After the Yanks were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the second consecutive year in 2006, New York’s front office decided it was time to end the Randy Johnson era in the Bronx. They had brought the “Big Unit” to the Big Apple after the 2003 ALCS debacle with the Red Sox, thinking he would be the stopper they needed to go deep in future postseasons. But his bad back and prickly personality made his two-year stay in pinstripes uncomfortable and unsuccessful, especially in the postseason.
Still, I was upset that the best New York could get in return for their ace was an Arizona Diamondback package of three minor league prospects and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. After all, despite all his problems, Johnson did put together two seventeen-win seasons as a Yankee. In Luis Vizcaino, the Yanks were getting a 31-year-old journeyman right-handed reliever who had yet to distinguish himself during tenures with four different big league teams.
As it turned out, the Dominican native had a surprisingly productive season for the Yankees in 2007. He became a workhorse out of the bullpen for manager Joe Torre, appearing in 77 games and winning eight of his ten decisions in the process. Unfortunately the postseason was a different story. The Yanks were protecting a one-run lead in Game 2 against the Indians in Cleveland after losing Game 1 of that year’s ALDS. Torre went to his rookie phee-nom Joba Chamberlain with one out and two runners on in the home half of the seventh. Chamberlain got the last two outs of that inning but in the bottom of the eighth, a swarm of midges were blown into Jacobs Field with a wind off of Lake Erie and an obviously distracted Joba surrendered the tying run. Three innings later, Torre turned to Vizcaino to start the 11th. He walked the first hitter he faced, gave up a single to the next batter and after an intentional walk and a pop out, gave up a game-winning single to Travis Hafner and the Yanks went down 2-0 in that series. They ended up losing in four games to Cleveland for their third straight first-round exit from postseason play.
The Yanks were interested in re-signing Vizcaino for 2008 but the pitcher was looking to convert his 8-2 record into a three-year deal. New York was only interested in doing one so they let the pitcher sign as a free agent with the Rockies. Unfortunately, the Yankees used the draft pick on a pitcher named Jeremy Bleich, a southpaw out of Stanford who is still trying to make it up to the Bronx. Vizcaino ended up getting a nice seven million dollar two year deal but got rocked during his one and only season in Colorado. He was traded to the Cubs in January of 2009 and was released by both Chicago and the Indians during the ’09 regular season. The Yankees then signed him to a minor league deal but he was suspended in 2011 for using PEDs.
Vizcaino shares his birthday with this former Yankee pitching coach, this DH and first baseman made famous in a Seinfeld episode and this fireballing former Yankee reliever.
|OAK (3 yrs)||2||2||.500||5.61||49||0||17||0||0||1||59.1||66||38||37||11||26||51||1.551|
|MIL (3 yrs)||13||10||.565||4.22||224||0||72||0||0||6||215.1||180||107||101||34||79||203||1.203|
|ARI (1 yr)||4||6||.400||3.58||70||0||15||0||0||0||65.1||51||26||26||8||29||72||1.224|
|COL (1 yr)||1||2||.333||5.28||43||0||13||0||0||0||46.0||48||28||27||10||19||49||1.457|
|CHC (1 yr)||0||0||0.00||4||0||2||0||0||0||3.2||2||0||0||0||0||3||0.545|
|CLE (1 yr)||1||3||.250||5.40||11||0||4||0||0||1||11.2||8||7||7||2||12||9||1.714|
|NYY (1 yr)||8||2||.800||4.30||77||0||13||0||0||0||75.1||66||37||36||6||43||62||1.447|
|CHW (1 yr)||6||5||.545||3.73||65||0||20||0||0||0||70.0||74||30||29||8||29||43||1.471|