It’s October and not only are the New York Yankees not in the World Series (again), but they didn’t even make the playoffs at all. Spooky baseball circumstances indeed as we cut to every New Yorker, including the crosstown rival Mets fans:
Granted, we’ve grown accustomed to the Mets missing out on October, but the Yankees? That was the late George Steinbrenner’s constant nightmare.
The worst part? Given his penchant for gutting the farm system to make a “win now” trade, he never realized that the call was coming from *gasp* inside the house! Anyway, I digress.
Seeing as it’s Halloween, and New York baseball fans are starved for sports coverage while munching on Target’s clearance candy corn, let’s make baseball spooky. Here is the worst, scariest, most terrifying, horrific Yankees lineup we could put together.
C- Chris Stewart (2008, 2012-13). Stewart was your typical reliable backup catcher and played for eight teams in 12 years. As a Yankee, he hit an uninspiring .217 with a .557 OPS. The downside was the post-Jorge Posada/Russell Martin Yankees used four different catchers in 2013 and Stewart drew the most games played at 109. The Yankees signed Brian McCann that offseason.
1B- Doug Mientkiewicz (2007). Remember when this guy was a can’t-miss hitting prospect for the Twins and then caught the World Series-clinching, curse-breaking out for the Red Sox in 2004? We sure do. It was the peak of Mientkiewicz’s career before the injury bug bit him hard.
He hit a respectable .277 in 72 games as a Yankee, missing three months after suffering a concussion, sprained neck, and broken wrist against…the Red Sox. The long recovery seemed to help Mientkiewicz, who returned in early September and hit .429 the rest of the season before moving on to Pittsburgh.
2B- Stephen Drew (2014-15). Drew’s slash line in his brief Bronx tenure was an abysmal .187/.257/.352. The saddest part? His 17 home runs in 2015 ranked fifth on the Yankees. We’d say he was the original Joey Gallo, but that’d be an insult to Joey Gallo.
SS- Spike Owen (1993). And if you thought Drew was bad? Be thankful he didn’t get the Spike Owen treatment. The Yankees gave this glove-first, light hitting switch-hitter a three-year, $7 million deal. He was a career .243 hitter and only hit .234 in 103 games for New York in ’93.
He was traded to the Angels for a career minor leaguer that offseason.
3B- Jerry Kenney (1967, 1969-72). Oh, those awful mid-60s Yankees. Years of an aging Mickey Mantle with only Bobby Murcer supporting him in the lineup. The third baseman during these post-Clete Boyer years was Kenney, who only hit .237 with a .625 OPS in pinstripes. He held his own in the field and could also play the outfield, but nobody really remembers Kenney unless they really go digging.
In a way, his Yankees career passes by like a ghost ship in the night.
LF- Ken Griffey (1982-1986). By the numbers, the senior Griffey wasn’t terrible as a Yankee after being acquired from the Reds in December 1981. He hit .285 with a .755 OPS in four-and-a-half years. The downside was that Griffey couldn’t stay healthy, and then he became a liability in the field. The Yankees traded him to Atlanta for Claudell Washington.
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury (2014-2017). A seven-year, $153 million contract. Ellsbury played four, was healthy for two, and then missed all of 2018 and ’19 before being released.
The Yankees paid him every cent owed. If that isn’t scary, then what is?
RF- Raul Mondesi (2002-03). The former star Dodgers prospect was average in his brief Yankees stint, hitting a clean .250 with 27 homers and a .777 OPS. The problem was his loud and brash style didn’t sit well with manager Joe Torre, Brian Cashman, or whatever the “Yankee Way” was at the time. He was traded to Arizona in July 2003 and later ripped the Yankees.
DH- Ken Phelps (1988-89). The Yankees needed a bat and Steinbrenner traded top outfield prospect Jay Buhner to Seattle for Phelps’ aging bat. Phelps was traded a year later, and Buhner hit 307 of his 310 career homers with the Mariners. He even had three-straight 40-home run seasons!
Frank Costanza was right.
SP- Too many contract mistakes to name. The Yankees have had their fair share of nightmare pitchers. What’s terrifying is that most were free agent signees. Instead of focusing on just one, here are some of the worst:
- Ed Whitson (1985-86)- Signed for five years, $4.4 million; 15-10, 5.38 ERA in 44 games (34 starts).
- Carl Pavano (2005, 2007-09)- Signed for four years, $39.95 million; 9-8, 5.00 ERA in 26 starts.
- Jaret Wright (2005-06)- Signed for three years, $21 million; 16-12, 4.99 ERA in 43 games (40 starts).
- Kei Igawa (2007-08)- Signed for five years, $20 million, plus $26 million posting fee; 2-4, 6.66 ERA in 16 games (13 starts).
I know, that one was particularly frightening. But stay with us. Almost done!
RP- Steve Karsay (2002, 2004-05). This supposed to be a fairy tale when Karsay, an elite reliever who grew up in Queens, signed with the Yanks for four years and $22 million. He posted a solid 3.26 ERA in 78 games out of the ‘pen in 2002, but that was it. Karsay missed all of 2023 with shoulder surgery and only appeared in 13 more games for the Yankees.