Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Which was sweeter, the Junkees losing it in '01 or in '04?
Now, at first, '04 seems like a slam dunk, simply because the Red Sox were involved. But I'm looking at this not so much from a Red Sox fan's perspective (where, duh, '04 was the best year ever), but just from a Yankee-haters perspective (where the Red Sox beating the Yanks is sweeter than the D-Backs beating the Yankees, but not always).
Anyway, I'll play devil's advocate and throw in a bunch of reasons why '01 was better:
- when the Junkees won the first 3 games of the '04 ALCS, the wins were boring. No drama at all. Especially the 19-8 win. But in '01, Yankee fans went nuts when they got the game-tying home run with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th two nights in a row. I remember listening to Steve Somers after Game 5, saying there was no way the D-Backs were gonna come back from such devastating losses. He thought the Yanks had won it all, right there.
And, of course, thanks to Luis Gonzalez, that never happened. Gonzo proved that all that Yankee aura and mystique, which had seemed so pervasive earlier in the series, were nothing more than a couple of strippers.
And every time YES shows Game 4 or 5, I just have to laugh. It's like reading 400 pages of a horror novel, then closing the book right before the ending where everyone dies. Just plain silly.
- Also, the '01 series ended in a much more dramatic fashion than the '04 ALCS. After Soriano's homer, the D-Backs looked dead. After all, they were headed to the bottom of the 9th facing Rivera. A few minutes later, Schill and the Unit were co-MVPs of the World Series.
'04 had its share of drama, especially the Dave Roberts game. But for the Yankee fans, it was a slow, agonizing death. It was great watching Kevin Brown get his butt kicked in game 7, but it wasn't much of a thrilling game. The shock value sure wasn't there. Part of what made '01 so great was how it happened so fast.
- And let's not forget: '01 came after the Junkees won 3 straight World Series. The team seemed freakin' invincible. It looked like they would just win it year after year.
But after the D-Backs won, it was the end of an era. O'Neill and Brosius left, the Juice Man came to town, and the Yanks have never won since. And as sweet as '04 was, it wasn't the one that ended the dynasty, the one that made Junkee fans realize, "you can't win it all every year."
Right after last year's high, I easily would've said '04. But now I'm not so sure. Thoughts, anyone?
Monday, November 28, 2005
"So, how, exactly, do the Mets afford this sudden swelling of the payroll? Actually, they still project somewhere in the low-$100 million range, with nearly $35 million coming off the books this winter. That will allow the Mets to continue their pursuit of Billy Wagner, to whom they've extended a three-year offer worth approximately $30 million with an option for a fourth year that makes the deal worth $40 million."
Not to mention that by losing Piazza and Cameron, that's about $24 million right there. When you add in Ishii and Minkiewicz, that brings it to at least $30 million. So the Mets are not the new Junkees. When their payroll hits $200 million, then come back to me.
Even Chris "Mad Dog" Russo said that Mets fans no longer have a right to complain about the Yankees' spending, saying that the Mets are now in the same boat, with the Delgado acquisition.
So is it time to give up harping on the Yanks? Time to get rid of "Yankee Despiser" and start giving it to the Mets and Red Sox (and the Cubs, while we're at it)?
Of course not. Let's see. The highest-paid player in the game, the A-Schmuck, is still in pinstripes. And even if Wang and Small come back next year, the Yanks will likely have the most expensive rotation in the league next year: Johnson at $16 million, Mussina at $19 million, Pavano at $9 million, and Wright (who will likely assume a Sterling Hitchcock-like role next year -- i.e., you'll only see him if the Yanks are up or down by at least 12) at $7 million. That's $51 million right there -- or more than 8 teams' entire payrolls (9 if you count the Fish's expected $40 million number for '06).
Derek Jeter, with the 47th-best OPS in the game, sure wasn't paid like that, earning close to $20 million. And let's not forget the Yanks re-signing Shemp Matsui at $13 million per year, who, yes, had the same OPS as Cliff Floyd. If the Yanks were a small-market team, they would've waved bye-bye to Shemp back in September.
Putting things in perspective, even with Boston adding payroll by getting Beckett, Mota, and Lowell, -- say, at most, $15 million in all, and the Yanks shedding about $30 million by losing Bernie and Brown -- there's still at least a $45 million gap between the two teams. And the Mets had less than half the payroll ($101 million vs. $208 million) of the crosstown Yanks. So even if the Mets spend $50 million more next year (which wouldn't surprise me), they'd still be spending $55 million -- about as much as the Texas payroll -- less than the Yanks.
--- And Russo can't give the Mets a hard time about Delgado: the Mets freed up a lot of payroll by getting rid of Cameron. Cameron-for-Nady was basically a salary dump for the Mets. Now, if the Mets give Billy Wagner $12 million a year and Bengie Molina $8 million, then I'll agree that the Mets are now like the Yanks. But as of right now, Delgado and Cameron were more-or-less a wash.
