• Meet The Bloggers

    Posted by on November 22nd, 2005 · Comments (3)

    I recently threw out nine questions to several Yankees-bloggers – to see what they had to say. Four of the recipients were kind enough to get back to me: Alex Belth of Bronx Banter, Patrick O’Keefe of Yanks Blog, Brian MacMillan of Off the Facade and “YanksFan” from Yanksfan-vs-Soxfan. Here are the questions and answers. For the heck of it, I threw in my own answers – just for another point of comparison.

    Why did you start doing a Yankees-related blog?

    Patrick O’Keefe: I am a diehard Yankees fan. I also run and manage websites. I had talked about the Yankees a bit on my personal blog, so it all fit together.

    Alex Belth: I felt compelled to start writing about the Yankees in ’98-’99 simply because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had never rooted for a team that was on a run like that and I just felt I had to record some of my feelings. For someone my age (34) I was hopelessly behind the curve when it came to computers and I didn’t really begin to discover the Internet until the 2002 season. When I discovered that blogs were essentially free, I thought, boom, here is a great way to practice writing regularly about something that I love.

    “YanksFan”: My interlocutor (SoxFan) and I had been having a perpetual debate about the Yanks and Sox (and other baseball matters) via email. When blogging software came along, we decided, in our hubris, to make that discussion public.

    Brian MacMillan: I started a blog on LiveJournal for my friends to check out. The first week or so I wrote a bunch about baseball and the Yankees and a friend suggested I create a second blog just for that stuff because he wanted to read about my non-baseball/Yankees stuff and it was hard to wade through and find it. So I did and things took off from there.

    Steve Lombardi: I do a lot of thread/topic starting over at the NetShrine (Baseball) Discussion Forum. And, I began to get some mild heat about being too Yankees-centric in my posts. So, I just decided to start a new forum for those Yankees thoughts. It’s not a very sexy origination story. But, it’s the truth.

    What one thing surprised you the most about doing your blog?

    Patrick O’Keefe: Nothing really comes to mind. I’ve been around a bit. Feel free to surprise me, though!

    Alex Belth: Probably the amount of new friends and colleagues that I’ve met since I’ve been doing Bronx Banter. Early on, I knew that I would be able to find a comfort zone because there are so many angles to take when covering the same sport. But it’s been really cool to meet so many different people–even the ones I know strictly through e-mail. Also, the fact that I’ve got readers in Japan and Europe really blows me away–the power of the ‘Net to connect people was something I discounted for a long time.

    “YanksFan”: How much I’ve come to enjoy the repartee with some of our posters.

    Steve Lombardi: For me, it was the traffic that my site started to get pretty much right out of the gate. I owe most to that to kind people mentioning it in their blogs and providing links. Alex at Bronx Banter was one of the first to do it and that really got the ball rolling. Any success that I have, traffic-wise, is in part of that inital kindness from him.

    Brian MacMillan passed on the question.

    When did you become a Yankees fan? What got you hooked?

    Patrick O’Keefe: I was born a Yankees fan. It was natural for me to like baseball. I started playing closer attention around the beginning of the Showalter era. I’ve just always liked baseball and always been a Yankees fan. Always will be.

    Alex Belth: I was born in ’71 and only vaguely recall the ’77, ’78 ‘World Serious’. My old man was a Brooklyn Dodger-turned Met fan, but didn’t care passionately enough to steer me away from the Bombers. I grew up on 103 and West End Avenue and my uncle was a big Yankee fan, so it seemed like a natural fit.

    “YanksFan”: From birth. My father was born in the Bronx. I came of age in the ’70s, when the team was in its championship run. But, boy, were the ’80s tough.

    Brian MacMillan: The Yankees of the late ’70s. Munson, Dent, the Goose. Flipping baseball cards and wanting to collect all the Yankees. Watching games on WPIX all the time with Scooter and Bill White.

    Steve Lombardi: I became a Yankees fan a few months before my 11th birthday in 1973. No one pushed me – although my father and his father were Yankees fans. In fact, I didn’t even know that my family were diehard Yankees fans until after I decided that the Yankees were my team. I guess it was just a moth to the flame type of thing. Actually, I’ve found many become fans of teams that are doing well at the moment they became fans. For example, a lot of 28-year-old guys now are probably Mets fans because they started following baseball in 1986. When I think of this, and how the Yankees and Mets were in 1973, I’m happy that I didn’t allow that follow-the-leader thing to take root with me.

    Who is your all-time favorite Yankee? Why?

    Patrick O’Keefe: Don Mattingly or Derek Jeter. Don Mattingly was my first favorite player, Derek Jeter is my favorite now. I liked both of them so much, it’s hard to say. I’m a huge fan of Mo, Bernie and others, as well.

    Alex Belth: This is a tough one. I don’t know that I’ve got just one. Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera have been my favorite contemporary Yankees, and I felt attached to Mattingly and Winfield as a teenager. But I don’t know if I’ve ever worshipped anyone more than Reggie, though if I had to model myself after anyone as a kid, my two favorites would have been Randolph and Guidry. I loved their steady demeanor’s and cool professionalism.

    “YanksFan”: I don’t have an all-time favorite. It’s hard not to love Derek Jeter. I’ve always enjoyed watching a toughtful pitcher. Tommy John, Jimmy Key, David Cone have all been favorites at one time or another. Roy White was my first.

