• The Somewhat Uniqueness Of Swishalicious

    Posted by on December 20th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    I was just playing around with the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, asking it to show the following:

    List OF from 1947-2009, ranked by BPA, with seasons where AGE BETWEEN 27 AND 29, RCAA BETWEEN 20 AND 25, PLATE APPEARANCES >= 600, and AVERAGE < 0 vs. the league average – while displaying OWP and OPS vs. the league average.

    And, this is the result of that query:

    BPA                  YEAR     BPA      RCAA      PA       AVG      OWP      OPS
    1    Andruw Jones    2005     .594       22      672    -.006     .597     .155
    2    Mike Cameron    2001     .560       23      633    -.001     .615     .069
    3    Nick Swisher    2009     .555       22      607    -.018     .617     .104
    4    Bobby Bonds     1974     .554       21      670    -.007     .599     .084
    5    Dwayne Murphy   1984     .505       21      647    -.008     .614     .090

     

    It’s not a very deep list.

    1984 was the last really good season, with the bat, that Dwayne Murphy posted in his career. Bobby Bonds was traded by the Giants, to the Yankees, following that 1974 season – and some have suggested that a drinking problem had some play on that call. Mike Cameron matched his 2001 production, shown here, only one more time in the eight seasons that followed (to date). Andruw Jones repeated his 2005 offensive production in 2006 – and then his bat went completely down the flusher.

    You know, in many ways, Nick Swisher was like David Justice in 2000 and Kevin Millar in 2004 – meaning someone who turned out to be a nice offensive surprise on a championship team. But, the following season, both Justice and Millar tanked – and were never really good again.

    Could the same thing happen to Swisher in 2010? Should the Yankees, mindful of his partying ways, move him, now, like the Giants did with Bonds after 1974? Also, consider that Murphy, Cameron, and Jones, after their bats went “Poof!” still provided above average defense in center field – and that had some value. Nick Swisher is not a defensive wiz in the outfield.

    Granted, the Yankees outfield, at this moment, is not deep with sticks. But, maybe, if Johnny Damon is willing to take a two-year deal for $20 million, as some suggest, perhaps it makes sense to consider signing Damon and then trading Swisher to a team where they can get a serviceable 5th starter/bullpen swing-man in return?

    Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful…(In The Heart Of Yankeeland)…

    Posted by on December 19th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    …but WasWatching is so delightful!
    And, since we’ve no place to go,
    Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

    snowud

    Holy Bette Nesmith Graham Batman! Gonna be a whiteout in Yankeeland for many today.

    Related, all, please be safe if you’ve been hit, will be, or expect to be hit, by snow now. Don’t drive if you don’t have to, watch your back shoveling, etc. – all that stuff. And, if you’re smartly hunkered down, and want to chat about some baseball – albeit Yankees related or not – please feel free to use the comments section of this entry.

    Hot Stove…indeed! Belly up to it and have some fun…

    HotStove

    Report: Yanks About To Ink Nick Johnson

    Posted by on December 18th, 2009 · Comments (73)

    Looks like the Yankees were doing more than just kicking the tires on this one

    Via Yahoo Sports -

    Say goodbye to Johnny Damon, Yankees fans. It looks like he and his three- to four-year contract demands will be walking the gangplank because the New York Yankees appear to be very close to signing Nick Johnson(notes) to be the full-time DH next season, according to New York Newsday.

    Yankees Manager Joe Girardi has also said throughout this off-season that he wouldn’t mind using some of his players (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, etc.) as the DH on days when they are resting from playing in the field.

    Newsday reports that former Washington Nationals first baseman Johnson will get $5.5 million to swing his bat in the Bronx.

    So, the Yankees passed on Hideki Matusi because he would be limited to playing D.H., and has cranky knees, and then they go out and sign Nick Johnson for the same money, just about, that Matsui got with the Angels. Yes, the super brittle Nick Johnson who will basically only play D.H. in New York since Mark Teixeira hardly takes a day off….

    Make sense? Not to me.

    Then again, recently, Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman said his main focus this off-sason was “Pitching, pitching, pitching and then left field. Those are the obvious areas that we need to focus on.”

    And, since that time, the Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson and will reportedly sign Johnson. Pitching? Yes, they re-signed Andy Pettitte – but, that’s it. Meanwhile premium starting pitchers are changing teams all over the place.

    Bizarro, huh?

    News On #13 And… #14?

    Posted by on December 17th, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Via Brian Costa -

    At a news conference at Yankee Stadium, Granderson tried on his new pinstriped jersey with several Yankees executives and players at his side. Manager Joe Girardi, GM Brian Cashman and new teammates Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia were among those seated next to Granderson.

    Granderson will wear No. 14 instead of his old number, 28, because Girardi will likely take that number this year. Girardi wore No. 27 as the Yankees sought and eventually won their 27th title.

    “I know how tradition is and superstition is from an outside standpoint, so I don’t want to mess with that,” Granderson said. “Hopefully he’ll continue to wear it and we’ll move forward and keep on knocking people’s numbers out of the way.”

    As expected, [Alex] Rodriguez said he will not need a second surgery on his right hip. After being re-examined by his hip specialist, Dr. Marc Philippon, Rodriguez learned Monday that no further surgery would be needed. “You can never say never, but I think he is saying for the immediate future, the next two or three years,” Rodriguez said. A-Rod said he will not need to see Philippon again this offseason and has been cleared to begin his usual offseason workouts.

    #14? Other Yankees to wear that number:

    Rugger Ardizoia
    Angel Berroa
    Wilson Betemit
    Bill Bevens
    Mike Blowers
    Harry Bright
    Miguel Cairo
    Robinson Cano
    Bobby Cox
    Wilson Delgado
    Matt DeSalvo
    Monk Dubiel
    Lonny Frey
    Bump Hadley
    Eric Hinske
    Hideki Irabu
    Russ Johnson
    Pat Kelly
    Jerry Kenney
    Cuddles Marshall
    Joe Oliver
    Andy Phillips
    Lou Piniella
    George Pipgras
    Jerry Priddy
    Pedro Ramos
    Ted Sepkowski
    Bill Skowron
    Luis Sojo
    Ron Swoboda
    Kevin Thompson
    Russ Van
    Ed Wells
    Butch Wensloff
    Enrique Wilson
    Gene Woodling

    Wow. So, A-Rod is now free of Dr. Philippon and Kate Hudson? I’m tellin’ ya…any day now he’s going to show up wearing Lenny Kosnowski’s “Lone Wolf” jacket…

    Book Excerpt: Jaffe’s “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” — Casey Stengel

    Posted by on December 17th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Chris Jaffe’s new book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers – A History and Analysis of Performance in the Major Leagues, 1876–2008” is now available.

    There have been a number of excerpts from Jaffe’s work available online so far – but, we get to feature the one on the Ol’ Perfessor here!

    Many thanks to Chris Jaffe for allowing us to share this excerpt. And, if you like what you see here, then you should get yourself a copy of “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers.”

    Casey Stengel

    W/L Record: 1,905-1,842 (.508)

    Managed:
    - Full Seasons: Brooklyn 1934-36; Boston (NL) 1938-42; New York (AL) 1949-60; New York (NL) 1962-64
    - Majority in: Boston (NL) 1943; New York (NL) 1965
    - Minority of: (none)

    Birnbaum Database: +487 runs
    - Individual Hitters: +224 runs
    - Individual Pitchers: +76 runs
    - Pythagenpat Difference: -21 runs
    - Team Offense: +135 runs
    - Team Defense: +73 runs

    Team Characteristics: Stengel is probably more famous for matching up his pitchers against specific rival teams than any other manager in history. Others actually did it more often, but they did not win five consecutive pennants in the process. He platooned his hitters and used many pinch hitters.

