• Best Threat Off The Bench For Torre

    Posted by on February 28th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    In “Joe’s Run,” who was the best threat off the bench for the Yankees?

    Tim Raines in 1996?
    Shane Spencer in 1998?
    Darryl Strawberry in 1999?
    Glenallen Hill in 2000?

    How about the “non-ring” years?

    Mike Stanley or Mark Whiten in 1997?
    Enrique Wilson in 2001?
    John Vander Wal in 2002?
    Karim Garcia in 2003?
    Tony Clark in 2004?
    Bubba Crosby or Ruben Sierra in 2005?

    Who will it be in 2006? Andy Phillips?

    It seems that the Yankees need a strong bat on the bench to win it all, no?

    Yankees Geek Speak

    Posted by on February 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Geek of All Trades has a fun write-up on “Yankees milestones to watch for” this year. It’s worth checking out!

    S.I. Strolls Down Stein Lane

    Posted by on February 28th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    This collection is too funny for words. My fav:

    “I just won you the pennant” to manager Lou Piniella after trading for left-hander Steve Trout in July 1987

    Yes, It Was…

    Posted by on February 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    ….PHD today:

    Philip Hughes, New York’s 2004 first-round draft pick, had two perfect innings, including one strikeout, against minor leaguers.

    “He’s a no-miss,” Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. “He will be in the major leagues soon. I won’t be surprised if I see him before the year is over.”

    via the AP.

    Tampa Not Fan Friendly

    Posted by on February 28th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    From The Record -

    Spring training is supposed to be a time for fans to bond with the players, especially before the preseason games begin. There’s no admission charge to watch the leisurely workouts, and it’s probably a kid’s best chance to score an autograph.

    So why was a security guard speeding along both sides of the field on a motorized scooter Monday, ordering kids to move their feet from the top of the dugout? Wait, it wasn’t just feet that were forbidden. Even the baseball that one toddler was hoping to get signed was ordered moved.

    Why the hassle, we wondered?

    Maybe it was the lousy weather — 72 and cloudless. Maybe the crackdown was ordered by George Steinbrenner, who wasn’t even on the field. Or maybe it was just the badge. Nothing like a guy on a power trip to ruin a fan’s day.

    This is the 3rd report, in the last month or so, where I’ve heard that the Yankees complex in Tampa is not fan friendly – at all. The first two came from individuals who have gone there, and shared how bad it was, and how much better/easier/more fun it was in the Blue Jays and Phillies camps.

    What a shame that it has to be this way in Tampa.

    Today Is Philip Hughes Day

    Posted by on February 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    From the AP -

    Mike Mussina, who might pitch the second game of the regular season, is scheduled to face 2004 first-round draft pick Philip Hughes in the intrasquad game. Non-roster invitee Scott Erickson is also slated to pitch.

    Celebrate with your head, not over it.

    Bernie: 2004-05 Yanks Character Lacking

    Posted by on February 27th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    From the LA Times:

    Williams has seen them all, and they gather in his head like the patches of gray in his beard, the image of other men celebrating the annual elimination of the Yankees. They were Diamondbacks, Marlins, Angels, even Red Sox.

    The cause, he implied, was too fluid to cover with money, too devious to repair in batting practice: The Yankees came to believe championships came with the uniform.

    “I’m going to be completely honest with you,” he said on a recent dank morning at Legends Field. “I think that this year marks the beginning of a slightly different attitude about this club. We were on somewhat of a downfall as far as playing with a killer instinct.”

    After their appearance in the 2003 World Series, won by the Marlins, the team character shifted, Williams said. It was subtle, so much so as to be unrecognizable in the moment. It all looked like a couple of fat sliders, a fluke four-game losing streak, a sore shoulder or two. But two more seasons and then a winter spent considering his future with the Yankees — and in baseball — brought him somewhat closer to the truth, as he saw it.

    “The team was sort of taking for granted we were going to be there every year,” he said.

    Told Williams had these doubts about the last couple of seasons, in particular, Derek Jeter turned and said, “Who said that?”

    Torre said he likes what’s happening here, the reshaping of the Yankees, the enthusiasm brought by two new coaches, Larry Bowa and Tony Pena. (“Just offsets my stoic demeanor,” he said, laughing.) They bring different voices, different energy, something fresh.

    He wouldn’t disagree with Williams’ observation, he said, calling it an entirely human reaction to sustained achievement.

    Thanks Bernie. It’s good to hear this being said.

    Is Seven Enough?

