• Schilling Tries To Help Yanks

    Posted by on November 30th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From Dan Roche’s Red Sox Blog

    There have been all sorts of rumors and reports in the last week that the Red Sox are pushing hard to trade Manny Ramirez.

    Ramirez has never said in public that he wants to be traded. But Wednesday night at an event in Warwick, Rhode Island, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling confirmed the rumors – he said Manny wants out of Boston.

    “I think Manny is less than comfortable playing in Boston for whatever reason, that’s his right. I think it’s gotten to the point now where there’s some thought that even though Manny might stay, he might not be here if he does. And I think the belief is that trading Manny and bringing somebody in would be more valuable than having a Manny here that didn’t play. I don’t know that to be a fact. That is pure speculation on my part” Schilling said.

    “I live with the guys, I have some insight. I don’t know for sure. I do know that I’ve spoken with Manny. Manny does want to be traded. Manny wants to play somewhere else.”

    Keep talking Curt. It makes it harder for Theo to get a good return – because he loses leverage.

    Who Needs Sleep?

    Posted by on November 30th, 2006 · Comments (15)

    From the Fort Worth Star Telegram

    According to a story in GQ magazine, LeBron James and New England quarterback Tom Brady were “fleeced” during a card game at rap mogul Jay-Z’s 40/40 club in New York. So who lost more? “It wasn’t me,” James said. James said Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has also joined the high-stakes table.

    I just want to know how Alex gets up at 6 am every morning to run stairs after all these parties and other sightings. I get up at 5:30 AM on weekdays and 6:30ish on weekend mornings and have a hard time staying awake past 11 PM most nights. I must be doing something wrong.

    Vicente Padilla

    Posted by on November 30th, 2006 · Comments (11)

    Dan Granziano is reporting that the Yankees are keeping a tab on Free Agent pitcher Vicente Padilla.

    Padilla has always managed to be close to a league average pitcher.

    I read once that he’s looking for a 4-year deal at $10 million-a-year. Sounds like Pavano to me. At that price, I would pass.

    Godzilla Is A Funny Dude

    Posted by on November 30th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the Star Ledger

    The Hanshin Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants are fierce rivals in Japan. But Igawa, who played for Hanshin, will find a friend in former Yomiuri Giant Matsui.

    “I am going to support him as much as possible,” Matsui told the Japanese newspaper Sankei Sports. “I will even introduce him to an American girlfriend if he likes. Just kidding.”

    “If he has his best performance next season, I believe the Yankees will be the world champions,” Matsui said. “He doesn’t have to worry about New York life, because there are no big differences from Japan. Maybe he just has to be much more careful driving in Manhattan.”

    Nothing lost in translation there.

    Hangin’ With Mr. Bambino

    Posted by on November 29th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    I just saw this story in Newsday:

    Almost 60 years after Babe Ruth’s death, there’s still no problem identifying him in a picture taken at the Hot Springs Country Club. But who is the man standing next to the famous New York Yankees slugger?

    That’s what the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau would like to know before it opens a collection of historic photographs taken in the resort city.

    Ruth occasionally visited Hot Springs during the offseason and was photographed at the country club in 1923 wearing knickerbockers _ pants also known as plus-fours that ended just below the knee, with long socks below _ as he held a golf club in his right hand. Beside him stands a man in topcoat, gloves and hat who no one has been able to identify.

    The picture is one of 19 never before displayed that have been added to the collection called “Hot Springs: A Journey Through History.” The exhibit is to open Dec. 13 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

    “It’s a great photo of Babe Ruth in Hot Springs,” said Steve Arrison, executive director of the convention bureau. “This and three more photos of the Babe in Hot Springs settings have never been part of a public exhibit. We got the photos from our friends at the Garland County Historical Society, but no one on their knowledgeable staff knows the identity of the man standing next to Ruth.”

    This story caused a flashback for me. During the Spring of 2004, a unique picture of Babe Ruth came into my possession. My wife’s uncle met a woman who had a family member that played golf with “The Bambino” back in 1939. At which time, the family member (Frank Verna) had this picture taken with Ruth:


    The woman graciously provided my wife’s uncle with some copies of the photo so that he could share it with some baseball fans in the family – one of them being me. Even at age 44, Mr. Ruth was an imposing figure – as the picture shows. No wonder he hit all those homeruns.

    I would bet that Babe Ruth had his picture taken with roughly 15,000 different people. It probably would have been more if they had cell phone cameras back in the day.

