Tagged: utility infielder

October 31 – Happy Birthday Mike Gallego

The Buck Showalter era in Yankee franchise history began in 1992. New York was coming off of three straight losing seasons under Stump Merrill and I remember wondering if this new guy was the right choice to turn the team around. The Yankee lineup that year featured a potpourri of well-travelled veterans like Danny Tartabull, Mel Hall and Charley Hayes, home grown kids like Roberto Kelly, Pat Kelly, Kevin Maas and Andy Stankiewicz and of course, Donnie Baseball. But it was two role players on that squad, who I thought Showalter took a particular liking to; Randy Velarde and a former Oakland A named Mike Gallego.

Gallego became that team’s primary backup at second and short and Velarde did the same at every other position on the field besides catcher. Neither put together glittering statistics. Velarde averaged .272, Gallego just .254 but whenever I watched a Yankee game that season, one or both of them seemed to make some sort of hustling play or put together a particularly good at bat. That ’92 Yankee team finished ten games under .500 but I clearly remember thinking they were finally on the right track.

The following year, the Yankees finished 14 games above .500 and Showalter started Gallego in 119 games at second, short or third. The Whittier, CA native put together his best big league offensive season, hitting .283 and knocking in 54 runs. By the following year, he had become New York’s de facto starting shortstop. That ’94 Yankee team was running away with their division race when a strike halted play and ended the season. At the time, Gallego’s average was just .239. and the three year free agent contract he had signed with New York was ending. When the strike finally ended and play resumed in 1995, Tony Fernandez was the Yankee shortstop and Mike Gallego was back playing for Oakland.

Gallego shares his October 31st birthday with this former Yankee outfielderthis former Yankee catcher and this other former Yankee infielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1992 NYY 53 201 173 24 44 7 1 3 14 0 20 22 .254 .343 .358 .702
1993 NYY 119 465 403 63 114 20 1 10 54 3 50 65 .283 .364 .412 .776
1994 NYY 89 357 306 39 73 17 1 6 41 0 38 46 .239 .327 .359 .686
13 Yrs 1111 3379 2931 374 700 111 12 42 282 24 326 465 .239 .320 .328 .648
OAK (8 yrs) 772 2151 1863 230 432 63 9 23 168 21 205 295 .232 .313 .312 .625
NYY (3 yrs) 261 1023 882 126 231 44 3 19 109 3 108 133 .262 .347 .383 .730
STL (2 yrs) 78 205 186 18 37 4 0 0 5 0 13 37 .199 .254 .220 .474
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/31/2013.

October 12 – Happy Birthday Casey McGehee

It looks as if Casey McGehee’s Yankee days may already be over. New York GM Brian Cashman was looking for a right-handed corner infielder with some pop to play third or first while A-Rod and Mark Teixeira recovered from injuries, when he sent reliever Chad Qualls to the Pirates for today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant on July 31, 2012. McGehee, a native of Santa Cruz, CA had hit 23 home runs for the 2010 Brewers and driven in over 100 that same year. I joined Cashman in hoping that this guy would get better pitches to hit when he was surrounded by a stronger Yankee lineup. That didn’t happen.

He got a real chance to make an impression in the Bronx during the middle of August, when Girardi started him just about every game. His pinstriped high point came in the second game of a series in Toronto, on August 13th. He hit his first and only home run as a Yankee that day and drove in three runs in New York’s 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays. But it was downhill from there offensively and when A-Rod returned from the DL, probably the only reason the Yanks kept this guy on the team was because the roster expanded to 40 players on September 1. The more crowded Yankee bench, however, meant even fewer chances for McGehee to make a better impression down the stretch and when he went 0-for-September at the plate he lost his ticket on the Yankee’s postseason train to Baltimore.

McGehee turns 30 today, still young enough to contribute to a Major League team. I just don’t think that team will continue to be the Yankees. He shares his October 12th birthday with this outstanding former Yankee shortstop and this one-time Yankee reliever.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 NYY 22 59 53 9 8 3 0 1 6 0 5 10 .151 .220 .264 .484
5 Yrs 551 2041 1853 211 476 99 5 61 283 2 158 351 .257 .314 .414 .728
MIL (3 yrs) 428 1664 1511 174 403 82 4 52 237 1 129 273 .267 .322 .430 .752
CHC (1 yr) 9 25 24 1 4 1 0 0 5 0 0 8 .167 .160 .208 .368
PIT (1 yr) 92 293 265 27 61 13 1 8 35 1 24 60 .230 .297 .377 .674
NYY (1 yr) 22 59 53 9 8 3 0 1 6 0 5 10 .151 .220 .264 .484
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/12/2013.

