• Negative Remark-a-bles

    Posted by on December 20th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    I was looking at Rich Lederer’s Overrated Offensive Players feature today and I got an idea. Actually, it was more of a question.

    Who, in their Yankees career, had a below average mark in batting average, on-base average, and slugging percentage? And, who in that group had the worst ‘sum’ of all those negative marks?

    Well, thanks to the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia and Excel, here’s the list that I came up with – as an answer to that question:

    oops.jpg

    Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis should not be shocked to see Pee Wee Wanninger on the top of the chart. And, seeing Joel Skinner’s name should not be a surprise.

    And, don’t even get me started again about Enrique Wilson and Tony Womack.

    Further, as much as I have complained in the past about David Cone’s 2000 season, maybe I should have also opined some about the impact of having Clay Bellinger’s 209 Plate Appearances on the 2000 Yankees stats?

    Now, what about the 2005 Yankees? Were there any “below average hat trickers” there? Check this out, also from the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia:

    oop2.jpg

    That’s 1,379 Plate Appearances given to mega-under-performers. Is that a lot? Well, it was 21.5% of the Yankees total Plate Appearances in 2005. Or, in other words, in one out of every five plate appearances by a Yankee last year, an inferior batter was at the plate.

    And, the Yankees were still 2nd in the majors last year in runs scored. With a decent bench, New York might have scored 1,000 runs last year – something baseball has not seen since the 1999 Indians. (And, Cleveland was the first team to do that since the 1950 Red Sox.)

    Sherman Rips Farnsworth Signing

    Posted by on December 20th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    From the Post:

    REARRANGE the letters in Kyle Farnsworth’s name and I believe you spell “Mark Wohlers” or “Jay Witasick.” The centerpiece to an altered Yankees bullpen, therefore, is another strapping, fireballing righty who fits in The Bronx as well as tumbleweeds.

    Farnsworth has the kind of jittery postseason ledger that Kenny Rogers would laugh at, and has a better chance of winding up on the trade block, come June, than being viewed as a formidable bridge to Mariano Rivera.

    So the Yanks needed to win a minor bidding war with the Indians, Mets and Red Sox to secure Octavio Dotel, who should be ready to pitch in the majors about June 1, following Tommy John surgery.

    In the best scenario for the Yanks, Farnsworth really has grown up and has better control of his life and fastball, and is thriving in the eighth inning. That would enable Dotel to work in the seventh inning and give the Yankees a Nasty Boy look late in games.

    In the more likely worst scenario, the Yanks are trying to figure out how much of Farnsworth’s contract to eat in order to deal him to the Royals in midseason. In that scenario, the Yanks will be glad if they have secured Dotel for protection. Dotel is certainly a risk, but for about $2 million, he is far less risky than $18 million for Farnsworth.

    Sounds like Dotel’s agent sent Sherman a nice holiday basket of cheer.

    Why wait three weeks after he signed to rip Farnsworth? Vey odd timing here.

    Octavio Dotel

    Posted by on December 19th, 2005 · Comments (14)

    Reportedly, the Yankees are after Octavio Dotel – and many Yankees fans are happy about this news.

    Not me.

    When I think of Dotel, I think “Dominican Rob Dibble.”

    They’re both hot-heads. And, just like Dibble was on top of the world from 1988-90, Dotel was too (from 2001-03). Further, just like Dibble flamed out with injury, so did Dotel.

    Dibble never came back. And, I suspect that Dotel will not as well.

    RIP: Barry Halper

    Posted by on December 19th, 2005 · Comments (1)

    From the Daily News:

    Barry Halper, the New Jersey businessman and limited partner in the Yankees who amassed what has been acclaimed as the most extensive and valuable collection of baseball memorabilia, died yesterday from complications of diabetes. He was 66.

    In all, the Halper collection, which was ultimately sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 1999, contained over 100,000 pieces ranging from the truly historic (Babe Ruth’s famous camel hair coat, Shoeless Joe Jackson’s “black Betsey” bat, the papers of correspondence between Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee on the sale of Ruth in 1919), to the truly bizarre (the rifle Ty Cobb’s mother used to shoot his father, Cy Young’s dentures, and a weather vane that had rested on the roof of a Waterbury, Conn., factory that had once been the home of 19th century Hall of Famer Roger Connor).

    At his press conference in Dallas in 1994 announcing his successful liver transplant, Mantle spotted Halper in the audience and cracked: “Hey, Barry, did you get my other liver?”

