• They Must Think They’re In! (v.2006)

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

    I just got the bill for my 2006 Yankees post-season tickets. The price always goes up.

    Last year, for my seats, it was:

    LDS: $71 per seat
    LCS: $106 per seat
    WS: $191 per seat

    Now, for 2006, for my same seats, the post-season prices are:

    LDS: $76 per seat
    LCS: $106 per seat
    WS: $231 per seat

    And, I betcha there’s some convenience fee or something to be added when you try and pay for them on-line.

    In 2001 and 2002, the prices for these same seats were:

    LDS: $45 per seat
    LCS: $70 per seat
    WS: $175 per seat

    The World Series seats this year are through the roof. That’s too big a leap in one year.

    In the end, what can you do? If you want to go, you have to pay.

    Heyman: Why The Buddy Pass For Sheff?

    Posted by on August 23rd, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Since this topic has been mentioned in comments to another entry here, I thought I would offer an opinion on it.

    Today, over at SI.com, Jon Heyman wrote the following:

    Let’s get this straight: Alex Rodriguez gets ripped like Dean Martin at closing time for casually mentioning that he has played hurt this season — and those close to A-Rod say he weathered a nagging groin injury and food poisoning in Detroit — and yet his long-sidelined teammate Gary Sheffield gets a pass for publicly pledging he won’t play through pain?

    Sheffield’s attitude stinks, a fact no one ever mentions. His free pass continues. It’s like nobody remembers he took steroids, either. (Sheffield told SI’s Tom Verducci in October 2004 that he unknowingly took the Clear and the Cream and has denied allegations in the book Game of Shadows that he took injectable testosterone and human growth hormone.) The only difference between Sheffield and his ex-workout partner Barry Bonds is that Bonds is closing in on an all-time record. Yet there’s no criticism for Sheffield, no investigation involving Sheffield, no feds chasing Sheffield.

    It’s a wonder the media cut him so much slack. Maybe they fear Sheffield. Or maybe they fear losing him as a quote; you never know what he might say next.

    Here’s the deal with Sheffield. In 2004, he was playing on one arm – and gave the Yankees an MVP-like-effort. Gary won over a lot of Yankees fans that year – this one included. And, in 2005, Sheffield had another good season – in fact, he was probably the 6th most effective batter in the A.L. East last year.

    This season, Sheffield got hurt in early May – and he tried to come back from that after two weeks on the D.L. But, a week later, the pain was just too great – and Sheffield had to go back on the D.L.

    Sheffield has a torn ligament and dislocated tendon in his left wrist. For a right-handed hitter, this is a serious injury – and that’s why Gary has been out for most of the last 4 months.

    There’s probably not many Yankees fans with a beef on Sheffeild in terms of his production and effort. Sure, he has a big mouth sometimes. But, in New York, if you play hard and produce, you can get by with a big mouth. The fans loved David Wells when he was here – didn’t they?

    Plus, most Yankees fans know that Sheffeild is history, in terms of being a Yankee, in about two months from now.

    Face it, Gary Sheffield is old news in Yankeeland. People are not getting on his case for this reason.

    Heyman should not try and make Sheffield’s situation to read like Carl Pavano’s situation. Sheffield played hard for the Yankees before he got hurt. And, he played well.

    Heyman also paints Sheff as a “me first” player. I will not disagree with that. But, Sheffield’s mistake there is being open about it. Seventy percent of the Yankees are probably “me first” players – but, they just don’t say it out-loud. Trust me, Sheffield is not the first “me first” player in the game – and he won’t be the last. Again, a baseball player ‘only looking out for himself’ is the norm in most cases – and the fans and media will not get on someone for being that way if they produce well on the field. And, in New York, Sheffield was a good producer when he played.

    I see no reason why anyone should get on Sheffield at this point.

    A-Rod’s Milestone On Monday

    Posted by on August 23rd, 2006 · Comments (7)

    This one slipped under the radar a bit. During the 4th inning of last Monday’s game, Alex Rodriguez grounded into a double-play.

    That was the 19th time that A-Rod has grounded into a double-play (GIDP) this season – and that’s now his career high for most GIDP in a season.

    Alex’s previous season high for GIDP was 18 – which he set during his first season in New York (2004). In his recent MVP season, last year, Rodriguez only had 8 GIDP.

    Prior to joining the Yankees, during the 8 seasons from 1996 through 2003, A-Rod averaged 14 GIDP per season – with a low of 10 in 2000 and a high of 17 in 2001.

    The Yankees record for most GIDP in a season was set by Dave Winfield in 1983 when he had 30 that year. The last Yankee to have 19+ GIDP in a season was Jorge Posada (who had 24) in 2004.

    There are no accounts of what has happened to the ball from the play on Monday where A-Rod set his new personal best season record in GIDP.

    Hacked Bernie Hacked

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

    Bernie Williams’ website was hacked. Deadspin has the story and images. (Hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org.)

    When asked about the incident, Bernie Williams said “Man, are you kidding? I have a website? Wow, that’s cool.”

    The Power Of Abreu & Giambi

    Posted by on August 23rd, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Here are the Yankees team batting stats this season, by month:

    MonthByMonth.jpg

    The first thing I noticed here was May. Look at that team slugging percentage. Even with the great month of May from Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees were punch-less in May.

    June is interesting here as well. The Yankees hitters were mixed in June – half doing well and the other half not helping. A-Rod and Giambi not hitting in June worked against the Yankees.

