• Munson Awards Dinner To Honor Nick Swisher On February 1st

    Posted by on January 19th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    In case you missed this news…here’s the info:

    A trio of popular New York baseball stars will receive the prestigious Thurman Munson Award at the 31st annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night, February 1, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. New York Yankees All-Star outfielder Nick Swisher, New York Mets outfielder Angel Pagan, and former Mets All-Star catcher Mike Piazza will be honored by the AHRC-New York City Foundation in memory of late, great Yankees catcher and captain.

    The formidable baseball threesome will be joined by the Nets all-star guard Devin Harris and Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Evan Lysacek as the “Class of 2011.”

    Diana Munson, Thurman’s widow, will attend the gala, and has been involved in the benefit since its inception, raising nearly $10 million to assist children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

    “I love the way he plays, I love his enthusiasm,” said Diana Munson of Swisher. “Most importantly, he respects the history of baseball and the Yankees. On Old Timers Day, he was out there getting autographs and taking pictures. He’s not embarrassed by his love of the game, and respects the players. Plus, he’s cute.”

    The AHRC New York City Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports programs enabling children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead richer, more productive lives, including programs of AHRC New York City. AHRC New York City is one of the largest organizations of its kind, serving 11,000 children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.

    The list of notable athletes to previously receive the Munson Award reads like a sports “Who’s Who,” and includes: Yankees – Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Willie Randolph, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Robbie Cano, Bernie Williams, Bobby Murcer, Joe Torre and Joe Girardi; Mets – Tom Seaver, John Franco, Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, Rusty Staub and Gary Carter; Basketball – Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, Dave DeBusschere, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Allan Houston and John Starks; Olympians – Donna de Varona (swimming), Dorothy Hamill (figure-skating), Paul Hamm (gymnast), Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating), Nancy Kerrigan (figure skating), Carl Lewis (track and field), Carly Patterson (gymnast), and Dwight Stones (men’s high jump).

    For tickets and information on the Munson Awards Dinner contact 212-249-6188.

    Thanks to Jerry Milani for passing this along to me.

    The Apopka Yankees?

    Posted by on January 18th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    Not exactly a roll-off-the-tonguer…is it?

    Via the Orlando Sentinel -

    The business group working to move the New York Yankees’ minor league baseball team, the Tampa Yankees, to Orlando is holding a press conference tomorrow in Apopka to make a special announcement.

    Armando Gutierrez Jr. said he and his business partners will announce plans about a special “once in a lifetime experience” event this February for families, little league players and Central Florida baseball enthusiasts.

    “The event is usually not even done outside of New York ,” said a tight-lipped Gutierrez. “But it’s going to be in Central in February for a day.”

    Perhaps more interesting is the fact that Apopka could be a new location option. The primary location, a piece of land near the Orange County Convention Center, hit a snag after former Orlando County mayor Richard Crotty raised concerns about Gutierrez’s project outlines. New Orlando County mayor Teresa Jacobs told the Orlando Sentinel in November that she would comment on the proposal until she had time to study it.

    Gutierrez said he would not confirm or deny Apopka as a possible location for a minor league baseball team in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. But he said plans were moving slow.

    “So far so good,” he said. “We’re just waiting on when we can make a formal presentation to [Jacobs] now that she’s hiring for people.”

    Cashman To Pettitte: Don’t Yank Our Chain

    Posted by on January 18th, 2011 · Comments (9)

    Well, he sort of said that…among other things. Via Middletownpress.com:

    Yankees’ Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman shared stories of struggles and strides at Tuesday’s Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at Crowne Plaza in Cromwell.

    But 2011 seems to be a turning point. The Yankees are no longer the favorite and don’t pull down the highest salaries in baseball – qualities that reflect Yankee rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

    “We’re not conceding anything,” said Cashman. “We know the Red Sox are picked to win, but we’ve been in that position before, too.”

    Now that Steinbrunner, known as, “The Boss,” has died, he is not forgotten in the Yankee franchise or in Cashman’s eyes.

    “The legacy George left is he created a bunch of other Georges,” Cashman said. “The man was so dedicated to winning. [George’s] family is dedicated to winning. Everything I am is because of The Boss.”

    The biggest blow to the Yankees’ pitching would be Andy Pettitte, retiring after a great 2010 season.

    “Andy has talking about being home for years,” said Cashman. “Being from Texas and having to be in New York for six months out of the year can be hard because he has kids and he’s missing important time with them. He’s opting not to play right now but that might change it might not. I told him don’t ‘Brett Favre’ us. You got to be all in and fully dedicated to play. Do I need him? I need him, but I don’t want him to play if his heart’s not in it.”

    To prepare for 2011 with hopes of making the playoffs for the 11th time in his career, Cashman developed a mental training program as part of spring training.

    “They are learning things like being a good teammate,” said Cashman. “We bring in navy seals to talk to our guys. We want to make sure that the guys know that the guy standing next to them is as all in as they are.”

    “My job is all about winning,” said Cashman. “You have to make tough decisions, like when I let Bernie Williams go, Matsui, and Johnny Damon. But when you’re trying to win you can’t think about anything else. You just need to put the best team you can out there.”