    More On Kei Igawa

    Posted by on November 29th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    I found a few somewhat older yet interesting comments on Kei Igawa today on Detect-O-Vision. I have no idea if they are correct. Nonetheless, in case they may be true, it’s still good to know. The items that stood out the most to me:

    Igawa doesn’t have plus command, he is just aggresive in the zone, especially when behind in the count. He lost his consistently low 90s fastball a few years ago and was used to having success pitching like a power pitcher. It took a couple years of his 88-90mph straight fastball getting pasted before he figured he needed to change his approach. Now, in 2006, hes finally figured out that the fastball is a gopher pitch when centered and overexposed so he’ll go to it less often (will throw it down the middle when hes confident the hitter is unbalanced) and try to spot on the corners or miss out of the zone with it when he isn’t sure if the hitter is sitting on it. This adjusment is HUGE, as he has finally learned to pitch backwards and mix his pitches better (which he MUST do in America) in 2006 and its making him a far better bet to succeed in the transition to MLB. If Igawa were to pitch the way he pitched pre-2006 in the big leagues (aggresively with his straight 89mph fastball), he wouldn’t have been very succesful despite the great K/BB ratios.

    Igawa’s BB rate is going to go up in America. He doesn’t have good command (will make his share of mistake pitches in comparison to guys like Kuroda and Uehara), won’t be able to be as aggresive behind the count (unless he wants a skyrocket HR rate), and his breaking pitches are going break a little more in America (especially the changeup). That fine though, his BB rate should still be around average. As long as he keeps the hitters off balance(using his fastball primarilly to change up the hitters’ eye), his K rate will be high and hitters will have trouble making quality contact. Along with his curveball, his changeup is excellent and is a pitch you don’t see in the MLB (moves like a changeup, drops like a forkball). In the NPB, hitters have adjusted to Igawa’s changeup somewhat and know that he will usually throw it low and (mostly) when ahead in the count, so they let it go even if they don’t recognize it early. MLB hitters, on the other hand, will not know whats coming to them. Expect the changeup to be his #1 pitch in 2007; hitters will be geared up for the fastball and the way Kuroda throws the change its going to really break more with the MLB ball. Igawa will most likely be at his best in year #1 to MLB hitters because of the changeup and his deception.

    He has a fiery mound presence and is known to give animated reaction to the umpire if he doesn’t like the call. He absolutely can’t do that in the bigs or they’ll give him the rookie treatment.

    Reading this, maybe I should have said “Frank Tanana” instead of “Bob Ojeda” as a comp for Igawa?

    Igawa, From My Eyes Only

    Posted by on November 29th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Watching a clip of Kei Igawa pitch, today, I saw something. His size, handedness, motion, and “stuff” reminded me of another pitcher.

    And, that other pitcher is Bob Ojeda.

    (I wonder how many people remember that Ojeda ended his career as a member of the Yankees?)

    This matches up with what I wrote last night with respect to expectations on Igawa.

    He can be a good third-or-fourth starter in a rotation. He can give you 30 starts. He can come close to 200 IP. And, he should win around 13 games in a season. On a great team, with luck, it could be as high as 18 wins. But, with less than good luck, he might be a 10-game winner as well.

    The 2007 Yankees can use a pitcher who fits this model.

    However, I would imagine that such a pitcher can get “old” in a hurry. Therefore, when they sign him, the Yankees should be thinking “3-year deal and no more” – just to be on the safe side.

    No Side Deals On Japanese Imports?

    Posted by on November 29th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From the AP

    The Boston Red Sox cannot reduce their $51.1 million bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka in order to sign him, even if his Japanese team agrees to take less, baseball officials said Tuesday.

    “There are no side deals in the situation,” said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office. “Everybody’s been assured that’s not allowed, and everybody’s been made aware of the rules.”

    Funny, as soon as the Yankees win a bid to talk to a Japanese player, MLB starts making announcements on rules against chipping down posting fees.

    Yanks Win Rights To Kei Igawa

    Posted by on November 28th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    From the AP:

    The New York Yankees won the bidding for Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa when the Hanshin Tigers accepted their offer of just more than $26 million on Tuesday.

    Igawa went 14-9 last season with a 2.97 ERA in Japan. He struck out 194 to tie for the Central League lead, adding to the strikeout titles he won in 2002 and 2004.

    Igawa, the Central League’s 2003 MVP, has an 86-60 record with a 3.15 ERA. He would have to play in Japan for three more seasons before he could become a free agent.

    Three weeks ago, I wondered why Igawa was not getting more hype – since his overall numbers looked good. Then, ten days ago, I wondered why some thought Igawa was a back-of-the-rotation starter – despite the fact that he won several strikeout titles over in Japan.

