I was lying in a burned out basement,
With the full moon in my eyes.
I was hoping for replacement,
When the sun burst through the sky.
Friday, July 31, 2009
- Hairston can play every position on the field except for catcher (he presumably could play first but never does). With most players that would be hyperbole, but this year he has played one game in RF, 3 in CF and 8 or more at LF, 2B, 3B, and SS. [Update: He appears to be roughly average or better at every position.]
- He's 33 years old and is making $2M this year. No word on whether Hal Steinbrenner is going to be a dick and make the Reds pay some of his salary. [Update: He also has performance bonuses that could escalate his salary up to $2M more]
- His 8 HR this year already tie a career high set in 2001. He's made 340 PA's, his second most since 2003.
- He had a tremendous half-season in 2008, hitting .326/.384/.487 (124 OPS+), but aside from that has never really been even a league average hitter.
Update: Okay... there is no way this can be true, but some dude is saying the Yanks traded Austin Jackson for Hairston... Up-Update: Nevermind he's already backing off.Officially debunked]
- Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers - Probably a blessing in disguise. Washburn is a flyball pitcher who was due for a regression in BABIP coming from one of the very best pitcher's parks to one of the very worst were he to come to the Yanks.
- Red Sox are getting Victor Martinez - It appears they have shipped Justin Masteron, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price, meaning they aren't parting with Bucholz or Bard. Now they are shopping Adam LaRoche to make room. [Update: LaRoche swapped for Casey Kotchman. They are basically the same player, no?]
- Roy Halladay isn't going anywhere - Shocker!
- Potential target Justin Duchscherer's rehab start was mysteriously scratched.
As we counted down to Spring Training, Jay had a great look back at Munson. That was before my time at Fack Youk, and as we approach this sad anniversary I wanted to offer my own remembrance. Despite his passing more than thirteen months before I was born, Munson has long been one of my favorite Yankees. I suppose it stems from my father; with the possible exception of Mickey Mantle, Munson is his all-time favorite.
As I grew interested in baseball, it was of course my father who taught me about baseball history and about Yankee history, and of course, there was the obligatory Munson lesson. At some point in my youth I inherited the #15 Yankee t-shirt my father had outgrown. Age and wear and tear eventually rendered that shirt unwearable, but a Munson shirt I purchased in Cooperstown some years ago remains my shirt of choice when venturing to the Bronx.
One of the first games I can recall going to was shortly after the tenth anniversary of Munson's death. I can recall visiting his plaque in Monument Park that day, as well as receiving the commemorative issue of Yankees Magazine that I read until it fell apart. A few years later I came upon Munson's autobiography, co-authored by Marty Appel, and read that one over and over. I recently completed Appel's comprehensive Munson biography. I have mixed feelings about the book - and may well review it here at some point - but by default it has to be considered the definitive work on Munson and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about him.
What is it about Munson that makes him so beloved thirty years after he last played? Certainly his untimely demise plays into it, as his does his role as the face of the Yankees during the most colorful period of their history. A Rookie of the Year award, MVP award, three Gold Gloves awards, three pennants, and two World Championships certainly help too, as does serving as the first Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig.
But more than that, I think there was something inherently likeable about Munson. Despite his midwestern roots and sensibilities, his personality was also sarcastic and confident enough to endear him to New York fans. His squatty, unathletic-looking build made him appear as a scrappy over-achiever, despite his natural talents. He perpetually played hurt, and despite the madness of the Bronx Zoo years, Munson usually managed to stay above the fray. He was the face of the franchise as they emerged from the worst stretch of their post-deadball history back to being a championship club.
But those are just my impressions looking back on a player I wasn't lucky enough to see. So what do you say Fackers? For those of you who saw him play, what are your memories of The Captain?
The Yankees are currently at the limit on their 40 man roster. They have a bit of flexibility in that both Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang can be moved to the 60 day DL to open two spots on the 40 man. One of those spots will likely be taken by Shelley Duncan today, as all indications are that the Yankees will stop carrying the ludicrous 13 man pitching staff they've had all this week and add a righty bat with the ChiSox throwing southpaws in the three remaining games this series. That will leave the Yankees with one other spot to add a player without removing someone already on the roster.
