• And, I Thought What Was The Second Baseman…

    Posted by on December 19th, 2010 · Comments (14)

    Great stuff from Joel Sherman today -

    The phone calls were one after another. The first to an AL executive I greatly respect followed directly afterward by one to an NL executive I feel similarly about. The question was the same: How do the Yankees look after failing to sign Cliff Lee?

    AL executive: “The way they are constituted right now, they are one injury to a veteran in their rotation or a bad stretch from CC (Sabathia) from losing their season.”

    NL executive: “The Yankees won 95 games last year and Cliff Lee was not on the team. To say the Yankees are worse, why? Just because they lost Andy Pettitte and they might not even lose him? Every year I hear they are too old. We’ll see. I think they will win 95 games again.”

    These are the Yankees of late December 2010, that proverbial glass of water: Hall full or half empty, depending on your perception.

    They need at least one proven starter. Badly. That could be Pettitte. If the veteran lefty shuns retirement yet again, then the club’s rotation is thin, but acceptable as long as there is good health. But without Pettitte, the Yankees’ Nos. 4-5 starters would be Nova and Sergio Mitre.

    On a team with a $200 million payroll, Nova and Mitre probably should be the Nos. 6-7 starters; protection against injury, not main pieces.

    And exacerbating the situation in the AL East is that though the Yankees have been unable to address their major need, the Red Sox have added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, plus Bobby Jenks for bullpen depth.

    “Right now, they are very far behind the Red Sox,” an NL official said. “I thought the Red Sox were more talented than the Yankees last year, but won 89 games because they had so many injuries. I don’t think the Yankees are facing a doomsday scenario. In fact, I think they make the playoffs. But Yankees vs. Red Sox, I don’t think those teams are close right now.”

    But they went into the offseason with Cashman claiming the focus was “pitching, pitching and pitching,” and they so far have added Pedro Feliciano and possibly lost Pettitte. They whiffed on Lee and are trying to portray a brave face that they can win with what they have. But when I posed the possibility of Nova being a key piece in the rotation, an AL East executive said, “Yeah, and Bubba Crosby is going to play center before they sign Johnny Damon and Jesus Montero is going to catch before they sign Russ Martin. They will do something.”

    But what?

    Ah, the clock is ticking…with eight weeks until Pitchers & Catchers report for Spring Training…should be very interesting to watch and see what happens.

    Giant Pain

    Posted by on December 19th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    I’ve mentioned this several times in the past. From 1978 to 1992, I was really into the NFL thing – and a pretty huge Giants fan. I watched the games every week and sweated out the big ones. But, after that time, I basically stopped watching pro-football. Since then, I’ve gone to a couple of Jets’ games, with a friend who has season tickets. And, I still watch the Superbowl each year – but, that’s just about the one and only football game that I watch on TV each season. I’ve just become disenchanted with the NFL.

    Yet, I couldn’t help but notice what the Giants did today. Right up there with “The Fumble” and Flipper Anderson.

    Wow.

    I can’t even think of how to put this in a Yankees perspective. Obviously, it’s not as bad as the 2004 ALCS. But, it’s pretty bad. My condolences to the Big Blue fans out there. Man, the last two Decembers have not been kind in Giantsville.

    Fringe Gives Friday The Finger

    Posted by on December 19th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    I hope they’re right. Because, I’m really gonna miss my weekly Olivia Dunham fix.

    Greinke To The Brewers

    Posted by on December 19th, 2010 · Comments (19)

    The scoop -

    According to a reliable source close to the team, the Brewers late Saturday agreed to terms with Kansas City on a deal that would send right-hander Zack Greinke to Milwaukee.

    In the deal, the Brewers would send the Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and prospect pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress for Greinke, who went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA last season with Kansas City.

    The Brewers are expected to receive another “major league” player in the deal, according to the source. Jim Breem of the blog “Bernie’s Crew” reported that player to be shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.

    Reportedly, Zack Greinke was never on the Yankees radar. And, that’s a good thing. But, what this deal does is that it sets the bar, in some respects, on what it will cost in today’s market to acquire a young but established starting pitcher where you still have some control over him. And, I doubt the Yankees can put together a package like this one that the Brewers gave the Royals, can they?

    And, for the record, the Yankees had a shot at Odorizzi back in 2008. But, they whiffed on that one.

    How Will Cashman Handle His Contract Talks In 2011?

