• Something Up With Swisher?

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    PeteAbe reported today that, about a half hour after the Yankees line-up was posted, Nick Swisher met behind closed doors with Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman – and then Melky Cabrera was pulled from the posted Yankees starting line-up and Swisher (who was not in the original line-up) was inserted into Cabrera’s place. Wonder what that was all about? Seems odd that Cashman was in Atlanta in the first place.

    Could it be that there was some breaking news about Swisher which led to him being held out of the line-up, and for Cashman to get down to Atlanta, and then, after talking about it, Swisher convinced Girardi and Cashman into letting him play, anyway?

    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    Will A-Rod Become A Star Again?

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Tyler Kepner writes about the question.

    Holy “Juan Gonzalez, Dean Palmer, Jose Canseco, Ron Gant, Ken Caminiti, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi and Travis Hafner” Batman! Do we dare even ask the question? Well, since it’s been asked, what do you think? Will A-Rod be a star again?

    Yanks In Need Of Some Milkweed Sap?

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Back on June 2nd, after the Yankees won that day, I wrote:

    Actually, we’re seeing a lot of life and unity in the Yankees dugout these days – and a game like today, with the Teixeira thing, will only add to it. Yes, I know, it’s easy to have fun when you’re playing at a clip where you’re winning 16 of 20 games – and you’re in first place. But, maybe, just maybe, these Yankees are gellin’ like a felon right now and this 2009 squad just might have that cohesiveness and attitude which could make this team one to be remembered as special…when it’s all said and done? You know, like the 2004 Red Sox, 1998 Yankees, 1991 Twins, 1988 Dodgers, 1986 Mets, 1984 Tigers, 1979 Pirates, 1975-76 Reds, 1968 Tigers and the like…

    But, then again, maybe New York will go on to lose 7 of their next 12 games and then, all of a sudden, some warts and doubts begin to surface for this team?

    Well, the Yankees did not “go on to lose 7 of their next 12 games,” but, they did go on to lose 6 of their next 12 games. (And, if not for gifts from Willy Aybar and Luis Castillo, they would have lost 8 of those 12 games!) Further, New York has now lost 5 of their last 6 games (since going 6-6 in those 12 games).

    So, is it safe to say that the “warts and doubts” have begun to surface for this team? What do you think?

    Calling Littlechap

    Posted by on June 24th, 2009 · Comments (7)

    The Palm Beach Post blog Fish Tank recently shared a video of a Yankees fan fighting with a Marlins fan – at the game of June 21st. (H/T to BBTF.) It’s sickening – at so many levels – especially because of the little girl, screaming, crying, and asking the Yankees fan “Why are you fighting?” Man, it just breaks my heart that some small kid is going to have this moment as one of their lasting ballpark memories. Shame on all those involved in this one.

    June 23rd @ The Braves

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2009 · Comments (11)

    Chien-Ming Wang was not terrible in this one. Granted, he was not great – or even very good. But, he only allowed the Braves to score in one of his five frames – and that was somewhat assisted by a poor throwing choice from Jorge Posada. (By the way, tough night for ‘Sado, or what? Four “K’s” and not even bothering to run to first on the last one when the ball got away from the Braves catcher? What’s up with that?)

    The Yankees offense in this one was beyond bad. You can’t blame Wang for not coming through in a big spot, with the bat, in the second – because he’s not a hitter. But, A-Rod and/or Cano have to get hits in the third. And, Swisher has to come through in the fourth. Lastly, Jeter has to make it happen in the sixth. If just one of those Yankees plates some runners, it’s a lot closer ballgame. Actually, Alex Rodriguez, on the whole, still looks totally lost. Maybe it’s time to stop batting him clean-up, for a while, until he starts to bat well, again?

    New York has now lost 9 of their last 13…and it should be 11 of their last 13 (if not for Willy Aybar and Luis Castillo gifts).

    At this point, this team needs a spark. I’m not sure what it is – picking the line-up out of a hat, or, turning over a buffet table? – but, something needs to happen…and soon.

    You know, just three weeks ago, the Yankees were on a run, closing out a string where they won 16 of 20, and their dugout looked full of life. But, since that time, the Yankees have lost 11 of 18 (and it should have been 13 of 18, if not for those aformentioned gifts) – and now it looks as if this team has zero energy…zip, nada, zilch.

