Sunday, October 28, 2007


Holy shit. A-Rod opts out according to ESPN. That would appear to be all she wrote for Alex in New York....or at least in the Bronx. Boras is probably gambling on the fact that the Cubs or someone as yet unknown will fork over silly, crazy, stupid money and that the Yankees will cave on their stance to stay out of free agent negotiation with him.

I hope Cashman sticks to his guns and lets him walk. Screw him and screw Boras. They are apparently made for each other. We're truly entering a new era of Yankee baseball folks. I'll be back to write more about this as it happens.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Managing and Coaching

One of my astute readers, Chris, posted this in the comments section of the last post:

"It's a forgone conclusion that Joe Torre is finished as manager of the New York Yankees.

I completely disagree. I don't think Joe is going anywhere. The Yankees should have let him go after 2003, and they had legitimate chances to drop him after '04, '05, and '06. I doubt they'll do it now. More than likely, he'll get a one year deal at about $4 million."

Very nice analysis, and I must say that I'm of the belief that Torre will be back with the team next year. The buzz is there in the press already, but think about it. David Ortiz and several of the Red Sox players defended him openly. Mariano is willing to walk with Torre up in the air. The young players all came out in support of Joe, as did the veterans. Basically, anyone who is involved in the locker room or the diamond is on Joe's side. Donny Baseball, who might be in line to take over for Joe, even barked his support for Torre to sip his tea from the dugout next season.

After some initial hemming and hawing, I've also come around. I think fresh blood in the dugout and on the field may be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees, but to be honest it makes little difference whether Joe is the manager or not. As I've said all along, Joe didn't win those 4 titles, and he didn't lose the series we've played since 2000. He's loved by his players and respected by the opposition. He's horrible with the bullpen, but does a fine job with most other aspects of the game (please tell Jeter to never bunt again). If it means that much to the team to have Joe Torre at the helm, he should be at the helm. Don't forget, a lot of the guys who are with us now came to play for Joe. His reputation as a player's manager is justified, and adds value to our free agent pursuits.

Anyway, I still think it makes no difference one way or the other on the field, but it makes a lot of difference in the handling of the media and the clubhouse, where he shines.

On another semi-related note, I see that the O's fired Leo Mazzone. Mazzone's reputation took a bit of a hit in Balitmore, where he couldn't work the same magic he did with Cy Youngers Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. To that I say, "How can you expect a guy to work miracles with Steve Trachsel, Daniel Cabrera, and Jaret "Ouchie" Wright?" The O's system is a mess, and outside Eric Bedard, who Mazzone did refine nicely, who else is there?

Daniel Cabrera would be the name that hurt Mazz the most. Cabrera is thought to have lights out stuff, but no control. His lack of consistency in the zone makes him a perennial disappointment. I suggest that Mazzone could have done a better job with Cabrera, but it's also fair to believe that Cabrera is beyond saving. A pitching coach is not a miracle worker. They can't take you or me and turn us into Major League prospects. They can occasionally take a talented kid and refine his motion and delivery to the point where he finds a few extra miles per hour and control of a decent breaking ball. The best of the best can turn league average guys into frontline starters from time to time. The success of a pitching coach is more often defined by his ability to tweak already established talent to perform consistently well over the course of an extended period of time. Mazzone does that very well. What he can't do, and what no one can realistically do, is take a pitcher with no "feel" and transform him into an All-Star. Those cases are found once or twice in a generation. (Roy Halladay?)

I think the Yankees should look into paying Mazzone to be the pitching coach, or at the very least the director of organizational pitching instruction, or some such role. Guidry is okay. Fair job so far. Mazzone would be better from our bench, rocking back and forth next to Torre while he sleeps. Failing that, get him in the Yankees family.

Last thing. If A-Rod opts out, Cash should stick to his guns and let him walk. Let the Red Sox or Cubs pay him $35 million a season for 15 years. We have to show the world that the Yankees aren't going to be held hostage by any agent or any player, no matter the talent. It's important to take ourselves out of that negotiation strategy and show that we are in control of our own financial dealings. We aren't a negotiation chip for anyone. I want A-Rod back and I'd be willing to pay him silly money to finish his career in pinstripes, but not if he opts out. Even if he were to sign with the Red Sox.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On Torre

It's a forgone conclusion that Joe Torre is finished as manager of the New York Yankees. Is it fair? That's really hard to say. There are a number of sides to the issue that are championed by various entities around the team. There is the "Joe Must Go" crowd, led by NoMaas. There is the ambivalent crowd that probably appreciated Joe Torre, but has no real loyalty to him over the team. I think that's most folks actually. Then, there are the people that LOVE Joe Torre, led by his players and folks stuck in 1996-2000.

