Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joe Sets Rotation (For Spring Training)

Here's Joe's breakdown of the rotation through the first 11 ST games, courtesy of Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:

March 3 vs. Pirates: Gaudin/Mitre/Aceves

March 4 at Phillies: Sabathia

March 5 vs. Rays: Hughes/Chamberlain

March 6 vs. Blue Jays: Burnett

March 7 at Twins: Mitre/Gaudin (Pettitte will throw simulated game in Tampa)

March 8 vs. Phillies (split-squad): Vazquez

March 8 at Pirates (split-squad): Aceves

March 9 vs. Pirates: Sabathia

March 10 at Tigers: Chamberlain/Hughes

March 11 vs. Braves: Burnett

March 12 at Nationals: Pettitte

March 13 vs. Orioles (split-squad): Vazquez

March 13 at Tigers (split-squad): TBA

3 points:
1) It makes sense that Joe would put Joba and Hughes together for their outings, but I don't see how pitching them in the same game will help determine who wins the 5th spot in the rotation.  In each of their games, the lineup one guy faces will probably not look like the one the other guy will face, so there's really no accurate way to gauge who pitched better against completely different competition.  But the same thing would apply if you split their starts up so maybe this is the best way to judge the competition.
2) Joe isn't taking anything for granted with Joba and Hughes, evidenced by his focus on the under-the-radar Chad Gaudin vs. Sergio Mitre battle for the 6th (7th?) spot in the rotation.  These 2 are paired up twice as well and Gaudin's performance could be the difference between getting a spot as the long man in the 'pen or being released to help cover Chan Ho Park's expenses.
3) An already smart plan to keep Andy's workload low looks even smarter when his only "real" competition will be against the Nationals.  I bet Pettitte will have a harder time in the simulated game on March 7 than he will pitching against the Nats on the 12th.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Leaders Of Fraud Sox Nation Already Feeding Coal Into The Excuse Engine

John Henry on Wednesday:

"I don't think we can comment on what their ceiling may or may not be," Henry said. "We just have to do what we've done since we arrived here and that is try and build revenues, maximize revenues and try as best we can to compete with them financially. But we'll never be able to do that."

"People tend to clump us together, but there's a wide gulf financially between the two teams, and that's going to continue." (courtesy of

Theo yesterday morning:

"I think that he (Ellsbury) is an above-average center fielder now, who is going to be a great center fielder. I know there is a certain number we don’t use that is accessible to people online that had him as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball last year. I don’t think it’s worth anything. I don’t think that number is legitimate. We do our own stuff and it showed that he is above average." (used courtesy of The Yankee U)

I would laugh harder at this stuff if it wasn't obvious that these two are serious with this shit.

Henry has been playing the "little engine that could" card with his team since the day he became owner, and yeah the Yankees do still have a higher payroll this season, but when your team is coming in hot at $170 million for 2010, that can hardly be considered a "wide gulf," especially when that gulf has shrunk considerably from 2009 to 2010 (over $80 million differential last year, just over $40 mil this year).

And as for the Boy Blunder, I can't blame him for trying to protect his precious Jacoby, who is finally being recognized and called out for his below-average defensive and leadoff hitter skills by the mainstream sports media. Ellsbury was one of Theo's first blue-chippers to be rolled out of the farm system, but facts are facts and the numbers don't lie. Theo can polish the turd that is Ellsbury's defensive numbers as much as he likes, but it's still going to be a turd and it's still going to stink.

I guess we all should have expected this kind of spin doctoring by Theo. Remember, this is the same guy who essentially said that RBIs don't matter in an interview last year in an attempt to justify J.D. Drew's horrible performance. But hey, just like bitching about the Yankee payroll, that's just part of the Fraud Sock Way. Instead of owning up to their mistakes and admitting that they made some bad decisions, they will fight to the end to support their own misguided opinions, even in the face of overwhelming evidence supporting the contrary.

The Yankees don't have that problem. They sign somebody and that guy sucks (see: Carl Pavano) they don't make excuses; they ride it out and let the guy go or attempt to trade him for somebody better. They look at stats supporting a claim (see: Jeter's weak defense) they tell that guy to get better. No whining to the media, no excuses, no claims of special top-secret internal stats that claim otherwise, just get better.

The Yankees are committed to success and winning; the Red Sox are committed to hoping for success, wanting to win, and coming up with reasons for why they weren't successful or didn't win in the event that happens.
P.S.- I wonder if that "We don't care about RBIs" mentality was the basis for the Red Sox off-season acquisitions of Beltre, Scutaro, and Mike Cameron.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cash Shits On Damon's World

Cash on Monday:

"When we signed him (for four years, $52 million), he was playing center field, a premium position, and the market was high. Now he's a left fielder, he's 36, in a collapsed market. Why would he not expect to take a pay cut?" (courtesy of the Daily News)

POW!!!!  Major cock punch to both Damon and Scott Boras.  Cash certainly handled his business professionally throughout the Damon off-season drama, but now that he's officially gone the gloves have apparently come off and Cash is playing for keeps.  I like it.

Hey Johnny,

Joel Sherman A Little Late To The Party

Now I'm a Joel Sherman guy. I read his stuff on a daily basis and usually agree with the messages in his columns, but today's column on Jeter Vs. Tiger was just plain sad. With pitchers and catchers well into their spring work and live batting practice taking place today, there wasn't anything better to write about than the long outdated "Tiger is a douche; Jeter is the man" comparison?

Newsflash, Joel. AB4AR was all over this shit back in December while Tiger was still picking his teeth off the sidewalk and putting bags of frozen peas on his battered face to cover up the bruising . Don't tell me what I already know; give me some insight and logic; be a fucking journalist. Leave the Tiger Vs. Jeter analysis for pee-on bloggers like me to handle.  Because quite frankly, I handled it a hell of a lot better than you did.
P.S.- The Tiger Slow Jam Remix is still hilarious.

Jeter OK With Having To Wait To Negotiate New Deal (SHOCKER!!!)

So everybody is jumping on Jeter's press conference from yesterday and talking about what he said, but here are the only quotes that matter:

Jeter: “I’ve said from Day One, this is the only organization I’ve ever wanted to play for, and that’s still true today."

Jeter: "I was a Yankees fan growing up. This is where I want to be. I’ve never envisioned myself playing anywhere else..."

Jeter: “It’s unfair to talk about myself when we are trying to win."

Cash: “He is priceless for the fans, we know that."

It's real simple, folks. Jeter isn't going anywhere. All the quotes above get back to what I said a few weeks ago. Both sides recognize how important they are to each other and both know how they will be viewed by the fans and media if a deal doesn't get done.

ESPN can try to create all the controversy they want by having George Smith report on Jeter's statements and talk about the "silence" coming from the Yankees, but this is nothing new. The Yankees have had the "no negotiating extensions before a contract expires" policy since 1998. That's not going to change for even Jeter; he knows it, Cash knows it, everybody else should know it and shut up about it. At the end of the day Jeet is going to get his money, but he's going to get it at the end of the year when his contract is up per Yankee SOP. Being the ultimate team player and consummate professional that he is, Jeter is perfectly fine with that situation and so everybody else should be fine with it too.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yankee Hero Aaron Boone Retires, Joins ESPN

How do ya like them apples, ESPN?!?

