• July 31st @ The Rays

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

    Wow. Half of me wants to dance around, jump up and down, and scream “Huge win!” Yet, the other half of me wants to exhale, long and hard, and let loose with “Holy smokes, that was close!

    Why? Well, both statements would be true here, no? The win in this one means a lot to the Yankees. The loss hurts the Rays. And, it was a toe-to-toe, seesaw, blow-for-blow, nail biting, squeaker of a game.

    Outstanding job in this one by Logan, Robertson and Rivera. Dare we say Lo-Robe-Mo?

    Javy Vazquez? I dunno. I never felt comfortable watching him in this one. And, come post-season time, if he gets a start, I think something like tonight might be his high-mark…six and a third, four runs. (That’s an ERA of 5.69, for those who can’t do the math. And, that’s not good.)

    Lastly, what can you say about Robbie Cano? O.K., I’ll say it – he’s been outstanding with the bat this season. At this pace, he’s going to end up with 30 HR and 110 RBI this season – to go along with a batting average of three-thirty. Cano used to be a 40 doubles, 20 homers, three-ten, three-twenty guy. But, now, he’s hitting the ball a lot further and has become a 40 doubles, 30 homers, three-thirty guy. And, he’s probably going to get 50 walks this year – which is 10 to 20 more than he is usually good for…

    I really hope this is just the maturation of a gifted hitter at play – rather than a something else behind it…like a Victor Conte/Anthony Galea/Angel Presinal type dude.

    Now, before anyone jumps down my throat here…I’m just saying that Cano reminds me of Roy Hobbs or a “Clear & Cream” Barry Bonds the way he’s swinging the bat this season. (Cue Max Mercy: Home runs, triples, singles…Anything he wants to hit, he hits. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s incredible! Anything he wants to do, he does! I mean, how can somebody play that well that came from nowhere?) I’m not saying that Cano is on something. I’m just saying that he’s supernatural now, that’s all.

    Now, you can choose to just enjoy the ride. Or, if you’re the suspicious type, then you can keep looking around, waiting, for the other shoe to drop. Me? On stuff like this, I like the samurai warrior approach – “Expect Nothing; Be prepared for anything.”

    Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the nation should do with the wait for A-Rod’s 600th now, as well? I was surprised to see in the YES coverage tonight that they said Alex didn’t talk with the media after the game yesterday. Do you think there’s ever been one day in the last fifteen years that Derek Jeter or Mo Rivera has ever skipped out on the media after a game? And, some people want to know why the media is not 100% in Alex’s corner all the time?

    Yankees Acquire Kerry Wood

    Posted by on July 31st, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Via the AP -

    The New York Yankees acquired pitcher Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, the third deal in less than 24 hours for the World Series champions as they beefed up for the stretch run.

    Wood, a hard-throwing, 33-year-old righty, gives the Yankees another setup option alongside Joba Chamberlain for closer Mariano Rivera.

    The Yankees sent Cleveland a player to be named or $500,000, and the Indians gave New York $2,172,131. New York will pay $1.5 million of the $3,672,131 remaining on Wood’s $10.5 million salary this year. His contract includes an $11 million team option for 2011.

    Oh, this has got Jay Witasick, Gabe White, Felix Heredia and Mark Wohlers written all over it…

    On the bright side, as a result of this pick-up, the Yankees have designated Chan Ho Park for assignment.

    Yankees Official Hints Team Not Done Trading

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

    Via Ken Rosenthal this morning –

    What the heck are the Yankees doing in acquiring Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and a utility infielder to be named any minute now?

    Addressing their weaknesses as only they can.

    The Yankees entered Friday thinking, “OK, we’ve got money. Few other clubs do. Let’s flex our muscles.”

    They didn’t do anything too obnoxious, at least not by classic Steinbrenner standards. But at a time when most teams are counting every dollar, a time when teams such as the Dodgers and Rangers require financial assistance in virtually every trade, the Yankees are uniquely positioned to prey on the market.

    Looking to purge your first baseman? Ready to dump your right fielder? Step right up, the Yankees are here to help!

    “We’re like a clearinghouse,” one Yankees official said. “We’ve got a lot of applicants. We’re going through it, looking at the ones we’re interested in.”