    LPA: 5.33
    LPA+: 120

    Once in a while I encounter someone who thinks managers have no meaningful impact on teams. (This is especially true when dealing with sabermetric types). These people sometimes use Casey Stengel as an example of how overrated managers are. Stengel experienced unprecedented success with the Yankees, but he struggled in his various National League stints as field general. Stengel’s best season in the NL was a mere 77-75 with the 1938 Braves. If Stengel was such a super-genius, then why could he not achieve more when he was away from the Yankees?

    While managers have an impact, the quality of players is much more important. Stengel worked for one great franchise and three utterly dismal squads. The Birnbaum Database gives him a score of +53 runs in Brooklyn and +83 runs with the Braves; rather impressive achievements for such lackluster squads. Stengel had virtually no players to work with in those years. His leading lights were men like Van Mungo and Tony Cuccinello, which is not how clubs win pennants. As a result, Stengel found himself relegated to the Pacific Coast League, where he ran the Oakland Oaks during the 1940s. He had enough success there to land the Yankee job.

    Stengel’s pre-Yankee experiences formed the approach to the game than made him famous in the 1950s. In the NL, he never had any players worth depending on, so he avoided attachments. With Oakland, his most talented players were the ones most likely to be snatched up by the majors, so again he knew not to rely heavily on particular individuals. This outlook became central to how he ran the Yankees. For instance, the 1949 Yankees suffered a litany of injuries with Joe DiMaggio missing half the season, and only Phil Rizzuto playing in over 130 games. Stengel overcame these obstacles to capture the world title by mixing and matching the talent on hand.

    There was no need for Stengel to be too loyal to individual players. If someone declined or could no longer be counted on, he was shown the door. Since the Yankees had a great front office, Stengel could be assured they would land another suitable player to fit his needs. This forced his players to be that much more accountable. Everyone always tries their hardest regardless, but there is nothing like the pressure of imminent punishment to keep people on their toes. As Stengel kept winning, his stature grew so large that his players could not publicly tangle with him. The talent Stengel had on hand was not necessarily better than what Miller Huggins or Joe McCarthy had, yet they never won ten pennants in twelve years as Stengel did.

    Examples of the “what have you done for me lately” attitude abounded on Stengel’s Yankees. Second baseman Billy Martin had as close a relationship to Stengel as anyone on the team, having played for him as a teen in Oakland. In 1956, his career peaked when he earned a selection to that year’s All-Star Game. The following year he got off to a slow start, so the Yankees traded him to the pathologically pathetic Kansas City A’s. New York wanted to break in hot prospect Bobby Richardson and saw no need for patience with the declining veteran. Similarly, after a solid decade under Stengel, Hank Bauer had an off year in 1959. He was in another uniform in 1960. Phil Rizzuto was the anchor for Stengel’s first teams, but once his skills diminished, Stengel would not give him many plate appearances for old-time’s sake.

    Pitching especially demonstrated Stengel’s lack of sentimentality. Tommy Byrne won 30 games for the Yankees in Stengel’s first two years. When he began 1951 poorly, the Yankees sent him to the Browns before the All-Star game. Tom Sturdivant posted two consecutive sixteen-win seasons, but the club shipped him to Kansas City when an injury hampered him. Even Stengel’s most tried and true warhorses were not immune. Among the three hurlers who served as the pitching nucleus for Stengel’s five consecutive pennant winners – Vic Raschi, Ed Lopat, and Allie Reynolds – only Reynolds ended his days in the Bronx. The others were dismissed as soon as they faltered. Stengel’s Yankees had to earn their roster spots everyday.

    With the Mets, this same approach provided the opposite effect for Stengel. Instead of making a great team better, it made a horrible squad worse. He still had no qualms about moving players out of the lineup if they failed to perform. This time, however, he lacked quality replacements. Instead of breeding accountability, Stengel’s technique fostered confusion, which led to apathy. Not only were they not any good, but the players could not get used to their roles. If the Yankees were an ideal situation for his management style, the Mets were the club least suited to it.

    Also, by the 1960s Stengel had lost of a little of his mental edge. The six-month grind of a season demands a certain level of mental alertness and strength that is hard to maintain well into one’s social security years. Only Connie Mack managed at an older age than Stengel, and he was utterly terrible in those seasons. As Mets manager, Stengel scored –504 runs in the Birnbaum Database. Had he retired after 1960, that system would rank him as the fourth best manager of all-time. Instead, he fell to nineteenth place.

    Though continuity existed with how Stengel managed the Yankees and his other clubs, that does not mean he lacked variation in how he handled his different teams. Stengel had engaged in one key strategic habit with the Yankees that was absent in his previous stints: he used a bullpen ace. None of his hurlers recorded more than eight saves in a season with Brooklyn or Boston, but Stengel became baseball’s first manager to preside over ten different occasions in which a reliever logged at least ten saves in a campaign. When the Yankees narrowly won the 1949 pennant, fireman Joe Page earned 27 saves, the most in baseball history until the 1960s. Stengel’s adoption of the fireman model signified a broader change in the game. Though teams had relievers in the 1930s, the concept of a relief ace who specialized in pitching in the most stressful situations did not gain particular attention until Bucky Harris used Joe Page to great effect with the 1947 Yankees. Stengel was one of the first to recognize the importance of what Harris had done, and helped popularize it.

    Stengel treated his relievers the same way he did the rest of his players – with minimal sentimentality. Page helped the Yankees narrowly earn a pennant in 1949, but when he stumbled Stengel swiftly sent him packing. Due to his demanding nature, Stengel became the first manager to oversee three separate relievers log twenty or more saves in a season: Page in 1949, Johnny Sain in 1954, and Ryne Duren in 1958. Until the 1970s, only one other manager (Walter Alston) could make the same claim. Ultimately, eight different pitchers saved at least ten games in a season in Stengel’s dozen campaigns with the Yankees.

    In almost all his career, Stengel leveraged his starting pitchers. He was famous for it with the Yankees, but he engaged in it in his early days as well. In 1934, for instance, Stengel decided the best way to break in rookie Dutch Leonard was by having him face the league’s dogs as often as possible; nine of his 21 starts came against the two worst teams in the league. In Boston and Brooklyn, Stengel was not always consistent the way he used pitchers from year to year. He had a belief in matching starters against particular opponents, but he had no arms he consistently trusted against the best squads. As a result, in 1940 Dick Errickson made eight of his ten starts against the three worst opposing squads for an AOWP+ of 84. Next year he faced the other half of the league for a mark of 106. While working as a swingman for Stengel in 1941-42, Tom Earley posted AOWP+s of 108 and 88.

    Again, the Yankees’ talent fit Stengel’s managerial predilections. The chart below lists what percentage of starts Stengel’s Big Three of Reynolds, Raschi, and Lopez had versus all opponents during New York’s 1949-53 five-peat. As was the case in a similar chart given in the Al Lopez commentary, clubs are ordered from most-to-least wins attained in the period under question:

    Team	Reynolds Raschi	Lopat
    CLE	16.2%	16.3%	20.6%
    BOS	20.0%	18.1%	15.4%
    CWS	10.0%	15.0%	11.0%
    DET	12.3%	11.9%	11.0%
    PHI	10.0%	18.8%	14.0%
    WAS	15.4%	8.1%	14.0%
    STB	17.7%	11.9%	14.0%

    A few interesting patterns emerge. First, Stengel preferred using them against the best available squads. They combined for 75 starts against Cleveland, and 76 versus Boston, but no more than 62 against any other team. Aside from that, Stengel’s usage differed. Reynolds loaded up on starts against the worst two opponents while Raschi almost never faced them. Lopat and Reynolds were more likely to skip turns against the middle class White Sox and Tigers instead of the dregs. Over the entire period, Lopat achieved an AOWP+ of 103, Raschi 102, and Reynolds 100. While none of those scores would be impressive single-season marks, Lopat and Raschi’s totals are rather impressive for a multi-year score. (Even Mordecai Brown ended with a career AOWP+ of “only” 104).

