Instead, today we offer something different that stems from a Twitter discussion yesterday.
Thought exercise: You can pick one former Yankee (must be retired, not just on another team) and one year of his career (must be a year on the Yankees) and assign it to the 2021 team. Based on NEED, not just who had the best year, who do you pick and why? Post-integration, pls.
The four of us (Randy, Matt, Bobby, and Derek) are doing a quick draft based on this question with a couple of additional stipulations. One, we’re whittling in down to players in our lifetimes. Additionally, it’s a one year assignment, so whoever we pick has no bearing on the Yankees in 2022 and beyond. With that, let’s get to the draft.
Like it was for my holiday wish list post, it’s that time of year again. Let’s make some New Year’s resolutions for the Yankees. On a personal note, I’d like to finally stop procrastinating so much, but I’ll get to it later.
Let’s start with Giancarlo Stanton. The playoffs showed us how things are supposed to go with G: a slugger whose bat can change the game and carry the team. When healthy, he’s performed. While it’s not necessarily in his full control, let’s have him resolve to be fully healthy in 2021.
From the lineup to the bullpen we go. Aroldis Chapman. I know this isn’t fully in his control either, but, please, can he resolve to not give up a back-breaking, season-killing home run in the playoffs again? Two years in a row is more than enough.
Now onto a bench player after two star cogs in the machine: Tyler Wade. On paper, Tyler Wade should be perfect for the Yankee bench. He’s a speedy lefty who can play the middle infield positions and fake the outfield, and who walks a lot. He just needs to hit better. If he could up his contact and cut his strikeouts, he’d been a boon to the roster, not a drag on it. A resolution for Wade? Just make more contact.
To make this brief, my last one will be for the front office. If they’re not going to play in free agency, then they need to resolve to improve the team at the deadline when needed. That might mean a tweak or an extra piece, which I’m sure they’d be willing to do. But it could also mean a big splash to push them over the edge, which they’ve been relatively reluctant to do. If they’re going to limit themselves when they shouldn’t, they need to do the opposite later on.
Happy New Year, folks. Thanks for reading in this wild and crazy year.
To wrap up what I started last week, today we build a pitching staff of one-and-done Yankees pitchers. I’ll put together my five man rotation, seven arm bullpen, and a bunch of honorable mentions. Oh, and as I forgot to mention last week: I’m only considering players from my lifetime (I was born in 1990). With that, away we go:
Bartolo Colón’s career sputtered after he won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award. A myriad of health issues resulted in Big Sexy making just 47 starts from 2006 through 2009. After that, he didn’t make a single start in 2010. Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the righty’s career. He made a triumphant return with the 2011 Yankees, winning a bullpen job out of camp before joining the rotation in late April. Overall, Colón threw 164 1/3 innings and recorded an impressive 4.00 ERA (95 ERA-) and 3.83 FIP (91 FIP-). That season with the Bombers was the jumpoff for his late career resurgence.
Jon Lieber underwent Tommy John surgery in late-2002, and although he was set to miss all of 2003, the Yankees signed him to a two-year contract. The bet paid off, as Lieber’s one season in pinstripes — 2004 — was solid. Though he got off to a rough start, he settled in during the second half. After a 4.77 ERA in the first half, Lieber closed out the year with a 3.94 ERA the rest of the way. The righty also pitched well in the playoffs: in three starts (21 innings), he had a 3.43 ERA, though he took the loss in Game 6 against the Red Sox in the ALCS.
The Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy in early-July 2014. The tall and lanky right-hander was great down the stretch: he posted a 2.89 ERA and 3.22 FIP in 14 starts (90 1/3 innings), though unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get the Yankees back into the playoffs that year. It did land McCarthy a nice contract with the Dodgers after the season, at least.
I’m still mad that the Yankees didn’t bring back Lance Lynn (only half-kidding). Lynn was terrific for the Rangers last year after pitching decently for the Bombers in late-2018. The Yankees picked up Lynn from the Twins for Tyler Austin at the deadline that year and the burly right-hander pitched 11 games (9 starts) and had a 4.14 ERA (2.17 FIP!). He did get wrecked in relief of Luis Severino in Game 4 of the ALDS vs. Boston, although now we (still) wait to find out the extent of Boston’s cheating that season.
