Open Thread: Ruben Rivera

Report: Luxury tax threshold will remain unchanged for two years
A collection of texts with the Yankees

Once upon a time, Baseball America once put Ruben Rivera on the cover of their magazine with the caption “The Next Mickey Mantle?” I haven’t ever been able to find a picture of it online, but trust me, it happened. Jim Callis and all those other folks readily admit it.

The Yankees signed Rivera as a 17-year-old free agent out of Panama on this date in 1990, and less than four years later he had become a fixture on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. He was number 76 in 1994, then number two behind only Alex Rodriguez in 1995. The next year he was number three behind Andruw Jones and Paul Wilson. The year after that he was number nine, and in his final appearance on the list, before the 1998 season, he was number 40.

Rivera had cups of coffee with the big league team in 1995 and 1996, hitting .281/.377/.438 in 107 plate appearances, but they traded him to the Padres in April of 1997 as part of the package for Hideki Irabu. I suspect a deal of that magnitude would break the internet today. Rivera spent parts of four seasons in San Diego but never did live up to the hype, hitting .204/.301/.397 in nearly 1,200 plate appearances before being released and giving it a go with the Reds, Rangers, and Giants. The most memorable play of his career is the one you see in the video above.

The Yankees did bring Rivera back in between his stints with Cincinnati and Texas, but he was released in Spring Training after stealing a glove and bat belonging to Derek Jeter, then selling them to a memorabilia dealer for over two grand. The players reportedly took a vote and asked the front office to release him after the incident. Rivera has spent the last six seasons annihilating the Mexican League for the Piratas de Campeche, hitting .344/.446/.638 with 155 homers in 589 games. Those are Mickey Mantle numbers all right, they’re just in the wrong league.

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Here is tonight’s open thread. The Monday Night Football game is the Chiefs at the Patriots (8:30pm ET on ESPN), plus the Devils and Islanders are in action as well. Talk about whatever your heart desires, anything goes.

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Report: Luxury tax threshold will remain unchanged for two years
A collection of texts with the Yankees
  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    My condolences go out to Greg Halman and his family after his tragic death. RIP.

    • Pat D

      I agree. What a sad, sad situation. Especially with his brother being arrested as a suspect. Very bizarre.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Do you think they are regular readers of RAB?

      • JobaWockeeZ

        I’m glad you’re using death as a means of insulting people anonymously on a blog. Good fucking job.

    • Rainbow Connection

      Do you know if they are regular readers of RAB?

    • Pat D

      See? I told you that he’d start troll-stalking you!

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        Yep I saw that. Thanks for the warning, haha.

    • MannyGeee

      Yeah that Halman stuff is some shit, huh…. Between this and the Wilson Ramos kidnapping, it has not been a good off season to go home for the winter. Just scary scary shit

  • MannyGeee

    That Ruben Sierra guy was pretty awesome….. Oh wait.

  • Jamey

    Oh wow I totally forgot about that with Ruben, lol. I just spit orange soda all over my desk.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      It never gets old. All that’s missing is the circus music.

      • SteveD

        yakitty saxs music.( or something like that)

  • Mickey S

    How a player who only played in 22% his respective teams games can win the MVP completely devalues the award. Total bom bok.

    • radnom

      You’re tasked with putting together a team to compete for the next season. For your first pick, you’re given the option of having 2011 Verlander, 2011 Gardner or 2011 Swisher.

      Who do you pick?

      Gardner and Swisher are both very good players, but everyone would pick Verlander – he is more valuable than either of them even though he only plays in ~22% of his teams games.

      I don’t think Verlander should have won this year (although I would have him in my top 5), but from that example its clear that elite pitchers can be unquestionably more valuable than good hitters. Given that, I think its silly when people says pitchers should never win the award.

      It should be rare (and it is), but if a pitcher has a really great bordering historic season and the rest of the field is meh, then yes a pitcher can absolutely be the most valuable player in his league. Its happened before and will again.

      Verlander had a great year this year, but not an outrageous one, and there were a lot of really strong offensive performances this year as well. I wouldn’t have voted for him.

      • Mike

        You’re comparing the best 2011 pitcher to Swisher, why don’t compare him to, say… Babe Ruth, or Mickey Mantle, heck, even Pujols.

