• THT: Five Questions: New York Yankees

    Posted by on March 28th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Click here to check out SG’s Five Questions: New York Yankees feature at The Hardball Times. It’s extremely well done and recommended reading. Here’s his summary:

    The Yankees project to have the top offense in baseball again in 2008, even with the expected declines by Rodriguez and Posada. I’ve got them projected to score around 930 runs this season.

    Their defense won’t be particularly great with Jeter and Giambi out there, but Damon replacing Matsui should help a bit. I figure them to be about 15 runs below average defensively in total.

    On the pitching side, Pettitte and Wang should be good for 400 innings of 4.00-4.25 ERA, so the Yankees will sink or swim on the backs of their young pitching. If they get an overall average performance out of them and an average performance out of the bullpen, they are probably a 95-win team. If they get a 5.00 ERA out of the non-Wang/Pettitte part of the pitching staff, they would be closer to an 88-win team.

    This all makes sense, if you ask me.

    No, I’m Not Ignoring You [Update]

    Posted by on March 28th, 2008 · Comments Off

    I’m now in Day 4 of my situation, FYI – and, I’m still trying to fix it. Just wanted to share this so you know why I’ve been quiet. Hopefully, I’ll have an answer soon.

    PS – if anyone has some experience in converting from Movable Type to WordPress and is willing to share on that, please drop me an e-mail.

    Steinbrothers: Yanks Not For Sale

    Posted by on March 28th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Via Mark Feinsand:

    Despite rumors to the contrary, Hal Steinbrenner reiterated his stance that he and his brother, Hank, won’t be looking to sell the Yankees any time soon.

    “That’s the plan,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “There are no plans to sell, though I know there’s been speculation. This has been in our family a long time – longer than we’ve been in Tampa, even. That’s not going to change.”

    This reminds me of a scene from “Heaven Can Wait” -

    Former owner: He got my team. The son of a bitch got my team.

    Advisor to former owner: What kind of pressure did he use, Milt?

    Former owner: All I asked was sixty-seven million, and he said “O.K.”

    Advisor to former owner: Ruthless bastard.

    Let’s hope someone like Donald Trump doesn’t make the Steinbrothers an offer that they can’t refuse.

    2008 Yankees Win Total Prediction

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (6)

    Always best to make a prediction before the season starts, right? O.K., here goes…

    I’ve looked at many of the various “scientific” projection models performed to date for this season. And, I’ve done some ‘back of the envelope’ calculations on my own. Between what I’ve seen and how I feel…

    [insert drum roll]

    I’m predicting that the Yankees will win 92 games this season.

    Of course, they could win a few more than that – if some things break their way. But, even if things are just close to “normal” for them, in terms of reasonable expectations, they should win at least 92 games (in 2008).

    Now, I expect 37% of those wins to be credited to the pitching records of Andy Pettitte and Worm Killer Wang. So, if something should happen to one or both of them, well, then all bets are off.

    If one of the two goes down for half the season, then the Yankees only win about 87 games this season. (If they both miss about 7 starts each, then the team probably wins about 87 games this season too.)

    If one of the two goes down for most of the season, then the Yankees only win about 83 to 85 games this season. (And, if they both miss half of the season, then the team wins about 83 to 85 games too.)

    If both Pettitte and Wang miss most of the season, then it gets real ugly in Yankeeland. In that case, I could see the team struggling to finish at .500 in 2008.

    But, for now, I’m assuming that Pettitte and Wang can make 60 starts combined and the Yankees (as a team) will win around 92 games this season.

    Will 92 wins be enough to get into the post-season? Man, that’s a close call. There are probably a half-dozen teams in the A.L. this season capable of winning 90 games (including New York). And, 92 is so close to 90…

    I feel pretty comfortable predicting the Yankees to win 92 games in 2008. But, I don’t feel comfortable at all predicting them to reach the post-season this year – because 92 wins just may not be enough.

    Lucchino: Sox Got Bill James To Offset Yanks ‘Intense Scrutiny Of Statistics’

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Via CBS News:

    “[Bill James'] reputation had preceded him,” says Larry Lucchino, a partner in the Red Sox. “So we knew we were getting a guy who was unusual and I thought it was a giant step forward,” he says. His partner in the Sox, Tom Werner, believes James’ brand of analysis is crucial now. “The truth is, Morley, this is a very sophisticated business these days….When Larry and I first came into the business, the general manager relied fairly much on gut instincts…we’ve taken a much more systematic approach, which really comes from Bill,” he tells Safer.