    Somebody call a doctor, huh?

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/23/09

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2009 · Comments (21)

    Click here for more information about this entry.

    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    June 2009 Survey Question #4

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2009 · Comments (7)

    A comment left on this blog today by “Corey” has inspired this poll. As Yankees fans, do we need to admit that Lou Di Falco’s prediction back in February 2007 was correct? Or, does CitiField take a backseat to the new Yankee Stadium? Shoot, even if you’re not a Yankees fan, now that we’ve seen both new ballparks for a few months, which do you think is the better building?

    Related, please consider taking the following poll:


    Thanks in advance. And, please feel free to add comments on your opinion in the comments section below!

    Girardi Now On Trial?

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Via Bob Klapisch:

    As the Yankees slip just out of the Red Sox’ radar range, Joe Girardi enters a critical phase of his managerial career. He must prove he’s secure enough to survive the Bombers’ recent turbulence without burnout — to himself and his key players.

    Girardi already crossed that line with Alex Rodriguez, using his refurbished slugger in 38 consecutive games after he returned from hip surgery. General manager Brian Cashman denies he had to intercede on A-Rod’s behalf, insisting the decision to rest Rodriguez was a medical recommendation, not a corporate rebuke. Still.

    Girardi has a history of putting his foot on the gas. In 2006, the year he was voted National League Manager of the Year with the Marlins, Girardi heavily taxed his young rotation. Three of the five starters — Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez — all suffered injuries the following season. And another, Dontrelle Willis, has never been the same.

    Girardi’s demeanor doesn’t go unnoticed in the clubhouse. “Tight” is how one veteran described his manager without rancor. Of course, tight can be another form of intensity that complements Girardi’s obvious intelligence. And to be fair, he’s represented the organization in a commendable way — as opposed to say, Ozzie Guillen, who embarrasses the White Sox on a near-daily basis.

    But there’s more to managing than simply bodysurfing a winning streak. Girardi looked crisp and in control when the Yankees were mauling the AL a month ago, launching all those crazy comebacks. But now they’re struggling — the Red Sox’ domination of the Bombers is nothing short of humiliating — and Girardi’s confidence has turned to a square-jawed form of desperation.

    It’s because Girardi knows his managerial career will be over if he gets fired by the Yankees. The team is feeling the angst over ticket sales — they failed to sell out the Subway Series and are urgently reminding fans that seats are available for the Red Sox series in August.

    Record reader Steve Gigante, a season-ticket holder who is being solicited by the team, wrote, “At the old stadium, they did not have to e-mail me every business day to ask me if I wanted to buy tickets to the Yankees vs. the Red Sox.”

    That pressure trickles down to Cashman, then to Girardi and, ultimately, to the players. Some can handle it. Others, such as A-Rod, cannot. Girardi can’t be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the Yankees’ universe, but he’s being paid to get the most out of his players. How Girardi works that equation in the next few weeks will be worth watching.

    Back in October of 2007, I recommended that the Yankees should hire Joe Girardi to lead their team. Then, last year, in May, and again in September, I questioned if I made a mistake, or not, with that recommendation.

    Today, I still find myself wondering if Girardi is the right fit for a team full of mega-million dollar long-term contracts and complicated egos. Having not built up the equity that a skipper such as Joe Torre had on his resume, I’m not sure that Girardi has the required buy-in from some of his stars. (Again, I’m “not sure” – so, don’t mistake this for me saying this is a fact.)

    In any event, I do feel that, with the right team, Joe Girardi can and will be a successful big league manager. It would not shock me, after he’s done with the Yankees, if Girardi went somewhere else and won a ring – like Lou Piniella did when he left New York and took over the Cincinnati Reds. But, it has to be a team where the players are young enough, or not established, where they feel like they have to, and want to, follow Joe’s word like it’s gospel.

    What do you think? Is Joe Girardi now on trial in Yankeeland? Can he lead a team like New York? If not, will he never work again? If he does work again, can he do well elsewhere?

    Q&A With WFAN & SNY’s Sweeny Murti

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Continuing with our Yankees Beat Writer Q&A series, I recently had a chance to do a new session with Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti of WFAN and SNY.

