Friday, August 29, 2008

Open letter to ESPN Programming suits

Dear ESPN Programming Officials:

Once upon a time, you had a talk show during the evening drive (on the National feed, not local) called SportsBrothers, featuring Erik and Chris Kuselias. Good show, good banter, great listen. One day, Chris decided it wasn't for him and the show became the SportsBash, hosted solely by Erik. This show was brilliant as the host was awesome. Intelligent, former attorney (meaning he knows how to build and make a case in an argument) leading the way. {What would you expect from a guy who attended Brown University (undergrad), Michigan Law School and got his Ph.D. from Columbia?}

After a few years, you decided to pull Erik from the show to lead a NASCAR show ("NASCAR Now"). Travesty. Why you'd put a NorthEast-centric former-attorney in the lead for a NASCAR show is beyond me. You put John Seibel and later added the mumbling Orestes Destrade on the show now called, lamely, SportsNation ("It's not my nation, it's your nation!"). This show has become unlistenable. Just awful.

Getting to watch/listen to Erik Kuselias fill in for Mike Greenberg every morning this week has only reminded me what a great asset you are burying on your bench. Relegating him to a "Fantasy Draft Show" or whatever else you have him doing is akin to having Brandon Webb in your rotation but only pitching him 3 times a month.

Erik now has a Saturday morning show but that's too small a forum. Please, I am begging you, put Erik Kuselias back into a national spotlight show. Have him take his old chair back during the afternoon drive. As someone who is in the car for at least an hour at night, I implore you to consider it.

I am telling you this as thanks to the miracle of satellite radio, I have so many other choices than the pathetic SportsNation, and I am not afraid to use them.

Thank you for your time,

Enough second guessing

One thing I've heard a bit too much lately, especially from Mets fans, is how the Yanks should have traded for Johan when they had the chance.

Sure, hindsight being what it is shows that the players the Yanks could have dealt have greatly disappointed the team this year. Melky, Kennedy, Hughes... all a disappointment.

However, what makes me crazy is that looking at just the talent-for-talent transfer is only half the story. We have to remember that Johan signed for over $130 million. That's not insignificant, especially when you add in the 40% luxury tax hit.

Cashman noted the double-dipping issue yesterday:

"No, not necessarily," he said. "Ultimately, what I feel is a strong reluctance to trade three or four assets to another team [for a player] and then sign him to a multiyear contract. You trade for a guy, give up three or four assets [and then pay him], then you've crushed your payroll and your assets at the same time."

That's why he didn't trade for Santana.
It's also worth noting Cashman's thoughts on Hughes, expectations and what's to come:

"Certainly, he's stubbed his toe with the injury," Cashman said. "But when we held on to a guy like that, you don't do it and say, 'OK, in the next four months, he's got to do X.' He's got five years, whatever it is, to show why you bet on someone like that."

Cashman added, "When you're dealing with youth, it's very volatile," and he noted that 2008 served as a bad year for Hughes and Ian Kennedy while boosting the status of young pitchers Dellin Betances and Phil Coke and outfielder Austin Jackson.

We can only keep our faith in Cashman and his accountability, his judgement and the surrounding scouts.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Not that the Yanks won (which is nice).... but did you see Pudge take a walk? Seriously, this guy doesn't know HOW to take a walk. What a key AB....

And Giambi.... nice half day's work!

Stark on Teix, others

From ESPN's Jayson Stark:

• Bronx glue: The best thing that could happen to Mark Teixeira's checking account is the Yankees' missing the playoffs. Even though Jorge Posada's long-term future might well turn out to be at first base/DH, missing the playoffs -- because of an offense that will score nearly 200 fewer runs than last year -- likely would make the Steinbrenner family just desperate enough to put the team in the mix for Teixeira. And it's a good thing for him, because it now seems like virtually a lock that that other team in New York, the Mets, will pick up the $12 million option on Carlos Delgado (who actually leads Teixeira in homers, 30-27).

Boras' auction house: But how much is Teixeira worth? If Scott Boras is serious about establishing a 10-year, $230 million price tag on Teixeira, he won't have many bidders to play the Yankees against. Most teams view him as a five-year, $90 million kind of guy. "What really stands out, when you've got Vlad and Teixeira back-to-back in the same lineup, is what he isn't," an official of one club said. "Let's put it this way: I know which one I fear, and it isn't him. To me, when you see truly great players, they always have that extra edge, that killer instinct. Well, if this guy has it, he doesn't project it. Hey, he's a good player, obviously. But is he a guy who's going to legitimately carry a club for the money he's asking? I don't see that."

What's free about free agency: Whether Teixeira ends up in the Bronx or not, the Yankees' free-agent hyperactivity figures to make this an expensive market for any team to shop in. The Yankees have about $90 million in expiring contracts (most of it courtesy of
Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Pudge Rodriguez/Kyle Farnsworth). Even if they bring back a couple of those guys at reduced rates, that's way too much money for a team like this to have burning a hole in its pocket as it heads into a new ballpark. So other clubs already are hearing that the Yankees plan to put a full-court press on CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets (if Sabathia rejects them) and Teixeira. And that will drive up free-agent prices for everybody, as agents everywhere rejoice.

MLB's replay NOC is pretty bad-ass

And yes, we all wish we had a living room like this:

Five monitors stretch across the top of the wall, and beneath are eight, 46-inch screens split into two rows. Each television can show one picture, or be split into nine, 16, 25 or 100 angles at once.

And I did find this interesting as it only serves to prove how big an overreaction to the instant replay we've all witnessed. Truth told, the impact will be negligible:
MLB estimates it will take 2 minutes, 30 seconds for replays to be reviewed, and that so far this year about 18 calls would have sparked video checks.
Eighteen calls all year? Oh the humanity. The games are long enough!!!

So now what?

So now what should the Yanks do to play out the string? I'm already in favor of dumping Ponson in favor of ANY of the kids on the farm....

Bugs & Cranks' Yanks correspondent Ed Valentine has some interesting ideas, too. (You'll have to head there to read the full thing as I don't want to pilfer the whole shebang.) To summarize:

  1. Shut down Joba Chamberlain
  2. Play Brett Gardner every day
  3. Shut down Hideki Matsui
  4. Get Phil Hughes some big-league starts
  5. Play Johnny Damon at first base

I know all of this makes the Yankees seem like a $200 million version of the Washington Nationals. But, the reality is, that is what they are. Just another team going nowhere in 2008 that needs to spend the next few weeks finding out what they can about how they will be constructed in 2009.

I like his thinking, though I am not so sure about Damon at 1B.

Could Ponson actually be a goner?

Please tell me my boys at the "Pride of the Yankees" blog have it right (emphasis mine):

UPDATE -- 10:35am: Apparently the team is calling up Alfredo Aceves, who has been on a fast-track through the system this year. Aceves, a starer, has been pretty good at Scranton (eight starts, 2-3 record, 4.12 ERA, 42 strikeouts to 13 walks). We'd think this means Ponson is toast, but the team hasn't announced what the corresponding roster move will be.
We can only hope. We can only hope. The nightmare might be (partially) over. It's about time to see what the kids on the farm can do. I'm waiting for all the witty/lame/trite Phil Coke headlines that the tabloids can come up with...

