• Kei Igawa’s Done

    Posted by on December 18th, 2006 · Comments (34)

    From The Daily Yomiuri -

    The New York Yankees and Kei Igawa both played second fiddle in the posting sweepstakes. Igawa, though, got a first-rate deal it was learned on Monday, agreeing to a five-year, 20 million dollars contract with the Bronx Bombers.

    The Yanks earned the right to negotiate with Igawa in late November and wasted little time getting the southpaw in pinstripes.

    The deal for the 27-year-old, who was 14-9 this past season with a 2.97 ERA for the Hanshin Tigers, also includes incentives.

    Negotiations were smooth thanks Igawa’s agent, Arn Tellem, who has strong ties with the Yankees. Talks opened on Nov. 29 and Tellem made it clear that Igawa wanted a long-term deal.

    I expect him to wear # 29 in New York.

    Let’s hope he’s more like Catfish Hunter than he is Bob Shirley – two other # 29′s for the Yankees.

    A Word Of Caution On Mike Gonzalez

    Posted by on December 18th, 2006 · Comments (22)

    Earlier this month, I expressed some concern about the Yankees bringing back Ron Villone – because of his command issues. Looking at the Yankees new LH-RP target, the Pirates Mike Gonzalez, today, I noticed that Gonzalez seems to walk a lot of batters as well. And, I thought, how does he compare to Villone in terms of issuing free passes? Thanks to sites like FanGraphs.com, the answer to questions like these are easy. Here’s the comparison (click on the graph to enlarge it):

    As you can see, both Villone and Gonzalez, for the most part, are below-major-league average (meaning they are poor) when it comes to limiting base-on-balls. (The blue line on the above chart is the major league average.)

    That’s not exactly what you want from your trusted late-in-the-game lefty “go-to” guy, is it?

    The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007

    Posted by on December 17th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    As recent as the late 1970′s, in common baseball circles, concepts such as recognizing the value of “On Base Percentage” (say, compared to “Batting Average”) were as foreign as the concept of indoor plumbing is to Borat Sagdiyev today. However, progress can be made – after all, it was just three years ago that “On Base Plus Slugging Percentage” began to appear on the backs of baseball bubblegum cards.

    Related, I am a firm believer that, someday, mainstream baseball – in the collective sense of more teams, players, agents, media and fans than not – will learn to embrace the usage of such (presently cutting-edge) baseball statistics such as Win Probability Results and Batted Ball Type Results.

    It may take five years for this to happen, or thirty, or even another century – but, when it does occur, it will be (in part) thanks to the good folks at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) and The Hardball Times (THT) as they have been championing this type of progressive baseball analysis for a while now.

    As an example of how BIS & THT are helping to blaze this new trail for baseball statistic appreciation, I highly recommend reading The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 – as I have just completed reviewing The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 and can share (that, in my opinion) it is the new standard by which these types of sabermetric-themed baseball annuals should be judged.

    Actually, I should take a step back and qualify that last statement with some further perspective. Last year, I had an opportunity to review The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 – and, at the time, said (about it): “I’ve read many books like this over the last 25 years and this one is right up there among the best of the group.”

    Therefore, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 actually set the bar for my expectations leading into reading The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 – and it was a very high bar. Nonetheless, the annual this year cleared that bar with daylight galore.

    The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 provides commentary and study covering what happened in the 2006 baseball season as well as baseball’s past. And, it contains pages and pages (and pages!) of unique and telling baseball stats. If you’re a baseball stat-junkie, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 will provide you with a fix that’s good right up until Opening Day 2007 (and perhaps beyond).

    In particular, I very much enjoyed the features (in this year’s edition) contributed by THT Staff Writers John Brattain, Chris Constancio, David Gassko, Dave Studenmund, and John Walsh – along with the guest contributions from John Dewan, Will Leitch, John Burnson, Greg Rybarczyk, and Mac Thomason.

    Do you want to know who are the best prospects in baseball? Who are the most valuable pitchers of all-time? What was the story behind the Federal League? Who had the best and worst outfield arms of our time? What’s the history and impact of Tommy John Surgery? Which baseball team had the best defense in 2006? How much do ballparks and weather impact hitting? What types of players develop power as hitters? What’s the difference between line-drives and strikeouts in terms of run impact? Who controls the batter-pitcher match-up? Then, you owe it to yourself to get The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007. All this, and more, can be found therein.

