• Giambi To D.L. – Shelley Duncan Expected To Be Called Up?

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (10)

    From Ed Price -

    Jason Giambi today was placed in a protective walking boot when foot and ankle specialist William Hamilton diagnosed him with a torn plantar fascia — the tight band of muscle beneath the arch of the foot — in his left foot.

    The Yankees said Giambi will go on the DL before tomorrow’s game at Boston and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. The Yankees are expected to call up Shelley Duncan, who has never played in the majors but leads the Triple-A International League with a .586 slugging percentage for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Duncan is batting .302 with 12 homers, second in the league.

    Giambi had been previously diagnosed with plantar fasciaitis, which is inflammation of the plantar fascia.

    Mark McGwire and Marty Cordova missed tons of time when they had plantar fasciitis. It would not shock me if Giambi ended up being done for the year now.

    Then again, maybe Jason can do what Albert Pujols did for his?

    Still, Tino Martinez had it in the second half of 2005 and it ended his career. Imagine if it’s the same thing for Giambi now? I hope the Yankees have an insurance policy on his contract, if that’s the case.

    Well, at least we have an answer to “Question 1” now.

    Brian Cliche-Man Speakth

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Click here to see a video interview with Brian Cashman. See if you can count the number of sports cliches that he offers as answers. I stopped counting after fifteen.

    Hat tip to the Bleacher Report.

    Abreu: Is Scott Kazmir To Blame?

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (12)

    Through April 23rd of this season, Bobby Abreu was hitting .306/.404/.375 in 72 At Bats.

    On April 24th, Abreu faced Scott Kazmir (of Tampa Bay). In his three At Bats against Kazmir, Abreu struck out swinging, grounded out to short, and hit into a 1-6-3 double-play.

    Including that game, since April 24th, Bobby Abreu is hitting .184/.254/.240 in 125 At Bats.

    Yes, his batting average went from .306 to .184 and his OBA went from .404 to .254 – in terms of a before- and after-facing-Kazmir.

    Most believe that Abreu’s problem, during his slump, is that he’s stepping in the bucket and opening up too soon. Is this something that facing Kazmir has caused? The numbers present an interesting case.

    Yanks Not To Be Confused With Max Rockatansky

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Jayson Stark offers some Yankees stats -

    ARE THE YANKEES DEAD?

    This is another dangerous question, considering the Yankees are “only” 7½ out in the wild-card race. Of the 24 wild-card playoff teams since the invention of wild-card playoff teams in 1995, three of them — the 2005 Astros (-10½), the 2003 Marlins (-8) and the 2001 A’s (-8) were at least eight games out in that race by the end of May.

    But just one of those teams (Houston) also had as lousy a record as the Yankees have now. And that doesn’t even factor in ugliness such as the Yankees’ 3-10 record in one-run games. Or the fact that, until Wednesday, they hadn’t won one (0-7) road game against an AL East team.

    Or that, after scoring more runs than any team in baseball in April, they went through a 19-day stretch in May in which they scored the fewest runs in their league. Or that they’re 11-24 when Alex Rodriguez doesn’t homer.

    One thing we know, however, is this: They’re not catching the Red Sox. No team in history ever has been 14½ games out before June and come back to finish first. And only the Miracle Braves were that far back at any point and wound up playing in October.

    The Yanks hadn’t won one road game against an AL East team before yesterday?

    It’s a good thing they only have 6 road games against AL East teams in June. Maybe that’s a break for them?

    Calling Numbers 25 And 53

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Via Baseball Musings Day by Day Database – Yankees batters in April and May of this year:

    YanksMay07Drops.jpg

    The numbers don’t lie. If you want to know why the Yankees have had issues scoring lately, it’s because Abreu and Giambi went into the tank and teams stopped giving A-Rod anything that he could hit.

    I’m not fooled by last night. The Yankees beat up on two pitchers who should be in Triple-A. Until they prove otherwise, the Yankees still have an issue on offense: They need to get Giambi and Abreu to bat like they’re expected to produce.

    The Yanks Brittle Little Phil?

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (3)

    Here’s a story for you.

    A pitcher on the Yankees is injured. And, he’s rehabbing down in Florida…attempting to rejoin the team. But, while he’s rehabbing, he experiences another injury – this one being a freak thing – which is actually worse than the first injury…and this pushes his return to the team further back than it was before.

    “Ah,” you say to yourself, “I know this story. It’s the Carl Pavano story.”

    But, it’s not. From Yankees.com -

    Phil Hughes, one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, has a Grade 3 sprain of the left ankle that is expected to set the hurler back an additional four to six weeks in his efforts to rejoin the Yankees’ Major League roster.

    Hughes, a 20-year-old right-hander, rolled his ankle while performing conditioning exercises Friday at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., where he was rehabilitating a strained left hamstring.

    The Grade 3 diagnosis is considered the most severe possible strain, in which one or more ligaments are stretched and completely torn. The Yankees made Hughes’ results public Wednesday, prior to the club’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.

    Yankees officials had hoped Hughes would return in mid-June. But now with the setback, the hurler won’t even throw off a mound until somewhere from late June to early July.

    Of course, the good news here for Phil Hughes is that none of this has anything to do with his arm. That’s always good news when it comes to a pitcher.

    Then again, Hughes did have a mild shoulder concern in 2005 and the Yankees kept his arm on a very short leash last year – fearing that pushing him could lead to injury.