    In addition to his baseball connections – he briefly served as CEO of the Yankees – Halper was a trustee for the St. Barnabas Hospital burn unit in Livingston, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for that institution by having his baseball friends, DiMaggio, Rose et al, speak at fundraisers.

    When Halper sold his stuff, I felt terrible for him. As a collector, I would have to imagine that part of the thrill is thinking that the collection would remain in the family for years. But, a year after he sold his memorabilia, I saw the following clip on “why” -

    The auction of Barry Halper’s baseball memorabilia last year featured some of the most unique items from the national pastime ever assembled.

    Had Halper’s collection remained intact and put in a museum, it would have rivaled that of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

    Halper wanted to see the collection kept together, but when that did not come to fruition he decided to part with it via an auction conducted by Sotheby’s.

    “I hated to break it up, but in fairness to my family it needed to be done,” Halper, 60, said in a recent phone interview from his home in New Jersey.

    Halper recalled reading about the struggles the family of former Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie went through when he died because of the taxes involved.

    “I vowed that wouldn’t happen,” Halper said.

    Halper gave the Hall of Fame first shot at any items in his collection. Major League Baseball reportedly paid $7.5 million to $8 million for about 20 percent of the collection and donated it to the Hall of Fame.

    When you think of all the work and pride that went into a collection like his, there’s no amount of money that can make up for that.

    It almost makes me want to say – if you have some good “stuff” like his, just keep it quiet, and give it to your family before you pass, and tell them to enjoy it in quiet too – and save yourself some grief.

    A Chance To Get “Big Abuji”?

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

    From Donga.com -

    Within two years, will this be the third time Choi Hee-seop switches teams?

    It is being predicted that 26-year-old Choi Hee-seop will leave the Los Angeles Dodgers. Major League Baseball’s official website classified eight players, including Choi Hee-seop and Cory Paterson of the Chicago Cubs, as “expected non-tenders.”

    A non-tendered designation means a player has not received a contract renewal offer from his team.

    A third year major leaguer like Choi Hee-seop earns the right to apply for an annual salary adjustment. If the team abandons his application for salary adjustment, he becomes a ‘non-tender’, or a free agent.

    Oh, my. Dig this:

    Choi was 26 last year. To date, in 1,086 career PA, he has 10 RCAA, and OWP of .531, his ISO is .197 and his SEC is .354. Lastly, his career BPA is .496.

    David Ortiz was 26 in his last year with the Twins (2002) before he joined the Red Sox. Through that age, and the 2002 season, in 1,693 PA, Ortiz had 14 RCAA, an OWP of .524, an ISO of .195, and a SEC of .324. And, his BPA mark was .498.

    They are twins!

    Throw your hands in the air, if youse a true player -
    I love it when you call me Big Abuji!

    Choi would be the perfect DH, sometimes 1B, for the Yankees next year. Plus, with him, Wang, and Matsui, the Yankees would have shirts selling all over the place – Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

    This is a no-brainer to me.

    Way To Go Oh-High-Oh

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

    Yes, the Big Stein was born in Ohio. As was Yankees-brain-legend Gene Michael. And, Roger Clemens was born in Ohio – but was raised in Texas.

    But, have you ever noticed how many big hits in Yankees history came from players born in Ohio? Jim Leyritz, Tommy Henrich, Thurman Munson, Paul O’Neill, David Justice, Chris Chambliss and Gene Woodling were all born in Ohio.

    Have I mentioned that Todd Hollandsworth is from Ohio?

    Looking For Bargains

    Posted by on December 17th, 2005 · Comments (2)

    Now that it appears that Nomar Garciaparra will not be the “other bat” that the Yankees will need, in my opinion, for 2006, Cashman & Company need to look for another solution. I think that I have one for them.

    This is a left-handed batter who will be 33-years-old next season. While he’s been primarily a LF in his career, he’s also spent time in RF and CF – as well as a handful of games at 1B. He’s not a Gold Glover in the field – but, he’s no Matt Lawton either. He’s not going to kill you if you need to play him in the field once and a while.