    Posted by on December 18th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    First, let’s flashback to the news of September 30, 2008, vis Bryan Hoch -

    Brian Cashman finalized a contract extension on Tuesday to remain as the general manager of the Yankees, an agreement that will run through the 2011 season.

    Cashman, 41, has served as the club’s GM since February 1998, and his future in the role had been in some doubt as the Yankees finished their 89-73 season, missing the playoffs for the first time since the strike-shortened 1994 campaign.

    Yankees co-chairmen Hal and Hank Steinbrenner had both publicly pledged support for Cashman’s return in 2009, but Cashman had refused to negotiate a contract for himself during the season.

    The Yankees completed their campaign on Sunday by splitting a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park, and during that series Cashman told reporters that he would not permit his contract situation to drag out, saying to expect an announcement “sooner rather than later.”

    So, what happens this season? Will Cashman again refuse to negotiate a contract for himself during the season? Or, will he pressure the Brothers Steinbrenner to get it done before his current deal expires? And, if he does, what will be their reaction?

    Related, will this be the year that Cashman finally gets promoted? (This is something that I would like to see.)

    And, of course, if Cashman is not the Yankees GM in 2012 – albeit because he was not retained or promoted – who will be the next GM of the Yankees

    Lastly, what’s next for Cashman if he leaves the Yankees?  (My money is on “ESPN Talking Head” – à la Steve Phillips.)

    What are you thoughts on Cashman and his contract situation? If you were the Yankees, how would you handle it?

    Bad Winter For Yankees Dollars?

    Posted by on December 18th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    First, some background on the Kerry Wood deal via Gordon Wittenmyer -

    Count on the Cubs taking care of Kerry Wood after the iconic right-hander’s one-year, bargain-basement deal he signed Friday expires – and also once his pitching career is over.

    General manager Jim Hendry will have a lot more financial flexibility in his 2012 payroll to work with, and chairman Tom Ricketts seems fully behind keeping Wood in the Cubs’ fold after meeting Wood on Monday and all but closing the deal that may have cost Wood $10 million in guaranteed money left on the table in offers by other teams.

    Meanwhile, what Wood’s willingness to accept a $1.5-million deal has done for the Cubs is keep a winter of creative financing alive through the pursuit of a desired starting pitcher – if not an additional middle-bullpen reliever as well.

    Today, on the MLB Network, on what I think was a replay of Hot Stove, Jon Heyman said that Wood turned down the Yankees offer of $10 million for two years to take the Cubs offer of $1.5 million for one year. So, I guess that’s the deal Wittenmyer is referencing here.

    First Cliff Lee, and, now, Kerry Wood? Doesn’t anyone respond to Brian Cashman throwing heeps of Steinbrenner money at them anymore? What happened to that Cashman charm – you know, the one that we heard about when he supposedly talked Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira into coming to New York? Didn’t work on Lee. And, Wood as well. Go figure.

    A-Rod’s Remarkable 2009 Post-Season

    Posted by on December 18th, 2010 · Comments (24)

    I’ve written in the past about the singular greatness of Alex Rodriguez’ 2009 post-season.

    And, if my narrative on that was not enough. How about some stats that support just how great it was? Click here to see how A-Rod was a machine during that run. And, click here to see how clutch he was during that post-season.

    Bottom line, there is an extremely strong case to be made that A-Rod’s 2009 post-season was one of the best overall offensive performances by a single player on a team who won a World Championship in the last 30 years of baseball history – if not the best “such season” ever.

    Sure, we all know about Barry Bonds’ 2002 post-season - but, the Giants didn’t win it all that year.  And, David Ortiz was super for the Red Sox post-season of 2004.  But, he didn’t do it day-in and day-out, consistently, for Boston in that run like Rodriquez did for the Yankees in ’09.  Another player to consider would be Troy Glaus in 2002.   He was a monster who carried the Angels that post-season to their ring - but,  he was not quite at the level of A-Rod in ’09.  (It is interesting that Bonds, Ortiz, Glaus and A-Rod are in the team picture here – since they all have been linked to PED-usage in the past.)

    Seeing all this, what would you say?  Was Alex Rodriguez’ 2009 the best overall post-season by a player on a World Series winner ever?  If not, how about over the last 30 years?  And, if not, why?

    Pedro Feliciano Signs With Yankees

    Posted by on December 17th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Via Joel Sherman -

    Pedro Feliciano is moving across town, agreeing in principle to a deal with the Yankees, according to a source.