    Maybe this is all nothing? But, at the same time, maybe this is something that the Yankees need to be concerned about…is Phil Hughes going to be like Pavano, or Mark Prior, meaning that he’s going to prove to be brittle?

    It’s possible. We’ll know for sure in a few years from now.

    A-Rod’s Yappy Lappy Round Third

    Posted by on May 31st, 2007 · Comments (28)

    From the Sun Media -

    [Alex] Rodriguez….sparked a brouhaha in the ninth inning last night at the Rogers Centre when he apparently yelled “mine!” as Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark settled under a Jorge Posada pop fly with two out.

    Thinking he was being called off by Toronto shortstop John McDonald, Clark let the routine fly fall behind him, allowing Hideki Matsui to score from second. Jason Giambi then singled up the middle to score Rodriguez and Posada, killing any chance the Jays had for a rally in the bottom of the inning.

    ….

    After the play, McDonald showered Rodriguez with some choice adjectives, while Toronto manager John Gibbons came out to ask the umpires for a ruling, thinking that the deception was a break of the interference rules, as well as bad sportsmanship.

    Turns out it wasn’t, but Gibbons was still not impressed.

    “I thought it was a bush-league play,” he said. “One thing you know about the Yankees. There’s a lot of pride there, a lot of class. But that’s not Yankee pride (and) that surprised me.”

    I figured that I should ring in on this with the official WasWatching.com take on A-Rod’s actions last night.

    In times like these, to make the call, I like to reverse the situation – and see how I would feel if this play happened to the Yankees, instead of a Yankee making the play. How would I feel if a member of the Red Sox or Mets pulled this stunt against a Yankees infielder?

    The answer to that for me is quick and simple. I would scream (no pun intended) that it’s a bush league play and that the player deserves to have a pitch stuck in his ribs the next time he steps into a batter’s box against “our” team.

    Therefore, to be fair, I have to say that A-Rod’s actions last night were bush league and he should expect to get drilled for it the next time the Yankees face the Jays.

    That said, I will tack on that this move by Alex last night, albeit bush league, was also a brilliant play on his part. Why?

    Today, without this play happening in the game last night, everyone would be talking about Rodriguez’ off the field activities. Call that total population “X.” Now, instead of “X” focusing on that, it’s “X” minus “Y” – where “Y” is the number of people who will be discussing the latest chapter in A-Rod’s bush league base running adventures.

    If you’re Alex Rodriguez, you probably would prefer to be asked about “What did you shout at Clark?” as opposed to “Is it true that you’re known as the king of the strip clubs?”

    Granted, he’s still going to be asked the latter today. But, now, it’s not just that. With his yappy base running, A-Rod has given the media something else to talk about today – just when it’s when he probably needs it the most.

    May 30th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on May 30th, 2007 · Comments (13)

    Up until that wacky top of the 9th, I was convinced that the Yankees would lose this game. I guess that means they have me conditioned.

    Mark your calendars for July 16, 2007 – that’s the next time the Yankees play the Jays. A-Rod’s first At Bat in that game could be interesting.

    Going to watch the post-game now. I’ll be back if I have more to add to this entry.

    Tales Of Joe, Cash & Kerrigan

    Posted by on May 30th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    [Thanks to a WasWatching.com reader for an e-mail tip to this first story.]

    From Tracy Ringolsby -

    The news: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner singled out GM Brian Cashman for the ongoing struggles of the Yankees, who responded by losing the next four games.

    Tracy’s Take: Word is there are those in the organization — the same ones who a year ago convinced Steinbrenner to lay off manager Joe Torre — who are now trying to get him to back off Cashman.

    Truth is, however, there is a major division developing in the New York office of Yankees management. Yes, two years ago Cashman won a power struggle with the Tampa brass, getting total control, but all is not well.

    Joe Kerrigan, who was a clubhouse mole when he was on the coaching staff in Montreal, Boston and Baltimore, is now filling that role in the Bronx, eroding what had been a strong relationship between Torre and Cashman, according to several close to the Yankee world.

    It has led to communication breakdowns between Cashman and Torre, who had worked so well together, and it hasn’t been helped by the return of Joe Girardi to the organization as a broadcaster. Girardi, whom one Yankee confidant says spent as much time upstairs as in the clubhouse when he was a coach two years ago, is now a regular up at the Yankee offices, and has his name being floated as a possible replacement to Torre.

    Word of warning for those who think Torre is planning to retire anytime soon. Torre’s associates say he wants to manage the Bombers in at least the first year in the new stadium.

    In July of 2005, Cashman went out and got Kerrigan. In October of 2005, the love connection between Kerrigan and Cashman was strong. This got me wondering if Cashman was using Kerrigan to get Torre out and Girardi in…then I saw this update from Tracy Ringolsby:

    Yankee general manager Brian Cashman said he was surprised at a FOXsports.com article questioning his relationship with manager Joe Torre. Cashman also denied he has had involvement this season with former Yankee coach Joe Girardi, now a Yankee broadcaster.

    “Joe (Torre) and I are as close as we have always been and Girardi has not spent any time in the front office since he has been here with the television,” said Cashman.

    “I have only seen (Girardi) once, and that was when the team was in Texas. He has been as off-property as he can be. When he was here as a coach he would come upstairs, but it was to look at videos of players.”

    Cashman said his relationship with Torre has never wavered during the team’s struggles this year.

