• Happy Anny, Heathcliff!

    Posted by on June 30th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Has it really been 34 years?

    Seems like it was yesterday. Oh, what fun it was to watch that whoopin’ at Exhibition Stadium on WPIX.

    Pondering Jeter’s 3,000th

    Posted by on June 30th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    How cool would it be if Jeter’s 3,000th hit came in the form of a grand slam homerun into the Yankees bullpen at Yankee Stadium? Of course, it’s very unlikely. But, it would be cool.

    How about this? Say Jeter’s on 2,999 and he comes to plate against a pitcher who really falls towards first base in his follow-through. And, the third baseman is playing way back. Is it acceptable to bunt for your 3,000th hit? If it is, think Jeter would do it?

    Hughes Ready To Pitch Now

    Posted by on June 30th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    A Hughes update via ESPN -

    Phil Hughes thinks his next start should be with the New York Yankees.

    But the 25-year-old right-hander knows it’s not his call.

    “Absolutely, if they asked me,” Hughes said after throwing 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball during an 88-pitch rehab start for the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, on Wednesday afternoon. “But I know they won’t. I don’t make those decisions.”

    Hughes’ latest rehab outing will certainly make the organization’s decision a whole lot easier. Facing the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Toronto Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate, he allowed just three hits, walked two and struck out eight — all via swinging strikes.

    “My last two outings stuff-wise have been good,” said Hughes, whose fastball velocity fluctuated mostly between 91-94 mph. “Command-wise I didn’t necessarily think about what the radar gun said every pitch. I knew my stuff’s been good the last month or so. I’ve just gotta make sure the location’s there, and that’s the other key, I think.”

    Hughes struggled with his command in his previous rehab outing for the Thunder last Friday night — needing 72 pitches to get through 3 1/3 innings — but he was a lot sharper this time around. Hughes threw 61 of his 88 pitches for strikes, and got into three-ball counts just four times.

    “I was throwing a lot more strikes,” Hughes said. “I felt more comfortable out there. I felt like mechanics were in-sync and I was able to get over my front side and deliver the baseball clean. The ball coming out of my hand felt pretty good, and I was able to locate, so that was the biggest thing.”

    More important, his missing fastball velocity appears to have returned. Hughes threw 48 of his 88 pitches — 54.5 percent — between 91-94 mph; 18 of those were 93 mph or harder. And for the record, general manager Brian Cashman, vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman and super scout Gene “Stick” Michael all witnessed it — since they were among the 4,916 in attendance at Waterfront Park.

    Hughes said he feels a lot more like he did last season than he did in April, when his fastball velocity disappeared and he got continually shelled by the opposition. Hughes was placed on the disabled list on April 15 with inflammation in his right shoulder. At the time, his fastball had been averaging just 89.3 mph in his first three starts, according to FanGraphs.com. With the Yankees, he’s 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA in 2011.

    “I feel normal, like I did last year, and I can tell by the swings I’m getting,” Hughes said. “Earlier in April opposing hitters couldn’t wait to get in the box against me, and that wasn’t a good feeling. But now it’s back to normal, and it feels good. I have to make sure my command is back as well, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”

    Hughes made his first rehab start on June 19 for Class A Staten Island, tossing 61 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. He gave up a home run and three hits.

    Hughes still can’t explain why his arm became fatigued, but he said it didn’t occur because of the way the organization used him. He threw 86 innings — the majority of them out of the bullpen — in 2009 before moving back into the starting rotation, winning 18 games and being named to his first American League All-Star team in 2010.

    “Sometimes you always want to point the finger, but sometimes there’s just not an explanation for injuries,” Hughes said. “Sometimes, if something’s just not right, it’s just not right, whether you handled it the right way or the wrong way or anything like that. I don’t second-guess what they did with the pitch count or the innings.”

    I still think the issue with Hughes this year was that he came into camp after not working this off-season and then got inflammation when he was pressed into work this spring. And, that bothers me. It says that he’s lazy and doesn’t have his priorities in line. But, this is all just my opinion, and, I could be totally wrong in this assumption.

    Axel Cashman & Joey G. Rosewood Reunited With Serge!

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

    And, it feels sooooo good.  Via HardballTalk -

    Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Yankees reacquired right-hander Sergio Mitre from the Brewers after Wednesday night’s game for “cash considerations.”

    Mitre registered a 5.03 ERA in 105 2/3 innings with the Yankees in 2009-2010, operating as both a long reliever and spot starter. He was traded to the Brewers before the start of the 2011 season for backup outfielder Chris Dickerson.