    Sweeny Murti first joined WFAN in 1991 and he’s been their Yankees beat reporter since 2001. Later, Sweeny joined SNY in 2008 as that network’s Yankees beat reporter. In addition to these current gigs, he’s worked for the YES Network and WCBS-TV Channel 2 in New York. Murti is, in my opinion, the Mariano Rivera of Yankees beat reporters – providing excellence and making it look effortless. It’s no wonder that more than one outlet wants him as their Yankees beat reporter. Here’s our exchange:

    WW: Based on your experience, what are the biggest pros and cons of covering the team as a beat reporter as opposed to being a beat writer? Are there advantages and/or disadvantages to reporting as opposed to writing? What are they?

    Sweeny Murti: Well, I think the only thing that’s different is the output based on the medium (radio vs. newspaper). I spend the same amount of time at the ballpark and spend just as much time preparing for my job at home (I think) as all the other reporters. I just do the best I can to be as informed as possible. An advantage for my audience used to be that the radio station was on 24-hours a day while the paper only came out once a day. We were the only place to go for instant information. But the internet and blogs and tweets and things like that have changed everything. We are all 24-hour news services now.

    WW: Having been a member of the more immediate media, rather than the print media, do you feel that’s put you a step ahead of the evolution that’s happening with respect to the fall of the hardcopy newspaper media? And, why do you feel the way that you do on this?

    Sweeny Murti: I wouldn’t say I’m a step ahead. I just continue to work in the medium I’ve worked all along. I’ve actually gone the other way a bit if you consider the writing we now put on our website. I feel bad for the friends who have lost their jobs, but I trust (hope, actually) there will always be jobs for people who know how to write well. Its a skill I admire.

    WW: Speaking of skill, having covered the Yankees for as long as you have, what adjustments have you had to make, in covering the team, through the years? Related, what’s changed in Yankeeland over the past, say, nine years that has brought cause for those adjustments, if any?

    Sweeny Murti: Well a lot has happened, both in the industry and around the Yankees. First, as we just talked about with the internet creating a 24-hour news cycle, it just keeps you on your toes all the time. A story breaks and its almost like a race to get it out first. Ten years ago there were fewer places to get information that fast so it definitely affected the flow of that information. On top of that, the Yankees — after winning 4 World Series in 5 years — turned themselves into an even bigger entity than ever before, if that’s even possible. Baseball fans, especially in New York, are craving information at an incredible rate (hence the world of blogs, twitter, etc.). That thirst, and the forum online and on WFAN too, has caused so much scrutiny for each game. The Yankees turned themselves into a machine that is supposed to win all the time, so every loss feels like ten. There doesn’t seem to be any such thing as an average Yankee game. And the fact that they haven’t won since that run makes each game and season even more dramatic given the hundreds of millions of dollars spent chasing another championship.

    And the off-season has become a season of its own. You can go from the last day of the season to New Year’s and have a baseball story to talk about. But that’s all good to be honest. I wouldn’t be traveling all over the country following this team if that interest wasn’t there.

    WW: While it’s good for the media, and the fans, in your opinion, has this “scrutiny” on each single game and “supposed to win all the time” mindset created a situation for the Yankees team/players where the pressure is too great to succeed? And, why do you feel the way you do on this?

    Sweeny Murti: I don’t know if it’s too great to succeed. I think it just shows you how hard it is to win all the time, no matter how much you spend or what type of players you bring in. Every year that goes by I think fans appreciate more and more how hard it was to win in ’96, ’98, ’99, and ’00.

    There is pressure on these guys, no doubt. But they all know it. None of them ever come here and think winning 90 games and losing in the second round is good enough. Maybe it has more effect on the pitchers than anyone else. Whether it was trades or free agents, you’ve had guys like Jeff Weaver or Carl Pavano who have a great deal of pressure on them every start. A bad start you get a lot of questions, two bad starts you wonder whether he can handle this, three bad starts you wonder if he’ll stay in the rotation. Some people can handle it and deflect well. Others not so well.

    WW: Do you think that the Yankees, in the past, did a better job at identifying those players who could “handle it and deflect well”? Or, were Stick Michael and/or Bob Watson just lucky finding guys like Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mike Stanton, David Cone, Joe Girardi, Jeff Nelson, Chad Curtis and Darryl Strawberry? And, has Brian Cashman just been unlucky finding guys like Rondell White, Todd Zeile, Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa, Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins?