Still, they're a bit hamstrung. Ian Kennedy, Christian Garcia, and Kevin Cash are all out for the season with injuries. Since none were on the Major League roster at the time of their injuries, they can't be placed on the 60 day DL. I'm not sure that they can be called up and DL'd either. The Yankees wouldn't consider releasing IPK or Garcia, but would Cash - I just don't know if the CBA would allow that.
Damaso Marte, on the DL since April, is in the midst of a rehab assignment, but the latest scouting reports have not been good. He gave up 2 HRs in his last appearance and was clocked topping out at 88 MPH. Given that the Yanks are in the market for bullpen help, I doubt you'd see anything happen with Marte, but there is a slim possibility he could be moved to the 60 day to create additional room.
Juan Miranda, though producing rather well, is blocked by Teix, and has little trade value. He may be a candidate for DFA if another spot is needed.
Got all that? OK, here's what I figure the Yanks are going to be looking for today:
1). Utility infielder. Cody Ransom has been hot of late (3 for his last 7, 3 2B), but at 33 he is what he is, and what he is is replacement level at best. With A-Rod, Jeter, and Cano, the Yankees don't need a back-up IFer often, but they may look for an upgrade if one's available. Ramiro Pena is waiting in Scranton, and while he offers a great glove and good speed, he doesn't have much of a bat and is in Scranton ostensibly to learn the OF as well.Sergio Mitre is not the answer in the rotation's five spot. It doesn't appear that anyone on the 40 man is ready to step in. Personally, I think Mitre may be of some use in the pen, which could mean Alf or Hughes goes to the rotation, but the Yankees have given every indication that they want both those guys to stay in the pen this year.
2). Back-up CFer. Speaking of the OF, Brett Gardner's broken thumb has left the Yankees without a viable CF back-up, and Shelley Duncan's likely arrival today will do nothing to change that. At the start of the season, I wouldn't have had a problem with Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher out there in an emergency, but after their collective performance at the corners this year I don't feel that way any longer.
I highly doubt the Yankees will go the trade route on this one, as whoever the back-up is will likely be a goner when Gardner is ready to return. But given Melky's streakiness, I wouldn't entirely rule out going after a new CFer all together. More likely, the Yanks will go after former top prospect Corey Patterson, as has been rumored, especially since Josh Anderson was flipped to KC.
3). Some sort of pitcher. This is both the trickiest one to figure, but also the biggest need. The Yanks want at least one pitcher if not more. They've been rumored for both starters and relievers. Maybe they view that as two separate needs, or maybe they view it as one that can be filled in one of two ways. They did acquire Josh Hirsch from the Rockies on Wednesday, but that appears to be a move for needed depth in Scranton. Given Hirsch's numbers, I pray we don't see him in the Bronx this year.
All that, coupled with Joba Chamberlain's impending innings limit situation and CMW being gone until who knows when, makes the need for a starter even greater. Cliff Lee has been dealt, Roy Halladay appears to be staying put (and is too pricey IMO), leaving Jarrod Washburn as the most rumored name out there. But, given the M's move on Wednesday, it would appear that they're buyers rather than sellers.
To me, Washburn in the most appealing in terms of price, but I have concerns about how he'd perform for the Yanks. On the surface the veteran southpaw is having a great year (162 ERA+) after spending five of the last six at or below league average. But 34 year old pitchers don't often show such drastic improvement, and Washburn is no exception. Digging deeper, there's a lot to suggest Washburn isn't pitching as well as his surface numbers indicate.