    More so, I’m looking at this player as a D.H. for the Yankees next season – with the option of him being someone who can give Matsui or Sheffield a day off here and there (as well as play some CF or 1B in a pinch). Here’s the catch – as a DH, he’ll have to platoon with Andy Phillips. Why? Look at his splits the last few seasons:

    2005:
    vs. RHP – .237/.289/.366 in 262 AB
    vs. LHP – .293/.356/.415 in 41 AB

    2004:
    vs. RHP – .313/.396/.550 in 131 AB
    vs. LHP – .353/.353/.529 in 17 AB

    2003 – which was played in a pitcher’s park:
    vs. RHP – .255/.321/.429 in 196 AB
    vs. LHP – .250/.294/.375 in 32 AB

    2002 – which was played in a hitter’s park:
    vs. RHP – .292/.350/.485 in 373 AB
    vs. LHP – .228/.302/.316 in 57 AB

    As you can see, this player has hit RH pitching fair enough (all things considered – like park factors) in the past – with the exception of last year. Still, when you drill down his 2005 numbers, maybe there’s a reason for what happened.

    In the first half of last year, he went .269/.316/.423, overall, against all pitching, in 208 ABs. These numbers are pretty close to his career norm.

    Then, from July 7th through July 25th, he went into a slump (over 13 games played for him) where he went 5 for 40 – a batting average of .125 over a span of roughly three weeks. While slumps happen to the best of hitters, this one killed his chances in 2005 – because after that time he was only allowed to get more than 2 ABs in a game eight times over the remaining 60-something games that his team played. Further, in 29 of the games that he played after July 25th, he was only allowed to get one AB in the game played.

    It’s very hard to get your stroke/timing back when you get about one AB per game. Therefore, I’m willing to consider that his 2005 numbers against RHP are not a sign that he lost it. And, given his performance against RHP from 2002 through 2004, there’s enough to suggest that this player is someone who could be an effective half of a D.H. platoon for the Yankees in 2006 – from the left side.

    Plus, he’s a free agent this winter who was not offered salary arbitration by his team. Therefore, to acquire him, all it would cost the Yankees is money. And, it would not be a ton of money – because the last three years, his salary has been around a million dollars for the season (on average).

    The player is Todd Hollandsworth.

    Yes, I know that he’s been injury-prone in the past. But, perhaps, as a D.H. that plays three-quarters of the time with the Yankees, batting in the lower third of the line-up, he would be less of an injury risk due to the limited exposure.

    At the very least, given there is not a huge demand for his services at the moment, it would be wise for the Yankees to invite him to Spring Training on a “look-see” basis. There’s little down-side with that idea – and there’s achance that he could be someone who could chip in 15 HR and 65 RBI over the course of the season (in part-time duty).

    Forget Nomar

    Posted by on December 17th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    It might have been even money four days ago, but, I’m telling you now – Nomar is going to sign with the Dodgers. Check this AP report:

    Nomar Garciaparra met with Los Angeles Dodgers executives Thursday and Friday, and is expected to decide soon on his future.

    The 32-year-old Garciaparra also is considering the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros, but the Dodgers might have an advantage because Garciaparra and his wife, former soccer star Mia Hamm, live in suburban Manhattan Beach.

    “Nomar continues to talk with players, friends and family members,” Garciaparra’s agent, Arn Tellem, said in an e-mail Friday. “He is weighing his options carefully and while he has no plans on making a decision today, he intends to do so in the near future.”

    Garciaparra and Tellem met Thursday with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, general manager Ned Colletti and senior vice president Tom Lasorda.

    “We met again today. He came out again today with Mia,” Colletti said on a conference call late Friday. “I can tell you from my perspective both meetings were very good. They took the time to come out here two days in a row.”

    Colletti told reporters Wednesday he had made an offer to Garciaparra. When asked if he was optimistic, Colletti replied: “I don’t have any comment on that. I don’t get optimistic until a player signs. Too many things happen.”

    He lives there. Little and Mueller are there – Lowe too. He’s going to decide soon – and has met with the Dodgers twice now (whereas he’s never met in person with the Yankees). It’s not going to happen in New York. Nomar will be a Dodger in 2006. The Yankees better start thinking about their next plan.

    A-Rod Back To WBC?

    Posted by on December 17th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    From the Post:

    Gene Orza believes Alex Rodriguez will change his mind and participate in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March.
    One day after A-Rod told The Post he didn’t want to dishonor America or the Dominican Republic, Orza, the No. 2 man in the Players Association, predicted A-Rod would be part of the WBC.

    “I think Alex Rodriguez will play in the WBC,” the COO of the Players Association said yesterday.

    Orza has a strong relationship with A-Rod and believes the final chapter on the saga hasn’t been written.

    “I wouldn’t categorize it as Alex Rodriguez isn’t going to play,” said Orza, who hadn’t spoken to A-Rod by early last night but planned to within 24 hours. “I don’t believe this is the final word on this matter. It’s a sincere dilemma he faces. Does he play for the Dominican Republic or does he play for USA? I know he is dedicated to international baseball and how important it is.”