    Yes, reports say that Igawa is a finesse pitcher who tops out around 90 MPH. But, for me, the (no pun intended) key to Igawa is that he’s a left-handed starter. You don’t have to throw hard, if you’re a lefty, to get big league hitters out. Heck, Barry Zito threw 1,200 pitches in 2006 that were thrown under less than 80 MPH – look it up.

    I like this move by the Yankees.

    No, Igawa will not be an ace for New York. In fact, he may never be the second best pitcher in the Yankees starting rotation. But, I would be willing to bet the following:

    * Igawa, next season, will not be a 42-year old with an ERA of five and a bad back.

    * Igawa, if he signs with the Yankees this winter, will not miss 17 straight months of pitching due to problems with his back, elbow, ribs, and rear-end.

    Therefore, right now, to me, Kei Igawa is a better 2007 starting pitcher prospect for the Yankees than Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano – who are presently the third and fourth starters in the Yankees rotation next season.

    Another way to look at it is to use Kazuhisa Ishii – also a LH-SP to recently come from Japan.

    Ishii was far from being an ace in America. In fact, he was a below league average pitcher. But, when he was sound and in rotation, he was good for around 30 starts a year and near 6 IP per start.

    If Kei Igawa can make 30 starts for the Yankees next year and cover around 180 innings pitched, he can help New York – just based on the fact that Team Torre presently has few others who can come close to providing this coverage next year without question.

    When you live in the days of “Wang and Mussina and a precipitation novena,” then picking up any able-bodied pitcher without having to give up major resources is a good move.

    Let Me Count The Ways…..

    Posted by on November 28th, 2006 · Comments (14)

    Here’s how Manny Ramirez has killled, er, performed against the Yankees since he’s been a member of the Boston Red Sox – in total and in 14 select game-type situations:


    Stats via the Baseball Musings Day-By-Day Database.

    Take some time and run through the stat lines for each of these situations listed. Ramirez has owned the Yankees since 2001. If Boston does trade him to the National League, or to a team that does not play the Yankees 19 times a season, it will be a blessing for New York. There’s no question about it.

    In Carl Cash Trusts

    Posted by on November 28th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    From the Post

    “It is what it is,” Cashman said of his suspect rotation that might be upgraded by paying big bucks to Barry Zito, Ted Lilly, Jason Schmidt or Gil Meche. “Nothing I do this winter is going to change the money I have invested in Randy Johnson and Pavano.”

    “We have had two years of difficulties,” Cashman said of Pavano, who has appeared in 17 games for the Yankees but none past June of 2005 due to back, elbow, shoulder and rib injuries.

    “Hopefully on the back end of the contract we will get what we paid for. Because of the money invested, we have to count on him.”

    Mamma Mia!

    What Happens In Vegas……Doesn’t Always Stay There

    Posted by on November 28th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    Glitter and Gossip this morning:

    As we reported a few weeks ago, actress Jessica Biel has become coupled with Yankees star Derek Jeter, and they’re still going strong.

    Over the holiday weekend, they were spotted at Wynn Las Vegas’s Tryst, sneaking kisses at a VIP table where they kept company with Jeter’s teammates Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi.

    On Sunday night, the cozy pair played blackjack at Palms Casino Resort’s Mint Lounge and then went on to dinner at the Palms’ Nine restaurant and a stop at Hard Rock’s Body English nightclub.

    A-Rod was there?

    I want to see a confirm on that before I believe it.

    Yanks Zaun Chase – Missed By ‘That’ Much

    Posted by on November 28th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Timing is everything – even in chasing Free Agents. Jim Baumbach offers the details.

    Cash: No Eliot Ness On Yanks

    Posted by on November 28th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    From the News

    For any Yankee fan hoping Melky Cabrera’s breakout season had made him untouchable, here’s Cashman’s take: “There’s no one really untouchable on this roster. Some guys are more touchable than others. I’m open to anybody who has any ideas. We’re excited about the steps Melky took and how he impacted this roster. He’s a long-term asset that we’d like to have here for quite some time. But people are going to knock on the door and ask questions. It doesn’t mean I won’t answer.”

    Now he’s done it. Cashman should expect this call from some other G.M. who reads this story:

    Knock, knock.
    Who’s there?
    Norma Lee.
    Norma Lee who?
    Norma Lee, I could never knock, but, since you said it was OK, what do you want for that Wang fella?

    I hope they keep Melky. I like his energy. He can help this team in 2007.