First, his BABIP is .249, well below the league average of .300 - that will likely be correcting itself over the season's last two months. Second, his FIP is 3.75, still better than league average, but much worse than his 2.64 ERA. Third, Washburn is an extreme flyball pitcher. That works to his advantage pitching half his games in spacious Safeco Park with an excellent outfield defense. I shudder to think how that would play in the new Yankee Stadium, against AL East competition, with the Yankees outfield "defense" behind him. He may suffice as a fourth or fifth starter - which is really what the Yanks are looking for - but let the buyer beware.
The Yankees have also been linked to bullpen arms such as Chad Qualls and Scott Downs. Presumably, such an acquisition would allow the Yanks to work Phil Hughes back into the rotation, which might be the plan anyway with Joba fast approaching his innings limit.
Clear as mud, right? That's just what I'm thinking and reading around the interwebs. Who knows what kind of ace Brian Cashman has up his sleeve this time. We'll have a better idea in a few hours.
[Song starts around 2:15]
Since it cost a lot to win,
And even more to lose,
You and me bound to spend some time,
Wondering what to choose.
Goes to show you don't ever know,
Watch each card you play,
And play it slow,
Wait until that deal come 'round,
Don't you let that deal go down, No no.
Good morning Fackers. At long last I'm back home - though I'm not quite sure what day it is or which time zone I'm in. They tell me it's Friday and the work week is at an end, so we might as well start it off with the some Dead this morning.
Today is one of my favorite sporting days of the year: baseball's non-waiver trade deadline. I can remember when the deadline was at midnight rather than four, before the internet had really taken off. It was a lot harder to stay updated in those days. MLBtraderumors.com will have all the updates you need as the day wears on. And we'll be sure to keep you posted on anything Yankee-specific.
Rest assured the vast majority of what you hear today will center around Roy Halladay. I don't know what to believe of the hundreds of rumors out there, but my gut feeling is that J.P. Ricciardi has over-played his hand and Doc won't be going anywhere. I have to admit though, I am a little concerned at the notion of the Red Sox jumping into the fray. They certainly have the prospects to get a deal done, and a Halladay/Lester/Beckett front three would be quite formidable.
That said. I'd hate to see the Yankees jump into the mix just to block the Sox. That's the mentality that landed Jose Canseco in the Bronx in 2000. Don't get me wrong, Halladay would be a tremendous addition to the Yanks (or any team), but at what cost? I figure it would take either Joba or Hughes, plus Jesus Montero and/or Austin Jackson, plus another prospect or two (Zach McAllister, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, Manny Banuelos, Wilkins De La Rosa, Jeremy Bleich, etc.) Personally, that's not a price I'm willing to pay.
First off, in Hughes or Joba the Yankees would be giving up a critical piece to the team as it's currently constructed. Yes, Halladay is a better pitcher than both, but it would only be an incremental upgrade. Secondly, AJax may be a contributor as soon as this September. He is one of the few viable position prospects in the upper levels of the system, and with only Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, and Nick Swisher under contract for next year's outfield, I'd like to keep him. Meanwhile Montero appears to be the best bat to come through the system in the last decade. He may or may not be able to stick at catcher, but I'm willing to give him time until we can find out. As fans we may be guilty of over valuing our prospects from time to time, but I'd much rather watch this group bomb as Yankees rather than blossom as Blue Jays.
The trade deadline is risky business. I have faith in Brian Cashman. I just hope he heeds the above words of wisdom courtesy of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.
Back in a bit with a look at the lay of the land for the Yankees as they weigh their options today.
As is my custom, if forced to listen on the radio while the Yanks are on the road, I went with the home broadcast on XM rather than suffer through John and Suzyn. Unfortunately, ChiSox announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are only slightly less obnoxious than the WCBS crew, and nearly as openly homers as notorious ChiSox TV man Hawk Harrelson.
Both Andy Pettitte and Gavin Floyd had outstanding starts, aided in part by a generous strike zone from home plate umpire Ted Barrett. The Yankees struck out 14 times, half of them looking. Pettitte struck out eight of his own, and only one walk was issued all night - Johnny Damon in the first inning.
The White Sox drew first blood, as a two out double from Gordon Beckham in the third scored Chris Getz from first.
