Mailbag: Retired Numbers, Hall of Fame, Lyerly

Four years later, revisiting the winter of Johan
The 2012 Oliver Projections: Yankee Offense and Pitching

Hooray for Fridays. Believe it or not, there are no questions in this week’s mailbag about potential pitching acquisitions. It’s refreshing, to be honest. Anyway, the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the place to go is you want to send in a question.

(Photo via

Matt asks: Does anyone have any idea when the Yankees will start retiring numbers from the 90’s? One would have to think 51, 6 and 20 are no brainers.

I’m not sure when it’ll happen, but it should happens sooner rather than later. Now that Jorge Posada has called it a career, they can have a big ceremony for him and Bernie Williams at the same time. Six or ten or however many years down the line, they can have a big ceremony for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Then again, these ceremonies are about making money, and the team will make more by breaking it up into four separate ceremonies rather than one or two or whatever.

I expect those four to have their numbers retired and Andy Pettitte as well. I don’t think they’ll retire Joe Torre’s number but I do think they should. All five of those players are homegrown champions and no worse than borderline Hall of Fame candidates, and I do think the homegrown aspect is important. Only three of the team’s 12 retired numbers* belong to players that did not grow up Yankees: Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Reggie Jackson. Those three earned their retired numbers by being historically great. So yeah, I don’t see #21 getting retired.

* I’m not counting the two managers (Casey Stengel and Billy Martin) or Jackie Robinson.

Evan asks: In honor of the Hall of Fame announcing a new class [on Monday], I was hoping you could do a post of current Yankees and their odds of inductions.

Jeter and Mo are mortal locks; they’ll sail into Cooperstown on the first ballot without a problem. Alex Rodriguez should cruise right in on the first ballot as well, but some voters might give him the cold shoulder because he took performance-enhancing drugs once upon a time, and we all know those are scientifically proven to make baseball players better. Either way, I expect Alex to eventually get in just because his career is so long and so great. He’ll definitely wear a Yankees hat into the HoF as well.

After those three, the next best candidate is CC Sabathia, who is very likely to win his 200th career game before his 33rd birthday. He’s got the best shot at 300 wins of any active pitcher, and he’s also got a very good chance at 3,000 career strikeouts (2,017 right now). Even if Sabathia falls short of those two milestones — say 280 wins and 2,800 strikeouts instead of 300 and 3,000 — that’s still a HoF caliber career. If the big man stays healthy and the Yankees remain good enough to help him pad that win total, he’ll have himself a pretty damn good case for Cooperstown.

With 314 career homers, Mark Teixeira has an outside chance at 500 for his career, which would be a bit more meaningful for him because he’s a switch-hitter. Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504) are the only switch-hitters over 500, and Chipper Jones (454) is the only other one over 400. Like I said though, outside chance at that and also the HoF. Robinson Cano basically needs to have another five or six years like the last two to get serious HoF consideration, and that’s pretty much it on the active roster. Ask me again in five years and we’ll see what Jesus Montero is up too.

Nick asks: What’s your opinion on Rob Lyerly. Could he be the Yankees next Brandon Laird?

Let’s start with the easy stuff and compare the two using their basic career minor league stats…

The differences are obvious. Laird has hit for substantially more power while striking out less, and he has a much lower BABIP. Keep in mind that the minor league baselines for BABIP, LD%, LOB%, etc. are much different than what we’re used to seeing in the majors, so a .386 BABIP isn’t out of this world insane. Montero’s minor league BABIP is .341, and that’s pretty normal. Laird’s is a bit low while Lyerly’s a bit high.

The two are basically the same age (Laird is less than two months younger) but Laird is way ahead of Lyerly developmentally. He’s also a righty whereas Lyerly is a lefty, and he’s better defensively at the hot corner (and has outfield experience to boot). I’m actually kind of surprised that Lyerly has hit for so little power as a pro — 15 HR in 283 games after hitting 27 HR in 100 games his last two years in college — but I suppose wood bats will do that to guys tucked away in non-elite college conferences.

Ultimately, Lyerly is just another guy in the system, a fringe prospect at best unless he finds his power stroke with wood bats. He’ll start next year back at Double-A Trenton and likely serve as the regular third baseman, but he’ll have to add some power and make some more contact if he wants to carve out his career as a left-handed corner infield bench bat at the big league level.

