• 2006 A.L. Playoff Team Report Card

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2006 · Comments (13)

    If I had to assign grades to the teams in the 2006 A.L. post-season, I would do so as follows:


    Of course, this assumes that Mariano Rivera is fine for the post-season.

    Looking this over, as a Yankees fan, I want to play the A’s, at some point in this post-season. The Yankees match up favorably with them.

    The Tigers can’t hit – but they can pitch and field.

    The Twins are probably a notch below the Tigers, overall, but, they’ve been a super-hot team lately. That concerns me. Plus, they have a huge home-field advantage.

    It appears that the Yankees – unless they tank the rest of the year – are going to get the Wildcard team in the ALDS.

    This all said, I think Yankees fans should root for the Twins to win the A.L. Central. This way, New York can face Detroit in the ALDS – and allow the Twins and A’s to beat up on each other in their ALDS.

    And, if this happens, as stated before herein, Yankees fans should root for the A’s to beat the Twins.

    If the Twins do not win the A.L. Central, then the Yankees would have to face them, and Johan Santana, in a best of five. That’s not in the Yankees best interests.

    So, root, root, root, for the Twins until the end of the season. And, once the playoffs start, root for the Yankees (of course) and cross your fingers that the Twins start to lose.

    The Story Behind Bruney’s Ink

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

    From the NY Times:

    Bruney has a thick, black tattoo of a Maltese cross on his left forearm, which he said symbolized strength, honor and integrity. In Arizona, he said he tried to follow the off-field example of the veteran first baseman Tony Clark, who is considered one of baseball’s classiest players.

    “Bru is an outstanding young man,” Clark said in an e-mail message. “It’s been exciting for me to see him doing so well. I was disappointed to see him go, but knew the possibility of him settling in and having a great deal of success was definitely within reach.”

    Somebody should tell Tyler Kepner that this is an “Iron Cross” and not a “Maltese Cross” –


    But, other than that, it was nice to see this question finally addressed.

    Giambi’s Wrist Has Ligament Tear

    Posted by on September 21st, 2006 · Comments (30)

    From the Times

    For nearly a month, Jason Giambi has dismissed the idea that he might need surgery for his injured left wrist. Now, the Yankees say surgery could be an option this off-season.

    Giambi, who has not homered since Aug. 20 and has six hits in his last 48 at-bats, underwent his second magnetic resonance imaging exam in New York yesterday. The Yankees said the tests showed nothing different from his previous M.R.I., on Aug. 31, but this time they announced the existence of a small ligament tear.

    The Yankees also said arthroscopic surgery could be necessary if the pain continued. Giambi will miss this weekend’s series at Tampa Bay but the team said he should be available to play next week.

    “It’s a problem,” General Manager Brian Cashman said before hearing the doctor’s report. “Clearly, he can’t be Jason Giambi with what he’s experiencing right now. We have to hopefully get a feel for whether a week off or something like that will allow him to get the pain out of there so he can swing freely.”

    With Giambi out, the Yankees plan to audition Gary Sheffield at first base this weekend. Manager Joe Torre would rather use Sheffield than Giambi at first base for the playoffs, even though Sheffield has never played the position.

    The team said Giambi had an injection in the wrist yesterday, without specifying what kind of injection. He has already had two cortisone shots in the past three weeks. If Giambi is not ready for October, the Yankees could use Hideki Matsui at designated hitter and Melky Cabrera in left field.

    I know zero about hockey. But, I can tell you that my research tonight on small ligament tears in the wrist found that Eric Lindros, in mid-December 2005, suffered a minor ligament tear in his right wrist. He was out for over two months with it, tried to comeback without surgery, and then made it worse – and then had to eventually get it repaired under the knife.

    Also, in doing my search, I found this from Jume of 1988 on Willie Randolph:

    Willie Randolph, whose season has been troubled by a ligament tear in his left wrist, said today that he received two cortisone shots in the wrist Thursday in New York and that he had temporarily put off the possibility of season-ending surgery.

    Willie Randolph, whose season has been troubled by a ligament tear in his left wrist, said today that he received two cortisone shots in the wrist Thursday in New York and that he had temporarily put off the possibility of season-ending surgery.

    ”We’ll see if it takes to the point where I can get my strength back in the wrist and play better than I have the last month and a half,” said Randolph, who is batting .198. ”If I can make a contribution to the team, then I’ll deal with the pain. But if the wrist doesn’t respond to the shots, then I’m going to have to seriously consider surgery.”

    For the record, Randolph was useless at the bat in 1988 – probably because of the wrist.

    If Giambi’s situation is like that of Lindros and Randolph, he’s not going to help the team by trying to play with a bad wrist. If it’s a situation where surgery is the best option, Jason should shut it down now and allow the Yankees to play someone who can hit in his place.

    If it’s Sheffield, and Gary can play, that’s great. But, if it has to be Aaron Guiel and Craig Wilson in a platoon (if Sheffield cannot play), then I would rather see those two, sound, take their hacks against the pitchers that they can hit, than see Giambi try and play with one wing.