    The Baseball Same Game – Paul O’Neill Excerpt

    Posted by on November 27th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Since Paul O’Neill is included, for the first time, on the 2007 baseball writers’ Hall of Fame ballot (that was just released), I have decided to share an excerpt of my book, The Baseball Same Game, where O’Neill is highlighted. Those who are wondering about what player(s) in baseball history were like O’Neill may find this information helpful. If you like this excerpt, there are 64 additional ones that can be found in the book, if you want to pick up a copy for yourself.


    There are many New York Yankees fans, born between the years 1960 and 1989, who strongly believe that their favorite team should retire Paul O’Neill’s uniform number (21) in his honor – and that someday O’Neill should receive consideration regarding a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    I know this to be true because I have debated with many of these fans at various times in sundry places – taking the position that such consideration towards O’Neill is unwarranted. This does not mean that I am not an admirer of the effort and play that Paul O’Neill put forth in the pinstripes during his tour in the Bronx. Actually, as a Yankees fan, if I had to name my all-time five favorite Yankees, Paul O’Neill would rank somewhere in that group. My position with these aforementioned fans was based on the fact that I thought it was a reach to grant O’Neill the same stature of some of the all-time Yankee greats and the members of the Hall of Fame.

    On the other hand, along came The Baseball Same Game, and now I have to wonder if I was correct to take the position that I initially chose in the O’Neill debate.

    Paul O’Neill was a sure-handed and strong-armed outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees from 1985 through 2001. He was a member of an All-Star team five times during his career. His best season was 1994 when he won the American League batting title – albeit in a season shortened due to work stoppage. He joined the Yankees prior to the 1993 season – and is best known as a Yankee as his teams in New York made the post-season the last seven years of his career (in a row). In that stretch, the Yankees won four World Championships and just missed a fifth in 2001. (Some O’Neill trivia: He played on three World Champion teams – the 1990 Reds and the 1998-99 Yankees – that won the World Series in a sweep. Only Lou Gehrig has ever been on four “sweep” champs.)

    Many members of those O’Neill Yankees teams have expressed that Paul O’Neill was the ‘heart and soul’ of those squads because of the intensity in which he played the game. The media has picked up on this many times as well. This is one of the reasons why O’Neill was such a fan favorite. (And, if you need to know “How big of a favorite?” just watch the highlights from Game Five of the 2001 World Series where the entire Stadium chanted Paul-Oh-Nee-Eel near the end of the game when they suspected that they would never see him play there again. It was an incredibly moving moment.)

    And, who matches up just about perfectly to O’Neill in terms of career offensive performance data results? Entertainingly, it is Gil Hodges.

    Hodges was a first baseman with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1943 through 1961. In 1962 he joined the New York Mets where he would play in just a few games over the course of two seasons. He was a member of an All-Star team eight times in his career. He was a very good fielding first baseman. And, he was absolutely beloved by many in Brooklyn when he played there (from 1943 through 1957). While with the Dodgers, his teams won five pennants and two World Series. After his playing days, he went on to manage – and, in 1969, he led the New York Mets to a much-unexpected World Series championship. Sadly, Gil Hodges died of heart attack just days before his 48th birthday. During the 1980’s and 1990’s there was strong sentiment among baseball fans and writers that Hodges should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The push was never strong enough to get him elected. But, the debate was durable enough to remain on the radar of the baseball public for over twenty years.

    Therefore, since it has been acceptable to consider whether or not Gil Hodges should be a member of the Hall of Fame, should anyone be shot down for considering Paul O’Neill for the Hall? Both were All-Stars several times and they were important players on teams that repeatedly won. Both players were cherished by the fans of their team. And, their performance data as batters is within points (here and there) of being equal.

    Granted, Hodges appeared in a Dodgers uniform for 16 seasons and O’Neill split his time between Cincinnati (8 seasons) and New York (9 seasons). But, does that matter? It should not – at all. There is no reason why it should be acceptable to debate Hodges for the Hall of Fame and then unacceptable to debate O’Neill for there as well. (For the record, I must stress that I am not saying either should be in – just that it is reasonable to consider their worthiness rather than say “no” to either right off the bat.)

    This just leaves the last loose-end regarding O’Neill’s number (21) in New York. The Yankees did not issue that number to any player in the first three years following O’Neill’s retirement. It is possible that the Yankees may consider retiring the number in Paul’s honor. If they do retire the number, it will be the sixteenth one that New York has taken out of circulation. There could be as many as four more Yankees (Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mo Rivera and Joe Torre) worthy of that honor soon as well. At this rate, the Yankees will run out of numbers and have to start wearing letters on the backs of their uniforms. But, that will be Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s problem, not mine.

    The above is from ~~


    Manny Being…….Gone?

