• May 24th @ The Red Sox

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

    When the Yankees lost this past Monday to Boston, I wrote:

    I expect the Red Sox to go on and sweep this series.

    At the time, I truly believed that – and that’s why I wrote it. Now, I must say that I am sincerely impressed with the way the Yankees played the last two days. It would have been easy to lay down, lose yesterday and today, and then just apply excuses as fault and make promises for the future. Instead, the Yankees showed – at least me – something. This team has some fight in them.

    So, does Torre batting Melky Cabrera lead-off mean that the kid’s ability to work pitchers has now won him a spot in his manager’s heart? I hope so.

    OK, it’s 8-6 Yanks, bottom of the 8th, bases juiced with 2 outs, and Big Papi is facing The Farns.

    Well, I’m glad that someone was listening to my point from Monday – change speeds on Ortiz! What a beauty. Kyle Farnsworth drops a breaking pitch in for a called strike three and the inning is over. Grab some pine Papi.

    And, thank you Mo Rivera for sending Manny Ramirez skipping in the 9th inning during his At Bat. Finally, someone shows the team how to effectively pitch this guy. The minute you come close, he’s going to stop diving into the plate. (Remember his AB against Clemens in the 2003 ALCS game at Fenway?)

    As far as Randy Johnson, tonight he continued his trend that I pointed out earlier today.

    In the first, Youkilis singles on the 2nd pitch. Then Loretta singles on the first pitch. Manny homers on the 3rd pitch.

    In the third, Varitek singled on the 3rd pitch to drive in Manny.

    I missed the count on the Youkilis homer in the second, but, knowing what I know, I would bet that it was hit before Johnson threw his 4th pitch of the At Bat.

    Randy just needs to make better/smarter pitches early in the count – in order to turn this thing around.

    Lastly, it’s pretty cool to beat the Red Sox in Fenway. But, it’s wicked good to beat them in Fenway when the last out is recorded on a great play by Jeter (like in tonight’s game). And, for what it’s worth, I think it’s great that the schedule will now allow Jeter to get career hit # 2,000 at the Stadium. Sure, Fenway would have been good too. But, it will be a fitting reaction to such an event in the Bronx. Enjoy it Derek – you earned and deserve it.

    Locker Room Stories

    Posted by on May 24th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    USA Today is running an interesting feature today:

    Clubhouse confidential: Breaking down a major league locker room.

    Here’s some Yankees-related content from it:

    “That’s when you know you made it,” says Jason Giambi, who moved uptown when he joined the New York Yankees in 2002 and was given Paul O’Neill’s old locker. “They give you a big locker a star had before you, and you get an extra one next to it.”

    “When I came to the Yankees” in 2004, Sheffield says, “I told them I wanted to see everything, I didn’t want to be closed in and I didn’t want to be in the middle of traffic. So they gave me (Clemens’) old locker.”

    Hmmm, I wonder who (this season) got Tony Womack’s locker from last year?

    Unit Counts

    Posted by on May 24th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Today, I decided to look at how Randy Johnson has faired this season, to date, on various pitching counts. Here’s the data:

    000unitcounts.jpg

    So, when the count is 0-0, batters hit .286 against the Unit.
    And, when the count is 0-1 or 1-0, they hit .297.
    Worse, when the count is 0-2, 2-0, or 1-1, they hit .317 against Randy.

    On the flip side, when the count is 2-1, 1-2, or 3-0, they hit .255 against Johnson.
    And, when the count is 2-2 or 3-1, batters only hit .194 against the Unit.
    Lastly, on a 3-2 count, hitters bat .273 against Randy.

    It’s pretty clear, right? What’s killing Johnson is his first three registered pitches against his batters faced. Once he gets past that count, he’s productive.

    I’m not sure what Johnson is doing with his first three pitches to batters this season, but, it’s time for a new plan there. Somehow he has to figure out how to get deeper into counts with batters – because that’s where he does better (at least this season).

    Bean Jumping

    Posted by on May 24th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    I’ve seen many comments around the web today where some Yankees fans are upset about the Yankees designating Colter Bean for assignment (yesterday).

    First, think about what this means. When a player is “Designated For Assignment” (DFAed), it’s just a stall where his team is figuring out what to do with him.

    In the case of Bean, the Yankees can still send him to the minors or trade him. Just because he was DFA’ed, it does not mean that he’s going to be released.

    If I had to guess, the Yankees are using the DFA-stall here because Bean is going to be used in a trade. He would be the right piece to move for someone like Ryan Church.

    At the least, the Yankees still own Bean today. Therefore I don’t see why there’s such a fuss over this move.

    “Evil Schilling” To Help ALS Fight

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

    From XGP Gaming -

    Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE), a global leader in the online video games industry, today announced that Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is about to debut in his favorite online video game, EverQuest® II, as an epically awesome, loot-dropping virtual bad guy who battles unwary players. And it’s all for a good cause.