It remained that way until the sixth, as the Yankees used doubles from Jose Molina and Johnny Damon to tie the score. Damon reached second with just one out, but neither Mark Teixeira nor Alex Rodriguez could bring him home. The Yankees also squandered a Melky Cabrera leadoff double in the third, and a first and second two out opportunity for Teix in the eighth. It was just one of those nights.
The White Sox re-took the lead in the seventh, exploiting some sloppy Yankee defense. Jim Thome led off by tapping back to Pettitte, but Pettitte slipped on the slick field, allowing Thome to reach. After a Paul Konerko strikeout, A.J. Pierzynski reached on an IF single that A-Rod may or may not have been able to field cleanly. Carlos Quentin then bounced a potential inning ending double play ball to third, but a high, hard slide from Pierzynski forced Cano to throw away the relay, allowing Thome to score.
The Yanks did catch a bit of luck in the ninth. With no one on, two outs, and an 0-1 count against him, Nick Swisher knocked a game tying home run against his former team. It looked like the Yanks had a little magic going their way again, and it was assuredly gratifying for Swish to momentarily spoil victory for his former team, but it wasn't to last. In the bottom of the ninth Phil Hughes pitched into a two on, one out jam, before giving way to Phil Coke. Coke recorded the second out, bringing Dewayne Wise - hitting under .200 and in the game for defensive purposes - to the plate. Wise smoked a 2-2 liner up the middle, glancing off Coke's glove. Coke was maybe a half second away from sending the game to extras. Instead, his deflection eliminated what little chance Melky Cabrera had to gun down the speedy Scott Podsednik as the winning run.
These games will happen from time to time. Hughes had to give up a run sooner or later. Let's take solace in Pettitte's impressive performance and hope the Yanks can take at least two of the remaining three to salvage a split.
Big day tomorrow. We'll be back at it bright and early.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
This game will be the last time the Yankees face a team for the first time this year. In other words, after tonight, they will have faced every team they are going to face in the regular season already. Got that? No? Okay, the Yanks haven't played the White Sox yet this year, or even been to Chicago actually, but... Nevermind.
Won't you please come to Chicago,
Show your face,
From the bottom to the ocean,
To the mountains of the moon,
Won't you please come to Chicago,
No one else can take your place.
Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, the sluggers who propelled the Boston Red Sox to end an 86-year World Series championship drought and to capture another title three years later, were among the roughly 100 Major League Baseball players to test positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the results.
"I would suggest everybody get tested, not random, everybody," he said. "You go team by team. You test everybody three, four times a year and that's about it."
And if a player tests positive for steroids?
"Ban 'em for the whole year," the slugger said.
Now we give Steinbrenner his space, even the tabloids. Hal Steinbrenner runs the team and when the voice of ownership needs to be heard, he steps forward. That’s how it should be, I think. Let the old guy have his dignity.
Tampa Bay Rays RHP Matt Garza acknowledged it was more than coincidence than he hit Mark Teixeira the inning after Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain threw a pitch at the head of Evan Longoria, and noted the Yankees threw inside to Longoria and hit him Monday too.If you'll recall, Chamberlain went up and in on Longoria in the 4th inning on the first pitch of the at bat. Longoria then popped out to Robinson Cano on the next one to end the inning, and broke his bat by slamming it on the ground in disgust. He was hit by Jonathan Albaldejo on Monday.
I just kind of got tired of people brushing [Evan Longoria] back. It’s about time someone made a statement. They did it on Monday night and we didn’t do anything, they didn’t do it too much (Tuesday) and (Chamberlain) did it again tonight. I hate to be that guy, but someone had to take a stand and say, “You know, we’re tired of it.” You can go after our best guy, well, we’ll make some noise too, and that’s what happened.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
"He's getting a little frustrated so we're going to bring him up here and give him a chance to pitch for us," Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. That's not exactly the tone you want the relationship between an organization and a top prospect to sound like.
Body's healthy, mind is wealthy,
Thoughts, they flow, that will prepare me,
To be a Native, get creative,
Original and designative.