    The two-year, $8 million contract is pending a physical, which is not a formality in the Yankees’ view because of the heavy workload the 34-year-old has carried with the Mets since 2006. The contract also has a club option for a third year.

    Feliciano was not scheduled to undergo a physical Friday, which could push the announcement of the deal into next week.

    I don’t know much about Feliciano – since I try to avoid watching Mets games. But, if he’s who I think he is, then I seem to recall him being a bit cocky/showboaty. Then again, you can say the same thing about Joba.

    But, Matt Cerrone should know Feliciano – so, I was interested in what he posted on this deal. Here it is:

    Well, good for Perpetual Pedro, since this is the deal he had been seeking all along, and is more or less why the Mets only offered arbitration and did not re-sign him.

    I wrote this in late November, and still feel the same way today:

    He’s letting more runners on base, he’s pitched a ton of innings over the last few seasons, he’s walking more and striking out less, and he showed he’s not very effective against right-handed batters last season, at least to the extent that he should be used as anything more than a situational lefty. So, is it wise to sign a 35-year-old situational lefty, with a lot of mileage on his arm, to a two-year, $8 million deal? I don’t know that it is… the Mets might be better suited going out to the open market to find a replacement.

    Because he is a Type-B free agent, the Mets will receive a compensatory draft pick between the first and second round on next year’s draft, once he signs a new deal.

    Seeing this made me go check the numbers. And, I noticed that in three of the last four years his BB/9 rate is pretty high. David Robertson-like. Next I looked at his splits and saw that RH-batters have been very successful against him the last two years.

    So, bascially, what we have here is a LOOGY with so-so command. It’s sorta/kinda like when the Yankees had Mike Myers in 2006. It’s not terrible – as long as the Yankees use him correctly and he does what he’s supposed to do.

    The Sergio & Buddy Show 2011

    Posted by on December 17th, 2010 · Comments (39)

    So, this is what it has come down to, in Yankeeland, eh?

    What’s “this” you want to know?

    You know…speculation about the Yankees looking at acquiring starting pitchers such as Wandy Rodriguez, Freddy Garcia, Gil Meche, Ben Sheets, Kevin Millwood, et al.

    Yeah, that’s what happens when you need two starting pitchers for your rotation…this late in the game.

    Of course, getting Andy Pettitte to return for another season would be a huge plus here. But, what are the odds of that happening now?

    Therefore, this is why I find myself thinking about Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson, Shawn Chacon, Aaron Small, Dustin Moseley, Cory Lidle, Kei Igawa, Chad Gaudin, Esteban Loaiza, Tanyon Sturtze and Dan Giese today – and wondering what reject/retread Brian Cashman is going to use to fill in his rotation this season. And, you know he’s going to do it – as he’s stated in the past that your fourth and fifth starters can always be addressed in-season, if needed. (Remember when he said that the plans to go with Hughes and Kennedy in 2008 were low risk because they were just the back-end of the rotation?) Then again, they already have Sergio Mitre and Buddy Carlyle signed to contracts for this coming season…so…maybe that’s Cashman’s answer already?

    Oh, that’s just wonderful…

    Holy Larry Lucchino, Batman!

    Posted by on December 16th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Is it just me, or, is the 2011 Red Sox team payroll starting to get really high?

    I’m talking Cheech & Chong kind of high. Way, way, up there. Maybe even higher than the Yankees, at this moment in time.

    Go figure.

    Yo, Alderaan!

    Posted by on December 16th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Alden Gonzalez says the Yankees’ options vast yet limited. And, he makes some good points there to back it up. Check it out.

    Pedro Feliciano

    Posted by on December 16th, 2010 · Comments (18)

    Yanks are reportedly close to signing Pedro Feliciano.

    Well, he’s durable. And, New York won’t sneak up on him – he knows the town. I just hope this doesn’t turn out to be another Cashman “can’t miss, proven LOOGY” move like Gabe White and Damaso Marte…where the guy just loses it once he becomes a Yankee.

    John Sickels: Yankees Top 20 Prospects

    Posted by on December 16th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Prospect watcher John Sickels released a preliminary version of his top-20 Yanks list (the official version goes into his annual publication).  I more or less agree with the rankings and the grades Sickels gave, although I’d probably make a few minor adjustments of a more subjective nature.