    But everybody’s getting into this act, says Lucchino, especially the New York Yankees, known in Boston as the “Evil Empire.” “[The Yankees] are [utilizing an intense scrutiny of statistics] but there are several teams in baseball that are doing it,” Lucchino says. “But the Yankees always tend to spend a little more money at whatever it is they’re doing. So, we’re concerned about our competition,” he tells Safer.

    You hear that Michael Fishman? Red Sox Nation is afraid of you!

    Survey Says! [Ding!]

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    The WasWatching.com Reader Survey 2008 is now closed.

    Are you a guy, Yankees fan, between the ages of 26 to 30, living in the tri-state area, who has been reading this blog more than once a day for the last 2 to 3 years?

    (more…)

    YankeeZzzzzzzzz Baseball?

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    The Yankees had 5 hits in their exhibition game today. And, yesterday, they only had 4 hits in their game. Both contests were losses.

    In fact, the Yankees have now lost 4 of their last 5 spring training games.

    Whatever happened to turning up the intensity a notch during the last week of spring training?

    BA’s Callis: Yanks Funding Other Team’s Farms

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Baseball America Executive Editor Jim Callis just made Hank Stein’s day.

    (more…)

    TSN’s Pinto: Rays Pitching Better Than Yanks Staff

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    The Sporting News’ David Pinto just did not make Hank Stein’s day.

    (more…)

    SNY’s Boorstein: Picking A ‘Pen

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Tom Boorstein of SNY.tv takes a look at the Yankees bullpen and thinks there are people there who can contribute this season. Let’s hope he’s right.

    Godzilla Gets Hitched

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Via Ed Price -

    Hideki Matsui has just released a statement revealing he was married yesterday in New York (the team had given him the day off).

    Big news in Japan. He will hold a news conference at 10:40 a.m.

    “The bride is a 25-year-old civilian and had been formerly working in a reputable position at a highly respected company,” the statement said.

    Matsui met his wife (whose name he declines to reveal) in the 2006-07 offseason and had been planning the wedding about six months — successfully keeping it from getting public.

    Matsui always seemed like a cool dude. I’m happy for him and his new bride.

    It’s A MAD World For Some Yankees Alumni

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Thanks to Austin Trunick of Warner Brothers Entertainment Group for sharing a preview of the cover for MAD Magazine #489 (which goes on sale next month).

    Click on the thumbnail below to enlarge the image:

    Back in the early 1970′s, I used to read MAD Magazine all the time. (That probably explains a lot.) Seeing this funny cover brought back a lot of cool memories. Thanks Austin.

    SABR Minor Leagues Database

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    I am having too much fun with the SABR Minor Leagues Database. (Hat tip to Dave Studeman.)

    Did you know that Babe Ruth and Freddy Parent were teammates on the 1914 International League Baltimore Orioles? Go figure.

    Awesome job by SABR to put this together and make it available to the public. They even included Indy Leagues as well. Man, two thumbs up for you SABR.

    Will Yankees Lack Of Defense Hurt Them This Season?

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    There were a couple of plays in the Yankees exhibition game yesterday against the Phillies where Worm Killer Wang could have been helped out by his fielders – but, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano muffed the plays and it turned out to cost Wang some runs.

    Thinking about this led me to consider the Yankees defense this season, as a whole, and question whether or not they will be able to help a starting rotation filled guys who, for the most part, pitch to contact (as opposed to being high strikeout pitchers).

    The Yankees infield, this season, defensively, does bring some cause for concern.

    Jorge Posada has never been a great pitch-blocker. And, sometimes his mitt turns to stone and balls that should be caught go “Clang!” But, he’s not the worst of this infield unit. Alex Rodriguez, at third, has never been good with pop-ups, balls hit down the third base line, or on charging bunts/slow-rollers. Yet, the big concern for me, this year, on A-Rod is that he has shown signs (during spring training) of having his throwing woes (from 2006) return. If this happens, it will not be good news for Yankees pitchers. We all know about Derek Jeter at short – and his lack of range. Everyone, including Joe Girardi, agrees about Derek’s lack of range going to his left. The funny thing is that few realize that he has issues going to his right as well. Many see that Jeter “jump-pass” throw from the hole as a sign of skill. Actually, all it means is that he’s not able to get into the hole, field the ball, and plant his feet for a throw like most big league shortstops. Second base, and Robinson Cano, is vexing for me. Cano has a great arm and the quickest hands possible in the field. Robinson’s biggest problem in the field is when he falls into these lapses (for lack of a better word) where he just allows his glove-work slip. And, do we even need to discuss Jason Giambi, at first base, with the mitt?

