Thursday, August 29, 2019

Off-Day Happy Fun Pack!

I don't think we've had one of these yet, so here goes, inspired by our recent conversations about who is the best, all-time Yankees second baseman.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  name your all-time Yankees team.

The rules?  It must be a 25-man roster.  And every player must have played more games for your New York Yankees than for any other single team.

Leaving aside known or suspected juicing—going just by what they tell us is the statistical truth—my selections would look something like this (all stats from their Yankees days only):

Starting Team

1B: Lou Gehrig.  Also on the all-time greatest of all teams.

2B: Robinson Cano.  Hey, as a Yankee, the guy slashed .309/.355/.504/.860, won 2 Gold Gloves, and probably deserved 3-4 more.  By contrast, Flash Gordon was .271/.358/.467/.825, was the 1942 MVP, and missed playing at 29 and 30 because of the war.  Tony "Poosh-'em Up" Lazzeri?  .293/.379/.467/.846—but ranks a distant third as a fielder.  Oddly, none of the 3 was a particularly good postseason player (though Cano was especially wretched, with many more at-bats).

SS: Derek Jeter.  Nuff ced.

3B: Alex Rodriguez.  Inescapable, if we accept the stats.  If not, it comes down to a battle between Graig Nettles (.253/.329/.433/.762) or Red Rolfe (.289/.360/.413/.773).  I gotta think Puff's prowess with the leather covers that 11-point OPS gap.

C: Yogi Berra. See Jeter, Derek.  Also likely on the all-times greatest of all teams.

OF: Babe Ruth
       Joe DiMaggio
       Mickey Mantle
Who'd play where?  Gee, I think they'd sort it out.  DiMag in center, and that's all you need.  Ruth, of course, is on the all-teams all-greatest.


Bill Dickey.  Nearly as great as Yogi, and a terrific tutor as well.

Jorge Posada.  Would have been considered top catcher in AL for 10 years and hence be Cooperstown-bound, save for the presence of a known juicer.  Disgrace, too, that Piazza is in, and Jorge never will be.  Just beats out Elston Howard, another convert to catching, who played in a more pitching-dominant era.  Honorable mention to Thurman.

Don Mattingly.  Too bad about the back...

Joe Gordon.  See above.  Could play short as well as second.

Graig Nettles.  The power just beats out Phil Rizzuto, who it would also be nice to have coming off the pine.

Bernie Williams.  Hard to pick the outfield reserves over so many outstanding candidates:  Earle Combs, Long Bob Meusel, George "Twinkletoes" Selkirk, Charlie "King Kong" Keller, Hank Bauer, Roger Maris, Bobby Murcer, Roy White, and Paul O'Neill.  (Reggie Reggie Reggie—and Rickey—put in too many years with the A's to qualify). But Bernie is the best all-around, along with...

Dave Winfield.  (9 years in the Bronx as opposed to 8 in San Diego!)


Whitey Ford.  The Chairman of the Board, and the only Yankee ever to do a TV commercial with Salvador Dali.  There's just one word for that...

Ron Guidry.  The overall stats are diminished a little bit by his hanging around too long, but oh, what a pitcher in his prime!

Mel Stottlemyre.  I may be prejudiced—and he played mostly in a pitcher's era—but with some of the great Yankees teams, Mel would've run up one 20-win season after another.  As it was, he got three, which ain't too shabby considering the teams he did play for.

Red Ruffing.  Also an outstanding hitter:  36 lifetime home runs.

Lefty Gomez.  He, like Ford, Guidry, and Ruffing, was a terrific October pitcher.  And hey, Stottlemyre beat Bob Gibson once.

Allie Reynolds.  The swing man.  Picked up 4 World Series saves, to go with a 7-2, 2.79 record.

Sparky Lyle.  141 saves in 7 years with the Yanks.

Dave Righetti.  224 saves in 11 years in the Bronx—and of course he could also start, and became an outstanding pitching coach.  He and Lyle bring it from the left...

Rich "Goose" Gossage.  ...while this fellow—151 saves—and...

Mariano Rivera.  ...bring it from the right.

Very honorable mention to:  "Happy Jack" Chesbro, Russ Ford, "Sailor Bob" Shawkey, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Monte Pearson, Joe Paige, Eddie Lopat, Vic Raschi, Bill Terry, Al Downing, Tommy John, Andy Pettitte, "The Original" El Duque, Mike Stanton, Mike Mussina, C.C., and "Tiger" Tanaka, among others.  (Catfish, Roger the Dodger, David Wells, "Bullet Joe" Bush, "Sad Sam" Jones, "Killer" Carl Mays, and the pitcher with my favorite name ever, Urban Shocker, don't qualify.) 

