I’ve never forgiven Lou Piniella or the Seattle Mariners for trading catcher Jason Varitek and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant to the Red Sox for Boston closer Heathcliff Slocumb at the 1997 trading deadline. Varitek became the captain and anchor of those great Red Sox teams that gave the Yankees so much trouble during the first decade of the new century. All Derek Lowe did for Boston was first become the team’s ace closer for a couple of years including a 42 save season in 2000 and then convert to the Red Sox starting rotation and become a 20-game winner in 2002. He also pitched brilliantly during the 2004 postseason culminating in Boston’s first World Series victory since 1918. And then surprisingly, Boston let him walk away as a free agent.
Lowe pitched the next seven years in the NL thanks to two huge four-year deals he signed with the Dodgers and Braves respectively. After he slumped to 9-17 in 2011, during his third year in Atlanta, Lowe was dealt to the Indians. He was struggling with an 8-10 record for Cleveland when he was released in August of 2012 and signed as a free agent by the Yankees. Joe Girardi put the 39-year-old right hander in his bullpen and in his first pinstriped appearance against Texas, he relieved David Phelps in the fifth inning with a 5-2 lead and held Texas scoreless the rest of the way to earn his one and only Yankee save. In all, Lowe made 17 appearances during the final two months of his only season with New York, all of them as a reliever. He got his only Yankee victory against his old team, the Red Sox, in the next-to-last game of the regular season.
Girardi then put him on the 2012 postseason roster. The 17-year veteran made one scoreless appearance against the Orioles in the ALDS and then got roughed up by the Tigers in the ALCS. In his last appearance in Game 4 of that depressing series, Lowe gave up a home run to former Yankee prospect, Austin Jackson. Even though New York was already five runs behind when Jackson hit that dinger, I knew that would be the last time Lowe got to pitch in a Yankee uniform. Sure enough, he was released after that series. The Rangers signed him to a contract for 2013 but released him on May 23rd.
|BOS (8 yrs)||70||55||.560||3.72||384||111||154||2||1||85||1037.0||1024||488||429||69||312||673||48||1.288|
|LAD (4 yrs)||54||48||.529||3.59||137||135||1||7||2||0||850.1||832||394||339||76||214||563||12||1.230|
|ATL (3 yrs)||40||39||.506||4.57||101||101||0||0||0||0||575.1||648||307||292||48||194||384||11||1.463|
|TEX (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||9.00||9||0||2||0||0||0||13.0||16||13||13||3||3||8||2||1.462|
|CLE (1 yr)||8||10||.444||5.52||21||21||0||1||1||0||119.0||156||79||73||8||45||41||3||1.689|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||1||.500||3.04||17||0||10||0||0||1||23.2||24||9||8||2||6||14||0||1.268|
|SEA (1 yr)||2||4||.333||6.96||12||9||1||0||0||0||53.0||59||43||41||11||20||39||2||1.491|
The 2009 Yankee team would not have challenged for a World Championship without a group of relievers who had a knack for holding down the opposing team’s offense while the Yankee lineup got their bats untracked and took the lead. The combined 2009 won-lost record of Alfredo Aceves, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was 35-9.
Albaladejo had become a Yankee via a December 2007 trade that sent the promising Tyler Clppard to the Nationals. A native of Puerto Rico, this right-hander’s huge 6’5″ 250 pound frame made him an imposing site on the mound and his ability to throw a fastball in the mid-to-high nineties made him even more intimidating. He spent most of his first season in the Yankee system on the DL and then pitched himself onto the Yankee roster during the 2009 spring training season.
