• Getting Inside

    Posted by on May 31st, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Today, the family and I did something that I have always wanted to do…we took the tour of Yankee Stadium. Man, if you’ve never done it, and you’re a Yankees fan, what are you waiting for?

    I actually got to hang, stretched out, with my hands secured to the roof of the Yankees dugout – just like you see the players do sometimes before a game. Dream.come.true.

    More pictures to come at a later date.

    May 30th @ The Twins

    Posted by on May 30th, 2008 · Comments (26)

    Gotta give Mike Mussina a lot of credit for this one. After that first inning, Moose could have folded like an Eddie Antar chain of stores. But, he followed that first frame with five solid ones and kept the score to a point where the Yankees could chip away. I know that some Yankees batters had big days today; but, for me, I give this game ball to Mussina.

    “Boom Boom” Farnsworth did make me sweat in the eighth. Kyle really is the Bizarro Mo Rivera.

    Strange game for the Yankees bats tonight: 22 TB and 6 runs. That’s now the 4th time this season the Yankees have had 22+ TB in a game while scoring 6 runs or less. Last season, in total, the team did this 3 times. And, in 2006 it happened 4 times for New York. (Then again, in 1998, the Yankees did this 7 times. But, on average it usually only happens one to four times a season for the Yankees – since 1956.)

    So, we’re at the one-third mark of the season and the Yankees are exactly at .500 (27-27). Back in January, I suggested that June and July would be the best months for the Yankees to put together a nice run.

    Let’s hope that the second “third” of the season is a lot better than the first “third.”

    Adam Wainwright

    Posted by on May 30th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Adam Wainwright was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1st round (29th pick) of the 2000 amateur draft. (On December 13, 2003, he was traded by the Atlanta Braves with Ray King and Jason Marquis to the St. Louis Cardinals for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero.)

    From 2000 through 2005, Wainwright was a starting pitcher in the minor leagues – just as he was in High School.

    In 2006, because of need, the St. Louis Cardinals had Wainwright pitch out of their bullpen. However, the next year – last season – Adam Wainwright, at the age of 25, was returned to a starting role. And, Adam has been one of the better starting pitchers in the N.L. over the last two seasons.

    Joba Chamberlain was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 1st round (41st pick) of the 2006 amateur draft. Last season, in the minors, Chamberlain was a starting pitcher for the Yankees – just as he was in college.

    Late last season, out of need, the New York Yankees had Chamberlain pitch out of their bullpen – where he has remained to date. However, now, the Yankees want to have Joba return to a starting role – at the age of 22.

    St. Lous is a huge baseball town. It’s one of the few cities in America where baseball is the primary interest of sports fans. Why is it that there’s so much debate, locally and nationally, as to whether or not the Yankees are doing the right thing with Joba Chamberlain when there was not nearly as much attention paid to the Cardinals’ call to have Adam Wainwright go from starter to reliever and back to starter?

    Both were/are young uber-prospects, former first-round selections, playing on winning teams in big baseball markets. Is there really any difference between the two? Just some food for thought…that some people are making the Joba switch into a much bigger deal than it should be…given some reflection on the Cards recent handling of Wainwright and the attention given to that move.

    Tabata In Doghouse Again

    Posted by on May 30th, 2008 · Comments (11)

    One of the Yankees “crown jewels” (of their farm system) – Jose Tabata – is really starting to lose his shine.

    As you may recall, four weeks ago, Tabata found himself in hot water with Trenton management. Now, he’s at it again. Via John Nalbone:

    Thunder right fielder Jose Tabata was yanked from tonight’s game against visiting New Hampshire in the fifth inning for unspecified disciplinary reasons.

    Suspended three games by the Yankees for leaving Waterfront Park following an April 26 strikeout that dropped his batting average below .200, Tabata was expelled from the dugout and was seen sitting in front of his locker as the Fisher Cats grabbed a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning on a two-run home run by Aaron Mathews.

    The Thunder (34-19) eventually won the game, 7-4, by scoring three times in the bottom of the eighth to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Fisher Cats (19-33).

    Manager Tony Franklin refused to address the specifics as to why the 19-year-old Tabata was pulled and sent back to the clubhouse.

    “We had an in-house issue we needed to deal with. Don’t ask me what it is because I’m not telling you,” a visibly irritated Franklin said. “We’re very pleased with the way he is playing. He is playing hard. But there are certain standards that need to be met within this organization and with this team, and when those standards are not met we take action. It’s our job to make sure these players know what they are supposed to do at all times out there.”

    Franklin did not rule out further discipline for Tabata, who was 0-for-2 before being removed.

    “We’ll decide on that later,” Franklin said. “We’ll bring him in, talk to him and explain what we want to see him do and how we’d like to see him go about it.”

    It turns out that Jose was benched for failing to back-up Austin Jackson on a play where Jackson dove for a ball and it rolled past him allowing the batter to reach third.

    Nothing new there. Via Mike Ashmore three days ago:

    Could not agree more with a scouting report I saw on Jose Tabata that says he tends to turn his talent on and off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him make no effort on catchable balls that are hit right at him that end up landing. Anthony Hatch hit a ball off of Melancon in the 5th that was right to him, but he barely moved and watched it land about three feet in front of him. I hate to rip the guy, but enough already…

    Back in October of 2006, I shared some concern over Tabata’s attitude. Also, this past January, I quoted a Baseball America scouting report on Tabata that read: “Scouts outside the organization chide him for failing to give a consistent effort.”

    Of course, Jose Tabata is young and there’s still time for him to get a better attitude. But, until that time comes, it probably makes sense to downgrade his prospect status in the Yankees chain. Because, right now, he’s looking like a Bow-Wow in the making.