    Prospects 1-5: Jesus Montero (C), Gary Sanchez (C), Dellin Betances (RHP), Manny Banuelos (LHP), Hector Noesi (RHP)
    Prospects 6-10: Andrew Brackman (RHP), Ivan Nova (RHP), Austin Romine (C), Slade Heathcott (OF), Adam Warren (RHP)
    Prospects 11-15: Graham Stoneburner (RHP), David Phelps (RHP), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), David Adams (2B)
    Prospects 16-20: J.R. Murphy (C), Corban Joseph (2B), Cito Culver (SS), Brett Marshall (RHP), Jose A. Ramirez (RHP)

    Honorable Mention: Angelo Gumbs (OF), Sean Black (RHP), Kelvin De Leon (OF), Gabe Encinas (RHP), Robert Fish (LHP), Ramon Flores (OF), Ben Gamel (OF), Shaeffer Hall (LHP), Tommy Kahnle (RHP), Melky Mesa (OF), Bryan Mitchell (RHP), D.J. Mitchell (RHP), Evan Rutckyj (LHP), Rob Segedin (3B), Dan Turpen (RHP), Chase Whitley (RHP), Mason Williams (OF)

    Sickels’s thoughts (abridged, and with my own emphasis)-

    This system has two excellent hitters at the top, but thins out quickly in position players with impact potential after that. The pitching is quite rich; I count eight guys with the ability to hold rotation spots at the major league level, including a couple of potential anchors, and there are more arms behind them… Overall…it is a system that has a lot going for it, and if some of the sleepers from the ’10 draft pan out it can look even better next year.

    My quibbles on prospect-ranking in general have always been about striking the proper balance between a player’s upside and the likelihood that a player reaches his full potential.  In other words, in a case of two prospects where the first is what he is and has very little room to grow (and is a solid but unspectacular player), how do you compare him to a second player who could far surpass the first if he hits his ceiling?  Who is more valuable?

    In my mind, I always lean towards the high-ceiling guys over the known commodities.  Not that there isn’t value to be derived from the devil you know (to use the expression), but, when it comes to prospects, hitting the homerun is not only more gratifying but imminently more valuable.

    Frankie Piliere: Yanks Should Consider Youth

    Posted by on December 16th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Former MLB scout and current AOL Fanhouse writer Frankie Piliere thinks the Yanks — should they be so inclined — could fill some holes from within their own organization.  Below are some of the highlights of the piece (with my own emphasis added in bold type):

    On New York’s minor league depth-

    If any organization other than the Yankees was looking at themselves in the mirror right about now, and they had the Yankees’ talent even minus Cliff Lee, they’d like what they saw…in terms of organizational health New York is just about as strong and as flush with talent in its minor league system as any team in the game.

    On Jesus Montero-

     Jesus Montero is clearly one of baseball’s elite prospects and arguably the best hitter in the minor leagues. Barring a disastrous spring training, he’s also proven himself ready to take his hacks in the major leagues. Despite recurring reports of his defensive problems, Montero is at a stage where he can handle himself as a big-league catcher…the idea of him being simply unable to catch at the next level is one that is still vastly overblown.  As I’ve stressed numerous times over the last year, like many elite big-league sluggers, if he reaches his ceiling as an offensive force he’ll never be known for his defense.

    I’ve had the pleasure of scouting Montero at each level of the minor-league ladder during his development, and the worries about his defense aren’t unwarranted. But, they were much more warranted two years ago, and even more so the year before…I still saw a lot of inconsistencies in Montero’s game behind the plate, but it was nothing that I don’t see from time to time from mediocre defensive catchers at the major league level…The bottom line is that there is a big difference between having defensive deficiencies and not being able to play the position at all. Montero is ready to play catcher in 2011, and the more I’ve seen from him, the more confident I’ve become of that fact.

    On New York’s young pitching-

    In the starting pitching department, the only safe bets you can make beyond 2011 are CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Surely New York could try to buy pitchers to fill those rotation spots, but the reality is they may not have to.  The trio of Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy/Joba Chamberlain in the rotation not so long ago didn’t work out, but the truth is that two of those three are now solid big-league starters.

    When the time comes can New York be patient enough to work guys like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or perhaps even Andrew Brackman into its rotation?  When that time comes will the Yankees take a similar approach as they did at catcher this year and go get a safety net like [Russell] Martin at another position that could keep a promising player in Triple-A?  Age is coming for the core of the Yankees’ roster, and there is no denying that. It has long been a part of the equation for them, but never like it is now in the heart of their team.  The starting rotation clearly needs replenishing too.  Again, though, given their minor-league depth, the prospect of having to retool the roster shouldn’t be all that scary.

