Open Thread: Kevin Brown


(Photo via The New York Times)

In many ways, Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown are the poster boys for the Yankees’ pitching failures in the mid-aughts. Javy bears most of the blame for the Game Seven loss in the 2004 ALCS, but of course he couldn’t have done it without the help of Brown, who was nice enough to load the bases on a single and two walks with one out in the second inning before Johnny Damon hit that grand slam. The Yankees acquired Brown from the Dodgers eight years ago today, sending Jeff Weaver, Brandon Weeden, and Yhency Brazoban to Los Angeles.

Brown, 38 at the time, was coming off a monster season with the Dodgers in 2003. He’d used his trademark sinker to generate a ground ball on 62.5% of the balls he allowed in play while striking out 7.89 batters per nine and walking just 2.39 per nine. Stretch that out over 32 starts and 211 IP, and you’ve got a 6.0 fWAR and 5.4 bWAR season. Of course Brown never replicated that success in pinstripes, though his 2004 regular season wasn’t as bad I remember: a 4.09 ERA (4.03 FIP) in 132 IP across 22 starts. The playoffs were a disaster, and he did miss time with a back strain and a broken left hand after infamously punching a clubhouse wall.

The 2005 season was a complete catastrophe. Back problems forced Brown onto the disabled list three different times, and when he was on the mound he couldn’t prevent runs from scoring. He allowed 57 runs in his 73.1 IP (13 starts), resulting in a 6.50 ERA. The peripherals were okay (3.61 FIP) but at that point, who cared? Brown wore out his welcome in New York and was essentially forced out of baseball after the season, an unceremonious end to a great career that should earn him Hall of Fame consideration.

* * *

Here is tonight’s open thread. All three hockey locals are in action tonight, but talk about anything you want. Go nuts.

Categories : Open Thread


  1. Eric says:

    I was at game 7 in the 2004 ALCS in left field so I could watch Brown warming up. He bounced about half his pitches, looked strained and on his 2nd to last pitch it hit the plate and jumped almost all the way into the black in the old center field. My dad and I, mortified, looked at each other and almost said in unison “This is going to be a long night.” Was anyone else here and remember that?

  2. His elbow looks like a tree branch or something

  3. He’s off the ballot now, isn’t he?

  4. Ethan says:

    This question might be way out of the blue but if the Marlins make Hanley Ramirez available because of his unwillingness to move from SS should the Yankees pursue him? Jeter is clearly on the down and Hanley is going into his prime.

    What package of prospects would you be willing to give up for him?

    • Ethan says:

      by prime i mean age wise, last season was definitely a down season for him, so maybe the Marlins might be willing to sell for a little cheaper

      • Tom Zig says:

        The day Jeter moves off of shortstop is the day he hangs up his spikes.

      • Dave203 says:

        I’d be very wary after his “down” last season. Hard to trade the farm, literally since they will ask for Montero+ManBam+others, for a player coming off a “down” season. If he doesn’t rebound to 2009 #s, you’ve just killed your farm for nothing. I don’t see it happening due to salary issues more than prospect issues. He’s making 15/15.5/16 for the next 3 seasons until we’d have to resign him at close to 20/season. With AROD/Cano/Tex/CC all getting paid in 2015, that’s a lot of money to be throwing around again.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      Seems like a huge misuse of energy and resources to me. Say what you will about Jeter, but the team is not going to need a starting shortstop until the end of that contract. Stop staring at the shiny light and focus on actual needs.

      • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

        Besides, what makes you believe, from what appears to be the team’s prudent approach this offseason, that they would change course and philosophy for Hanley Ramirez?

        • Ethan says:

          It was just a theoretical approach. I wouldn’t want him if it cost major prospects considering the the season jeter had last season. If the marlins decided to put him on the trade block I would at least think cashman would inquire about him even if talks didn’t progress.

          • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

            You should try paying attention to what Cashman has actually done the past several years, then come back and tell me as to whether he would actually inquire. He fills absolutely zero need on this team.

            Is there a PS3 forum better suited for this question?

            • Ethan says:

              He would absolutely ask about it. Cashman asks about virtually everyone. Not that talks would necessarily go anyway but I wouldn’t be surprised if cashman at least made a phone call.

            • radnom says:

              You seriously mention PS3 in every single one of your posts. Give it a rest man.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Can’t imagine the Marlins trading Hanley without getting “major prospects.” And Hanley is already pretty bad defensively at a young age, hence the Marlins desire to move him to 3B.

            • Burn Baby Burn says:

              Or the fact that they signed Jose Reyes…

              • Ted Nelson says:

                They signed Reyes so that he could play SS and Hanley could move. Hanley is one of the worst defensive starting SS in MLB. It’s been a long time coming. It’s pretty widely known Hanley can’t defend SS and the Marlins wanted to move him off it.

  5. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    When are we going to honor the heroes of the Stump Merrill years in the open threads? Too much late 90′s and beyond going on.

  6. Rey22 says:

    Wow, I had no way Brown had such an ok season in 2004. I just remember complete disaster throughout his Yankee years.

  7. Steve (different one) says:

    If there was a fictional pitcher (call him Kevin Green), with the exact same resume as Brown, coming off the same season Brown had in 2003, and was available on a 2 year deal, what do people think the opinion would be on this board? My guess is that even though he is 38, people would be all over it. Maybe not everyone, but i am guessing a healthy majority would support it.

    It’s easy to criticize in hindsight, but I can’t reconcile wanting to sign Kuroda but not wanting to sign “Green”.

    • candyforstalin says:

      1-year deal for age 37 season is not quite the same as 2-year deal for age 39 and 40 seasons.