    So, any guesses on who or what is next? What would be your preference?

    Me? Somehow…they have to get a very useful part for the bullpen. Mo is Mo and Robertson is coming around. But, as much as Boone Logan (and his 95 MPH heater) is promising and supposedly Damaso Marte shows up in October, I don’t trust them…or Joba, Gaudin or Park. If you want to use Sergio Mitre and Dustin Moseley as long men, with Alfredo Aceves out, that’s fine. But, Cashman has to get at least one solid guy for the pen – even if it means trading for a starter and moving Hughes to relief – and then get rid of Gaudin or Park. Neither of those two are helping the team now.

    Yankees Breakfast Talk With The Family

    Posted by on July 31st, 2010 · Comments (2)

    My house this morning…at the breakfast table…

    Me: (To family…wife, 6-year old son, 8-year old daughter) Hey, guys, the Yankees lost last night.
    Daughter: What was the score?
    Me: Three to two.
    Daughter: That was close. Just one run.
    Son: Were there any grand slams?
    Me: Dude, we talked about this. How many runs score on a grand slam?
    Son: Three?
    Me: No. Four. Remember?
    Son: Oh, yeah.
    Me: So, if neither team scored four runs, how could there have been any grand slams?
    Son: (Laughing) Oh, I get it…
    Me: Hey, the Yankees got two new players yesterday.
    Son: What are their names?
    Me: Austin Kearns and Lance Berkman. Do you know what Lance Berman’s nickname is? It’s “Fat Elvis.”
    Wife: (Motioning to son) Why would you tell him that?
    Son: What numbers will they wear?
    Wife: Now, that’s a good question.
    Me: I dunno, we’ll have to wait and see when they show up.
    Son: Will it be five and six?
    Me: No, those are saved for Joe DiMaggio and Joe Torre.
    Wife: “Saved?” Don’t you mean retired?
    Me: Well, DiMaggio is retired. But, they didn’t retire Torre yet. They’re saving it.
    Wife: Saving it for what? They should just retire it.
    Me: They can’t now – there’s too much bad blood.
    Wife: Com’on.
    Me: No. Really. Once the bad blood dies down, then, they’ll retire it.
    Wife: Oh, my, god. How “kindergarten” is that?

    Yup, this is how we roll in my house in the morning…how about you?

    Thanks

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

    In terms of “Page Views,” July 2010 has been the busiest “traffic” month at this blog since October 2009. In fact, July 2010 is the second highest “Page View” month here (next to October 2009) in the last 14 months.

    Just wanted to say thanks to all those who have an interest in what’s happening here and/or who enjoy this blog – for your part in making this happen.

    If there’s one thing that I’m most proud of these days, regarding this blog, it’s the WasWatching.com online community that’s resulted from it. You all are the best! Thanks again.

    And, of course, if anyone desires to make another form of support towards this blog, that’s always appreciated as well.

    The Numbers On Austin Kearns & Lance Berkman

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Just for the heck of it, here’s a look at Austin Ryan Kearns and William Lance Berkman – sabermetrically – via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, with 2010 stats through yesterday:

    First, Kearns -

    YEAR TEAM          RC   RCAA  RCAP OWP   RC/G   PA   POS
    2002 Reds           76   21   12  .646   7.54   435  RF
    2003 Reds           49    6    2  .564   5.91   338  RF
    2004 Reds           28   -4   -9  .443   4.30   246  RF
    2005 Reds           59   -2   -8  .483   5.19   448  RF
    2006 Reds           53   -1   -1  .491   5.63   368  RF
         Nationals      36    4    4  .548   5.75   261  RF
         TOTALS         89    3    3  .514   5.68   629 
    2007 Nationals      86    3   -1  .518   5.16   674  RF
    2008 Nationals      30  -20  -22  .285   3.13   357  RF
    2009 Nationals      17  -12  -12  .279   3.00   211  RF
    2010 Indians        42    3    0  .532   4.87   339  LF
    