October 5 – Happy Birthday Rey Sanchez

When Mariano Duncan stopped hitting in 1997, the Yankees began experimenting with replacements at second base. One was veteran Pat Kelly, who Duncan had supplanted from the position the previous year. Another was the popular former Mariner, Luis Sojo and still another was today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant and former Cub, Rey Sanchez. Sojo ended up seeing the most action of the four and was the best fielder in the group as well, but in 37 games that year, Sanchez hit .312 and also played well in the field. The Yankees released Rey following that season and after spending 1998 with the Giants, he joined the Royals and played the best baseball of his career during his two-plus seasons as Kansas City’s starting shortstop. He then turned into a journeyman infielder, playing for seven different teams during the last six years of his fifteen-year career including a return to pinstripes in 2005, which was his final season as a player in the big leagues. He retired with 1,317 career hits.

Also born on this date is this former Yankee outfielder and this one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1997 NYY 38 150 138 21 43 12 0 1 15 0 5 21 .312 .338 .420 .758
15 Yrs 1490 5246 4850 549 1317 193 32 15 389 55 229 508 .272 .308 .334 .642
CHC (7 yrs) 594 1995 1835 185 481 78 8 6 124 22 96 187 .262 .304 .323 .627
KCR (3 yrs) 377 1489 1378 180 398 50 13 3 122 27 61 137 .289 .321 .351 .672
NYY (2 yrs) 61 198 181 28 55 13 0 1 17 0 7 24 .304 .335 .392 .727
TBD (1 yr) 91 307 285 23 70 14 3 2 26 0 12 28 .246 .281 .337 .617
NYM (1 yr) 56 183 174 11 36 3 1 0 12 1 8 18 .207 .240 .236 .476
SFG (1 yr) 109 339 316 44 90 14 2 2 30 0 16 47 .285 .325 .361 .686
ATL (1 yr) 49 163 154 10 35 4 1 0 9 2 4 15 .227 .245 .266 .512
BOS (1 yr) 107 386 357 46 102 12 3 1 38 2 17 31 .286 .318 .345 .662
SEA (1 yr) 46 186 170 22 50 5 1 0 11 1 8 21 .294 .330 .335 .665
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/5/2013.

July 27 – Happy Birthday Enrique Wilson

Enrique Wilson was a valuable utility infielder for the New York Yankees from 2001, when he was first acquired from the Pirates for pitcher Damaso Marte, through the 2004 season. During that span, he appeared in 104 games at second base, 83 at short and 62 at third. He was only a .244 lifetime hitter during his 9 seasons in the big leagues and hit just .216 during his four years in the Bronx. But when long-time Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez was on the mound, the light-hitting Wilson turned into a reincarnation of Rod Carew. He faced Martinez 25 times in a Yankee uniform and had ten hits against him for an average of .400.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Wilson was a switch-hitter. I admired the guy because of his defensive versatility and his ability to come up big whenever the Yankees faced their arch-rivals from Beantown. I remember one Boston-New York game during the 2002 season when Wilson hit a grand slam off of Red Sox reliever Rich Garces to break a 2-2 tie. Joe Torre was a big fan of Enrique’s and when the Yankees traded Soriano for A-Rod, the Yankee manager told the media that Wilson would be his starter at second base. But Wilson’s bat got real cold and by June of the 2004 season he had lost his job to Miguel Cairo. That September, when Torre didn’t start Wilson against Boston with Martinez on the mound, the disappointed second baseman told reporters he would be leaving the Yankees at the end of the season and that’s exactly what happened.

