Monday, June 1, 2009

Game 51: Patience

Sorry, G&R fans, tonight's song comes from a Cleveland-based hip hop group called the MuAmin Collective. I had never heard of them before vowing to find a song other than "Cleveland Rocks" for this post, but they've got a smooth jazzy style reminiscent of Mos Def, De La Soul, Reflection Eternal, Common, Blackalicious and some of GangStarr's early work, and it's right up my alley. 


After Joba Chamberlain's last start in Texas, during which he was pulled in the fourth inning after giving up three runs, the predictable chorus of those who think Joba should be in the bullpen started chirping.

I don't think putting Joba in the 'pen is an indefensible position, not by a long shot. The Yanks are lucky to have in Chamberlain, a valuable weapon that could be deployed in one of two roles, neither of them are wrong. I just happen to think that one is less right.  

We saw Joba set the world on fire in 2007 as a set-up, consistently throwing 98mph with a disappearing slider. Those two pitches were good for 34 strikeouts in 24 innings and a 0.38 ERA. That's the lasting image of Joba Chamberlain people have as a reliever. 

If the Yankees could summon that Joba, even triple his ERA to 1.14 and assume that he could pitch about 60 innings a year, the B-Jobbers would have a leg to stand on. Unfortunately, that's not the Joba Chamberlain that is available to pitch for the Yankees this year. Present Joba still has minor shoulder problems that don't prevent him from pitching, but do make it difficult for him to warm up quickly and could lead to some of his first inning struggles. 

If he's throwing 95 in the first inning, let people throw that argument out there," Cashman said. "We haven't seen that yet, so why would they think that's going to suddenly happen by going to the bullpen?
Thank you, sir.

Folks, Joba is a good starting pitcher. In 21 starts over the past two years, he carries a 3.25ERA, has fewer than one hit and more than one strikeout per inning. Injuries are a concern, of course, but we don't know enough to say whether pitching out of the bullpen would actually diminish that risk or not. Hang in there, this situation will play itself out. Don't overreact to every below average start. Have a little patience. 

Opposing the Jobinator tonight will be Jeremy Sowers. The lefty is making his third start of the year for the Indians. His other two were marked by ineffectiveness and had a ERA of 12 when he was sent back down to AAA. He was recalled on May 23rd and appeared against the Rays in the infamous 11-10 game on May 25th, where the Indians scored 7 in the 9th inning to win it. Sowers needed only 57 pitches to coast through 5 scoreless innings of mop-up duty after Fausto Carmona got KTFO, and collect a win in the process. 

Which Jeremy Sowers will show up tonight? Was his success in his last outing just a function of the game being out of hand? We'll find out soon enough. 

One other note: The Yankees are carrying a Major League record 17 game errorless streak into tonight's contest and Angel Berroa is playing third base. See where I'm going with this?

Randy & Lonn Go To Court

Our New York State Capital Correspondent, Big Willie Style, informed me that our two least favorite Yankee Front Office execs are back in Albany today, talking with Richard Brodsky. Brodsky, as you may recall, became a Fack Youk favorite when he challenged Levine to an "in-your-face fistfight" back in January. 

Trost and Levine's side of the argument have called Brodsky's demands "grandstanding", "a personal vendetta", and "a grab for attention on his part". 

Brodsky complains the Yankees are "bullying" him and has countered by pointing out that the New Stadium has cost roughly twice as much as Citi Field, and claiming "The state could have bought the Yankees for less than it cost to build the stadium."

The issue that they argued over today was the release of records in conjunction with the construction of the New Stadium that Brodsky is demanding. The assemblyman from Westchester wants to see roughly 1.39 million emails and attachments and 408 boxes of records. The Yanks claim the emails alone would cost $5.5M to process with the paper records adding "several million more dollars" to the cost. 

One comment I found interesting from Trost was: 
I am fairly certain that some of those boxes contain documents relating to the project, however the boxes are not indexed in such a way as to determine which boxes contain such documents and therefore a fulsome review would need to be undertaken to determine which boxes contain responsive information.
On one hand, the Yankees are crying foul that they will have to pay, say $8 or 9 million dollars for the documents to be "fulsome(ly) review(ed)" by a swarm of lawyers being paid by the hour, but they are also the ones claiming that it is necessary for them to be reviewed. Maybe you should have organized the documents produced during the 1.5 billion dollar construction project a little better, Lonn.

After talking with our resident law school graduate, Joe, I've gathered that the review allows the Yankees the chance to redact anything confidential before it becomes part of the public record. As a private business, there are a vast array of things they don't need to disclose, but that would not include documents relating to public financing. 

Even if Brodsky does manage to force the Yankees to turn over the relevant documents, it will be after the Yankees' lawyers have had a chance to pour over them with a fine-toothed comb, a process that will certainly take a great deal of time. After that, The State will have to review what is turned over to them, which will most likely take as long or longer and cost the taxpayers even more money. 