    Mitre has enjoyed a good amount of success this year in the National League, registering a 3.27 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 33 innings for Milwaukee, but the Brewers designated him for assignment earlier this week to clear a roster spot for prospect Mat Gamel.

    Mitre is expected to pitch in long relief for the Yanks and will try to build on the momentum that he’s built for the past three months on the senior circuit. The Yankees designated Buddy Carlyle for assignment in order to make room.

    Just goes to show: Once you go Mitre, you never go another way.

    The June Boon

    Posted by on June 29th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    With this evening’s win, the Yankees are 17-8 in the month of June, with one game left to play. And, two of those eight losses were by one-run.

    Can a team play any better than that? I don’t think so.

    And, yes, I know, since May 17th, New York is 27-12.

    It’s been a great run. Now they just need to not screw it up over the next two months.

    A-Rod Speaks On His 28-HR Pace

    Posted by on June 29th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    Linda Cohn gets the details.

    Me?  I have no doubt that Alex will hit 10 homeruns in September and finish with at least 35 homers this season.

    Hartnett On Contradictory Yankee Stadium

    Posted by on June 29th, 2011 · Comments (11)

    Sean Hartnett laments about the new Yankee Stadium -

    And that’s exactly why I’ve never entirely fallen in love with the new ballpark. When viewing it from the outside you are overcome by the impressive original design that is a throwback to the days of Babe Ruth. Once you turn the corner though, you gaze upon the Hard Rock Café which looks entirely out of place. It’s almost like the building is going through an identity crisis on whether to be a historic landmark or a kitschy tourist trap.

    Once you’re inside, the stadium becomes even more contradictory with itself. I enjoy viewing the large banners of past Yankee legends and the shot of Reggie Jackson inside the Great Hall but right above Reggie is the Tommy Bahama Bar. Similar to the Hard Rock, I don’t like seeing another resort-type distraction on the way to my seats and what are we trying to get away from? We’re at a ballpark where you should be able to forget about your troubles anyway.

    Passing by the various suites, you’re struck with the unwelcome feeling of class hierarchy that exists throughout the stadium. None worse so than the Legends Suite seating that separates your ‘average Joe fans’ from privileged high society via a ‘concrete moat.’ Even kids hunting for autographs and foul balls are turned away by guards (I’m sorry stadium security) if they don’t possess tickets within the field sections. It’s a shame that your regular kid won’t have the chance to chat with one of their heroes pre-game, a shot at a foul ball or come away with a prized autograph. These were experiences that I took for granted as a boy at the old stadium.

    As for a franchise that is obsessed with their own history, there is an embarrassment of replaying modern day Yankee classics with empty seats in the lower section. The clientele that are lucky enough to sit there prefer to hang out inside the indoor club and lounges. Wouldn’t it be nice to open up the unclaimed front row seats for fans after the 7th inning? It would save public face and allow average fans a more enjoyable experience.

    The whole centerfield situation is what really hinders the new stadium most. Adding to the obstructed seats and shrunken Monument Park is the monstrous 5,925 square foot, 1080p HD scoreboard. Is it a beautiful screen? Yes… but maybe too beautiful as it’s too distracting for first-time visitors and diverts fans from the interesting moments between pitches.

    That combined with the loud noise constantly being pumped throughout the stadium doesn’t allow fans to generate an atmosphere of their own. The message board continually prompts you to ‘do this, cheer for this, look at this.’ It’s little wonder why the Yankee Stadium crowd is listless compared to the fans at Citi Field who attempt to create their own colorful ambiance.

    I remember the feeling when I first entered old Yankee Stadium as a 7-year old boy in 1992. We may hold memories of our childhood with heavy nostalgia but there was a real aura about that place. The Yankees weren’t a winning ballclub at that time but the fans were lively and into the game. There was a charm there that somehow didn’t make its way across the street to the new stadium.

    At the age of seventeen, I first became a Yankees’ partial season ticket plan holder in 2002. I continue to renew my plan but now I come more for the product on the field rather than the ballpark experience itself. It should be an equal ratio as baseball is the kind of sport where the venue genuinely matters.

    Me? I’m warming up to the new Stadium.

    It’s not the old place – never will be the old place. Different fans below the upper-deck (thanks to ticket prices). Different crowd feel (thanks to the new layout of the seats – with the non-field level seats further from the field).

    Why is it growing on me? Maybe it’s because my kids are really into the new Stadium? After all, this is “their” Stadium – just like the last one was “my” Stadium and the first one was my father’s Stadium.

    How about you? Like the new digs? As much as the old one? More, less?

    Yankees Season Tickets: To Renew, Or, Not To Renew?