UPDATE (8/28/08, 1:08pm): Just tuned into to the Yanks game at work (love the TV in the office) and heard Michael Kay announce that the Yanks sent David Robertson back down to make room for Aceves, not Ponson. I am officially bummed.

A Jeter fact

Stumbled across this in the notes of a larger story and it wow'd me (emphasis mine).

Derek Jeter went 1-for-4 and has 2,504 hits. That's 14 behind Babe Ruth for second on the all-time Yankee list. Lou Gehrig is first with 2,721.

Jeter has 1,255 hits at the Stadium. That's 14 short of Gehrig's all-time record with 14 games left.

He has over 2500 hits and he's 34. I knew he had a lot of hits but that number creeped up on me and startled me. He's not getting 200 hits a year for the the next few years, but could he average 150 and surge past 3000 in a hurry. If he plays another 6 years at 150 hits a year, well, he'd be in some awfully fancy company!

In case you're curious, here's the leaderboard for career hits:

Rank / Player / Hits
1. Pete Rose 4256
2. Ty Cobb+ 4189
3. Hank Aaron+ 3771
4. Stan Musial+ 3630
5. Tris Speaker+ 3514
6. Carl Yastrzemski+ 3419
7. Cap Anson+ 3418
8. Honus Wagner+ 3415
9. Paul Molitor+ 3319
10. Eddie Collins+ 3315
11. Willie Mays+ 3283
12. Eddie Murray+ 3255
13. Nap Lajoie+ 3242
14. Cal Ripken+ 3184
15. George Brett+ 3154
16. Paul Waner+ 3152
17. Robin Yount+ 3142
18. Tony Gwynn+ 3141
19. Dave Winfield+ 3110
20. Craig Biggio 3060
21. Rickey Henderson 3055
+ - Indicates Hall of Famer

Pedroia 2008 = Damon 2004

Two grand slams by Sox players effectively ending the Yanks season.

Not a surprise that we're here today, but it still leaves me with a very hollow feeling. I can only manage to shrug my shoulders. No tears, no crying, no chest-beating, no looking for sympathy.

It just is.

I guess the reality hit me once the Yanks picked up Ponson. To have to rely on Sidney Ponson for a team with playoff aspirations (but in reality, playoff desperation) is just crazy. I know Cashman was hoping to catch lightning in a bottle but it should have been obvious that Ponson should not be any contending team's answer. I can't believe we had to use Ponson in a MUST WIN game against the RedSox. Really? It got THAT bad, huh?

Sidney Ponson. Carl Pavano. Darrell Rasner. The 3-4-5 pitchers on a contending team down the stretch? Yeah, not so much.

UPDATE: I just found an interesting quote that captures my feelings on this season: "It is better to have a horrible ending than to have horrors without end". The end of an era.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who's more clutch: Jeter or ARod?

A reader, dimitrios, suggested that Jeter is more "clutch" than ARod. I countered by saying I thought the perception of clutch-ness by Cap'n Jetes was overstated with the reality. I also thought, conversely, that ARod's lack of clutch-ness was also probably overstated.

What better to do during lunch than go find out?

Using CBS Sportsline's stats called "Late Inning Pressure", "LIP-Runners On", ">= 7th Inning" and "Sept/Oct", here are the tallies, year by year:

So what does this tell us?

Here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  1. ARod, during odd-numbered years, is vastly better than during even-numbered years in these areas. Quite odd. (I'll tell ya, you will get ARod at a bargain in your fantasy draft next year.)
  2. 2008 YTD: ARod has been abysmal in "clutch" spots this year. Jeter has been outperforming him in this area in 2008. Confirms the perceptions this year. Jeter's been converting more RBI opportunities (RBI in LIP+Runners/AB) than ARod has this year, too. They are similar in the 7th inning or later, but in pressure situations, Jeter has a clear advantage this year.
  3. 2007: ARod was the MVP this year and his numbers are incredible. Across the board, by any measure, better than Jeter. I can clearly remember watching games saying, "if we can get ARod to the plate, we have a chance" last year. Remember when....? Jeter struggled. ARod had 31 RBI down the stretch; that's amazing.
  4. 2006: Even year = down year for ARod. They both had a solid Sept/Oct and ARod did a great job converting RBI opportunities (31%). However, Jeter was da man in converting RBI opprotunities late with runners on (45%) thanks to an incredible .545 OBP.
  5. 2005: Not surprising, ARod had a solid year, out-clutch-ing Cap'n Jetes across the board.
  6. I did not include power stats (HR, OPS, etc.) since they are clearly two different types of players with vastly different roles and approaches.
  7. The number of RBI chances for each is impacted by the preceding lineup, obviously. Jeter has to rely on the bottom third to get on for him to do anything. ARod can rely on Damon, Jeter and Abreu's high OBP to put ducks on the pond for him to drive in. Except when he GIDP with the bases loaded last night.
  8. I could have included many other stats but in the interest of space and time, I thought the sample above was fairly representative.

So, there you have it. Or not.

Your thoughts?

A solution to broken bats, aluminum bats

Seems there's a new alternative to the current bat that major leaguers are shattering at such scary and dangerous rates. It's also an alternative to the trampoline-effect producing aluminum bats that the kids/collegians are using.

It is made from 12 wedges that are combined with adhesive and clamping pressure. The result is that the outside of each wedge has a tight grain surface, guaranteeing the best hitting surface at every spot on the bat.

The result is that it is very strong, and as a result of it being strong it is very safe," [The inventor, Ward] Dill said. "It is impossible for this maple bat to shatter in the way the maple bats shatter in the major leagues today. You will never have a barrel separating from the handle. The worst thing that can happen is a crack. There is a never a catastrophic break."

There is also no trampoline effect, Dill said. The ball does not jump off the bat.
All the normal things that happen with bats will happen with this bat," Dill said. "If you hit a ball on the sweet spot of this bat and the sweet spot of a traditional bat, the ball will go equally far."

One thing seemed contradictory, though (emphasis mine):

[Ed Koeffling of Pennsville, a Montclair State University outfielder] said the bat has less jump than an aluminum bat, but more than a conventional wooden bat.

So, which is it, more jump than a wooden bat or the ball will go equally far if hit squarely?

Regardless of the answer, I'm encouraged to see something that might erradicate the recent shattering of bats that puts fans and players in harm's way.

There's an issue of costs, particularly for municipalities, as the bats (kids models) will cost between $100-$120 each (with a 1 year warranty on all). But the local politician in attendence had this to say:

"I can't put a price on the safety of the children," said Montclair Councilman Rick Murnick, who attended news conference with his son. "I don't know the particulars of what it costs. If it works, we'll find a way to make it work in Montclair."

It's getting ugly

It's getting ugly and I'm not just talking about the on-the-field stuff. Even the level-headed Tyler Kepner is starting to really get ugly:

It is late August, the Boston Red Sox are in town, and a poor showing by the gurgling Yankees could sink their playoff hopes. This may be the closest the Yankees get to the postseason, and Alex Rodriguez is in October form.
The Yankees are 11-12 in August, and Rodriguez has grounded into nine double plays in the month while hitting .238. If they cannot depend on Rodriguez in the clutch, the Yankees have little hope of a monumental comeback.