I consider myself in the middle group actually. It's completely unfair to blame Torre for what's come of this Yankees team since the final out in 2001. He's not a good in game manager, but he was good enough to go along for the annual 100 win push. His moves in the playoffs neither won 4 championships, nor got the team knocked out early the last 7 years. The manager rarely matters that much. Joe was loved by his players, and that says something. Free agents wanted to play for the Yankees as much to play in the Yankee clubhouse as they did for the money. Part of the reason for that love was Torre's loyalty to "his guys" and the even-keel demeanor that kept things professional and calm. That's something in the Bronx Zoo.

By all accounts he handled working for Steinbrenner very well. There were numerous occasions that Joe could have fought with The Boss in the media, but chose to play it low profile. That was smart. The drawback to Torre's personality was the sense that he was often asleep at the wheel, lacked the fire to motivate his players, and generally didn't get it. There's truth in both views. There's also truth to the knock that Joe stubbornly stuck with veterans like Villone, Sturtze, and others. Those guys had no business on the club, but wore the veteran badge of honor to Joe. Loyalty is good. Loyalty can cost you if you don't know how to wield it properly.

In the end, it's time to part company with #6. I don't think he deserves to be vilified or blamed. I don't think he deserves to be canonized either. We should remember him as a class act that presided over one of the most successful eras in Yankee baseball, and lasted well beyond what conventional wisdom would have told us his tenure would be at the start. It's time for new blood. That's true of the manager as much as it's true of the players on the roster. This group has outlasted its run, and we need to change the chemistry. That starts with the manager and ends with some of the guys on the field.

I wonder what will happen with #6. Will it find its place on the wall in Monument Park, retired, or will it go to the next hot young player to walk through the door? I'd put it on the wall as much to remember 1996-2000 as to celebrate Joe, but it probably deserves to go out there with #2, #20, #21, #42, and #51. If not, Joe's name still sits on the leaderboard of Yankee victories as manager. That's a prestigious list that you can never take away. Goodbye Joe. I wish you well in your next job, or in retirement. You deserve our thanks.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Your 2008 Yankees

C Jorge Posada (He's Ageless and the "Real" Captain of this team.)
1B ???
2B Robinson Cano (The face of the next generation)
SS Derek Jeter (Bad post-season can't erase HOF career)
3B Alex Rodriguez (You need him. He needs you. Pay the man.)
LF Johnny Damon (Keeps things loose and should bounce back healthy)
CF Melky Cabrera (Young. Cheap. Great arm. Decent bat.)
RF ???
DH Jason Giambi (Unless you can trade him, you're stuck with him.)

SP Johan Santana (Trade Wang and Hughes to get him. Just do it.)
SP Andy Pettitte (He can still get it done.)
SP Joba Chamberlain (The Future)
SP Ian Kennedy (Polished and Promising)
SP Mike Mussina (Unless you can trade him, he's your #5 man.)
RP ???
RP ???
RP ???
RP ???
CL Mariano Rivera

You'll notice that I've left 1B, RF, and the entire relief corps up in the air. I also left Matsui off the team. Realistically, most of the relievers will be back, as will Godzilla. You'll probably see Mientkiewicz again and you may even see Abreu after that 9th inning homer against Borowski. Very little may change. I'm simply proposing that we look into moving Matsui, letting Abreu walk, and exploring some options to get younger, faster, and more dynamic. I'd love to dump Giambi and Moose as well, but they are paid a lot and seem rather hard to pawn off on anyone. I'd try a Moose to Philly thing, and I'd try to pay some of Giambi's salary to get him out.

The biggest thing I'd do in the offseason is get Johan Santana. I love Hughes' potential and Wang is a very nice pitcher. You have to give value to get value. Wang is a 120 ERA+ type guy and Hughes looks like he will eventually be in that neighborhood as well. He could be better. It's hard to trade away two young arms that make the minor league money for the forseeable future, but Johan Santana is a once in a blue moon guy. Here are his ERA+ numbers since becoming a full time starter in 2004:

2004 - 182
2005 - 153
2006 - 161
2007 - 133

Even in his down season this year he had a 133 ERA+. He's not 30 until opening day at the new stadium. The last time a Yankee posted an ERA+ of 133 or better for a full season was Mussina's 142 in 2001. The last time we had a pitcher post an ERA+ of 150 or better was Andy Pettitte in 1997. How about the 182 that Santana had in 2004? Anyone close to that? No. There are only 3 Yankees in the franchise history to have higher ERA+ than Santana's 182. Guidry had a 208 in 1978. Spud Chandler had a 197 in 1943. Lefty Gomez had a 191 in 1937. If you loosed the criteria to include Santana's 161 in 2006, you only add an additional six Yankees to the three I mentioned already. None of those seasons came any later than 1964. Go get him unless (1) the Twins won't take Wang and Hughes, or (2) you think Hughes will be able to put up a 150 ERA+ on a number of occasions.