    “We are as tight as we always have been,” said Cashman. “I’ve taken responsibility for what has happened and Joe has taken responsibility.”

    It’s really a soap opera these days in Yankeeland, huh?

    Questions, Questions….

    Posted by on May 30th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    Allen Barra wants to know if Jason Giambi is trying to rig the Yankees into trading him to the Angels.

    Richard Sandomir wants to know if the Boss will make the call alone on Torre and Cashman.

    Me? I just want to know if someone is going to leave the Yankees cake out in the rain, again, tonight.

    Post Goes After A-Rod

    Posted by on May 30th, 2007 · Comments (16)

    StrayRod.jpg

    From The New York Post -

    Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate with a mysterious, busty blonde in Toronto, as these intimate, exclusive photos reveal.

    The cozy duo dined with two pals at a pricey steakhouse late Sunday night, then headed to a glitzy strip club before making their way to his hotel, where the pair ducked into an elevator and headed upstairs just after midnight.

    Cynthia Rodriguez – A-Rod’s wife and mother of their 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Natasha – was nowhere to be seen during the slugger’s big night out on the town, which occurred the evening before the last-place Bronx Bombers’ pathetic 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

    And it came as Rodriguez took a room at Toronto’s Four Seasons hotel – down the street from the Park Hyatt, where most, if not all of his Yankee teammates and coaches are staying during a three-game stint that ends tonight.

    “No comment,” Rodriguez said when The Post asked him about his north-of-the-border jaunt with the blonde.

    Two months ago, some fans reportedly heard about A-Rod partying at a strip club. At that time, I wrote: “If the media somehow decides to run with the story, which is always possible, it would be a shame.”

    I have to offer the same commentary now.

    When the media starts to go after a guy’s personal or private life, it’s crossing the line and basically an attack.

    There’s a large majority of ballplayers doing this kind of stuff…many who are married. To single out one, in a case like this, well, it’s tells me that someone is out to get A-Rod.

    This is just a mess that the Yankees don’t need now.

    What a season, huh?

    May 29th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on May 29th, 2007 · Comments (12)

    First, some facts: It’s close of business, May 29, 2007. The Yankees are in last place – 14.5 games back of first place.

    The last time the Yankees were in last place on May 29th: 1990

    The last time the Yankees were 14+ games back of first on May 29th: 1984

    The 1984 Yankees had one of the worst starts in the last quarter-century of Yankees baseball. The 1990 Yankees were one of the worst teams in franchise history.

    Yes, in 2007, we’re seeing Yankees suckage at a level that’s hardly ever seen. Don’t blink boys and girls – you may miss history in the making!

    Now, on to this contest tonight.

    So, the Yankees take full “infield” before the game today, around 6:14 pm ET, for what may be the first time in something like (at least) five years. (And, it’s not just the infielders made to work here – it’s the outfielders, catchers…the whole team.)

    What happens in the game?

    Jeter makes a stupid throw in the first to allow a runner to get into scoring position. A-Rod makes a bad fielder’s choice in the first to allow that runner to score.

    In the seventh, the Yankees infield fails to pay attention to a runner on third – and he steals home – giving the Blue Jays a lead in the game. Pettitte, A-Rod and, to an extent, Phelps had a hand in the botched play. (Another failed fielder’s choice between A-Rod and Josh Phelps set the runner up on third before the steal of home.)

    In the eighth, A-Rod grabs a bunt that’s heading foul and elects to go for the out – allowing a base runner to advance (who will eventually score the winning run).

    Boy, the team really responded to that infield practice, huh? Just another sign that Torre has lost the attention of this team.

    Oh, and, the Yankees hitters pulled another no-show and wasted a fine effort from Andy Pettitte. Same old, same old.

    We play today, we lose today – Dat’s it.

    Frank Howard & Mike Thurman Going To Disney World

    Posted by on May 29th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From Yankees.com -

    Frank Howard and Mike Thurman will the Yankees at the podium of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft next month, helping announce the club’s selections at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

    Howard, 70, has worked for the Yankees since 2000 as a special instructor and is a frequent presence at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., where he helps the Yankees of tomorrow pursue their big league dreams.

    The 1960 National League Rookie of the Year, the 6-foot-7 Howard — nicknamed “Hondo” — was a physically intimidating slugger who hit 382 Major League home runs and spent most of his 16-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Senators.

    Thurman, 33, was a first-round selection of the Montreal Expos in the 1994 draft. He currently serves as a Yankees scout in the Pacific Northwest.

    I guess that Joe Pepitone and Felix Escalona already had plans for that day.

    The New A-Rod

    Posted by on May 29th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From Sam Donnellon -

    ON THE FIRST DAY of a recent homestand, Alex Rodriguez walked into an already bustling Yankee Stadium clubhouse and found three reporters waiting at his locker.

    “Be right back,” he said, and given his past good relations with the media, there was no reason to doubt him.

    He returned 40 minutes later, but this time with an iPod in his ears, trying to pretend the three men standing in the same spot had disappeared. At one point, a clubhouse helper held the iPod while he dressed, and the iPod remained in his ears for the next 3 1/2 hours as the Yankees waited out a rain delay that eventually became a cancellation.

    If not for the intercession of a Yankees publicist that resulted in a brief and unrevealing 5-minute session, Rodriguez likely would have claimed the record for the longest blow-off by a major league ballplayer. More noteworthy is that the Yankees’ third baseman was once considered one of the game’s good guys, expansive in his answers, respectful to his inquisitors, polite and engaging.

