• Trentonian Thunder Report

    Posted by on March 26th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    There’s a new Yankees-related blog that you’ll want to check out. It’s the:

    Trentonian Thunder Report

    Stop by and tell them that WasWatching.com sent you.

    Dayn Perry On Recent Yankees October Failures

    Posted by on March 26th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    Dayn Perry at FOX Sports takes a look at “Why don’t the Yankees win titles anymore?

    In summary, Dayn says:

    In any event, it’s reasonable to assume that the Yanks are enduring their title drought in part because of the fact that they’re not catching the ball and whiffing the opposition as they once did and in part because of the fact that the cosmos haven’t smiled upon them in a few years. It’s a little of both. If the Yankees are to return to the top of the MLB mountain, then they’ll need to focus on what they can control — bettering the defense and adding pitchers with strikeout chops.

    While I can understand that, I think it’s also just the quality of the Yankees pitchers post-2001 and the types of hitters that the Yankees feature in their line-up these days.

    Inside Power

    Posted by on March 25th, 2007 · Comments (9)


    To be candid, when I was first presented with an opportunity to review “Inside Power” (by Gary Sheffield with David Ritz), I accepted it not because I was attracted to learning more about the story of Gary Sheffield. I already knew that Sheffield was one of the all-time twenty-five best right-handed batters in the history of baseball. And, I knew that Sheffield was as hard-nosed as a real life “C-Note” Franklin. Therefore, I felt that I knew everything that I needed to know about Gary Sheffield. More so, rather than being driven by interest, I accepted the chance to read “Inside Power” because of my personal (and habitual) reflex/willingness to read almost anything baseball-related.

    However, I must confess that, as soon as I began to read “Inside Power,” I found myself become rapidly engrossed in this book.

    In this autobiography, Sheffield tells his story – starting at the age of four, where he was hard pushed by his grandfather, step-father, and uncle (Dwight Gooden) to be tough and to excel at baseball. And, the story runs through his days in Little League, the Minor Leagues, and all his stops in the big leagues. Along the journey, Sheffield shares his take on dealing with racism, collusion, violence, the media, Bud Selig, Wayne Huizenga, Bob Dailey, Tommy Lasorda, Barry Bonds (and BALCO), George Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, Joe Torre (among others).

    In “Inside Power” we also learn how Sheffield, who had four children with four different women before he turned 30-years old, found religion and settled down with DeLeon Richards (who, along with former teammate Terry Pendleton, has become a major factor in how Sheffield now lives his life).

    There is much to be found in this book. Even the name “Gary Sheffield” has a story to it. Gary’s mother is Dwight Gooden’s older sister. She married a man named Harold Jones and took his last name. However, before she married Jones, she became pregnant by a man named Marvin Johnson – a pregnancy which led to the birth of “Gary Sheffield.” Where did “Sheffield” come from? While she was pregnant, Gary’s mom was planning to marry a man named Lindsay Sheffield. When Gary was born, his mother listed “Sheffield” as the last name on his birth certificate to match the name of the man she planned to marry. However, the Gooden-Lindsay marriage never happened – and, after the break-up, Lindsay was killed. So, as Gary writes “My father’s name is Johnson. My mother’s name is Jones. My grandmother and grandfather’s name is Gooden. And, I’m Sheffield, named for a man, killed in a robbery, who I never knew.”

    There’s plenty of intriguing tales such as this one in Sheffield’s book. “Inside Power” is a very quick-read, yet, it is attention-grabbing. I was pleased to have read it – and do recommend this book to any baseball looking to learn more about the complex life behind one of the greatest baseball hitters in the modern history of the game.

    For Openers…

    Posted by on March 24th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    Via Yankees.com

    Manager Joe Torre said that the Yankees will select from a group including Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and Jeff Karstens to throw the season’s first pitch on April 2.

    No way will it be Karstens. You don’t throw a kid out there on a crazy media/fan day like that. Pavano? Part of me wants to say that he should not get the nod/honor – just because of what he’s pulled the last two years. But, the other part of me wants to say they should give it to him – as a test to see how he handles it.

    Since I’m split on Pavano, in the end, I guess I would go with Kei Igawa. Let’s see if he has some Yankee Stadium Opening Day/Debut magic like Matsui (had in 2003).

    What About Kirk, Marvel, America, Kangaroo & Beefheart Too?