    Schilling’s video game character will reside within the online world of EverQuest II (EQII) for three days during the Yankees vs. Red Sox baseball series June 5, 6 and 7, 2006 at Yankee Stadium. During this time, anyone can register for and log into EverQuest II at www.battleals.com to challenge the evil Schilling character, appropriately named “Curt Schilling.”

    Every time a player defeats the virtual Schilling character, Sony Online Entertainment, creators of EverQuest II, will make a donation of $5 dollars (up to a maximum of $10,000) to the ALS Association, which assists patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. After the three-day baseball series, Curt’s character will remain within the game as a high-powered enemy that characters will have to face later in the game. At the launch of the campaign on June 5th, Schilling’s 10-year-old son, Gehrig (named after the legendary Yankee first baseman), will be one of the first to battle his virtual dad in-game.

    Just goes to show, even a super-jerk is capable of good deeds. Still, fair is fair, and, since I said this about A-Rod back in January, I will say it now about Schilling:

    “If you do something good for someone, and somebody other than you and them knows about it, you have to question what your intention was really all about.”

    Ryan Church

    Posted by on May 24th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the Wash-Nats-Site today:

    According to a baseball source, the Yankees have expressed interest in outfielder Ryan Church. The Yankees have been looking for outfield help with the wrist injury to Hideki Matsui. The Nationals want prospects in return for Church.

    Church, who could provide some power for the Yankees, was recently sent down to Double-A Harrisburg after hitting .215 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. It marked the second time this season that Church was sent to the Minor Leagues. He started the season for Triple-A New Orleans after Brandon Watson beat him out for the center-field job.

    Church, 27, returned to the team on April 13 and, except for a three-game spurt in April in which he hit four home runs and drove in nine, didn’t provide the spark the Nationals were looking for.

    Some in the Nationals organization believe that a change of scenery is what Church needs right now.

    Last season was the first time Church was given a chance in the big leagues, hitting .287 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 102 games for the Nationals.

    From what I’ve heard, Church has some talent, but, he’s not won Frank Robinson’s confidence in Washington. Church took some heat last year for his unwillingness to play through some aches and pains. I’m not sure if that means anything. Still, I would not give up the store to get him.

    May 23rd @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2006 · Comments (24)

    OK, I have to confess. I picked up the game tonight in the 2nd inning – and then took a break to watch American Idol and House – later coming back to the game when Mo was facing Ortiz in the 8th (and then I watched from there unitl the end).

    So, I had to see a lot of the action via the post-game highlights (as I missed the 1st inning and most of the 4th through the 8th).

    The guys on YES might have said something (which I missed), but, man, Doug Mirabelli must be made to pay for that attempt to take out Jeter on the DP in the 6th inning. I only caught it in the flash-summary at the end of the game. Nonetheless, Mirabelli went a good 9 feet away from the bag to try and get Derek. Next time he bats against the Yankees, he deserves a shot on the elbow.

    OK, on to bigger things. Is Jaret Wright building something now, or what? Yes, the “Did I pop it up?” homer by A-Rod was a big hit. And, yes, Mo cleaning up for Proctor, Myers and Farnsworth – going 5 outs for the save – was huge. And, yep, Damon and Jeter set a heckuva table tonight – which really helped.

    But, this game, to me, was all about Wright. He got the game to the bottom of the 6th, with the Yankees winning 4-0. At that point, all the Yankees needed was 12 outs to win the game. If Wright can do that every start, meaning get the team to a point where they have a 4-run lead and needing 12 more outs to win, he’s going to be a big part of this team.

    In my mind, coming into this game, the odds were not in the Yankees favor. Getting a win, despite the odds, is very uplifting. I hope New York can ride this into something positive tomorrow.

    Lastly, am I the only one, every time that the Sox’ Mark Loretta comes to bat, who hears the voice of Nick Tortelli saying “And, this is my wife. The lovely Lo-ret-ta.”?

    Unit Splits

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2006 · Comments (0)

    On the drive home yesterday, I heard Michael Kay, on the radio, say something like “You can’t give up on Randy Johnson. In the past he’s been messed up to start a season – where he had to find himself later.”

    Curious about this, I checked the numbers. If you can trust the “splits” data at ESPN.com, here are the numbers for the Big Unit (expressed as first-half ERA & second-half ERA):

    1997: 2.42 & 2.20
    1998: 5.07 & 1.37
    1999: 2.95 & 1.89
    2000: 1.80 & 3.81
    2001: 2.71 & 2.23
    2002: 2.47 & 2.15
    2003: 6.94 & 3.57
    2004: 2.17 & 2.99
    2005: 4.16 & 3.31

    So, it appears that 1998, 2003, and 2005 support the Kay Theory. Or, do they?

    Actually, you have to throw out 2003 – because Johnson only threw 23.1 IP in the first half of that season. This leaves 1998 and 2005.

    I would probably throw out 1998 as well – as this was Johnson’s last year in Seattle. And, he turned it on that season only once he was traded and then on a salary-drive (for a new contract).

    Basically, last year was the only season, in my opinion, where Johnson was “messed up” in the first-half and then did better in the second-half.

