On Monday night, the Yankees lost to the Orioles 11-3 in a game they once led 3-1. Two of the Yankees’ three runs scored on a play that will likely be shown between innings on stadium big screens as part of a blooper reel for the rest of time thanks to a couple of errors from the Orioles. Without those two runs, the Yankees have scored two runs in the last 29 innings. And even with those two runs, they still have only four.
If the Yankees are going to make the playoffs, they are going to need a lot of their low-risk, high-reward and rental players to step up and play above their heads, and on this Yankees team, there are a lot of those players. If Brian Cashman puts someone on the roster, Joe Girardi is going to use them, whether or not they deserve to be in the majors, let alone playing in the middle of a playoff race.
Since Cashman’s tenure as general manager of the Yankees started in 1998, he has traded for and signed a lot of former All-Stars and even Hall of Famers well past their prime looking to either hang on to their baseball careers are hoping to cash in one more time. Sometimes Cashman’s plans to squeeze one more season or half of a season or a couple of weeks out of these players worked out, but more times than not, it didn’t.
After talking with JJ of Barstool Sports New York about this concept and the idea of an Everybody Gets To Be A Yankee Once Team on a podcast, I decided to write mine out. It was a grueling process that left many worthy names off the roster. But like Herb Brooks said, “I don’t want the best players … I want the right players.” And while these weren’t the best players to have a cup of coffee with the Yankees, they were the right ones to show some of the decisions Cashman has made over the years.
The rules were that the player couldn’t have been drafted or debuted with the Yankees, they couldn’t have played in more than three seasons with the Yankees and they couldn’t be a current player (sorry Stephen Drew). So let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember 25 Yankees (13 positions players, 12 pitches), who can say they put on the pinstripes.
C – Ivan Rodriguez (2008)
The arrival of Pudge in the Bronx came with the departure of Kyle Farnsworth and tears were flowing down Farnsy’s face, devastated he wouldn’t be able to blow more games for the Yankees.
A future Hall of Fame catcher and former MVP, Rodriguez was a disaster in 33 games for the Yankees. He came over to try and solidify catcher for a team that lost Jorge Posada to a labrum injury and was shuffling a variety of names in and out of Posada’s spot, but Pudge might have been the worst of all the catchers the Yankees used in 2008, which included Jose Molina, Chad Moeller, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Pudge hit .219/.257/.323 with two home runs and three RBIs in 101 plate appearances for the Yankees.
1B – Doug Mientkiewicz (2007)
Michael Kay would tell us every chance he got that Mientkiewicz played wide receiver on the same high school football team quarterbacked by Alex Rodriguez in Florida because Michael Kay doesn’t like to give any Yankees fans credit for watching multiple games in the same season.
Mientkiewicz was a 2004 World Series champion with the Red Sox, caught the last out in Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 4 of the World Series. He was supposed to bring the type of defense at first base the Yankees hadn’t had in the Jason Giambi era, but with his defense came a weak bat for a corner infield spot and a concussion and broken wrist suffered in a collision with Mike Lowell kept him out of the lineup from June 2 until Sept. 4.
2B – Tony Womack (2005)
He was the Opening Day second baseman for the Yankees, but starting on May 3 he would no longer play second base after a 22-year-old kid named Robinson Cano was called up. Womack signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Yankees, but only lasted one season and was traded to the Reds along with cash in December. In 108 games and 351 plate appearances, he hit zero home runs as a Yankee.
3B – Kevin Youkilis (2013)
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuk being a Yankee, but anything that would put another dent in the Red Sox’ championships and take away from the culture that was built there in the 2000s worked for me.
Youkilis hit.219/.305/.343 in 28 games for the Yankees before being sidelined with the same back problems that caused his career to come crashing down and crated red flags for anyone looking to sign him after 2012. He got $12 million ($428,571.43 per game) to play for the Yankees and never actually played in a game on the same team as Derek Jeter.
