Monday, January 31, 2011

When You Say "Catch," You Mean... ?

Jorge speaking to reporters on Saturday:

"I'll catch, I'll catch. I'll catch this year."

Catch what exactly, Jorge?  Catch pneumonia?  Catch the train?  Catch "The Social Network" before the Oscars to see if it's really that good?  What are you planning on catching this year?

Because I certainly hope you weren't referring to the act of strapping on the chest protector and shin guards, tugging on the mask, and squatting behind home plate to play catcher.  That would be a horrible idea, for you and the Yankees.  You are too old, too brittle, and your value at your age needs to be maximized by keeping you healthy and mashing at the plate, not dinged up and embarrassing yourself behind it.

At this point, I think it's safe to say you fall behind Martin, Cervelli, The Jesus, and even Austin Romine on the depth chart at catcher.  Shit, if it were up to me, and all those other guys were sick, injured, missing, or dead, I would call up Gary Sanchez from A-ball to catch before I considered putting you back there.  Just let it go, man.  You're done as a catcher.  But you can still be a damn good DH.  Embrace that role and just help Montero adjust and grow into the future catcher.

But don't give him any defensive advice.  We don't want you undoing all the hard work his coaches have already put in trying to improve his skills.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cash Believes In The Power Of Jesus

On Jesus Montero's defense:

"He’s not there yet, but he’s pretty damn close. We believe he’s better than some starting catchers, defensively, in the big leagues right now." (via Minor Matters Trenton).  Check out the entire interview conducted by Josh Norris.  There's a lotta good stuff in there.

And the Brian Cashman Bold Statement Train keeps on rollin'!  Whether or not Cash and the Yankees believe Montero is at THAT level of defensive skill is irrelevant.  Crap, whether or not they even truly believe he is a decent defensive catcher is irrelevant.  The point is that Cash and the Yankees believe Montero can do the job, should be doing the job, and will be doing the job behind the plate for them at the Major League level, whenever he gets there.

The Yankees have always believed, and continue to believe that Montero is a special offensive talent.  His numbers at every level of the Minors has given them every reason to believe that and Keith Law's recent ranking of Montero as the 4th overall prospect in all of baseball validates that evaluation.  The fact of the matter is, when a guy is this highly-regarded offensively, you find a spot for him to play.  In the interview from which that Cash quote came, Cash very smartly references the fact that Wade Boggs was considered a subpar defender upon joining the Majors, and he worked his way to a Gold Glove-caliber 3B in addition to becoming a member of the 3,000 hit club.  Likwise, Derek Jeter had 56 errors in a level of the Minors and he still moved up and made a HOF career for himself at SS.

The Jesus is on a higher level offensively than either of these 2 were and he is putting in the time, just like they did, to make himself a better defensive catcher.  For every mention of Montero's defensive struggles, there haven't been many actual reports or physical evidence lately of what these struggles are.  All indications are he has an above-average arm and needs to work on speeding up his release, and he has spent time tons of time working on stopping balls and calling games.  With all of this improvement and the fact that he could become some kind of hybrid Joe Mauer-Mike Piazza combination at the plate, the Yankees have to keep him at catcher, at least until he gets to the Majors and shows what he can and can't do defensively.

I seem to remember a guy who caught for the Yankees for the last 10-12 years who was a monster offensively and complete disaster behind the plate.  That guy, Jorge Posada, has won 5 World Series championships and put together a borderline HOF career behind the plate.  I haven't heard anybody compare Montero's defense to Posada's, but I've heard everybody talk about how his offense could be way better than Posada's.  When Montero is clearly a better prospect and clearly putting in the work, you give him a chance to catch, and that's why I like this statement by Cash. It all but guarantees that that's what the Yankees intend to do, which is exactly what they should do.

P.S.- Montero's bat has been compared to guys like Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera.  Guess how many combined Gold Gloves those 2 have?  I'd take 80% of their offensive production from Jesus if he ends up being a crummy catcher.  You just don't get that kind of production from behind the plate and that's why he has to stay there.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Quote Of The Day? Quote Of The Day.

"I think Chuck is delusional.  He has been running the Rangers for a few minutes and seems to believe he's mastered what everyone else is thinking. I think he should let Cliff Lee speak for himself. I'll be impressed when he demonstrates he can keep the Rangers off welfare. What I mean is make them not be a revenue-sharing recipient for three years in a row, without taking financing from baseball or advance money from television networks. Then I'll be impressed." (Randy Levine, discussing Texas GM Chuck Greenberg's recent comments about the Cliff Lee situation)- via ESPNNY

Well done, Randy, well done.  Keep it up with the zingers like that and you might just find your way off the Shit List.

Now if he really wants to be badass, he should mail Greenberg a shit ton of food stamps.  That would kick ass.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Might Be Reaching Here, But...

Doesn't Bartolo Colon look like that weird little midget, Chuy, from Chelsea Handler's horrendous late night show?

Maybe?  Kinda?  Sorta?  Am I reaching too far there?  I mean, that's a picture of Colon from a few seasons ago and he looks like complete dog mess.  Who knows what he looks like now?

Yankees Minor League System Is CRUSHING It

Keith Law realized his yearly "Top 100" prospects today on, which is the baseball nerd equivalent of a new Harry Potter book coming out at midnight.  I'm not an ESPN Insider (because I'm a poor-ish, 20-something who spends too much money at the bar), so I can't link to the full list, but the Yankees managed to put 5 in the top 100 (Jesus at 4, ManBan at 12, Gary Sanchez at 68, Dellin "Beast"ances at 73, and Brackman at 88) and had Austin Romine just miss making it.

In addition to that, Law had his Top 10 list for each organization.  The Yankees was as follows:

1) Jesus
2) ManBan
3) Sanchez
4) The Beast
5) Brackman
6) Romine
7) Stoneburner
8) Heathcott
9) Noesi
10) Adam Warren

Now consider this. The Triple-A rotation in Scranton to start the season is going to be Brackman, Noesi, Warren, David Phelps, and D.J. Mitchell.  That is probably the greatest starting rotation in Triple-A history!  Then you've got ManBan, The Beast, Stoneburner, and Shaeffer Hall making up the bulk of the rotation in Trenton.  That's 9 legitimate pitching prospects in Double-A or higher who, at worst, have 'middle-of-the-rotation' potential.  That's FUCKING INSANE!!!  And then you factor in the gaggle of solid catching prospects, Heathcott, and the crop of high-potential position guys from the 2010 draft and it's almost too much for me to stand.

Hey, look at that!  I'm aroused again.  Good thing I'm sitting at my desk.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why So Candid?

(No, that's not Cash)

The Yankee blogosphere and their comments sections have been abuzz after reports started coming out about Cash's comments at yesterday's WFAN breakfast, particularly the ones about Jeter moving to center field and Joba no longer being a starter option because of his 2008 injury.  From yesterday afternoon into yesterday night, I noticed the topic of conversation shifting from Cash's comments themselves to why Cash was even commenting at all.  This morning, Steve S. of TYU, set the record straight on a lot of Cash's comments by discussing them in the context in which they were said, which he knew because he actually attended (something many of us did not do).  I would invite everybody to read that post because there's a ton of other interesting points in there beyond Jeter and Joba, but on the topic of Cash and his sudden willingness to open up in the media, this statement by "T.O. Chris" in the comments section really stood out to me:

"I agree with all this and add that I think Brian is finally feeling like a man who has taken over his fathers business in a since after simply running it for/with him, he has come out of his shell more so to speak, by that I mean he isn’t as guarded with what he reveals to the media and he seems to operate in a manner that says he doesn’t really care what the media says about him or the Yankee brand so long as he knows everything is being taken care of unlike in the past when the Boss seemed to take things a little more personal." (courtesy of TYU)

To everybody out there who thinks Cash should shut up, or thinks he's trying to get fired, or thinks that his being open and honest is a sign that he's not coming back after this season, read that comment, think about it, understand it, and then calm the fuck down.

Brian Cashman has been the Yankee organization for a long time.  He's been a part of building multiple World Series-winning teams.  His track record speaks for itself.  He has shown himself to be a pretty smart dude over the years and now recognizes that he doesn't have to tip-toe around the media for fear of the Big Bad Boss bringing the hammer down on him for some comment he read in the NY Post.  It's no secret that George Steinbrenner thought himself a baseball man (even though he wasn't) and history is littered with stories of guys who were verbally assraped by The Boss, so from Cash's perspective, why bother putting yourself through that headache if you don't have to?

