Wednesday, July 1, 2009

IIATMS: Change is here

Friends, the time is now.

Effective immediately, I will begin anew at my new location, It's About The Money, Stupid. I thank you once again for taking time to read and react here, but it's time for a change.

The new site has nearly all of the old postings from here in archives, sortable by year, by month. I've also added a Forum for expanded discussions. I really hope this becomes a key feature for all of us. We've had some good discussions and debates; I envision the Forums becoming our record of these. The more you write, the better it will become. I think you need to join/sign-in, but that's pretty easy.

My "Daily Blog Circuit" and the Blogroll have made the trip, too, so you can keep track of all of the bloggy baseball goodness that surrounds us.

There are a bunch of other things and as I continue to unpack the boxes, I will add some additional functionality and gizmos. Most importantly, I want your feedback. Please don't hesitate.

The URL: http://www.itsaboutthemoney.net/

Please update your bookmarks and feeds.

Once again, thanks for your loyalty over the last year and a half. I hope to see you over at the new place.

Jason

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THE LIST? Are these the real 103?

Shysterball and Jay from FackYouk clued me into a Tim Marchman article that identifies the "alleged" 103 names who tested positive in 2003. Craig downplayed the significance of the names ("there are maybe 2-3 names on it that will raise an eyebrow"); I firmly disagree. I think there are more big names than I expected.

I am not going to post the names until I get a confirmation. But if this list is legit, we got a whopper coming. You can follow those links to get it yourself. It's a fake.

Stay tuned; as soon as there's a confirmation, I will post it. After all, more than 60% of you wanted this list released, so this might be your chance.


UPDATE: The list is bogus, a fake, fraudulent, a sham, spurious, a con, faux, ersatz... Please resume your daily duties with no further chest-beating.

Is Hughes the new Joba? Huh?

You can count me as one of those who loves what he sees with Hughes' emergence in the Yanks bullpen. He can handle two big innings, throws heat, gets the ball to either Bruney or Mo.

Sure, he's a starter toiling in the bullpen right now, but given the depth of their rotation (especially with Wang making some improvements), I think Hughes should remain here at least until Joba hits his inning limits.

Not by coincidence, Hughes' velocity has seen a jump since he moved to the bullpen, even though this wasn't the original plan. Of course Hughes would prefer to stick in the big leagues -- the pay, travel, everything is better; no one grows up dreaming of pitching in Triple-A -- but even though relieving isn't his first choice, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have been impressed by his open mind.

Let's not forget that Hughes isn't far removed from being touted as a top prospect, so we shouldn't be completely stunned that he's finding success. But, looking to cut off another Joba Chamberlain debate at the pass, the Yankees are making sure people know Hughes really is a starter masquerading as a reliever.
Joba should be a starter. For good. I also understand that the Yanks will try to cap his innings around the 150-175 mark. In other words, Joba's pitched almost half his season already, having thrown 75.2 innings thus far this year, making 14 starts. So when Joba gets closer to 150 innings, I could see Hughes and Joba possibly swapping roles, allowing them to remain effective and fresh.

Of course, there are the playoffs, should they make it. I'd like to believe that Joba, assuming all else is the same, is the #3 starter in any playoff rotation. Does it make sense to remove Joba from the starting rotation in September, only to toss him back in it in October? Or just cap his innings on a game-by-game basis, stopping at 6 innings?

How do you handle these two young guns? I don't have the answers. But I keep looking for them.
Do you let them throw as long as they are healthy and effective? Or do you continue to baby the hell out of them, ever fearing the worst? Do you have to develop a way to separate "easy innings" from "high stress" innings. Are "easy innings" innings in which the pitcher gets out in under 12 pitches? Are "high stress" innings those that require greater than 18 pitches? After all, all innings are not created equal.

I've listened to/read Goose Gossage, Jim Kaat and Tommy John recently, discussing how they believe pitchers need to train to go longer in games. The old "you don't train to run a marathon by running 2 miles" analogy. I had been a big believer in the protecting of arms at all costs, but I have come around to more of the old school approach. Over-protecting an arm is fine if you think that arm belongs to a motion that is flawed. But if the pitcher has good fundamentals and approach, I think the pitchers need to learn to extend, reach for that extra inning. Stop looking towards the dugout once he gets close to 100 pitches.

Small guys like Lincecum and Oswalt each tossed 2 hit complete games last night. Lincecum has gone the distance in 3 of his last 4 games. He's conditioned himself to do that. Halladay, too. Lincecum's highest pitch count in any one inning was "just" 13 pitches. He finished the game in under 100 pitches. No walks, 8 K's. Efficiency.