    You know, as antiquated as “Batting Average” is in terms of being a useful tool in determining a batter’s worth, it does still hold one truth that cannot be denied: If you’re batting 1.000, you’re perfect.

    The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is batting 1.000 – in terms of providing great and ground-breaking baseball analysis. It’s a worthy pick-up.

    Yanks Help Tampa Foster Kids

    Posted by on December 17th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From WTSP/Tampa Bay’s 10 News -

    Governor-elect Charlie Crist, Lieutenant Governor-elect Jeff Kottkamp and members of the New York Yankees held a mini baseball camp for Florida’s foster children at Legends Field in Tampa today.

    This event is one of many leading to Inauguration Day on January 2nd in Tallahassee.

    Members of the New York Yankees organization – including Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and retired first baseman Tino Martinez – held the camp for 50 Florida foster children.

    It’s a nice story. But, I have to confess – the home page of the WTSP team has me checking my eyes now. In the banner of the page is a team photo of the news team with their names. Do they realize that the order reads “Reggie, Heather, Dick Justin”?

    Reminds me of when the Red Sox used to have their retired numbers hung at Fenway in the order they were retired: 9, 4, 1, and 8, – reminding fans of Sept. 4, 1918, the day before the start of the last World Series the Red Sox won – before 2004.

    Moving Johnson?

    Posted by on December 17th, 2006 · Comments (16)

    No, it’s not Costanza worrying about a reactional byproduct from getting a massage from a man. From the Post -

    Despite the buzz leaking out of the desert, Randy Johnson hasn’t asked the Yankees to deal him closer to his Arizona home.

    “He hasn’t called me officially and asked me to trade him, no,” GM Brian Cashman said yesterday when asked if the Big Unit requested the Yankees move him.

    Cashman, asked if he was attempting to move Johnson, who has a blanket no-trade clause and is 20 wins shy of 300, wouldn’t comment. Alan Nero, one of Johnson’s agents, said there was no truth to the rumor.

    “There is nothing coming out of our camp,” Nero said. “I don’t know where rumors start.”

    Note: The “He hasn’t called me officially” and “wouldn’t comment” parts.

    Sounds like the Yankees would love to move Randy back ‘home.’ I agree. Randy Johnson in 2007 is starting to smell too much like Kevin Brown in 2004 to me these days. It’s time for a courtesy flush.

    “Algebra Cabrera!” or “Melk’s Ilk Parte Dos”

    Posted by on December 16th, 2006 · Comments (29)

    Comments made by WasWatching.com readers over the last 24 hours – along the lines of “What’s the big deal about trading Melky Cabrera?” – got me wondering about “How special was Melky, in the Yankeeland grand scheme of things, last summer?”

    To find the answer, I turned to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

    The question, for me, is simple: How many players, age 21 or younger, have ever played a (for the most part full) season for the New York Yankees, and were actually productive with the stick?

    The answer, via the “CBE,” in the form of a chart:

    melky21.jpg

    Yes, the answer is: Before Melky Cabrera this year, only five players (Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ben Chapman, Tony Kubek and Willie Randolph) – in the entire history of the Yankees franchise.

    Now, please do not confuse what I am suggesting. There’s no way that I am saying that Cabrera is the next Mantle or DiMaggio. More so, I am merely pointing out that a very young player, one who logs a full season with the Yankees, and who demonstrates that he can hold his own at such a young age with the stick, is a rare find – indeed.

    The Willow match-up should not be a surprise – because that was my finding back in August of this year when I was looking for a Melky-Comp.

    Again, back in August, at the time of the Randolph-match discovery, I wrote: “Melky Cabrera will go on to play in the major leagues for at least another dozen years (barring injury) and have several productive seasons to his credit when it’s all said and done.”

    I still stand by that projection. And, that’s the “big deal” about trading Melky Cabrera. Moving Cabrera, after what he has shown, is not the same as trading away a Dan Pasqua or Hensley Meulens. Therefore, if you’re going to trade Melky, you had better realize that you’re trading away something special – and the type of young player who does not appear on the Yankees scene very often.

    Personally, I could see the trade of Melky Cabrera (from the Yankees) having as much negative impact on the team as the trade for Paul O’Neill had a positive impact (for New York when they acquired him). Players like Melky are play-makers.