    Posted by on November 27th, 2006 · Comments (5)

    From ESPN.com

    The Red Sox are aggressively shopping outfielder Manny Ramirez now, according to major league sources, at a time when the slugger’s trade value has peaked, and there is a sense among some executives that their trade talks are gaining momentum.

    “I wouldn’t be shocked if the Red Sox traded him by Saturday,” says one big league official.

    Rest assured, if this dream comes true, I will comment on it at that time.

    Where It All Began

    Posted by on November 27th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    It just occured that I never shared the details of the first Yankees game that I ever attended at the Stadium. It was a great game. Here’s the news report from that contest:

    August 9, 1973

    Yank old pros win one with two out in 9th
    By Jim Ogle

    Gene Michael has a bad foot, a sore bunion and a bandaged big toe … but, he’s a professional; Felipe Alou packs 38 years and pulled a calf muscle in yesterday’s pre-game drill … but he’s a real pro, too.

    Thurman Munson has an inbred spirit of competition (“He even wants to beat me at ping pong.” says his wife, Diane) and the instincts of a riverboat gambler … and he used both; Bobby Murcer is emerging from team frustration as a leader, a guy who is “bustin’ his butt” everyday.

    Put them together and they spell a 3-2, ninth-inning victory over the Texas Rangers yesterday. It was a rerun of what had been happening for two weeks—until the quartet of pros changed the script, chasing frustration and finding opportunities.

    Chagrined at what he thought was a bad call on a 3-0 pitch, Murcer ripped a double to open the ninth. With one out, Munson lined a single to center that scored Murcer despite Bobby holding up a bit.

    “The way things have been going with us I thought he’d make a sensational diving catch,” Murcer said. “When the ball hopped up on him, I was going to make the try.” Harris didn’t even make a throw.

    Celerino Sanchez took a called third strike and it was up to Felipe, who had driven home the first run with a long fly, but had an 0 for 23 streak going. In the streak were a lot of caught line drives, but now Felipe topped a slow roller to Toby Harrah – and beat it out.

    Gene Michael had played a doubleheader Tuesday night and was given yesterday off — until the eighth inning. He came up for the first time and looped a 3-1 pitch into right field, just in front of Bill Sudakis, who had made two fine catches earlier.

    The ball was in short right field, Sudakis can throw but there was never a chance to cut off the winning run — because Munson likes to take chances.

    “I had a super jump because Harrah and Nelson left the middle open,” Munson said. “As soon as I saw Gene start to move the bat on the 3-1 pitch I was rolling. I was already at third while Dick (Howser) was still watching the ball. I was going man, no matter what.

    “No, I didn’t know where the ball was. All I knew Gene had hit it and there were two out, so what could happen if I kept going. We just had to pull one out like that.”

    “I’m surprised we won the SOB,” a weary Murcer said. “The way things have been happening to us, you have to be surprised when something good happens.”

    “I think I’m a better hitter with men on base,” Michael said. “I concentrate more and try harder to do something. I know I’m not a good hitter, so, I try to compensate by delivering hits when they count. I’ve been doing pretty well this year.”

    The RBI enabled Gene to reach 40 for the first time in his career, while it was also his fifth game-winning hit, which gave the Yanks a two-game streak. It’s little, but welcome.

    Fritz Peterson stood to lose the game despite making only one pitch — which Nelson beat out for a single. Covering first, Peterson had aggravated the muscle in his thigh that he pulled last Saturday. Fritz left and Fred Beene went the rest of the way for his sixth victory without a defeat.

    “In my book I pitched a complete game,” Beene said. “I know it won’t be in the records, but in my mind I have pitched a complete game.

    “Maybe a complete game was once one of my goals, but now I’m only concerned with ‘the team’ and I’m just glad to be here and lucky enough to contribute.”

    A few years back, I found someone who interviewed Beene for his website – and he passed me Fred’s e-mail address. I wrote to Beene and remind him about this game. He remembered it. I thought that was pretty cool.

    There were a lot of future managers who played in that game – Toby Harrah, Jim Fregosi, and Felipe Alou. Also, some future G.M.’s – Tom Grieve and Hal Lanier. And, of course, Gene Michael went on to be a manager and a G.M.

    Good times.

