Category Archives: Ex-Players

S.T. Game 20. Yanks get 3 in 9th to win 3-2.


Eddy Rodriguez doubled home two runs with one out in the 9th, went to third on a throwing error on the play, and PR Slade Heathcott scored on Jake Cave’s SF as the Yanks scored 3 in the bottom of the 9th to beat Houston 3-2 in Spring Training Action today.

Mark Teixeira was 2 for 3.

Michael Pineda started and was so-so. He’s had a good spring so far. Youngsters like Nick Rumbelow and Jacob Lindgren continue to give me no worries should they be called up mid-season.

Andrew Bailey may not make the Opening Day roster, but proves to possibly be a real sleeper later on. It appears the former ace closer may be coming back nicely from the injury that cost him most of 2013 and all of 2014.

Pineda 3 2/3 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 0 walks and 6 K.

Justin Wilson 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 2 K.

Andrew Miller 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K.

Andrew Bailey 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H. 0 walks and 2 K.

Nick Rumbelow 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K.

Jacob Lindgren 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 K.

The Yanks improve their spring record to 12-7-1. Hopefully they’ll be 12-8 or 13-7 after the first 20 games of the REGULAR season.

In other news, former Eagle great Chuck Bednarik, who was born, grew up and who lived in my area, died today at the age of 89. Bednarik was a two-way player, center and linebacker, for the Eagles from 1949-1962, playing on two NFL title teams (1949 and 1960, and the Eagles only have three titles, 1948, 1949 and 1960). A WWII vet, Bednarik was elected to the Pro football HOF in 1967.

Al Rosen dies at age 91.

Al Rosen, the 4x All-Star and 1953 AL MVP who barely missed the Triple Crown that year, died Friday night at the age of 91.

Rosen’s career was abbreviated due to a bad back. He had to retire at the age of 32, just three years after his MVP season. He played for the Cleveland Indians from 1947-1956, sparingly from 1947-1949 (35 games total), then taking over full-time from Kenny Keltner at 3B in 1950.

He went 0-1 in the 1948 WS. Although Cleveland won the WS in 1948, Rosen was just 1 for 5 that year in five games.

In that 1950 season, Rosen led the AL with 37 HR (also in getting HBP 10x) while finishing 17th in the MVP voting. The 37 HR stood as the AL rookie record until Mark McGwire broke it in 1987.

He was an All-Star and finished 10th in MVP voting in 1952 when he led the AL with 105 RBI. He also led the league in total bases.

In that 1953 season, he was the unanimous MVP, hitting .336-43-145. He led the majors in RBI, the AL in HR and was just one point short of Mickey Vernon of Washington for the AL batting title. He missed the Triple Crown by one point. He also led the league in runs scored, slugging average, OPS, the majors in OPS+ (180), and the league in total bases.

He hit .300-24-102 in 1954 as the Indians won the pennant. He was 3 for 12 in the WS, which Cleveland lost to the NY Giants in a four game sweep. He was on first base when Willie Mays made his famous over-the-shoulder catch in Game 1.

1955 saw Rosen become an All-Star for the fourth consecutive year, but his numbers fell to .244-21-81 as he started to have back problems. He led the league is SF with 11.

After a .267-15-61 season in 1956, Rosen retired.

He hit .285 with 192 HR in his career. His 162 game average was .285-30-111 with an OPS+ of 137. HOF numbers had he been able to be a full-time player for longer than just seven seasons.

A “leap baby”, Rosen was born on February 29, 1924. Rosen, being Jewish, refused to play on the High Holy Days. He spent four years in the Navy during WWII, fighting in the Pacific.

After his playing career was over, Rosen become involved in the front office. He became President and CEO of the Yankees (1978-1979). When you see clips of Bucky Dent’s famous HR in that playoff game at Fenway Park on October 2, 1978, it is Rosen you see seated next to George Steinbrenner.

Rosen left the Yankees to become President and CEO of the Houston Astros (1980-1985) and President/GM of the San Francisco Giants (1985-1992).  In that timeframe, the Yankees won the 1978 WS, the Astros won the NL West in 1980, and the Giants won the NL West in 1987 and the NL pennant in 1989.


New bio on Billy Martin out

Recently, I got a book sent to me in the mail. An advance copy. It is about 500 pages, and from what I’ve skimmed through so far, it may be the most definitive biography of Billy Martin there is.