--- And as for the Blue Jays, mid-to-small market teams have to overpay to get stars to come to play for them. Look at the Tigers overpaying for I-Rod, Percival, and Magglio Ordonez. Now, I agree that spending $75 million to get an oft-injured player like Ordonez was pretty dumb, but I'm sorry, Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge will not put fans in the seats.
And so too with the Jays -- who says Ryan goes there if the Jays aren't willing to pay him tons of money? (Although I think the money would've been better spent on a slugger like Konerko -- the Jays' lineup was punchless last year).
Now granted, fire sales are never good for the game. Teams screwing up the market for relievers are never good for the game. But the fact that, after all the moves of the past few weeks, the Yanks are still very safely in the top spot of payrolls in the game: it just goes to show how out-of-control the Yankees have been, and how much salary they'd have to dump just to be in the same league as Boston and the Mets.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Now, I like the guy's numbers (hard to beat a .399 OBP), and the guy's supposed to be a solid defender. Seems like a good player, even though nobody's really heard of him. This move reminds me of the '90's Yankees, who won with low-key players like Mariano Duncan (which, BTW, was sort of an Aaron Small move. If you would've told me before '96 that the guy would've hit .340, I'd have thought you were nuts. Not to mention the guy went way downhill in '97).
But Michaels hasn't really played every day. He's only had two years of major league experience. So you have no idea if it was all a fluke, if the guy can play 162 games, or if he'll still do as well once the pitchers figure him out.
But the Yanks might strike some gold here, like with Chacon and Small. And Cashman will once again look like a genius.
Just another "nothing-to-lose" move.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
As they struggle to convince their top choices to sign with them, the Yankees are exploring a wide range of free agents and other options to fill their needs in center field and in the bullpen.
A baseball official familiar with the Yankees' plans said they recently reached out to the Oakland A's to ask about the availability of center fielder Mark Kotsay. The official said the A's aren't opposed to moving Kotsay, but that talks stalled when Oakland asked about second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang -- the two players everybody keeps asking the Yankees about.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner expressed some concern at last week's organization meetings in Tampa, Fla., about the team's inability (so far) to secure its top free- agent targets. The meetings were held just after the Yankees found out that left-handed reliever Scott Eyre was signing with the Cubs. The Yankees wanted Eyre so badly that they had manager Joe Torre place a recruiting call to him, but they didn't even make Eyre's final four list of teams. The Yankees are pessimistic about their chances of signing top relief-pitching targets such as B.J. Ryan, Bob Howry, Kyle Farnsworth and Tom Gordon, and they're moving down the list to lesser names.
Howry was said yesterday to be nearing a deal with those same Chicago Cubs -- a three-year contract worth more than the $11 million the Cubs gave to Eyre. And Farnsworth, Ryan and Gordon all are exploring opportunities to be closers for other teams rather than setup relievers for Mariano Rivera in the Bronx. The closer market isn't expected to get moving until Billy Wagner, who visited the Mets yesterday, picks a team.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are making calls to the agents for various other relief pitchers, including right-handers Julian Tavarez and Octavio Dotel and left-handers Ricardo Rincon, Mike Myers and Joey Eischen. They also called to see if Jose Mesa would be interested in signing with them, but he told them he wasn't interested in pitching in New York.
The other player Torre was asked to help recruit, outfielder Brian Giles, was leaning toward a return to the San Diego Padres, according to several baseball officials yesterday. But the Yankees still believed they had a chance to sign him, and he hasn't told them they're out of it.
The Yankees would like to be able to lure center fielder Aaron Rowand from the Chicago White Sox, but as of yesterday the White Sox were working on a deal that would send Rowand to the Florida Marlins for center fielder Juan Pierre.
The piece also mentions that the Junkees might give Crosby the full-time job in center. Hey, I'm all for it. The guy can't hit a lick. Sure, he's a good fielder, but at least Bernie could still get the occasional big hit, even in the past few years. Kepner does mention that the Junkees are still interested in Milton Bradley, whom I would love to see in pinstripes. And Cashman, space in! You are not getting Aaron Rowand! Unless you give the White Sox A-Rod and Rivera, or something like that.
-- For those of you who are too lazy to click the link above, this is the key paragraph of the piece:
"Ryan and Giles, who are free agents, are aware of the Yankees' interest. But neither has scheduled a visit with the Yankees, and a person who has been briefed on the Yankees' plans said neither player seemed serious about signing with the Yankees. The person requested anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize the Yankees' chances of signing those players. Giles could be headed back to the San Diego Padres, for whom he has played since August 2003."