I can only wonder what Lupica and the real screamers will say today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

9 more years!

Just think, 9 more years of fans killing ARod when he fails in the clutch. I want him to do well so badly but it's painful to watch. The nonchalant gum popping...the waving at pitches low and away...

Yes, he just hit into another double-play, this time in the 7th with the bases loaded. When we needed him the most.


Let's go to the videotape! No, really!

Seems that MLB's ready to announce that they will begin using instant replay for all "boundary calls" beginning Thursday!

Quite the momentous event, some 22 years after the NFL started using it.
For now, video will be used only on so-called "boundary calls," such as determining whether fly balls went over the fence or whether potential home runs were fair or foul.

Video will be collected at the office of Major League Baseball Advanced Media in New York. If the crew chief at a game decides replay needs to be checked, umpires will leave the field, technicians at MLBAM will show umpires the video and the crew chief will make the call.
Didya note the incredibly conspicuous "for now" in that opening sentence? I sure did. Who let that elephant in the room? Shoo!

Belated birthday to the first DH

"The DH, whether you like or don't like it, it's always going to be there."
--Ron Blomberg, the first DH in baseball history

Evidently it was Ron Blomberg's birthday the other day (whoops, I forgot to send a card!). Blomberg, in case you forgot, is the man who clearly loves his little claim to fame as baseball's first DH, way back in on April 6, 1973.

"I jumped in the Hall of Fame through the back door rather than the front door, and I'm just fine with that," he said last week in a telephone interview from his home in Roswell, Ga. "Because this is something they can never take away from me. The DH, whether you like or don't like it, it's always going to be there."
I think his embracing his unique position in the game is pretty cool.

What I also learned about Blomberg:
The Yankees made him the first overall pick in the 1967 draft, giving him an opportunity that was worthy enough to pass up a basketball scholarship to UCLA to play under John Wooden. He said 125 colleges showed interest in him for basketball and another 140 schools contacted him for football.
(Thanks, Dad, for the tip)

Great moments in jingoism

Sorry for going off-topic for this one but it caught my eye and forced a double-take:

Report: LPGA will suspend memberships if players don't learn English

Players were told by LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens that by the end of 2009, all players who have been on the tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills or face a membership suspension. A written explanation of the policy was not given to players, according to the report.
Let's hear it for jingoism!!! Wooohooo! At least Bivens didn't take a picture like the Spanish hoopsters did.

Of course, it really is only about the money, stupid. Isn't it always?
"The economy is bad, and we are losing sponsors," [golfer Seon-Hwa Lee] said, according to the report. "Everybody understands."

The fine line between quaint and sinister

Every now and then I'll dive into the Vault for some particularly interesting story, usually on a slower news day. Like today.

This one "Tricks Of The Trade", from April 1981, is particularly awesome as it celebrates the nuances and the quaintness of cheating in baseball. Doctored balls, corked bats, etc. All in the name of "if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying". Pre-steriods. Interesting to read this thru today's lens, where stars like Bonds, McGwire, Palmiero, Clemens, etc. have been vilified for using the latest advances to gain an advantage, but taping a thumbtack to a bandaid or filling a bat with super-bounce balls was somehow part of the game.

A few of the best stories (emphasis mine):
Players are willing to reveal which pitchers throw a less-than-kosher cowhide, although they make it clear that nobody on their team would ever do such a thing. Nearly every sinkerball pitcher gets accused—one of the things that burned Honeycutt was that during his unbeaten string at the start of last season, he was constantly being suspected of loading up the ball, even though he was strictly legit. The names most frequently mentioned are those of Perry , Don Sutton , Tom Burgmeier, Pete Vuckovich , Tommy John , Dave Goltz, Jim Barr, Enrique Romo, Ferguson Jenkins , Bill Lee , Mike Torrez , Stan Bahnsen, Mike Caldwell , Paul Splittorff , Ross Grimsley , Bill Castro, Glenn Abbott, Bob Stanley and Doug Corbett, not to mention 99 and 44/100% of the Oakland staff. The A's, under the tutelage of Pitching Coach Art Fowler , are said to be fond of rubbing Ivory soap on the insides of their pant legs at the spot where their throwing hands touch their thighs. When the pants become wet with sweat, the soap just happens to come through to the other side for easy application. The only pitcher on the A's who wasn't accused last year was Dave Beard, who made all of 13 appearances. Apologies to any pitcher left off the above list.
Actually, Umpire
Doug Harvey nabbed Sutton, then with the Dodgers, in 1978 and threw him out of a game. But Sutton threatened to sue if he was suspended, so it was made clear that he was ejected not for doctoring a baseball, but for throwing a baseball that happened to be doctored. Otherwise, Sutton has always enjoyed his outlaw reputation. Once, an umpire went out to inspect Sutton 's glove and found a note inside which read, "You're getting warm, but it is not here."
Dave Duncan , the pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians, estimates that close to 50% of the pitchers in baseball do something to the ball. Former Twins Manager Gene Mauch , now in the Angels' front office, says, "More pitchers are doing it than at any time in the 40 years I've been associated with baseball." Honeycutt says, "Every day I heard a new rumor about another pitcher doing it. I figured it was O.K. for me to try, too."
The original accounts said that the bat was filled merely with cork. Well, such a legend has grown up around the incident that members of at least three other teams claim
Nettles hit the home run against them, and that it wasn't cork inside the bat, but from four to six Super Balls, incredibly lively little devils. Who can ever forget the sight of Tiger Catcher Bill Freehan chasing after the bat for evidence? The Tigers certainly knew a corked bat when they saw one, because their first baseman, Norm Cash , was particularly proud of his. Nettles claimed he didn't know where the bat came from—some fan had given it to him in Chicago "for good luck." The bat was stained a dark brown, so how could Nettles tell?

"Why that lying sonofagun," says Cash. "
I ought to know. I used a hollow bat my whole career." But, Norm, surely not in 1961, the year you hit .361 with 41 homers and 132 RBIs. "I'm afraid so," Cash says. "In fact, I owe my success to expansion pitching, a short rightfield fence and my hollow bats."
According to
Earl Weaver , the Orioles ' manager, the best way to cork a bat is to drill a hole 12 to 14 inches down into the barrel without splitting the wood and then pack the hole tight with ground-up cork, leaving a two-inch void at the top. The hole is then closed with a carefully shaped plug of plastic wood. Finally, sand over the top of the bat. "You can't spot a good job with a magnifying glass," says Weaver.

Remember kids, that stuff is quaint and using PED's to succeed is sinister. Let that be a lesson to ya. And never steal a base when you are up by 5 or more runs or bunt when a pitcher has a no-hitter going after the 7th inning.

Quick Bonds tidbit

I haven't spent much time at all regarding Barry Bonds during this season about his chances about coming back. I thought the collusion idea was silly. I can understand why so many teams would not want him but there were some chances for him to be picked up and he was left rotting on the shelf.

There is zero expectation that anybody is going to sign Bonds, and the clock is running out on him, too: If no team signs him before Sept. 1, he would be ineligible for the postseason.
Not that we needed the hear the fat lady singing, but we'll probably hear her dulcet tones in less than a week to signal the end Bonds' career.