    Posted by on February 27th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    Warning, seven weeks ago, I got a new assignment at work. And, along with that, I’ve developed a nasty case of Boomtown Rats-itis. So, this just might be the Monday Morning Crank in me speaking – and I’m sure that the windchill of 7 this AM doesn’t help – but, here goes.

    Lately, when I think of the 2006 Yankees, I see:

    Suspect pitching, below average defense, and a weak bench.

    And, I wonder, is seven very good hitters enough to offset all that?

    I’m not so sure these days.

    The Brian King On Pavano

    Posted by on February 27th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    From the Star Ledger -

    Cashman, however, leaped to Pavano’s defense. Cashman cited Pavano’s eight strong innings for the Florida Marlins against the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2003 World Series and Pavano’s first game as a Yankee, when he held the Boston Red Sox to two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

    “You guys (the media) talk about being intimidated by New York,” Cashman said. “He’s not intimidated by New York. He just was hurt. That’s it. As simple as that. And if he’s not hurt he’ll be a very important pitcher to us. It’s just as simple as that.

    “He gets a hall pass for last year because of injury. And all the other stuff is just crap, to be honest. It has no relevance. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be good.”

    I wonder what Jaret Wright thinks when he sees all this “stuff”?

    Plan B May Be An F?

    Posted by on February 26th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Just reading about Gary Sheffield’s back flare-up today, I began to wonder – What if something terrible happens to the Yankees this spring, and, either Matsui or Sheffield gets knocked out for most of the season?

    Right now, I’m guessing that the Yankees are hoping that both Matsui and Sheffield can play in 155 games each this year – and that means that Bernie Williams gets about 375 ABs as a sometimes-DH and other-times back-up OF. Related, then Andy Phillips gets about 275 ABs this year – and Bubba Crosby chips in about 100 ABs.

    But, if either Sheff or Godzilla go down for the year, before the season starts, then Bernie Williams probably gets 485 ABs instead of 375 ABs. And, related, Andy Phillips probably jumbs from 275 to 450 ABs. Also, Bubba Crosby goes from 100 to 350 ABs.

    Think about that – you’re losing a full year of ABs from either Sheffield or Matsui and replacing it with 110 ABs from a tired Bernie Williams, 175 ABs from Andy Phillips facing pitchers he should probably sit against, and about 250 ABs more from light-batting Bubba Crosby.

    Granted, over the last three years, Matsui and Sheffield have been iron men of sorts. I hope they can do it again this year. Plan B is not looking to sweet to me right now – if they cannot answer the bell everyday.

    Reading Between The Lines With Torre

    Posted by on February 26th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Torre on Pavano, from the YES Network -

    “I’m not banking on him Opening Day,” Torre said.

    And, Torre on Leiter, from MSG -

    Torre has been impressed with left-hander Al Leiter, who opted not to retire during the offseason and is in camp as a non-roster player.

    “What I’ve seen so far, I like him,” Torre said. “When you look at it, there’s no room. But if somebody makes a case, you’ve got to figure something out. That’s the way I look at it.”

    Remember what I said two weeks ago:

    Why am I beginning to think that Al Leiter is going to be in the Yankees rotation this April?

    Now, I’m really starting to think it.

    The Fielding Bible by John Dewan

    Posted by on February 26th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    FYI, you might enjoy the review of The Fielding Bible that I just did for NetShrine.com. Click here to read it.

    It was a very good book. From a Yankees fan angle, I found the following quick hits interesting:

    * The 2005 Yankees team outfield play was by far the worst in the major leagues.

    * The Yankees keystone combination last year of Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter, and the Rangers duo of Alfonso Soriano and Michael Young, were the worst in the majors – with the leather.

    * From 2003 through 2005, base runners have taken advantage of Carlos Beltran’s throwing arm more often than Johnny Damon’s arm – and this was especially true in 2005.

    * Last year, no third baseman in baseball was worse at fielding bunts than Alex Rodriguez.

    I expect to be sharing more data from this book in the coming weeks.

    Cards New Park Packs Them In

    Posted by on February 26th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From the AP:

    With a month and a half to go before the baseball season, more than 3 million tickets have been sold or committed for 2006 games at the new Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals president Mark Lamping said Friday.

    In fact, demand is so great that the team on Friday cut off further sales of season tickets after selling 27,500 – which translates to nearly 2.3 million tickets at the season’s 81 games.

