• Oooops. MLB Financial Statements Leaked

    Posted by on August 23rd, 2010 · Comments (1)

    There’s about a year-and-a-half or two years to go on the current collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and its union, so soon we should begin hearing the drumbeat of competitive balance, teams losing money and the need for a salary cap (i.e. cost control for the owners).

    Historically, MLBPA has pushed management to open its books and show these losses, something MLB has been loathe to do.

    Well now, the financial statements from the Pirates, Marlins, Mariners, Angels and Rays have all been put out there in the ether by those rascals at Deadspin.

    A lot of it is pretty opaque, at least to my non-accountant’s eye, but Maury Brown has already looked at the Pirates and has begun looking at the rest of the treasure trove.

    How is this Yankee-related? Well, any cost containment system is really, by default, a “Yankee tax.” So, for comparison’s sake, I for one hope the next round of financial data that comes out is the Yankees, or, if the Bombers brass were interested in message control and framing the debate, I’d be interested in seeing them voluntarily open their books.

    Several years ago there were reports the Yankees were losing between $50 and $85 million, figures that if true and disclosed would give the Yankees a bat and ball to play with when discussions of more revenue sharing and luxury taxes come up.

    Rocket To Be Indicted (Updated)

    Posted by on August 19th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    So sayeth the Old Grey Lady

    Federal authorities have decided to indict Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to two people briefed on the matter.

    The indictment comes nearly two and half years after Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee testified under oath at a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, directly contradicting each other about whether Clemens had used the banned substances.

    I’m no lawyer, but I’ve heard that perjury is a very tough case to prove, so I’d be curious just how far this goes.

    Regardless, we can all say that Congress has better things to do (and they do), but the real takeaway here is this: It is never the crime that kills you, it is the cover up.

    Andy Pettitte and Clemens were both essentially in the same spot – fingered by the Mitchell Report as possible PED-users. Pettitte stood up apologized and told his story. Clemens stood up and pointed the finger at everyone else, took it to court and stomped around daring the world to prove it.

    In their obituaries, PEDs might figure in the fourth or fifth paragraph of Pettitte’s, but its likely to be the first line in Rocket’s as a result.

    Update: Below for all you legal eagles is the indictment. It would appear that “Strength Coach #1″ is McNamee, “Player #1″ is Jose Canseco and Andy Pettitte is referred to in the indictment as “a former Yankees teammate” who “misheard or misremembered.”

    Roger Clemens Obstruction Indictment

    Granderson: A-Rod An ‘Amazing Teammate’

    Posted by on August 5th, 2010 · Comments (33)

    Curtis Granderson blogs over at Yahoo! Sports and offered his first-person view of what it was like watching the chase for 600 homers.

    One part in particular stuck out to me (warning, extra-long block quote):

    When people ask about Alex, I just remain truthful. He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. His drive and passion to win is above any individual accomplishments he could achieve. On top of all that, he is an amazing teammate. After the trade, he called me within minutes to welcome me to the team. Other players followed, but he made that first phone call and made me feel welcome. When I came to New York for my press conference to be announced as a Yankee a week later, Alex flew in from Florida to show his support. He has helped me with everything else in New York from hitting to which route is the best to take home after a game.

    I think it’s easier for people to get caught up and judge people based on what they see on SportsCenter, or read on Page 6 or even here on Big League Stew, but just remember that you don’t always get the whole story that way. I’ve had a lot of teammates in my career when you consider my time in the minor leagues, in Detroit and here in New York. But there is no doubt that Alex Rodriguez is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.

    In light of some of the tabloids and talking heads killing him, it’s refreshing to see a little perspective here from Curtis.

    Yankees Land Austin Kearns

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

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

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

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

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

    .268 .351 .413

    A-Rod’s Other Milestone Approaching

    Posted by on July 20th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Sometime in the next week or so, Alex Rodriguez will join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and  Sammy Sosa as the only men in history with 600 or more home runs.

    However, it wasn’t until I was listening to the radio this morning (Mike and Mike *sigh*) that I learned Rodriguez is approaching another milestone: career stolen bases.

    To date, only 122 of A-Rod’s 299 steals have been in pinstripes, and he did most of his running in Seattle (including a 40-40 season in 1998), so its easy to not think of him as a running threat despite his better than 80% success rate.

    When A-Rod swipes that last bag, he’ll be just the fourth man ever with more than 400 homers and 300 steals joining Bonds, Mays and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who Kenny Singleton might call “brand name ballplayers.” When he gets to 600 dingers, that puts Alex in the club with just Bonds and Mays.

    With all the hoopla and hatchet jobs, its easy to forget that regardless of outside circumstances, its a real treat to watch an historically great player ply his trade 140+ times a year.

    Yankees To Don Patches For Rest Of 2010

    Posted by on July 13th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    The Yankees announced today that following the deaths of George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard they will add two patches to their uniforms for the rest of the season.