    The Navy Seal thing is hilarious. Imagine the poor Yankee who lockers next to Damaso Marte. He must be thinking “Crap, that guy has my back? Just shoot me now…”

    And, how about that “The legacy George left is he created a bunch of other Georges” crack? That’s a not too veiled shot at the Brothers Stein and Randy Levine on the Soriano contract, eh?

    Best & Worst Yankees Of The 1980′s

    Posted by on January 18th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    From Donnie Baseball to Joel Skinner, and, from Rags to Ed Whitson, here are the numbers via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

    (more…)

    Three Endings, Two Good, One Bad

    Posted by on January 18th, 2011 · Comments (2)

    Yesterday, Chris Jaffe provided his list of the 15 worst endings ever to regular-season games.

    There’s stuff on there for Yankees fans. Two games that I saw and will never forget – the “Luis Castillo Game” and one I like to call the “Don Money Game.” Also, there’s a October 10, 1904 game between the Yanks and Bosox that just makes you wonder if years that end in “04″ are bad news in Yankeeland when it comes to playing the Red Sox.

    Yanks Exec: Cashman Still In Charge, Despite Soriano Signing

    Posted by on January 17th, 2011 · Comments (4)

    More skinny on the whole Cashman/Soriano thing, via Wallace Matthews -

    The Yankees have “full confidence” in general manager Brian Cashman, according to a senior team executive who acknowledged a division in the ranks over the signing last week of reliever Rafael Soriano but characterized the incident as “a disagreement, not a dispute.”

    “Cash did not want to give up the [No. 1] draft pick,” said the executive, who refused to speak on the record until the Soriano deal is finalized pending a physical this week. “But at the end of the day, he didn’t throw his body across the tracks over it, he just disagreed with it. It was a good faith dispute. Reasonable people can disagree.”

    The executive went on to say: “Cash has not lost one iota of credibility or autonomy over this. There has been no loss of faith in him at all. Cash is in charge of all baseball operations, but he would never in a million years tell you ownership doesn’t make the final decisions. It’s their money, not his.”

    Cashman has not returned phone calls or text messages since the story broke last Thursday that Soriano and the Yankees had come to terms on a three-year deal potentially worth $35 million, but with player-triggered opt-out clauses after each of the first two seasons.

    But the source said that while Cashman remained opposed to signing Soriano, co-owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, along with team president Randy Levine –who is said to have come up with the complex and unorthodox deal Soriano and his agent Scott Boras eventually agreed to — made the final decision to bring the right-hander, who led the American League with 45 saves for the Rays last year, to the Bronx.

    “The thinking was that with Andy [Pettitte] maybe not coming back, and the starting rotation that we have, and knowing Mo [Rivera] is 41, this was a good deal to make,” the source said. “The price on Soriano was falling and it just seemed to all of us that to get a player of this magnitude at this price was too good to pass up.”

    The executive said Cashman’s main objection was with surrendering the draft pick, not Soriano’s reputed behavioral problems.

    “He’s a hothead, that’s all” said one source who knows Soriano, “but he’s matured and as long as he’s around the right people, he’ll be all right.”

    The Yankee executive downplayed any type of a rift within the organization to rival the schism that infuriated Cashman about five years ago, when a cabal of Yankees front-office men based in Tampa, a group that was led by owner George Steinbrenner and included roving pitching instructor Billy Connors, scouts Mark Newman and Damon Oppenheimer, operated like a shadow government and often overruled Cashman’s decisions.

    “This is nothing like that,” the executive said. “They were running their own operation and weren’t reporting to Cashman. There’s nothing like that going on now. Cashman is still in charge of the baseball operation here.”

    I think I get it. Cashman is “in charge.” And, he has “autonomy.” But, the Brothers Steinbrenner and Randy Levine can still do whatever they want and Cashman has to sit there while it happens and say “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” Yeah, it’s no wonder Cash why hasn’t returned phone calls or text messages since last Thursday…maybe his buttocks are still too sore for him to be able to respond to inquiries on this one?

    Bill White Book Coming: “Uppity: My Untold Story About The Games People Play”

    Posted by on January 17th, 2011 · Comments (10)

    Click here for more information on this book.

    Personally, I can’t wait for this one to come out. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about getting the news on a new autobiography. Major, major, thanks to “77yankees” for the heads-up on this one.

    The Posada Problem

    Posted by on January 17th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    Jorge Posada will be 39-years old when he plays for the Yankees this season. But, he’s an above average offensive performer – and has been one for the last 11 years running. However, there’s more to this story.

    Posada’s catching skills are now below average. Some would say that they’re terrible – and may have a good case in stating that claim. So, the Yankees plan on using him mostly at D.H. in 2011. And, that makes sense.

    Posada is also in his free agent “walk year” this season. And, at no point has Jorge ever talked about this being his last year or that he’s considering retirement – even though he’s knocking on the door of forty. It would not be insane to suggest that Posada wants another contract after his current one expires. Seriously…let’s not forget that Jorge is a very proud and stubborn man.

    To me, this all leads to a messy 2011 for Posada in Yankeeland. And, it could get even worse if the Yankees fall out of contention. Jorge has “no-trade protection” in his contract. But, if the Yankees are cooked come July, wouldn’t it make sense to move Posada to a contender who needed a bat – to get a prospect in return – rather than just sit on him until his contract expires?

