Heyman tweets this AM on A-Rod:
Wasn’t it just like six weeks ago where everyone thought his monster Spring was leading to another MVP type season?
Via Steve Politi today -
You think this episode with Posada was ugly? Flash forward to 2014 when Girardi — if he is still managing this team then — might have to deal with:
• Derek Jeter, who if he exercises the player’s option in his new contract (and why wouldn’t he?) would be a 40-year-old likely former shortstop no longer capable of batting leadoff.
• CC Sabathia, who hasn’t looked anything like an ace this season and whose contract runs through 2015 if he doesn’t exercise his opt-out clause after this season (and why would he?)
• Alex Rodriguez, who is already showing signs of decline and would still have three years left on that albatross of a deal he coaxed out of Hank Steinbrenner.
That list doesn’t even include Mark Teixeira, who has six years left on his $180 million deal. This franchise will face one land mine after another with its aging core, and it’ll be up to Girardi to find a way to keep this team from stepping on them.
“I knew in taking this job there would come a time if I managed long enough that we would see some great Yankees retire,” he said. “And that wasn’t necessarily going to be easy.”
Not shocking stuff here. In fact, back on December 26th, 2009, I wrote:
The 2009 Yankees were World Champions. And, the 2010 Yankees have to be considered as contenders for the ring as well. But, come 2012, due to the age of some of their stars (like A-Rod and Jeter) and the needs that the Yankees will have at catcher, the outfield, and pitching, we could be looking at a team that is not as pretty as the one we have now in Yankeeland. And, 2012 is just 27 months away…
Brian Cashman and company will have their work cut out for them over the next couple of seasons…building that team for 2012. Because, right now, it’s got issues and holes out the ying yang…and the ’12 season starts just about two years from now…
Of course, the question here is: Anyone and everyone saw what was coming down the pipe for the Yankees with their aging and high-priced players. So, why didn’t the Yanks front office plan ahead and try and avoid where we are now with this team?
GM Brian Cashman revealed that Jorge Posada removed himself from the Yankees’ lineup Saturday night. Posada told manager Joe Girardi he was “insulted” about hitting ninth and “threw a hissy fit,” according to Jack Curry of YES Network.
Via Conor Orr -
Just as Rafael Soriano was ready to leave the clubhouse last night, he felt a horde of cameras and microphones crowding around him.
“What did I do tonight?” he said. “I didn’t even pitch.”
That was the point.
When the eighth inning came last night, Soriano — the pitcher manager Joe Girardi adamantly touts as the Yankees’ set-up man — was nowhere to be found as Joba Chamberlain made his way out of the pen.
With soreness in his throwing elbow, Soriano took the game off and will have a precautionary MRI exam on Wednesday to make sure there is nothing to the pain that started a week ago in Detroit.
“I told (Girardi) I wanted to take off before the game,” Soriano said. “I want to make sure everything’s fine. Maybe one or two days and I’ll be back.”
Soriano had surgery on the same elbow in 2008 as a member of the Atlanta Braves for an ulnar nerve transposition and to have a bone spur removed. He also had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2004.
The perspective he took from those injuries was enough to motivate him to request the night off.
“He came in today and said he was a little bit sore, so I knew I didn’t have him tonight,” Girardi said. “He saw (team physician) Dr. Ahmad (Christopher), he gets here at 6, 6:30. I knew I didn’t have him. He’s going to get a precautionary MRI. He just said he didn’t feel good today.”
How soon until Soriano rear ends a garbage truck while getting a hummer?
After starting the 2011 season by winning 12 of their first 18 games, with today’s loss, the Yankees have now dropped 6 of their last 11 games. Is this the start of a major skid for New York? Or, just a bump in the road?
My prediction? On July 1st the Yankees will be much closer to a .500 team than a .600 team.
Of course, we’ll have to wait eight weeks to see if that comes true or not.
In his last 113 games, from June 15, 2010 through April 24, 2011, Derek Jeter’s BA/OBA/SLG line is: .254/.334/.315
Over this span, he has just 2 homeruns and 22 XBH, in total, over 464 At Bats.
