Thinking about the Yankees’ numbers

Can Thames 2010 be more like Thames 2006?
Past Trade Review: Chuck Knoblauch

As Spring Training nears, the Yankees’ numbers are slowly talking center stage. Now, I’m not talking about wOBA, UZR or other intriguing numbers. Rather, I’m talking about those numbers on the backs of all of the players’ jerseys. As the old concessionaire’s saying goes, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and the Yankees are seemingly running out of numbers.

On Monday afternoon, Ed Price on Tweeter noted how the Yankees are pushing it numerically this spring. With their 40-man roster and 20 invitees, the team will have 60 players in camp, and a whole slew of coaches who need uniform numbers too. Last year, with 64 players in camp, the highest number on the field in Tampa was Kanekoa Teixeira’s 94. This year, the Yanks will again push toward 90.

This problem of numbers — if we can call it a problem — is generally a March-only issue. In recent years, the Yanks have had just two players sport numbers in the 90s range. Brian Bruney donned 99 for a spell in an effort to find some numerically-inspired consistency while Alfredo Aceves has embraced number 91 to honor Dennis Rodman. In 1952, Charlie Keller wore 99 for a spell as well, but when the rosters are pared, most players break camp with numbers at 55 or lower.

Why then are the Yanks heading to Tampa ready to dole out numbers more fit for linebackers and offensive linemen than baseball players? For the Bombers, it is one of nostalgia and historical recognition mixed with some recent stubbornness on behalf of the team and its fans. The Yankees, as we know, have retired 15 numbers — including Jackie Robinson’s and eventually Mariano Rivera‘s 42 — for historical and political purposes. Does Phil Rizzuto’s number 10 need to be shelved? What of Billy Martin’s 1? Ron Guidry’s 49, hung up in Monument Park to lure him back to the team as a pitching coach? Reggie Jackson’s 44?

And then, the Yankees have those numbers than sit in limbo. Joe Torre’s number 6 will remain reserved for a future reconciliation. Bernie Williams‘ 51 has been unissued since Bernie didn’t retire after the 2006 season. And who could forget the uproar over the Yanks’ willingness to issue 21 to LaTroy Hawkins for a few weeks? O’Neill might have been the 41st Yankee to don that one, but in the collective mind of the fans, it belongs only to him.

Eventually, the Yankees will have to hang up a few more numbers. Rivera’s 42, already on ice due to the league-wide retirement of it, will earn a place in Monument Park. Derek Jeter‘s number 2 will never see another player, and if we want to get overly sentimental Andy Pettitte‘s 46, Jorge Posada‘s 20 and maybe even A-Rod‘s 13, depending upon his career accomplishments, might wind up unused forevermore.

So at some point, the Yankees will run out of single-digit numbers to hand out. They’ll have to break that triple-digit barrier unless they do what the White Sox have done and unretire some numbers. Omar Vizquel will wear Luis Aparacio’s number 11 with the Hall of Famer’s permission, and the Yanks, a team that has, in the Steinbrenner era, put its history on a golden pedestal, may need to unretire some respectable numbers. The fans too may have to let go or else we will be cheering on future greats wearing awkwardly large numbers on their uniforms.

Above: Bernie Williams’ 51 remains in limbo. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)

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Can Thames 2010 be more like Thames 2006?
Past Trade Review: Chuck Knoblauch
  • A.D.

    Probably would be better if the Yankees got into retiring “jerseys” rather than numbers, thus leaving the numbers open, or perhaps just keeping those numbers off limits if a player has made it to the HOF vs just having a very good to great Yankee career.

    • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif Do Not Feed The Trolls!

      Couldnt agree more. Theres no reason why a number should be unavailable.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

    there is nothing wrong with giving out numbers 21, 51, and 6 this season. it has to happen. its just a number.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Nitpick:

      I think 6 and 21 should be issued. 51, however, should be retired immediately and put up in Monument Park.

      Feared Williams >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Frank Pentangeli and Paulie Walnuts

      • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

        Damn you’re good. What’s your day job?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Male gigolo.

    • Slu

      I agree 100%. I don’t really care all that much in the long run, but I wouldn’t retire any of these numbers. You can make an argument for 51, but all the uproar when 21 was given out was ridiculous. I like Paul O’Neill, but being an above average outfielder who smashes water coolers doesn’t get your number retired.