    From the release

    The Steinbrenner commemorative patch will be worn above the interlocking NY on the left breast of the Yankees’ home jerseys and above the letters “YORK” on the left breast of the Yankees’ road uniforms. Both locations are over the heart.

    The Sheppard commemorative patch will be worn on the left sleeve of the Yankees’ home and road jerseys.

    The  patches looks like this (h/t NYPost.com):

    The Yankees at today’s All-Star Game are wearing simple black armbands, and there’s been a couple tributes already.

    I expect more from the booth as the game progresses and there’s been a lot more reaction to the Steinbrenner death – from baseball people eulogizing him to Rush Limbaugh (who honored the Boss by calling him a “cracker” that “made a lot of African-Americans millionaires” while “firing a bunch of white guys”). but I’ve stopped adding to the post below since it was getting unwieldy.

    If you have the means, do yourselves a favor and get a copy of the Daily News or Post tomorrow, they should be full of good nuggets.

    Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, 80, Has Died

    Posted by on July 13th, 2010 · Comments (30)

    After several outlets reported he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa with a massive heart attack, the multiple sources are reporting that George Michael Steinbrenner III has died at the age of 80.

    Steinbrenner, who bought the team in 1973, owned the Yankees longer than any other individual or group, but was noticeably absent from public view in recent years, with his sons Hank and Hal serving as the public face of the franchise’s business interest.

    A controversial figure, Steinbrenner is widely credited with spurring player salaries and free agency, but his tenure as owner was also marred by two suspensions from Major League Baseball.

    During his tenure as owner, the Yankees made 11 appearances in the World Series and won seven times.

    Steinbrenner helped build the Yankee brand, overseeing first the renovation of old Yankee Stadium and then the current monument to excess that has come to symbolize the Yankees and Steinbrenner’s larger than life persona.

    In the 1990s, Steinbrenner became a pop culture figure, “starring” in Seinfeld and hosting Saturday Night Live.

    Though a divisive figure in sports and even among Yankee fans, Steinbrenner’s death is a sad day for baseball and for the franchise.

    No formal announcements have been made, but I expect there will be several tributes to him this evening at the All-Star Game and the team will certainly do something to mark his passing.

    We’ll update more as news becomes available.

    Steve Lombardi’s comment: I’ll have more commentary on the sad news of Mr. Steinbrenner’s passing later today. At first blush, the fact that Bob Sheppard just died came to my mind. I recently read Bill Madden’s book on Big Stein and it mentioned that, in his later years, George took the passing of others close to him pretty hard – as it reminded him that he was one of the older elephants left in the tent and the end was near. My second reaction to this news was that this All-Star Game, tonight, will now go down in history as the game played the day that George Steinbrenner passed away. Let’s hope it’s a good game that the Boss would have enjoyed. (Will any Yankees now ask out of the game, because of this news? I doubt it, but, you never know.) In the interim, until I have a chance to gather my thoughts on this and share them in the blog, please feel free to use the comments section of this entry to discuss George Steinbrenner and this news. For now, in closing, all I can say is “The last five years or so have been rough – so, rest in peace Boss.”
    .
    Official Statement from the Steinbrenner family: “It is with profound sadness that the family of George M. Steinbrenner III announces his passing. He passed away this morning in Tampa, Fla., at age 80. He was an incredible and charitable man.

    First and foremost he was devoted to his entire family – his beloved wife, Joan; his sisters, Susan Norpell and Judy Kamm, his children, Hank, Jennifer Jessica and Hal; and all of his grandchildren.

    He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.” (h/t: LoHud Blog).

    Statement of Peter Lawrence “Yogi” Berra: “This is a very sad day for me and Carmen and all of baseball.  My sympathies go out to the Steinbrenner family. George was The Boss, make no mistake.  He built the Yankees into  champions and that’s something nobody can ever deny.  He was a very  generous, caring, passionate man.  George and I had our differences, but who didn’t? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much.”

    Statement from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Our hearts and prayers go out to the entire Steinbrenner family. This is a sad day not only for Yankee fans, but for our entire City, as few people have had a bigger impact on New York over the past four decades than George Steinbrenner. George had a deep love for New York, and his steely determination to succeed – combined with his deep respect and appreciation for talent and hard work – made him a quintessential New Yorker. George invested his heart and soul into the Yankees, and his competitive fire helped usher in new eras of Yankee greatness, reclaiming the team’s long tradition of excellence and its position as the most successful franchise in the history of American sports. He was a champion who made New York a better place, and who always gave back to the city he loved. He has left an indelible legacy on the Yankees, on baseball, and on our city, and he leaves us in the only way that would be appropriate: as a reigning world champion. We will be lowering the flags in City Hall Plaza today in honor of his achievements. George was a larger than life New York figure whose passion and drive to succeed will forever be missed.” (h/t WSJ.com)

    Allan H. “Bud” Selig, commissioner of baseball:

    “On behalf of Baseball, I am very saddened by the passing this morning of George Steinbrenner. George was a giant of the game and his devotion to baseball was surpassed only by his devotion to his family and his beloved New York Yankees. He was and always will be as much of a New York Yankee as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and all of the other Yankee legends.