    Stein: “I Have Relinquished Pretty Much All Control”

    Posted by on September 21st, 2006 · Comments (6)

    From the AP via SI

    Steinbrenner spends most of his time in Tampa, and has slowly been giving up control of the operation to his family members, including son-in-law Steve Swindal, 50, and his sons Hank, 47, and Hal, 36. Steinbrenner has designated Swindal as his successor.

    “I have relinquished pretty much all control of the Yankees,” Steinbrenner said. “I had to make room for the young people. You can’t hold them back.”

    Then again, George once said:

    “We plan absentee ownership as far as running the Yankees is concerned. We’re not going to pretend to be something we aren’t. I’ll stick to building ships.”

    But, I do believe him this time. There is little question in my mind that Stein is an old tiger sensing his end.

    I still hope he gets into Cooperstown someday.

    Yanks Vs. Mets – The Sticks

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

    Two days ago, I used the CBE to compare the Yankees and Mets pitching staffs. The findings there were:

    … the Yankees have a better front end of the rotation and the Mets have a deeper bullpen in terms of effectiveness.

    At that time, I also promised to compare the hitters for these two teams once the Yankees clinched. So, here are the 2006 stats, through last night’s game:


    As you can see, the Yankees “Big Four” is the top of their line-up: Damon, Jeter, Abreu and Giambi. And, for the Mets, it’s Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Delgado. (I’m not sure if those are the first four hitters in the Mets line-up, like the Yankees, but, they should be – based on their performance.)

    And, the Damon-Jeter-Abreu-Giambi team matches up with the Reyes-Beltran-Wright-Delgado group. In fact, the Yankees probably have a slight edge here – around 10%.

    But, after that, the Yankees have some nice advantages over the Mets.

    The Yankees, after the “Big Four” throw A-Rod, Posada, Cano, and two from the Cabrera-Matsui-Sheffield cluster out there – whereas the Mets counter with Jose Valentin, Endy Chavez, Shawn Green, Paul LoDuca and Cliff Floyd. Here’s the Yankees advantage is probably tenfold.

    Lastly, in terms of pinch-hitters, the Yankees will have Bernie Williams and one from the Cabrera-Matsui-Sheffield cluster on the bench. The Mets counter this with Chris Woodward and Julio Franco. As a Yankees fan, I’ll take that match-up everyday of the week.

    In summary, the Yankees have a much deeper offensive team than the Mets. When it comes to offense, the advantage here is clearly “Yankees.”

    September 20th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 20th, 2006 · Comments (22)

    Shockingly, this was a game that the Yankees could have won – at the end of the day (despite Henn starting, etc.) But, in the end, it does not matter with respect to clinching – due to the Red Sox loss this evening.

    Leiter nailed it in the YES post-game. This is not “backing in.” When your magic number is three, and you lose three in a row, and need someone else to beat the team under you, day after day, to clinch, that’s “backing in.” The Yankees have been winning games at a regular clip. Thus, this was not a situation where they needed someone to hand it to them.

    Some post-game on YES, huh? Big Unit was on the hunt for Kim Jones. Speaking of Kim, she was a trooper tonight – working the clubhouse alone and getting abused pretty good.

    Watching the celebration coverage, all I could think of was “How cool must it feel to be T.J. Beam, Nick Green, Andy Phillips, Aaron Guiel and those types of guys tonight?”

    For some of them, this might be the only time they get to experience something like this event.

    It was nice to see some of the vets in the clubhouse, during the interviews, give praise to the job that Melky Cabrera did this season. The players do always know where credit is due.

    Jeter is the league MVP. Abreu was the player who pushed them over the top at the end. Damon helped in so many ways. Mo was Mo. Posada and Mussina had seasons that could not have been expected. Cano took it to a higher level. Giambi and A-Rod had their moments.

    But, without Wang, Proctor and Cabrera, nothing else would have mattered. All those other things could have still happened – and without Wang, Proctor and Cabrera there would have been holes too big to overcome this year.

    And, of those three, Cabrera was the one who came from nowhere to become someone. I’m glad he was having fun in the clubhouse tonight – he earned it, and then some.

    Bottom Line A-Rod Numbers

    Posted by on September 20th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    This year, Alex Rodriguez, even with his slumps, etc., is the best offensive third baseman in the American League and mostly likely the 6th best offensive 3B in all of baseball (behind Cabrera, Atkins, Jones, Wright and Rolen).

    Further, this season, offensively, A-Rod (again, in terms of the total package) has put up numbers that are probably the 7th best season ever (with the bat) for a Yankee at the hot corner (behind Red Rolfe in 1936 and 1939, Wade Boggs in 1994, Gil McDougald in 1951, and, of course, A-Rod in 2004 and 2005).

    In terms of right-handed batters in Yankees history, Rodriguez’ 2006 season (on the whole) is around the 50th best all-time (with the stick). Think “Alfonso Soriano 2003” if you need a “comp” here.

