Former Family Members

During my Sunday morning cup of coffee this past week, I spent a relaxing hour or so culling through the wonderful MLB Depth Charts looking for former “family” members who should get playing time in 2012 and had some past affiliation with the Yankees. I came up with over thirty names. These will certainly be names I will look for in the daily box scores because there is still an emotional attachment. Sometimes those emotions are positive. Other times the former family members bring a shudder of bad memories. I then decided to put these former family members in categories based on the emotions they brought when seeing their names on the depth charts. Here is a list of how those emotions went:

Fresh wounds. These are family members that just left. The wounds of the parting are too soon to sort out.

  • Bartolo Colon (Oakland Athletics) – Colon saved our family last year. He came out of nowhere to give us quality memories and occasional smiles.Now he’s gone.
  • Jesus Montero (Seattle Mariners) – We needed to trade him to get a pitcher that we now stress over. But it could be the biggest move of the season. However, we will wince whenever Montero has a big game for the Mariners.
  • A.J. Burnett (Pittsburgh Pirates) – His legacy with our family is mixed. He was liked but didn’t always behave the way our family wanted. Good luck in Pittsburgh, A.J.

Children or relatives of the departed.

  • Jered Weaver (Angels) – Jered is the brother of Jeff Weaver, the stepchild of Joe Torre. Jeff Weaver was the uncle who always got drunk at the party and embarrassed us.
  • Prince Fielder (Detroit Tigers) – Prince, of course, is the son of Cecil Fielder. His father was a part of the 1996 Yankees and thus a former family member in good standing.
  • Dee Gordon (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Dee is the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon, one of the relief pitchers Joe Torre overused to the point where he never had anything left for the postseason.

Children we hardly got to know. These were young family members we never really got to see grow up.

  • Mark Melancon (Red Sox) – A former Yankees’ ninth round draft choice, Melancon pitched fifteen times for the Yankees in 2009 and 2010. He was part of the Lance Berkman deal with Houston. Now he’ll be a family member of the Hatfields (if the Yankees are the McCoys).
  • Shelley Duncan (Cleveland Indians) – Duncan gave us a thrill in 2007 when he slugged .554 in 83 plate appearances. But he disappeared into the minors for most of the next two seasons. He had a surprise resurgence for the Indians last year and is still fighting for major playing time.
  • Michael Dunn – (Miami Marlins) – Dunn was a 33rd Round draft choice for the Yankees. He always had a big arm, but no control. He got a World Series share in 2009 for four forgotten relief appearances. He was then part of the Boone Logan / Javier Vazquez deal with the Braves. Most recently, he has become a somewhat steady member of the Marlins’ bullpen.
  • Jeff Karstens (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Karstens was a former 13th Round draft choice of the Yankees and pitched for the team in 2006 and 2007 to mixed success. Traded to the Pirates along with Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Ross Ohlendorf  for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. Karstens had a decent season for the Pirates a year ago.
  • Jose Tabata (Pittsburgh Pirates) – See Karstens above
  • Daniel McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) – See Karstens above
  • Tyler Clippard (Nationals) – Clippard was a a 9th Round draft choice for the Yankees and made six starts for the team in 2007. He went 3-1 but had a high ERA and gave up lots of homers. He was traded to the Nationals for Jonathan Abaladejo (and apple a day-0) and has become an effective member of the Nationals’ bullpen.
  • Austin Jackson  (Detroit Tigers) – At one time, Jackson was the Yankees’ top prospect and the Yankees used that as one of the chips to get Curtis Granderson from the Tigers. After last season, jettisoning Jackson seemed to be the right call.
  • Ian Kennedy (Arizona Diamondbacks) – Once, along with Phil Hughes was going to be a great Yankee pitcher of the future. But he had that disastrous start to the 2008 season, got hurt and was a throw in on the Granderson deal. Won 21 games last year. An ouchie.
  • Hector Noesi (Seattle Mariners) – Part of the Montero deal. He had some good outings for the Yankees last year, but there wasn’t much of an emotional investment here to put him in the first category.