    Does that mean he cannot do it again? I have no idea. But, I do know that there’s not this great body of evidence to suggest that this – meaning being out of wack and then figuring it out – is just something that happens to Johnson.

    The More Things Change…..

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2006 · Comments (20)

    Some of the “heat” that I’ve received today for my thoughts on last night’s game, and on the latest A-Rod news, has brought me back to something that happened four years ago.

    Before I was banned from the forums at nyyfans.com, in a moment of frustration, I started a thread there with the following comment:

    Does anyone know where I can get a pair of Yankee Blinders?

    You know, the device that fits on your head, only allowing you to see good things (albeit real or wishful thinking) about the Yankees – while “blinding” (blocking out) anything from the hard factual world?

    Can they be bought? Or, can you only make them yourself (with Mommy’s permission, of course) out of cardboard using safety scissors and pipe cleaners?

    Last question – - when wearing them, is the rest of your IQ affected, or just your baseball perception.

    Thanks – inquiring minds want to know.

    When I made that post, it was driven from my experience at that forum. It seemed, at least to me, that you were only allowed to say “positive” things about the Yankees and their players – even if the player was a dud or if the Yankees made a terrible move, etc. And, if you stated something that was not all “hugs and kisses” then you were going to have you “Yankee-fan-dom” questioned to the N-th degree.

    So, as is my nature, I decided to have some fun with (what I thought was) a good-natured poke in the ribs. (But, the thread was quickly closed,)

    In any event, this does lead to a question. Do most “Yankees fans” feel that it is a major no-no to dare say something “negative” about the team or a particular player? And, as a “Yankees fan,” when you see this happen, does it lead to you thinking that the person who said it is not a “true fan”?

    I don’t have the answer. I can only share my opinion.

    Personally, if what the person is saying can be considered as being somewhat objective, I actually prefer that to the “Yankees Rulz!” mentality. And, I would not question the person’s “Yankee-fan-dom.”

    In fact, I would go the opposite way – I would say that this person cares enough about the team to look past the pinstripes an in effort to try and find the truth of a situation.

    This personal appreciation of candor is probably what drives many of the thoughts shared in this blog. And, I can’t ever see myself changing my gears at this point.

    The more things change, the more they do stay the same.

    A-Rod’s Daily Call From Jim Fannin

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2006 · Comments (27)

    From the Boston Globe:

    The Streak is now more than a decade old, but few know about it, and Alex Rodriguez isn’t talking about it.

    For the last 1,560 or so games, the Yankees star has received help from a mental performance coach before every game.

    ”I don’t talk about Jim, so, if you have any other questions?” says A-Rod earlier this month about Jim Fannin, who calls himself America’s ZoneCoach.

    But the reigning American League MVP has written glowingly about him.

    In 2005, Fannin authored a book, ”S.C.O.R.E. for Life,” which proclaims to be ”The Secret Formula for Thinking Like a Champion.” The acronym stands for self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation, and enjoyment. Rodriguez penned the foreword.

    ”Jim has either left me a phone message or spoken to me in person or on the phone for every game of my career [since April 1996],” writes Rodriguez. ”Every game.”

    Just about this time, last year, we learned about A-Rod’s therapy sessions. And, now we hear about these daily calls to 1-800-PEP-TALK.

    Now, I’m not knocking Alex for seeking help. It’s good when someone knows that they need help – and then goes out to get it. It’s better than good – it’s great.

    But, hearing all this, over the last year, I do have to wonder: Is New York the best place for Alex to play, given his (now obvious) need for continuous therapeutic intervention (and such)?

    Yes, we learned last season that Rodriguez can succeed in New York. But, at what price? Maybe he would be happier to play for a team like the Rangers or the Braves? Maybe he will not be able to always produce like he did in 2005 because of the constant need to battle through what New York brings?

    Recently, I heard it from someone who said that they heard it from a source in the Yankees front office – and, yes, I know that things can get mangled in such a game of “telephone” – that the front office’s impression of A-Rod is that he’s a, well, let’s just say “little kitty cat.”

    This label could be the “macho” reaction to the fact that A-Rod does seem to require so much mental maintenance. But, I have to wonder, if this is the perception of the Yankees, would they consider dealing Alex out of town (if they had the right offer)?

    Granted, the market for a player at Rodriguez’ pay scale is limited. It’s somewhat the same (now) as when the Red Sox tried to move Manny.

    There is a clause, reportedly, in A-Rod’s contract that allows him to terminate the deal after 2007, 2008 or 2009. Maybe that’s the way out for all concerned – reach a settlement after next year that allows Alex to walk in exchange for a lump sum payment? (Just imagine the stroke that the MLBPA would have over this one.)

    In any event, bottom line, the more that I hear about Alex, and the more that I think about it, the more I want to say that getting out of New York might be the best thing for him and the Yankees. At least, that’s the thought for now.