    Sweeny Murti: Well, I don’t think its as black and white as you say. Michael and Watson missed sometimes too (Danny Tartabull and Kenny Rogers come to mind). And while I agree Stick Michael was responsible for bringing this team back from their low point in the early 90’s, Cashman’s task was to keep them at that level and that’s not easy.

    There have been plenty of missteps and mistakes over the years and they’re all on Cashman’s record, so I won’t tell you he is blameless. But was it his fault the Yankees blew a 3-games to none lead to the Red Sox? Is it his fault A-Rod wins MVPs in the regular season and can’t hit in the playoffs? Is it his fault Randy Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, got knocked around in Game 3 two years in a row with the series tied 1-1?

    I can’t defend guys like Farnsworth and Igawa, etc. But bad decisions are one thing and bad results are another. Remember the Red Sox were courting Pavano and Contreras too, and they almost traded for A-Rod before the Yankees did. Does it make them smarter just because they didn’t close the deals?

    Finding those types of players is not an exact science and that’s the problem. And don’t forget this. Scott Brosius was coming off a season where he hit barely over .200 when the Yankees got him. Paul O’Neill never hit over .280 when the Yanks got him. It might be good scouting, but its also a little luck.

    WW: Excellent points about Pavano, Contreras and A-Rod. It would be interesting to see how the baseball timeline may have been different, over the last five years or so, had Boston acquired those players. Moving forward, what do you think of the Yankees this season? Do you think they’re a post-season contender? In any event, are there any issues with their team that need to be addressed sooner rather than later?

    Sweeny Murti: Of course they are a postseason contender. They are in quite a rut right now, but they had about a month where they were playing really well and it’s hard to believe there are that many teams better than they are in the AL. Boston is, but then who? Texas? Detroit? Toronto? Tampa Bay?

    I think they get themselves into the playoffs. Sabathia and Burnett are key. A-Rod is a huge key. If he isn’t healthy enough to pull through the rest of this season and put up decent numbers, then that throws everything into question. The bullpen needs some help, but Bruney and Hughes are superb additions right now. They’ll tinker with that too as we go along.

    That’s it. My thanks to Sweeny for granting this Q&A and for all his time and attention towards my questions!

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/22/09

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Click here for more information about this entry.

    S.I.’s Iconic Yankees Photos

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Click here to see some great old Yankees photos that Sports Illustrated is featuring on their site. (Hat tap to WasWatching.com reader “MJ” for the link.)

    I’ve never seen #16 before…but, it’s a classic, nonetheless.

    “Don’t Drink The Leche, It’s Spoiled!”

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (7)

    Melky Cabrera’s BA/OBA/SLG line since May 25th: .194/.276./.328 (in 77 PA)

    Makes you wonder if Cap’s back pension will ever arrive this summer for Brett Gardner?

    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    Same Ol’, Same Ol’, But Different?

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (11)

    Here’s the Yankees W-L record, after their first 69 games of the year, for every season since 2000:

    Year	W	L	 GB
    2009	38	31	 4.0
    2008	36	33	 6.0
    2007	35	34	10.0
    2006	39	30	 2.0
    2005	36	33	 5.0
    2004	44	24	-4.5
    2003	40	29	-0.5
    2002	43	26	 1.5
    2001	39	30	 2.5
    2000	37	32	 1.0

    It’s interesting that, from 2000 through 2008, New York’s average W-L mark is 39-30 – which is pretty much where the Yankees are this season after 69 games. And, only twice in the “2000’s” have the Yankees been in first place after their first 69 games of the season (2003 and 2004).

    So, if the Yankees are where they are now, and that’s pretty much where they usually are after 69 games, why does it feel like things in Yankeeland are not going all that great now? Is it because a half-billion dollars worth of spending this off-season has led to higher expectations? Or, is it just because the Yankees have played so poorly in their last 12 games? What do you think?