    Brian MacMillan: I have three: Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson, and Don Mattingly. I was not around to see Mantle play but I heard about him from my family who did and when I was younger I read a lot of books about baseball history. Munson because I went behind the plate when I first started playing baseball and liked his gritty persona. Mattingly was the man when I was in the prime of my childhood baseball years.

    Steve Lombardi: I’ve always been drawn to the Munson-Mattingly-O’Neill types. I like guys who are leaders, work hard, play with passion, not afraid, etc. On the current team, I would have to say it’s between Hideki Matsui and Mariano Rivera. I’m amazed that I don’t say Jeter or A-Rod, but, maybe I’m telling myself something subconsciously in the fact that I’m not picking them.

    If you could offer one piece of advice to someone wanting to do a blog, what would it be?

    Patrick O’Keefe: Be responsible. People get online, put a mask on and run their mouth. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Treat people with respect, treat people’s property with respect and realize that everyone – players, bloggers, everyone – is a person and is human. Treat them that way. Again, be responsible.

    Alex Belth: Try and find your own voice and write often. There are so many different kinds of approaches to take that I think there really is room to do something creative. One thing that I’ve noticed is that blogs tend to come and go. I’ve become a bit jaded now and feel that no matter how much I like a new one, it has to keep it up for a good while before I can rely on it and consider it one of the elite.

    “YanksFan”: Choose one subject, have a point of view, and post, post, post.

    Brian MacMillan: Enjoy it. Write about what you want to write about. Don’t take harsh criticism to heart. Pay attention to constructive criticism. Work on your writing (mine is not that good and it dictates the structure of my blog – mostly quoting other news sources with small amounts of my own comments).

    Steve Lombardi: Besides saying ditto to what everyone else said here, I would say to always remember that not everyone who you meet on the Internet (through your blog) is who/what they seem. And, that sometimes, it might be years before you know the truth. Proceed carefully with everyone that you decide to interact with because you just don’t know. Of course, this is pretty much a Golden Rule for Internet usage as a whole.

    In reading someone else’s blog, what do you like to see? What do you hate to see?

    Patrick O’Keefe: I like to see good grammar and paragraphs. I’m kind of busy, so I like to see entries that I can read and understand without having to spend 20 minutes of my time. I don’t like to see personal attacks or vulgarities.

    Alex Belth: Clean, succinct writing, insightful analysis, and a sense of humor. Trashing other writers, particularly beat writers or mainstream columnists, is boring to me, unless the critiques are substantive. Talking garbage about other people, especially professionals, is a real turn-off. But well articulated criticism or even parody is another story. Also, I find myself getting turned off to exceedingly long posts. That’s just my taste though. Often, when something is really long, I’ll print it out and read it on my subway ride home. But if it is long I feel that it has to be really good–and some writers excel at that kind of thing–otherwise it strikes me as self-indulgent. And there is nothing that irks me more than that.

    “YanksFan”: Posts shouldn’t be novels. They should have one concrete idea or argument, and present it in a concise way. Navel-gazing and sloppy writing are definite no-nos. On baseball blogs, personal and ad hominem attacks on players are especially bothersome.

    Brian MacMillan: It depends on the topic of the blog. Good writing makes it easier to read. Some blogs I enjoy because the person’s personality comes out in their writing. Other blogs I rather read only about the topic and not about the author’s daily life. I hate seeing opinions that are not backed up with information. I do not like to read a lot of negativity (I think there is too much of it in blogs and the media in general). I hate name calling.

    Steve Lombardi: It’s pretty basic needs for me: I like to be entertained and/or informed without being bored. Whichever way someone can pull that off is fine. Usually, it means don’t be long-winded and try to inject some humor. One thing that I hate, in a Yankees-related blog, is blind worship. There are people out there who believe that you have to “support” everyone on the team “no matter what” because their on the team “if you want to be a true fan.” I cannot do that. As a Yankees fan, if someone is tanking it, I’m not going to pretend like I still love them no matter what. Just because someone wears pinstripes it doesn’t mean that they have earned my unconditional love. Also, if you’re going to do a blog, do it. There’s nothing worse than going to a site and seeing that it has not been updated in weeks or months.

    What Yankees-related moment will you always remember?

    Patrick O’Keefe: You keep asking me definitive questions, Steve and I don’t like them! heh. Seriously, I’ll give have to give you a few. Of the one’s I have actually seen live: The Flip, Boone’s home run, the Wetteland pile after we won in ’96, Rivera’s 3 innings in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Jeter doubling to start the big rally in that same game 7, Jorge pumping his fist during that rally… is that enough? Sorry.

    Alex Belth: Reggie Jackson hitting a home run against Ron Guidry in his first game back to the Stadium after he signed with the Angels. Then the stadium chanting “Steinbrenner Sucks” afterwards. I’ll never forget how revved up I was that night watching that game.

    “YanksFan”: My memory isn’t that great. The World Series victory celebration on 2nd Avenue and 88th Street, in front of whatever the bar was called at the time, in 1996. After beating Atlanta, the team gathered there for its private party, but word got out, and fans from the neighborhood closed down the streets. It was a purely jubilant time. I was with my future wife and best friends, lifelong Yankee fans who had spent the 80′s suffering in the bleachers back when the bleachers weren’t an “institution.” It seemed like that victory would never come. It was great.