At this point, he’s not getting on base often enough to bat at the top of the line-up and he’s showing zero pop (and has no business batting in the heart of the line-up.)
If Jeter keeps this pace over his next 40 games, Girardi has to start batting him 8th, no?
Via Jon Heyman -
[Derek Jeter is] hitting .206, raising concerns in the Bronx that, at the least, maybe that four-year deal wasn’t the greatest of ideas for the soon-to-be 37-year-old. Jeter has hit an inordinate number of weak grounders and has only one extra-base hit so far. He won’t admit he’s worried, but others are wondering whether his adjustments to his stride (he eliminated the stride this winter, and now it’s back occasionally) is a tipoff to troubles. But others say not to read too much into so few games and a bit of tinkering (the great Yankee Don Mattingly was famous for doing the same thing). Jeter himself said, “It’s only nine games.” Even so, the speculation persists. Jeter supporters point out he’s been through bad streaks before, sometimes when he wasn’t completely healthy. But one scout says, “He’s been tardy” (on pitches), and another flat out says, “He looks done.” That’s doubtful. But one thing’s for sure, and that’s this. “I’m done talking about it,” he says.
Robin Yount was “done” at 37. So, maybe it’s true for Jeter too? Still, you have to give it some more time before you stick a fork in the guy.
Joel Sherman suggests that maybe he phoned it in last night -
After his first meltdown as a Yankee, which led to a 5-4 Minnesota triumph in 10 innings last night, [Rafael] Soriano vanished. He never came to his locker. A flustered Yankees media relations official conceded Soriano probably dressed quickly and departed, leaving others to explain his ineffectiveness.
This would not be quite as big a deal if Soriano’s reputation were closer to pristine. But in previous stops in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, he was known for being prickly, reclusive, determined not to be used in any way, but how he thought fit. Last year he expected, for example, to be deployed only for a full inning in save situations.
There were members of the Rays who felt, for example, that Soriano did not invest fully when asked to pitch the ninth inning of a 3-1 deficit of Game 3 of last year’s Division Series against the Rangers. That was an elimination game.
Thus, when his attention and fastball seem off, there is natural wonder if Soriano does not think 4-0 in the eighth inning is worth his full attention. That would have been among the questions asked had he handled last night with professionalism. Instead, he fled, leaving uncertainty if this was a singular poor effort for a talented pitcher or a bad omen for a bad actor.
“I think he was there mentally,” said Russell Martin, among those answering questions in Soriano’s absence. “He was throwing the ball with conviction, I think.”
What do you think?
The other day, I thought about the potential of the Yankees having an interest in Jose Reyes once he becomes free agent this off-season. And, I almost wrote about it here. But, then I looked at Reyes’ career OBA number and the decrease in his steals, and factored in the Jeter contract, and the few places in the line-up where the Yankees could move Jeter, and I thought “Nah, there’s no chance of this happening.” So, I said nothing and filed the thought.
I’m telling ya…if this does happen, I think I might throw up. I really can’t stand Jose Reyes.
Great stuff from Joel Sherman today on Phil Hughes -
Do you want the bad news or the worse news?
Do you want to hear that Phil Hughes lacked velocity or that he compounded it by being unable to locate?
Or do you want the really, really, really troubling news? That this has been going on for weeks. That pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Hughes already have tried a bunch of remedies throughout spring training and — as of this moment — have unearthed neither a reason why the righty has lost fastball life nor a way to solve the deficiency.
Hughes thinks his arm swing is too long. Rothschild says that maybe more long tossing will provide a solution. Joe Girardi talks still about Hughes needing to build arm strength when we just finished that little thing called spring training which — above all else — is stretched to six weeks so pitchers can build arm strength.
“It’s a little disconcerting, right now,” Hughes said.
Of course it is because of the really, really, really troubling news: Hughes is not a fifth starter anymore, like at this time last year. Yes, A.J. Burnett pitched in the second slot, but in a sodium- pentothal moments Yankees offi cials would reveal it is Hughes they imagine falling in as the No. 2 man behind CC Sabathia.