Patrick asks: Not a Yankees question, per se, but an RAB question. I’m in permanent exile on the West Coast, having abandoned New Jersey for the sunny shores of California. I see the Yanks when I can at the Coliseum (7 games coming up this year!), and am a rabid devotee of both the team, and your site. I’m wondering if you have any data about readership- how many of your readers are in the TriState area around NYC? How many are from farther afield? Is there a significant California contingent? The Coliseum sure looks pretty blue when the Boys come to town…

We don’t have the data handy, but what you can do is look at the World Map feature in SiteMeter. The link is in the right-most sidebar at all times, right under the Work With Pete banner. The last 100 visitors is microcosm of the site’s readership, with most readers coming from New York and the rest of the East Coast, some from further west, and then a handful from overseas. Most of the overseas readers come from Asia, specifically Japan and South Korea, where they actually play organized baseball at a high level. Every so often there will be a hit from South America or Europe or Australia, and that’s pretty neat. If I ever come across some actual percentages, I’ll be sure to let you know in a future mailbag.

Four years later, revisiting the winter of Johan
The 2012 Oliver Projections: Yankee Offense and Pitching
  • Dan

    Who of the former Yankees from the late 90’s and 00’s would make the HOF? Pettitte? Clemens? Bernie didn’t get a high percentage this time around.

    • Matt DiBari


      • Dan

        Yeah, I had thought of him too. It will be interesting if he makes it if he chooses to go in as an Oriole or as a Yankee. He played more seasons in Baltimore.

      • gc

        If Jack Morris gets in, and it’s looking more and more likely that he will, I think Mussina’s case gets better and better for enshrinement. Mussina deserves it a lot more, IMO.

  • John White

    That sitemeter is actually kinda neat.

  • DERP

    I wonder if A-Rod can do enough to get his number retired?

    • viridiana

      I wonder if A-Rod can do enough to deserve a position on the Yankee roster for the nrext three or four years.

      • Ted Nelson

        Seeing as fangraphs has him as the 4th most valuable 3B in baseball in 2011 and the 8th most valuable full-time 3B in 2010… I’d say that it’s a pretty good bet he’ll do enough to deserve a roster spot the next few years.

    • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

      I would think that 2 MVPs and likely close to 400 HRs in the team uniform would do it.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I say give #6 to Montero.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      Mickey Mantle was given #6 when he came up but changed quickly to #7. #6 then was worn by Andy Carey, recently deceased. Joe Torre was the last man to wear the number. It should belong to a home product.

      • gc

        I know it’s not a popular opinion around here, but I believe Joe Torre will (and should) have his number retired by the Yankees. I would give Montero #12.

        • Jose M. Vazquez..

          Check me if I’m right but #6 was worn also by Joe Gordon who was late elected to the HOF and the Yankees did not retire it for him. Was it because he was traded to Cleveland? As far as Joe Torre goes, any manager who violates the privacy of the clubhouse and then says he has no regrets, does not deserve any retired number.

          • gc

            Joe Gordon played his last game for the Yankees in 1946. He wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame until 2009 by the Veterans Committee, long after Joe Torre had come and gone as Yankees manager. I’m not sure why bringing Gordon’s name into this is even relevant, as numerous Yankee players had worn the #6 after him. If they weren’t going to retire his number for those 60+ years, I’m not sure why he’s even being brought up now. So far, nobody has worn #6 since Torre left. That’s as sure a sign as any that the Yankees are “reserving” that number.

            As for violating the privacy of the clubhouse and all that other nonsense, if that really meant anything at all, he never would have been invited back for subsequent events. It seems as if the Steinbrenners have moved on, and the fans went crazy when he was announced at OTD. Like it or not, Torre’s number is most likely going to be retired by the Yankees.

            • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

              The fact that no other player has yet worn #6 does not mean that they are reserving it necessarily. It could also be that they recognize that it’s a special number, and don’t want to hand it out to just anyone.

              If Montero has a monster year or two, I could easily see them giving it to him.

              Separate from this: screw Torre.

              • gc

                That could be the case as well, I agree. I just think that if they had really wanted to stick it to Torre, as some have alluded to, they would have handed out that number already.

        • Mr. Sparkle

          NO WAY should they retire Torre’s number. After losing Stanton and Nelson, he proved he had no clue how to handle a bullpen and never won another thing. On top of that, he devoted too much of his time to his charities and speaking engagements, rather than his job. Oh, then bashed the team in a “tell all” book after he turned down a contract he should never have been offered in the first place.

          It’s about time they started using #6 again and Montero is the perfect candidate for it. The fans who support Torre will never get on Montero for wearing #6 the way fans jumped on LaTroy Hawkins for wearing #21. It will be a nice transition back to using a number that didn’t even deserve a “temporary” retirement. It should have been handed out in 2008.

          • gc

            Uhhhh, no. The guy won over 1900 games as manager of the Yankees, second only to Joe McCarthy. More than Stengel, more than Huggins. And you don’t totally ignore 4 World Series titles. I get that people don’t like the guy, even though I think they take it way too far sometimes, but any way you slice it, he deserves the honor.