Aaron Bleepin' Boone goes straight from the dugout to the broadcast studio in a move that could finally help temper the overabundance of Red Sox dick munching and Yankee hating/ignoring at The Worldwide Leader. Or at least maybe help to even the scales out a little bit in the Yankees favor. How the ESPN execs allowed this guy to get hired knowing what their policy is on pro-Yankee talk is a baffling decision, and no doubt heads are rolling in Bristol right now, but we Yankee fans certainly appreciate and applaud this affirmative action hire by ESPN.

Boone has already firmly entrenched himself in all-time Yankee lore for The Home Run and his off-season injury that started the chain of events ultimately ending with the A-Horse donning the pinstripes. But it's good to see that even in retirement Boone is looking to continue to build his Yankee legend by entering the lion's den that is the BBTN set and mixing it up with unapologetic Red Sox homers like Tim Kurkjian and John Kruk. With Steve Phillips out, Buster Olney still firmly in the mix, and now Booney on board, the pro-Yankee contingent at ESPN is growing stronger by the day.

And even if Boone is terrible as an analyst, the fact that his presence on the set will force ESPN to mention and show clips of The Home Run way more than they would ever want to when discussing any Yankees-Red Sox series is more than enough to make him worthwhile.

So congrats, Aaron. Go out there and make us Yankee fans proud. Fight the good fight! And don't take shit from anybody, especially not Kurkjian.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dr. Johnny & Mr. Damon

Johnny Damon in the summer of '09:

“I don’t know where else I would want to go to. Obviously, that’s not the right thing to say when you’re about ready to approach free agency, but I’m very happy with playing in New York, and my family’s happy I play for New York. There’s no bigger place to go. If you play well here, you’re going to get paid. New York has the resources. But we also have the chance to win every year. I don’t want to attempt to go make more money elsewhere, for more years, with a chance to be out of the race by the first of June." (courtesy of the NY Times)

Johnny Damon yesterday at his introductory press conference in Detroit:

“This is where we wanted to be. It is where my family wanted to be. Contrary to what has been reported, I wanted a place where I could win right away. I have always been truthful and Detroit was always my first choice, and my wife and I are going to love it there.”
“This isn’t the same market we lived in years ago. I told Scott that Detroit was No. 1.”
“I feel like I belong here. It took a little while, but I probably felt like I was a Tiger a month and a half ago. I really feel good about this.” (courtesy of

Well there you have it, folks. As if there was any doubt left that Johnny Damon was the prototypical Scott Boras client, those 2 polar opposite quotes do everything to wipe away that doubt.

Damon can say whatever he wants to say, and of course you would expect him to say something similar to what he said yesterday because nobody is going to go to their first press conference with their new team and say they hate it here and this city is a piece of shit. But the fact of the matter is Johnny Damon is a two-faced slimeball whose sole motivation throughout his entire career has been to go wherever he and Scotty B believe the most money is. He followed the same path that A-Rod did when Boras led him down the shitty contract negotiation trail in 2007, the only difference being A-Rod was smart enough to realize that that plan wasn't going to work out and Damon was dumb enough to follow Boras, and his horrible plan, right into Motown.

It shocks and impresses me that Damon can talk so well out of both sides of his mouth, given his past stuttering and stammering problems, so I do have to hand that to him. But if he thinks he's fooling anybody with the jet spray of bullshit that he spewed yesterday, he's dead wrong. Christ, I bet he couldn't even convince himself that he believed what he was saying.

Damon's words yesterday were those of a broken, beaten man who realized far too late the mistake he had made and is now starting to realize how he will pay for it this year. Like I and everybody else have been saying all along: if Damon truly wanted to be a Yankee today, he would be. Now he's stuck in Detroit playing on a team that very may well be out of the playoff race in June or July and the Yankees are just as strong in the outfield without him and gearing up for a run at defending their title.

Good luck this year, John. Hope the $8 million was worth it.

And if you want to get an even bigger laugh out of Damon's nonsense, The Yankee U has a great collection of Damon quotes tracing his two-sided comments all the way back to 2005.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jon Heyman: Red Sox Hype Machine

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Yankees Add Chan Ho Park To The Mix

The big Yankee news of the day is the all-but-done signing of Chan Ho Park to a one-year, $1.2 million deal with an extra 300k for incentives. This move by Cash, in addition to creating a logjam in what was already going to be a crowded bullpen competition, puts the Yankees over their self-imposed payroll budget for 2010. While I can't say I approve of the Yanks brass reneging on their commitment to a hardline on the budget this soon in the season, I can say with confidence that if you're going to go back on your word and break the bank for more pitching, what better guy to do it for than Chan Ho Park.

I mean, just look at those numbers from last year: 4.43 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 83.1 innings pitched, less than a strikeout per inning. If those numbers don't scream "WE HAVE TO HAVE THIS GUY ON OUR TEAM!!!!", then I don't know what does. Not to mention the guys' past track record of success with all his former teams and the heaps of awards and accolades he has accumulated in his decorated career. At this point, the Bombers can pretty much call the Joba-Hughes battle off, because with Chan Ho Motherfucking Park about to join the team, the 5th spot in the rotation AND the setup role out of the bullpen is locked down like Fort Knox.

In all seriousness, I don't think this is a bad move by the Yankees; Park's numbers were much better out of the bullpen with the Phillies last year: 2.52 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 52 K's in 50.0 IP, .231 BA against, and a bunch of other meaningful stats that other blogs can come up with faster than I can. And his stuff was also much better: consistently throwing 95-96 with the fastball, better command and movement on his off-speed stuff. In following with Cash's theory of "you can never have enough" relievers, this looks like a good move.

But there are also some points to consider that make this a potentially bad, and even unnecessary move by the Yanks. For starters, Park has no track record of success to speak of up until last year, when his transition to the 'pen only took place as a result of him being incredibly awful as a starter. His short sample size of success did come in a weaker league playing primarily in an offensively-challenged division (not too much to be scared about in the 2009 Braves, Mets, and Nationals rosters), which raises the concern that the Yankees fell in love with him because of his sterling 3.1 innings of shutout ball he pitched against them in the World Series (a path they have been down before with little success). How well Park would be able to re-create that success in the AL East is a big question mark. Also, Park's arrival means that somebody currently on the roster has to be the odd man out.

The bullpen positions that are set as of today are Mo, either Joba or Hughes, Marte, Robertson, and Aceves, with the last 2 spots likely coming from the group of Gaudin/Logan/Mitre/Melancon/Albaladejo. With the deal he signed it seems highly unlikely that Park is going to play in Scranton, so you pencil him into the 6th spot in the 'pen and now the fight between those other 5 is down to one. The early leaders would have to be Gaudin, Logan, and Melancon, but with his high salary and management's desire to stay at or under their budget, Gaudin seems the most likely to not only lose his spot in the 'pen, but to be packing his bags and cleaning out his locker to make room for Park.