You're going to spend big this offseason on A-Rod, Posada, and Mo. You can let Abreu walk and plan for Giambi's exit in 2009. Face it, we need the best pitcher in the world on our team so we can win one of these bloody series. Santana twice in an ALDS is nasty with the Yankees' offense. He also comes from the left side, so you can own Yankee Stadium. Just do it.

More later when I feel more sane.

Holy Fucking Damon!

He may just get some value out of his deal yet. What a fucking catch!!!! Go get 'em hitters. This is the last chance.

3 outs left




Will any of them get on base? If so, is there a big hit in any of them?




Is it possible to get this far down the lineup and win this ballgame?

I Hate Jason Giambi

I won't hide it. I dislike the Giambino intensely. He's so good that Cashman forked over $100 million, but he was on 'roids and whatever else and now he's a shadow of his former self. Yeah, he can still OPS 1.000, but for how many games? How many big moments will he flail away? If any team will take him off our hands next year, I'd pay half his 2008 salary.

Now Mariano?

Why not start the inning with Mo? There is no tomorrow for the Yankees, and there is no next year for Joe. Puzzling.

Really? Veras?

Don't you go Mariano for two here to hold it at 3 runs? If we give up even a single run, it could be curtains....Veras. Hmmmm.

11 hits, 3 runs

Okay, I was emotional. Keep A-Rod. His HR was too little too late, but it was something. It cuts the lead a bit in anticipation of Borowski, but 11 hits and 3 runs is emblematic of the Yankee woes the last two years. LOTS of chances, but NO big hits.

Jeter's a Dog

Of course he's never going anywhere, but let's face it the biggest dog of this post-season is the Captain. Three HUGE double plays. Woof woof.

Cano's a Keeper

One of the few bright spots for the Yankees. Gotta love the kid.

Deja Vu

Does this feel a lot like last season to anyone? It feels like I've watched this before. Maybe this time they'll break up the team like they should have last year.


Don't allow him back next season. I know he has a year on his deal, but buy it out. Trade him to the Phillies so he can be home with his kids. Whatever it takes.

Need a Big Hit?

Don't look for Matsui to come through with it. Trade him for a decent hitting prospect.

Don't Resign Him

Let A-Rod walk.

Thanks for Nothing Abreu

Need a big hit? Look elsewhere. Don't resign him.

Wang Garbage

Wang and Phil Hughes for Johan Santana?

Wang Save the Yankees

Very interesting game yesterday. Clemens looked every bit his age, as he did much of the year with the Yankees. Good sense probably would have had Hughes making that start anyway, but there are a few factors that sometimes trump good sense. Clemens status and salary are two of those factors. The reverse can be said against Hughes. The facts bear out that Hughes is probably a better pitcher than Rocket right now...October 8th, 2007. It worked out very well. Tonight will be a nail biter.

All the analysts say that Wang's sinker should be in top form on short rest, and there may be some wisdom to that, but I have the jitters about his ability to win a big game for the Yankees right now. I think he's gifted and mentally tough, but I think the jury is still out in this kind of situation. He can make or break his reputation in tonight's game. Paul Byrd, on the other hand, can pull one out of his ass and make Eric Wedge look like a genius. There is no other alternative. If Byrd is awful, and the Yankees end up winning this game, Wedge will look like an idiot, but an idiot that everyone kind of expected to criticize after starting Byrd.

The key to this game will be getting on Byrd early and handing Wang a lead. If that happens, we win. If not, and the reverse is true, we probably lose. I just have a feeling about it.

River Avenue Blues' Joseph P. has a very interesting take on the intentional walk to Matsui last night that set up Cano's big hit. I was sitting next to my wife watching the game and turned to her during the Matsui at bat to criticize Wedge for the move. I explained the strategy behind his decision, but felt that the conventional thinking was not applicable in the context of the Yankee lineup. Matsui was far more likely to hit the ball at someone in that situation, and while you may surrender a run, it is better than pitching to Cano with the bases loaded. Cano (despite my lack of research on his ground ball tendencies) doesn't hit into double plays. He is a line drive gap hitter and is far more likely to get a big hit in that situation than the hobbled Godzilla.

[Editor's Note: I just checked Robbie's GO/AO ratio and see that he had the 8th most ground outs to air outs in the Majors. So much for metrics. My belly full of guts got it right that time. ;)]

Pete Abe over at the LoHud blog has a couple of things that I wanted to comment on. The first is his question about why Don Mattingly gets a bigger ovation than Jeter and A-Rod and company. Pete grew up a Sox fan so it's not surprising that he doesn't understand this. Only a non-Yankee fan would even raise the question. Anyone my age remembers the Yankees when they were good but not great and couldn't get over the hump. One guy carried the torch of Yankee Pride with him during that time. Don Mattingly. That is the tattoo of the 30-something Yankee fan. Mattingly's legacy. Bobby Murcer did it before him. Ask Michael Kay.