      • gc

        If that’s all you think he was to the Yankees, then you missed the point. I’m not saying he should have his number retired, but please.

      • MikeD

        I think there’s probably a happy middle ground here somewhere. It’s understandable that a number, such as O’Neill’s, might not be assigned to a new player for a period of time, but that doesn’t mean forever. At least I hope not. If the Yankees start retiring the number of every good to very good player that wears the pinstripes, we might have to move into the 1,000 class of #s.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    So at some point, the Yankees will run out of single-digit numbers to hand out.

    Meh, that “some point” is what, a century in the future?

    We have 15 numbers currently retired, and about 5-10 more that are quasi-retired (or are currently issued but will be retired when said players retire). That’s 20-30 total numbers that will be off limits in about 10-15 years from now. Let’s be aggressive and call it 35.

    There’s 99 single or double digit numbers. 99-35=64. Here’s the important point, though: Spring training doesn’t matter. We don’t need 64 non-retired numbers, we only need 40, because 40 is the most number of players that will ever be on a big league roster at the same time.

    It’s not that we’re going to run out of double digit numbers, it’s that we’re simply going to issue non-traditional double digit numbers. Which is fine with me, as it adds to the Yankee uniqueness.

    • MattG

      reading comprehension fail.

      Officially, there are 2 single digit numbers left. Unofficially, they are already out of single digit numbers.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        If you read the quote in context, though, Ben’s contrasting “single digit numbers” with “triple digit numbers”.

        Ben’s basically talking about the dearth of small numbers (both single digit numbers and the numbers in the teens and twenties). I’m addressing the issue in the post, not the literal wording of “single digit numbers”.

  • Zack

    I dont like the whole idea of “unretiring numbers,” even for guys who probably shouldnt of have their numbers retired in the first place. I guess a player telling the team it’s ok to issue it is one thing (but what is a guy like Guidry suppose to say if asked?), but unretiring the number of a guy without asking or a number of a guy who is dead just seems really disrespectful IMO.

    Then again I havent come up with an alternative solution.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Alternative solution: Become the first team to regularly issue numbers in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s to players.

      When people complain, remind them that the reason we ran out of small numbers is because we’re a much, much, much, much, much more successful franchise than anyone else and our lack of small numbers is a tribute to our awesomeness.

      You’re welcome.

      • Zack

        My comment was more about unretiring guys numbers than issuing numbers in the 60-90s. (And posted before your comment above so obviously it wont be an issue for a while)

      • camilo Gerardo

        Thank you, took the words out of my mouth

        -Hank

  • JGS

    They should give out fractions, Eddie Gaedel style

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      We should switch to hexadecimal.

      Jesus Montero could wear “A1″.

      • Steve H

        Melvin 3:16

    • DP
      • king of fruitless hypotheticals

        very disappointed in Tommie not making a 3/5’s comment here given the celebratory nature of this month…even a joke, something to show you still remember…

        so i’m assuming the NYY’s are in the ‘worst’ shape in all of sports as far as numbers go? so pretty much we’ll set the standard for what to do in global sports?

        again, it ends up tough being the kings…

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          very disappointed in Tommie not making a 3/5’s comment here given the celebratory nature of this month…even a joke, something to show you still remember…

          Heh.

  • Brooklyn Ed (slacking at work)

    Only the GREAT Jesus and Melvin would only be allowed to wear #6,21, and 51. How awesome would that be if Jesus comes to camp with #6?

    no seriously….Mr.Stein went overboard in retiring numbers during his era. Guidry don’t deserve to have his number retired despite that one awesome season he had. I also think Reggie shouldn’t had his number retired too, he had just 5 seasons with the Yanks. It was like the early version of the Rays retiring #12 for Wade Boggs. Good thing when Goose went into the hall, #54 didn’t retire and Kevin Long is wearing it.

    The Yanks should only retire numbers if the player at least 10 season with them.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Guidry don’t deserve to have his number retired despite that one awesome season he had.

      Guidry had way more than one awesome season, and spent his entire 14 year career in pinstripes with a 119 career ERA+ (higher than Tom Glavine, for reference sake). He’s pretty legit, IMO. The complaints about Reggie Jackson are more well founded, but I have no problem with Gator’s #49 being enshrined.