Personally, I think Gaudin has more value than Park as he has shown the ability to be effective in both a reliever and starting role, something that will be important this year if the Yankees have to get creative at the back end of their rotation either due to Hughes' innings limitations, Joba's ineffectiveness, or (knock on wood) due to injuries. I also would have liked to see Melancon get another shot this year since the team has spent the better part of the last 3 years grooming him to be an impact reliever. Give him a chance to correct the control issues he had in his cup of coffee last season and he could become a lights-out, high-strikeout, late-inning stopper similar to 2007 Joba or 2009 Dave Robertson.

The feeling across the Yankee blogosphere is that this is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Yankees and helps bolster their bullpen depth for the upcoming season. At the end of the day, you can't argue with the logic of adding a proven bullpen commodity to the mix and on paper, that's what the Yankees have done. While I agree with that assessment, I hope it doesn't come at the expense of moving Gaudin and his $2.95 million salary because that could severely hurt the Yankees' starting pitching depth if issues in the rotation arise.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Best Way To Kill 20 Minutes At Work On Monday

River Ave. Blues posted their yearly "30 Best Prospects" post on Friday, and as I sat there reading it, I not only started getting way too excited about 2012, 2013, and 2014, but also thinking about where I should take author Mike Axisa out for dinner to thank him for putting together such a great piece.  It made my afternoon at work on Friday a lot more enjoyable, and if I weren't stuck at a lacrosse coaching clinic all day and sleeping with a 24-hour flu bug all night yesterday, I would have posted this a lot earlier.

So when you have some spare time, do yourself a favor and read through this post, and get excited about the next few years to come.

P.S.- Johnny Damon has apparently agreed to a deal with the Tigers.  Enjoy the octopus, and the losing, Johnny.  Maybe Cash will buy you a ticket to The Stadium so you can still experience the playoffs this year.

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Storylines That Aren't Being Given Enough Attention

Now that Spring Training has started, we all get to enjoy even more daily coverage of the early 2010 storylines that have been beaten to death: Joba-Hughes Rotation/Bullpen Battle; Is Brett Gardner an everyday outfielder? Who plays center field? 2-spot in the lineup- C-Grand or Nick Johnson?, etc. While those are all valid points to consider and will all have considerable influence over how the season plays out, there is more to this season than just those issues. Here are some other storylines for 2010 that aren't being discussed right now, but should be.

1) How well will Andy Pettitte's body hold up in 2010 after the workload put on it in 2009?

Pettitte will be 37 when this season starts, and 38 by the time the playoffs roll around. He was much better in '09 than his $5.5 million salary indicated the Yankees thought he would be, but that performance did come at the expense of lots of innings, a long series of short rest in the playoffs, and the other various bumps, bruises, sprains, strains, and pains that come with being a late-30s pro athlete.  After that large a workload, how will he respond this year?

Since he's no longer on the HGH workout plan (as far as we know), Pettitte has to be looked at as a potentially bigger injury risk this year, and with it being all but decided that whoever doesn't win the Joba-Hughes 5th-Spot Showdown will be Mo's setup man, the rotation could face some troubling times if the injury bug bites Andy hard.

When he's healthy, he's arguably the best 3rd/4th starter in baseball. But if he ends up not being healthy and goes down for the count, what is the plan?  A back end of the rotation featuring Joba/Hughes and Gaudin/Mitre/Aceves/Someone from the minors won't strike fear into the hearts of the Sawx, Rays, Angels, or Mariners.
2) How will A.J. Burnett fare without Jose Molina catching him?

Despite what everybody in the organization said last year, it was clear that there was a disconnect between A.J. and Jorge and that A.J. was more comfortable pitching to Molina. With Pudgy not on the bench anymore, how will A.J. cope? Is he going to be able to suck it up and work with Jorge? Will he continue to not mesh with the unquestioned Yankee clubhouse leader and force Joe to make Cervelli his personal catcher? Will he be able to tie his own shoes and go potty by himself like a big boy? Can he drink his Gatorade in the dugout without a sippy cup? It shouldn't take too long for this question to be answered.

3) What kind of rest schedule, if any, will Joe have for A-Rod?

The Horse got a clean bill of health from team doctors and the surgeon who performed his hip surgery last year, so all systems should be go. But with a player who is that important to the lineup and the team, will Joe want to take a cautious approach early on and see how the hip holds up before officially declaring A-Rod 100%? And even if he does, will A-Rod have more scheduled off-days or DH days this year to make sure the hip stays kosher all year long? How many at-bats (and hits, RBIs, and potentially wins) is Joe willing to sacrifice by giving them to Ramiro Pena in the interest of keeping the A-Horse in tip-top shape?

4) Will 2010 finally be the year Robinson Cano puts it all together? Or is he what he's going to be?

Since he first broke in with the team, we have heard Cano be talked about as a player who can dominate the 2nd base position for years to come, win multiple batting titles, multiple Gold Gloves, and so on and so forth.

The reality of the situation in 2010 is that Robinson Cano is still a talented player who has not fully matured into the player he has the potential to be. He is still too impatient at the plate at times, has a growing reputation as a terrible clutch hitter that is another year or 2 away from rivaling the bad rep A-Rod had, and still makes too many mental/effort-related mistakes at 2nd and plays with such an air of nonchalance about him that it makes you wonder just exactly how much he really gives a fuck out there.

The Yankees held Cano out of multiple big potential trades over the years because of the high hopes they had for him. With Matsui and Damon gone and Jorge expected to start a much steeper decline in production this year, the burden falls on Cano to step up this year. He's got a chance to be penciled in as the 5-hitter behind Teix; how will he respond? Will he take a more serious, focused approach to the game, understand his new role, and become the kind of player the Yankees can count on for the next 5-6 years? Or will he continue to be the loping, sometimes lazy guy who makes 5-8 too many errors in the field and drives in 20-30 too few runs at the plate?

(Bonus Question: If he continues to play the way he has, how does he fit into the Yankees future plans? Do they keep him and keep waiting or trade him before his value starts to deteriorate?)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

David Wright Is A Silly, Silly Man

I want some of what David Wright is smoking:

"We're expecting to go out there and win the National League East and go deep in the playoffs and win the World Series," Wright said, a day before Mets pitchers and catchers were required to report to spring training. "That is the expectation I've gotten from the guys who are here early, and I [expect] this team is to get back to where we are winning the National League East." (courtesy of the NY Post)

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Seriously, dude? Win the National League East? Win the World Series? I almost feel bad laughing because Wright almost seems like he's serious about this. Somebody needs to check him out and make sure he isn't still suffering from post-concussion syndrome.

