• Cashman: Cano Has Chance To Make Name For Himself That Would Last Forever

    Posted by on February 28th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Everywhere you turn these days, it seems that everyone is talking about Robinson Cano. Here’s the latest from Mark Feinsand

    Robinson Cano’s first five years in pinstripes have placed him in the conversation when it comes to the game’s elite second basemen, but as good as Cano has been, he knows that there’s still plenty of room for him to grow.

    “I have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn,” said Cano, who was tied for sixth in the AL with a .320 average last season. “You can have great seasons, but in baseball, you never stop learning.”

    “He’s already one of the premier guys in the game, but that’s the only thing separating him from taking it to a whole other level,” Brian Cashman said. “If he can be more selective at the plate, he could have a Hall of Fame-type career.”

    “He’s still young,” Cashman said. “He really has a chance to make a name for himself that would last forever. That’s the type of hitting talent he has.”

    This all has brought cause for me to look at some numbers on Cano. First, via Baseball-Reference.com looking at lefty batters the same age as Cano and with the same about of playing time, etc., –

    Willie Davis	100	3121	1962	1966	765	.270	.301	.398
    Robinson Cano	113	3036	2005	2009	734	.306	.339	.480
    Al Oliver   	114	2986	1969	1973	721	.289	.328	.442
    Lloyd Waner	109	3045	1928	1932	659	.336	.373	.437
    Joe Pepitone	104	3008	1963	1967	745	.255	.296	.422
    Carl Crawford	108	3115	2004	2008	711	.299	.338	.456
    Jorge Orta	113	2958	1973	1977	709	.289	.340	.420
    Mark Kotsay	103	2842	1998	2002	726	.286	.339	.428
    Cecil Travis	109	2887	1936	1940	685	.323	.378	.431
    Darin Erstad	108	2809	1996	2000	628	.301	.358	.462
    Gus Bell   	113	3178	1951	1955	738	.289	.342	.475
    Willie Davis	787	115	63	340	118	341	145
    Robinson Cano	875	199	87	394	129	335	17
    Al Oliver   	797	148	75	405	139	241	21
    Lloyd Waner	951	110	17	266	152	65	30
    Joe Pepitone	717	85	117	398	153	305	14
    Carl Crawford	867	128	63	350	161	422	238
    Jorge Orta	777	122	52	346	209	368	61
    Mark Kotsay	740	135	58	294	212	304	60
    Cecil Travis	844	148	17	364	218	125	13
    Darin Erstad	767	139	77	332	222	375	87
    Gus Bell    	840	153	106	458	228	300	11

    Next, via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, again looking at batting hand, age, playing time, etc. –

    OWP >= .500

    Johnny Evers	806	3142	21	.535
    Tim McCarver	799	2995	34	.539
    Dick McAuliffe	768	3105	37	.537
    Jorge Orta	760	3091	42	.548
    Bill Buckner	744	3009	13	.511
    Robinson Cano	734	3036	28	.531
    Al Oliver    	725	2994	50	.558
    Wally Pipp	671	2826	31	.545
    Duff Cooley	666	3086	23	.530

    Without spending any time looking at these numbers in detail, the first name that jumped out at me was Jorge Orta (who I have highlighted in red). Why? It goes back to something that I wrote on May 11, 2007 – where I made “an observation that Cano and Orta started out of the gate somewhat in the same manner…and they both batted the same way and played the same position.”

    And, now, three years later, you can still see that Robinson Cano is on the same path as Jorge Orta – sorta/kinda.

    Let’s not lose sight of that as we’re booking his date, now, for Cooperstown.

    Tex Talks: My Lunch With A-Rod

    Posted by on February 28th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Via Kevin Kernan

    …[Mark] Teixeira made a trip to Miami in early January to spend a few days with Alex Rodriguez and hitting coach Kevin Long.

    Teixeira, one of Rodriguez’s closest friends on the team, wanted to strengthen the bond with Rodriguez and improve himself as a ballplayer, working out and hitting with Rodriguez.

    “I’ll be 30 this year, Alex is going to be 34,” Teixeira said yesterday. “We want to be great into our late 30s and into our 40s. Alex and I are hoping that we’re going to be here for a long time and winning a lot of championships together.”

    “Everyone knows his work ethic,” Teixeira said. “But he put me through a workout that I was tired for about a week, but what I loved is that he invited all the kids that worked out at Miami [the U], the minor league players, back to his house.

    “He fed ’em, then we hit for two hours in his batting cage.”

    Teixeira got to see Rodriguez on his home turf and was impressed.

    It’s easy to criticize Rodriguez for the mistakes he has made, but Teixeira saw a side of the slugger that really hit home.

    “What he does for that community,” the first baseman said. “You walk around the Miami facilities and everyone is, ‘Hey Alex.’ He gives everyone a hug.

    “His name’s on the stadium. It’s inspiring because when I’m in the offseason, I like to get away. I like to be by myself a little bit, but he just said ‘Hey, guys, c’mon in.’

    “The whole time we were there, he was talking baseball,” Teixeira added. “He was teaching kids how to work, how to prepare, how to hit certain pitchers, how to go into spring training.”

    There’s no truth to the rumor that, after the lunch with Tex, A-Rod then said: “Teixeira’s never been blessed with great talent around him. He’s always had to lead. He can’t just go and play and have fun. And he hits third — that’s totally different than first and second in a lineup. Now, you go into New York, you wanna stop me and Tex.”

    Hello Newman

    Posted by on February 28th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    In case you missed it, yesterday, Mike Newman, over at Scouting the Sally, started a page where he will provide links to new Low-A Ball Yankees prospect reports and video as it is published. Sweet. Click here to check it out.

    Espresso Cano The Way To Go?

    Posted by on February 28th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Bob Klapisch recently compared the second basemen for the Yankees and Red Sox and had this to say:

    What makes this comparison so poignant is that [Dustin] Pedroia and [Robinson] Cano are alike in many ways. Their career averages are nearly identical (Pedroia .307, Cano .306), they’re almost the same age (Cano, 27, is a year older) and both have extraordinarily low swing-and-miss ratios. In addition, Cano and Pedroia are being asked to assume greater responsibility by their respective teams in 2010.

    The Sox, who’ve lost Jason Bay and have only a long-shot hope of resurrecting David Ortiz’s bat, need Pedroia to emphasize run production over on-base percentage – not unlike Derek Jeter when he used to bat in the No. 2 spot.

    Similarly, the Yankees need Cano to step up and become one of their elite hitters in the post-Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui era. It’s not an unreasonable expectation, given that Cano has hit .300 or better in three of his first five seasons.

    Those are all fair observations and points. But, what caught my eye, after that, in the same feature, was when Klapisch wrote:

    Cano seems ready for the challenge, showing up at 7 a.m. this week for infield drills with Alex Rodriguez. That’s a considerable lifestyle change for the historically easygoing Cano, whose friendship with Melky Cabrera may or may not have kept him from reaching superstar status.