    Yanks Line-up, Lately: A Heart Without Slove…Ugh

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Mark Teixeira’s BA/OBA/SLG since June 11th: .231/.318/.359 (in 44 PA)
    Alex Rodriguez’ BA/OBA/SLG since June 11th: .143/.294/.321 (in 34 PA)

    Yankees record since June 11th: 4-6 (and this includes the gift win from Luis Castillo)

    When your three and four hitters have an OPS in the area of .640, it’s very hard to slug your way to wins, huh?

    Seems like…ever since Brad Penny nailed A-Rod with a HBP…the Yanks big boys, together, have gone south.

    A-Rod, Cashman, Girardi & “The Conference Call”

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2009 · Comments (12)

    When I first read the Jon Heyman report this weekend, about the conference call between Alex Rodriguez, Brian Cashman, and Hal Steinbrenner where A-Rod was told that he was going to sit for two games, where Joe Girardi was not on the call, I just filed it away as one of those “Add Water” A-Rod Drama items without giving it much more thought.

    However, driving in the car this morning, listening to Boomer and Carton on WFAN, I’m beginning to think this thing may have legs. The boys and their callers opined on this one quite a bit.

    It seems that some are very into the timing of the benching – this being Miami, where A-Rod is king, etc. And, others are very into the matter that Girardi was not on the call. Some suggest that means that A-Rod and Joe don’t get along. Others think that the Yankees brass is setting Girardi up, somehow, with this move.

    So, what do you think of this whole issue? Was my first impression correct – in that it’s just another sideshow in the A-Rod circus and “been there, done that”? Or, is this a sign of some bigger problem in the A-Rod, Cashman and Girardi love triangle?

    Marlins Flagged For Ineligible Defender In Leftfield?

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (8)

    The skinny on what went down in the eighth inning today during the Yankees-Marlins game, via mlb.com

    The Yankees have protested the game due to confusion created by a Marlins’ double-switch in the top of the eighth inning.

    In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Marlins pinch-hit outfielder Alejandro De Aza for pitcher Renyel Pinto, who was batting ninth. When the inning ended, Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez made a double-switch. Reliever Leo Nunez entered the game, and Chris Coghlan remained in left field.

    Nunez threw one pitch to Derek Jeter, a called strike. At that point, Yankees manager Joe Girardi brought to the attention of home plate umpire Tim Timmons that Coghlan was supposed to be out of the game, with De Aza in left field.

    For more than five minutes play was delayed, eventually with Coghlan leaving the field. De Aza headed to left field, only to be replaced by Jeremy Hermida.

    After more discussion, it was determined that both Coghlan and De Aza were no longer available. So the mistake cost the Marlins two players, with Hermida remaining in the game and slotted ninth. Nunez was placed in the leadoff spot.

    Crew chief Jeff Kellogg told MLB.com after the game that the umpires are filing an incident report to Major League Baseball. He didn’t elaborate on anything specific.

    “We’re going to file an incident report, and all that,” Kellogg said. “The protest is over the pitcher should have been removed from the game, or the pitch should not have counted. That’s the protest. Either or. One or the other should have happened.

    “It goes to the league, and they will review everything. They will make a determination after that.”

    What the Yankees are hoping is the game is resumed from the top of the eighth inning, no outs, with the Marlins ahead, 6-3.

    When Girardi was asked if he hoped the Yankees would return to Miami to resume the game in the eighth inning, he responded: “I do.”

    Here’s the tricky part: The Yankees had Jeter, Swisher and Teixeira bat in the 8th inning. And, they had Robertson pitch in the bottom of the 8th – as he entered the game in the 7th inning. Later, the Yankees had A-Rod, Cano, Posada, Cabrera, Gardner, Damon and Jeter bat in the 9th inning.

    If they do resume this game, some time in July, August or September, what happens if one of those players is not available to the Yankees? You cannot use a player who has not on the Yankees roster today when your resume this game at a later date. Same deal applies to the Marlins players from today.

    I know that, technically, the Yankees have a case here. But, I doubt that MLB will want deal with all the wild things that can happen if this game is allowed to be picked up again from the 8th inning. Therefore, I expect the league to sweep this one under the rug…saying that losing Alejandro De Aza for the game was the Marlins penalty here and that’s it.

    Besides, I don’t see how going down to Miami, for one day, in July or August, to play two innings of baseball, is going to be a good thing for the Yankees.