Parents suck

Parents suck. When parents have to resort to lawsuits, calling the police and other sorts of unseemly things --all because a 9-year-old kid is too good of a pitcher-- then you know things have spiraled waaay out of control.

Nine-year-old Jericho Scott is a good baseball player -- too good, it turns out.

The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.
Evidently, he has yet to hit/hurt anyone. He's only much better than everyone else, nothing more, nothing less.

My head hurts.

I have an 8 year old who played in an 8/9 year old league last year. At times, he was incredibly overmatched by the 9 year olds, and even a few 8 year olds who were much further ahead physically. There was one boy, my son's age, nearly a foot taller and probably 20 lbs heavier. The kid could also really play. He hit great, pitched well. And kids knew he'd probably strike out most players. And never once did anyone even comprehend mandating that this boy couldn't play. In fact, he stuck one in my son's ribs. It happens. It never entered my head that this boy shouldn't be allowed to play. I only thought that my son needs to flinch/duck faster!

That the New Haven league in question above would bring in an attorney to this situation is just pathetic and goes to show how parents suck. Just let the kids play. If a kid, in any sport, any gender, can excel, let them excel so long as it's done within the rules of the league. All leagues at these ages have pitch counts and limits. As long as this boy, Jericho Scott, was pitched within the limits of the league, he should have been able to play.

I completely understand that the point of these leagues is to develop kids, let them have fun, learn the game, etc. But at some point, they have to learn to face adversity and deal with failure. That's as much as part of the development as the physical part of the game. Yeah, they will all get participation trophies at season's end because that's how soft we've become that we need to over-coddle our kids. My son struck out more often than he made contact, but he still had a good year. He knew he was going to have a tough time with the older kids, but it was a learning experience and he found out some things about himself along the way. And he still thinks he's going to be a major leaguer.
"Facing that kind of speed is frightening for beginning players", [League attorney Peter] Noble said.
Boo-freakin'-hoo. Let the kid pitch. Let the other kids try to hit him and if not, tip their caps, shake hands at the end of the game and then go out for ice-cream. Overly intrusive parents and league attorneys can keep their mouths shut. Let them play. Learning to deal with adversity is also a skill that is learned, just like hitting and pitching and catching.

/rant over

Monday, August 25, 2008

Moose a HOF'er?

Seems that Jonah Keri thinks Moose is a HOF'er. And ya know what, he makes a pretty good case.

Earlier this year, I thought that Moose was impressive but not an All-Star. Seems, also, that my thoughts were similarly familar to those claiming Moose wasn't a HOF'er: Good but not great. Others have better, more impressive numbers. Others have achieved certain milestones. blah, blah, blah.
Everyone from stat-literate writers like Rob Neyer to members of the blogosphere to the mainstream media agrees: If Mike Mussina wins four more games this season, he's punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame.
Keri rightfully noted the Base 10 Problem, among others:
Baseball writers constantly overstate the importance of multiples of 10, obsessing over 20 wins in a season, or 300 wins, 500 homers or 3,000 hits in a career -- as if 19, 299, 499 or 2,999 are vastly inferior totals.
Mussina won 19 games two years in a row, in 1995 and 1996. Yet somehow the impact of those seasons is diminished because he couldn't get to a multiple of 10. It's doubly ridiculous when you combine the Base 10 problem with the context problem.
On Sept. 28, 1996, Mussina threw eight terrific innings against the Blue Jays, allowing just four hits, two walks and one run, while striking out nine. Armando Benitez entered the game in the ninth and promptly squandered the Orioles' one-run lead. Baltimore went on to win the game 3-2 in 10 innings. But because of Benitez's lousy performance, Mussina didn't get the win -- the one that would have been his 20th of the year.

Really? Mussina doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame because of Armando Benitez?
The article isn't new today (came out on Saturday), but I thought it was worth noting.

Just because he rakes

Sometimes, the answer might be the easiest and most obvious one:

The left-hander is expected to command at least $100 million as the top starting pitcher in free agency, and Blake said Sabathia has shared no inside information about his preferred destinations. Sabathia hails from the Bay Area and has said he is shopping for a home in Southern California.

"I think he wants to be close to home,"
Blake said. "I think it would be in his best interest to stay in the National League.


"Just because he rakes,"
Blake said.

We Yanks fans like to hope that every ballplayer is solely driven by the biggest paycheck, but sometimes, there's more to the story than that. I've made a little home here claiming it's about the money, stupid, but ya know what, it might not be for Sabathia.

Of course, if he winds up in pinstripes, we'll know it's about the money, stupid!

UPDATE (8/25/08, 11:30am): Just took a second to scan the daily Jon Heyman news and notes and he has this about Sabathia:
But despite Sabathia's expected interest in going home, that doesn't mean it's likely to happen. Many believe that money will eventually decide the Sabathia Sweepstakes, making the Yankees the favorites over the Dodgers and Giants.

The Giants have long shown a willingness to spend, but it remains questionable how anxious they'd be to enter into another megadeal for a starting pitcher considering that pitching is by far their greatest strength. It would also take quite a strong stomach for them to agree to another nine-figure contract following the high-profile $126-million deal for Barry Zito that has blown up.
Regardless, Sabathia, should have plenty of big-market choices, led by the Dodgers, who nearly made a deal for him in June, and the Yankees, who will have even deeper pockets than usual with $88 million coming off the books and untold millions coming on via their new Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees' ability to blow away the field makes them the pre-derby favorite. And as one baseball executive said regarding Sabathia, "
It's going to be a big number.''
So maybe it will be about the money.

Welcome back?

Hey there, friends.

Sadly, I'm back from a much-needed vacation. San Diego is just incredible. For those who have never been, GO! If you have young kids, it's so much better than almost any place I can think of. Everything any kid (and adult) would want: beaches, Disney, zoo, wildlife park, beaches, Padres, Angels, Chargers, beaches...and almost guaranteed PERFECT weather.

I won't bore you with the family photo album, but the highlight was watching my boys take their first surfing lessons. Just awesome.

I'll be back at it today as much as the schedule permits. Still sifting thru email and whatnot, but I will be back posting full throttle today.

Thanks for coming back. I appreciate it more than you could imagine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Charity Challenge

Here's my challenge to you, my loyal readers:

Anyone who donates $100 or more to either charity below (Jimmy Fund/Dana-Farber or American Cancer Society's "Making Strides") can create their own posting about ANY subject and I will post it here, unedited (make it SFW, please!). You want to bash the Yanks on a Yanks-centric blog, go for it. Want to talk about the Olympics, fine. Knitting, sure. Put your money where your mouth/keyboard is. *

Also, if you can't donate that much but can donate even just $5, send me an email with your name, hometown and I will put together a roster of those readers who were generous enough to dig into their wallets for great causes.

* I hate to ask, but for any $100 donation, please email me the confirmation.

For reference:

UPDATE (8/15/08, 8:30am): We have our first Charity Challenge winner!!! None other than loyal reader/poster tadthebad was the first to take me up on my challenge. I couldn't be happier to turn over the floor to him. He's a RedSox fan so this should be great. Stay tuned for his posting.

