Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Countdown To Opening Day: #47

[Joe and I are going to be running a tandem countdown format. He will focus his efforts on a notable baseball player from throughout the Major Leagues to wear that particular number, while I'm going to countdown via one or more not so notable Yankees, similar to the #14 post we did leading into Spring Training. There might not be one of each every single day, but we will try to ensure that there is at least one or the other.]

Shance Spencer, referred to as Roy Hobbs when Jeff Francoeur was still only 14, burst onto the scene during the Yankees illustrious 1998 season. In his first 67 at-bats in the Majors, Spencer famously lofted 10 home runs, three of them with the bags packed and drove in 27. Despite quickly coming back to earth, Spencer stuck around as a role player long enough to appear in four World Series.

In 2004 while he was supposed to be on a rehab assignment, he was arrested in Florida for driving 97MPH... while drunk. That same year, he and then teammate Karim Garcia were charged with assaulting a pizza delivery guy, but the charges were dropped. After all MLB teams passed on him, he played in Japan for two years, starting in 2005. He's currently a hitting coach for a Single A team in the Padres organization.

Bob Lemon was brought in to replace Billy Martin in 1978. He presided over the 14 game comeback to catch the Red Sox, the famous (or infamous, depending on where you are looking from) Bucky Dent game and the ensuing World Series Championship, wearing both #47 and #21 that season.

Ron "Suitcase" Villone has never spent more than two years in the same major league uniform. He threw 80 2/3 innings for the Yanks in 2006 to a 5.04ERA, then declined a salary arbitration offer from the Yankees that December. He made $2.5M in '06, but turned down the offer which would have almost certainly earned him raise. Ron went unsigned and came back to the Yanks on a minor league deal, costing him roughly $2M. He didn't make the team out of Spring Training in '07 but was called up in May and threw 42 1/3 innings to a better than league average ERA. I know this may cause a stampede, but he's currently a free agent. Notice his highly intimidating pitching sneer shown below.

Colter Bean, inspiration for the blog Free Colter Bean, holds the record for appearances for the Columbus Clippers with 212. A dubious distinction indeed, Bean will remembered not for his 7 major league innings and seven earned runs to match, but for his AAAA status and the fact his talent never carried over into the majors.

Last but not least... Sir Sidney Ponson. Rubber-armed and lard-gutted, Ponson was brought on for two separate stints with the Yanks in 2006 and 2008. In '06 he shat the bed to the tune of a 10.47ERA over 16 1/3 innings before being DFA'd.

Last year, after being released by Texas for his disorderly conduct despite sporting a 3.88ERA, he was snatched up by Brian Cashman on June 18th to help patch up the Yankees reeling rotation. He made his debut against the Mets on June 27th (the second half of the double header when Carlos Delgado suddenly stopped sucking) and went 6 innings without surrendering a run. It was pretty much all downhill from there. He ended up eating 80 innings for the Yankees (must... resist... fat... joke) but finished the season with a 5.85ERA in Pinstripes.

He is currently preparing to represent the Netherlands in the WBC by drinking his face off and assaulting respected public servants.

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