    The Yankees outfield, this season, defensively, is not as concerning as their infield – but, it does have its warts.

    I’m assuming that Johnny Damon will get most of the time in left field – since Giambi playing first will allow Matsui to DH. Damon has great range for a left fielder. That’s a plus. And, in left, his wet-noodle arm is not as much of a liability as it was in center. Melky Cabrera is a tough call in center. Many have stats that say he’s not great in terms of range. And, yes, he does take some awkward routes on balls. Yet, while I think Melky is better suited for right field – where he would be a Gold Glover – I don’t think Cabrera will kill the Yankees in centerfield this year. Plus, Melky’s arm out of center is a true weapon. The real weak spot in the Yankees outfield is Bobby Abreu in right field. I laugh whenever I hear someone refer to him as being average to above-average out there. On August 27, 2007, I wrote: “Bobby Abreu plays the outfield like a pregnant camel trying to walk across a frozen lake.” And, I still stand by that – as it is true.

    In summary, I can see Abreu, Jeter, and Giambi being defensive liabilities this season – because of them not reaching balls that other fielders would turn into outs. And, I could see a few situations this year where A-Rod, Cano and Posada have misplays that cost the Yankees pitchers some runs.

    Of course, the trick with all of this is: Will it matter – as the bats of Abreu, Jeter, A-Rod, Cano, Posada and (possibly) Giambi will make up for whatever runs their fielding allows? During most games, in the regular season, this is probably the case. But, in games where the Yankees face good pitching, it might not always be the case.

    Igawa Can Pitch His Way On To Team Today

    Posted by on March 27th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Via Mark Feinsand -

    Kei Igawa will start Thursday against the Pirates, making his final pitch for the long-relief spot in the bullpen. Although Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner were considered the two top candidates, Igawa has moved into the race, with one Yankees official saying he would be considered the front-runner with a strong effort today.

    Is someone in the Yankees front office reading WasWatching.com?

    One Way For Season Ticket Holder Relo Plans To Work

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Friend of WasWatching.com Sean McNally shared with me today that he’s had a half-season package for the Washington Nationals for three years and recently went through their relocation/allocation process.

    The Nats started by taking a $150 deposit mid-last-season from all current holders and new customers. Then, those folks were given a 25 (or so) question survey about seating preferences (aisle, section, etc.).

    Later, in early December 2007, Sean was assigned his seats. The relo-seats were assigned in decending order – longest term holders down to new customers. Those groups were then divided by type of package: full, half then partial.

    According to Sean, his new seats are a little higher up (in the upper deck behind homeplate) than he requested – but, they’re roughly the same spot. The new seats are $16 a piece, up from last year’s cost of $14 each. All told, Sean said it was a relatively painless process to be relocated in the Nats’ new park.

    I have to confess, as much as I am a died in the wool Yankees fan, there’s a part of me that is jealous of fans who are connected to teams like the Nationals, A’s, Twins, etc., who are getting new parks and not being hassled in terms of getting good, affordable, seats (and the like).

    There’s no way, at all, with respect to the new Yankee Stadium relo-plans (TBA), that Yankees season ticket holders will only see a 14% increase in their ticket prices, and will also sit just about where they request, like the deal Sean got with the Nats.

    I just don’t see it happening at all.

    Hank Stein: Discount Canseco & A-Rod Is “Just Friggin’ Great”

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    Pete Caldera has the scoop -

    Yanks GM Hank Steinbrenner urges fans to “consider the source” of steroid allegations against A-Rod. In his spirited defense of A-Rod on Wednesday, Steinbrenner told The Record: “Consider the source, that’s number one,” Steinbrenner said of Canseco. “He wouldn’t have been able to hit the ball out of the infield without steroids.”

    “There are certain naturals. There are guys who can just do it, and Alex is one of those guys,” Steinbrenner said, during the interview in Clearwater, Fla. “He’s just friggin’ great.”

    He’s just friggin’ great.

    You know, Jason Varitek wears a “C” on his jersey because the team wanted him to don it, as their captain. Maybe Hank should get A-Rod to wear a “JFG” for “Just Friggin’ Great” on his jersey now?

    Yes, I’m joking. But, “He’s just friggin’ great,” is an automatic classic. Thanks Hank.

    Silent Steve

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments Off

    I’m still having issues with respect to being able to make comments.

