I can’t be the only one who enjoys ‘that part’ of the offseason when you suddenly see names you haven’t heard in years, right? Whether it’s veterans that were actually in the majors last year or guys coming back over from Japan, hearing ‘those names’ adds some fun to the boring nature of hot stove season.
What’s even more fun, at least for a baseball nerd like me, is when you hear those names and remember ‘wow, they played for ___’ at some point recently. With Christmas just days away and the hot stove becoming extremely dry, the time for baseball talk at the dinner table is going away.
There has to be something baseball-related you can talk about, right? Well, before you have to get into talking about political correctness or why you didn’t waste your time joining a frat, here’s an interesting Christmas dinner topic for you: 15 players who you may have forgotten recently played for the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have made some noise this offseason by signing closer Aroldis Chapman, that’s old news by now. With such an iconic franchise like the Yankees, it’s an honor for any player to play there, but you probably forgot about these guys in pinstripes.
15. Jesus Montero
This isn’t so much of a ‘hey, remember Montero played for the Yankees’ as it was ‘wow, it was only five years ago that they still looked at him as a top prospect and the future of their organization.” Montero was 21 during the 2011 season when he hit .328/.406/.590 in 28 games for the Bombers down the playoff stretch before a January 2012 trade to the Mariners for Michael Pineda that…really hasn’t paid dividends for either team.
Now, Montero is 27 and a free agent after being handed down with a 50 game suspension for testing positive for PEDS; this is Montero’s second suspension, the first coming in 2013 as a result of the Biogenesis scandal. Hey, remember when Montero was supposed to be the future for the Yankees?
14. Casey McGehee
After Montero left, McGehee arrived…kind of. Because the Yankees were snakebitten by injuries and inconsistency from their designated hitter candidates during the 2012 season (seriously, what went wrong with Andruw Jones??), Brian Cashman pulled off a July 31 trade with the Pirates to acquire McGehee, a veteran utility infielder who would hopefully bring some power to the table.
McGehee, the future 2014 National League Comeback Player of the Year, didn’t do much in pinstripes as he only hit .151/.220/.264 in 59 at-bats. It made sense for the Yankees not to bring him back for 2013, so McGehee headed to Japan where he played alongside current Yankee Masahiro Tanaka and, ironically, Andruw Jones.
Needless to say, his time in pinstripes wasn’t all that memorable, nor was it very long.
13. Kelly Johnson
Kelly Johnson has truly been everywhere in baseball, having played for eight different organizations since 2005 and all five of the American League East teams. Johnson’s time in New York was mediocre, as the former first-round pick of the Braves hit only .219/.304/.373 in 77 games with six home runs and 22 RBI.
But, Johnson’s Yankee tenure did create a couple of interesting nuggets, one of which being that Cashman trading him to Boston for Stephen Drew was the first trade between the two rivals since 1997. The other nugget is Johnson has played for as many teams after the Yankees (four) as the players he was signed to back up for (Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez) did in their entire career. Fun! Moving companies must love him.
12. Martin Prado
Martin Prado was so keen and, unlike most of the others on this list, actually seemed to have a place with the Yankees after his time with them started. Acquired in July 2014 for catching prospect Peter O’Brien, Prado hit .316 in 37 games with the Yankees and, with the futures of Alex Rodriguez and Chase Headley unclear, seemed likely to enter 2015 with a starting role as either the DH, shorttop, or third baseman.
Well, Prado got none of those…with the Yankees that is. In December 2014, Cashman dealt Prado to Miami for a package that included Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo German, and Garrett Jones; while Prado was dealt in part because the Yankees brought Headley back and traded for Didi Gregorious, this has been a trade the Bronx Bombers may have lost so far.
But, Prado was indeed a Yankee! He even had a sweet home run call! Martin, so keen!
11. Lance Berkman
Since retiring, Lance Berkman has become known more for his political views – some that have led to him saying he received ‘online persecution‘ from unhappy fans- than he has for one of the best baseball careers by a switch-hitter since Mickey Mantle retired nearly 50 years ago.
But, even the most diehard Berkman fans may not remember that for a few months in 2010, ‘Big Puma’ spent some time in pinstripes. Acquired for Mark Melancon at the 2010 trade deadline, Berkman – who some Yankee fans immediately pegged as the team’s DH of the future (we were optimistic, what can I say) before even putting the uniform on – played just 42 total games with the Bombers, hit .255 with a lone home run in the regular season, and moved onto St. Louis for 2011…where he’d make the All-Star Team.
We miss you, Lance.
10. Yangervis Solarte
Solarte’s story, it seems, actually has been told a lot by now as he’s gone from being a career minor leaguer to whatever resembles a star for the Padres in San Diego. It’s important to note that this big-league story started in 2014 when the Yankees, to the surprise of many, picked Solarte to be their backup infielder instead of veteran Eduardo Nunez.
Though Solarte was dealt to the Padres for Chase Headley that summer, the now-29 year old hit .254/.337/.381 in his 75 games with the Yankees and had one of my favorite John Sterling home run calls: never nervous, Yangervis! John Sterling is a gem that needs to be treasured with calls like that..
Now Solarte is away from the pressure cooker environment of New York and enjoying a cozy life in San Diego.
9. Francisco Cervelli
Before making a name for himself as the starting catcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Francisco Cervelli was just an injury-plagued catcher for the Yankees who couldn’t hit and ended up serving a suspension for the Biogenesis scandal in 2013. People seem to forget that in 250 games for the Yankees from 2008-14, Cervelli hit .278/.348/.381 and even threw out 43% percent of baserunners in 2009.