    Week 11 – 2009

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (6)

    What stands out the most in my mind, this past week, is that the Yankees went 2-4 and that came playing against the Nationals and the Marlins – two N.L. teams not playing .500 baseball on the season, to date. (And, it came close to being 1-5 on the week…since one of those wins, against the Nats, was a close call.) In two words: Not good.

    Overall this season, through June 21st, the Yankees are 16-9 when playing a team with a .475 record or less and the Yankees are 11-15 when playing a team with a record better than .525 (to date this season). That “seven games over .500” against teams with a .475 record or less is important, because, on the season, the Yankees are now 38-31, which is “seven games over .500.”

    Take away that small feasting off bad teams this season and what you have left tells you how the Yankees fare when they have to play a team that’s decent or better. Basically, they lose as much as they win (22-22).

    I don’t know about you, but, for me…I’m expecting a little bit more than that from a team with a payroll of $201,449,289.

    Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, And The Inside Story Of The Baseball Hall of Fame

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Zev Chafets’ Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the best baseball books that I have read this year – and is one that I would now consider to be a worthy addition to my personal picks for any essential baseball library.

    With Cooperstown Confidential, Chafets provides a candid and no holds barred examination behind the history, politics and other inside workings of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (in Cooperstown, New York). And, he does it in a manner that’s intelligent and entertaining. In addition, Cooperstown Confidential also profiles the windfall for the modern player who is elected into the Hall of Fame. Lastly, with this book, Chafets makes an interesting case for how Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame should handle the players who have been linked to using Performance Enhancing Drugs.

    Now, the book is not dead-solid-perfect, as I did catch two small editing flaws. On page 69, it refers to Steve Garvey being traded to the San Diego Padres (when, in reality, he signed with them as a free agent). And, on a footnote on page 104, it refers to Kevin Youkilis as “Euclis, the Greek God of Walks” (when, in the book Moneyball, he was actually referred to as “Youkilis, the Greek God of Walks”). But, these are two minor miscues that take nothing away from the reading and learning experience one gets from this book.

    I truly feel that even an erudite baseball fan will learn something from reading Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know that it has changed the way that I look at the Hall of Fame (and I thought that I was already fairly well read on the subject matter). Zev Chafets work here is a quick read (197 pages). But, it packs a lot. I highly recommend this book.

    June 21st @ The Marlins

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Yanks showed some fight in the end of this one. But, it was not enough. Actually, it just makes this one sting a little more. Put another “L” on the board.

    New York has now lost 8 of their last 12…and it should be 10 of their last 12 (if not for Willy Aybar and Luis Castillo gifts).

    Cross your fingers on the biceps tendinitis issue for CC Sabathia. If he’s got an issue, given the way that the rest of the Yankees rotation has been inconsistent, if you’re the Yankees, you might as well start planning vacation activities for October – because this year’s Yankeeland baseball journey this year will end in September.

    And, by the way, don’t lose sight of the fact that “the second place Yankees,” with this loss, are now closer to 3rd place (1 game) and 4th place (2 games) in the A.L. East than they are to the division leader (4 games). If things keep trending the way they are, you might have to call New York “the fourth place Yankees” by the end of next week.

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/21/09

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (0)

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    Father’s Day Eve And The Day Itself

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (5)

    I had a terrible nightmare last night. During it, I was watching the Yankees lose the 2009 ALCS to the Red Sox. It was Game 5, played at the new Yankee Stadium, and the score of the game was 16-5 (to give Boston the pennant). And, the score should have been worse as, in one point during the game, Aubrey Huff hit a three-run inside-the-park homer (to left-center) that was called back because he missed a base. (Yes, I know that Huff plays for the O’s. I can only guess, in my mind, that the Red Sox traded for him during the season.) I’m not exactly sure where I was…while watching this game. It was a big building like a banquet hall. And, there was a strange collection of people there, including Joe Buck, Tony LaRussa and his wife, and several readers of this blog who came by to introduce themselves.

    What I remember best from the nightmare is feeling so sick that my head was spinning because the Yanks were losing to the Sox, at home, and so badly. Yikes.