    Now the man most likely to leapfrog over Barry Bonds as the all-time leader in home runs is often guarded, occasionally hostile, and purposefully unenlightening.

    “I’m having as much fun as I can, trying to keep it simple,” he said that day. “And I really don’t give a [bleep] about what most people are thinking or saying.”

    Yeah, it sounds like Alex just loves it in New York.

    I laughed at the description of a clubhouse helper holding Alex’s iPod while he dressed. Man, that’s really getting the Prince Akeem treatment.

    “Tonight You In For A Real Treat.”

    Posted by on May 29th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    During rough times like these in Yankeeland, you find yourself clinging on to almost anything in an effort to cheer up. Here’s today’s event for me.

    My buddy just called and told me that he went to see Jersey Boys this past Saturday night with some other people. He adds: “Guess who else was there – Andy Pettitte!” Knowing my friend, I had to ask him: “Are you sure it was Andy Pettitte?” He comes back with: “No doubt about it. My friend saw him in the men’s room and he then told me about it. Later, I saw Pettitte up in the balcony – and he was signing autographs for everyone around him. It was pretty hard to miss him. It was Andy Pettitte.”

    After he shared this additional information, I said to him “Hey, pretty cool for your friend to bump into him like that.”

    Then, he gave me the punch-line: “Actually, my friend was sort of freaked by the whole thing – because he said that Andy didn’t wash his hands after using the men’s room.”

    Right away, I thought of Jerry and Poppie. And, then I had a good laugh.

    Leave it to a chance Yankees-sighting to remind us how on the money Seinfeld (read Larry David) was…in terms of hitting on the strange things that people notice and are concerned about in real life.

    Lastly, if Andy Pettitte ever offers to make you a succulent duck, you may want to pass on it.

    The Yankees Bite…

    Posted by on May 29th, 2007 · Comments (16)

    …themselves. Don’t worry, it will make sense at the end of this rant.

    From George King -

    Just like a year ago, when GM Brian Cashman talked George Steinbrenner out of firing Joe Torre, there are voices within the Yankee organization telling The Boss that boxing Cashman isn’t the right move.

    Steinbrenner put his GM in the crosshairs Friday when he said, “He is on a big hook.”

    Since the Yankees have lost all four games since Steinbrenner voiced his displeasure with Cashman, The Boss’ frustration rises with every defeat.

    “There are people trying to talk him out of it,” an organizational voice said yesterday.

    Since The Boss has been leaning on his sons, Hank and Hal, it’s likely they are backing Cashman, whom Steinbrenner’s family genuinely likes.

    Another factor working in Cashman’s favor is there is no clear-cut replacement. Former GM Gene Michael, a VP and special adviser to Steinbrenner, has been mentioned. But it’s been a while since Michael was the GM and he may not want to jump back into the most demanding job in the Yankees universe.

    Of course, there’s no clear-cut replacement. It’s not that simple when you’re hiring for a spot like this one. This is where the Yankees need to do their homework. You have to dig and find the right next guy.

    I can tell you the type of guy that the Yankees need to replace Cashman with: Someone like Frank Wren…but not him. Someone with a resume like him though…a former player, did scouting, worked for the best GM’s, maybe even was a GM once as a learning experience…someone with all that. The Yankees need a “baseball” man at the helm…like Gene Michael and Bob Watson, when they were in charge…and not someone who is basically a “white collar” business-oriented type (like Cashman).

    The reason why I say “not Wren” is that I’m not sure if he can handle the fishbowl nature of Yankeeland.

    But, there has to be at least a half-dozen candidates like Wren out there now in baseball. The problem is: It takes a baseball person to find/spot a baseball person. And, who is going to find the next G.M. of the Yankees? Randy Levine? Hank and Hal Steinbrenner? They’re not baseball people…they’re more white-collar business people.

    One month ago, I wrote:

    It seems that the Yankees were better when someone with a scouting background was in charge of acquiring talent.

    Actually, if you look at the Yankees “brain trust” now, you’ll see that it’s basically Randy Levine (Team President), Brian Cashman (Senior Vice President, General Manager), Mark Newman (Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations), and Jean Afterman (Vice President, Assistant General Manager). Of those four, only Newman has a “baseball” background.

    Maybe that’s the issue with this Yankees organization – too many white-collar, pencil-pushing, general-ledger types and not enough people who have grown-up in the game calling the shots?

    Thinking about it more…it is an issue. The Yankees are never going to find the right replacement for Cashman – unless the right candidate starts to campaign for the job and the media picks up on it…to the point where it becomes a no-brainer hire for the Yankees.

    Until then, expect more of the following: The team will focus on getting the Yankees brand out there, as much as possible, and building up the draw for their TV network, ballpark, and merchandise…and continue to make tons of money. The ledger will be pretty…much more pretty than the baseball standings. The “business” side of the team will be fine…but the “baseball” side will continue to suffer.

    You know, Yogi Berra once said “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” And, in a way, borrowing from that, you can now say “The Yankees aren’t successful anymore. They make too much money.”

    Through the success of 1996 through 2003, the Yankees have become this huge money making machine. And, now, their management team is built to working that machine, squeezing out the money from it – and they are not equiped to build the machine…they can only work it. So, when the machine needs to be fixed, and, in a sense, re-built, they are both clueless and helpless.