    Posted by on March 24th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Via the Times

    Who could possibly question Derek Jeter’s place in Yankee history?

    Meet Howard W. Rosenberg.

    “Derek Jeter is not the 11th captain of the New York Yankees,” said Rosenberg, 41, an author and baseball historian who lives in Arlington, Va. “Based on my research, he is either the 14th or 15th captain of the Yankees.”

    When Jeter was named the Yankees’ captain in June 2003, it was widely reported that he was filling big baseball shoes worn by Hal Chase, Roger Peckinpaugh, Babe Ruth, Everett Scott, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry and Don Mattingly.

    But while Rosenberg was doing research for a series of books he was writing on Cap Anson, the first major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits, he began finding evidence in old newspapers that four other players had served as Yankee captains.

    The forgotten foursome, according to Rosenberg, are Clark Griffith, a pitcher; Kid Elberfeld, a shortstop; Frank Chance, a first baseman; and Roy Hartzell, an infielder who was mainly a third baseman.

    “This is a significant piece of research related to a notable player of today,” Rosenberg said. “If the Yankees wish for this to become historically accurate, they must correct this mistake.”

    All I want to know is this: If Yankees fans were booing Frank LaPorte, the team’s third baseman, in 1906, would Kid Elberfeld have told the fans not to boo? Now, if Howard W. Rosenberg could dig out that info, well, then we’d have something, huh?

    Worm Killer Wang Grounded

    Posted by on March 24th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    Via NJ.com’s Ledger on the Yankees Blog

    Chien-Ming Wang, last year’s runnerup for the AL Cy Young Award and widely expected to be the Yankees’ opening day starter, will begin the season on the disabled list.

    Wang has a Grade 1 (mild) strain of his right hamstring, suffered Friday while running.

    “I don’t look for him to touch our major league mound unti late April — some time in the 20,” general manager Brian Cashman said.

    This means that Wang, assuming he comes back as planned and does not miss any more time later, should get about 28 starts this season for the Yankees. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I asked (here):

    Will at least three members of the Yankees starting rotation make 30+ starts this season?

    It’s starting to look like the answer to that one will be “No.”

    Did I Wake Up In Bizarro World?

    Posted by on March 24th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    The Yankees, on Carl Pavano, via the Times:

    “Carl can pitch,” said [Alex] Rodriguez, who hit one of the Yankees’ three home runs. “He’s always been able to pitch. I’m just happy he’s out there. He’s a very important part of our team.”

    “We’re definitely counting on him,” Manager Joe Torre said. “The spot was his to lose, and he certainly has seized the opportunity. We obviously favored his taking that spot, with everything he’s had to deal with the last couple of years. We’re very pleased with what we’ve seen.”

    He’s a very important part of our team?

    We’re definitely counting on him?

    I hope this is just a case of the Yankees being “P.C.” and they’re not actually of the mindset that Pavano is going to help them this season. Actually, thinking about this, the perfect nickname for Pavano has come to mind. I’m going to start calling him “Lucy van Pelt ” – after Lucy from Peanuts.

    Why? See:


    There it is: Carl is Lucy, the Yankees and their fans are Charlie Brown, and the football is the hope and promise that Pavano will help the team.

    Update Re: Issue With Leaving Comments Here

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (4)

    I’ve continued to try and solve the problem with respect to making comments here – that some have experienced. Actually, I’ve spent hours and hours trying to figure it out. The folks at Six Apart Support have me running in circles chasing my own tail.

    Finally, I decided to try something new – I downloaded Mozilla Firefox and tried using that instead of IE to access the blog. Guess what? I was able to make comments now, from home, for the first time in nearly two weeks, when I used Firefox as my browser.

    This tells me that the issue is IE-related. But, it’s not all versions of IE (since I can use IE in the office and leave comments here with no problem).

    I want to apologize again to all those who will have issues commenting as a result of this situation. I have not given up yet and will continue to try and find an answer as to what happened. I hope those who cannot comment will continue to visit the blog while we have this issue. And, I would suggest that you try using Firefox – it helped me and may help you as well.

    Yankees Geek Speak ’07

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (2)

    Geek of All Trades has a good list of Yankees milestones to watch out for in 2007. Click here to see it.

    For The Birds

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (11)

    Can Alex Rodriguez get a better deal for himself if he opts out of his contract and leaves the Yankees (as a Free Agent) after this season?