    And, I’m still trying to correct the matter. This evening, in the interim, I found a work-around that allowed me to leave some comments. The trick was to remove the registration requirement for leaving comments to the blog. The problem with this is that, when I make this change, I have to “rebuild” every page of this site – and that takes around 10 to 15 minutes to run. And, once the requirement is lifted, then the spam programs start running through the entries like wildfire…leaving spam all over the place (which I then have to go and clean-up, one by one). Further, to prevent the spam comments from becoming a monster number, I have to restore the registration requirement when I’m done commenting – and then “rebuild” the entire blog again…which again takes 10 to 15 minutes.

    That’s too much work and time just to be able to leave some comments. So, I’ve decided to stop with the work-around and I will not be leaving comments to entries until I can do it the “normal” way. Therefore, if you make a comment and you are expecting me to answer a question, or defend a statement, etc., and you see nothing from me…it’s not because I don’t want to address you – it’s because making comments, for me, now, is like jumping through hoops. Lots of hoops.

    Hopefully, I can get this fixed soon. Until then, I’m on radio silence outside of the actual entries that I post here.

    It Happens Every February?

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments (12)

    I just came across this oldie but goodie from Buster Olney – from back in February of 2000. The feature discusses some young Yankees pitchers heading into that Spring Training. Some highlights:

    With the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers beginning workouts in four days in Tampa, Fla., the pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and General Manager Brian Cashman reviewed their list of spring training goals yesterday for each of the pitchers in camp. They had a long list of young pitchers to discuss.

    Cashman and other Yankees officials are trying to stock the organization with new and talented pitchers, to fill needs and for trades.

    Cashman dealt for Ed Yarnall last spring, and this year, Yarnall will open camp as the front-runner to be the No. 5 starter.

    Compared with most organizations, the Yankees have a wealth of up-and-coming pitching talent.

    As training camp begins, virtually all of the spots on the Yankees’ major league pitching staff will be accounted for. But if an injury or two occurs, then the right-hander Ben Ford, 24, may be the first called up. Ford is 6 feet 7 inches and throws hard, and he had a decent season last year, going 6-3 with a 4.73 earned run average, permitting 69 hits and walking 39 in 701/3 innings. ”He could develop quickly,” Cashman said.

    This season will be important for the Yankee prospect Ryan Bradley. A high draft pick in 1997, Bradley, 24, blew through the minors in 1998, advancing from Class A Tampa all the way to the majors, and it seemed as if he might progress to the big leagues for good last year.

    But Bradley’s control suffered in spring training and never really improved during the regular season, and his confidence suffered; he went 5-12 with a 6.21 e.r.a. for Class AAA Columbus, surrendering 163 hits, 73 walks and 23 wild pitches in 145 innings.

    The Yankees shifted Bradley, who has an aggressive mound demeanor, from the starting rotation to the bullpen, a role for which club officials feel he is better suited. Assigned to the Arizona Fall League, the right-hander had some success, but finished poorly. ”He moved very, very quickly through the minors, so he’s probably a league ahead of himself,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ president of baseball operations. ”Last year challenged him, and challenged his confidence.”

    Jake Westbrook, a former first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies, was acquired in the deal for Hideki Irabu with Montreal. Executives from other teams raved about the right-hander and his sinking fastball; the Yankees think that he has developed a slider good enough to complement that fastball, and that he just needs some refining before he is ready for the big leagues. At 22, he has received high marks from scouts for his durability and mental toughness. He went 41-25 in his first four years in the minors and will open in Class AAA, but he could advance to Yankee Stadium by year’s end.

    ”He’s had at least 170 innings in each of his full seasons in the minors,” Cashman said. ”You don’t see that very often in the minor leagues.”

    Luis De Los Santos, 22, possessed enough stuff to compel the Yankees to hold him out of the Chuck Knoblauch deal with Minnesota two years ago. Since then, however, he has sustained major elbow and knee injuries and may spend much of this year rehabilitating. Similarly, Darrell Einertson — a right-hander once viewed as a prospect — is still recovering from shoulder surgery.

    Craig Dingman, a right-hander who turns 26 next month, is coming off a year in which he had a 1.57 e.r.a. for Class AA Norwich, and he was added to the 40-man roster in the off-season.

    …Cashman and other Yankees officials are trying to stock the organization with new and talented pitchers, to fill needs and for trades…

    …Compared with most organizations, the Yankees have a wealth of up-and-coming pitching talent…

    Anyone else hearing “I Got You Babe” on their alarm clock radio at this moment?