    I have known George ever since he entered the game in 1972. He was my dear friend for nearly four decades. Although we would have disagreements over the years, they never interfered with our friendship and commitment to each other. Our friendship was built on loyalty and trust and it never wavered. We were allies and friends in the truest sense of the words.

    My wife, Sue, and I pass on our deepest sympathies to the Steinbrenner family, to the New York Yankees and to all of his friends. We will miss him, especially tonight when the baseball family will be gathered at Angel Stadium for the All-Star Game.” (link)

    Michael Weiner, executive director of the MLBPA: “George Steinbrenner’s passion for the game of baseball helped revive one of the game’s most storied franchises, and in the process ushered in the modern era of baseball business operations. Mr. Steinbrenner understood and embraced the power of the players, and he put this knowledge to good use in establishing the Yankees as one of the sports world’s most iconic brands.” (h/t USATODAY.com)

    Joe Torre: “I will always remember George Steinbrenner as a passionate man, a tough boss, a true visionary, a great humanitarian, and a dear friend. I will be forever grateful that he trusted me with his Yankees for 12 years. My heart goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed in New York, Tampa and throughout the world of baseball. It’s only fitting that he went out as a world champ.” (via Feinsand)

    Feinsand has also collected a bunch of statements from YES Network heads, other owners, Sterling & Waldman and former players. See them here, here and here.

    Jane Forbes Clark, the Chairman of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: “George Steinbrenner served the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors with great commitment and enthusiasm for the last 12 years since his election as a director in 1998.  He shared his vision, kindness, love for the game and his generosity in so many ways as a key figure in the Board’s leadership. His impact on the Museum’s ability to preserve baseball history is felt at so many levels in the organization. Our sympathies are with the Steinbrenner family. He will be greatly missed in Cooperstown.” (link)

    Obits and Remembrances:

    Quotes without links:

    Dave Winfield (via ESPN via Jack Curry’s Twitter) – “one of the top owners in the history of sports.” (ESPN.com Video)

    Peter Gammons on Twitter: “The Boss began with Horace Clarke and died World Champion. He made his fellow owners a lot of money, and was very kind to many of us.”

    Peter Abraham on Twitter: “Steinbrenner was a fascinating figure: Charitable and cruel at the same time, stubborn yet visionary. He changed all of sports. In my 1st year covering the Yankees, most of spring training was spent chasing George down hallways. He was bigger than any player.”

    Friend and Basketball coach Bob Knight: “I doubt if there’s anyone who did so much for so many people without anybody knowing about it, it’d be George Steinbrenner . . . What he did for people was a very personal and private thing for him. George Steinbrenner was a great, great American.”

    Darryl Strawberry: “What people don’t understand about him, he cares about people. George surprised me and came to the hospital (in 1998) and at my bedside encouraged me that everything was going to be alright. ”

    CNBC’s Darren Rovell on Twitter on the business legacy: Since George Steinbrenner became owner, of the Yanks, the other MLB clubs had over 100 ownership changes.

    Money George Steinbrenner spent on the Yanks payroll since 2000: $1.87 BILLION

    1997: Yankees sold $52 million worth of tickets. 2009: Yankees sold $397 million worth of tickets.

    Steinbrenner’s biz legacy: Revenues for the Yankees this year will hover around $600 million. Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in ’73 for $8.7M. Remarkable.

    Ken Davidoff on Twitter: “George dominated my life, as a Yankees reporter. When my wife called to say we were expecting, I was chasing him down a corridor in Tampa.”

    Another business update from Jon Weisenthal of the Business Insider: Because the estate tax has taken a temporary hiatus, due to Congress’ slow fade and then rise of the estate tax, the Steinbrenner family will pay no taxes on the inheritance related to the Yankees. (link)

    Dan Graziano on Twitter: “To say G Steinbrenner was a good man would be to ignore my first-hand experience. So I can’t. But he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.” (Graziano has a long obit at the Newark Star Ledger, his former employer).

    Add on by Steve Lombardi:
    Some stats to help celebrate the Steinbrenner legacy today: Completed Yankees Seasons Under Big Stein

    Shopping In Seattle – Sherman: Yanks Close To Trade For Cliff Lee

    Posted by on July 9th, 2010 · Comments (43)

    The Yankees picked up their league leading 54th win and sixth in a row in Seattle last night, but according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman that’s not all they have their eye on.

    Take it away Joel:

    The Knicks didn’t get LeBron James, but the Yankees were on the brink of obtaining Cliff Lee late last night for a package that would include top prospect Jesus Montero, the Post has learned.

    Sherman also fingers minor league second baseman David Adams (.309/.393/.507 and injured since May) as a potential trade chit.