    Frank Sinatra once sang:

    And there used to be a ballpark,
    Where the field was warm and green.
    And the people played their crazy game,
    With a joy I’d never seen.
    And the air was such a wonder,
    From the hot dogs and the beer.
    Yes, there used a ballpark, right here.

    Pretty soon, Yankees fans will be singing:

    And there used to be a Yankees,
    Led by baseball men very keen.
    And the team was always up on their game,
    With a zest I’d never seen.
    And the results were such a wonder,
    It brought cause for fans to cheer.
    Yes, there used a Yankees, right here.

    And, to quote B.J. Thomas, it will be “another somebody done somebody wrong song.” The weird/funny/sad part here is that it will be the Yankees that did something wrong to the Yankees. People seem to like the old “Man Bites Dog” headlines. The story on this one should be “Man Bites Self” – because that’s what’s happened here: The Yankees Bite Themselves.

    May 28th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on May 28th, 2007 · Comments (17)

    You watch the way the Yankees went about their business today – even after a long pre-game meeting – and then you watch the way the Red Sox looked in the highlights of their game today, and you can see the difference between the having a losing and winning attitude.

    Sure, maybe it’s a chicken and the egg thing – meaning that your attitude is better when you win and terrible when you’re playing like the Yankees now. But, bottom line, regardless of the root cause, you have to change your attitude when it is like the one the Yankees have now. (And, that’s why Torre called the failed meeting today – to try and address their attitude issue.)

    After all, the Yankees need to do something. It’s not like they can take some players out of the starting line-up…because they have no bench whatsoever and there’s no one at Triple-A (or even Double-A) who can join this team and be a spark for them. There are no trades to be made at this point of the season.

    Basically, the Yankees are in a terrible losing funk now…and it’s become a losing state of mind. And, when someone has a mental situation like this, the only way to stop it is to break the pattern. It’s the same as when someone starts to go down a mental path that’s not good for them, but one that they’ve been down before and have been repeating (as a response to their situation). Maybe they have to get up and go for a walk. Or, maybe they need to get control of their breathing. Or, maybe someone has to slap them or throw cold water in their face. But, there has to be some shock to the system to get their attention away from repeating that bad mental state.

    You’ve seen this pattern-breaker happen for baseball teams in the past. Maybe it’s an on-the-field brawl that will wake up a team. Or, maybe it’s a big trade – moving someone who they team never thought would be traded. But, most of the time, it’s a matter of firing the manager.

    At this point in Yankeeland, it’s time to strongly consider letting Joe Torre go – in an attempt to shock the team and break the pattern that this unit has formed this season.

    It might work – or, it might do nothing. In any event, it’s the only thing left for the Yankees to try now. Perhaps someone “new” (read not someone on the current staff) can be a spark for this team to start winning some games and get back into the wildcard chase?

    Put it this way: How much worse could things get with a change? There’s probably little downside to letting Joe go, and, maybe, you might get lucky with the move.

    The Yankees are not a great team. But, they have some talent. It’s not like they’re the Devil Rays, Royals or Rangers. Even with their flaws, they should at least be a few games over .500 at this point. The fact that they’re playing this poorly, when they need (in the worst way) to show some life, is a sign that they have flatlined.

    It’s time for team management to break out the defibrillator. Again, maybe it’s too late? But, you have to at least try now. Inaction will only lead to no change in the Yankees current state. Taking some action, in an attempt to break the pattern, albeit not a guarantee of solution, at least shows that the Yankees don’t want this state to continue and are willing to try and stop it.

    It’s a Hail Mary pass type move, sure. But, it’s better than what’s happening now – which is the Yankees just taking a knee.

    It’s time for Big Stein and Cashman to huddle up between now and May 31st and get a new, fresh, guy at the wheel to start the month of June.

    Four months should be enough time to make a run at the wildcard – if the Yankees can get back to a better state now. But, that’s not going to happen without a change. It’s time for the only change possible at this point: Let Joe go.

    The Johnny & Jason “No” Show

    Posted by on May 28th, 2007 · Comments (11)

    Two months ago, some thought that Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon would be big parts of this Yankees season. It really hasn’t worked out that way, has it?

    Sure, I give them both credit for not taking the Carl Pavano route and playing their injuries into a paid summer vacation. And, Damon, when he plays, has been a productive batter this month (to date). Also, to his credit, Giambi had a great month of April before tanking this month.

    However, at least to this Yankees fan, it feels like these two players have let the team down. Maybe it’s just because Damon was a no-show in April and Giambi’s been a no-show this month? Maybe it’s just because you never know, on a given day, if their bodies are going to allow them to play – and perform – as we expect from them?

    Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano get their fair share of blame for letting down the team with their performance this season. And, they deserve it. Still, I think that Damon and Giambi also deserve part of the blame as well.

    If both Damon and Giambi are hitting the way you expect, at the same time, and then you mix in Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, and Matsui, it really doesn’t matter what Abreu, Cano, and the others are doing.

    Yes, of course, some may think this is unfair because these two are hurt and trying to play through it. But, at the end of the day, when you’re expected to produce, and lead, and you don’t, you’ve hurt the team. And, if you’ve hurt the team, you deserved to be singled out for it.

    May 27th vs. The Angels

    Posted by on May 27th, 2007 · Comments (11)

    O.K., it’s the day before Memorial Day.