    With the big three gobbling up so many games against the Indians and Red Sox, Stengel could use less trustworthy arms against sad sacks. Tom Morgan was Stengel’s favorite pitcher to deploy against the second division. As a 21-year-old rookie in 1951, Morgan posted an AOWP+ of 92. Next year it was 96. He did not play in 1953, but when he came back the following season, he set a new low of 91. Jim McDonald experienced similar treatment, with back-to-back AOWP+s of 90 and 85 in 1953-54. As a part-time rookie in 1950, Whitey Ford posted an AOWP+ of 89, though by the mid-1950s he emerged as the ace as Raschi, Reynolds, and Lopat went into eclipse.

    In 1954, Stengel’s Yankees, as noted in Chapter 3, achieved the highest single-season LPA by any squad in the twentieth century, 16.52. The chart below shows how many starts each of the seven Yankee pitchers with at least ten starts – Whitey Ford, Eddie Lopat, Harry Byrd, Bob Grim, Allie Reynolds, Tom Morgan, and Jim McDonald – had against each opponent, along with their AOWP and AOWP+ for the season:

    Team	Pct.    WF	EL	HB	BG	AR	TM	JM      Rmnder
    CLE	.721	7	5	0	2	5	1	0	2
    CWS	.610	6	6	4	2	2	1	0	1
    BOS	.448	4	1	4	3	4	3	2	1
    DET	.442	2	1	5	3	1	5	4	1
    WAS	.429	5	4	1	5	0	1	0	6
    BAL	.351	3	3	2	2	5	1	2	4
    PHI	.331	1	3	5	3	1	5	2	3
    AOWP		.533	.518	.439	.459	.508	.431	.403
    AOWP+		112	109	92	97	107	91	85

    (There is no AOWP or AOWP+ for the remainders because that is the total for a collection of pitchers, whereas AOWP-type stats are meant to be assigned to individual hurlers).

    Their record-setting LPA was aided by the league’s extreme winning percentages, but inarguable preferences on matchups abound for every pitcher, except perhaps Bob Grim. Whitey Ford’s AOWP+ of 112 is the best by any pitcher with at least twenty starts in a season since World War II.

    However, Stengel virtually never leveraged his starters with the Mets. As much as Stengel loved to gain that extra edge, the little advantage gained seemed futile with his teams constantly finishing fifteen games out of ninth place. His final fling with leveraging came in 1962 when swingman Craig Anderson posted an AOWP+ of 107 in fourteen starts. Four teams won at least 90 games in the NL that year, and nine of his starts came against them. The Mets went 1-8 in those games, and Anderson allowed five runs in six innings in New York’s sole victory.

    Stengel also had a considerable interest in the double play, both on offense and defense. In his book on managers, Bill James noted that Stengel’s teams constantly turned more double plays than one would expect, even when the middle infielders did not seem particularly impressive. Stengel’s teams also generally avoided hitting into twin-killings. If you compare double plays fielded and recorded for all squads that information exists for, the following teams had the most advantageous single season double play disparity:

    Year	Team	DP	GIDP	Dif.	Manager
    1956 	NYY	214	102	+112	Casey Stengel
    1952 	NYY	199	93	+106	Casey Stengel
    1954 	NYY	198	94	+104	Casey Stengel
    1966 	PIT	215	111	+104	Harry Walker
    1986 	STL	178	83	+95	Whitey Herzog

    The above does not take into account all the adjustments mentioned in Mauch’s commentary. However, even with those refinements, the 1956 Yanks gained the greatest advantage from double plays of any squad in history, and Stengel managed three of the top four squads. (The 1966 Pirates move into second place). Stengel’s teams had the best double play differential in the league eleven times. With the Mauch adjustment, Stengel comes out 537 double plays ahead; easily the largest advantage in baseball history.

    Perhaps Stengel’s dominance in double play differentials is because he had such a long career. Another way of examining double plays is to add together what the Tendencies Database says about GIDP and DP. Based on that, the following managers score best overall with double plays:

    Best at Double Plays – Combined
    Whitey Herzog		1.261
    Billy Southworth	1.357
    Al Lopez		1.415
    Casey Stengel 		1.419
    Gene Mauch		1.453

    The men around Stengel all have a particular hook. Herzog was the king of the base stealers while Southworth and Mauch championed the bunt. Both strategies minimize double plays. Lopez benefited from several years managing one of baseball’s greatest middle infields combinations, Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox. Stengel had neither any obvious strategic predilection nor historically brilliant defenders. He just did what he could to make the double play work for him, whether it was positioning his infielders or using groundball pitchers.

    In Stengel’s six years with the Braves, the team averaged over 155 double plays turned per year. In the franchise’s previous 65 seasons, they reached that figure only three times. In his second season, they recorded 178 double plays, a franchise record that stood until the Braves moved to Atlanta. The Yankees averaged 186 double plays a year in Stengel’s dozen years there. In the other 90+ campaigns in franchise history, they turned 186 in a season only two times. In Stengel’s 25 years as manager – and GIDP data exists for all them – none of his batters ever grounded into twenty double plays in a season. He is the only manager who lasted over ten seasons since baseball began recording GIDP information who can make that claim.

    Unlike the double play, Stengel had little interest in the base on balls. According to the Tendencies Database, of all managers who lasted at least a decade, only Burt Shotton’s pitchers scored worse at walks per nine innings than Stengel. In his first year with the Yankees, Tommy Byrne set a franchise record that still stands with 179 walks. The next year he had 160. A few years, later teammate Bob Turley surrendered 177. The five highest single season individual walk totals in Yankee history all came under Stengel, as did one-third of all occasions a Yankee hurler gave up 100 walks.

    Stengel also had tepid marks with offensive walks. Combine his Tendencies Database scores for hitting and pitching walks, and he got as little out of walks as any manager in history:

    Worst with Walks – Combined
    Patsy Donovan 		2.549
    Lou Boudreau		2.472
    Bill Virdon		2.462
    Casey Stengel		2.448
    Bill Rigney		2.434

    Stengel’s teams earned more walks than they surrendered six times in 25 campaigns. Alternately, they had a –100 differential in half-dozen seasons. For his full career, his squads allowed nearly 1,000 more than they gave up.

    Stengel’s score with hitters, 1.061, is technically average, but a lurking variable distorts it: Mickey Mantle. In his decade under Stengel, Mantle constantly appeared among the league leaders in walks, averaging 100 per year in the 1950s. For that reason alone, Stengel should have scored above average. Aside from Mantle, Stengel had only a half-dozen times a batter garnered 80 walks in a campaign.

    Stengel’s walk imbalance partially explained his interest in the double play. Walks allow men to get on base, but are not very good ways to advance runners already on. Stengel would let them have first, provided he could figure out a way to make the next man ground into two outs.

    Holy Cannoli! Sweet Cards

    Posted by on December 16th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Marty Appel tipped me off on these…

    (Thanks Marty!)

    The National Ethnic Heritage Foundation, in partnership with the Order of Sons of Italy in America, have created a 100 baseball card set of “Italian Americans in Major League Baseball.”