    The rationale, according to Sherman, is that A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez can’t be trusted – especially in the postseason – and picking up Lee lets Cashman dangle Javy for prospects.

    Personally, I’d rather see of Montero turns into something – he’s been hitting better in Scranton as of  late – or have the Yankees focus their attentions on adding a bat.

    However, it’s hard not to like Lee and its more than likely that Austin Romine has passed Montero for the title of Successor to Jorge in the eyes of some in the organization. And it’d be especially nice if they could pull this off before game time tonight, since Lee is the Mariners’ scheduled starter.

    (h/t: Yahoo’s Big League Stew)

       

    Steve Lombardi’s add-on: Hey, I thought, as per many, that the Yankees and Brian Cashman didn’t believe in trading top prospects for a player who they would then have to pay big bucks to keep – when they could just pay the money a few months later and sign the player as a free agent (and keep their prospects)?

    If this deal goes down, then, well, I guess that “line” can be retired, huh?

    Update 10:36 am EST: Buster_ESPNExecutive involved in Cliff Lee talks: The Yankees-Mariners deal “is just about done.” 

    The Eyes of the Baseball World

    Posted by on June 8th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    Before diving in, I have to start with a pair of confessions.

    1) For the most part, I can’t get my gander up about the draft – particularly the No. 32 pick (where if you care, Dave Magadan appears to be the cream of the crop historically).

    2) I am not a Yankee fan today.

    You see, my adopted hometown is the center of baseball today. It’s Strasmas. The end of Strasover (Why is this game different from all other games?). Strasburgageddon. The Straspocalypse.

    Yes, tonight, at about 7:07 PM the fortunes of my No. 2 team – the lowly, lowly Washington Nationals change, perhaps forever when last year’s No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg will toe the rubber at National Park and face seventh straight Triple-A first major league lineup – the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    I’ve been conscious of my Yankee fandom for nearly two decades and the only times I’ve been this nervous/excited for a game was getting ready to watch Game One of the 1996 World Series and getting my tickets and going to Game Four of the 2001 ALCS. That’s it, that’s the list.

    As Yankee fans, we’re spoiled. They’ve more or less always been good. Forever. They’ve never been abjectly embarrassing. We can commiserate with the Horace Clarke Era, or talk about Andy Hawkins no-hit loss, but Washington’s baseball history has been horrendous.

    No World Series title since 1924. No postseason since 1933. Lost two teams. Finally got a team back, only to see it flirt with contention, then collapse.  And this doesn’t count the current iteration’s Montreal years.

    However, 42,000-plus people (which could generate roughly $1.5 million, or about 10% of Strasburg’s contract, for the team in one night) will pack the ballpark and watch this 22-year-old savior put the franchise on the map.

    In the almost 10 years that I’ve lived here, the only thing that has generate more buzz, more water-cooler talk, more good feelings that Strasburg’s debut is President Obama’s inauguration. It’s that big a deal.

    So remember, when complaining about the Yanks’ lack of clutch hitting, their bullpen issues, their lousy drafting, their lousy management, their inability to catch the Rays or bury the Sox – Yankee fans are lucky, and also spoiled. There’s something to be said for struggling, for being bad – because it makes the rebound that much sweeter.

    Now, since this is Yankee blog – here are the Yankee connections to tonight’s event (where those not going and not from near me can watch on MLB Network with a healthy dose of Bob Costas and Jim Kaat):

    • Strasburg’s batterymate will be Yankee legend Ivan Rodriguez.
    • Former Yankee Cristian Guzman will probably play second base.
    • Former Yankee and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez will likely pinch hit or run at some point.
    • With Pudge’s return from the DL – former Yankee Wil Nieves goes back to being a backup catcher (Thank God).
    • Tyler Clippard is the Nats’ eighth-inning guy.
    • And Brian Bruney won’t be here – being deemed too lousy even by Washington standards.
    • The visiting Pirates feature a raft of ex-Yanks: Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutcheon, Octavio Dotel, Steven Jackson and tonight’s starter Jeff Karstens.

    Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

    Posted by on June 5th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Pre-Fight: In the undercard,Vanes Martirosyan did a pretty good job of dismantling  “Mean” Joe Greene in a fight also at 154 pounds. The two prospective contenders exchanged some low-blows, but Martirosyan was just busier. Oh, and in addition to copping someone else’s nickname, Greene also wore a No. 2 Yankee jersey out to the ring and his corner all wore Yankee jerseys – with names on the back in addition to numbers and an ad for an auto body shop on the front. This, as Michael Kay, would say, is bad luck. No names, of course.

    We also get a featurette on Cotto and Foreman. The Cotto interview centered on the question: Is he done? I think not. He may not be upper echelon like Paciquaio, but he can still be a bankable draw.

    In Foreman’s feature – we learn about his emigration – first to Israel (where he fought out of a Palestinian gym) then to Brooklyn.