    Next, Berkman -

    YEAR TEAM          RC   RCAA  RCAP OWP   RC/G  PA   POS
    1999 Astros         12   -3   -5  .394   4.32  106  LF
    2000 Astros         80   21   13  .633   8.21  417  RF
    2001 Astros        156   72   49  .753  10.30  688  LF
    2002 Astros        138   55   53  .719   8.75  692  CF
    2003 Astros        119   40   35  .678   8.03  658  LF
    2004 Astros        146   69   59  .762   9.98  687  RF
    2005 Astros        100   35   23  .690   7.67  565  1B
    2006 Astros        142   64   47  .750   9.88  646  1B
    2007 Astros        114   35   21  .662   7.26  668  1B
    2008 Astros        136   58   45  .734   9.11  665  1B
    2009 Astros         95   31   13  .675   7.23  562  1B
    2010 Astros         48    7   -3  .571   5.42  358  1B
    

    Obviously, Kearns is just a league average stick and Berkman is a former superstar who has lost it this season. How will they do in New York?

    Berkman will be better than Nick Johnson and Juan Miranda, for sure. Kearns? He’s probably going to spell Granderson against lefties and do some pinch running – maybe also be a defensive caddy for Swisher. There’s a $15 million club option on Berkman for 2011 (with a $2M buyout). Reportedly, Lance wiill waive his no-trade clause for the Yankees without requiring the team to pick up his option. If so, then both of these deals shouldn’t be too bad for the Yankees. And, if all it cost was Mark Melancon, Jimmy Paredes and a Player To Be Named Later, then the Yankees didn’t give up much. (I know they’re getting cash with Berkman – but, they’re also giving up cash on Kearns.)

    Good job by Brian Cashman with these moves. This is sort of like the Yanks picking up Jay Johnstone and Gary Thomasson back in 1978 – although Berkman’s resume is a lot better than that of Johnstone. Nice spare parts for New York. It’s just too bad neither of them can pitch effectively out of the bullpen.

    July 30th @ The Rays

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    What is it about my luck that I watch/write up all the frustrating losses?  Once again, the Yankee lineup was completely stymied, resulting in a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

    The (Sort-Of) Good:

    • Phil Hughes pitched fairly well (6 4 3 3 2 6) and deserved better but, alas, sometimes a pitcher can pitch well and still lose.  The truth of the matter is that Hughes’s one mistake — a monster three-run homer by RF Matt Joyce — was the difference in the game.As far as Hughes’s pitching is concerned, he had plus velocity on his fastball and the curveball was sharp most of the time.

      One thing concerns me, however: during the broadcast, John Flaherty mentioned that the Yanks were talking of shelving Hughes’s cutter because they felt the pitch was altering his mechanics and causing his pitches to flatten out.

      If so, does that mean all the progress that Hughes made through last year is undone?  Is he back to being a two-pitch pitcher?  That’s disconcerting.  Oddly, however (barring Pitch F/X misclassification), Hughes threw 39 cutters to 35 four seamers and 30 curves.

    • I’ll give credit where it’s due; #62 looked better tonight than he has in months.  Seriously.  He still has no business pitching any sort of high leverage innings but baby steps are important.

    The Bad:

    • Apart from a two-run, three-hit first inning, the Yanks never threatened Wade Davis or the Rays bullpen.  Four measly hits, two by Cano.  How can the Yankees be so Jekyll/Hyde on offense all the time?  It’s maddening.
    • As far as I’m concerned, A-Rod is officially pressing.  The deeper the Yanks went into this game, the longer his swing got.  It’s time to work with Kevin Long on shortening that swing again…

    Leading 2-0 with two outs in the sixth is certainly and losing to Tampa 3-2 hurts the soul but it hurts the standings even more.  If the Yanks want to keep first place all to themselves, they need to find a way to beat Matt Garza tomorrow.

    Yankees Land Austin Kearns

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Via Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, the Yankees have picked up Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians.

    Kearns was a National before signing his one-year deal with the Tribe this past offseason where he [stunk] out loud.

    This season after a hot start he’s cooled down to a slash line of .268/.351/.413.

    No word on what’s going to Cleveland, but I can’t imagine its anything all that impressive.