    I get asked this question – often. So, I thought it made sense to have something here to point towards (for the next time I’m asked it). First, what’s the bird in A-Rod’s hand now? As I stated back on December 6, 2006

    We know that the remainder of Alex Rodriguez’ current contract looks like this:

    2007: $27 million – $7 million paid by Texas
    2008: $27 million – $8 million paid by Texas
    2009: $27 million – $7 million paid by Texas
    2010: $27 million – $6 million paid by Texas

    But, we also know that A-Rod’s team must increase the salaries for 2009 and 2010 by the higher of $5 million or $1 million greater than the average annual value of the non-pitcher with highest annual average value.

    However, after the 2007, 2008 or 2009 season, A-Rod can void the remainder on his contract as well.

    Therefore, if Alex Rodriguez does nothing and lives out the life of his current deal, he will get $91 million (from 2008 through 2010) – with the Texas Rangers paying 23% of the bill. It’s this $91 million for three years that Rodriguez has sitting on the table – to keep or to walk away from (with the hope of doing better) after the season.

    Actually, the key number – in terms of an initial driver for A-Rod’s call – has nothing to do with money. Instead, it’s all about age.

    Alex will be 32-years old after this season. Related, he would be 35-years old after 2010 (the last year of his current contract).

    Alex Rodriguez the 32-year old should be able to get a 6-or-7 year contract offer in the Free Agent market after this season. Why so many years? Simple – teams will be willing to pay for a guy, that long, since he would only be 37-or-38 at the end of deal.

    Alex Rodriguez the 35-year old will have a hard time getting a contract offer for more than 4 years after 2010. The fact of the matter is, given the money that Alex will command, no one will want to be paying that much to a guy who will be so close to his 40th birthday at the end of the deal – unless they know that they’re going to get a very good number of years from the guy prior to his 40th birthday.

    Yes, I’m following the math here. If A-Rod opts out of his contract after this season, his “new” deal will probably run through 2014. If A-Rod lives out his current contract, his “next” deal will probably run through 2014 as well (according to what I am saying here). So, what’s the big difference?

    Here’s where it goes back to dollars. Right now, at this stage in his career, Alex is no longer the best hitter in the game. Granted, he’s one of the “Top 15” hitters in the game – thereabouts. But, he’s no longer where he was circa 2000-2003. Now, as a member of the “Top 15,” Rodriguez, these days, will still command top dollar on the open market next winter. However, who’s to say that Alex will still be a “Top 15” hitter by the time he’s 35-years old? He could start to slip some more? Or, he could have an injury? If A-Rod and Scott Boras think that Alex v.2011 will be the same hitter as Alex v.2008 they’re ignoring the risk factors that are out there for a player as he gets older.

    In the end, this is what it’s all about for A-Rod:

    1. Keep the $91 million for three years and hope that nothing happens to you, or your production, or even the market, and then take your chances as a the 35-year old Free Agent (who will be lucky to get a new deal that runs through 2014). Or,

    2. Walk away from the $91 million for three years, enter a player-friendly market, while you’re still one of the best 15 hitters in the game, and take your chances as a 32-year old Free Agent (who should easily get a deal that will run through 2014).

    Do you keep the bird in the hand and hope for another to come (knowing there’s risk that the next bird may not be as good), or, do you let the bird in the hand go, because the skies are full of birds now and you’re at your peak in terms of bird-catching (and should have no problem getting more than one bird once your hands are free)?

    The old line is “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” But, this is A-Rod the poker-player and Scott Boras the wheeler-dealer we’re talking about here. These guys want to be on the top of the leader board in terms of having the most birds. If they see a chance, they’re going for it. To them, I’m sure they believe that “Alex Rodriguez can get a better deal for himself if he opts out of his contract and leaves the Yankees (as a Free Agent) after this season.”

    It will be a “better deal” (if he goes now) because it will be a “sure” deal to run through 2014 at mega bucks – instead of a deal that may not happen after 2010 (or maybe not to the levels that he’s used to seeing).

    Sean Henn

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (4)

    I see there’s a lot of talk out there these days about Sean Henn’s chances to make the Yankees this season.

    Did you know that Henn holds the all-time record for the highest bonus ever paid to a “draft-and-follow” pick? The Yankees gave Henn $1.701 million in 2001 after drafting him in the 26th round of the 2000 draft.

