• Cashman & Levine’s Excellent Adventure

    Posted by on January 31st, 2010 · Comments (28)

    Want to know where Brian and Randy are these days? Via Kyodo News:

    New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman (L) and President Randy Levine show the World Series trophy after they arrive at Narita International Airport, east of Tokyo, on Jan. 31, 2010, to accompany the trophy’s six-day tour in Asia. The trophy will be shown on Feb. 1 at the MLB cafe in Tokyo along with the Yomiuri Giants’ 2009 Japan Series trophy. The World Series trophy will then be taken to China and Hong Kong.

    I can just hear those Japanese baseball fans now…

    見て、短い一人井川慶に4600万ドル費やしたばかです。

    [Translation: Look, the short one is the idiot who spent $46 million on Kei Igawa.]

    Blogger Nine Innings @ Touching Base

    Posted by on January 31st, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Jesse Spector, of the Daily News’ Touching Base blog, has been doing a series where he asks bloggers nine questions. It’s called: Blogger Nine Innings. And, today, it was my turn to be the answer man.

    Click here to see what Jesse had to ask and what I had to say.

    1988 – What Might Have Been In Yankeeland

    Posted by on January 31st, 2010 · Comments (6)

    I was just looking at the final A.L. East Standings for 1988:

    Team       W   L  W-L%  GB 
    Red Sox    89 73  .549  -- 
    Tigers     88 74  .543  1.0 
    Brewers    87 75  .537  2.0 
    Blue Jays  87 75  .537  2.0 
    Yankees    85 76  .528  3.5 
    Indians    78 84  .481 11.0 
    Orioles    54 107 .335 34.5 
    

    Close race, huh? Five teams all bunched up at the top with just 3 1/2 games between them.

    You know, at the close of business on September 15th that season, the Yankees were in 2nd place – just 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox (who New York beat that day albeit facing Roger Clemens). And, the Yankees were all set up – as they had six games left with the Red Sox and seven games left with the Orioles (who stunk that year) in their next 13 games to play. So, what happened?

    Well, in those seven games with the O’s, they got it done – going 6-1. But, in those six games against the Red Sox, the Yankees went 1-5. And, once that 13-game run was over, the Yankees were 3 1/2 games back with three games left to play in the season. So, it was over.

    But, really, it was over just three games into that 13-game period. After the Yankees beat the Red Sox, in Fenway, on September 15th, New York lost the next three games in Boston – and then found themselves 6 1/2 games back of the Red Sox (with 13 games left to the season). Granted, getting fat against the O’s after that allowed the Yankees to get within 3 1/2 games again. But, those three losses in a row were a killer for them. Here’s what happened in each of those:

    September 16th: Al Leiter and Steve Shields don’t get the job done.
    September 17th: Charlie Hudson is left in too long. The Yankees protested the game, for some reason, but it was not allowed.
    September 18th: Ron Guidry got battered around and then some.

    I was 25-years old during the 1988 season. Why I don’t remember more of it, I dunno? I was probably too busy working during the week and then running around down at the Jersey Shore on the weekends. Either that, or, because of the whole Boston-thing, I decided to redact the whole tank job from my memory. Plus, don’t forget, the Mets were rocking in 1988. So, that might have played into it too…with it just being a bad time to be a Yankees fan.

    Then, of course, 1989 through 1992 was just a terrible time to be living in Yankeeland. In the end, perhaps, the missed chance 1988 was the match that set the whole thing off?

    Oh, what might have been…

    Do Wet Toes Equal A Cannonball?

    Posted by on January 31st, 2010 · Comments (10)

    I noticed this 50th Wedding Anniversary announcement in the Pittston Dispatch today. Why? Here’s a snip:

    George “Nipper” and Judith Nowakowski, Duryea, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married January 23, 1960 in Holy Rosary Church, Duryea by the late Rev. John Galenas and the late Rev. Leo Kosloski.

    Mr. Nowakowski is the son of the late Stanley and Josephine Nowakowski, Pittston. He attended Pittston schools. Prior to retirement he was a United States Marine, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, an adjunct professor for Lackawanna Junior College and a Pennsylvania State Trooper.

    First, and foremost, my congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Nowakowski. A half-century of marriage is a huge deal. My parents had their 50th in 2007. It’s a special time. And, to be candid, I wonder if I’ll ever make it. I was 29-years old when I got married. Hopefully, I’ll still be alive when I’m 79 – but, I don’t think anyone can count on that…when it’s 32 years away.