    Brian MacMillan: There are so many. In my grandfather’s den when Bucky hit the homer in ’78. At my aunt’s for a Fourth of July picnic when Righetti throw his no-hitter. George Brett freaking out in the pine tar game. Mattingly’s 6th grand slam and his homer in his 8th consecutive game (both in 1987). George Frazier losing 3 games in the 1981 World Series. Mattingly’s home run in the 1995 wild card Game 2. Jim Leyritz’s home run in the 1996 World Series. Aaron Boone’s homer in the 2003 ALCS.

    Steve Lombardi: Overall, it comes down to dates. I will always remember the dates 8/2/79 and 10/2/78. So, I have to say it’s Munson’s death as an off-the-field thing and the Dent HR at Fenway for an on-the-field thing. If it’s a was-there-in-person thing then it would have to be Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS – out of many great moments that I was lucky to see at the Stadium.

    If the Yankees did not exist, what major league team would you root for and why?

    Patrick O’Keefe: I can’t answer that question. I can’t see myself rooting for anyone else.

    Alex Belth: This is a really hard one. Part of me likes to think I’d just be a neutral baseball, or a cherry-picker, shifting around, like a Roger Angell. I find myself doing that in basketball, even though I’m a Knicks fan, all the time. I just move around based on the personalities a team has on a given year. Even though I love baseball more than any other sport, I also love the Yankees more than any other team so it’s virtually impossible for me to imagine what I’d do if they weren’t around–they are so much a part of my make-up as a fan.

    “YanksFan”: I’d stick to the Knicks–the Mets are not possible. But I’ve always kind of wished the Giants had remained in the city. (I’m from Manhattan.) If they had, I would be a Giant fan, like my grandfather before me.

    Brian MacMillan: Tough one. Maybe the Reds. When I was a kid, my favorite color was red and I had a Reds cap. Johnny Bench was on the Baseball Bunch and a catcher.

    Steve Lombardi: Probably the Orioles. Nice ballpark. Good history. I like the bird on the hat. The owner leaves something to be desired though. Perhaps the attraction is because the Yankees started out as the Orioles? Not really sure.

    In your wildest dreams, what would you like to do beyond doing your Yankees-related blog?

    Patrick O’Keefe: Live a good, complete life.

    Alex Belth: Making a living writing about baseball. My ultimate dream would be to be to produce a baseball highlight program/magazine show like “This Week in Baseball” but one that would borrow more from the NFL Films sensibility than anything baseball has ever turned out. Baseball coverage on TV is so incredibly disappointing, and I’d be able to use my film experience–I used to work in editing–my love of music, history, documentaries and great performers to do something that hasn’t been seen before. It’s a pipe dream, of course, but it’s a nice fantasy to have.

    “YanksFan”: All I ask is a decent 3-bedroom apartment in NYC for under A-Rod money.

    Brian MacMillan: Owning the Yankees (or if I had to settle, another MLB team).

    Steve Lombardi: Some sort of baseball-related job where I could work from home (at least some of the time) and make enough money to maintain the lifestyle that I’m accustomed to now.

    Thanks to all the guys who took the time to answer. It was fun and interesting to see where some were on the same page and where there were differences.

    DJ The D.J.

    Posted by on November 21st, 2005 · Comments (4)

    From “The Street.com” -

    XM Satellite Radio signed New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as a spokesman.

    The Washington, D.C., pay radio company said Jeter would promote XM’s baseball broadcasts and make regular guest appearances on XM’s baseball channel. The deal also includes a partnership with the Turn 2 Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by Jeter to promote healthy, drug-free lifestyles and academic achievement for young people.

    “To help extend the lead of a winning team like XM is a terrific opportunity, especially since I am a huge XM Satellite Radio fan,” Jeter said. “I am excited to share my enthusiasm for XM’s unmatched Major League Baseball programming and unprecedented choice in news, talk, entertainment and, of course, commercial-free music.”

    I hope that Derek has seen Play Misty for Me, Talk Radio and, of course, Private Parts.

    Somehow, knowing how “safe” Derek is with his public comments, I doubt that XM’s verison of Kenny “Pig Vomit” Rushton will need to sweat this one too much.

    Ichiro!

    Posted by on November 21st, 2005 · Comments (3)

    From Dayn Perry, at Fox:

    Last season, Ichiro grew uncomfortable with clubhouse insouciance in the face of losing, and rumors of a rift with manager Mike Hargrove are widespread.

    Such palace intrigue is never a welcome turn of events for any team, but in this instance, it provides GM Bill Bavasi with the tidy rationale needed to do something especially bold — trading Ichiro.

    Ichiro is an exceptional defender, a gifted base runner, a solid hitter and, by all accounts, a tremendous human being. However, Ichiro’s lack of power — while playing a position that demands it — serves to make him overrated in most circles. Also consider that Ichiro’s current contract expires after the 2007 season. At that time he’ll be 34 years of age and, in all likelihood, in the midst of his decline phase.

    Ichiro’s also a player whose actual value exceeds his perceived value, and that’s precisely the kind of player who needs to be traded. Any team with a modicum of payroll flexibility and a vacancy at any of the three outfield spots would (wisely) have interest. Without probing deeply, the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Mets, Orioles, Phillies, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Giants all meet those criteria. To boot, the Mariners are not poised to contend over the remainder of Ichiro’s current contract; so it’s not as though they’d be sacrificing a playoff berth by trading him.