      • JGS

        what about Maris–7 mostly very good seasons in New York, but only 7

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Maris and Jackson are easily the two most questionable. Their celebrity status and name recognition make them memorable and iconic Yankees, but their Yankee tenures were pretty short and light on actual production.

          • Brooklyn Ed (slacking at work)

            something like the Wade Boggs situation when the Devil Rays retired #12.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Nah, that was slightly different.

              Boggs is a Tampa native who returned home to close out his career with them (after nobody else wanted him), and they were looking to latch on to his name recognition to legitimize their fledgling organization.

              We retired Maris and Jackson because they were great home run hitters who hit great/memorable/historically important home runs for us while in pinstripes. The Rays just retired Boggs because they had no history and wanted to fake some.

              • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                I thought the Rays promised to retire his number if he went into the Hall as a Devil Ray, so they retired his number and the HOF said “Not so fast my friend”, all Lee Corso like.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  The veracity of that rumor is in great doubt.

      • thurdonpaul

        i agree with everything you said. i wonder if for the future we might try numbers with a small letter , maybe 44b…etc ?

        • Richard Deegan

          ….and if females ever get to play in the bigs?

  • misterd

    I was thinking about this a few months ago and thought, perhaps, it would be at least as much a tribute to a player not to retire their number, but to reserve it. What if the Yankees had kept #4 reserved just for the Yankee captain. That would be a number with tremendous heritage, the number of Gehrig, Munson, Mattingly, Jeter. There could be a special ceremony for catchers who have proven their distinction to the team, being granted the privilege of wearing 8 on their back.

    • JGS

      disagree–that would just crush them with expectation

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Meh, we’re not Notre Dame. We’re better.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I semi-agree. I hate just about everything Notre Dame does, except that. The problem with Notre Dame reissuing numbers of former great players, is that they do not have great players playing there anymore.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

          does rudy count?

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    I’m taking this in the other direction:

    Lefty Gomez’s #11 and Red Ruffing’s #15 should be retired. (15 is already up there for Munson, so we’d only be removing one more number). And if you wanted to retire #12 for Waite Hoyt and #16 for Herb Pennock as well, that wouldn’t be a bad move either.

    But Ruffing and Gomez are the forgotten Yankee Hall of Famers. They were both excellent pitchers who helped the Huggins/McCarthy teams win titles with their ace-level pitching for a decade and change.

    Those two deserve to be in Monument Park.

    • DP

      Charlie Keller- 5th highest OPS+ (min. 1000 games) in Yankee history behind only Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        True.

        Keller’s peak production years came during WWII, though… that’s a bit of a qualifier. Those were weak years where numerous fringy guys saw production spikes.

        • DP

          Only 1943 really..he didn’t play in ’44, and only played 44 games in ’45.

        • andrew

          WWII is the new steroid era.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Well, the steroid era is the new WWII, but yeah.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Whenever the Cubs win a pennent, something is obviously hinky.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Red Ruffing is the 2nd greatest acquisition from Boston in all-time Yankee history. When he was in Boston, he was, in a word, terrible. Check out those splits.

      http://www.baseball-reference......re01.shtml

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Ruffing, Boston 1924-1929: 39-93, 92 ERA+
        Ruffing, New York 1930-1946: 231-127, 118 ERA+

        There’s a good chance that Brian Cashman invented a time machine and went back to 1930 to broker that deal himself. That’s a ninjatastic heist.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          You know, that was a straight steal. everyone knew Babe Ruth was great. The Yankees actually traded for Ruffing. The Sox FO must have been thinking they were getting the best end of this deal.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            And all they got back for Ruffing was $50,000 USD and Fred Durst’s grandfather Cedric Durst, who put up a .245/.290/.351 as a part time player in 1930 and was subsequently never heard from again.

            It must run in the family.

            http://www.baseball-reference......ce01.shtml

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              He got lost in the dust bowl.

    • MikeD

      Wait, wasn’t Ruffing’s number retired? I seem to remember some ceremony for him a few years ago. Or was that more an honory day for him? Or maybe there was a plaque but no number retiring of a number?

  • DP

    I vote to abolish numbers completely!