The book is Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington (HMH, $30.00).

Billy was a complex character. No bio on Billy would be a short one and this one is about 500 pages. It appears well worth it.

S.T. Game 9. Yanks lose, 3-1.

Chase Headley went 3 for 3 and C prospect Gary Sanchez hit a HR, but the Yanks managed just two other hits in a 3-1 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday.

Also in the day, it was announced that Hideki Matsui was hired by the Yanks to be a special assistant. Great move.

The loss puts the Yanks spring training record at 5-3-1.

The pitching line:

Chase Whitley 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 walks and 1 K. In and out of trouble.
Esmiel Rogers 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K.
Brandon Pinder 1 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 0 walks and 1 K.
Jose Ramirez 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 walks and 1 K.
Chasen Shreve 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 K.
Jacob Lindgren 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 2 K.



Chisox great Minoso dead at 89.

In a few days, I’ll be starting the daily S.T. games with the scores and recaps.

Just five weeks ago, Chicago lost a legend in Cubs great Ernie Banks. Now White Sox fans have lost a legend in Minnie Minoso, who died today at the age of 89.

Minoso was the first black to play for a Chicago team. He started his career with Cleveland (1949, 1951) went to the White Sox (1951-1957), back to Cleveland (II, 1958-1959), back to the White Sox (II, 1960-1961), the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962, Washington Senators 1963 and the White Sox 1964, 1976 and 1980. Yes, you read that right. At the age of 50, Minoso went 1 for 8 in 1976 for the White Sox as a publicity stunt (play in 4 decades) and he was 0 for 2 in 1980 at age 54 to have him play in 5 decades.

Primarily a LF, Minoso had a 162 g. ave. of .298-16-90 with 18 SB and an OPS+ of 130. Four times he finished 4th in MVP voting, and he finished 8th another year. He was an All-Star in seven different years, a 3x Gold Glove winner, and led the league in hits once, doubles once, triples 3x, SB 3x, total bases once and getting HBP 10x. He hasn’t made the HOF yet and never appeared in a postseaso game.

Besides getting a new Marty Appel book, I also am receiving a new bio on Billy Martin. Here is the press release…

This spring, award-winning New York Times sportswriter Bill Pennington offers the clear-eyed and quintessential biography of one of the most hauntingly mercurial and endearing characters in the history of sport. “BILLY MARTIN: Baseball’s Flawed Genius” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 7, 2015) presents Martin’s almost unimaginable ascent from hard-punching Bay Area ragamuffin to purveyor of the art of baseball cheered by millions, friend of the cultural elite of his era, and regular on the back pages of the New York tabloid newspapers.
From his early playing years as the firebrand second baseman of the perennial champion New York Yankees to his years as a journeyman manager, he had his way (aka “Billy Ball”). And Billy’s way was like no one else. It was a magnificent combination of learned baseball knowledge and intuitive logic mixed with incredible guts. He was a cunning strategist. He was a winner. Martin had a beautiful baseball mind and was in love with the game. He became alive just before the first pitch of every game, but over a quarter of a century after his tragic death, his demons—alcoholism, insecurity, paranoia, womanizing, fisticuffs, and risky behavior—have tragically come to define him. Until now.
Across the decades, Pennington addresses the fractured depiction of Billy Martin and completes the story of this complicated, but compassionate and endearing man beyond the many hires and firings, brawls and brouhahas, and other episodes within his decades-long tumult outside the lines. His genius, however flawed, is not properly appreciated or understood, but Pennington takes great pains to rectify that. For the first time, Pennington spent time with all four of Martin’s wives to generate the complete portrait of the man. No other journalist or biographer has received this much access. Martin’s was a dynamic, memorable life of accomplishment and great baseball.
 “BILLY MARTIN” also covers:
  • How he was ridiculed for his overly large nose and jug ears in his youth, helping develop his quick trigger
  • His claim that he “never started a fight in his life”
  • The importance of Kenney Park in Martin’s baseball life
  • The original odd couple: Unlikely buddies Joe DiMaggio and Billy Martin
  • How he hobnobbed with the cultural icons of his generation: Frank Sinatra, Rock Marciano, Doris Day, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Gleason, and Lucille Ball, among many others
  • His use of amphetamine tablets during his playing days
  • His close relationship with Casey Stengel
  • The friendships with Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle
  • The story behind the infamous fight at the Copacabana in 1957
  • The strategic marketing plan of the Yankees front office to cast Billy as an unwelcome influence on Mantle
  • The depth of the heartbreak after his trade from the Yankees in 1957
  • Billy magical managerial triumphs for teams in Minnesota, Detroit, Texas and Oakland
  • The affect of the dugout conflict with Reggie Jackson on national TV in 1977
  • Reggie’s claims of Martin’s bigotry
  • The never-ending circuslike atmosphere of 1977
  • The hypnotic and surreal love-hate Billy-George-Reggie triangle
  • The classic Miller Lite commercials
  • How juggling wives and paramours was a major distraction during his career
  • Accounts that some of the women he dated were underage
  • His reputation as a one-year manager
  • The bizarre moments of the 1983 season including Brett’s pine tar home run and Winfield’s dead sea gull
  • The emotional Billy Martin Day in 1986
  • Blow by blow of his well-known fight with Yankees’ pitcher Ed Whitson
  • Whether he should be considered for Cooperstown.
  • The account of a secret meeting with Steinbrenner, where the plan to re-hire Martin again in 1990 was devised
  • Whether Billy was the driver or passenger in his fatal car crash
  • Jill Martin—Billy’s widow—breaks her silence 25 years later about the final moments of Martin’s life