    To indulge for a moment in the hypothetical, the M’s might pry Philip Hughes and Eric Duncan from the Yankees, Jon Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia from the Red Sox, Anthony Reyes and others from the Cardinals or any number of high-ceiling Dodgers talents. For a team in short-term rebuilding mode, those are some alluring names. Also, given the certain trade interest Ichiro would elicit around the league, the forces of demand might drive the price even higher.

    Truly, if the Yankees were told that it would take Philip Hughes and Eric Duncan to get Ichiro, the deal would have been done already. It’s going to take more than that to allow the M’s ownership to deal their jewel.

    But, do the Yankees have more? Consider that they were already told that they don’t have what it takes to get Aaron Rowand in a trade. So, how could they come up with an offer to pry Ichiro?

    Don’t get me wrong. I think Perry has a point – basically, Ichiro is a .300 batter with a .350 On Base Average who would be lucky to touch a Slugging Percentage of .440. (Yes, I think his 2004 season was a fluke for him.) Still, he’d be a lot better than Bubba Crosby in the Yankees outfield next year.

    I just don’t see him coming to the Yankees unless he pulls a Randy Johnson thing and demands a trade – and only to New York. And, I think the chances of that happening are just as likely as Arn Tellum being invited over to Big Stein’s house for a Thanksgiving calzone this Thursday.

    The Yankees 2006 Bullpen

    Posted by on November 21st, 2005 · Comments (6)

    Right now, the only thing that we know about the Yankees 2006 bullpen is that Mariano Rivera and Tanyon Sturtze will be in it. I do expect the Yankees to carry 6 pitchers in their pen to start the season next year. This means there are four spots to fill.

    I’m hoping that the Yankees re-sign Aaron Small to take one of those four slots – he deserves it (based on what he did in 2005).

    I also anticipate Jaret Wright getting one of the four spots (as the “last man” in the pen) – and here I assume that he is healthy, not traded, and not needed for the starting rotation. If he is not available, I suppose it would be OK to have Jorge DePaula take this role on the team – or even a prospect like Steven White. The “last man” in the pen doesn’t have to be a stud – just someone who can handle a mop.

    What about the other two undefined positions in the bullpen? It would be nice to have a lefty in the mix. A propect like Matt Smith or a vet like Al Leiter maybe? And, for the other spot, right now, according to who’s on the roster, it will be a Scott Proctor type. Or, could it be Jose Veras?

    In summary, right now, it would look like this:

    Closer: Rivera
    Set-up: Sturtze and Small
    Bridge: Proctor or Veras
    Lefty: Smith or Leiter
    Long-man: Wright or DePaula or White

    I could see Torre burning out Sturtze and Small in a hurry with that group.

    Ideally, the Yankees can acquire another set-up type pitcher, for now call him Kyle Farnsworth, and then everyone below Mo slides down a notch, as follows:

    9th Inning: Rivera
    8th Inning: Farnsworth
    6th and 7th Inning: Sturtze and Small
    5th Inning: Wright
    Lefty: Leiter/Smith

    And, then, you have Proctor, Veras, DePaula, et al, pitching in Columbus, if needed, where they belong. Or, one of them replaces Wright (if needed).

    So, to me, the Yankees bullpen plan should be simple:

    Sign Small.
    Sign Farnsworth (or someone like him).
    Figure out who is your lefty.

    I wonder what they’re waiting for?

    A Nice Free Agent To Sign This Winter

    Posted by on November 21st, 2005 · Comments (1)

    From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

    Fred Ferreira was so good at finding young ballplayers in dusty outposts, his frustrated foes pinned him with a nickname some years ago.

    “Shark of the Caribbean,” they called him. Friday, the shark finally stopped swimming.

    According to baseball sources, the Marlins fired Ferreira, their senior vice president and director of international operations, after four seasons with the organization.

    Ferreira, who counts Vladimir Guerrero and Bernie Williams among his 30-plus signings to make the majors, recently re-upped for another season. It is believed the Marlins will honor his contract.

    If I were running the Yankees, this is the type of guy that I would want to have on my payroll.

    21

    Posted by on November 21st, 2005 · Comments (3)

    OK, it’s been 4 years since the number has been issued to any Yankees player. What is Stein waiting for here? Or, is the standard now a 15 year waiting period (as in the case of Guidry)?

    The longer you wait, the more the chance that some mega-star is acquired and requests the number. Why put yourself in that spot?

    Josh Beckett & Mike Lowell

    Posted by on November 20th, 2005 · Comments (14)

    From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

    Even the Marlins’ oft-proclaimed organizational philosophy of putting a premium on pitching doesn’t appear impermeable to their fiscal realities.

    Desperate to rid themselves of Mike Lowell and the $18 million left on his contract, the Marlins are entertaining trade scenarios in which they’d attach him to one of their two best starting pitchers. The Marlins are listening to offers for 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett as long as the shopper drops Lowell into the cart as well.

    The Texas Rangers are among the teams with whom the Marlins have discussed such a deal, but according to a league source familiar with the talks, nothing is imminent. Other clubs open to a Lowell-Beckett package are the Red Sox and Tigers. The Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates and Giants could enter the bidding as well.

    Josh Beckett is an immature punk. And, he’s not very durable – in none of his first 4 full big league seasons was he able to make 30 starts for the year. Still, for his age, he’s one of the better young starting pitchers in the N.L. (over the last 3 years).