    Orza plans to meet with A-Rod and is confident A-Rod will change his mind.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to play,” Orza said. “We will help him in who he represents. We have our views on where he should play. MLB and the commissioner are interested in where he plays.”

    Great, just what the Yankees and their fans need – another soap opera opportunity for A-Rod. Thank you World Baseball Classic.

    Ben Julianel For Ron Villone

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    From the AP tonight:

    Ron Villone went to his first game at Yankee Stadium in 1976, when New York was starting a run of four AL pennants and two World Series titles in a six-season span.

    He remembers watching Ron Guidry pitch and Don Mattingly hit. Now Guidry is his new pitching coach after the Yankees acquired him from the Florida Marlins on Friday for minor league pitcher Ben Julianel.

    “It was a great stage to play on,” Villone said. “The Yankees were the best team. You always wanted to be a part of it. I guess today I get to live that dream a little bit.”

    He grew up in Edgewater, N.J., and lives now in Upper Saddle River, a short drive to the ballpark. The 35-year-old left-hander was a combined 2-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 79 games last season for the Seattle Mariners and the Marlins, who acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline.

    “It starts to form something we’re very comfortable with,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had tried to sign Villone last winter and acquire him from Seattle last summer. “He’s versatile. He can spot start, he can long relieve, he can situational lefty. He has the ability to do all of those without complaint, and that’s attractive.”

    The Yankees have been looking at Villone for a while. And, last year, LH batters went .222/.326/.256 against him in 117 ABs. In 2004, they went .203/.314/.287 in 143 ABs. And, in 2003, they went .267/.345/.475 in 101 ABs – but he pitched half of that year in Colorado. In 2002, they went .233/.301/.333 in 120 ABs.

    Villone does not do an excellent job against RH batters. In fact, I do not believe that you want him pitching to a righty with the game on the line – at least not on a regular basis.

    Still, it’s more than safe to say that Villone can get lefties out. That’s good.

    Ben Julianel is a lefty RP with a nasty change up – the Yankees got him from St. Louis in 2003 for Sterling Hitchcock. But, he’ll be 26 next year, has never pitched in Triple-A yet, and needs to work on his control.

    If the Yankees use Villone in a role where he can do well – like a lefty specialist – this is a good trade. If they use him as a long-man or spot starter, he’ll just be average. Still, that’s a lot better than Scott Proctor.

    I like this trade.

    Mo Speaks!

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    From the The News-Times:

    Rivera was being introduced in the high school auditorium as approximately 700 fans welcomed his appearance Thursday night on behalf of the Ridgefield Friends of Best Buddies.

    “It’s a pleasure for me to be here,” Rivera said, speaking to a gathering comprised of wide-eyed little kids and gray-haired Yankee fanatics.

    Considered the greatest closer of all time and a future Hall of Famer, Rivera took part in the fundraiser at the behest of Angelo Formisano, the Ridgefield High softball coach.

    “I was here before, so he told me about it and I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ If I can help make a kid smile and be happy, why not?” Rivera said during a brief interview.

    “I always do the most that I can. It’s an honor and my pleasure to do that. I’ve been blessed enough so I’d like to bless others,” he added.

    With patience, thoughtfulness and humor, Rivera answered questions from eager youngsters for more than an hour.

    Kevin Schmidt, a 10-year-old from Newtown, asked the first question: “What do you do when you’re not playing baseball?”

    “Really, nothing,” Rivera said with a smile. “I try to spend time with my family.”

    Someone asked Rivera to name the toughest batter he’s faced.

    “Edgar Martinez,” he replied, referring to the former Seattle designated hitter. “He’s retired, thank God.”

    His greatest memory? Winning his first World Series title in 1996.

    “I’m proud to be a Yankee,” he said, drawing loud applause.

    His favorite sport?

    “I love to play soccer. Don’t tell George, though,” he said, drawing laughter with his reference to the Yankees’ owner, George Steinbrenner.

    Rivera got serious when asked for any tips on becoming a major leaguer.

    “First, stay in school,” he said. “And if you have the dream, go for it.”

    And, to think, Mo managed all this without the need for an Antonio Belize by his side!

    Bubba Can Really Chase It Down

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    David Gassko of The Hardball Times recently came up with a way to measure a player’s range in the field. It’s called Runs Above Average – or “RAA” for short.