    Smart teams usually try to acquire them and/or keep them – they don’t trade them away (unless you’re getting equal or better value in return).

    The Melk Man For Mike Gonzalez?

    Posted by on December 15th, 2006 · Comments (29)

    From the Beaver County Times -

    If the Pittsburgh Pirates wind up trading closer Mike Gonzalez, it appears the most likely destination for the left-hander is the New York Yankees.

    Baseball sources indicated Friday that Yankees are willing to part with left-handed hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera straight-up in a trade for Gonzalez. But the Pirates reportedly want a second player included, though the Yankees are highly unlikely to put right-hander Scott Proctor into the deal.

    Cabrera, 22, hit .280 with seven homers, 50 RBIs and 12 steals in 130 games as a rookie last season after batting .385 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 31 games with Class AAA Columbus.

    Gee, last time I checked, Melky was a switch-hitter…anyway…

    If the Yankees are going to trade Melky Cabrera (alone, or with something) for Mike Gonzalez, then all I can say is that they better be right.

    By this, I mean, either they don’t think Melky is going to be a very good full-time player, or, they think that Melky can play, but, they also think that getting Gonzalez now is like getting Goose Gossage back in 1978. Otherwise, there’s no way that you make this trade.

    Because, if, at the end of the day, Mike Gonzalez turns out to be more like Felix Heredia, or, if, the moving of Melky Cabrera turns out to be the second coming of the Jay Buhner trade, then this move, if it happens the way it’s being proposed, will become a “Hugh Grant-Divine Brown” (What the hell were you thinking?) event for Brian Cashman.

    When it comes to time to review Cash’s resume, everything else will take a back-seat to this deal – if it’s made and the Yankees are not right in their assessment of the talent involved.

    Yankees, if you’re reading this, again, be warned. If you do this, you better be right.

    Torre To Manage Yanks A-Ball Team

    Posted by on December 15th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    Nah, it’s not what you think -

    from OurSportsCentral -

    CHARLESTON, SC – The New York Yankees have named Torre Tyson, who spent the past two seasons as hitting coach of their Class A affiliate in Charleston, as the new RiverDogs’ manager.

    “Starting with Torre Tyson we think that the Charleston RiverDogs will have an exceptional on-field staff of quality coaches and teachers,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations. “They will have a lot of support from guys like Pat Roessler (Director of Player Development), who is quite familiar with the RiverDogs, and our minor league coordinators.”

    Roessler pulled double-duty last year as he also served as the RiverDogs’ interim manger upon the mid-season resignation of second-year manager Bill Mosiello, who left to become an assistant coach at the University of Southern California.

    Tyson, who at 31 makes his managing debut, spent three years as a player in the Red Sox organization before joining the Yankees, where he played for three seasons, reaching the AA level. After his playing career, he spent time with the Yankees’ squad at short-season Class A Staten Island before serving as the RiverDogs’ hitting coach for the past two seasons.

    When A Cold Messes With The Mind

    Posted by on December 15th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    Last night I had a dream where I was at a ski resort, having a snowball fight with Elston Howard’s daughter, Cheryl.

    Yes, I think about the Yankees too much. But, I’m also blaming it on the benadryl.

    61 Days

    Posted by on December 14th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    …until Pitchers and Catchers report.

    Sorta hard to believe that, in just two months, it’s time to strap it on again for another season. But, it’s also nice to know that it’s almost here.

    tick, tick, tick……….

    Shake ‘n bake!

    Posted by on December 14th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Pete Abe has a great Johnny Damon piece up today.

    I really like that guy.

    Both Pete and Johnny.

    Mike Pagliarulo

    Posted by on December 14th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    If you want to know what former Yankees player Mike Pagliarulo is up to these days, click here. (Hat tip to BaseballMusings.com.)

    His group, IScouts, Inc., is a technology-enabled international scouting service that delivers custom professional scouting information and video to baseball organizations around the world.

    I always liked “Pags.” Nice to see he’s found something to do in his post-playing days.

    Let’s Pretend For A Moment

    Posted by on December 14th, 2006 · Comments (14)

    Here’s a question for you.

    Say I told you of a smallish RHP, make him under 6 feet tall and less than 190 pounds, who had thrown 1,400 innings over the past eight minor league seasons – all before the age of 27.

    And, while he’s faced big league hitters in some exhibition games, he’s never pitched a “major league” game yet in his life.