    Posted by on June 28th, 2011 · Comments (12)

    I’ve been a Yankees season ticket holder since 2001. Every season for the last 11 years, I buy the full 81-game package (2 seats) and split it nine ways with eight other parties. We each get 9 games – making sure that we all get at least one game for each month of the season and (when possible) one game for each day of the week. (Everyone gets at least one Sunday game, one Saturday game, one Friday game, etc.)

    In the last Stadium, the seats were in the Loge, Section 15, not far from first base. And, in the current Stadium, they’re in a similar spot in the Main Level. (Both times under cover – which is sweet when the sun is blistering or when it’s raining.)

    But, I’m thinking about not renewing my Yankees season tickets for 2012.

    Why? It’s the cost. When I started this in 2001, the tickets were $37 each and parking at Yankee Stadium was around $10 per game. This season, the tickets are $80 each and parking at Yankee Stadium is closer to $40 per game. When you’re looking at $200 to sit and park as opposed to $84 to sit and park per game, that’s a big difference. And, of course, this doesn’t include the cost of eating and drinking these days inside the Stadium.

    Also, lately, it seems like there’s an advantage to buying tickets on the secondary market if you’re willing to see games against non-premium teams/draws and wait until close to game-day to purchase the seats – since sellers are anxious to unload the tickets and willing to let them go under face value.

    There are two things holding me back pulling the plug.

    One is my “package-mates.” More than half of them are interested in doing the split with me next year. And, some of these folks have been doing this with me for a long time. I don’t want to pull the rug out on these guys – even though there’s never been any promise to anyone what this situation with the tickets is a guaranteed right or a long-term deal.

    The second is my ego. I like saying “I’ve been a Yankees season ticket holder since 2001.” And, I like it when I sell my tickets to someone I know and then they tell me, after attending the game, “Your seats are great.” Also, I see the look in my kids’ eyes when I tell them that I might not renew the seats again next year – even though I also promise them that we’ll still attend as many games each season, in the future, as we do now.

    Now, I know that the ego is a dangerous thing – in many, many, ways. So, I try and keep that in check and look at this objectively.

    And, I know that, while most of “package-mates” have said they’re in for next season, every year it seems like we have to replace two parties (or so) because they dropped out or were not invited back. Therefore, this thing has always been a house of straw as opposed to a house of bricks – and capable of getting blown down in any given season.

    I’m really on the fence with this one. If you were me, what would you do?

    Retired Players With 200 Career HR Or Less And 15+ Games With 2+ HR

    Posted by on June 28th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    There’s just eight to do this.  Three former Yankees made the list. Can you name them before peeking at the answer?

    Cashman: I Can’t Pull A Rabbit Out Of My Hat

    Posted by on June 28th, 2011 · Comments (7)

    Via Joel Sherman today -

    The Yankees have the best record in the American League and the worst record against the Red Sox.

    Which carries the most influence with the trade deadline a month away?

    Organizations generally try to build a team good enough to reach the playoffs, and, at this moment, the two AL teams with the best postseason chances are the Yankees and Red Sox: Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds calibration had Boston with a 94.2 percent chance of playing into October and the Yankees at 87.1 percent.

    “My job is to reduce that 13 percent risk that we won’t make the playoffs,” general manager Brian Cashman said.

    To do that, however, should the Yankees keep the Red Sox specifically in mind? Because it does feel as if the Canyon of Heroes goes through Boston. The Yankees have at least nine and potentially as many as 16 games left against the Red Sox. They were 1-8 in the first half against Boston and repeating such failure in the second half would further open a door for a team such as Tampa Bay to overtake the Yankees.

    Yes, there is a lot of season left for all kinds of twists and turns and, yes, the playoffs are fickle, but today what do you think the odds are of a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS? Twenty-five percent? Thirty? Forty? And if the teams are on a collision course, do the Yankees have to pay attention that Boston’s OPS against righty pitching is 24 points higher than any other team’s?

    There was a moment when the Yankees imagined a 2011 roster that would include Cliff Lee, Andy Pettitte and Pedro Feliciano, which would have made them armed — left-armed, in fact — to deal with Boston’s lefty-leaning might. But now all the Yankees have is CC Sabathia’s brilliance and Boone Logan’s undependability.

    “One of our areas of weakness is the left side, but I can’t force it,” Cashman said. “I can’t make it happen if it is not there.”

    Boone Logan, Damaso Marte, Pedro Feliciano, Mike Myers, Ron Villone, Buddy Groom, Kei Igawa, Wayne Franklin, Billy Traber, Alan Embree, Royce Ring, Darrell May…

    Yeah, that Cashman. He knows a LOOGY when it’s there for the taking.