Lastly, what could have been for Jake Westbrook had he not been traded? He was part of the David Justice trade, so I’m sure the Yankees don’t have too many regrets. After all, Justice was a big part of that 2000 World Champion team. Still, Westbrook went on to have a nice career with Cleveland and St. Louis after pitching just three games for the Yankees. Honestly, I have no recollection of Westbrook actually debuting with the Yankees. I had assumed they dealt him while he was still a prospect in the minors.
One-time Cubs wunderkind Kerry Wood pitched in the Yankees’ bullpen in 2010. He began that season in Cleveland’s bullpen, but struggled to the tune of a 6.30 ERA. However, following a deadline day trade to the Bronx, Wood was dominant. He allowed only two runs in 26 innings with the Yankees and struck out 31 opponents.
Before I knew anything about regression to the mean, I was absolutely ecstatic when the Yankees signed Chris Hammond following his 0.95 ERA season in Atlanta. The lefty pitched well in his one season with the Yankees (2.86 ERA and 3.25 FIP), but was traded after the 2003 season to Oakland.
I’m throwing Jesse Orosco into the mix because I find it hilarious that he was 46 (!!!) when he made a cameo in pinstripes. He came aboard as a lefty specialist in a midseason trade, appeared in 15 games, and was traded away before the season ended. Orosco was best known for his time with the Mets in the mid-80s, but by virtue of being left-handed, he stuck around for 24 seasons including part of his final one with the Yankees.
LaTroy Hawkins got an absolute raw deal in New York. Yes, he pitched poorly (5.71 ERA in 41 innings), but certain segments of the fanbase were unnecessarily harsh on him. All he did “wrong” was wear number 21 for part of the year (For some reason the Yankees still won’t circulate it. It’s been almost 20 years since Paul O’Neill retired. Come on.). Hawkins was very good after they traded him to Houston mid-season and went on to continue his strong career in the bullpen through 2015.
Luis Ayala surprisingly emerged as a key fixture in the Yankees’ 2011 bullpen. The righty recorded a 2.09 ERA in 52 games. That, after signing a minor league deal, was an unexpected boon to the club’s ‘pen.
I remember wanting Octavio Dotel on the Yankees for years. That wish eventually came true, but unfortunately well past Dotel’s prime. The Yankees signed him for the 2006 season knowing he still had a few months left of Tommy John rehab. He pitched 14 games (10 innings) upon return, but allowed 13 runs and 11 walks while striking out just 7.
The Yankees had Armando Benítez for a hot minute in 2003. Formely a strongly disliked rival with Baltimore and later Mets’ closer, the Yankees traded for Benítez mid-2003. The Mets got Jason Anderson in return. The Yankees only kept Benítez for a few weeks as they dealt him to Seattle for old friend Jeff Nelson.
Honorable Mentions: Chan Ho Park, Chad Qualls, Matt Thornton, Mark Wohlers, Buddy Groom, Alan Embree, Kirby Yates, Felix Rodriguez, Andrew Bailey, Luis Ayala, Brett Tomko, Jay Witasick, Anthony Swarzak, Sergio Santos, Chaz Roe, David Carpenter, Rich Hill, Derek Lowe, Luis Vizcaíno
Times are tough right now and there’s not much baseball to write about or discuss (our podcast has you covered if you’re looking for that). So, why not go for a little twist on an All-Time Yankees roster? Today, I’m starting a two part series on players who spent no more than one year with the Yankees. I’m building a 25-man roster with 13 position players (covered today) and 12 pitchers (coming sometime in the future). With that, let’s get right to it.
Catcher (2): Iván Rodríguez and Sal Fasano
Pudge in pinstripes is one of the weirder images in the Yankees’ history. The Hall of Fame backstop was a longtime rival, whether with the Rangers in the late 90s, that pesky 2003 Marlins squad, or those annoying mid-aughts Detroit clubs.