    I wanted to go on record with these facts to be clear to anyone and everyone as to what type of season Alex Rodriguez is having this year (as a hitter).

    Granted, these facts do not address his consistency this year – or his clutch play. And, it does not reflect his defensive play this season.

    But, without question, when the books are final this year, and Yankees fans, fifty years from now, look at A-Rod’s 2006, what they should see is:

    Best hitting 3B in the AL. Seventh best offensive season (at that point) ever by a Yankees 3B. One of the twenty-best seasons with the bat by a Yankees RH-batter in the Long Ball Era.

    It’s a shame, for everyone involved, that the bottom line numbers do not stand as the only reflection of Alex Rodriguez’ 2006 season. That’s a problem – for A-Rod, the Yankees, and many Yankees fans.

    As to what is the root cause behind that problem, I’m sure that each camp has their own theories.

    There’s a reason why so many see something else besides the overall numbers when it comes to Rodriguez’ 2006 performance results. And, as is the case in most situations where there are many theories, each camp’s belief probably has some part of the overall true reason as part of their offering.

    Personally, for the record, this is the last time that I will detail A-Rod’s on the field, regular season, performance. It’s been discussed so much that there’s really nothing else to say.

    ESPN`s The Bronx is Burning News

    Posted by on September 20th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    I still hear that song every time this topic comes up……..

    From the UPI

    New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner will be played by Oliver Platt and John Turturro plays Billy Martin in ESPN`s miniseries, ‘The Bronx is Burning.’

    The eight-part series adapted from Jonathan Mahler`s bestseller ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning,’ takes place during the volatile summer of 1977 that included the Son of Sam killings, a citywide blackout and a Yankees World Series championship led by manager Martin.

    Joining Platt and Turturro will be Daniel Sunjata of ‘Rescue Me’ as Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, Zap2it.com reported.

    Oliver Platt to play Big Stein? What, was Dr. Timothy Johnson not available?

    Looking Back At The 2004 ALDS

    Posted by on September 20th, 2006 · Comments (27)

    Lots of traffic (again) today on the Garden State Parkway this morning. It took me 125 minutes to travel 45 miles. But, it gave me a chance to listen to quite a bit of the “Mike & Mike Show” on ESPN Radio as well.

    Of course, one of the big topics on the show was the S.I. feature on A-Rod. And, just as the question came up yesterday afternoon on the Michael Kay radio show, it was asked: If Alex Rodriguez has a “Joe Carter” type moment in the post-season, will it “make all this go away” for him?

    And, the answer was the same on both radio shows (Kay and the Mike’s): No. A-Rod “single-handedly carried the Yankees to victory in the 2004 ALDS” and no one wants to remember that.

    Thinking about this, I have to disagree. No, not with the notion that a huge post-season moment will not change things for Alex. More so, I do not agree with this belief that Rodriguez carried the Yankees against the Twins in 2004.

    Yes, A-Rod had the big hit in the bottom of the 12th in Game 2. And, in the 11th inning of Game 4, Rodriguez doubled, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch.

    But, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui also tore the cover off the ball for that entire series. And, believe it or not, Kevin Brown pitched a gem in Game 3 (when the series was tied 1-1). And, of course, Mo was Mo, as usual, in that series.

    Also, it was Ruben Sierra who hit that clutch 3-run HR with one out in the 8th to tie Game 4 at five. If Big Rube does not get that hit, it’s a tied series going into a “winner-take-all” Game 5 situation.

    This is not to say that A-Rod did not have a fine 2004 ALDS – because he did. But, to claim that “he carried the Yankees” in this post-season series is a joke.

    He got a big hit in the 12th to help set up the great comeback win in Game 2. And, he hit a double to help set up the tie-breaking game-winning-run in the 11th inning of Game 4. But, a lot of other Yankees did big things at the plate and on the mound to win Game 3, and, it was Ruben Sierra who “carried” the team in Game 4 – not A-Rod.

    This all said, I do believe that a huge “true” moment for A-Rod in the post-season for the Yankees – or a series where he truly is a “one-man” wrecking crew – will “make this all go away for him.” I know that I would use such an occurrence as something to point to – anytime someone wants to claim that he’s never come up big under pressure.

    Now, it’s just up to Alex to give us that “something.”

    September 19th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 19th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    If tonight was a World Series game, and Damon makes that catch under the same in-game conditions, and the Yankees go on to win the game, they would be talking about that grab for the next half-century (and probably longer).

    So, here’s the deal: The magic number is one. Tomorrow, it’s Henn verus Halladay. What are the odds of the Yankees winning that game? Sure, Boston can lose tomorrow and the Yanks would then clinch. But, isn’t it more fun to clinch on a day where you win? Does this mean Yankees fans should root for the Sox to win tomorrow and on Thursday – and then Wang has a chance to bring home the clincher in Tampa on Friday?