    Ouchgust

    Posted by on June 27th, 2011 · Comments (5)

    The Yankees only have 9 home games in August this season and play 21 times on the road that month? Oh, that’s going to be interesting…

    Should Cash Stay Or Should He Go?

    Posted by on June 27th, 2011 · Comments (10)

    Buster Olney recently pondered about Brian Cashman and he wrote:

    At the end of the 2005 season, Brian Cashman had resolved to end his tenure as the Yankees’ general manager. On what he thought was going to be one of his last days on the job, he gave Yankees owner George Steinbrenner — with whom Cashman had many battles — a recommendation about what Steinbrenner would need in terms of structure going forward.

    Steinbrenner asked him to stay on, and now Cashman is in his 14th year as the Yankees’ GM. His contract is set to expire at the end of this season, and many of Cashman’s professional colleagues are starting to believe this will be his last with the team.

    “I think maybe he’s finally had it,” said one GM. “That’s a job that will take a lot out of you.”

    Cashman said on Friday night that he’s not thinking about his future with the Yankees, and that in keeping with his own approach to contract situations with the likes of Joe Girardi and Mariano Rivera last year, he will not talk about his own future with his bosses until after the Yankees finish play this year. “I have no idea,” Cashman said. “I’m not looking to leave. I’m not looking to go anywhere. I firmly believe this will be the best job I’ll ever have.

    “We’ll have conversations at the right time.”

    On at least three other occasions, there appeared to be a good chance that Cashman would walk away, and he decided to stay. It’s possible this could happen again, because the Yankees are the only baseball team for which Cashman has ever worked and he has always felt a responsibility to the organization.

    But he has already long outlasted the typical expiration date for a Yankees general manager. Some of his peers wonder if he’ll finally walk away, to start a new chapter in his life. “I don’t think he has any idea how different his life would be if he wasn’t general manager of the Yankees,” said one high-ranking executive.

    Me? I think this could be interesting. I suspect that Hal Stein likes Cashman. But, what about Hank Stein and Randy Levine? The former is a loose cannon and the latter may fear Cashman usurping him someday. Not that this would mean Cashman is out – but, I could see the Yankees not giving him a raise and/or the years he wants in a new deal. And, how would that sit with Brian? Then again, what leverage does Cashman have outside of a gig with ESPN?

    She’s No Jed Hoyer…

    Posted by on June 27th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    The Daily Californian tells us more than we need to know about Jean Afterman -

    In the cut-throat world of Major League Baseball’s front offices, it’s hard to know when you have arrived. Jobs are transitory, achievements ephemeral.

    However, one litmus test for success over the decades had been showing one’s mettle across the negotiating table from George “The Boss” Steinbrenner.

    The notoriously intimidating, bullish late owner of the New York Yankees was known for his no-frills, win-at-all-costs mentality. He’d fire employees, even managers, with a hairpin trigger, had a well-documented temper and expected nothing less than superlative excellence at all times.

    To negotiate with “The Boss” must have been an exercise in near futility.

    So when Jean Afterman, a Cal graduate representing Japanese free agents, not only survived contract negotiations, but thrived, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman took notice.

    Eventually, he offered Afterman a job: assistant general manager of one professional sports’ most historically successful franchises. Today, after handling nearly half a billion dollars in contracts each year and wooing Hideki Matsui to the Bronx, Afterman is the subject of whispers around the league: could she become the first female GM in MLB history?

    Before the San Francisco native joined the Yankees, she was a precocious young UC Berkeley student and an actress who won the hearts and minds of the city’s eclectic art scene.

    “It was like being big man on campus only being big woman on campus,” Afterman says, tongue-in-cheek. “Baby, I was a star!”

    One can certainly imagine Afterman finding success on the stage. In conversation, she is confident and intelligent. She is at the top of her game, and she knows it. Her light sense of humor and infectious joie de vivre leaves listeners captivated. She epitomizes what the Yankees stand for in American sports: she is a charming, charismatic executive whose panache is only matched by her unmistakable record of excellence.

    “She was as much as a spit-fire then as she is now,” says Tony Taccone, a friend of Afterman’s at Cal and now the artistic director at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. “She had great timing, great sense of personal bearing. She was funny, smart, witty. She just immediately knew what the game was about.”

    Staring in countless productions, from “As You Like It” to “The Frog,” Afterman earned numerous accolades — including the two most prominent dramatic art prizes at Berkeley for students.

    Yet, after graduating from Cal in 1979, Afterman’s journey to the lights of Broadway took a radically different trajectory.