    Mike Lowell is toast. For the three seasons prior to 2005, he was an All-Star type player. Last year, he was almost Rey Sanchez-like with the bat. He’s not old – yet, he fell off a cliff with the stick. Why? I’m not sure – maybe because they started PED testing last year? Heck, it could be anything.

    Nonetheless, if the Yankees have a shot at getting Beckett, even if it means eating Lowell, say, in exchange for Carl Pavano, an average prospect, and cash, then I think they should go for it.

    You can always use Lowell as the back-up 1B and DH.

    And, if it means keeping Beckett away from the Red Sox, then it’s even better. At the least, if the Marlins are dangling this package, the Yankees owe it to themselves to get in on the action – and try – rather than just let the other teams chase this one down without worrying about New York.

    Forget About Brian Giles

    Posted by on November 20th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    From the S.D. Union-Tribune:

    “I want to be careful here because the bottom line is Brian would like to come back to San Diego,” Bick said yesterday. “He would like to continue playing there. We’re willing to put as much time and effort as is required to make that happen.”

    It’s hard to beat the bottom line.

    Cash Not Playing MB Games

    Posted by on November 20th, 2005 · Comments (8)

    From Newsday:

    Cashman is said to be “dead set against” the volatile Milton Bradley. And with Cashman’s newfound power holding through three weeks, Bradley appears out.

    That’s sweet music to my ears.

    Is It April 1st Today?

    Posted by on November 19th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    From CBS Sportsline:

    Relief pitcher Jose Veras said he has signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees.

    The Dominican right-hander refused to divulge the value of the deal, but said Friday he’s excited to join the bullpen with Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

    “I feel proud that the Yankees have signed me to help set the table for Mariano Rivera. That’s something very important to me,” Veras told the Associated Press.

    Veras is expected to help fill the role played last season by Tom Gordon, who has opted for free agency.

    Veras currently leads the Dominican Winter League with five saves and only two runs allowed in 12 innings as a closer for the Escogido Lions.

    Veras said he will travel to Tampa Bay, Florida, on Monday to meet with Yankee executives and take a physical.

    Veras was on the Texas Rangers’ roster last year before being reassigned to the team’s minor league camp.

    Who? Jose Veras used to be known as Enger Veras until he got busted with a bogus birth certificate. He’s a big one – six-five, two-thirty. Throws hard. But, if he couldn’t help Texas last year, what makes anyone think that he can help the Yankees now?

    This guy is going to fill the Tom Gordon role? Com’on now.

    Johnny Damon Now?

    Posted by on November 19th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    From Bob Klapisch in the Record:

    While the Yankees’ transition to the post-Bernie Williams era, Johnny Damon quietly has emerged as a possible choice to be their next center fielder, according to an industry source familiar with the team’s plans.

    Damon’s candidacy was initially dismissed by the Yankees, who were convinced the free agent was committed to returning to the Red Sox.

    While Boston remains Damon’s first option, friends of the outfielder now say “everyone’s in, including the Yankees” after the Sox passed on the opportunity to sign him to a three-year, $31 million contract last spring.

    Damon now is willing to listen to the Yankees. Question is, will they nibble?

    Damon’s friend said on Friday, “Six months ago, there’s no way Johnny would’ve even considered the Yankees. He’s thinking about it now.”

    The Yankees’ front office met in Tampa on Friday to revise the off-season battle plan. So far, Giles is still at the top of Cashman’s list. But Damon is at least on the Yankees’ minds. This could get interesting.

    Boy, I hope this is just smoke to drive up the price for the Red Sox.

    2011 = 3,000 x 2?

    Posted by on November 19th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    No one has ever had 3,000 hits in a Yankees uniform. In fact, no player has ever recorded his 3,000th hit in the pinstripes.

    Derek Jeter has 1,936 career hits. Alex Rodriguez has 1,901 career hits. Given their age, production rates, health record, drive, etc., both should reach their 3,000th hit some time in the year twenty-eleven.

    Just imagine the hoopla if they even did it in the same game. Wow.

    Braden Looper

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (9)

    Call me crazy, but, I’m beginning to think that the Yankees should get Looper on the radar.

    He was “off” last year – and it was probably due do an injury as he had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder the day after the season ended. But, still, even being “off” he was a league average performer.

    In fact, even with that bad season last year, if you look at guys with 300+ appearances from 2001 through 2005, he’s one of the 20th best RP in that group.

    At the least, he should be a “Plan B” thought if the Yankees cannot get Farnsworth. It’s not like he’s Felix Rodriguez or Scott Proctor. I would not give him millions and millions, but, if he was having trouble finding a team, I would step up out of the crowd and give him a home for 2006.

    Pavano Wants Out

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (15)

    From the Star Ledger:

    Right-hander Carl Pavano, who signed a four-year contract with the Yankees a year ago, has been telling friends he wants out.

    A person who spoke with Pavano late in the 2005 season said Pavano was “miserable” with the Yankees and that he would like the team to try to trade him this winter. He has not yet asked the Yankees to trade him, and he might not make the request formal, but he might not have to.

    A baseball official familiar with the Yankees’ off-season plans said the team would listen to offers for Pavano and would consider dealing him if presented with a good enough trade offer. The official also said, however, that it was “not a front-burner issue.”

    Pavano recently parted ways with agent Scott Shapiro, who negotiated his $39.95 million deal with the Yankees last winter. Pavano has not yet settled on a new agent, but once he does, he plans to ask his new agent to see if he can facilitate a trade.