I'd like to see Joba and Hughes eventually get to that.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Off Topic: Madoff gets 150 years

You don't come here for this sort of news, but I mention it only because a colleague had a good reaction to hearing of the sentencing:

"They should take away every penny he has and just release him. Let's see how long he survives."
That's both twisted and brilliant. Can't you see the courtroom doors swinging open, Madoff standing next to the bailiff who has a stopwatch handy?

"OK, Bernie... you're free to go. And...GO!"

Back to baseball.

Mets search for character via an OF fence: FAIL

Disclaimer: I have not been to CitiField.

I have, however, spent the weekend watching the games played at CitiField. What they have seemingly tried to do, by creating a stadium with "character" via kooky OF lines, is just stupid. Mets fans, if you know this already, please allow me to be the last seat on the bus since it's not exactly new.

From all I have heard, CitiField is great. Except for the fact that the entire front lobby/theater is dedicated to the Dodgers, not the Mets, of course. I'm supportive of deeper dimentions to suppress offense; Yankee Stadium is playing ridiculous so far.

What's absurd:

  1. The OF lines that have sought to create an artificial "character" to the park. You can click on the blueprint to the right for a larger view of just how silly these lines are. I'm good with a big park, but these angles and nooks are just silly.
  2. The equally wacky, random and varying OF wall heights.
If you click on the aerial shot of CitiField or the NY Times diagram, you will get a pretty good view of these random and varied OF wall heights. This has to be the reason why Instant Replay MUST remain in the game. Just look at this stupidity. Starting at the left field pole, you come out a few feet horizontally, then dip down. After that dip, you have an angling wall height for a seating section-and-a-half, from 12 feet to 15 feet. The wall remains the same height until you approach center field, where it dips down a few feet (to 11') again until it gets to The Apple (16'), where it rises back to the previous height (11'). After The Apple, the wall again dips (8') and seemingly follows the same height as the right field begins to jut out and then recede for no good reason. As you get to that right field depression, the fence rises to (18') make room for the Modells sign. Nice work, Modells, getting some prime real estate. It actually looks like the park's dimentions were modified to fit advertising, not the other way around. As you get to the right corner, the wall angles inward while the height becomes quite low (8').

This makes sense why? Just to be different? To add character? The ballpark didn't have to be cookie-cutter and uniform, but why take it to an extreme like this? They could make it deep and have character without these "additions". Just dumb. Why, too, are the poles and boundary lines in a reddish orange, not yellow?

The rest of the park looks great. I love the dark brickwork. Love the overall look of the stadium, but I just can't get used to these walls and lines in the OF.

FAIL.

Stubborn or stupid? Or both?

Make of this what you will:

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP, Red Sox - The most surprising thing was his lack of conditioning, and that he didn’t feel he had to do any of the shoulder strengthening program all Sox pitchers are on. According to a major league source, Matsuzaka appeared convinced that a Japanese shoulder is different from an American shoulder. Head-scratcher. In the end, he realized it wasn’t true. One thing the Sox have him convinced of now: He will be on the program next offseason. They may send medical or training staff to Japan, or Matsuzaka will have to make periodic trips to the US to get checked out. The Sox see a Sept. 1 return.
Two things jump out at me:
  1. He actually believed that a Japanese shoulder structure is different than an American one.
  2. He's out until 9/1. That's a long time.

Congrats to Mo! How sweep it is!

Huge congrats to Mo on his 500th save. Getting it against the Mets, after getting his first career RBI was especially fun.

It was Rivera's first career RBI Sunday night that really captured his imagination, coming on the same evening that the 39-year-old closer became the second member of baseball's most prestigious club for closers by recording the final four outs of a 4-2 Yankees victory over the Mets at Citi Field.

"The RBI is the best," Rivera said. "It was my first RBI. It was my 500th save."
Of course, this 500th save came to close out the 3 game sweep against the team that we used to know as the Mets. Now, they look like a minor league affiliate wearing big league laundry.

I almost feel bad for my Mets fans friends, who have to slog thru a terribly injury-riddled stretch. This team is just no good. Errors, mistakes, mediocre pitching, little offense. More errors. The best part of it for me was watching it with my older son, who even said at one point: "We make errors like that in my league". He's nine. Yep, your New York Mets.

As for the sweep, it was certainly nice and fun, but I won't get overly giddy about it. Clearly, this team, as currently constituted, is a mess fundamentally. They have trouble catching and throwing, knowing situations, etc. In other words, a team the Yanks SHOULD sweep. Just as they should have swept the Nationals (but lost 2 of 3). The Mets are, to me, like a kid brother, six years younger than you. Annoying, not a serious threat, wanting to be all tough and cool like you (think you) are, something you can brush aside, yet someone you root for when they face a team you really dislike. I don't hate the Mets. I want them to do well, only if the Yanks aren't, if only to keep the morale around the metro area higher. But, when we sweep them, I delight in the suffering of my Mets fans friends. They take it so personally, so emotionally.