    May 22nd @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2006 · Comments (20)

    When you factor in Schilling’s recent issues, the Yankees having Wang on the mound, Wakefield pitching for the Sox tomorrow, and Randy Johnson pitching for the Yankees on Wednesday, tonight was the Yankees best shot at a win (during this series at Fenway).

    So, despite the nice little two-out rally in the 9th this evening, this was not a good game for the Yankees. And, I expect the Red Sox to go on and sweep this series.

    When that happens, what will it mean?

    Think about it – losing two of three to the Mets where you could have won all three games and then going into Fenway Park to get swept.

    Yes, it’s only two months into the season. But, losing badly to either the Mets or Red Sox is a Big Stein hot button. Doing it in back-to-back series is a really big and hot button for Stein.

    Sure, even George must realize that the Yankees are not at full strength now. (Up until tonight, did you ever think the Yankees would be playing Terrence Long in LF, Bernie Williams in CF and Melky Cabrera in RF against the Red Sox and Curt Schilling at Fenway Park this year?)

    Nonetheless, Big Stein will want to mix things up somehow – to try and spark the team. But what?

    He cannot fire the hitting coach – ever. Would he fire the pitching coach? That’s highly doubtful. Same goes for the rest of the coaching staff.

    How about Brian Cashman? Has Stein ever let a G.M. go during the season?

    There’s no one to trade from the starting nine, the rotation or the pen. They’re either too stinky to trade, make too much, or are pieces that you don’t want to move.

    There’s really only one piece to this puzzle that can be touched that would really shake up the team. But, I cannot see that happening just for losing 5 or 6 to the Mets and Sox. However, if the losing carries into the series after the Red Sox (when the Royals come to town), then I think it’s going to get very hot for Mr. Torre. Stay tuned.

    Paging Mr. Piniella.
    Mr. Lou Piniella.
    There’s a call for you at the front desk.

    Change Of Pace For Big Papi?

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2006 · Comments (2)

    MSGNetwork.com has posted an interesting look at David Ortiz vs. the Yankees. Here’s the meat of it:

    000ortiz.jpg

    Now, I’m no scout – although I like to play one at this blog – but, when I see these results, and knowing the pitchers behind the names, I want to say that this paints a picture on how to throw to Ortiz: Change speeds.

    If you look at the pitchers on this list who have faced Ortiz at least 7 times, those who have faired well are guys who can change speeds and locate. (Expect Randy Johnson, who probably gets Ortiz out due to his size, release point, etc.)

    Guys like Wang, Wright, Rivera, and Sturtze – who Ortiz hits well – basically throw their pitches around the same speed.

    Of course, you cannot get pitchers who do not have a change-up to throw one. But, at the least, you can tell these pitchers to not throw Ortiz something that he can hit. These are the hurlers who should stay “up and in, and, down and away” – but out of the strike zone (to see if they can get Ortiz to chase).

    Hey, it’s just a theory. But, it’s time to see if it can work.

    Dontrelle Willis

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2006 · Comments (5)

    From the Post:

    Yankees scout Jim Benedict watched the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis pitch yesterday in St. Petersburg. The club didn’t have a scout at the first two Marlins-Devil Rays games. It’s significant that Benedict went because Cashman trusts his evaluation of pitchers. The Marlins are expected to trade Willis before the July 31 deadline.

    This is strictly a gut-feel-thing, but, when I hear that the Yankees are interested in Dontrelle Willis, the only thing that comes to my mind is the Britt Burns deal from 1985.

    This does not mean that I would be against a deal for D-Train. It just means that I would be very careful to only give up spare parts and Grade C prospects in the trade.

    I hope, if the Yankees are after Willis, that Cashman has the same spider-sense warning signals that I have on this one – and proceeds accordingly.

    Who’s Behind The 8-Ball?

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

    The Boston Globe has a feature where you can “Ask the 8-Ball a YES or NO question about the Sox-Yankees series.”

    I seem to get the “Schilling knows all” answer a lot.

    I guess we’ll see tonight.

    Casting Slim Pickens

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2006 · Comments (15)

    From the Staten Island Advance -

    The Yankees placed ailing starter Shawn Chacon (bruised knee) on the disabled list and recalled outfielder Terrence Long to shore up the bench. Chacon, who missed a start last night, continues to struggle with a hematoma caused by a comebacker in the 5-3 loss to Boston on May 11.

    “The knot is still there (on his leg),” Torre said. “There is still that one trouble spot, so you don’t want to take any chances.”

    And, so, the Terrence Long Era (or should I say “Error”?) begins.

    Don’t get me wrong. I know that Damon has broken bone in his foot, and Bernie has issues with his wheels, and Kevin Reese can’t hit a lick, and Melky has an iron glove…….and those are the Yanks choices at the moment for the outfield.

    But, Terrence Long?

    Just watch – when Sheffield and Crosby come back – Reese and Melky will go back down to the minors before Long does. You know that’s how it works in Torre-Cashman-Land.

    Looks like I picked the wrong week for quitting sticking my head in a bucket full of ice.