        If you were the Padres’ GM and were given the chance to draft a player, ANYBODY from the American League, would you rather have Verlander over, say, Miguel Cabrera, Adrián González or any other player who participates in his team’s 80-90% of games?

        Or put in other words, would you sign Cabrera, Pujols or Adrián for 20 millions if there was a clause in their contracts specifying they will only play at most twice a week?

  • J.R.

    Wow, I never knew about the bat and glove scandal. That’s also a weird way to handle it, having the players vote. I can’t remember that ever happening.

    Can anyone else think of an example where a player was cut by team vote?

    • Plank

      There were accusations that he was gay.

      • Jose

        who accused him?

        • Plank
          • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

            Priore also recalled walking in on Jeter and current starting catcher Jorge Padosa [sic] in the steam room together before the three men went to a Mariah Carey concert.

            omg, what.

            • Plank

              Yeah, if the whole story wasn’t so ugly, that would be hilarious.

              • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                Jorge Padosa is the alternate universe version of Jorge Posada. He can’t hit but he’s amazing defensively and a keen baserunner, fans of the Yankees defend him vigorously even when he fucks up badly, and he pees on his feet.

                • Plank

                  Jorge Padosa is also the handsomest man in the world and his ears aren’t weird in the slightest.

                  • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                    Too bad his wife’s so homely.

                    • Plank

                      Haha.

                    • Plank

                      I think Jorge Posada’s wife is gross.

                      Fake boobs look okay but feel weird. Her’s don’t even look good.

                    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

                      “Gross” is a poor choice of words, but I will agree that she comes across as trying way too hard to be sexy.

                    • Plank

                      In researching my last post, I found this awesome site:

                      http://www.playerwives.com/teams/mlb/

          • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

            Nick must be so proud. His Dad was the clubhouse man for pretty much forever. I don’t mean about his orientation, but Nick was a proud Yankee employee who was a link to the past going all the way back to Ruth and Gehrig. He passes the torch to his son, who turns out to be a lying sack. Ugh.

            • Plank

              How do you know he was lying?

              • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

                Did you read it? You actually believed that?

                • Plank

                  I followed the whole story. I think something bad happened to that guy in the clubhouse.

  • Plank
  • jsbrendog

    weird he has annihilated the league and no one has even given him a minor league shot. mui interesante

    • JAG

      Well he’s 38 now, so there’s really no point in even offering a minor-league deal.

      • jsbrendog

        yup, there’s those things called details i sometimes neglect. nice.

        • Mike

          There’s also the whole “trying to buy his contract off the Mexican summer League”, which behaves like… a mafia. If somebody from México wants to make it to the Majors and is scouted by a team, that boy has to have his rights bought by a Mexican summer team first and then sold. He can’t go play to other countries without that happening first. AND when he is signed, 75-80% of his money goes to the team that owns his rights in México.

          Me and a few writers have been against it but it is something they just would never listen to. In one of the most recent examples, Luis Heredia signed with the Pirates for 3 million dollars, 2.75 millions approximately, went to the Mexican team, the rest went to him.

          AND that also happens with foreign players, though not as drastic, but still MLB teams try to be as far away from that league as possible. The winter league is different, and lots of MLB teams used to send their best players, but the competitiveness level is so high that nowadays a lot of them don’t want to play in winter LOL (Angel’s player, Andrew Romine, Austin’s brother, plays for Mazatlán this winter and is having an AWFUL AWFUL season, constantly booed for his lack of patience and indiscipline at the plate, not to count that he thinks he is the best thing that has happened to baseball since Babe Ruth).

  • Art Vandelay

    “some of the worst baserunning in the history of the game !”

    hilarious.

  • candyforstalin

    two years ago, bobby abreu got twice the points and twice the votes zack greinke did in the al mvp voting. greinke had a 9.3fwar and 9.0bwar season. abreu had a 3.1fwar and 2.7bwar season. a lot changes in two years.

    • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

      Greinke didn’t have 24 winz.

      I don’t have an issue with Verlander getting the award, really; I have an issue with the way most of the guys who voted for him seem to have voted.

      • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

        I still can’t get over Michael Young’s first place vote. Someone even voted Ellsbury 10th, another voted Joey Bats 9th to name a few more.