    We’ve also been beaten up with the Jew vs. Puerto Rican story line – with Max Kellerman throwing a ton of Yiddish out for the fans at home.

    Walk-up: Seems to be a pro-Cotto crowd, which as Kellerman explained might be related to the Jewish fight fan community not yet believing in Foreman.

    Foreman is coming into a mix of some crazy Hebrew horn and then Slipknot (?). So confused.

    Introductions: Michael Buffer rocking a white tux… nice look, even minus the pinstripes.

    Bit o’ history: Benny Leonard won the first fight in old Yankee Stadium – July 24, 1923. Beating Lou Tendler in a lightweight title fight in front of about 58,000.

    Crowd gets pretty amped for Cotto – not Derek Jeter amped, maybe David Justice amped. Foreman gets A-Rod applause – mixed at best.

    Round One: Cotto pushed Foreman around, landing a couple solid jabs that pushed Yuri back a few times. Foreman rode his bicycle for most of the round. 10-9 Cotto.

    Round Two: Cotto staggered Foreman another couple of times. Foreman’s got way faster hands, but Cotto’s just stronger. If this goes the distance, Foreman might have a shot – but it won’t at this rate. Cotto 10-9.

    Round Three: Foreman, despite dropping his mouthguard, had the better of things – but just barely. His big shots just aren’t that big – think Brett Gardener home run swings – they look impressive, but c’mon, it’s still Brett Gardener. Foreman 10-9.

    Round Four: Color man Roy Jones Jr. says Foreman is throwing big shots even though he’s not a knockout guy because Cotto’s had the better of things. I think its more that he’s feeling his oats. Oh, the attendance is officially 20,272 – or just about what you could put into Madison Square Garden. Foreman 10-9.

    Rounds Five and Six: The magic of the DVR keeps me from missing anything when the boy wakes up for a minute. In Round Five, Cotto got a bit of his starch back, but Foreman was still very fast. Cotto 10-9. In Round Six – the numbers say there haven’t been many punched landed… but the fight feels like its been busy. Cotto’s gotten his mojo back after a two-round hiatus. Foreman’s hands are quicker, but they just don’t seem to do much. He’s got a bloody nose and a very red face. Cotto 10-9.

    Round Seven: You know what, bully for Yuri Foreman. He tripped once, banged up his knee and then fell again. His knee is Mickey Mantle in ’68 bad at this point, but he’s not giving up. Cotto just teed off . Foreman’s all speed and without speed, well he’s done. Cotto 10-9.

    Round Eight: Foreman’s corner throws the towel in – against the wishes of the fighter. But it’s not over! The corner did not throw the towel! The ref: “You’re fighting hard, I don’t want you to go out like that.” Cotto’s gonna win, but Foreman’s gonna win a TON of fans. This is all guts right now.  Cotto 10-9.

    Round Nine: Cotto with a left hook to the body and down goes Foreman. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stops it at 42 seconds of the ninth round with a TKO Miguel Cotto – new WBA Super Welterweight Champ. Foreman was a warrior, but that was a good stoppage – certainly better than a flying towel.

    Post-Fight: Cotto’s pleased… wants to keep fighting big name guys – and he probably can. Maybe a Sergio Martinez or someone like that.

    Foreman is the story here – thanks God for keeping them both “healthy more or less.” The replay of the fall – shows Yuri’s leg just buckle – I’m thinking the 15-DL, but probably out 4-6 weeks.

    “Listen, I’m the former world champion – I’m here to fight.” ~ On not quitting.

    The ref – Mercante – felt the towel was unwarranted and he was protecting the fan’s interest. This guy should take Cowboy Joe West or CB Bucknor’s job.

    Stadium Slugfest

    Posted by on June 5th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    If this were 1930 instead of 2010, today would have been the biggest day in the sporting calendar in New York City.

    You had the Belmont, which I’m a bit embarrassed to say, I did not watch. Call me a fairweather racing fan if you want, but the lack of a Triple Crown, the lack of buildup for the race and a full slate of stuff to do around the house kept me away from the television.

    However, the main event so to speak is tonight when Miguel Cotto challenges Yuri Foreman for Foreman’s WBA super middleweight title (154 pounds).

    Foreman, a Belarusian immigrant and aspiring rabbi (he won’t leave his hotel to head to the Stadium until after sundown) won the belt by beating Daniel Santos last November, but is not highly regarded.  His 28-0 record has only eight knockouts in it and is built on mostly journeymen.

    Cotto is jumping up in weight from his usual welterweight (147 pounds) to challenge Foreman. A Puerto Rican fighter, Cotto was last seen getting just annihilated by Manny Pacquiao (ironically Foreman won his belt on the undercard of that fight).

    With only two professional losses – one to Pacquiao – right now the best fighter on the planet – and the other to the now-suspect Antonio Margarito (Margarito was caught tampering with his wraps in his next fight and is still barred from fighting in the U.S. as a result) – Cotto is a popular fighter and has had success fighting in New York close to the Puerto Rican Day Parade (wins in Madison Square Garden in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009).