UPDATE (8/15/08, 10:40): Shysterball is on board! Please share these links with any other blogs/websites you may frequent. The more we get this out, the more help we can do.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reader Mail: Fixing the Yanks, take 2

In honor of me being on vacation, today's fill-in host gets to be played by loyal reader/commenter extraordinaire, themarksmith. I'm happy to present his plan to fix the Yanks for 2oo9:

First, the rotation needs a facelift. Sabathia would indeed be he logical choice as the Yankees have the money to spend, so barring CC wanting to go elsewhere, there really isn't a reason he won't be wearing a Yankee uniform next season. That puts a dominant 1-2-3 punch in Sabathia, Wang, and Chamberlain. As for Mussina and Pettite, I would re-sign one and maybe the other depending on how much they cost. I know Mussina seems to be the logical choice, but he does turn 40 next year so I'd give him a thorough physical before re-signing him (Have you watched the Braves this season?). You might lose production with Pettite, but somehow, I think both funnel back toward the middle of how each has done this year. In the final spot, Hughes should be able to step in there. He has injury issues, but he has quite a bit of talent. The Yankees might have put too much pressure on he and Kennedy this year with the rotation not being very good and the Santana trade situation. With Sabathia, Wang, Joba, and Mussina/Pettite before him, Hughes will be able to relax a bit more.

For the bullpen, Mariano is still there in the ninth. Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney, and Chris Britton could fill in the bulk of the spots. They still need two spots. Brian Fuentes and Juan Cruz? There will be a few options in the free-agent market for relievers, so things should be okay here.

As for the lineup, there should be changes. Posada, for better or worse, is the Yankee catcher next season. At first, make a move for Tex. Money is never an issue, and Tex makes the Yankees younger, which is something they need. Keep Cano at second. I think this year is just a bump in the road, and you'd probably be selling low by trading him. Jeter, again for better or worse, is at short, but I think he'll hit better next year (and if he hits well, who cares about his defense? I didn't hear much about his defense while up for the MVP last season and the season before, but his defense couldn't have been much better). A-Rod is at third. I would re-sign Abreu for right but find something to do with Matsui. He may not bring much back, but he'd be an upgrade for many teams. Right now, he's just an injury waiting to happen (They're both surprisingly the same age. I didn't know that). Center is a place to make a decision. How good is Cabrera? I think a trade is in order. Bring up Jackson to play center. He's ripped AA pitching this season, and if it is a bit of a jump, Brett Gardner could also be called up after hitting well in AAA. I don't think there would be much dropoff. In left or right, keep Nady as he hits his prime. As for DH, keep Matsui or Damon. On second thought, trade Damon and keep Matsui. The DH spot should (maybe) keep Matsui healthy.

Here's the lineup.
Gardner/Jackson CF
Jeter SS
Tex 1B
A-Rod 3B
Nady LF
Abreu RF
Matsui DH
Posada C
Cano 2B

The Yankees should be a tough team next season. I think getting younger makes them healthier. The question mark appears to be Posada and if he can return as a catcher (if not, maybe put him at DH?), but keep Molina just in case. Otherwise, if they get Sabathia, that staff will keep them in every game.

Some interesting thoughts, Mark. The comments section is now open for YOUR thoughts. Have at it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reader mailbag: Delusional Yankee fans

Here's an email from a Mets fan who calls all Yanks fans "delusional". The title above was the title of the email I got (I refused to make any grammar or punctuation edits. As is, from a Mets fan).

His plan on fixing the Yanks for 2009:

OK I'm a Yankee Hater and I know Joe Orange . So here is how you really fix the Yanks.

1. Make a strong run at both C.C. Sabathia age 28 and Ben Sheets 30 hope to get both settle for one. They appear to be working well together in Milwaukee.

2. Sign Adam Dunn RF/1B age 29 he would be a monster in Yankee Stadium.

3. Resign both as long as the price is right Ponson and Mussina. I know this will drive the bronx fans crazy seeing Ponson come back but he is performing well and that all that matters.(side note why do Yankees fans Love Mussina and hate ponson. Do they forget that Mussina was getting run out of town and the end of last season?)

4. Move Joba back to the pen less innings =possible healthy Joba. 12 starts and 3 or 4 of those while they were switching from pen to starter already hurt . going to be 23 with arm worries sorry folks add Joba to the list of many young power arms that are never going to reach the mountain top.

5. The last free agent I would pursue is Rich Aurilla. 1b/3b nothing special but solid from both sides of the plate.

That would leave you a rotation of Sabathia,Sheets, Wang, Ponson and Mussina with hughes and kennedy able to develop as spot starters. In reality I hope Hank takes control and this is the 1st year of many that the Bronx Bombers miss the playoffs.

And he calls Yanks fans delusional?

I agree with #1; I'd make a run at both of 'em.

I don't know Adam Dunn other than his stats. He's a typical AL DH waiting to happen. Big, lumbering, huge power, nice OBP, maddening K's. Well heck, we have Giambi for that, don't we? And for $10-12M next year, we could have Giambi back and not have to ante up the big loot that Dunn is reportedly seeking. I also have to wonder what Ricciardi was onto regarding Dunn's lack of passion for the game. How will he like the craziness of NY/BOS?

I agree, re-signing Moose seems like a good idea, 2 years MAX. Ponson, don't get me started.

Joba back to the 'pen? He had been developing into a premier starter before his shoulder tightened. According to everything I've heard/read, it's nothing too serious and nothing an off-season of strength training and conditioning couldn't help. He's WAY too valuable as a front line starter.

Rich Aurelia? I agree that he's a fine ballplayer but we've got enough 38 year old ballplayers. This team needs to add youth, speed, quickness. The team needs to evolve from a team of sluggers back into one that can also adapt to small ball as needed. These offensive slumps that we're seeing right now could be helped by some speed, basic fundamentals (bunting, station-to-station playing), etc., rather than waiting for that 3-run HR.

Programming note: August 18-22

Just a quick programming note: I will be on vacation all of next week, channeling my own Lewis & Clark, heading West to sunny San Diego.

Posting here will be sporatic at best. If there's something going on that I should be aware of, please don't hesitate to email me and I'll do my best to check it out.
PS: If anyone from the Padres happens to wander back here, I'll looking for interviews. Players, DePodesta, lockerrom guys, whoever.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cano's hanging with the wrong crowd

Very good interview by The Big Lead with SI baseball writer extraordinaire Jon Heyman. Long but worth the read. Trust me.

Interesting nugget about Cano can be found at the bottom. Makes me wonder if Cano's a ripe candidate to be dealt in the off-season? Hello, Orlando Hudson?!? Just sayin'...
Right now, who is the most overrated player in baseball?
At this moment, I have to say Robinson Cano, who is a great but still doesn’t get it; he should be following the lead of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, but instead he hangs out with some very wrong people and doesn’t always hustle.

(H/T to Shysterball for the link)

2009 = 2008 redux?

I couldn't resist. Found a really good article over lunch and had to post. It's an addiction, I tell ya!
According to Tim Marchman of the NY Sun, the 2009 Yanks will look a lot like the 2008 Yanks. I think he's right, to a degree. The core will still be there. But I think if Cashman's back, the team will have a whole new feel to it.