    In July, Giambi was invisible again – as he hit .186 that month – but, Jeter, Damon, Cabrera and A-Rod were swinging good sticks for the Yankees last month.

    And, this brings us to August. Notice the numbers – so far, this month, the Yankees offense is back to being the high-powered machine it was back in April.

    Bobby Abreu is a big part of this – and having Giambi hit better than he did in June and July helps too.

    Thinking about this, I now believe that Abreu and Giambi are the keys to the Yankees offense.

    Look at it this way: Suppose that Abreu & Giambi average 9 pitches per PA between the two of them in a game. On average, by the fifth inning of a game, the two of them would force the starting pitcher to throw over 27 pitches just pitching to two batters.

    Considering that most starting pitchers are only good for 100 quality pitches per game, Abreu and Giambi eat up over 25% of what a starter has to offer – by the 5th inning of a game! Then, factor in Damon, Jeter and the others and you can see what’s happening here. Once again, the Yankees are back to that mode of “Get the starter out early and attack the other team’s weak link – their middle men in the pen.”

    Mark it down now – as go Abreu and Giambi in the post-season this year, so will the Yankees. These two are the keys for the Yankees batting success.

    August 22nd @ The Mariners

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

    You always hate to lose by a run in the bottom of the 9th. But, given the streaks that both the Yankees and M’s were on, you knew, coming into this game, that it was going to be a hard game for the Yankees to win. The odds were too strong against them. So, the sting of the walk-off loss here is offset, somewhat, by the knowledge of odds strength in this contest, I suppose.

    If you had to lay blame on this one, I would not assign it to Villone. I give it to Torre. Close game, 7th inning, and you leave Jaret Wright in the game as a relief pitcher? Wright allows too many base runners to be trusted in a spot like that one – and, of course, he loaded the bases.

    Not a bad first start for Jeff Karstens. I think he showed the Yankees something in this game. Sure, he might look a little like Steve-O, but, the kid did not melt out there. I’m looking forward to his next start.

    Hey, look at the bright side – the Red Sox lost too. Yankees are still up by 7 in the loss column and there’s now just 38 games left to the season.

    New York can just shake this game off and come back in the next one.

    If there’s any concern from this game – let it be about Giambi’s hammy. The Yankees need him to be fine – if he’s not, that’s a hole in the line-up.

    Yanks Seeing Red

    Posted by on August 22nd, 2006 · Comments (8)

    From Bloomberg.com (with a hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org) -

    The New York Yankees are losing money even as they’re winning games, General Manager Brian Cashman said.

    The team’s highest-in-baseball payroll, revenue-sharing outlay and other expenses eclipse its revenue, Cashman said in an interview on Bloomberg radio’s “On the Ball,” to be aired this weekend.

    “We’re making a lot, but we’re spending more than we’re making,” Cashman said. He declined to say how much the team is losing.

    The Yankees this year became Major League Baseball’s first team worth more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s annual valuation published in April. The team had a baseball- best $277 million in revenue, Forbes said.

    Forbes said the Yankees lost $50 million last season before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization because they paid $77 million in revenue sharing to less wealthy clubs.

    The New York Daily News reported in December that the team lost between $50 million and $85 million last season, even while becoming only the third team ever to draw more than 4 million fans to home games. Neither publication cited anyone from the Yankees organization.

    I have to wonder – does the loss include the money made from the YES Network? I wish they would be clear on this.

    Sure, it’s a separate “company” from the Yankees. But, to not include YES in the picture would be like saying that Aquafina lost money for Pepsi last year – and then ignoring how much money Pepsi made on their cola line of drinks.

    Left Side Cold Front

    Posted by on August 22nd, 2006 · Comments (9)

    Five days ago, I wrote:

    While I would suggest that Derek and Alex are not best buds these days, I have seen enough of them over the years to know that they do not strongly dislike each other. At the worst, I would say that they’re now like any other two co-workers who know that it makes more sense to get along and be civil (and sometimes joke with each other) rather than to work against each other.

    That was just an observation on my part – from a distance. But, today, a contact that I have who is friendly with a member of the Yankees asked me if I saw the Mike Lupica column on Sunday. When I said, “No, why?” they replied with “Trust me, it’s dead on.” So, I just found it. Here are the highlights from the feature:

    I asked four Yankees last week to talk about the relationship between Jeter and A-Rod on the condition that none of their names would be in the newspaper, just because asking either Jeter or A-Rod about this union is about as illuminating as asking the Clintons about theirs. All of the Yankees I talked to have baseball opinions I respect. Not one of them has a beef with either player.

    “I would call the relationship professional,” the first one said. “And that’s all it needs to be, as far as I’m concerned. As long as any two guys on a team don’t have the kind of relationship that gets in the way of us winning, that’s pretty much all anybody cares about.”

    “No more than that?” I said.

    “Professional,” he said.

    The second guy I asked described the relationship as “professional” as well, saying that he saw the normal camaraderie between Jeter and A-Rod that he saw between other guys in the clubhouse.

    The third Yankee smiled and said, “Let’s just say they’re acquaintances.”

    I told him they had to be more than acquaintances, they’ve nearly played together now for three full seasons.

    “Acquaintances,” he said again.

    I asked him if he thought it was important to A-Rod that Jeter liked him. The guy nearly yelled out an answer, laughing now as he did.

    “Alex wants everybody to like him,” he said. “I like him. But when you want everybody to like you or love you as much as he does, and you’re playing alongside somebody the fans are always going to love more, then you’re going to have problems. Not Jeter. Jeter’s Jeter, he doesn’t change. I’m talking about Alex. He worries about stuff that Jeter never does.”