Happy to hear all dissents, corrections, better ideas, etc.


JM said...

Chesbro was great in his era. Otherwise, I have to think about it, but you made good choices, imo.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, JM!

And yes, Chesbro was amazing. But: pitchers' era, not that many years, all in all.

Anonymous said...

Good choices.

Since I agree with you, and because I am a contrarian by nature, I’m going to flip your assignment and give you my All Time Let Down Team.

The criteria is simple. They have to have had potential. Real potential. This is not a team of bad players. This is a team of players who, when they are in the lineup, you watch (at least for a few months) and hope, no, expect a good result, only to turn away in disgust.

I am limiting the time frame to people I’ve seen since I have no idea how disappointing players I haven’t seen are.

And so, without further ado. My All Let Down Team.

1B Greg Bird. – We all know why. (Hon. Mention Joe Pepitone - Hell it’s the title of his book.)

2B Steven Drew Oh those timeless home runs. And by timeless I mean not timely and not frequent.

SS 2014 Derek Jeter (OK I know I’m cheating here but he had no range in the field and no bat but a part of me believed he had glory still in him. He didn’t. Plus, they kept batting him at the top of the lineup. WTF.

3B Youk!

LF Giancarlo Stanton - “Strike Three”

CF Jacoby Ellsbury - Not so much for his at bats as for the lack of them. I can’t actually remember an at bat.

RF - Jessie Barfield

C Gary Sanchez -- This might seem unfair but tell me is there a Yankee at the plate who is more frustrating most of the time. Actually, there is he’s playing Left.

DH: Hensley Meulens – More “Pebbles” than “Bam Bam”


Vasquez (1 or 2) Take your pick.
Randy Johnson
Kei Igawa

Closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Doug K.

Der Kaiser said...

My goodness, that's a disappointing team. But I would definitely have found room for Carl Pavano on my roster. Maybe you can stash him on the EL. Or is the EL of the all-disappointment team for players who you secretly wish would be injured to get them off the roster, but are maddeningly healthy?

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Doug K,

Thanks for bringing us all down. It sorta starts off real slow and then fizzles out all together."

This is an impossible task. There are so many worthy players. I'd have to put in Jesus for catcher, the *original* ice cream sandwich man.

I'd pick Spike Owen over Jeter.

Bobby Bonds just because he took Murcer away from us. Nick Johnson gets an honorable mention at first as well as the infamous Ken Phelps just because. Honorable mention also to Steve Sax *and* Chuckie K. at second.

Kevin Brown should definitely be there somewhere -- he seems the perfect complement to Randy butt-ugly Johnson. Esteban Louisa was god awful, and we gave up Contreras, but I don't know that we expected much from him.

I'd take away Sanchez and Stanton (I'd still call his career incomplete). For pitchers I'd take away Pineda, because we got him for nothing.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Der Kaiser, Carl "The Bronx Buttocks" Pavano actually started opening day one year. You could look it up!

He is also a great punchline. I still think he was getting a hummer when he hit the garbage truck.

Rufus T. Firefly said...


I'd take your team any day, but I'd change a few if I could:

Cano and JLo's boyfriend are both juicers, even if I liked them.

Lazzeri to start, Scooter on the bench. Gordon can play second as bench guy. (It was hard to not pick Randolph here.)

Nettles at third. (Brosius if you're looking for another backup infielder, but I think I already have 25.)

I'd take Munson over Posada as third catcher (seems weird typing that). Munson was my favorite player and had a nice fuck you attitude.

Dave (GIDP) Winfield should not be on the team. Take your pick from your list of guys that didn't make it. I'd take Roy White or Paulie, but I'm prejudiced on guys I actually saw play.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the link. Good music.

Spike Owen never let me down because I never expected much. Jeter on the other hand... old habits die hard.

Remember it's not about the worst player just the ones that I had the highest hopes for that left me with Zip.

Kevin Brown is a good choice.

Pineda was a HUGE disappointment, we traded a top prospect for him (and yes I know he sucked for Seattle but at the time this was our best guy).

Knoblauch is a good call as well (Because what's more disappointing than a 2B who can't throw 15 feet?

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

GREAT idea, Doug K.! And great additions from everyone.

I guess my All-Disappointment Team would be:

C—Jesus. Gotta go with Rufus on this one. A shout-out to Charlie Sands.

1B—Bird—but yeah, Nick Johnson is very, very close, because he showed flashes of looking terrific. Also, Ron Blomberg and Tony Solaita get honorable mentions here.

