Throughout a players MLB careers, most will switch uniforms one or more times during their career.
With any departure some are regrettable, but many work out for the player, the team or both. Still, no matter if it’s life or baseball, farewells are always tough. The New York Yankees are no different.
Many players have passed through the Bronx, only to depart and thrive in another team’s uniform, with some even taking on a new role.
There are a number of currently active players, managers or coaches, who at one point or another donned the Yankee pinstripes.
Let’s look at 10 of the Yankees-exes and rank them in order of impact.... post their time in New York:
Tyler Clippard got traded right before the 2008 season, after the 22-year-old, who went 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA to the Washington Nationals for reliever Jonathan Albaladejo.
Clippard was used, as spot starter for the Yankees, so in essence going to the Nationals would mean a full time roll. Clippard made just four starts for the Nationals before finding his true role, coming out of the bullpen. Clippard has done very well as the Nationals primary eighth inning pitcher, in his first 20 games in relief he posted an outstanding 0.92 ERA, with 42 strikeouts over 39 innings.
Relief pitcher Phil Coke was a part of the Yankees 2009 World Series team. It was his rookie season too, but Coke played a role in the team’s success pitching in 78 games and he also made six post-season appearances. Coke was at times the only lefty in the Yankees bullpen, but he got the job done only allowing 10 home-runs during the regular season.
Following 2009, Coke, along with Austin Jackson was traded to the Detroit Tigers, another fragment of the three-team trade in order to get Curtis Granderson in pinstripes. Coke continued to get better in 2010, making 74 appearances, posting a 3.76 ERA, in 64.2 innings and he only gave up two home-runs all season.
The Tigers have officially named Coke as a starter going into 2011. A big promotion that Coke said he is up for and ready for the challenge. He will be the only lefty in the rotation, but if Coke continues on the road he is on he should find success in his new role for sure.
Ian Kennedy was part of the Yankee rookie trio with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. To say the pressure was on these youngsters in 2008 would be polite, as the New York media, Yankee fans and the front office were expecting big things from all three.
Noticeably smaller in size and at the time talent than Hughes and Chamberlain, Kennedy had a rough time in the Bronx due to injuries and never getting his footing back. In 2009, Kennedy went 0-4 in nine starts, posting an 8.17 ERA.
At the end of 2009, Kennedy became another trade victim in the Granderson trade, but he went to the Arizona Diamondbacks so D-backs could send Max Scherzer to the Tigers.
Well, what seemed to be a career on the rocks, Kennedy has done well in Arizona. He made 32 starts, pitched 194 innings and posted an ERA of 3.80 and struck-out a whooping 168 hitters. His 9-10 record can easily blamed where Kennedy plays, not on his performance by any means.
There is not a Yankees fan who wanted to see the 2009 World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui play anywhere other than in the Bronx.
That is why it came as a shock when the Yankees let Matsui go by not renewing his contract and allowing other teams to make offers to the Japanese icon.
Matsui went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2010 and now he signed a one-year deal with the Oakland A's for this upcoming season.
Matsui's stats are excellent, as he is a highly decorated star both in the US and back at home in Japan. Regardless of his talent, Matsui brings such character to any team he plays on. Any player who gets the honor to call him a teammate will feel his impact.
Matsui is the definition of a professional, as just his presence alone makes a significant impact in itself.
One aspect he helped to fix as an Angel was getting the other hitters to follow his example of plate patience.
While with the Angels, Matsui maintained a .274 batting average, with 21 homers and 84 RBIs in 145 games. Not bad for the 37-year-old, but it's his charisma that makes Matsui so invaluable, no matter what uniform he might be wearing.
I can promise you the Yankee fans have missed watching a 'Thrilla By Godzilla."
All-time fan favorite, first baseman Don Mattingly was just as decorated as popular. Mattingly won nine Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, named the 1985 MVP, was the team Captain for four years and in 1993 won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Over his 14 years in the Bronx, Mattingly had 2,153 hits, 1,099 RBIs, 222 home-runs and a batting average of .307.
Due to back injuries, Mattingly ended his career in 1995, earlier than New York fans had hoped. Mattingly is one of the best hitters ever to wear Yankee pinstripes and his accomplishments are never-ending. Still, as the saying goes ‘being in the wrong place, at the wrong time’ best describes why Mattingly never played in a World Series as a player, a manifesto he would have shined on.
Mattingly is about to start his first year as a Skipper, taking over the Los Angeles Dodgers from his mentor the great Joe Torre. Expect big things for Mattingly, as that is just what happens when Donnie is in the ballpark.