    The Yankees are now six games below .500 (on the season). They’ve lost three in a row, seven of their last ten, and ten of their last fifteen games.

    New York now trails Boston by 12.5 games in the A.L. East. (This is their largest hole since 1995 – when they were 16 games back in August.) The Yankees are also 8 games back of the A.L. Wildcard – with seven teams in front of them.

    The Yankees, this season, have found every way possible to lose a ballgame. No starting pitching. No hitting when they get starting pitching. Or, maybe, like today, it’s no hitting, good starting pitching, and the bullpen that fails.

    At this point, in terms of the Yankees season, well…

    The dream is gone,
    and I have become,
    comfortably numb.

    This Year’s Draft Is Not Going To Help Yanks

    Posted by on May 27th, 2007 · Comments (5)

    From the Daily News -

    The annual June draft – i.e. “The Great Baseball Crapshoot” – will take place a week from Thursday, and while most fans greet this as a day of anticipation, intrigue and hope, Yankee legions have come to view it as a day of dread. For until last year, when GM Brian Cashman took over the supervision of the draft from the incompetents (read: since-fired scouting director Lin Garrett) in Tampa, the Yankees’ record in this annual exercise was abysmal.

    Although the jury remains out for at least a couple of years on the trio of blue-chip starting pitchers – Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and Dellin Betances – Cashman & Co. took with their first, second and eighth picks last year (Kennedy and Chamberlain are off to good starts in the minors at Tampa, while Betances is set to open at Staten Island), the fact that the Yankees haven’t produced a single impact position player out of the draft since taking Derek Jeter in the first round in 1992 speaks directly to the crisis they face now with an aging team and no saviors looming in the system. It’s been said here before – with the exception of Phil Hughes (who certainly looks like the real deal) as their No. 1 pick 2004 – the Yankees have drafted more than 700 players since 1992 and for none of them to make it to the big club as starters, well, you can’t try to be that bad.

    As the Yankees have struggled this year, so much focus has been on the starting pitching and the short term, when the real problem lies in the long term where Bobby Abreu looks to be washed up in right field and Johnny Damon’s and Jason Giambi’s beaten-up bodies make them prohibitively productive – with hefty contracts – in center field and DH. Throw in the hardly scary first base platoon of Doug Mientkiewicz and Josh Phelps and the reality of Jorge Posada soon turning 36 in his walk year, and with the new stadium a year away, Cashman’s challenge is obvious: Find younger, comparable-or-better replacements quickly. Unfortunately, according to scouts who have scutinized the Yankee farm system, there’s little there in terms of “plus prospect” position players. The best is 19-year-old outfielder Jose Tabata, hitting .298 with one homer at Single-A Tampa as of Friday.

    Here’s a fun, well, actually, sad, fact: From 1991 to 2004, the Yankees drafted 113 LHP – and only 12 of them reached the majors. Of that group, only 5 pitched for the Yankees. The leading winner of that group of five? Randy Choate – who went 3-2 for New York. That’s really sad.

    But, here’s the deal with this year’s draft: The Yankees first three picks are (overall) #30, #95, and #125. Yes, in the first three rounds – which includes the supplemental round between the first and the second round – the Yankees have three picks…the last picks of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round.

    There’s little chance the Yankees are going to draft anyone this year who is going to be an impact player for them.

    If the Yankees need help…in terms of getting young position players…they’re going to have to trade for it.

    If the Yanks do fall out of the race this year, they should think about having a fire sale in July. Abreu could probably be moved. Farnsworth, Villone, and Myers too. Get what you can, while you can…and try and pull a rabbit out of a hat with someone else’s prospects.

    Orlando Cabrera: Yanks Fans Bad Losers

    Posted by on May 27th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    From the L.A. Times – with a hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org

    The New York Yankees might have the most fans, but they don’t have the best fans. So says Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

    “They don’t appreciate good baseball,” he said. “They just appreciate the Yankees beating up on everybody.”

    “In Boston, they admire baseball,” Cabrera said. “In Anaheim, those fans are some of the best in baseball. They know you care there. They know you can’t do it every day. I appreciate that.

    “These people here, they’re mean. And they’re really mean to the other team.”

    Cabrera said the hostility in the stands has increased this season, with the Yankees below .500.

    “When we came here last year, they were in first place, so it was OK,” he said. “Now they’re just looking for an excuse.”

    He is not bothered, he says, by whatever language Yankees fans direct his way.

    “When people say [stuff], they only motivate me,” he said. “They’re bad losers.”

    Hey, you mean the Yankees beating up on everybody is not good baseball?

    Have you ever noticed that players like Cal Ripken Jr. say they love the New York fans because they are so smart about the game and they support their team whereas players like Orlando Cabrera moan and whine about the New York fans?

    I think that tells you all you need to know about these comments – and the person making them.

    May 26th vs. The Angels

    Posted by on May 26th, 2007 · Comments (5)

    Today, we brought our kids – ages 3 and 5 – to the Stadium for the first time.

    I have to say, in the first couple of innings, it looked like Worm Killer Wang was going to serve up a laugher for the Angels. But, he came around and did a very nice, overall, job.

    Today was one of those “My wife was right” days.

    At the start of the bottom of the ninth, we had this exchange:

    Me: The Yankees are going to win this game in their last At Bat.

    Her: No, this is no longer the same team.

    Me: No, when I went to my first game, the Yankees won the game in the bottom of the ninth. It’s only right that they do it again on our kid’s first game.