    But, the mention of being “a pitcher for the New York Yankees” is why I’m writing about this notice. Indeed, Mr. Nowakowski pitched for the Yankees organization from 1958 through 1960. However, the highest he ever got in the system was a few cups of coffee in “Class C” ball.

    For those not aware, back in those days, the minor league ladder worked like this: AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, and short-season D. So, anyone playing below “Class C” was really at the bottom of the chain.

    Don’t get me wrong, being a professional baseball player, at any level, for any period of time, is a tremendous feat – and one that commands my respect. But, I’m not sure that it’s correct to claim that you were a “player for the [insert major league team]” if you never really wore the uniform of that team…is it?

    I understand that these types of announcements sometimes take license to bump up some facts. And, I’m not saying that Mr. Nowakowski did something criminal here. Further, he’s not the first, only, or last person to make a claim like this one.

    It’s just one of those things that somewhat ruffles the feathers of this baseball fan – when someone shares, even just in passing, that they “played” for a major league team when, in fact, they were extremely far from ever wearing a big league uniform (even if they were much, much, closer than someone who never played organized hardball beyond the age of eighteen). How about you?

    Updated PECOTA: Yanks & Sox To Tie, Rays One Back

    Posted by on January 30th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Somehow, the Red Sox lost two games, and the Rays lost three, over the last two days. Marc Carig has the scoop.

    Bottom line, it’s still going to be a close three dog fight in the A.L. East this year – and that means two things:

    1. The Yankees better win as much as they lose, if not win more, when they play Boston and Tampa this season. And,

    2. Since they also have 38 games to play against Toronto and Baltimore, New York better come away from those match-ups with at least 25 wins.

    If not, then it’s going to be very tough for the Yankees to make the post-season in 2010.

    Tooth Fairy

    Posted by on January 30th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    We took the kids (who will be ages 6 and 8 this year) to see Tooth Fairy this afternoon. As far as kid’s movies, I’ve seen worse. Nice cameo for Seth MacFarlane. And, Stephen Merchant was a scene stealer.

    Watching it, I thought of a couple of things. First, I thought about how Arnold Schwarzenegger was rumored to make this movie back in 1992-93. But, instead, he went with ”The Last Action Hero” (which got a somewhat bad rap, in the review process, if you ask me). Next, seeing Ashley Judd in it, I thought “Wasn’t it just yesterday that she was running around naked in ‘The Devil’s Advocate’? Where has the time gone?” But, then, I realized that was Charlize Theron and not Ashley Judd. Am I only the third person to get them mixed up? After all, here’s one and here’s another.

    Afterwards, looking at the movie facts, I found out that it was Julie Cooper’s husband airline pilot, Max Horvath, who directed this one. He really had the “G.I. Joe Life-Like Beard” working back in the day. And, I also saw that Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel did the screenplay. In case you don’t know them, think: “Night Shift,” “Splash,” “Gung Ho,” “Parenthood,” “City Slickers,” “A League of Their Own,” and “Fever Pitch” – as they teamed on those as well.

    But mostly, after watching this movie, I can’t help but wonder why it’s acceptable and/or forgivable for an actor to use PEDs to alter his state but it’s a firestorm when a baseball player does it. I know, I know…it’s the stats and the record books. And, I guess that promoting good health choices and body images doesn’t matter…

    Somehow, I don’t think I’m the first person to bring that up when it comes to Hollywood…now that I’ve actually typed out the words.

    New Authors Added To WasWatching.com

    Posted by on January 30th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    About three weeks ago, I shared that “there’s going to be three major changes to WasWatching.com – with the intent being to improve the blog.” And, today, I can now proudly share the details around one of those changes.

    For the first five years of WasWatching.com, sans an anomalous and sporadic guest contribution, I was the singular voice of this blog. However, begining in Feburary 2010, there will be others contributing content here. Here’s the roster of who will be coming onboard:

    • Andy K.
    • Corey Italiano
    • Dan LaTorraca
    • Jeff F.
    • “Jeteupthemiddle” Allie
    • MJ Recanati
    • Phil Allard
    • Sean McNally

    For more on the background of each if these authors, please see their “bio” information via this link.

    To me, this is one of the most exciting updates to WasWatching.com in the last few years. While the posting frequency of these additional authors will vary contingent to their availability, the contributions from them will greatly add to the reader experience here. When I look at the diverse skills and backgrounds of this collective, I imagine all sorts of wonderful opinion, insight, analysis and energy being added to WasWatching.com. Expect to see them writing about all things Yankees-related…including, but not limited to, news and current events, franchise history, the minor leagues, and the Yankees fan experience.