Instead, Hughes has emerged as the early No. 1 rotation head ache, wresting the crown from the reigning champ: Burnett.
“This is going to be a concern until you see [velocity],” Rothschild said. “When you get going and start to see velocity, you can relax a little.”
Suffice it to say, this is no relaxation moment for the Yankees. Hughes was terrible yesterday in a 10-7 Tigers victory; running scared from a fastball he rightfully had no faith in.
He threw 40 fastballs in all — and never got a swing and miss on a single one. He hit 91 mph five times in the first inning, and then never again. He pitched mainly at 87-89 and admitted he does not locate well enough to excel at that speed. Translation: He is going to pay for more mistakes at that speed than at 91-94 mph.
It’s amazing, but, we’ve been talking about the lack of speed on Hughes fastball, on and off, since 2007. Seriously, do a search on this blog with the terms “Hughes MPH” and you’ll see it.
Actually, I just came across this – something I wrote back on April 3, 2008:
In the first inning, the YES gun had Hughes at 91 MPH with his fastball. (For what it’s worth, Gameday had him at 90 MPH in the first.) And, through the fifth inning, I was still seeing 91 MPH on the heater for Phil. (Most of the time it was 91 MPH. Sometimes it was 90 MPH and other times it was 89 MPH. But, again, most of the time it was 91 MPH.)
So, what happened to the theory that it was his leg that caused Hughes to lose four MPH on his fastball? He’s as healthy as a horse now, and, still, we’re seeing 91 MPH.
Sure, some probably want to scream “It’s the slow YES gun!” Well, through the first five innings, the same YES gun had Toronto’s Dustin McGowan around 94 MPH with his fastball. And, the YES gun had Brian Bruney throwing around 95 MPH and Joba Chamberlain in the mid-to-high 90′s. If the YES gun is slow, then McGowan, Bruney and Chamberlain were all throwing 100 MPH – which I cannot believe is true.
Now, at this point, Phil Hughes featuring a 91 MPH fastball is no big deal. With his curve, as long as he has command of the fastball, he’ll be fine – as he was this evening.
Where this becomes an issue is the year 2018. If Hughes is throwing 91 MPH as a 21-year old, he’s not going to gain speed as he gets older. It doesn’t work that way. Give him about 2,000 big league innings and he will lose four MPH on his fastball (at the least). And, then, Phil Hughes will be a 31-year old pitcher who features a fastball that’s in the range of 89 to 87 MPH. And, that’s not good.
Looks like 2018 has come seven years early, huh?
Actually, Paul LoDuca, of all people, on FOX Sports Extra last night had an interesting theory. He said that guys, like Hughes, who throw cutters and curves too much just fry their elbows. (Aaron Sele, anyone?) And, that’s why his velo is down – he’s cooked. (LoDuca did add that Mo Rivera was an exception because of his delivery and the fact that he only throws a natural cutter – and his elbow is spared the stress that someone like Hughes has…between the big bending curve and the forced cutter.)
If it’s true that “Phranchise Phil” is toast, that’s bad news for the Yankees rotation this season. Of that, most would agree.
I was looking back at what I wrote seven weeks ago, at the start of Spring Training this year, regarding my observations on the 2011 Yankees (heading into this season) – and I still feel the same way today.
But, above all else, at this junction, what concerns me the most about the Yankees this year is their starting pitching – and it’s not the back-end (Nova and Garcia or a fill-in TBA) which scares the snot out of me.
Actually, I think the keys to the Yankees success this year are A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes – meaning they have to pitch well in order for the Yankees to reach the post-season in 2011.
Related, I keep going back to the fact that Hughes had an ERA of 5.15 over his last 20 games in 2010. Also, there’s the whole issue with Phil’s velocity being MIA this spring.
And, Burnett is wildly inconsistent. Further, if you look at A.J. over the last 6 seasons, his win totals are: 12, 10, 10, 18, 13, 10 – with 18 coming in his opt-out year. Seems to me, looking at these numbers, it’s safe to say that Burnett, when not playing for a contract, can only be counted on to win 10-13 games a season.