    The last guy was simply asked to come up with one word to describe the relationship. He thought about it for a while.

    “Truthfully?” he said. “It’s chilly.”

    The other day, a reporter was talking to another star Yankee and the Yankee saw the crowd in front of A-Rod’s locker and said, “Better get going, you don’t want to miss today’s excuse.”

    For what it’s worth, Gehrig and Ruth were not friends – and neither were Munson and Jackson – and they won rings together. So, I don’t see this as being a big issue. But, it’s still interesting to know how the two feel about each other – since they’re both under contract to play with the team for the next four years.

    I have to wonder if their relationship will get better, or worse, over that period of time. Jeter will never ask out of New York. It’s his town – heck, he’s earned it. A-Rod has to learn that he can’t be “Jeter” in the hearts of most Yankees fans. If he can’t come to terms with that, maybe Alex will ask out of New York?

    I have a feeling that the topic of the relationship between Jeter and A-Rod is something that we will hear about again – before it’s said and done.

    The New Curse In Town

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

    I thought this fact, about the Yankees sweeping the Bosox, from the ATM-Reports Blog was very interesting:

    The Yankees became just the 2nd 1st place team to have a 5 game sweep over a team that started the series in 2nd place, joining the 1923 Giants (sweeping the Reds).

    So, what you just saw happen this weekend has never happened before in American League history. (And, it’s only happened twice in big league history now.)

    While this fact doesn’t take the full sting away from being the first team to lose a 7-game post-season series after being up 3-0, knowing that the Sox choked this weekend in a historically unique fashion makes you wonder if Babe Ruth has decided (in retrospect) that (lifting his curse in) 2004 was a bad idea at a practical joke on his part and he’s gone back to putting his curse on (in full effect).

    Either that, or, the Curse of Johnny Damon now supercedes the recently reversed Curse of the Bambino.

    Should it be called “The Curse of Johnny Damon”? Personally, I think “Damon’s Curse” has a better ring to it. Hopefully that ring will be # 27 for the Yankees this season.

    A-Rod In August (And After)

    Posted by on August 22nd, 2006 · Comments (0)

    We know that August is usually good for Alex Rodriguez. So, how’s he doing, so far, this August?

    These are A-Rod’s stats this month to date:

    Games: 21
    At Bats: 81
    Homeruns: 3
    RBI: 17
    Average: .321
    On Base: .417
    Slugging: .519

    How could Yankees fans not be happy with those numbers?

    Those figures are very impressive, no? But, I talked to some Yankees fans today who are still not thrilled with Rodriguez – even given these numbers.

    If there’s a downside to A-Rod’s August, it’s his overall batting numbers this month with Runners In Scoring Position (RISP). Here are those stats, for him, this month to date:

    At Bats: 39
    Ks: 7
    BB: 7
    Average: .256
    On Base: .362
    Slugging: .359
    GIDP: 4

    The most important number here is “On Base” – when Alex Rodriguez has come to bat, this month (so far) with RISP, he reaches base 36% of the time. That’s very good.

    However, what probably sticks in the minds of many are the “bad” numbers here: Ks, Slugging, and GIDP.

    Think of it this way: They see A-Rod (this month) come to the plate 46 times with RISP. And, in those chances, nearly 25% of the time he strikes out or hits into a double play. And, when he’s not making an out, he’s not hitting for extra bases.

    And, face it, that’s what people want to see from a bopper like Alex when he comes to the plate with RISP – they want to see moon shots like those off the bat of Manny and/or Ortiz.

    When people don’t see that from A-Rod (with RISP) then it doesn’t matter if he’s batting .321 for the month with an OPS near one. The mental image of the whiffs and the DPs with RISP is branded on to their brain (and it’s the first impression for them).

    In some ways, A-Rod might be better off if he was one of those hitters who only hits with runners on – and is an auto-out when he’s up with no one on base. “That guy” probably gets a pass in the eyes of many because he comes through “in the clutch.” If memory serves correct, Graig Nettles had this type of rep – good with runners on and pedestrian (at best) with no one on. I’m sure there are other hitters with that rep too.

    In the end, maybe it’s just best for Yankees fans to look towards Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Giambi, Posada, Cano and Cabrera in terms of carrying the team – and just take A-Rod for what he provides (as gravy) and not dwell on him (as having to be ‘the guy’)?

    It’s sort of what happened up in Boston this weekend. Rodriguez was there. He was not the hitting star of the series – but, overall, he didn’t stink either. And, Damon, Abreu, Giambi, and the others, got all the attention.

    I’m sure it was a pretty peaceful 5 games for Alex. It was probably the most comfortable time he’s had in Fenway as a Yankee.

    If A-Rod can do “this” – meaning be another person who helps to keep moving the chains towards a first down, and not have to be the person to make the big TD play – I think he’s also going to be fine for the rest of this season and the post-season that follows too.

    Opening Day 2009

    Posted by on August 22nd, 2006 · Comments (9)

    If you asked me, now, to tell you the Yankees line-up for the first game in the new Stadium, I would suggest that it will look like this:

    1. Brett Gardner CF
    2. Derek Jeter SS
    3. Johnny Damon 1B
    4. Alex Rodriguez DH
    5. Melky Cabrera RF
    6. Hideki Matusi LF
    7. Robinson Cano 2B
    8. Hank Blalock 3B
    9. Johnny Estrada C

    And, if it’s not those two players at 3B and C, it will be two players like them.