    Or, should Yankees fans root for the Sox to win tomorrow, and lose on Thursday, so the team can then have a party in private (somewhere in Tampa) away from the media? From a fan perspective, that would be a letdown, no?

    Of course, if Henn beats Halladay tomorrow, then it’s all great. But, again, the chances of that happening are about the same as Sports Illustrated doing a potentially team-distracting cover story on Albert Pujols, just two weeks before the Cardinals enter the post-season, detailing how none of the Cardinals players will offer him words of support when he’s slumping, right?

    Verducci On A-Rod

    Posted by on September 19th, 2006 · Comments (32)

    Alex at Bronx Banter points to a long feature that Tom Verducci just did at SI on A-Rod.

    It’s an interesting read. I liked the parts where Giambi plays the role of the tough guy, working with Torre, to get A-Rod to “man-up.” But, this quote, in the feature, from Rodriquez was telling as well:

    “Mussina doesn’t get hammered at all,” he said. “He’s making a boatload of money. Giambi’s making [$20.4 million], which is fine and dandy, but it seems those guys get a pass. When people write [bad things] about me, I don’t know if it’s [because] I’m good-looking, I’m biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team….”

    Anyone else think A-Rod and Mussina don’t exchange greeting cards at holiday time?

    Giambi gets a pass? Just 16 months ago, people wanted Giambi sent to the minors because he was stinking so bad.

    In any event, is anyone else tried of hearing A-Rod, and his apologists, play the “good-looking,” “racial” and “most money” cards?

    Carl Pavano is a white-guy. He’s not pretty. And, relatively speaking, he’s not high paid – at least he’s not the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

    And, he gets (to use A-Rod’s term) “hammered.”

    The fans and media in New York are believers in Equal Opportunity. If you’re slumping, you’re going to hear it – whether you’re pretty, rich, whatever.

    Winners make commitments. Losers make excuses. I wish Alex would do the former and not the latter.

    Those Merry Mets

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

    Today, in his MetsBlog, Matthew Cerrone said:

    There have been roughly a dozen phone calls in to WFAN this morning, most likely from Yankees fans, goofing on the Mets for having such an elaborate post-game celebration in honor of their division championship last night.

    Isn’t that for the Mets to decide?

    I mean, if the Yankees are bored with winning, so much so that they no longer know how to have fun, how exactly does that impact how the Mets and their fans choose to celebrate.

    It doesn’t.

    And it shouldn’t.

    Why were these so-called Yankees fans watching the Mets anyways?

    Pinstripes, mind your business – and if you want to watch the Mets so bad, you’ll hopefully get plenty of opportunities at the end of October.


    O.K., I have to confess – when I saw the images of the Mets “celebration” upon clinching, my first thoughts were:

    1. Man, having seen it now twice (2004 and 2006) there’s nothing more fruity looking than Pedro Martinez floating, flapping and prancing around ball field during a clinch-celebration, is there?

    2. Do the Mets realize that they did not just win the World Series? Sure, a division crown is awesome. But, sort of along the lines of “excessive end zone dancing” and “acting like you’ve been there before,” winning the division is something that many teams do – but, it’s not like you just won it all.

    But, thinking about it more, I realize that it’s been 18 years since the Mets finished in first place. That’s huge. And, most of the players on the Mets (like Pedro, Beltran, Green, Delgado, LoDuca, Wagner, Glavine, Floyd, etc.) were brought over as hired-gun types with the intent to get into the playoffs. So, to them, achieving this goal in such a short period of time (after the Mets purchased them) is a big deal. And, of course, you also have young guys on the Mets like Wright and Reyes who have no idea how to act in such a situation – other than to jump around like Little Leaguers. So, the total reaction of the Mets (here) makes perfect sense.

    When I think of it this way, I can’t find fault in the way that the Mets chose to celebrate finishing in first. It’s just their way of doing things. And, to each, their own, and all that jazz.

    I look forward to seeing how the Mets do in the post-season now that they’ve made it. It should be fun. Maybe not as much fun as the Mets players had last night – but, then again, maybe that’s another reason why it’s good that they got that in while they could?

    The (Local) Kid’s All Left

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

    Today, Pete Abraham blogged the following on Ron Villone:

    It has somehow gotten worse for Ron Villone. Here is his line since Aug. 17: 13.2 innings, 27 hits, 25 earned runs, 17 walks, 17 strikeouts. 0-2, 16.46. Joe Torre has been supportive in his public comments. But if this keeps up for two more weeks, can they keep him on the roster for the division series?

    I would say that Villone should be on the roster – as a left-handed specialist only. This goes back to what I said last December:

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

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

    Further, check the stats for this season on Villone, to date:


    vs. LHB – 103 AB, .184/.295/350 (BA/OBA/SLG) allowed
    vs. RHB – 184 AB, .272/.387/.408

    But, of course, we know that Villone before/after August 1st seems to be two different pitchers, right? Maybe not – see the following:

    This season before August 1st:

    vs. LHB – 66 AB, .167/.257/.288
    vs. RHB – 118 AB, .220/.324/.305

    To date, since August 1st:

    vs. LHB – 37 AB, .216/.356/.459
    vs. RHB – 66 AB, .364/.494/.591

    As you can see, LH-batters still have a hard time hitting the ball consistently against Villone – even during his “bad” time.