    Since the views and opinions of these authors may sometimes differ from my own, with respect to several Yankees topics, the synergistic effect of adding them to my voice (here) will greatly benefit the scope of content to be found at WasWatching.com.

    See why I’m so excited? I feel like it’s the day before Opening Day following an off-season where I’ve just added an All-Star to my team at every starting position.

    Please join me in welcoming Allie, Andy, Corey, Dan, Jeff, MJ, Phil and Sean to the WasWatching.com team!

    Damon Hopes Yanks Don’t Give Jeter Rough Time When His Deal Is Up

    Posted by on January 30th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Via Peter Botte

    While acknowledging that Derek Jeter “absolutely” is a special case and not comparable to his situation, Johnny Damon fired a warning flare Friday anyway.

    The departing outfielder hopes Jeter doesn’t encounter similar negotiating difficulties with the Yankees when the franchise’s all-time hits leader becomes a free agent next winter. “Hopefully this doesn’t happen with Derek next year,” Damon said during an interview with WFAN. “I say there’s no way Derek can go anywhere else.

    “… I hope he’s not offered a 40-45% pay cut. But I know Derek’s going to go out and produce this year and I know they will treat him with respect.”

    Did the Yankees give Jorge Posada and Mo Rivera a rough time the last time their contracts were up? How about Andy Pettitte? Did the Yankees ever give him a hard time on getting a new deal?

    If I recall correctly, it was Hank Steinbrenner who made sure that Rivera and Posada received what they got the last time they were free agents – whereas it was Brian Cashman who strung out Pettitte until he signed a deal that the G.M. thought was a good deal from the team.

    This all leads to an interesting question, in my mind: Will Deter Jeter, and his agent, be dealing with Brian Cashman when it’s contract talks time? Or, will Camp Jeter just go directly to the Steinbrenner family to work out a deal? If the latter happens, I would not be shocked – and, it just might be the smart there for Jeter’s agent to do…go right over the G.M. and deal with ownership directly. Of course, this will make Cashman look bad. But, again, as Damon notes, Jeter is a special case.

    Jeter’s 7th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic Yesterday

    Posted by on January 30th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Via WTSP.com:

    The New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter hosted his 7th annual Celebrity Golf Clasic on Friday, at Tampa’s Avila Golf & Country Club.

    Jeter invites many of his professional sports friends to the tournament, such as Michael Jordan, Derrick Brooks, Tino Martinez, Bruce Smith, Harry Carson, John Starks, Parnell Dickenson, and LPGA star Brittany Lincicome.

    The money raised goes to Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, which helps young people in 3 different cities, turn away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2″ healthy lifestyles.

    “We have a lot of programs that are set up down here in Tampa,” said Jeter, who has started at shortstop for the Yankees for the last 14 years. “The foundation has given over $10 million throughout the years since it started here in Tampa, west Michigan, and New York. “We have a lot of programs that we’re realy happy about, and a lot of great ideas.”

    Jeter said the tournament raised about $800,000 last year, and he hoped to top that this year.

    I wonder if Skyzoo was in anyone’s foursome?

    Is There A Story Behind Randy Winn’s Poor Stats In 2009?

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (23)

    Over his last 215 Plate Appearances of 2009, Randy Winn fashioned the following BA/OBP/SLG line: .228/.300/.275

    And, that’s not good.

    But, in his first 382 Plate Appearances of 2009, Winn had the following BA/OBP/SLG line: .281/.328/.395

    Granted, an OPS of 723 isn’t All-Star material. But, maybe there’s a story behind the drop-off last season. Via USA Today last July 31st:

    Giants OF Randy Winn was a late arrival at the ballpark following the death of his father-in-law.

    That’s just about the time Winn went into a slump. It could have been a family issue with his wife’s father…or her sister, as a result of the father’s passing (that was messing with his head)?

    It seems as if there was something up with his wife’s sister, a year ago, if you believe and/or understand this claim, or this one, or this one.

    In any event, I’m sure the Yankees did their homework on this one before signing the player to a contract…right?

    Heyman’s Insight On Cashman-Damon Saga

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (14)

    Via Jon Heyman -

    “Johnny [Damon] was awesome here,” [Brian] Cashman said. “He was great in the clubhouse, great on the field. He is a great competitor, a great person and a great player,” We’re going to miss him. We wanted him to stay. We looked forward to having him back. But not at all costs.”