    Igawa Wanted To Go Home

    Posted by on May 30th, 2008 · Comments (13)

    Via Jayson Stark – with a hat tip to The Bronx Block:

    Kei Igawa isn’t quite as buried on that Yankees’ depth chart as Carl Pavano, but it’s close. And he’s already homesick. We’ve heard from two different baseball men recently that Igawa asked the Yankees over the winter if there was any way he could return to Japan. The Yankees quietly explored their options, got nowhere and gave up. They’re still on the hook for nearly $11 million to Igawa through the 2010 season.

    Remember the Kevin Millar “Japan” thing back in 2003? Via the Times:

    Kevin Millar was obtained by the Boston Red Sox in a cash deal with the Florida Marlins yesterday after the Japanese team he agreed to sign with last month released him from his contract.

    The Marlins received an undisclosed payment for Millar, 31, a first baseman-outfielder.

    Millar, who led Florida with a .306 batting average last season, agreed in early January to a two-year, $6.2 million contract with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League. The Marlins released him in exchange for a $1.2 million payment from the Dragons. Millar, who was being pursued by the Red Sox, then changed his mind about playing in Japan, saying his family did not want him to leave at a time of possible war with Iraq.

    After talks with Major League Baseball officials, the Dragons released Millar on Friday for an undisclosed payment, the commissioner’s office said. One of the negotiators said the amount would be $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

    Theo Epstein, Boston’s general manager, said the Red Sox were not involved in the discussions to free Millar from the Dragons.

    It’s a shame the Yankees couldn’t work out something like this – in reverse – where Japan gave the Yankees an undisclosed payment to release Igawa – and then Kei was free to return to Japan. Doesn’t seem so hard, does it? Unless, of course, no one in Japan wanted to touch Igawa with a ten foot pole…and, if true, that makes the Yankees call to spend $46 million on him look even worse, now.

    Meeting Lemon With A Cherry On Top

    Posted by on May 29th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    Bobby Murcer’s new book, “Yankee for Life: My 40-Year Journey in Pinstripes” was released on May 20th. Related, Bobby was at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center (located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, New Jersey) this evening signing copies for fans.

    I had known for a while that this event was planned.  And, I was interested in attending.  Yet, when I reached out to some friends to see if they wanted to go, everyone I asked to go with me either had something else to do or they weren’t up for it.

    So, today, I found myself twisting on this one.  It was not like this was something just around the corner for me – as Little Falls is an 80 minute drive from my house in normal traffic.  Yet, I had this strong urge – one that grew as the day went on – that it was important for me to go see Bobby tonight and get a copy of his book.  I can’t explain it.  It was like my brain was telling my body “Don’t think about it.  Just get yourself there tonight.”

    Right up until the last minute for me to leave – in order to make it in time – I was questioning myself:  “Am I crazy to do this alone?”  I decided to use my wife as a sounding board.  I told her about my strong feeling – one that I could not really explain why I had – that I felt it was important to go.  And, she said to me “Hey, it’s not like you’re going to the movies by yourself on a Saturday night.  What’s the big deal?  Do you need a date or something in order to go?”  Well…that was it.  She convinced me.  And, off I went to the book signing.

    The doors at the Berra Museum were scheduled to open at 6:30 pm.   And, right on schedule, that’s about when Bobby showed up.  Those who called ahead and pre-ordered the signed book got to go into the signing first – while the rest, like me, got to wait outside. 

    But, that was O.K. – as it was a beautiful evening.  Also, it was Opening Night for the New Jersey Jackals – who play at Yogi Berra Stadium (right next to the museum).  As a result, while waiting on line, I got to enjoy all the sounds and smells that you get from a ballpark just before the start of a game.

    More importantly, by being on the “not pre-ordered” line, I got to hang out with some other Yankees fans – just like me in the sense that they too came solo.  In fact, the three guys behind me in line were all there by themselves.   One was about my age.  The other was about 10 years older than me.  And, the last was about 20 years older than me. 

    We had fun killing time talking about the Yankees of old, the current team, the old Yankee Stadium, the current and new Yankee Stadiums, Spring Training games, and Yankees trivia – with questions like “Who won the A.L. Rookie of the Year in Mantle’s first season?” and “Who hit the last homerun in the old Yankee Stadium?”  Between the four of us, we had 40 to 50 years worth of Yankees stuff to discuss.

    We didn’t introduce ourselves to each other.  We didn’t exchange names or shake hands.  (Hey, we’re guys!)  We just started talking Yankees and it rolled from there.  All told, we were probably on line together for close to 90 minutes – as our line snaked through the inside of the Berra Museum towards where Bobby was signing.  It certainly made the time go faster.

    That’s what’s so cool about being a baseball fan.  If you meet another fan (or two, or more) in the right setting, you have an instant friend at that moment and you can just talk baseball.  You don’t need an ice-breaker.  You don’t need to have anything else in common with the person.  You don’t need to be close in age.  Heck, you don’t even need to know their name.  Baseball is the bridge.  And, that works just fine.

    One of my new friends was also willing to snap this picture of me meeting Bobby:

    It all worked out well. I got to meet Bobby Murcer and shake his hand – and tell him what a pleasure it was to meet him. I now have an autographed copy of his book. And, I have a nice picture which captured the moment. On top of all this, I unexpectedly got to hang out with some fellow baseball fans on a pleasant early summer evening, in a ballpark backdrop marinade setting, doing the guy thing, talking Yankees baseball.

    Sweet.