    Henn was bad in Triple-A last year. And, his big league exposure to date has not been pretty. Maybe this is the year that the Yankees start to see some return on their investment? Personally, I don’t think he has the command that’s needed to come out of the pen in the majors – or, at least he’s yet to show it.

    The Answers To These Q’s Should Come In The Next 6 Months

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (6)

    With the official start of the Yankees 2007 season just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to list some critical Yankees-success-related questions that could be answered at some point this season. Here they are:

    1. Which body part will break-down on Jason Giambi this season – causing him to be a non-factor with the bat for a month or more? A knee? A wrist? An internal gland? Something else?

    2. Which member of the bullpen will Torre use 35+ times before the All-Star break, frying the guy’s arm in the process?

    3. Will at least three members of the Yankees starting rotation make 30+ starts this season?

    4. Can Carl Pavano give the Yankees more than 140 IP this year?

    5. How will Yankees fans react if A-Rod starts to press and fail in key spots this season? How will Alex react to the fans?

    6. How many back-up catchers will the Yankees go through this season to find one who can bat over .200?

    7. What if Phil Hughes is notthe one“?

    8. Is it possible that Joe Torre does not manage the full season?

    9. Will Rico Bergman be a bust with the bat? Does Josh Phelps have anything to offer?

    10. How many times will the Yankees roster construction come back to haunt them? Which will happen more often: Miggy Cairo playing in the outfield or New York losing it’s D.H. spot in the line-up (to the pitcher) because the D.H. had to come into the game as a fielder?

    It will be interesting, come October, to look back at these questions and see if any of them became applicable. At this junction, I would offer that at least half of them do apply to the Yankees situation this season.

    A Save For Gator?

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Back on January 25, 2007, I wrote:

    One thing that I did notice seeing some clips of Igawa the other day – he’s got a funky way of finishing off his delivery. It’s almost as if he’s just about ready to finish his delivery, the way you would expect a pitcher would, and then he stops and sort of freezes like he just saw Medusa – leaving his left foot hanging in the air for a second or two – before landing to field his position. If that’s his normal delivery, I have no idea if it will help him or hurt him in the United States.

    Now, I’ve noticed this, from the Yankees site:

    After battling command issues over his first three Spring Training appearances, Igawa followed pitching coach Ron Guidry’s advice to better finish his delivery, allowing him to pin his pitches down in the zone.

    Hey, sometimes it’s the little changes that can turn an inconsistent pitcher into a very good one. Here’s hoping that this change pays off for Igawa and the Yankees.

    A-Rod: “I’m not going to talk about my contract.”

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2007 · Comments (3)

    From the AP:

    Alex Rodriguez declined to talk about his contract situation Thursday, one day after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he would not discuss an extension with the third baseman.

    Rodriguez has four seasons left in the record $252 million, 10-year agreement he signed with Texas before the 2001 season, but he can opt out of the deal after this season.

    He is owed $27 million in each of the final three seasons – with the Yankees responsible for $50.7 million and the Rangers owing $30.3 million, including $9 million in deferred money.

    ”It can come up every day of the year,” Rodriguez said Thursday before departing for a road spring training game against Cincinnati. ”I’m going to give you the same answer. Nothing has changed. I’m not going to talk about my contract.”

    Don’t you just hate it when people make promises that you know they can’t keep?

    NYT Seely On Rizzutonian Metaphysics

    Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 · Comments (1)

    Hart Seely nails it in the New York Times:

    BEFORE he retired from broadcasting in 1996, Phil Rizzuto made it a point never to change subjects during a Yankees rally. He could be discussing bunions; it didn’t matter. As long as the Yanks were hitting, the Scooter stayed on topic.

    “Hey, White,” he’d bark to his broadcast partner, Bill White, as he scrounged for a thread. “You ever try those Zino Pads on corns? I tell you, I’ve seen guys’ feet with the bunions so bad that, I mean, it hurt just BASE HIT BY MATTINGLY!”

    For me and countless others, Rizzutonian metaphysics long ago became part of life.

    While the Yankees are playing, we are working.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t practice voodoo, witchcraft or what psychologists refer to as “magical thinking.” What I do, people generally call “stupidity.”

    Therefore, over many years, I have perfected a series of offensive and defensive schemes that are generally good for 95 wins per season.

    Here’s how it works: When the Yanks are batting, I stand directly in front of the TV, eyeballing it with the kind of soul-on-fire intensity that Larry King gives Cher. I bend my knees slightly, fists clenched, the cobra-coiled stance of a champion kick-boxer.