- In a move that figures to squash the potential of two of the starting pitchers the Yankees had been rumored to acquire, the Mariners traded for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson. Wilson stands to replace the recently dealt Yuniesky Betancount and Snell figures to start in AAA but round out the back end of the rotation soon. The Pirates are getting back Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock. Rob Neyer and Dave Cameron think the Pirates are the winners here.
Sitting 7.5 games back in the AL West and 6.5 back in the Wild Card behind 6 other teams, the Mariners were considered to be sellers and looking to unload Jarrod Washburn's contract. Now it would seem they are actually looking to contend this year. Good luck with that... their odds of making the post season are currently 5%, and they have already outperformed their Pythagorean record by 7 games.
- It appears the Phillies have made their big move, swapping four prospects including Jason Knapp and Carlos Carrasco with the Indians for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco. This takes the possibility of a Victor Martinez & Cliff Lee deal away from the Red Sox. Joel Sherman explains why the Phils didn't end up with Roy Halladay.
- The Red Sox made another minor maneuver, swapping the recently DFA'd Mark Kotsay for recently demoted Brian Anderson of the White Sox.
- Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees believe the Red Sox have have offered Clay Bucholz as a part of a package to acquire Roy Halladay, but the Yanks haven't done anything in response, to deter the trade from happening. In terms of the lower end starters available on the market, Sherman says:
"As of early this afternoon, the Yankees also had engaged in no extensive talks with the Mariners for Jarrod Washburn. The Mariners had yet to request any players from the Yankees.
Either due to high financial costs or because their scouting reports are not overly favorable, the Yanks also are not pursuing Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo, or Arizona's Doug Davis and Jon Garland."
The reason that the team has a better record in Burnett's appearances is that he is 3rd in the Major Leagues in run support among pitchers with more than 100 IP. Sabathia, on the other hand is 35th, which is pretty bad considering the Yankees are first in runs scored. Joba actually checks in at 2nd on that list while Andy Pettitte is at 21st, and the team's record when they start are 13-6 and 13-7, respectively.
Good morning Fackers. After a clunker of a game last night, we don't have much in the way of good news for you this morning. In case you hadn't heard, as you read this, or perhaps even prior to your reading this, Chien-Ming Wang is in Birmingham, Alabama undergoing surgery on his right shoulder at the hands of Dr. James Andrews, allegedly to repair a torn labrum.
This is the latest and hopefully the last in a series of professional misfortunes to beset Wang over the past 14 months: his lis franc injury, his improper offseason rehab regimen, his historically bad three starts to start the season, his dubious trip to the DL, his botched rehab assignment and panicked return to the Bigs, his relegation to mop-up man, his lackluster return to the rotation, and then his Fourth of July shoulder injury and subsequent trip to the DL, rehab set back, and now the operation that will cost him the remainder of this year and a good chunk, if not all, of next year. What concerns me is that even if this is the last bad break for CMW, it may also be the straw to break the camel's back.
Much of this is irresponsible speculation at this stage, but look at it this way: Wang will be 30 years old come next Opening Day. He had rotator cuff surgery as a minor leaguer, and then missed time during his rookie season with another rotator cuff injury. He's a sinkerball pitcher who has a very good track record in his career, but possesses neither the peripheral statistics nor the pitching repetoire that is predictive of future success. He missed more than half of last season following a foot injury, pitched very very poorly this year, and now is having his second shoulder surgery before the age of 30. Shoulder injuries are the scarlet letters of Major League pitchers. Few survive one; Wang has now had two, in addition to another shoulder injury that was rehabbed without the knife. Chien-Ming Wang's career, or at least his career as an effective pitcher, may well be over.
Jay pondered something similar nearly two months back, but I thought such speculation was premature at that point. Wang was the rare sinkerballer who had beaten the odds and been wildly successful, and after a very rough start to the season, I thought he was primed to get himself back on track. Now rather than the scenes in Casino that Jay recalled, I can't shake the thought of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption:
Andy: I wound up here. Bad luck I guess.