    Cano lamented his buddy’s off-season trade to the Braves, saying, “We used to go out and talk all the time. I’ve known him for 10 years.” But one member of the organization says Cano is better off on his own, spending more of his baseball-time with A-Rod.

    Was Melky a bad influence on Cano? Did that have anything to do with the Yankees sending Cabrera down to Triple-A for four weeks in 2008? Then again, Leche was on the team with Robby in 2006, 2007 and 2009 – all seasons where Cano did fine with the bat.

    It will be interesting to see how Cano does in 2010 with his primo, Melky, out of the picture. And, if Cano does poorly, it will be all on him this season – as Cabrera won’t be around for anyone to blame Robby’s failure on him being a bad influence.

    Mick The Quick Would Like Gig In Minors

    Posted by on February 28th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Via the AP

    Mickey Rivers is a fan favorite at Yankees’ fantasy camps and a team spring training instructor. Now “Mick the Quick” would like to work full-time as a minor league instructor.

    “Definitely, I love working with kids,” Rivers said on Saturday. “I think that’s exciting. Show them something different. You want to try and put something together with the kids.”

    Rivers works with both major and minor league outfielders during the spring, and also helps out with baserunning and bunting sessions.

    “What they see here, they probably take it and use through the course of their life,” Rivers said. “It’s a good thing.”

    A speedy center fielder in his playing days, Rivers helped the Yankees to three AL pennants and two World Series titles from 1976-78. In 29 postseason games, Rivers hit .308.

    “What I remember most is the guys,” Rivers said. “The togetherness. They’re going to let you know when you do something wrong and let you know when you do something right. That was most important.”

    Former teammates of Rivers, including Reggie Jackson, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry and Graig Nettles, are also instructors at spring training. Yogi Berra, part of 10 World Series winning teams as a Yankees’ player, is also in camp. Berra was also a coach from 1976-83.

    “It was a remarkable group,” Rivers said. “These guys had what it takes to be a great championship team. You had Thurman Munson, he was one of the great catchers. You had Reggie. He was a big favorite of mine coming out of California. We put a lot of pressure on him when he got there, but he was the one who was supposed to take the pressure. To be the big guy, you had to take the pressure.”

    Also in the forefront was Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who Rivers said demanded his players be “professional.”

    “The Boss was great,” Rivers said. “He wanted to be special. That’s how he works. That’s how he runs his team. He wanted to be at the top.”

    Seeing this, I decided to check Rivers’ website – which I haven’t done in a while – and was pleased to see it’s still up and running.

    Mickey was an interesting Yankee. When he was a player, I saw him as a slasher who didn’t walk enough to bat at the top of the order. And, I’m not quite sure what was up with his baserunning in 1977?

    But, did you know that Rivers finished in the “Top 25” of the A.L. MVP voting in all of the three full seasons that he played with the Yankees? Yup – he was 3rd in 1976, 11th in 1977 and 25th in 1978. I wonder how many Yankees, who played with the team in three full seasons or more, finished in the “Top 25” of the league MVP vote every year they were with the team? Not many – I would bet.

    And, Mick the Quick was “money” in a big game. Just look at Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS – where he was on base four times. Or, look at Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS – where he got that huge single in the 9th inning to tie the game. And, remember, these were the days where “Game 5” was “do or die.” Also, Rivers was on base three times, in four tries, with two steals, in the famous “play-in” game against the Red Sox on October 2, 1978 – again, coming through when it was sudden death. (Mick also gave Bucky Dent a magic bat in that contest.)

    Sure, Mickey had an interesting way with the English language. And, he had issues where he was also looking for pay advances. Oh, yeah, there was that time when his wife was waiting for him in the Yankees players parking lot and then started ramming his car with the car she was driving – because Rivers hadn’t been home for a few days.

    But, bottom line, Rivers was a winning player when it counted. And, as Paul Blair once said about those late 70’s Yankees: “[Rivers] and Thurman [Munson] were the keys to the whole team.” And, because of all this, I hope Mick The Quick gets that gig that he’s looking for…as I’m sure he has a lot to offer towards helping some up-and-comers in regards to getting the job done when the chips are on the line.

    Some Site News

    Posted by on February 28th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    I have some news to share today. Effective March 1, 2010, WasWatching.com will no longer be a member of the blog network for SportsNet New York’s official website, SNY.tv. This is an amicable conclusion to my contractual relationship with SNY.tv.

    Being part of the network for the past two years was a very good experience. Specifically, collaborating with people like Fred Harner, Ted Berg, Matt Cerrone, and Jeff Goldman (and his team) was a pure pleasure. It was an honor to have an affiliation with such a talented crew. Further, while I met them through “business” when I first joined the network, I later came to consider them as friends. And, today, nothing has brought cause for me to change that view. Naturally, I remain a fan of their work and wish them continued success going forward.

    This has been a month of transfiguration for WasWatching.com – adding additional authors, updating our look, and ending our affiliation with the SNY.tv blog network.

    Personally, I find this all very exciting. In some ways, it’s a reengineering for WasWatching.com. I hope you find these modifications as invigorating as they are for me.

    Remembering Bill Sudakis

    Posted by on February 27th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    I was just thinking about what Mark Feinsand wrote on Curtis Granderson the other day. Here’s a snip –

    Curtis Granderson’s struggles against lefthanders last year have been well-documented, as have his late-season problems with judging fly balls.

    Granderson won’t assign blame for either issue to his eyesight, but after being diagnosed with 20/30 vision following his trade to the Yankees this winter, the outfielder is wearing contact lenses for the first time in his career.

    “They said, ‘Your vision is 20/30, so let’s see if we can improve it,'” Granderson told the Daily News. “For most people, they’d let it go, but since we can possibly make me see better to hit, who knows. We’ll see.”

    Granderson began wearing the lenses this winter, although he said it was hard to tell whether they would help his game yet.

    “I’ve been wearing them for a while, just seeing what could possibly happen with that whole thing,” Granderson said. “I’ll just kind of get used to them, see what’s going on. Worst-case scenario, I’ll just take them off.”

    The whole eyesight thing got me thinking about former Yankee Bill Sudakis. I always remember that his baseball card said that he was “legally blind.” You don’t see that, everyday, on a ball player. And, I’ll always remember how Sparky Lyle, in the Bronx Zoo, wrote that then Yankees manager Bill Virdon would try and flex his arm muscles when addressing the team. And, every time Virdon would do it, Bill Sudakis, who had tremendous arms, would stand in the corner, behind Virdon, doing it too – cracking up the whole team. For those not aware of “Suds,” here some more background on him:

    Via B-R.com’s Bullpen:

    Bill “Suds” Sudakis was a power-hitting third baseman whom the Dodgers tried at catcher in 1970-1971. He had broken in as a 22-year-old rookie in 1968 who led the team with a .471 slugging percentage in 87 at-bats. The next year, 1969, his 14 home runs were second-best on the team, as were his 14 home runs in 269 at-bats in 1970.

