Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wait Until Tomorrow

Okay, by now you already know that tonight's game was postponed due to rain and there is a doubleheader scheduled for tomorrow. Sorry for the delayed reaction but both Matt and I were far, far away from our computers when the news broke.

We've pulled down the preview that was up earlier so we can polish it up and use it again for tomorrow's early game and we'll have plenty of news and notes for you first thing in the morning. Until then...

I think we better wait 'til tomorrow,
Got to make sure it's right,
So, until tomorrow, goodnight.

Tuesday Linkstavaganza

Can you tell what that pile of rubble used to be?
In the news department, as expected, Juan Miranda has been called up from AAA. We should have something a little later when the Yanks announce who is getting sent down.

Mike from the Yankeeist was at the game in Detroit last night. Not only did he make it to Comerica but experienced the city, from the partially-abandoned neighborhoods to the plush suburb of Grosse Pointe. Mike does a great job of describing the state of Motown and even though it's sort of depressing, it's well worth the read.

Joe DeLessio from New York Magazine went up to Boston for a game and compared to Mike when he was in Detroit, was treated quite kindly by the Fenway faithful. Having been to a decent number of games on Landsdowne during my college years, I can tell you that the people there aren't that bad. Like anywhere else, there are the occasional horror stories, but if you're not being obnoxious, you most likely won't have any problems.

If you are planning on heading to a game when the Yankees return to town or during the next homestand after that, check out the special "e-saver" deals listed by NYYSI.

If the Yankees keep signing catching prospects, they are going to have to start adding some more minor league affiliates so they all have a place to play.

Speaking of catchers in the system, Chad Jennings talked to Mark Newman who confirmed that, as was widely speculated, Jesus Montero was benched for not running out a ground ball. Some have made a big deal out of this, but the kid is 20 years old and it probably won't take more than one benching for him to get the message. And it's not like he was dogging it in the Majors. As Matt mentioned last night, Scranton has been without an actual starting pitcher for two out of their last four games. The emphasis just isn't on winning as much as it is in the Bronx and it might be easy to lose focus during a loss like the one the team suffered on Friday.

As Rebecca pointed out over at TYU last night, Randy Winn left seven men on base (I should have noted this in the recap, so I'm atoning for that omission here). Winn came up with runners on the corners in the 2nd and hit a foul pop out to first. The bases were loaded for him in the 6th but he flew out to end the inning. And in the 8th, he had runners on the corners and made the second out of the frame without getting the run home. Of course, the one time he came up when there was no one on, leading off the 5th, he notched a single. Good timing, dude.

On Friday, Larry from The Yankeeist did an excellent, in-depth interview with Moshe from TYU, touching on all sorts of personal and blogging stuff.

And one more from the TYU crew: Stephen R. shares a Kevin Youkilis story from 2008.

Via BBTF, if you've got $25K, you can buy the generator from the Old Yankee Stadium.

Chris Carter, the player the Yankees claimed off waivers to throw a wrench into the Red Sox/Mets Billy Wagner trade, has finally made his way to Flushing. The original move was little more than an inconvenience to the Sox but it screwed over Carter, who would have had a chance to get some playing time for the Mets last year. Hopefully he can make good on his opportunity this time around.

The Detroit Free Press is running Ernie Harwell's final interview in three parts: One, Two, Three.

CitiField has a garbage problem and it's not even Omar Minaya's fault!

Here's an interesting AP story on how teams are scouting umpires.

Congrats to Sky Andrecheck of Sports Illustrated and Baseball Analysts who just accepted a job in the Indians' front office.

The Honorable Morgan Ensberg presides over the case of Evan Longoria and his attempt to break up Dallas Branden's perfect game with a drag bunt. His verdict is basically that doing it when you are trying to help you team win (which he thinks Longoria was) is okay, but doing it when your team is down by a lot and it's late in the game, just to break up the no-no/perfecto is not.