SS – Angel Berroa (2009)
The 2003 AL Rookie of the Year, who stole the award from Hideki Matsui because some writers felt he wasn’t really a rookie just two years after thinking Ichiro was enough of a rookie to win the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year. Berroa hit .136/.174/.182 in 21 games with the Yankees and was released on July 7, 2009. Four days later he signed with the Mets, played 14 games with them and then was released after just 27 days a Met. He signed with the Dodgers for 2010, was released in spring training and signed with Giants and was released by them. Then he signed with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and was released by them.
LF – Rondell White (2002)
Rondell White could be the captain of my dad’s most hated Yankee team, if he could beat out Nick Johnson, Raul Mondesi and Nick Swisher for the title.
White played in 126 games for the ’02 Yankees and hit .240/.288/.378, numbers he could never get away with in that many games in 2014 with only 14 home runs 62 RBIs. He did homer for his only hit in three postseason at-bats in the ALDS loss to the Angels, so at least he had that. And like the right fielder on this team I have created, White resurrected his career the following year in San Diego when he was an All-Star for the only time in his 15-year career.
CF- Kenny Lofton (2004)
Ten years ago, the sports radio baseball offseason in New York was centered around who should play center field for the Yankees: Bernie Williams or Kenny Lofton? For me to even type “Bernie Williams or Kenny Lofton?” was hard enough. Imagine having to actually argue and debate that concept.
I was at Fenway Park on Friday, April 16, 2004 for the first Yankees-Red Sox game of the season. Javier Vazquez against Tim Wakefield in the first of an unusual four-game wraparound series from Friday to Monday. Vazquez gave up four first-inning runs and the Yankees lost 6-2, but what I really remember from the game was standing near the Yankees dugout during batting practice when Kenny Lofton came out of the dugout on to the field and some fans were asking him for his autograph and he pretended like he didn’t hear anyone because he’s Kenny Lofton, and Kenny Lofton is too good for that. One fan yelled, “You should sign now Kenny while people still want your autograph.” Lofton should have listened.
Lofton ended up becoming a bench player with the Yankees (83 games) and aside from his Opening Day leadoff triple in Japan, his only other highlight moment was hitting back-to-back home runs with Hideki Matsui in the bottom of the ninth inning in this game (a game in which I had to give up my tickets too LINK because I had to get stitches in my knee from playing Wiffle ball).
RF – Lance Berkman (2010)
Ah, Lance “The Dance” Berkman. I wrote a lot of words about Berkman in 2010. A lot. When the Yankees traded for him on July 31, I told my friend of the deal and he responded by asking, “We got Lance effing Berkman?!?!” I had to remind him that it was no longer 2003 and Berkman had aged seemingly overnight, hitting just .245 with 13 home runs for the Astros in 85 games. He was even worse the Pudge Rodriguez was as a Yankee, hitting just one home run in 37 games and 123 plate appearances for the 2010 Yankees.
Berkman looked like the Berkman of old against the Twins in the ALDS, but showed his age against the Rangers in the ALCS when he was asked to take over for Mark Teixeira’ torn hamstring. Of course, Berkman went on to be an All-Star in 2011, hitting .301 with 31 home runs for the Cardinals, saving their season in Game 6 of the World Series and becoming a champion for the first time, beating the same Rangers he played poorly against as a Yankee the year before.
DH – Jose Canseco (2000)
Canseco called his 37-game Yankee tenure “the worst time of his life” in the Orange County Register on March 26, 2001 and didn’t think he would even receive a ring for the World Series win over the Mets because he was barely even part of the team. The Yankees didn’t want Canseco and placed a waiver claim only to block him from going to Toronto, but Tampa Bay let him go when the Yankees placed the claim, so while he was a Yankee, he was never really wanted.
BENCH – Brian Roberts (2014)
I was all for the Brian Roberts signing thinking that now healthy he could return to at least his 2009 self and possibly overachieve in an attempt to get a chance to play somewhere else next season and continue to play baseball. Unfortunately, Roberts was every bit as bad as a 36-year-old player who hasn’t played a full season in five years should be. And on a day when he was designated for assignment, the Yankees traded Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew and signed Martin Prado, all of which could appear on this team.
