Thursday, January 28, 2010

20 Days Until Spring Training: Kevin Youkilis

The fackin' Youkstah. The Youkin' fackstah. Our mortal enemy and constant inspiration. The man with the face that could shatter a thousand mirrors, a beard with a website of its own, and the batting stance so homo-erotic that would have been censored on TV if he played in the 1950's. He's not afraid to flip you the bird or take a walk (unless it's raining).

In the immortal words of Fack Youk Hall of Famer Matt Taibbi:
Youkilis fighting a middle reliever to a nine-pitch walk looks like a rhinoceros trying to fuck a washing machine.
Of course, middle relievers aren't the only pitchers he likes to fight. Fittingly, his fisticuffsmanship was directly responsible for the most visited and commented post in the history of this site and for that we owe him our deepest gratitude. If he wasn't such a dick, tens of thousands of people never would have visited this blog.

In all fairness though, we have respect for the Youkasaurus. He's among the toughest outs in the Majors and if he wasn't such a thorn in the Yankees side, we wouldn't have bothered to name this blog after our hatred of him.

Don't ever change, Youk. This site would be even less popular than it already is if you did.

Links For Lunch

Here are some items to keep you busy while we decide whether or not to devote another entire post to our hatred of the Randy Winn signing:
Speaking of the Winner, Rob Neyer doesn't think he's a particularly good fit with the Yankees. Cliff Corcoran ain't thrilled either, saying "If he has a bit of a dead-cat bounce in the Bronx, he’ll go from being a typical bench player to something of an asset".

The Yanks have some interest in Rocco Baldelli, Johnny Gomes and Marcus Thames but Joel Sherman says they won't offer any of them more than a minor league deal.

Joe Girardi says the configuration of the outfield isn't set in stone, meaning Curtis Granderson might end up in left field after all. /crosses fingers

On Twitter, Bob Nightengale announces that the Yankees are going to hire Kevin Towers like it's news, even though we were pretty sure we knew that three weeks ago.

Mike from River Ave. Blues tried to determine what (if any) correlation strikeouts had to overall offensive production. Sorry to all you Adam Dunn haters, but the answer is "not that much of one".

With his Yankee career all but over, Johnny Damon knows one thing for sure. He's "going to grow an incredibly douchey beard".

Craig from Circling the Bases exposes Scott Boras' failure to spin the Johnny Damon debacle into something positive. Take that for what it's worth though, as Craig is notoriously "irresponsible".

Andrew Katz thinks that Damon is the victim of a conflict of Boras' interest. I have to agree.

Walkoff Walk brings us the baseball tweets of the week. Props to Rob Iracane for using the word "brotard" to describe Nick Swisher.

Hank Waddles from Bronx Banter did an interview with Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post.

Also at BB, Cliff Corcoran grades each Yankees hitter on their 2009 season great detail. Spolier alert: there are a lot of A's.

Our pal Jason Rosenberg put together a volume of some of the dumber comments made in regards to steroids in baseball and lets you figure out who said them via the matching game. If you don't have that kind of patience, the quotes are paired with their speakers here.

Also, the IIATM,S Hall of Fame has a new member.

Can someone please tell John Harper of the Daily News that Randy Winn isn't replacing Johnny Damon? And that Brain Cashman's ego wasn't the reason Damon isn't on the team. And that his picture on the NYDN's website makes him look like Nick Nolte before he went off the deep end.

Sky Andrecheck takes a look at evolution of stolen base strategy over the years over at the Baseball Analysts blog.

Via Baseball Musings, a study shows that pitchers from the South are more likely to plunk batters especially in the name of "justice" or "protecting social identities", but only if the batter was white.

Some Advice For Scott Boras

This has been brought up elsewhere on the interwebs, but I wanted to touch upon it a bit more here. Has uber agent Scott Boras lost a little bit off his fastball?

Two years ago he badly, badly botched the A-Rod opt out situation, both from a public relations standpoint and in grossly overestimating the market for his client. Had A-Rod not come crawling back to the Yankees on his own and had Hank Steinbrenner not been in a historically giving mood, A-Rod might have found himself without a suitor capable of matching the deal from which he opted out. Given the hard budgetary line Hal has drawn in the sand this off-season, consider how differently the A-Rod situation might have played out had Hal been calling all the shots two years ago.