    I’ve been told that these cards celebrate the great names – like Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio, Ernie Lombardi, Tom Lasorda, Yogi Berra, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto, Roy Campanella, and broadcaster Joe Garagiola, possible future Hall of Famers like Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Billy Martin, Ron Santo, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Andy Pettitte – as well as popular figures – like Tony Conigliaro, Rocky Colavito, John Franco, Lee Mazzilli, Joe Pepitone, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi and Terry Francona. Other familiar names in the set are Dom and Vince DiMaggio, Bobby Valentine, Steve Sax, Vic Raschi, Dave Righetti, Jason Giambi, Sal Maglie, Frank Malzone, Gary Gaetti, Carl Furillo, Frank Crosetti, Jack Clark, Rick Cerone, Bernie Carbo, Dolph Camilli, Mark Belanger, Sal Bando, Johnny Antonelli and Barry Zito.

    The cards are not sold commercially, and are available through the two websites – www.nehf.org and www.osia.org.

    It’s nice to see someone making an effort to recognize the positive contributions of an ethnic/cultural group to our society for a change…rather than what you usually see featured in some media these days.

    Baseball America’s Top Ten Yankees Prospect List

    Posted by on December 16th, 2009 · Comments (41)

    Here’s their list published today:

    1. Jesus Montero, c
    2. Austin Romine, c
    3. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
    4. Slade Heathcott, of
    5. Zach McAllister, rhp
    6. Manny Banuelos, lhp
    7. Gary Sanchez, c
    8. J.R. Murphy, c
    9. Jeremy Bleich, lhp
    10. Andrew Brackman, rhp

    More from BA:

    In the postseason, every New York reliever except for Brian Bruney was a product of the farm system.

    Senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman, who has overseen scouting and player development in the organization for the better part of the last 13 years, says the Yankees aspire to more.

    “We’re not in this to develop relievers, but starters, starting pitchers and impact hitters,” he says. To that end, both Chamberlain and Hughes are likely to be given another shot at the rotation in 2010, though scouts who once considered Chamberlain a future No. 1 starter now admit that he’s a different animal out of the bullpen.

    As for impact bats, New York points to Jesus Montero, the Venezuelan catcher they signed for $1.65 million bonus in 2006. Montero took a significant leap forward last season, dominating Double-A pitching at age 19. The Yankees had similar hopes for outfielder Austin Jackson, who ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago. But after he hit .300 with just four homers in Triple-A, they included him, as well as Coke and 2006 first-rounder Ian Kennedy, in a three-team trade that netted Curtis Granderson from the Tigers.

    Several of the system’s top pitching prospects had down years, with 2007 first-rounder Andrew Brackman having a truly awful season at low Class A Charleston and Dellin Betances and Jairo Heredia, among others, succumbing to injuries. But Newman said that on the whole, the Yankees’ pitching injuries were down. And those setbacks were offset by the emergence of arms such as Arodys Vizcaino and Manny Baneulos, plus aggressive spending in the draft and internationally that landed prospects such as outfielder Slade Heathcott and catchers Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy.

    I dunno…when Brackman makes your “top ten” that’s not a good sign. Plus, many of these guys like Heathcott, Sanchez and Murphy, have yet to fully tested yet. If you ask me, the Yankees really don’t have many quasi-exciting prospects in their system outside of Montero, Romine, Vizcaino, McAllister and Banuelos.

    Further…Montero doesn’t have a position, and, Romine projects more to be a solid player – and not a star. Vizcaino, McAllister and Banuelos? Yes, they’re promising…but TINSTAAPP suggests that you never know…

    Bud’s New Consigliere Posse Looking To Use Posada To Make A Point?

    Posted by on December 16th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Via the AP

    With critics calling for expanded video review of umpires’ calls and some players pushing to expand the first round of the playoffs, baseball commissioner Bud Selig established a committee of managers and longtime executives.

    Managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia were selected Tuesday for the “special committee for on-field matters,” which Selig will chair and will meet for the first time next month.

    Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who is black, was the only minority picked for the panel.

    Scioscia was livid with the number of off days during the postseason, and Selig promised to re-examine the format, which added four extra off-days starting in 2007 at the behest of the sport’s broadcast networks.

    Following a series of blown calls by umpires during the playoffs, many said baseball should expand video review, which began in 2008 and is limited to whether potential home runs are fair and whether the ball went over the fence.

    “This is not a reaction to some of the things that happened during the playoffs,” Selig said. “I’m not saying that it didn’t keep moving me along in this direction because it did, but frankly I had this in mind for a long time.”

    The group will examine scheduling, umpiring, the strike zone and pace of game, which again became an issue when Yankees catcher Jorge Posada made frequent trips to the mound during the postseason.

    More on the Posada thing this post-season.

    Hey, does ‘Sado have issues getting on the same page with his pitchers? Ah…yeah. Duh! There’s no question there. But, com’on…Jason Varitek has been doing this stuff for years now.

    I want to swear that I’ve seen Varitek go to the mound when there are two outs, no one on base, in the 7th inning, with the Sox up by five, and an 0-2 count on the batter. Really. He’s the worst.

    So, Bud…let’s not pin this all on Posada. He’s just one of several who do this stuff.

    And, for the record, I would love to see them put a stop to this practice. Catchers have fingers and pitchers have eyes – and they should learn to use them…if you ask me.

    Winning Teams Now Focus On Run Prevention?

    Posted by on December 16th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Teams are more interested in run prevention and defense now? Via ESPN.com -

    The Tampa Bay Rays went from 66-96 in 2007 to 97-65 in 2008. The Seattle Mariners went from 61-101 in 2008 to 85-77 in 2009. The one thing those two teams share, of course, was a focus on defense and run prevention. And while the Boston Red Sox might not have that sort of hole out of which to climb heading into 2010, it seems clear the team has transitioned from the on-base-percentage and power-heavy lineups of their recent title years to a roster focused on run prevention and defense.

    Over the past decade, teams have apparently acquired a newfound appreciation for defense. Defense, more so than offense, has always been difficult to quantify. However, as teams get a better handle on measuring defense, some are using that facet of the game to radically improve. Following in the footsteps of the Rays and Mariners, the Red Sox appear to have made the decision that the most efficient and effective way to construct a club at this juncture is to emphasize defense. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz no longer make up the feared heart-of-the-order that existed during the 2004 and 2007 World Series teams. Instead, teams will learn to fear the Red Sox’s defense.

    Rather than pay Jason Bay the $60 million or $70 million he is reportedly seeking, the Red Sox decided that paying Mike Cameron under $20 million was a better investment.

    While a casual observer might look at Cameron’s 2009 line of .250/.342/.452 with 24 HR and wonder how in the world that compares to Bay’s .267/.384/.537 with 36 HR line, there’s far more to the story than that. While Bay is an offensive force, he is a defensive liability.

    In a sense, you can add the 2009 Yankees to this group of teams more “focused on run prevention and defense” because they added Teixeira at first (which was a huge defensive upgrade on Jason Giambi), subtracted Bobby Abreu (who added no defensive value whatsoever), added strikeout pitchers in Sabathia and Burnett (who take “defense” into their own hands by keeping balls out of play), and got improved defensive efforts from Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano (this season). Also, the Yankees had a number of pitchers in their bullpen this year – like Robertson and Hughes – who were strikeout pitchers in that role. Lastly, Jose Molina caught more games, when he was available, than expected (due to the whole Posada/Burnett issue).

    It will be interesting to see if the 2010 Yankees continue with this effort.

    Teixeira and Sabathia should repeat what they did last year. But, which Cano will show up in 2010? Can Jeter post another solid year with the glove? Will Burnett stay off the D.L.? Will the guys in the pen perform as they did last season? Will Curtis Granderson hurt or help on defense? And, who knows about what defense the Yankees will get out of catcher this coming season? Lotsa questions…I just hope all the answers turn out to be good.

