"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Nothing Semi-About Colon

Well, well, well. Bartolo Colon, huh?

Coming into the season, Colon was the subject of many of my jokes about the Yankees, not just because I’m spiritually twelve years old and enjoy making colon puns, but because as As Diane noted in her recap of last night’s game, the Yankees biggest reclamation project kicked some ass last night. He had already been surprisingly solid, almost dominant, in relief, but this was his first major league start since 2009. I wasn’t surprised to see him being smart with his off-speed stuff, but a 93-94 mph fastball? I wasn’t predicting that. Neither was Colon, apparently.

When I think of pleasantly surprising Yankees, the first to come to mind are probably the Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon duo of late 2005. Small, especially, was a journeyman struggling to hang on in the majors when he inexplicably (well – explicably, but still surprisingly) went 10-0 for the Yanks down the stretch and, along with some solid work from Chacon, helped them make the playoffs despite numerous injuries. Small only ever started three games in the majors after that, but as witnessed by how clearly I remember it six years later, he made an impression.

Colon, having been a great pitcher in the past, is a horse of a different color – it’s surprising that he still has something, but he’s no journeyman. I remember disliking him intensely when he was on the Angels (at a time when I generally disliked anybody on the Angels) and I have particularly fond memories of Alex Rodriguez taking him deep three times in one game – also in 2005, as it happens. Still, given the expectations I had coming into the season, even if he flames out next month he’s given them more than I’d hoped.

Anyway, like most people I can’t help loving an underdog, and the Yankees have fewer of those than most teams, so while my expectations are still not what you’d call sky-high, I’ll be rooting for Colon. Although I make no promises about cutting down on the colon jokes. For a nickname, might I suggest “The Yankees’ Large Intestine”?And can some fans start showing up on days he starts with signs that just say “:”?

Who do you remember as the most pleasantly surprising Yankees?

Categories:  Baseball  Emma Span  Yankees

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1 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 21, 2011 4:09 pm

as far as Yankees reclamation projects go, few were ever as fruitful as Strawberry and Gooden.
But I'm not as surprised when guys like these (Colon included) succeed as I am when a guy like Aaron Small does what he did.

2 Shaun P.   ~  Apr 21, 2011 4:44 pm

Two guys from the 90s jumped out of my memory.

Mariano Duncan, because I didn't think he'd do anything back in '96 - all he did was hit .340/.352/.500. I'm not sure what was more surprising: the .340 batting average, the .500 slugging percentage, or the insane 77 K : 9 BB ratio.

Going back a little further, I remember wondering why the heck the Yanks signed Mike Stanley. The OBP-ignorant youth that I was couldn't understand how a guy who hit for batting averages as low as Matt Nokes with none of Nokes's power could possibly be better than Nokes. Little did I know! Stanley was Posada before Posada. A heck of a player.

3 Evil Empire   ~  Apr 21, 2011 4:55 pm

I said at the end of the Spring that I thought Colon had earned the 5th starter role over Freddy Garcia, despite the small sample size, because he simply out pitched him. AND I'm sticking to that now with Hughes. If Colon can be a serviceable arm for the season, they need to stick with him, even if Phil comes back and goes to the pen.

4 TheGreenMan   ~  Apr 21, 2011 5:07 pm

Shane Spencer late in the season in 1998 and into the ALDS against TEX was the first one to pop into my head. We knew it couldn't last, but for a month or so there he was our version of 1998's Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa.

5 Emma Span   ~  Apr 21, 2011 5:29 pm

[4] Yes, Shane Spencer! Classic example of well-timed overperformance.

6 unmoderated   ~  Apr 21, 2011 5:56 pm

Will every mention of Shane Spencer, there must be a mention of Kevin Maas.

7 earl   ~  Apr 21, 2011 6:09 pm

I'll throw out Doc Medich, who came out of nowhere to win 14 games in 1973 and fell one game short of 20 wins in '74. He came in third for Rookie of the Year in '73, would'a been the first Yanlkee to take it since Thuman in 1970. Clean, young, hardworking, he was a harbinger of good things to come after the lean years of the late '60s and early 70's. As we know, one of those good things was Willie Randolph, who came over from the Pirates in '76 exchange for Doc.

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 21, 2011 6:34 pm

How about Karim Garcia and the out-of-nowhere .305/.342/.457 line he threw up there when he came over in '03 after the end of the glorious Raul Mondesi era??

For a pitcher, Doc 2.0 from 2000, a way respectable 3.36 ERA over 64.1 innings as a "utility pitcher" Mendoza type.

9 RIYank   ~  Apr 21, 2011 7:16 pm

[8] Who?

10 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 21, 2011 7:46 pm

[9] Gooden round 2

11 RIYank   ~  Apr 21, 2011 8:07 pm

[10] Ach. No. The other one.

12 Bruce Markusen   ~  Apr 21, 2011 10:22 pm

I'll give you one from long ago: Garry Thomasson. He joined the Yankees in the middle of the '78 season and became a valuable part-time outfielder over the second half of the season.

13 Yankster   ~  Apr 22, 2011 12:03 pm

Russell Martin isn't so far different than Colon on the surprise meter. There were a lot of very pessimistic things said about him just about everywhere. Now I read about his excellent pedigree and how predictive his all star games were. Well, not a month ago, they weren't.

For me, the take home is that Cashman not only had his picks pan out pretty well so far, but was willing to take a reputational risk if it didn't. That is, a lot of GM's seem to prefer predictability of performance (narrow distribution), over a higher likely average performance distributed over a larger range of possibilities ie probably pretty good versus broken or excellent. The latter is the rational gambler strategy, but probably not the self-preserving GM strategy.

14 Raf   ~  Apr 22, 2011 5:14 pm

[13] If there's an organization that can take those kind of chances, it's the Yankees.

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