That spring, Boras client Pedro Alvarez was the second pick in the draft. Under Boras' guidance, Alvarez did not sign a contract prior to the August 15th signing deadline. Not only did this lead to the MLBPA filing a grievance against the Pirates and Alvarez being temporarily placed on the restricted list, but it delayed the start of Alvarez' career and created bad blood between him and his ballclub before he even put on a uniform.

Last off season, he foolishly steered Jason Varitek away from accepting arbitration from the Red Sox, only to find that there wasn't much of a free agent market for the declining backstop. Varitek reupped with the Sox for $5M, while accepting arbitration would have guaranteed him a raise on the $9M he made in 2008. That deal did lead to Varitek having a $3M option for the upcoming season, but the $8M total over 2009-10 is less than what he would have earned in 2009 had he accepted arbitration.

This year, Boras gambled with Matt Holliday and was lucky enough to get the Cardinals to outbid themselves by several million dollars. As we all know by now though, Boras wasn't quite so lucky with Johnny Damon. Boras admittedly paid Damon no mind until the Holliday situation was resolved; completely overplayed his hand with the Yankees, Braves, and Giants; and is losing the public relations battle badly.

So here's a little unsolicited advice for Scott Boras. Take a good look at this picture:

Firstly Mr. Boras, if you don't remove your head from your ass in the immediate future, your client will be photographed golfing far more often since he'll no longer be playing baseball.

Secondly, take a good look at Johnny's swing. Perhaps you can market your client as a switch hitter, a dead low ball hitter from the right side, in a last ditch effort to squeeze a few extra million out of some poor, unsuspecting, mystery team.

(Photo from i-yankees)

The Latest On David Cone

Good morning, Fackers. One of the off the field storylines we've followed pretty closely this offseason has been David Cone's departure from YES. First it was rumored he was leaving the network after a dispute with management, then he actually did leave but said it was in order to spend more time with his family.

Yesterday, Joel Sherman offered up his understanding of the situation on his 3UP blog, and it runs contrary to what Richard Sandomir wrote in the Times when Cone's departure was official:
I continue to hear that Cone’s departure after one season in the booth for YES was hardly pleasant. He had a personality conflict with one executive in particular, feeling this executive was intrusive and disrespectful all year. However, there were two incidents, in particular, that made Cone flip out.

Early in the season, with the Yankees struggling, Cone remarked on the air that if the Yankees did not start performing better than they could fall out of the race. The YES executive told the broadcasters that this remark aggravated Hank Steinbrenner and needed to be avoided in the future (so much for a firewall between the team and what is said on the air). Cone felt this was a true statement – and rather innocuous – and should not have been discussed.
It it wasn't already blindingly apparent why Hal is running the team and not Hank, it should be now. Really, Hank? Trying to censor the broadcasters over something that trivial? Unacceptable. Go outside, smoke a couple Marlboro Reds in a row and try to regain your composure before we send you back to the fucking horse farm.
Late in the season, Cone remarked that one of the important, behind-the-scenes workers involved in daily coverage of the Yankees was a free agent at the end of the year. This made the top YES executive flip out because the plan was not to retain this particular employee. Cone was confronted by the YES executive and there was a heated exchange during which Cone explained that he had made a lot of money playing (nearly $67 million) and took the YES job as a way to get back into baseball, but that he would not take such verbal abuse from anyone because he did not need the job. At that point it became apparent that Cone would not be back in 2010.
Obviously, Cone has a point here. He's not in it for the money and this mystery executive should take that into account when interacting with him. You might be able to lean on John Flaherty or Bob Lorenz because they are thrilled to have their jobs and probably could use the money, but you can't strong arm a guy who is there purely by choice. Admittedly, Cone didn't have to react so obstinately, but I can't help but side with him in both scenarios.

Guess who loses in all of this? The fans, of course. Sherman believes that the end result of this will likely be Tino Martinez being in the booth for 40 games in 2010. If he's anything like he was in his on short stint on Baseball Tonight - awkward and rigid - then color me less than excited.

As for Cone, the Post also indicates that he could play a role in the upcoming CBA negotiations. He has a history of being very influential in his time in the Players Association and a deep knowledge of the issues that will be on the table.

So maybe this is a blessing in disguise. We won't get many FanGraphs references this coming year (unless someone teaches Michael Kay how to use a computer) but it might free up Cone to help out with the labor situation and affect some real positive change in the game.