    His recommendation-

    What the age in their core may require them to do is take a leap of faith.  They don’t appear ready to take the full plunge with Montero, but eventually they may not have a choice.  Now that they are without Cliff Lee, it only makes it more prudent to plan on making use of all this young talent…In other words, the future of the Yankees is safe, but only if it’s handled correctly and given a real chance to blossom.  How much of a chance Montero really gets at that starting catching job in 2011 will tell us just how willing the Yankees are to embrace their youth.

    I’d more or less agree with all of those thoughts.  Although I’ve long believed that Montero was always the team’s best trade chip and that his future utility to the Yankees was what he could bring in return (as opposed to what he could do here for the Yankees), I concede that there’s no sense trading Montero if the Yankees can’t extract an elite player in return.  So, as long as Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Justin Verlander or Jon Lester aren’t available, then Montero shouldn’t be either.

    Bobby Jenks

    Posted by on December 15th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Reportedly, the Yankees have an interest in signing Jenks.  His stats, via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia:

    YEAR AGE  W   L  G    SV  GF   IP     H   BB   SO    ERA  RSAA
    2005 24   1   1  32    6  18   39.1   34  15   50   2.75    8
    2006 25   3   4  67   41  58   69.2   66  31   80   4.00    5
    2007 26   3   5  66   40  61   65     45  13   56   2.77   14
    2008 27   3   1  57   30  52   61.2   51  17   38   2.63   13
    2009 28   3   4  52   29  46   53.1   52  16   49   3.71    5
    2010 29   1   3  55   27  46   52.2   54  18   61   4.44    0

    Yeah, he’s basically a league average pitcher these days – and he’s fat. Remember when the Yankees brought in Juan Acevedo? (Another Cashman move.) I could see this move going down as well as that one did…

    Ugly Divorce Cause Of A.J. Burnett’s Issues?

    Posted by on December 15th, 2010 · Comments (36)

    Via Mike Silva today -

    “Colin Coward on Burnett divorce The stories are ugly. Wife was vindictive and spiteful. Think of worst divorce you’ve heard and double it”

    I guess this might explain the black eye and poor 2010 season.

    As someone who knows a little about how this stuff goes I am not surprised Burnett struggled. Divorce is right up there with death in terms of how it impacts an individual.

    My best goes to Burnett and hopefully everything turns out well for both parties.

    I wonder if Kate Hudson likes tattoos?

    It’s Cashman’s Time To Prove Something

    Posted by on December 15th, 2010 · Comments (26)

    Steve Politi’s latest column is a homerun in my book. Here’s some snips:

    For much of his time as Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman has used a two-step approach for building a pitching rotation:

    1. Drop a giant bag of money at the feet of the best available free-agent pitchers on the market.

    2. Wait impatiently.

    It was successful with CC Sabathia. It was significantly less successful with Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kei Igawa, A.J. Burnett and a few others that Cashman would love to forget.

    But, boon or bust, the strategy almost always produced results. It did not this time. Cliff Lee said “thanks but no thanks” to that giant bag of money to sign for less with Philadelphia, and now we get to see if Cashman can be successful as a different kind of GM.

    Now we get to see if he finds another way to fill the Lincoln Tunnel-sized hole in his rotation. Cashman insisted Tuesday “Plan B is patience” for the Yankees, but it will have to include plenty of creativity, too.

    Can he find a low-cost solution from an unexpected source who comes to the Bronx and overachieves (for a change)?

    Can he do what general managers all over baseball have done for years now — and win with less?

    We’ll soon find out. It was Cashman who wasn’t willing to gut his farm system for Lee in the summer, when Seattle wanted a prince’s ransom for a rental. It was Cashman who gambled — and lost — that the Yankees’ resources would win out again in the offseason with Lee.

    And it is Cashman who, for years, has insisted that the Yankees are more than just a pinstriped checkbook.

    Cashman must have been sipping the eggnog early Tuesday when he said, “I think A.J. Burnett is going to turn it around for us.” He can’t really believe the rotation, as it stands now, is good enough. Cashman has to find a way to fix the problem without simply throwing money at it.

    This will be a good test for Cashman and the Yankees hierarchy, because if this crazy offseason proved anything, it’s that they are not the only franchise willing to open the checkbook.

    Recession? Not here. Four players signed deals in excess of $100 million — Troy Tulowitzki with the Rockies and Jayson Werth with the Nationals join Lee and Crawford on that list. The Rangers, meanwhile, were willing to spend that much to sign Lee but were also spurned.