    When the Yanks take the field, I change course. I stretch out on the couch, arms dangling, boneless, sometimes with my eyes closed, symbolically coaxing enemy bats to sleep.

    Gotta love a fellow whammy fighter.

    Sox Return Papelbon To The Pen

    Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 · Comments (5)

    Julian Tavarez will take his place in the Boston rotation.

    Julian Tavarez?

    OK, just how great can the Red Sox starting pitching be if “The Pine Tar and Tantrum boy” represents 20% of it?

    To me, this move now makes the Yankees and Red Sox starting rotations even. As much as I have concerns about Igawa, he stacks up better against Tavarez than he would against Papelbon.

    Chugga, Chugga…. Thud!

    Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From The New York Observer Real Estate

    It always seemed like a funny trick to get support for the new Yankee Stadium: build a new Metro North station nearby, not with the Yankees’ money, mind you, but with the public’s. Unfortunately, the $45 million that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had set aside for the project, which was supposed to start this spring, is not nearly enough.

    Try $80 million instead.

    All of which, Real Estate Weekly reports in its March 21 issue (available in print only), led Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión to look for another way to pay for it. Wait, how about asking the Yankees to pitch in? No, Mr. Carrión has another idea.

    He wants to let a developer build “an extensive mixed-use development” on top of the station in return for paying for the station’s construction.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for that new Yankee Stadium train station. It could be a long time coming.

    Jeter Speaks For 5 Minutes & 13 Seconds And Says Nothing

    Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Click here to see the video.

    Passing The Hat For The New Year

    Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 · Comments (2)

    On April 20th of this year, WasWatching will be 2-years old. The time has passed very quickly – and, for the most part, it’s been fun.

    It seems like folks enjoy what’s happening here. To date, since “Day 1,” WasWatching.com has registered over 1,330,000 unique vistors to the blog (in total).

    “Thanks!” to all for their interest in WasWatching.com and for checking it out as often as you do.

    Now, if everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis donated just $1 to WasWatching.com, prior to Opening Day 2007, it would make maintaining this site during the season so much easier for me (from a financial perspective). If some decide to donate more, it makes it even easier.

    We’ve already seen some donations this year. Of course, thanks to those who have helped so far! But, more help would always be appreciated too.

    And, thanks to PayPal, making a donation is easy – just click on the button below and follow the steps. It’s also safe.

    OK, I’ll stop the pitch now. Thanks for reading this over and please consider making a donation (if you haven’t alrady) – everything helps.

    Hank Blalock

    Posted by on March 22nd, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Why do I have this feeling that Hank Blalock will be the Yankees third baseman in 2008?

    Could Colter Bean-town Happen?

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (11)

    All of the following facts are “to-date”:

    Only Rivera, Myers and Vizcaino have pitched in more games this spring for the Yankees than Colter Bean. Further, in terms of the non-starting-pitchers, only Vizcaino, Rasner, and Rivera have pitched more Yankees innings this spring than Bean. Lastly, of all Yankees hurlers this spring with more than 6 IP, only Pettitte and Rivera match Bean in terms of having an ERA of zero.

    So, the Yankees are using Colter Bean a lot this spring – and he is responding.

    Me? I’ve never been one of those Colter Bean groupies. The fact of the matter is that his Major League Equivalency (MLE) stats, over the last two seasons, say Bean is good for an ERA of 3.70-ish (which is fine) in the bigs – however it comes along with a WHIP in the ballpark of 1.60-ish (which is very bad). Bean just walks too many batters – or at least his MLE’s say that he’ll walk around 6 batters per every 9 innings pitched at the major league level.

    So, what’s the deal with the Yankees and the heavy use of Bean this spring? Are they trying to showcase him? Or, are they blind to what the projections say about him and they’re actually giving him a chance to prove his ability to pitch at the next level?

    My money is on a trade or a release for Bean, some place over the next ten days. Bean has already logged four seasons at Triple-A – therefore there’s nothing left for him to prove there. Sending him back down again would be flat out cruel. Bean probably could make the major league roster of a team like the Royals, Nationals, or Devil Rays now – why not let him try?

    Then again, maybe the Yankees are worried that the Red Sox will grab Bean and develop him into their next closer? Guys like Jose Valverde and Tyler Walker are closing games with high WHIP totals. Hey, you never know, right?