    The Detroit Tigers, who attempted to sign Pavano last year, are a possible trading partner, since they seem to have money to spend. But the Tigers are more interested in trying to trade for Arizona right-hander (and former Yankee) Javier Vazquez if they can. Other possible landing spots for Pavano include Seattle, which also pursued him last winter, and the Florida Marlins, his former employer. The Marlins, however, are cutting payroll and would need the Yankees to pick up a huge portion of Pavano’s contract if they were to acquire him.

    Looks like the stories last summer were true. This explains the Washburn rumors.

    Pavano’s not that good anyway. By now, it’s obvious – it was a dumb signing. Get rid of him – the faster the better.

    Is This Stop Really Necessary?

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    From the AP:

    The Arizona Diamondbacks will close out their 33-game exhibition schedule in 2006 with two games against the New York Yankees in Phoenix.

    The March 31st and April 1st games will be the Yankees’ first in Arizona since they took two of three from the Diamondbacks on June 15th through the 17th, 2004, at Bank One Ballpark, now Chase Field.

    Great, then one day off before they’re in Oakland. Stupid.

    Huh?

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    From a Reuters article entitled “Business leaders offer golden rules of the road” -

    “Surround yourself with people smarter than you,” says George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees. “The Boss” is not known for letting his “smarter” hires run day-to-day baseball operations without his occasional interference. Still, he says, “I will not make an important decision without them.”

    I never knew there was a Bizzaro Stein.

    Jarrod Washburn

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    From the Record:

    In conversations between agent Scott Boras and the Yankees about Bernie Williams and Johnny Damon, another Boras free agent came up in discussions: Jarrod Washburn.

    While the Yankees aren’t actively pursuing starting pitching, Washburn could be of interest to them – especially if they can move Jaret Wright or Carl Pavano in a trade for an outfielder.

    I don’t like this one. Washburn is not durable – and his numbers since 2002 have been somewhat on a downward trend. Yes, he’s probably better than Pavano or Wright. But, at what cost does he come? Besides, what team is going to take Wright or Pavano at this point? Anyone with a brain is going to want to see them in the Spring first.

    Saving Ryan’s Privates

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (10)

    Three weeks ago, I wrote:

    [B.J.] Ryan is an interesting call. I just have a feeling about him not doing well in a big market like New York or in post-season pressure. It’s just a hunch. I have no facts to back it up. It just seems like he’s folded in some big spots before. But, maybe that’s just my memory playing tricks on me?

    Now, today, Newsday is reporting:

    Although Ryan said toward the end of September that he was open to setting up for Rivera, it appears to have been nothing more than a negotiating tactic. He recently told a friend he does not want to deal with the “stress” of pitching for the Yankees.

    His preference is to close for a team with at least a chance of competing for a world championship, according to a person familiar with his thinking, which is why he chose to visit the Blue Jays, Tigers and Mets this week and not the Yankees.

    I guess I wasn’t fooled by my sometimes tricky memory.

    There’s a punch-line in here somewhere about a guy named B.J. not having cojones – but, then again, I like to think this is a family-friendly site.

    I Thought I Smelled Smoke

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    From the AP:

    New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman flew to Florida on Thursday to discuss the team’s next series of potential offseason moves with owner George Steinbrenner and other team officials.

    Among the officials attending the meeting at Legends Field were general partner Steve Swindal, assistant general manager Jean Afterman, vice president Mark Newman, Gene Michael, Billy Connors, Damon Oppenheimer, Bill Emslie and scout Jim Benedict.

    “My plan was to come down and brief the troops,” Cashman said.

    The officals were together one hour before Steinbrenner joined for almost two additional hours. Another session with Steinbrenner, Swindal, Cashman and Afterman followed.

    Sing it ya’ll:

    Come to Stein do not tarry,
    Enter in at mercy’s gate,
    O delay not till the morrow,
    Lest Thy coming be too late.

    Do I smell one of those famous Thanksgiving Day Free Agent signings coming?

    Nothing Wrong With The “Dog”

    Posted by on November 18th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    I just saw – via BaseballThinkFactory.org – that David Damiani in The American Enterprise Online took what I said last month a few steps further. A clip from Damiani:

    In 2005, Rodriguez had a bad playoff series. So have Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds, and countless other all-time greats renowned for clutch performance. For that matter, so has Jeter, who makes a gratuitous cameo in all columns written about the clutch, even those in the automotive section of the paper. Jeter’s postseason averages through 2004 (.306/.380/.456) are on par with his career regular-season averages of .314/.386/.461. In 2001, the year Jeter famously threw out the world’s all-time worst baserunner (not that I am bitter) to help the Yankees win the A.L. Division Series, he hit .118 in the ALCS and .148 in the World Series. Yet to this day, Jeter is called “Mr. November” for that World Series–which the Yankees lost.

    If enough people keep this up, maybe some day the mass media and then the general public will get it as well. Fingers crossed.

    Craig Monroe

    Posted by on November 17th, 2005 · Comments (13)

    From Newsday:

    In their pursuit of a centerfielder, the Yankees have been all over the map, checking out high-end items such as Damon and lower-end trade possibilities like the Tigers’ Craig Monroe. But Torre’s call to Giles, whose strength is offense, seemingly indicates the Yankees’ sincere interest in him, even with Matsui in the fold.