Wilson shares his July 27th birthday with this current Yankee slugger,  this former lippy shortstop and this former Yankee utility infielder.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2001 NYY 48 108 99 10 24 5 1 1 12 0 6 14 .242 .283 .343 .626
2002 NYY 60 119 105 17 19 2 2 2 11 1 8 22 .181 .239 .295 .534
2003 NYY 63 147 135 18 31 9 0 3 15 3 7 14 .230 .276 .363 .639
2004 NYY 93 262 240 19 51 9 0 6 31 1 15 20 .213 .254 .325 .579
9 Yrs 555 1537 1406 155 343 73 5 22 141 14 89 169 .244 .288 .350 .638
CLE (4 yrs) 190 607 554 72 159 37 1 6 49 9 36 62 .287 .328 .390 .718
NYY (4 yrs) 264 636 579 64 125 25 3 12 69 5 36 70 .216 .261 .332 .593
PIT (2 yrs) 86 269 251 18 56 9 1 4 23 0 14 36 .223 .262 .315 .577
CHC (1 yr) 15 25 22 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 3 1 .136 .240 .227 .467
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2013.

July 4 – Happy Birthday Hal Lanier

The Yankees purchased today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant from the San Francisco Giants during their 1972 spring training season and I could never figure out why. Hal Lanier had been the weak-hitting decent fielding starting shortstop for the Giants for the previous eight seasons but the Yankees already had their own weak-hitting, decent-fielding shortstop in Gene “the Stick” Michael. What that Yankee team really needed was a starting third baseman with some pop in his bat to compete with their AL East rivals. The previous year, New York had started Jerry Kenney at the hot corner while Baltimore had perennial All Star Brooks Robinson and the Red Sox, the hard-hitting Rico Petrocelli as starting third basemen.

Kenney would end up losing his third base job during that ’72 season to a guy named Celerino Sanchez. When Sanchez failed to hit, Ralph Houk tried playing Lanier at third. But when both Michael and Lanier started in the infield, opposing pitchers couldn’t wait to face the bottom of the Yankees’ lineup. Lanier got into 60 games that season and hit a putrid .213. That turned out to be five points higher than he would hit during his second and final season with New York, which also turned out to be his final year as a big league player. It would be during that same 1973 season that the Yankees finally went out and got themselves a premier third baseman by the name of Graig Nettles.

Lanier would go on to a new career as a manager. He won a division title as skipper of the ’86 Astros but besides the three seasons he spent as Houston’s skipper, all of his other managerial assignments have been at the minor league level. Lanier was born on in Denton, NC in 1942. His dad was Max Lanier, an All Star pitcher with the Cardinals during WWII, who won over 100 big league games during his own 14-year career.

Lanier shares his July 4th birthday with this one time Yankee starting pitcherthis former Yankee owner and this long-time Yankee radio announcer.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1972 NYY 60 107 103 5 22 3 0 0 6 1 2 13 .214 .234 .243 .476
1973 NYY 35 90 86 9 18 3 0 0 5 0 3 10 .209 .244 .244 .489
10 Yrs 1196 3940 3703 297 843 111 20 8 273 11 136 436 .228 .255 .275 .529
SFG (8 yrs) 1101 3743 3514 283 803 105 20 8 262 10 131 413 .229 .255 .277 .532
NYY (2 yrs) 95 197 189 14 40 6 0 0 11 1 5 23 .212 .239 .243 .482
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/4/2013.

April 5 – Happy Birthday Ron Hansen

Hansen.jpgThe 1960 AL Rookie of the Year with Baltimore, Ron spent the 1970 and ’71 seasons with the Yankees as their primary utility infielder. During his first season in pinstripes, Hansen was able to hit .297 in his part-time role but when he slumped to .207 the following season New York released him. In 1968, he became the first player to pull off an unassisted triple play since 1927 and the feat wasn’t accomplished again until 1994 (by Boston shortstop John Valentin.) In a very unique vote, when Hansen won his 1960 AL ROY award, two of his Orioles’ teammates finished second (pitcher Chuck Estrada) and third (first baseman Jim Gentile) in the balloting for the first year honor. Hansen shares his April 5th birthday with this former Yankee reliever and the first starting third baseman in Yankee franchise history.