    And, anyone who bought a copy of The Hardball Times Annual 2006 also gets online access to 2005 RAA stats for everyone who played last season.

    So, I decided to use this data to look at those who played at least 100 innings in CF last year to see who had the best range.

    When you look at RAA on a “Per 150 Games” ratio, Bubba Crosby was by far the leader of the pack. Here’s all the leaders, min. 100 innings, per 150 games, in CF RAA last year:

    CFrange.jpg

    If you’re interested in how “other” Yankees centerfielders did in this stat last year, here they are:

    Cabrera, M -93.6
    Womack, T -41.1
    Matsui, H -38.4
    Williams, B -20.6

    And, no, those are not dashes – they’re negative numbers.

    If the Yankees really just want a guy to catch the ball in CF during 2006, Bubba is not a bad choice – in fact, he’s a great choice. Just be sure to tell the LF and the RF to get out of his way.

    Zippity Do Derek

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (3)

    Am I the only one who thinks “Holy Fred McGriff Tom Emanski Batman!” every time he sees the Jeter commerical for Zip-N-Hit?

    And, yes, I’m probably going to buy one for my kids anyway.

    Laying It On The Line

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    One of the fun things about The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 is the studies that they do with Plate Appearance Outcome data from Baseball Info Solutions.

    For example, in the book they list the percentages of walks, whiffs, groundballs, flyballs, infield flies, and line drives produced by hitters and allowed by pitchers in 2005. Of these choices, line drives are the key for me because, as the book tells us, each line drive is worth .356 of a run – which is the biggest “run impacting outcome” of all the results.

    If you buy the book, you also get information on how to find this data online. So, today, I decided to look at the 2005 “line drive” results for all the Yankees hitters and pitchers. Here it is:

    bballs.jpg

    According to the book, the major league average “line drive” percentage was 15%.

    The one result that jumps out the most to me here is how below average A-Rod is in his percentage. (For the record, David Ortiz was at 15% last year.) Now, some might say “Well, Alex hits mostly flyballs and most of them go a long way.” But, in truth, according to the data, Rodriguez hit a flyball 24% of the time – which was not even tops on the Yankees. Matsui, Sheffield, Posada and Williams each hit flies more frequently than Alex.

    What Rodriguez did often was strike out – 19% of the time. Among “regulars” on the team, only Sierra (23%) and Giambi (20%) were worse. In fact, Alex whiffed as often (19%) as John Flaherty in 2005.

    Giambi is pretty much in the A-Rod boat – in terms of whiffs and liners. But, to his credit, Jason walked 23% of the time (compared to Alex’s 15% in walks).

    On the pitching-side, there were less surprises for me. One thing I did notice is the placement of Pavano, Mussina, Small and Chacón on this list – just about league average. If their line drives allowed in 2005 is any sign as to what to expect in 2006, the Yankees may be looking at a long summer in the Bronx. This is just another indicator of how Mussina and Pavano are keys to the Yankees success in 2006.

    Yankee Doodle Dominicans

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (1)

    From mlb.com:

    Melky Cabrera continues to impress with his performance in the Dominican Republic this winter, showing the Yankees that he has a bright future.

    Cabrera, a 21-year-old Dominican, is playing for Las Aguilas Cibaeñas this winter. Cabrera is hitting .298 (25-for-84) with six doubles, one triple, 11 RBIs, five stolen bases and an impressive .375 on-base percentage through the first 31 games of the season.

    Cabrera has walked 11 times and struck out nine times, a great improvement from his 37 walks and 87 strikeouts in 132 games with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Columbus in 2005.

    Two pitchers from the Yankees’ system also are honing their skills in the Dominican: Jorge De Paula and Elvys Quezada.

    De Paula is pitching for Escogido, posting a 3.12 ERA in five games. In 17 1/3 innings, De Paula has held opponents to a .246 average, striking out 11 while walking five. The right-hander came back last year from Tommy John surgery to pitch 25 games in the Minors and three with the Yankees.

    De Paula was 4-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) with Columbus. He struck out 90 batters in 116 innings. In his three relief appearances with the Yankees, De Paula posted an 8.10 ERA in 6 2/3 innings.

    Quezada has appeared in four games for Las Aguilas, posting a 2.84 ERA in 6 1/3 innings. Quezada has allowed nine hits and two walks, striking out five.

    In 19 games (four starts) with Class A Tampa, Quezada went 4-1 with one save and a 5.94 ERA. Quezada also pitched 16 games (one start) for Class A Charleston, going 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA. In 79 1/3 innings for the two teams, Quezada struck out 87 batters.