Not somebody on the Mets training staff though. They might end up accidentally killing him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Best of Pitchers and Catchers Reporting Day Photos

Joba and CC loosen up while discussing the finer points of the Ponderosa vs. Golden Corral buffets and what the best method is for keeping the brims of their hats looking like they just bought them from Lids.

C-Grand works on his home run admiration stance in preparation for the beating he's going to put on the short porch in right field at the Stadium.

The patented "Jeter Jump Throw" already looks to be in mid-season form.

Joe carrying his, and possibly this other dude's, own coffee into Steinbrenner Field.  What other manager puts himself down to this "common" level?  Talk about setting the example of what it means to be a team player.

A.J. practices how he's going to fuck with his hat and stall for time during the outings that he can't do anything but throw the ball either down the middle or straight to the backstop (sorry, I had to make that joke).

It Has Begun...

Ahh yes, the gloriousness that is pitchers and catchers reporting. The sun is shining a little brighter; the birds are singing a little sweeter; the air feels a little cleaner; and we all feel just a little bit happier about our lives.

Ahh yes, it is a great day indeed. I've been doing the same dance as this guy since I woke up this morning. Only I'm doing it without any pants on.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chien-Ming Wang Moving To Greener Pastures (Sort Of)

So it looks like somebody wanted the Yankees' broken Wang after all.

"Wang's deal is worth $2 million and includes the chance to earn $3 million in performance bonuses, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press." (courtesy of

Unfortunately for old CMW, that somebody was the Washington Nationals, the black hole of Major League Baseball, where former great players, former good players, has beens, never weres, and never will bes all go to die.  That being what it is, this is still a win-win for everybody involved.

Even though he won't be ready to contribue until at least the midway point of the season, Wang on the DL is still probably a better starter than whoever else Washington can throw out there at the back end of their rotation.  And if Wang does somehow recover his velocity and sinking action on his sinker, this deal looks like a steal for the Nationals as they try to take a step towards reaching the level of mediocrity.

As far as the Wanger is concerned, after the public tarring and feathering he took at the hands of the NY media and fans for his playoff failures and absolute meltdown into a pitcher of historically significant ineffectiveness last year, it will be good to get a fresh start and even better to get that fresh start in a place that has no pressure, no expectations, and probably not even any real fans.  And when he does finally return from his rehab, he won't ever have to worry about exorcising his postseason demons in Washington because the Nationals are so pathetic that they'll be out of the playoff race by mid May.

At worst Wang becomes another shitty starter on a staff of shitty starters, but still making good money.  At best, he returns to the form he showed in the 2007-2008 regular season, which could lead to even better numbers than he put up in the Bronx as he will now be pitching in an offensively-diluted league.

So goodbye, Chien-Ming.  It was fun while it lasted and it was a shame that it had to end so sadly, but the Yankee Championship Express started running again last year and between your injuries and tendency to choke in big moments, there just wasn't any room left for you on the train.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cervelli Hath Better Watch His MF'ing Back

From today's Daily News:

"Francisco Cervelli stopped playing winter ball in his native Venezuela after he was struck in the head by a hitter's backswing during a game, he said after a recent workout at the Yankees' minor-league complex."

Most casual fans would pass this off as concidence and bad luck, but those of us in the know already know this was a sign from God that he wants his son, Jesus, behind the plate for the Bombers as soon as possible, and he just plain isn't going to let Frankie Cervelli stand in his son's way.  You can stretch out the hammies all you want and wear as much protective catching gear possible, but if the Man Upstairs wants your ass on the bench, it's going to happen.

Cervelli should just be thankful that he was only out for a month; that was a warning shot from the Heavenly Father.  If Cervelli knows what's good for him, he'll show up at camp, continue to work well with the pitchers, hit just little enough to justify his place as a backup, and not do anything to create any buzz about him being Jorge's long-term replacement.  The consequences of such actions are so great that I shudder to even think about them.  And he doesn't even have Gene Monahan around to tend to his injuries.  The pieces are all coming together and God has spoken; The Son must be allowed to take his rightful place behind the plate.

(Cue the angelic music and the doves being released)

Am I making WAYYYYYYYY too big a deal out of this kid?  Of course I am.  But why shouldn't I?  There hasn't been a Yankee position prospect this highly touted since Jeter, and we all know how he turned out.  And for every Jeter there have been far too many Drew Hensons and Ricky Ledees so pardon me if I get a little amped up about the best position guy to come through the system in almost 20 years. 

P.S.- The literary BJs to Montero aren't going to stop until he gets to the Majors either, so fucking get used to it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Setting The Mood...

If that image doesn't set the mood for a little Valentine's Day lovin', nothing will.

Try that move on your lady friend tonight and you're all but guaranteed to get some action.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Linkapalooza

* Rob Neyer weighs in on the impact of Phil Hughes working on his changeup as he prepares to compete for the 5th spot in the starting rotation this season.  Neyer also becomes the latest to point out the stupidity of innings limitations.

* George King of the Post speculates on whether or not the Yankees will go after 21-year-old (or his actually 19?) Cuban defector Adeinis Hechavarria, and whether or not Hechavarria will become Jeter's replacement at SS or find his way into the outfield.

* Joe Pawlikowski at River Ave. Blues also weighs in on Hechavarria and provides some video highlights of his play in Cuba.

* Steve S. at TYU breaks down the numbers to examine Robinson Cano's potential as the #2 hitter in the lineup.  (Side Note: While I'm more than willing to look at numbers, I don't want Cano anywhere near the 2-spot in the lineup)

* Jon Heyman is Tweeting that suddenly everybody wants a piece of Johnny Damon.  The smart money would be on this Tweet coming right after Scott Boras took Heyman out for lunch and a massage.

* Matt at Fack Youk looks back at the careers of the retiring Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, 2 of the only older stars of the 90s that the Yankees didn't sign at some point in the 2000s.

* And Lenny Neslin reminds us that there are only 4 days until we can stop pretending to care about a potential LeBron-Kobe NBA Finals, whether or not Alex Ovechkin will lead the Caps to a Stanley Cup, or if UNC and UConn will miss the NCAA tournament (Secret: they won't).

Enjoy the rest of your weekends and your Valentine's Day, Yankee fans.  Make sure your wives/girlfriends stay the fuck out of the way while the Daytona 500, NBA All-Star Game, and the Olympics are all on tomorrow.  Then make sure you make it up to them for staying out the way by taking them out to a nice dinner and giving them a foot massage.  That should be enough to keep you from spending the night on the couch.  I think.

5th Spot In Rotation TBD At Wrestlmania, UFC 110, or The Rodeo

Joba in an interview with The Sporting News on February 7th:

"It's going to be a battle. The greatest part about it is that not only is going to make the guys who will be fighting for that spot better, but it's going to make our team better."

"I'm going to grab the bull by the horns, get after it in spring training and see what happens."

Hughes to the Post on the 11th:

“I know I’m coming into the spring fighting for a job.... I’m out of the reliever mindset for right now."