    Dogged by bad knees, he was finally waived by the Dodgers during Spring Training of 1972. He was selected off waivers by the New York Mets but appeared in only 18 games for the Mets.

    With the introduction of the designated hitter in the American League in 1973, the Texas Rangers coveted Sudakis as their DH and acquired him from the Mets. Suds responded with his best season at .255 and 15 HRs in only 82 games. Even though freed from defensive chores, Sudakis’ aching knees kept him off the field and held his numbers down.

    Partly because of his versatility (he could play first or third base and catcher and was also a switch hitter), he was given shots by the New York Yankees, California Angels, and Cleveland Indians.

    In 1976, he played for the Omaha Royals of the American Association in the Kansas City Royals system but could not make it back to the major leagues.

    And, this via Keith Olbermann:

    The [Pfister Hotel] was the scene of the most infamous fights in modern baseball history, which has twice been described to me with the phrase “Wild West Saloon Brawl.” The perpetrators were the 1974 Yankees, arriving in Milwaukee on September 30 for the end of the season with a slim chance to reclaim the lead in the A.L. East. Instead, backup catcher Rick Dempsey and backup utilityman Bill Sudakis, already jabbing on the plane, both tried to get through the Pfister’s revolving front door.

    The breaking of the logjam at the door seemed to propel the two men into each other. The next thing that amazed on-lookers knew, furniture and players were flying around the lobby (the New York Times elegantly called it “brief but violent”). At least one vintage lamp was used like a javelin, and one version of the story has a chair being launched, either by Dempsey or Sudakis. Dempsey later told me that he knew if Sudakis, or somebody, didn’t stop him, he was going to kill Sudakis with his bare hands.

    Unfortunately, the late Bobby Murcer decided he had to break it up with his bare hands. Murcer, a month away from being traded to the Giants for Bobby Bonds, also broke his pinky in the process and had to be scratched from the do-or-die game the next night. His replacement in rightfield, Lou Piniella, backed away from a tweener fly ball in the 7th, costing the Yankees the lead, in a game they would lose in extra innings – and in the process, be eliminated.

    That’s part of the beauty of baseball – how a sub/bench player can sometimes have a very interesting story or two behind them…making them someone to remember even if they weren’t great, or even good, players.

    A-Rod’s Car Accident

    Posted by on February 27th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Missed this news item until now –

    Alex Rodriguez was involved in a crash while driving his 400,000-dollar Maybach in Tampa. The ace baseball player was said to be arriving at the Yankee spring training camp to address a press conference.

    The star was alleged to be texting during the “minor fender bender”, a claim denied by his spokesman, the New York Post reported. The rep added:”There were no injuries and Alex is fine.”

    I guess this is what happens when you don’t have Yuri Sucart to drive you around anymore?

    Interesting timing, considering this in the Lakeland Ledger yesterday –

    The Florida Legislature is expected to consider several bills during its upcoming session that would ban drivers from using their cell phones or texting while driving.

    More than a dozen bills are pending in the Florida House and Senate. Some call for a ban on texting, others, a ban on cell phone use entirely.

    Several legislators say that despite similar bills’ lack of passage in previous years, the issue of texting while driving is too big to ignore in 2010.

    I’m glad no one was hurt in A-Rod’s mishap. But, texting while driving is inconsiderate and irresponsible. Or, should I say it’s young, dumb and naïve? Alex has to learn that there are times to text and there are times not to text. Maybe Kate Hudson had a point, huh?

    Bad Times Coming For Yankees In 5 Years?

    Posted by on February 27th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Joel Sherman, today, wonders if “Aging contracts real time-Bombers.” This sort of ties into a comment that I made here just the other day. At that time, I was more worried about 2016. But, maybe the issue does start in 2015? A few snips from Sherman:

    Nevertheless, there is a minefield out there for the Yankees. In just base salary, the Yankees are due to pay $90 million to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett in 2013. The youngest will be Sabathia and Teixeira, both at 33. This is before we find out if the Yankees do as much as a three-year extension with Jeter, which would drive the 2013 payroll well over $100 million for five players.

    [Alex] Rodriguez is just three years into a 10-year extension and a year removed from major hip surgery. Amazingly, he still is signed further into the future, through 2017, than anyone in the sport. He will turn 42 that season, so what are the chances that 10-year deal goes as well for the Yankees as the one they signed with Jeter?

    Teixeira is signed through 2016, tied with St. Louis’ Matt Holliday for the second longest into the future that any player is guaranteed money. Sabathia, a heavyweight with a heavy workload, is signed through 2015. Rodriguez, Teixeira and Sabathia are signed for a combined $66 million in 2015.

    Burnett, who just had his first-ever back-to-back 200-inning seasons, is enlisted through 2013

    “There is risk involved,” general manager Brian Cashman conceded.

    Aw, what a drag it is getting old

    Catching Up With Everyday Scottie Proctor

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Via David O’Brien

    Scott Proctor is ahead of schedule in his return from elbow surgery, and the Braves think the tough-minded setup man could be ready in April.

    “I feel great,” said Proctor, 33, less than 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery and already throwing full bullpen sessions. “I haven’t felt this good since high school.”

    Manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s really coming and just has to build up arm strength. I think his first [game] appearance will be in the middle of March. He’s not far off.”

    Proctor was one of the best relievers in baseball when he churned out consecutive 83-appearance seasons in 2006 and 2007. He had a 3.52 ERA with 89 strikeouts in a whopping 102-1/3 innings for manager Joe Torre’s New York Yankees in 2006.

    Despite injuring his elbow during 2008 spring training with Torre’s Dodgers, Proctor still made 41 appearances around a midseason stint on the disabled list. He had a 6.82 ERA in 33 games before pain forced him to the DL.

    Proctor signed with Florida and hurt his elbow again in 2009 spring training, requiring ligament-transplant surgery that ended his season before it began.

    “I came into [Marlins] camp and it was feeling good. But something went wrong,” he said. “And when they went in they found that my ligament — the term [Dr. James] Andrews used was that it was yellow mush. It was pretty much non-existent.

    “The way I look at it now, I’ve got a rebuilt engine and a brand-new transmission. So I’m good to go.”

    …my ligament…was yellow mush…

    Yikes. Did he send Torre the bill for that one?

    Proctor had a heckuva year in 2006 for the Yankees. But, much like George Frazier in the 1980’s, it ended bad for him in Yankeeland. In any event, I always liked the guy and wish him well in this comeback attempt. He’s already cleared one hurdle. And, it would be nice to see him get past this one too.

    Clearing Up Crawford Comments

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    As much as I hate to acknowledge bellyaching about something that I’ve written here, this time, I feel that a follow-up is necessary.

    First, a flashback to what brought this all about in the first place. Three days ago, I wrote:

    Two things about Carl Crawford: One, he’s very “street.” Think Mickey Rivers meets Rickey Henderson – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Two, I dunno why…but…I just have this feeling that he’s one of those players who will be out of the game by the time he’s 35 years old. Granted, that’s not until 2017. And, I could be totally wrong on this…and he’ll be a Tim Raines type who plays into his late 30’s.