    Posada: Yanks Still Short One Starter

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Via Pete Caldera

    Brian Cashman told us at the Winter Meetings that his priority was, “pitching, pitching, pitching.’’ So far he’s acquired “pitching,’’ in the form of Andy Pettitte. Comes now, word from Jorge Posada, who believes the Yankees need more.

    “We have to try to get one more starter. I think that Cashman knows it. I think it’s a priority for us,’’ Posada told Sweeny Murti and Ed Coleman today on WFAN Radio. “Hopefully, we can get that.’‘

    Posada seemed to indicate that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes aren’t ready to fully anchor the Nos. 4-5 slots in the Yankee rotation. The point is, both young pitchers have had success in the big leagues – but only as relievers. So, the Yanks could use another veteran starter on a short-term deal to either provide insurance or a better option for the rotation – one that would allow Chamberlain or Hughes (probably Chamberlain) to be utilized in the 8th-inning role.

    Remember, Posada was the one who said the club needed an ace heading into the 2008 season, and watched the club finish third.

    Hey, the heck with “D.H.” – maybe the Yankees should make Posada their “G.M.” this season?

    Heyman: Yanks Were Unwilling To Deal Joba Or Hughes For Halladay

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (19)

    I just caught Jon Heyman on the MLB Network Hot Stove show this evening talking about the Roy Halladay trade – and he mentioned that the Yankees were willing to trade Jesus Montero to the Blue Jays for Halladay…but were unwilling to include Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes in part of a package.

    The Montero thing is not news to me – as Heyman wrote this yesterday:

    Halladay’s two preferred teams were thought to be the Phillies and Yankees. Indications are the Yankees offered a package that included top catching prospect Jesus Montero as the centerpiece.

    But, the refusal by the Yankees to include Hughes or Chamberlain is news – at least to me.

    So, now, over the last two years, Brian Cashman has refused to part with Hughes or Chamberlain in a deal for Johan Santana or Roy Halladay. Wow.

    I used to think that Jeff Weaver, Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa were the poster children for blown pitching decisions by Brian Cashman. But, there’s a good chance that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes could take that title from those guys…

    Yes, Joba and Phil are younger and cheaper than Santana and Halladay…and home-grown, etc. But, since the Cashman and the Yankees were willing to spend a half-billion dollars last year on Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira, you can’t say that the Yankees M.O. is all about building from within and saving money on salaries.

    There’s a great chance that Johan Santana and Roy Halladay are heading to Cooperstown someday…as they are that good. Chamberlain and Hughes? Well, they’re still a looooooong way from heading to Cooperstown….and a quite a ways, yet, still, from being established and trust-worthy starting pitchers, period.

    This is a gutsy call by Cashman. I just wish his gut calls had a better track record…

    Swisher Is Ready For You Now, Mr. DeMille

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Via the Wrap with a h/t to the Chadster:

    The Yankees are coming… to “How I Met Your Mother.”

    Actually, just one member of New York’s evil world championship team is coming to CBS’s hit Monday comedy. And that would be switch-hitter Nick Swisher.

    Swisher has been cast as himself on an upcoming episode of “HIMYM.” The plot: When Swisher drops by MacLaren’s bar, the women all swoon– putting a major crimp in bachelor Barney’s game.

    Looks like somebody’s about to get schooled in the Bro Code.

    Production on Swisher’s episode — dubbed “The Perfect Week”– begins Dec. 16. The episode is tentatively scheduled to air Feb. 1. Unless, of course, CBS wisens up and decides to pair this episode of “HIMYM” with “The Big Bang Theory” and airs them both after the Super Bowl.

    This isn’t Swisher’s first TV appearance. He played himself in a 2007 episode of the CW sitcom “The Game.”

    Swisher might not have to stretch much to play a lady magnet. The NY Daily News reported last month that Swisher, who’s been linked to “Gossip Girl” star Joanna Garcia, gets lots of attention from the hotties when visiting Yankee hangout Souther Hospitality.

    Somebody should tell Swishalicious that this is sooooooo Danny Tartabull circa 1994….

    Yanks ’10 OF – Go For The Gold (Glove) Approach?

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (21)

    Today, I found myself recalling that someone, talking about a Yankees outfield…I think it was the 1975 trio of Roy White, Elliott Maddox, and Bobby Bonds?…once made the statement “With those three out there, not even a drop of rain should fall in…”

    And, that leads to today’s wild thought: Given the “plus” offense that the Yankees have at C, 1B, 2B, 3B and SS, should they look to set up their 2010 outfield in a way that provides the best defense available – even if it means punting some offense?

    Stay with me…and imagine a Yankees outfield next season with Curtis Granderson in left, Brett Gardner in center, and Melky Cabrera in right field. (Here, Nick Swisher would become the Yankees primary D.H. in 2010.)

    There’s no question here that Melky in RF would be a monster drop-off, with the bat, compared to what most teams get, offensively, from that spot. And, the jury is still out on Gardner’s stick.

    But, there should be little doubt that Granderson-Gardner-Cabrera, in this set-up, with their feet (and Melky’s arm) would be a very nice defensive asset, no? Hey, it’s just a wild thought…take it for what it’s worth…

    A-Rod’s Rehab Doc Linked To Doc Suspected Of Dealing HGH

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via the Daily News with a h/t to WW reader cr1:

    The Canadian doctor who performed a controversial medical procedure on Tiger Woods is under criminal investigation for drug violations on both sides of the border, bringing scrutiny to his colleagues, including one who worked closely with BALCO athletes and Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez.

    Dr. Tony Galea was arrested in October and his Toronto clinic was raided by Canadian authorities after his assistant was detained at the U.S.-Canadian border and reportedly found to be in possession of illegal drugs, including human growth hormone (hGH) and Actovegin – a drug extracted from calf’s blood that has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

    The Daily News has learned that the Buffalo office of the FBI is investigating Galea, along with Canadian authorities.

    Galea and Mark Lindsay, a Canadian chiropractor who treated Woods and managed Rodriguez’s rehabilitation this summer from hip surgery, are principals at a Toronto clinic called Affinity Health.

    Lindsay also treated ex-Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who was recovering from a hip injury, this year. Lindsay’s clients have included former NFL star Bill Romanowski, and sprinters Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones, who all testified in front of the grand jury that investigated the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative’s dealings with steroids.

    Lindsay worked with Montgomery during the time that BALCO founder Victor Conte formed a group called “Project World Record,” intended to make Montgomery the fastest man in the world. Montgomery was later implicated in the BALCO scandal, along with Romanowski and Jones, and is now serving time in prison for heroin distribution. Jones served six months in jail for lying to investigators about her use of performance-enhancing drugs.

    “Dr. Mark Lindsay is a world-renowned chiropractor that I met through Bill Romanowski,” Conte told the Daily News last night. “Mark is one of the best at active release techniques, and I referred a few athletes to him, including Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones.”

    An interesting connection here? Maybe? Then again, almost 30 years ago, I went to High School with a guy who once knew a girl who used to visit another guy in prison…so, we have to be careful about connecting dots and drawing lines.

    Yanks Enter Bay Watch?

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    This C.J. was like no Kazakh woman I have ever seen. She had golden hairs, teeth as white as pearls, and the…

    Via TSN

    Free agent outfielder Jason Bay is drawing interest from his former team’s biggest rival. A source told the Boston Herald that the Yankees have contacted Bay’s representatives.

    That source added that Bay is expected to make a decision about his future in the next couple of days.

    The Mets, Mariners and Angels are considered the front-runners for Bay, but the Yankees’ interest in first baseman Mark Teixeira didn’t surface until just before they inked him to a deal last offseason. So, the World Series champions can’t be dismissed.