        Also, of course, there’s Jose Valverde’s 2nd place vote.

        • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

          Valverde got no MVP votes, which I was legitimately surprised about. The high-placing CYA votes were bad enough.

          • Sarah

            I was surprised by this as well. The writers are not logical or consistent, it turns out.

            • Pat D

              Well……not the exact same voters for both awards.

        • radnom


          I still can’t get over Michael Young’s first place vote.

          Thats exactly what that guy was counting on. Shit like this is free publicity for anyone willing to take a temporary PR hit to get their name out there nationally.

      • candyforstalin

        precisely.

    • Plank

      Players that age fall hard and fast. I’m worried about Arod and Jeter for the same reason.

      Abreu’s decline has been pretty gentle actually.

      • candyforstalin

        it wasn’t a knock on abreu.

        • Plank

          Ah, I see what you were saying now. I thought you were saying how much their careers have diverged in the past 2 years. My bad.

  • http://www.twitter.com/steveh_mandaura Steve H.

    It’s funny that Montero has been considered the best Yankee offensive prospect since Jeter, when at the time, Rivera was the more highly regarded of the two.

    • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

      Well no one wants to remember that, for pretty understandable reasons.

      • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

        Don’t forget Nick Johnson, as well. He could rake in the minors.

        • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

          ..and the majors, the rare times when he actually played.

          BTW-He didn’t get a MLB deal last year, did he?

        • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

          At least actually performing (when healthy) wasn’t really NJ’s problem.

          • http://isportsweb.com Robbie Knopf

            But performing is about staying healthy and NJ could not do that at all. Quite a shame- he was always one of my Dad and I’s favorite players just because he was so good at getting on base.

  • candyforstalin

    wow. 2/14m for nathan is soriano insane.

    • Plank

      You think it’s insanely high? It seems pretty reasonable to me. If he has one year like his long established pre-injury norm, then he can be worth the whole contract in just one year.

      • candyforstalin

        he’s 37. coming off tjs. had a miserable season. it’s insanely risky.

        • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

          He didn’t have a “miserable season.” He didn’t have a typical Joe Nathan season, but it was by no means miserable.

          • candyforstalin

            i guess we disagree on the definition.

          • FIPster Doofus

            He had a replacement-level season, and is now moving to homer-happy Arlington as someone who has devolved into an extreme fly ball pitcher.

        • JohnnyC

          Bet dollars to donuts Evan Grant will give him a first place vote for both the Cy Young and MVP in 2012.

          • candyforstalin

            yeah. he will also be moving from target field to arlington.

    • MannyGeee

      Holy shit huh? Did not know Joe Nathan had it like that. Sounds like with Feliz going to the rotation that CJ Wilson is pretty much out of favor in Nolans eyes…

    • bonestock94

      It is an overpay, but exciting that Feliz will finally get a shot as a starter

  • DERP

    I thought Boston might get Nathan. He wasn’t bad last year (especially coming off TJS) and would have been good for them.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      I was thinking the same too. And Nathan prefers to be on a winning team rather than getting paid more to be on a losing team.

      • Plank

        Why do you say that?

      • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

        Texas is a more winning team than Boston the last few years.

      • Rainbow Connection

        Do you not think Texas is a winning team? Have you missed the last two years?

        • Plank

          You are the worst troll. By that I mean you are bad at trolling, not that you get under people’s skin.

          • Pat D

            He used to get under my skin, until I realized he’d reply to some very trivial posts I would make.

            Now I just laugh at him.

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    “My” Panthers just embarrassed the Devils. Ha!

  • Marc

    I just spent way too much time looking at the top 100 for the past 21 years.

  • RetroRob

    Nathan signing with Texas is fantastic. He had troubles against the Yankees when he was a top reliever. Now he’ll probably be good for a couple wins on the Yankees ledger come October.

    Thinking positive.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

      With Mike Adams around Nathan is just insurance, and could easily wind up being the setup man.

  • http://isportsweb.com Robbie Knopf

    Favorite Ruben Rivera stat: he is the only player in the history of major league baseball to hit 20 home runs and steal 15 bases while hitting under the Mendoza line. He accomplished the “feat” in 1999 with the Padres.