Hank and Hal, on the other hand, don't seem to fashion themselves as big baseball men.  They carry the same passion for winning that George had, but don't feel the need to be involved in EVERYTHING.  Under them, Cash has the benefit of being more in control of the player personnel decision making thanks to the "autonomy" he was granted, and so wouldn't it just make logical sense that he would also have more freedom to speak to the media on personnel matters?

Cash recognizes that he has more power and more clout within the organization.  It really is "his" team to run and, as a result, he has become more comfortable not only making the decisions, but discussing them.  And as the GM of the team, the guy making the decisions, that should be his right.  I see Billy Beane in the media all the time.  I see Jerry Reese in the media all the time.  If anything, people shouldn't be freaking out about Cash suddenly becoming more open and vocal in voicing his opinions, they should have been freaking out years ago when Cash was hardly ever saying ANYTHING.  If Cash has opinions on particular players, particular deals, or particular situations within the organization, I as a fan WANT to know them and I WANT to hear them.

And as for the comments themselves, it's not like Cash said anything that plenty of other Yankee fans out there haven't thought before.  Do we really want to see Jeter at short when he's 40?  Shit, there have been discussions about his defensive decline for the last 3-4 years, and now suddenly when the GM of the team suggests that said decline could reach a level that requires him to play a new position, it's blasphemy??  Come on!  Cal Ripken moved positions, Robin Yount moved positions.  What makes Jeter any more special than those guys?

It should be obvious to everybody that Cash isn't making these statements as an attempt to personally attack people, but as a man in charge of a business.  He's making business decisions and should be allowed to comment on those business decisions as he sees fit, especially as he has become a more powerful player in that business.  Don't get on the guy for doing his job.  And don't get on him for making a perfectly reasonable statement about Derek Jeter.  I like Jeter as much as any Yankee fan, but the more important thing is always the name of the front of the jersey, not on the back.

Cash is the one voice that we should all want to hear discussing situations like this, whether we agree with his assessment or not.

Hank Gets In On The Media Action

I haven't heard from Hank in a while.  What's he been up to?   I'm curious to see if he's going to become a little less vocal to counterbalance Cash's recent increase in openness with the media, kind of like a 'yin and yang' thing.

"We will do what we have to do to win.  We have the highest payroll and the reason is we are committed to our fans to win.  We just have to fucking win." (via The Post)

Guess not.  Good to see Hank hasn't changed a bit.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interesting Breakfast Conversation

A couple of big potential stories came out of the WFAN breakfast this morning that Cash attended.  The first came from his discussion about Derek Jeter's future at short.  Cash stated:

"I like corner outfielders and corner infielders who have power, so for me, if he's ever gonna move, it's probably gonna be a Robin Yount situation. But we don't have to deal with it at this point.  We'll deal with it when we have to." (via ESPNNY)

Go figure that on a day that I elect him to the AB4AR Man Crush HOF Cash goes and proposes something dumb like this.  I mean, everything about that sentence is absurd.  Brett Gardner is the current Yankee left fielder and he has next to no power, so in a way it's almost like Cash is discounting all that Gardner does and his 5.4 WAR in 2010.  And the 'Robin Young situation' didn't involve taking over for a solid lefty-hitting, Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder in his prime, which is what Curtis Granderson currently is.  So unless Cash knows something we don't about C-Grand's Yankee future, that would be a huge downgrade to go from him to Jeter, both offensively and defensively.

The second interesting bit of tid came courtesy of Amanda Rykoff's Twitter feed: 

"Francesa: Any chance of Joba in the rotation? Cashman: No. He hasn't been same since injury in TX."

Wow.  I mean, wow!  The reason Joba isn't being considered for a rotation spot in 2011 is because of an injury he suffered in August of 2008, even though he was included in the competition for the 5th rotation spot in 2010???  That's just baffling.  I don't even know what to say to that.

Cliff Corcoran of Pinstriped Bible has a great recap of that injury up already, which was a great refresher for me, but I'm still not following any of the logic in that sentence.  Even if Joba really did lose something as a result of that injury, and even if that loss of stuff makes him better suited for the bullpen today, wouldn't the effects of that injury been a bigger hindrance to him in Spring Training 2010, when he was 1.5 years removed from it than they would be in Spring Training of 2011, when he will be 2.5 years removed?  Where was all the concern and mention about this injury last year?  Why is it suddenly such a big determining factor in his future?

I've said all along that the Yankees have done Joba a huge disservice with the way they have handled him, and that's something everybody in the organization should regret.  It seems to me like Cash and his associates are starting to realize just how badly they fucked up and now they need to pull something out their asses to create a "reason" for Joba not being a starter rather than admit that their fuck up is the reason.  That statement about the injury in Texas might work for them as a "reason," but it just doesn't hold water in my book.

Introducing The AB4AR "Lists"

By now, it should be no secret to the regular readers of this site that there are certain guys I am a big fan of and certain guys I'm not.  Even more than that, there are certain guys that I carry maybe a bit more love for than any Yankee fan should.  Alright, I'll just come out and say it, I've got man crushes on a bunch of Yankee personnel, some for a long time, some very new.  But they are man crushes none the less and I'm not afraid to hide them; they need to be documented.  Below is the inaugural class that will be retroactively inducted into the AB4AR Man Crush Hall of Fame, with their date of induction shown in parentheses.  Congratulations, gentlemen.

The Man Crush List:

- Derek Jeter (October 13, 2001)- I don't feel like I have to explain to this one.  The dude is the man, and he always has been, even with the down year in 2010.  He stole my fan heart back on the night of October 13, 2001, when he made the play that today is known as "The Flip."  The follow up clutch postseason home run in '01, the dive into the stands, and the countless jump throws from the hole have all but secured Jeter's spot as my ultimate Yankee man crush.

- Mariano Rivera (October 16, 2003)- Another one that needs no explanation.  Any male Yankee fan who claims to NOT have a man crush on Mo is either a liar or is not a true Yankee fan.  When he came in and pitched 3 shutout innings against Boston in Game 7 of the '03 ALCS, giving Aaron Bleeping Boone the chance to work his magic, I was hooked.

- Phil Hughes (October 7, 2007)- Phil Hughes has always held a special place in my heart because he is the first Yankee prospect I really followed up through the system to the Majors.  He has also survived a ton of potential trades and is starting to make Cash look like a genius for not swapping him for Johan a few seasons ago.  Hughes' induction moment would be when he relieved an ineffective (and probably injury-faking) Roger Clemens in Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS and picked up the win.

- Brian Cashman (December 23, 2008)- I have always been a Cash guy, and would love to know what an alternate mid-2000s for the Yankees would have been like if Cash was able to make the moves he wanted to make instead of Mr. Steinbrenner throwing money at washed up big names.  He didn't do Hughes-for-Johan, he has built up the farm system again, and he's starting to be more vocal in the media about his feelings, which I like.  But the Cash man crush was official when he came in like a thief in the night and snatched up Teix from all the other teams in December of '08.  That was kickass.

- Kevin Long (August 11, 2010)- A more recent addition, Long's induction came after the 2-day swing rebuild he conducted on C-Grand last August.  After that session, C-Grand was money for the rest of the year and I think poised to have a big 2011.  If Kev can work some more of that magic on Jeter this season, there might be a few games where I have to change my pants.

- Robinson Cano (October 15, 2010)- I have been a fan of and a hater of Cano at many various times since he was called up, but 2010 finally got him on my good side permanently, and the man crush became official after his monster HR against the Rangers in the ALCS.  The dude has established himself as the best 2B in all of baseball and he just looks like a cool fucking guy.  I'm smitten.


- David Cone (Lifetime Achievement Award)- I can't pick out one moment that turned me on to Coney, but between the coming back from injury, the perfect game, all the big postseason starts, the tons of behind-the-scenes stuff I've found out about him from reading all the recent Yankee books, and the fact that he's my favorite announce out of the entire YES pool, it's an easy selection.

But of course, for every man crush, their is an equal and opposite hatred had for another person.  With that in mind, there has to be a running Shit List for players who, depending on the situation, I wouldn't even pull out my phone to dial 911 if they started to die right in front of me.  Now there are no induction dates on the Shit List, because players can work their way off the list at any time.  But for starters, here's the AB4AR Shit List to open the 2011 season.  Congratulations to you guys too, I guess.

The Shit List:

- A.J. Burnett- The 2010 season was unforgivable, son.  I've seen 5-year-old girls with more emotional strength than you.  I don't know what's going on with you and your old lady, but I would suggest divorcing her ass, go get drunk and bang some strippers at Score's, get your mind right, and come back for 2011 focused and ready to blow people away.