    Even when Giambi and Cano opened up the bottom of the ninth with punch-outs, I was still thinking/rooting positive. And, when Damon and Cabrera reached with two outs, I was really feeling it. But, Abreu went down and the game was over. Yanks lose, 3-1, and, a bummer of a game for the kid’s first time in the Bronx.

    My wife is right: This is no longer the same team.

    I guess it could have been worse. We were sitting in Section 6 of the Main Reserve. The section next to us (Section 4) must have been the Angels comp-tickets section. There were at least 150 Angels fans sitting there. They fell into the following groups: Blonde Valley-Girl types, Hoochie Mama types, or the extended family members of Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Molina and Kelvim Escobar. (I say the latter because there were a ton of Guerrero, Molina and Escobar jerseys there.)

    They were a pretty polite group. They cheered – but not too loud. And, they did not try and rub anything in the faces of the Yankees fans around them. I’ve seen fans of other teams act much worse at the Stadium…lots of times.

    I heard on the radio post-game, on the way home, that Torre was pissed with the umps for the called strike on Abreu in the ninth. Suzyn Waldman said it was the first time she could recall hearing Torre blame the umpires for being a part in costing the Yankees a game. Sounds like Joe and his boys are starting to get frustrated. I think they know it’s a sinking ship and the water is rushing in hard. They’re grabbing for anything at this point…if they want to blame the ump for blowing one called strike.

    Just look at the Yankees record this season. New York is playing like a bad baseball team. That’s why they’re losing games. That’s it – and it alone.

    May 25th vs. The Angels

    Posted by on May 25th, 2007 · Comments (18)

    Regardless of the bad outcome tonight, I want the Yankees to give Tyler Clippard (at least) one more start – rather than making a call on him based on this latest game. I still think he can still hold his own at this level. But, you never know what Torre and Cashman may do with his turn in the rotation.

    I want to give Matt DeSalvo a buddy pass on this one tonight too. It’s been eight days since he last pitched in a game. That’s too long. Of course, for a guy like him, he’s not going to have any command with a lay-off like that one.

    Luis Vizcaíno? Well, I’m beginning to believe he’s a cat person – because he’s been “putting out the fire with gasoline” just about every time out.

    I’ll be at the game tomorrow. I hope the Yankees give a little better effort in that contest.

    Here’s a fact for you: The Yankees will have to win every game left in May to have a record over .500 on June 1st. (All those wins would put them one game over the mark.) The last time the Yankees were not a .500 team on June 1st? That was back in 1995. However, that season was not a full season. The last time the Yankees were not a .500 team on June 1st – when it was a full season – was 1991.

    The Yankees finished 1991 with a record of 71-91 (which left them 20 games out of first place).

    Boss Vents On Cashman & Giambi

    Posted by on May 25th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    From the AP via Newsday -

    Despite constant speculation about manager Joe Torre’s job, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner says someone else also needs to deliver as the team looks to reverse its floundering start: general manager Brian Cashman.

    “He’s on a big hook,” a spirited Steinbrenner told The Associated Press in a rare interview from this Tampa office. “He wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he’s got to deliver.”

    Giambi reportedly admitted to a 2003 grand jury that he used steroids.

    “He should have kept his mouth shut,” Steinbrenner opined. “The matter is in the hands of the baseball commissioner.”

    You don’t get to see Big Stein wield his hook and offer a zip’it that often these days. It’s about as rare as a Wil Nieves basehit. So, soak this one in as much as you can…if that’s your thing.

    Who’s Your Archangel?

    Posted by on May 25th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    From ESPN.com -

    New York went 4-6 against Los Angeles last season and the teams split a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. The Angels are the only team with a winning record against the Yankees during Joe Torre’s tenure as manager, going 55-52 overall and 28-24 in the Bronx since Torre took over in 1996.

    Coming off series against the Mets and the Red Sox, this match-up will be a good test for New York. It will be interesting to see the intensity level that the Yankees show in these contests.

    Since the Angels have their three best starters going in this series, the Yankees will have to keep the Angels from scoring too much.

    The keys for the Yankees will be focusing on walks and steals. The Angels hardly ever walk and steal a lot of bases. New York’s pitchers will need to make sure they don’t give any free passes. And, Posada/Nieves will have to be on their toes.

    Doing The Math On Yanks Catching Red Sox

    Posted by on May 25th, 2007 · Comments (13)

    For the past two weeks or so, I’ve suggested that Yankees fans should forget about hoping to catch the Red Sox – and focus their desires on winning the Wildcard this season.

    Whenever I suggest this, many Yankees fans come back to me with statements along the lines of “We have a ton of games left with Boston. All we need to do is to win those games and we can close the 9.5 game gap in a hurry.”

    Yes, the Yankees do have 9 games left, this season, with Boston. They play each other 3 times (each) in June, August, and September.

    The bad news here for the Yankees is that 6 of the 9 games are to played in Fenway Park. Given the location of the games, I think the Yankees would be lucky to go 5-4 in these 9 contests. (And, that’s based on how these teams really play against each other.) However, since many Yankees fans think the Yankees will beat up on Boston in these games, I’m going to look at two scenarios here – one where New York wins 8 of 9 games, and, the other where New York wins 6 of 9 games.

