Tagged: february 24

February 24 – Happy Birthday Mike Lowell

lowellbow.jpgI remember being upset when the Yankees traded third base prospect Mike Lowell to the Marlins, after New York picked up Scott Brosius in 1998. I had been following Lowell’s progress at Columbus at the time and he looked like the real deal. Brosius of course went on to have a super 1998 season and postseason and worked his butt off during his four years in pinstripes.

But Mike Lowell turned out to be a very good ballplayer and a class act in the clubhouse. And he would come back and haunt his former franchise for dealing him. He spent seven solid seasons with the Marlins and in 2003, he led them to the World Series where the Fish pulled off an upset 4-games-to-2 victory against the Yankees. That regular season, Lowell set career highs with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs.

Then in November of 2005, Red Sox GM Brian Epstein pulled off a stunning trade with Florida, getting both Lowell and starting pitcher Josh Beckett for a package of four prospects that included both Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez. That deal brought the one-time Yankee prospect back to the AL East Division. During the next five seasons, Lowell appeared in 76 Red Sox-Yankee games and hit .314 in those contests including 12 home runs and 56 RBIs. Even worse, in 2007, he set new career highs in RBIs (120) and batting average (.324) and led Boston to an AL East Division title. He then averaged .352, smashed 18 hits and drove in 15 runs in the Red Sox’ 14-game ’07 postseason, which culminated with a second ring and a World Series MVP award for Lowell.

That ’07 playoff run would turn out to be the high point of Lowell’s career in Beantown. During the next three seasons, he was afflicted with an A-Rod like hip injury that would eventually force him into retirement after the 2010 season.

Its interesting to think about what would have happened if New York started Lowell at third in 1998. Would they have gone for A-Rod when they did if they had a young and productive Lowell at third? Would that mean Soriano might still be a Yankee today? I of course get to ask these questions while Cashman earns his salary by answering them.

Lowell shares his birthday with this former Yankee utility outfielder.

1998 NYY 8 15 15 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .267 .267 .267 .533
13 Yrs 1601 6500 5813 771 1619 394 7 223 952 30 548 817 .279 .342 .464 .805
FLA (7 yrs) 981 4005 3554 477 965 241 3 143 578 21 354 528 .272 .339 .462 .801
BOS (5 yrs) 612 2480 2244 293 650 153 4 80 374 9 194 288 .290 .346 .468 .814
NYY (1 yr) 8 15 15 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .267 .267 .267 .533
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2014.

February 24 – Happy Birthday Dewayne Wise

Dewayne_WiseBrett Gardner had just had his best game of the young season on April 17, 2012. Going 2 for 4 with two walks at the plate and scoring tree runs. But he had also made a dive in the outfield trying to catch a ball and sprained his right elbow. For the next several weeks, Yankee physicians would treat the lingering injury as a strain and kept telling Joe Girardi that his speedy outfielder should be returning in a week or so.

At first, the Yanks tried to fill Gardner’s spot in left field with their near-medicare-eligible-supposed-to-DH tandem of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez. After two weeks of playing every day both guys were dragging and Gardner’s elbow was still hurting. Girardi tried using his utility infielders, Edwin Nunez and Jayson Nix in left for a few games and then someone in the Yankee front office evidently brought up a great point, “Hey, we signed Dewayne Wise last January and the good-fielding, nine-year veteran big league outfielder is hitting over .300 for our top farm club. Why don’t we call him up until Gardner’s elbow feels better?”

It turned out to be the “wisest” move the Yankees made all year. During the next three months, Wise, a native of Columbia, South Carolina appeared in 56 Yankee games. The team’s record in those games was 44-12.

Dewayne had made his big league debut with Toronto in 2000, but had never been more than a utility outfielder with any of the six teams he had played with before joining New York. He did however, already have an ESPN-worthy career highlight reel. White Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen made Wise a starter during the 2008 ALDS versus Tampa Bay and he was Chicago’s best hitter, driving in five runs during their three-game defeat and averaging .286. Then in 2009, Guillen inserted him into a July game against that same Tampa team as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning with Chicago pitcher Mark Buehrle just three outs away from a perfect game. No fan of big league baseball who has seen the amazing catch Wise then made of a would-be-home run hit by Tampa’s Gabe Kapler, will ever forget it. In case you have, I’ve included a video of that catch here.

Wise averaged .262 in his 56 games in pinstripes, with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs. His presence also made it possible for Girardi to give the aging veterans throughout the Yankee lineup the periodic rests they needed. He also added a catch to his ESPN highlight reel, even though he really didn’t catch it. That took place in late June of the 2012 season when he leaped into Yankee Stadium’s left field stands attempting to catch a foul ball hit by Cleveland’s Jack Hannahan. The ball his his glove as he tumbled into the crowd but slow-motion replays clearly showed the ball exit his glove before he hit the ground. As the outfielder exited the stands, Umpire Mike DiMuro never asked to see the ball and Wise never offered to show it to him. If you missed this entertaining moment too, I’ve got it for you here.

The Yankee doctors finally figured out that Gardner’s injury was a lot more serious than they first thought and required surgery to repair. By late July, they were saying the speedy outfielder would not make it back for the rest of the season. I thought that might be good news for Wise’s future with the Yankees. Instead, Brian Cashman decided to go out and get Ichiro Suzuki from Seattle and the Yankees released Wise, permitting him to again once join the White Sox, where he finished the 2012 season as Chicago’s primary center-fielder and lead-off hitter.

Wise shares his birthday with this former Yankee prospect and World Series MVP.

2012 NYY 56 63 61 11 16 3 1 3 8 7 2 12 .262 .286 .492 .778
11 Yrs 576 1184 1109 149 253 45 16 31 115 55 46 245 .228 .264 .381 .645
CHW (4 yrs) 216 538 498 63 121 22 6 14 54 26 22 113 .243 .281 .396 .676
TOR (4 yrs) 142 290 278 41 55 7 4 8 29 12 9 64 .198 .228 .338 .567
CIN (2 yrs) 36 46 43 4 8 2 1 0 2 0 1 7 .186 .205 .279 .484
ATL (1 yr) 77 175 162 24 37 9 4 6 17 6 9 28 .228 .272 .444 .716
NYY (1 yr) 56 63 61 11 16 3 1 3 8 7 2 12 .262 .286 .492 .778
FLA (1 yr) 49 72 67 6 16 2 0 0 5 4 3 21 .239 .278 .269 .546
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/1/2014.