    On the brighter side, when I woke up this morning, my wife and kids had a few Father’s Day surprises for me. Among those were a book that my daughter made at school entitled “All About My Dad!” Inside, she wrote things like “My dad’s favorite thing to do is to watch the baseball games” and “My dad’s favorite television show is YES.” And, on the back cover, she drew this:


    Ah, if that won’t chase the nightmares away, what will?

    I’ve said this before on this blog, and I’ll say it again, now, because I do believe it to be true:

    Just as baseball and apple pie are staples of America, statistics and fathers are the hemoglobin of baseball. So, since today is Father’s Day (really, it is, Hallmark says so!), I want to wish all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day! Treat yourself to some Yankee baseball. And, more importantly, enjoy your family today. I know that I will.

    Yanks Sign Gary Sanchez, Eye Others

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (22)

    George King follows up on his first Sanchez report with this (h/t to YanksBlog) –

    According to several connections in the Dominican Republic, the Yankees and catching prospect Gary Sanchez have agreed to a $2.5 million deal.

    Sanchez, 16, isn’t eligible to sign until July 2, but the Yankees’ dogged pursuit of the right-handed hitter has resulted in him wanting to sign with the club.

    According to a Yankees source, who didn’t confirm or deny the agreement or money, nothing is guaranteed until a contract is signed.

    “He is a big kid with a big arm,” a Latin American talent evaluator for an NL team said of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Sanchez. “I would like to have him, but $2.5 million is a lot of money. He has a thick body. He is a real good hitter, but he doesn’t hit like Jesus Montero.”

    The Yankees gave Montero, a catcher from Venezuela, $1.6 million in 2006 and he has impressed with the bat in two-plus years in the organization. After hitting .356 with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 48 games for Single-A Tampa, the 19-year-old Montero (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) was promoted to Double-A Trenton, where he is batting .283 with three RBIs in 13 games.

    “Sanchez shows a lot of power in batting practice, but it doesn’t always transfer to games when the swing gets a little long,” the scout said. “He is an interesting guy.”

    The Yankees are also interested in shortstop Miguel Angel Sano.

    “If he is 16, I have never seen a 16-year-old with that type of body,” the scout said of the 6-foot-3 Sano.

    Two Cuban defectors, lefty Noel Arguelles and shortstop Jose Iglesias, are on the Yankees’ radar. The pair left the World Junior Championships last summer in Edmonton and were cleared to negotiate with big league clubs June 12.

    Two hundred and ten pounds, at sixteen, in a country known for its inadequacies with respect to proper nutrition? That either means he’s on something, or, will be a tub of goo by the time he’s here for a few years and hits all the fast food chains. That’s a red flag for me. Not so red that I wouldn’t sign him – but red enough that I would think twice about doing it for two-point-five mill.

    “Fatigued” A-Rod Caught Out Partying Till Early AM With Celeb Gal Pal

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Via the Palm Beach Post with a hat tip to Pete Abe

    Benched for alleged “fatigue,” slumping New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez partied until 2:30 a.m. Saturday in Miami Beach. He then disappeared into the tropical night with actress Kate Hudson in the back seat of his chauffeured Maybach.

    And while it’s pretty obvious A-Rod and Hudson are an item, the third baseman wasn’t too fatigued to continue pretending otherwise. Indeed, it must be a coincidence that Hudson, the star of Almost Famous and Fool’s Gold, is in Miami just as Rodriguez’s New York Yankees are playing the Florida Marlins in SoFla this weekend.

    And it must be another coincidence that they “ran” into each other at a private party on SoBe late Friday.

    And also blind luck they both ended up in A-Rod’s set of wheels about 2:30 a.m., even if they left the fiesta 15 minutes apart, a spywitness tells me.

    Alex being Alex.

    Remember, back in April, when A-Rod said he had recommitted himself to baseball and the Yankees and planned to have “tunnel vision” this season? I guess now we know what type of “tunnel” he was talking about…

    June 20th @ The Marlins

    Posted by on June 21st, 2009 · Comments (9)

    Man, is that Josh Johnson, a beast, or what?

    Well, yeah, he’s no Brandon Weeden, but, he’s a beast, nonetheless.

    Yanks have now lost 7 of their last 11…and it should be 9 of their last 11 (if not for Willy Aybar and Luis Castillo gifts).

    Yes, that’s nine of their last eleven games where New York played bad enough to lose. Can you say “June Swoon”?