    Oppenheimer Talks Draft

    Posted by on May 29th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Via the Yankees site -

    “It’s always a challenge,” [Yankees V.P. of scouting Damon] Oppenheimer said. “I think if you talk to the guys over there at the Rays, they’re probably agonizing over their decision at No. 1 on who their guy is going to be. We all have our tough decisions to make. We’re always in the position where we’re at the will of whatever goes before us.”

    “It’s a good crop of players out there,” Oppenheimer said. “I think the Draft has some depth to it. I’m not sure how many potential superstars there are in this Draft, but from what we’ve seen, it has some depth and there should be some good players. There’s a huge difference between players one through five and players 25 through 30, but we’ll still be happy with what we get.”

    “You always hope to put pitching into the system, and it’d be nice to put some big arms into the system,” Oppenheimer said. “It would be nice to put some athletic guys who could potentially hit in the middle of the lineup. Those guys, there’s not that many of them to pick from. In terms of a particular position, I’m not going to try to shove a square peg into a round hole or anything like that. We’re going to pick what’s the best out there.”

    “We’re just going to try to line them up the best we can,” Oppenheimer said. “We’d like to take the guy with the highest ceiling, who is closest to the big leagues. Sometimes that’s college and sometimes it’s high school. We try to weigh those things and put it together, and take which one of those guys best fits that round.”

    I read in Baseball America that the Yankees have been heavy in terms of scouting left-handed pitchers. If true, look for the Yankees to take one of the high school lefties out there who may slide down in the first round because of signing concerns and/or college commitments.

    Make sense – you need left-handed pitching in Yankee Stadium and the Yankees have no legit LHP prospects.

    Anatomy Of Baseball

    Posted by on May 29th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Anatomy Of Baseball,” edited by Lee Gutkind and Andrew Blauner, is a baseball anthology book that was released last month. It’s a collection of twenty essays by some names that you’ll know (like Roger Angell, Frank Deford, Jeff Greenfield, John Thorn, and George Plimpton) and some names that may not ring any bells with you. The essays themselves, while baseball-centric, vary in theme. Some are more baseball history oriented while others are more fan-experience type pieces. And, others fall in between – like Frank Deford’s contribution which is an ode to baseball caps and how they have become “the most familar American artifact.”

    If you’re a baseball fan, you will enjoy “Anatomy Of Baseball.” The essays – from all the authors (be they well known or not) – truly find that sweet spot in your heart reserved for baseball and tickle it in a way that invokes a very positive response. Whether it’s finding yourself in one of the fan experience essays (like Stefan Fatsis’ “My Glove: A Biography”) or learning something new from the others (like Michael Shapiro’s “The Southworths”), reading this book is just a flat-out good time.

    If you’re like me, in the sense that you would would drape yourself in baseball if it were socially acceptable, then I recommend reading “Anatomy Of Baseball.” It’s a good, healthy, fix for any baseball addict.

    As an added bonus to Yankees fans, Sean Wilentz contributed an essay to the book entitled “Freddy the Fan” – which calls for recognizing uber-fans, like Yankee Stadium’s “Freddy Sez,” from baseball’s history. (I’m fine with that – and, who knows, it may, someday, lead to recognizing Yankeeland zealot bloogers too!)

    Don’t Tread On Girardi

    Posted by on May 29th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Brandon Tierney and Scott Ferrall, yesterday on SNY’s WheelHouse, prior to the Yankees game last night, discuss Joe Girardi’s recent beefs and reactions with umpiring crews. Here’s the video:

    I did get a kick out of General Joe waving his arm (out of disgust) at umpire crew chief Dana DeMuth on Tuesday (during Girardi’s protest about the rain). I never thought we would see that type of reaction from Joe. Yes, I thought he would stick up for his players. But, he’s shown us a little more Weaver/Piniella/Martin type stuff this season than I expected. When Joe waived at DeMuth, I thought he might have gotten run for that. Now, that may have led to an even better show than the one on May 22nd.

    Jesus Montero And Austin Romine

    Posted by on May 29th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Some interesting quotes from, and about, the Yankees (low) Class A (Charleston) catching platoon of Jesus Montero and Austin Romine – via the recent print edition of Baseball America:

    “Being my first year, I think [alternating days between catching and designated hitter is] a good thing,” said the 19-year-old Romine, who suffered a lower body injury in late April but was expected to return to the lineup in mid-May. “The Yankees didn’t want to overwork me because it is a lot of games to catch coming right out of high school. It’s a lot easier to give it your all when you do it every other day. I want to be an everyday catcher, but I realize I have to start somewhere.”

    “I’m concentrating more on my catching than on my hitting and working hard with the coaches in order to become a better all-around catcher,” Montero said through an interpreter, coach Henry Mercedes. “I’m working on everything because you can never be too good back there.”

    “If you take their ages into account, it’s pretty amazing what they’ve done so far,” said [Torre] Tyson, who is in his second season as Charleston’s manager. “We haven’t seen Austin as much, and he has some stuff to prove. As far as Jesus is concerned, I’m shocked. The first five or six days, I thought he was hot. After about 25 days, I thought, ‘O.K., maybe he’s good.’ He’s been impressive. Even on days when he’s not feeling it, he always seems to come up with a clutch hit for us. I wish I could catch him 140 games, but that’s not a good thing for someone who’s 18 years old.”

    “When I saw [Jesus] a year ago, I thought there was no hope of him even catching A ball,” Tyson said. “To see how far he’s come from then to now with the instruction he’s received makes me think he can catch in the big leagues.”