Marchman's salient points:

The subtext here involves the team payroll, which will get a lot lighter once the year ends. Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Mussina are making $75 million between them this year. Other than $7 million due Giambi and Pavano as the price of declining team options on their contracts, the team owes them nothing for next year. Even in 2008, you can buy a lot with 75 million American dollars, plus the relative pocket change the team will get with others such as Pudge Rodriguez and LaTroy Hawkins coming off the books.

He goes on to say that the Yanks will add both Sabathia AND Teixeira. I don't think that's going to happen. I can see the team opening the vault for Sabathia, but not Teix.

Marchman then adds the following and the last sentence has what I think a fatal flaw built into it (emphasis mine):

For next year, the Yankees already have $111 million committed to Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Mariano Rivera, and Jose Molina. Figure another $12 million for players eligible for arbitration or whose salary the team can set — Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, and Melky Cabrera, most prominently — and this leaves the team with $77 million to fill out the rest of the roster if they shell out about $200 million altogether, as they usually do.
Marchman's "proposed team" to fill the holes would look like this:
Signing Sabathia, Mussina, Abreu, Marte, Howry, and Frank Thomas, for instance, would fill all the holes, at least if you moved an outfielder to first base. It would also come to something like $72 million, leave nearly nothing for the bench or contingencies, and leave the team worse off than they are this year, given the effects of aging.
Here's the flaw, take 1: They will be in a new stadium next year and who's to say the payroll can't go UP even higher? Is a 10% increase in total payroll unreasonable to set as a ceiling/budget? What if that $77M Mr. Marchman alludes to is really closer to $100M? Silly numbers, we can all agree, but when you're making as much as the Yanks will make in 2009, is that so hard to see occuring?

Here's the flaw, take 2: Hank's driving this oceanliner and the Yanks will likely miss the post season this year, his first year at the helm. I'm not ready to call him Admiral Hazelwood, yet, but you can rest assured that good old Hank will instruct Cashman (or whoever is GM next year) to go out an build him a winner. And by build, we can really infer BUY. [I can imagine this year's Thanksgiving at the Boss' house with Hank and Hal banished from the adult's table.]

I agree that Moose and Abreu will be back, with similarly-sized 2 year, $20M deals. I think both quiet players have really grown to enjoy playing here. I could be wrong, but I can't see other teams offering much more or longer years. Maybe for Abreu...

Overall, I think Marchman's plan seems right, but I think it holds things too static. We've got young pitchers to buttress the bullpen, rotation down on the farm. Some bats, too.

Now, I'm starting to work on a major project, pretending I am GM and see if I can rebuild this team into something quicker, younger, cheaper and maybe a bit more radical. Just getting started on it but at some point, we'll have something to discuss.

UPDATE (8/14/08,3pm): I had emailed Tim Marchman about what I viewed as possible flaws to his argument. He was kind enough to email me back and allow me to post that text here. He's got a good point about the lux tax, which I conveniently overlooked.
I don't think they're going to go nuts with the payroll for three reasons: One, they've been losing money the last few years; two, they're probably not going to bring in any playoff money this year; three, with the luxury tax, to add a dollar of payroll they have to spend $1.40. I also suspect that the financial meltdown is going to crimp their style a bit.

On the other hand, with those $5000 seats, who knows.

I agree on Mussina and Abreu (though I think they'll get a bit more than that) and for that matter I don't see why they shouldn't bring back Giambi for a year or two. Say what you will, the man can still hit.

UPDATE (8/15/08, 12pm): Rob Neyer blogged on this, too (Insider access required, sorry). Neyer seems to (scarily) agree with the flaws that I noted in Marchman's case:
Usually I agree with every word Marchman writes, but this time I must disagree with his foundational premise, that the Yankees will "shell out about $200 million altogether, as they usually do."

Yes, but they don't "usually" move into a gleaming new revenue factory. Also, if they usually spend $200 million, it's because $200 million figures to buy 95 victories. Granted, that's not going to happen this year. But before this season, the numbers suggested the Yankees would win right around 95 games.

The people who run the Yankees make mistakes, but they're not stupid. If they look at the numbers this winter and find that $200 million is going to buy 85-90 wins, they'll spend whatever it costs to reach 90-95. That might be $25 million more, or it might be $50 million more. But whatever the figure, the Yankees can afford it. And I believe they'll spend it.

Another Post for A Cure

Seems that today's as good a day as any to spend more time looking away from the game and taking a closer look at ourselves and those around us. Loyal reader and loyal member of the RSN, tadthebad, saw my posting about my wife's effort to raise money for cancer research and alerted me to the following event taking place today and tomorrow.

The Boston and New York fans love to go at each other tooth and nail, but, none of that matters when it comes to raising money for charities, especially ones as wonderful as the Jimmy Fund and the Dana-Farber Institute (helps kids with cancer)...

WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon
Thursday & Friday, August 14 & 15, 2008
Tune in...Strike out cancer
Make a gift
(877) 738-1234

The Boston Red Sox, WEEI Sports Radio 850 AM, NESN, and the Jimmy Fund will once again team up for the 7th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon at Fenway Park.

Tune into WEEI or NESN for fun and inspiring interviews and commentaries by local sports heroes, Hollywood celebrities, cancer patients – and an all-day opportunity to phone in your gifts and pledges to the Jimmy Fund.

Sports enthusiasts will be able to enjoy unique experiences at Fenway Park during the event. On Thursday, WEEI's John Dennis and NESN's Tom Caron will host Trophy Talk, a luncheon at which Bruins legend Ray Bourque and Sox pitcher Curt Schilling are slated to appear. On Friday, Red Sox announcers Joe Castiglione of WEEI and NESN's Don Orsillo will moderate Sit Down with the Sox, a luncheon featuring a panel discussion with current Red Sox players.

Purchase tickets

The two-day event in 2007 raised $3.74 million. Since 2002, the Radio-Telethon has
raised nearly $12 million to benefit the Jimmy Fund and the life-saving mission of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

View 2007 photo gallery
View historic photo gallery
Jordan runs the bases (NESN)
WEEI audio montage
Read about the 2007 event

For more information:
Phone (toll-free): (877) 738-1234
Do what you can. A few bucks. Volunteer your time. Donate clothing, furniture, whatever you can. Doesn't have to be for either of these two charities, just remember how fortunate YOU are and take the time to remember those who aren't as lucky.

A post for a cure

***this is a reposting from about 3 weeks ago. I am reposting as it's as worthy a cause as I can think of. If you can, donate. If you can't donate, volunteer to help somewhere, somehow. ***

I won't often make a posting like this, but there are things worth discussing bigger than baseball.

The following is from my wife. If you can contribute anything to this worthwhile cause, I thank you. Cancer patients thank you. Families of cancer patients, victims and survivors thank you.

Hope Starts With Me!

For those of you who don't know, I recently became the Director of Patient and Family Services for the American Cancer Society's Westchester Region. I am truly honored to have taken on this role and strive to help as many cancer patients over the next several years as I can.