    /Old Hoss Radbourn’d

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Heh. After reading the Vizquel/Aparicio story, I said to myself, “times like this, I wish Ty Cobb had had a uniform number. I’d like to see what would happen if the Tigers chose to issue Cobb’s number to some other player in some sort of tribute.

      Zombie Ty Cobb would crawl out of his grave to stab the shit out of Jim Leyland, Dave Dombrowski, and Mike Illitch.

      • DP

        Oh man- god forbid said player was a minority.

  • MattG

    We can always use emoticons :)

  • lardin

    Does MLB have a rule against triple digit numbers? If so, then eventually the Yankees will have a problem. If there is no rule, who cares. I think it would be kind of cool to see a guy who routinely throws 100mph have the number 100.

    • DP

      If they do have a rule (probably do), I’d bet in 2150 when it becomes an issue, they might be willing to make some exemptions.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      There’s no rule.

      I’d personally love to see Jesus Montero rock 00, Robert Parish style.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

        im still waiting for another catcher to go all benito santiago on mlb’s ass and go with a zero before a single digit so you can see it through his catcher’s gear.

        i think he did 09 right?

        i thought that was soo cool

    • ROBTEN

      (a) (1) All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players uniforms shall include minimal sixinch numbers on their backs. (2) Any part of an undershirt exposed to view shall be of a uniform solid color for all players on a team. Any player other than the pitcher may have numbers, letters, insignia attached to the sleeve of the undershirt. (3) No player whose uniform does not conform to that of his teammates shall be permitted to participate in a game.

      I haven’t found anything yet specifically preventing teams from using triple digits for player numbers, but there is this rule which says that the uniforms have to be “identical.” It could be that moving to triple digits would mean reducing the size of double digital numbers on the backs of uniforms if they started using triple digits, so that all of the number sizes conformed to one another. Or, rather it is this rule that could prevent it, not directly but indirectly. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be anything other than “tradition” from stopping them from using triple digits.

    • ColoYank

      There was a third baseman on the A’s, Wayne Gross, who Phil Rigney said they were missing a chance when they didn’t issue him 144.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dougchu Doug

        The A’s signed Gabe Gross recently. There’s still a chance!

    • MikeD

      If there is no rule, I’m surprised no player has tried it yet. Instead of having numbers in the 30s, or 40s or whatever, I’d like to be the first triple digit Yankee. Now batting, #100 catcher, Jesus Montero.

  • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

    Why not just put something in the park saying the first great Yankee to wear #’s like 51 and 21. Only players who are in the HOF should be in along with Thurman.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      So, you’re going to pull Don Mattingly’s #23 down off the wall?

      Because Donnie’s never getting in. Nor should he. Doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be enshrined as a Yankee great in our own personal HoF, though.

      • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

        I think you can put his # up there and point to everything Donnie did. He is my favorite Yankee ever but retired #’s should go to the elite of the elite.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Okay, fair enough. So you’re basically making two groupings: a set of retired numbers (Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, etc.) that are on the wall but never get reissued and a set of “honored” numbers (Guidry, Maris, Mattingly, etc) who are on the wall but DO get reissued to players every year.

          Is that right? That’s not a horrible idea. I personally find it unwieldy, but I see the logic behind it.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Kind of like a ring of honor?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada
            • ROBTEN

              Kind of like a ring of honor?

              More like an abstinence ring.

              The team promises to never give out the numbers, but then gives them away to every rookie and non-roster invitee that shows up.

              • vin

                ietcvm

          • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

            Yes, a set of honored # that can be given out and a set of retired #’s that can’t be given out. You can have a place in the Yankee HOF saying what they did to get their # honored by the Yankees.

            • vin

              Isn’t that kind of like getting a monument vs. a plaque?

              Monument = permanantly retired number
              Plaque = redistributable number

              • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

                Yes exactly. I mean Reggie had one of the greatest post season moments as a Yankee. But he only played here 5 seasons. He played the same # with the California Angels and more with Oakland. Why can’t someone wear his #?

          • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            I made this exact argument a long time ago so I agree with Jake H with one exception… It’s totally arbitrary to peg which number should be retired to HOF status. The HOF voters are morons, I don’t see why the Yankees have to follow their lead. For example… Goose Gossage is in the HOF, but I have no intention of permanently retiring his number while not permanently retiring other great non-HOF Yankees’ numbers who might otherwise have their numbers retired. We can decide better than HOF voters who the best of the best in Yankees history are.