    I’m just saying…if it were me, I’d be careful about giving him a very long term deal once he hits the free agent market. I’d be very concerned about going more than 5 years on an offer. But, that’s just me…

    In the time which has followed that post, it seems some people are focusing on two things therein and taking it places where it doesn’t belong. And, those items are he’s very “street” and I’d be careful about giving him a very long term deal once he hits the free agent market – in reference to Carl Crawford.

    Making a leap like this is the same as hearing me say “First, see that car over there? It’s a Chevy. And, secondly, and I’m not sure why I feel this way, but, I think it’s not a good idea to drive in the winter. I’m just saying…if it were me, I’d be careful about driving in the winter.” – and then running with it telling everyone that I said you should not drive a certain car in the winter because it’s a Chevy.

    Let’s get back to the Crawford thing. First, I said “he’s very ‘street.'” And, I later tried to clarify that with a comment that shared it “just means he’s got more of a ‘street’ image than a college or boardroom image.” That’s it – period.

    To me, being “street” means you have a “street persona” – as in being someone with street smarts and look as opposed to being the type of person who does the crossword puzzle in the Times every Sunday and who prefers to vacation at The Kurgarten in Baden-Baden.

    Is this why “I’d be careful about giving [Crawford] a very long term deal once he hits the free agent market”? No. Again, don’t forget that I prefaced that concern with “I just have this feeling that he’s one of those players who will be out of the game by the time he’s 35 years old.” My concerns about the Yankees signing Crawford have nothing to do with his image/style – none, whatsoever. My concerns are about giving a long-term deal to a player who I suspect might not have many productive seasons past his mid-30’s.

    But, again, people see what they want to see, etc., and then go on the attack.

    First, there was a comment made on Twitter by someone (whose profile there boasts that he’s an “… all around grump” and that he “want[s] your skulls”) proclaiming “that’s basically it @waswatching / steve lombardi is a racist.” And, more recently, Rob Abruzzese at BBD authored a long feature about my comments regading Crawford and said my “entire argument reeked of…subtle racism…[but]…I’m not here to accuse Lombardi of racism, that’s not for me to decide.”

    Me, a “racist”? Really?

    Again, people hear what they want, and take it from there…I suppose?

    It’s just too bad that these same people were not paying attention on January 12th, 2009 when I wrote:

    It was announced today that Rickey Henderson received 94.8 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and he will now be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 26, 2009. For me, this is thrilling news.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a big fan of Rickey Henderson. In fact, back in the 1980’s, when I last played ball, Rickey Henderson was the player that I wanted to be…which is funny – because I can’t run a lick. But, I wore my stirrups just like Rickey did in the ’80’s – and had white spikes like him too. And, when I would lead-off base, I would tap my toes into the ground like Rickey did when he took his lead…

    It wasn’t always this way for me. In the 1970’s, I was more of a Thurman Munson and George Brett guy. And, actually, the Brett thing stayed with me into the ’80’s as well…as I patterned my stance and swing, albeit from the right-side, after Brett. (But, for the record, during BP, I used to goof around and try and use the “young” Rickey Henderson batting stance – where he had the one-inch strike zone.) Further, once my playing days were over, in the 1990’s, I was more of a Cal Ripken and Paul O’Neill guy. But, I never lost my respect for Henderson.

    Back in 2004, when Rickey Henderson was playing for the Newark Bears, I thought it would be cool to have a picture of him in his Bears’ uniform. Given Henderson’s greatness, I figured it would be like having a nice photo of Babe Ruth in his Boston Braves uniform.

    So, I called the Bears and asked them if they had any photos of Rickey for sale. They put me in touch with Rickey’s personal assistant. When I spoke to his assistant, and told him that I wanted two pictures – one for my daughter, then two-years old, and one for my son, who was recently born – he asked me if I wanted them personalized, with my kids’ names. How cool is that?

    So, for the last four years, both of my kid’s rooms have a picture of Rickey Henderson, in his Bears uniform, hanging on the wall – autographed by Rickey, personalized by Rickey for them…by including their name above his signature.

    Yeah, Rickey Henderson – who is really no different from Carl Crawford in terms of his image or whatever you want to call it. Really, the only difference between Henderson and Crawford is that Henderson had a better batting eye and played in the majors for a quarter-century whereas Crawford just has eight season under his belt, to date.

    So, if I were a racist, explain to me why I have so much respect and admiration for Rickey Henderson – and have a picture of him hanging in the rooms of all my children? Does that sound like a racist to you?

    In any event, as we know, people cherry pick and make inferences – as they have in this case. What can you do? And, all that really matters is that my family and friends, those who really know me, know the truth. But, I felt that I should at least try and clear this matter up – hence, this post.

    Columnists To A-Rod: It’s Not As Easy As ‘Won’ & Done

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (17)

    First, Bill Madden rings in with this:

    I don’t doubt for a second that A-Rod feels he’s had an enormous burden lifted from his shoulders, although I won’t go as far as he does in saying the truth set him free because he didn’t exactly tell the whole truth under the pavilion last year. But he told at least enough to set him apart from Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa and win sufficient support from his teammates and the fans. Of course, much more than his words, it was his bat – 30 homers, 100 RBI after missing the first five weeks of the season with hip surgery and then six more homers and 18 RBI in the postseason – that truly set him free.

    As we said, he sounded sincere and humble, and he certainly does seem to be on his way to becoming “one of the guys” after winning himself his first ring. Still, when it comes to his desire to just blend in, he has to know his teammates and the media view that as a work in progress. Too much happened before he reached that crossroads interrogation session last spring.

    Now it is a new year and he was back under the pavilion telling us that he is indeed a new A-Rod. And there can be no better story than a ballplayer transforming from a colossal, self-serving jerk to a genuine, likeable person – if only because it’s happened so seldom, at least while the guy is still playing or in the prime of his career. I would maintain the self-centered, vain, disingenuous A-Rod was much the product of his agent, Scott Boras, who brainwashed him (for considerable profit) from when he was a teenager into believing he was above everyone. I also believe that his choice to do steroids was out of insecurity. Instead of just using his natural talent, he felt he needed something extra to live up to the money and the exalted place in the game where Boras convinced him he belonged.

    A-Rod kept saying Thursday how much he is at peace with himself. If he truly is, I have some advice for him on how to remain there: When you tell people now that it’s not about you, it’s about team, believe it. Make sure your name is in the sports pages a whole lot more than in the gossip pages. Understand that being the highest-paid player in the game doesn’t have anything to do with respect.

    Next, we have this from Joel Sherman:

    Alex Rodriguez yesterday faced the media in the same place around the same time as a year ago. But this was so different. Rodriguez had no prepared statement, no furrowed brow of shame, no story that was harder to believe than “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

    Looking comfortable in a black sweat suit, the Stepford version of Rodriguez re-emerged for the 2010 season. He was humble and non-controversial. He stuck carefully to a mantra of emphasizing team and winning. In a covered party area behind the left-field stands at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Rodriguez offered the vanilla version that so helped him navigate his rocky road.