Red: Bad luck? Jesus.
Andy: It floats around. Has to land on somebody. Say a storm comes through. Some folks sit in their living rooms and enjoy the rain. The house next door gets torn out of the ground and smashed flat. It was my turn, that's all. I was in the path of the tornado. I just had no idea the storm would go on as long as it has.
CMW has been in a shit storm of bad luck of late. I only hope it gets better for him, but I don't like his chances. The fact that his current situation reminds me of a conversation between one guy who's an avowed life-long Mets fan and another who's allegedly dating his step-granddaughter can't possibly be a good sign.
Of course, Wang is being operated upon by the most famous orthopedic surgeon in the world, someone who has salvaged the career of many an injured athlete . Yet, he's also the man that allegedly ruined the career of former Yankee (as well as middle finger enthusiast and sometime Pearl Jam punching bag) Jack McDowell. The fact that Wang's surgery comes the day after the McDowell story broke just about sums up the horseshit luck the poor guy has had of late.
In the short term, the Yankees need for another pitcher - particularly with Alf now having a sore shoulder - just went way up. Unfortunately, so did the price they'll have to pay for one - particularly with the non-waiver trade deadline just over fifty hours away. As much as I didn't like the now debunked rumored Bronson Arroyo deal on Monday, the one solace I took in it was that it would have been a preemptive move before the bad news on Wang could break. As noted linguist Omar Minaya might say, that train has now sailed.
Andy Dufresne said hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Hope is one thing, but right now optimism is quite another. Chien-Ming Wang is crawling through a river of shit. I don't like his chances of coming out clean on the other side.
- "Teixeria's glove probably helps, but Jeter has never made many throwing errors. He is on pace for 5 this year and has averaged 6.5 per season since 2001. His arm isn't the issue."
- About Scott Kazmir: "I would be surprised if he went more than 6 innings though, because he's only done it three times this year and the Yanks tend to work the count."
- About CC Sabathia: "Historically a second half pitcher, now is the time of year that the big fella tends to find his stride. He's thrown 14 innings since the All-Star Break, allowed 3 runs and accumulated two wins. He was just getting warmed up before.
The Yanks didn't help their cause either by making two errors that went in the scorebook, and a few more they slipped under the table.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
When considering all possible outcomes before the season began, I would venture to guess that the Yanks would have signed up for that production without much hesitation. Historically a second half pitcher, now is the time of year that the big fella tends to find his stride. He's thrown 14 innings since the All-Star Break, allowed 3 runs and accumulated two wins. He was just getting warmed up before.
Going to the mound for the Rays will be their quondam lefty ace, Scott Kazmir. To call the 25 year old's performance so far this year "disappointing" would be a gross understatement. Although he's pitched only one truly full season in the Major Leagues, Kazmir has contributed significant value to Tampa Bay's rotation since he was called up to the Big League club in 2004 as a 20 year old. After completion of the 2008 schedule, he had pitched 722 regular season innings to a 3.61 ERA while striking out over one batter per inning. He fit the billing of the Rays' ace by general consensus entering the season; a lefty strikeout machine who, if he could ever make 35 starts or learn to control his pitch count, would be deadly.
And anyone can tell,
You think you know me well -
Well, you don't know me.
(No you don't know me)
Thanks to a number of variables, Jeter has continued to find ways to turn back the hands of time defensively this year. He continued to follow the program outlined by Yankees strength and conditioning coach Dana Cavalea, but he has also been assisted by aggressive defensive positioning on the part of infield coach Mick Kelleher.While player's defensive performance is certain to vary from year to year, it seems less likely for someone to have a sudden improvement in their fielding in their mid-30's than it would be for them to have a career year at the plate. With defense, the outcomes are mostly binary; the play either gets made or it doesn't. With offense, there are vary degrees of success or failure a batter can attain, ranging from a double play to a home run, creating a wider gap between failure and success. Luck is also a bigger factor for hitters as they can't control where a batted ball goes to anywhere near the extend a fielder can position themselves to catch one.
