Open Thread: Aaron Small

The 2012 Bill James Projections: Yankee Offense and Pitching
Yankees sign Jayson Nix
(Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Does anyone represent the Yankees’ success with scrap heap pickups any better than Aaron Small? He was brought him in for minor league depth not long before Spring Training in 2005, but injuries and ineffectiveness at the big league level had him up as an emergency starter in late-July despite a 4.96 ERA in ten Triple-A starts. He won that first game but it wasn’t pretty; he allowed three runs and four walks in 5.1 IP against the Rangers, but a win is a win. Small made another start eight days later and held the Mariners to three runs in seven innings. The team needed pitching, so he kept getting the ball.

What was supposed to be a short-term, emergency starter thing turned into a regular rotation spot. Small famously finished the season with a 10-0 record, but he only made nine starts. He picked up one win out of bullpen in extra innings, and another in three innings of long relief. Small allowed two runs in 2.2 IP in his only ALDS outing against the Angels, a relief appearance in Game Three. The 10-0 record and 3.20 ERA looked great, the performance was entirely unsustainable. He wasn’t missing any bats (4.4 K/9) and wasn’t getting a ton of ground balls (43.9%), so something had to give.

Nevertheless, the Yankees signed Small to a one-year deal worth $1.2M as an arbitration-eligible player after the season. He started the 2006 season in the bullpen as the long-man, but he was just awful. In three starts and eight relief appearances, he allowed 29 runs and put 55 runners on base in just 27.2 IP. The fairytale story came to an end in late-June, when the Yankees designated Small for assignment. He finished the season in Triple-A and was out of baseball after the season.

After his career was over, Small returned home to Tennessee where he an his wife are active in their church. He survived a bout with encephalitis in 2008, which is an acute inflammation of the brain. He was in a medically induced coma for eight days, then six weeks later he was on the field for the final Old Timers’ Day at the Old Yankee Stadium. Today is Small’s 40th birthday, the big four-oh. It’s somewhat fitting since the story of his playing career is ten-and-oh.

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Here is your Thanksgiving Eve open thread. All three local hockey teams are in action, otherwise you’re on your own for entertainment. You folks know how these things work, so have at it. The thread is all yours.

The 2012 Bill James Projections: Yankee Offense and Pitching
Yankees sign Jayson Nix
  • McLovin

    Anton Stralman making debut for Rangers.

  • Greg

    Mike, what did you think of the other pitching hero for that season, Shawn Chacon?

    • Jamey

      I was pretty sad that Chacon ended up being so awful on 2006, I really thought Cashman had a steal with how well he pitched for them in 2005. I remember after Randy Johnson flamed out in the ALDS against The Angels, I went to the Chacon game (Game 4) & he was awesome, didn’t get touched for a run until the 6th inning, if I recall. I never saw him falling apart the way he did in 06.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Were there signs that Chacon was going to regress in 06? I wasn’t into metrics at the time but maybe the numbers indicated he would. Did this blog exist in 06?

        • bonestock94

          Me neither, but looking now he was absolutely over his head. Low BABIP, low GB rate, low K rate, low HR/FB, etc.

        • whozat

          I wasn’t either, but has historical data:

          it looks like there was definitely data indicating some flukery.

          K/9: 4.56
          BB/9: 3.42
          BABiP: .239, which was 20-30 points lower than previous. Some of that is probably from the spike in popops (18% of batted balls!), which was definitely an outlier.

          Never a big groundball guy, either…with the yanks in 2005 he was at 43%, a career high. He was down below 40% a lot of years, and his HR/FB was a 7% ish, which is also low for him.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Thanks for the info guys. Yep there signs that Chacon was due for a regression. I too bought into the idea of him continuing to produce at or close to the 05 level. He wasn’t going to become some HOF ace but a reliable arm in the rotation didnt seem like something out of left field.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Chacon Has a Posse.

  • Jamey

    That was a rough year as far as pitching went, I got so happy that they picked up Al Leiter off the scrap heap & immediately drank heavily BECAUSE of that fact.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Any of you guys like Steel Panther? I can’t get their latest single out of my head, it’s hilarious.

    • RetroRob

      Hmmm…since when has RAB allowed the embedding of videos in postings? Links, yes, but not videos.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I didn’t mean to embed the video, it just kinda happened.

      • Esteban

        Yea, when did this happen? I’ve been too busy to realize I guess.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Maybe a month or a few weeks

    • whozat

      They are AWESOME. The guitar player used to teach at the berklee college of music in Boston. The singer can actually sing, and their lyrics are hilarious. It’s really well-executed spoof metal.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Didn’t know the guy used to teach at Berklee, I always found his playing to be kinda lame. I always knew it was purposefully lame and he was basically trying to play like Mick Mars, Reb Beach, Warren Demartini, C.C. Deville, and hacks like that. Maybe Demartini doesn’t belong there, maybe he does. Never knew their guitar player had some actual substance behind him, though.

        • whozat

          I mean, yeah…it’s parody. The singer is just ripping off David Lee Roth, too :-)

          But it’s hilarious. I keep intending to go see them in Vegas. Their shows look fun

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Oh yeah, I like showing my friends who are obsessed with the 80s just how silly the whole glam thing is. These guys are the perfect band to do it, they’re awesome. Great parody band.

  • MannyB ace2be

    After reading the garza article and seeing his numbers again I’m worried that he will revert back to Tampa bay Garza if the yanks traded for him. Are my fears unfounded? Would he really be a better fit than Gio?

  • greatscott723

    When Bartolo Colon shut out the A’s on Memorial Day in 2011, it reminded me of when Aaron Small somehow shut out that good A’s lineup in 2005.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    I was still in Florida when Small had a cup of tea with the Marlins and was just journeyman fodder. I still can’t believe what occurred in pinstripes actually happened. I will always tip my hat to Mr. Small.

  • Jankees27

    Jayson nix? I hope this Doesnt mean andruw isnt coming back…

    Otherwise solid pickup if nothing more than corner OF depth