    That’s not the worst line-up in the world, is it?

    Who Did What In Boston

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

    Stats via Baseball Musings Day By Day Database. How the Yankees players just did up in the Fenway series:

    The Hitters:

    BostonBats.jpg

    The Pitchers:

    BostonArms.jpg

    Lidle, Wang and Proctor stand out among the pitchers. And, Giambi, Damon, Posada, Abreu, and Cano stand out among the hitters. But, also, don’t forget about the two big hits from Jeter in this series as well.

    Still, if I had to pick one player who had the biggest impact for the Yankees in this series, I would say that it was Damon, no, wait, Proctor. Or, maybe Giambi, or Abreu……….man, this is hard.

    Maybe we can use WPA to tell us the answer? Via FanGraphs.com, here’s the key Yankees pitchers and batters for each of the games in the Fenway series.

    Friday’s Day Game: Proctor & Damon
    Friday Night’s Game: Proctor & Jeter
    Saturday’s Game: No Pitcher, but Cano & Damon as batters
    Sunday’s Game: Rivera & Giambi
    Monday’s Game: Lidle & Abreu

    So, that’s two “votes” for Proctor and Damon each. They were, most likely, the two key players for the Yankees in this series.

    And, since I can’t pick one over the other, in terms of being the “MVP” for the Yankees in this showdown, I’ll call them “co-MVPs” for the series. They both stepped up for the Yankees this weekend and served as leaders for the team.

    Un-Torre-ing The Set-Up Men In September

    Posted by on August 21st, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Right now, the Columbus Clippers are in last place – 8 games back of first.

    Given this knowledge (that Columbus’ season’s dreams are done already), here’s what I would like to see happen: ASAP on September 1st, the Yankees call up Brian Bruney, T.J. Beam, Jose Veras, Aaron Small and Jesus Colome.

    And, then, for the month of September, as a rule, the Yankees follow these guidelines for using Proctor, Farnsworth, and Villone:

    1. They can only pitch in games where the score is tied or the Yankees are winning by less than 4 runs or the Yankees are losing by 2 runs or less.

    2. They have a pitch limit of 25 pitches per game – and come out at that point, regardless of the score or how many innings they have thrown.

    3. They are only allowed to throw 5 innings, in total, in a given week. Once they hit five for the week, they’re “not available” until the next week.

    This will keep these three pitchers sharp – and also provide some much needed rest at the same time.

    And, then the Yanks can use guys like Bruney, Beam, and Veras for the games where they lead by 4 or more or are losing by 3 or more runs. (Along with Dotel and Pavano, if they’re around.) And, if it’s a huge blowout game, use Aaron Small and Jesus Colome.

    Proctor, Farnsworth, and Villone are going to be very important keys for the Yankees in the post-season. It’s time to take care of them now. I hope the Yankees understand this as well.

    Hey, Larry, Who’s Your Empire?

    Posted by on August 21st, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From the New York Times -

    My absence is what prompted me to call Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox’ chief executive, an hour after the final out of the five-game sweep.

    “You’ve got a lot of nerve,” he said, surprisingly taking the call. “After being beaten up as we were this weekend, it’s hard to be analytical and objective at this moment, so I don’t think I have anything to say.”

    Do you have a reaction, I asked? “Of course, I have a reaction,” he replied.

    Would you care to share it?

    “No,” Lucchino said. “I said I’m not going to have anything to say. I make a practice of not having postgame or post-series comments. I try to let a little time and perspective intervene, so I’m going to stick to that.”

    How much time would he need?

    “Wait a few days,” he said.

    I was prepared to do that, but less than a minute later Lucchino changed his mind.

    “One observation one could make without a need for any additional perspective,” he said, “is the Yankees are a formidable ball team at this time. They have depth and talent and balance and an approach and philosophy that are to be admired.”

    Larry, I would just like to remind you of something you said less than 20 months ago:

    “We have a slogan around here: ‘Any group of schlemiels can win once.’ We gotta win more than once….”

    Guess what L.L. Fool Day, you’re soon going to be 0-2 now after that “once.” And, we’re still waiting……for proof that you’re not a schlemiel.

    I can’t get the picture out of my head now – Larry Lucchino wearing the sweater with the big “L” on it, and John Henry in a poodle skirt, arm in arm, skipping down the street singing “Schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated!”

    Maybe Theo Epstein can be Andrew ‘Squiggy’ Squiggmann and Curt Schilling can be Leonard ‘Lenny’ Kosnowski too?

    August 21st @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on August 21st, 2006 · Comments (17)

    Sweep Fancy Moses!

    Los calcetines rojos son muertos!

    It’s over in the A.L. East. What a story!

    Forty-two games ago, on July 4th, the standings in the A.L. East were as follows:

    000704standings.jpg

    And, now, today, with the Yankees taking 5 games in a row from the Red Sox, in dramatic fashion, at Fenway Park, the Yankees presently lead the Boston Red Sox by 6 1/2 games in the standings.

    This is a swing of 10.5 games in the standings over a period of seven weeks.

    From here, if the Yankees just play .500 baseball over the rest of the season, the Red Sox need to play nearly .700 baseball (.698 actually) to beat New York.

    It’s over Boston. The New York Yankees will win the A.L. East for the 9th year in a row – thanks to the results of this 5-game series.

    If the Yankees go on to win the World Series, I want to see a box-set of DVDs released covering the Yankees run this year – and every one of these 5 games should be included in the set, in their entirety.