    According to the Boston Herald, one team is believed to have made Bay a five-year offer. That is something the Red Sox shied away from doing because of concerns over Bay’s health (he had shoulder surgery in 2003 and knee surgery in 2007). With free agent outfielder Mike Cameron expected to finalize a two-year deal with Boston soon, Bay is unlikely to return to the Red Sox.

    Personally, I would be shocked if the Yankees offer Bay a deal better than he would get from a team like the Mets (at this point). Of course, this assumes that the Mets have some money – and that could be a bad assumption.

    Betcha the Yankees, if they can’t get Johnny Damon to crawl back to a low-ball offer, end up going with Melky Cabrera in left next season – or go for another cheapie like Reed Johnson. After all, according to Brian Cashman, pitching is the Yankees priority this off-season, right? (And, we’re just waiting for him to get some – outside of re-signing Andy Pettitte.)

    A-Rod’s May To December Romance On The Hudson Is “Over”

    Posted by on December 15th, 2009 · Comments (6)

    It’s over? I thought it ain’t over till it’s over? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!?!

    Via some rag -

    It’s over for Hollywood hottie Kate Hudson and Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez, according to sources in Miami.

    Insiders tell us that A-Rod partied in Miami solo all weekend (and with other women!), while Kate was in New York promoting her new movie, Nine.

    A-Rod partied at Wall Lounge in the W Hotel Friday night, Dec. 11, “with two women,” said our source. “He was acting VERY single, and Kate Hudson was definitely not there.” Another insider confirms that Alex was with other women in Miami.

    The source also said, “Kate and A-Rod broke up.”

    Meanwhile, Kate was spotted dining at Pure Food and Wine in Manhattan on Friday night Dec. 11, where one spy said, “Kate was there with her son, Ryder, but spent the entire evening talking on her cell phone.” And Kate was “all smiles” while having brunch with friends at Prime Meats in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, Dec. 12.

    But on Saturday, A-Rod was at the Armani Exchange “Cool Shades of Style” dinner at the Solarium above the Delano Hotel. And once again, no sign of Kate!

    The couple started dating in May, when they met in NYC, and she is credited with helping A-Rod and the Yankees win the World Series!

    Reps for Kate and A-Rod haven’t gotten back to us, but our sources insist, “They are totally over.”

    Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t it the “Kate Hudson influence” that allowed Alex to have his mind at ease this year and/or post-season? So, what gives? Tune in next season for the latest chapter of “Inside A-Rod’s Head”…

    It’s Official: Hideki Matsui Joins Angels

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    Via Mark Feinsand -

    According to a source, Hideki Matsui signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, ending his seven-year stint in pinstripes. Matsui, this year’s World Series MVP, will earn about $6.5 million.

    Matsui had intended to wait for the Yankees’ situation to be resolved before signing elsewhere, but with the Johnny Damon saga seemingly weeks away from a conclusion, Matsui decided to take the Angels’ offer.

    The Yankees hadn’t planned on pursuing Matsui unless Damon signed elsewhere, not wanting to lock up their DH spot with one player.

    In a bizarre twist of fate, the Yankees’ home schedule next season starts with a three-game series against the Angels from April 13-15, so Matsui will be on hand for the banner-raising ceremony and possibly the World Series ring presentations.

    A perfect time to follow up on a reader question

    …powered by the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, here’s every Yankees batter with at least 3,500 PA with team ranked by their RCAA/502 PA in those PA:

    PLAYER		RCAA	PA	RCAA/502 PA
    Babe Ruth	1634	9197	89.2
    Lou Gehrig	1247	9660	64.8
    Mickey Mantle	1099	9909	55.7
    Joe DiMaggio	708	7671	46.3
    Charlie Keller	386	4466	43.4
    Alex Rodriguez	316	3924	40.4
    Jason Giambi	245	3693	33.3
    Tommy Henrich	280	5409	26.0
    Bill Dickey	339	7060	24.1
    Earle Combs	307	6509	23.7
    Dave Winfield	200	5021	20.0
    Bobby Murcer	199	4997	20.0
    Derek Jeter	388	9809	19.9
    Yogi Berra	323	8352	19.4
    Don Mattingly	293	7721	19.1
    Bernie Williams	343	9053	19.0
    Hideki Matsui	137	3816	18.0
    Bill Skowron	139	4102	17.0
    Paul O'Neill	178	5368	16.6
    Jorge Posada	208	6312	16.5
    Tony Lazzeri	221	7059	15.7
    Roy White	242	7735	15.7
    Ben Chapman	114	4013	14.3
    Bob Meusel	139	5544	12.6
    Joe Gordon	104	4216	12.4
    Hank Bauer	132	5373	12.3
    Tom Tresh	102	4518	11.3
    Thurman Munson	113	5903	9.6
    Gil McDougald	100	5395	9.3
    Graig Nettles	109	6247	8.8
    Sn. Stirnweiss	66	3800	8.7
    Tino Martinez	71	4244	8.4
    Willie Randolph	115	7465	7.7
    Chris Chambliss	51	3633	7.0
    Elston Howard	63	5485	5.8
    Red Rolfe	58	5405	5.4
    Lou Piniella	38	3577	5.3
    Willie Keeler	19	3792	2.5
    Wally Pipp	18	6340	1.4
    Phil Rizzuto	-10	6710	-0.7
    Joe Pepitone	-8	4116	-1.0
    Hal Chase	-16	4466	-1.8
    Rg. Peckinpaugh	-50	5269	-4.8
    Horace Clarke	-63	5143	-6.1
    Tony Kubek	-66	4494	-7.4
    Clete Boyer	-67	4035	-8.3
    Fr. Crosetti	-150	7273	-10.4
    B.Richardson	-141	5783	-12.2
    Aaron Ward	-88	3565	-12.4
    

    There’s Godzilla in the Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Bill Skowron, Paul O’Neill range…yeah, pound-for-pound, he was that good.

    From that 2003 Opening Day Grand Slam against Joe Mays to that 6 RBI Game in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, and everything in between, Matsui was money in the bank. He will be missed very much…of that there is little doubt…at least to this Yankees fan.

    December 2009 Survey Question #2

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:86}

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

    Yanks Will Not Get Doc Halladay

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (25)

    Via Jon Heyman

    The Phillies are in agreement on a three-team trade with the Mariners and Blue Jays to acquire star pitcher Roy Halladay, SI.com has learned. All indications are that Cliff Lee will likely be heading from Philadelphia to Seattle in the trade.

    Sources say Halladay will agree to a contract extension to complete the deal. It’s expected to be a formality, and though terms are not yet clear, it’s expected to be worked out in the next couple days. Halladay wanted to be in Philadelphia, as the Phillies train in Clearwater, Fla., not far from his offseason home.

    The Phillies are giving up prospects to Toronto to get Halladay, but it isn’t known yet which players are in the deal. Philadelphia, which would also get prospects from Seattle, is trying to keep its payroll at around $140 million.

    The deal is not expected to be finalized today due to its complexity.

    The Mariners have been looking for an ace, and all signs point to Lee winding up in Seattle. One loser here is the Angels, who were interested in both Lackey and Halladay and missed out on both of them, with Lackey closing in on a deal with the Red Sox.

    I wonder if anyone in Yankeeland will pull a Frasier Crane (yelling at Diane Chambers) and tell Brian Cashman that he will “Rue the day!” that Roy Halladay was traded and it wasn’t to the Yankees?

    Wait a minute…I think I just did!

    Yanks Now To Open 2010 With A Sunday Nighter @ The Fens

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Via the AP -

    The World Series champion New York Yankees will play the Boston Red Sox in the major league Sunday night opener on April 4.