    At Least They Didn’t Trade A Buhner To Get Him

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From Newsday:

    The Yankees have signed DH-first baseman Erubiel Durazo to a minor-league contract, GM Brian Cashman said. Durazo, who has played for Arizona and Oakland, spent time at the Rangers’ Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate earlier this season before requesting his release. Cashman said the team is likely to sign free-agent outfielders Richard Hidalgo and Jason Romano. One or both could be added to the big-league roster immediately.

    When I hear Durazo, I think “Ken Phelps Jr.” I’ve never been a fan of Durazo – and I think his “power” is over-rated. For two years, 2001-2002, he was mashing. After that, not so much. Whether it was a blip, or he had help, we won’t know. But, I’m pretty confident that he’s got nothing to offer now.

    On the other hand, I love the Jason Romano news. He’s a former Texas Rangers prospect – and has bounced around with many teams in the last few years. But, he’s a super-sub (who can play the infield and the outfield) with a great attitude. I think Yankees fans are going to love this guy.

    May 21st @ The Mets

    Posted by on May 21st, 2006 · Comments (13)

    Today, on May 21, twenty-one Yankees reached base and only 3 scored. I guess they never heard of “get ‘em on, get ‘em over, and get ‘em in”?

    I’m really not sure what to make of this series. On one hand, I want to say that the Yankees were lucky (with the miracle of yesterday) not to get swept – and, that’s at least something. On the other hand, I want to say that the Yankees should have won all three of these games – with a little better pitching in the first game and a little better hitting in the game tonight. And, that’s the stuff to keep you up at night.

    What probably bugs me the most now is knowing that many Mets fans will be lined-up and waiting for me at work tomorrow morning – forgetting the fact that all three games in this series were one-run affairs that could have gone either way – and those Met-heads will be ready to tell me about how great the Mets are now and how lousy the Yankees are this year.

    All I want to know is this: When I look at the Mets today, I see Glavine, Pedro, Wagner, Delgado, Floyd and Beltran – all big Free Agent signings sans Delgado who was a huge salary grab by the Mets (because the Marlins needed to dump his huge contract). So, if the Mets do win “it” this year, are we allowed to say “They bought it!” (just like Yankees fans have had to hear each time the Yanks won)?

    I’m guessing, since we didn’t hear it about the Red Sox (that much) in 2004, when they bought Schilling, Foulke, Manny, and Damon (among others), that we won’t hear it about the Mets this year (should they win).

    Well, regardless if we hear it or not, it’s the truth. And, if need be, I’m going to “Edith Ann” it as much as I can – with the hope that at least some people get it.

    The Team That Changed Baseball

    Posted by on May 21st, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Later this month, (fellow Yankees fan) Bruce Markusen’s new book, The Team That Changed Baseball, will be released. It’s the story of the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates.

    This Pirates team was noteworthy as they had the first “all-minority” starting line-up and they proved that a culturally mixed team could win a world championship – just as well as a roster crafted with players of more homogeneous origins.

    I had a chance to scan through a review copy of a The Team That Changed Baseball and can share that it’s on par with Markusen’s previous works.

    When it comes to writing about baseball history, Bruce Markusen is always sure to nail down the facts.

    Witness that, another one of his books, Baseball’s Last Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s, won the 1999 Seymour Medal from The Society For American Baseball Research. Bruce is always sure to dot the i’s and cross the t’s when it comes to noting what happened.

    If you’re looking to learn more about an important team in the baseball timeline, from a polished and creditable source, then you should consider checking out The Team That Changed Baseball.

    Richard Hidalgo

    Posted by on May 21st, 2006 · Comments (1)

    A hat tip to Jen for a heads-up to this from Newsday:

    Desperate for outfield help, the Yankees have been talking with free agent Richard Hidalgo and plan to work him out shortly at their Tampa complex. “Richard is definitely intrigued,” Chris Leibel, one of Hidalgo’s representatives, said Friday.

    Hidalgo, 30, signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles on Feb. 26 but spent just four days in camp before leaving to tend to his ill wife. He never returned, realizing that his chances of playing every day were not good, and was released March 7.

    Many might not realize this, but, Hidalgo is a very good defender in RF. He’s just as good as Jose Guillen. And, much better than guys like Jermaine Dye and Bobby Abreu.

    How would this transfer to LF, especially in Yankee Stadium? It’s anyone’s guess. But, he would probably be better in LF (defensively) than Bernie Williams, Melky Cabrera – and Miguel Cairo. (Although I doubt he would be better than Bubba Crosby in LF with the glove.)

    As a hitter, Hidalgo has been very bad the last two seasons. The four seasons before that were a mixed bag – two very good years, one average, and one terrible. If you look at the last four years, it’s three very bad and one pretty good.

    In some seasons, although not always, he has hit well against LHP. Maybe he could platoon with Bubba Crosby in LF?

    On the whole, while I am not very excited about picking up Hidalgo, he would be a better player to have on the big league roster than Kevin Reese. And, once (if?) Sheffield returns, the Yankees could play Crosby in LF and Hidalgo in RF as late-defensive-subs and that would really help the team in the field.