    Money is still an advantage, but it isn’t an infallible trump card. Cashman, who long ago grew tired of the criticism that all the Yankees did was buy players, now has the perfect opportunity to show his organization is more than a fat wallet.

    I don’t know why anyone would have any confidence in Cashman’s ability to trade for a starting pitcher? Remember Javy Vazquez – both times? How about Jeff Weaver? Kevin Brown? Denny Neagle? Esteban Loaiza? Randy Johnson? Cory Lidle? How did all those work out? It’s not just in the free agent market where Cashman has made some huge whiffs on starting pitching. Just about every starting pitcher that he’s ever traded for has been less than expected – or a total bust – for the Yankees.

    1960 World Series Game 7 On This Evening

    Posted by on December 15th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Just a reminder about this being on tonight. For more, here’s a snip from the MLB Network Press Release:

    Once thought to be lost forever, the complete original television broadcast of the 1960 World Series Game 7 – regarded by many as the greatest baseball game ever played – will be telecast on MLB Network on December 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET, the first time it will be seen on television since it was originally played more than 50 years ago. The black-and-white kinescope of the game film was discovered earlier this year at the home of the late Bing Crosby, who was a part owner of the Pirates at the time.

    Presented exclusively and with limited commercial interruption by Chevrolet, MLB Network Special Presentation: 1960 World Series Game 7 will include exclusive interviews by MLB Network’s Bob Costas with former members of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, including Dick Groat and Bill Virdon, as well as former New York Yankee and 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson, Vera Clemente, wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, and actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton. Other former Pirates players and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris are featured throughout the program. The interviews were recorded in front of a live audience of more than 1,000 at the historic Byham Theater in Pittsburgh on November 13, 2010, where the film of Game 7 was screened. Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, who was unable to attend the event at the Byham Theater due to illness, was interviewed on December 2, 2010 at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the History Center in Pittsburgh.

    The special presentation will include the original television broadcast of Game 7 in its entirety, interspersed with reactions by Mazeroski, Groat, Virdon and Richardson to key plays in the game, including Mazeroski’s dramatic game-ending home run for the Pirates, a bad hop on a ground ball that hit Yankees infielder Tony Kubek in the throat, a key play at first base by Yankees legend Mickey Mantle and a critical three-run home run in the eighth inning by Pirates catcher Hal Smith, who received a rousing standing ovation 50 years later from the audience at the Byham Theater.

    With Hall of Fame award-winning announcers Mel Allen and Bob Prince alternating play by play of the game every half-inning, the program also includes the four-minute-long postgame show, hosted by Prince. Prior to the screening and telecast, MLB Network worked with Technicolor to restore the 50 year-old game footage, enhancing the audio and picture quality. The game film is a sign of its time with limited on-screen graphics and no instant replay.

    December 2010 Survey Question #1

    Posted by on December 15th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:112}

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

    Photog Claims To Be Manhandled By Daddy Jeter

    Posted by on December 14th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Via Tampa Bay Online -

    A freelance photographer is accusing Derek Jeter’s father of pushing then grabbing him outside the professional baseball player’s home on Davis Islands.

    Robert Martinez, 35, a freelance photographer for the New York Post, said he suffered a sore back and stiff neck from the incident, according to a Tampa Police Department report.

    Martinez, who works locally for WTSP television, is not pressing charges against Charles Jeter, 60, police said.

    This is what happened about 7:20 p.m. on Dec. 7, according to the police report:

    Martinez got a tip that Derek Jeter would be at his Davis Islands home following a New York Yankees news conference at the team’s training complex on North Himes Avenue.

    The photographer waited outside of Jeter’s mansion until the Yankees’ shortstop walked out with his parents and five other people. As Jeter walked toward the passenger side of a pewter-colored Mercedes-Benz, Charles Jeter put his arm up and pushed Martinez.

    Martinez backed up a few feet, still taking photographs. When Derek Jeter went around to the driver’s side of the car, Martinez tried to take more photos. He was stopped when Charles Jeter pulled Martinez back by his jacket collar.

    “After the incident, Martinez didn’t think it was a big deal so he didn’t report the offense at the time,” the report said.

    Two days later, Martinez woke up with a stiff neck and sore back. A doctor told him that Martinez may have pulled his back during the confrontation with Charles Jeter.

