The New York Yankees are playing their home opener against the
Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim today at 1 PM. The last time that happened was not long ago at all- 2010, when the fans welcomed back World Series MVP Hideki Matsui with a roaring ovation as he received his World Series ring. The Angels returning to the Stadium for the home opener again this year got me thinking about the 2009 team. Amazingly, just 13 players remain from the 30 listed on the commemorative T-shirt, and the number would have been just 12 if Andy Pettitte hadn't come out of retirement. The majority of them have moved on, even though only two full seasons have passed since the team's ride down the Canyon of Heroes.
So, as a fun little piece before today's opener, join me as we take a look at where these players have done in the few years since the championship. There will be snacks!
The Fine Wine (Aged Players)
Mariano Rivera - Despite being told by various columnists over the past decade that he's going to decompose within the next month, Mo has kept on keepin' on. He is now the all-time leader in saves, having passed Trevor Hoffman in 2011, and is still arguably the best reliever in baseball. May Mo pitch forever.
Derek Jeter - He finished third in voting for the AL MVP in '09, and The Cap'n is still hangin' in there. He slumped to a sub-100 wRC+ for the next season and a half, but recovered with a terrific second half in 2011, notching his 3,000th hit in the process. A new deal he signed prior to the the '11 season will keep him under contract through next year with a player option in '14. His range has gone back to crap, but alas.
Alex Rodriguez - The hero of the 2009 playoffs has continued to be plagued by injuries in the past few seasons. He hit home run number 600 in 2010, but has missed over 75 games since the start of the '10 season. We're still centaur-powered through 2017 though, so hopefully the Centaur finds a second wind.
Andy Pettitte- 2010: All-Star Campaign and a Last Hurrah! 2011: Retirement! 2012: Texas is boring, I'm coming back!
The Filet Mignon (Pricey Acquisitions in the '08-'09 Off-season)
CC Sabathia - Despite his huge contract, CC has proved to be worth every penny. Three years and 18.7 fWAR, worth $81.9 million by FanGraphs estimation, which is actually a profit of the $63.8 million the Yankees have spent on him thus far. So he got a new contract! Hurrah.
Mark Teixeira - The master of blandness has followed up his terrific '09 season with some "eh" campaigns in '10 and '11. One day, he will learn how to hit away from the shift. Maybe. He'll likely be here through 2016 anyway.
Nick Swisher - Swish wasn't the pricey acquisition that CC & Tex each were, but he can still fall under this category. Swish was an All-Star in '10, though his production fell slightly in '11. 2012 might be his last season in New York since he's a Free Agent after this year, but we'll see.
The Sushi Platter (The Popular Youth)
Robinson Cano - In the eyes of New York sports pundits, Robbie has changed from "Bases-empty MVP" to just "MVP" in the past few years. Doesn't matter what they think though, most of us have known he's always had the capability of being this good.
Brett Gardner - 75% of the world is covered by water. The rest is covered by Brett Gardner. Still incredibly underrated.
David Robertson - D-Rob has perfected his "Houdini" act that he practiced in the '09 playoffs. He currently spends his time embarrassing major league hitters.
Phil Hughes - Reliever in '09. Benefactor of the win statistic in '10. Master chef from mid-'10 through '11. This year might be his last shot at validating his status as a first-round pick.
Joba Chamberlain - How many people have had Tommy John surgery despite not having arm pains? How many people have destroyed their ankle on a trampoline? The answer to both is Joba. Bizarre.
Francisco Cervelli - He's somehow gone from third-string to PSA cult hero backup to concussion-prone AAA starter (at least for now). Another bizarre one.
Ramiro Pena - Really one falls into this category by default. Replaced by Eduardo Nunez on the MLB roster and still hangs around
Scranton the Empire State as the emergency MLB infielder. Still can't hit a lick.
Nomadic Food (Players Who've Moved Around the Country)
Johnny Damon - He stole two bases that one time! Damon's is a true baseball nomad at this point, voyaging to a city full of cars to a city full of old people, and now... Cleveland. What do you think of Cleveland, Ichiro?
Melky Cabrera - The Melkman has bounced around quite a bit as well. After an absolutely awful season with Atlanta following the Javy Vazquez trade, he somehow had 200 hits last year with Kansas City in '11. Enter Brian Sabean!
A.J. Burnett - We'll always have Game 2. $19 million and a Ninja Cashman move later, not the Yankees' problem. Yarr!
Alfredo Aceves - The Vulture of wins is now the Red Sox closer! Lolz.
Jose Molina - To Canada! To Tampa and... a starting gig for the first time at age 37? He has one hit thus far.
Jerry Hairston, Jr. - I'll bet you haven't been on four teams in three years. Who knows where the Hairston Tour will go next. Nine teams down, 21 to go.
Eric Hinske - This generation's Don Baylor (at least in playoff terms) had his four-year, four-team playoff streak end when he returned to the Braves and missed the playoffs in '11. Shoulda moved to Milwaukee!
Phil Coke - Remember when people were actually pining for him after the Granderson deal? Yeah, that happened. He was an okay reliever, but geez.
Brian Bruney - If it wasn't for his fastball potential, he probably wouldn't have a job. I remember he yelled at K-Rod one time. He's spent time in the Nats, Mets, and White Sox organizations since leaving New York.
Jonathan Albaladejo - The quintessential AAAA pitcher. Dominated in Scranton, sucked in New York. The 29-year old resurfaced with the Diamondbacks in '12 after
eating playing in Japan last year. He's already given up runs in AAA Reno!
Chad Gaudin - Ew. Was actually a fine number five starter at the end of '09, but was downright crap in '10, first for Oakland and then the Yankees in a poor return to the club. Slummed around in Vegas, 'Cuse, and DC last year before resurfacing in Miami for 2012. Oh.
Dumpster Fire (Dumpster Fire)
Sergio Mitre - Maybe that story about Cashman's stalker was really about Serge.
Damaso Marte - These strikeouts were awesome, but were definitely not worth about $12 million. I hear he's still on the DL even though he's unemployed.
Edwar Ramirez - He was cut by the Yanks. He was cut by Texas. He was cut by Oakland. He was cut by Yucatan of the Mexican League. He was probably cut by your local beer league softball team too.
So that's everybody, right? Right?
Um... you're retired. Howzabout you throw out the first pitch?
All right, good. Now we're done, right?
Yeah, I don't think even you know what you're doing.