    “Hopefully [Jesus] will stick with the regimen they’ve set up,” Tyson said. “If so, he’ll develop into a beast. He doesn’t have to hit a ball good to hit it out of the park. That’s something I haven’t seen at this level in a long time.”

    “The first thing that strikes me [about Austin] is his arm strength,” Tyson said. “Once he figures out he can be quicker with his feet and his overall body instead of trying to rely on throwing it 100 miles an hour, you’re going to see some impressive throws behind the plate.”

    Because of his bat, I expect Jesus Montero to move quicker through the Yankees system. Assuming all goes well, you may see him in the Bronx come 2011 or 2012. Austin Romine may take longer – again, assuming all goes well, he’ll probably be ready for the bigs around 2013. When you consider this, and the fact that Jorge Posada’s contract is up after 2011, it suggests that New York is going to need someone, just for a short while, to bridge the gap between Posada being the Yankees full-time catcher and either Montero or Romine taking over (on a full-time basis).

    May 28th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 28th, 2008 · Comments (21)

    Since 2004, and including this game, the Yankees are now 69-11 in games where their pitchers allow exactly 2 runs in the contest. Boy, it’s easy when you get some pitching, huh?

    Another five total bases for Jason Giambi tonight. He really has been amazing since May 6th. But, to be honest, while I’m happy to see him do well – because it means good things for the Yankees- I do, at times, get this strange feeling when I see him hitting like, well, the Jason Giambi of 2000 to 2002. While I am able to rejoice over his success, there’s a part of me that starts to hear, off in the distance, the sound of “the other shoe” starting to drop – meaning that some disclosure is going to come forward that will just ruin all the good things that Jason has done in the last three weeks (with the bat).

    Yeah, I know, I’m a terrible person for suspecting that Giambi’s recent great performance may be the result of some enhancing agent…like the one that they can’t test for in baseball (yet). But, hey, it’s somewhat human nature to expect someone to revert back to old tricks…especially when those tricks were so successful in the past and things at the moment are not going so well for them. If Giambi was not the poster-child for PEDs that he was – and a self-confessed poster-child, at that – maybe I would be able to escape this feeling…and the assumption alleys that it leads me down?

    Aw, I should probably stop with this now. I know that reading this will be upsetting to some people. However, I’m just being honest about my feelings here. And, for what it’s worth, I can imagine that there other Yankees fans out there who, at times, watching Giambi hit the way he’s be batting lately, wonder if it’s a “natural” thing. Are they willing to admit it, like me? Maybe? But, then again, maybe not.

    Now, This, Could Be Fun

    Posted by on May 28th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    Via the Yankees site: Fans to pick games for Yankees DVD. (Hat tip to BTF.)

    Me?

    I’m voting for:

    1976 ALCS Game 5
    July 4, 1983 – Dave Righetti’s no-hitter
    1995 ALDS, Game 2
    2000 World Series, Game 1
    2003 ALCS, Game 7

    That’s one each for the ’70′s, ’80′s, ’90′s and ’00′s – plus the Boone homer. How about you?

    Those Darn Kids

    Posted by on May 28th, 2008 · Comments (9)

    Looking at the stats for Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, so far, this season, I wondered “When was the last time the Yankees had two kids, this young, pitch for the team at the same time – and pitch so poorly?”

    So, I went over to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index Pitching Season Finder and set it for:

    Pitching for the Yankees, since 1947, age 25 or younger, with at least 6 starts made, and an ERA+ of <=75. And, here's the results:

     Year Number Players Matching
    +----+------+-----------------------------------------+
     2008      2 Ian Kennedy / Philip Hughes               
     1991      2 Jeff Johnson / Wade Taylor                
     1989      2 Jimmy Jones / Dave Eiland                
    

    That’s it. Just three times since 1947. (And, it only happened once before 1947 – when Ray Fisher and George Davis pitched for the 1912 Yanks.)

    Ah, Jeff Johnson and Wade Taylor. And, Jimmy Jones and Dave Eiland. Granted, those guys were not up there in terms of “prospect status” – like, say Al Leiter, Brad Arnsberg and Bill Fulton – but, at one time, the Yankees were looking for them to help and it didn’t work out.

    As mentioned before, that 1989-1991 period was maybe the worst three-year run in Yankees team history. Let’s hope that 2008-2010 doesn’t come close to what we had in Yankeeland back then….

    One Way To Look At The Yankees Season To Date

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

    I noticed this format, in terms of a way to look at a season, in the Bill James Gold Mine 2008. It does tell a story. The Yankees numbers, sliced by Homestands and Road Trips, to date this season:

    Batting

    Series			W-L	R	PG	AVG	W-L
    Homestand, April 1 to 7	4-3	23	3.29	.251	4-3
    Road Trip, April 8 to 15	4-4	33	4.13	.269	8-7
    Homestand, April 16 to 17	1-1	20	10.00	.324	9-8
    Road Trip, April 18 to 28	5-5	43	4.30	.242	14-13
    Home. April 29 to May 8	4-5	38	4.22	.266	18-18
    Road Trip, May 9 to 15	2-4	16	2.67	.241	20-22
    Homestand, May 17 to 25	5-3	49	6.13	.283	25-25
    Road Trip, May 26 to 27	0-2	10	5.00	.260	25-27
    

    Pitching

    Series			W-L	OR	PG	ERA	W-L
    Homestand, April 1 to 7	4-3	29	4.14	3.71	4-3
    Road Trip, April 8 to 15	4-4	33	4.13	4.24	8-7
    Homestand, April 16 to 17	1-1	16	8.00	8.00	9-8
    Road Trip, April 18 to 28	5-5	43	4.30	4.41	14-13
    Home. April 29 to May 8	4-5	35	3.89	3.89	18-18
    Road Trip, May 9 to 15	2-4	23	3.83	3.98	20-22
    Homestand, May 17 to 25	5-3	44	5.50	4.50	25-25
    Road Trip, May 26 to 27	0-2	16	8.00	7.36	25-27
    

    Outside of that road trip to Tampa in May, the Yankees bats have not been terrible this season…at least not as MIA as people like to claim they were for most of the early season. To date, the Yankees score 4.5 runs per game (this season) and they allow 4.6 runs per game. And, that’s why they’re basically a .500 team.