    Verducci: Restocking A Rivalry

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Tom Verducci has an excellent feature up today at SI.com on how the Yankees and Red Sox have been using the draft lately to their benefit. Click here to read it. Some highlights:

    The Yankees’ future, meanwhile, looked even more dire in 2005. After New York blew a three-games-to-none lead to Boston in the 2004 ALCS, G.M. Brian Cashman tried to fortify his pitching by acquiring Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. None would be as good as advertised. “We had a chance to really go into an abyss,” Cashman said earlier this year.

    Cashman, who often clashed with owner George Steinbrenner’s Tampa-based brain trust, persuaded the Boss to give him more control of baseball operations, a change he would get in writing in his new contract after the season. He promoted prospects Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano to the majors in May and gave responsibility for the draft to scouting director Damon Oppenheimer.

    “[Cashman] knew my passion was on the amateur side,” Oppenheimer says. “He gave us a little more specific thinking on the draft, and we started looking for high-impact talent, premier players at premier positions.”

    Since 2005 the Yankees and the Red Sox have continued to sink more money into scouting and the draft. Says one rival AL G.M., “They’ve become what the U.S. and Russia were during the cold war: There is them, and there’s everybody else. My goodness, the Yankees took a guy in the first round [Andrew Brackman in 2007] who needed Tommy John surgery, and they gave him a four-year major league contract. Nobody else can do that.”

    In terms of the Yankees – and Cashman giving Oppenheimer “more specific thinking on the draft” – well, better late than never, right?

    Giambino’s Lack Of Good Face

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments (6)

    Jason Giambi, on this season, via the Daily News:

    “Sometimes you just go on these streaks where you get hurt and it seems like one thing after another,” Giambi says. “This winter, I really trained hard and I was really excited because Joe had called me and said that.

    “I’m in great shape and the numbers have always been there when I’ve been healthy.”

    Giambi knows that his health will always be a question mark. He has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs before the 2004 season and he has broken down in the past because of the wear and tear of playing first base. He has been only a part-time first baseman for the last three years, playing 164 games there while being the Yanks’ designated hitter in 182 games.

    “You know what? In this game, as you get older, you’re always proving yourself,” Giambi says. “You want to show that Father Time isn’t catching up to you. I’ve had a lot of great years and I’ve had a few where I’ve been injured, but if I stay healthy and I’m out there every day, the numbers will be there.”

    I’ve been debating on whether or not to share something on Giambi for the last three days. I wasn’t sure if it was ‘suitable’ (for lack of a better term). But, here goes nothing…

    I saw some video footage (on YES) of an interview with Jason Giambi over the past weekend. The camera was focused just on his face. And, he looked terrible. His face was bloated and blotchy. He looked like Gwildor – badly in need of a tan. I hope this is not insensitive to say, but, he looked like he just had been fished out of the water after lying face down in the river for a week. I’m not in the medical field, but, if asked, I would say his face looked like the face of a guy who’s about to have a heart attack at any minute. He just looked very unhealthy to me.

    Now, who knows? Maybe he had a touch of the flu? Or, maybe he was coming off a big night of partying or something?

    But, for sure, Giambi didn’t look like a guy who had been working out, under the sun, in Florida for the past month. Giambi’s face looked like he was the love child of Rodney Dangerfield and Carnie Wilson. It did not resonate with a sense of being in “great shape” or being “healthy.”

    Has anyone else seen Jason Giambi’s face lately? Am I the only one seeing this area of concern now?

    No, I’m Not Ignoring You

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments Off

    Yesterday, I lost my ability to make comments to blog entries. It’s a MT and/or TypeKey issue – because I had too many URLs listed in a comment post that I made yesterday morning. Basically, I’m shut out from being able to comment – regardless of the PC, ISP, or TypeKey account that I’m using. I’m looking into the immediate fix and long-term solution now. Sorry to anyone who is waiting on me to answer a comment.

    Jeter Family Down With OCP

    Posted by on March 26th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    …as in Omni Consumer Products. (See the “RoboCop” mention below.) And, yeah, this WePlay.com thing could be a cash cow for Derek too. Should we start calling him “Captain Digital” instead of “Captain Clutch”?

    Via the Herald Tribune:

    Late last year, Pamela Firestone, the mother of Tony Parker, the San Antonio Spurs point guard, went rooting through her home in Paris and dug up a VHS tape of a 9-year-old Tony on a Parisian basketball court with his two brothers.

    “O.K., let’s start,” the future N.B.A. star says in French. “It’s going to be the Chicago Bulls versus the San Antonio Spurs.”

    In most families such artifacts are merely heirlooms, their value measured in memories. For the Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency and the hedge fund Pequot Capital, these are assets to be exploited.