    No longer was he a 24/7 distraction or the black hole of the clubhouse, sucking the life out of his surroundings. And when the complications were stripped away and it was just Alex Rodriguez vs. a baseball, he reminded us again that there have been few humans better at that confrontation. He took that serenity into the playoffs and wiped away the notion that he could not perform under postseason duress. He was no passenger on the way to a championship. He was a conductor.

    Hey, let’s face it, no one would run to Vegas to bet on Rodriguez maintaining this kind of discipline. Come on, deep down, we really still are unsure about this guy. We wonder if this was all an act. We think about making over/under bets for the date of his first outrageous remark of the season.

    And while it is important to the success of the 2010 Yankees that Rodriguez remain as uncontroversial as possible, it is even more vital to Rodriguez’s legacy. Because what if last year really was the first year of the rest of A-Rod’s career?

    What if he really did gain perspective and self-awareness and inner peace? Yes, it means that the mental anguish that arose to hinder his otherworldly skill is gone. That bodes well for his production to remain elite.

    But it is so much more than that.

    Lastly, there’s this via Ken Davidoff:

    He’ll never be Mr. Warm and Fuzzy. Nor is he likely to join the Fox broadcast booth upon retirement. People can stretch and alter themselves only so much.

    But Alex Rodriguez lived up to his words last season, and he insists he’ll make 2010 an encore.

    Now, the concern: Will A-Rod’s ego swell back up to its pre-confession level? Although he helped the Yankees tremendously from 2004 through 2008, he did alienate teammates and superiors with his prima donna ways, as detailed in Joe Torre’s 2009 book, “The Yankee Years.”

    I believe what A-Rod believes: His postseason turnaround partly could be attributed to luck and other external factors, but also to his simple relaxation. He no longer felt the weight of the world in every at-bat, because he trusted his teammates.

    With another quiet, successful season, A-Rod will have fully won the benefit of the doubt on his own team.

    I’m still waiting for someone to ask the big question…

    Last season, so many were willing to credit Kate Hudson for having a supporting role in stabilizing Alex’s personal life. And, now she’s gone. So, if things go a liitle wrong for Rodriguez this season, and he starts to get low, will he be able to pull out of it without Hudson there to be the wind beneath his wings? Or, was all that “Hudson as the Lady in White” stuff last year just more A-rodrama hyperbole?

    When Yankee Stadium Was Different

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Today, I stumbled across this picture – taken the day that Lou Gehrig made his famous speech at Yankee Stadium:

    Today, I Consider Myself...
    click to enlarge

    Looking at it, I suppose that I never realized that Yankee Stadium once had “the pipe” between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Thinking about that reminded me of an Andy Jurinko painting of the Stadium as it was in 1956. See below:

    click to enlarge

    From the first time that I saw that “circa 1956” picture, I’ve always wondered about the “circles” around the infield. I know about the circles which serve as on-deck circles and are closer to the dugout. And, I know about the circles that were used by the starting pitchers before the game when they used to warm up there (and not in the bullpen). Those are the circles close to home plate. But, what’s with that other (one) circle that’s close to the first base coach’s box? What was that used for? My guess is that it was used by a coach before the game – a place for him to stand while hitting infield and fungoes.

    It’s interesting how, with time, these little playing field doodads have faded away at Yankee Stadium – and how little they’re ever referred to today.

    David Winfree

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Chad Jennings recently asked Winfree a few questions.

    Winfree, once a third baseman now an outfielder, was a somewhat prospect in the Twins system at one time. Reportedly, he’s a really nice guy. Back in 2006, he took a break from the game. Via La Velle Neal at that time:

    Third baseman David Winfree left the Twins organization in May, believing he needed a break from baseball. He returned in June, with the Twins claiming his status as a prospect wasn’t affected.

    The break seems to have helped. Winfree, the Twins minor league player of the year last season, recently was named the organization’s minor league player of the week and went 3-for-4 Thursday, raising his batting average to .296 for Class A Fort Myers.

    In addition to support from his family, the Twins sent Winfree through their employee assistance program.

    I recently saw a quote in Baseball Amercia from Jim Rantz, the Twins Director of Minor League Operations, where he said that the Twins thought Winfree had just begun to turn a corner and they were surprised that he elected to leave their system and sign with the Yankees.

    Could David Winfree work his way into the Yankees big league scene this year? Hey, never say never, right?

    Yanks Modify Montero’s Throwing Mechanics

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (16)

    Jesus Montero’s future ability to play the position of catcher is such a hot topic in Yankeeland. Related, this from Buster Olney is worth noting:

    The other day, New York Yankees coach Tony Pena took the team’s catchers through some work, first focusing on throwing the ball to second base; Yogi Berra was there, too, and so was Butch Wynegar, offering advice. Jorge Posada, who is easing his way into the throwing drills this spring, participated by taking throws at second base. Francisco Cervelli and others would glove a pitch, pop up and quickly reset both feet and throw to second in the standard throwing mechanics for catchers.

    Instead of popping up onto the front of both feet and firing to second, Montero kept his right foot anchored in place after catching the pitch; he took a short stride with his left foot and threw to second base.

    A few things about this:

    1. I asked around, with scouts and coaches, and nobody could think of another catcher who currently throws this way on a consistent basis.
    2. You cannot possibly be successful throwing this way unless you have a strong arm — and Montero does have a powerful arm.
    3. These mechanics are part of the Yankees’ effort to make Montero into a workable catcher, to maximize his value, because there is little doubt that he’s going to hit.

    Montero has Molina-like speed, so playing the outfield is probably not an option, and he wants to catch. But this will be something that he will always have to work on — and something he began to take more seriously last season, by all accounts, when staff members essentially made it clear to him that what stood between him and the big leagues was his defensive work.

    Montero’s size is something he has to work through as a catcher. He used to throw with standard mechanics for a catcher, but because he is so tall, it takes a lot of time for him to get to his feet and draw his arm through and release the ball. So in the middle of last season, some coaches in the Yankees’ minor league system worked with him on these new throwing mechanics — holding his right foot in place.

    Well, now you know what Houston Astro fans felt like back in the Spring of 1972 – reading about how the team was trying to make then 24-year old Cliff Johnson into a serviceable catcher…tying to find a place for his bat.

    For those too young to remember Cliff Johnson, the young “catching” prospect with the big bat, here are his minor league numbers, back in the day:

    Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G HR BA SLG
    1967 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-Rk HOU 89 9 .282 .451
    1968 20 Cocoa FLOR A HOU 117 10 .289 .439
    1969 21 Peninsula CARL A HOU 103 11 .229 .385
    1970 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-AAA HOU 124 28 .339 .626
    1971 23 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-AAA HOU 89 9 .208 .379
    1972 24 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA-AA HOU 131 27 .283 .533
    1973 25 Denver AA AAA HOU 133 33 .302 .582
    7 Seasons 786 127 .281 .500
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 2/26/2010.