    Ben Broussard

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

    The Yankees have picked-up Ben Broussard – and assigned him to Triple-A.

    Not sure I get this one? Broussard cannot hit lefties, at all. So, how would he fit into the big league picture in the Bronx? And, as far as Triple-A, well, if he’s there then he’s taking Plate Appearances away from Juan Miranda and Eric Duncan.

    Am I missing something?

    May 27th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 28th, 2008 · Comments (22)

    Do I really have to write about this game?

    Just thinking about it…well…it makes me want to go find a heavy-bag somewhere and just start punching away…rather than write about…either that…or…go find a room somewhere…where I can be alone…and cry. Man, what a terrible game.

    You have a 4-0 lead after the top of the 2nd – and then allow the game to be tied, 4-4, in the bottom of the second. Then, you have an 8-4 lead after the top of the 4th – and then allow the game to be tied, 8-8, in the next inning. Then, you have a 9-8 in the 11th – only needing three outs to win the game – and then you blow it…10-9, in the bottom of the 11th.

    It’s like losing three games in one. And, that doesn’t even touch all the other stuff…like the errors, Jeter getting picked off, and the 4-2-5 double play (in the 11th).

    Funny, just yesterday, I wrote:

    Yes, outside of Mo, Joba and Ramirez, the Yankees bullpen has not been pretty this season. And, yes, you cannot trust Farnsworth, Hawkins or Ohlendorf.

    And, bang, we see it in this game. (Yes, Farnsworth didn’t allow a run in this game – but, he was darn lucky not to…thanks to Millar being slow in one inning and grounder being hit, hard, right at Cano in another.) Hawkins and Ohlendorf were terrible. Maybe Ohlendorf should be limited to one inning for a while?

    La Troy Hawkins? Hey, just add him to the list of “Cashman’s Brilliant Bullpen Pick-ups” – along with Juan Acevedo, Gabe White, Felix Heredia, Octavio Dotel, Alan Embree, Scott Erickson, C.J. Nitkowski, Wayne Franklin, Allen Watson, Felix Rodriguez and Mike Thurman.

    After the first game of this series, I wrote:

    The Baltimore Orioles are not the Seattle Mariners.

    Again, you can say that…and, maybe, just maybe, it’s now time to say: “The New York Yankees are close to being the Seattle Mariners.” Know what the difference is between the records for the M’s and the Yanks? It’s the 6 games where New York beat Seattle this year. Take away those 6 games and both teams have the same win total at this junction of season. (The Yankees would be 19-27 and the Mariners would be 19-28.)

    And, what’s up with Ian Kennedy? This is now twice, in the last five months of pitching (if you include Spring Training games) that he’s been forced to the D.L. with a lat/back problem. Leave it to the Yankees “crack” scouting staff to find a 23-year old with a bad back condition.

    Today’s Rain Delay

    Posted by on May 27th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    In case you’re bored at this moment, waiting for the Yankees and O’s to start playing again…

    …here’s a little something to pass the time. Rock it out, ya’ll.

    The Camden Yankees

    Posted by on May 27th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Via the Canadian Press:

    The gates swing open, and thousands immediately rush inside. They dart across the landscape like a swarm of blue and white locusts, brashly making themselves at home in a place they don’t belong.

    They are fans of the New York Yankees, converting Camden Yards into their own version of Yankee Stadium.

    Through Wednesday, nearly half the crowd at the home of the Baltimore Orioles will be wearing Yankees hats and jerseys while cheering the visitors.

    For many, the approximate 3 1/2-hour drive down I-95 from New York to Camden Yards is a sound economic decision – even if it means staying at a hotel, eating at restaurants and paying ticket-scalper prices to get in the ballpark.

    John Trush came from New Jersey with his wife, daughter and her boyfriend to see Monday’s afternoon game. Trush paid US$150 each for tickets marked at $48 and considered it a bargain.

    “It’s worth it. I’m in the 10th row behind the Yankees dugout,” Trush crowed. “Same ticket at Yankee Stadium is $600, and next year it’s going to be $850. So trust me, I’m not complaining about the price here.”

    The Yankees’ official website lists the top ticket price this year at $400, but those seats are rarely available on game days. Next year, when the team moves into a new $1.3-billion ballpark, the Yankees will charge $500 to $2,500 for seats near home plate in the first five to eight rows.

    Camden Yards used to be filled to capacity with Orioles’ supporters, but the fan base has wilted in the wake of 10 straight losing seasons.

    Yankees fans are more than willing to fill those empty seats.

    Wearing Yankees hats and shirts, Mike and Judy Wood made the trip from Lewisbury, Pa., on Monday to see their first game at Camden Yards. They bought their tickets at an Orioles Store in York, Pa., for $57 each.

    “Not bad at all,” Mike reasoned. “Last game I saw at Yankee Stadium, I paid $200 each.”

    I have to say…I’m thinking about this in the future. It’s a two-hour train ride (via Amtrak) from where I am in New Jersey to Baltimore. (Although the round-trip fare could run you about $160.) With traffic, it takes me at least 90 minutes to drive to the Stadium…most times closer to an hour and 45 minutes, each way. So, it terms of time traveling…it’s close to a push.