    Photos and videos showing blue-chip athletes like Mr. Parker, LeBron James, Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning will be part of a new venture that C.A.A. and Pequot along with the Internet arm of Major League Baseball are expected to announce today.

    The venture, WePlay.com, a social networking site for youth sports — something like Facebook for young athletes — is expected to start in mid-April. The site caters to youth athletes, parents and coaches — a vast audience. About 52 million children a year participate in organized sports leagues, according to the National Council of Youth Sports.

    Young athletes will be able to set up a profile, post pictures, communicate with friends and share videos of games. Parents will be able to get practice schedules, coordinate car pools and find out which equipment to purchase. Coaches will be able to communicate with their players and parents, as well as learn about strategy and other skills.

    Other athletes involved in WePlay.com have been looking for their own relics of early stardom. In a spare bedroom at her home in New Orleans, Olivia Manning collected relics from her son Peyton’s days as a child quarterback to be copied and digitized by an employee from Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

    Mr. James’s mother rustled up old photos and videos of her son from a storage area in her garage. And in New Jersey, Mr. Jeter’s mother found a video of her son playing Little League — a treasure whose value was diminished 10 minutes into the film because someone in the Jeter family taped over it with the movie “RoboCop.”

    So for players like Mr. Jeter, who will make about $20 million this year playing shortstop for the Yankees, being a hired promotional gun is not enough. Mr. Jeter, who in addition to receiving equity in WePlay in exchange for his involvement also invested some of his own money (he will not say how much), began filming clips for the site in mid-December. Having equity, Mr. Jeter said in a telephone interview, is “very important, because you can really feel good about something if you help build it.”

    The focus of the business also fits with Mr. Jeter’s own philanthropy. “What it boils down to is, it’s a really outstanding idea,” he said. “I have my own foundation, and we are trying to get kids to be active and play sports. Kids today spend too much time playing video games, and there’s a huge obesity problem in this country.”

    A-Rod & Canseco Timeline Splits

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    According to the source that’s out there, it looks like the reported PED dealer recommendation, that Jose Canseco made to Alex Rodriguez, happened after the 1999 season.

    Mario Alejandro said that Alex and Jose trained together in 1998. And, Canseco says he met the dealer when he was with the Blue Jays – when Jose played there in 1999. So, the end of the 1999 season seems to make sense, in terms of timing.

    Here’s an interesting split for you, on A-Rod:

    1994 through 1999: RCAA/PA = .051
    2000 through 2007: RCAA/PA = .087

    That may not seem like much, but, based a season of 600 PA, that’s a difference of +22 RCAA…or the difference between a season of 30 RCAA and 52 RCAA. So, in reality, it’s a fair difference.

    Another split for Alex:

    1994 through 1999: BB vs. Lge Avg./PA = -.016
    2000 through 2007: BB vs. Lge Avg./PA = +.049

    That’s a huge difference. Based on 600 PA, that’s the difference between being 10 walks less than league average and 29 walks better than league average.

    O.K, last split for Rodriguez:

    1994 through 1999: OPS vs. Lge Avg. = +.134
    2000 through 2007: OPS vs. Lge Avg. = +.227

    So, A-Rod “Before 2000″ and A-Rod “After 1999″ were not the same, in terms of their batting performance. A-Rod “After 1999″ was more selective, more productive, and, I suppose, more feared.

    Then again, Alex was very young “Before 2000″ – as he didn’t turn age 24 until July of 1999. So, the improvement in his offensive game could have just been natural maturity. But, without question, if someone wants to say that A-Rod was a great batter before this alleged meeting took place and he was a great batter after it, they’re ignoring the facts.

    Oh, and, by the way, the 2000 season was Alex’s “walk year” in his contract – before he signed the mega-deal with Texas. In terms of timing, he couldn’t have picked a better season to bring his game to a new level.

    There is one issue here for me in all of this: 1996. That season, as a 20-year old, A-Rod was off the charts in terms of his offensive production. Of course, he had Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner batting behind him that season – and all three of those guys had great seasons. Griffey had 61 RCAA, Martinez had 71 RCAA and Buhner had 32 RCAA. That had to help Alex in 1996.

    In any event, there’s a lot to digest here in terms of the facts we know and the assumptions that can be made off them. And, I suspect that folks will be eating off these quite a bit in the next week or so.

    It’s too bad. Baseball, the Yankees, and A-Rod don’t need to be dealing with this so close to Opening Day. But, if Canseco is telling the truth, then maybe the parties involved had this all coming anyway?

    It will be interesting to see what Alex has to say in his statement that he’s now promised. Stay tuned.