    Sweet Lou With A Classic Big Stein Tale

    Posted by on February 26th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Via Bruce Levine

    Manager Lou Piniella told a few media people about the one time that he was called during a game in the dugout by New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner when Piniella managed the Yankees.

    “We were in Anaheim,” Piniella said, “and it’s the fourth inning. All of the sudden, I see our trainer coming up the stairs from the clubhouse with a long wire and a telephone connected to it (remember, no cell phones in 1985). I said, ‘What’s this?’ and the trainer started to plead with me to take the call from George Steinbrenner. As soon as I get on, George starts yelling. He says, ‘Whose side are you on!?’ Piniella laughed, ‘And what are you doing!?’

    Steinbrenner, the Yankee owner said in a sarcastic tone, ‘And if you think you wants to take a pitcher out, leave him in! If you think you want to leave the guy in, take him out!’ Steinbrenner told Piniella, showing his distrust for Piniella’s decision-making at that time. “George was livid. Finally, when I got a word in edgewise, I said to George, ‘What inning is it?’ George said, ‘It’s the fourth.’ Then I said, ‘What’s the score?’ and George said ‘3-1.’ Then I said, ‘Who’s winning?’ and he said, ‘You are.’ Then I started laughing and said, ‘And that’s a problem?’”

    Piniella continued to laugh and smile as he reminisced the tough love Steinbrenner showed for his employees.

    And if you think you wants to take a pitcher out, leave him in! If you think you want to leave the guy in, take him out!

    Ah, yes, listen to George, Lou…if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right!

    Dover Publications Reissues Some Baseball Classics

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    One of the best perks of authoring a long-standing and popular blog is that, each season, I receive several review copies of baseball books. For a baseball book junkie like me, this is just like manna from heaven.

    And, today, I received a package of books from Dover Publications which included the following:

    They each look good – fun and informative portals leading into baseball’s past. What’s not to love about that? If you enjoy baseball history and books covering it as much as me, you’ll want to check these out.

    WasWatching.com 2010 Reader Survey

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Back in March of 2008, we did a reader survey. Click here and here to see the results of that effort.

    Well, two years is a long time. So, I’ve decided to re-run the survey now. Please consider taking this reader survey. It’s safe, easy, and quick. It should take you just a few minutes to complete it. Thanks in advance for your time on this request!

    Click here to take survey.

    And Cano’s Got Mad Hits Like He Was Rod Carew

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    So today I had a couple of extra hours of free time due to the fact that a car slammed into the power pole outside of my office, snapping it in half, and taking the power out. With that free time I was browsing baseball-reference, and came upon Robinson Cano’s page. While browsing through the same numbers that I’ve already read countless times this offseason, I noticed something I hadn’t before. One of Robinson Cano’s comps happens to be Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Upon deeper inspection, I realized that not only is Carew a good comp for Cano, he’s actually been outperformed by Cano.

    Check it out: [Cano] [Carew]

    Through their age 26 season, Cano bests Carew in most of the major offensive categories including hits (of which Carew would end up with 3053). Cano lacks the speed Carew had, and would definitly not ever be able to steal 41 bags in a season. Carew, however, didn’t have the power that Cano posses and also didn’t have the short porch in right for 81 games. Should we start looking at Cano as a possible future Hall of Famer?

    A-Rod Speaketh

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    What Alex Rodriguez had to say at his presser today, via mlb.com

    “Now that you taste [winning the World Series], you just want to keep doing it again,” Rodriguez said Thursday. “There’s no question for me that it wasn’t a monkey, it was a humongous gorilla that came off my back. And I felt that.”

    “I’ve never had more fun in my life playing baseball than I did last year,” he said.

    “I was at the very bottom, and a lot of people tried to give me a hand and encourage me,” Rodriguez said. “I just felt a love and a lot of support everywhere we went — not only with the Yankee fans, but across baseball. I think there was an appreciation for me coming out and doing what I did last year.”

    “There might be a postseason or two where I don’t hit four or five or six home runs,” Rodriguez said. “And I know the way it goes. I’m going to get crushed, and that’s just part of it. But the one thing that no one can take away is what happened in 2009 with our team, with the way we came together like a family, everyone checking their egos at the door and winning a world championship. The feeling of satisfaction that I got from that will forever be mine.”

    “I think I’m going to be fine,” he said. “If I do what I do and I stay healthy and I stay in the same frame of mind I was in last year, we’re going to have fun this year.”

    Hearing this, I find myself thinking back to what Lou Ferrigno said, in the movie Pumping Iron, in response to those requesting him to make a birthday speech after two months of dieting: “I have nothing to say. I just wanna eat my cake.”

    Today is cake day for A-Rod. Tomorrow is Day One of his next competition. Let’s hope that one’s a winner too.

    2010 Mother’s Day Honorary Bat Girl Contest

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    BatgirlThe good folks at MLB.com recently passed along this press release to me regarding Major League Baseball, and “Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” launching their 2010 Honorary Bat Girl Contest.

    It’s an online contest in support of the annual breast cancer awareness cause on Mother’s Day.

    Basically, anyone can submit stories of how they are supporting the fight against breast cancer. Testimonials can be submitted by an individual (or on behalf of someone else) who had or has breast cancer, or is an advocate/supporter of the cause. One person will be selected per big league team and will be recognized during their club’s scheduled Mother’s Day celebrations. Each Honorary Bat Girl will have an opportunity to take part in pre-game activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive two tickets to the game and pink MLB merchandise.

    I know that breast cancer awareness is important to many – and wanted to share this news here in case you missed the press release at MLB’s site.

    Discussing An Alternate Yankee Uniform

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (20)

    The New York Yankees brandish the most noticeable and famous uniform and logo in professional sports. Everyone knows the pinstripes, and everyone buys the merchandise. According to SportsScanINFO25 percent of the money spent on MLB merchandise were on Yankee-related items in 2007. Next in line were the Cardinals who were responsible for only 8.6 percent of MLB merchandise sales that year. The Yankees also owned the highest dollar share of MLB Licensed products during the third quarter of 2009. So it is fairly obvious that the club is always on top of the current sales charts.

    Needless to say, hats and jerseys make up a large portion of those numbers, and although it goes against the Yankee credo, they could generate some extra revenue by creating a third or alternate jersey. The money made from those uniforms would quickly make up for the decrease in luxury box sales.

    I know the Yankees are not hurting for cash, but it would be fun to image what an alternate jersey might look like. Using my photoshop skills*, I tinkered with the road uniform and came up with this:

    The typical away uniform usually includes the city name across the chest, not the team name. I can’t see the organization changing the home jersey, so if they ever were to add analternate uniofrm, it would be something we only see on television or while on vacation.

    I initially used the “bat and hat” logo on the Yankees cap, but it looked strange, so I moved it to the sleeve. The interlocking “N-Y” is what makes the hat distinct, so abandoning that would never be a good idea. The script across the chest helps give the uniform a classy look, while maintaining the gray and navy blue color scheme.