The other thing is the excellent discussion on who replaces Clemens on the roster. Pete names names, but in the end goes with Edwar as his choice to replace Rocket over IPK. Kennedy may have never appeared in relief, but his 3-4 innings in a game 5 could be the difference between advancing and going home. Edwar may only get you a few outs, and may also give up a run or two. No thanks.

Go Yankees. We play today. We win today. That's it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

God Save the Yankees

I happened to think the Yanks are going to win the next 2 days. I don't know what to think about a return to Cleveland, but I feel okay with the idea that they will be making that trip. This is ugly though, no doubt about it.

If they win tonight, I'll be back to post about Game Four. If not, Torre is 100% gone and you can bet there will be MAJOR changes on the roster. That will be the subject if the unthinkable happens.

What's for sure right now is that the Yankees offense does not work in the post-season for whatever reason. We've seen it since the 2004 collapse. The pitching is the real problem though. Pettitte was brilliant, and Joba should have been out of that inning, if the locusts hadn't come down. The thing is, it got to Vizcaino and he blew it. The key to winning in baseball is so simple it's painful. Throw strike one. The Yankees don't do it enough. Wang didn't do it at all in Game One, and the bullpen (outside Joba and Mariano) doesn't do it at all. Sabathia and Carmona threw strikes. They also sport much better ERA+ numbers than any Yankee starter. That's a repeat of all the recent playoff ousters. Opposing teams start pitchers who throw strikes and sport superior ERA+ numbers than the Yankees. I propose that to win next year, we will have to get at least one guy with a 130-140 ERA+ at the front of the rotation and another in the 120's as a #2. Wang can be that #2, but the guy in the 130s-140s isn't on the team yet. (Joba?)

Go Yankees. Win it for Joe, if that's what it takes. Get 'em Rocket. For old times' sake.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hawaii Winter Baseball

Not to bump my playoff prediction and Yankee commentary, but I thought I'd turn you on to a piece I wrote with Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus. We split the responsibility for writing an HWB preview, with Kevin focused on the MLB prospects playing in Hawaii and I focused on the Japanese prospects. With the Hawaii season heating up, you'll want to read our article.

Hawaii Winter Baseball republished the story on their own site, and it can be read by clicking here. Double your pleasure with Yankees playoff baseball and a little light reading on the side. Don't forget the prospects in the October madness.....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

It Begins

I'm feeling a real mix of emotions on the night before the Yankees take the field in Cleveland. For the last few days I've fluctuated between confidence and doubt.

I'm confident that the Yankees have what it takes to win the whole thing this season, where they've fallen short every season since 2000. The club had the best record in the sport over the last 3 months or so, and when you think about it the Yankees played 12 games better than the Red Sox over that same period. Had we been tied, or a
game or two back, we would have won the division by 10 games.

On the other hand, I don't feel like we have the kind of dominating pitching that shuts teams down. Wang is superb, but when he's not inducing ground balls he's league average. Fortunately, he usually induces ground balls. More simply, ball is up Wang goes down. Pettitte is good, but he's not the lock down type pitcher in his mid-30's that he was in his late 20's. Clemens is a mystery. He earns his paycheck by throwing up goose eggs in the post-season, so all eyes will be on him. Sabathia and Carmona will have an opportunity to put the Yankees in a huge hole, and both have ERA+ numbers that would make most grown men blush. The question will be, is the Yankees' offense THAT good this season? We saw what is possible last year when we couldn't buy a hit.

My gut tells me, though, that this team is a little different. This team feels different and they aren't swaggering into the playoffs with the sport's best record this season. They clawed and scratched to get in, and I think they learned something along the way. They learned the kind of dedication and focus that it takes to win every night. Every night was important, and every night was a fight. That's playoff mentality, and the Bombers feel they've been locked into that mentality for months.

For the hell of it, I will post a complete playoff prediction here, just for fun. I'm going to pick the Yankees to win it all, (1) because I believe they will, and (2) if I didn't what's the point in being a fan? Here goes:

Phillies vs. Rockies (Phillies in 5)
Cubs vs. D'Backs (Cubs in 3)

Phillies vs. Cubs (Phillies in 7)

Red Sox vs. Angels (Red Sox in 4)
Yankees vs. Indians (Yankees in 5)

Red Sox vs. Yankees (Yankees in 6)

World Series
Yankees vs. Phillies (Yankees in 5)