    After years of bouncing between Europe and the East Coast, Afterman declared to friends over dinner that she was going to be a lawyer. Within months she was enrolled at the University of San Francisco’s law school. Following a brief dalliance with criminal prosecution – a path she admits is odd for a self-described “lefty liberal” – Afterman found her way into the world of civil litigation, seemingly a far cry from the bohemian theater scene of her college years.

    On a business trip to Japan in 1994, Afterman discovered her future business partner, agent Don Nomura, and her love for Japanese baseball.
    Before long, Afterman began to specialize in “liberating” Japanese baseball players from feudal domestic contracts. In the 1990s, Nippon Professional Baseball clubs, like pitcher Hideo Nomo’s Kintetsu Buffaloes, were loath to allow talented Japanese players to jump ship for the greener pastures of the MLB. Heated contract disputes followed, leaving players in limbo.

    In 1995, Afterman and Nomura finally discovered a loophole that would allow the right-hander to leave Japan. Due to an agreement between the two leagues, if a Japanese player declared his retirement he would be relieved of any contractual obligation and could freely sign with an American club. Nomo “retired” and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers later that year.

    Having established a reputation as a top agent for Japanese talent, Afterman negotiated with Major League clubs all around the country until she received that fateful call from Cashman. After numerous negotiations with her, he had a proposition. Preferring to have Afterman on his side of the table rather than across from him, Cashman offered her a job which completed Afterman’s circuitous path to the Yankees in 2001.

    An Afterman sighting…it happens once every three years or so in Yankeeland…

    Yankees Old-Timer’s Day 2011

    Posted by on June 26th, 2011 · Comments (10)

    It was nice to see Sweet Lou.  And, the hands for Torre and Bernie were impressive. 

    Gotta be truthful: My eyes started to well up a bit seeing Whitey and Yogi standing out there, together.  Not sure how much longer we have with both of them.

    The video tribute for Geno was first rate.  Great job on that one – especially getting guys like Donnie and Rags to contribute.  And, how impressive were the current Yankees getting him that truck?  Ballplayers make a ton of money these days…but when it  allows them to pony up and do something like that, it’s awesome.

    Great to see the current players – Giambi too – enjoy this one so much.  Sad that Jeter had to miss this one.  But, you could see Jorge step up and be the ring master for the team.  Call me crazy, but, I think Posada would make an excellent Yankees manager someday.  And, if he’s allowed to do it somewhere else, it will be like when they let Piniella get away.

    Free Lunch Box & Getting To See Mariano Warm Up!

    Posted by on June 25th, 2011 · Comments (6)

    Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

    Seriously, a fun game to attend. And, I’m not just saying that because they had my 9-year old daughter on the 59′ X 101′ HD video screen in center field dancing to YMCA…

    The Return Of The Giambino

    Posted by on June 24th, 2011 · Comments (17)

    Via the Denver Post -

    He’s 40, with a stubble more salt than pepper, but don’t kid yourself. Jason Giambi still gets excited, still feels like a rookie, still can’t wait to get to the ballpark.

    Especially one ballpark.

    That would be Yankee Stadium. No, it’s not the same Yankee Stadium he played in from 2002-08, but, with the Bronx Bombers, it was never about steel and concrete. It was about Ruth and Gehrig, and Mantle and Maris.

    “It’s Yankee Stadium,” Giambi said. “I don’t think it will ever lose its mystique or magic. From players to the ownership to everything, it’s always going to be special there.”

    So it is that, when the Rockies arrive in the Bronx tonight for a three-game interleague series, Giambi’s adrenaline, like Ruth back in the day at Wrigley Field, will be calling the shots.

    The list of players who have thrived in Yankee pinstripes is lengthy, as is the list of those, most notably Greg Maddux , who wanted no part of the place once dubbed the Bronx Zoo. The Giambino? Cheers or boos, he couldn’t get enough of the place.

    “It’s what you dream about as a kid,” Giambi said. “If you really, absolutely love this game, and you get a chance to put the pinstripes on, there’s nothing better on this planet. You have to come with it every day. It’s a tough town, but at the same time, to play on the same field as Mantle and Maris and DiMaggio and Ruth and Gehrig . . . to know those guys wore the same uniform, it’s pretty special.”

    Giambi hit 209 of his 422 career home runs in New York. So what kind of reception is he expecting from the fans? He got a standing ovation in 2009 when he played in the new Yankee Stadium during his semi-season with the Oakland A’s, but he doesn’t know what to expect this time around.

    But he’s certain of one thing: If he hurts the Yankees, the boo birds will chime in.