    Hawaii Winter Baseball News

    Posted by on November 27th, 2006 · Comments (6)

    Baseball America recently had this to say about some Yankees pitching prospects in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League:

    Joba Chamberlain, rhp, West Oahu (Yankees)

    Like the Arizona Fall League, teams were hesitant to send top pitching prospects to HWB, but because Chamberlain signed late, the Yankees wanted him to get more innings. The 2006 supplemental first-rounder from Nebraska didn’t disappoint. He pitched at 93-95 mph with his fastball while touching 97. While he’s shown a plus slider in the past, his breaking ball lacked definition in HWB and was somewhere between a slider and a curve, thrown in the low-to-mid 70s. Chamberlain already has a solid-average changeup at 81-82 mph with some fade. He can pound the zone with his fastball and boasted an astounding 42-3 strikeout-walk ratio. He was the only pitcher in the league to show true top-of-the-rotation potential.

    Jeff Marquez, rhp, West Oahu (Yankees)

    Though his ERA hovered around 7.00 for much of the HWB season, Marquez showed an impressive arsenal. He has a 92-94 mph two-seam fastball with late life that induces a ton of ground balls. His changeup is above-average, but his breaking ball is fringy and needs to be tightened, and his command within the zone needs refinement. He seemed to have difficulty avoiding the big inning, but his ability to pitch off of his fastball stands out, and his knack for getting ground balls portends well for his future.

    Ian Kennedy, rhp, West Oahu (Yankees)

    Like Chamberlain, the Yankees wanted to get Kennedy some innings this winter after he signed late. Even though he was taken ahead of Chamberlain and got a bigger bonus, he stuff was clearly lagging behind. He has good command of an 88-92 mph fastball that he complements with a curveball that has good depth and a changeup with late-downward action. Just 6-feet-tall, Kennedy pitches on a flat plane and his stuff is not overwhelming. He has good feel for pitching and a simple repeatable delivery that should allow him to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.

    It will be interesting to see how these three do in 2007 – and whether or not any of them have their reports go up or down. Still, at best, you won’t see these guys in the Bronx until 2009, at best. So much can happen in that amount of time.

    A-Rod Ditches Yogi

    Posted by on November 26th, 2006 · Comments (23)

    I just heard about this story – which I think broke about three days ago.

    From Harvey Araton

    On Nov. 15, after attending his own charity poker tournament in Manhattan, he (A-Rod] canceled on a major fundraiser the next night at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, N.J. According to a person in the Rodriguez camp who spoke on condition of anonymity, A-Rod’s mother, Lourdes, had suddenly been hospitalized — certainly a legitimate excuse and far better than the reason David Wright’s people gave for him not showing. (Wright had been inadvertently double-booked that night.)

    But Wright is a Met, A-Rod a Yankee, and because he has a history around town of blowing off events (including one of Torre’s last year), because the call to the museum to cancel was made not by Rodriguez but by one of his employees, because there was an A-Rod sighting Nov. 17 at courtside of the Knicks-Heat game in Miami, the museum people and the Berra family and even the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, were said to be in a snit, with the impression that A-Rod too often gives: He just doesn’t get it.

    The timeline here:

    A-rod goes to his own party in NYC on November 14th.

    Then, on November 16th, he was scheduled to be part of this event, at the Yogi Berra Museum:

    A Night at the Hot Corner

    Museum’s annual fundraising gala dinner and panel discussion paying tribute to baseball’s best third basemen. Special guests are Hall of Famers George Brett, Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt, and standouts Graig Nettles, Alex Rodriguez and David Wright. Moderator is Michael Kay. 6 – 9 p.m.

    But, he did not make it – reportedly because of a family emergency.

    However, the very next day, on the evening of November 17th, Alex and Johnny Damon are seen attending an NBA game in Miami between the Knicks and the Heat.

    This reminds me of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
    Peasant: Well, she turned me into a newt!
    Sir Bedevere: A newt?
    Peasant: [meekly after a long pause] … I got better.

    I suppose that’s what happened here. Whatever emergency A-Rod had that caused him to pass on going to Yogi’s event got better – just in time to go to the game with Damon.

    Sure, that must have been what happened. Right?

    Cash Looking Average?

    Posted by on November 26th, 2006 · Comments (4)

    From Alan Schwarz

    For general managers scratching out their 2007 shopping lists, discussing players in terms of “best” this and “outstanding” that is well and good–but too limiting.

    After all, award-winning players such as the recently named Most Valuable Players, Ryan Howard of the Phillies and Justin Morneau of the Twins, are tied to their teams. And with high-profile free agents such as Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee already off the market, GMs are focused more on a group of players who never receive awards: the truly, unmistakably average.

    The belly of a Bell curve is rarely so attractive. As dull as “average” sounds outside baseball, team builders covet these players so highly that the average begins to appear above average. And you wonder why salaries keep going up.

    “Is it attractive? Oh, yeah,” said Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager. “You have to have a great deal of talent to be an average major-leaguer.