    What a great plane ride the Yankees are going to have – as they head out to Seattle. And, they earned it.

    R.S.N. This A.M.

    Posted by on August 21st, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Yeah, this is not nice. But, they would do it to us if the roles were reversed. So, what the hey! Here’s what R.S.N. is thinking today:

    From Sawx Blog -

    There’s a part of me that almost wants the Yankees to sweep today. The Red Sox should get freaking booed off of the field. What they’ve done as a team this weekend has been a mockery to the uniform.

    From Singapore Sox Fan -

    Damn it. Damn it all to hell. At least get one for pride.

    From Hardball Heaven -

    Sorry for the trite reference, but the fat lady is officially singing. It is 1:28 A.M. Eastern time, Monday morning, August 22, 2006, and the Red Sox are officially dead. It is over. O-v-a-h.

    The Yankees just beat the Sox for the fourth time in a row, 8-5, as the Sox bullpen again imploded in late innings. The lead is now 5 1/2 games, and the Red Sox are done before Labor Day. Why oh why do we do this to ourselves?

    From Fire Brand Of The American League -

    Excellent team you’ve built, Theo. Long-term/short-term plan be damned – the bottom line is you’ve shown us you can craft an offense, but you can’t craft pitching. Funny, since you say games are won on pitching – try following your own advice.

    From the Joy of Sox -

    Another game, a new worst loss of the year — as Tito descends to a depth of managerial idiocy that might surprise even Grady Little.

    From Surviving Grady -

    No more talk of payrolls. No more talk of deadline trades not made. No more talk of injuries. When you shine the cold light of reality on things it comes down to this: the people who were getting things done early in the year are no longer coming through.

    From Out In Left Field -

    So, are you ready for some football?

    After this weekend’s disaster at Fenway, with the Yankees taking four straight games at Fenway in what has easily been the worst series in memory for me, I’m starting to think Patriots and my fantasy football draft board.

    All interesting stuff. But, I think FenwayNation.com says it best:

    Reading all this, I think it’s important for the Yankees to win Game 5 today – or, if they have to lose, just lose it clean – - don’t let it be an Ortiz walk-off HR in the 9th that will perform CPR on RSN today.

    August 20th @ The Red Sox

    Posted by on August 21st, 2006 · Comments (14)

    Overheard….Boston’s David Ortiz to his manager, Terry Francona, at the end of this game:

    Tito, I don’t think we’re in 2004 anymore.”

    It’s late. So, I’ll just close with a question. Is it just me, or, does Jonathan Papelbon’s stupid game face remind you of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Private Pyle towards the end of “Full Metal Jacket“?

    Gosh, I hope the YES Network one day over the winter does a marathon of the last four games. Each one is better than the one before it.

    I hope Lidle can top this contest later today. It just seems like it has to happen now.

    C.J. Henry A.Y. (After Yankees)

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

    CJHenryLakewood.jpg

    This afternoon, we took the kids to go see the Lakewood BlueClaws play.

    This is the 5th minor league team we’ve seen this summer – having also seen the Sussex Skyhawks, Trenton Thunder, New Jersey Jackals, and Staten Island Yankees.

    Lakewood is the nicest ballpark – by far. I recommend it.

    In any event, it was fun to watch C.J. Henry play in person. I can see that he has some tools. Still, after seeing what Bobby Abreu has meant to the Yankees, so far, I would do that deal again in a minute.

    Tonight’s Hero?

    Posted by on August 20th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    I was just looking at the Yankees hitters stats against Curt Schilling.

    Damon, Cano and Posada have owned Schilling in their career. When they face Curt, it’s like batting practice for them.

    Whereas Jeter and A-Rod can’t touch Schilling. Giambi’s been all-or-nothing against Schilling: .269 OBP and a .583 SLG%.

    Lastly, Abreu has done well against Schilling in his career as well. Bernie Williams has also hit Schilling well in the past – but he was younger in the past too.

    The A-Rod numbers off Schilling are .179/.207/.393 (BA/OBP/SLG) in 28 ABs (with 8 K’s). Jeter is just as bad: .222/.243/.306 in 36 ABs (with 11 Ks).

    Does it make sense for Torre to play Green at 3B tonight – going for defense (which Mussina would love) and then bat Posada 5th and Cano 6th in the line-up? (And, give Alex the night off in the process.)

    What are the odds of this happening?

    It’s a shame – because, based on the numbers, it’s the right move. It’s like sitting Tino and Boggs in the 1996 World Series. But, that was a different Torre, I guess.

    I just hope that Torre does not give Giambi the night off – and then bats A-Rod clean-up. Having Jeter and A-Rod one batter apart against Schilling is like giving the Red Sox 4 innings where they know they can get two quick outs.

    I also hope that Damon, Cano, Posada and Abreu do what they always do against Schilling this evening.

    August 19th @ The Red Sox

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

    When it comes to the Yankees playing the Red Sox, there was a time where there was nothing better than beating Pedro Martinez. And, once Slippery Pete decided to move his Mango Tree to Queens, the ultimate “Beat the Sox pleasure” became taking the tar and feathers to Curt Schilling.

    While Schilling will always be Blanco Primera, pounding the stuffing out of Josh “You Can Take The Boy Out Of The Trailer Park, But Not The Trailer Park Out Of The Boy” Beckett is as sweet as rock candy too. So, this game was very enjoyable.