    “Oh, yeah,” he said. “It’s all right. They want to win and I love that about them, definitely.”

    I’ll say this about Giambi – he must really love the game. And, good for him on that! Could you see A-Rod or Teixeira hanging on in their 40′s as a part-timer with the Rockies? I doubt that will happen. Jason has enough money to retire. But, he’s going to make them rip the uniform off him…even if it means being a bench player. That’s old school. Nice.

    Jesus Montero Still Not Big League Ready

    Posted by on June 24th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Via Andrew Marchand -

    The future of the New York Yankees received a two-game timeout earlier this month because the organization felt his play lacked “energy,” according to one club official.

    The future of the Yankees has hit just five home runs all season, which is miniscule when compared to the output of Triple-A Scranton teammates — and borderline prospects — Jorge Vazquez (20) and Justin Maxwell (16).

    The future of the Yankees has thrown out eight of 45 base stealers (.178), which is ninth best in the 14-team International League.

    And there are some days and nights in which Jesus Montero’s head seems to be a lot of places, but not fully in the minor league ballpark he is playing in.

    Montero, 21, is still a lot of great things. He is still one of the best prospects in baseball. ESPN.com’s Keith Law had him at No. 4 in the entire minor leagues. Montero’s bat has life, while defense has improved some.

    So Montero is still potentially an All-Star major league catcher.

    But right now, there is one thing Montero is certainly not: He is not ready to start, let alone star, in the big leagues.

    “It is all in becoming a first-rate professional and he is still in the middle of that process,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations, who heads up the team’s minor leagues.

    Of course, a huge second half in AAA with the bat would change a lot of opinions on this matter.

    K-Rod Would Love To Join Yankees

    Posted by on June 24th, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Via the Daily News -

    While Brian Cashman seems to be looking far and wide for a setup man to help his ailing bullpen, maybe the Yankees general manager should check across town. Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez told the Daily News Thursday that he would not rule out a change in roles to go to a contending team such as the Yankees.

    “If I am going to be traded, obviously I want the opportunity to close out games, but if it’s going to be good teams like the Yankees or the Rays, and it’s going to be for two months, I can go out there and help them out,” Rodriguez said after the Mets’ 4-1 victory over the A’s at Citi Field Thursday.

    Rodriguez is one of the Mets who could be on the block as next month’s trade deadline looms. With former Rays closer Rafael Soriano currently injured and having been inconsistent in his adapted role as the Yankees setup man, and with Joba Chamberlain out for the season, Cashman admitted he has been on the lookout for a replacement.

    The fiery Rodriguez could actually be a good fit for the Yankees.

    He is nearing the end of a three-year, $37 million deal with the Mets that includes a $17.5 million vesting option for 2012 that kicks in if he finishes 55 games this season. K-Rod pitched a perfect ninth Thursday for his 20th save of the season and his 28th finished game.

    The News reported last month that Rodriguez would consider waiving his 2012 option if the acquiring team was willing to offer him a multi-year deal. As a setup man for Mariano Rivera, however, he would not be finishing games, so the vesting option would not come into play.

    I’d rather see Joba Chamberlain come back and pitch with his left-arm than see this arse clown wear a Yankees uniform.

    The (Already Awesome) Complete Baseball Encyclopedia Just Got Better!

    Posted by on June 24th, 2011 · Comments (0)

    By now, you should know that I’m a raving fan of Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.  And, today, I just found out that this incredible tool has just gotten better!  Here’s what Lee shared on this:

    A new, updated edition of the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia is now available.

    Starting now, all orders will include a couple of new stats–FRAA and TRAA.

    FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average) is the fielding equivalent of RCAA and TRAA (Total Runs Above Average) is RCAA + FRAA.

    The encyclopedia can be ordered at http://www.baseball-encyclopedia.com

    If you don’t already have the “CBE,” I highly recommend getting one.  It’s the best application of it’s kind, without question.  And, given how inexpensive it is, the ROI on this product is off-the-charts great.

    Brett Gardner’s Defensive Value

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (0)

    Mark Simon takes a Dollar Sign On The Muscle and a Moneyball approach to looking at the value of Brett Gardner’s defense.  Click here to check it out.  It’s a well-done look into this matter.  Bottom line, everyone seems to agree, there’s gold in Gardner’s glove/feet.

    The Granderson Secret?

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (1)

    Bill Chuck says it’s moving a step closer to the plate, closing his stance and keeping both hands on the bat through his swing.  Of course, now, the next move is on the pitchers and their adjustment.  Busting him inside with hard stuff?  Then again, that’s the answer on every great hitter…up and in, and, low and away.  But, how many pitchers can do that…and are willing to…these days?