  • Dale Mohorcic

    One regular reader in LA right here. Been out of New York since 1993. Took me leaving town for the Yanks to get good . . . .

    • vin

      And to think, we’ve been blaming it on Donnie Mattingly all this time.

  • Mike Myers

    “So yeah, I don’t see #21 getting retired.”

    What do you have against LaTroy Hawkins?

    • Rich in NJ

      Or in the alternative, what does LaTroy Hawkins have against the Yankees?

    • Thomas

      Hawkins once said “Spring training don’t mean shit” and I believe the RAB writers have always stressed Spring training stats are the most important indicator to a player having a great season.

  • Bob

    Can we get a shoutout to UK reader(s)?

    • Bavarian Yankee

      reader from Germany here!!

      I’ve been on the site several times every day for about 2 years.

      • NRW Yankee

        Another daily reader from germany here! I became a fan during my first visit to NYC in 2009 during the ALDS and finally had a chance to visit my first two games in the bronx in 2011 against the Blue Jays ;-)

        • Cris Pengiucci

          OK, I need to speak with you two if I get this business trip to Berlin approved ….

    • Stevesy

      Daily reader from Stirling, Scotland! Would trample 100 people to watch a game with a fellow Yankee (or baseball) fan. Also have, catch every game.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    why on Earth wouldn’t they retire Torre’s number?! (out of spite because of the book, I doubt that since they invited him back for Old Timer’s Day already) prediction: Torre will have his number retired and rightly so.

    • gc

      Agreed. The Old Timer’s Day thing was just the first step of the process IMO.

    • Tom Zig

      As long as Torre is on good behavior, I give it two years before his number gets retired.

  • JLevs

    If you’re not handing out #21 to anyone else then what are you doing with it? Either give it to someone else or retire it. I was a huge O’Neill fan and would love to see it in Monument Park some day.

    If Reggie Jackson can have his number retired as a Yankee then O’Neill’s should. He was a Yankee longer (both weren’t homegrown) and he won more World Series with the team.

  • UncleArgyle

    I would have no problem with retiring any of those numbers, but the idea that Posada was a more “historic” Yankee than Paul O’Neill because he was drafted by the team is a tough pill for me to swallow. I’m not going to rehash O’Neill’s career here, but #21, at least to me personally, represented the Yankees turn around from laughing stock to respectability to Dynasty more than any other single player. Yeah, he started out in Cincinnati, but Paul O’Neill was the epitome of a “True Yankee” (and I personally hate that term, but for some reason I feel it applies here). Easily my favorite player of all time, and all the things he brought to the table, on the field and in the clubhouse, should be recognized with a plaque in Monument Park. Thank you for listening. End Rant.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      I agree on O’Neill. Great player for us. Wish we had one like him with all that energy. He always showed that he cared.

  • aml

    Consider the players whose numbers are retired. How many of them left the Yankees voluntarily?

    If a player leaves the Yankees via free agency, should it be considered?

    Does it matter if the Yankees retire the number of a player and that player’s number is retired by another team, as well?

    • gc

      There are no real rules to this stuff. It’s basically up to the discretion of the team and its ownership. Reggie Jackson left the Yankees and signed with the Angels as a free agent, and his number has been retired by the Yankees and Athletics. Possibly the Angels as well, I’m too lazy to look that up.

  • Steve (different one)

    I think andruw has a non zero chance at the hall. Esp if he keeps chugging as a bench player and pads his counting stats.

    • Mike Axisa

      That’s a good one. Whiffed on him in the post.

      • Slugger27

        i dont think he even has to keep chugging, i think he should be in.

        ive always been a peak guy when it comes to the hall though. Id rather a guy that was amazing for 8 years get in than someone cut from the tony perez cloth who was “only” pretty good over a long time period.

        from the time he came up until that 50 homer year a while back, andruw was one of the best players in the game.

        • Steve (different one)

          I personally agree with you, but the voters are wierd.

        • Ted Nelson

          Perez’s peak was 9 fWAR and he was the 6th most valuable player in MLB over an 8 year period from 1967-74…

          I think Jones will get in, but I don’t see how you can talk about peak and say Perez shouldn’t be in.

    • thenamestsam

      I think he deserves it, but his will be an interesting case for a couple reasons. For one, a large part of his case relies on defense where he was truly outstanding at his peak and it’s unclear how most of the voters weight defense relative to offense. They’ll give him some boost for his defense, but will it be as much of one as deserves/needs.