    Boy, if the Yankees let Bean walk, and he ended up closing for the Sox, would that sting, or what?

    The Morelle Plan

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From TicketNews.com

    Seeking to go beyond the proposal repealing the state’s anti-scalping law, a New York State legislator is proposing a plan that would stop the Yankees and other sports teams from canceling the season tickets of fans who resell them.

    As reported in the “New York Post,” state Rep. Joseph Morelle’s proposal would prohibit sports teams from becoming the exclusive resellers of tickets, a move the Yankees are trying to establish by creating a site that would allow season-ticket holders to resell their tickets. Morelle’s proposal would also repeal any caps placed on the amount for which people can resell event tickets.

    The Post reported that more than 100 season-ticket holders had their privileges revoked in 2006 after they were caught reselling tickets online. Howard Rubenstein, spokesman for the team, was quoted in the paper as saying “The Yankees are formulating a plan that will be completed shortly and that will be in the best interests of the fans. Until that time, they will reserve comment.”

    With support from Gov. Eliot Spitzer, ticket brokers and the League of American Theaters and Producers, which lobbies on behalf of Broadway, New York’s scalping law is poised to expire in June, making ticket reselling legal.

    Ah, this explains why the promised land of Pinstripe Marketplace is nowhere to be found.

    Cash: No More $ For A-Rod Now

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (5)

    Via Jon Heyman:

    Alex Rodriguez will attract interest from at least a handful of teams if he opts out of his $252 million contract at the end of the season, with the Angels perhaps first in line. But Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made clear in an interview on Tuesday that Rodriguez’s current team will not chase A-Rod and will not be part of any bidding war.

    “He has a significant contract as it is,” Cashman told SI.com. “So I don’t anticipate any dialogue regarding an extension.”

    In other words, Cashman is leaving the ball in A-Rod’s court. If Rodriguez wants to remain a Yankee and keep the $81 million and three years remaining on his contract, he can do that. But if he wants to forego that $81 million to seek even greater riches, that’s his choice, too. He just won’t be getting those extra riches in pinstripes — at least not this winter.

    Cashman likes Rodriguez enough that it’s believed he’d consider an extension at some point, but not an extension merely to prevent A-Rod from opting out of his current deal. “That’s smart,” one competing GM says. “This way all the pressure’s on A-Rod, and there’s no blood on [Cashman’s] hands.”

    Lookie, lookie! The Cash-Man draws it for Scottie Boras! Attaboy Bry!

    The Pride and the Pressure – A Season Inside the New York Yankee Fishbowl

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (2)

    To begin here, I feel it is appropriate to share some statistical context of where the 2006 Yankees place in terms of all teams in the “Joe Torre’s Yankees” era. To this end, I decided to use Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) and Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA).

    Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) is a Lee Sinins creation. It is the difference between a team’s Runs Created total and the total for an average team who used the same amount of outs. (A negative Runs Created Above Average indicates a below average team in this category.)

    And, Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) is another Lee Sinins creation. It is the amount of runs that a pitching staff saved versus what an average staff would have allowed. It is similar to the statistic Pitching Runs detailed in the book Total Baseball – except (1) both have different ways of park adjustments and (2) Total Baseball added a procedure to take into account the amount of decisions the staff had while Runs Saved Above Average does not. (A negative Runs Saved Above Average indicates a below average pitching staff in this category.)

    Using the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, we can look at the RCAA and RSAA totals for each Yankees team, to date, under Torre:


    As you can see, the 2006 Yankees were the best offensive team to ever play for Joe Torre. But, on the flip side, the 2006 Yankees – while almost near a league average mark of zero RSAA – were lacking in the pitching department compared to all other Torre Yankees squads (sans the 2004 Yankees pitching unit which was terrible).

    Still, a team is the sum of its parts – and should be viewed in its synergistic state. Therefore, I’ve decided to give each RSAA and RCAA “score” (for the Bombers teams under Torre) a “ranking” in terms of where they fell compared to the other squads in this study – and then I took an average of the RSAA and RCAA ranks to come up with an overall “Torre Team Rating” (for lack of a better title). Here are the results:

    The above chart suggests that the 1998 Yankees were the most overall talented team under Torre and the 2004 Yankees had the worst overall talent (all things considered) in terms of comparing Torre teams to Torre teams. I think most Yankees fans would agree with the statement about the 1998 Yankees. And, seeing the 2004 Yankees in this light makes you wonder how they got as far as they did that season.