    Further, let’s say that I told you that the Yankees went out and signed this pitcher to a six-year contract – for close to $9 million per season.

    What would your reaction be to this news?

    O.K., then that should be your reaction to the Red Sox signing Daisuke Matsuzaka as well.

    I really want to see the R.O.I. for RSN on Matsuzaka come 2010 through 2012. I almost can’t wait.

    News On Munson Awards Dinner Next Month

    Posted by on December 13th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    From Scout.com -

    A lineup of five sports greats – Jets star running back Curtis Martin, Knicks all time center Patrick Ewing, Yankees starter Mike Mussina, former Yankees reliever and Thurman teammate Rich “Goose” Gossage, and Mets slugger Carlos Delgado – will be honored at the 27th annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, January 30, 2007 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

    The announcement was made by the AHRC New York City Foundation , which benefits from the gala which the late, great Yankee catcher and captain Thurman Munson, who died tragically in a 1979 plane crash.
    Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, has been involved in the benefit since its inception, raising nearly $8 million to assist children and adults with developmental disabilities. Those honorees will be receiving Munson Awards for their excellence in competition and their philanthropic work within the community.

    The Munson Awards Dinner has previously honored such notables as Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Muhammad Ali, Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Arthur Ashe, Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Willie Mays, Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Tom Seaver and John Franco, just to name a few.

    The AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City. AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 11,000 children and adults who have mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other developmental disabilities.

    For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188.

    Peers Ring In On Cashman

    Posted by on December 13th, 2006 · Comments (21)

    Baseball America recently had a feature on “Rating the best GMs in the business.” Here’s some of the things said therein about Brian Cashman:

    DEALING WITH OWNERSHIP

    A’s GM Billy Beane joined many others in admiring Brian Cashman (Yankees): “It’s a huge undertaking being GM of the Yankees. No one else has to deal with a club president who negotiated a labor contract, a boss who’s the highest-profile owner in American sports, in the biggest city in America, and completely separate baseball operations in Florida for all those years. For Brian to handle it this deftly, you have to be pretty Machiavellian.”

    MEDIA RELATIONS

    Using the press not just to deliver messages to a demanding public but also to disseminate and receive information is a fine art, with BRIAN CASHMAN (Yankees) being rated the master for handling this in New York’s hurricane. “Honesty, integrity, volume,” Nationals GM Jim Bowden said. “He’s extremely impressive.” Added Astros counterpart Tim Purpura, “I don’t know how he does it. Brian is very honest and very direct. There’s no dancing around. When he can’t answer he says he can’t. That’s the only way to do it, particularly with that kind of volume in that city.”

    An honest Machiavellian? Isn’t that like a checked swing?

    OK, joking aside, I think most would agree that Cashman should get high marks for dealing with the complexity of the Yankees management chain and the New York media. I do think that the jury is still out on his “roster-management” work.

    In any event, Brian has never snuck out of Yankee Stadium in a gorilla suit like Boston’s boy-wonder did once at Fenway. That should tell you that there are a lot worse guys who could be the Yankees G.M. right now.

    Brandon Claussen

    Posted by on December 12th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    I just saw that the Reds designated LHP Brandon Claussen for assignment. Of all the “pitchers” (meaning excluding position players who once took toe to the rubber in a pinch) who pitched in exactly one game for the Yankees, in their career, is Claussen the guy who has the best overall career numbers?

    If he’s not the guy, he must be in the top five – I would imagine. Unless you want to go with Tim Redding…

    By the way, in researching this, I came across a pitcher by the name of “Rugger Ardizoia” who threw one game for the Yankees back in 1947. Great name. I would love to see Bob Sheppard work that one.

    “Rinaldo Joseph (Rugger) Ardizoia” was a native of Oleggio, Italy – and a teammate of Phil Rizzuto. Holy cow! Seriously, Rugger may have been the 5th best big leaguer to come from Italy (directly). Then again, there probably only 5 or 6 big league players in the history of the game that were born in Italy.

    Back to Claussen – as much as I hated the trade (that sent him away) when it happened, all things considered, now, it didn’t turn out all that bad.

    Wang & Pettitte Ring Keys For 2007?