What's all this "fighting for a job" nonsense?  Is somebody going to come into the clubhouse and lock the Figure Four on the other?  Are the Yankee pitching coaches going to judge these guys on effective striking, grappling, and octagon control?  Last time I checked, it's probably more important that they come out and throw strikes, make batters work, and make good pitches when they have to.

These guys need to cut the crap with all the cliches and just go out and pitch; the more they focus on the "battle" and "fight," the less they're going to be focusing on doing their job and winning the spot.  And if they are going to stick to cliches, they might want to think about remembering to "give 110%" and "take everything one play at a time."

It's not like either of these guys aren't going to make the 25-man roster, and it's not like the Yankees aren't going to be willing to swap their spots in the rotation and bullpen if they have to, either because of performance or because they have to get creative with Hughes' innings.  Joba can talk all he wants about taking the bull by the horns, but that isn't going to help him become the 5th starter.  Showing a little poise on the mound and the ability to think his way through a lineup the 2nd and 3rd time will.

I still say Hughes is the better option for the 5th spot, but we'll see how this "epic battle" plays out when these boys get into camp in the next few days.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Interesting little note buried at the bottom of the Yankee blog story about Phil Hughes in the Post yesterday:

*Catcher Jesus Montero, one of the Yankees' top prospects, is working out at first base.

Uh, come again?  Are you shitting me?  I could have sworn I just read that the Divine Savior is working out at first base instead of working on his catching skills to make himself viable defensively at the position.

What the F is that about?  The Yankees are stocked at first base for almost the next decade so what's the point of giving up on The Almighty behind the plate before he's worked with Major League-level players and coaches at the position?  Unless the Yankees truly do believe that Montero is more valuable as a trade chip than a future part of the lineup, this is a terrible move.  You don't try to compensate for such a highly-touted prospect's one major weakness by completely glaring over it and trying him at a new position before he's had a real chance to improve; that's something you do for an already established player heading into the twilight of his career (i.e.- moving Johnny Damon to left field to compensate for his diminishing range and weak arm).

However bad Montero may be behind the plate, he can't be much worse than Jorge, and Jorge's days behind the dish are numbered as it is.  If the Yankees are serious about making Jesus a feature part of their future plans, they need to give him as much time behind the plate as possible before deciding that he can't do it and needs to play elsewhere.  The only way this makes any sense is if they are trying to ease him back into the defensive swing of things after his hand injury last year.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are The Braves Secretly Trying To Become The Yankees?

Seriously, what the hell are the Braves up to?  They've already got Melky in the outfield and Mike Dunn and Scott Proctor in the bullpen.  Now they're out there trying to sign Johnny Damon when they've got younger, higher-ceiling outfielders with better arms in Nate McLouth and Matt Diaz already penciled into the corner spots.

Have they finally learned from the decade they spent in the 90s being the Buffalo Bills of baseball that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Or more accurately, if you can't beat 'em, add as many of the players that they didn't want to your team? I have to say, I can't argue with their logic if that is the case, but if you're going to try to act like a winner, you probably shouldn't swap your best pitcher for an average center fielder.

Clearly the Braves still have a lot of learning to do, but hey, you have to start somewhere and adding as many former Yankees as possible is as good place to start as any when trying to build a championship-caliber team. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if I'm the Yankees I'm flattered as shit by this move by the Braves.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mets Lowering Outfield Wall Height To Help Their Pathetic Team

(David Wright and Daniel Murphy loosening up at Spring Training)

Broadcaster Gary Cohen may be able to proclaim, "It's outta here!" a little more often in 2010. And David Wright may not be as inclined to frustratingly fling his Great Gazoo helmet, or whatever protective wear he uses, during the upcoming season.

The height of Citi Field's center-field wall will be sliced in half, making the ballpark more homer-friendly.

Last season, the wall measured 16 feet in front of the sparsely used Home Run Apple. Now, with the second level of padding being removed, it will measure eight feet in the middle of the outfield. Still,...the stadium's spacious dimensions won't be altered.

The Mets hit 95 homers last season, by far the fewest in the majors. San Fran ranked 29th with 122.

They [the Mets] ranked last in the majors in road homers last season with 46. Pittsburgh had the second-fewest with 50. The Yankees and Phillies, who play in hitter-friendly ballparks, also ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in road homers with 116 and 108, respectively.

Meanwhile, an average of 1.60 homers per game were hit at Citi Field last season, more than at five other NL ballparks - San Diego (1.59), San Francisco (1.59), Los Angeles (1.57), Atlanta (1.52) and St. Louis (1.48). And visiting teams actually hit two more homers at Citi Field last season than they did at Shea Stadium in '08. (story courtesy of the NY Daily News)

It just never ends with the Mets. While the Yankees are out there working to get the most out of their budget and build what they think is the best team possible, the Mets are busy trying to adjust their park to accommodate the shitty team they're left with after not spending enough time or money on trying to build the best team possible. Thank Jesus Montero that we had the Daily News to absolutely thrash the Mets' logic on this decision, even if they didn't mean to do it.

The fact that they're lowering the wall is funny enough, but then when you read into the details of this story, it becomes even more laughable. Sure the Mets hit the fewest homers in the league last year, but that is just as due to the fact that they hit the fewest on the road as it is to the fact that they had no power at home. The argument that their park is the cause for their lack of pop is delivered another blow with the inclusion of the fact that while the Mets were busy popping up to the catcher and grounding out to short on the road last season, the Yankees and Phillies mashed just as much on the road as they did at their friendly home confines.

THEN you read about how Citi Field, while having low HR averages last year, still had a higher HR-per game average than 4 other stadiums, including LA, Atlanta, and St. Louis. Guess which 3 teams aren't anywhere on the list of lowest HR totals in 2009??? The Dodgers, the Braves, and the Cardinals!

THEN, as if the point hasn't been driven home enough, the Daily News throws the knockout blow with the line about visiting teams hitting more homers at Citi last year than they did at Shea in 2008.


It's all so clear to everybody except the Mets brass that the issue is not that the walls are too high, it's that the Mets team isn't good enough to hit the ball far enough to go over the wall. The numbers don't lie; Citi Field isn't a Death Valley for home runs, the Mets just don't have the personnel to park balls over the fence. The teams that play in the more homer-unfriendly parks aren't changing anything with their fields because they have Albert Pujols, Ryan Ludwick, Matt Holliday, Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Casey Blake: players with the power to knock the shit out of a ball instead of lazily flying it to the warning track.

All lowering this wall is going to do is help a few of the balls that Daniel Murphy and Omir Santos and David Wright hit with their warning track power hop over the wall for ground rule doubles instead of bouncing off the wall back into the field of play where they could potentially become triples. What this story shows, plain as day, is that if the Mets want to improve their homer numbers, they need to do what the story said they already weren't planning on doing; Change the fucking field dimensions!! Or if they don't want do that, then sign some better fucking players!!

While we've already established that the Yankees are going to wreck shit again this year, at least if they don't I will have the comedy of errors that is the Mets to keep me entertained. A Triple-A-quality team playing in a Double-A-quality ballpark being run by a group of way wayyyyyyyyyy below Single-A-quality morons I wouldn't trust to line the fields at the Little League World Series.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hark The Herald Angels Sing!