Larry from Wezen-Ball lines up the career of Ken Griffey Jr. side by side with the 20 year run of The Simpsons and finds a lot of parallels. I've never been a huge fan of The Simpsons, but I'm sure some of you will appreciate the level of detail Lar went to in his analysis.

Dave Cameron thinks the fact that two players told reporters about Griffey's mid-game snooze indicates that the he doesn't have the respect of the clubhouse (otherwise they might have woken him up). He argues that you have to actually be a good player to be a leader.

Yesterday was the first day along the road to the U.S. Open for John Smoltz. Unfortunately, it was also the last. Smoltz shot a 76 and missed out on being one of the nine people to qualify for the next level by six shots. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he had a gallery of about 30 people at all times and took time to sign a bunch of autographs after he was done playing.
How could anyone fwah-get when Jason Varitek split the uprights and sent the Patriots to the Supah Bowl? Nawt the fackin' May-uh of Bahston! Manny Ortiz is rolling over in his imaginary grave right now.
This might be more egregious that the "Natinals" disaster. Less visible to be sure, but still completely inexcusable.

Is Adonis Cardona the best name for a baseball player ever? Probably not, but it's awesome as shit and has an awfully nice ring to it.
That's it for now, we should be back with something on the Miranda move in a bit, but if not we'll still have the preview at 5.

There Is No Such Thing As '07 Joba

Like many fans who adamantly believe that Joba Chamberlain was born as a relief pitcher and should stay in the bullpen forever and ever, Steve S. over at TYU looks at the one inning Joba pitched last night and sees him re-emerging as a dominating force:
The first batter he faced was Scott Sizemore, and he went 96-97-97-97 and struck him out on three swings and misses. The next batter was Gerald Laird, who managed to see 6 pitches and foul off two but struck out looking. The final batter was Adam Everett, who looked completely over matched, striking out swinging on 4 pitches. All totaled Joba threw 14 pitches and hit 98 three times during Adam Everett’s at-bat.
Scott Sizemore (OPS+ of 74 this season), Gerald Laird (35) and Adam Everett (28) - talk about a Murderer's Row! They've combined to strike out 20% of the time this year and have 14 extra base hits (two homers) in 231 plate appearances.
Questions were raised on air by Kay about the radar gun, which also seemed to have every Detroit reliever throwing somewhere between 97-101 MPH. But don’t shortchange that Tigers bullpen, it’s currently the best in Baseball and the best in the AL by a wide margin. Zumaya throwing triple-digit heat should surprise no one, he’s been doing it for years. Gameday had Joba sitting at the same 96-98 MPH with little variation pitch by pitch. It was for real, and hopefully was a sign of things to come.
Just because the Tigers' bullpen is the best in baseball doesn't mean they all throw extremely hard. The wind was blowing in from center all night long so the readings - be they from PitchFX or YES's radar run - were probably accurate in a technical sense but not indicative of how hard guys were really throwing or are likely to their next time out.

Jose Valverde usually sits around 95 and was living at 97-98. Phil Coke is typically around 92-93 was up to 95. Ditto for Boone Logan. Zumaya averages about 99 and was consistently in triple digits, running it up to 102. It was 50 degrees last night, there's no way all of these pitchers just happened to be pitching with significantly more velocity than normal. Is '06 Zumaya back too?

It was not "for real", just like it wasn't after the second game of the season. Examples of confirmation bias don't come much clearer than this. Joba struck out the side, and that's great, but he did with the wind at his back against two veterans who have never been able to hit and a rookie that has struggled to thus far.

Chamberlain is who he is now - a guy that throws about 95 (sometimes a little higher, sometimes lower), gets a lot of strikeouts but has somewhat spotty control. He's not all of a sudden going to become the pitcher he was for 24 innings one shoulder injury and three years ago, no matter how much we'd love him to.

Thoughts On Griffey

Good morning Fackers. Late last June, as the Mariners came to the Bronx for the only 2009 series at Yankee Stadium, we ran this post as sort of our unofficial goodbye to Ken Griffey Jr. After a ten year absence, Junior had returned to Seattle, and it was assumed that 2009 would mark his victory lap and retirement tour around the American League.