    Posted by on December 12th, 2006 · Comments (25)

    Most know off the top of their head that the Yankees have lost 10 of their last 13 post-season games. But, how many know which pitchers started those 10 games that New York lost? Well, if you don’t know, here’s the list:

    Mussina – 3 games
    Johnson – 2 games
    Wang, Wright, Brown, Lieber, and El Duque – 1 game each

    When I see this, I have to wonder if the Yankees post-season results would have been different if Mussina and Johnson had been “lights-out” post-season “horses” for New York in the last 2 or 3 seasons.

    Mussina stands out more than Johnson here because he had starts in key losses in this year’s ALDS, last year’s ALDS, and the ALCS of 2004.

    Granted, in 2004, in the ALCS loss that he started, Mussina went 6 IP and allowed just 2 runs. But, you can also wonder – what if he were able to give you more than six? Would that have helped the Yankees pen hold that Game 5 contest – and given the Yankees the pennant in five games?

    Clearly, Mussina spit the bit in Game 5 of the 2005 ALDS and his failure to hold the lead in Game 2 of the 2006 ALDS was the turning point of the series.

    Moving off Moose for now, Johnson was flat out bad in his ALDS starts of 2005 and 2006.

    Thinking this all over, perhaps the key to the Yankees 2007 post-season success (if they make the post-season) will be not having to rely on Mussina and Johnson to carry them in the playoffs?

    This puts the pressure on Wang and Pettitte. But, then again, since Mussina and Johnson have shown that they cannot be counted on as being the “go-to” guy, at this stage in the careers, in the post-season, perhaps it’s a good thing that the Yankees now have Pettitte to pair with Wang for October games?

    Basically, outside of the 2001 World Series and the 2002 ALDS, Pettitte came through for the Yankees when they needed him the most in the post-season. And, Wang has been solid in his two post-season career starts.

    Let’s just hope that their arms hold up through next October. The Yankees will need them.

    After The Road

    Posted by on December 12th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Tiffany from the YES Network’s Ultimate Roadtrip show (Season 2) has a blog now – it’s called Ultimate Banter – in case you’re interested.

    Mike Gonzalez

    Posted by on December 12th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    George Kings reports that the Yankees and Red Sox both lust for the Pirates Mike Gonzalez.

    The Yanks should have listened to me back in June of 2005 – they may have gotten him cheaper back then.

    They Don’t Grow Many, Do They?

    Posted by on December 11th, 2006 · Comments (10)

    I was just wondering when was the last time that the Yankees had a 26-year old pitcher throw 200+ IP with at least 15 RSAA – like Worm Killer Wang did in 2006. So, I turned to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia and did a sort from 1973:

    wang26.jpg

    Funny, it was almost a year ago here that I reflected on that 1992 season by Melido Perez.

    In any event, there’s a case to be made that Wang is the best home-grown starting pitcher for the Yankees since Andy Pettitte and Ron Guidry. And, he’s probably the best right-handed SP developed by the Yankees since the days of Mel Stottlemyre, Stan Bahnsen and Jim Bouton.

    You would think that there would have been more of these guys in the last 40-years or so?

    Bad News On Montero & Garcia

    Posted by on December 11th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    From Baseball America -

    The Yankees reportedly gave another international player $2 million this year, but reports on Jesus Montero have not been good ever since the Yankees signed him for that amount in July. Montero has been dogged by rumors that he fudged his age or worse, and sources had indicated for weeks that his contract was under review by the commissioner’s office at the Yankees’ request.

    Newman confirmed that the Yankees and Montero, a Venezuelan catcher with prodigious power potential, had “long, involved” negotiations. He would not comment on the value of Montero’s signing bonus, but said one source’s information–that Montero’s bonus had been restructured to $1.3 million–was not correct. His only on the record comment was that “there is no age issue” with Montero, who struggled in the Yankees’ fall mini-camp.

    Newman confirmed a final rumor, that the Yankees had a second righthander who has had to have elbow surgery after pitching in Hawaii Winter Baseball. First it was 2006 ninth-round pick Mark Melancon. Now, 2004 third-round pick Chris Garcia has had elbow surgery to reinforce a torn ligament, a surgery similar to that performed on Mariano Rivera when he was in the minor leagues.

    “He will not pitch in 2007; the goal is 2008,” Newman said. “It would really be pushing it to have him come back by instructional league next year.”

