The last two Open Threads have focused on bullpen arms, and tonight we’re going to make it three in a row. First came scrap heap pickup Brian Bruney, then came big money free agent signing Mike Stanton, and now we’re diving back into the scrap heap for Jose Veras. The Yankees signed Veras to a minor league deal on this date in 2005, about two months after the Rangers released him.
Veras, 25 at the time, was the prototypical bullpen flier. He threw very hard but struggled with his command, so he’d never gotten a chance in the big leagues. After pitching very well as Triple-A Columbus’ closer early in 2006 (2.41 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 59.2 IP), the Yankees called him up for his first taste of the show that August. He got into a dozen games, striking out six and walking five in 11 forgettable innings. Veras did pretty much the same thing the next year, but he got his big break in 2008.
After starting the year with Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees called him up for good in early-May. Veras was striking out a ton of batters and keeping the walks in check, allowing him to climb up Joe Girardi‘s bullpen pecking order. By the end of the season he was getting regular seventh and eighth inning work thanks to his 9.8 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 57.2 IP. Part of the Opening Day roster in 2009, Veras allowed runs in eight of his first 13 appearances. He’s lost his late-inning job and was working mop-up duty when the team finally designated him for assignment in mid- June.
Veras always had crazy nasty stuff, doing things like this in between his bouts of wildness. His overall body of work in New York wasn’t anything special — 4.43 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 103.2 IP — and the Indians snatched him up after the Yankees cut him loose. He’s since moved on to the Marlins and Pirates, having an okay season in Florida in 2010 (3.75 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 48 IP) and a kinda sorta breakout year in Pittsburgh in 2011 (3.80 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9). Now 31 years old, Veras had that one nice year for the Yankees, which is pretty much all you can ask for from these scrap heap types.
Update: How about that, Veras was traded to the Brewers for Casey McGehee tonight. Now the guy has two reasons to celebrate December 12th.
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Here is tonight’s open thread. The Rams and Seahawks are your incredibly yucky Monday Night Football game (8:30pm ET on ESPN), and the Devils are playing. That’s pretty much it, but talk about anything you like here.