    There’s just something about Beckett. I’ve always felt that, if Roseanne Barr – the original one, before all the plastic surgery – had a sex change, she/he would look just like Josh Beckett, and act just like Josh Beckett, today. And, that’s one annoying fem-dude. I guess that’s it about Beckett – the fem-dude-ness that he gives off with all the strutting, whining and the can’t-grow-any-facial-hair thing.

    In any event, watching the way the Yankees and the Red Sox have each conducted their business in these first three games has gotten my blood thirst up – and, now, I want the sweep.

    It’s just a shame that we have to wait over 24 hours (from the last out of this game) until the first pitch of Game Four.

    The Yankees will have to change their game plan for this next one because Schilling will not walk people. And, Mussina will have to be on his game. But, seeing the results of the first three games makes me now feel that the next two should be fun too.

    Here’s (To) Johnny!

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

    From the Boston Globe:

    Damon has played hurt and played tough. He’s brought the same intangibles to New York he did to Boston by taking pressure off his teammates, including answering endless questions from the media so others don’t have to.

    “He’s got this great ability to bring everybody together for a common goal,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman between games of the doubleheader. “His toughness is unbelievable. He brings an infectious life into our clubhouse. Everything we always heard he did with the Red Sox, he’s doing here. We’re so pleased to have him.”

    “I’m just so happy he’s on our side,” said Jason Giambi. “Everything you’ve read about him is true. He’s changed our clubhouse.”

    In terms of influencing the team and playing well at the same time, in the last quarter-century, Paul O’Neill was a great pick-up for the Yankees. So was Tino Martinez – Jimmy Key too.

    And, there were others, of course.

    But, at this moment, Johnny Damon is right up there with the rest of them.

    When this season is said and done, and you factor in everything (such as allowing Jeter to bat second where he’s a force), Johnny Damon might just be the Yankees M.V.P. this year – despite the fact that other players have better numbers.

    Ponson, Bruney, Out. Karstens, Guiel, In.

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

    Via Peter Abraham -

    The Yankees designated Sidney Ponson for assignment and optioned Brian Bruney to Columbus. OF Aaron Guiel and RHP Jeff Karstens were called up from Columbus and made 7:30 a.m. flights to Boston.

    Man, I hope to see Bruney back in 10-12 days. In fact, I would rather see him in a game now than Dotel.

    On the plus side, it’s See-Ya Sidney time! Finally.

    I like Guiel. But, would not a back-up CF and pinch-runner be more useful now? Did Bubba Crosby burn his bridge on the way out? And, what’s the story with Kevin Thompson?

    Maybe the Yankees are thinking about platooning Guiel and Wilson at DH when Damon is in CF and Giambi is at first base? That might not be a bad idea. But, would Torre then bench Bernie? Other than that, I’m not sure how they would use Guiel now.

    Jeter Advice: Keep It Simple & Don’t Worry About Your Stats

    Posted by on August 19th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    Words of wisdom on winning from Derek Jeter, via the New York Times:

    “I think that’s where people get in trouble, when they start complicating things,” Jeter said. “It’s really not that complicated. The more complicated you make it, the more difficult it is on you. You’re playing a game where you fail more than you succeed. You’ve got to try to keep it as simple as possible.”

    “It’s simple if you look at it as: Try to win,” Jeter said. “That’s the bottom line. If you win, everybody benefits. It’s not like, ‘I won, I lost.’ It’s, ‘We win, we lost.’ That’s the only way I’ve thought about it.”

    “I don’t know what it would be like, but I wouldn’t change,” he said. “Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand it’s a game of numbers and people are going to pay attention to your numbers, say you did this or did that. I would love to hit .400. That would be a lot better than .200. You take pride in how you play. But that shouldn’t be your main focus. Your main focus should be whether you win or lose.”

    “If you constantly sit around worrying about your stats, once you get in a funk, you’ll never get out,” Jeter said. “Because all you’re worried about is yourself. If you’re worried about how we can win today, that’s your only concern.”

    I have to ask this one question: Is Derek talking about himself when he says all this – or, is he talking to someone else on the team?

    To me, it sounds as if he’s doing a little of both.

    August 18th @ The Red Sox – Game 2

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

    After watching this game for 4 hours and 45 minutes, I only have the strength left to say two things:

    1. Boy, am I glad that the Yankees won this one. And,
    2. After these two games today, the day game tomorrow, er, I mean later today, is going to be very interesting – because of lots of very tired players.

    In the interim, if you want to know what happened in this game – feel free to see the “Official WasWatching.com Scorecard for the Night Game of August 18, 2006.”

    (Yes, I kept score this evening. It’s something that I almost never do – really – in the last twenty years, I’ve maybe kept score of less than a half-dozen games. But, for some reason, tonight, during dinner, I thought “Maybe keeping score will prevent me from stressing on this one – with Ponson pitching?” Talk about picking the wrong game to score! Note that I had to use extra pages on this one.)

    Staten Island Frank Is In The House

    Posted by on August 18th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    From Newsday -

    Infielder Frank Menechino signed a minor-league contract and will report to Triple-A Columbus.

    I’m calling it now. The Yankees will activate him after September 1st as a back-up. He’ll get into a game somewhere and win it with a clutch hit or a great play in the field.

    And, hey, that one win may be the difference between making the post-season or not. I like this move by Cashman. No downside – whatsoever – but could pay a bonus in a few weeks.

    August 18th @ The Red Sox – Game 1

    Posted by on August 18th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    Nothing like a four-hour, 9-inning game – when you win.

    The Yankees hitters did what they should do in this game. The faced very weak pitching and put a 12-spot on the board. The Yankees one-through-five batters were outstanding today. And, Wang kept it together just long enough as to not burn the pen.