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 6/20/09

    Posted by on June 20th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Click here for more information about this entry.

    Do We Dare Start Calling Him “Ranging-To-His-Left” Jeter?

    Posted by on June 20th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via Bob Harkins last Wednesday – with a h/t to Rob Neyer and BBTF

    I hope you’re sitting down for this, because I’m going to share a notion that might shock you right out of your Snuggie.

    No, it’s not that Jose Canseco is suing MLB. Or that Congress is now setting its sights on Sammy Sosa. Those two nuggets wouldn’t even surprise this guy.

    No, what I’m going to point out is so shocking, you might question everything you thought you knew about baseball:


    That’s right, he’s not. In fact, at the age of 34 (35 in 9 days, don’t forget to send a card), Jeter is putting together his finest defensive season since they’ve been keeping advanced defensive metrics.

    Looking at two fielding stats, range runs and UZR, Jeter has improved immensely since 2005, when he contributed to one of the worst defensive teams to ever make the playoffs.

    And, via Jon Paul Morosi the same day –

    The debate has gone on for several years now.

    Traditional baseball observers talk about Derek Jeter’s value to the New York Yankees as their starting shortstop. Some statistically-minded fans argue that his defense has declined.

    Well, have you checked the numbers lately?

    Last year, according to the Fielding Bible statistics at Bill James Online, Jeter allowed eight more runs than the average shortstop. This season, he’s saved two.

    Yes, he’s gone from minus-8 to plus-2.

    Defensive statistics don’t necessarily provide a full picture of a player’s fielding ability. In Jeter’s case, though, virtually all the numbers point to noticeable improvement between 2008 and 2009.

    He committed only two errors in his first 59 games at shortstop this year for a .992 fielding percentage. That is the best mark in a season during Jeter’s big-league career, which began in 1995. (Last year, he had a .979 fielding percentage.)

    The statistics at FanGraphs.com tell the same story. Jeter has positive zone and range ratings this year, suggesting that he’s been better than the big-league average. The same numbers were negative for him in 2008.

    And there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that improved positioning has helped Jeter reach more balls. He made a superb play on Alex Cora’s ground ball up the middle in the second inning of Saturday’s game against the Mets. Yankees first base coach Mick Kelleher, a former infielder, said Jeter has adapted in the same way that Cal Ripken Jr. did in the latter stages of his career.

    “Just like Ripken, you adjust in other ways,” Kelleher said. “His ‘ready’ position is better. His angles to the balls are great. He continues to work at it.

    “You’ve got realize he’s 35-years-old. You aren’t going to be the same guy you were 14 years ago. Nobody should expect that. But he’s a lot smarter than he was 14 years ago. … He’s a worker. He’s very, very smart. He has instincts. And that comes from playing.”

    Of course, two weeks before these reports, we had the good news on Jeter’s improved defense this season posted at WasWatching.com.

    I’ve heard some credit Mick Kelleher for this improvement – due to his work positioning Derek Jeter in the field. And, since Kelleher is one big new element into the Jeter’s defense equation this season, it makes sense to consider that as being a factor.

    All I do know, for certain, is that you don’t hear “Past-a-diving Jeter” as much these days as you used to…and that’s nice.

    Yanks Won’t Vote For Pedro

    Posted by on June 20th, 2009 · Comments (1)

    Via George King

    The Yankees took a look at Pedro Martinez in the Dominican Republic and informed the right-handed pitcher they will pass on signing him.

    Yankees scout Gordon Blakeley was in Santo Domingo with representatives from the Rangers, Rays, Angels and Brewers.

    Though Martinez’s fastball was clocked from 86-90 mph on an older radar gun, according to somebody with knowledge of the workout, the emphasis was on proving to teams it wont take him long to be ready for the major leagues.

    “What he wanted to do and teams wanted to see was his arm action and control,” said agent Fernando Cuza, who wasn’t in the Dominican Republic for the showcase.

    “He accomplished what he wanted. With his routine of throwing every fifth day it would be about two weeks (to be ready for the big leagues).”

    Cuza said he received positive feedback from a few of the teams in attendance.

    Yanks passing on Slippery Pete? Now, if that doesn’t make you want to put on your happy hands and dance, what will?

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