The New York Yankees were a very competitive team from 1982 until the wheels came off in 1989. In fact, no team in baseball won more games than New York did during that time but, they failed to make the playoffs in each of those seasons. With Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and Ricky Henderson in their lineup for much of that decade, offense wasn’t the problem for New York but starting pitching and managerial consistency was. It seemed as if every season, the Yankees had at least one new manager and three new starters in their rotation. In 1988, the Yankee front office signed former Pirate ace, John Candelaria to a free agent contract and hoped he would anchor their staff. For half a season, the “Candy Man” did just that, going 8-2 and helping New York get out to a quick start and take the Eastern Division lead for Manager Billy Martin, who was on his fifth tour of duty that year as Yankee skipper. As usual, however, Martin was fired on June 23rd of that season, when Clyde King, George Steinbrenner’s personal scout told the Boss that Martin had behaved unprofessionally by leaving reliever Tim Stoddard in a game in which he was getting shelled. King felt it was because Billy disliked Stoddard. By the time Lou Piniella took over for Martin, Candelaria’s knee was hurting and he won just five of his last ten decisions. The Yankees ended up finishing in fifth place, but were just 3.5 games behind Division winning Boston. That 1988 season really was the straw that ended up breaking the Yankee’s back. The next four Yankee teams finished below five hundred under five different Managers, going through a whole bunch of different starting pitchers. Martin died drunk, when his pickup truck drove off the road and Steinbrenner was actually banned from the game for his role in the Howie Spira episode.
When Candelaria got off to a 3-3 start for New York in 1989, he was traded to the Expos for an infielder named Mike Blowers. The New York City-born southpaw tried to make the Yankees winners again but in the end, the Candy Man couldn’t.
|PIT (12 yrs)||124||87||.588||3.17||345||271||42||45||9||16||1873.0||1763||731||660||172||436||1159||1.174|
|CAL (3 yrs)||25||11||.694||3.77||49||49||0||2||2||0||279.1||265||133||117||28||70||208||1.199|
|LAD (2 yrs)||3||6||.333||3.36||109||0||21||0||0||7||59.0||51||25||22||4||24||61||1.271|
|NYY (2 yrs)||16||10||.615||3.80||35||30||2||7||2||1||206.0||199||97||87||26||35||158||1.136|
|MIN (1 yr)||7||3||.700||3.39||34||1||10||0||0||4||58.1||55||23||22||9||9||44||1.097|
|NYM (1 yr)||2||0||1.000||5.84||3||3||0||0||0||0||12.1||17||8||8||1||3||10||1.622|
|MON (1 yr)||0||2||.000||3.31||12||0||2||0||0||0||16.1||17||8||6||3||4||14||1.286|
|TOR (1 yr)||0||3||.000||5.48||13||2||5||0||0||1||21.1||32||13||13||2||11||19||2.016|
When the Yankees tried to make up for the retirement of Paul O’Neill by adding Rondell White to their outfield in 2002, I was one of many Yankee fans who sort of swallowed the hype that White would be gangbusters in pinstripes. He wasn’t. A disappointed Yankee front office then traded him to the Padres for Bubba Trammell. Right up until that trade was made I had been under the mistaken impression that Bubba was the son of the very talented former Tiger shortstop, Alan Trammell. That’s probably because Bubba had originally been drafted by the Tigers and made his big league debut in Motown, in 1997. He then spent two and a half seasons with Tampa Bay, before getting traded to the Mets at the 2000 All Star break. He hit just .232 for the Amazin’s but he made the postseason roster when that 2000 Met team qualified as the NL Wild Card. In that year’s World Series against the Yankees, Trammell got just five at bats but made the most out of them with his two hits and three RBIs. I still remember his clutch and painful two-run pinch hit single off of Andy Pettitte in Game 1 of that Fall Classic.