    Now Leaving Jericho…

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Just for the record, I am truly bummed over the news regarding CBS’ Jericho. Man, it’s a good show. Too bad the network doesn’t get it.

    Allard: Who Is Joe Girardi’s “Man” At 3rd?

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Phil Allard takes an interesting look at the Yankees third base coach this season, Bobby Meacham, with some fun memories mixed in. Click here to read it.

    My funny (?) story on Meacham: I saw an interview with Bobby’s wife on TV once, around 1990ish. Meacham was with the Royals’ Triple-A team trying to get back to the bigs, if I remember right. I think the interview with her was to get the wife’s take on life in the bushes. Anyway, in the interview, she offered this gem: “Before I met Bobby, I dated Mark Langston. I guess I married the wrong ball player?”

    Ouch.

    And, Mrs. Meacham has a tie to Joe Girardi too. Back in 1997, she wrote a feature on Joe coming to New York for a site called TheGoal.com – which is connected to TheGoal.org. If you follow this link, you’ll find stories about many Yankees on TheGoal.com.

    What People Are Saying About WasWatching.com (Part II)

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Last Thursday night, we launched the first ever WasWatching.com Reader Survey.

    Thanks to all who have responded to date! And, if you haven’t taken the survey yet, please consider taking it. The survey will be up and open for a few more days, at the least.

    Last Friday, we shared the first 50 “answers” to the survey question “What do you like best and least about WasWatching.com?”

    Wanting to expand on that, what follows are the next 20 “answers” to the survey question “What do you like best and least about WasWatching.com?”

    (more…)

    A-Rod On Canseco Book News: “No Comment”

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    Via Ken Davidoff and Kat O’Brien -

    When first told Tuesday morning that Canseco had leveled accusations against him, Rodriguez asked what more Canseco had said than in previous accusations. Told that Canseco had written about introducing him to a known supplier of steroids, Rodriguez said, “I really have absolutely no reaction.”

    Lavin, who posted his findings on his blog, joelavin.com, also reported that Canseco accused A-Rod of pursuing Canseco’s wife, the reason for Canseco’s clear animosity toward the Yankees’ third baseman.

    When Rodriguez was told about that, he raised his eyebrows and asked, “He said that in his book?”, then said, “I have absolutely no comment.”

    Maybe the media should go ask Hank for a reaction – I’d bet that he’d have some reaction or comments that could be interesting.

    Canseco: I Introduced A-Rod To Steroids Dealer

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    Via Joe Lavin with a hat tip to BaseballThinkFactory.org (who, themselves, give a hat tip to Deadspin):

    As for Alex Rodriguez, Canseco says he didn’t inject Rodriguez, but that he “introduced Alex to a known supplier of steroids.” Canseco didn’t mention Rodriguez in the first book because he “hated the bastard.” He was worried that people would have “questioned [his] motives” had he included Rodriguez.

    Why all the hatred, you ask. Well, Canseco claims that A-Rod was trying to sleep with Canseco’s wife. Apparently, even after Canseco had been nice enough to help A-Rod find a friendly steroids supplier, A-Rod kept calling Canseco’s wife.

    And, in case there’s any further confusion about Canseco’s true feelings, he ends the chapter by saying:

    So A-Rod, if you’re reading this book, and if I’m not getting through to you, let’s get clear on one thing: I hate your f***ing guts.

    Two years ago, Canseco’s wife had a book out – “Juicy: Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife.” I wonder how many people are going to scurry and check that one out to see if there’s any mention of A-Rod? Checking what you can see on Amazon, I noticed that there’s at least one Alex reference. But, what that means, I dunno?

    But, if, former-Hooters girl Jessica (Sekely) Canseco does want some life in the spotlight again, and she comes forward with some confirmation about Alex lusting after her, then you have to wonder if what Jose is saying could be true?

    Then again, A-Rod has an easy out here…as he can just confirm that Canseco did introduce some guy; but, it never went any further than that.

    Update, 5:20 PM ET, 3/25: While some have suggested that this story is a spoof, Joe Lavin has shared with me that it is, indeed, legit.

    Update, 7:05 PM ET, 3/25: On his ESPN Radio show this evening, around 5:15ish, Michael Kay was reading the Canseco book on the air and his reading backed up everything that Lavin said was true – further evidence that this is a legit story.

    Has The Quest For A Curve Turned Phil Hughes Into A Flyball Pitcher?