(Special shout out to the immortal Swanny Duckson for the fantastic PhotoShop work)

Thanks to the Heavens above that Jesus has been invited to Spring Training this year. Only his divine greatness can help alleviate the rancid stench of evil and ineffectiveness that will surely emanate from Kei Igawa.

Early betting odds on Jesus' biggest Spring Training accomplishment:

-Hits a home run so far that it smashes Hank or Hal's windshield in the employee parking lot at Steinbrenner Field- 2:1
-Hits a comebacker up the middle that goes clean through the opposing pitcher's body and kills him- 5:1
-Pulls a Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez and hits the cover off a ball in a game- 10:1
I know I shat the bed in my NFL picks, but I'm taking the 10:1 on the Benny The Jet bet, and you'd be smart to do the same.
Praise Jesus!!

So The Yanks Aren't Going To Negotiate With Jeter, Mo, and Joe This Year? Who Cares?!

While somebody will surely try to make a big deal out of today's story that the Yankees are not going to re-negotiate with Jeter, Mo, or Girardi during what will be the final year of all of their respective contracts this season, it really is a non-issue and actually a smart move on the Yankees' part.

If there are any 2 guys on the team who have nothing to be concerned about when it comes to getting re-upped and getting justly paid, it's Jeter and Mariano. They are the most iconic Yankees since Mickey Mantle and the 2 most important links to the dynasty of the late 90s. There would be such public backlash if the team was to lowball either one of these guys that it would create the kind of unnecessary off-field attention that the team was so bad at creating in the mid-2000s and so good at avoiding last season. Plus, Hank and Hal would risk planting the seed in all the other players' heads that they could be headed for troubling times when their contracts were up; "Shit. If Mo and Jeet can't get a fair deal, what's going to happen when my contact ends?" And it's hard to win championships when everybody is walking on eggshells and checking over their shoulder.

Neither Jeter or Mariano have ever been the type to rock the boat and make demands; they're consummate professionals and are all about the team, and the Yankee brass knows this and so they know they won't cause any waves by not negotiating with these 2 and letting them play the season out. Jeet and Mo have to know then when the time comes, the team isn't going to take a Johnny Damon-style hard line with them and so they'll continue to do what they've done their entire career: keep their mouths shut, focus on winning a title, and deal with their contracts after the season.

What Jeter and Mariano have already accomplished is more than enough to justify what will be exorbitant pay days for them, but when you consider that unlike many of their peers, both have continued to perform at the highest level as they reach their late-30s and early-40s, it makes it all the more justifiable to give them whatever they want money-wise when it does come time to negotiate a new deal after the 2010 season. Neither has shown any signs of decreasing dramatically and neither has been a major injury concern throughout their careers, so there is low risk in giving these guys top-level money.

That being said, the out that not negotiating new deals gives Cash and the swinging dicks is that they won't be married to a big-money deal in the remote chance that something catastrophic does happen to Jeter or Mariano to severely affect their ability to play at an All-Star level or end their careers completely. While it's not something anybody wants to think about, you also don't want to think about having to pay Jeter $25 million a year for 4 or 5 more years after he's blown out his knee and broken his throwing arm in the same season and become a shell of his former self, and not re-upping now eliminates that possibility.

The one issue that could creep up with this approach is what will happen to Girardi if the Yankees struggle this year. Seeing as how the Yankees will go into this season as the odds-on favorite to win the World Series, being a lame-duck coach shouldn't be a problem, but if, by some stroke of black demonic magic, the team plays bad, misses the playoffs, etc. without the presence of crippling injuries, the talk across the NY media outlets will turn to Girardi and whether or not he's coming back and then you've got the 2007 Joe Torre situation all over again.

Girardi has already shown he can handle the NY media and has established great relationships with all his players, but the bottom line in the Bronx is always winning, especially when you're coming off a World Championship and looking to win another. If the unthinkable happens, Girardi's lame-duck status will become a bigger and bigger deal and could overshadow the team itself. But since we've already established that that isn't going to happen and the 2010 World Series trophy is as good as theirs', then there's nothing to worry about. Everybody will go out, do their job, win another title, have another parade, and then be handsomely rewarded.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yanks Bring In Right-Handed Power Bat (Wait, What?)

While the Yanks held their hard line on their $200 million Opening Day budget for 2010, they are still going all out to guarantee themselves a 2010 Triple-A Championship with the signing of Marcus Thames to a $900,000 minor league deal today.  Thames, a former Yankee farmhand who had a half a cup of coffee with the team in 2002 before being traded for Ruben Sierra in 2003, hit 13 HRs and drove in 36 runs last year in 258 at-bats with Detroit at a .252/.323/.453 split.

While he's not guaranteed a spot on the team with the minor league contract, the signing of Thames does make the Randy Winn signing all the more puzzling.  Thames gives the Yankees what they needed, a righty power bat off the bench who can play the corner outfield if need be, at less than what they're going to pay Winn to be an unnecessary defensive replacement outfielder who can't hit a lick.  But if last off-season taught us anything, it's 'never doubt Cash.'

The smart money is on Brian having a plan for Thames, even if it's as simple as keeping him on the Triple-A roster all year as a Shelley Duncan-type who can be used as a call up to fill the 25-man roster when somebody else takes a stint on the DL.  But in any case, Marcus' chances of going home for Thanksgiving in 2010 with a World Series bonus and an appointment to get measured for a championship ring just increased ten fold.

Is It Spring Training Yet?

After last night's rather bland Super Bowl, boring, un-funny commercials, and ho-hum halftime show, it's about damn time we get back to focusing on baseball. Screw the NBA All-Star game; forget March Madness (since UConn isn't going to make it anyway); let's just move right on to MLB Opening Day.

Seriously, get me some pitchers and catchers reporting right now. I want daily updates on how Jesus Montero looks behind the plate. I want to see Javy Vazquez and Andy Pettitte laughing and joking while they go about their stretching and running drills. I want to see Brett Gardner and Ramiro Pena showing up early to get more batting practice in to prepare for the bigger roles this year. I want to see A.J. Burnett practicing pitching to a metal cut-out of a batter, "Charlie Sheen in Major League"-style to try and cut down on his wild pitches this year.

P.S.- did anybody else notice the similarities between last night's Super Bowl commercials and Johnny Damon? Both are severely overpriced, both had solid make-ups (lotta funny premises for the commercials; Damon still an above-average hitter), and both had major glaring weaknesses (no solid punch lines on the commercials; Damon's weak arm and presence as an injury risk at age 36). And in the end, there doesn't seem to be much buzz about any of the ads the day after just like there hasn't been any buzz for Damon since the 2009 season ended.  Just a thought.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Day's Offerings From Yankee Blogland

Because I'm just too damn lazy and tired today to post anything funny or insightful and I'll probably be too drunk tomorrow to post anything funny or insightful, here's a quick link fix from around the Yankee blog world.