            Permanently retire 3, 4, 5 and 7 (and 42 for Robinson, obviously). The only other number I’d consider for permanent retirement status would be 8. All other “retired” numbers get a spot on the wall and an explanatory plaque like they always have, but the numbers themselves remain in circulation. This wouldn’t be a slight against anyone, it would be an acknowledgement that there are just too many numbers retired/to be retired so a new system has to be established that will allow the Yankees to honor their great players but also provide that they aren’t fielding a team of guys with abnormally high numbers on their backs.

            This idea alleviates the number-crunch issue (which I understand some people don’t think exists, but I think it does) and does it with some logical underpinning – only the absolutely inarguable all-time greats get their numbers retired permanently, all others get recognized by the team but have their numbers remain in circulation.

            Personally, I would allow for 15 to be added to the list, but that’s just me. I think making a special allowance for one sentimental favorite of the fans, a captain of the team who died during his prime, is a cool gesture. But he certainly wasn’t in the uppermost echelon with Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio and Mantle, so I have no problem leaving him off.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              This idea alleviates the number-crunch issue (which I understand some people don’t think exists, but I think it does)

              It’s not that I don’t think the number crunch issue exists. I think I does exist. I also think that it’s AWESOME.

              I like the fact that we have two of our top pitchers in our organization that wear #62 and #65. They wear those numbers because we have all these amazing players who came before them who used up the other numbers. That’s a testament to our greatness.

              I’m not ashamed that I have to wear special underwear to accommodate the size of my large cock. I take it as a point of personal pride.

              • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                “It’s not that I don’t think the number crunch issue exists. I think I does exist. I also think that it’s AWESOME.”

                Heh, my bad… That was more what I meant… Whether you actually think it’s an issue to be addressed or not. Exist was probably the wrong word, I hear you.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  My cock and I accept your apology.

                • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Good. And: Ew.

        • Bob B

          That’s what the Hall of Fame is for, the elite of the elite. Retiring numbers for a team is for the elite of that team. Mattingly was an elite for this team during the time he played.

          • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

            The problem with that is that you wil run out of #’s and while Donnie is my favorite player ever from the Yankees. He never won a WS. He had some great years but his #’s compare favorably to only 2 HOF players. The rest are good players like Jeff Conine.

            Most of the time guys who are going to wear these very good Yankee players #’s aren’t going to the HOF so why does it tarnish the #?

      • ColoYank

        Much as I agree with your prognostication (Mattingly elite production just wasn’t sustained long enough), I once compared Donnie’s career numbers with Bill Dickey’s, and … my mind was blown.

        Try it.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Yeah. I agree, Don Mattingly was one of the best hitting catchers in MLB history.

          Wait, what?

          • Big Juan

            I lol’d.

  • Brooklyn Ed (slacking at work)

    Here’s a good one: #9 would also be retired for Nettles. I think that was the reason why Nettles left the Yanks because the Yankees brass decided to retire #9 for Maris.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Meh, Nettles was a solid player, but I don’t personally think he was ever great enough while here to merit having his number retired. JMHO.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Nettles number was retired by the Superball Company.

      • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Debatable… I’m too young to remember anything but the tail end of Nettles’s career, but he compares very favorably with Brooks Robinson offensively, and by accounts he was, if not as good as Robinson defensively at 3B, then he was the next best thing.

        Career OPS+
        Robinson: 104
        Nettles: 110
        (Nettles as Yankee: 114)

        Averages per 162 games:
        Robinson: 15 HR, 76 RBI, .267/.322/.401/.723
        Nettles: 23 HR, 79 RBI, .248/.329/.421/.750
        (Nettles as Yankee: 27 HR, 89 RBI, .253/.329/.433/.762)

        I know the ‘pick out another player who is in the HOF and compare the two’ game doesn’t prove anything, but I think Robinson is a decent comparison since their careers overlapped and Robinson was seen as a surefire no-doubt HOFer at 3B while Nettles never really got that kind of respect. I’ve always thought Nettles got short-changed a bit, I think he has a better HOF case than a lot of people realize.