    .268 .351 .413

    Yankees Set To Acquire Lance Berkman

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Courtesy of Buster Olney’s tweets we’re hearing the following:

    1. The Yanks are just about to land 1B/OF Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros;
    2. Olney is reporting that the Astros will be picking up a lot of money in the trade;
    3. The Yankees will be sending “non-prospects” in return for Berkman; and
    4. The Yanks are working on at least one and possibly two other acquisitions.

    Obviously this is all rumor and hearsay at this point and nothing’s done until it’s done.  Personally I don’t understand how Olney’s report that the Yanks would give up non-prospects can be true if the Astros are sending money to New York but, hey, I don’t make the rules.  If Houston GM Ed Wade wants to be daft, that’s on him.

    Updates to follow.

    Update 8:10 p.m.: Joel Sherman says the trade is official, pending official announcement tomorrow.  The reason for the delay is procedural under the collective bargaining agreement.  Still no word on which players the Yanks would give up.

    Update 8:54 p.m.: The latest from Joel Sherman’s Twitter feed is that Houston will send $4M to offset the $7.5M remaining on Berkman’s contract ($5.5M salary/$2M buyout of 2011 team option).  Still not entirely sure how getting Berkman and cash entitles the Yankees to send so-called “non-prospects” but I guess we need to see which prospects get shipped out before we conclude that they truly are non-prospects.

    Update 9:11 p.m.: I am not a Joel Sherman fan by any means but I’ll give him credit, his tweets are on top of this Berkman trade.  Sherman is reporting that the Yanks are sending RHP Mark Melancon (AAA-Scranton) and 2B/SS Jimmy Paredes (Low-A Charleston).  OK, I agree, these are non-prospects.  If this report is true, the Yanks did very well here adding a switch hitter with OBP skills and some pop for the DH spot, getting $4M in cash from Houston and giving up guys that didn’t have futures on the team.

    Yanks Eye-Balling Berkman?

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Via Joel Sherman

    Lance Berkman does not directly fit any of the Yankees’ greatest needs.

    However, his price both in dollars and/or prospects has fallen so low that the Yankees are definitely looking hard whether to acquire the switch-hitter.

    The Yankees philosophy right now is this: They have some money to spend. Almost every other team in the majors doesn’t. So they are telling organizations hungry to move high-priced players to call and make their best offer. Translation: We can take some of your money headaches, but if we do we are not going to give up much in prospects.

    By no later than 4 p.m. tomorrow, the Yankees will see what most appeals to them from his overpriced buffet and pick an item or two.

    This is why they dropped out of the Adam Dunn sweepstakes: Because the Nationals were not willing to take marginal prospects just to get rid of the money. The same might go for Toronto and Scott Downs.

    So for now the Yanks are seeing if they could use their financial might to act as vultures. So while they claim they are feeling no pressure to address the rotation, the Yanks are at least looking at Ted Lilly to see if the Cubs would essentially give him away in exchange for the Yanks taking the $4 million or so left on his contract. That, though, is not as much of a frontburner item as Berkman.

    The Yankees are “telling organizations hungry to move high-priced players to call and make their best offer”? But, I thought Brian Cashman had a “budget” this year?

    Yankees Minor League News & Notes

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

    If you know anything about me at this point, it’s that I’m a complete sucker for the weekly “Prospect Hot Sheet” column over at Baseball America.  Once again, a Yankee farmhand makes their top-13 for the week.

    Brandon Laird, 3B
    Team: Double-A Trenton (Eastern)
    Age: 22
    Why He’s Here: .520/.600/.920 (13-for-25), 7 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO

    The Scoop: Laird may not have a true plus tool, but he’s upped his status as a prospect this year by showing he has a whole lot of 50s on his scouting report. Laird has recently lost his grip on the minors’ RBI lead (he trails Dan Johnson by three), but his three home runs this week moved him back into the top 10 in the minors with 23. This season, he has shown the ability to drive the ball and a better hit tool than he had shown in the past. Plus, he’s improved defensively at third base. But what stands out the most about Laird is his consistency this season—he’s gone on power binges, but he’s yet to really have a long-term slump.