Better health has also been a factor, as Cashman said there was "no doubt" at times that Jeter's health inhibited him in past seasons. So has adding a Gold Glove first baseman and receptive target in Mark Teixeira.
But it's not all doom and gloom out here. Having just got into town the night before and with the time difference in my favor, I woke up fairly early Saturday morning and managed to get my work done before noon. With that behind me, I hopped in a cab and shot over to the Big A to take in a game between the Halos and the Twinkies - I couldn't let Jay be the only Facker to spend Saturday afternoon at the ballpark. Despite my earlier misgivings about the relative safety of doing so, you'll be happy to know (or maybe unhappy to know), that I made it through the experience unscathed - no beer bottles to the head, no gun shot wounds, etc.
A tribute to Nick Adenhart still exists in front of the Stadium. Having just finished Marty Appel's Thurman Munson biography on the flight out (probably not the best setting to read a book about a guy who died in a plane crash), it was eerie to see the memorial to another man who died while an active Major Leaguer - a situation the Angels have dealt with far too many times in their relatively brief history.
The differences between The Big A and Yankee $tadium were apparent from the get go. Ballpark parking in Anaheim is $8 compared to $19 in the Bronx. I walked up to the box office and scored a field level ticket, twenty two rows back in leftfield, for $33. That kind of money won't even get you out of the terrace in New York. The beer is a lot cheaper as well - $6.50 for 16 oz.
I had hoped to take in BP, maybe even score a ball given my seat's proximity to the field, but it wasn't to be. There was no batting practice Saturday with the day game after the night game - or at least there wasn't at about 11:45 when I got to my seat. Rather than bake in the sun for an hour and a half, I decided to take a walk through the stadium to see what I could see.
As I passed by the Guest Sevices office, I dropped in to see if there were any attractions in the ballpark. I realize that not everyone has a Monument Park or a ballpark museum, but I figured there had to be something. Apparently not - my question was greeted with nothing but quizzical looks.
History apparently is not something readily embraced by the Angels organization. The retired numbers are located behind snack carts in the rightfield upper deck. The Angels Hall of Fame consists of a few paintings on a wall in the mezzanine - including one time Yankees Don Baylor and Jimmie Reese.
Also on the mezzanine level are wall sized photos of former Angel "greats". I laughed out loud at seeing the great Mike Witt up there. Witt, you may recall, was sent to the Yankees for Dave Winfield in 1990, and was perpetually injured, starting just 27 games over four seasons and pitching to a 4.91 ERA, all for the low low cost of $7.5M.
Without a horse in the race, I was just hoping for something interesting to happen during the game. So I was turning into a Twins fan after Nick Blackburn was perfect through three. That all came to a screeching halt in the fourth, as the Angels put up a nine spot on their way to an 11-5 victory.
I did get to see something interesting though, as a fan decided to take to the field in the late innings. He eluded security for a good bit, making it all the way to the outfield grass behind shortstop after jumping on from the right field line. Security usually lives for a situation like that, but the takedown was pretty weak. As the police escorted him out right by my section, the PA announcer made sure to remind the fans that running on the field is now classified as a felony. A felony! With one dead fan and one paralyzed one under their belts already this year, perhaps the local authorities should be more concerned with protecting the fans in their seats rather than prosecuting the ones out of them.
You'll also be happy to know that Bobby Abreu did not come within twenty feet of a fence all afternoon. I hope to be able to get back once more before I skip town.
So much like Jason at IATMS, I don't take any particular joy in what's going on over in Flushing these days. But at the same time, it's impossible to ignore what's happening there. Reflecting upon the Bronx Zoo years in his autobiography Balls, former Yankee Graig Nettles quipped "When I was a little boy I wanted to be a baseball player and join the circus. With the Yankees I have accomplished both." That nicely sums up the state of the Mets these days as well.