    And, what basically has happened with Villone is that his numbers against RH-batters are just finding their normal level. He was over-achieving against RHB earlier this year. And, the last seven weeks have just been righties catching up to that freak performance.

    This all said, Villone can be useful in the post-season – if Torre does not let him pitch to RH-batters.

    Yankees Forfeit To Boston!

    Posted by on September 19th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From WCSH6.com

    Yankees Among Companies And Individuals On Unclaimed Property List

    Web Editor: Rhonda Erskine, Online Content Producer
    Updated: 9/18/2006 11:07:04 PM

    It appears Massachusetts is holding unclaimed money for the Evil Empire. State Treasurer Tim Cahill says the New York Yankees are on the state’s list of abandoned property.

    The team has just over $1,100 in unclaimed cash.

    Under state law, financial assets that have been inactive for more than three years are deemed “abandoned” and turned over to the state.


    Look at Big Stein – leaving money on the table in Beantown. Who would have thunk it?

    Yanks Vs. Mets – The Hurlers

    Posted by on September 19th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    Now that the Mets have clinched the N.L. East, I thought this would be a good time to compare the pitching staffs of the Yankees and Mets. Here are their stats, via the CBE, as of today:


    Trachsel and Johnson line-up nicely – two guys who are lucky to have as many wins as they do this season.

    I like the match-up of Pedro and Glavine against Wang and Mussina. The Yankees have an edge there. The fourth and fifth starters on each team are a push.

    Wagner and Rivera line-up nicely as well. Ditto on Heilman and Proctor.

    To be honest, I was surprised to see Bradford, Feliciano, and Oliver show up better than Farnsworth, Villone and Myers.

    The rest of the pen men for each team are somewhat like the fourth and fifth starters here – someone could surprise, but, on the whole, it’s a push.

    So, the Yankees have a better front end of the rotation and the Mets have a deeper bullpen in terms of effectiveness.

    If these two teams face each other in the World Series, this could be an issue for the Yankees since their plan of attack is to get to a team’s middle men as soon as possible. And, the Mets middle relievers are, statistically, a solid group.

    Once the Yankees clinch, I’ll compare the hitters on both teams in the same manner.

    Rasner & Veras’ One Of A Kind Effort

    Posted by on September 19th, 2006 · Comments (1)

    Fun stuff about last night’s game via Elias

    The Yankees got a win and a save from rookie pitchers Monday — starter Darrell Rasner went six innings for the win; Jose Veras got the last out of the game to record the save. It was only the Yankees’ third game since saves were first recorded in 1969 that one rookie got a win and another got a save. Ron Davis and Mike Griffin did it in 1979; Jose Rijo and Clay Christiansen did it in 1984. Davis and Rijo won those games in relief, so this was the first Yankees game in which a rookie starting pitcher got a win and another rookie got the save.

    No rookie had even recorded a save for the Yankees since Dave Pavlas recorded the only save of his career on Aug. 24, 1996.

    Any time something happens for the first time in Yankees history, that’s saying something.

    September 18th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 18th, 2006 · Comments (15)

    When Rasner loaded the bases in the first today, he was so red in the face that it looked like he was going to have a stroke. Give the man credit – he did not melt – and, he gave a nice effort today on 3 days rest.

    It’s just a shame that the Yankees had to use four pitchers to get the last three outs in a game where they took a 4-run lead into the ninth inning.

    Just to repeat what I said four days ago: How about Darrell Rasner on the post-season roster instead of Dotel?

    If Cashman and Torre do not consider this option, then they’re watching these games with their eyes closed.

    Gotta Love Those Crazy Hazy Days

    Posted by on September 18th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From the Yankees site

    Seven rookies took part in this year’s festivities, as they returned from the field to find their regular clothes gone, replaced by a costume to wear on the trip to Toronto.

    In recent years, the costumes have ranged from Hooters girls (Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano) to pimps (Jose Contreras and Hideki Matsui) to Elvis Presley (Andy Phillips and Scott Proctor). Last year, Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano were outfitted in cheerleader uniforms, complete with their names on the back of the shirt.

    This year’s winner? George Steinbrenner.

    The seven players — Beam, Melky Cabrera, Jose Veras, Sean Henn, Andy Cannizaro, Jeff Karstens and Kevin Thompson — were dressed in blue blazers, white turtleneck shirts and gray dress slacks. The outfits were topped off by gray-haired wigs and aviator sunglasses.

    Last year was funny.

    If I can find any pictures from this year, I will post them.

    Remembering Sheffield

    Posted by on September 18th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    From Ken Rosenthal today –

    Melky Cabrera hits with less power than Hideki Matsui, but his range in left field upgrades the Yankees’ defense. Center fielder Johnny Damon must cover more ground when Matsui is in left. The presence of Cabrera elevates Damon’s defense from average to above-average, one Yankees official says.