    Going into 2010, Brandon Laird was viewed as a C-grade prospect, usually falling in the 20-30 range among the team’s prospect rankings.  Thanks to his monster 2010 campaign — he leads the Eastern League in HR (23) and RBI (89) and is hitting .291/.354/.526 (399 AB) in a notorious pitcher’s park — Laird is putting himself on the prospect map.  If one considers the 2010 season to be an extension of his impressive work in last year’s Arizona Fall League (.333/.406/.633, 6 HR, 24 RBI in 90 AB) then it’s not a stretch to say that Laird has been the single-most improved Yankee positional player over the past calendar year.

    It’s hard to say exactly where Laird will rank on the prospect lists that come out each offseason but it’s not hard to predict that he’ll get plenty of positive attention this winter.  My advice?  Trade him now, while his name has heat.  He’s blocked at 1B, 3B and DH and he’s probably worth more to the Yanks as a trade chip than as a converted corner outfielder.

    What To Do With A-Rod’s Ball?

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

    Via Rick Mayer -

    Only six major-league players have topped the 600 plateau: Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Sammy Sosa (609). So, the next ball A-Rod plops over a fence will be worth thousands on the sports collectible market.

    Consider that when A-Rod knocked out No. 500 in 2007, it was auctioned three years later for $103,579. It’s not known who sold or bought the ball, but it was caught by Walter Kowalczyk, of Trenton, N.J., at old Yankee Stadium.

    Rodriguez and the Yankees attempted to purchase the ball from Kowalczyk, but a deal was apparently never consummated.

    Bonds’ 756th home run ball from 2007, which bested Aaron’s all-time mark, was auctioned for $752,467, well more than the estimates by memorabilia experts. It was caught in San Francisco by Matt Murphy, a 21-year-old student from New York.

    With that in mind, outfield seats are the place to be when the Yankees and Rays battle for first place in the AL East tonight through Sunday.

    Major League Baseball has been putting special numbered balls in play each time Rodriguez comes to bat for identification purposes. Should a fan collect No. 600, that individual will need to prove it by presenting the ball with the appropriate marked number.

    By the way, did anyone else hear that sound bite of Suzyn Waldman yesterday, on WFAN’s Boomer and Carton? In case you missed it, the clip was Suzyn screeching “Alex has special balls!” (from the broadcast of Wednesday’s game).

    Man, it was classic. Right up there with NPR’s Delicious Dish segment on Schweddy Balls.

    Yankees August 2010 Monthly Win Expectancy

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    For more on what this is, click here.

    For the month of August 2010, the New York Yankees should win 18 games and lose 11 games – all things considered, and being reasonable about it.

    How are they going to get that many wins? Simple: They have 16 home games in August plus four road games against the Royals. That’s like a dozen wins, right there. And, if they just go 5-4 in their other road games, then you have 17 wins. But, they’ll do better than 5-4. In fact, with an 18-win August, I expect the Yankees to pretty much lock up the Wild Card as they head into September.

    Born 120 Years Ago Today

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

    Happy Birthday, Casey. My, you were a dashing figure back in the day…

    July 29th @ The Indians

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    Yeah, I’m an idiot. I do this a lot, but I had typed out a recap of last night’s game in the browser and fire fox crashed. Anyway, here’s some notes of what I wrote:

    • - Payback for Swisher’s celebration when he struck a batter out? Must not feel good to strike out against a position player, huh Nick?
    • - The Yanks sure did take their time breaking this one open despite the Indians using 7 pitchers (including the aforementioned position player).
    • - A-Rod continued his hot hotting with RISP despite the pressure of the looming 600th home run.
    • - Another homer by Cano, he’s showing more power than I thought he had to be honest.
    • - Granderson continued hit hot hitting since the All Star Break.
    • - Thames should never played 3rd, ever again…ever.
    • - Good start by Mosely, but it would be foolish to think that he can continue it against a team that actually shows up to play. Get well soon Andy, we’ll take these wins when we can in your absence.
    • - I refuse to watch Chan Ho Park pitch anymore. I’d rather see Igawa get lit up in those situations at this point. (And I’m not saying I want to see Igawa pitch.)