- Damaso Marte- 3 years, $21 mil, and you're STILL fucking hurt??  Why not just cut your left arm off and have the doctors replace it with a new one?  They can grow arms on the backs of mice, right? 

- Kei Igawa- If I think too much about all the reasons I hate Kei Igawa, I might have a brain aneurysm.  So I'll just keep it simple and say he's an asshat in sunglasses that can't pitch worth a shit and looks like Droopy Dog.

- Nick Johnson- I'm still not over him missing 2010 with another wrist injury.  Shit, I'm still not over the Yankees actually signing him back.  That should change once the 2011 season starts and I don't have to see his fat, stupid face during the pregame lineup intros, so don't expect to see him on the list very long.

- Randy Levine- Dude, stop pretending that you actually know something about baseball.  And do something with that ridiculous Jew 'fro. 

- Joe Girardi's Bullpen Matchup Binder- I know it's not an actual "person," but I swear that thing must have some kind of power or aura about it, with the way Joe trusts it so much and bows to its every recommendation.  If somebody kidnapped this thing and burned it I would throw a party.

So there you have it, folks.  The 2011 class for the Man Crush HOF and the first round of fucktards for the AB4AR Shit List.  These are running lists, so you can see new members added or subtracted at any time during the season.  Follow the updates on the sidebar and submit any requests you might have for people I missed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Afternoon Linkapalooza

Time to check out the people around the blogosphere who are smarter than me and much better writers.  To quote the awful current Bud Light advertising campaign that makes a complete embarrassment of the man who used to be Apollo Creed (certified badass extraordinaire), here we go:

- Brien at IIATMS leads us off with a complete FJM-style destruction of Bill Madden's latest "column."  I thought I was starting to step my FJM game up, but holy freakin' crap!  Brien completely knocks this one out of the park and I commend him for a job well done.  I couldn't have said any of that better than he did if I wanted to and devoted the rest of my life to trying to.  If you're keeping score at home that's Brien- 1, Bill Madden- 0.

/gives Brien a standing ovation

- Rob A. at Bronx Baseball Daily takes a hack at predicting the Yanks' latest 25-man roster and does a pretty solid job.  I can't say I share his faith that Andy is coming back to take Mitre's place in the rotation, or that Brackman or Noesi would be the first options to fill the "long man" role in the bullpen right out of the gate, but we'll see what happens when ST starts.

- Larry Koestler at Yankeeist becomes the latest to make the "Joba for 5th Starter" argument, and takes it to a whole new level by writing a letter to Cash practically pleading with him to give Joba a shot.  Once again I will go on the record as a firm believer that Joba should be in the 'pen, but you can't argue with Larry's numbers.

- On the other end of the potential 5th starter spectrum, Mike Silva at NY Baseball Digest tries to make a case for Kei Igawa.  Uhhhh, no.  No.  Hell no.  Fuck no.  A thousand times no.  I don't care what they are paying him or what kind of chance he got to be a real starter, Kei Igawa fucking sucks and has no business being on a Major League pitching mound.  But hey, read Mike's case and make your own decision.

- Jesse Ghiorzi was the latest "pinch hitter" at LoHud and put together a solid piece discussing Andy Pettitte's HOF credentials.  I, like Jesse, am a big Pettitte fan, but I also, like Jesse, recognize that Andy's numbers don't add up to being HOF worthy.  Hall of Very Good, yes.  But not Hall of Fame.

- All kinds of good stuff going on at RAB with their new weekend crew.  Stephen Rhoads had a solid post about his recent interaction with Mark Teixeira and Teix's perceived boringness

- And Brock Cohen came up with a very humorous post built around quantifying players' GRIT factors.  Any time you can combine bagging on traditional MSM bullshit and take shots at Dustin Pedroia, I'm on board with it.

- Lastly, Mike Axisa, my number one source for logical pitching opinions, makes the argument today that The Meat Tray might actually be the best option for 5th starter.  The numbers support it and I would certainly welcome him over Millwood or Garcia, the question is will Cash and the ownership?

Oh, by the way, here's Derek Jeter's new house:

(Photo courtesy of

Boy, I bet it's gonna suck to live there.

Some New Stuff To Focus On

The topics of conversation around the Yankee blogosphere have been the same for about a month + now, and quite frankly, it's getting a little boring.  Yes, the back end of the rotation is a concern, but there ain't much the team can do about it right now.  No, Andy Pettitte is most likely not coming back, at least not for the start of the season.  And the bullpen and bench have been fortified with the signings of Feliciano, Soriano, and Andruw Jones.  With all that being what it is, it's time to move on and focus on stories that haven't been getting their fair shake but are going to impact the upcoming season.  Stories like:

1) CC Dropping Weight After His Knee Surgery

CC's weight was a question mark when he was signed, and it has continued to be as his Yankee career has played out.  After another year in which he had a heavy workload, Carsten had knee surgery after the season.  As part of his rehab, he's reportedly been focusing on dropping some poundage to be in better shape for 2011 and ease the stress on that knee.  CC has been successful in the past being a bigger dude thanks to his athleticism and toughness, so him coming into 2011 trimmer and in better shape and presumably with a bit more attention being paid to his workload should spell good things for him.

A notoriously slow starter in Spring Training, I expect this story to start receiving some more coverage once the ST schedule starts up, especially if CC performs better than he has in the past.  I also expect that CC's awesome parachute pants will be even parachute-ier in 2011 with 20-30 fewer pounds inside them.

2) A.J. Burnett Contacting Larry Rothschild

Almost as soon as Rothschild's hiring was announced, the next story out was that he and A.J. had spoken and had plans to work together before 2011.  Since then, there really hasn't been much else on this topic, which has left me curious.  What did they talk about?  Did they make plans to meet before ST to work on some stuff?  Did Rothschild ask A.J. about the black eye?

The fact that the 2011 rotation looks to be set to start the year means A.J. becomes even more important in helping to share the load at the top of the rotation with CC and Phil.  It's high time someone like Joel Sherman or Bryan Hoch get to the bottom of this situation and find out what A.J. and Larry have planned to help Burnett bounce back from one of the worst statistical seasons from a starting pitcher in Yankee history.

3) Kevin Long Getting His Off-Season Program Into Full "Swing"

Get it?  "Swing?"  Because he's the hitting coach.  Huh, huh??

Seriously, though, Dr. Long is already embarking on his preseason hitting tour with multiple players, including guys like Teix , Jeter, and The A-Horse, who will be coming off of down years, and Jorge, who will be experiencing his first season without the constant body battering that being a full-time catcher comes with.

Long's track record speaks for itself, so guys should be climbing over each other to get the scoop on what he's working on with everybody.  Can he find a way to get some speed back into Jeter's bat?  Does he have a plan to combat Teix's well-documented cold spells to start a season?  Can he get A-Rod's power in his legs back, bad hip and all?  If even only one of those questions is answered "yes," it means good things for a Yankee offense that be counted on big time in 2011.

4) Guys Getting Healthy

In addition to CC cutting the McDonald's Dollar Menu out of his food pyramid, there is plenty of other health-related news to cover as it pertains to the Yankee lineup.  What's up with A-Rod's hip?  How's Teix's hammy feeling?  What about Gardner's wrist?  And what has Mo been doing in the offseason to prepare his 41-year-old body for another season of sprains and strains?

Guys getting back to 100% and staying there, health-wise, combined with offseason Long work could lead to huge numbers for guys like Teix and A-Rod.  It's one thing for guys to say they are good to go, it's quite another to actually see it for yourself.  Now is the time to start getting updates on who's in good shape, who's hurting, and who's going to be ready for Spring Training.

5) Jesus Watch

With Russell Martin signed and Frankie still in the roster, Jesus is obviously going to start the year at Triple-A, where he can continue to get innings behind the plate and everyday at-bats.  But if the Martin/Cervelli duo gets banged up, or sucks horribly, or if Jesus is lighting it up in the Minors, how long do the Yanks wait to call him up?

The potential for him to come into ST and completely kill it also exists, and that would serve to start a whole new series of rumblings about where he should be playing.  And let's not forget about Jorge.  Sure, he won't be taking a daily beating behind the plate anymore, but he's still an old fuck and he's probably going to get hurt.  If he takes an early DL stint, do you call up The Chosen One and just let him mash?  Lotsa options with The Jesus.