    Colter Bean

    Posted by on May 20th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    From the Sports Network -

    One day after being called up the Yankees sent outfielder Mitch Jones to Triple-A Columbus and recalled pitcher Colter Bean.

    Bean is an interesting story. So many fans and analysts feel that he should have been in the big leagues already. Shoot, there’s a even a website devoted to getting him called up to the majors.

    He has been on a roll this season – with the exception of his last Triple-A appearance. From The Columbus Dispatch today -

    Colter Bean, who had only given up two earned runs in his last 25 2 /3 innings, relieved Mendoza to begin the seventh. Richmond torched him for three runs on two doubles, a hit batter and a walk.

    Personally, when I saw him pitch for the Yankees last year, I was surprised at how bad he looked in a uniform. And, I guess he was concerned about it too – enough to try and get in better shape.

    From what I’ve read, Bean does not throw hard and relies on his funky motion to trick batters.

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that – Doug Jones (also a bad body pitcher) did it for a long time. (If you consider throwing in 846 major league games a long time.) And, Jones didn’t get a legit crack at the majors until he was 30-years-old. (Bean is twenty-nine now.)

    Can Colter Bean be another Doug Jones?

    Well, to do that, he’s going to need a chance. And, to get a chance, with Torre (who loves to use “experienced pitchers” like a Scott Erickson), then Bean is going to have to be lights-out the very first time that he gets into a game – and keep doing that each time until he gets into Joe’s circle of trust.

    And, if Bean cannot get out of the gate with success this season, then he’ll end up just like people such as Jay Tessmer, Dale Polley, and Joe Ausanio.

    In other words, my advice to Bean is: Don’t screw it up kid.

    May 20th @ The Mets

    Posted by on May 20th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    bunnyhat.jpg

    Well, today certainly takes away from the sting of yesterday.

    And, how great was it to see Rivera breaking bats and whiffing batters in the 11th? I think he has figured it out – whatever it was that’s been bothering him in the prior eight games.

    On a personal note, this morning, my daughter (who will be four next month), had her very first T-ball practice this morning.

    All together, it’s not been a bad day for this Yankees-fan dad. Not bad at all.

    May 19th @ The Mets

    Posted by on May 19th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    Oh, how far we’ve come from the days of O’Neill and Rojas.

    As much as the question of this evening seems to be (still) “What’s wrong with Randy Johnson?” perhaps it should now be “What’s wrong with Mo Rivera?”

    Over the span of the last 15 days, Rivera has pitched in 8 games now. In those 8 games, he has thrown 8 innings – in which he has allowed 12 hits, 3 walks and only whiffed 2 batters.

    That’s almost 2 base runners per inning pitched – and, if I’m doing my math right, only 2 punch-outs in 39 batters faced.

    I know that the Yankees and YES-heads are saying that this is Mariano being rusty because of the lack of save chances so far this season – but, come on, how can you be rusty when you’ve come into games 8 times in the last 15 days? Something is wrong with Mo.

    As far as Johnson, at this point, it’s just a shame that his name is “Randy Johnson.” The way he’s been pitching, if his name was “Jaret Wright” he would have been removed from the rotation by now. Heck, if his name was “Scott Proctor” and he was pitching this way, he would be in the minors by now.

    It’s interesting, I’m reading Birth of a Dynasty now and I just came across a quote from Torre where he says (something like) “I manage by the game and not by the name” (where a reference was made to him having Charlie Hayes pinch hit for Wade Boggs, if I recall correctly).

    I wish this were still true about Joe. Granted, you could never send “Randy Johnson” down to Columbus to work out his problems now – because he’s “Randy Johnson.” But, given that (in his last 7 starts) he’s allowed 31 runs in 36.2 innings pitched, it’s time either remove him from the rotation or put him on the Disabled List.

    Let Ron Villone start in his place and make Johnson pitch mop-up to work out his issues. Or, disable him and send him to Tampa to work things out.

    I just read that Johnson has allowed four runs or more in five straight starts for the first time in his major league career. Something is wrong. And, running him out there every five days doesn’t seem to be the answer. It’s time for Plan B.

    Semi-related to all this, tonight’s news also tells us that Carl Pavano needs surgery to remove a bone chip above his right elbow. I have to wonder – did this chip just show up, or, was it hiding from Yankees doctors for the last 325 days? If it’s the latter, could it be possible that the same crack-staff of M.D.’s have missed something on Randy?

    At the least, if they won’t move Johnson to the pen, get another MRI. Shoot, do a full body scan – and a head x-ray while you’re at it. And then get him on the D.L.

    And, then they can move on to trying to fix Rivera.

    Mitch Jones

    Posted by on May 19th, 2006 · Comments (14)

    From the AP:

    The New York Yankees put Bubba Crosby on the 15-day disabled list Friday, the third outfielder they’ve sidelined in the last two weeks.

    Sluggers Gary Sheffield (left wrist and hand) and Hideki Matsui (broken left wrist) were already out going into this weekend’s Subway Series against the Mets.