    Thus, the return of Gary Sheffield would muddle the equation for the Yankees, even if Matsui is cleared to play the outfield coming off his broken left wrist. With Bobby Abreu in right, Sheffield could get at-bats at DH and first base. But the Yankees would suffer defensively if he were in the field.

    A Sheffield-Jason Giambi platoon at first is not without appeal — Giambi is batting only .210 against left-handers. Then again, it’s difficult to imagine the Yankees trusting Sheffield at first, a position he has never played, in the post-season.

    Sheffield, not surprisingly, is pressing the issue — he wants to prove he has recovered from surgery on his left wrist. A strong finish could persuade the Yankees to exercise his $13 million option or increase his value to other clubs as a free agent.

    This got me thinking. What if Sheffield shows, over the last week of the season that he can play a decent 1B and can still swing the bat?

    Sure, then you keep him on the post-season roster. But, what if he does get to play in some of the series and is a post-season hero for the Yankees?

    Yes, that would make for some interesting debate on how to handle his contract situation – for sure. But, regardless, how would that impact his “Yankees legacy?” We know that Sheffield was a force for the Yankees in 2004 and 2005. What if he delivers a ring in 2006 by coming off his “Yankees-career-death-bed” and gets some huge hits in this post-season? What if he only has one AB in a series but it’s a “1988 Kirk Gibson” moment?

    If Sheffield can help the Yankees in this post-season, in a big way, I think that will earn him a place in the hearts of Yankees fans for a long time.

    Then again, on the flip-side, if he hurts the Yankees in any way this post-season, 2004 and 2005 will be forgotten in a heartbeat.

    There’s a lot riding on this post-season for Sheffield, again, in terms of how he will be remembered in New York.

    Giambi A Coin Flip Of Reliability?

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

    In 2002, Jason Giambi put up one of the best seasons by a Yankees LH-batter since 1937. And, in the post-season that year, Giambi was just as good in the ALDS – if not better.

    But, since 2002, Giambi has been a disappointment for the Yankees in some key spots – mostly because of his health and his inability to play in games.

    In 2003, it was the famous “barking” knee. In 2004, it was a tumor on his pituitary gland.

    By my rough estimations, the knee in 2003 cost Giambi 6 At Bats over the 6 games in the 2003 World Series. And, in 2004, Giambi did not play at all during the ALCS.

    Last year, it looked like Giambi beat this trend – he was good for most of the season and very good in the ALDS.

    But, now, for the last month, this season, it’s been his wrist (that’s the health concern). While he says it’s now 100%, the production is not there.

    Will this carry into the post-season like it did in 2003 and 2004?

    This is not about Giambi being a choker. In fact, in 36 career post-season games, Jason’s OBA is .432 and his SLG% is .496. When he plays, he produces. More so, this is about Giambi’s ability to stay away from injury when the team needs him the most.

    Right now, based on his history in New York, it appears to be a 50-50 deal in terms of being able to count on him to be ready to play.

    September 17th vs. The Red Sox – Game 2

    Posted by on September 17th, 2006 · Comments (25)

    If you would have told me that the Yankees would lose three of four to the Red Sox this weekend, but, Torre would rest the bullpen in the process, I would have been O.K. with that result.

    But, the fact of the matter is that the Yankees dropped three of the four games, and, over the two days where the four games were played, they pitched:

    Proctor, Villone and Farnsworth each on both days – with Proctor throwing three innings (whereas Villone goes 2.3 and Farnsworth throws 2 IP). And, Bruney goes twice in one day, on Saturday while Myers also goes twice in one day, on Sunday.

    Some rest, huh?

    Torre using his pen like this in four games, over two days, where three of the contests were losses, is as disgusting as watching Bernie Williams, standing 50 feet behind second base, try and throw a runner out at home plate.

    Now, sure, much of the losses had to do with how the Yankees pen threw this weekend. And, maybe if these guys pitched better then New York would have won more games here. But, then again, maybe these guys are burnt – and that’s why they pitched the way they did – and that’s just more proof that they needed the rest this weekend?

    September 17th vs. The Red Sox – Game 1

    Posted by on September 17th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Shoot, it would have been nice to party in front of the Red Sox. With the Jays win, and this game, it’s just not in the stars.

    Hey, at least the Mets have failed to clinch for three days in a row. How cool will it be, in terms of bragging rights, if the Yankees clinch before the Mets do?

    Good effort from Wright this afternoon. And, nice catch by Melky today. Not so nice pitching from Villone. Actually, if you look at that bad inning for Villone today, and see who did the damage, it goes back to what I said last December – you do not want Villone facing RH-batters with the game on the line. I hope Torre gets a handle on this fact soon.

    September 16th vs. The Red Sox – Game 2

    Posted by on September 17th, 2006 · Comments (15)

    Farnsworth now has 5 saves on the season. The last time that a pitcher “Not Named Mariano Rivera” had 5 or move saves in a season for the Yankees was 2003. And, who was that pitcher?