    So if they agree so easily on the basic topic in question (Damon’s contribution), what happened to drive Damon away? The “not at all costs” thought certainly is a part of it. But is there more to it than that? How did it come to be that the Yankees and Damon — two sides that professed love for one another and continue to do so — never got close to an agreement?

    In a last-ditch effort late last week after Damon himself called the team, Cashman, one of baseball’s best dealmakers, tried floating a contract of $6 million with $3 million deferred at no interest (with the promise it would be cleared with team boss Hal Steinbrenner, who was about to return from his honeymoon). But Damon wasn’t moved enough to respond.

    Damon says he hopes to sign fairly soon. For that to happen, things will have to proceed more rapidly than the glacial pace of the talks with the Yankees. It’s hard to know exactly where things went wrong. But one could reasonably wonder whether he wanted to be a Yankee quite as badly as everyone thought. And definitely also wonder whether the Yankees wanted him back as badly as everyone thought.

    Six weeks went by between the Yankees’ World Series championship and the time they threw out their first figure. And by then, they were already “down the road” with Johnson (though just how far down is still in dispute).

    No dollars were discussed in a meaningful way until Dec. 17, when both sides agree that Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, suggested Damon would return for $26 million over two years. Cashman responded by suggesting he could find a No. 2 hitter at half the years for less than half the price.

    The Yankees thought that was way too high a price in a tight market for outfielders and by the very next day they were close to a deal for Johnson, an ex-Yankee. Boras, hearing through the media about this surprising turn of events, called Cashman in an attempt to resurrect things. So he asked Cashman what the Yankees would pay, and that’s when Cashman threw out the figure of $14 million for two years.

    This is where things get tricky. Damon said he has no hard feelings and doesn’t really want to re-live the talks, but also suggested now by phone that his text message of Dec. 18 to the New York Times that the “Yankees offered 2 for 14” didn’t really tell the whole story. It was Damon’s impression that the $14 million offer was actually contingent on Johnson’s deal falling through. “The situation is, it was pending if Nick Johnson wasn’t accepting or didn’t pass the physical,” Damon recalled.

    Cashman remembered things slightly differently. Cashman said he only told Boras he better hurry, because the offer would be off the table if Johnson said yes first, and certainly if Johnson had already called in with a message to accept. Cashman said the Yankees were prepared to retract their offer from Johnson, though not if he’d already left word with someone that he already accepted.

    This point is mostly moot, except to the most inside of baseball people. Because, as Damon said by phone Thursday, “I heard that (my offer) was pending, but I really didn’t care too much. It wasn’t going to be taken. … I definitely wasn’t in the mode to take it. Taking a 40 percent pay cut just didn’t seem to be the right thing.”

    It is curious in any case why there was no offer for six weeks, and even then, only after the Yankees were on the verge of signing Johnson, a younger but injury prone (he averages missing 68 games a year) and considerably less accomplished player.

    The Yankees’ say they never made an offer because they gathered that Damon’s price was way above what they wanted to pay. They figured: why bother? So no offer came. And when it did come, Damon said it is his understanding it came with strings attached.

    “I’m not bitter,” Damon said. “It’s part of baseball. Teams are trying to stay within a budget.”

    The Yankees have done plenty of budget busting in the past for their better players. So there’s plenty of wonder as to why they toed the line here.

    Cashman is philosophical about the entire episode.

    “Scott’s a great agent. Johnny’s a great player. And the Yankees are a great organization,” the Yankees’ GM said. “Sometimes, these things just don’t get done. The value we set for him didn’t meet the value he set for himself.”

    The more you read on this thing, with all the he-said-she-said, reported conditional offers, claims and denials…well…it’s reminding me of Joe Torre’s exit from the team after the 2007 season.

    Is this the “new” Yankees way of saying good-bye to personnel that they really don’t want anymore, but, where they’re somewhat thin-skinned about how the call to cut ties will be received by the public? It just might be…

    Messy stuff, huh? Just wait until it’s time for one, or more, of the “Core Four” to go through this drill.

    MLB Network “Triumph And Tragedy” Series

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Have you caught MLBN’s “Triumph and Tragedy: The 1984 San Diego Padres” feature some time over the last three months? It’s an excellent piece of work – as MrSportsBlog noted shortly after it first aired.

    But, I’ve yet to see any reference to another installment in the series. It would be a shame if they dropped this one. I would love to see more of these – if they’re done as well as the one on the ’84 Padres.

    Update: The good folks in Media Relations at the MLB Network have shared with me that the “Triumph and Tragedy” show on the 1984 San Diego Padres will re-air on Sunday, February 7 at 5:00am ET.

