The Yankees’ quirkiest lineup

Chris Lund did a piece like this last week and I thought it was very interesting and fun, so I decided to create my own quirky lineup since 1994 for the Yankees. With guys like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, etc. playing for the team for multiple years, this was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be, but there is enough to make you smile. Here are those guys you remember because of that one play, one game, or just what they represented.

C-Sal Fasano: Fasano was traded in the middle of the 2006 season by the Phillies to the Yankees for a prospect to replace Wil Nieves as the backup catcher. After getting a hit in his first at-bat in pinstripes, he didn’t do too much as he posted a .508 OPS for New York. But the reason he made this list is not because of his numbers or anything else—it’s because of that glorious mustache he sported.

1B-Doug Mientkiewicz: Three years removed from helping the Red Sox break the curse in 2004, Mientkiewicz came to New York to platoon at first base with Josh Phelps. He put up a very respectable batting line of .277/.349/.440, but he was known for his great defense. However, the reason that Yankee fans love him is because he tried to sell a game ball from Game 4 of the 2004 World Series.

2B-Tony Womack: I actually laughed while typing his name. The Yanks signed him as a free agent after the 2004 season to hopefully provide some stability at second base and atop the lineup. He did no such thing, hitting .249/.276/.280 and an OPS+ of 50 in his lone year. The one good thing that it did was pave the way for Robinson Cano to get a midseason call-up. Cano hit .297 in his time with the big league club that year and Womack was not re-signed after the season.

3B-Enrique Wilson: As a Yankee fan, you can’t hate Enrique Wilson. He was the Yankees utility infielder for three-and-a-half years and did an okay job of filling in for players while they were hurt and doing some pinch running. During his time with with the Yanks, he hit .216/.261/.332, but that stat is not the important one. He was 11-for-25 in his career against Pedro Martinez with two homers, which earned him the love of Joe Torre and fans.

SS-Erick Almonte: This was the toughest position to find someone for since there has been so much stability here, but I settled on Almonte. He was something of a prospect, but not highly touted at all. His one real claim to fame is stepping in for Derek Jeter while Jeter was out with a separated shoulder early in the 2003 season. Almonte played in 31 games that year and hit .260/.321/.350 along with belting his first career homer. He didn’t do much after that as he bounced around the Tigers system for a couple of years and then moved to the Brewers. He actually made Milwaukee’s Opening Day roster, but only played in 16 games before being cut.

LF-Marcus Thames: Does anyone remember what Marcus Thames did to the first pitch he ever saw? I do, I was actually at the game. He sent a Randy Johnson offering over the left wall. After that? Well, he was traded to the Rangers for Ruben Sierra during the 2003 season and then spent many years with the Tigers until re-joining the Yanks as a fourth outfielder and lefty masher.

CF-Kenny Lofton: Lofton spent time with 11 teams, 10 of which were at most one year. During the 2004 season, the Yankees were lucky enough to have the center fielder. The problem was that the Yanks also had fan favorite Bernie Williams out there so Lofton only played in 83 games. This definitely led to some clubhouse friction, and years after leaving the team, he called manager Joe Torre a racist and said that the skipper played favorites. This could be why he only stole a career-low seven stolen bases that year. Overall, a very forgettable year for him.

RF-Tony Tarasco: I actually didn’t know that Tarasco was a Yankee at any point until I started doing the research for this. But yes, the outfielder did spend some time in pinstripes during the 1999 season. But that .161/.229/.226 hitting line he posted is not what gets him on here. It’s actually something that happened three years earlier. Tarasco was actually the right fielder when Derek Jeter hit his famous ALCS home run in which Jeffrey Maier, a little kid, reached over the wall from the stands and caught the ball only a few inches above where Tarasco’s glove was. To all you Yankee fans out there, make sure you thank him for not jumping.

DH-Clay Bellinger: As a kid growing up in the 1990s I loved Clay Bellinger. He played a little bit of everything and since I couldn’t decide where to put him, I decided designated hitter would be an okay compromise. He was your classic every position guy who did some pinch running on the side and was lucky enough to win two rings (it seemed like more to me). In his three years with the Bombers, he hit .194/.258/.365 and was worth -0.2 rWAR.

I’m sure there are many I forgot or left off and to those I am sorry. Make sure you look out for my quirkiest Yankees rotation next week.

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  1. Frank Jackson said...

    Clay Bellinger’s lastest position is as a fireman in Arizona.  At least, that’s what he was doing the last time I was in Arizona a year and a half ago.  It was either Chandler or Gilbert, can’t remember which.

  2. Richard Barbieri said...

    For the record, I hate Enrique Wilson something fierce*. He was bad, bad, bad but Torre seemed to love him in the face of all logic. And he didn’t have any actual big moments—like Luis Sojo, who was more-or-less the same player—to warm me up to him.

    Also, I’m not sure about your numbers on Wilson vs. Pedro, he was 11-for-25 but with no home runs. And a lot of that was in one 5-for-5 stretch in mid 2003, which earned him two playoff starts wherein he went a might 1-for-6.

    *In the sports fan sense, not the real world sense

  3. Paul G. said...

    To go into more detail, Womack’s failures and injury allowed Robinson Cano to get a shot.  At the time he was considered a so-so prospect.  I remember the discussions at the time of whether the Yankees were going to make a trade for a proven second baseman or wait for Womack to get healthy again.  Cano seemed more of an afterthought/delaying option than anything.  Surprise!

    But the better choice is Mariano Duncan.  “We play today, we win today… das it!”  Unless that doesn’t count as quirky.

  4. Bob Rittner said...

    From an earlier era, there was Jack Reed. He was known as Mantle’s caddy because he was used primarily as a defensive replacement to rest Mickey late in games. In fact, in his 3 seasons, all with the Yankees, he appeared in 222 games but got only 144 PAs.

    But one of those plate appearances was dramatic. In 1962 he came into a tie game against Detroit in the 13th inning. (He actually replaced Phil Linz who had pinch hit for Joe Pepitone who had earlier replaced Mantle) and got 4 ABs. His last one was his one and only major league home run-in the 22nd inning with Maris aboard-that won the game (although Detroit batted last) for Bouton and the Yankees.

    Reed played one more season before leaving the majors for good. His batting line in 1962 was .302/.362/.465 in 48 PAs. His career line was .233/.308/.326.

    Incidentally, the three other players I mentioned in that game-Linz, Pepitone and Bouton-could also be on an all-quirky Yankee team as might Celerino Sanchez, Walt no-neck Williams, Dock Ellis, Charley Silvera and quite a few more.

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