    Combine that with 300,000 in group ticket sales, 117,000 sales of four-game packages, 86,000 tickets for party rooms and picnic areas, 120,000 for team obligations such as players’ wives and other friends of the organization, and 170,000 giveaway tickets for military personnel, clergy and amateur baseball coaches, and a bit more than 3 million tickets are spoken for.

    Read it and learn. This is exactly what it’s going to like with the “new” Yankee Stadium. Actually, I expect the last year of the current Stadium to be like this as well. Yankees tickets will be like gold in the near future.

    Green Eggs & Jorge

    Posted by on February 25th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Being Jorge Posada is no longer just all about boxing pitches.

    “Georgie” is now an author of children’s books too.

    posadabook.jpg

    There’s a picture of Posada on the back cover of the book, at age 7, with his father – and they’re both wearing baseball uniforms. The shot of his dad (then) is exactly how Jorge looks now – if you saw just the picture of the father you would swear it was a current photo of #20. Clone-scary stuff.

    Sheffield Quotes

    Posted by on February 25th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the New York Times:

    “On one side, I trust you, but don’t play me,” Sheffield said during his diatribe. “You know what I mean? I don’t care what it is. I don’t care if it’s the Boss. I don’t care if it’s him. Don’t play me.”

    About 90 minutes after Sheffield challenged the Yankees to eliminate the 2007 option now and spoke of playing elsewhere, he switched his personality from combative to calm. During that hour and a half, Sheffield met with Cashman for about 30 minutes. That conversation apparently reassured him of his status.

    “I’ll be fine tomorrow,” Sheffield said. “I’m just venting.”

    On his contract, Sheffield said: “Just like I said, tear up the whole contract. Send me somewhere else. It doesn’t matter. I’m sick of it.”

    On Cashman: “I trust him, but I don’t trust him totally. I don’t trust no one totally.”

    On Yankees who have long-term contracts: “Just like all those other guys feel comfortable here, I want to feel comfortable, too. Why do I always have to have my back against the wall and prove something to everybody?”

    On his future with the Yankees: “You got to think about, ‘Do I still want to keep putting up with this every year, or go play someplace where it’s simpler?’ Now I have to go make that choice. Since you can’t appreciate what I do, maybe somebody else will.”

    On the possibility that the Yankees are hesitating to exercise the contract option because he might be injured: “You sign players for 10 years and what if they get hurt? One year. With what I’ve done? What I’ve done? What I’ve done?”

    On whether he or the Yankees have the upper hand in the contract situation: “It’s always in my hands. Trust me. I know how to get out of anything.”

    After all those comments, Sheffield’s final thought was: “I’m cool with the Yankees.”

    Can Sheff vacillate, or what?

    Better Than Picking From A Hat?

    Posted by on February 24th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    According to David Pinto’s awesome Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis tool, the Yankees best 2006 line-up would be:

    1. Giambi
    2. Sheffield
    3. Jeter
    4. A-Rod
    5. Matsui
    6. Cano
    7. Posada
    8. Williams
    9. Damon

    Great timing, as I’m previewing a copy of “The Book” by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin – in which their findings say that your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. And your 4th and 5th best hitters should bat in the #3 and #5 slots.

    It all seems to synch up.

    But, I’ll say this, Jessica Simpson has a better shot at making Mensa than Jason Giambi does of ever batting lead-off for the Yankees.

    Spalding’s World Tour: The Epic Adventure that Took Baseball Around the Globe – And Made It America’s Game

    Posted by on February 24th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Spalding’s World Tour, by Mark Lamster, will be released this coming April.

    In a nutshell, it’s the story of Albert Spalding’s brainchild of bringing his team, the then Chicago White Stockings, and another team of All-Stars, on an exhibition trip to promote baseball throughout the western United States and in Hawaii, Australia, Egypt, Italy, France, England, and Ireland – during the period from October 1888 through March 1889.

    I’ve had the privilege of reading a review copy of the book and can share that it is a book that it both educational and entertaining.

    With this book, Mark Lamster is not just a writer telling a story. More so, he is an artist painting a picture. When you read this book, you are not just processing words for meaning in your brain – instead, because of Lamster’s gifted presentation, the events of the story come to life, in the form of moving pictures, in your mind and you truly feel as if you are a fly on the wall while everything is happening.

    And, while the main theme of the book is an interesting story, there are so many other fascinating stories within the story, that Spalding’s World Tour is a “nesting doll” of a good time.

    Anyone who wants to learn more about 19th Century baseball, or just life in America and abroad (in general) during this time, would be well served to read this book.