        And, since I think he has a better HOF case than people realize, it follows that I think he has a better case to have his number retired (or at least recognized, since it’s already retired) by the Yankees. The guy had a very good career in pinstripes, at his position in the context of the era in which he played, for 11 years, during which he also was part of a few postseason teams. I think he’s got a pretty good case.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          You have opened my eyes a little. Well done, Congressman.

          • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            No prob… Nettles’s reputation has always interested me a bit. His numbers don’t look wonderful in a vacuum, but compared to other third basemen and especially to those of his era, the guy is really in the upper echelon. Third basemen and catchers really get no HOF love, it’s interesting.

            • ColoYank

              Nettles made the sweetest defensive play I ever saw in person – a diving stab into foul territory on a shot – a bullet! – off the bat of Dick Allen in Oakland. I was utterly gobsmacked. I stood up when I saw he’d stopped it, and started hollering “Throw him out! Throw him out!” as he lazily got to his feet, read the label on the ball, and then fired across.

              • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Heh, yeah… My dad swears that Nettles was just as good as Robinson defensively. Whenever the late 70s Yankees are on Yankees Classics he makes some comment about how great Nettles was with the glove. I didn’t see both of them so I can’t really comment, and obviously we don’t have good defensive metrics for that era, so it’s tough to compare the two guys… But I think it’s as inarguable as it could be, in the absence of metrics to back up the assertion, that Nettles was pretty fantastic with the glove.

                • thurdonpaul

                  Nettles was awesome in the field, it was like his glove was a part of him. IMO he was every bit as good as Robinson, if not better.

                • Andy (different one) in Chilly NYC

                  Nettles was truly unreal defensively. Just watch that World Series game (’77?) where he made one jaw-dropping catch after another, and Tommy Lasorda said Nettles beat the Dodgers single-handedly. And he was very underrated as a hitter. I always used to fume when people said Brooks Robinson was so much better. Not true.

            • ColoYank

              Two days before that he took Nolan Ryan deep twice in a game in Anaheim – I was there for that, too. He was a very unusual left-hand hitter, in that he liked the ball up.

        • ColoYank

          Here’s a quote from Nettles himself on the comparison between him and Robinson: “I think I’ve been playing third base as well as anyone for ten years. If I can do it for another ten, I’ll put myself in Brooksie’s class.” Quoted by Roger Angell in a piece on the ’78 Series.

          You got this from me, who thinks Graig is the greatest Yankee third baseman of all time, non-Rodriguez division.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Switch to Roman Numerals.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Montero can be II. Stands for “The Second Coming”.

  • Chip

    I’d love to see Montero come to camp with either 6, 21 or 00 on his back. That’d be legit

    • vin

      I was watching the MLB network special on Albert Pujols last night. Going into ST (2001), he wasn’t really expected to make the 25-man roster. He wore # 60-something. Next thing you know he’s with the Cards on opening day and they give him # 5. For a team with as much history as the Cardinals to give a roster-surprise that number is pretty interesting. They must’ve known what they had on their hands – much like the Yanks and Jeter.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        JD Drew wears #3 for the Red Sox. NUMBER 3!!!

        • vin

          I think you mean number 7. But your point still stands. He also managed to get that number with the Braves, Cards and Dodgers.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Whatevs.

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              I think Alex Gonzalez wore #3 last year.

              • vin

                You’d figure they would reserve #3 for Casey Kelly.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Casey Kelly is just going to have a picture of his face on the back of his jersey. He’s so beautiful, you shouldn’t be punished just because you weren’t lucky enough to be facing his front side at any given moment.

                  For Diamond Cutters, I’m Peter Gammons, ESPN.

                • A.D.

                  Hmmm I wonder what Gammons MLB Network segment will be.

                • bexarama

                  He actually hasn’t been bad so far, though he hasn’t been on a whole lot either. They asked him for his predictions on Comeback Player of the Year and he actually didn’t pick Dice-K in the AL. I was amazed.

  • Joe

    screw it, let’s go back to not using numbers

    • vin

      Or back to numbers based on batting order.

      Jeter #1
      Johnson #2
      Tex #3
      Alex #4
      Posada #5
      Cano #6
      Granderson #7
      Swisher #8
      Marcus WinGardHoff #9

      • andrew

        I’d prefer JaMarcus GardWinn in the 9 hole.