    Juan Acevedo.

    Just reading the name gives me the chills.

    Proctor threw 26 pitches in this game – so, I guess he’s only available for 12 innings between the two games tomorrow.

    If the Yankees sweep tomorrow, er, I mean later today, they get to party on their home turf – albeit briefly, before they have to travel to Toronto.

    Torre should stack the hitters in the first game on Sunday – to help Wright. And, then play all the glove men in the nightcap – to back-up Mussina. That might position the Yankees to get it done.

    Is it really possible that the Yankees starters in the Toronto series are going to be Rasner, Karstens, and (most likely) Henn? And, the Jays will have their three best starters going against them?

    If the Yankees don’t lock it down tomorrow, my (one time) prediction of September 22nd (to clinch) might come true.

    Lastly, when the Red Sox got a man on in the 9th tonight, and the tying run was at the plate, why didn’t the man who says he’s the league MVP come on to pinch hit? The Big Papi was the Big Piney in the big spot in this game. What gives Tito?

    September 16th vs. The Red Sox – Game 1

    Posted by on September 16th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    O.K., the loss in this game means nothing to the Yankees. Sure, it kills Wang’s shot at 20 wins. But, that’s an individual thing – and a ring will make up for that.

    I should preface what comes next with a declaration that I’m a Derek Jeter fan – and I think Jeter should be the A.L. MVP this year. But, to be honest, I do believe that, if the Yankees had a “World-Class” fielding SS in the game today, it’s a lot closer game this afternoon.

    And, I’m not even talking about the muff by Jeter in the 4th on the ball hit by Hinske. More so, it was the “hit” that followed by Mirabelli. That was a grounder located not that far to Jeter’s left. Personally, I think someone like Adam Everett grabs that ball, turns two, and the inning is over – and the Yankees then leave the 4th with a 2-0 lead.

    But, then again, Adam Everett couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.

    And, of course, if Johnny Damon doesn’t bang into a DP in the 2nd, and gets a hit instead, maybe Beckett is done.

    Lots of chances in this game for New York. They just didn’t get it done. Still, as stated in the opening, no biggie – the loss means nothing.

    Lastly, very classy of the guys on FOX to give Kaat a couple of innings today. Very classy, indeed. Nice to see that.

    Kitty Caught In The Rain

    Posted by on September 15th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    Thanks to the rain, Jim Kaat lost his chance to call one final game.

    I think the YES Network should invite Kaat back to do one game in 2007. What’s the harm in doing that and giving the guy one last chance to go out in style?

    Punt Joe, Punt!

    Posted by on September 15th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    With today’s rain-out, the Yankees will now play the Red Sox four times in a span of 31 hours. What’s the Vegas odds on Everyday Scottie Proctor pitching three times (or more) in those 31 hours?

    This weekend could lay some damage on the Yankees bullpen. It would be much better for Torre to throw the pen scrubs out there and take a beating over the next two days – than to burden the useful guys in the pen.

    Better to lose one small meaningless battle to ensure victory in the war.

    Let Beam, Henn, and Veras pitch in all four games, if you have to, Joe, rather than continue to kill Proctor, Villone and Bruney. Dotel better be pitching in at least two of these games as well.

    There’s still plenty of time to wrap up the title after this weekend – but, first you have to survive the weekend.

    Looks Like One Time In 88 Years Is Not The Trick

    Posted by on September 15th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Jonathan Carlson of The Tufts Observer details the madness of being a Red Sox fan:

    Throughout the past month or so, beginning with a five game thrashing by the rival New York Yankees, Boston has put on a staggering display of ineptitude, inefficiency, and, above all, tremendous misfortune.

    At long last, some classic Red Sox baseball. Finally, Red Sox fans will again have something to gripe about at the water coolers. No more of this winning nonsense. Time to get back to basics. Time to get back to calling into radio talk shows to complain about the management, the players, and everything in between. Time to get angry again. It’s been too long.

    Why do Boston fans act this way? What possesses them to take on this almost obsessive behavior when it comes to following baseball (not to mention football, basketball, and, to some extent, hockey)? While I have no definitive answer for you, I can certainly offer up a couple of theories that might shed some metaphoric light on the situation.

    To begin with, Boston is a relatively small city, so its residents feel compelled to take a proportionally large amount of pride in any and all of its accomplishments.

    You could almost say that it’s a kind of inferiority complex. Because the city isn’t as big or as powerful as New York, and because it doesn’t seem to possess the tourist appeal of the west coast cities, it has to be that much better at sports. If it isn’t, its citizens become incredibly agitated. Rather than giving up interest, however, they become even more focused upon every movement their team makes. As a result, the only times that a Boston team can ever escape its fans’ hyperactive attention are those times when the team is actually doing well.