    It’s just a matter of the cost of a ticket at Camden, plus the train, versus the cost of a ticket at the Stadium, plus gas and parking…

    …but, because of the prices at Yankee Stadium, it’s at least worth noodling over someday.

    Can You Bench A Bench?

    Posted by on May 27th, 2008 · Comments (10)

    How bad has the Yankees bench been this season? Check this out:

    Via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, Yankees batting seasons, since 1973, ranked by worst OWP – min. 60 PA – with 2008 being to-date:

    Player		YEAR	PA	OWP
    Joel Skinner	1987	154	.036
    Wil Nieves	2007	66	.042
    Dale Sveum	1998	64	.051
    Dennis Werth	1981	71	.066
    Butch Hobson	1982	60	.068
    Bucky Dent	1982	173	.075
    Johnny Callison	1973	142	.077
    Jesse Barfield	1992	105	.080
    Cla.Washington	1990	83	.083
    Jim Mason		1975	251	.089
    John Flaherty	2005	138	.091
    Brad Gulden	1979	105	.091
    Wayne Tolleson	1990	83	.092
    Andre Robertson	1984	152	.097
    Gerald Williams	1993	71	.099
    Luis Sojo		2001	84	.111
    Johnny Oates	1980	67	.114
    Morgan Ensberg	2008	80	.125
    Ed Brinkman	1975	68	.125
    Clay Bellinger	2001	88	.132
    Lou Piniella	1975	221	.138
    Mike Fischlin	1986	116	.139
    Brian Doyle	1980	81	.142
    Jose Molina	2008	102	.143
    Jim Mason		1976	236	.155
    Todd Greene	2001	100	.159
    Luis Sojo		1998	153	.159
    Paul Blair	1978	136	.162
    Enrique Wilson	2002	119	.166
    Fred Stanley	1979	110	.167
    Henry Cotto	1986	83	.168
    Shelley Duncan	2008	62	.180
    Hal Lanier	1973	90	.182
    Joe Girardi	1999	229	.182
    Omar Moreno	1985	68	.185
    Andy Fox		1996	219	.195
    Wayne Tolleson	1989	160	.201
    Jim Spencer	1981	72	.202
    Jose Cruz		1988	88	.202
    Bobby Meacham	1986	185	.204

    What offensive value have Shelley Duncan, Jose Molina, and Morgan Ensberg added, so far, this season? None. They’ve been terrible with the bat. Considering that the Yankees are carrying 12 pitchers, this is worse news – since their bench then consists of just four players: Molina (when Posada returns), Duncan, Ensberg and Wilson Betemit.

    Granted, the Yankees bench should not have to be called upon all that much. But, they still do have to play in some games. And, when Molina, Duncan and Ensberg do play, they’re killing the team offensively.

    Mets Fans Ring In On Cashman

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

    Matthew Cerrone, over at MetsBlog, has linked to my question of Will [the] Mets Situation Benefit Cashman?

    And, the reaction of Mets fans on the potential of acquiring Cashman is very interesting. Stop by Metsblog and check it out.

    Tyler Clippard Update

    Posted by on May 27th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    Remember Tyler Clippard?

    Currently, he’s doing pretty good for the Columbus Clippers – now the Triple-A team for the Washington Nationals. Tyler’s stats there, to date:

    Games Started: 10
    Innings Pitched: 52.6
    Hits Allowed: 44
    Strikeouts/Walks: 53/21
    ERA: 3.93
    WHIP: 1.23

    The Nationals starting pitching this season – with guys like John Lannan, Tim Redding, and Odalis Perez – has been doing surprisingly well. Still, you have to wonder if Clippard will soon get another chance to prove himself (and the Yankees wrong – for letting him go) at the big league level.

    Chase Not Wright

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

    Down in Trenton, Chase Wright was placed on the D.L. with a sore shoulder and was scheduled to undergo an MRI. (Hat tip to Chad Jennings.)

    Wright’s been having a nice season, to date. This news is sad to hear. He seems like a nice kid. I hope that everything works out in his favor.

    Does Yanks Pen Have Soft Underbelly?

    Posted by on May 27th, 2008 · Comments (2)

    Charlie Minn and Jonas Schwartz suggest, on SNY’s Geico SportsNite yesterday, that the Yankees bullpen (with the loss to the O’s on Monday) has been exposed. Here’s the video:

    Let’s check the stats on this one – via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:

    Pitcher		RSAA	BR/9 IP	  IP
    Mariano Rivera	9	 4.50	20.0
    Edwar Ramirez	7	 9.95	12.2
    Joba Chamberlain	5	10.07	22.1
    Brian Bruney	4	11.12	11.1
    Jon. Albaladejo	1	13.83	13.2
    Chris Britton	1	 9.64	 4.2
    Jose Veras	0	 8.10	10.0
    Kyle Farnsworth	0	13.50	22.0
    Billy Traber	0	18.00	 8.0
    Ross Ohlendorf	-3	14.82	27.1
    LaTroy Hawkins	-4	11.79	23.2

    Yes, outside of Mo, Joba and Ramirez, the Yankees bullpen has not been pretty this season. And, yes, you cannot trust Farnsworth, Hawkins or Ohlendorf. Veras and (when he returns) Albaladejo? Who knows?

    You can make a case that, unless Alan Horne, Mark Melancon, J.B. Cox, or Daniel McCutchen makes a splash, and soon, in the Yankees pen, New York will have issues holding games close (when they don’t have the lead) – with pitchers other than Rivera and Ramirez.