    Es todo bueno!

    A-Rod & The WBC

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

    I just noticed this link over at Bronx Banter to an article in the Post where A-Rod says:

    “After thoughtful deliberations with my family, I am announcing my decision to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic,” A-Rod told The Post from Miami. “When faced with the decision to choose between my country, the United States of America, and my Dominican heritage, I decided I will not dishonor either.”

    That’s a big 180 from 5 months ago. I wonder if someone outside the family had any influence on the decision too?

    Joel Sherman’s “Birth of a Dynasty”

    Posted by on December 16th, 2005 · Comments (0)

    Next April, Rodale Books will be releasing “Birth of a Dynasty: A Behind-the-Pinstripes Look at How the 1996 Yankees of Torre, Jeter, Cone, Rivera, Doc, and Darryl came Together to Spark One of the Greatest Runs in Baseball History” by Joel Sherman.

    Rodale is the same group that brought us Pete Rose’s “My Prison Without Bars.”

    I wonder if Sherman’s book will have any insightful and not generally publicly known tales. If it does, it could be a fun read.

    Womack: Not My Bad

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

    From mlb.com -

    “I had no control over a lot of what happened last season,” he said. “The changes weren’t made because I did anything wrong. They took an opportunity away from me and asked me to be a bench guy. I didn’t whine about it. I still needed to get my work in.”

    Womack batted .249 with 15 RBIs in 108 games, but only 80 starts.

    “I’m going to put a question mark next to last season’s numbers on my baseball card,” he said. “They took the whole season from me.”

    Womack must be an ancestor of King Tut – because he’s living in de-Nile.

    “The changes weren’t made because I did anything wrong.”

    “They took the whole season from me.”

    Yeah, Tony, you were sooooo smooth around second base that the Yankees were out of their minds to move you. And, with the bat, well, you were sooooo productive at the plate, at all times, that the minute you were benched the Yankees went on a long losing streak.

    Wait a second. What? Oh, the Yankees played better baseball last year as a team once you were buried for good on the great Yankees pines? Wow, that’s weird, huh?

    Wake up, Tony, and smell the putrid stench that was your performance in 2005. The Yankees were not your enemy. It was the pavement that was your enemy – the same one that you smacked into, replicating the impact sound of a morbidly obese bullfrog with a full bladder dropped off the Empire State Building, when your miserable production failed to allow you to keep standing among the rest of the major leaguers on the Yankees roster.

    Whew, OK. I feel better now.

    Santa Stein

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

    From the St. Pete Times -

    For the 17th consecutive year, the Steinbrenner family has staged its annual Christmas Holiday Concerts. More than 2,000 students from Pinellas County public schools heard the orchestra play holiday songs Wednesday. Last week, an equal number of Hillsborough students came to a show at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

    Equally important to Steinbrenner is the reaction of the students. He got a standing ovation on Wednesday and reveled over how the kids were active participants, singing carols and clapping along with the percussion section.

    At the end of the concert, the kids received an Adidas Yankees bag with 10 gifts, including a T-shirt and cap.

    Philanthropy is a Steinbrenner trademark, and many of his acts of goodwill go unpublicized. The Boss said his motivation is rooted in benevolence.

    “I’ve been lucky enough to be successful, and I want to pass it on,” Steinbrenner said. “I don’t want to die with all this money. I want to give to the people.

    “I don’t want to be the richest man in the cemetery.”

    Wow. Christmas spirit sans Anna Benson’s blouse puppies. It can happen!

    More importantly, it’s G.S.’s line of “I don’t want to die with all this money” that hits me. I believe it. I just hope that when his son-in-law is in charge that we continue to see that spirit.

    They’re Almost All Gone

    Posted by on December 15th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    I was just thinking about the 1998-2001 Yankees – the team that made it to the World Series four years in a row, winning 3 rings, and coming within 3 outs of winning four World Championships in a row. To my knowledge, there are just 13 men who played on all four of those Yankees teams. Here’s the list and where they are now:

    El Duque Hernandez – now pitching in Arizona
    Scott Brosius – retired
    Derek Jeter – still going strong in New York
    Chuck Knoblauch – retired
    Ramiro Mendoza – getting close to being retired
    Paul O’Neill – retired
    Andy Pettitte – now starring in Houston
    Jorge Posada – still in New York through 2007
    Mariano Rivera – still going strong in New York
    Luis Sojo – retired
    Shane Spencer – for all I know, he’s retired
    Mike Stanton – should be retired
    Bernie Williams – should be retired

    When you look at how many from those teams are retired, near retirement, or should be retired, it helps you realize just how long it’s been since we saw the last great Yankees team.