    And, what about when his deal with the Yankees is over? Do they bring him back for 2012? How well are those talks going to be? Think about the treatment that Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter got on their last deals with the Yankees.

    Man, there’s a lot of stuff out there to suggest that Posada’s end with the Yankees will not be pretty. And, that’s sad. He’s a near Hall of Famer who has played his entire career, to date, with the Yankees. (Just like Bernie Williams.) That said, it would be nice to see all this end on a high-note. But, it doesn’t look like that will happen – does it?

    Yanks New Martin: I Wasn’t Focused The Last Two Years

    Posted by on January 16th, 2011 · Comments (6)

    Oh, great, so, he’s the A.J. Burnett of backstops…

    Via the Canadian Press:

    The two-time all-star catcher from Chelsea, Que., attending Baseball Canada’s annual awards banquet Saturday, attributed his consecutive off-years with the Los Angeles Dodgers to poor preparation.

    That’s all changed now, and he says “this year I’m looking to be better” than ever.

    “Probably some frustrations, probably not training as hard as I should have in some ways,” Martin said in explaining his 2009 and ’10 seasons. “That’s always been my strength, is training my butt off, doing all those things in the best way possible. And I think I had some distractions that maybe led me not to have that same drive that I’ve had in the past. Really, that’s all it is, I trained hard, but before nobody trained as hard as I did.

    “This year I feel like I’m back. Just mentally, I feel better.”

    Asked about the distractions, he said, “there are some things that you keep for yourself, and those distractions are personal.”

    Cashman Will Have To Come Out Of Hiding & Comment On Soriano Signing Eventually

    Posted by on January 15th, 2011 · Comments (30)

    Great stuff, as always, from Tyler Kepner

    History shows that the 31st overall pick is not very valuable. So why did Brian Cashman make such a big deal about it last week?

    Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, did not just imply that he would hold on to his first-round draft pick instead of signing Soriano, who was 45 for 48 in save opportunities last season. He all but planted a flag with that pronouncement atop the Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn., from which he rappelled 21 stories last month while dressed as a Christmas elf.

    Yet once Soriano passes a physical, that pick will become one of nine that Tampa Bay will have before the start of the second round. While the Rays figure out how to pay for all those prospects, the Yankees will slide Soriano into their budget for three years and $35 million, in a deal that includes an opt-out clause after the first and second seasons.

    Circumstances change. A week ago, the Yankees believed that Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras, wanted a four-year deal for $14 million per season. Perhaps Cashman was more optimistic then that Andy Pettitte would return and help fill the rotation, and he figured the Yankees could not absorb Soriano’s contract as well.

    But Boras often starts with an exorbitant price, knowing he is willing to accept something less. And Cashman has said for weeks that Pettitte is not an option for the Yankees unless he tells the team otherwise.

    Maybe Cashman simply changed his mind; he did not return phone calls Friday. But Cashman takes seriously his reputation for honesty, and at some point he must explain his reversal. The organization has run smoothly since Cashman demanded a restructuring of baseball operations in October 2005, and he must blunt the appearance that this might have changed.

    Oh, the spin on this one, when it happens, is going to be something…

    Bros. Stein Don’t Trust Cashman Plan, Ordered For Soriano Signing

    Posted by on January 15th, 2011 · Comments (33)

    Via Bill Madden and the boys –

    The Yankees made a hairpin turn when they decided Thursday to sign All-Star closer Rafael Soriano to become a set-up man and perhaps their closer-in-waiting.

    Less than a week earlier, GM Brian Cashman had said he wouldn’t give up the first-round draft pick required to ink Soriano. But Hal and Hank Steinbrenner didn’t agree with his game plan – according to a source familiar with the Yankees’ thinking – and overruled him, giving the righthander a deal that could ultimately go to three years and pay him $35 million.

    The overwhelming concern among the Yankee brass, the source said, was that the club was going into the season with an uncertain starting rotation and little protection for closer Mariano Rivera. The move leaves the team without the draft pick Cashman coveted, but with one of the best bullpens in baseball.

    According to the source, the Steinbrenners were bothered by Cashman’s blueprint. One of the big issues was that Joba Chamberlain, a prized prospect yet to reach an expected high ceiling, was going to be Rivera’s primary set-up man.

    Cashman had maintained his confidence in homegrown relievers Chamberlain and David Robertson, but Bombers’ braintrust did not. If nothing else, they saw Soriano, coming off a career best 45-save season with a 1.73 ERA, as a premium insurance policy they couldn’t pass up.

    The Yankees did not add free agent ace lefty Cliff Lee and may yet lose lefty Andy Pettitte, who is undecided on whether to play in 2011. The Steinbrenners deemed the draft pick that Cashman so highly valued – the 31st overall in next June’s draft – a small price to pay considering the state of the staff going into the season.

    Considering Cashman’s track record with making decisions regarding pitching, can you really blame the Steinbrenners for panicking here? And, while the Soriano deal is probably a mistake, this is great news for Cashman – because now the teflon G.M. won’t have this one pinned to him when it fails. But, it’s also great news for those who are not fans of Cashman – because it shows that ownership doesn’t think enough of his baseball acumen to build a team. The bigger question may be which great news is the greater great news.