    This chart also suggests that, of all the Torre Yankees teams not to win a ring, the 2006 Yankees were probably the 3rd best overall squad – based mostly on the dominance of their offense – behind the teams from 2002 and 1997.

    Seeing all this adds a new level of thought in regard to something I heard Joe Torre say during a WFAN interview on October 10, 2006. Torre said (that day, on the air) that the loss of the 2006 ALDS was worse to take than the loss in the 2004 ALCS because his team was competitive in the 2004 ALCS. Perhaps he should have added that the loss in the 2006 ALDS was worse to take than the loss in the 2004 ALCS because his team in 2006 had more overall talent than his teams from 2004 and 2005? If Joe had said that, I would agree with him – seeing the stats now.

    The 2006 Yankees were the big offensive steam engine with a near league average pitching caboose who should have never wondered about whether they “can” make it up the hill – and, yet, in the end, they derailed. So, what happened?

    The best way to tell is via retrospective dissection. And, thanks to The Pride and the Pressure – A Season Inside the New York Yankee Fishbowl by Michael Morrissey (288 pages, Doubleday Books) we now have the definitive chronicle of the 2006 New York Yankees – breaking both the team and the season down, part by part.

    In “The Pride and the Pressure,” Morrissey provides insight to specific key 2006 Yankees via chapters devoted to them. These parties include Johnny Damon, Brian Cashman, Mike Mussina, Bernie Williams, Joe Torre, George Steinbrenner, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano, and Melky Cabrera. In addition, Morrissey also provides chapters on Yankees Old-Timers view of the current Yankees landscape, the 2006 coaching staff, the Yankees August five-game sweep of the Sox in Fenway, the 2006 ALDS, and the Yankees off-season of 2006-07. There is also a chapter in “The Pride and the Pressure” which is centered on “Jeter/A-Rod.”

    I found each of these chapters in “The Pride and the Pressure” to be revealing and therefore entertaining.

    Did you know that Derek Jeter’s nickname for Jorge Posada is “Sado”? Did you know that Brian Cashman once said, when the Boston Red Sox lost catcher Jason Varitek to injury, that “He’s one of the best you’ll ever see, As a catcher who controls every pitch thrown on their side, you’re gonna feel his loss”? Or, did you know that Jason Giambi once referred to Alex Rodriguez as a “glutton for punishment”?

    I never knew about Posada’s nickname, Cashman’s admiration for Varitek, or Giambi’s assessment of A-Rod – before I read “The Pride and the Pressure.”

    But, those are small, tidbit, type facts. In addition to those types of things that you will find in “The Pride and the Pressure,” you will receive confirmation on bigger ticket items – such as, but not limited to, why Jason Giambi is so well liked by those on and around the team, or, how Mike Mussina has grown into being a team leader on the Yankees.

    And, perhaps, most importantly, in reading “The Pride and the Pressure,” you will learn for certain how both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have traits that are detrimental to the overall harmony of the team (unless they are willing to change).

    In a nutshell, Morrissey’s book provides everything that you need to know about the 2006 Yankees – with no holds barred. The Pride and the Pressure – A Season Inside the New York Yankee Fishbowl is a must read for Yankees fans and an excellent source of information for anyone wishing to know more about what it’s like to play professional baseball in the Bronx Zoo circa 2006. Therefore, I highly recommend this book.

    Issue With Leaving Comments Here

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (6)

    For the past week, there’s been an issue with respect to leaving comments at this blog. It’s related to the TypeKey registration requirement. Some people can still leave comments with no problem. However, others are being asked (via TypeKey) to “Sign In” over and over again – with no success.

    Personally, I’ve experienced both sides of it. I have no issues making comments from one location – at all. Still, from another location I have the problem – where I cannot sign-in and leave comments.

    Over the past week, I’ve reached out to MT support to try and get an answer to this problem. None of the solutions suggested have worked. I’ve also written to a high official at Six Apart asking for help. (A response is still outstanding.)

    Nonetheless, last night, I decided to lift the registration requirement to leave comments – thinking that was the best interim solution.