Hansen hailed from Oxford, NE and is one of 25 members of the Yankee’s All-Time roster to win Rookie of the Year honors, eight of whom did it as Yankees. Here’s my picks for the all-time lineup of Yankees who won the coveted first-year honor. Alongside each player’s name is the year they won the honor and the team they played for at the time:

1B Chris Chambliss (1971 – Indians)
2B Steve Sax (1982 – Dodgers)
3B Gil McDougald (1951 – Yankees)
SS Derek Jeter (1996 – Yankees)
C   Thurman Munson (1970 – Yankees)
OF Lou Piniella (1969 – Royals)
OF Darryl Strawberry (1983 – Mets)
OF David Justice (1990 – Braves)
P   Dwight Gooden (1984 – Mets)
CL Dave Righetti (1981 – Yankees)

Here are Hansen’s Yankee seasonal and MLB career stats:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1970 NYY 59 113 91 13 27 4 0 4 14 0 19 9 .297 .420 .473 .892
1971 NYY 61 159 145 6 30 3 0 2 20 0 9 27 .207 .245 .269 .514
15 Yrs 1384 4964 4311 446 1007 156 17 106 501 9 551 643 .234 .320 .351 .672
CHW (7 yrs) 769 2875 2488 261 594 95 10 55 282 5 319 318 .239 .325 .351 .676
BAL (5 yrs) 393 1469 1282 136 301 42 7 37 155 4 166 234 .235 .324 .365 .689
NYY (2 yrs) 120 272 236 19 57 7 0 6 34 0 28 36 .242 .317 .347 .665
KCR (1 yr) 16 33 30 2 4 0 0 0 2 0 3 6 .133 .212 .133 .345
WSA (1 yr) 86 315 275 28 51 12 0 8 28 0 35 49 .185 .281 .316 .598
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/14/2014.

November 24 – Happy Birthday Randy Velarde

Velarde started his big league career with the Yankees in 1987 and was the team’s top utility infielder for the better part of nine seasons. He looked like a movie star and as each year passed he seemed to get his body more ripped. His best seasons in pinstripes were 1992, when he played in 121 games and hit .272 and 1992, when he batted .301. When the Yankees finally made it back to the playoffs in 1995 after missing the postseason for the previous fourteen years, Velarde was an important and versatile part of that team’s infield. When the Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs to Seattle however, Velarde hit just .200 in that series. An overreacting George Steinbrenner then fired Manager Bucky Showalter and also replaced starters Mike Stanley, Don Mattingly, Pat Kelly and Velarde, who became a free agent. Randy then signed a pretty nice four-year deal with the Angels for right around $4 million. He had the three best years of his career as an Angel before being traded to the A’s during the 1999 season. He joined the Yankees a second time in 2001 but appeared in just 15 games. He retired after the 2002 season.

This one-time Yankee pitcher and this former Yankee reliever were also born on this date.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1987 NYY 8 22 22 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 .182 .182 .182 .364
1988 NYY 48 125 115 18 20 6 0 5 12 1 8 24 .174 .240 .357 .597
1989 NYY 33 111 100 12 34 4 2 2 11 0 7 14 .340 .389 .480 .869
1990 NYY 95 253 229 21 48 6 2 5 19 0 20 53 .210 .275 .319 .594
1991 NYY 80 210 184 19 45 11 1 1 15 3 18 43 .245 .322 .332 .653
1992 NYY 121 461 412 57 112 24 1 7 46 7 38 78 .272 .333 .386 .719
1993 NYY 85 253 226 28 68 13 2 7 24 2 18 39 .301 .360 .469 .829
1994 NYY 77 310 280 47 78 16 1 9 34 4 22 61 .279 .338 .439 .777
1995 NYY 111 432 367 60 102 19 1 7 46 5 55 64 .278 .375 .392 .768
2001 NYY 15 55 46 4 7 3 0 0 1 2 5 13 .152 .278 .217 .495
16 Yrs 1273 4813 4244 633 1171 214 23 100 445 78 463 853 .276 .352 .408 .760
NYY (10 yrs) 673 2232 1981 267 518 102 10 43 209 24 191 395 .261 .332 .388 .720
ANA (4 yrs) 283 1260 1094 168 315 55 8 27 128 27 147 216 .288 .376 .427 .803
OAK (3 yrs) 239 987 873 152 250 41 3 21 77 23 96 169 .286 .363 .412 .775
TEX (1 yr) 78 334 296 46 88 16 2 9 31 4 29 73 .297 .369 .456 .825
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.