    The game will be televised on ESPN2 nationally but will be blacked out on the ESPN2 in the areas of the two teams, where it will be broadcast on their local networks. The game originally had been scheduled for Monday, April 5.

    When the schedule was announced in September, Yankees ace CC Sabathia anticipated the shift.

    “It’ll be cold. We know that for sure,” he said, laughing. “To get in there right away and mix it up will definitely be good for baseball. I’m sure it’ll be like a Sunday night baseball game or something like that, so that’ll be cool.”

    New York also closes the season at Fenway Park and plays Boston six times in its last 10 games.

    The rivals also opened the season at Yankee Stadium in 2005 following Boston’s first World Series title since 1918. The Yankees hold an 18-10 advantage in openers against the Red Sox with one tie.

    A Massalcoholics delight! This will give Red Sox fans about 12 hours to drink before the first pitch of the game/season.

    Godzilla To Be Fitted For Wings & A Halo?

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    Via TSN -

    Hideki Matsui is reportedly close to with Los Angeles to become the Angels’ next designated hitter.

    ESPN.com is reporting that Matsui is on the verge of sigining a one-year, $6.5 million contract. Matsui capper a 28-homer season with with the Yankees by winning the World Series MVP and hoped to return to New York, the only Major League team he has played for. But the Yankees traded for centerfielder Curtis Granderson and made upgrading its outfield more of a priority. Matsui was unable to play the field last year because of bad knees.

    Matsui played 142 games in 2009, all as a designated hitter. The signing would also end Vladimir Guerrero’s tenure with the Angels. Guerrero won one MVP in his six seasons with the Angels, but he was limited to 383 at bats and just two games played in the field by lower-body injuries. He is also a free agent.

    Oh…if…only…he didn’t have Tony Oliva’s knees…

    I will miss Matsui. He was one of my favorites. And, I hope he does great for the Angels…except when he’s playing against the Yankees.

    And, Yankees fans, if you’re listening, you better give Godzilla a Standing-O in his first PA at Yankee Stadium next season as a visiting player…he’s earned it.

    Lackey To Red Sox?

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    Source.

    Hmmm…just another reason to rag on the guy, I suppose.

    Recent Pinstripe Power Debuts

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Since 1954, 37 players have hit 9 or more home runs in their first 162 games as a Yankee. (H/T to Raphy for the fun idea to look at a list like this one.) Check out the names on this list. Ah, good memories, eh?

    Rk Player PA HR 6
    1 Kevin Maas Ind. Games 153 35
    2 Shane Spencer Ind. Games 97 27
    3 Dan Pasqua Ind. Games 94 25
    4 Joe Pepitone Ind. Games 80 24
    5 Bobby Murcer Ind. Games 86 23
    6 Jorge Posada Ind. Games 85 22
    7 Johnny Blanchard Ind. Games 70 21
    8 Frank Fernandez Ind. Games 73 20
    9 Mike Pagliarulo Ind. Games 73 19
    10 Tom Tresh Ind. Games 88 19
    11 Alfonso Soriano Ind. Games 70 19
    12 Ron Blomberg Ind. Games 61 18
    13 Nick Johnson Ind. Games 74 18
    14 Steve Whitaker Ind. Games 76 18
    15 Bob Geren Ind. Games 65 17
    16 Robinson Cano Ind. Games 63 16
    17 Norm Siebern Ind. Games 69 16
    18 Hideki Matsui Ind. Games 72 16
    19 Bill Skowron Ind. Games 58 16
    20 Don Mattingly Ind. Games 69 15
    21 Marv Throneberry Ind. Games 57 15
    22 Elston Howard Ind. Games 52 14
    23 Gerald Williams Ind. Games 36 12
    24 Bobby Brown Ind. Games 50 12
    25 Hensley Meulens Ind. Games 45 12
    26 Roger Repoz Ind. Games 48 12
    27 Clay Bellinger Ind. Games 31 11
    28 John Ellis Ind. Games 47 11
    29 Ricky Ledee Ind. Games 41 11
    30 Jim Leyritz Ind. Games 37 10
    31 Andy Phillips Ind. Games 41 10
    32 Randy Velarde Ind. Games 40 10
    33 Ray Barker Ind. Games 27 9
    34 Derek Jeter Ind. Games 36 9
    35 Andy Kosco Ind. Games 37 9
    36 Roy White Ind. Games 35 9
    37 Bernie Williams Ind. Games 40 9
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 12/14/2009.

    .

    Yanks Interested In Duchscherer & Sheets?

    Posted by on December 14th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    Does this mean that Britt Burns is not available?

    Via Mark Feinsand -

    Even after bringing back Andy Pettitte and tendering contracts to Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre, the Yankees are looking for more pitching.

    Brian Cashman is looking to add at least one more starter from outside the organization to a rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Such a move would allow him to move Hughes and/or Chamberlain to the bullpen.

    While Cashman continues to monitor the Roy Halladay situation in Toronto, the general manager is looking at a couple of pitchers coming back from arm surgery: Justin Duchscherer and Ben Sheets.

    Neither righthander pitched in 2009; Sheets has the longer track record. The Yankees have spoken with Sheets’ agent, Casey Close, but Sheets is looking for $11 million-$12 million after earning $11 million in 2008 – a price the Yankees are unlikely to meet. The Yankees were interested in signing him as a free agent last winter, but they opted to sign Burnett instead. Sheets went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 2008, but there are questions about how he would fare in the American League after pitching his entire career in the NL with the Brewers.

    Duchscherer, 32, went 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA in 2008, his first as a starter after four years in the A’s bullpen. He was chosen to the American League All-Star team in 2005 as a reliever, then again in 2008 as a starter. He had elbow surgery during spring training, then battled a bout of clinical depression in August.

    Several reports have suggested that Duchscherer and his agent are allowing interested teams to speak with his therapist in addition to reviewing his medical reports. Cashman confirmed that he has spoken to Damon Lapa, Duchscherer’s agent, but he would not say whether he would speak with the therapist.

    Wow. This is a tough choice: The totally brittle body or the somewhat brittle body and mind?

    Reminds me of when Batman had to choose between the lady and the tiger.

    See Ya, So Wang, Bye-Bye

    Posted by on December 13th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    If you would have asked me 800 days ago, what were the two things least likely to happen in the near future, I probably would have suggested that Tiger Woods would be caught having a ménage à trois with Jesus and Scooby Doo and that the Yankees would release Worm Killer Wang. But, we now have this on the latter:

    Taiwanese pitcher Chien-ming Wang has become a free agent after the New York Yankees declined to offer him a 2010 contract.

    “There’s no doubt that we had to make a tough decision,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement on Saturday.

    “We are still hopeful that our relationship can continue but those decisions are yet to be made.”

    Wang, a two-time 19-game winner who has struggled in recent years with injuries, will now pursue a contract with all 30 Major League Baseball clubs, his agent told MLB’s official website.

    Under baseball labor rules, the Yankees would have had to pay the 29-year-old at least $4 million to keep him under contract.

    New York could still sign the right-hander to a lesser, incentive-based deal, agent Alan Nero said Wang would take all other options into consideration.

    “I think it’s difficult to rationalize a non-tender as further building a bridge with a team, but we’ll see,” Nero said.

    Hey, if you see the Shroud of Turin and a set of golf clubs outside the Mystery Machine, and it’s a rockin’, then don’t come a knockin’…because anything is possible…

    Or, as former Cardinal Joaquin Andujar said in 1984: “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know.’ “

    Braves Sign Eric Duncan

    Posted by on December 13th, 2009 · Comments (7)

    Chad Jennings has the story.

    What the Braves see here…well…I dunno?