    Pain is the driving force behind Boston’s passion. A bleak truth, perhaps, but true nevertheless. Think about it. This region was born out of the Puritanical notion that suffering builds character. It’s no good if everything comes to you gift-wrapped with a pretty bow on top. You need to earn success, and even if you get it, that’s no excuse for acting happy all the time. Happy people become complacent without the fear of failure to drive them forward.

    Yeah, it looks like 2004 is washing away pretty quick in Beantown.

    Will The Carlapalooza Tour Stop Here?

    Posted by on September 15th, 2006 · Comments (15)

    From the Daily News:

    Yankee pitcher Carl Pavano had a secret passenger during his secret car crash in Florida: a sexy model from Queens, the Daily News has learned.

    A friend of Pavano’s whisked away gorgeous Gia Allemand following the Aug. 15 smashup, which the oft-injured hurler didn’t tell his ballclub about for 11 days.

    That’s according to Ernest DeLaura, who was sitting in the cab of his 18-wheeler when Pavano’s Porsche plowed into him on a rain-slicked West Palm Beach road.

    “When he hit me, it blew the passenger window right out of his car,” DeLaura said. “I really thought she was hurt. She kept rubbing her arm and saying she was okay….

    “And he was on the other side and he had two broken ribs, so I’m sure she got hurt.”

    He said that a male friend of Pavano’s arrived and drove Allemand away – but not before DeLaura’s boss at the Solid Waste Authority of West Palm Beach took down her name for an internal company report.

    But she was gone by the time police arrived and her name did not appear on the police report.

    Pavano did not mention her last month during the conference call with reporters in which he discussed the accident.

    Neither Pavano or Allemand – who has been a Miss Italia, Miss South Beach and Miss American Teen – were reachable for comment yesterday.

    Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman would not comment, though the team has been conducting its own probe into the incident, which occurred when Pavano was in Florida working his way back from various injuries.

    Boy, the “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” story from Pavano just keeps getting better and better, huh?

    Is this King Carl on Gia’s MySpace Page?


    You have to wonder about why Pavano wanted her out of there before the police showed up.

    Could she have been doing something with her arm (that was injured in the crash) that helped Carl lose control of the car? Hey, stranger things have happened, right?

    Goodbye Columbus

    Posted by on September 15th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    From The Columbus Dispatch

    The New York Yankees announced today that they will not renew their deal with the Columbus Clippers baseball team, which ended with the Clippers’ regular season Sept. 4.

    Columbus Baseball Team Inc. is set to begin negotiations with available Major League Baseball teams Saturday and has until Sept. 30 to sign with another major-league club. Major league teams currently without triple-A affiliations include the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles.

    “I can guarantee there will be baseball in Columbus next season,” Clippers president Ken Schnacke said.

    It is believed that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants his triple-A team closer to New York. Scranton, Pa., approximately 120 miles west of New York City, is available since the Philadelphia Phillies allowed their contract to lapse. The team currently known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barrons will play in Allentown in 2008, and Philadelphia is rumored to be planning to play its top minor-league team in Ottawa for the 2007 season.

    Well, the folks in PA are saying it’s a done deal, for what it’s worth.

    I can just see Cashman, in his best Edith Bunker voice, saying: “We’re not going to Disney World, or any other world – we’re going to Scranton!” (You probably have to watch a lot of All-In-The-Family to get this one.)

    When I was a kid, the Yankees played their Triple-A games in Syracuse. So, it’s not heart-breaking to me that they’ll no longer be in Columbus – as I’ve known it to be different already.

    From the report in PA:

    Reportedly, one of the demands that Scranton/Wilkes-Barre plans to make is that they keep the Red Barons as its nickname—and the Yankees concur.

    What, and not the “Red Baron Von Steingrabbers?”

    (Yeah, I know it’s “General Von Steingrabber.” I’m just having a little fun here.)

    Now, That’s Stepping Up!

    Posted by on September 14th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    On August 12th of this season, I wrote:

    Robinson Cano hits like Tony Womack when it comes to driving in runners. That’s not good. This seems odd – since I’m sure, in the minds of most Yankees fans, when they think “Cano” they think “line drives all over the field.” Guess what? With runners on base, it ain’t happening. When you consider how many times Cano has batted 6th or 7th for the Yankees this season, and probably will in those slots going forward, Robbie has to do better than “Womack-like” in terms of driving home base runners.

    And, now, tonight, I saw this report:

    2B Robinson Cano (2-for-4) batted third in the order for the first time in his career [tonight] …drove in three runs and now has 40 RBI in 36 games since being reinstated from the disabled list on 8/8, the most RBI in the Majors over that span.

    OK, I’ll “sing” it:

    Act like you know, Rico
    I know what Bo don’t know
    Touch them up and go, uh-oh!
    Ch-ch-chang chang
    Here comes the high-stepper……Robbie Cano.

    (Yeah, I know it should be “hotstepper.” But, since I wrote on August 8th that Cano “Need(s) To Start Stepping Up For The Yankees This Season” it seemed like a lyric change was in order.)

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