    As great as this game was, to a Yankees fan, I can’t help but wonder if tonight will be Boston’s turn to score 12 runs when they face Ponson. I hope Torre takes Ponson out of the game the minute he allows his 4th run – no matter what the inning. It would be nice to keep the team in the game and go for the sweep.

    Predicting The Five Spot At Fenway

    Posted by on August 18th, 2006 · Comments (19)

    It always comes down to pitching. So, I will use that view in an attempt to predict what we will see from the Yankees-Bosox series over the next four days.

    This afternoon:

    Jason Johnson (3-11, 6.26 ERA) versus Chien-Ming Wang (13-5, 3.84 ERA)

    This is a must win game for the Yankees because Johnson is starting for the Red Sox. The only thing that concerns me here is that Wang is not the same pitcher on the road – as he is in the Bronx. And, Wang has not been lights-out sharp in recent starts. Also, it always seems like the Fenway infield gives the Yankees players issues – and that’s not going to work in Wang’s favor. I could see this game being one of those 7-6 affairs – and I hope the Yankees come out on top.

    This evening:

    Jon Lester (6-2, 4.09) goes against Sidney Ponson (4-5, 5.82)

    Ponson has never pitched well against Boston. But, Lester has been punched around lately. This one will be a battle of the bullpens. Whichever team does not burn out it’s pen in the first game today should win this game. Since Torre always burns his pen, and the Wang start is a must win game, I expect Boston to be better prepared to take this game tonight.

    On the whole, I see the teams splitting the day-night double-dip today. Yanks get the day game and the Sox get the night-cap.

    Tomorrow:

    Josh Beckett (13-7, 5.02) and Randy Johnson (13-9, 4.92)

    You never know which Randy Johnson will show up. And, if I recall correctly, he’s not a great Fenway Park pitcher. You also never know which Beckett will show up each start as well. I think this game has the potential to be another 7-6 contest. Since I think the Yankees will probably end up punting the night game today, and (hopefully!) not using their good staff from the pen, I think that Villone, Proctor and Farnsworth are going to be needed in this game. But, I think they will come through and the Yankees will win the game.

    Sunday:

    Curt Schilling (14-5, 3.83) versus Mike Mussina (13-5, 3.54)

    Mussina always pitches well in Fenway – at least it seems. But, Schilling, even when he’s going bad, always hits another gear for the Yankees – at least it seems. I expect this one to be a close game – and not as high scoring as the three before it. Since the Yankees will have to use their pen to win the day game on Friday and the game on Saturday, I can see this one going to the Red Sox, late, because Torre went to someone like Proctor or Farnsworth (or even Mo) too many times in the first three games and then he tries to get blood from a stone in this one – and gets burned. Plus, it’s an ESPN game. The Yankees always lose the ESPN games – at least it seems. Boston evens the series with a win in this game.

    Monday afternoon:

    David Wells (2-2, 6.06 ERA) against Cory Lidle (9-9, 4.64 ERA)

    This one is going to be fun. Both teams are going to want this one. Since the bullpens on both teams should be toast by this game, it’s going to come down to Wells and Lidle. You know Wells wants this game. And, I believe that Lidle will be up for it as well. I can see this game coming down to which team makes the plays in the field. All I can say is: Please don’t hit it to A-Rod.

    I cannot get a good feel for this game at this point. So, I will play it safe and say that Boston wins this one.

    In total, I expect Boston to win 3 of the 5 games in this series. And, since that will result in just a one-game move in the standings – with the Yankees leaving Boston still in first place, that won’t be the worst thing that can happen to New York.

    All I can say to the Yankees is: Make sure you win the two that you’re supposed to win in this series. And, that starts with the first game in a couple of hours.

    The Pop-Up

    Posted by on August 17th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Since everyone in the media seems to want to talk about this play, I’ll offer an opinion. Here’s the story off the AP Wire tonight:

    The play that epitomized the blowout came in the five-run sixth inning, when a pair of All-Stars turned a simple pop fly into an embarrassing error.

    The third baseman and shortstop were settling under the popup when they came together. The ball glanced off Rodriguez’s glove and fell behind Jeter. Both players looked so disgusted that neither seemed anxious to retrieve the ball.

    “I thought he had it,” Jeter said. “I didn’t touch the ball. When it was hit, I was calling it. I guess he didn’t hear me. I thought he had it.”

    At first the error was charged to Rodriguez, which would have given him a league-leading 22 for the season. After official scorer Howie Karpin looked at replays, he changed the error to Jeter for impeding the catch. Miguel Tejada scored on the play and Tatis followed with a two-run homer, completing the scoring.

    “It was a stupid play all around,” Rodriguez said. “He called. I called. We didn’t hear each other.”

    Torre was as disgusted as anybody.

    “It was out there for everybody to see,” he said. “Somebody’s got to make the play.”

    I just finished watching the play in question via the Yankees Encore on YES – so, I can report on what I saw with my own eyes.

    First off, the game was already out of hand when the play occurred. So, don’t let anyone fool you by saying this was a game impacting error. In the big picture, it (the muff) meant nothing to this contest.

    In the YES replays, you clearly see Jeter moving his mouth when the pop is in the air. It appears that he’s saying “I got it!” a few times. In the same replays, you never see A-Rod open his mouth, at all.

    Rodriguez was clearly planted under the ball. He was in perfect position to catch it. Jeter had to range to his right to get towards the ball. I would offer that Derek had to move around 10 feet, away from his position on the pitch, towards the foul line, to get to where the ball was going to land.