    Set your DVRs!

    And, other editions of “Triumph and Tragedy” will air on the MLB Network in the coming months. Great news!

    Scooter: The Biography Of Phil Rizzuto

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Carlo DeVito, someone who enjoys wine, dogs, goldfish, and a good mob story, has this new book on the Scooter coming out in April – two years after his book on Yogi.

    This is one I’ll be keeping on my watch/wish list.

    Grandpa To Blame For Laird Brothers Brawl?

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    Via NowPublic

    Police in Phoenix arrested Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and brother Brandon Laird–himself a New York Yankees prospect, after tussling with security guards during the Phoenix Suns win over the Boston Celtics.

    Back on Dec. 28, 2009 Gerald Laird was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor assault for allegedly hitting a security guard from behind. According to witnesses, security had already talked to the Lairds about their behavior.

    Laird had claimed initially that the whole thing was a miscommunication. Now details are starting to emerge and they involve Charlsie House, the wife of Boston Celtics guard Eddie House.

    Charlsie House reportedly told Phoenix police that the Lairds’ grandfather touched her inappropriately.

    Memo to Yankees prospects: If any elders in your family are a cross between Glenn Quagmire and Abe Simpson, don’t bring them along when you’re out trying to scope big booty hoes…it can only lead to trouble.

    New To The Beat, But Not The Town

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Here’s a link to a nice article in the Emory Wheel about new Yankees beat writer Ben Shpigel – who will be covering the team for the Times this season. A clip from it:

    As he moves into his new role covering the Yankees, Shpigel will undoubtedly have new challenges and experiences.

    “I imagine that just the way the Yankees operate is different from the Mets,” Shpigel says. “I don’t necessarily think that a good team means a good story, but the Yankees are a great team and they’ll be interesting to cover.”

    There’s been more than one writer to “graduate” from the Mets beat to later cover the Yankees. And, I think that says something about both franchises.

    Shpigel seems like a really good guy. And, I look forward to reading his coverage of the Yankees this year.

    Lupica: Cashman’s Budget Excuse Is Smoke Screen For Truth

    Posted by on January 29th, 2010 · Comments (26)

    What Mike Lupica is saying today -

    The headline is that the Yankees have a budget. We are supposed to believe that this budget is the reason that Johnny Damon goes now. Sure it is.

    Now you can take the Yankees at their word, buy this notion that they can’t spend $200 million on baseball players anymore. But if you do, you sort of have to wonder if the team really is rolling in dough, the way we’re constantly told. Printing money like they’re the Goldman Sachs Yankees.

    But for now the story, and the Yankees are sticking to it, is that they’ve got a by-God budget. That they couldn’t afford what they say Damon wanted. Or what they thought he wanted. Or what they were afraid Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, might try to weasel out of them, because nobody can out-weasel Boras.

    Really? Johnny Damon turns out to be the one guy the Yankees can’t afford? It would be like finding the one bar girl Tiger Woods didn’t want to take home with him.

    This Yankee budget, by the way, revolves around the completely arbitrary figure of $200 million. To them, it is some kind of magic number, even though nobody else in baseball spends anything close to that, has ever spent anything close, will ever spend anything close to that.

    If you are keeping score at home, the $220 million they spent last season (according to ESPN’s accounting at the end of the season) is $78 million more than the Mets, who had the second-biggest payroll in the sport, and $80 million more than the Red Sox. It is $82 million more than the Phillies, their opponent in the World Series. But now Yankee fans are told their team went for Nick Johnson over Damon because Johnson is cheaper labor.

    But does anybody believe that Johnny Damon, who helped beat the Yankees in 2004 when he was with the Red Sox and played such a spectacular World Series for the Yankees five years later against the Phillies, has to go because of money? Or because Boras made Brian Cashman mad?

    Let me see if I have this straight: Boras’ No. 1 top-dog client, Alex Rodriguez, got to opt out of his Yankees contract during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, show up the Yankees as much as anybody ever has, but that wasn’t a career-ender in New York?

    Are you kidding? Not only did Rodriguez get paid to come back, he got over-paid, even with the Yankees bidding only against themselves. We were told at the time that it played out that way only because Rodriguez went back to the Yankees himself, hat in hand, Boras nowhere to be found. Right. Then A-Rod negotiated the $300 million contract himself.

    If all that didn’t make a Boras client an ex-Yankee, nothing ever will.