Bottom line, if Hughes is going to pitch to an ERA close to five this season and Burnett is going to be just a 10-game winner, that’s a much larger problem for the Yankees than having a journeyman and a rookie bringing up the rear of their starting rotation.
Of course, maybe Hughes and Burnett will both win 16+ games this season – and the Yankees, as a team, will win 95 games and make the post-season this year? But, I’m not counting on that – based on what we know, for fact, today, about Burnett and Hughes.
And, if A.J. and Phil don’t pitch well this season, we in Yankeeland could be looking at a team that’s going to win 85-90 games and miss out getting a post-season berth.
Interesting stuff via Joel Sherman -
There was a time in 2007, and even for a good deal of 2008, when the Yankees pretty much could have acquired just about anyone for Joba Chamberlain.
Personnel men were that gaga about his stuff, his mix of pitches and his ability to retain command and velocity deep into games. He projected as a young ace, the most attractive commodity in the game.
But slowly, as he ricocheted between the rotation and bullpen; health and injury; and success and mediocrity, Chamberlain’s value plummeted. Some teams remain intrigued about obtaining him to see if they can reclaim a quality starter, but only if they can buy low. The moment to maximize Chamberlain, however, has vanished.
Are the Yanks on the same loss-of-value path with Jesus Montero? Because the more scouts have seen him this spring, the more dubious they have sounded about his defense.
And while the belief is he will hit for impact as a major-leaguer, his attractiveness in the trade market dims if teams view him only as a first baseman/DH — as some have always. One reason, for example, Seattle chose to trade Cliff Lee to the Rangers rather than the Yankees last July was doubts about if Montero could stay a catcher.
I asked four scouts independently about Montero’s defense the past few days, and none was enthused about his chances to stay a catcher long term.
One scout went this far: “No matter how many different ways you ask, I don’t see a catcher. Just because you have shin guards and a mask, that doesn’t make you a catcher.”
Did you know, before the 2000 season, Nick Johnson was considered the #5 prospect in all of baseball? The Yankees traded him after the 2003 season. Would they have gotten more from him in 2000? Dunno. The fact that Johnson did so well in 2003 kept his stock up – if not made it better. Perhaps the same will happen with Montero? We’ll know the answer in the near future.
In any event, seems like Joba is taking the Brian Bruney career path…and that can’t be good.
Maybe. Via John Harper today -
In what could be considered ominous news for the Yankees, Robinson Cano is now a client of Scott Boras, perhaps the most notorious agent in sports.
Cano raised his play to superstar level in 2010, finishing third in the AL MVP voting, and no doubt will be looking for a huge contract in the future. Cano is finishing up a four-year, $30 million contract, but the Yankees have two option years on him at $14 million in 2012 and $15 million in 2013.
Boras has a history of taking high-profile clients such as Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira to free agency.
As a Yankee, A-Rod famously opted out of his 10-year, $252 million contract he originally signed with Texas, then re-signed with the Yanks before parting ways with Boras.
Tom Verducci wonders if Mark Teixeira could be the next Jason Giambi in pinstripes – and he makes some great points. Of course, this is on the field stuff. Tex will never be like the Giambino when it comes to running around off the field.
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?
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?
Pettitte looks like he’s done. Via Peter Botte -
Andy Pettitte is vacationing with his family in Hawaii, leaving the Yankees little choice but to continue waiting some more while the veteran lefty does his annual retirement hula dance this winter.
After already whiffing on Cliff Lee in free agency, the Yanks are aware there are few other big-name options available to slot in behind CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes in their starting rotation.
“Every day I hope Andy comes back,” Yankees president Randy Levine said at a Times Square press conference Tuesday to kick off festivities for Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and Kansas State at the Stadium.
“Andy’s a great Yankee and a great person and I know he’ll give it thought and follow his heart and we’ll respect his decision. But we’re out there, all of us, hoping every day that he comes back,” Levine added. “I think he knows we need him. I think he knows how much we respect him and what a great leader he is.”
Mark Teixeira, a self-proclaimed “huge college football fan,” also was present and called Pettitte “one of my closest friends on the team.” Still, despite trading text messages often with the lefty throughout the offseason, Teixeira also isn’t sure if Pettitte will be back for his 17th big league season, and 14th in pinstripes.