It's wholly different than the RedSox. With the Sox, a sweep is golden. Euphoric. And getting swept is reason to not watch/listen to sports talk radio for a few days. The Sox are the team I take seriously, not the Mets. Losing to the Mets is aggrivating, but losing to the Sox hurts.

Good to get the sweep. Makes Monday a bit more palatable.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunset over CitiField


IIATMS: Changes coming

Friends,

It's been a wonderful year and a half for me. I started this blog with a goal of having ten of you become regular readers, not knowing if I'd be able to achieve this goal. Being neither classically trained as a writer nor sure of what I wanted this blog to be, I just sort of started it right after Christmas 2007. The one thing I knew I didn't want is to be "yet another Yanks blog". I hope I have achieved this.

Since that time, the blog has ebbed and flowed, gaining a group of wonderfully loyal, fun-loving, probing followers. Many of you are staunch anti-Yanks fans. I love this. You guys keep me honest and push me forward.

I've also done pretty much all I can handle with the look and layout here. But I've gotten bored and I have been contemplating a total redesign for quite some time. Rather than doing this by myself (where I am clearly shorthanded), I decided to join an newer, emerging blog network. This change will happen early next week, likely on/by Wednesday, July 1st.

So what's going to change? As I see it:

  • You'll have to change your bookmarks and feeds as I'll have my own independent URL
  • You'll have to get used to a new look. So will I, but I think I like it, even know there are still many boxes to be unpacked.
  • I've been able to import my entire archive, though I will keep this site up and running, just no longer posting to it.
  • You'll likely see a handful of ads on the new site. I hope this isn't too distracting. Please click on them, too! It's about the money, afterall.
Other than that, it's just a way for me to refresh myself so not to get too stale.

So that's the news du jour for me. I'll let you know when the new site goes live. In the meantime, I suggest you play poker.

Thanks again for your loyalty,
Jason

Ponson tests positive for suckiness stimulant

He must have been tired after yet another binge eating experience. Suffering from "PPGSD", aka "post-pre-game-spread depression".

Kansas City Royals pitcher Sidney Ponson tested positive for a stimulant during the World Baseball Classic and has been banned from international competition for two years.

Major League Baseball will not suspend Ponson. Under the drug rules, he will be treated as a first-time offender and is subject to a medical review and fine.

Whatever. Long as the Royals are stuck with him. At least he can't hurt them right now:
He is 1-5 with a 7.27 ERA for the Royals, and is currently on the disabled list because of a strained right elbow.

Friday video fun: Foul ball catch

...with a mini-pizza box. Pure luck. And a preview of the next horrible fan-noise-making creation (check out whatever the girl is holding; fans should be eternally prohibited from ever seeing a game live if they use these things).

Friday video fun: Samuri slices ball

Pretty impressive. So are the reactions, the clothes, the hair, the mustache...

Who are the Yanks' reps in the 2009 Futures Game?

The Futures Game participants have been announced. Each team has at least one representative, no more than two. Here are the Yanks' reps:

Manuel Banuelos, LHP, Class A Charleston (World Team)
Many in the Yankees organization are excited about the high-ceiling potential of Banuelos, an 18-year-old product of Durango, Mexico, who has already flashed a low-to-mid 90s fastball and is working on his command.

The Mexican product signed with New York as a non-drafted free agent in March 2008, and he has opened eyes this season with the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League, faring 5-3 with a 2.51 ERA in his first 12 starts at that level, populated by some more experienced hitters.

Banuelos has excelled in June, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.14 ERA through his first four starts of the month. He made his professional debut last season with the Gulf Coast Yankees, going 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 12 appearances (three starts).

Jesus Montero, C, Double-A Trenton (World Team)
The Yankees promoted Montero to the Eastern League in early June, and the slugging backstop has shown signs of adjusting to Double-A pitching, having proven convincingly that he was more than capable at Class A.

The 19-year-old Montero was hitting .356 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 48 games for Tampa of the Florida State League at the time of his promotion and is working on a followup campaign to his standout 2008 campaign, when he hit .326 with 86 runs, 34 doubles, 17 homers and 87 RBIs in 132 games with Class A Charleston.