    If New York takes 8 of the 9 games remaining with Boston this year:

    This would still only get the Yankees within 2.5 games of the Red Sox. Therefore, if Boston tanks the rest of the season (by playing .533 baseball), New York would need to play .565 baseball (61-47) to pass them. However, if Boston plays within reason the rest of the season (by playing .561 baseball), New York would need to play .593 baseball (64-44) to pass them.

    Note that last line: If the Yankees beat Boston 8 out of 9 times, and the Red Sox play reasonable baseball in the rest of their games, New York would have to play 20 games over .500 against everyone else to pass Boston. This is really asking a lot from the Yankees – take 8 of 9 from the Sox and play 20 games over .500 in their other games.

    If New York takes 6 of the 9 games remaining with Boston this year:

    This would still only get the Yankees within 6.5 games of the Red Sox. Therefore, if Boston tanks the rest of the season (by playing .533 baseball), New York would need to play .602 baseball (65-43) to pass them. However, if Boston plays within reason the rest of the season (by playing .561 baseball), New York would need to play .630 baseball (68-40) to pass them.

    Note that last line: If the Yankees beat Boston 6 out of 9 times, and the Red Sox play reasonable baseball in the rest of their games, New York would have to play 28 games over .500 against everyone else to pass Boston. Is that likely to happen?

    Bottom line, in order for the Yankees to pass the Red Sox this year, three things need to happen:

    1. The Yankees need to beat Boston at least 6 more times this season (in their 9 remaining head-to-head games).
    2. The Yankees need to play extremely well (for the remainder of the season) from this point forward.

    And, most importantly…

    3. Boston needs to tank – meaning play more like they did in 2006 than they are playing in 2007 – from this point forward. Because, if Boston just plays “reasonably” well from here out, even if the Yankees beat the Sox in their H-T-H games, and New York plays “reasonably” well from here out, the Red Sox have enough of a cushion to offset those two blows.

    Just do the math.

    And, then, forget about catching Boston and start hoping to win the Wildcard. There’s too many things that have to happen, in concert and in the Yankees favor, for New York to win the east this season.

    Just Say No To Todd Helton

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

    From yesterday’s Denver Post -

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters this week that although trades are always possible, nothing is warm right now. Still, multiple scouts said Wednesday the Yankees are interested in Rockies first baseman Todd Helton and closer Brian Fuentes, though nothing is brewing.

    If the Rockies don’t rebound, many teams will be calling to see if they want to unload salaries. Helton has rebounded nicely this season.

    Helton is rebounding. But, he’s not the player he was circa 2000-2004. Also, he’s going to be 34-years old later this year.

    More importantly, Helton’s contract is a nightmare. The details, beyond this season: 2008 to 2010, $16.6 million each season. 2011, $19.1 million. And, in 2012, a $23 million team option or a $4.6 buyout.

    Therefore, after this season, Helton is still owed (at least) $73.5 million – covering the years where he’ll be ages 34 to 37 – which leaves no wonder why the Rockies want to get his contract off the books.

    The only way the Yankees should trade for Todd Helton would be if Colorado threw in (at least) $35 million to offset some of the expense on Helton’s money due. Otherwise, it makes no sense for New York to make this deal.

    There are so many other, and smarter, ways for the Yankees to use that $73.5 million over the next four years. I hope they realize that now.

    Ten To Forget – Or At Least Try To…

    Posted by on May 24th, 2007 · Comments (16)

    Chairman Mao and the Mad Cow takes a look at the “the top 10 worst Yankees of the past few seasons.” Here’s my list, since 2001:

    10. Octavio Dotel
    9. Felix Heredia
    8. Gabe White
    7. John Flaherty
    6. Rondell White
    5. Kevin Brown/Javier Vazquez (tie)
    4. Enrique Wilson
    3. Tony Womack
    2. Carl Pavano
    1. Jeff Weaver

    Now, that’s an ugly group. Why do I have a feeling that Kei Igawa and Doug Mientkiewicz might crack this group soon?

    I would have included guys like Terrence Long, Brandon Knight, Todd Greene, Sidney Ponson, Ron Coomer, Juan Acevedo, Matt Lawton, Darrell May, Craig Wilson, Tim Redding, Todd Zeile, Donovan Osborne, and Alberto Castillo – but, most of them barely played while they were with the Yankees.

    Another Reason To Think “Wildcard”

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

    Via Brian Heyman -

    Boston showed up [at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night] as one of five teams in major-league history to own at least a 10 1/2-game advantage after 45 games.

    Here are the five teams:

    1902 Pittsburgh Pirates
    1912 New York Giants
    1977 L.A. Dodgers
    2001 Seattle Mariners
    2007 Boston Red Sox

    Each of these teams – sans the pendng 2007 Sox – went on to finish first with ease.

    Like I said this morning, the only way the Yankees catch the Red Sox at this point is if Boston chokes.

    Why Andy Has Been Dandy

    Posted by on May 24th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    A quick look at some Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) leader boards, as of this morning, via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

    Yankees RSAA Leaders to date:

    YanksRSAALeaders052407.jpg

    American League RSAA Leaders to date:

    ALRSAALeaders052407.jpg

    Andy Pettitte has been the best pitcher on the Yankees so far this season – and one of the top ten pitchers in the league. You can make a strong case that he’s been the Yankees MVP during the first quarter of the season. He’s been more consistent than A-Rod. Eight out of ten times this season, Pettitte has given the Yankees a quality start. Given the issues that the Yankees had earlier this season with their rotation, well, to quote Kenny Bania, “That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!

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