    As it stands, Cotto and his 34-2 (27 knockouts) is the favorite against the lightly regarded Foreman despite being the smaller man [Foreman is the natural 154-pounder and having four inches in height on Cotto].

    The undercard goes on the air on HBO at 10:15 ET and the main event ought to start around 11:15. If I can get back to the computer – I’ll do my best to score and live blog the bout.

    What’chu Talkin’ ’bout Willis?

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

    Shockingly, this will not be a Gary Coleman post (though obit fans should read this one in the Washington Post because man was Coleman’s life depressing).

    Nope its about the rise and fall of another child star – Dontrelle Willis.

    Earlier this week, in a move that most people saw as the return of prospect Max Scherzer to the majors, the Detroit Tigers designated the one-time dominant pitcher and effervescent personality for assignment effectively ending his time in the Motor City.

    Willis burst onto the scene in 2003 – going 14-6 and combing with some Beckett guy and a big Italian with a penchant for debilitating injuries to power the upstart Florida Marlins to the Wild Card and ultimate to the World Series – though I confess I can’t recall what happened when they go there.

    The next season Willis regressed in the won-loss column, and across the board really as his walks and hits were up and strikeouts went down. However in 2005, Willis was a horse – going 22-10 with an ERA on 2.63, striking out three times as many batters as he walked and for all the world looked like a guy set for superstardom.

    The rest of his time in Florida was sub-par – a .500 season and a disaster season respectively – before he was traded to Detroit along with  Miguel Cabrera – essentially as Cabrera’s anchor a la Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett.

    In Detroit, Willis has been a Deepwater Horizon level disaster – after signing a three-year, $29 million extension with Detroit here’s what Dontrelle has thrown on the board:

    22 starts and two relief appearances
    101 innings
    103 hits
    93 walks/68 Ks
    11 HRs
    77 runs, all earned
    For a grand total of a 2-8 record with a 6.86 ERA (66 ERA+ for those of you scoring at home).

    Willis also had an unfortunate arrest while still with the Marlins and has battled, in addition to physical maladies, anxiety disorder while a Tiger.

    This is all a long lead up to two basic points:

    1) Willis is the reason why you can’t be too hard on so-called “failed” pitcher prospects and pitchers. The attrition rate is so high and the pitfalls so numerous that even a guy who looks like they have made it can still crash out. It helps to stockpile and when the opportunity is there, pilfer from someone else’s stockpile.

    2) Should the Yankees, when Willis is finally let go by Detroit, look to bring him in?

    New York has had some success (notably with Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry) of helping troubled players bounce back to a modicum of productivity, and most key, Willis – who won’t turn 29 until next January – throws left handed.

    While success came early (perhaps too early) baseball is filled with guys – particular southpaws – who didn’t put it together until their late-20s/early-30s.

    For example, Randy Johnson was a bucket of injuries, wildness and potential until he turned 29. Closer to Yankeedom – Allie Reynolds was a player during World War II with limited success, until after 30.

    I don’t know if Willis can put it back together. I do know he was fun to watch when he was good, all arms and legs and an electric smile.

    I sure hope he can – and as an added bonus – it might be fun to see him do it as a Yankee.

    Joe P Kills It

    Posted by on April 29th, 2010 · Comments (21)

    The Joe in this case is Posnanski, and what he nails is a defense of A-Rod.

    Now, there’s been a lot of talk about A-Rod in these parts, and elsewhere, but Posnanski diagnoses the why pretty accurately I think.

    … A-Rod may be singular in our sports scene. Everybody else has rabid defenders. If you take a moment to bash Bob Knight … or Tiger Woods … or Tony La Russa … or Derek Jeter … or Terrell Owens … or Kobe Bryant … or Ben Roethlisberger … or Michael Vick … … or Peyton Manning … or Tim Tebow … or Phil Mickelson … or Randy Moss … or Roger Clemens … or John Calipari … or Roy Williams … or Barry Bonds … or just about any other athlete or coach who might spark negative views (even if is is because they are so positively portrayed), there will likely be a swam or people who will tell you (with gusto) that you are wrong. There are a lot of people who believe John Rocker was misunderstood.

    But you more or less can bash A-Rod with impunity. Few will disagree. Not many believe him misunderstood…

    Posnanski goes on to discuss how any anti-Rod argument just concedes the numbers and his objective greatness and then jumps into Braden-gate to dismiss it as a rookie being obnoxious because he can get away with it.

    . . . it seems to me the key factory here is: It’s A-Rod. And all that entails. I mean, let’s face it … if that was Albert Pujols running across the mound, and that was a pitcher who has accomplished as much as Dallas Braden griping about it — say Anibal Sanchez or someone — it seems to be there would be a whole lot of “Shut your fat face, kid,” talk going on across the country.