    Will Mets Situation Benefit Cashman?

    Posted by on May 27th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Since May 20th of last season, in regular seasons games, including yesterday’s loss, the Mets have gone 83-86. Some are now calling for Mets G.M. Omar Minaya to have his feet held to the fire for the sorry state of Metsdom over the last year.

    Could this situation be something that Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman is holding in his back pocket? We know that reports have come up recently that suggest Hank Stein is not thrilled with Cashman’s team building. However, in the past, Big Stein would rather be stuck with something than allow it go to the Mets (where it could possibly haunt him by doing well). Will Hank be the same as his dad here?

    If the Mets fire Omar at the end of this season, and if Cashman is a “free agent,” you know that Brian will be in consideration for the Mets job – and it’s probably a spot that Cashman would be very interested in…for all the obvious reasons.

    In the end, after this season, Brian Cashman may just get an offer to stay with the Yankees…and one that pays well…and it may be the result of what’s happening over at Shea (rather than results in Yankeeland).

    Numbing Numbers

    Posted by on May 26th, 2008 · Comments (14)

    The Yankees, this season, are 6-0 when they play the Seattle Mariners (who have the worst record in the league). And, against all other teams this season, New York is 19-26.

    After today’s loss to Baltimore, the Yankees are now (to date, this season) 14-16 when facing a team with a record below .500. (For a point of comparison, as of this morning, the Red Sox were 14-4, so far, this season when facing a team with a record below .500.)

    For $209 million, you kind of expect a team to hold it’s own better against the good teams and beat up on the bad teams, besides Seattle, don’t-cha?

    May 26th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 26th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Breaking News In Yankeeland: The Baltimore Orioles are not the Seattle Mariners.

    Man, what a shame to waste a gem from Rasner. These last four starts from Rasner are probably the best four starts in a row from a Yankees pitcher this season – outside of the four straight from Worm Killer Wang from April 27th through May 13th.

    Big game for Ian Kennedy tomorrow. There’s no way the Yankees want to fall back to being two games under five hundred – because then they’ll have to win (the next) two in a row just to get to .500 at the official one-third mark of the season. I doubt that anyone in Yankeeland had pegged this team to be hovering around .500 with two-thirds of the year remaining.

    Sour Melk?

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

    Since April 25th, Melky Cabrera has played in 27 games for the Yankees (including yesterday). He’s had 105 PA in those games and has fashioned the following BA/OBP/SLG line: .216/.269/.309

    That’s a month’s worth of pathetic performance.

    On the bright side, last season, Melky went on a tear with the bat from June through August. Maybe he’ll do the same this year? But, if he continues to struggle, like this, for another month, you then have to start and wonder if his days as a starter will be numbered in the Bronx.

    The Best Reason To Vote For Pedro

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

    In the past week, we’ve seen quite a bit on the good news of how Pedro Martinez reached out to Edwar Ramirez this off season.

    From Ed Price on May 19th:

    One day last winter, while Edwar Ramirez was working out at a field in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, David Ortiz came up to him.

    “Pedro wants to talk to you,” Ortiz said.

    As in Pedro Martinez.

    “I’ve seen you pitch,” Martinez said, as Ramirez recalled yesterday. “and you’ve got an incredible changeup. You don’t know what you have.”

    It was the changeup that enabled Ramirez, a right-hander, to climb from an independent league team in Edinburg, Texas, to the majors in less than a year. But Martinez’s advice to Ramirez: Use your fastball more.

    From the Journal News on May 21st:

    “That’s good when somebody like Pedro sees you and says I want to talk to you,” Ramirez said. “He told me, ‘You don’t have any idea what kind of changeup you have. Don’t use it too much because sometimes the hitters see too much of the changeup and it’s better for the hitter to hit the ball.’ ”

    Martinez wanted him to throw more fastballs and even worked with him on a cutter. But the three-time Cy Young winner wasn’t the only one who wanted Ramirez to throw more fastballs and not rely so much on the change. Pitching coach Dave Eiland gave him the same message and has worked with him on his mechanics.

    And, from the Daily News last night:

    Ramirez earned the win Sunday, taking over for Chien-Ming Wang with the Yanks down 5-2 in the seventh and pitching 1-2/3 scoreless innings to set the stage for the Bombers’ 6-5 comeback victory over the Mariners at the Stadium. It was Ramirez’s 11th appearance of the season since being called up from Triple-A on April 29, and in 12-2/3 innings, he has yet to allow a run.

    “Edwar was real big,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s pitched very well for us.”

    The difference? “I have much more confidence now, much more,” Ramirez said. “I think because Dave (Eiland, his pitching coach in Triple-A) is here and I can work with him five or six days a week, that helps a lot. And also because of what I have learned from working with Mariano (Rivera) and Pedro (Martinez), I am much more confident now.”

    Ramirez said he got a lot of encouragement from Martinez, the veteran Mets righty and fellow Dominican, while working out in Santo Domingo in the offseason. As Eiland had done, Martinez told Ramirez that his changeup was special, but that he relied too heavily on it and wasn’t effectively using his fastball to set it up. Most importantly, Martinez encouraged him to take advantage of his position in the Yankee bullpen.

    “He told me I should listen to whatever Mariano told me,” Ramirez said. “And he said to work every day with my pitching coach.”

    “He’s throwing strikes – we are working on that and he is doing that real good,” Rivera said. “When he gets in trouble is when he doesn’t throw his fastball. Now, he’s throwing his fastball and with that, his changeup is more effective.”