    A-Rod & Teixeira Gang Up On Robbie Thomson

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Or, at the least, so it seems in this picture from last night’s game, doesn’t it?

    The Trade Winds Blow…Just Not Yankees Way

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (15)

    Some interesting bits from Joel Sherman today -

    In exchange for [Roy] Oswalt, the Astros received left-hander J.A. Happ and two prospects — outfielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Jonathan Villar.

    Executives from multiple teams complained they had no idea the Astros were willing to include $11 million of the $23.5 million owed Oswalt through next year and his 2012 option as they did to move him to the Phillies. The Yankees were not told at all how much the Astros would eat. The Mets were told that Houston would take “some money,” but nowhere near $11 million, and were never given an exact amount. Of course, the likelihood is the Astros would never have agreed to pay one penny to the Yankees or probably the Mets either; and it is possible Oswalt might not have agreed to go to New York.

    One Yankee official flatly said, “We’re out on [Adam] Dunn.”

    An executive who talks regularly with the White Sox says Chicago also is out. The Rays — like the Yanks — don’t like the prospect cost and that Dunn adamantly does not want to DH.

    Both teams fear asking a player to adopt to a role he doesn’t like in the middle of a pennant race for a new team in a new league. This could leave the Giants as the most serious pursuer of Dunn.

    “The Yanks are working on relievers and a supplemental corner bat,” an advisor to an AL GM said.

    The Yanks have talked to Colorado, which has potentially helpful righty hitters who fit either in the corner infield or outfield — Clint Barmes, Melvin Mora and Ryan Spilborghs — but the Rockies did not feel compelled to move salary and did not think they would get enough from the Yankees to make a deal worthwhile.

    It is amazing to see Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Dan Haren all traded in-season, within the same month, and none going to the Yankees or Red Sox. In the old days, it always seemed like that was the place for stud pitchers to end up, in season, via a trade. And, it’s good to see the Yankees are not after Dunn. He’s the anti-Johnny Damon and not what the Yankees need now or in the post-season.

    The House Of Steinbrenner

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Man, I am really looking forward to this one airing on September 21st. How about you?

    Hoods Making Yankees Hat More Famous Than…

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    I saw this in the news today, via the ABC Eyewitness News site -

    A January murder outside the China Club in Midtown now has police looking for eight men.

    The NYPD says the eight are wanted for questioning in the January 23 incident. Police released pictures of the suspects in the hopes that the public will help locate them.

    Up to five of the eight appear to favor New York Yankee baseball caps.

    Here’s the picture:

    Just about everyday, almost without fail, when using Google News looking for “Yankees” stories, I’ll get some story about a mugging, bank robbery, or some other crime, because the suspect committing it is described in the story as “wearing a Yankees cap” (or hat). And, the search results give me that news report because of the “Yankees” reference.

    I wonder if this bothers the Yankees in any way? Sure, there’s nothing they can do about it – and it’s not their fault. But, I don’t think anyone wants their “brand” to associated with hoodlums and thugs as much as Yankees hats are, do they…even if they had nothing to do with it?

    The Tropicana Showdown

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (18)

    The stage is set! Via the Tampa Tribune -

    The calendar says end of July, but this weekend’s showdown between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees at Tropicana Field will have a pennant race feel.

    All three games of the series have sold out, the Rays said Thursday, marking the first time the club has sold out three consecutive games.

    “I think it’s going to be very intense, and we always welcome that,” first baseman Carlos Pena said after driving in all four runs for the Rays in Thursday’s 4-2 victory against the Detroit Tigers. “Who doesn’t love playing in front of big crowds? That’s really a dream right there. When you have a packed house, you cannot even hear yourself talk.”

    The Rays (63-38) swept the Tigers and have won six in a row to stay two games behind the Yankees (65-36) in the American League East.

    Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon reiterated the Rays’ philosophy of not giving any game or series more weight than another, but admitted he’s looking forward to the big-game atmosphere.

    “I’m sure there’s going to be quite a vibe,” he said. “I just think whenever we get our full house in here, our guys feel it, and it’s kind of fun for everybody. We just played up there (dropping two of three at Yankee Stadium); I thought it was an interesting series right after the All-Star break. They’re still playing well, we’re playing well; I think it will be interesting.”