    But it’s not Pujols. It’s A-Rod. And because it’s A-Rod, there are suddenly a lot of people saying: “Yeah, you can’t just run across the mound — everybody knows that!” Because it’s A-Rod there are people admiring Dallas Braden for standing up to the big bully who dared stomp on his new carpet. Because it’s A-Rod, the story is lively and the coverage is intense and the opinion seems to be at least leaning Dallas Braden’s way. Hey look: Another reason to despise A-Rod! Dallas Braden got it right in this way. In this world of ours, you can’t go wrong standing against taxes, the declining levels of our schools and Alex Rodriguez.

    In that way, he’s absolutely right – most of us had never heard of this unwritten rule that A-Rod violated, but we have the Tracy Ringloby’s of the world declaring him evil.

    A-Rod’s tact lately has, for the most part, been “shut up and play.” Maybe its time for the rest of us to shut up and watch.

    Can We Have Him Back Please?

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

    Jerry Hairston Jr. is getting more love around these parts  . . . and all of it well deserved.

    From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    Padres utility man Jerry Hairston Jr., another member of the ‘09 Yankees, retrieved the rings for [Eric] Hinske and [Melky] Cabrera when Hairston traveled to New York on Tuesday for the Yankees’ home opener, where the rings were distributed.

    So, not only did Hairston fly across the country and back for the afternoon ring ceremony, he reached out and did his former teammates a solid – good on him all the way around.

    Chan Ho My! What Did He Say?

    Posted by on April 12th, 2010 · Comments (10)

    The Yankees mystified a lot of people by spending more than a million dollars to bring in the South Korean pitcher.

    After seeing this video, I can attest it was money well spent.

    If Mr. Park gives quote like this for the rest of the season, then I for one will be grateful for Brian Cashman’s last minute bullpen remodeling.

    Hat tip to ‘Duk over at Big League Stew

    Why You Hoard Arms

    Posted by on April 8th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    Earlier this week President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a new missile control arms treaty agreeing to reduce the number of nuclear weapons both countries have.

    Having been forced to watch The Day After in school, I think this is a great strategy for international relations,  but it makes for terrible baseball strategy.

    I say this as Mike Ashmore reports that Chris(tian) Garcia, the Yankees oft-tempting and tantalizing power pitching prospect, left the game with what the pitcher described as  “pretty serious” elbow soreness.

    Since being drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft, Garcia has put up huge numbers (9.8 K/9, 2.37 K/BB and less than a hit per inning), but has also thrown just 290.2 innings – missed all of 2007, big chunks of 2008 and 2009.

    Now this could be residual from the elbow injury that ended Garcia’s season last year after just 25 1/3 innings, but it could be the end of his 2010 season after 5 2/3 innings.

    In evaluating how a GM and a scouting director bring talent into an organization, its important to judge the quality of major league pitchers developed and signed. However, its equally important for GMs of teams (particularly ones worth billions of dollars) to take risks – to bring in talented guys, even if they have checkered injury pasts or other health-related red flags in order to stockpile arms.

    Sometimes that prospect with control and injury issues turns into Curt Schilling or AJ Burnett. Sometimes they turn into Domingo Jean or Sam Militello.

    The moral of the story is this: its a wise strategy to hoard arms of all sorts – injured, risky, polished, raw, talented, potential-laden and expensive proven ones – because every pitcher is just one horribly unnatural throwing motion away from the end.

    Opening Day Memories

    Posted by on April 4th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Full disclosure, I’ve never been to Opening Day in the Yankee Stadium.

    However, I still get that tingly feeling – what Ray Liota described in “Field of Dreams” as an itch of an old amputated limb when the calendar turns even though its been more than 10 years since my last competitive baseball game and more than five years since my last semi-competitive game (I played in a Roy Hobbs-style men’s league after moving to D.C.).

    We don’t get this way about the first NHL or NFL game, its really only baseball’s grand opening – despite the destruction of the 12:30 Cincinnati start tradition – that gets America’s juices flowing.

    I’ve been privileged to go to the last three openers here in Washington and tomorrow I’ll be fortunate enough to go again.

    It’ll be my second presidential opening day (to go with one vice presidential toss)  as President Obama is slated to do the honors – 100 years after William Howard Taft threw out the first ceremonial first pitch.

    Taft’s first toss was in 1910 – and ironically (not in Michael Kay’s understanding of the word, which is to say coincidental, or Alanis Morissette‘s understanding of it, which is to say a string of lousy things) against Philadelphia and Washington – the Athletics and the Senators of the American League respectively.

    The pressure will be on Obama to do better than last time he toed the rubber, where he may or may not have bounced it.

    Obama also has to live up to America’s greatest president – at least when it comes to ceremonial pitches – George W. Bush.

    Say what you want about his policies and politics (and I’ll keep my opinion to myself, so please do the same in the comments), but Dubya threw gas. And not just old man gas – but from my seats in 2008, it looked like he threw a legitimate strike from the mound.