    The Yankees purchased the contract of outfielder Mitch Jones from Triple-A Columbus. A four-time All-Star in the minors, the 28-year-old Jones has never played in the majors.

    The last time that Mitch Jones was considered a prospect was in 2002 – and then it was more based off the fact that he broke Bob Horner’s single season HR at Arizona State (before the Yankees drafted him in the 7th round of the 2000 draft).

    At Columbus this season, to date, he’s batting .239 – yes, .239 – albeit with 6 HR and 21 BB in 39 games. And, he’s whiffed 41 times in 134 ABs.

    In the OF, he plays like a 1B.

    Boy, Kevin Thompson must be feeling great today. It’s pretty obvious now that Cashman and Torre don’t think he can help the big team – when you see people like Kevin Reese and Mitch Jones getting the call before him.

    Mind Games

    Posted by on May 19th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    While attending the big May 16th comeback game the other day, I told my game-mate for the evening, Alex Belth, that I remembered once going to a game at the Stadium where the Yankees were down 8-0, against Frank Tanana, when Tanana was a fire-balling ace, and they came back to score 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning.

    Thinking about that game some more today, I decided to look for it at Retrosheet.org.

    And, I found it: August 22, 1976

    What a game that was for me. I was almost 14-years-old at the time.

    Tanana shutout the Yankees for 8 innings – while Catfish Hunter and Ron Guidry allowed the Angels to score eight runs.

    That led to the bottom of the 9th, which went down like this (according to Retrosheet):

    Munson grounded out (shortstop to first);
    Piniella singled to right;
    Chambliss doubled to right [Piniella to third];
    Nettles singled to right [Piniella scored, Chambliss to third];
    Velez walked [Nettles to second];
    Healy singled to center [Chambliss scored, Nettles to third, Velez to second];
    Randolph doubled to right [Nettles scored, Velez scored, Healy to third];

    VERHOEVEN REPLACED TANANA (PITCHING);
    C. MAY BATTED FOR STANLEY;

    C. May singled to right [Healy scored, Randolph scored];
    White homered [C. May scored];
    Munson made an out to left;
    Piniella reached on an error by Remy [Piniella to first];

    RIVERS RAN FOR PINIELLA;
    MONGE REPLACED VERHOEVEN (PITCHING);

    Rivers was picked off and caught stealing second (pitcher to first to shortstop);

    Check that out. In the year where he won the MVP, Munson made the first two outs of the 9th inning where the Yankees scored 8 runs to comeback from 8-0. Wow. Imagine what the media would do today to A-Rod if he did what Munson did back then?

    Anyway, what’s funny (at least now) is that the Yankees blew the game in the 11th inning. It’s funny because I don’t remember that part at all – I just remember the fact that they scored 8 in the 9th after being shutout all day.

    What I also found interesting about this game, looking at it today, was the attendance: 52,864.

    It must have been a give-away day or something. I wonder where that give-away is today, 30 years later? I still have a THURMAN MUNSON bat and a MICKEY RIVERS bat in the garage that I got as a kid at various “Bat Day” games. Could one of them be from that game? I’ll never know.

    The May 16th game this year was a give-way night – Calendar Night. Somehow, I don’t think that I will be hanging on to that for 30 years.

    But, just like the 8-0 comeback from 1976, I’ll hang on to the memory of 5/16/06 for a long time……

    Bat Check

    Posted by on May 19th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    Using the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, to look at current Yankees hitting stats, this is what we see:

    hit519.jpg

    Some observations from this performance results data:

    * We’re just about at the first quarter mark of the season and it’s clear that A-Rod and Damon have just been average performers with the bat. Of course, average is better than below average. But, given their salaries, being average means failure. Damon has been playing hurt, so, I can give him a buddy pass. As far as A-Rod, there’s no excuse, he has not been pulling his weight so far this season.

    * Bernie Williams, Melky Cabrera and Bubba Crosby are not hitting like major league outfielders. Heck, Williams is not hitting like a major league pitcher. When you combine these three with the average performance of Damon, it’s a big ball of outs. I know that many say the Yankees don’t need another OF (to replace Matsui) – and that another pitcher is more important. But, these numbers beg to differ. Yes, Sheffield will be back soon – hopefully. Still, even with that, the Yankees need someone who can play LF and at least be an average performer – and, right now, they do not have that player on their roster.

    * Andy Phillips, Kelly Stinnett, and Miguel Cairo should never play (all) at the same time. In fact, any two of these three should not be in the line-up at the same time. And, if Bernie, Melky and Bubba are playing, then none of the three (Phillips, Stinnett, and Cairo) should be in the line-up that day. There’s no way that the Yankees should be willing to give up that many outs a game.

    * Where would this team be with Giambi, Jeter and Posada? Of the three, Posada is the one that is most amazing to me. I never saw this coming from him this season. I hope that he does not wear down – and can be a great hitter for the whole season. But, I know that Torre will burn him out. From 2001 through 2005, Posada has played in 673 games. No other A.L. catcher is within 90 games of that mark. When the weather gets warmer, it’s going to be hard for Jorge to keep up this pace.