    “We all like to have a roster of above-average major-league players, but that’s not realistic. You’ll have a few above-average players, and you try to sprinkle the rest of the roster with as many average players as you possibly can. There’s value in their performance.”

    If Rick Helling’s agent sees this, he should be calling Cashman first thing monday morning.

    Bucky & The Clipper

    Posted by on November 25th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    Share a birthday today.

    Joe D. was born in 1914.
    Dent was born in 1951.

    Yeah, it’s that kind of news day.

    She Saw Them All

    Posted by on November 25th, 2006 · Comments (0)

    From the Asbury Park Press

    Among the collection of newspaper clippings, team logos and other items cataloging Mary Ontek’s life as an athlete is one very cool photograph.

    It’s sometime in the 1930s, and Ontek, grinning, wearing her New York Roverettes uniform, is standing with a group of her softball teammates. They are gathered in a grass field, apparently receiving batting tips.

    Only female athletes are pictured in the photo, except for the instructor. The man holding the bat is possibly the most famous American athlete of all time … Babe Ruth.

    “She was always smiling. In all of her photos, she’s always happy,” said Chris Covella, Ontek’s 48-year-old nephew, standing one recent morning in the dining room of the Brick home where Ontek spent the last years of her life.

    Ontek died Nov. 9 at the age of 92. She lived most of her life on Staten Island but moved in with her nephew’s family a few years ago because of health issues.

    For most of her life, she was an avid athlete, playing softball and baseball long before women’s sports were as widespread as they are today. She was also a well-known bowler on Staten Island, and Covella even has an October 2000 letter announcing her induction into the Staten Island Bowling Hall of Fame.

    The many artifacts she kept over the years give an interesting glimpse into how different sports … and American culture as a whole … were decades ago. A 1934 letter to the New York Bloomer Girls players, one of Ontek’s many teams, tells the members of plans to play some weekend games in Pennsylvania in the upcoming season. This was big news … Pennsylvania, according to the letter, had just legalized Sunday ballgames.

    The Bloomer Girls were the first organized women’s baseball team in New York, according to the New York Women’s Baseball Association’s Web site.

    Born Dec. 19, 1913, Ontek lived long enough to witness all 26 World Series titles by her beloved New York Yankees. Covella said she wasn’t thrilled to see the team fall to the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the playoffs this year, but she was always an optimist.

    “Next time,” Covella said, describing her reaction.

    He added: “She was always a happy-go-lucky person.”

    If there was such a thing as a Yankees Fan Hall-of-Fame, Mary Ontek should have been in it. Sounds like she had a great life.

    Gregg Zaun

    Posted by on November 25th, 2006 · Comments (10)

    From the Globe and Mail

    Gregg Zaun and Bengie Molina shared the catcher’s job last season, but both are free agents. The Blue Jays offered Zaun a two-year, $6-million package, but he turned it down and is said to be entertaining offers from the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees as a backup. The Cincinnati Reds, who have David Ross in line to be their catcher, have also expressed interest.

    Zaun’s lifetime American League OWP is .482 – and since 2000, in the A.L. as well, his OWP has been .505 (in 1,663 PA).

    That’s not Cooperstown material. But, it’s not the pits. Flaherty’s Yankees’ OWP was .263 – if you need a baseline.

    Considering that the Yankees have no one in the organization now behind Posada, I’m on board with the chase for Zaun. He should be a good back-up catcher – maybe the best one for the Yankees in a long time.

    Seed Of Billy

    Posted by on November 24th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    From Tracy Ringolsby

    Billy Martin died on Christmas Day in 1989, but his legacy lives on. There are six current big-league managers who played for Martin during his managerial career. Bob Geren of Oakland, Willie Randolph of the Mets, Lou Piniella of the Cubs and Jerry Narron of Cincinnati played for Martin with the Yankees. Charlie Manuel of Philadelphia played for Martin in Minnesota, and Mike Hargrove of Seattle played for Martin in Texas.

    There are nine former managers who played for Martin, including Don Baylor (Cubs, Rockies) and Bucky Dent (Yankees), who played for him with the Yankees; Davey Lopes (Milwaukee) and Jim Essian (Cubs), who played for him with Oakland; Jim Fregosi (Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays) and Toby Harrah (Rangers), who played for him in Texas; Gene Lamont (Pirates, White Sox) and Frank Howard (Padres, Mets), who played for him in Detroit; and Frank Quilici (Twins), who played for him in Minnesota.

    What, no mention of Joel Skinner?

    This is an interesting list. Good trivia question: Name the two men who played for Billy Martin who went on to manage the Yankees.

    Answer: Piniella and Dent.