    That pitch opened up Nationals Park (and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman closed that game with a walk off homer, cementing my belief that everyone should win their opener and see something great, though I’m not optimistic about tomorrow), and Dubya has some first pitch experience with the Yankees – famously opening up Game Three of the 2001 World Series.

    Even Larry Hockett, Durham Bulls pitching coach c. 1988 knows, a major component of Bush’s legacy is his moundsmanship (5:37 mark, though the whole video is good).

    So all the pomp and fanfare, presidential or otherwise, is what makes Opening Day great. What makes it an event unlike almost any other on the sporting calendar.

    What makes Opening Day special for you, and what do you think about when the calendar strikes baseball?

    Edwar Going Deep Into Texas

    Posted by on March 9th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    YES’ Jack Curry tweets that the Yankees have traded changeup artist and gopher-ball specialist Edwar Ramirez to the Texas Rangers for “cash considerations.”

    Erstwhile beat writer Peter Abraham quips that the Yankees saved money by faxing him to Arlington.

    I quip that the Rangers promotions department will soon be sponsoring a “Body Armor Night” for purchases of certain seats in the outfield grandstand.

    Part-time Work, Full-time Pay

    Posted by on March 8th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Dave Shenin, the national baseball writer for the Washington Post catches up with Yankee legend Josh Towers.

    Josh Who?

    “You start out the year with the Washington Nationals and end up getting a World Series ring,” mused Towers, now a non-roster invitee in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ camp in Glendale, Ariz. “It’s amazing how things happen in this game.”

    Shenin asks if Towers, who made one start for the Nats Triple-A affiliate before being cut, signed by the Yanks and dispatched to Scranton and subsequently called up big club in September, is the least deserving ring recipient in history – which is harsh, but Towers himself doesn’t exactly dispute that notion.

    “I don’t feel like I deserve that ring,” said Towers, 33, a career 45-55 pitcher in parts of eight big-league seasons. “But I’m not going to tell them, ‘No, thanks.’ That’s something I’ll have forever, something to show my grandkids someday.”

    Towers threw 5.1 innings for the Yankees – which is more than Michael Dunn (4.0), Anthony Claggett (2.2) and Ian Kennedy (1.) threw.

    On the position side, there were a few guys who didn’t exactly rack up the appearances: Xavier Nady (29 at bats), Kevin Cash (28), Angel Berroa (21), Shelley Duncan (15), Juan Miranda (nine) and Freddy Guzman (seven).

    I’m all these guys, along with a number of other anonymous Yankee employees got rings but for just a handful of appearances in the pinstripes it’s not bad work if you can get it.

    The Future Of Media?

    Posted by on March 6th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    First, by way of quick introduction, I’ll endeavor to have most of my posts relate more directly to the Yankees.

    With that out of the way, you may or may not have seen this elsewhere – notably ESPN’s Page2 or Deadspin but it is an interesting look at how the other half lives.

    Most of you, I assume, are from outside the Washington, D.C. metro area so you probably don’t know that the venerable Washington Times sports section was unceremoniously killed just before the new year began.

    Politics aside, and mine certainly don’t match up with the rest of the paper, the sports section was fabulous and in many respects, far superior to the more famous Washington Post.

    In fact, the longest tenured beat writer for the woe begotten Washington Nationals is Mark Zuckerman. When Zuckerman lost his ride, he started blogging, and a little bit into the experiment, he decided he needed to go to Spring Training.

    Long story short, he essentially put out a can and started a fund drive raising the $5,000 he needed for the trip in about 24 hours.

    All this build up is to get to a point and a question.

    First, New York sports fans – particularly Yankee fans -are incredibly spoiled when it comes to media. We have three tabloids, three daily papers, the team’s Web site and a cable network to feed our insatiable need for information, for feature pieces, for puff, for grist for the blogging mill.

    I don’t know how long this situation is sustainable. Newsday has already begun putting things for out-of-towners. The Journal News only covers the Yankees with a full-time traveling beat writer, cutting back on coverage for New York’s other professional teams. Newspapers all over continue to struggle to balance the costs of good coverage and the seeming unwillingness of the public to pay for something they’ve always gotten for “free,” that is to say, solid beat coverage on the Internet.

    In fact, with blogs, Twitter and other mediums, the paper is becoming less and less centric to a beat writer’s job. In the Washington area, the previous beat writer for the Post referred the paper as the “dead tree edition,” which is fairly symbolic when you think about it.

    So with that as a backdrop, here’s the question: Who would you pay to read, and how much?

    Zuckerman got anywhere from $20 to $60 and provides personal service – asks questions his benefactors want, provides them with raw audio from interviews and other perks. ESPN’s piece I think accurately refers to him as the first sportswriter by IPO.

    So, is there anyone working the beat at the moment that you’d pay to have as your own personal beat writer?