Odds and Ends.

Some odds and ends.

I saw an article that stated that according to insiders, Manager Joe Girardi did broach the subject of dropping Derek Jeter down in the batting order last season. Jeter hit just .256-4-50, OPS+ just 75 in his final season. The idea was shot down by upper management, and apparently Jeter wouldn’t go for moving him out of the #2 slot in the order either. Girardi knew that to do so would open a can of worms, so before it even hit the media, he apparently went through upper management and possibly Jeter himself. Would dropping Jeter have benefitted the Yanks? Possibly. Enough to make the playoffs? Possibly not. Enough to make the playoffs and soothe Jeter’s ego? Possibly not. But it’s interesting to note that the idea of dropping Derek (where to? 8? 9?) was considered.

Jason Giambi retired. He was with the Yanks from 2002-2008, hitting 209 of his 440 HR as a Yankee. Giambi, 44, hit 440 HR in his career, hit .277 with an excellent OPS+ of 139, won an MVP award with the A’s in 2000, was runner-up in 2001, and is one of five Yankees with back-to-back 40 HR seasons (2002 and 2003). He hit two homers off of Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. He won’t make the HOF however, because of his admitted PED usage and BALCO connection. It’s said he is a great teammate, and Terry Francona, manager of the Indians (Giambi’s most recent team) states that Giambi is a “manager in waiting.” His 162 g. average was .277-32-103, OPS+ 139, with 98 walks.

Alex Rodriguez issued a written “apology.” Really, I don’t want to hear it. Who believes anything he says or does anymore? He’s exhausted all credibility. Really, A-Rod, shut up and play. Show us you have something, if anything, left. It’s noted that he was suspended for all of 2014. What’s forgotten is that he played in only 44 games in 2013 and even then looked on the downside.

The Yanks signed Jared Burton to a minor league deal. The righty reliever is 33 and went 3-5, 4.36, ERA+ 91 in 2014 for the Twins with three saves. For his career he is 18-19, 3.44, 10 saves, ERA+ 123.  A depth move. He was 3-2 with a superb 2.18 ERA (ERA+ 189) and five saves for the Twins in 2012.

When I get time (I’ve been doing my taxes, need to do other family members taxes, working (of course) and …. well, shoveling snow and freezing my ass off…) I want to look at the future. I expect the Yanks to tread water for a while, but to me, the 2020 team could be interesting. Players (top prospects) would be in their primes (providing they prove MLB caliber players and aren’t traded away), old guys like CC, Teix, Beltran and A-Rod gone (maybe McCann as well)….it could be interesting to look at what could be the Yankee future. Stay tuned. Hopefully when Yoan Moncada signs (before the end of this month) I can include him on that 2020 future team I want to write about. Will the Yanks fork over the $$$$ to land Moncada?

Yanks to honor 4, retire 3 numbers.

I was going to write a column looking at 2020, and look to what we can expect in the future, but that will have to wait.

For this column is to honor the past.

Today, the Yankees announced that #51 for Bernie Williams will be retired on May 24 (I’ll be there that day. I was there for #23, Don Mattingly and for #42, Mariano Rivera). On August 22nd they will retire the number of #20, Jorge Posada (I think I have to work that day) and on August 23rd they will retire #46 for Andy Pettitte (I will be there for that one).