    He’s a nice kid…so, I wish him well. But, clearly, Duncan was one of the worst Yankees draft picks of the 2000′s…right up there with David Parrish, Jon Skaggs, Bronson Sardinha, John-Ford Griffin, Jeffrey Marquez, Jonathan Poterson and Carl Henry. And, perhaps, someday, we’ll be adding Ian Kennedy, Andrew Brackman and Jeremy Bleich to this list as well. And, of course, there was the whole swing and a miss on Gerrit Cole…

    Geez, the first round of the draft has not been kind to the Yankees front office in the 2000′s, has it(?) – sans Hughes and Chamberlain so far…and they’ve yet to become stars, for what it’s worth.

    Keep An Eye Out For New Dirk Hayhurst Book

    Posted by on December 13th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Remember Dirk Hayhurst?

    Well, he now has a book coming out and it sounds like a good one.

    30 Years Before The Curtis Granderson Trade

    Posted by on December 12th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    On, August 1, 1979 – the day before Thurman Munson’s fatal plane crash – the Yankees traded Mickey Rivers to the Texas Rangers. When the deal was finalized, it went down like this: The Rangers received Mickey Rivers, Bob Polinsky, Neal Mersch and Mark Softy – and the Yankees received Amos Lewis, Oscar Gamble, Ray Fontenot and Gene Nelson. (I say “when the deal was finalized” because there was a waivers issue when the trade first went down and Bowie Kuhn got involved to make sure that whatever transpired between the two clubs was kosher.)

    Once Rivers was traded, the Yankees used Bobby Brown and Bobby Murcer to cover center field for them over the rest of the season. But, they knew they needed a better plan for 1980.

    So, on November 1, 1979 – thirty years before the Yankees would trade for Curtis Granderson – New York swung a trade with the Seattle Mariners: Rick Anderson, Jim Beattie, Juan Beniquez and Jerry Narron would go to the M’s, and, in exchange, the Yanks would get Jim Lewis and Ruppert Jones.

    Now, at the time, three of the players who the Yankees gave up were legit prospects. Rick Anderson was the 5th overall pick of the 1972 January (Secondary) draft and was just 25-years old. Jim Beattie was a 6′ 6″ righty out of Dartmouth College – drafted by the Yankees in the 4th round of the 1975 amateur draft. And, Jerry Narron was a 23-year old left-handed batting catcher with some pop. (Juan Beniquez was not a prospect at the time – but was a serviceable big league outfielder.)

    For the Yankees, the deal was all about getting Ruppert Jones to play center field for them (in 1980). He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 3rd round of the 1973 amateur draft and went to the Mariners as the 1st pick in the 1976 expansion draft. At the time of the trade with New York, he was just 24-years old. A left-handed batter – who was thought to be a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium, like Granderson today – Ruppert Jones was the rare package of youth, speed, and extra base power.

    And, what happened in Yankeeland in 1980? Well, the good news is that the team did great – going 103-59 and finishing first in A.L. East. But, Ruppert Jones was a bust for New York that season – missing 38 games between May and July and another 38 games between August and September. In the games that he did play, Jones posted a BA/OBA/SLG line of .223/.299/.357 in 373 PA.

    You know…Howard Cosell had a radio show back in 1980 on WABC-77 in NYC. And, I remember one time he went ripping on Ruppert Jones. To this day, I remember Cosell closing his piece with “I’m sorry Ruppert. But, I tell it like it is…”

    Related to all this, before the 1981 season, the Yankees traded Jones to the San Diego Padres – with Joe Lefebvre, Tim Lollar and Chris Welsh – in exchange for Jerry Mumphrey and John Pacella. (Mumphrey would become the Yankees center fielder until the end of the 1983 season – when he was then traded for Omar Moreno, who then took over in center for the Yanks until Rickey Henderson came along in 1985.)

    I thought about Ruppert Jones when the Yankees recently acquired Curtis Granderson.

    Thirty years ago, the Yankees had a center fielder who was a post-season hero – Mickey Rivers – who they felt was getting old. (And, they were correct.) Many feel this way about Johnny Damon today – that he was a World Series hero for the Yankees in 2009 – but, he’s starting to get old.

    The Yankees, back in the day, replaced Rivers with Ruppert Jones – with the latter coming in a trade for prospects. At the time, it was an exciting deal for New York because of what Jones had done in the past. Today, it appears that the Yankees are replacing Damon with Curtis Granderson (in their line-up, but not in the field, for next year) – with the latter coming in a trade for prospects. And, many in Yankeeland are excited over the deal for Granderson because of what he’s done in the past.

    Will Curtis Granderson work out as “well” as Ruppert Jones did for the Yankees thirty years ago? Time will tell, I suppose.

    Gritty, Gutty…And On The Block?

    Posted by on December 11th, 2009 · Comments (27)

    Via the Chicago Sun-Times with a h/t to BBTF

    According to a scout familiar with the situation, the Sox were one of two teams in the American League Central letting the New York Yankees know during the winter meetings this week that they covet outfielder Brett Gardner. The Kansas City Royals also were wondering what it would take to acquire the promising 26-year-old leadoff hitter.

    Williams is friendly with Yankees GM Brian Cashman, and they’ve done deals before. He acquired Jose Contreras from the Yankees in 2004, and the Yankees acquired outfielder Nick Swisher last winter.

    Williams and Cashman know each other’s farm system up and down, and Williams is all too familiar with the idea that the Yankees’ outfield, especially center field, got crowded with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson in a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks this week.

    What wasn’t known was who had the better package to acquire Gardner.

    If the Yankees trade Brett Gardner, I might just cry…

    Ok, I won’t cry…but, I’ll be pissed. Why? Hey, I just like the guy…that’s all. Is that a bad reason?

    PSA At Year End

    Posted by on December 11th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    In October 2008, I shared the story about how I elected to change some of my bad habits (in June 2006) and what the results were at that junction. In that report, I disclosed that, according to an InBody 520 Analyzer test, my body fat percentage was then 12.9%.

    Now, the last 14 months (since then) have been challenging for me – in the sense that I started a new job that is somewhat demanding of my time and it does not allow for as much movement during the day. Basically, between commuting and desk time, I’m sitting for almost 12 hours, straight, each day from Monday to Friday.

    Being curious as to what possible impact this situation has made on my condition, I decided to have another InBody 520 Analyzer test now. And, the results are in: My body fat percentage today is 13.3% – which is pretty much the same as it was 14 months ago.

    How is this possible? Well, while I may not get as much exercise as I did 14 months ago, I still pay attention to my nutrition. And, obviously, that’s important. After all, many believe that all the exercise in the world won’t improve your weight management as much as it could if you have terrible eating habits.

    Still, exercise is key to maintaining and/or improving your health. And, that’s why I’ve decided to do whatever it takes to exercise more – and I’ve been doing that since the World Series ended (over these last five weeks). Hey, a body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by a equal or stronger force, right?

    Why share all this? Simple: In case it helps someone else who is in the spot I was back in June of 2006. I just want to spread the word and say that a change is possible and it can be maintained – if you’re willing to do what it takes and be passionate about it. (Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.)

    To this end, one thing that would help, anyone, is spending less time online.

    Yes, that sounds funny coming from a guy who writes a blog – but, it’s true. So many people spend (waste?) so much time online with things like Facebook and/or Twitter that would time much better spent going for a walk…or doing some push-ups and/or pull-ups…it’s amazing.

    Just to be clear, I’m not saying that you should totally give up your blogging, microblogging, and/or other online social networking stuff. But, if you’re spending more than one hour a day on it, that’s probably too much – unless it’s your job or something.

    Do yourself a favor and unplug from the matrix and get your body moving. That’s my PSA this year. As I said last year: Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can…

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