    Garden State Loves The Yankees

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (6)

    Via Brent Jonnson -

    New Jersey may be wedged between New York and Philadelphia, but when it comes to the state’s baseball fans, the Yankees are apparently twice as loved as the Phillies.

    As for the Mets? They have to settle for third.

    According to a new poll from Quinnipiac University, 48 percent of the Garden State’s baseball fans root for the Yankees, while 22 percent prefer the Phillies. Sixteen percent are Mets fans.

    Three percent root for the Boston Red Sox. Other teams make up 1 percent.

    The survey was conducted among the 56 percent of New Jersey adults who are either “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in Major League Baseball. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,789 New Jersey adults from June 14-19.

    “More New Jersey fans watch New York television than watch Philadelphia television,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “This is what you get in a state with no dedicated TV station, and no Major League Baseball team.”

    “We do, however, have two National Football League teams: the New Jersey Jets and the New Jersey Giants — even if they don’t admit it.”

    The Yankees lead in every section of the state, except the Philadelphia suburbs. There, Phillie fanatics outnumber Yankees fans 77-14 percent.

    Women across the state prefer the Yankees over the Phillies 51-23 percent, with 13 percent for the Mets. For men, it’s the Yankees over the Phillies 46-22 percent, with 19 percent for the Mets.

    Sorry Governor.

    Cashman: Yanks Have No Interest In Jose Reyes

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (6)

    Then again, they weren’t going to sign Rafael Soriano too.  Via the Daily News -

    Any conspiracy theorist who has pondered Mets shortstop Jose Reyes being fitted for Yankee pinstripes, either later this season or in the near future, can forget it. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman put an end to speculation Wednesday night.

    “That’s just not going to happen,” he said.

    Cashman gave a vote of confidence to Derek Jeter and the backup who is filling in admirably for him while he works to return from the injured right calf that landed him on the 15-day disabled list.

    “We have an everyday shortstop in Derek Jeter,” said Cashman, who was at the Waldorf-Astoria for the CYO Club of Champions Tribute to receive the Sportsman of the Year award. “And I think we have an everyday shortstop that would be playing for a lot of clubs in Eduardo Nuñez. The Yankees don’t have a need now or in the future for a shortstop.

    “But we do need a setup man.”

    Ex-Yankee Clippard Keeps Rolling Along

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (25)

    Via John Austin -

    Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect 8th inning for his MLB-best 20th hold, 4 more than the #2 total. Clippard has a 1.90 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, and his 42.2 relief innings rank 3rd in the majors. He began the day 3rd in Wins Above Replacement for relievers, with 1.5 WAR (tied with closers Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero).

    Yup, Cashman got taken to the cleaners on this one.

    Brett Gardner Vs. Jacoby Ellsbury

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (3)

    I brought one of my older debates to a larger audience yesterday.  Thought you would enjoy seeing some of the comments on it there.  Free free to discuss it here too.

    Yankees Fans Let Loose On WSJ Columnist

    Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 · Comments (0)

    How come no one ever told me to go eat cake?

    (I’m usually told to stop writing and/or drop dead.)

    Perhaps it’s out of respect for my passion towards health and fitness?

    Randy Keisler!

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2011 · Comments (3)

    Remember Funny Face Keisler? He’s been at it for a long time now.  Here’s a recent story on him:

    Left-hander Randy Keisler was at a crossroads in his life and his career between 2008 and ’09.
    He had 50 games in the Majors to his credit with brief stints with five clubs. After the ’08 season, Keisler succumbed to a second shoulder surgery.

    “I had been pitching hurt for a long time, for years,” he said. “I couldn’t throw anymore, so I shut it down at the beginning of August, knowing I was going to be a free agent. I was kind of scared about that.”

    Keisler rehabbed on his own and briefly pitched for an independent team in ’09.

    “At the time back then, I was going through a divorce that was real bad,” he said. “I’d just had my first son. The economy’s the way it is … all I know is baseball, it’s all I’ve ever done. Someone was depending on (me) now.”

    Keisler pitched for two more independent teams and Laguna of the Mexican League in 2010, putting up solid numbers that still did not earn a phone call from a Major League organization.

    “I was putting calls in every two weeks to every organization on my own, just trying to ask them to give me a chance,” he said.

    Keisler finally got offers to try out for the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers at the start of Spring Training in February.

    Three days before he left, Keisler’s father suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.

    “My No. 1 supporter my whole life has been him,” Keisler said. “He was the one never saying quit, never saying give up.”

    From his bed in the intensive care unit, Keisler said his father told him to go to Arizona.