“If he’s leaning one way, he’s probably leaning towards retirement,” Teixeira said. “I think that’s what he’s publicly said, and that’s no secret right now. But in a month and a half, a lot can happen.”
Let’s face it. Banking on CC Sabathia is as safe as banking on any starting pitcher in the game. No one would fault anyone for expecting him to make 30 starts and give you 200 quality innings in 2011.
But, with no Andy Pettitte in 2011, and with Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova in the back end of your rotation, or someone else just as “iffy” in those slots, Brian Cashman and the Yankees are really rolling the dice that Phil Hughes can repeat or better his 2010 season and that A.J. Burnett can come back from his disaster showing last season.
How comfortable do you feel in making that bet?
I ran some stats on the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to find pitchers since 1973 who were most like Phil Hughes in 2010. Here’s the numbers:
Pitcher YEAR RSAA RSAA GS IP T1 Nino Espinosa 1977 7 7 29 200 T1 Pedro Astacio 1993 7 7 31 186.1 T1 Ian Kennedy 2010 7 7 32 194 T1 Bill Greif 1973 7 7 31 199 T1 Glendon Rusch 2000 7 7 30 190.2 T1 Chad Billingsley 2010 7 7 31 191.2 T1 Bruce Kison 1975 7 7 29 192 T8 Rick Honeycutt 1979 6 6 28 194 T8 Phil Hughes 2010 6 6 29 176.1 T8 Sidney Ponson 2002 6 6 28 176 T11 Greg Mathews 1987 5 5 32 197.2 T11 Floyd Bannister 1979 5 5 30 182.1 T11 Bill Laskey 1982 5 5 31 189.1 T11 Yovani Gallardo 2009 5 5 30 185.2 T15 Wilson Alvarez 1995 4 4 29 175 T15 Scott Elarton 2000 4 4 30 192.2 T15 Esteban Loaiza 1997 4 4 32 196.1 T15 Yovani Gallardo 2010 4 4 31 185 T19 James Baldwin 1996 3 3 28 169 T19 Mike Krukow 1977 3 3 33 172 T19 Rich Dotson 1982 3 3 31 196.2 T19 Kyle Lohse 2002 3 3 31 180.2 T19 Horacio Ramirez 2003 3 3 29 182.1
Filter: 1973-2010, AGE BETWEEN 23 AND 25, RSAA BETWEEN 3 AND 7,GAMES STARTED >= 28, INNINGS PITCHED <= 200
Not everyone on this list went on to become a star starting pitcher. So, how can we assume that Hughes will? This makes it even more important for Burnett to be solid in 2011. But, given his issues with command, and the fact that he’s just a 110-100 (W-L) pitcher over his 11 full seasons in the big leagues, what makes anyone – besides Brian Cashman – think that Burnett will be someone who you can count on in the front end of your rotation?
In the meantime, the Yankees appear willing to go forward with a rotation that some have already compared to the 2008 season, when the club missed the playoffs.
“I think that’s stupid,” said Cashman, who called the comparison unfair. “We have one of the premier starting pitchers in all of baseball in CC Sabathia, we have an 18-game winner in Phil Hughes.”
The Yankees also have more choices of pitching prospects, such as Nova, to help fill the holes. And then there’s Burnett, who in 2010 who suffered through one of the worst pitching seasons in the history of the franchise.
“I just believe he will be alright,” Cashman said. “Clearly, we need him to be.”
And, at this moment, the Yankees starting rotation is:
I think Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Pettitte can go a little crazy with their X-mas shopping this year. There’s a ton of money waiting on both their husbands in Yankeeland.