So, what went wrong? Why do people forget Cervelli was a Yankee? Well, the guy was just always hurt or somehow in the minor leagues due to poor performance. Remember, it was partially due to a lack of faith in Cervelli that the Yankees replaced Jorge Posada after 2010 not with Jesus Montero, but with current Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin.
Of all the things he brought to the table, though, I just miss Cervelli’s emotions.
8. Scott Proctor
Scott Proctor is almost synonymous with Joe Torre not because he was in the ‘Core Four’ or contributed to a championship, but because Torre absolutely overworked Proctor during the 2006 season. How do you allow a reliever in the modern era to appear in 83 games and throw over 100 innings in the regular season alone? It’s almost unheard of in the majors today, but perhaps Torre was still using some old school tactics at the time.
Yankee fans remember Proctor for his first stint, so that’s not why he’s on the list. Instead, Proctor is here because at the end of his career in 2011, he returned to the Yankees for one final stint and hope at redemption. The final result? 11 innings with 11 runs allowed and a 12-11 BB-K ratio. Sorry, Scotty.
7. Brandon McCarthy
Like Proctor, McCarthy was a veteran pitcher who had certainly seen better days by the time he arrived to join the Yankees. Unlike Proctor, McCarthy actually used his time in pinstripes to secure another big-league job for him. Arriving in New York after pitching to a 3-10 record with a 5.01 ERA in Arizona, McCarthy suddenly turned everything around, throwing 90.1 innings with a 2.89 ERA and winning seven games along the way.
McCarthy parlayed all that into a big payday with the Dodgers, but underwent Tommy John surgery in his first year and struggled with his control after returning in 2016. Look for McCarthy to either have a big 2017 season in Los Angeles or, perhaps, return to the Yankees for a second time.
6. Travis Hafner
A home run loving first baseman/designated hitter that somehow never made an All-Star team, Hafner is just one of many on this list who ended his career in pinstripes. People forget not only how solid Hafner was when he was healthy (from 2003-11, Hafner would have averaged a .281/.384/.513 line with 31 home runs and 105 RBI per 162 games), but that because of injuries, Hafner had to spend the 2013 season with the Yankees.
When everything started, that wasn’t bad at all. In his first 34 games as a Bomber, Hafner looked to have found the fountain of youth with a .267/.379/.552 slash, 8 home runs, 22 RBI, and even two stolen bases. Over his next 49 games, however, Hafner hit just .167/.250/.284 with five home runs and a measly 57-15 K-BB ratio. Adios, Pronk…
5. Rich Hill
Because of one good season with the A’s and Dodgers – not to mention a weak free agent market -, Rich Hill just got paid big bucks by the latter. But before everything in his career got fixed, the Yankees actually used the former Cubs prospect as a left-handed reliever. Seriously, Hill appeared in 14 games for the Yankees in 2014 – throwing 5.1 innings of one run ball – at the age of 34.
When people in the media were suggesting the Yankees sign Hill this offseason, I was disappointed to see so few people mentioned that Hill was in pinstripes just three years ago. How do you forget that if you’re writing about an ex-Yankee? In any event, that ship has sailed, now that Hill has signed with the Dodgers.
4. Kevin Youkillis
A first and third baseman who will almost definitely wind up in the Red Sox Hall of Fame one day, some may forget that Youkillis – after being kicked out of Boston by Bobby Valentine in 2012 – signed with the Yankees before the 2013 season. In 28 games with the Yankees during the 2013 season, Youkillis hit for just a .219/.305/.343 statline before missing the rest of the year with back issues.
How people forget about Youkillis, the Greek God of Walks and a huge name for the late 2000s Boston Red Sox, crossing enemy borders to play for the Yankees is beyond me. Then again, I think most Red Sox fans still want to forget about the Bobby Valentine era and the pain it caused…
3. Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds has seemingly been everywhere, and he added some time in New York to his resume with a brief stint with the Yankees during the 2013 season. Hitting .236/.300/.455 in 36 games, Reynolds was expected to serve as a utility infielder with power for the Bombers and did, but signed with the Brewers for 2014 and now is a free agent after a nice season in Colorado.
For what it’s worth, I do expect to see Mark Reynolds in pinstripes one more time before his career ends. As he’s still a free agent, maybe the Yankees will sign him now to add another bat to the table, but who knows with Reynolds? The guy will go wherever his strikeouts take him. It might just be in New York.
2. Derek Lowe
Remembered forever as a star pitcher for the Red Sox during the early 2000s, Lowe actually finished his career in 2012 as a member of the Bronx Bombers. Like Youkillis, Lowe signed with the Yankees almost as a last resort after a poor performance with the Indians and…actually pitched pretty well.
Seriously, Lowe was a full-time reliever for the Yankees and threw for a 3.04 ERA and a 14-6 K-BB ratio in 23.2 innings. By no means was it amazing, but at the age of 39 when he could have just retired, Lowe adapted to the situation and helped the Yankees win the American League East that year.
It’s so crazy to think that the same man who pitched against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS later went on to pitch for them.
Well done, other Derek.
1. Bartolo Colon
Before ‘Big Sexy’ was ‘Big Sexy’, Bartolo Colon was just another veteran pitcher on a cheap contract trying to turn his career around with the New York Yankees. After going 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA in 47 starts from 2006-09, Colon was on his last chance when he went to spring training with the Bombers in 2011 at the age of 38.
Somehow, Colon managed to make things work, pitching to an 8-10 record with a 4.00 ERA and eating up 164.1 innings for the American League East division winners. After that, Colon parlayed his way into a two-year deal with the Athletics, which then turned into three memorable years with the Mets.
Right, San Diego?
Which of these recent players did you honestly forget played for the Yankees? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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