    Posted by on March 25th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Via Cliff Corcoran of Bronx Banter last night, on Phil Hughes:

    Who Didn’t [Pitch Well]: Phil Hughes struck out six in five innings, but also allowed three runs, two of them on a Pedro Feliz homer in the fourth. Hughes, who was targeted for 90 pitches, used up 86 of them in those five frames and seven of his nine outs on balls in play came on flies. That combination of inefficiency and fly-ball tendencies is what we were seeing from Hughes last year after he came off the DL, whereas earlier this spring he was back to being the dominant groundballing power pitcher he’d been in the minors.

    An excellent observation by Cliff. This forced me to look back at Hughes’ batted ball ratios in the bigs last season:

    Date	Opp	IP	BF	Pit	Str	GB	FB	LD	Str%	GB/FB
    Apr 26	TOR	4.1	21	91	53	7	4	4	58.2%	1.75
    May 1	@TEX	6.1	20	80	50	8	3	0	62.5%	2.67
    Aug 4	KCR	4.2	22	92	63	7	4	4	68.5%	1.75
    Aug 10	@CLE	6.0	23	95	66	3	11	2	69.5%	0.27
    Aug 15	BAL	5.0	23	94	60	4	10	3	63.8%	0.40
    Aug 20	@LAA	6.1	27	92	54	9	6	3	58.7%	1.50
    Aug 26	@DET	6.0	24	97	65	3	12	2	67.0%	0.25
    Aug 31	TBD	4.1	24	94	59	7	5	4	62.8%	1.40
    Sep 5	SEA	6.0	24	97	61	7	6	2	62.9%	1.17
    Sep 11	@TOR	6.0	25	106	67	7	8	6	63.2%	0.88
    Sep 17	BAL	5.2	24	96	57	6	6	7	59.4%	1.00
    Sep 22	TOR	5.0	23	99	68	6	5	8	68.7%	1.20
    Sep 27	@TBD	7.0	26	102	65	8	7	3	63.7%	1.14
    

    On the whole, Hughes’ groundball to flyball ratio was 0.94 last season. But, to Cliff’s point, if you take out his first two starts of the season, it’s closer to 0.84. This suggests that Hughes is a flyball pitcher – or, at least, he was last season.

    How about in 2006? Well, according to this data, Hughes groundball to flyball ratio in 2006 was 1.42 (on the year).

    So, what’s going on here? Why would a pitcher who was a groundball guy in the minors turn into a flyball pitcher in the majors?

    Was Carlos Gomez correct (?) back in May of last year, on Hughes, when he wrote:

    [Hughes'] steeper shoulder tilt in ’07 tells the story. You can also reference the first video clip. Notice how, in ’07, his throwing arm finishes closer to his left leg. That is consistent with a higher slot. This article, a Q&A with Phil Hughes, makes a reference to his higher arm slot. Hughes says:

    They weren’t anything major, just things like staying back and getting my arm in the proper slot. I struggled a bit off the bat when I got [to Trenton], but was able to put together a few good starts and build on them. Things started clicking, with a big part of that being the improvement of my curveball… I throw more of a 12-to-6 when I’m mostly looking to get it over, and then with two strikes I throw one that has a little more plane to it; more of a 1-to-7.

    In order to get a true 12-6 break on a curveball, a pitcher has to impart true 12-6 back-to-front topspin on the ball so that there is minimal lateral break. This is nearly impossible (except for Eddie Degerman, he of the highest arm slot the world has ever seen) because of the angle of release. I would call Hughes’ curve a 1-7 curve. It used to be more of a 2-8 curve because of his lower release point. The point is that Hughes is trying to make it a 12-6 curve by being more over the top and has done so with all his pitches. A higher release point on his fastball translates to a fastball that is straighter with minimal lateral break. Why do the one-arm pitching machines throw the straightest fastballs? Because they come straight over the top and put perfect backspin on the ball.

    And yet, even with his four-seam fastball, and such an over the top delivery, how did he get a reputation for being a groundball pitcher? Is it mostly his curveball that causes all those ground outs? His fastball in ’07 is more conducive with flyouts/strikeouts… I can see the ground balls with his ’06 mechanics, and I’m willing to bet that he’s been getting more fly balls after the arm slot change.

    …and I’m willing to bet that he’s been getting more fly balls after the arm slot change…

    Sounds like Carlos’ and Cliff’s observations are tying together here, no? Gomez predicted at the start of last season that Hughes would be a flyball pitcher because of the change in his slot, and Corcoran is confirming that change, based on last year’s data and what we’ve seen this spring.

    Now, of course, the question is: What will the change in style mean for Phil Hughes at the big league level? Will more flies mean more big flies and balls going over the wall? It might – but, we’ll have to wait and see, for sure.

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