6) Joe Updating His Bullpen Matchup Binder

This story is an absolute "must cover" as far as I'm concerned.  That binder Joe was toting around in the postseason would have had most high school kids falling over in the hallways and just laying on the ground like turtles if they were carrying it in their backpacks.  With the additions of Feliciano and Soriano, plus the likely addition of a new garbage time long reliever, 2011's binder is going to be insane!  Whole entire forests will be depleted just to produce the paper needed for its pages.  It is truly going to be a thing to behold.

The sooner somebody gets a picture of that thing, the better.  If I had to guess, I would bet it's going to look something like this:

Now That That's Over With...

(Cue the sad "Price Is Right" music)

Sorry, Jets fans.  I know the wound is probably still fresh after last night, but look on the bright side.  Nobody gave you a shot to beat the Patriots and you proved all of them wrong.  You just shot your wad last week and didn't get up for yesterday's game.  It happens.  But now you can move on to more important matters, like the fact that pitchers and catchers report in 3 weeks!  And the Yankees season starts in just 66 days!!!  FUUUUUUUUCK YEAH!!!!

Unless, of course, you happen to also be a Mets fan.  In which case I would suggest getting another bottle of something with which to drown your sorrows that will undoubtedly continue into the 2011 baseball season.  Or maybe you should get 2 bottles, that way you can get drunk enough to try to convince yourself that Johan's shoulder isn't completely shot and that Chris Capuano and Chris Young will actually do something positive in the rotation this season.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lazy Weekend

Sorry, kids.  Between the wall-to-wall college basketball yesterday (including the awesome UConn victory), the surprise birthday party for a friend last night that I got completely shitfaced drunk at, and the subsequent hangover and NFL games today, it was a slow weekend at here for AB4AR and I apologize for that.

To make amends, I offer this picture of the future Mrs. Derek Jeter from the most recent Esquire.  I'll get back out there on the blogging mound tomorrow and get after it.

(thanks, Esquire)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ow-ah Rookie Program Is Wicked Bettah Than Yo-ah Rookie Program!

The latest offering from ESPN in their never-ending quest to jam all things Sawx in everybody's facehole might just be one of their worst.  It's a story by Joe McDonald about the amazing, incredible, unbelievable, outstanding 2-week rookie development program the Sox run for fringe guys that actually does nothing to develop them as players.  IT'S FACKIN' INCREDIBLE, I TELL YA.  THE HAHHT AND GRITTINESS OF THIS OAHGINAHZATION TRICKLES DOWN FRAHM THE VEH-REE TAWP!!

 "The Boston Red Sox have made their Rookie Development Program an annual rite of passage for prospects in the organization.  Each winter a dozen or so prospects are invited to Boston for a two-week course that covers everything related to the Red Sox, both on and off the diamond."

Topics such as "Scrappiness And You," "Becoming a Peter Gammons Favorite," and "Bad Facial Hair."

"It's designed to help the young players make the transition to the big leagues and ease any anxiety they might have, whether they're called up on an emergency basis or as a full-timer."

 Because a two-week course will cover everything these kids will encounter when they become Major League Baseball players. 

"Mostly, the players learn the non-baseball aspects of playing in the Red Sox organization... "

Those being... ?  And how, exactly, are those non-baseball aspects more important than actual baseball aspects, like situational hitting, facing better pitchers, and shit like that.  Stuff that actually, you know, matters.

"... and even live with a host family during their winter stay."

Because that's just what it will be like when they get to The Show!  Mrs. McCarron packing bag lunches for them, family game nights, and sleepovers.  YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!

"Barring any unforeseen circumstances, such as last season's deluge of injuries, the Red Sox roster is set for a long time and there aren't too many openings."

So naturally it makes perfect sense to bring a bunch of untested rookies in and attempt to get them used to a Major League lifestyle that they may not even get to experience for years.  Yeah, lotta value added in doing that.

"A young player in the organization can see that logjam, but the Red Sox try to communicate with these prospects that it doesn't mean there's a dead end on their career path to the majors."

Just a major roadblock, complete with police cruisers, spike strips, and SWAT vans on standby.

"'If you're good enough to play, we will find a place for you to play on this roster,' Hazen said."

"Except, of course, if you aren't good enough to beat out all the guys we already have on our roster and we don't get hit by a freak rash of injuries that leave us no other choice but to call your asses up."

"During this winter program, the players also are schooled in other opportunities the Red Sox are involved in on a yearly basis -- the trade market. As much pride as the Sox take in scouting, drafting, signing and developing homegrown talent, Epstein & Co. aren't afraid to pull the trigger on a major transaction that could include many of the organization's top talent."

So part of this 2-week training to get them ready to play for the Boston Red Sox includes talking about being traded to another team who is not the Boston Red Sox and then playing for that team?  Am I understanding that correctly?  Makes perfect sense.

"'That's part of the job and part of the business,' Hazen said. 'We talk to the players about that as well. You're in Boston and sometimes we need to make a deal to get a player like Adrian Gonzalez and you may get put into that deal. It's not always a fun situation, but for those younger players, it may be a better and quicker opportunity to get to the big leagues.'"

But what about the host families?  What about their feelings?  You don't think the McCarron family of East Boston wasn't devastated when their precious little Casey Kelly got ripped from their home and shipped off to San Diego?  They didn't even get to say goodbye.  WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO CARES ABOUT THE FAMILIES?!?!?!

In all seriousness, this story is a bunch of bullshit.  In fact, it's a non-story.  So the Red Sawx have a cute little 2-week camp to teach all their young players about the Majors?  Big fucking deal.  Does anybody honestly think that each and every team in MLB doesn't have all kinds of similar programs in place for their players coming up from Triple-A to the Majors?  Between the language barriers that can exist with some Latin players who have yet to master English to the simple fact that the lifestyle change from Triple-A to the Majors is like night and day.  Any team that doesn't do shit like this would be wasting the time, energy, and money they put into developing their top prospects by just throwing them to the wolves.  So is this "program" that the Red Sawx do special or supremely groundbreaking in any way?  Fuck and no.

In fact, this piece makes the Sawx look stupid for talking about how they explain to players that they might be traded.  "Hey guys.  While we spend all this time teaching you the ins and outs of being a part of Fraud Sawx Nation, remember that all of this might not mean a fucking thing if we think we can package you to bring in a better player."  Yeah, great, good thinking.  At least the Yankees have the decency to just completely blindside their prospects when they trade them instead of building up false hope.

Somebody should probably tell Joe McDonald that in order to truly "get" the ESPN idea of fawning all over the Red Sox at every opportunity, even when it's not warranted, he should probably leave out the parts that make them look stupid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mr. Jones And Me

A day after last year's lefty masher, Marcus Thames, moved out to LA, the Yanks wasted no time in filling that roster hole, today signing Andruw Jones to a 1-year deal to be the 4th outfielder.

According to Jon Heyman, the deal is worth $ 2 million with the possibility of another $1.2 mil in incentives.  Hmmm, where did I read that contract proposal before?  Who could have suggested that deal?  Oh that's right, it was ME!

"P.S.- If the Yanks are actually picking nits about money on the deal then I'm going to be pissed.  Give the dude 1 year and $ 2 mil with incentives and call it a day."

So I guess they can call it a day now, right?  Who cares, hit the music!

The Brian Cashman Show Continues

Ya know, if this GM thing doesn't work out after his contract ends this season, Cash might have a future in show business.  Check out this doozy from his appearance at the Middletown, CT Chamber of Commerce breakfast:

"He’s [Andy's] opting not to play right now but that might change it might not. I told him don’t ‘Brett Favre’ us"

ZING!!!  The Cash Man is hot today!  Although I would argue that what Andy is doing right now isn't so much "Brett Favreing" the Yankees as it is "Roger Clemensing" the Yankees.  Favre liked to waffle openly in the media, spending as much time in front of the cameras and microphones as he could talking about how he wasn't sure if his heart is in it and blah, blah, blah, and then making his decision to come back at the end of training camp. 

Andy hasn't been very vocal about where his heart lies and what he thinks he wants to do.  And while he may be working out now, it's almost certainly not at the level that would have him ready to start the season.  He's doing just enough to stay in shape so that if and when the time comes that he decides he wants to play, he just has to go at it hard for a little while to build up his stamina, make a few warm up starts in the Minors, and then join the rotation in the summer.

Yes sir, that's a classic Roger Clemens situation right there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FJ'ing Cash's Soriano Presser Statements Right In The M

Lotta interesting shit said by Cash today during the introductory press conference for Rafael Soriano and in the subsequent Q&A sesh with the media.  I couldn't, in good conscience, let some of those statements go without commenting on them.  On with it.