    The Rays and Yankees have split their eight games this year, with Tampa Bay holding a 3-2 advantage at Yankee Stadium. This will be New York’s first visit to the Trop since taking two out of three April 9-11.

    I have to confess, this series is a high-point in the season for me. It has the feel of one of those late season Yankees-Red Sox series in Fenway during 1977-78. It’s going to be a litmus test, if you ask me. And, I am very anxious to see how both teams respond during these games.

    Rays Maddon Says PEDs Take Away From A-Rod’s 600th

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Via Mark Feinsand

    Alex Rodriguez’s quest for 600 home runs hasn’t generated the national interest that such a milestone used to bring.

    Some have speculated that the interest level is down because Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. both reached 600 in the past decade, but Joe Maddon believes that A-Rod’s involvement with performance-enhancing drugs is a bigger factor.

    “Because of all the subplots involved, I think that’s why you’re not getting as much of a build-up,” the Rays manager said before Thursday’s game against the Tigers. “I don’t think that it’s worn off. I think when Jim Thome arrives nearer that point you’re going to see the same kind of previous build-up, I believe, as an example. I think based on the revelations of the last couple years, I think it probably detracts from it a bit.”

    Well, this will just add a little spice to this weekend series in Tampa, won’t it?

    Ellen DeGeneres & Kara DioGuardi Gone From ‘Idol’

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (16)

    Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to replace them?

    So, here’s a a question – if you could have any two people removed from the Yankees organization – albeit a player, coach, front office member, someone from the YES Network, etc. – which two would you pick and why?

    By, this, I mean, if you woke up one morning and heard that “X” was leaving or had been fired by the Yankees, who are your top two that would make you do a happy dance the minute you found out?

    Memo To Cashman: Do Not Allow Chan Ho Park To Board The Plane For Tampa

    Posted by on July 29th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Two outs, no one on base, a ten run lead…and you cannot throw a single strike to two consecutive batters? Com’on really? Then you allow the next two batters to reach, throw a wild pitch, and then allow another walk, before finally getting the last out on a drive that just missed being a homer. Really?

    My goodness, Mr. Cashman. Please, please, admit your mistake in signing Park and just release this guy…

    …release him, now, and don’t even let him get on the plane for Tampa.

    Late-Rallying Prospect Stocks

    Posted by on July 29th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Once again a treasure trove of information from Baseball America, this time in the form of an article (sorry, subscription required) discussing those prospects whose early-season struggles may have whitewashed the fact that their fortunes are rising once again.  Two Yankee farmhands — Jesus Montero and David Phelps — make the list of 10 prospects being noticed for their exemplary work since June 1st:

    2. Jesus Montero, c, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre)

    Prior to June 1: .229/.307/.357 in 176 PAs
    Since June 1: .309/.385/.545 in 187 PAs

    Most 20-year-old catchers are still feeling their way through low or high Class A. Montero, on the other hand, opened the year with an aggressive assignment to Triple-A, where after a tough start he’s been one of the best hitters in the International League. A scout who saw Montero this month didn’t see the outstanding raw power than Montero has shown in the past, but noted that Montero consistently drove the ball into the gaps even if he did bail on the breaking ball on occasion.

    8. David Phelps, rhp, Yankees (Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre)

    Prior to June 1: 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 16 BB, 45 Ks
    Since June 1:  57 IP, 2.52 ERA, 12 BB, 63 Ks

    Phelps stands out more for his command than his stuff, though he does have a plus fastball that ranges from 88-94 mph that he’ll sink and cut at times. His secondary stuff is fringy, but he mixes a slurvy curveball, a short slider and a change with solid sink and throws them all for strikes, making him an option for the back of the rotation or middle-relief work.

    I’m certain that most Yankee fans are familiar with Montero but for those that need a refresher course on David Phelps, he got some early-season love here and here.  Nice to see these two putting it all together at AAA.  Hopefully we see them both in the Bronx before too long.

    Most Hated Teams

    Posted by on July 29th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    S.I.com ranks their “25 most hated teams in sports history.”