    Yes, this alternate road uniform is very similar to the current road uniform, but the Yankees are not the type of organization to drastically change what they wear. If they ever were to implement an alternate uniform, I’m sure it would remain very simple, and we definitely would not see any new colors.

    So, if you were in charge of creating an alternate Yankee uniform, how would it look? Also, if you enjoy uniform tweaks, be sure to check out Uni Watch. Especially this post and this post.

    *base uniform courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net

    Wild Thought: Jeter’s Final Days As A Ray?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (15)

    Joe Henderson offered this from the Jeter presser yesterday –

    So [Derek Jeter] talked, patiently fielding questions as if they were batting practice ground balls. Only one subject was off limits.

    A NewsChannel 8 reporter barely got a question out about the 30,875-square foot palace Jeter is building on Davis Islands, only to be sternly rebuked.

    “I’m not going to talk about that,” Jeter said.

    In case we didn’t get the message, a Yankees public relations official chimed in, “No more questions about the fence around his house, either.”

    Actually, Jeter has lived among us since 1994 when he was working through the Yankees’ minor-league system. The house would seem to indicate he plans to stay a while longer, which is a good thing.

    “I moved down here permanently to work out because it got a little cold in Michigan when I was in the minor leagues and I’ve been here ever since. This is where I call home. I enjoy Tampa, I enjoy my time here.”

    O.K., so, Derek hearts Tampa. Warm weather, better taxes, etc. That’s not hard to understand. But, if Jeter really calls Tampa “home,” would he ever consider playing for “the home team”?

    If the Rays ever get their new ballpark, and the team continues to be an factor in the A.L. East, and if Jeter wants to keep playing and the Yankees don’t want him around, is it such a wild thought to think that Derek Jeter – perhaps like Wade Boggs – might close out his career as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays?

    Hey, the last stat line in Yogi Berra’s playing career says “Mets.” Hank Aaron closed out as a Brewer. Anything is possible, no?

    Snow Today, Yankees Baseball Next Week

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    In case you missed it, yes, it’s snowing in the heart of Yankeeland today. Here’s some interesting facts about this storm via the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    At least several inches of snow with wind gusts up to 40 m.p.h. are expected from an explosive nor’easter that is forecast to follow a contortionistic path, tracking east of New Jersey and then perhaps jogging inland near New York City.

    While it has almost no shot at becoming the region’s biggest snow of the season, the storm due late today and tomorrow could end up contending for the wildest.

    “It looks like it’s going to be a doozy,” said Andrew Ulrich, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pa.

    Meteorologists said the projected path bears some similarities to that of the famous blizzard of 1888, which left 10 inches of gale-blown snow in Philadelphia, and 2 feet in New York City.

    The National Weather Service has issued a winter-storm watch for 6 to 10 inches in the immediate Philadelphia area, with a potential for more. Areas to the north probably will get more, said Lee Robertson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly – as was the case in 1888.

    If you’re tired of the snow, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In just just six more days, the Yankees will be hosting the Pirates down in Tampa and the game will be on T.V. (YES).

    Yup, in less than a week, we’ll be able to watch live Yankees baseball again – albeit just an exhibition. Now, that feels better, right?

    Will The Jeter Meter Hit “Old” In A Hurry?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (23)

    Sweeny Murti offered some thoughts at his blog about Derek Jeter and possible concerns on his future production –

    We all know that Derek Jeter will get his money. If Brian Cashman has to take a few bullets between now and next fall, he’s prepared for that. But what do you think Cashman will have a harder time dealing with—-if he waits to sign Jeter and it costs him a little more at the bargaining table, or if he signs Jeter now and watches a future Hall of Famer’s numbers fall off the cliff?

    Don’t think that’s possible? Last year, at age 35, Jeter hit .334 with a .406 on-base, 18 home runs, 30 stolen bases. He also won praise for his defense by committing a career-low 8 errors and winning a well-deserved Gold Glove. It was probably one of the three or four best seasons of Jeter’s career.

    There’s another player, who at age 33, hit .336 with a .415 on-base, 20 home runs, 30 stolen bases. He tied his career-low for a full season by committing only 5 errors and won a well-deserved Gold Glove. It was probably one of the three or four best seasons of his career.

    The next year Roberto Alomar’s OPS dropped nearly 250 points. Over the next three years he totaled 20 home runs and 28 stolen bases, and 24 errors, his lightning quick hands and feet no longer able to play at an All-Star level.

    Of course, Alomar had back, leg and eye issues which led to him “getting old” in a hurry. And, as far as we know, Jeter has no such concerns. To me, Jeter is much more the Craig Biggio and/or Charlie Gehringer type…and Derek should have another three good seasons in him (after this one).

    What Could Go Wrong For 2010 Yankees?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (28)

    Ron Hart, over at Associated Content, lists hisSeven Ways the Yankees Season Could Go Wrong.” They are:

    1. Outfield offense
    2. Age
    3. Contract scenarios with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera
    4. Andy Pettitte’s flickering performance
    5. Joe Girardi’s personality
    6. AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada’s working relationship
    7. DH production (or can Nick Johnson produce what Hideki Matsui did?)

    In summary, Hart offers:

    So while the Yankees will not have many people shedding tears for them, they very well could run into issues as the 2010 campaign opens. If one or two of these things do go wrong for the Yankees, they can probably deal with it. But if, as sometimes happen, everything seems to turn south at once, the Yankees could be fighting all the way, or even on the outside looking in when the 2010 postseason begins.

    I agree that the Yankees offense from DH and the outfield may be lacking this season – compared to last year. But, the offense that the Yankees get from their infield should be more than enough to ensure New York scores between 800 and 900 runs this season.

    I cannot sign on with many of Hart’s other concerns. Sure, they could happen. But, even if they did, I see them more as excuses, and not a valid reason, for not making the post-season this year.

    For me, at this time, the Yankees biggest “go wrong” concerns should be around A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez. As always, when it comes to being a contender, especially in the A.L. East, it’s all about pitching.

    New York’s bullpen should be O.K. this year. And, Girardi has shown a knack for finding solutions there when “Plan A” doesn’t work out. So, that leaves it to the starting pitching.

    CC Sabathia should be fine – he’s a proven ace. And, Andy Pettitte will be Andy Pettitte – giving you 200 innings and winning half of his starts, thereabouts. That leaves it up to Burnett and Vazquez to round out the rotation. They both need to make 30 starts, throw 200 innings, and keep their ERA near league average or below. If they both cannot do that, then the Yankees are playing the season with one-half of a starting rotation…compared to the Red Sox and Rays who appear to have very good starting rotations this year. And, that’s a problem.

    Jays To Swipe Cuban Prospect From Yankees Backyard?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Via the Toronto Star

    Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos just wrapped up a scouting trip to the Dominican Republic, but wouldn’t say whether Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz was one of the prospects who worked out for Jays’ staff.