    Not Liking The Yankees New Set-Up Man Already

    Posted by on January 14th, 2011 · Comments (29)

    With the Yankees having now signed Rafael Soriano, I have to point out what Bill Madden wrote the other day -

    The word is out on Soriano, whose refusal to take the ball on occasion or pitch more than one inning incurred the wrath of Rays manager Joe Maddon. Cashman, who has been burned too often on big-money contracts to set-up relievers in the past (Steve Karsay, Kyle Farnsworth, Damaso Marte) is also loathe to give up a No. 1 draft pick for Soriano, who’s a Type A free agent. He said flat out Friday he won’t do it.

    And, I also want to point out what Mark Simon had to share on the pitcher as well -

    The one warning sign that comes with Soriano is this: Some of his peripheral numbers weren’t as good as they have been in the past, such as his strikeouts per nine innings rate, which dropped from 12.1 in 2009 to 8.2 in 2010.

    The Rays also did a particularly good job at turning his batted balls into outs. Opponents hit .212 when putting the ball into play last season, an 85-point drop from 2009. It’s rare for a pitcher to be able to pitch to a number that low, though Soriano also did it previously with the Atlanta Braves in 2007.

    Soriano’s status as a fly ball pitcher may cause a little concern with his coming to Yankee Stadium, considering that 67 percent of the balls in play against him were hit in the air. He allowed six home runs in 2010 (four in the regular season), though three of them cleared the fence by less than 10 vertical feet or landed less than one fence-height beyond the fence, according to work done for HittrackerOnline.

    Soriano’s contract is the second-largest given to a free agent reliever not named Rivera, in terms of average annual value. Rivera has netted a pair of $15 million per year deals. The only other pitcher to get a bigger contract will be pitching across the river from Soriano — Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez (three years, $12.33 million per).

    Oh, and, then there’s the whole untucking of the shirt thing when he’s done with his inning of work:

    So, in Rafael Soriano, the Yankees may have signed a combination of Kyle Farnsworth (won’t pitch more than an inning or on back-to-back days), K-Rod (too many on-field histrionics) and Billy Taylor (save numbers hide fact that ballpark and defense aided his numbers). And, they’re paying him huge bucks too (“second-largest given to a free agent reliever not named Rivera”). Attaboy Cashman.

    The Brian Cashman Free Agent Reliever Train

    Posted by on January 13th, 2011 · Comments (12)

    Steve Karsay, Juan Acevedo, Chris Hammond, Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon, Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins, Chan Ho Park…Rafael Soriano.

    Chugga Chugga Choo Choo!

    Yankees Sign RHP Rafael Soriano To Provisional 3Y/$35M Contract

    Posted by on January 13th, 2011 · Comments (55)

    Well, so much for Brian Cashman saying that he wouldn’t give up the team’s first round draft pick, huh?  In a somewhat stunning — and in my opinion utterly idiotic  – decision, the Yankees have signed Rafael Soriano to a three year, $35 million dollar deal to set up Mariano Rivera.  The deal, apparently, has a provisional clause that gives Soriano the right to opt out in each of the first two years.  Presumably a good season by Soriano and he’ll seek to resume his closing duties on another team next year.  Perhaps this is the only saving grace here; the Yankees may well be rid of this absurdly wasteful contract in just one calendar year…

    Perhaps this move means that the Yankees have reconsidered Joba Chamberlain’s future with the club.  Either he’s about to be traded or he’s about to be re-inserted into the rotation.  Only the former would satisfy me.  The latter…ugh, I’d rather not even think about it.

    For those that deem me a blatant Cashman apologist, take heed and remember this post.  I hate this move and I simply don’t see the logic behind it.  This is the Nick Johnson decision multiplied seven-fold.  I just hope it doesn’t suck seven times as much too.

    Update 9:57 p.m.: According to this Tweet from Tyler Kepner, the value of the contract depends on if Soriano exercises his options.  If he should opt out after the first year, he earns $11.5M.  If he should opt out after the second year, he earns $21.5M.  Obviously he earns the full $35M if he stays the full three years.

    As I said above, the hope here is that Soriano is lights out in 2011 and can find a closer’s job on another team, saving the Yankees the unearned $23.5M portion of the contract.  Theoretically, the Yankees could offer Soriano arbitration and recoup the lost draft picks although precedent shows that Cashman likely won’t go that route.

    Reminds Me Of The Old Joke That Starts “Kei Igawa Walks Into A Bar…”

    Posted by on January 13th, 2011 · Comments (29)

    Saw this in a press release from Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant…

    Brian Cashman has a new job this off-season: bartender – for one day at least.

    The Yankees GM will practice his mixology skills at Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant (18 W. 33rd St.) from 6-9 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. The money raised at the event will go to Ed Randall’s Bat for the Cure, which supports prostate cancer awareness, prevention and research. Foley’s will donate 50% of its sales from the drinks that Cashman pours during his shift. This “party with a purpose” marks the 7th anniversary of New York City’s most popular baseball bar.

    “Every year we try to do something fun while giving to a worthy cause to celebrate our anniversary,” said Shaun Clancy, owner of Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant, which features one of the country’s most extensive public displays of baseball memorabilia. “When we inducted Brian into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame last year, I joked that we should have a job swap. That’s when he came up with the idea of being a guest bartender for charity. We mutually agreed that prostate cancer research should be the cause.”