He would put together several stretches of spot-on pitching during the 09 season, but it seemed as if once a month, his control would abandon him and he’d get shelled. Girardi called on him 32 times that year and he held the opposition scoreless in 24 of those appearances. But even though he finished the regular season with a 5-1 record, he was left off the Yankees’ postseason roster. He was then demoted to Scranton-Wilkes Barre in 2010 but he sucked it up and pitched brilliantly as that team’s closer, saving 43 games. The problem for this guy was that the Yankees already had Mo Rivera and Rafael Soriano on their roster so they released Albaladejo and he ended up pitching in Japan during the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard blossomed into a very effective closer for the Nationals in 2012.
|NYY (3 yrs)||5||2||.714||4.70||49||0||12||0||0||0||59.1||65||34||31||8||30||42||1.601|
|ARI (1 yr)||0||0||9.00||3||0||0||0||0||0||3.0||5||3||3||1||0||2||1.667|
|WSN (1 yr)||1||1||.500||1.88||14||0||1||0||0||0||14.1||7||3||3||1||2||12||0.628|
When Joe Gordon was inducted into the Hall of Fame three summers ago, he became the 51st former Yankee player, manager or team executive to join the Hall. (Jacob Rupert later became the 52nd) Most of the names on this list are familiar ex-Yankees but there are a few who, though well-known as great baseball players, were not at all noted or remembered for their time wearing Pinstripes. The two ex-Yankee members of Cooperstown who are tied for spending the least amount of time in a New York uniform are the great hitter and outfielder, Paul “Big Poison” Waner and today’s birthday celebrant, Burleigh Grimes. Both appeared in just ten Yankee games at the very end of their illustrious careers. Grimes was baseball’s last and arguably most famous legitimate spitball pitcher. In fact, his 270th and final big league win came as a Yankee in 1934 and marked the last time in the history of Major League baseball that the winning pitcher was permitted to throw a spitball. Grimes was born in Emerald, WI on August 18, 1893.
Also born on this date, 51 years after Grimes was born, was this former Yankee third baseman and third base coach and this one-time Yankee outfielder.
|BRO (9 yrs)||158||121||.566||3.46||318||287||26||205||20||5||2426.0||2547||1175||934||76||744||952||1.357|
|PIT (5 yrs)||48||42||.533||3.26||132||92||34||58||7||5||830.1||818||398||301||28||237||260||1.271|
|STL (4 yrs)||32||17||.653||3.45||59||50||7||27||4||1||386.0||434||179||148||18||112||130||1.415|
|CHC (2 yrs)||9||17||.346||4.35||47||25||12||8||2||4||211.0||245||118||102||10||79||48||1.536|
|NYG (1 yr)||19||8||.704||3.54||39||34||4||15||2||2||259.2||274||116||102||12||87||102||1.390|
|BSN (1 yr)||3||5||.375||7.35||11||9||2||1||0||0||49.0||72||53||40||4||22||15||1.918|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||2||.333||5.50||10||0||9||0||0||1||18.0||22||11||11||0||14||5||2.000|
Jack Aker was traded to New York from Seattle early in the 1969 regular season for fellow-reliever, Freddie Talbot. Yankee manager, Ralph Houk used his new right-hander as the team’s closer the last four months of that season and Aker responded well to that role by winning eight of twelve decisions and earning 11 saves. He then followed that performance up with his best season as a Yankee in 1970, when he recorded 16 saves, won 4 of 6 decisions and posted a sterling 2.06 ERA. He was 16-10 during his three plus seasons in pinstripes with a total of 31 saves. He became expendable in 1972, after Sparky Lyle joined the team and when New York acquired Johnny Callison from the Cubs for a player to be named later in January of 1972, Aker became that player to be named later. His 32 saves for the lowly Athletics in 1966 led the American League. When he retired after the 1974 season, he had 123 lifetime saves.
|OAK (5 yrs)||19||20||.487||3.54||220||0||142||0||0||58||343.1||302||146||135||30||121||210||1.232|
|NYY (4 yrs)||16||10||.615||2.23||124||0||75||0||0||31||197.1||161||58||49||10||71||101||1.176|
|CHC (2 yrs)||10||11||.476||3.51||95||0||71||0||0||29||130.2||141||64||51||12||46||61||1.431|
|NYM (1 yr)||2||1||.667||3.48||24||0||16||0||0||2||41.1||33||18||16||4||14||18||1.137|
|ATL (1 yr)||0||1||.000||3.78||17||0||8||0||0||0||16.2||17||11||7||3||9||7||1.560|
|SEP (1 yr)||0||2||.000||7.56||15||0||9||0||0||3||16.2||25||15||14||4||13||7||2.280|