"I didn't recommend it [the deal], just because I didn't think it was an efficient way to allocate the remaining resources we have...."

"And you know I know what I'm talking about when I say signing a relief pitcher to a 3-year deal isn't efficient.  I mean, 3 years and $21 mil for Damaso Marte??  Am I right?  Ehh, ehh?"

/looks around the press conference nodding and smiling

 "We are better with Soriano -- there's no doubt about that. It's all the other stuff wrapped around the deal, the money, allocating closer type money to an eighth-inning guy, those type of things."

"Did I mention the money?  And the fact that it's going to a guy who's going to pitch the EIGHTH inning???  Is this thing on?!?!  HELLO?!?"

“I think 29 other GMs would love to have their owner shove Rafael Soriano down their throat.”

Eeewwwww, dude!  Gross.

Seriously, though.  I don't think any GMs would enjoy that.  Rafael Soriano is just too damn big to fit down anybody's throat.  And even if you got past the physical impossibilities involved, you just flat out wouldn't be able to breathe with him stuffed down your throat.  Not to mention the fact that if he's down your throat, he isn't in the bullpen, earning his ridiculous salary.  So no, really no upside to having Rafael Soriano shoved down your throat.

“[Joba] is a bullpen guy, for the 200th time.”

Awwwww.  Somewere Mike Axisa weeps.

"I always thought that Pav [Carl Pavano] can pitch here.  He has shown he can pitch in difficult circumstances."

If by "pitch," Cash means "pitch very little and be completely ineffective when he was on the mound," and if by "difficult circumstances," Cash means "circumstances created by a combination of Pavano's own doing, then lying to the organization, and just being a massive, blood-belching pussy," then he would be right on.

If he didn't mean that then he's a fucking moron.

"Ultimately, I don't think he was afraid of coming back here."

If that's true then Pavano is an even bigger moron than Cash.  Not even joking, I honestly believe that if Pavano ever showed up at Yankee Stadium in pinstripes again he would be pelted with batteries and beer bottles until he simply drowned in them.

“It’s a difficult market to choose from" [referring to the pitchers left on the free agent market]

Because all the pitchers left completely fucking suck.  It's less of a market and more of a trash heap.

"Listen, if you’re still on the board, there’s a reason for it …"

That reason being because you completely fucking suck.

"The starter might have to come from within. Hopefully we have some of these young kids answer the bell for us.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Sergio Mitre as the 5th starter, now, is it?  Poor bastard.  It's not his fault he's completely mediocre and nobody in the entire organization has any shred of faith in him.  He's just doing the best he can with what God gave him.  Unfortunately for him it already sounds like what God gave him is only going to be good for about 4 or 5 starts before Cash decides he's seen enough and calls up David Phelps or Hector Noesi.

Oh well.  Tough shit for Mitre.  Cash is obviously salty about having his recommendations on signing Soriano ignored so he has to do something to re-establish his control over personnel decisions.  Mitre is going to be the first casualty and I'm OK with that.  Preach, Cash!  Fucking preach!

Heeeeeere's Raffy!

 (Photo courtesy of somebody)

And he looks fucking PUMPED to be a Yankee!

Seriously, bro, lighten up.  You look like you're about to get sentenced to death.  You're a Yankee now!  King of the hill, top of the heap!  Don't be afraid to crack a smile.

No word yet on what Soriano had to pay Frankie Cervelli for the right to wear #29 this season.  But given that it was Cervelli wearing that number, I would bet it didn't go for more than 100 bucks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Inevitable "Joba As A Starter" Post

(Don't get too stoked, Joba.  It's just a suggestion)

I tried to hold out as long as I could, I really did.  I didn't want to have to address this topic again, even as every other blog out there willingly stepped up and took this issue on.  But with the continued mention of the likes of Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood as options for the 2011 Yankee starting rotation, I was really left with no choice.  May God forgive me for what I'm about to write.  I can't believe it's actually had to come to this.

With where the Yankees are right now, that place being a rotation with no Cliff Lee and no Andy Pettitte, and with no viable options seemingly available anywhere, the question is worth bringing up again.

Should the Yankees make Joba a starter again?

I know that may be perfectly reasonable to many and absolutely frightening to others.  To me, it's somewhere between Norman Bates bursting through the door dressed up like his mother wielding a kitchen knife at the end of "Psycho" and Michael Myers sitting up behind Laurie Strode in the upstairs bedroom after she stabbed him in the face with the wire hanger at the end of the first "Halloween" movie level of scary.  I have never been a fan of Joba as a starter, just because I thought it was painfully obvious that the dude didn't have the mental makeup to be an effective starter.  I know that kind of thinking brings tons of eye rolls from people who pay attention to stats, and I am usually one of those people.  But it didn't take somebody with X-Ray vision to see that Joba was like night and day on the mound when he was a starter as opposed to being a reliever.  The posture, the facial expressions, the body language, the constant shaking off of signals, and the snail-like pace at which he pitched with runners on.  It all added up to somebody who wasn't comfortable being out there in a situation where he had to face batters multiple times and use his weaker secondary pitches. 

To me, Joba belongs in the bullpen, where his 2 best pitches, his fastball and his slider, can be maximized and the mental game of having to think his way through a lineup is rendered meaningless when he is only being counted on for an inning or 2 tops.  But I am also from the school that believes the Yankees and their handling of Joba are most to blame for his lack of starting success, and that it's a black mark on their management skills for the way he eroded as a potential high-end starter and has no been reduced to 6th or 7th-inning bullpen duty.  And with the other existing options currently slated to pitch in the 4th and 5th rotation slots, it does beg the question of "couldn't/wouldn't Joba be better than those guys?"

Now I'm not going to bother getting into the numbers and breaking down Joba's 'starter vs. reliever' splits because, quite frankly, they've been beaten to death by all the other Yankee blogs in a way that even the Manson family would cringe at if they saw it.  I'm just going to get straight to the point and say (and I can't actually fucking believe I'm going to say this) that YES, I think Joba should be given a shot to earn a rotation spot for the 2011 season.  The way I see it, even at the numbers he's already put up as a starter or slightly worse, he can't be worse than what they would get from a full season of Nova or Mitre, and I would take Joba in the rotation over Garcia or Millwood 25 hours a day, 8 days a fucking week.

Since I believe that Joba's past failures are mainly due to the Yankees' mismanagement of him and the rest due to his just being a mental midget, I think the Yankees owe him at least one more shot to show them that he was worth the 1st-round pick and worth the lightning-fast promotion through the Minors.  They have a new pitching coach this season in Larry Rothschild who is known for getting the most out of his staff's stuff, and Joba already has 2 quality pitches to work with.  If he can refine even one more of his secondary pitches, he could become a serviceable 4th or 5th starter, and at this point in his career innings limits go out the window, so the Yanks won't have another chance to botch that deal.

A bullpen of Mo, Soriano, Joba, D-Rob, Feliciano, Boone Logan, and "Long Reliever X" is lights out, no doubt about it.  But a bullpen of Mo, Soriano, D-Rob, Feliciano, Boone Logan, Mitre, and "Space Filler X" (who could become Andrew Brackman) is more than enough to get the job done and a rotation with Joba and Nova at the back end would give me more confidence going into the year than Nova and Mitre or Nova and anybody else off the free agent scrap heap.  If it doesn't work out, what's the worst that could happen?  Joba bombs, the Yanks move him back to the 'pen, and by then they will either be ready to promote Brackman, Noesi, or Phelps for an audition to try to catch lightning in a bottle, and trade possibilities will be starting to take shape.  And with the lineup they have, the strong bullpen, and CC as their ace, they're still going to be in good shape even if Joba flames out again as a starter.

It might not be the ideal situation, but it's the best way to handle it internally with no Lee, no Andy, and nothing else of value available at the time.

Pre-Arbitration House Cleaning

They may not have gotten Cliff Lee or Andy Pettitte to solidify the rotation, but at least the Yanks are using the extra money for something, signing Phil Hughes, Joba, and Boone Logan to new deals today to avoid arbitration.  By all indications, the deals each guy got are good for the Yanks ($2.7 mil for Hughes, $1.4 for Joba, $1.2 mil for Boone Logan) and in Hughes' and Joba's case almost certainly less than what they would have received had they gone to arbitration.

The Yanks have money to spend after their top 2 pitching targets fell through, and they certainly haven't been shy about spending it so far.  As Vinny Mac likes to say...