Look at what certain Yankees are sure to be paid in 2013:
|Alex Rodriguez||10 yrs/$275M (08-17)||$28M|
|Derek Jeter||10 yrs/$189M (01-10),3 yrs/$51M (11-13) & 14 player option||$17M|
|Mark Teixeira||8 yrs/$180M (09-16)||$22.5M|
|CC Sabathia||7 yrs/$152M (09-15)||$23M|
|A.J. Burnett||5 yrs/$82.5M (09-13)||$16.5M|
What’s A-Rod going to be good for, come 2013 – maybe 130 games played, 25 homers and a .260 batting average? Almost everyone thinks Jeter will be toast by 2013. How about CC – will all those innings start to show up come 2013 – like the knee surgery he needed after last year? Teixeira will be 33-years old in 2013 and starting towards the back-end of his career. And, don’t even get me started about A.J. Burnett.
And, now, the Yankees want to add Cliff Lee to this mix – at huge dollars? Lee will be 34-years old in 2013.
Granted, sure, look at Andy Pettitte. He aged well. Ditto Mariano Rivera – and, to an extent, Jorge Posada. So, maybe this will all work out for the Yankees? But, for sure, I wouldn’t bet any money on it.
Via Jeff Passan:
The quickly devolving Derek Jeter negotiations might not be the New York Yankees’ only problem. They’re playing hardball with Mariano Rivera too.
While the free-agent closer is seeking a two-year deal, the Yankees are currently inclined to offer him only one year, according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking. And by doing so, they risk doing to Rivera what they’ve already done with Jeter: muck up talks that could’ve – and should’ve – gone smoothly.
In taking a hard line with their two biggest stars since Mickey Mantle, the Yankees are banking on the greatest leverage they’ve got: the notion that Jeter and Rivera wouldn’t fathom wearing another uniform. It is a canny strategy. For Jeter or Rivera to walk away wouldn’t merely take a contract offer of less than they believe they’re worth. It would necessitate a profound insult, and the Yankees expect the players to interpret the team’s tack as business, not personal.
With Rivera, it could easily remain so. The chasm between one year and two years isn’t insurmountable, and the Yankees are already prepared to give him a raise from the $15 million he made in 2010. Whether Rivera meets the Yankees in the middle at one year with a club option or holds firm at two years and expects the team to honor his contributions and continued dominance will determine whether the negotiations turn as contentious as Jeter’s.
And do not undersell the three-year, $45 million offer the Yankees sent their shortstop’s way as a mere negotiating parry. It was, to the Jeter camp, a declaration – not of war, not yet, but not of an easily obtained, peaceful treatise, either. Between asking Jeter to take a nearly one-third pay cut from last season and spinning in the media that any delay is Jeter’s fault, the Yankees are playing a dangerous game – one fueled by an arrogant belief that Jeter wouldn’t at least entertain the possibility of going elsewhere.
This is a referendum on what two men mean to a franchise – whether the Yankees are the Yankees because of their history or because of who constitutes them at any particular moment. The mystique died in the ’80s when the team was bereft of stars beyond Don Mattingly as well as befallen by a miserable record, so an answer isn’t obvious. If the Yankees don’t bend with Jeter and Rivera, their thinking is obvious: The uniform is more important than those wearing it.
Jeter and Rivera each realize the Yankees don’t want to make another mistake with an aging player, not with Alex Rodriguez and his bum hip contracted for another seven years and, if he breaks Barry Bonds’ home run record, $204 million. The players also don’t want to be penalized for mistakes Yankees leadership made, and if anyone deserves special treatment, it is them.
So their agents counteroffer, and they wait and wonder whether the Yankees will budge. Jeter’s desires are unknown, but they’re surely more than three years and more than $15 million a pop. Rivera wants a second year, and because the news so revolves around Jeter, the Yankees haven’t bothered making an issue of it publicly. Which is, by no means, to say they’re above that.
Jeter aside, betcha there’s a market outside of Yankeeland for Rivera – even at his age. And, I would not put it past him to go somewhere else if Brian Cashman plays chicken for too long on this one.
Today from Tony DeMarco, a NBCSports.com contributor -
The New York Yankees’ postseason fate has come down to a weekend in Arlington, Texas. Truth is, the only apparent advantage they have is in terms of payroll.
Not only do they have to win two more in a row; the second one will come against Cliff Lee, who completely dominated them in Game 3 in the midst of his historic postseason run.