    Of course Cashman doesn’t want to be regarded as the guy who can only buy the World Series. Of course he wants to have the kind of rep as a personnel savant the way Theo Epstein and Billy Beane do. Of course he did make a whole series of terrific small moves to improve the ’09 Yankees.

    Except: Except none of those moves matters if Cashman didn’t get to spend nearly a half-billion dollars on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira last winter! And if the Yankees don’t win this season, you can only imagine what happens to this new budget next winter if somebody like Joe Mauer is in play. What kind of money will they throw at him?

    Mike Lupica is a columnist for the Daily News. His feature (which is quoted above) was not subject to the approval of WasWatching.com. But, if asked, this author would have given it two thumbs, way up, for being dead, solid, perfect.

    Cashman On Yankees Payroll: “Financially We’re Tapped”

    Posted by on January 28th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Yup, that’s what he said – it’s 9 minutes and 44 seconds into this clip.

    So, does that mean we can pin the nickname of “The Last Drop” on Randy Winn?

    2010 PECOTA: Yanks To Finish 3rd In A.L. East

    Posted by on January 28th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Predicted A.L. East Standings this year from the team at BP -

               W  L RS  RA   AVG  OBP SLG 
    Rays      96 66 885 729 .263 .352 .452 
    Red Sox   95 67 882 737 .275 .356 .448 
    Yankees   93 69 917 789 .277 .367 .455 
    Orioles   79 83 864 889 .279 .348 .449 
    Blue Jays 71 91 773 878 .258 .329 .427 
    

    Granted, the three at the top are all very close in wins. But, at the least, somebody besides me says to beware the Rays this season.

    J.D. Salinger Passes

    Posted by on January 28th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Here’s the story.

    Did he pull a Terence Mann and walk into the corn?

    Have to confess, I never read “The Catcher in the Rye.” Stuff like “Catcher In The Wry” was always more my speed. Did I miss a good one?

    Did Cashman Allow His Anger At Boras To Bring Cause For Damon’s Exit?

    Posted by on January 28th, 2010 · Comments (27)

    Via John Harper

    First and foremost, it’s obvious that Johnny Damon screwed up a good thing here by allowing Scott Boras to antagonize the Yankee front office with his contract demands even after GM Brian Cashman’s warnings that he wasn’t playing games with the agent.

    Damon either let his own ego get in the way of a perfect situation with the Yankees or he paid a price for trusting Boras too much, but in any case he’ll miss his old team more than it will miss him.

    Still, that doesn’t mean the Yankees won this standoff. You can make a case that both sides lost, and, indeed, you have to ask whether Cashman allowed some ego to get involved here as well.

    Several baseball people say they believe Cashman became furious with Boras’ negotiating tactics, with one person close to the situation saying he once heard the GM screaming at Boras via his cell phone.

    In the end, Cashman had the hammer in this negotiation. Maybe by October we’ll know if he used it wisely.

    This ties back to what Chad Jennings shared this weekend:

    “How long it’s taking certain people to wake up and smell the coffee, that’s what surprises me,” Cashman said. “When you get on the phone with agents, they tell you one thing, and certain agents can’t honestly believe what they’re trying to convey. Do they think I’m stupid?”

    Sure sounds like Cashman allowed Boras to get under his skin. Was this a wise move? Like Harper suggests, we’ll see over the course of the 2010 season.

    Au Revoir Oneonta

    Posted by on January 28th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    I share this since Oneonta used to be a Yankees farm team – before they moved to Staten Island. Via the Daily Star with a H/T to BBTF

    Sellers’ remorse?

    You can’t blame Sam Nader and Sid Levine for having a lot of that now.

    When they sold the Oneonta Tigers to a group of investors led by New York City attorney E. Miles Prentice III in December of 2008, the contract stipulated that the team would remain in Oneonta through at least the 2010 season.

    Never mind.

    Nader and Levine said they received calls from Prentice on Wednesday, notifying them that the minor-league franchise they started in 1966 and ran through 2008 was leaving to play at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn., this summer.

    “I have great memories and they can’t take those away from me,” said Nader, who along with Levine and eight other investors pooled $10,000 together to form the Oneonta Athletic Corp. in 1966 to bring minor league baseball to Damaschke Field.

    Asked if he knew then what he knows now about Prentice and his ownership group, if he’d have had second thoughts about selling the team, Nader said, “Absolutely.”

    In 2009, the O-Tigers drew 23,521 fans, an average of 692 for a ballpark that seats around 4,000. They were last in the 14-team New York-Penn League in attendance.