... and the Yankees will always have plenty of money.  And if you got it, you might as well spend it.  Especially when you're spending it to make your team better.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is There Trouble Brewing In The Front Office

 (Is this the battle Cash might be getting ready to fight?)

 The worst part about the Soriano signing last week was the multiple reports coming out that the signing was "ownership driven."  Anybody familiar with the Yankees over the last 10-15 should have shivers running down their spine from reading that phrase.  It's no secret that the Yankees of the late 90s and early 2000s were successful because of their ability to draft well and build up internal talent, sign free agents who fit the system they had in place, and make shrewd trades to add guys where they were needed.  The Dark Ages of the mid-2000s were the result of ownership, specifically Mr. Steinbrenner, demanding that certain guys be added based on name recognition and past performance and the results spoke for themselves.

The return to prominence over the past few seasons has been the result of Cash finally being granted autonomy in the personnel decision-making department in 2005 and the team getting back to what made them successful in the past.  A re-dedication to developing the farm system, making smart trades like the Swish and Kerry Wood pickups, and bringing in guys who were still in the primes (CC, Teix, C-Grand) have gotten the team back to the top of baseball and within 2 games of consecutive World Series appearances.

The point here is that when the ownership group keeps their nose out of on-field decisions, the team thrives.  The 2 times we have seen them interfere were the A-Rod re-signing in '07 (which looks like it could turn into a horrible contract if The Horse keeps throwing shoes) and the recent Soriano signing last Friday.  It's almost as if the contract handed out to Soriano was a panic reaction to the Yankees not signing Cliff Lee and the continued questions about the weak back end of their rotation.  If that is the case, then that makes the signing even more questionable than it already is.  It's not like Cash didn't do everything in his power to sign Cliff Lee.  Lee made the decision that he would rather play for somebody else.  Cash shouldn't be punished by Hank or Hal or Randy Levine because their prized target didn't sign by having his decision-making authority taken away from him a week after he declared his position on the matter.

Each time I have to read about somebody in the front office pushing for a certain player, it makes me feel bad for Cash for the way he gets dicked around.  Especially in this case, when he was dead set on sticking to his plan and then had that plan taken away from him by those above him in the front office.  It worries me that the battle lines between Cash and the ownership could form again, especially if the Yankees struggle out of the gate with what will in all likelihood be a weak starting rotation.  It also worries me that this incident or another one like it will re-ignite the talks of Cash leaving when his contract is up.  He might not be the best GM in baseball, but he's easily in the top 5, and under his guidance right now, the Yankees are set up to be successful in the present and in the future. 

If you give the guy full control over player personnel decisions, stick by that decision and let him run the team.  The players and manager have enough to worry about when it comes to the on-the-field stuff.  The last thing they need is to be flooded with questions from the media about the front office.

Does Anybody Know What's Going On?

The Yankees are the leading candidate to get Andruw Jones.  A deal is almost in place.  But they're battling him on his asking price.

Jesus Christ, does anybody ACTUALLY know what's going on with the Yankees and Jones?  If not, then please just shut the fuck up because between losing Cliff Lee when they were the supposed front runners and the ongoing Andy Pettitte situation, I've had about all I can take from "sources."  If the guy signs, report the deal and give me the details.  Otherwise be fucking quiet!

P.S.- If the Yanks are actually picking nits about money on the deal then I'm going to be pissed.  Give the dude 1 year and $ 2 mil with incentives and call it a day.  There's no reason to hold out hope (and money) that Andy is coming back.  Move on without him and spend to address the roster holes appropriately.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This Week In WTF

With rumors flying left and right about the Soriano signing being influenced by ownership, Randy Levine, and even Mariano himself, there's no shortage of serious topics to discuss this weekend.  Battle lines between Cash and the owners could be being formed again, and that would certainly not be good for the future of the Yankees, but there's something even more important than that situation that needs to be addressed.

What in name of Christ is going up with Robbie's facial hair?!?!  Good lord, that is hideous!  He looks like some kind of campy villain in one of those shitty Jason Statham action movies.  The only logical explanation for that has to be that Cano is getting an early start on his David Ortiz costume for Halloween this year, and any other explanation is simply not acceptable.

I know we've got a few months before we have to worry about seeing that every day, but come on, Robbie.  Clean that shit up.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Something To Consider Regarding The Soriano Contract

I never thought about this possibility when discussing the opt-out clauses in the deal.  Luckily, there are other bloggers out there smarter than me.  Observe:

"Because the contract is end-loaded, it isn’t likely that Soriano’s future performance would ever surpass his salary, so if the right hander were to allow his ego to send him back into the free agent market, the Yankees would be freed of the risk associated with the length of the deal. In other words, the Yankees would wind up with one great year from Soriano and Type-A free agent compensation, which means they’d swap one draft pick for two. Should that happen, the Yankees’ end of the bargain would look much better, which is exactly why the opt outs are probably more in their best interest than Soriano’s (i.e., it provides him with a temptation that isn’t likely to work toward his benefit)." (via The Captain's Blog)

Touche, William.  Touche.  That scenario playing out would be a win-win-WIN for the Yankees in that they would get maximum performance from a guy with closer talent (presumably in helping them go deep into the postseason), wouldn't have to suffer through the full $35 million, and would get compensatory picks if and when Soriano goes back into the FA pond that will help ease the suffering of all the draft pick lovers out there who are undoubtedly still crying in their soup as I sit here and write this.

Alright, I'm fully on board with this deal now.  Let's get this motherfucker fitted for a cap and jersey and get him out there now.  Just say a few "Hail Marys" for his elbow health and then run him out there in 2011 until his arm falls off!

Yanks Sign Soriano, Make Liar Out Of Cash

(The new guy)

Just a week ago we had Cash all but swearing on his grandfather's grave that he wasn't giving up a 1st-round pick to sign Rafael Soriano.  Well "liar, liar, pants on fire" on Cash because last night the Yanks agreed to a 3-year, $35 million deal with Soriano to become the setup man to Mo in 2011.

I've spent the better part of this morning reading everybody else's take on the situation and when I weigh all the positives and negatives of this deal in my head, I have to say I dislike it more than I like it.

The benefits of this deal are pretty obvious.  Increased bullpen depth, proven commodity stepping into the 8th-inning role, and injury insurance for Mo should his body finally start to realize it's 41 and shouldn't be this awesome anymore.  In essence, this deal re-creates the situation that the Yankee bullpen had after acquiring Kerry Wood at the trade deadline in 2010, and gives Joe more options to mix and match with.  Furthermore, the increased depth will allow him to keep a better handle on workloads and use guys accordingly to cover the weak back end of the rotation right now.

But right there is where the negative aspects of this deal start.  Signing Soriano, a reliever, does nothing to address the most glaring issue the 2011 Yankees are facing, their weak rotation.  And signing Soriano for the kind of money they did gives the Yankees less financial flexibility to address that starting pitcher issue.  For a team that has been through the ringer on long-term, high-dollar contracts for setup men before with almost always exclusively negative results (see: Farnsworth, Kyle; Gordon, Tom), this is a curious move that screams panic to me.  For all the names that have been thrown out as possibilities for starters, the Yanks haven't expressed any serious interest in any of them.  The Soriano signing to me signifies them having no intention of signing any of these bargain-bin arms and instead focusing on strengthening the 'pen to be ready should Nova and Mitre falter as the 4th and 5th starters early in 2011.

And then there's the issue of the opt-out clauses.  The deal includes the option for Soriano to opt out after the 1st and 2nd years of the deal, which, any way you look at it, is a lose-lose for the Yankees.  If Soriano gets injured (and he has before) he gets to kick back and collect millions while the Yankees take the hit in the wallet and on the field.  If Soriano dominates, he can test the FA waters again and leave if a team presents him with a better or similar monetary deal to close.  I just don't see the reasoning behind making that kind of concession if you're the Yankees.  Why commit that much money and give away that much contractual control to a guy that you don't actually NEED?

Losing the draft pick isn't as a big a deal to me as it will be to others.  Yeah, this draft is supposedly stacked, but the reality is the MLB draft is a crapshoot, the Yankees already have a stocked Minor League system, and they have shown great ability over the last couple years to find solid talent in later rounds.  The real issue here is the money being committed to a non-essential piece who could leave after any year of the deal, and the fact that Cash going against what he said a week ago has to make everybody a little more wary of how much we can believe what he says.  Don't get me wrong, I think Soriano is a great pitcher and I'm glad to have him in pinstripes for 2011.  I just don't think the added benefit that he will provide will be worth all the costs associated with bringing him in.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Hitting Doctor Is Making House Calls

"He spent last week in Los Angeles working with outfielders Nick Swisher and Colin Curtis. Next week, he'll be in New York to work with first baseman Mark Teixeira.