    Maybe, just like they play “Enter Sandman” for Mo Rivera when he comes into a game, the Yankees can play “Canned Heat” for Edwar when he comes in to pitch?

    Now, that would be cool.

    Back In The Days Of Big Stein

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

    Via Richard Sandomir -

    [Tim] McCarver was quickly hired by Fox-owned Channel 5 to call Yankees games. In July 2000, during the first game after the All-Star break, he and Bobby Murcer addressed the subject of Roger Clemens’s beaning of Mike Piazza less than a week earlier. The famous clip rolled, leading George Steinbrenner to burst into the Channel 5 booth, where he “went ballistic,” an astonished stage manager told McCarver and the producer, Leon Schweir.

    Steinbrenner threatened that showing the clip — which he felt had been seen enough — imperiled the MSG Network’s contract renewal. (Channel 5 subleased its games from MSG.) “Thank God I had my headset on and couldn’t hear him,” McCarver said.

    Flash ahead to Game 2 of that season’s World Series when Clemens fired the shard of a broken bat at Piazza. “The crowd was unusually quiet,” McCarver recalled, “and I said something like, ‘It’s clear that the crowd here tonight is embarrassed by the antics of Roger Clemens.’ ”

    Steinbrenner did not appear, but a Yankees executive, whom McCarver would not identify, asked him that night to confirm what he had said. He did.

    What happened next, McCarver insisted, was a tiny bit of retribution. After games, he said, he had typically left the booth, opened a door to enter the Yankees’ executive office and walked to the elevator, a route designed to avoid the crowd on the concourse. “That door to the office was locked,” he said. “I’m positive it was because of what I said.”

    Schweir, who is now the executive producer of the Big Ten Network, said he rarely fielded complaints from Yankees officials about McCarver. But he related an episode when Steinbrenner entered the MSG production truck and beckoned him outside to show him the multitudinous peanut shells that were littering the parking lot. “He felt our technicians were not picking up their shells properly,” he said. “So the next day, there were chained posts into the pavement beyond which our crew couldn’t eat peanuts.”

    Man, Hank is a Care Bear compared to his dad – when Big Stein was in his prime. Funny stuff, now, looking back.

    Still, whatever the cause, getting rid of McCarver was a blessing, no?

    May 25th vs. The Mariners

    Posted by on May 25th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Missed this one – completely.  We took the kids to go see the Newark Bears host Sparky Lyle’s Somerset Patriots.  It was our first time at Riverfront Stadium (in Newark).  It was a real pitcher’s duel out there today, as the Bears beat the Patriots by a score of 15-14.

    In terms of local minor league and independent parks, we’ve been to a few with the kids over the last 4 years.  We’ve been to the Somerset Patriots, Staten Island Yankees, Sussex Skyhawks, Trenton Thunder, New Jersey Jackals, Lakewood BlueClaws, and now the Newark Bears. 

    I couldn’t ask for a better experience in terms of dealing with a ticket office (as when I got my Bears tickets today).  I explained to the Bears staffer that our kids, being four and six, have a tendency to melt in the sun at ballgames.  And, not only did he set me up with a location in the park that was in the shade soon after the game started; but, he also stopped by our seats during the game to see how things in that location were working out for us.  That’s four-star customer service.

    The park in Newark was cozy enough. Click on the thumbnail on the right to see the view from our seats today.

    One thing that I didn’t find great about the park today was my concession stand experiences. (And, since the kids like to eat their way through a ballgame, I made five trips to the concession stands today.) First, there were no vendors working the seats today, at all. I’m not sure if that’s how they always do it there in Newark – but there were zero vendors in the stands today. So, there were always lines at the concession stands this afternoon. (In smaller parks, there are usually some times when there’s not really much of a line.) Secondly, the selections at the concession stands were limited. If you wanted something like lemonade or Dippin’ Dots, it wasn’t happening. Lastly, the folks working the concession stands were clumsy and incompetent. Because of this, even though the lines were usually only about six people deep, when you were waiting on line, you were waiting on line. And, I mean waiting. When I returned after one trip, my wife said she was just about to send out a search party for me. (And, I hit about four different concession stands today and they were all the same.) Considering the crowd there today was probably around 2,000 fans, there’s really no excuse for this – and it could be fixed with better staffing.

    In any event, as we were in Newark for a while and then hit our favorite local pizzeria afterwards for dinner, I had to settle for a mixed bag in terms of learning what happened in Yankeeland today – meaning a WCBS Newsradio 880 (AM) sports report on the drive home, some ESPN Baseball Tonight highlights after dinner (as we were getting the kids ready for bed), and SNY’s Geico SportsNite at ten this evening.

    When I heard the sports report on the drive home, they said that the Yankees scored four in the eighth for a 6-5 win. And, that sounded impressive. But, once I saw the highlights on ESPN and SNY, I know now that J.J. Putz and Ichiro Suzuki really helped the Yankees out in that big comeback inning. Without the error from Putz on the ball Matsui hit and Ichiro giving up on Molina’s fly, well, maybe the Yankees don’t win this one.

    Still, a win is a win – and a win is the thing, no? Five-hundred, nice to see ya. It will be very interesting to see how the Yankees do now as they head on a road-trip. Remember, the Mets looked great at Yankee Stadium and then tanked in Atlanta and Colorado. At times, a team looks great and then something happens when they start playing someone else. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for the Yankees. It would be great to see them go on a run now.

    Oh, and, what about Wang today? From what I could see from the game highlights, it didn’t look like Shelley Duncan or having the infield in helped him much in the seventh. I’m not worried about the numbers from Wang in this one. I think he’ll be better next time out.

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