Today, there is more hope than ever for people facing breast cancer. However, there is still much work to be done to find promising new treatments, increase awareness about the importance of mammograms, help all women get access to screenings and care, and connect those impacted by the disease. We need to provide these women with the information, day-to-day help, and emotional support they need to wage their battle against breast cancer. I believe that hope for a world without breast cancer starts with me. Last year, I set a fundraising goal of $2,500 and nearly doubled that goal, raising over $4,500 to become one of the top 25 Pacesetters for Westchester County.

I hope you will join me in my efforts by signing up to join my team or making a donation in support of my participation.
If you are uncomfortable with donating online, checks made out to the American Cancer Society can be mailed (email me at and I will get you an address to mail a check).


Again, any donation is appreciated. From $5 to whatever you feel comfortable in donating. Just know it all goes to help fight cancer. My wife works for American Cancer Society which, as if it weren't already true, makes her a far better person than me.

If you have any questions, please ask.

Thanks again for allowing me to post this in support of the American Cancer Society and their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.


Looks like I will be able to keep my "In Cashman We Trust" mantra going a bit longer.

Never mind the Yankees' current standing in third place, or their recent struggles. Both Steinbrenner brothers are now said by people familiar with their thinking to be on board with Brian Cashman as their general manager, for now and long into the future. Even if the Yankees fail to play into October for the first full season since 1993, club insiders say that the Steinbrenners plan to offer Cashman a contract extension after this season.
That's a relief.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Against all odds

No, not the lame movie and the sappy Phil Collins song. Just an interesting piece on guys fighting their way to a) make it, b) stay there and/or c) get back to the major leagues. (Thanks to Marc for the link!)

Some examples:
21. Dan Giese, SP, New York Yankees: Planned on retiring after the 2005 season. Found out that selling Hondas is not terribly fun, returned to baseball and now, three years later, is in the Yankees' rotation and sporting a 2.35 ERA.

Mike Adams, RP, San Diego: Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M-Kingsville, Adams was a serviceable reliever before knee problems sidelined him for all of 2007. He ended up having three microfracture surgeries — in which doctors intentionally break bones to let them reheal — and now has a 2.20 ERA, seventh-best among NL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Mike Aviles, SS, Kansas City: The perception: Short, kinda fat, slow bat who's a career minor leaguer. The reality: hitting over .330 and would be in the running for the batting title had the Royals called him up earlier.

Doug Brocail, RP, Houston: Elbow blew out. Underwent Tommy John surgery. Elbow blew out again. Tommy John again. Suffered shortness of breath. Got four stents inserted into his heart. Now takes more than 20 pills a day and, at 41 years old, remains a serviceable middle reliever for the Astros.

Brad Ziegler, RP, Oakland: Broke his skull on a Fred Lewis line drive in the minor leagues. Came back as a submarine pitcher and broke the skull again this offseason when playing catch. Debuted May 31 and hasn't given up a run, working his way to closer amid a 38-inning scoreless streak that set a major-league record for consecutive scoreless innings to start a career.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas: Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, was always supposed to make it big. Just not under such circumstances. From an addict who smoked crack and spent nearly four years in a drug-addled haze to the game's golden boy, Hamilton's resurgence remains the great story in baseball this season — and one that's so tinged with improbability, he had to be No. 1.

Pretty amazing stuff, eh?

Great moments in offending your hosts

Different sport, not totally new, but fabulously offensive.

Buster on Mike & Mike

Just watched Buster on Mike & Mike In The Morning* on ESPN discuss the Yanks and the coming inflection point. He noted that a decision as big as when Babe Ruth left the Yanks is coming, and that decision will be what to do with Jeter. He noted that Jeter's slowing and at some point soon will need to move to LF or CF.

Buster is very well connected within the Yanks from his beat writing days so I wonder how much discussion, internally, is actually taking place, or if Buster was just riffing.

* If anyone can find a video clip, please shoot me a link!

Hank reads IIATMS

Hank must have been reading my posting from yesterday, citing my list of "what if's" about this year, although I just feel that he fails to see the bigger picture.

"I think it's very simple, we've been devastated by injuries. No team I've ever seen in baseball has been decimated like this. It would kill any team," Steinbrenner said. "Imagine the Red Sox without [Josh] Beckett and [Jon] Lester. Pitching is 70 percent of the game. Wang won 19 games two straight years. Chamberlain became the most dominating pitcher in baseball. You can't lose two guys like that."

True, the Yanks have been devastated by injuries. No question. It just smells funny when he is talking like the Yanks have been the first team ever to be stricken with many injuries. It happens. But simply attacking the highest priced free agent pitcher might not be all this team needs.

"We're going to win it next year," he said. "If we need to add a top veteran pitcher, we'll do that. We'll do whatever we need to do. Next year we'll be extremely dangerous."
I think more than that (signing Sabathia, Sheets or whomever) needs to happen. But that would be a nice start. I welcome more suggestions how to turn this ship around. Email me your plan and if it's thoughtful, I'll post it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reader mailbag: Fixing the Yanks, take 1

Joe Orange chimed in with this doozy:

2009 in a nutshell: You're gonna have 86 Million dollars off the table. Let's put it to use. This team got real old, real fast.

Let's start with the rotation: Aside from this season, Wang has been durable. Moose, too (to a lesser degree...although he's gonna be forty this season). Ponson isn't a viable candidate for the rotation. Neither is Giese as he was never intended to be.

#1 Go after Sabathia. Dude is a stud. As much as I didn't think it would be a good idea this season, he has proven me wrong.

#2 Go after Teixiera. We'll have the dough to do it. He can field the position, even if he turns into Giambi with the bat.

#3 Re-sign Moose. Another two year deal. He's shown he's durable andknows how to win. Two years is probably the end of his rope. He stands a chance of getting to 300 as a Yankee.

#4 Deal Cano. Too enigmatic. I want more defense.

#5 I'd love to see the OF cleared out, outside of Nady....maybe Abreu. No reclamation projects like Andruw Jones.... Maybe Austin Jackson?

#6 (warning....blaspheming coming up) I want to see a defensive replacement for Jeter, late innings. Remember '98? not everybody on that team were stars. We need Scott Brosius back.....Guys that understood their role and did it.

Guys that can go: Pettitte, Ponsoon, Giambi, Sexson, Pavano (HA!), Pudge, Betemit.

I make a call to Oakland and see if they're willing to deal Street. I'll just bet that Eiland can work with him.

I also give a shot to Melancon in the bullpen....sixth, seventh inning guy.

Give a shot to Humberto (Dirty) Sanchez and monitor progress on Brackman.

We had an awful lot of injuries this season. I say Girardi did a good job, all things considered.

What do you think? Is he being too sentimental about Moose (so what if he gets his #300 somewhere else)? Overly "Yankee" to try to land Sabathia AND Teixeira? Deal Cano? For what? Plan on signing Orlando Hudson? How will the team dump both Damon and Matsui, along with Melky? That's a lot of OF to deal. Somewhere in there he seems to be relying on Sabathia, Wang, Moose, Joba, Hughes for the rotation. Still too much risk?

Got something to add on how to fix the Yanks? Email me and so long as it's not "screw the Yanks" or something equally lame, I'll post it. Best suggestion/solution wins a Swingline stapler*. If we get enough good postings, I'll create a poll and you guys can decide.