    Craig Monroe is a somewhat decent stick – but, he’s not a pure CF. I have to question is range in that spot. Plus, the guy stole a $30 belt from a department store in Florida last year. This tells me that he is completely dead from the neck up.

    Pass.

    Brian Giving Us A Hint Here?

    Posted by on November 17th, 2005 · Comments (1)

    From the Herald, on the Yankees CF search:

    “It doesn’t have to be a big name. It could be a smaller name,” Cashman said regarding his search.

    Hmmmm? Joey Gathright? Nook Logan? They both should be available for something that their team needs. In fact, I would not be shocked if you told me that they would be available for a prospect. Would the Yankees trade Eric Duncan for one of them?

    Gathright will be 25 next season and Logan will be 26. So, this would not be one of those cases of trading the future for a Geezer. Even if the Yankees got a blue-chip CF for 2007, either one of these guys could be an excellent role player for years to come.

    And, with the life left on both A-Rod’s deal and Giambi’s contract, when is Duncan ever going to get a chance in New York?

    Interestingly, both Gathright and Logan were born in Mississippi. (Joey in Hattiesburg and Nook – whose given name is “Exavier Prente Logan” – in Natchez.)

    Last time the Yankees had a CF from Mississippi was 1963 – when another speedster Jack Reed helped out the team.

    Back to Gathright and Logan, I think either one would be a decent addition to the team – and they do fit the profile of the “smaller name” that Cashman hints towards.

    Torre & Cash Continue To Talk About Bubba

    Posted by on November 16th, 2005 · Comments (16)

    From MLB.com:

    The answer — at least for now — may even come from within the organization, as both Cashman and Joe Torre said that Bubba Crosby could be the man when Spring Training opens in three months.

    “It’s too early in the process to say, but it’s possible,” Cashman said. “I can’t tell you if it’s probable or not, because it’s only Nov. 16. We have an in-house guy that is a fly-ball catcher at the very least. With the offensive lineup we have, we can afford that.”

    Crosby hit .276 with one home run and six RBIs in 98 at-bats last season, though he batted .327 in 55 at-bats during the season’s final month. He also made two starts in center field during the Division Series.

    “Bubba showed some signs,” Torre said. “He’s not a world-beater, but he made some adjustments, offensively, which made him an option in important games down the stretch and in the postseason, which never would have been an option before.”

    Based on who else is out there, and those who the Yankees have already said “no thanks” to (because of talent or asking price), I am beginning to think more and more that Bubba in 2006 might be a reality.

    Hey, somebody has to bat 9th, right?

    Matsui Overpaid?

    Posted by on November 16th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    I’ve been seeing some comments over at the NetShrine Discussion Forum about the Yankees overpaying for Matsui. Is Team Stein overpaying Godzilla?

    Well, according to some quick sorts on the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia, using 1,500 PA as a cutoff over the period 2003-2005, we see this:

    0000godzilla.jpg

    So, a case can be made that Hideki Matsui, over the last three years, has been one of the two best LH batting outfielders in the AL – if not the best overall.

    In today’s market, that’s not worth $13 million a year?

    Bernie Mariner?

    Posted by on November 16th, 2005 · Comments (7)

    From the Snohomish County Herald:

    There are some players the Mariners may pursue with hopes they can regenerate their past power. Those include Denny Hocking, a switch-hitter who hit 22 homers and drove in 68 runs with the Twins two years ago but had just 104 at-bats the past two years with the Rockies and Royals; Terrence Long, who declined a minor-league assignment after hitting six homers and 53 RBI with the Royals; and Bernie Williams, a switch-hitter who hit 11 of his 12 home runs from the left side last season with the Yankees.

    To date, this is the only whisper that I can find where a team is maybe expressing an interest in Bernie Williams (outside of the Yankees) for 2006. I think Bernie and his agent should take the hint.

    Got Godzilla?

    Posted by on November 15th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    From a Yankees Press Release on Yankees.com:

    11/15/2005 10:07 PM ET
    Yankees, Matsui reach agreement on four-year deal

    The New York Yankees announced today that they have reached an agreement with left fielder Hideki Matsui on a four-year contract extension through the 2009 season.

    Rumor has it that it’s $52 mill for 4 years. Seeing the way Matsui played the last three years, and knowing the market rate for stars, I would have offered $12 mill a year for four. So, I have no issue with the extra million a year. It’s a fair deal.

    Next up, finding Mothra to play CF.

    It’s 3:15 pm EST……..

    Posted by on November 15th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    ..Do you know where your Hideki Matsui is?

    They’re cutting this one sorta close, no?

    Not Craw — Craw!

    Posted by on November 15th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    From the Journal News:

    The Yankees plan to preserve as much of the famed Stadium facade as possible for their new facility when it opens in 2009.

    What can’t be recycled will be replicated in the new park, team president Randy Levine said yesterday.

    Both the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and the New York State Historic Preservation Office said extensive renovations in 1974 compromised the original historic design and value of the Stadium, which was built in 1923.

    When the Yankees announced their intent to construct the $800 million project last June, they said the costs of rebuilding would be cheaper than a renovation, which would have included moving the facade.

    While much of the materials won’t make the trip across the street, the essence of the design will be incorporated into the new park, and that’s what’s important to the Yankees, Levine said.

    “I have always said the new stadium will more closely resemble the original stadium than what we have now,” Levine said.