    Not that many would remember Bucky.

    How Do You Like This Team?

    Posted by on November 24th, 2006 · Comments (8)

    I’ve always had the impression that some Yankees fans fall “in love” with a “name” simply because he wears the pinstripes.

    For example: “Mike Mussina is an ace and a future Hall-of-Famer” is something that you might hear from a Yankees fan. However, if Mussina had been with the Red Sox since 2001 (instead of New York), I would bet that many of those same Yankees fans would say “Mussina is over-rated.”

    Related to all this, for fun, I decided to look at the main players on the Yankees 2006 roster and try and find a match for him – meaning a new “name” that would not carry the pinstripe-love factor. I thought this would be a unique way to objectively look at who was good and who was really not so good on the Yankees last year.

    For batters, I’m just going to use hitting stats – and forget fielding and speed. And, I’m only going to use 2006 production for the matches. Lastly, age will not be used in finding a match.

    Here goes:

    Johnny Damon = Raul Ibanez
    Derek Jeter = Garrett Atkins
    Bobby Abreu = Jason Bay
    Jason Giambi = Nick Johnson
    Alex Rodriguez = Carlos Guillen
    Jorge Posada = Pat Burrell
    Bernie Williams = Julio Lugo
    Melky Cabrera = Nick Markakis
    Robinson Cano = Reed Johnson

    Randy Johnson = Matt Morris
    Mike Mussina = Curt Schilling
    Worm Killer Wang = Erik Bedard
    Jaret Wright = Tim Wakefield
    Corey Lidle = Jon Lieber

    Kyle Farnsworth = Ryan Dempster
    Scott Proctor = Chad Qualls
    Mariano Rivera = Francisco Rodriguez

    I wonder how far in the post-season those names on the right side of the equal signs would have gone in 2006 had they been an actual team?

    Is New Hitting Coach A-Rod’s Man?

    Posted by on November 24th, 2006 · Comments (2)

    Sounds like it. From the News

    Spring training is still months away, but Kevin Long already has begun work in his new job as the Yankees’ hitting coach. He has had lunch with Alex Rodriguez to plan an offseason routine and will visit A-Rod at his winter home in Miami to help prepare him for camp.

    Long and A-Rod formed a bond during spring training, too, because one of Long’s former pupils in the Royals’ system, Raul Ibañez, raved about him. Like Rodriguez, Ibañez lives in Miami during the winter, and told A-Rod, “You’re going to love this guy.”

    “I’m pretty technical, as far as breaking down a swing, and Alex understands how the swing works,” Long said. “He really enjoys the technical part of it.

    The Next Joe & Marilyn?

    Posted by on November 24th, 2006 · Comments (9)

    From PR Inside with a hat tip to BaseballThinkFactry.org

    New celebrity couple JESSICA BIEL and DEREK JETER sparked outrage when their public display of affection at a sombre exhibition left art fans upset.

    The actress and the New York Yankees baseball star were checking out the Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons From Sinai exhibition at Los Angeles’ Getty Museum when things started getting hot and heavy.
    One eyewitness tells US tabloid the National Enquirer, “It was shocking. They were making out on a veranda in full view of everyone, including several Orthodox Jewish families who’d come to see the religious artifacts.” The upset witness even claims security staff had to interrupt the loved-up couple and ask them to cool it.

    Move over Britney Spears and Mario Lopez.

    Happy Tryptophan Day 2006!

    Posted by on November 22nd, 2006 · Comments (4)

    I justed wanted to take a quick moment to wish all the readers of WasWatching.com (and their loved ones) a happy, and a safe, Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy.

    Some Not Digging The New Digs

    Posted by on November 22nd, 2006 · Comments (16)

    Neil deMause has posted an interesting feature on the new mess the Yankees have created in the South Bronx for residents. I have to wonder if these bad conditions will continue, or get worse, as the project moves forward – especially once 55,000 people and traffic are added to the mix on given days in-season.

    The feature includes two pictures of the current constructions site for the new Stadium – Click on the pictures for a better view:

    About The 2006 AL MVP…

    Posted by on November 21st, 2006 · Comments (1)

    From the Minny Star Tribune last summer –

    Morneau’s routine involves sleeping until noon before night games, eating macaroni and cheese, wearing a Todd Bertuzzi jersey, hitting in the same group at the same time in batting practice and developing superstitions about anything he does on a day he hits a home run.

    If you don’t know who Todd Bertuzzi is, do a google-search on “Todd Bertuzzi Steve Moore” and see what you get. That’s an interesting choice of attire. And Jeter gets flack for being mean towards poor A-Rod’s feelings…

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