In principle and for the sake of transparency, it seems like the Yankees should have to turn over these documents, because while $5.5M is a lot of money, they've received far beyond that in State funding for the project. What I'm thinking after doing some digging on the issue is that, A) It's going to take an eternity to do this and, B) I highly doubt that the Yankees are going to anything incriminating slip through the cracks if they can help it.

Sorry Brodsky, but I'm still in your corner for the Randy Levine fight. 

This Year Most Likely The Swan Song For Matsui

From Joel Sherman's "3 Up, 3 Down" blog post this morning (emphasis mine):
In Sunday's Post, I wrote a column about the death of the traditional DH; the single-dimensional type who need not even have a fielding mitt ordered for him. During the course of reporting on the column, I was told by several Yankee executives that there is almost zero chance that Hideki Matsui will be re-signed after the season, even if he were to finish with a strong season and despite the strong presence he affords them in Japan.
It shouldn't come as much of a shock, but that was the first time I've heard it from people within the organization, in such definite terms. 

Matsui is unable to play the field, stay healthy or really hit at the level that should be expected from a DH. He's hit 7 HRs and has a 116 OPS+, but the facts are he can't even be trusted to play a corner outfield position and is going to be 36 next season. If the Yanks are looking to get younger, like they have said in the past, and more versatile like others have suggested, Matsui just isn't the right fit.  

846 Words Too Many

This article by Wallace Matthews of Newsday was published on Saturday but for some reason it didn't show up in my Google Reader until this morning. I wish it never had. 

Why he thought it was necessary to spend 850 words wandering around the topic of poor attendance at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field is beyond me to begin with. To make matters worse, it's not like he gets right to the heart of the matter. He tiptoes around anything that could be considered "topical" or "relevant" like he's slowdancing with his mother and instead churns out paragraphs like the one below. 

So far, the Yankees are averaging 44,636 in their new crib, the Mets 38,806. If baseball is so popular in this town and Yankees and Mets games truly are must-see events, as both clubs insisted throughout the offseason, why aren't there 10,000 people milling around outside their ballparks every game night, trying to buy up every last ticket in the house, and the rest going home empty-handed and disappointed?

Well, since you asked... Ticket. Prices. TICKET PRICES. The price of admission, the cost of entry, door fees, gate charges. Call it whatever you want. Incredibly, Matthews does not mention pricing once in his column. Prices were set it a totally different economic climate that the one that exists now and since some of the seats were already sold, it's tough to go back and change them.

One of the reasons, of course, is simple and self-evident. It's the economy, stupid. 

Hmm... does that phrase sound familiar? I'm guessing that Jason's recent national exposure and resulting media tour had a little something to do with that, although Matthews would certainly never admit it. Those four words sum it up pretty nicely, though. So that's the end of the article, right...?

But in a metropolitan area that certainly has more than 83,442 people - the combined average attendance at both parks - wealthy enough to buy their way into these exclusive clubs dressed as ballparks, there has to be something more to it.

It's not the same 83,442 people showing up at the parks every night, you dummy. 

Does there have to be more to it? I'm pretty sure those last two points - ticket prices and the economy - pretty much cover it. But, okay, let's humor him. Tell us, Wallace. What is this incredible insight you have into the matter? What could be this mysterious X-factor keeping fans from coming to the park? It's not going to be some meaningless cliche, is it?

It just might be that the remarkably deep-pocketed, thick-skinned and resilient sports fans of this town finally have reached their limit.

Deep-pocketed? Remember eight seconds ago, when you said it was "about the economy, stupid"? Not every sports fan is deep-pocketed, especially not at the moment. And what does being "thick-skinned" or "resilient" have to do with attending a sporting event?

It never has been easy to be a fan, especially around here, where aside from the Yankees' transcendent five-year run in the late 1990s and the occasional Giants Super Bowl appearance, our teams have never given much return for what always has been a hefty investment.

You know, aside from 1971-1977, Led Zeppelin wasn't that great of a band, anyway. The Yankees made the playoffs for 13 straight fucking years and appeared in six World Series you ungrateful prick. It's been insanely easy to be a fan around here.

The Giants have won three Super Bowls in the last 23 seasons. Given that there are 32 teams in the salary-capped NFL, that's pretty amazing. The Mets had some bad stretches, but made a good run in the late 90's, have been competitive for the past four seasons and project to be good for quite a while. 

And what the fuck do you want from your "investment"? No one is making you buy tickets to the game. When I head up to the Stadium, I don't need a promise that the team is going to win a championship that year. I go because it's a fun time, the team is competitive and I enjoy watching sporting events in the venues in which they are played.

It's simply no longer worth it, no matter how good the team is or how deeply ingrained in your DNA the ritual of going to the ballpark on a summer night really is.

Attention baseball fans: Don't bother going to games anymore. Yankees vs. Red Sox battling for first place on a Friday night? Nope. Wallace Matthews says it's not worth it.

He ends the column with not one, but two one-sentence paragraphs. 

Even in a city this big, sooner or later, you run out of suckers.

Then the only suckers left are the teams themselves, and the people who run them.

Wallace Matthews might be a total fucking moron, but at least he's not a sucker!