-Lenny Neslin puts together a nice comparison between The Babe and Albert Pujols through the first 9 seasons of their careers.  Of course, The Babe comes out on top.  Shocker.

-Sam Borden at LoHud takes a look at the challenges facing Girardi in regards to team chemistry this season.

-Matt Imbrogno from TYU, in their continued genius generated from fanatical statistical analysis and using simple logic, examines the Yankees defensive projections for the season.  Early returns are looking good in the field.

-And just to keep things light, the boys at It Is High, It Is Far, It Is... caught poke fun at Dustin Pedroia's off-season workout regimen.  If you're making fun of the Red Sox, I'm there.

Enjoy the Super Bowl, Yankee fans.  I'll be back Monday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

AB4AR's Super Bowl Pick

New Orleans @ Indianapolis: Line- Colts by 5

And so it all comes down to this, Peyton and the Colts against Big Drew and the Who Dat Crew for the right to wear ugly t-shirts and hats and call themselves champions. Before we get to the breakdown of the game and the pick, here's a word from Al Pacino:

Thanks, Al. Now to the game.

By now everybody knows enough about Dwight Freeney's injured ankle to write a book about it, but what people don't know is whether or not he's going to play, if he does, how many plays is he going to be, and how effective is he going to be on that broken wheel. Despite what the Colts say, the Saints have to be preparing as if Freeney is going to be on the field; that means having blocking schemes set up to chip him with tight ends, pick him up with RBs, and make sure he is accounted for on every single play. If he doesn't go, then everything becomes a little easier for New Orleans, but they still have to prepare for the worst.

Robert Mathis is a good player, but he's more Pippen to Freeney's Jordan than a Jordan-type himself. Mathis thrives on the attention that other teams pay to Freeney and it isn't going to be as simple as swapping him to Freeney's side of the line if Dwight can't go and letting him have a field day. If Freeney can't go, or is severely limited in playing time and effectiveness by the injury, then the Colts are going to have to get creative to get pressure on Drew Brees. We're talking stunts, bringing LBs and defensive backs on blitzes, and disguising it well enough so that Brees doesn't sniff it out at the line and pick them apart with audibles and hot routes. The Colts LBs and secondary have been praised all year for their team speed and ability to stand up to the opponents' skill position players but we're not talking Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, and Jerricho Cotchery here. We're talking wave after wave of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Jeremy Shockey, and Reggie Bush coming at you from all angles and spreading and stretching the field, trying to exploit the weak spot in the coverage. This game will be the truest test of just how good Indy's secondary is or isn't.

On the other side of the ball, New Orleans has made no secret about its gameplan: hit Peyton Manning at all costs. That strategy worked pretty well against Minnesota, as the beating he took over 4 quarters almost certainly had something to do with Brett Favre's bonehead decision at the end of the game. But don't forget that before that ill-fated throw across the middle, Favre had spent the better part of the game carving up the Saints secondary, something that Manning, more than anybody else in football, can do with ease. If Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter can't cover Bernard Berrian, I can't imagine them shutting down Reggie Wayne one-on-one, and if the Saints commit 2 guys to Wayne, then this game could turn into another episode of "The Pierre Garcon Show."

One thing to look for by the Colts could be an early commitment to the running game. Knowing what the Saints are going to look to do, the Colts could flip the script and keep the ball on the ground more with delays and draws to try to use the Saints' aggression against them. Sure they were the worst rushing team statistically in the league this year, but in Joe Addai and Donald Brown, the Colts have 2 guys who can get the job done. With the Saints going balls to the wall for Manning, an early dose of draws and short screen passes could be just what the doctor ordered to negate the New Orleans pass rush and force them to respect the running game, which will make life that much easier for Manning once they do decide to start chucking the pill.

An X-factor for the Colts is going to be Antoine Bethea. Bethea is going to have a plethora of responsibilities: stepping up to stuff the run against Pierre Thomas, covering Dallas Clark in spread formations, shadowing Bush out of the backfield, and providing help over the top to the Saints corners. The more positive plays he is involved in, be it through tackles, tipped or broken up passes, blitzes, and forced turnovers, the less time New Orleans is going to spend on the field and the better of the Colts are going to be.

For the Saints, the X-factor, as usual, is going to be Reggie Bush. I thought this was going to be Bush's breakout season but it turned out to be just another up-and-down year that looks more representative of what his career will turn out to be. For every big game Bush has, he has 2 after it in which he is virtually non-existent and for the Saints to win this game, he can't be non-existent. There are going to be a handful of opportunities during the game to get him the ball in space and he needs to take advantage of those opportunities. Bush can't be dropping easy passes or getting taken down by the shoelaces in the open field. If he can break a few big plays, he can force the Colts to devote more attention to him and open up the field for the Saints receivers. But if he shrivels under the spotlight and becomes a non-factor, then the Colts can drop more men into coverage and try to blanket New Orleans' air attack.

While each teams' defense has been the focal point in the weeks leading up the big game, I don't expect either to be overly influential of the game's outcome. Both teams are going to put up points but in the end the Colts will put up more. They are better equipped to handle what New Orleans is going to throw at them with their veteran o-line, good blocking backs, smart receivers, and the best QB in the game, than New Orleans is. The Saints receivers have had the tendency in the past to get cases of the dropsies and I foresee a couple big ones in this game that kill drives for them. The game will be closer than some think, but the Colts will do enough to cover and win.

The Pick: Colts 34 Saints 27

Playoff Predictions (Season): 2-8

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pimpin' Ain't Easy...Unless You're Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is playing the field like a man possessed in the aftermath of his split with Kate Hudson, and has been on dates with a cavalcade of women in the past two weeks -- including a meeting in Manhattan with old flame Madonna.

On Saturday, he was spotted at lunch with one beauty in South Beach and then took another girl out for dinner at restaurant STK that night.

"He has been seeing a petite brunette from New York," the source said. "While he was in the city, he had a private meeting with Madonna at his home. They have stayed in touch and text each other all the time.

"He has also been hanging around with the girls from Wilhelmina Models in Miami. He picked out a curvy blonde from their books and took her to the Bahamas for a charity event two weeks ago. And he was pretty pleased with himself to be dating two girls in one day last Saturday." (story courtesy of Page Six)

The A-Horse strikes again!! First Madonna, then Kate Hudson, now a whole gaggle of bitches at the same time. Well, I can't say I approve of he and Madonna, because let's face it, she's old and she might be a dude, but this latest report of The Horse's off-field conquests should be music to Yankee fans' ears.

For one, it shows that his hip has to be fully recovered and showing no ill effects of extra wear and tear from last season. I mean, if A-Rod is banging this many chicks on a regular basis, that's a lot of stress being put on the hip, and if the hip is holding up to that stress then it's a foregone conclusion that he's already in mid-season form. For all we know, this is part of his new off-season strength and conditioning program and if the hip is holding up to this kind of rigorous workout regimen, that I think he's going to be just fine once the regular season starts.