    In summary:

    A-Rod, please show up.
    Torre & Cashman, get another OF bat and sit Bernie down.
    Jorge, great job man – keep it up.

    When you look at this, these three things should not be too tough to do, right?

    Jimmy Key

    Posted by on May 19th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    The Yankees could use a Jimmy Key right about now……..

    From The State.com:

    JIMMY KEY CAPTURED All-ACC honors at two positions, won 186 major-league games and finished high in the American League Cy Young Award balloting three times.

    He made the AL All-Star team four times and earned the victory in the decisive World Series game in 1992 and ‘96.

    Those achievements require no embellishment and make him a worthy selection for the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2006.

    But there is more.

    Ask about Key, who will be among eight inducted into the state athletic shrine Monday night at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, and a pattern emerges: Jimmy Key defines class.

    “Unbelievable; a reporter’s dream on and off the field,” said Bill Madden, national baseball columnist for the New York Daily News.

    “A winner and a guy not overly impressed with himself,” said Gene Michael, the general manager who signed Key for the Yankees and is now an adviser to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

    Michael, then Yankees general manager, looked for free-agent pitchers after the 1992 season. His first choice: Greg Maddux. His second: Jimmy Key.

    “Jimmy was such a smart pitcher,” Michael said. “I can’t imagine Whitey Ford being any smarter. They were the same type of pitchers, and they were winners.”

    Playing and pitching for the Yankees is no place for the faint of heart. The media horde, tabloids and talk shows test the strongest resolve.

    “He said something at the press conference (to announce his signing) that told me we had the right guy,” Michael said. “Someone asked about (the pressure of) pitching in New York, and he said something like, my wife always says I’m lifeless.

    “His saying that about himself impressed me, and I knew we didn’t have to worry about his getting overly excited. He didn’t worry about what anybody was thinking or saying.”

    Some players tend to duck the media after bad games, but Madden said the press never had to worry about Key.

    “He was always cooperative, always there after games,” he said. “You could go to him for an evaluation of a situation or a whole game, and he would be right on.”

    Something to remember about Key, as a member of the Yankees, in the post-season, he was always good. Not many of the other “great” recent Yankees pitchers can say that.

    Jaret Wright

    Posted by on May 19th, 2006 · Comments (13)

    It’s only 3 games worth of data, but, in his last three starts, here’s what Jaret Wright has been averaging:

    5 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 2 BB, 3 K, and an ERA of 3.64

    If Wright can pitch into the 6th inning each time out, allow just about a base runner per IP, and not walk many, his ERA should continue to do well. And, he would be a very acceptable 5th starter.

    Of course, he would have to stay healthy to do this as well – and he’s only stayed sound for a full season once in the last seven years. So, the odds are really not in his favor.

    Still, it can’t hurt to hope, right?

    May 18th vs. The Rangers

    Posted by on May 18th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    So, the Yankees lost 2 of 4 to the Rangers in the same fashion – wasting a good effort from their starter, weak batting, making an error at the wrong time, and with so-so bullpen support. This is bothersome considering that this was a chance to build some padding before the Mets and Red Sox games.

    With Bubba hurting his hammy today, and no DH in the NL, the next three games at Shea are going to be interesting (in terms of defense) with a banged up Damon in CF – with Bernie and Melky at his sides. Throw in Giambi at 1B and the recent increased shakiness of Jeter and Cano, and, well, let’s just say that Johnson, Mussina and whoever starts on Sunday better have their A-games going.

    At this moment, it’s reached the point where, if you told me now that the Yankees will be 2 games out of first place on May 25th, I would say “Where do I sign?”

    Terrence Long

    Posted by on May 18th, 2006 · Comments (10)

    From the Post:

    As insurance for their uncertain outfield situation, the Yankees are close to inking Terrence Long to a minor-league contract and adding him to the 40-man roster.

    The club recently designated Triple-A infielder Felix Escalona for assignment and put him on waivers, knocking him off the 40-man.

    The 30-year-old Long, a lefty hitter, played with the Royals last season and was recently released by Cincinnati’s Triple-A club.

    Whenever I hear Long’s name, I think of what was said about him 4 years ago:

    Terrence Long’s habit of circling around flyballs before catching (or missing) them has his teammates calling him Magellan.

    As a hitter, “T-Long” is in the class of a Corey Patterson or Timo Perez.

    I see no way how Terrence Long can help the Yankees.

    Move Over Cavity Sam

    Posted by on May 17th, 2006 · Comments (22)

    pavanooperation.jpg

    Here comes Carl!

    From the AP:

    Yankees RHP Carl Pavano left his rehabilitation start for Double-A Trenton against Portland after one inning because of tightness in his right triceps. He was to be evaluated Thursday at Yankee Stadium by team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon.

    Was there ever any doubt that those tweezers were going to set off the buzzer again before Zuzu had to come back to the Bronx?

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