      • Steve (different one) says:

        Brown is also a LOT better…dont get me wrong, I would support signing Kuroda. I am just wondering, if I’m honest with myself, if I would be in favor of such a move, and I have to think I probably would….

      • CP says:

        For the 8 seasons from 1996 through 2003, Brown AVERAGED 200 IP with a 158 ERA+. Kuroda has never had a season with an ERA+ greater than 121. Cliff Lee’s season last year would basically have been an average season for Kevin Brown over those 8 years.

    • vin says:

      How quickly people forget Joe P’s “mystery pitcher.” Right now, Chris Carpenter has a lot of Kevin Brown in him.

      I was in favor of the Brown deal at the time. During the ’03-’04 offseason, Cashman was forced to re-build 60% of his once excellent rotation.

      Think of all the major moves Cashman made that offseason… ARod, Sheffield, Vazquez, Brown, Gordon, Quantrill. Major upheaval.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      That Brown declined at a similar age after the Yankees got him doesn’t mean Kuroda will or will not do the same.

      • Mister Delaware says:

        That Brown has lived six years since his last year in the majors doesn’t mean Kuroda will or will not do the same after retiring.

    • Ed says:

      The problem with Brown was the history of back problems. He needed back surgery a year and a half before the trade. Once back problems get that bad, they tend to become a recurring problem. Brown was one of the highest paid pitchers in the game at the time, so it was a big risk.

      And now in hindsight, we know that those fears were warranted. His back gave out on him in ’05, ruining his season and ending his career.

  8. Brian S. says:

    So now that the Red Sox have signed Shoppach does that mean that Varitek no longer has a spot on the team? For their new captain I think they should choose Saltalamacchia. He has every trait a captain that represents Boston should have: he has a beard, he’s gritty, he has insulted a minority, and his last name sounds Irish. If he’s an alcoholic that would just be icing on the cake.

  9. Matt DiBari says:

    I always kind of felt bad for Kevin Brown. It can’t be easy to pitch in constant pain, in contrast to some people of the era, I really believed he was doing his best to come back and try to help the team.

    Also, he made the Scream Weaver go away, which is always a plus.

  10. Crowd sourcing:

    If you were to offer Russell Martin a multi year contract, what would it look like?

  11. Cy Pettitte says:

    A’s asked the Marlins for Stanton for Gio. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry because of the implications of that on the Yankees chances of trading for a good starter.

    • Thomas Cassidy says:

      In all honesty, Beane is clearly one of the worst GMs in baseball. I don’t see why everyone is hot in the pants for him. He’s done nothing. Ever.

      • CP says:

        The A’s did win at least 87 games every year from 1999 through 2006. I agree that the fawning over him is over the top, but to claim that he is one of the worst GMs in baseball or that he’s never done anything is even more ridiculous.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        What are you 15 and can’t remember anything past the last 5 years? Your comments on Beane are beyond ignorant. That he hasn’t done well lately does not mean he never did well.

        • Thomas Cassidy says:

          Really? How many rings? How many World Series appearances in his career as a GM?

          • Ted Nelson says:

            That is no more the measure of a GM than a player.

            Brian Sabean has a ring and the dude is the mastermind of the Zito deal and a decade of teams constructed with 40+ year olds at every position. The GM can’t control Cody Ross or Aaron Rowand or David Freese getting white hot in October. There’s a lot of luck/random chance involved from the GM perspective.

            Beane was Friedman before Friedman was. Sick internally drafted rotation and a perennial playoff team on a shoestring budget. I believe he’s failed in trying to switch to defense as the new market inefficiency, and also caught some bad luck on injuries (Chavez) and prospects not developing.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      It doesn’t hurt to ask.

  12. Paul D says:

    Wasn’t he on the Mitchell report?

  13. NC Yankeefan says:

    Lou Pineilla is joining the YES crew next year as a color guy

  14. DontChaKnow says:

    I can’t think of a guy in a Yankee uniform I hated more than Brown.

  15. Pat D says:

    That’s pretty awesome that one of the guys in the trade is still in college. I remember everyone had Weeden winning the Heisman this year until Iowa State beat them. Funny how these things work out.

  16. Kurt says:

    Why get everyone bummed out by mentioning the name “Kevin Brown?” Can’t we think happy thoughts in the offseason and dream about another championship?

  17. Ken says:

    I hope that Lou Pinella’s appearances on YES are quite limited. I watch almost every Yankee game, but would not be interested in watching him.

  18. sevrox says:

    Bring on Sweet “Snappin’ Turtle” Lou! It’s all entertainment.

    What did Steve Lyons say to get him canned from FOX?

  19. Mickey S says:

    Wow, per MLBTR the BoSoxs traded Lowery and a spare part to the Stros for Melancon. I’m torn, I rooted for Mark since his departure now I have to hate his guts. Low priced option to replace Johnny P, not a bad move.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      I don’t know, I love this from Houston’s POV. Lowrie has shown flashes of being very good and Weiland is an ok prospect. It’s not terrible for Boston, but I would be irate if Cashman made a similar trade…

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Yeah, I think it has the potential to be a good deal for either or both team(s).

      • Mickey S says:

        Middle infielders with Lowrie’s ability are at a premium based on some of the contracts given out this winter and the same holds true with closers. We all know a good/decent SS trumps a solid closer, as the almighty save is overrated. Weiland as a possible starter and a starting shortstop have the potential to be a nice return for Houston since the Sox were desperate for a closer. IMO, a closer is easier for a team not expected to compete to replace than it is to find a viable everyday shortstop. The Sox dealt from a position of strength to fill a position of weakness. As Ted said, I like it for both – but I think Houston got a nice haul too, and from the same perspective I’d be upset to see Warren and Nunez traded for a guy like Melancon.

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