    Pirate Raid

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

    From the Free Lance-Star:

    THE RICHEST TEAM in baseball usually doesn’t try to raid one of the poorest for talent. That’s why Tony Beasley thought someone was kidding when he was told the New York Yankees wanted to interview him.

    The Yankees had an opening for their Triple-A managerial job in Columbus, and they were impressed with the job Beasley had done in five years managing in the spendthrift Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. So they called and asked to talk to the Bowling Green native.

    He didn’t get that job–it went to former Cincinnati Reds skipper Dave Miley–but the Yankees liked Beasley enough to hire him as a roving minor-league fielding instructor.

    I wonder if he’ll be as good at listening to problems as Mrs. Beasley?

    With the contracts of Jeter, A-Rod, and Giambi – and the presence of Cano – it might be a long time until the big league club benefits directly from his work. But, when you look at his track record, it seems like a good idea to have this man on your staff somewhere.

    Jorge DePaula’s Winter

    Posted by on December 14th, 2005 · Comments (10)

    Here’s how Jorge DePaula has started out this winter in Liga de Beisbol Dominicano – 21 games (20 starts) with 116 IP and an ERA of 4.58.

    More importantly, his H+BB/IP ratio is 1.29 and he has 90 Ks in those 116 IP.

    DePaula will only be 27-years-old next season – which just a year older than Chien-Ming Wang. It will be almost a full two years on Opening Day 2006 since Jorge had his “Tommy John Surgery.”

    Just watch, he’s going to be a contributor to the Yankees staff next year – in some way – before the season is over.

    Dave LaPoint

    Posted by on December 14th, 2005 · Comments (1)

    I was just playing around with the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia – something that I find myself doing just about everyday – looking for a Yankees pitcher who had a season like Carl Pavano’s 2005. This is what I found:

    000lapointpav.jpg

    It’s funny that Dave LaPoint came up. He too, like Pavano, was a “local boy” who signed a Free Agent contract with the Yankees following the season where he was 28-years-old. Granted, Pavano was not as bad as LaPoint in his first season in New York. But, neither of them did well during their first tour with the pinstripes.

    LaPoint currently works as the director of player procurement for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League.

    LaPoint eventually was released by the Yankees following the 1990 season. I hope the Yankees don’t have to end up doing the same with Pavano in 2007.

    Damon Getting Closer?

    Posted by on December 14th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    Well, we know that Joe Torre recently called Johnny Damon to sell New York and Joe also just said the following about Johnny:

    “We see him, it feels like, every day,” Torre said with a laugh. “From the postseason of ’04 through the season this year, faced him a thousand times. He has a presence. He certainly is a player that makes things happen. He’s got a great deal of ability offensively.

    “There’s been some question about the strength of his arm, but he’s never had a strong arm, even when he was a youngster. But he can track the ball.”

    And, according to one A.L. East Exec, there’s a theory that the Yankees will try and make a last minute big strike on Damon:

    While Boston officials this week declared their intention to bring back Damon, their current offer is $40 million for four years, up from $29 million for three years, and Boras reportedly has made $66 million over seven seasons his target.

    “They may get it done. Last year, Boras and Boston were far apart on [Jason] Varitek and they got that done,” said an East Coast baseball official of the $40 million deal for four years. “But right now it doesn’t look real good. And don’t forget the Yankees haven’t been heard from yet.”

    The Yankees, who have stated their belief that Bubba Crosby can play center, supposedly have not followed up a declared interest in Damon with an offer.

    “They could be waiting to see what Boston’s final offer is, and come in and top that,” the source said. “It’s tough to see the Yanks planning to sit tight in center. Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and now Bubba Crosby?”

    When Boras settled the Varitek deal it was on December 24, 2004 that it was announced. Would he do the Christmas Eve trick again with Damon too? Maybe that’s the “before X-mas” vibe that I got yesterday?

    Josh Hollingsworth

    Posted by on December 14th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    Josh Hollingsworth played in an Independent League last year before being picked up by the Yankees on July 30, 2005. And, then he played 18 games at Tampa last year.

    You have to wonder why the Yankees would pick up a player like this considering his age – he’ll be 26 this season. Do they think that he could be a utility player at the big league level some time this season?