    Jeter went behind A-Rod and their gloves bumped as they both reached up for the ball. That appeared to be the only serious contact between the two players. It seemed as if their gloves met just as the ball was going into the pocket of A-Rod’s mitt – and that knocked the ball loose.

    After this happened, Jeter stood behind A-Rod for about 6 seconds with a stone-cold expression on his face. The only way I can describe the look is to say it’s the same type of look that a husband gets from his wife when he says “I think your hair looks fine.” It’s the are-you-eff’ing-kidding-me and/or are-you-that-clueless look of disapproval.

    While I could not see A-Rod’s expression when this happened (or, maybe I missed it?), I can say that YES had Jeter and Rodriguez on a split screen after the miscue (and the subsequent replays) and, while Jeter still had the same all-the-nerves-in-my-face-are-dead expression, Alex Rodriguez had a semi-giggle smile on his face. It appeared to be a not-knowing-what-else-to-do nervous type reaction. I think A-Rod’s facial reaction could be filed under “Smile, because it rains on you everyday, anyway.”

    Based on what I saw during the YES replays, the distance between the two players on the pop-up, and the post-error reaction from Jeter, I do not believe that A-Rod ever called for the ball (despite his reported claim that he did). And, this was the miscommunication that led to the error.

    Does this play give us a hint that perhaps Derek Jeter has a dislike for Alex Rodriguez? I doubt it. In fact, I will say that I do not think that Jeter dislikes A-Rod.

    While I would suggest that Derek and Alex are not best buds these days, I have seen enough of them over the years to know that they do not strongly dislike each other. At the worst, I would say that they’re now like any other two co-workers who know that it makes more sense to get along and be civil (and sometimes joke with each other) rather than to work against each other.

    What I think the play tells us is that Derek Jeter dislikes sloppy baseball – no matter what the score. And, perhaps, and I stress perhaps (because I’m just guessing), Jeter’s reaction was an expression of his cumulative feelings towards the way A-Rod has handled himself defensively this season.

    Should teammates allow expressions like this to be seen on the field? I think that most would say “no” – that it’s not something that you should see – even in Little League. Remember what happened years ago when David Wells (in Baltimore) showed that he was upset that Derek Jeter didn’t make a play? This situation is no different. It was a mistake for Jeter to allow that to be seen today.

    But, you know that the beauty of baseball is that sometimes you do everything perfect and it fails in the end – and sometimes you do nothing right and you get lucky with success.

    Maybe this can be a time where Jeter makes a mistake and yet something good comes out of it?

    Let’s be clear on this point. I’m not saying that something good will come from this event. I just hoping that something good can come from this in the end.

    In fact, if you asked me if you should bet money on something good happening, I would tell you to invest your funds on lotto tickets – the odds would be more in your favor.

    It’s probably better to give the matter another 24-hours to see which way the media and fans take it – as it can go any direction at this point.

    August 17th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on August 17th, 2006 · Comments (14)

    At this point, it’s a good idea to look at the last three series that the Yankees have played – and see how they did.

    August 8th-10th, @ the White Sox:

    The Yankees lost 2 of 3 games and barely won the one game. In the win, the Yankees had a 7-0 lead after 6 1/2 innings and allowed the White Sox to get within a run. And, if the White Sox’ Joey Cora uses his head in the 9th inning of that game, it’s a tie-game with the White Sox still batting in the 9th.

    August 11th-14th, vs. the Angels:

    The Yankees split the four game series. But, if not for some terrible relief pitching by the Angels’ Brendan Donnelly in one game, the Yankees could have lost three of the four games to the Angels.

    August 15th-17th, vs. the Orioles:

    The Yankees lose 2 of the 3 games against the Orioles. In the two losses, they get killed in one game and blow many chances to win in the other. And, in the one game that they won, the O’s LaTroy Hawkins helped them out.

    In total, the Yankees have gone 4-6 in their last ten games – and their record could have easily been 1-9 in these ten games.

    Face it, it’s the make-it-or-break-it point in the Yankees schedule and New York is playing bad baseball now. And, if you think that’s the bad news, get ready for this:

    The Yankees now go up to Boston, to play the rested Red Sox – five times in four days.

    At this point, I expect to see the Yankees be one game out of first place on the morning of August 22nd – but, tied in the loss column with the Red Sox.

    That would turn the season into a 40-game contest. The Yankees better start to play better over those 40 games – or else they may miss the post-season for the first time since 1995.

    Lidle Out, Bruney In

    Posted by on August 17th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    From Newsday -

    Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was placed on the bereavement list Thursday following the death of his grandmother.

    The assignment is for a minimum of three days and maximum of five.

    To replace Lidle on the roster, the Yankees purchased the contract of pitcher Brian Bruney from their Columbus affiliate. Bruney was signed to a minor league contract by the Yankees after being released by Arizona July 1.

    I thought that Bruney pick-up might come in handy.

    If I had to guess, I would say that Lidle’s grandmother was at least 74-years old. She could be as old as 94, as far as I know. Based on Lidle’s age, the range of 74-94 seems to be right.

    Given her age, I doubt that Lidle is so shocked over her passing that it will casue him to miss his next start in Fenway.

    In a way, this helps the Yankees – an extra arm to mop up, if needed, in the first four games of the Boston set – and then Lidle comes back to make his start.

    Larry Lucchino will probably demand to see the death certificate when he hears this news.

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