Billy Martin

Retired Numbers and The Yankees

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You may have heard … it looks like the New York Yankees will retire Joe Torre’s number. That is absolutely the right thing to do — heck Billy Martin’s number is retired — and it brings us just a little big closer to one of the cooler number things in sports: Very soon the first 10 numbers will be retired by the New York Yankees.

In case you have forgotten the list:

No. 1: Billy Martin. Number was retired in 1986 more out of emotion, I think, than anything else. Ralph Houk won a World Series as manager and his number isn’t retired. But it’s also true that no player or manager ever wore the Yankees pinstripes more proudly. Martin was a Yankees World Series hero as a player, and he led the Yankees to a pennant and a World Series championship as a manager, in addition to being fired 800 million times.

No. 2: Derek Jeter. Will be retired 12 minutes after he retires.

No. 3: Babe Ruth. Baseball’s all-time No. 3 hitter. Baseball’s all-time everything, really. Retired June, 13, 1948. The famous picture of Babe Ruth leaning on his bat comes from that day. You probably know this, but Ruth gave the bat to Bob Feller, and it is on display at the Bob Feller Museum in Iowa.

No. 4: Lou Gehrig. Retired July 4, 1939, the day he announced that he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

No. 5: Joe DiMaggio. Retired April 18, 1952. I really think they should have retired it in 1956.

No. 6: Here’s Joe Torre’s number, squeezed beautifully between DiMag and the Mick. It’s almost as if they KNEW he would become an all-time great manager and have his number retired.

No. 7: George Costanza’s future child. And Mickey Mantle. Retired June 8, 1969.

No. 8: Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. This was an interesting one. The Yankees did not retire Dickey’s number when he retired in 1946. Instead, two years later, they gave it to a young catcher named Yogi (up to that point, Berra had worn No. 38 and No. 35). So, two of the greatest catchers in baseball history wore No. 8 for the Yankees. In 1972, the Yankees decided to retire the number for Yogi, but they couldn’t leave out Dickey. So they retired the number in both names.

No. 9: Roger Maris. He was sick and would die eighteen months after having his number retired in 1984. But he was at the stadium on Old Timer’s Day wearing No. 9.

No. 10: Phil Rizzuto in 1985. Scooter, as a player, announcer and icon you could argue convincingly that Rizzuto and Yogi are the two most beloved figures in Yankees history.

The Yankees actually have retired eight more numbers: No. 15 (Thurman Munson); No. 16 (Whitey Ford); No. 23 (Donnie Baseball); No. 32 (Elston Howard); No. 37 (Casey Stengel); No. 42 (The Great Rivera); No. 44 (The Straw That Stirred the Drink) and No. 49 (Ron Guidry).

But it is filling up those first 10 numbers that is really cool. There’s really nothing else quite like that in sports.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.