    Garcia ranked as the Yankees’ No. 6 prospect on a list that already has changed dramatically with the injury to Melancon (No. 9) and the acquisition of Humberto Sanchez and Kevin Whelan from the Tigers in the Gary Sheffield trade. The 21-year-old missed much of the 2006 season with an oblique strain. He also pitched 21 innings in HWB, striking out 23.

    Jesus Montero” is starting to look like the Latin translation of “Brien Taylor.” Bummer news for Garcia – I wonder if Mo will talk to him this Spring about keeping his chin up?

    Joe Torre & Phil Simms Sighting

    Posted by on December 11th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the Bigelow Tea Blog – really, the Bigelow Tea Blog!

    Phil Simms (former Quarterback of the NY Giants) and his wife Diana as well as Joe Torre (manager of the Yankees) and his wife Ali came to spend a day at Bigelow Tea here in Fairfield, Connecticut. All I can say is wow! It was probably one of the most exciting days for our employees that I can ever remember.

    We first did a plant tour where everyone in the plant got a chance to shake hands and say hello to the sports Icons, we then followed up with a Q&A session where all our employees got to ask questions where the candid answers and the excitement in the room actually gave me the chills. It was amazing to see all of our employees have direct contact with Joe and Phil…it was beyond words.

    We then finished up with departmental photos with the two gentlemen. The smiles filled the room. When the photos were complete, we finished up with a lovely lunch. I think everyone had a great time. It was even more special that Joe and Phil brought their wives; Diana Simms and Ali Torre were complete delights.

    I wonder if Torre told Simms about anything big happening in Yankeeland this week? If only the green tea leaves could talk!

    Who Needs A Scorecard?

    Posted by on December 11th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    In reading Cliff Corcoran’s Yankees by the Numbers, today, I became aware, for the first time, of the YankeesNumbers.com site.

    Who remembered that Kerry Dineen wore two different numbers for the Yankees!

    Awesome stuff.

    Cardinal Carl?

    Posted by on December 11th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    From Jim B at Newsday -

    The Cardinals have asked to view Carl Pavano’s expansive medical records, according to a report in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a sign that the Yankees might be able to get out from under that albatross of a contract.

    The Rockies previously expressed interest in the righthander, but talks broke down because they wanted the Yankees to eat most of the $22.95 million left in the final two years of his four-year, $39.95-million deal, a person familiar with the talks said.

    Finances figure to be an obstacle in potential talks with the Cardinals, making it far more likely that Pavano will have to prove his health by pitching regularly during spring training to increase his trade value.

    Just watch, Dave Duncan will get him to win the 2007 N.L. Cy Young now….

    Juan Miguel Miranda

    Posted by on December 11th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    From ESPN.com -

    The New York Yankees signed Cuban prospect Juan Miranda to a four-year contract worth $2 million, the player told ESPNdeportes.com.

    The deal, which includes a signing bonus of $500,000, is a major league contract and requires the Yankees to place the outfielder-first baseman on their 40-man roster.

    The signing was confirmed by a Yankees official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    “In Cuba I grew up dreaming of playing in the big leagues, but I never thought it would be possible, much less with the Yankees,” the 23-year-old Miranda said.

    The left-handed-hitting Miranda was on the Cuban national team from 2001 until defecting to the Dominican in early 2004 following two previous unsuccessful attempts to leave Cuba by raft. Miranda gained Dominican citizenship last year. He left behind his parents and three brothers in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

    “Miranda is projected to hit over 20 home runs and hit .280,” the Yankees official told ESPNdeportes.com. “He doesn’t swing at bad pitches.”

    For what it’s worth, I noticed that Miranda also played some outfield in 2004:

    Pinar del Río became the first team to win a spot in the semifinal stage of the Cuban baseball championship on Friday when they beat host Isle of Youth 9-1 at the “Estadio Cristóbal Labra”.

    The victory for the Greenlegs came behind an excellent pitching by right-hander Vladimir Baños who scattered six hits in seven innings, and a 14-hit offense led by left-fielder Juan Miguel Miranda, with a homerun, a double and three RBIs.

    And, he owes former Yankee Jose Rijo for helping him out once:

    Jose Rijo went to the Dominican Republic last week to find and sign young prospects to increase Latin talent in the Washington Nationals’ depleted farm system.

    Little did Rijo know he would wind up being a freedom fighter of sorts.

    The former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, who runs a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, saved six Cuban players who were jailed there from being deported to their native country.

