4 Former New York Yankees Busts Who Have Found Success Elsewhere 1
Jun 22, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak (43) reacts after giving up a two-run home run against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning of their inter-league game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Not everyone can have a true Bronx tale. These former New York Yankees busts ended up being pure gold after leaving New York.

The New York Yankees are doing incredible right now, to say the least. They are dominating opponents and sit comfortably atop the American League East, despite experts deeming them doomed from the start. During this rebuilding year, they’ve gotten rid of dead weight and entered the season with new life and fresh, young faces. They are rebuilding team chemistry and making the New York Yankees the team to beat once again.

While this current squad is made up of winners, the Yankees have certainly had some players in the past who weren’t exactly All-Stars. They would consistently blow leads in the bullpen, strike out more often than not and cost the Yankees victories quite often. That’s just how it works. There are players that carry the team and then there are the ones who are just along for the ride. However, after leaving the Bronx, several of these players ended up righting the ship and going on to succeed in other ballparks. No pinstripes? No problem! Let’s take a look at some of these players who had nothing in the Bronx and since leaving, have had nothing but success.
Apr 29, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak (34) against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

4. Anthony Swarzak

Let’s talk first about the most recent success story to come out of the Bronx…despite his absolutely horrific appearance in pinstripes. Swarzak joined the Yankees in 2016 and was expected to be a strong middle reliever to bridge the gap from starter to closer. However, that dream vanished quickly as Swarzak crumbled under the pressure. In 31 innings pitched in 2016, Swarzak gave up 28 hits and posted a dismal 5.52 ERA. Included in that was his role in allowing the Toronto Blue Jays to come back from a 6-0 deficit back in August. Today? Swarzak elected free agency at the end of the 2016 season and signed with the Chicago White Sox, where he is revered as a God. Swarzak had pitched 19.2 scoreless innings until giving up a three-run home run to Mike Trout Wednesday night. With that, Swarzak has pitched to the tune of a 1.37 ERA and a 0.46 WHIP this season. Maybe his story just wasn’t meant to be in the Bronx spotlight.

May 9, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) throws the ball in the second inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

3. Ivan Nova

Another Yankee of the last few years, Nova turned his career around with one simple move to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 30-year-old veteran was traded to the Pirates after being unable to preserve a lead for the Yankees. After six full seasons of testing out the pitcher who was dubbed “the next big thing,” the Yankees realized it was time to let him go. Maybe it was his consistently high ERA (4.90 in his final season with the Yankees). Maybe it was the incredibly high amount of home runs he allowed. Maybe he just didn’t fit in their plan with what he showed the Yankees so far. Regardless, his trip to Pittsburgh has done him wonders. Since joining the Pirates, he has a 2.80 ERA. In 19 games, he has only walked seven batters while striking out 85. Nova wasn’t much with the Yankees. Maybe going to Pittsburgh allowed him to reach his full potential and the Yankees just gave up too soon.

Apr 29, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

2. Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera was not bad by any means. He was just better outside of New York. Cabrera was called up for a short amount of time in 2005 and then spent the next four seasons trying to prove he was worthy of a starting spot. The Yankees gave it to him. While he batted a decent .269 during his time in the Bronx, his defense was just okay. He was an exciting young player, which was exactly what the Yankees wanted to see. However, they cut him loose before the 2010 season.

He was a journeyman but found incredible success with the Blue Jays and the White Sox, his most recent teams. Cabrera batted .293 in Toronto and is currently batting a solid .280 in Chicago. This all happened after his blip on the radar when it comes to steroids. Cabrera could have been something in the Bronx, but the Yankees cut him loose before he got to prove himself. That ended up being good news for Cabrera, who found comfort on other teams.

1. AJ Burnett

Did your inner self just scream when you read his name? Because mine did. Terrible memories come flooding back when Burnett’s name is uttered and that’s enough to tell you that he was CLEARLY a fan-favorite in the Bronx. Burnett was signed by the Yankees after he dominated them for a few years on the Blue Jays. The Yankees were expecting an ace and got a bum. During three seasons in the Bronx, Burnett averaged a 4.79 ERA. During two of those three years, Burnett posted his two highest ERAs of his career (5.26 and 5.15). He was horrific, in a word. Then he went to Pittsburgh and, like Nova, he seemed to find his groove. He was an ace for the Pirates, posting a 35-28 record in three seasons with a 3.34 ERA (his lowest on any team). It seemed the Burnett could always figure out how to beat the Yankees but couldn’t figure out how to help them. Oh well, that’s a three-year stint we’ve put in the past. It’s interesting to look back on players that performed so poorly for the Yankees only to be studs elsewhere. There are other players who have gone to other teams and completely dominated only the Yankees.

It will forever be a mystery. However, at least we know that if a player isn’t working for the New York Yankees, they can still have a career if they go to Pittsburgh.

Allison is just a girl with an enormous passion for the game of baseball and the written word. Based in Upstate New York, her life-long relationship with the New York Yankees is something that she developed through close relationships with her mother and grandfather. An aspiring sports writer, she graduated with a journalism degree and is finding places to share her excitement about the sporting world and how it affects us all.