All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Monday, September 03, 2007

The one you gave away...

Once again, the Yanks prove confounding. They swept Boston, the best team in baseball, but lost two of three to the Devil Rays, the worst team in baseball.

To add to the agony, much of the damage was done by two players they basically threw away. Catcher Dioner Navarro was traded to Arizona as part of the Randy Johnson trade. Yeah, that sure worked out well. Arizona didn't even really want him (they flipped him almost immediately), and we desperately needed (and still need) a young catcher to be Jorgie's backup and successor. Then there's Carlos Pena, who was languishing in Columbus last year, and finally bolted when the Yanks refused to call him up. He's the best first baseman in the league this year, and we were (and are) desperately seeking a decent first baseman.

The Times has an article about Pena and his stint with the Yanks.

After toiling for the Yankees’ Class AAA team last season without the hint of a call-up, Peña needed resiliency to make it back.

“I’ve always envisioned this, ever since I was a little kid,” he said yesterday, after bashing a three-run homer that put away Andy Pettitte and the Yankees in an 8-2 victory. “I try not to put any numbers in my head. Just go out every day, keep it as simple as possible and know that there are no limits. Why put a limit on yourself?”

Peña has 34 home runs, tying Aubrey Huff and José Canseco for the most in a season by a Devil Ray, and 96 runs batted in. Only three major leaguers in the last 25 years have hit more home runs after being a nonroster invitee to spring training.

Kevin Long, the Clippers' hitting coach last year and the Yankees' this year, is apparently a friend and mentor to Pena.

When Peña got to Columbus, Ohio, where the Yankees’ farm team was then based, his career had flatlined. A first-round draft pick who had been traded by Texas and Oakland, Peña hit 27 home runs for Detroit in 2004 but slumped so badly the next season that he was sent to the minors. In the spring of 2006, he was released.

“There was a reason he was in Triple-A,” said Long, the Yankees’ hitting coach, who mentored Peña in Columbus. “He had a lot of holes, there was no consistency to his swing, there were a lot of strikeouts, and there was a low average. He’s just a much different hitter now than he was when he came to Columbus.”

Long found that Peña, now 29, was willing to listen. He spread his stance wider, tried to stop drifting forward and controlled the movement of his head.

Kevin Long is credited with turning around Melky Cabrera's and Robinson Cano's careers in Columbus - one reason Long is now with the big club.

Meanwhile, in Louisville yesterday the Bats announcers mentioned Bubba for the first time in awhile. They haven't even been naming him when they read off the disabled list any more. But yesterday, in a sort of season summary, they mentioned that he spent the most time of any Bat on the disabled list. Sigh. Not exactly the kind of recognition I'd hoped for him.

Ah, well. It's gotta be better next year, right? Craig Wilson had the same kind of shoulder surgery, I think, and they seem to be expecting it to improve his hitting as well as his throwing. Maybe it'll work that way for Bubba, too.

posted by BubbaFan, 10:52 AM


Add a comment