BENCH – Vernon Wells (2013)
The Yankees are paying Wells $2.4 million this season to not play for them. The Angels are paying him $18.6 million to not play for them. So $21 million this year for Vernon Wells to not play baseball? What a life. I’m not playing baseball this year either. Where’s my $21 million?
Once upon a time Wells was one a three-time Gold Glove center fielder with a power bat and a good sport about the heckling from Section 39 and the Bleacher Creatures at the Stadium. I understand why the Yankees took a chance on him last season because they needed to take a chance on a lot of players due to injuries and after hitting .301/.357/.538 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs in 38 games through May 15, Wells hit .199/.243/.253 with one home run and 27 RBIs in 92 games through the end of the season.
When the Yankees traded for Alfonso Soriano, Wells switched from number 12 to 22. When the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury, he tweeted that he would be switching his number again, except everyone but him knew he wouldn’t be wearing a number or the Yankees anymore.
BENCH – Richie Sexson (2008)
I remember Richie Sexson doing one good thing in his 22 games and 35 plate appearances with the Yankees and that is hit a grand slam off C.J. Wilson on Aug. 8 in Texas. He was released on Aug. 15.
BENCH – Kelly Stinnett (2006)
Not only did Kelly Stinnett get to be a Yankee, he got to be Randy Johnson’s personal catcher. I have always loved the idea of personal catchers the way John Flaherty also was for Johnson or Jose Molina was for A.J. Burnett. It’s one of the most ridiculous precedents to be set on a team in a given season and the Yankees set it a lot and let it carry over into the postseason a few times.
SP – Kevin Brown (2004-05)
Kevin “Game Seven” Brown. The man responsible for ruining my freshman year of college, sending me into a downward spiral and causing me to not eat for nearly a year. If I ever had a chance to talk to him in real life, I don’t even know what I would say.
I remember being in Florida with my family in 2005 and watching his May 3 start against Tampa Bay on TV. Here’s how his first inning went: single, wild pitch, single, double, out, single, double, single, single, single, out, out. Brown lost that game to fall to 0-4 with an 8.25 ERA.
In two years with the Yankees he went 14-13 with a 4.95 ERA in 35 starts. He made $31.4 million as a Yankee.
SP – Jaret Wright (2005-06)
After collapsing against the Red Sox, the Yankees decided, “We are going to sign EVERYONE!” If you had a slightly above average 2004, you were going to be a Yankee in 2005. Prior to 2004, Jaret Wright was 37-37 with a 5.68 ERA in the majors and hadn’t pitched a full season since 1999. But in 2004, Wright went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA for the Braves in 32 starts. That classified as slightly above average, so that made Wright a Yankee for three years and $21 million.
Wright didn’t pitch from April 23, 2005 to August 15, 2005 because of injury and made just 13 starts that season going 5-5 with a 6.08 ERA. In 2006, he went 11-7 with a 4.49 ERA and never pitched more than 6 1/3 innings in 27 starts. He started Game 4 of the 2006 ALDS against the Tigers, pitching 2 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned on five hits, one walk and two home runs. The Yankees lost 8-3 and were eliminated.
SP – Denny Neagle (2000)
Denny Neagle was traded from the Reds to the Yankees on July 12, 2000 in a deal headlined by Drew Henson going the other way. Neagle went 7-7 in 15 starts and 16 games for the Yankees with a 5.81 ERA. The Yankees won the 2000 ALCS in six games over Seattle and the two losses were both Neagle’s. He appeared in one game in the World Series and pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs, but he became a champion and has a ring.
Despite his time with the Yankees, the Rockies still gave him a five-year, $51 million deal after the season.
SP – Sidney Ponson (2006, 2008)
It was embarrassing enough that Ponson was a Yankee in 2006, but to bring him back in 2008 and have him round out the rotation with Darrell Rasner for the majority of the season was the most demoralizing thing Cashman had done to Yankees fans since starting the 2007 season with Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa making uo 40 pecent of the rotation.