2B—Jimmie Reese. A blast from the 1930s! Big PCL star, roomed with Babe Ruth and had great stories about him. But he and his DP shortstop, Lynn Lary, who Barrow picked up for mucho dinero, were both considered disappointments. This went a long way to leading Barrow to start the fabulous Yankees farm system. I can't name the Knobber because I had looked at his stats before we got him, and saw that he was really a carpet player, so I didn't expect much.

SS—Mickey Klutts. Guy seemed like a can't-miss. Hit .319, with 24 homers and a .922 OPS in Triple-A in 1976. Then—horrible leg break. And that became the story of his life. Hobbled by injuries, was never more than a utility infielder, mostly with Oakland. His injury was the reason why we got Bucky Dent, but still...Honorable mention to Andre Robertson, an even sadder story.

3B—Orestes Destrade. Basically, Bam-Bam 4 years earlier, but he also had one of the greatest ever baseball names. Looked good through Triple-A, then...Ended up in Japan, where he was so good they named a rock band after him. Honorable mention to Andy Carey and Pags, as well as The Mule.

OF—Bill Robinson.
Steve Whitaker.
Charlie Spikes.
Rusty Torres. A tie. Take your pick. These were all the guys who were going to lead us back, back in the day. Great baseball names. Never worked out. Robinson had a lot of injuries, and eventually became a very good Pittsburgh. Whitaker seems to have come under the influence of The Mick and Pepitone, God help him. Spikes and Torres? Who knows? Both ended up traded to Cleveland.

Honorable mention: Ricky Ledee, Shane Spencer, Ruben Rivera, Marvelous Marvin Throneberry (looked like a can't-miss in the Yanks' system), Steve Kemp, Barfield, Kerry Dineen, Bobby Brown, Gary Smith, Daryl Jones. So many!

P—Contreras was the biggest one, to me. I thought he'd have that mental toughness El Duque brought. Not quite. An enigma to the end.

I didn't expect that much from The Big Unit or Kevin Brown at their ages, I thought Kei Igawa was a mutt from the get-go, and I never had such high hopes for Pavano or Farnsworth.

—Sure, Vazquez and Pineda, who I thought might take us over the top.

—Stan Bahnsen. Never lived up to his great rookie year. Then again, he was a consistent Sox beater, so I give him his props.

—Ken Clay. Guy looked like he might be something special.

—Gil Patterson—but then, there are a whole bunch of young pitchers like this who just got the arm miseries, and it seems unfair to call them disappointments. I could also name Steve Kline and Rob Gardner here.

—Britt Burns. Total injury bomb-out.

—Rawley Eastwick. Never really given a chance by Billy Martin, who didn't want him on the team.

—Christian Parker. Injured in spring, didn't want to say anything...

—Denny Neagle. Thought he would be more.

Parson Tom said...

Munson over Posada and Howard, maybe Dickey, too. Rookie of the Year and MVP show he was dominating more than they did.

Anonymous said...

Steve Trout? What a disaster

HoraceClarke66 said...

I loved Munson, too. But, Parson Tom, he did not have nearly the power that either of the others had—albeit because he was playing at the old Yankee Stadium, at the end of a pitchers' era.

Dickey was overshadowed by Mickey Cochrane, it's true. And Cochrane may have been slightly better—but he was not nearly as durable, playing in 300 fewer games. Bill James seems to have made it a mission of his to diss Dickey, further diminishing his reputation—something I find inexplicable.

Posada, as mentioned, would be in the Hall now, if he had not been overshadowed by a prime juicer.

Both men had OPSes nearly a hundred points better than Munson's, which is a lot. For fielding, I'd probably rank Dickey slightly above Munson, and both well above Posada—but Jorge was no slouch behind the plate.

I don't know how much awards should count in assessing guys' careers—in that sportswriters have often been so moronic in handing them out. (Not to take anything away from Thurman's accomplishments.)

HoraceClarke66 said...

But Anon, what were your expectations for Steve Trout? Or, say, Ed Whitson? Mine were zero.

R. Angell said...


Excellent choices, though I'm not sure Winfield deserves to be on the all-time Yankees team. A player who might be a good choice to replace him (and who somehow was omitted from the outfield reserves) was Tommy "Old Reliable" Henrich. Henrich was a true Yankees hero; Winfield was not.

Henrich, incidentally, with Bill Gilbert wrote an autobiography titled Five O'Clock Lightning. It's a good read and contains several anecdotes that may be unfamiliar to many. One of the anecdotes is about Hank Bauer's competitive fires:

For his first Yankees game, Whitey Ford overslept and arrived late into the locker room. After the game, which Whitey won, Bauer went over to him and said, "Whitey, if you'd lost that game, you'd be dead."

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