    It will be interesting to see if he gets any time in the big league camp this Spring – while Jeter and A-Rod are off at the WBC games. (Josh plays SS and 3B.) If he does well, he might force himself into the 25-man roster picture.

    Jeter & Matsui To Lack Pop In 2006?

    Posted by on December 14th, 2005 · Comments (4)

    I was just reading JC Bradbury’s “PrOPS: 2005 and Beyond” feature over at the Hardball Times.

    PrOPS is short for “predicted OPS.” The system that Bradbury uses is very interesting and recommended reading.

    Below are the 2006 PrOPS for notable Yankees, according to his system:

    Cano 0.753
    Giambi 0.922
    Jeter 0.784
    Matsui 0.782
    Posada 0.784
    Rodriguez 0.891
    Sheffield 0.854
    Williams 0.728

    If Derek Jeter posts an OPS of .784 in 2006 it will be one of the worst seasons in his career. Now, an OPS of .784 is not Womack-like. And, Jeter will always reach base – because he always has in the past. I figure this prediction implies that Derek will not have much “pop” in 2006 – sorta like his 1997 and 2002 seasons.

    Now, if the Yankees sign Johnny Damon and Jeter bats second and gets lots of fastballs, well, that could make a difference. But, if Jeter leads-off in 2006 and the Yankees 8th and 9th hitters are rarely on, then, perhaps this projection might come true.

    Related, note the predicted 2006 OPS for Matsui. That would be a 2003-ish Matsui and not the Godzilla-form circa 2004-2005. If this is true, that’s not good.

    I wonder if the Yankees look at these types of projections when figuring out how to fill holes in their line-up? It is food for thought – at the least.

    Any Day Now?

    Posted by on December 13th, 2005 · Comments (5)

    This is based on a gut feel, so, it’s probably nothing. But, when your G.M. starts to meet with scouts at this time of the year, it makes me think that a trade is coming.

    It would not shock me if the Yankees had a new CF before Christmas.

    WasWatching.com Guestmap

    Posted by on December 13th, 2005 · Comments (12)

    Just for fun, and in an attempt to see how wide the WasWatching.com readership spans, I’ve created a Guest Map for WasWatching.com – if you have a minute, please update it with your location.

    There’s no registration required and you can use whatever handle you like – there’s no need to use any personal information (if that’s your thing).

    To “mark” your location, all you need to do is to “click” on the map where you want it to be noted. And, if you need to go outside what you see on the map, or need to have a closer view to make your correct placement, use the zoom/direction arrows on the left side of the map.

    Thanks in advance for your help with this project!

    Can Nomar At The Bat Help The Yankees?

    Posted by on December 13th, 2005 · Comments (6)

    Given the chance that Nomar Garciaparra might join the 2006 Yankees, I decided to take a closer look at his career numbers – to determine which modern batters were like him (to date) in terms of relative production at the same age (with the hope to see if any “like batters” still had some juice in their bat after they turned thirty). Thanks to the Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia, this is what I found:

    nomar.jpg

    I like the David Justice and Jim Edmonds “comps” found here as they also (like Nomar) had some injury speed bumps before their 31st birthdays. And, both of them were able to post some decent years with the bat between ages 32 and 34. This tells me that it would not be without precedent to see someone like Nomar rebound at age 32 to have a decent season with the stick.

    If the price is right, and it’s nothing more than one or two years on the deal, the Yankees should make a run at Garciaparra – it’s not as big a risk as I once thought.

    Nomar’s Coming?

    Posted by on December 13th, 2005 · Comments (3)

    From the Post:

    Three years ago the odds of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra together in the Yankees’ infield were as long as a Beatles reunion.

    Today, it’s moving toward even money. That’s because the Yankees are considering signing the 32-year-old Garciaparra to play first base.

    While GM Brian Cashman and agent Arn Tellem refused to confirm or deny an offer has been made by the Yankees to Garciaparra, several industry sources indicated an offer has been made.

    I used to say “In baseball, anything can happen, if you would have told me in 1986 that Strawberry and Gooden would play for the Yankees in the future, I would have said you were nuts.” Now, I’ll have to say, “If you would have told me in 1999 that A-Rod, Jeter and Nomar would all be playing in the Yankees infield together, I would have said you were nuts.”

    Can Nomar play 1B? I would say no question – yes. Can Nomar still hit? No, there is a huge question about his ability to hit. And, we know asking Giambi to D.H. full-time is a big mistake.

    Why not just sign Nomar to an incentive deal and let him D.H. – to help prevent him getting injured? Nah, it makes too much sense.

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