Here is Ponson’s 2006 line with the Yankees: 16.1 IP, 26 H, 20 R, 19 ER, 7 BB, 15 K, 3 HR, 10.47 ERA, 2.020 WHIP.
In 2008, pitched in 16 games (15 starts) for the Yankees. Here was his line: 80 IP, 99 H, 53 R, 52 ER, 32 BB, 33 K, 11 HR, 5.85 ERA, 1.638 WHIP.
I think those two lines sum it up Sidney Ponson the Yankee nicely.
SP – Sergio Mitre (2009-11)
As Bald Vinny would say, “Did somebody order a meat-tray?” Unfortunately, the Yankees ordered one three times.
Mitre was a Yankee in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the worst part is that the 2010 ALCS went six games and Mitre appeared in three of the games. If you think Joe Girardi’s bullpen management is overrated when he’s resting Dellin Betances and David Roberton in favor of David Huff and Shawn Kelley while fighting for a playoff spot, him pitching Mitre in three ALCS games might be the worst thing he has ever done and he let Luis Ayala pitch in the 2011 ALDS twice before bringing ina well-rested David Robertson.
CL – Armando Benitez (2003)
The Mets’ closer responsible for blowing Game 1 of the World Series with the walk to Paul O’Neill became a Yankee less than three years later. Traded to the Yankees from the Mets on July 16, 2003, the Yankees quickly turned around and sent Benitez to Seattle to bring Jeff Neslon back to the Yankees on Aug. 6.
Benitez only allowed two earned runs in his 9 1/3 innings as a Yankee, but did give up eight hits and six walks in that time. Insanely enough, he led the league in saves the following year in 2004 with 47 for the Marlins as an All-Star closer with a 1.29 ERA and 0.818 WHIP.
RP – Buddy Groom (2005)
One of two lefties out my pen for this team, Buddy Groom became a Yankee in 14th and final season in the league at the age of 39. He appeared in 24 games, pitching 25 2/3 innings. Lefties hit .265 against him and righties hit .339 before he was sent to Arizona at the trade deadline.
RP – Scott Erickson (2006)
In 1991, Scott Erickson was a 20-game winner, All-Star and finished second in AL Cy Young voting. In 2006, he was throwing his last pitches in the majors for the Yankees as a reliever.
Erickson appeared in nine games for the Yankees, pitching 11 1/3 innings to a 7.94 ERA and 1.765 as he walked seven and struck out just two.
RP – LaTroy Hawkins (2008)
Between being the reason for several emotional and nervous breakdowns and wearing number 21 after it hadn’t been worn since Paul O’Neill retired in 2001, LaTroy Hawkins was one of the worst things about the 2008 season. At the time he was 34 and it looked like his career was over, but it’s 2014 and Hawkins is still in the league and pitching well, which only makes me dislike him more.
RP – Chan Ho Park (2010)
Chan Ho Park blamed his 2010 Opening Night meltdown at Fenway Park on diarrhea and that should have been a sign that things weren’t going to work out. Well, actually everyone saying his numbers in Philadelphia were deceiving (and his numbers weren’t even good) should have been a sign that he wasn’t going to work out in New York for the Yankees in the AL East. Park lasted 27 games and 35 1/2 innings, which was enough time for him to give up seven home runs.
RP – Chad Qualls (2012)
A very underrated pick for the worst Yankee ever, Qualls was a bad idea from the moment I heard he had become a Yankee. Qualls somehow found his way into eight games for the 2012 Yankees. Here was his line: 7.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 6.14 ERA, 1.773 WHIP.
RP – Jesse Orosco (2003)
When Jesse Orosco made his Yankees debut on DATE, he was 46 years old. I said “46 years old.” His first pitch in the majors was in 1979 and here he was in 2003, trying to get lefties out for the Yankees. He didn’t do a very good job of it, but who could blame him? He was 46 years old! Here was his line in 15 games for the Yankees: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 4 K, 10.38 ERA, 2.308 WHIP.