    Seriously, it’s for a good cause. And, it might be the closest that Cashman comes to touching a pitcher this off-season….beer pitcher, that is.

    Cashman: Pettitte To Take Off Start Of 2011, No, Wait, I Didn’t Say That

    Posted by on January 12th, 2011 · Comments (5)

    Via TSN -

    Soon after the New York Daily News reported that free agent lefthander Andy Pettitte informed the Yankees that he doesn’t plan to pitch at the start of the 2011 season, general manager Brian Cashman told The Journal News that no official decision has been made.

    “I don’t think he’s determined if he’s officially finished or not, but he’s chosen at this stage at least not to start in 2011,” Cashman told the Daily News. “If that ever changes he’ll call us. We’re not going to hound him or bother him.”

    Yankees GM Brian Cashman says Andy Pettitte still hasn’t decided on his future, clarifying an earlier comment that indicated Pettitte would return during the season.

    When asked about that report, Cashman told The Journal News that it was a “misunderstanding.” Clarifying his statement, Cashman said that, at this time, Pettitte still is leaning toward retirement, but the Yankees have received no official word from him.

    “Nothing new or different,” Cashman told The Journal News. “Exactly what I’ve been saying for the past month or two months.”

    The Daily News speculated that although Pettitte might not begin the season as an active major leaguer, he could opt to return at some point during the season – as Roger Clemens did late in his career.

    Unable to rely on Pettitte as a member of the team’s 2011 rotation, Cashman told the Daily News that he still is exploring the market for starting pitching.

    Sounds like Cashman realized, after he spilled the beans, that a public proclamation stating Pettitte would not be available, for sure, to start the season, would put the Yankees in a bad spot with respect to trying to trade with other teams for a pitcher or signing a free agent pitcher. I guess even the best G.M. in baseball history can have a Corporal Randolph Agarn “Who says I’m dumb?” moment, huh?

    Andruw Jones

    Posted by on January 12th, 2011 · Comments (5)

    Via the Daily News -

    The Yankees would like to add a righthanded-hitting outfielder who is decent defensively and have had discussions with the agent for Andruw Jones, according to a source.

    Jones has a career OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .863 against lefties. According to a official with knowledge of the conversations, the Yanks have discussed Jones with his agent, Scott Boras. SI.com first reported the Yankees’ interest in Jones.

    The Yanks would like to use Jones in the outfield at times to spell Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner against lefties. Jones, 33, batted .230 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 107 games last season for the White Sox.

    From 1996 through 2006, Jones looked like a future Hall of Famer. And, then, at age 30, his career hit the skids. (I guess we should remember this before we punch Robinson Cano’s ticket for Cooperstown too soon, huh?) So, what happened?

    Well, Jones was never a choir boy. And, my guess is that he got lazy and fat. In a way, he’s sort of Ruben Sierra – with a much, much, better glove. (Granted, Big Rube was 27-years old when his career as a “star” tanked and not thirty, like Jones.) But…hey…in the end, Sierra rebounded to become a useful part-time bench player. Therefore, why can’t Jones?

    I have no issue, at this time, with the Yankees picking up Andruw – as long as it’s just a one-year deal that can be dumped, if needed. And, nothing like the one Cashman gave Nick Johnson last year. It has to be at a price lower than that one.

    Justin Duchscherer

    Posted by on January 11th, 2011 · Comments (15)

    Via Jerry Crasnick -

    The New York Yankees, still in the market for pitching help, are stepping up their pursuit of free agent Justin Duchscherer, a baseball source told ESPN.com.

    Duchscherer, 33, has a career record of 33-25 with a 3.13 ERA in eight seasons with the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers. He made the American League All-Star team as a reliever with Oakland in 2005 and again as a starter in 2008.

    Duchscerer overcame clinical depression issues during his time in Oakland, but he’s thrown only 28 innings over the past two seasons because of a variety of injuries.

    It’s uncertain whether the Yankees are looking at Duchscherer as a starter or a reliever. With Andy Pettitte reportedly leaning toward retirement, New York’s projected starting rotation currently consists of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova in the first four spots, with a multitude of candidates for the fifth spot.

    The Yankees have recently been linked to Jeremy Bonderman and Jeff Francis, two other free agents, who, like Duchscherer, are coming back from injuries that disrupted promising careers.

    So, I guess this is “Plan B“?  Not the first time he’s been on Cashman’s radar. I still think the dude looks like Patrick Bauchau or maybe a skinny Phil Hughes.

    Don’t get me wrong – he has some pitching skills.  But, he’s not a kid any more and it’s been a while since he’s proven that he can be counted on for a full season.

    Tampa Gets Its Sojo Back

    Posted by on January 10th, 2011 · Comments (1)

    Yankees bring back Luis Sojo to manage Single-A Tampa.

    Who said that iconic, off-the-field value, doesn’t translate in Brian Cashman’s world?

    Yanks Have 6th Best Farm In Baseball?

    Posted by on January 10th, 2011 · Comments (34)

    Have you seen John Sickels Farm System Rankings?

    It has the Yankees with the 6th best system in the game.    That’s the good news.  The bad news is that most of the Yankees prospects, according to the data, are in the “B- to C+” range and not real “blue chippers.”  That’s like saying you have the 6th best used car lot on the strip – because you have a lot of Hondas to deal.   Meanwhile, the 14th best use car lot on the strip has six mint condition Lexus Sedans that are worth more than half of the cars combined on your lot.