    The 1978 New York Yankees, 1986 New York Mets, 1974 Oakland Athletics, 1919 Chicago White Sox and 1909 Detroit Tigers all made the list from baseball.

    How did the 2004 Boston Red Sox miss the cut? In any event, which baseball teams did you hate the most?

    A-Rod Files Objection To Rangers Sale

    Posted by on July 29th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Via TSN -

    An attorney for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has filed an objection to the bankruptcy plan proposed for the Texas Rangers, saying Rodriguez is unsure he’ll receive $24.9 million in deferred compensation owed him by the club.

    The objection was filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fort Worth, Texas. Rodriguez is seeking “adequate assurance” the club’s new owner will assume his contract.

    Rodriguez’s attorney wrote, “It is not clear under the plan” that the pact will be honored. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Rodriguez, through his lawyer, also alleged the Rangers’ current parent has not funded a $45 million escrow account for deferred compensation, as required by Major League Baseball.

    Rodriguez agreed to defer $45 million in salary in 2001, a year after he signed a record 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers. Texas traded Rodriguez to the Yankees in 2004, but it remained on the hook for the deferred money. Rodriguez opted out of the contract after the 2007 season, then re-signed with the Yankees for 10 years and $275 million in December 2007.

    The Rangers declared bankruptcy in May with the idea of expediting a sale to a group led by team president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg. Many creditors have since objected to the scheme, claiming the team was undervalued. An auction is set for next Wednesday.

    Really can’t say that I fault Alex for doing this move. If someone owed me $24.9 million, and it was starting to look like I might not get paid, I would take action to protect myself as well.

    YES Takes On FanTake

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

    Via NYConvergence:

    The YES Network, the the cable channel owned by the New York Yankees, reached an agreement this week to partner with sports fan community website FanTake to add it to YESNetwork.com. FanTake is a network of blog, podcasts, videos which, rather than focusing on a particular sport of region of the U.S., covers all pro and college sports nationally.

    The partnership is part of the YES Network desire to reach more Yankee fans who are not baded in the NYC area.

    It’s interesting to watch what RSN websites are doing these days. Earlier this year, SNY.tv took over NYYFans.com.

    It’s all about the numbers. These sites want to get other sites under their umbrella so that they can roll up the traffic numbers (from these acquired sites) into their own – and then pitch the overall page view counts to their potential advertisers. Also, the more page views, meaning the bigger audience, allows the RSN sites to charge more for their ads.

    So, when it says the YES Network’s desire is to “reach more Yankee fans who are not baded in the NYC area,” don’t take that to mean YES is trying to reach out to more fans to help the fans. Anyone from anywhere in the world can access the YES website if they have an internet connection. This is all about adding another site’s traffic to their totals, with the hope that it leads to more advertising revenue, and that’s all.

    Today & Tomorow In Yankees History

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

    Via the Star Ledger -

    July 29, 1978 – At Old Timer’s Day, the Yankees announce that [Billy] Martin will return as manager in 1980 and that [Bob] Lemon will become GM.

    July 30, 1990 – [George] Steinbrenner is banned from the day-to-day operations of the Yankees by commissioner Fay Vincent when it is learned that he paid $40,000 to gambler Howie Spira to dig up incriminating evidence on Dave Winfield.

    I wonder if the Yankees will have any big storylines for today or tomorrow to add to these July 29th and 30th stories?

    Kei Igawa Saving Money For Yankees?

    Posted by on July 29th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Via Buster Olney -

    Heard this: The reason why the Yankees have never traded Kei Igawa is because it would cost them a major chunk of luxury tax.

    I’m still trying to figure out how this true. Anyone have an answer on that?

    July 28th @ The Indians

    Posted by on July 29th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    I suppose all it took was my asking politely but, whatever it was, I’ll take it.  AJ Burnett (6.1 7 0 0 3 7) and two relievers shut out the Indians and the lineup took care of the rest, beating Cleveland 8-0.  The Tigers and Angels showed nothing once again last night so the Yanks gained no ground on Tampa and Boston, respectively.

    All in all, yesterday was a very happy 35th birthday: I had a nice steak dinner with my family and the Yankees won.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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