A non-drafted free agent who signed with the Yankees in October 2006, Montero was selected to the South Atlantic League's midseason All-Star team and postseason All-Star team as the league's top catcher. He went 1-for-2 and caught the final four innings in the All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium last year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Off Topic: RIP, Michael Jackson

First Farrah, now the King of Pop, in the same day. Tragic.

Like Barry Bonds pre-2000, Jackson, in his prime, was an incredible talent who devolved into a walking freak show as he got older. Neither Jackson's or Bonds' obituaries will be able to tell their stories without mentioning the sordid details that knocked them from their heights. Too bad, since the highs were about as good as it gets.

To wit, the opening paragraph from the news article:

Michael Jackson, the sensationally gifted “King of Pop” who emerged from childhood superstardom to become the entertainment world’s most influential singer and dancer before his life and career deteriorated in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday. He was 50.
What a shame.

Here's a photo album. It gets pretty grizzly starting around photo 17. Yeesh.

And the focus sharpens on Manny and his doctor

The DEA is involved. Yet another acronym baseball players, MLB and the MLBPA want no part of...

Investigators believe the prescription for human chorionic gonadotropin, known as hCG, was written by Pedro Publio Bosch, 71, a physician who has practiced family medicine in Florida since 1976. His son, Anthony Bosch, 45, is believed to have worked as a contact between his father and Ramirez. It's unclear how far along the DEA is in its inquiry but sources indicated that investigators want to know whether either man ever procured improper or illegal prescriptions for other people. DEA officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
[...]
Anthony Bosch is well known in Latin American baseball circles, sources say. His relationships with players date at least from the earlier part of the decade, when he was seen attending parties with players and known to procure tickets to big league ballparks, especially in Boston and New York.
Expect fall out. Possibly lots of it.

Anytime you can connect a possibly dirty doctor and "well known in Latin American baseball circles", you have a chance at some major exposure. This just might be the beginnings of the next baseball PED landslide.

You know, if anyone cares anymore.

Off Topic: RIP, Farrah Fawcett

Sad news today, Farrah Fawcett, 1970's and 1980's icon, has passed away from cancer.

And who could ever forget this picture?

Just a short while after we lost Dom Delouise, too. Ugh.

Manny and the Secret Service

No, really. Manny has an ex-Secret Service guy watching him, protecting him from whatever...

Part of the crew sent by the Dodgers to accompany Ramirez to Albuquerque was Ray Maytorena, the club's head of security.

A retired secret service officer, Maytorena was part of security teams that protected Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Of the task of ensuring Ramirez's safety, Maytorena said, "
It's rather low-key, especially compared to when you go to a G8 Summit."

Maytorena laughed when told that he went from flying on Air Force One to flying on Southwest Airlines, which took Ramirez from Los Angeles to New Mexico on Monday.

Maytorena said he feared Ramirez could be mobbed at Los Angeles International Airport, but that they encountered no problems.

"
I've had more challenging assignments," Maytorena said, laughing.

Among them was helping Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, move into her dormitory at Stanford in the fall of 1997.
You just can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Now batting...Mo!?!

Don't get hurt. Whew!

KLaw on Bryce Harper

It's buried behind the Insider moat, but here's a snippet of Keith's take on the Baseball Jesus:

Bryce Harper is good at just about everything and bad at just about nothing. He can hit, throw, field and run. And power? He's got it in spades.

Harper's best asset as a hitter is his strength; not muscle or bulk but hand and wrist strength, so that when he makes contact the ball takes off with uncanny power for someone his age. He launches balls in batting practice out to right and right-center and can drive the ball easily to the left-center wall. He's still wiry but has plenty of room to fill out and eventually make his listed weight -- a heavy 205 pounds -- a reality. He loads with his hands well behind his back shoulder, so he nearly bars out his front arm, adding some length to the swing. But he strides into the ball and rotates his hips well with his swing and has good hand-eye coordination, so the result is a lot of contact and the big raw power for which he's become known. He's an above-average runner now and should settle in as at least average even if he fills out completely.
[...]
There won't likely be another player in the 2010 draft class who can match Harper's combination of present talent and tremendous upside, especially not among position players in the draft pool. If Harper reaches his ceiling, and stays behind the plate, he could be a Joe Mauer type, hitting for average and power while providing plus defense at a critical and hard-to-fill position.
In other words, Bryce Harper is the greatest thing since Matt Wieters invented sliced bread.

ESPN can't hide their Manny-love

Their writers may pound their chests in abject horror or utter disappointment about Manny Ramirez, but ESPN is almost giddy about getting Manny back. Who said Manny's not good for business? Betchya Bud wishes Manny got voted in as a starter to the All Star Game, eh?

Ah, the allure of ratings. Makes ya wanna toss your moral high ground right in the trash, right ESPN?