Despite posting a .214/.324/.411 batting line and .323 wOBA, Griffey elected to return for a 22nd Major League season. I won't begrudge any player who wants to hang on as long as he can. And I could certainly imagine why Griffey would want to return to the M's, who were the surprise team of 2009 and made significant improvements in the off season.

Thus far though, 2010 has been an unmitigated disaster, both the for the Mariners and Griffey. The team is just 12-19, good for last in the weak AL West. While their pitching has been good and their defense has been characteristically outstanding, the offense has been downright abyssmal, ranking last in the league in virtually every meaningful category. Milton Bradley, the off-season acquisition brought it to bring some pop to the lineup, had his annual meltdown early this year and is on the restricted list. Eric Byrnes, picked up for the league minimum in hopes he could rediscover his mojo, played poorly, blew a suicide squeeze play, and then rode off on his bicycle to go play keg league softball in California. I'm not making that up.

As for Griffey, part two of the farewell tour is not faring well at all. He's hitting just .208/.265/.234 with a wOBA of .234. He's had just two extra base hits, both doubles. He's played at half win below replacement level. And it leaves the Mariners in quite a bind. They're desperately in need offense and they have a punchless designated hitter. As they look to salvage their season, there's a very real possibility that the process will entail putting a premature end to the career of a future Hall of Famer and quite possibly the greatest player in franchise history.

Yesterday, Larry LaRue of the Tacoma New-Tribune reported that Griffey will retire or be released by the end of the month. Even with all the Griffey-centric promotions Seattle has scheduled this year that news is sad, but isn't very surprising. What's both sad and surprising is the allegation in the story that Griffey wasn't available for a pinch hitting appearance last week because he was napping in the clubhouse.

Part of the justification for keeping Griffey around for another year was that he was a positive presence in the clubhouse, a good teammate, and a mentor to the younger players on the team. But if that story is true, it goes beyond Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson playing cards as the 1999 NLCS wrapped up and it goes beyond Rey Sanchez getting a haircut during the late innings of a game. At least those players were awake.

Regardless of the napping allegation, the end is near for Junior, and it's sad. It's sad to see what was once the top player in the game taken out of the race before he could even limp across the finish line. It's sad the feel-good atmosphere of his 2009 return to Seattle seemingly has vanished in the wind. And it's sad that, true or not, the Ken Griffey Jr story is going to end with the suggestion that a mid-game nap was one of the final acts of his career. Griffey wore #24 because Rickey Henderson was his favorite player; Rickey wore it because Willie Mays was his. Mays' final season is remembered for him stumbling about center field in the 1973 World Series. Griffey's will be remembered for taking a snooze in the clubhouse.

As uncomfortable as it is to ask, and as unthinkable as it seems at present, I have to wonder: will the Yankees face a situation like this in the years to come? Not so much the nap part, but the uneasy situation where a living legend has outlived his usefulness. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte will all be free agents at season's end. I can't possibly imagine any of them playing elsewhere in 2011. But they will 37, 41, and 39 years old, respectively, next year. Jorge Posada will be a 39 year old catcher in the final year of his contract. Alex Rodriguez will be 35 and will have seven years remaining on his monstrous deal.

While Pettitte and Mo may be content to go year-to-year from here forward, and while Posada may hang em up after 2011, Jeter and A-Rod aren't likely to be going anywhere in the near future. What happens if their skills abandon them early in their final season, or worse yet, with years remaining on their contracts? Would the Yankees dare cut ties with one of them if meant the difference between sinking or swimming in the pennant race? How would we as fans react if one of those players became a detriment on the field?

It's easy to say these guys wouldn't hang on when they are clearly done, but it happens all the time. World class athletes tend to be a very proud bunch. They also tend to be the last ones to realize it when their skills have left them. The club went through something similar with Bernie Williams, and even with Joe Torre's unending loyalty cushioning the blow, that didn't end well. I hope that's not a bridge we have to cross again in the coming years.