* as long as supplies last and I have only one

The party's over

This hurts. This is not fun. This makes Sox (and everyone else) happier. This is disappointing. Most of all, this is not a surprise.

The Yanks (version 2008) are done.

I guess I knew it was coming. I felt it going into this year (and truth be told, last year, too, but I wasn't officially blogging a year back). This team is not built to win it all this season. I mentioned more than a few times that I'd be OK with a missed post-season if the Yanks kept the farm system intact and a major part of their future, and I think that's precisely where we are headed.

The road to disappointment is paved with a thousand if's. The Yanks have plenty of what if's to ponder. Here are a few of mine, feel free to add your own.

What if...

  • Wang didn't get hurt
  • Posada didn't get hurt
  • Hughes didn't get hurt
  • Matsui didn't get hurt
  • Joba didn't get hurt
  • Damon didn't get hurt and could still throw the ball (not a 16-hopper to 2B)
  • Cano didn't regress so badly
  • Cano gave max effort all the time
  • Melky didn't get exposed as merely a 4th outfielder rather than a starting CF for a contending team
  • Abreu showed any fire (yeah, I know it's not his style) and could catch a ball near the fence
  • Hughes and Kennedy combined for more than 0 wins. ZERO?!?
  • Giambi was able to show some semblance of consistency
  • Ponson was merely the answer to a bad trivia question, rather than our nominal #3 right now
  • Dan Geise wasn't needed to help keep a rotation afloat
  • Rasner didn't turn into a pumpkin so quickly
  • Jeter didn't look so old at the plate
  • ARod didn't chase every ball that was low and away
  • Pettitte didn't look so hittable
  • Justin Christian wasn't your starting LF in a critical game against the team just in front of you for the wildcard
  • Moose hadn't found the Fountain of Youth
Buddy Shysterball noted it today in his always excellent "And That Happened":
Yesterday morning I read a story in one of the New York tabloids -- not unlike stories I've read in the New York tabloids for the past, oh, six or seven years -- in which some putatively ballsy New York writer tells Yankees fans how it really is: the Bombers are no longer the class of the league. The party is over. Get used to looking up at Tampa or Boston or Anaheim or Chicago or whoever. It's always styled as hard truths and tough love, and it's always ridiculous. It's especially ridiculous this year, in that Yankees fans -- who are rightly, I think, reputed to be among the most knowledgeable in baseball -- are well aware that any team trotting out a squad consisting of Justin Christian, Xavier Nady, Richie Sexon, and Sidney Ponson in mid August is not a contender, let alone the class of the league. They don't need a writer to tell them this. Instead, maybe they need some writers who can help them analyze this new reality as opposed to dwell on the end of a party everyone left hours and hours ago.
I have promised those of you who are kind enough to drop by and read that I'd always try to give you the straight dope on the team I grew up rooting for. I haven't, for one second, thought the team was the class of the league. Haven't thought so for years. We've been merely competitive the last few years, nothing more. Our shortcomings have been obvious and this is the year that it all finally came to roost.

Frequent reader and poster themarksmith noted this on his quiz, presumably about the Yanks: Karma finally comes back to bite you for winning too damn much. Karma? Maybe. I don't think karma plays much of a role but I do think age caught up with the Yanks (too old, too young). The lack of balance was painful.

OK, the wallowing in regret portion of our posting is now over. We need to get started on the rebuild portion. Email/post your thoughts on what the Yanks need to do for 2009 and beyond. I NEED YOUR HELP! Full credit given if you post your name/location. I want to make this an audience participation event.

Seriously, what do the Yanks need to do?
Who should they keep?
Who should they target (and who will realistically SIGN with the team)?
Who should they trade/dump?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why I like Moose

Here it is, in a nutshell:

Saw a headline the other today in an NY paper; "Pavano solid.'' And I can't think of any bigger waste of space. To learn what Pavano's about, read John Feinstein's interesting book Living on the Black, about Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine. In one story, when Mussina was offered slightly less than $10 million a year in a new contract by the Yankees, he told Cashman, "I can't be paid less than Pavano,'' or words to that effect, and Cashman understood completely. Mussina was then paid $11.5 million a year, or slightly more than the sedentary Pavano.

A closer look at Ponson

Yes, I still hate Ponson, but he has thrown two solid starts (despite so many men on base) in a row. However, the good folks at ESPN's Insider are projecting doom with his next start in MINN (Insider access required, sorry):

Pitcher Sidney Ponson is having his first good season since 2003, with a 7-2 record and 4.23 ERA in 16 starts between the Rangers and Yankees. Considering his bad off-field behavior and performance decline -- an ERA in the 6.00 range each of the past three seasons -- fans might wonder why teams keep giving Ponson a chance. [Gee, I wonder who would be crass enough to do that? Hmmmmm?] Since 2007, he has thrown strikes on 63 percent of his 91 mph fastballs, right around league average, which gives him some value.

Ponson has put together two straight strong starts, allowing three runs and eight hits over 13 1/3 innings. Managing Ponson's workload seems to be a key to maximizing his effectiveness. He hits a wall after he throws around 185 total pitches in two consecutive outings on normal four-day rest, severely reducing the effectiveness of his next start.
Danger could be lurking when Ponson faces the Twins tonight. He threw 96 pitches on Aug. 1 and 95 on Aug. 6 for a combined total of 191. The last time Ponson made a start after so many pitches was on June 4 (195 pitches in previous two). Ponson gave up six runs (two earned) in four innings in the loss before getting released by the Rangers.

Great, just what the Yanks desperately need right now.

A weekend lost

I woke up and saw that the Yanks are 8.5 games back in the AL East and three games behind the Twins (4.5 behind the Sawx) for the Wild Card. We just got swept in LA. As Tyler Kempner puts it, "It’s Getting Late Early for the 2008 Yankees" and he's right on.

The Yanks rotation consists of a rejuvenated Moose, an eminently hittable Pettitte, a profoundly frustrating Ponson and then a hodgepodge of guys including Dan Giese, Darrell Rasner, a recently sent-down Kennedy (foot-in-mouth disease). Generation Trey, as some had called them, imploded rather than "was here to stay". Kennedy and Hughes have yet to win a game. The vets are not happy with Kennedy's comments. Joba's on the DL after what had seemed to be a seamless transition into a top tier starter. Heck, we might even see American Idle Pavano back before Joba. Wang will be ready just as the regular season will come to a close.

With the bats, ARod's still slumping (despite a HR yesterday). Jeter's looking lost. Abreu and Damon are still hitting [I am totally on board with keeping Abreu another two years, for whatever my vote's worth]. Melky has been passed. Cano remains an enigma, with the bat and the glove. Matsui's been out for ages. Nady has been great, though.

What can I say? The best part of my baseball weekend was that I missed the end of every game. Too tired Friday. Hanging with the kids Saturday. Dinner with the extended family Sunday. Missed a lot of the games. Not upset in the least.

More importantly for me was that my older son's catching the ball better. We had a good long catch on Sunday morning and he's catching better. And my younger one (age 5) now knows how to throw from a full windup. Not sure where the ball is going to go, but he'll call out "two seamer" or "four seamer", go into a windup and hurl the ball in my general direction. Yes, he tries to put his little fingers across four seams. And that's why I had a good weekend even though my team didn't.