      The 2nd interesting thing is that the hall seems to be extremely discriminating when it comes to electing CFs (one of the reasons Bernie may struggle). I think the main reason is a lack of understanding of how much of a positional adjustment there is, and consequently not giving CFs enough credit for lower offensive achievements relative to corner outfielders. But whatever the reason, the CFs elected by the writers have basically all been titans of the game:
      Cobb, Speaker, Dimaggio, Mantle, Mays, Duke Snider, and Kirby Puckett. That’s it.

      Maybe they showed that they’re loosening the standards a bit with Puckett, but they’ve historically been extremely selective, and while Andruw is probably worthy based on the overall composition of the hall, I could see him falling short of that standard.

      Note that many weaker CFs have been chosen by the VC, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish given how unpredictable their choices are.

  • Justin

    I definitely started reading this site when I was living in South Korea in 2009 and we were marching to the series. It was the comments here that told me we won (since having gameday on my computer screen was way too obvious at work).

    So, yeah, definitely folks in SK.

  • Drew

    If Reggie Jackson has his number retired then Torre has to get his too. 4 World Series ring and made the playoffs every single year. Nuff said. Also Montero should wear #35

  • Monteroisdinero

    I liked O’Neill alot and, in honor of him, give Montero #21 if Chavez wears 12 again. Then O’Neill can have his # retired in 20 years.

  • Mantle28

    I think Arod will and should have his number retired.

  • CA Yankee Fan

    I think Torre gets his # retired…now that he is out of baseball and trying to be an owner! At some point won’t the Yankees run out of numbers…except for the upper 60’s and higher? I guess it’s a necessarily evil and a great problem to have with a storied history like ours!

  • vin

    Montero should get number 8, so they can triple-retire the number.

    • gc

      #8 is reserved for great Yankee CATCHERS. That takes Montero out of the equation.


  • Mike K

    I wouldn’t entirely rule Granderson out of the HOF conversation either. FanGraphs as him at 30.7 WAR after his age 30 season, with two borderline MVP seasons (7.8 and 7 WAR). A lot of it depends on if the benefits he gained with his new swing/stance last year (career best BB% and ISO) are sustainable, and if he can stay in CF for a few more years. It seems likely he’ll get in the 45-50 fWAR range now, which is basically Bernie Williams territory. 1 or 2 more years like last year, and a few more All Star caliber seasons, could get him up around 60 WAR with a few MVP caliber seasons, which makes him a legitimate candidate.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      So in one of the better scenarios he goes into Jim Rice territory? If so I would rather hope he isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

  • Mark / Cory Wade’s emergence

    Huge fan here in England!! Multiple views a day!!

  • Tim
  • DSFenkel

    I love the site, but don’t agree with the hostility toward Joe Torre. Retiring his number 6 is a no-brainer. The Yanks will retire #6, #51, #42 and #2, and the other greats – O’Neill, Posada, Pettitte, A-Rod – will get plaques in Monument Park.

    • Darren

      You only get a plaque if you’re number is retired, no? (At ;eadt for players, not including non-players)

      Torre is a slam dunk. he had his flaws and it was time to leave when he did, but he had an amazing spell where everything he did turned to gold. you cannot ignore that.

      Retire numbers for Bernie, Jeter, Mo, Pettite, Jorge and O’Neill.

      If you take each one on his own, they each deserve to have their number retired. O’Neill, Bernie and Posada shouldn’t be penalzied because there were so many amazing core Yankees playing at the same time.

      I like #45 for Montero. Reclaim it from Ser**o Mi*e

      • gc

        There are a few old school players who have plaques but no numbers. Lefty Gomez, Allie Reynolds, and Red Ruffing. So it’s not without precedent.

        Honestly, I think they should probably go back to honoring players that way more often without retiring their numbers. For instance, I would have given Reggie a plaque but not retire his number. Same with Maris. I’m borderline with Guidry and Billy Martin. I can go either way. I would be fine with giving guys like O’Neill a plaque without retiring his number.

  • ajra21

    i live in the UK and log on everyday, probably twice or thrice a day during the offseason. when there are games playing i wait until after i’ve seen them ( the next day) before booting up this site. in light of this, the site tracking must through up far more than just an odd hit from europe.

  • NZYankeeFan

    Big fan of the site from New Zealand here – I look in at least once every day. I don’t seem to show up on the sitemeter map though.
    Keep up the fantastic work guys – don’t think we all say thanks enough.

  • Stratman9652

    Can’t imagine the Core Four guys not getting thier numbers retired, in which case it would be really cool if they waited and retired them all at once. Would make for a great ceremony that would probably pack the house.

  • Plank

    I’ve checked RAB from USA, SK, Japan, Thailand, China, Cambodia, Laos, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Belgium.

    • Plank

      Plus Hong Kong and maybe Macau.