In addition, on Old-Timer’s Day this year, Willie Randolph will join recent legends Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Goose Gossage by getting a plaque in Monument Park (no retired number).

No word on when Jeter’s #2 gets retired.

So the Yanks are going to have a serious problem. Once Jeter’s number is retired, that will be 20 retired numbers. Now, there are a few I believe should NOT be retired. I know I’m opening a can of worms here, but here goes. Should these numbers be retired? For the way things are going, the Yanks are 1) going to look like a football team with #82 playing CF, or 2) need to go to 1A, 2A, 3A, etc.

#1 Billy Martin (I believe it shouldn’t be retired. Billy was a major factor in three WS titles as a player, and hit .333 in the WS. He was WS MVP in 1953 when he had 12 hits in six games. He made a WS saving catch in Game 7 of the 1952 Series. He managed the Yanks to a WS title—-but in comparison, Ralph Houk managed the yanks to TWO WS titles, and Houk’s #35 won’t be retired —. Billy was a .257 career hitter. He wasn’t even the best player to wear #1 (Earle Combs, a HOF, was). No).

#2 Derek Jeter (Not officially retired yet). 3465 hits and 1st ballot HOF screams yes.

#3 Babe Ruth. Ummmm…. greatest Player ever. Yes.

#4 Lou Gehrig. Yes.

#5 Joe DiMaggio. Yes.

#6 Joe Torre. Interesting question. The Yanks have so many numbers retired, that you have to ask, players only? Or include managers. If you include managers, then Torre is a Yes. If players only, no. (BTW, Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy never wore a number).

#7 Mickey Mantle. Yes.

#8 Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. Both Yes.

#9 Roger Maris. No. Honor Roger’s 1961 with a plaque, but not the number. .260 career hitter. GREAT for 1960 and 1961, very good in 1962, above average 1963-1964, not even average in 1965-1966. Sweeney Murti argues that Graig Nettles, who also wore #9, should get a plaque in Monument Park. Speaking of, Willie Randolph is getting a plaque. How about Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon getting plaques? Both are in the HOF. Willie won’t be. Love Willie, but….

#10. Phil Rizzuto. No. Plaque yes, honoring his 56 or so years of service, but not retire the number.

#13… just kidding. Based on his suspension and turbulent relations with the Yankees, I’ll be shocked if the Yanks honor A-Rod.

#15 Thurman Munson. Yes. Esp. considering the circumstances of his passing.

#16 Whitey Ford. Yes.

#20 Jorge Posada. No. No Offense to Jorge, but unless you are HOF, it’s hard to justify retiring the number.

#23. Don Mattingly. No. I was there when they retired his number. I loved Donnie, but is he more worthy or better than two people who each got a plaque but whose numbers aren’t retired? O’Neill or Tino? I think not. Also, no HOF. Should have the same treatment as Paul and Tino. Plaque, no retired #. Hey, with so many retired numbers, we have to be tough here.

#32. Elston Howard. Plaque yes, retired number, no. 1st black on the Yanks, 1st AL Black MVP, but not a HOF. Tough call, but no.

#37 Casey Stengel. See Torre above. If you want players only, no. If you include managers, yes.

#44 Reggie. No. Only was with the Yanks 1977-1981, not long enough. Plaque yes, retired number, no.

#46 Andy Pettitte. Close call. No. Chuck Knoblauch, who is in the Mitchell report along with Andy (HGH) blasts the selection of Pettitte. I’d argue yes, but it’s a close call. By the way, Red Ruffing #15 and Allie Reynolds #22 both have plaques, no retired number. Of course, #15 is retired for Munson.

#49 Ron Guidry. No. Tough Call. I loved the Gator, but no HOF and not even 200 wins.

#51 Bernie. Tough call, but no HOF. The only difference between him getting his # retired and Paul and Tino getting just plaques is that Bernie spent 16 years as a Yankee while Paul and Tino spent considerable time with other teams (Cincy and Seattle).

So I eliminated 10 numbers, 12 if you think players only should have the numbers retired. This isn’t to disrespect the players whose numbers I want to “unretire” but to state which I think should be retired vs. those I think the Yanks went overboard on.

The Yanks could have a problem in years to come. Hopefully I am alive to see it. It means I would have lived through one more dynasty.