Secondly, this shows that Alex is still in "I'm going to do what I want to do and not give a fuck what the media says or thinks" mode and last year wasn’t just a flash in the pan. This is the new and improved A-Rod and he's going to bang who he wants when he wants. Then he's going to show up at the Stadium and go 3-5 with 4 RBIs and not say shit to Kim Jones about it.

And why shouldn't he be pleased with himself for dating 2 chicks in one day? Most guys can barely pull off dating one chick at a time, and most guys like me who blog like this are lucky to even sniff one chick, let alone date her. Keep up the good work, Alex. This kind of pre-season training is what MVP seasons are made of.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hughes Vs. Joba: Who Ya Got?

Once again, Joel Sherman was johnny on the spot with his column today about the "Joba vs. Hughes for the 5-spot in the rotation"-debate. The entire article can be found here.  In it, he correctly stated that Hughes should be the 5th starter and that Joba is a better fit as Mo's setup man and the heir to the throne, but also brought up the potential issues that arise if the Yanks take that path and some other points to consider. Here are the highlights:

"...The bigger question the Yanks might want to ask in spring is not Joba vs. Hughes as much as 2010 vs. the future.
Because aren't the 2010 Yanks much better if both Joba and Hughes are in the bullpen?"

The argument could be made that having both as shutdown bullpen options ahead of Mo would be beneficial for the Yankees. After the taxing workload that Joe put on CC, A.J., and Andy through the playoffs last year, it would be nice to be able to shorten games in the regular season and keep them at 6 or 7 innings even if they are pitching well, knowing that he may want to use the 3-man playoff rotation again come playoff time. Hughes-to Joba-to Mo could be a modern day version of The Nasty Boys, with Marte, Robertson, and Aceves sprinkled in to provide depth. Those 6 together pitching well would give the Yanks the best bullpen in baseball, and would give them ample opportunities to keep their starters fresh through the first 162 and cover up a potential weak spot at the end of the rotation without sacrificing wins.

Of course, Sherman's theory that adding Vazquez to the rotation lessens the importance of the 5th starter is a little misguided. A quality starter is better than a quality reliever, and nowhere was that more apparent for the Yankees than last year's postseason when their starters, for the most part, outperformed their bullpen. Phil Hughes as a potential 12-15-win guy at the back end of the rotation is a better option than a season of Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre, and also more valuable than Phil Hughes the potential shutdown middle relief guy. No matter how good a bullpen is, it can't mask a bad rotation. Getting your best 5-man starting rotation out there is the most important thing when it comes to pitching and no spot in the rotation should be taken for granted, especially at the expense of strengthening your bullpen.

In short, the Yankee bullpen may be better in 2010 with Joba and Hughes in the 'pen, but the pitching staff as a whole and the team as a whole could arguably not be better by potentially sacrificing its best 5-man rotation for bullpen depth.

"Manager Joe Girardi is very protective of relievers, anyway, and with both Chamberlain and Hughes available, he could continue on that path more comfortably while further diminishing the temptation to ever push Rivera into the eighth inning before the postseason."

The other side of the benefit coin is the relief it provides Mo. Having Hughes and Joba in the 'pen together not only helps shorten games for the starters, but also shorten games for Mo. Ensuring that Mo is only needed for the 9th inning or is used for more than 3-out saves as little as possible keeps more gas in his tank for the playoffs. Joe had the whip to Mo practically throughout the entire postseason last year, mainly due to Mo being his best relief pitcher but also due to shaky performances by other guys in the bullpen. Limiting Mo's innings in the regular season helps ease the wear and tear on his 40-year-old body and can make Joe that much more comfortable going to him for 4, 5, or 6 outs in the playoffs if he has to.

But once again, if your rotation is weakened by the inclusion of both Hughes and Joba in the bullpen, you potentially lessen your chances to use Mo, making how much rest he gets a moot point.

"However, to put both Chamberlain and Hughes into the pen would mean that neither is in position to be a full starter in 2011 -- which is a factor not only for cost certainty, but because Vazquez is in his walk year and Pettitte contemplates retirement annually."

This is the big sticking point. The Yankees mismanaged Joba in the rotation so badly last year that they basically wasted a season of his career. And Hughes threw so few innings being in the bullpen that the Yankees would have to manage his innings similarly this season in order to not risk turning him into the next Mark Prior. So if one of these guys is being counted on to replace Vazquez a/o Andy next season, they can't risk having their innings limited this year.

The correct way to manage those innings is to start a guy off in the 'pen or the Minors to keep his innings low and then slowly build his workload up as the season progresses so that by the end of the year he can go out and throw 6 or 7 innings without having to worry about pitch counts or innings limitations. If he can stay healthy and you can get him 150 innings this year, then next year he should be full speed ahead as a regular part of the rotation with no worries and can be counted on to fill a key spot if both Vazquez and Pettitte leave.

Whether the Yankees envision both guys as future starters is irrelevant. The fact is, Hughes has shown more ability to use his pitch repertoire successfully as a starter than Joba has, and Joba's mentality is just better suited for the bullpen. As his initial call-up and demotion to the 'pen for last year's playoffs showed, going from starter to reliever is no big deal; there's less to worry about, less to think about, and pitchers can just rock and fire, which is what Joba likes to do and has had his greatest success doing.

Entertaining the thought of putting both of these guys in the bullpen or experimenting with both in the rotation this season serves to do nothing but retard their growth as pitchers. The Yankees need to commit to spots for both of these guys and those spots should be the rotation for Hughes and the 'pen for Joba. Manage Hughes' innings correctly and there shouldn't be any problems this season or in 2011.

Time To Go Back To The Future

Ever since the Randy Winn signing, the majority of Yankee talk has been about the what if's and the why's? Why didn't Damon take the Yankees offer? What if the Yankees offered him more money? Why didn’t they wait Damon out longer to see if his price would drop more? Why didn't they go after Reed Johnson instead of Winn? What if Damon goes to Tampa? What if Damon goes to Detroit?

What if we all just stopped talking about what didn't happen in the past and instead focused on the future? What about that? The bottom line is, the Yankees signed the guy they wanted and it wasn't Damon. The team is complete and staring straight down the barrel of Spring Training, so let's just all forget about the what if's and the who's that the Bombers don't have. Instead, let's start focusing on who they do have and the issues that are important for the upcoming season, such as Joba or Hughes in the 5-spot or bullpen, who's going to play left field, who's going to play center field, how the new bench guys will perform, where Granderson fits into the lineup, whether or not this is the year that Cano puts it all together, and which Hollywood starlet A-Horse is going to shack up with next.

I'll admit, I was just as guilty as everyone else in my assessment of the deal that was (Winn) and the deal that wasn't (Damon), but at this point, I could care less where Johnny Damon wants to go and where he ends up. I don't care if the dude plays at all this year. What's done is done and it can't be changed so let's leave it in the past, gun this bitch up to 88MPH, and start steaming towards the 2010 season.