After 17 seasons, Eric Chavez is retiring from the game he loves. There are many great players in the game, but there are few that have such a natural ability. He not only played such an important role for the Yankees, but to the game in general.
I have always liked Chavez. He's always been likable. He kept a low profile, and even though he was the definition of a "superstar" when he played for the Oakland A's he never acted like it. He has always been the down to earth guy that just wanted to play the game he loved and was the anchor to the "Moneyball era."
I was excited when the Yankees finally got him in 2011, but I liked him before that too. He had some impressive years when he was with the Oakland A's. I always find it funny how he didn't play a bigger role in the movie "Moneyball" because he was the star player for that franchise. He accomplished a lot before he turned 28, including 6 years where he hit 25 home runs or more. If it weren't for the fact that his career has been plagued with injuries in his early years....I think he would have been bound for Cooperstown. He had it all. He was a power hitter, a gold glove third baseman, and a team player.
Chavez had 13 amazing years with the Oakland A's so when we finally got him on our team I was excited. Sure, he wasn't the same player as the 28 year old kid but he was a gamer. He had the experience and he was able to reinvent himself to be a proven bench player. It isn't easy going from a starter to a bench player. I think sometimes players never really adjust, but Chavez did. Not only did he give us an effective bat and great defense at third....but he became even more versatile by learning to play first base. Suddenly, giving Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira a night off wasn't so difficult.
I love the irony in baseball. After watching a riveting post season match up where the Oakland A's played the New York Yankees and the infamous Derek Jeter "flip" play years later he was in pinstripes. There is something very poetic about baseball. Of course, it has its bitter moments, too. For me, watching him go to the Diamondbacks was definitely bitter.
I understand why we didn't resign Chavez after the 2012 season. For me, it was more about having to listen to my dad tease me about how his Diamondbacks stole him from my Yankees. In fact, once he moved to the Diamondbacks I had to go watch him in several Spring Training games and then during the regular season, too. That is how much I have liked him.
Of course, all good things must come to an end as the cliché says. After an injury plagued season and only playing in 44 games this season for the Diamondbacks, Chavez finally announced his retirement on Wednesday. Rather than leaving at the end of the season, he decided to leave early forfeiting $1 million that was left on his contract. He leaves the game with 260 home runs and 902 RBIs and hopefully, one day we see him in the dugout again as a coach. I can see it. He has been so versatile throughout the years, he would be a huge asset to any team.
So thank you Eric Chavez. We only had you for a short time here in the Bronx but your presence here was very important to us, and more importantly the game. Good luck and best wishes from all of us here at Bleeding Yankee Blue in your retirement from playing this great game. I'm sure your journey in the baseball world isn't finished quite yet, we will see you around.
--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer and Editor
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