    “Martinez doesn’t want to prosecute Charles Jeter at this time,” the police report said. “He just wants the incident documented just in case he has more problems from the incident.”

    No truth to the rumor that Martinez later found a Derek Jeter jersey, and, after trying it on, in Eddie Brock like fashion, he was transformed into an aging shortstop with limited range to his left.

    Cashman: No Need To Rush On Anything, Yanks Don’t Have Any Issues

    Posted by on December 14th, 2010 · Comments (36)

    Via Marc Carig – here’s what Brian Cashman is saying today, after losing Cliff Lee to the Phillies –

    “Plan B is patience…There are certain areas that are easier to address than others…It doesn’t have to happen in the winter time…I don’t think we have a lot of holes…”

    Anyone else see Chip Diller screaming “Remain calm, all is well!” when they read these comments?

    Yanks Sign Russell Martin

    Posted by on December 14th, 2010 · Comments (13)

    The Britt Burns of catchers?

    Via MLB Hot Stove -

    The Yankees have agreed to terms on a contract with Russell Martin, multiple sources told MLB.com on Monday. Details of the deal were not immediately available, but it is expected to be announced at some point on Tuesday.

    Martin was said to have been deciding between the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

    Martin, 27, was deemed among the best catchers in the National League from 2007-08, when he was a back-to-back All-Star while compiling a .286 batting average, .380 on-base percentage and 32 homers for the Dodgers. But after a down year in 2009, Martin played 97 games in 2010 and then missed the rest of the season with a broken hip.

    Projecting Yankees Current Starting Rotation

    Posted by on December 14th, 2010 · Comments (30)

    If the Yankees did go into next season with a rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Mitre and Nova, it would not shock me to see them post these numbers in 2011:

    CC Sabathia
    34 GS
    18 Wins
    8 Losses
    3.50 ERA

    A.J. Burnett
    33 GS
    12 Wins
    9 Losses
    4.20 ERA

    Phil Hughes
    29 GS
    14 Wins
    8 Losses
    4.10 ERA

    Sergio Mitre
    27 GS
    8 Wins
    8 Losses
    5.10 ERA

    Ivan Nova
    26 GS
    6 Wins
    11 Losses
    5.50 ERA

    And, that’s being optimistic on Burnett. Granted, there’s roughly two months until Pitchers & Catchers report. So, perhaps the Yankees can add another starter to this mix. However, in the interim, how do you feel about the job Brian Cashman has done, so far, in assembling his starting rotation for 2011?

    Cliff Lee Rejects Yankees Dollars, Cashman’s Plan To Improve Rotation Fails

    Posted by on December 14th, 2010 · Comments (26)

    Via George King

    The Phillies? Really?

    Seven years for a possible $154 million from the Yankees wasn’t enough to land Cliff Lee, according to two baseball executives.

    Instead, the 32-year-old free agent lefty took less money than the Yankees were offering and returned to the Phillies, the team he helped reach the 2009 World Series — won by the Yankees.

    According to industry sources, the Phillies’ offer was five years for more than $100 million and a sixth-year player option. That’s lower than the Yankees who, according to sources, extended two offers. One was for seven years and $150 million; the other for a guaranteed six years at $138 million with a player option for $16 million in the seventh year that would have hiked the package to $154 million.

    The Rangers offered six years with a vesting option, but even that wasn’t good enough to retain their ace, who hurled them to the World Series, but was beaten twice by the Giants.

    So, barring a deal involving Cole Hamels or Roy Oswalt, the Phillies have assembled the premier rotation in baseball that is fronted by Roy Halladay with Lee in the No. 2 slot.

    Early last night, there was a feeling in the Yankees’ organization that Lee wasn’t landing in The Bronx and that proved correct.

    Before midnight they were told by Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, that Lee “was headed in a different direction.” Minutes later, Texas was informed Lee was going to Philadelphia.

    Though many believe the Yankees are ruined without Lee, Cashman isn’t in that choir. Nor does he see a similarity between this situation and after the 2008 season when the Yankees missed the playoffs.

    “This is much different than two years ago. We have a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in CC [Sabathia], an 18-game winner in [Phil] Hughes and A.J. [Burnett] will rebound,” Cashman said. “We also have some of the best young pitchers in baseball and a top 10 minor league system. We got a really good team and will make it better regardless of what transpires. I am not panicked by it.”