    Yankees 1st Round Draft Picks Since 1990

    Posted by on January 9th, 2011 · Comments (33)

    Note: From 1986 through 1989, the Yankees did not have any first round draft picks. And, they did not have one in 2002.

    Year Rnd OvPck   Pos Type Drafted Out of
    2010 1 32 Cito Culver (minors) RHP HS Irondequoit HS (Rochester, NY)
    2009 1s 29 *Zachary Heathcott (minors) CF HS Texas HS (Texarkana, TX)
    2008 1 28 Gerrit Cole (minors) RHP HS Orange Lutheran HS (Orange, CA)
    2008 1s 44 *Jeremy Bleich (minors) LHP 4Yr Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
    2007 1 30 Andrew Brackman (minors) RHP 4Yr North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
    2006 1 21 *Ian Kennedy RHP 4Yr University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
    2006 1s 41 *Joba Chamberlain RHP 4Yr University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE)
    2005 1 17 *Carl Henry (minors) SS HS Putnam City HS (Oklahoma City, OK)
    2004 1 23 *Phil Hughes RHP HS Foothill HS (Santa Ana, CA)
    2004 1s 37 *Jonathan Poterson (minors) C HS Chandler HS (Chandler, AZ)
    2004 1s 41 *Jeff Marquez RHP JC Sacramento CC (Sacramento, CA)
    2003 1 27 Eric Duncan (minors) 3B HS Seton Hall Prep HS (West Orange, NJ)
    2001 1 23 *John-Ford Griffin OF 4Yr Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
    2001 1s 34 *Bronson Sardinha SS HS Kamehameha HS (Honolulu, HI)
    2001 1s 42 *Jon Skaggs (minors) RHP 4Yr Rice University (Houston, TX)
    2000 1 28 David Parrish (minors) C 4Yr University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
    1999 1 27 David Walling (minors) RHP 4Yr University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
    1998 1 24 Andy Brown (minors) OF HS Richmond HS (Richmond, IN)
    1998 1s 43 *Mark Prior RHP 4Yr University HS (San Diego, CA)
    1997 1 24 *Tyrell Godwin OF HS East Bladen HS (Elizabethtown, NC)
    1997 1s 40 *Ryan Bradley RHP 4Yr Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
    1996 1 20 *Eric Milton LHP 4Yr University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
    1995 1 27 Shea Morenz (minors) OF 4Yr University of Texas (Austin, TX)
    1994 1 24 Brian Buchanan 1B 4Yr University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
    1993 1 13 Matt Drews (minors) RHP HS Sarasota HS (Sarasota, FL)
    1992 1 6 Derek Jeter SS HS Central HS (Kalamazoo, MI)
    1991 1 1 Brien Taylor (minors) LHP HS East Carteret HS (Beaufort, NC)
    1990 1 10 Carl Everett OF HS Hillsborough HS (Tampa, FL)
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 1/9/2011.

    .

    Would you say that Jeter, Everett and Milton are the picks of the litter here? And, regardless, overall, how well have the Yankees used their #1 picks in the last 20 years? How about the last 10 years?

    Cashman: “I Will Not Lose Our No. 1 Draft Pick”

    Posted by on January 7th, 2011 · Comments (34)

    Where was this logic when it came to the call to go with Gerrit Cole?

    Via Chad Jennings

    Essentially taking himself out of the running for Rafael Soriano, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said this afternoon that he absolutely will not make a move that costs the Yankees their top draft pick.

    “I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick,” Cashman said. “I would have for Cliff Lee. I won’t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.”

    Most Type-A free agents have already signed — including Lee — but Soriano and Grant Balfour are still on the market. The Yankees have been linked to Soriano quite often, but Cashman said it’s possible to link the Yankees to just about every free agent out there. Cashman checks on the availability and asking price of pretty much everyone — “That’s my job,” he said — but those conversations don’t necessarily go any further.

    “Talking about somebody doesn’t characterize a level of interest in any guy,” Cashman said. “And obviously this winter we’ve done a lot of talking.”

    The Yankees most serious discussions centered on Lee. Aside from their own free agents — Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera — it was Lee who best fit the Yankees offseason needs. The Yankees made an aggressive push, but Lee ultimately settled into a deal with the Phillies. In the weeks since Lee signed, the free agent market has gone from bad to worse.

    “It wasn’t strong,” Cashman said. “It’s certainly a lot less strong since (Lee) made his decision.”

    Ryne Duren Passes

    Posted by on January 7th, 2011 · Comments (4)

    Via Madison.com

    Wisconsin native Ryne Duren, one of Major League Baseball’s premier relief pitchers during the 1950s and a familiar face in recent years at Madison Mallards games, died Thursday at his winter home in Lake Wales, Fla. He was 81.

    Duren, who lived most of his life in Cazenovia near Richland Center, was a key member of New York Yankees teams that won the American League Championship in 1958 and 1960. He also helped the Yankes defeat his homestate Milwaukee Braves in the 1958 World Series.