Marriages that didn’t work – These were players that were expected to do well with the team, but it never quite worked out.

  • LaTroy Hawkins (Angels) – Hawkins has been around and had many effective seasons. His one season with the Yankees wasn’t one of them.
  • Lance Berkman (Cardinals) – Was supposed to be one of those trade deadline deals that helped. He never got on track for the Yankees and the team was stunned at his transformation in St. Louis.
  • Kyle Farnsworth (Tampa Bay Rays) – Reviled in Yankee land for his brief stay. He had a decent season for the Rays last season.
  • Carl Pavano (Minnesota Twins) – A subject of derision for his Yankee years, Pavano has rebuilt his reputation as a hard worker since leaving.
  • Jose Contreras (Philadelphia Phillies) – The Yankees won a bidding war for Contreras after he defected from Cuba. But his inconsistency for the team meant he never settled in as a fan favorite. Contreras has had a decent career as a reliever since he departed.
  • Octavio Dotel (Detroit Tigers) – The Yankees were one of Dotel’s record-breaking thirteen stops. It did not go well at all.
  • Jose Veras (Milwaukee Brewers) – Veras has had good years and bad years. He had a good year for the Yankees and a really bad one. The bad one is the one remembered.

Re-marriages to regret – The first marriage was pleasant. The second was not.

  • Nick Johnson (Baltimore Orioles) – No need to go into details here. The category is self-explanatory.

Fond but mixed memories – Family members who had more good memories than bad.

  • Jason Giambi (Colorado Rockies) – Giambi went through his PED scandal as a Yankee and had some injuries and the Yankees couldn’t get a title during his years, but Giambi had some brilliant years playing for the team.
  • Alfonso Soriano (Chicago Cubs) – A member of championship Yankee teams and had some great offensive seasons while in New York. But his failure in the postseason and his clanky defense mire some of the fond memories.
  • Bobby Abreu (Angels) – Performed well for the Yankees but wasn’t much of a right-fielder and the Yankees couldn’t get a title with him on the team.

Mostly forgotten – Nondescript players who are largely forgotten

  • Dustin Moseley (San Diego Padres) – Made a few spot starts for the Yankees and didn’t embarrass himself.
  • Juan Rivera (Los Angeles Dodgers) – The Yankees were the first of his many stops along a nondescript career.
  • Jerry Hairston, Jr. (Los Angeles Dodgers) – A bit player in a long career as such.
  • Miguel Cairo (Cincinnati Reds) – Same category as Hairston. Both have more baseball lives than a cat.

Brief Smiles of Remembrance

  • Kerry Wood (Chicago Cubs) – Brilliant down the stretch for the 2010 Yankees.
  • Melky Cabrera (San Francisco Giants) – Where did last year come from!? We’ll remember his smile and his mostly ineffectiveness.

Oh yeah, forgot about him – Players we barely remember that their careers started in New York.

  • Ted Lilly (Los Angeles Dodgers) – It’s all but forgotten that Lilly got his feet wet with the Yankees from 2000 to 2oo2. Went on to have a solid career as a starter.
  • Randy Choate (Miami Marlins) – LOOGY that started his career as an ineffective Yankee.

Married our rivals

  • Phil Coke  (Detroit Tigers) – A somewhat important member of the 2009 championship team. He now pitches for the team that beat the Yankees in 2011.
  • Alfredo Aceves (Boston Red Sox) – A swing man that was useful and has become doubly so for the Red Sox.

Whether the memories are fond or bitter, short or long, all of these players were once part of the family. Despite myself, I will always care how they perform wherever they are now.

About William Tasker

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at since 2003.

10 thoughts on “Former Family Members

  1. Kevin Brown? What a pain cave he was. Rondell White? Mike Pagliarulo and Cecilio Guante. Don Slaught. Mike Stanley and the man who started it all for us…Roberto Kelly.

  2. What would Soriano's narrative be if MO didnt blow the save in game seven? Would he be remembered as the guy who got the clutch game winning HR off one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time? Or would he be remembered for his "failure in the postseason and his clanky defense"?