To summarize, General Manager Omar Minaya's top lieutenant is VP for Player Development Tony Bernazard. Bernazard is bat shit crazy. Rumors have persisted for years about his antics, and he's long been considered the key contributor in driving both former pitching coach Rick Peterson and former manager Willie Randolph out of town. But in recent weeks, Crazy Tony has really stepped up his game. First, he tore off his shirt and challenged the entire AA Binghamton Mets to a fight. Then he nearly got into a fight with fellow jackass Francisco Rodriguez as the Mets team bus left the park in Atlanta. Lastly, he unleashed a profanity laced tirade upon a subordinate when a Diamondbacks scout took the seat Crazy Tony wanted at a recent game.
In short, Bernazard had to go. It was long overdue, but the three incidents this month sealed his fate. So the Mets made it official yesterday. But in what has become typical Mets fashion, they can't even get a press conference right. Minaya made a mockery of the English language ("this reflects upon my watch") and rather than putting the issue behind him, he decided to pour gas on the fire. In one of the most bizarre sequences I can recall, Minaya accused Daily News beat writer Adam Rubin of "tearing down" Bernazard because Rubin coveted Bernazard's job. You can watch the uncomfortably bizarre footage here, unless of course Met-owned SNY realizes what an embarassment this is for the organization and pulls the footage.
So let me get this straight. A beat writer secretly wants to work for the team he covers. So, he hatches an elaborate plot to do his job and write stories about all the zany antics of the flat out crazy executive the Mets continue to employ. His plan works to perfection; the executive gets fired, and of course the logical next step is to hire the beat writer who has exactly zero experience working in professional baseball (and he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you kids!). That's where you lose me Omar - but either way, good thing you were around to foil the plot.
I'm not rejecting out of hand that Rubin may have some desire to work on the other side of the notebook. For the most part, sportswriters cover the game because at some point the loved the game. No one's jumping into that dying industry for the fame or money. That said, Minaya's premise is as ludicrous as anything Crazy Tony ever pulled off. The fact of the matter remains that Bernazard acted of his own accord. He, and the Mets, have no one to blame for this situation but themselves. This is not Adam Rubin's fault.
Minaya should be skating on thin ice to begin with given the situation surrounding the organization, yet he's signed for three more years. I'm not sure he can weather this storm much longer. Omar Minaya is the highest profile front office employee of the organization and his antics yesterday were entirely inappropriate and unprofessional. If there's any justice, he'll be joining Bernazard in the unemployment line soon.
Sheilds settled down through the next three innings, working out of minor trouble in the 4th and 5th but hit the wall in the 6th. He gave up back to back homers to Cano and Swisher, and was pulled two batters later when Derek Jeter singled to left.
Burnett threw 114 pitches but looked like he was still in control for his final 10 as he sat the Rays down in order in the 7th. Uncharacteristically, he induced 11 groundouts as opposed to 6 in the air and 5 on strikes. His GB/FB ratio is 0.74 this year but was nearly 2.0 in this outing.
Monday, July 27, 2009
It seems a little early to say this, but the series that kicks off tonight in Tampa is a pretty important one in the context of the season. The Rays are 4 games out of the Wild Card and 6.5 back in the division, and losing 3 straight to the Yanks might turn them from buyers to sellers at the trading deadline. On the other hand, if the Yanks drop three to Tampa, they could relinquish their grip on first place and the Rays would appear much larger in their rearview mirror.
Now can you see those dark clouds gathering up ahead?
They're going to wash this planet clean like the Bible said,
Now you can hold on steady and try to be ready,
But everybody's gonna get wet,
Don't think it wont happen just because it hasn't happened yet.
As a cool side benefit, after Jeter hit that HR, Mo started warming up in the bullpen. Nearly everyone who was still there and within 15 seats or so started working their way over to catch a glimpse of the man in action. After a few minutes, the usher came down and started clearing the aisle and was met with a chorus of "Awww..."s, to which she replied "Hey, I don't make the rules." I go, "Right, you just selectively enforce them".