That December, the Mets traded Trammell to the Padres for reliever Donne Wall and Bubba put together his best big league season in 2001 for San Diego. He set career highs with 25 home runs and 92 RBIs and that effort got him a three-year, eight million dollar contract extension from the Padres. But when he slumped the following year, San Diego went shopping and approached the Yankees about White. The Yankees told the Padres they’d make the deal only if San Diego would also include their organization’s top pitching prospect at the time, a guy named Mark Phillips. They agreed and Trammell became a Yankee.
I thought he had an outside shot to join Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams as a starter in the 2003 Yankee outfield but he never really did. He was a right-handed hitter, which was a negative in Yankee Stadium and the Yankees had a plethora of outfielders on their roster that year. So many in fact that even though he went 4-4 during one of his first appearances in pinstripes, he didn’t get his next at bat until eight days later. It was clear that Bubba was not high up on Yankee manager Joe Torre’s outfielder depth chart. By late June he had started in just 16 of the team’s first 80 games, he was averaging an even .200 and had yet to hit his first Yankee home run. He never would.
Trammell was certainly unhappy with his Yankee situation, but he was also going through a very difficult breakup of his marriage. He simply stopped coming to games. That’s right. It happened on June 29, 2003. Torre had ironically penciled the Knoxville, TN native in to start that evening’s game only to learn that Trammell was not in the clubhouse. His agent contacted Yankee GM Brian Cashman and told him that Trammell was leaving town and requesting a trade. The Yankees countered by asking the commissioner’s office to void Trammell’s contract. Bubba’s agent would later claim he was suffering from clinical depression. I’m still not exactly sure how the contractual issues between the player and team were settled, but Trammell never again played in a big league game.
Author’sNote: Bubba Trammell was kind enough to comment on this post in an effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Yankees. You can read his comments below.
|TBD (3 yrs)||207||757||671||96||191||48||3||33||107||3||80||112||.285||.362||.513||.875|
|SDP (2 yrs)||275||1011||893||120||226||36||4||42||148||3||101||149||.253||.331||.443||.775|
|NYM (1 yr)||36||65||56||9||13||2||0||3||12||1||8||19||.232||.323||.429||.752|
|NYY (1 yr)||22||61||55||4||11||5||0||0||5||0||6||10||.200||.279||.291||.570|
|DET (1 yr)||44||140||123||14||28||5||0||4||13||3||15||35||.228||.307||.366||.673|
Curtis had three productive seasons in pinstripes from 1997 through 1999 as the team’s top reserve outfielder. His two home runs in the third game of the 1999 World Series, which included a bottom-of-the-tenth-inning walk-off blast, helped the Yankees sweep the Braves. Born in Marion, IN in 1968, Chad may have had one problem not too many Yankees have experienced during the past 14 years. The rumor was that he and Derek Jeter did not like each other. His problems with the Yankees’ all-time hit leader stemmed from Jeter’s behavior during an August 1999 game between New York and Seattle. There was a brawl between the two teams during the game and instead of getting in the middle of it, Jeter and the Mariners’ Alex Rodriguez stayed off to the side of the action, pretty much making believe they were holding onto each other. Curtis thought Jeter should have worked harder to defend his teammates during the melee and told the shortstop that not once but twice after the incident including once in the Yankee locker room within earshot of reporters. Jeter did not appreciate the criticism and from that point onward, barely spoke to Curtis again. Yankee management then made sure that Jeter would not have to go out of his way to avoid or ignore Curtis any longer when they traded the outfielder to Texas after that 1999 World Series.
|CAL (3 yrs)||405||1684||1477||220||396||64||9||27||155||116||158||229||.268||.342||.378||.720|
|NYY (3 yrs)||340||1162||971||167||255||48||2||27||130||41||154||164||.263||.366||.400||.766|
|TEX (2 yrs)||146||511||450||72||120||28||1||11||58||10||51||92||.267||.342||.407||.749|
|DET (2 yrs)||248||1136||986||161||262||49||4||31||104||43||123||166||.266||.348||.418||.766|
|LAD (1 yr)||43||121||104||20||22||5||0||2||9||2||17||15||.212||.322||.317||.640|
|CLE (1 yr)||22||36||29||8||6||1||0||3||5||0||7||10||.207||.361||.552||.913|