        • vin

          I’m flexible. That’s a good name.

        • Big Juan

          JaMarcus WinnEr

      • Joe

        haha Marcus WinGardHoff…sad that he’d probably bat like 5th or 6th for the mets

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    As Spring Training nears, the Yankees’ numbers are slowly talking center stage.

    Speaking of which:
    Retired – 1 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 15 16 23 32 37 42 44 49
    Currently issued – 2 11 13 14 19 20 24 25 28 29 30 33 34 36 39 41 42 43 45 46 50 52 54 56 57 58 59 62 63 64 65 70 72 91
    Non-issued but in limbo – 6 21 35 51
    Possibly in limbo – 55

    Remaining Numbers below 70: 12 17 18 22 26 27 31 38 40 47 48 53 60 61 66 67 68 69

    Players on the 40 man who have not been issued a number yet (in order of importance):
    Javier Vazquez
    Nick Johnson
    Randy Winn
    Marcus Thames (not on the 40-man yet, but has a good chance of making it)
    Jamie Hoffmann
    Boone Logan
    Greg Golson
    Romulo Sanchez
    Kevin Russo
    Ivan Nova
    Eduardo Nunez
    Reegie Corona
    Hector Noesi

    Who takes what number? Discuss.

    • vin

      Javy has always been #33… either he buys off Swish, or he switches to 31.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        He also rocked #23 with the Expos back in the day.

        Maybe he switches to #22. That’s my guess. Swish is probably tired of switching numbers.

        Javier Vazquez – 22
        Nick Johnson – 36 (buys it off of Edwar, or takes it if Edwar is DFA’d)
        Randy Winn – 12 (he wore 2 most of the time)
        Marcus Thames – 31

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Romulo Sanchez must take #69.

    • ROBTEN

      Javier Vazquez – 22
      Boone Logan – 60
      Romulo Sanchez – 68
      Ivan Nova – 66
      Hector Noesi – 69

      Nick Johnson – 17
      Marcus Thames – 31
      Jamie Hoffmann – 38
      Greg Golson – 40
      Kevin Russo –26
      Eduardo Nunez – 47
      Reegie Corona – 53

      And, of course:

      Randy Winn – 18

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        And, of course:

        Randy Winn – 18

        You’re just asking for trouble, aren’t you?

  • bobmac

    When Montero is up for good they should hand him #6.

    • Chip

      00 baby. There is only one Jesus

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Jesus should rock #80.

        Since he’s an 80 on the 20-80 scale, across the board.

        • Colombo

          That’s badass. Like how they gave Matsui 55 in Japan because that is their single season HR record and he was going to be the one to break it.

  • http://baseballalamode.blogspot.com snArky Vaughn

    If you haven’t seen this site, you need to.

    It had a graph on when the first Yankee will wear a 3 digit numbe:

    http://www.flipflopflyin.com/f.....mbers.html

  • MikeD

    Under George Steinbrenner, the Yankees went a little crazy on retiring numbers. There’s no way that Billy Martin’s number should have been retired. Guidry? One of my all-time favorites, but unless a player makes the HOF as a Yankee, I would question the move. No way Bernie’s should be retired. Jeter and Mariano should, but both will be in the HOF. By the time it’s all said and done, A-Rod will have played 14 years with the Yankees, may even hit more than 500 HRs as a Yankee. #13 will be retired. Unless Posada and Pettitte make the HOF, then no to retiring thier numbers.

    The Yankees need to create a new class to honor great Yankees by really playing up their induction into the Yankee HOF, even having their day to honor them, maybe even a plaque. But retiring a number should be reserved for the Ruth’s, Gehrig’s, Berra’s, Mantle’s Jeter’s and Rivera’s. Let’s stop them before it really gets out of hand.

    Just my two, maybe two-and-a-half, cents.

  • yankswin27

    Curtis Granderson – 14 (took it on December 17th)
    Javier Vazquez – 22 (I could see him rockin’ the old Clemens jersey)
    Nick Johnson – 36 (he wore this when he was first with the Yankees, plus Edwar will be DFA’d this year anyways)
    Randy Winn – 12 (wore two last year, I can see him taking 12)
    Marcus Thames – 18 (this is the number he wore as a rookie, so I could see him bringin it back… or 31, who knows)