    While the Brewers’ tryout would be 1-on-1, Keisler knew there would be a few other players at the Dodgers’ tryout.

    “I get there and pull up at 8 in the morning at Camelback Ranch,” he said. “I see 100 cars and people everywhere. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on? There’s 250 people at this tryout.’”

    Luckily for Keisler, one of the coaches present was Trey Hillman, who had managed the lefty at Triple-A Columbus in 2000 and ’01. Hillman introduced Keisler to assistant general manager Logan White, who watched him pitch and offered him a contract.

    “[The Brewers] were interested in signing me, too, but I just liked how Logan was,” Keisler said. “He seemed enthusiastic about having me. For the first time in [a while], it felt good.”

    Keisler now toils for the Albuquerque Isotopes. He was named PCL Pitcher of the Week for June 6-12, when he won both of his starts on the road. One of them came in Round Rock, where Keisler’s 3-year-old son got to see his father pitch for the first time.

    “Those four days with him in the ballpark with me … that was one of the best times I’ve had in baseball in 13 years,” he said.

    Randy had a big night last night.  Good for him.  Gotta give the dude an “A” in terms of hanging with it…after all these years.

    The Magic Gardner

    Posted by on June 21st, 2011 · Comments (20)

    It’s nice to day hello…

    Via Chad Jennings -

    Take away his first 18 games this season, and Brett Gardner is a .356/.438/.521 hitter. That’s since April 26, a fairly significant sample size of 52 games and 146 at-bats. In the past 11 games, Gardner has hit a Major League-best .472, and since June 7 he has more walks than strikeouts and an on-base percentage well above .500.

    Next to Nancy Newman’s perky blouse brothers, Brett Gardner just may be the best home-grown “ain’t nothing wrong with” thing in Yankeeland these days.

    Time For Yankeeland To Think Wild?

    Posted by on June 21st, 2011 · Comments (12)

    The 2011 Boston Red Sox have won 44 of their first 72 games this season.

    From 1996 through 2010, there have been 39 teams to win 44+ of their first 72…and 77% of them went on to win their division.

    I’m just saying…

    Brian Gordon’s Naugahyde Mitt

    Posted by on June 21st, 2011 · Comments (1)

    Via Matt Fortuna -

    Between the time Brian Gordon was released from the Phillies organization last Tuesday to the moment he took the hill for the Yankees on Thursday, one man in Cooperstown, N.Y., did everything he could to contain his excitement.

    Scott Carpenter might have been looking forward to Gordon’s first career Major League start more than anyone in the Gordon family, all because of the lack of leather Gordon would carry to the Yankee Stadium mound.

    That’s because the 32-year-old Gordon’s 5 1/3-inning debut marked what is believed to be the first use of a leather-free glove in a Major League game, as his black model was made entirely of synthetic materials.

    And Carpenter, the founder of Carpenter Trade Company, is the primary reason for that.

    “I was ecstatic,” said Carpenter, who sat in the second tier on the third-base side Thursday with his girlfriend, brother and niece. “I had chills. I almost couldn’t believe it. It’s something I’ve been imagining and hoping for for a long time.”

    Carpenter’s project had been in the works for 10 years, seeing spurts of success at the Minor League level but never on the big stage until Thursday.

    Gordon came across the tool last summer with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where teammate Michael Schwimer took a lot of ribbing from the rest of the squad for his glove.

    “With them having their fun with him, it raised a couple questions for me,” Gordon said. “And I just kind of picked his brain about it, and he told me a brief story on how he got introduced to it. So I was intrigued by what it was about and it just kind of made sense to me.

    “He gave me the number to Scott, and I contacted him and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know much about your product, but I got a chance to talk to one of your clients, and if you don’t mind, I would love to try it.’ He sent me a glove, and that was all she wrote. I’ve never been back to my old glove.”

    The gloves are custom-made for the players, who sit at a table and have their hand molded, about a 30-minute process. From there, they tell Carpenter how they like to squeeze their fingers.

    The final product, which takes 20 hours to manufacture, is one that requires none of the traditional oiling or heating, as the glove is already broken in.

    Gordon first used one of Carpenter’s gloves in a game for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last August, immediately feeling the difference between his new glove and the traditional leather ones, which are five to 10 ounces heavier.

    I’m in the process of breaking in a Rawlings’ Heart of the Hide Dual Core PRO1175DCC Glove – it was a Father’s Day gift from the kids – so, I find this interesting.

    Yes, it takes time to break a mitt in – but, that’s part of the bonding process that the user has with the glove. I’m not sure that I would want to give that up…or not use a leather model.

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