    A hard-throwing right-hander whose pitches were clocked at more than 100 mph, Duren was also known for the thick glasses he wore to correct his 20/200 vision. He was signed by the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) as a free agent before the 1949 season and made his major league debut with the Orioles in 1954 when the first batter to face him was his boyhood idol Phil Cavaretta.

    He was traded from Kansas City to the Yankes in 1957 and assigned to the Denver Bears, the Yankees’ farm team. He threw a no-hitter in his first start for the Bears and became a fan favorite and instant drawing card among Denver baseball fans, delaying his promotion to the Yankees.

    Duren played for seven MLB teams during his career — the last the Washington Senators in 1965. He was a three-time All-Star — allowing one hit (to Henry Aaron) in three innings in the 1959 mid-summer classic while striking out four batters, including Willie Mays and Eddie Matthews — and finished his career 27-44 with 57 saves and a 3.83 earned-run average.

    Throughout his career, Duren was plagued by alcohol addicition that cut short his career. In 1983, Duren received the Yankees Family Award for conquering alcoholism and for his service as an alcohol abuse educator.

    I really feel bad for those who were fans of the Yankees during the 1950′s. It seems like a lot of these guys are passing away lately. Keep an eye on Yogi and Whitey. And, appreciate them being here while you can…

    Pettitte Still Unsure When He Will Reach A Decision

    Posted by on January 7th, 2011 · Comments (29)

    Brian Costello cornered Andy Pettitte, on his front porch, in pajama pants. Here’s the story -

    Tanned and rested, Andy Pettitte stood on his front porch last night and answered the question on every Yankees fan’s mind: Do you know if you’re going to pitch this year?

    “I don’t,” Pettitte told The Post fresh off his two-week vacation in Hawaii. “I’m just chilling out, hanging. I’m relaxing. If I had something, y’all would know. If I knew exactly what I was doing, y’all would know.”

    The 38-year-old pitcher said he is unsure when he will reach a decision. The veteran left-hander is the biggest story in the New York baseball world, but the always-humble Pettitte does not see it that way. He has maintained a low profile this winter, and was annoyed when a reporter showed up on his doorstep.

    “I don’t want to be a story,” he said. “I really don’t want [the Yankees] to worry about me. I just want them to go, just go on.”

    Pettitte told Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as much last month when he called him before the Winter Meetings to let him know that the Yankees should go about their business as if he won’t be part of the 2011 team.

    With spring training a little more than five weeks away, that leaves the Yankees with a rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and some question marks.

    Pettitte looked to be in good shape, though he laughed when told he looked ready to pitch.

    “I haven’t done much,” he said. “That’s for sure. I was over in Hawaii, so I’m tan. My daughter keeps telling me I’m getting more gray hairs every day, so I don’t know about that.”

    Pettitte would not say if he is currently leaning toward retirement, but that has been the feeling around the Yankees most of the winter.

    Pettitte chalked it up to things getting blown out of proportion in New York, a reason he is reluctant to discuss his decision with any depth.

    “Everybody’s so emotional up there,” he said. “I feel like if you say anything, everyone reacts. I know that’s what you’re trying to do, but it’s just like you see where I’m at down here.”

    With that, he pointed to his casual attire of black and white, checkered pajama pants and a long-sleeve, black T-shirt.

    After talking for five minutes on his front porch, Pettitte started to head inside. As he got to his front door, I said, “See you in a few weeks in Tampa?”

    “I don’t know about that,” Pettitte said with a big smile.

    I’m starting to think the Yankees have a better chance at getting Mike Mussina to pitch for them this season than they do getting Pettitte to come back for one more year…

    But, then again, Brian Cashman should have seen this coming, and a plan to address it, outside of throwing gobs of money at Cliff Lee…and then having to go with Sergio Mitre when that failed.

    Yanks Not Interested In Rafael Soriano?

    Posted by on January 7th, 2011 · Comments (15)

    So tweets Buster -

    Soriano would have to make himself absurdly cheap — on a very short-term (1-year or 2-year deal) — before NYY would even consider him.

    Perhaps the Yankees are looking at Michael Wuertz’ 2010 season, or, looking at J.J. Putz’ 2008 season and thinking “not worth the long term commitment and the dollars”? And, if they are, I would totally understand why…

    Pitcher                       YEAR   BR/9 IP    RSAA       G       GS
    1    Joaquin Benoit           2010     6.12       16       63        0
    2    J.J. Putz                2007     6.53       24       68        0
    3    Rafael Soriano           2010     7.36       14       64        0
    4    Michael Wuertz           2009     8.58       15       74        0

    stats via Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

    Filter: 2007-2010, RHP, AGE = 30, RSAA >= 12, GAMES >= 60, GAMES STARTED = 0 and BASERUNNERS/9 IP < 9

    Clemens Trial Reason Why Pettitte To Retire?

    Posted by on January 7th, 2011 · Comments (8)

    Via Bob Klapisch yesterday -

    One theory circulating at Yankee Stadium is that Pettitte is spooked by none other than Roger Clemens. Knowing he’s going to be the government’s star witness this summer might be enough to force Pettitte into hiding – especially if Clemens decides he’s going to take his former buddy down with him.

    The trial, which is set to begin in July, figures to be a doozy. Unless The Rocket has a change of heart (or tactics), he’s going to swear he never used HGH or steroids. Those who’ve testified otherwise, including Brian McNamee and Pettitte, will be cast as witnesses with bad memories or are just flat-out lying.