Five games into this American League Championship Series, the Yankees have been outscored 32-18 — 25-5 in a stretch of three consecutive losses — out-hit .316 to .218, and left behind in the running game, nine stolen bases to two.
Even after the Yankees’ Game 5 victory that sent the series back to Texas, the Rangers’ trip to the Bronx could only be termed a success. They did exactly what they needed to do by winning two of three, stripping away a long-held Yankees’ postseason advantage.
In fact, it was hard to tell what was more alarming — the results on the field, or the change in fan base — read: corporate crowd that bailed early on back-to-back nights as the Yankees were embarrassed in Games 3 and 4.
But a sense of vulnerability also has crept in during this series. The Yankees are operating on borrowed time — every look at the more-athletic and aggressive team in the other dugout has to tell them that.
So no matter what happens this weekend, and the rest of this postseason, the game’s most-successful franchise finds itself in a pivotal transition phase, the impact of which can’t be understated.
It took a decade to work through the transition that followed the 1996-2000 run of four titles. And this time, we’re talking about legendary icons being involved:
The passing of George Steinbrenner and handing over of the team to his sons; the creeping-ever-closer ends for future first-ballot Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, plus Cooperstown maybes Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.
Last winter goes down as a failure for general manager Brian Cashman. Coming off the club’s first title since 2000, Cashman chose to tweak, and for the most part failed at that.
He dealt for Javier Vazquez and signed Nick Johnson, and neither made it to the postseason. Curtis Granderson had a just-OK year, and that deal cost Austin Jackson, who might be the AL Rookie of the Year.
It’s going to take a much more aggressive and bold approach this off-season. It’s going to take more than tweaking for the 2011 Yankees to have a legitimate shot at another championship.
Are the Yankees in a “pivotal transition phase” as DeMarco states here? Well, if not, they’re getting close to it. The Core Four ain’t getting any younger. A-Rod is aging as well. Maybe Tex too – sorta/kinda? And, an outfield of Gardner, Granderson and Swisher, while nice, lacks the production that would make up for what the Yankees used to get from other places (which put them ahead of the league in those positions). Hughes still needs to improve his consistency. And, Burnett…well…do I have to say it?
So, maybe DeMarco is right here. What do you think?
So, here’s the question: Has CC Sabathia been “the same” since he had that pitcher’s duel with David Price down in Tampa? See these stats – with that Rays game, in question, first, and all the starts made by CC since that time – including this post-season:
|2010||ALDS g1||Oct 6||NYY||@||MIN||W,6-4||6.0||5||4||3||3||5||1||27|
|2010||ALCS g1||Oct 15||NYY||@||TEX||W,6-5||4.0||6||5||5||4||3||1||21|
If it wasn’t for that game on September 28th, I would suggest that this may be the case. But, for sure, he wasn’t hurting on that day.
In any event, based on the way he’s pitched lately, overall, what kind of performance do you think Sabathia will give the Yankees today?
My first thought, seeing this moments ago, was: Reminds me of Reggie Jackson in the 1972 ALCS.
My second thought? That’s a Grade 2, and, he’s cooked.
Via Mark Feinsand -
As if two months on the disabled list with a groin injury weren’t enough, Andy Pettitte has been dealing with some minor back problems this week.
Pettitte’s back stiffened up on him during Friday’s start against the Red Sox, in which he allowed seven runs in 3-1/3 innings. Pettitte said he was “pretty stiff” throughout the game, which could have led to his lack of location.
“The next day, I knew I was going to be fine,” Pettitte told the Daily News. “But you don’t want to have anything going on, especially after what I’ve been through with my groin.”
Pettitte was slated to start Wednesday night, but after the Yankees clinched their playoff spot on Tuesday, his start was moved to Friday night. Pettitte threw his bullpen session Wednesday and said he would have no problem taking the ball against the Red Sox.
For the record, I was all over the catcher’s throwing concerns seven weeks ago.
The numbers, as Sherman shares, on Rivera, are scary, no?
In his last six outings, Rivera has a 9.53 ERA, a .375 batting average against, a 1.032 OPS against, and three blown saves in six tries. He has faced 29 batters in this period and given up nine hits, walked two and hit two batters while striking out just one.