    Rijo, a Dominican native, pleaded their case to government officials and got the players released. They will be living and playing at Rijo’s baseball academy for the time being, he said.

    The Miami Herald reported the arrests of the six players last week and identified one as Juan Miguel Miranda of Pinar del Rio, who played two years with Cuba’s national team. He had been suspended from Cuban baseball in the fall after government authorities accused him of planning to defect.

    I just hope that he works out for New York better than Willy Miranda did….and, in any event, now, should Ivan Danko ever ask me “Do you know Miranda?” I will have a G-rated answer.

    2007 Yankees Tickets

    Posted by on December 10th, 2006 · Comments Off

    I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve been a Yankees season ticket holder since 2001. The seats that I have offer a great view – they’re Loge Box MVP seats, right by 1B.

    I get the full 81-game season package – and then I split the games with eight other parties. (For examples of how we split the games, click here.)

    It’s not a cheap thing to do – as I estimate that one “share” in the group this year will run about $1,140 – but, if you like to go to games, have great seats (as you stay dry and cool in the Loge – to go along with the great view), and have a chance for great seats to a post-season game (as we get the same exact seats in the post-season), it’s not a bad deal.

    We may have an opening in our group (for a share) in 2007. I will know soon – for sure. If anyone is interested in joining the group – knowing the price now (and that the money will be due by year-end 2006) – drop me a note and we can talk about it off-line.

    Thanks.

    Sox Matsuzaka Talks Stall

    Posted by on December 10th, 2006 · Comments (14)

    From the Boston Herald -

    Negotiations between the Red Sox [team stats] and Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka have essentially broken down, a source familiar with the talks said late last night, adding that unless there is an abrupt change of course, Matsuzaka will not be signing with the Red Sox before Thursday’s midnight deadline.

    Attempts to reach Matsuzaka’s agent, Scott Boras, were unsuccessful last night. However, the well-placed source blamed Boras for stubbornly being unable to get over the flaws in the Japanese posting system, saying that he has been unwilling to negotiate and that he has acted disinterested in even making a deal.

    When I see this report, three things come to mind.

    1. Is this just the usual before-the-deadline bluff/stall/chicken game that occurs…or…

    2. Maybe the Sox did just want to block the Yankees on D-Mat, after all, or, perhaps maybe Boras is trying to break the posting system here – and he will have Matsuzaka sign with a team like the St. Paul Saints for 2007 and then be a true Free Agent in 2008…and, perhaps…

    3. If the Red Sox do not sign D-Mat, then that opens the door for Clemens to return to Boston. (Maybe even as a closer?)

    That last item makes me wonder. Many Yankees fans are upset with Clemens for his “retirement” scam of 2003. Still, some Yankees fans were O.K. with Roger’s return to baseball, so quick, after the 2003 World Series. In any event, I wonder how Rocket’s Yankees legacy will be different if he were to sign with the Boston Red Sox for 2007? I think the move to Boston changed the Yankees legacy of David Cone – and David Wells, somewhat, as well. Would Clemens get any different treatment?

    Sweeny Murti Moving?

    Posted by on December 9th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From The Philadelphia Inquirer -

    Sweeny Murti, who covers the Yankees for WFAN radio in New York, is the lead candidate to become the Phillies’ new pregame and postgame host on radio broadcasts. Murti, talented and likable, is a native of the Harrisburg area.

    Philly’s gain would be New York’s loss. Murti does a great job covering the Yanks.

    The Baseball Strategist

    Posted by on December 9th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    I just came across another blog by a Yankees fan and thought that I would share the link. Here it is: The Baseball Strategist. Looks lke they have a detailed Pettitte feature up today.

    Doug Mientkiewicz

    Posted by on December 9th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    From the Post -

    With Andy Pettitte joining fellow ground-ball specialist Chien-Ming Wang, the Yankees have shown an interest in slick-fielding first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.

    Even though Mientkiewicz is a left-handed hitter and the Yankees are seeking a right-handed bat at first, he isn’t an automatic out against lefties (.274 last year). Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi handle left-handers well, and Mientkiewicz is considered a defensive upgrade at first over right-handed hitting Shea Hillenbrand, who has talked with the Yankees.

    “He catches the ball, that’s a lock,” a scout said of 32-year-old Mientkiewicz, who batted .283 with four homers and 43 RBIs for the Royals last season.

    33-years old. Zero stick. Bad back.

    Pass.

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