NEW YORK - AUGUST 07: Mike Lowell #25 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI double in the second-inning against the New York Yankees on August 7 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
It's probably been a while since you thought about Mike Lowell. Mikey Doubles, as I used to call him because he hit lots of doubles and I'm very clever, was a big part of the Red Sox last championship club. Over parts of five seasons with Boston, he won the 2007 World Series MVP award, hit 80 homers, 153 doubles, and played excellent defense until his knees fell apart like a Jenga puzzle played by a drunk.
But Lowell is interesting for more than just his on the field prowess. He is one of a relative few players to play for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in his career. I bring this up because a few days ago Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk reported the Red Sox have an interest in Yankees back up outfielder Andruw Jones. Those of you with longer memories and less exciting lives will recall I suggested the Sox add Jones back on November 1st. What makes the idea noteworthy is that Jones would become yet another member of the Benedict Arnold Club.
Some may poo-poo the idea of the rivalry, saying players go where the money is. There is certainly truth to that. Lots and lots of truth. So much truth that I'd go so far as to call it true. But that doesn't mean we fans don't feel strongly about players switching sides. One need only look so far back as 2006 when World Series hero Johnny Damon joined the Yankees. Damon and dare I say the Sox fanbase have yet to get over that.
Farther in the rear view mirror, I remember when Wade Boggs (that isn't the normal SBN player link, people) left the Red Sox and joined the Yankees in 1993. Like so many defections of star players from Boston to New York, that one hurt. Because of my youth it probably hurt a bit more. When Boggs rode that horse around Yankee Stadium after winning the World Series wearing pinstripes? Yeah, a smidge more.
Cry as we (read: I) did over them, Boggs and Damon certainly weren't alone in switching sides.
In fact, they were just two of roughly 200 different players to have played for both teams over their collective 100+ year history. (It's hard to say exactly how many for a number of reasons, tops among them being my complete inability to use Baseball Reference's play index tool.)
The history of the two clubs wasn't immediately one of acrimony, as one can see from the long list of players who played on both sides in the early 1900s. There was no free agency then (these were the days of the reserve clause that bound players to their teams for life) so if not done directly, going from Boston to New York would take multiple trades. It was unlikely.
There was another more famous option though: being sold from one club to the other. The Red Sox sadly indulged in this behavior numerous times, gutting their World Series winning club in the process and enabling a certain sportswriter to hoist a bunch of hocus pocus on the fan base many decades later. Babe Ruth was the biggest name to traded to New York for money, but Duffy Lewis, Everett Scott, Ernie Shore, Herb Pennock, and Carl Mays were all big players in their time as well. They were all sold to New York from the Red Sox between 1919 and 1923, deals which turned a World Series winner into a club that wouldn't post a better than .500 record until 1935.
The number of players coming and going between the two teams slowed in the 1930s, 40s, and into the 50s. It picked up again in the early 60s before the acrimony between the two clubs made players switching sides more difficult once more. In 1967 the Yankees fleeced the Red Sox for Sparky Lyle and the teams wouldn't do business again for a decade and a half. The next deal between the two clubs wouldn't come until after the 1985 season when the Sox shipped Mike Easler to New York.
Free agency opened the borders back up, so to speak.
Flashing forward to the 1990s, Boggs was one of nineteen players who played for the Red Sox and later played on the Yankees during that decade. Compare that to the five Red Sox from 1950s who eventually joined the Yankees. Many of those players joined the Yankees at the tail end of their careers. Fourteen of the nineteen spent only a single season in New York.
However, there were a few during that time period who played significant portions of their careers for both teams. Boggs and Roger Clemens are the big names there, but Mike Stanton spent two seasons with the Red Sox in the mid 90s before joining the Yankees and becoming a part of their vaunted bullpen for the next six seasons. You may recall Stanton was dealt back to the Red Sox from the Washingtonon September 29th of 2005 specifically so he could face the Yankees in a LOOGY role during the final series of the season. He ended up pitching just one inning in one game, an 8-4 loss to the Yankees.
The iconic 2004 Red Sox team featured a number of players who eventually joined the Yankees. The biggest name among those is Johnny Damon, who bolted Boston for New York's offer of a shiny, new 4 year, $52 million contract. But lesser known members of The 25 also eventually found themselves in New York. After his release from Boston, Mark Bellhorn joined the Yankees. He lasted all of 11 games and hit .118. After single seasons with the Mets and Royals, Doug Mientkiewicz played a season for the Yankees. He played in 72 games and posted his best OPS for any one team in his career.
Members of the '04 bullpen, Allan Embree, Mike Myers and Ramiro Mendoza also played for the Yankees. Mendoza is an especially interesting case. He played parts of seven seasons for the Yankees, then signed with the Red Sox for two years, then re-joined the Yankees the following season. Upon re-upping with New York, he lasted all of one inning. It was his last in major league baseball. Another interesting thing about Mendoza, he never played for any teams other than the Yankees and Red Sox.
Moving forward to now, the 2011 Sox boasted only one former Yankee, that being Alfred Aceves, while the Yankees have only one former Red Sock in Bartolo Colon. Colon is now a free agent. If he signs elsewhere, the Yankees would be without a former Red Sock on their roster, at least to start the year.
Getting back to Andruw Jones, he would be a fine addition to the 2012 Red Sox if he can approximate his 2011 line. With New York, Jones hit .247/.356/.495 with 13 home runs in 222 plate appearances. What's more, Jones hit .286/.384/.540 against lefties, a perfect platoon partner if the Red Sox decide to keep Josh Reddick in the starting role (and now with the signing of Carlos Beltran by the Cardinals that seems increasingly likely).
Jones' skillset isn't extremely hard to find though. The Red Sox don't need Jones so much as a player like Jones. But, while the addition of a player like Jones would help make the 2012 Red Sox just a little bit better, adding Jones himself would boost him into that most exclusive of clubs, players who have called themselves both a Yankee and a Red Sock. They probably have special hats. If I could only get Baseball Reference to work, I'd check for you.