As a player, Buck Showalter spent seven seasons in the Yankees' minor league system but posted a .294 batting average and hit 336 RBIs. Showalter played first base; a position Don Mattingly was a staple at during this time. Showalter did manage the Yankees for four seasons from 1992-1995. The team had a 313-268 record under Showalter, who took home 1995 Manager of the Year Award due to leading the team to their first playoffs since 1981. In a sense it was the start to the Yankee dynasty that followed, but Showalter got fired from the organization after that 1995 season.
Showalter became the Arizona Diamondbacks first skipper, hired in 1996 to help develop the expansion club who didn’t play until 1998. After a 65-97 record, Showalter lead a second year club to a 100-62. Showalter’s D-backs had a mediocre third season so again he got canned.
Since 2000, Showalter had stints on ESPN and in 2002 managed the Texas Rangers until 2006, where he won the 2004 AL Manager of the Year.
Showalter took over as the Baltimore Orioles skipper mid-way through 2010, a job no one really wanted, as the O’s were beyond a mess. Since he debuted on August 3, 2010 Showalter lead the O’s to a 34–23 record, the best in the tough AL East. Look for the O’s to continue to play like this, as Showalter is signed on through 2013.
The ‘American Idol’ pitcher Carl Pavano will go down as one of the least liked players to ever wear pinstripes, as he was only seen in them 26 times. Still, In 2004, Pavano inked a four-year contract worth $39.95 million with the Yankees. Over his four Yankee years Pavano posted a record of 9-8, with an ERA of 5.00, totaled 145 innings, giving up 23 home-runs and just 75 strikeouts. He missed the entire 2006 season.
Ironically, Pavano does make the cut for this Yankee list, as he has become a solid starter since his days in the Bronx as a Minnesota Twin. The last two seasons as a Twin, Pavano has made 44 starts, posting a 22-15 record, with an ERA of 3.97, has pitched 295 innings and batters have gone yard 31 times total. The Twins just resigned Pavano for another 2-years and are paying him $16.5 million bucks to bring his talents on the mound. Pavano was named the 2010 Joseph W. Haynes, which is the Twins' Pitcher of the Year Award. I’d say Pavano is making his mark in Minnesota.
If you don’t know the name Jose Tabata maybe his wife’s off-season troubles ring a bell? Well, it is not surprising if you forgot about this one-time Yankee prospect, Tabata plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team that doesn’t get much attention.
Scouted in 2005 and signed by the Yankees at age 17, Tabata was traded in the middle of 2008 to the Pirates for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. Tabata potential while in the Bombers farms system had fans excited, so the trade came with backlash, as the Yanks did not make the playoffs anyway that year.
Well, this kid is now 22-years-old and Tabata is considered one of the NL’s top rookies. In his rookie season, Tabata posted a .299 batting average, with a .346 on-base percentage and 19 steals in 102 games. Tabata only hit four home-runs, but had 24 doubles so the power is what he has been working on this off-season.
The Yankees scouts were dead on about Tabata, and if he can prove himself as the lead-off in 2011 he will be on his way to becoming a star.
Yankee fans were really upset that rookie Austin Jackson never actually made it to the outfield in the Bronx. Right before the start of 2010 season, Jackson was traded to the Detroit Tigers before he got the chance. Jackson was the jewel of the Yankee farm system for three seasons, so fans were disappointed.
He was traded mainly for outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is working out great in the Bronx so the initial blow didn’t last too long.
In Jackson’s first season in the bigs, he became the Tigers lead off batter and logged 675 plate appearances. He also had a .293 batting average, 34 doubles, 10 triples, and four home-runs; as well as stolen 27 bases. Jackson came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting, behind Rangers' Neftali Feliz. Jackson is 24-years-old, so expect big things from this special player in the future. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will ever be in pinstripes.
Pitching his first 11 of 16 seasons in Yankees pinstripes, Dave Righetti has been the pitching coach for the reigning World Champions San Francisco Giants. This left-hander’s Bronx debut came in 1979 at just 20-years-old. IN 1981, Righetti’s pitched as a starter for his full season, where he won Rookie Of The Year, posted an AL-leading 2.05 ERA and gave up just one home-run during the regular season. Righetti’s only post-season games, including in the World Series summed up his whirlwind rookie season. On July 4, 1983 Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox to only be moved to the bullpen in the following season. Righetti stayed a closer from 1984 till he retired in 1995, a role he ranks as the 29th best ever to play the game. In 326 save opportunities, Righetti made 252 saves. He left New York following the 1990 season and went on to play for the Giants, A’s, Blue Jays and White Sox in his last six seasons. Righetti lead the Giants to a World Series Championship in 2010. Everybody knows the reason behind San Francisco’s success, their dominant a pitching staff; which is not surprising when the coach has had the kind of success and experience on the mound as Righetti had as a player.