    Now I know how Siegfried felt. It’s a frieze, not a facade!

    Bob Sheppard News

    Posted by on November 15th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    From the Daily News:

    Bob Sheppard will retire as public-address announcer at New York Giants football games after 50 years, staying on the same job he’s done for five years longer with baseball’s New York Yankees.

    Sheppard said he decided to stop doing Giants games after this season partly because of the commute from his home in Baldwin, New York, to the National Football League team’s stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The trip is 38 miles long and requires crossing two New York City bridges.

    “This decision did not come suddenly,” Sheppard said in a telephone interview. “Part of it is the long trip from Long Island to the heart of New Jersey.”

    Sheppard’s retirement from the Giants was first reported in today’s New York Times.

    Sheppard declined to give his age, and Giants and Yankees officials said they don’t know his birthdate. Some biographies list him at 95 years old.

    95? Wow. Bless him.

    If Bob thinks the traffic into Jersey 8 times a year is bad, just wait until the new traffic mess up in the Bronx starts up this year – with the usual Stadium crowd next to a major contruction site.

    Let The Whining Begin…

    Posted by on November 15th, 2005 · Comments (3)

    From the Tornoto Star:

    The baseball writers made a mistake, voting Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez as the AL’s most valuable player over Red Sox inspirational designated hitter David Ortiz.

    The fact that four Yankees rated top-10 status should be an indicator that maybe A-Rod’s onfield support group in the Bronx was somewhat deeper than Papi’s at Fenway.

    Excuse me, but, Ortiz has one of the best lead-off batters in the league over the past few years, Johnny Damon, hitting in front of him, and perhaps the greatest right-handed batter of this generation, Manny Ramirez, batting directly behind him. It’s not like Ortiz was sandwiched between chopped liver and cream cheese this season.

    From the Boston Herald:

    Apparently, America is not ready to elect a designated hitter as its Most Valuable Player. We can put Geena Davis in the White House, but we can’t give the MVP to a man who routinely snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.

    Alex Rodriguez won the American League MVP award yesterday, but the story here in Boston is that David Ortiz did not. Ortiz did everything a designated hitter possibly could do to win the award, but the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America continue to treat the DH as if it were VD.

    Gee, maybe there’s a reason why the award is called the Most Valuable Player and not the Most Valuable Hitter?

    From The USA Today:

    Alex Rodriguez collects testaments to his greatness the way mere mortals collect lint. He is a money machine without compare, a pinball wizard who tilts the scoreboard, a superstar who is designed like your video-game hero of choice.

    But Rodriguez is no more the MVP of the American League now, as a first-place third baseman with the Yankees, than he was as a last-place shortstop with the Rangers, who finished 25 games off the pace in 2003 — or one game for every $10 million that Tom Hicks guaranteed A-Rod, with a couple million to spare.

    David Ortiz should’ve won the award, even if he doesn’t play the field. You didn’t need to weigh the numbers to know Ortiz made more dramatic contributions to the Red Sox than Rodriguez made to the Yanks. Two out of every three nights, Ortiz was sending some late-season, late-game ball to the moon. That was good enough for me.

    David Ortiz did bat .346 last season in “Close & Late” Situations. But, Vlad Guerrero batted .408 in the same spots. Victor Martinez batted .372 in those situations. Therefore, using the “Close & Late” case – and playing on a contending team – then Vlad or Victor should have been the MVP – and not Ortiz.

    From Jayson Stark at ESPN.com:

    The MVP award wasn’t about defense the year Jose Canseco won it.

    The MVP award wasn’t about defense the years Juan Gonzalez won it.

    The MVP award wasn’t about defense the years Frank Thomas won it.

    But suddenly, this year, defense mattered. And Alex Rodriguez will be eternally grateful, we’re sure.

    A-Rod had himself another spectacular season, all right. Nobody denies that. But is there any doubt that the only reason he just won his second MVP trophy was that he’s a member of the leatherworkers’ union and David Ortiz isn’t?

    How else, after all, would we justify this choice?

    I like Jayson a lot. He’s a nice guy. But, I wish he had read WasWatching.com last September when I wrote:

    In 1995, Edgar Martinez (the DH) of the Seattle Mariners was by far the best hitter in the league. In fact, Martinez’ 1995 season was probably the best season (in terms of relative batting value) by a RH batter in the AL since 1941. And, his team won their division and made it to the ALCS.

    And, who won the AL MVP in 1995? Mo Vaughn (the 1B) of the Boston Red Sox. (Edgar finished a distant 3rd in the voting.) Why? Probably because Mo was a position player who hit a lot of HRs and had many RBI for a team that won.

    I could do this all day. But, instead, I’m going to throw one stat out there – and I welcome those from the “Ortiz was more clutch and therefore deserving” Camp to chew on it. From the sortable stats at ESPN.com:

    David Ortiz came to the plate 92 times in 2005 in “Close & Late” Situations. His On Base Average was .447 in those spots. Therefore, in 51 of 92 “Close & Late” Situations this year, Ortiz was retired.

    Alex Rodriguez came to the plate 90 times in 2005 in “Close & Late” Situations. His On Base Average was .418 in those spots. Therefore, in 52 of 90 “Close & Late” Situations this year, A-Rod was retired.

    It’s 51/92 versus 52/90. Where’s the huge edge in being clutch for Ortiz? I don’t see it – probably because it’s not there.

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