    But, in the last 12 hours, there have been over five-hundred “SPAM” comments left on various entries to this blog. And, they keep coming in as fast as I can delete them. (There must be automated SPAM-bots that create these comments on blogs.) Many of these SPAM comments are of a pornographic nature. This is why I must delete them. Clearly, the interim solution is flawed. I cannot spend hours each day just deleting SPAM comments.

    Therefore, I am going to now reinstate the registration requirement for leaving comments. I want to apologize to all those who will have issues commenting as a result of this situation. I have not given up yet and will continue to try and find an answer. I hope those who cannot comment will continue to visit the blog while we have this issue. I do feel your pain – because I will be limited in being able to make comments here as well.

    Once I have more to share on this issue, I will post it ASAP.

    Hanging Chad Question

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (5)

    Triple Steal thinks the Red Sox have the second worst bullpen (this season) in the A.L. East – with the Yankees having the best.

    This leads to a question for me. It’s been rumored for months that the Red Sox would like to trade for the Nationals’ Chad Cordero. If this is true, should the Yankees try and get in on the action to either run up the price or block Boston?

    Sure, the pen in the Bronx is deep now. And, Chad Cordero is perhaps a tad over-rated – meaning that he’s nice, but, he’s not the next Mariano Rivera. Still, think of the Boston reaction if the Yankees did get Cordero. That alone may make it worth the effort and price.

    RLYW: Eighty Percent Solution

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (1)

    Replacement Level Yankees Weblog’s 2007 Diamond Mind Projection Blowout has the Yankees making the post-season this year 80.8% of the time. It’s a fun read and worth checking out.

    First Of Many ’07 In-Season A-Rod Trade Rumors?

    Posted by on March 21st, 2007 · Comments (7)

    Halos Heaven thinks there’s an A-Rod to the Angels trade in the hopper. If this trade goes down, as reported, I would be shocked. Jered Weaver, Dustin Moseley and Jose Molina for Alex? What, no magic beans too?

    March 2007 Survey Question #4

    Posted by on March 20th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Who will be the Yankees most productive batter in 2007 – in your opinion?

    Update 4/16/07: This poll is now closed. The people choose A-Rod. Click on the thumbnail below to see the results:

    Verducci: Yanks Mission Statement Is Flawed

    Posted by on March 20th, 2007 · Comments (10)

    From Tom Verducci today –

    Here is a message for George Steinbrenner, Derek Jeter, Brian Cashman and everyone else who has bought in to the Yankees culture that the season is a failure if New York does not win the World Series: The ’90s are so over. The baseball world has changed so much from when the Yankees won four titles in five years that the Yankees’ world-championship-or-bust mentality has become awkwardly outdated.

    Don’t get me wrong. The aspiration to win it all should always remain paramount. But the Yankees continue to set themselves up for joyless seasons and their own definition of failure by thinking they should win the World Series every year. Last season they lost two-thirds of their starting outfield and they still won more games than any team in the league and blew the doors off the rest of their division — and went home horribly unhappy, ready to fire the manager, run a Hall of Fame pitcher out of town and heap more abuse on an all-time great third baseman. Their fans have zero interest in Division Championship hats.

    Do Yankees fans need to level-set their expectations these days? It’s a fair enough point – but, where do you set them? Winning 90+ games? Just making the post-season? Winning the LDS? The LCS? Or, should it still be ‘the ring is the thing’?

    I do not think that it’s wrong for Yankees fans, given the team’s payroll/roster, to expect the team to finish first in their division (and make the post-season). I also don’t think it’s wrong for Yankees fans to expect their team to play well in the post-season.

    Note that I said “play well in the post-season” – and did not say “win in the post-season.”

    It’s fine for the Yankees to be defeated by a better team in October – as long as the Yankees put up a fight. That’s what happened in the 2001 World Series. On the whole, the Diamondbacks played better that series – and won. But, New York took it to the very last game.

    However, in 2002, the Yankees did not play well in the ALDS. Ditto that in the 2003 World Series. And, we all know about the 2004 ALCS, 2005 ALDS and 2006 ALDS. Losing was not fun in these years, sure – but, what made those series painful was the way in which the Yankees lost them. When you get beat by the likes of Shawn Wooten, Alex Gonzalez, Dave Roberts, Orlando Cabrera and Curtis Granderson in big spots – and your big guys do little in big spots – that’s when you start to get your undies in a bunch (and rightfully so).

    It’s not about missing the ring that’s the failure. It’s about the way they missed the chance at the ring that’s the failure. There’s a big difference between the two.

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