    Well, I guess money can’t solve all of Cashman’s problems, for once, eh? What’s next? Some reports say that the Yankees will look to acquire another starter – perhaps beg Andy Pettitte not to retire? – and then try to improve the bullpen; and, hope for the best. I’ll say this: If Cashman really believes that Burnett will rebound and that Hughes has 18-game winner stuff, he’s going down the wrong road. Even when he was “good” in 2008 and 2009, Burnett was barely an above average pitcher and Hughes was lucky to win 18 games last season. Then again, Cashman believed that Hughes and Ian Kennedy were the answer in 2008 – and we all know how that worked out.

    Phils To Foil Cashman’s Plans To Address Yanks Starting Pitcher Woes?

    Posted by on December 13th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Via Tyler Kepner

    Nobody wants to be unemployed around the holidays, but Clifton Phifer Lee of Little Rock, Ark., does not seem to mind. The Yankees, the Texas Rangers and, now, the Philadelphia Phillies are eagerly awaiting Lee’s decision on where to continue his career, at $20 million or more per season.

    “They have not made any decision,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said Monday night. “Same as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. He’s evaluating all his opportunities, whatever they are.”

    The latest opportunity is probably what is taking Lee so long. The presence of the Phillies — his team at the end of 2009 — was especially troubling to the Yankees.

    Privately, the Yankees were growing pessimistic as the night went on, believing that Lee might really be headed to Philadelphia for fewer years and less money.

    The Phillies’ policy is never to guarantee a pitcher more than three years in a new contract — not even Roy Halladay, who signed a three-year, $60 million extension after his trade from Toronto last December. But Lee loved his time in Philadelphia, and the Phillies, who have already shed the contract of Jayson Werth, could lose more payroll by dealing starter Joe Blanton.

    Give credit to Jon Heyman for sharing days ago that there was a “mystery team” in the hunt for Cliff Lee – along with the Yankees and Rangers. And, give credit to Joel Sherman for being the first – as far as I know – to bring the Phillies up, earlier today. And, all those bloggers, twitters, and other sundry internet comment leavers who scoffed at Heyman and/or Sherman should all now stand up and admit that their desire to ride in the front car of the snarky train now has them looking pretty darn stupid at this junction.

    No Cliff Lee Call Today

    Posted by on December 13th, 2010 · Comments (14)

    Via the fellas at the Daily News

    The waiting game continues.

    The Yankees and Rangers will be forced to wait until at least Tuesday before learning of the star lefthander’s fate, as a source told the Daily News that Lee is not expected to make his decision Monday night.

    Lee has been mulling over offers from both the Yankees and Rangers since late last week, weighing the pros and cons of a move from Texas to New York.

    Yeah, sounds like Lee is head over heels crazy regarding the notion of playing for the Yankees…

    Pinstripe Defection

    Posted by on December 13th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    I have no idea what to make of this – except to wonder if Hal/Hank/Randy/Lonn will have any reaction at all.

    Phillies The Mystery Team?

    Posted by on December 13th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Joel Sherman floats the notion.

    Maybe Cliff hearts Charlie Manuel?

    Will Cliff Lee Win 100 Games Over The Next Seven Years?

    Posted by on December 13th, 2010 · Comments (15)

    Well, if he doesn’t, there’s no way he’s worth the money the Yankees are offering him to pitch for them from 2011 through 2017. But, that’s my opinion.

    What do you think? What would Lee have to provide the Yankees in order to earn what they are offering him?

    Godzilla To The A’s

    Posted by on December 13th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    So it seems. Via Susan Sussler -

    Several sources told The Chronicle on Sunday night that a Tuesday press conference appears likely after the Hideki Matsui signing is finalized. That doesn’t rule out an announcement on Monday, but the team might choose to wait until everyone is assembled, especially considering the entourage that comes with Matsui – translator, public relations person, dozens of Japanese reporters. Matsui’s popularity in the Asian community could make this one of the A’s bigger press conferences in recent years.

    As I’ve mentioned numerous times, Matsui told me in September that he wouldn’t be deterred by the Coliseum – he has liked hitting there over the years. He also likes San Francisco a lot, and I’ve heard the idea of living there appeals to him.

    One Yankees official I talked to last week raved about Matsui’s ability in the clutch – and that is very much what the A’s need, and have needed for some time.

    Why are the A’s making this move? Don’t they realize that Nick Johnson is available?

    Yes, I’m kidding.

    I’ve always been, and will probably remain, a huge fan of Godzilla. And, I wish him well with the A’s. It’s nice to see good things happen to those who deserve it.

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