The Yankees brought in Pudge at the trade deadline in 2008 in exchange for Kyle Farnsworth. Jorge Posada, who hit the disabled list for the first time in his career that month, was out for the rest of the season. At the time, Rodríguez wasn’t much of a (power) hitter anymore, but his bat was still respectable and his glove remained top notch. Unfortunately, Pudge sputtered in pinstripes: in 101 plate appearances, the catcher hit .219/.257/.323 (51 OPS+). His OPS+ had hovered right around league before his acquisition and the previous couple of seasons, but the Yankees weren’t so fortunate to get that kind of production in Posada’s absence.
Considering that Posada was a bastion of health for most of his career, and that the Yankees were pretty stable behind the plate even after he retired (Russell Martin, Brian McCann, Gary Sánchez), it’s hard to find a backup catcher for this squad. So, just for fun, we’ll go with Sal Fasano. Because why not? He fits the criteria and was fun. Just look at this bundle of joy:
Honorable Mentions: Kelly Stinnett, Dioner Navarro, Chris Widger, and Kevin Cash
First Base (1): John Olerud
For a franchise that’s seamlessly gone from Don Mattingly to Tino Martinez to Jason Giambi to Mark Teixeira, the Yankees sure have had a ton of random first baseman throughout the last three decades. Best laid plans and all, am I right?
Giambi and Teixeira had a few seasons mired by injuries which resulted in a number of replacements. A lot of fun names as you’ll see in the honorable mentions below, but I took Olerud here.
The Yankees brought in Johnny O mid-2004 after Seattle released him. Then 35, he had hit .245/.354/.360 (90 OPS+) with the Mariners before the Yankees grabbed him. He closed with a better .280/.367/.396 (101 OPS+) triple-slash in pinstripes.
In the playoffs, an injury kept Olerud out of games four, five, and six of the ALCS before he pinch hit in Game seven. You may remember this homer against Pedro Martínez before Things We Will Not Discuss happened in that series:
Honorable Mentions: Doug Mientkiewicz, Tony Clark, Richie Sexson, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Steve Pearce, Travis Lee, Craig Wilson, Ike Davis, Chris Carter, Ji-Man Choi
Second Base (1): Martín Prado
I have to say: it caught me by surprise that Prado was eligible. I really thought he was around for at least a couple of years. Then again, those mid-2010 teams weren’t clubs to remember. Prado only played 37 games in pinstripes and was great: he batted .316/.336/.541 (144 OPS+) for the Bombers in 2014.
The Yanks brought Prado aboard at the deadline that year in exchange for power-hitting prospect Peter O’Brien. He played all over the field for the final two months of the season — the first year in which the Yankees were without Robinson Cano.
In the offseason, the Yankees packaged Prado with David Phelps to the Marlins in return for Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo Germán, and Garrett Jones.
Honorable Mentions: Neil Walker, Tony Womack, Brian Roberts, Mark Bellhorn
Third Base (2): Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell
The Greek God of Walks had an illustrious career in pinstripes, did he not? Oh, those 2013 Yankees were a treat. With Alex Rodriguez out for the start of the season, the Yankees brought in Youkilis for a cool $12 million to handle the hot corner. It did not go well. The then 34 year-old lasted just 28 games with the Yankees and hit a putrid .219/.305/.343 (80 OPS+).
Back injuries ruined any chance of Youkilis having any success with the Yankees. He hit the injured list twice, with the second time being the last straw: he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back.
Performance aside, Youkilis in pinstripes has to be one of the most bizarre marriages in recent memory. He was a longtime loathsome foe up in Boston that I can’t imagine any Yankees had a fondness for.
Then comes Lowell, who like Youkilis, had a successful run in Boston. Before that though, Lowell emerged as one of the sport’s better third basemen with the Marlins. Even further back: Lowell was once a Yankees prospect who got a cup of coffee with the ’98 squad. Instead of becoming the Bombers’ third baseman of the future, he was blocked by Scott Brosius. Thus, the Yankees dealt him to the Marlins for Todd Noel, Mark Johnson, and Ed Yarnall. Whoops!