    Pettitte, however, gave Congress a sworn deposition, during which he said Clemens talked to him about using HGH in 1999, at The Rocket’s home in Houston.

    Clemens says Pettitte “mis-remembered” that conversation. Therein lies his defense strategy: for Clemens to prevail, he’ll have to destroy Pettitte’s credibility. One person who’s known the left-hander for many years said: “You think that’s not weighing on Andy’s mind? Who knows what Clemens is going to dig up?”

    Indeed, the dual burden of facing Clemens in court and then taking the mound in the Bronx might be too much for Pettitte. After 16 years, he might be thinking there’s no reason to fight two wars, not this late in his career, not at this point in his life.

    Since I wrote about this over two weeks ago, I obviously buy into this theory.  How about you?

    BBA’s Executives Of The Year Makes Cashman Looks Like Susan Lucci

    Posted by on January 6th, 2011 · Comments (21)

    Have you ever seen Baseball America’s selections for Executive Of The Year?

    Here there are, since 1998:

    Executive Of The Year
    1998 Doug Melvin, GM, Rangers
    1999 Jim Bowden, GM, Reds
    2000 Walt Jocketty, GM, Cardinals
    2001 Pat Gillick, GM, Mariners
    2002 Billy Beane, GM, Athletics
    2003 Brian Sabean, GM, Giants
    2004 Terry Ryan, GM, Twins
    2005 Mark Shapiro, GM, Indians
    2006 Dave Dombrowski, GM, Tigers
    2007 Jack Zduriencik, scouting director, Brewers
    2008 Theo Epstein, GM, Red Sox
    2009 Dan O’Dowd, GM, Rockies
    2010 Jon Daniels, GM, Rangers

    Amazing, considering that the Yankees made the post-season 12 times in 13 tries, since 1998, all under Brian Cashman – winning four World Series rings in the process – and, yet, BBA never felt that “Cash” warranted winning their award for Executive Of The Year. Any thoughts on why?

    Cashman Thinks Triple-A Cub Pitcher Is Pick Of The Schlitter

    Posted by on January 6th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    What’s this…a little July in January?  Via Bryan Hoch -

    The Yankees have claimed right-hander Brian Schlitter off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

    Schlitter, 25, was 0-1 with a 12.38 ERA in seven Major League relief appearances with Chicago in 2010, marking his first action in the bigs.

    He was 2-1 with 13 saves and a 3.15 ERA in 37 relief appearances with Triple-A Iowa. Over his Minor League career, Schlitter owns a 7-13 record with a 3.32 ERA (190 IP, 70 ER) in 154 relief appearances.

    Schlitter was originally selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 16th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The Yankees’ 40-man roster currently stands at 39.

    Click here to learn more about Schlitter.  At the worst, I guess he can’t be as bad as Kevin Whelan…

    Bert Blyleven’s Big Day, Today?

    Posted by on January 5th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Maybe today is the day for Bert, as many predict?

    Is it just me, or, is it interesting that Blyleven never pitched for the Yankees? To me, it just seems, that “big name” pitchers who played a long time, and switched teams somewhat often – or more often than you’d expect a big name pitcher to move – eventually throw for the Yankees at some point in their career.

    Tommy John, Ken Holtzman, Roger Clemens, Jim Kaat, David Cone, Phil Niekro, Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Luis Tiant, Kevin Brown, Rick Reuschel, Gaylord Perry, Lee Smith, Andy Messersmith, Frank Tanana and Jesse Orosco all took the hill for the Yankees in semi-recent years. How did Bert miss out on it too?

    Cashman On Yanks Plan: “You’re Seeing It”

    Posted by on January 4th, 2011 · Comments (17)

    Via Bryan Hoch

    I caught up with Brian Cashman for a few minutes on the phone this afternoon, hoping for some sort of update on the Yankees’ search for helpful additions. As you might have guessed from the headline, it sounds like the scene is pretty quiet.

    “Obviously, I’m looking at what’s out there,” Cashman said. “There’s not much. I’m monitoring what the necessary requests are, financially or player wise. If some drop, then maybe we’ll get a little more serious.”

    Cashman wouldn’t speak to any of the specific names that have bounced around, but he did say that his preference would be to add a starter over a reliever, and that pitching is their greatest area of need.

    If the season started today, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre would probably be at the back end of the rotation, but Cashman wouldn’t say if that scenario seems any more likely now.

    “We’ve got a lot of time left on the clock. Who knows?” Cashman said. “The bottom line is, there’s a reason we haven’t done anything up to this point.”

    There’s no need to re-hash the Cliff Lee situation again, but this is the price they’re paying for waiting so long for his decision.

    “I’m working at it, but in terms of getting results, that’s why Plan B is patience,” Cashman said. “You’re seeing it.”

    Obviously, the Internet and talk radio haven’t had the same sort of cool attitude lately when it comes to Yankees fans. I asked Cashman if he hears that impatience from the fan base and if it could influence anything.

    “I could care less if the sabers are rattling out there,” Cashman said. “It’s about doing what’s right. I’ve dealt with saber-rattling before. I’ll stick with what I believe in. I’m not going to jump into something stupid.”

    Lots of time? Don’t pitchers and catchers report in like six weeks?

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