He also plans on going to Miami to work with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada before spring training starts." (courtesy of The Post)

Dr. Long is back!!  And he's getting an early start on the hitting rehab trail for 2011.  Dude has already seen Swishy and Colin Curtis, he's got plans to get to Tampa in a few weeks to work out Jeter's shit, and he's going to make time for Tex, The Horse, and Hip Hip in the next couple weeks.  On the one hand, I kinda feel bad for Long's family.  This guy eats, sleeps, breathes, and craps hitting.  He's a maniac!!  On the other hand, as a Yankee fan I love him for it and I would probably do anything he asked me to do if I ran into him at a bar short of sexual stuff (most sexual stuff, wink wink).

Seriously, now that the college football season is over, is there any way the Yankees can rent the big "College Gameday" bus and have Long travel all over the country in that thing to all these one-on-one hitting clinics he's having?  Shit, get a YES camera crew involved and you're looking at the next great YES reality show!  Fuck "Yankees On Deck" and "Centerstage," I would watch "WB Mason Presents: Kevin Long's Hit Parade" 25 hours a day, 8 days a goddamn week.  You could even have him stop at random indoor batting cages and Little League practices along the way to give free lessons/diagnosis to the kids there.

The best part about this story?  It makes for a perfect Photoshop opportunity.  POW!!

(Swanny Duckson comes through again!!)

Now The King Can Take His Throne

This slipped through the cracks yesterday, but adios, Trevor Hoffman, and congrats on a long and successful career.  And good riddance to you and your lame changeup, you Mariano Rivera wannabe.  Shit wasn't so unhittable once you lost the juice on the fastball, huh?

Your lameass saves record can finally come to a stop so Mo can plow through it and finish where he rightfully should, at the top of the all-time list.  So enjoy that 601 while it's still relevant, buddy.  This time next year, we'll either be talking about Mo bypassing it early in 2012 or discussing just how many saves Mo will finish with if he gets enough opportunities to rack up 42+ saves in 2011.  You just can't fuck with the G.O.A.T.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Picture Starts To Become A Lot More Clear

Some comments from Cash on the status of Andy Pettitte today:

"I don't think he's determined if he's officially finished or not, but he's chosen at this stage at least not to start in 2011.  If that ever changes he'll call us. We're not going to hound him or bother him.  Andy's been very communicative on these issues and right now he's not in play, and if he does decide to play he'll play for us. "He's a Yankee from start to finish." (courtesy of the NY Daily News)

Well there you have it, folks.  It sounds like Andy may very well be done.  Cash may be trying to leave the door open here if Andy hasn't officially come out and said he's retired.  But if the guy isn't planning on starting the 2011 season (which means he hasn't started working out), then I think it's a safe bet that nothing is going to kick in once the season starts that will inspire him to start working out and come back some time in the mid- to late summer.

Call me naive, but in the back of my mind I still held this small glimmer of hope that Andy would wake up one morning after having some Yankee-related dream and realize he still had a little bit of an itch to play, enough of an itch that it would have been worth it to him to scratch it by playing one more year in 2011.

But if this is really it.  If he is really done, then I'm OK with his decision and every other Yankee fan should be too.  This man has given everything he's had to this organization, from the time they drafted him in 1991 to the time he stepped on the mound in Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS.  I could give a shit less about the years he spent with the Astros, Andy Pettitte has always been and will always be a Yankee.  Say what you want about the steroids, there is no denying that Andy Pettitte was a gamer, an ideal teammate, a professional, and a great Yankee.

Well, 1 Out of 2 Ain't Bad

 (Yes, Bud.  I'm actually going to heap a little bit of praise on you)

Any baseball fan knows that Bud Selig rarely ever says or does anything right, so the story in this link shouldn't come as a complete surprise.  Long story short, MLB has announced that they have no plans to expand the playoffs in 2011 and also have no plans to expand instant replay in 2011.

First the good part.  Good call on not expanding the playoffs, Bud.  3 division winners and 1 wild card is plenty and the rewards given to the division winners and competition inspired by the 1 wild card spot often make for entertaining baseball down the stretch, even if division titles are already locked up.  Adding more teams and more rounds to the postseason would be incredibly stupid.  For one, the baseball playoffs take too goddamn long as it is.  Sure, it helps teams like the Yankees stagger their best pitchers to avoid throwing A.J. Burnett out there at all costs, but it also creates no sense of flow, momentum, or drama to a series, even a good one.

Secondly, adding more teams serves only to reward mediocrity and lessen the competition and level of play down the stretch while punishing the division winners who would end up getting a first-round bye.  Baseball is not a sport where byes are as beneficial to success as they are in other sports.  Batters lose their timing sitting around for 7-10 days and pitchers can lose their feel for their stuff.  A division winner would be starting from scratch again in the 2nd round against a team that has just come off playing a series and still has their timing down.

If a supposed expansion plan of adding 2 teams to each league would have taken place last season, we would have had the Red Sox, White Sox, Cardinals, and Padres all playing in the first round.  Those teams deserved to be in the playoffs last year about as much as I deserve a nomination for "VH1 Hip Hip Honors."  Injuries or bad luck or whatever the fuck it was, those teams didn't win as many games as the other teams in their division and their league and they don't deserve to be rewarded for that (as much as MLB would love to have a way to shoehorn Boston into every postseason).  So kudos to MLB for not going this route for 2011.

On the other side of the coin, how the hell can MLB still insist of not expanding instant replay, even after another regular season and postseason of completely horrific umpiring?  You had missed home runs, missed fair/foul calls, and missed safe/out calls that could have very well changed the outcome of postseason games and you had poor Armando Galarraga getting fucked out of a perfect game because Jim Joyce is a moron.  Shit like this cannot be accepted as part of the game anymore!

When it comes to replay, baseball has the simplest, most black-and-white set of rules and calls to monitor.  There wouldn't need to be long delays and minutes of reviewing every angle of a play to determine fair or foul, safe or out, or home run or not home run.  10 seconds at the most would be all it would take to get the call right and ensure that the game plays out the way it is supposed to.  Umpires are human, they make mistakes, and that's OK.  Refs do it in the NFL, refs do it in the NBA, and refs do it in the NHL.  And guess what?  All 3 of those leagues have instant replay to make sure that human error doesn't affect the outcome of the game.  It's really quite simple:  every play, short of balls and strikes, should be open to instant replay and review in baseball, and until that is put into effect, MLB is going to continue to see games being affected and calls being made from everybody to expand.

So Bud, can you hear me, Bud?  Can you?  Take a clue from everybody else and expand the fucking replay rules.  It ain't that hard and it will make everyone's lives a little easier.  Players and managers will be happy, fans will be happy, and umpires won't have to sit in front of the media after they fuck up and dance around questions uncomfortably when they get grilled about fucking up.

Graham Stoneburner: Future Closer?

I saw this interesting nugget (copyright: Peter King) yesterday in Chad at LoHud's assorted Minor League notes post:

"Pretty much every scouting report you’ll ever read about Graham Stoneburner suggests his ultimate role could be as a reliever rather than a starter. The Yankees, though, will continue to use Stoneburner out of the rotation, and they believe that he could remain a starter if his changeup continues to develop. Stoneburner had a 2.41 ERA between Tampa and Charleston last season, and the Yankees won’t change his role until he pitches himself out of the rotation."

I'm already on the record as a huge Stoneburner fan and could really care less where he ends up pitching as long it's in pinstripes.  But the fact that the dude has arguably the coolest name ever makes me think that he could fit in better as a reliever.  I mean, "Graham Stoneburner."  That name screams closer.  It's the coolest closer name since The Duke in "Major League, " and that guy led the league in K/9 and hit batsmen.  And threw at his kid in a father-son game!  Pretty damn impressive if you ask me.

So if Stoneburner ends up becoming the closer of the future instead of a part of the rotation, that works for me.  He's already suited for it from a name perspective.  All we need to do now is figure out what his entrance music would be.  Do you focus on the "Stone-" aspect of his name or the "-Burner?"  What do you think?