    Ruiz, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, hit .330 during a five-year career with Santiago in Cuba’s National Series, and rumours have swirled since January that the Jays had made the shortlist of teams with a chance to sign him. On Feb. 13, his agent predicted Ruiz could sign before most major league training camps opened on the weekend of Feb. 20.

    Ruiz’s camp has been silent since then, but Tuesday the blog cubanballplayers.com reported the left-handed batter, who turns 26 next month, held a private workout for the Blue Jays. Ruiz has spent the winter training at the New York Yankees’ complex in the Dominican Republic, according to published reports.

    Agents at Prestige Sports Agency, which represents Ruiz, have not replied to emails seeking comment.

    Anthopoulos, meanwhile, confirmed that he had completed a trip to the Dominican, but would say only that Marco Paddy, the club’s director of Latin American scouting, oversaw workouts by several unnamed players.

    Ruiz has attracted attention from pro scouts for his combination of size, skill and speed. In 2007-2008 he led the National Series with 32 steals. Through 52 games in the 2008-2009 season Ruiz was batting .305 but abruptly defected to the Dominican Republic.

    Is this a big deal? Probably not – as the Yankees need a first base prospect like Lady Gaga needs another hit song at this moment. But, it’s a bit of a bummer if the Yankees having been hosting this kid all winter and then he signs with one of their rivals.

    Schilling’s “Bloody Sock” Dock Gives Up License

    Posted by on February 25th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    Looks like Dr. Morgan’s days of pouring mercurochrome on sanitary socks are over. Via the Worcester Telegram:

    Dr. William J. Morgan, the former Red Sox team physician who gained national fame for repairing pitcher Curt Schilling’s torn right ankle tendon so he could pitch in the 2004 playoffs and World Series, has indefinitely given up his right to practice medicine while state officials investigate him for unspecified allegations.

    Dr. Morgan, 57, a hand surgeon and longtime Auburn and Boylston resident, was also head physician for the Worcester Sharks minor league hockey team from 2006 until he resigned last fall around the time he surrendered his medical license. He also left St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center.

    Dr. Morgan was chief Red Sox doctor from 2001 until 2004 when he was replaced. He was arrested in Worcester for drunken driving in 2003.

    Dr. Morgan and his lawyer, W. Scott Liebert of Boston, could not be reached for comment.

    Dr. Morgan had most recently practiced with the Fallon Clinic. An employee who answered the phone at Fallon’s Summer Street office said Dr. Morgan is no longer with the clinic.

    On Sept. 20, Dr. Morgan entered into a voluntary agreement with the state Board of Registration in Medicine not to practice medicine.

    Russell Aims, spokesman for the board, said that under such agreements, no details about complaints or allegations are released until there is a resolution.

    Bosox: Our Yardstick Differs From Yankees

    Posted by on February 24th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Via the Providence Journal

    The New York Yankees are famously held to the highest standard in baseball, that of “World Series or bust.” The perception is that every season that does not end in a World Series trophy is considered a failure by the Steinbrenner family.

    After a decade of consistent winning, Boston’s ownership group — John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — sat side by side and mulled over an interesting question; with all the recent success, and the outcry that begins when the Sox bow out early in the playoffs, have they, too, reached that point?

    Henry paused — then shot that idea down.

    “I think that our goal every year is to make the playoffs. If we make the playoffs, we’re going to win at some point in the postseason. We’ve been fortunate to do that twice,” Henry said.

    Moments later, he turned to Lucchino. “Do we have a stated goal of number of wins?”

    Lucchino had that answer at the ready.

    “We always kind of get fixated on 95. That’s a nice round number that we like and we achieved last year, of course,” Lucchino said.

    By that standard, they’ve done pretty darn well. Only in 2006, when they won 83 games and missed the playoffs, and 2002, the first year of the Henry-Werner-Lucchino team, did they win fewer than 95 games. Not coincidentally, those were also the only two years the Sox missed the playoffs under this ownership group.

    In the last 12 years, the Red Sox have reached the post-season 8 times. However, only one time in the last 12 years have the Red Sox reached the post-season as a result of winning their division.

    In total, the Boston Red Sox have been the “wildcard” team in the post-season seven times. The Colorado Rockies have been a wildcard three times – as have the Yankees. No other team in baseball has ever been the wildcard three or more times. In fact, no American League team, outside of New York and Boston, has been the wildcard more than once since the berth was born.

    It’s not a reach to say that “the wildcard” has been the Red Sox favorite toy. And, without baseball going to the six-division alignment, the Red Sox’ “goal” would have not been met outside of one year (2007).

    Former Red Sox CEO John Harrington was the chairman of the schedule format committee back in 1993 who championed the six-division format. Perhaps John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino should thank Harrington for setting up things in a manner that would make meeting their goals a lot easier?

    Baseball Prospectus 2010 On Jesus Montero

    Posted by on February 24th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    I received my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2010 in the mail yesterday and wanted to share some of their insights on uber-prospect Jesus Montero:

    Montero can flat-out hit and might be ready to hit in the majors now if it weren’t for his lack of position. Teams are phobic about grooming young players as designated hitters, but every once in a while, the farm system produces a special hitter, an Edgar Martinez or Frank Thomas, whose natural, God-given position is DH. Like those fellows, Montero could be propped up in the field from time to time, particularly at first base, but he’s clearly not a catcher, at least not right now.

    Montero is only 20 and could figure out how to catch eventually, perhaps at the same age at which a college-trained catcher might be drafted, but his bat is propelling him forward to fast for his glove to keep up. Obviously, Montero would be more valuable if he could stay behind the plate; the same was true of Carlos Delgado, Paul Konerko and even Jimmie  Fox…If he does hit (at the Triple-A level) there is no point in holding him back waiting for some revelation of defensive ability that might never come…

    BP projects a .299/.352/.498 line for Montero next season and compares him to Torii Hunter, John Buck, Justin Huber and Derek Bell. Personally, I think Montero will eclipse Hunter as a hitter, but sometimes prospects don’t work out. Regardless, Kevin Goldstein rated the 20 year-old as the fourth-best prospect in the game:

    He’s almost assuredly not a catcher in the end, and it’s almost assuredly not going to matter. In terms of pure hitting ability, no prospect matches Montero, whose ability to put up big numbers in horrible hitting environments at levels a player at his age has not right to be in has everyone projecting him as a monster force in the big leagues.

    There you have it. The “experts” do not seem very confident that Montero can handle both sides of the ball, but they are sure he can hit. Having seen him play only a few times, I can tell you that he’s not nearly as bad defensively as the writers at BP seem to think. Yes, he is a below average catcher, but he blocks balls well, has a decent arm and is a big target for pitchers. According to reports, he’s putting in the work to improve defensively, and that has to count for something. If the Yankees did not think he could handle catching, they would not continue to allow him to work at that aspect of his game. I think he will break into the big leagues next season and spend some time behind the plate. He’ll probably spend the rest of the time as the designated hitter, but that could help keep Posada extra fresh.

    Defensive issues aside, Yankee fans have to be excited about Montero hitting behind the likes of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.

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