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Boone, Todd Zeile, Morgan Ensberg, Todd Frazier, Casey McGehee, Kelly Johnson
Shortstop (2): Troy Tulowitzki, Jerry Hairston Jr.
Tulo has the most star power of the one-and-done shortstops here, and there aren’t many choices nonetheless. That’ll happen as a result of Derek Jeter and Didi Gregorius dominating the position since 1996.
Tulo was the product of the Yankees’ peculiar plan to make him the starting shortstop as Gregorius recovered from Tommy John surgery last year. It only took five games for the oft-injured Tulowitzki to go down for good, but at least he tallied one homer with the Bombers. Remember, Tulowitzki idolized Jeter and seemingly longed to play for the Yankees for years, so that was a cool moment for him.
I have to say, I was surprised to see Hairston actually play far more shortstop in 2009 than second base. It was his second most played position that year to third base, though I always remember him at the keystone for the Orioles early in his career. With that, Hairston’s my utility infielder on this roster.
Anyway, Hairston was a nice trade deadline pickup for the World Champion 2009 Yankees. He’ll perhaps be best remembered for racing around to score on Melky Cabera’s grounder in the 13th inning to win Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS.
Honorable mentions: Erick Almonte, Tony Fernández, Ángel Berroa, Adeiny Hechavarría, Pete Kozma, Reid Brignac
Left Field (2): Rondell White, Vernon Wells
Even in the dynasty years, the one position the Yankees struggled to fill was left field. Not that it really mattered, of course. The Bombers were a juggernaut. Come 2002 though, I remember being really excited about Rondell White coming aboard.
To that point, White had a lifetime .295/.351/.484 (115 OPS+) batting line and was entering his age-30 campaign. No one could have anticipated the drop off he exhibited in pinstripes, particularly after he had just finished 2001 with a career high 134 OPS+ with the Cubs. White recorded an ugly .240/.288/.378 (76 OPS+) with the Yankees and was subsequently traded in the winter. White bounced back with the Padres in 2003, but the Yankees were unquestionably happy to have Hideki Matsui roaming left field.
Vernon Wells is my fourth outfielder. He was one of the many random players to grace that 2013 squad. You may recall that he was terrific in April: Wells hit .300/.366/.544 with six dingers in 101 plate appearances, seemingly out of nowhere. Of course, things weren’t so hot the rest of the way. Whenever each mark in your triple-slash starts with a 2, it’s not good folks. Wells finished with a .216/.258/.296 line the rest of the way. Yikes. But at least his heyday with Toronto and name recognition make him viable on this fake roster’s bench.
Honorable Mentions: Randy Winn, Austin Kearns, Glenallen Hill
Center Field (1): Kenny Lofton
2004 was a little bit awkward. Bernie Williams, the longtime Yankees center fielder, had a challenger in another longtime (but aging) great: Kenny Lofton. Though Bernie got the majority of reps in center, Lofton received his fair share and recorded 539 innings at the position in 2004.
It’s pretty well documented that Lofton wasn’t happy during his time in pinstripes because of sporadic playing time. Unfortunately for Lofton, the then 37 year-old was stuck in a crowded outfield situation with Bernie, Matsui, and Gary Sheffield. Nonetheless, Lofton was solid in limited time: he posted a a 95 OPS+ and 1.5 WAR in 83 games. Years later, when the Yankees were courting CC Sabathia in free agency, Lofton reportedly tried to steer CC away from the Bronx.
Cutch was with the Yanks for basically one month, but feels like an easy choice for one of these outfield spots. Acquired at the August 31st waiver trade dealine in 2018, the former NL MVP raked as a Yankee. In 114 plate appearances, McCutchen belted 5 homers, a .421 OBP, and a 145 OPS+.
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Guiel, Matt Lawton, Terrence Long, Brennan Boesch, David Delucci
Designated Hitter (1): Raúl Ibañez
Need I explain my choice any further?
Honorable Mentions: Lance Berkman, Travis Hafner, Ben Francisco, Matt Holliday, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Canseco, Billy Butler, Garrett Jones