(Just more awesome AB4AR-style analysis.  Scouting reports and secondary pitches be damned.  This kid has a cool name and that makes him a good closer prospect.  Beat that logic, Tim Kurkjian!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Updated Yankees 2011 Rotation Candidate List

1) Andy Pettitte- enjoying Hawaiian vacations; doesn't know if he wants to come back

2) Jeremy Bonderman- flash in the pan; injury risk

3) Jeff Francis- coming off major injury; career numbers are "meh;" would be going from NL to AL

4) Freddy Garcia- dead arm; sucks

5) Kevin Millwood- washed up; completely sucks

6) Justin Duchscherer**- decent career numbers; can be starter or reliever; injury risk; pants pooping risk (because of the IBS)

      - indicates team no longer interested
** - indicates new addition to the list

Monday, January 10, 2011

Andrew Marchand Should Probably Stop Talking

 (Photo used courtesy of Getty Images)

 I know it's a slow time of year in Yankeeland, what with Andy still not officially making up his mind and the team following Cash's preaches for patience and not jumping to spend the extra money they have (Rafael Soriano, ZOMG!!!!!1!!111!!).  But this sadsack effort by Marchand to come up with something to write about on the ESPN:NY Yankee blog is laughable in its sweeping generalizations and complete disregard for the drastic differences between football and baseball.  Examine. 

"There are more similarities between Rex Ryan and Joe Girardi than differences. Both sincerely care about their players.. "

Pretty weak stretch for a comparison, Andy.  How many successful coaches can you name that DIDN'T care about their players? 

"... Both seem very true to their families. Both are consumed by the end result."

And there ends the list of similarities.  Now for some differences.  One is fat, the other is slender.  One is loud and boisterous, the other is quiet and calm.  One has braces, the other doesn't.  One is a former professional player, the other isn't.  One has been a part of multiple championship-winning teams, the other hasn't.  One likes to videotape his wife in foot fetish videos, the other would rather study his massive match up binder.  So there goes Marchand's theory. 

"It's how they get to the end result is where a dash of Rex could help Girardi. Ryan looks as if he is having the time of his life as the pressure mounts, while Girardi appears as if he is aging like a President.

At the end of last year, Girardi basically admitted it, saying during the pennant race that it was work, not fun. It shows."

Ummm, it WAS work.  Managing the team is Girardi's job, a job he takes very seriously.  And the Yankees were in the running for a division title right down to the last games of the season.  Ryan and the Jets haven't had to worry about a division title or even a playoff berth for weeks.  It was all settled by the Patriots' dominance and the rest of the AFC's suckiness. 

"It is not a terrible thing."

So then why the fuck are you bringing it up in comparison to another guy who coaches a completely different sport?  Not only is it not terrible, it's not even bad. 

"The reason he [Girardi] has achieved so much in his post-playing career is because of his intensity to detail. He studies numbers and charts probably as much or more than any manager in the game. He is always looking to improve how he does his job and, in turn, the Yankees. To his credit, he is very open-minded to change."

So let's see.  A guy who is generally regarded as one of the hardest-working managers in the game, a trait that has gotten him the job he currently holds as the manager of the most famous team in sports history, and who is also open to change and has shown an ability to change and loosen up in the past, and has used all of this to bring his team to one world championship and one ALCS appearance in consecutive seasons should try to be like somebody else?  Am I the only one that sees how stupid this is???  

"He can learn from Rex. He doesn't need to say that it is "personal" with the Red Sox. (Though, Joe, that would be fun, if you did.) But if he could find a way to ride the wave of New York and the enormity of the Yankees the way Rex has, he would be a better, more relaxed manager."

Wow!  Just... wow.  First of all, the "wave of New York" is far bigger for the Yankees than it is for the Jets.  That's like comparing the biggest waves at Maverick to a little kid throwing a skim board across the beach during low tide.  When you look at what he has already done and how he's handled the "wave" since becoming manager, there is no way you can say Joe has done a bad job. 

"Would this intangible translate into the translate into the tangible, more victories and more October success. That is impossible to say."

I'll gloss over the fact that Marchand doesn't even use a question mark to finish a sentence in which he is clearly asking a question and just say that no, Joe Girardi acting like Rex Ryan for the entirety of a 162-game Major League Baseball season would not translate to more success for the Yankees.  That act would grow tired in the media over that time period, tired in the clubhouse amongst a team of consummate veteran professionals who take what they do very seriously, and tired for the fanbase of the team that expects just as much success and professionalism as the team itself does.

What Marchand seems to not understand is that football and baseball are 2 completely different sports that require 2 completely different types of head coaches.  Football is a sport based on intensity, emotion, and constant violent physical contact.  That's not to say that there isn't thought and strategy involved and that patience and intelligence are not important to possess, but at it's core it is about the previous things I described.  A football coach needs to be able to draw upon these things to inspire his team and get them to play to their potential and build up that energy and intensity over a period of a week when it all culminates each Sunday.  This is why Ryan is so successful, because he is a loud, energetic guy who uses that energy to get the most of his team each and every week.  He is not the laid back, relaxed, Spiccoli-type that Marchand portrays him to be in this post, he is an intense motherfucker.

Baseball, on the other, is, at its core, a game of patience, strategy, and focus, and all 3 of those things have to be consistently done during the course of multiple games a week for multiple weeks a year.  Players cannot afford to be overly emotional, for better or worse, because there is another game to be played the next day and they have to re-focus their attention to that.  As such, baseball managers needs to be able to keep their players focused, calm, and ready for the next set of challenges.  Constantly blasting players with "rah-rah" speeches and motivational videos and shit like that distracts them for focusing on the small details that define the line between success and failure in baseball.  Joe Girardi excels at all of these things, sometimes to a fault (see: consulting the match up binder too much), but his makeup and approach to managing suits the sport he manages, just like Ryan's does.

Joe Girardi would not be a successful football coach with his personality, and likewise Rex Ryan as a baseball manager.  Each is perfectly suited to coach the sport he does, and the success each has had coaching his respective team is a testament to that fact.  To suggest that one should be more like the other in order to be more successful or for his team to be more successful is irresponsible, idiotic, and downright lazy as a writer.  I mean, Jesus Christ, Andrew, if the day is that slow that you have to write crap like this, just bite the bullet and throw up some links like I do.

Badassness 101

 (Photos courtesy of The AP)

That is the statue that was unveiled outside of Steinbrenner Field in Tampa last week and not only is it the coolest-looking honorary statue in the history of sports just for the way it looks, it has heaps of added badassery thanks to the inclusion of a championship ring on The Boss' left hand.

What a perfect way to honor Steinbrenner and capture what he was all about.  The guy didn't give a fuck what anybody thought about him or his practices, he just wanted to win.  And to include a reminder of that goal in the statue is pretty cool indeed.  Not to mention that the statue itself actually looks like him, unlike the Michael Jordan one outside the United Center or the Bobby Orr one in Boston.

Even in death, The Boss still kicks more ass than just about anybody.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Biggest Weekend News: Andruw Jones The New 4th Outfielder?

I don't remember where I read it, but I remember seeing something about the Yankees "starting talks" with Andruw Jones about joining the team to become the 4th OF and fill the void left by Marcus Thames most likely going to Japan to become the new Mr. Baseball (minus the awesome Selleck mustache).

For a guy who seems to be a shell of his former self, I actually think Jones is an ideal candidate for the Yankees 4th OF spot in 2011.  Nothing jumps out at you initially when you look over his 2010 numbers, but notice that he managed to get an .827 OPS out of a .230 BA, a sign of both patience and power at the plate, 2 things that the Yankees would both want and need out of their bench.  Jones' tripleslash jumps to .256/.373/.558 against lefties last season, another gap the Yankees need filled and another one that Jones should be able to do just as well, if not better, than Thames did last season.  Factor in that Jones is still a very competent defensive player in the outfield and not an abortion like Thames was, and there is really no downside to bringing Jones into the fold.

It's no secret that the Yankee outfield is set with Swish, Gardy, and C-Grand.  They are all productive bats in their own way and combine to make one of the best defensive outfields in baseball.  But all 3 of them missed some time with injuries last season, and it would be nice to be able to plug in one guy and feel confident that he can do the job should somebody go down for some time instead of having to play Russian Roulette with Triple-A guys like last year.

He might not be the all-world center fielder he used to be, and he might be a bit more pudgy than we remember from his Atlanta Brave days, but Andruw Jones is still an above-average outfielder who could play right, left, a/o center very easily.  And he's clearly the lefty-mashing bench bat that the Yankees would like to have available off the bench.  He had a limited role in Chicago last season so bitching about playing time wouldn't be an issue.  As it becomes more and more likely that Andy isn't returning, the Yankees still have plenty of money to burn.  If they use some of it to sign Andruw Jones, count me in as one of the people who will applaud the move.