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Stars Who Take Lesser Roles to Play for the Yanks

By Mike Silva ~ August 2nd, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Howard Megdal over at SB New York writes about the top five stretch run pickups for the Yankees which include Glenallen Hill, Aaron Small, Johnny Mize, Enos Slaughter, and Pedro Ramos. Even back in the thirties and forties that Yankees loved stars on the downside giving it one last whirl in the Bronx.

A trait of a successful Yankees championship team is veterans who come to play for them. In the late seventies you saw former stars like Paul Blair and Jim Wynn take lesser roles on the Yankees in order to contribute to a winning environment. Since the nineties dynasty there have been many that fit that category. Tim Raines, Darryl Strawberry, and Cecil Fielder come to mind. Of course, not all work out. Kenny Loften wanted to win, but refused to sacrifice playing time in order to do so. Meanwhile Ruben Sierra gladly checked his ego at the door (the second time) in order to play for the Yankees.

Every championship team from 1977 has a player of that ilk. Last year it was Eric Hinske that filled that role. This year the Yankees elected to go with inexpensive homegrown players like Colin Curtis, Ramiro Pena, and Juan Miranda. Until the acquisition of Lance Berkman you didn’t have that “Cecil Fielder type” veteran on the roster. Don’t discount the impact of these players. Strawberry was huge in the 96′ ALCS, Fielder started the Game 4 rally in the World Series, and Sierra would have been a hero in the 03′ Fall Classic when he tied Game 4 if not for some suspect managerial decisions by Joe Torre.

The one player that Megdal failed to mention in his piece was David Justice. If not for his 20 homers, 60 RBI, and .977 OPS I don’t believe the Yankees make the playoffs, much less the World Series, in 2000. He was acquired on June 29th of that season for Jake Westbrook, Zach Day, and Ricky Ledee.

I realize not all were stretch run pickups, but the success of these types of players makes it hopeful that a declining star like Lance Berkman would be able to find his game in the Bronx. I have my doubts, personally I would have gone after Manny Ramirez in August, but history indicates Berkman has a great shot at making an impact.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Stars Who Take Lesser Roles to Play for the Yanks

  1. Marvin Ferguson

    I don’t think every body on the Yankee team has to be a star player. Even though some players get a lot of recognition like Darryl Strawberry and Cecil Fielder did, other players have made major contributions to the team that resulted in a winning record for the whole team. i still wouldn’t count Lance Berkman out.

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