As much as we’d like it to be, a Triple-A team is never all prospects. It’s just not realistic. Clubs use their Triple-A team basically as a taxi squad these days, keeping spare parts for the big league roster stashed down there in case of emergency. There’s a few extra bullpen arms, a sixth or seventh starter, the fifth outfielder, maybe an extra utility infielder, stuff like that. Not all of these guys have to be long-term pieces though, and in fact they shouldn’t be unless you want to clog up your 40-man roster and have little flexibility.
The Yankees signed Cody Ransom to be one of those spare pieces on this date in 2007, stashing him in Triple-A in case someone got hurt. He started the next season in Triple-A, hitting .255/.338/.482 with 22 homers in 116 games before being called up to replace Richie Sexson in mid-August. Ransom made his first appearance as a Yankee the next day, pinch-running for Jason Giambi in the seventh inning before being pinch-hit for by Wilson Betemit in the eighth. He got his first at-bat the next day, replacing Giambi in the late innings of a blowout, clubbing a two-run homer off Jeff Fulchino of the Royals. After again replacing Giambi five days later, Ransom hit a three-run homer off Fernando Cabrera of the Orioles. Two at-bats as a Yankee, two homers. The legend had been born.
Ransom saw a decent amount of playing time the rest of the way, especially once the Yankees had been eliminated from postseason contention. He hit two homers against the Red Sox in Fenway Park on the second to last day of the season, and finished the year with a .302/.400/.651 batting line in 51 big league at-bats. He also recorded the final out at the Old Yankee Stadium, an unassisted putout on a Brian Roberts ground ball to first. A faction of fans though Ransom was worthy of regular playing time that offseason, perhaps inserting him as the regular first baseman or making him him a super-utility guy that plays a different position every day or by trading the disappointing Robinson Cano (.271/.305/.410 in 2008) and making him the full-time second baseman. Those fans got their wish in the spring, when news broke of Alex Rodriguez’s hip injury and subsequent surgery. Ransom was going to be the full-time third baseman until A-Rod came back.
In a column that has since disappeared off the face of the internet, Ian O’Connor infamously argued that the Yankees were better off with Ransom at third than Alex. “[F]acts are facts,” he wrote. “The Yankees haven’t reached the World Series in Rodriguez’s five seasons, and they reached six in the eight seasons before he arrived. Coincidence, or guilty as charged?” That sounds even sillier now than it did back then, and of course Ransom was awful in 2009. He was hitting .180/.226/.320 when he blew out his quad in late-April, then he resurfaced in late-June as the utility infielder. With his batting line sitting on .190/.256/.329 on August 8th, the Yankees sent Ransom packing and released him. He finished the season in Triple-A after re-signing to a minor league pact, then moved on to the Phillies after the season.
Ransom is the model Quad-A masher, the guy that puts up big numbers in the minors but wilts against big leaguers. He turned a solid late season showing in 2008 into a full-time job to open 2009, but his true colors eventually shined through. Ransom does have a World Series ring though, the same one as A-Rod. Coincidence? Ian O’Connor thinks not.
* * *
Here is tonight’s open thread. The afternoon football games are still being played, and the late game is the Steelers at the Chiefs (8:20pm ET on NBC). That’s all you’ve got as far as sports go, but The Walking Dead midseason finale is on tonight. I’m giving that show one last chance, I didn’t think a show about bloodthirsty zombies could move along so slowly and with so little action. Anyway, anything goes here, so talk about whatever you want. Enjoy.