What a difference two years make. In 2013, the Yankees were very, very bad. Even though the team finished with a final record of 85-77, their Pythagorean record of 79-83 suggested they were worse, and my eyes told me they were unbearable to watch. Not only were they a boring team, but they paraded out a cast of characters one would never believe. Even last year that roster looked like a joke, and I would say even more so a year later. Let's take a look at where our old friends have gone.
In the first month of the 2013 season, Wells looked like he was having a career resurgence--in 105 plate appearances, he hit .298/.362/.532 (144 wRC+) with six home runs. In his next 357 plate appearances, he then hit .216/.258/.296 (47 wRC+) with five home runs. It's too bad the Yankees and Angels were on the hook for his salary for 2014, so they paid him even though he was unable to play baseball. What is he doing now?
I'd take the lake life over the 2013 Yankees every day of the week.
Hafner came into the 2013 season as some power off the bench, and it (like many things that year) failed miserably. Even though he hit .304/.429/.638 (187 wRC+) with six home runs in the month of April, he followed that up with 46 wRC+ in his final 213 plate appearances, largely because of right shoulder tendinitis that would ultimately end his career.
Today you can find Hafner as a special assistant to the Indians' player development and scouting crew, and last year he was an assistant coach at Notre Dame. We didn't see much of him and he didn't have a "Yankee Legacy," but good on him for getting a post-baseball career.
Nix could never seem to go away, and the situation that season did not help. With Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez down, Nix had to step it up to fill the holes. And, he didn't. He hit .236/.308/.311 (70 wRC+) in 303 plate appearances. Funny enough, this is pretty close to Stephen Drew's 2015 performance.
Today Nix plays for the Phillies' Triple-A team, and that's no surprise considering he put up -1.1 fWAR last season between three clubs. His wRC+ was a -8! In about 200 plate appearances with two Triple-A clubs, he certainly won't make the big league club.
Cruz was largely an afterthought on that roster, one of many. He put up a 19 OPS+ in 59 plate appearances, and then he was gone. Now, he's an integral part of another team, the Chiba Lotte Marines, a team in the NPB's Pacific League. Interestingly enough, he has garnered a lot of respect in Japan as a defensive wizard, like in this article from ONE World Sports:
"Cruz is now the one getting attention in his second year with the Chiba Lotte Marines because of his defensive prowess and, by the way, he’s raking balls that not even an infield full of [Manny] Machados could touch. When asked if he was trying to make a push for the Gold Glove this year, Cruz shied away from the notion... Cruz has been good for the Marines, and could march them into a playoff spot if he keeps up this pace."
A world where Luis Cruz is leading a professional club to a playoff spot is a world I want to live in.
He is largely lauded as an ironic legend of the 2013 Yankees for playing in one game, but he is an actual legend in Giants' lore for hitting a pennant clinching home run last season. He has only played 17 games this season, but Travis Ishikawa gets to kiss his World Series ring good night and fall asleep watching GIF's of himself hitting a historic home run because baseball is a strange, strange sport.
Who could forget The Greek God of Walks' Yankee stint? Actually, a lot of people. After Brian Cashman acquired Youkilis off of the scrap heap in hopes he would be cheap insurance at third base, he imploded almost immediately. He experienced low back tightness as early as April 21st, 2013, and he had surgery for a herniated disk just two months later. He only played 28 games, and by fWAR, he cost them about a half a win.
Youkilis went on to Japan to play a season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, and he had a .665 OPS in just 21 games before calling it quits. He is now a consultant for the Cubs, as he could not part with Theo Epstein for more than a short while.
This is just a sampling of the hot trash that sat upon the Yankees' roster in 2013, because there is plenty more where that came from: Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez, Reid Brignac, Thomas Neal, Ben Francisco, Chris Bootcheck, Mike Zagurski, and Brennan Boesch. But of the above players--the more prominent ones that I've focused on--we have gone from potential big league regulars to either spare parts or coaches/consultants, in just two years! A lot can change in just two years, and when you're dealing with rosters deep in waiver wire or scrap heap selections, you're bound to find gems like these that turned into pumpkins over night.