    “I can understand the move,” Nader said. “The support hasn’t been that great and it hasn’t been that great for a long time. (The new owners’) goals and objectives are far different than me and Sid. For me and my family, it’s a sad day. I think professional baseball is done in the city of Oneonta … and that’s it.”

    An average of 692 fans per game is just terrible. No one should be shocked to see this move.

    Click here to see the last Yankees farm team to play in Oneonta. Juan Rivera turned out to be the pick of that litter.

    January 2010 Survey Question #5

    Posted by on January 27th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:91}

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

    Yanks Sign Randy Winn

    Posted by on January 27th, 2010 · Comments (53)

    Per Greg Cohen:

    Joel Sherman is reporting that the Yankees have reached and one-year agreement with outfielder Randy Winn.

    Four years ago, I would have been happy with this move. But, now, Winn is a 36-year old OF who posted an OPS+ of 75 last season. Yes, seventy-five.

    I know what the Yankees are thinking here – that Winn, the last few seasons before 2009, has hit LHP pitching pretty well. But, can he rebound do it again in 2010? Time well tell…

    MLBlogs Leaders For 2009

    Posted by on January 27th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    I’m not sure how Mark Newman runs the numbers, but, WasWatching.com ranked 5th, overall, on his lists in the category of “MLB PRO” blogs for 2009.

    I’m pretty sure that you have to take this in context – because I’ve seen some numbers that suggest these rankings would be different if some other sites were included. But, just to be in the Top 100 is an honor, as far as I am concerned.

    Related, a always, thanks to all for their interest in WasWatching.com!

    And, don’t forget – we have some exciting news about the blog coming in the next month or so. Stay tuned for more on that.

    NewsOK Looks At Yankees F.A. Pitching Moves

    Posted by on January 27th, 2010 · Comments (14)

    Berry Tramel, in the Oklahoman, lists his best and worst free agent pitching moves made by the Yankees:

    Best value free-agent pitchers

    →5. David Cone, 1996, 3-year, $18M: Cone went 39-15 over three years with a 3.15 earned run average. He won 20 games in 1998, and after the Yanks were down two games to Atlanta in the ’96 World Series, Cone beat the Braves 5-2 in Game 3, launching the new dynasty.

    →4. Orlando Hernandez, 1998, 4-year, $6.6M: Bargain-basement money for a pitcher who in those four years made 99 starts and went 45-33 on teams that won three World Series.

    →3. Jimmy Key, 1993, 4-year, $16.8M: Went 35-10 his first two seasons, 48-23 over the four years and won Game 6 of that ’96 World Series.

    →2. Goose Gossage, 1978, 6-year, $2.8M: $466,666 a year is quaint money for now, but it was a big investment 32 years ago. And it paid off: 308 games pitched, 150 saves, 2.10 earned run average and seven post-season saves.

    →1. Mike Mussina, 2001, 6-year, $88.5M: A dream free agent. Always healthy, always reliable. In those six years, Mussina made 187 starts, always posted a winning record and went 92-53. To top it off, signed on for two more years and went 31-19.

    Worst value free-agent pitchers

    →5. Kyle Farnsworth, 2006, 3-year, $17.5M: Signed as a setup man for Mariano Rivera, Farnsworth went 6-9 with a 4.33 ERA, not really terrible performance, but he was widely disliked.

    →4. Roger Clemens, 2007, 1-year, $18M (prorated): Clemens signed in May, having been a dominant pitcher for a quarter century, but the gig was up. He went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA.

    →3. Jaret Wright, 2005, 3-year, $21M: A 15-8 record for Atlanta after years of struggle got Wright a big payday. In two Bronx seasons, he went 16-12 combined with a 4.99 ERA and was traded to Baltimore for Chris Britton.

    →2. Carl Pavano, 2005, 4-year, $40M: Pavano rarely pitched — 17 starts in three years — before he was traded to Cleveland. But he was awful when he did pitch; a 5.00 ERA.

    →1. Kei Igawa, 2007, 5-year, $20M (plus $26M Japan posting fee): Igawa spent all of 2009 in the International League at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In two Yankee seasons, the Japanese left-hander was 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA in 16 games.

    What do you think of his lists?

    Me? I’m just amazed – well, not really – at how many “bad” ones were signed after October 2005 and how many “good” ones were signed before that time? And, I wonder if where CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett will fall on these lists, someday, when they’re near the end of their contracts with the Yankees?

    Cashman: Yanks Not Discussing Damon, “His Abilities Exceed The Money That I Have”

    Posted by on January 27th, 2010 · Comments (29)

    Via Bryan Hoch

    Johnny Damon was hoping to find his team by the end of this week, and it appears that his employer will not be the Yankees.

