Welcome to the third and final installment of NL East Lifers…A list compiled of the players that are mainstays in our great division. We apologize for the hiatus, enjoy…
Silver Status — “NL Easters” (2+ NL East teams, minimum 5 years service)
-Livan Hernandez (Marlins, Expos, Nats, Mets, Braves)- One team shy of riding the NL East carosel full circle. Livan has seemingly pitched forever, but the half brother to El Duque, has put together a pretty impressive career built upon his easy motion and ability to eat up innings. Now 37, he is in the twilight of his career and is somehow still floating around with the Braves. During his 17 year stint in the bigs, Livan has pitched for 9 different teams, notched 2 all star appearences and won a World Series MVP. What may be most surprising is that he has only 15 career errors.
-Jorge Sosa (Braves, Mets, Nats, Marlins)- Jorge Sosa was a guy who had one good year (2005 Braves– 13-3, 2.55 ERA). Outside of that, his defining characteristic was the ability to serve up the long ball. After a promising start with Atlanta, Jorge was shipped off to the Mets during their “suck-something-awful” years and is currently battling for playing time in Japan for the Chunichi Dragons.
-Ryan Church (Expos, Nats, Mets, Braves)- Ryan was a Shea favorite for a while, but his career has been plagued by head injuries. He went down as the official last out at Shea Stadium (good trivia question) and his career has basically all but disintegrated. Concussions suck, sorry bro.
-Luis Ayala (Expos, Nats, Mets, Marlins) – Mets fans know him as a lackluster fill-in closer, but Luis began his career as a quality set-up man when the Nats were still the ‘Spos. Between 2003-2005 he led the NL in holds, but Tommy John would curtail any chance he had of long term success. After the procedure, Luis found a variety of ways to be left off Major League rosters. He has been traded, designated for assignment, released twice, and sent down to the minors.
-Paul LoDuca (Marlins, Mets, Nats)– Paul almost qualifies as a Gold Lifer. Although he started out with the Dodgers, he spent the rest of his career in the NL East with stints on the Marlins (twice), Mets, and Nats. Paul is best remembered as a tremendous contact hitter who played with a true passion for the game. Mets fans loved the fact that he was a Brooklyn boy who didn’t take s*** from anyone.
-Jon Rauch (Expos, Nats, Mets)- Rauch is one big mamma jamma. Standing at 6’11″ he qualifies as the tallest pitcher in Major League history. Rauch is a workhorse with solid statistics as a middle reliever and has a 2000 Olympic Gold Medal to his name. He achieves his NLEaster status from spending 4 years with the Nats and now 1 with the Mets.
-Wes Helms (Braves, Marlins, Phillies)- To be honest, we don’t have much to say about good ol’ Wes. All we know is that he has spent 9 of his 12 Major League years in the NLE. He must like it here…
-Mike Stanton (Braves, Mets, Nats)- Gasoline Mike. Stanton was pretty good with the Yanks, but during his time in the NLE (specifically with the Mets) he had a knack for fueling the fire in the late innings. He liked to keep the game interesting by walking the bases loaded, giving up game tying hits, throwing a million pitches… you know, that sort of thing. But when it was all said and done, Mike had a great career, pitching in 1178 games and winning the WS three times.
-Javier Vasquez (Expos, Braves, Marlins)- Javy had an up-and-down career bouncing around 6 different teams during his 13 years. He had two contracts that the Yankees would like to forget, but had good track records with the Expos and Braves. In 2010, he became one of three active pitchers to beat all 30 MLB teams. Javy has not yet retired, but it’s hard to see him back in the majors. He will most likely pitch for his native Puerto Rico in the next WBC.
-Willie Harris (Braves, Nats, Mets) — Slick Willie tallied a stint in the NLE for three different teams between 2007 and 2011. Harris was a speedy player that could play basically any position. His career numbers were pretty average, but his moment to remember came when he scored the decisive run in the 2005 WS with the ChiSox.
-Greg Dobbs (Braves, Phillies, Marlins) — Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms seem like the same player. Mostly, it’s because there is not much to write about either one. Outside of his three year stint with the Brew Crew, he is a true NLE Lifer, spending a whopping 11 years (both minors and majors) between the Braves, Phillies and Marlins.
-Austin Kearns (Nats, Marlins) — Rat boy as we like to call him (you gotta admit..he looks kinda like a rat), barely makes the list with 5 years combined between the Nats and Marlins. The Reds had high hopes for Rat Boy drafting him 9th overall in the 1998 first year player draft, but he turned into not much more than a fill-in outfielder. His most notable record is being hit three times in a game as a Cleveland Indian…a meaningless achievement he shares with Manny Ramirez.
-Scott Olsen (Marlins, Nats) — Being an ace in his own mind, didn’t exactly translate to reality. Scott is probably best known for getting a black eye from teammate Randy Messenger, calling out Miggy Cabrera for doggin’ a grounder, and getting tasered after fleeing police in a failed attempt to avoid a DUI. His off the field antics and his erratic performances have him struggling for a spot in the White Sox Triple A rotation.
-Luis Castillo (Marlins, Mets)- Luis was an Infield single master and a prototypical #2 hitter. The dude never struck out and could make contact with the best of ‘em. He followed a productive career with the Marlins and Twins with some forgettable years with the Mets and a pop up vs. the Yankees he will NEVER forget.
-Julio Franco (Phillies, Braves, Mets) – It’s hard to say the old man is an NLE Lifer when he started his professional career in 1982 and played for 8 ML teams. In any case, he meets the criteria and deserves the recognition. Julio has had many notable career moments, but we remember him as a great pinch hitter and an unofficial bench coach for both the Braves and Mets. He set many records with his age serving as the sole criteria, but what’s really cool is that he went 24 years between official starts as a 3rd basemen. Julio currently manages the Mets rookie level team in the Gulf Coast League.
-Cliff Floyd (Expos, Marlins, Mets)- The current host of a fantasy baseball program on XM Radio played his way into the hearts of Shea faithful by hitting some monster home runs and catching the division clinching out in 2006. However, his career was hampered by injuries and never quite lived up to his full potential.
-Billy Wagner (Phillies, Mets, Braves)- Billy the kid. Wags can probably still throw gas, but his pin-straight fastball proved to be ineffective after he lost a few MPHs in 2010. Billy saw most of his success with the Astros and Braves but showed he could still dial it up when he notched his 300th career save with Mets in 2006. Billy never reached the WS promiseland, but achieved All-Star status an impressive total of 7 times.
Thanks for reading, be back soon with a new post about the 10 most ridiculous contracts of the 2000s in the NLE.
The Brothers verDorn
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