    I feel smarter having read it – and recommend it to anyone baseball fan looking for a good book to read this summer.

    Tony DeMarco: Yanks Short Armed

    Posted by on February 24th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From NBCSports.com -

    So it should have surprised nobody that general manager Brian Cashman made upgrading the staff one of his top priorities in the off-season. But at this point, you can only conclude that Cashman didn’t succeed as well as he did in filling needs at leadoff and in center field by signing Johnny Damon.

    One of more unlikely occurrences in the 2005 season was the combination of Small and Shawn Chacon going 17-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 21 starts and 29 games down the stretch after toiling anonymously in Columbus and Colorado, respectively, in the first half. That’s not likely to happen again.

    What? Scott Erickson and Darrell Rasner won’t go 17-3 in 2006?!?

    Bummer.

    Bowa On Base Running

    Posted by on February 24th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    From the Courant -

    In fact, the Yankees’ coaching staff has been completely made over. Third base coach Larry Bowa, a fiery personality, is coaching base runners.

    “I watched his clinic on base runners and it was very impressive,” Torre said. “Very common-sense talk.”

    As in “Always make a left-hand turn when running the bases and not a right-handed one”?

    Dr. K Will See You Now

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From Newsday:

    The Yankees liked the idea of having an experienced bullpen coach to help Ron Guidry’s transition as a first-year pitching coach, and Kerrigan has stints on his resume as the manager and pitching coach of the Red Sox and pitching coach of the Expos and Phillies.

    Although Kerrigan worked with Johnson many years ago, he said whatever he notices about Johnson this season he will relay to Guidry instead of directly to Johnson. And Johnson said he will rely on Kerrigan for scouting reports rather than pitching tips.

    “What he is really good at is scouting the opponent, knowing the strengths and the weaknesses of the opponent,” Johnson said. “Last year people went to him for what was going on with the teams we were playing. We will have that insight again this year.”

    The Yankees also thought highly of Kerrigan’s scouting reports. Manager Joe Torre said he has known Kerrigan to be “thorough” and said he was impressed with his reports. “I got a taste of what he did as far as information and being prepared,” he said.

    Instead of focusing simply on scouting the opposing team’s lineup, Kerrigan said he devised a system where he produced reports that took into account the strengths and weaknesses of the Yankees’ starter. The strategy to attack each hitter was right there.

    “Not everyone can pitch the same, obviously, so you try to give options for that particular pitcher’s strengths,” Kerrigan said. “You’re telling them the hitter’s weakness, but if you don’t have that as a strength, it’s not to your benefit to attack that weakness.”

    Yeah, but, can he teach the sinker?

    OK, joking aside, this report is the best news that I’ve heard coming out of camp so far this year. I’m actually excited – and cannot wait to see the impact of Dr. K over the course of the whole season.

    Larry Dobrow’s Wacky Letter To A-Rod

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2006 · Comments (9)

    It can be found in this link.

    Strange.

    Book It Dano

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From Hot Sauce Sports -

    Sportsbook.com is predicting that the New York Yankees will lead the major league in wins and put the Bronx Bombers at 2-1 favorites to win the American League Pennant.

    The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox are predicted to tally the second and third most wins, respectively. The Cardinals are 5-1 favorites to win the NL crown.

    Lead the majors in wins? With all the question marks in the starting rotation? I think they’re just trying to get suckers to bet on the Yankees. I mean, really, come on.

    YES Network: Extras For Dish Users

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From Media Week:

    The YES Netwok announced it is going interactive starting July, offering fans a well of exclusive stats, scores, games and extra features as part of a partnership with DirecTV.

    Subscribers of the digital broadcast satellite service who reside in the network’s footprint–encompassing the metropolitan New York area, as well as sections of Conn., N.J. and Penn.–can boost their viewing experience by accessing the above interactive features, as well as bonus “StarCam” footage that zeros in on a particular Yankee player each inning.

    The deal, which goes into effect after this season’s All-Star Break, makes YES the first regional sports network to offer single-screen interactive content.

    “Yankees fans are among the most passionate and most knowledgeable fans, and watching the Yankees on YES is often a shared experience,” said YES COO Ray Hopkins. “Through this partnership with DirecTV, we’ll give fans a more customized, personalized telecast, one in which they can interact with fellow fans.”

    And, for those watching on cable, like me, well, you get bupkis.

    Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hands

    Posted by on February 22nd, 2006 · Comments (3)

    mmstein.jpg

    Watch out for the green ones Big Stein, they’ll make you Randy, and I’m not talking Johnson.

    Well, at least not that Johnson.

    You know, I just now realized that “Randy” “Johnson” and “Big” “Unit” make perfect sense.

    The Dress Is In The Bag

    Posted by on February 22nd, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From The Boss:

    George Steinbrenner is predicting the New York Yankees’ five-year World Series drought will end this October.

    “We’re going to win it this year,” the Yankees owner said Wednesday. “We’re going after it.”

    Well, what else is he supposed to say?

    Tino’s Butt Cam

    Posted by on February 22nd, 2006 · Comments (1)

    Is ESPN going to have one of them installed on the Baseball Tonight set?

    2, 8, and 9

    Posted by on February 22nd, 2006 · Comments (1)

    According to Brian Gunn’s All-Time All-Franchise All-Star Team, the Yankees are the kings at catcher, center and right.

    Sorta falls right into play with the gut of Yankees retired uniform numbers.

    Good Luck In Philly!

    Posted by on February 22nd, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Tom Gordon, on the media in New York, via the Daily News:

    “I don’t want to hear about you guys missing me,” Gordon said. “That’s a lot of — after all the abuse I took from you. You guys wanted Farnsworth? You got him!”

    “There was a headline,” Gordon said. “‘Not so Terrific Tom’ and it prompted all kinds of abuse. I’ve been called everything in this game. I’ve even heard (N-word) a couple of times, too. Then, after that headline, I was in the city with my kids and this fan comes up to me and says: ‘You’re worthless!’ How would you like to be told that? In front of your kids!

    “No player deserves that. But, if nothing else, it made me stronger.”

    “I’ll always be impressed with how that organization operates, seeing how those guys come together the way they do in New York,” Gordon said. “When it’s time to play, they play hard. That’s why I thought it was unfair how the media treated me after we lost (to the Red Sox in the ’04 ALCS). It could have been handled differently.

    “Yeah, we lost, but for my kids to have to listen to that….I had to carry that with me. There were 24 other guys out there. I don’t think it was all me. I gave that team everything I had.”

    Hey, Flash, do you know that you moved to the “boo” capital of the world? You better get your kids some ear plugs.

    Yankees Not Waiting To Extend Sheff?

    Posted by on February 21st, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Interesting. I guess this means that Giambi plays a lot of 1B in 2007 too. Unless they want Sheffield in RF, at his age, next year.

    The Power Within The Demonstration Of Greatness

    Posted by on February 21st, 2006 · Comments (2)

    In case you missed it, I had a book released last year. The reviews were good – and that was awesome. I think I did a pretty good job for a first time book author. Well, most of the time, that is, I feel that way.

    I recently had the pleasure of reading a review copy of Sam Walker’s Fantasyland and am presently reading a review copy of Mark Lamster’s Spalding’s World Tour, and, I must confess, when I first read what Sam and Mark have written, my gut reaction is “My God, I suck. I can’t go toe-to-toe with these guys, it’s the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals. These guys are incredible.”

    OK, while Walker and Lamster do have great gifts for writing, maybe I am being a little hard on myself….which I have a tendency to do…..ala’ Paul O’Neill (I suppose).

    Maybe I’m not the Babe Ruth of baseball authors, but, I have some unique skills that I bring to the table. There are some things that I can do well that lend towards a good reading experience. Maybe I’m the Graig Nettles of baseball authors? No shame there, right?

    But, still, if I were forced to match-up one-on-one with a true gift-from-god writing talent, at this stage in my writing career, it’s a mismatch – and I know it, without needing much time to realize it.

    As I was thinking this tonight, I thought back to the 1998 Yankees. When people played that Yankees team – and to some extent the 1999 team as well – they knew coming into each series that they could not compete with New York. The talent gap was too much to bridge. It was over before it started.

    The Yankees have lost that edge over the last four or five years (thereabouts). Heck, just ask the 2005 Tampa Bay Devil Rays if they sweat playing the Yankees last season.

    For the Yankees to get that edge back, and be a true champion, they need to get out of the gate in a hurry this season.

    Coming into this season, I was of the mindset that the Yankees needed to win 15-16 games per month to win the East. Now, instead of winning 31-ish games by June 1st, I’m thinking that the Yankees need to have 36 wins (or more) by the end of May.

    It seems like a small bump – but, the winning percentage difference is huge. And, it will give the Yankees that mental edge again. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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