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman all but closed the door on Damon’s four-year tenure in pinstripes on Tuesday, telling MLB.com that the free-agent outfielder remains out of the club’s financial reach.

    “I’m not having any discussions on him,” Cashman said in a telephone interview. “His abilities exceed the money that I have.”

    Cashman said the Yankees’ main priority for the remainder of the offseason is acquiring a right-handed bat to help their outfield mix, which will likely send Damon in search of a new home.

    Looks like Cashman is guarding that 2010 Yankees “budget” like Hassan secured the Sultan’s treasure cave in Ali Baba Bunny.

    Open, Sarsaparilla…Open, Saskatchewan…Open, Septuagenarian…Open, Saddle Soap…

    Com’on Brian, you do remember how to open up the budget, don’tcha?

    It’s “Open Steinbrenner!” (Shoot, that worked when you needed the half-billion last year to sign Burnett, Sabathia and Teixeira.)

    Yankees Acquire Greg Golson

    Posted by on January 26th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Via mlb.com

    The Yankees added to their outfield depth Tuesday, acquiring Greg Golson in a trade with the Texas Rangers.

    New York, which gave up Minor League infielder Mitch Hilligoss in the deal, receives a 24-year-old who batted .258 with 40 RBIs in 123 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2009. Golson, who had 27 extra-base hits last year, is a .263 career hitter in the Minors with 48 homers and 265 RBIs in 634 combined games in the Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies organizations.

    Golson, a first-round pick by the Phillies in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, has made it to the Major Leagues for seven games — six with Philadelphia in ’08 and one with the Rangers last year. He is 0-for-7 with two runs scored in the big leagues.

    Prior to the 2009 season, Baseball America magazine named Golson “Best Athlete,” “Fastest Baserunner” and “Best Outfield Arm” in the Texas organization. The acquisition of Golson puts the Yankees’ 40-man roster at 39.

    Here’s a report on Golson from a year ago – when the Rangers picked him up – via Baseball America:

    With the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster staring them in the face Thursday, the Phillies and Rangers arrived at an inspired decision as they contemplated the organizational futures of Greg Golson and John Mayberry Jr., their toolsy but slow-moving outfielders. They traded their prospects straight-up for one another.

    Philadelphia sent Golson, its first-round pick (21st overall) in 2004, to Texas for Mayberry, the Rangers’ first-rounder (19th overall) in 2005. Both players are on their new clubs’ 40-man rosters, making them exempt from December’s Rule 5 draft.

    Golson, 23, offers huge speed, arm strength and range in center field, but his hitting tools and pitch recognition remain unrefined. A product of Austin’s Connally High, he batted .282/.333/.434 for Double-A Reading in 2008, chipping in 13 home runs, 18 doubles and 23 stolen bases in 28 attempts. The righthanded batter struck out 130 times in 426 at-bats, a rate that was in line with career norms, while drawing 34 walks. Even with a low contact rate, Golson’s power plays as average, and Eastern League mangers named him the league’s most exciting player. He’s batted .265/.309/.406 in 2,101 minor league at-bats, and he went 0-fot-6 for the Phillies as a September callup.

    Mitch Hilligoss is a long ways away from being useful at the major league level whereas Greg Golson could be a spare part off the bench at some point. Think “If Homer Bush was an outfielder.” Not a bad move by Cashman here…getting potentially something out of nothing.

    What Time Is The Game? Now You Know!

    Posted by on January 26th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    The Yankees have just released the game times for their schedule this season…for those who were looking for that info.

    Are Cubs & Yankees Shopping At The Same Store?

    Posted by on January 26th, 2010 · Comments (26)

    Via Bruce Levine -

    The Chicago Cubs appear close to adding outfield depth. A decision on free agents Xavier Nady, Reed Johnson, Jonny Gomes or Jermaine Dye appears imminent.

    If the Yankees have a preference among these guys, maybe they should get cracking and beat the Cubs to it? Then again, maybe New York is more interested in someone else…like Rocco Baldelli or Jim Edmonds?

    Man, I’m warning you now, if the Yankees sign Jim Edmonds…well, let’s just say that I’ll have a few comments on that one, if it happens.

    Update: The Cubs have reportedly signed Nady.

    Core Four Become The New York Dolls

    Posted by on January 26th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    For those of you who may have once uttered the words:

    Mom, they’re not dolls! They’re action figures!!

    This one is for you.

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