-- My thoughts on the Beckett deal: sounds very cool, but it's hard for me to get too excited. The guy's always had health issues, and has never played a full regular season in the bigs. Everyone just remembers his performance in the '03 World Series, which is very impressive. And there's always that chance the guy could turn into another Carl Pavano, although Beckett has a better track record. I look forward to seeing the guy pitch in Fenway, but with my fingers crossed.
And as for Lowell, the guy's a total gamble. I like the fact that he's a solid defender, but the Sox don't need a .230 bat in the lineup. Then again, he might have a comeback year. He reminds me of when the Yanks got Scott Brosius in '98, after the guy hit .203 in '97. And Brosius ended up having a few solid years left in him. I would love to see Lowell turn out the same way.
I would've liked to have seen the Sox get Delgado, especially if Manny were to get traded. Delgado has a better track record, no injury issues, and could put up much better numbers in Fenway than in Dolphins Stadium. Not to mention his familiarity with the AL.
But the Beckett deal has a much bigger upside to it. If Schilling can come back to old form next year, the Sox will enter October with two of the best postseason pitchers in recent memory. And if Beckett turns out to be an ace and can stay healthy throughout the year, there may be a bunch of Yankee-free Octobers in the coming years.
Friday, November 18, 2005
First off, as Despiser pointed out, the guy refuses to sit down. And that screwed the Junkees in May, when he was really struggling. And it will continue to screw them over in the future, unless Snorre or whoever's in charge decides to put their foot down.
Also, I think the streak is affecting Shemp's performance. His fielding has gotten more erratic. Remember all those dropped catches near the end of the year? So much for "Mr. Fundamentals."
And the guy's been a mixed bag in the postseason. While that grand slam against the Twins in early '03 may have given him a good reputation for the big spot, he was punchless in this year's ALDS (although Shemp did well in the '04 ALCS, even going 5-for-17 in G4-7 while the rest of the team choked). Who's to say that Matsui wasn't tired out by the streak this year?
This isn't to say the guy's not a very good player. I would definitely like to have him on my team. But he's got his flaws, like everyone else. And four years down the road, he probably won't get any better.
-- I like baseball's new drug policy, but what about HGH? Time for some blood tests. Let's see how Giambi would do then.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Suppose the Junkees didn't have A-Rod. They'd still have Derek Cheater, Juice-on Giambi, Shemp, Ringo Posada, and Gary "I'll dog it if they trade me" Sheffield. Still a potent lineup. Sure, I'd probably groan less, but even without A-Schmuck, they'd score a ton of runs. In fact, they scored a ton of runs, second most in the majors. Their problem was pitching; they ranked 22nd in the majors in ERA. Admittedly, A-Schmuck had a great offensive year, but like Manny said, instead of winning 12-5, they won 17-5. Wow.
Ortiz, to me, was more valuable to the Red Sox. Besides all the clutch hits, he was the go-to guy for the Red Sox. I know I didn't trust anyone else in their lineup (Besides Ramirez) to come up with a big hit. Without Ortiz, Boston doesn't sniff the playoffs.
So let the Junkee fans have their moment in the sun. Bottom line, 5 years and still counting.
Monday, November 14, 2005
So what if A-Rod was the best player in the league from April to September? Big deal. The guy isn't clutch. Don't tell me about his homerun off a rehabbing Schilling in July. I don't care about his 3 HR game against Colon and the Angels. I don't care about all those homers that turned a 17-5 game into a 19-5 game or whatever. Because the guy couldn't hit for beans against Ervin Santana when it counted. Because the guy couldn't carry his team when they needed him most. Because the guy is a far, far cry from Reggie Jackson, whom I would rather have on my team than A-Rod. True, they're both arrogant jerks, but at least a team with Reggie would have a chance at winning it all.
So in the end, A-Rod winning the MVP doesn't bother me at all. After his pitiful ALDS performance, the Yankee despisers certainly got the last laugh.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Posada has a clause in his contract that if he catches a certain number of games in '06, a $12 million option for '07 automatically kicks in. So unless Posada goes on the DL or something, the Junkees are stuck.
So it'll be really interesting to see what the Yanks do next year. If they're gonna turn Posada into a C/DH, they'll need a better backup. Flaherty is just like Charlie O'Brien; he's got the hockey mask, and he's about as good a hitter as Wayne Gretzky. Flaherty is good for the Big Unit, but that's about it.
I would love to see Posada play some first base. It was funny seeing Piazza out there, but that's the Mets. To see Posada, now that would be comical. Then again, he might be better than Giambi.
And the most interesting thing of all will be how Georgie handles all this. Bernie was a classy guy, and really handled his decline pretty well. But Posada is a hothead. Remember when he spat on the ump? Or the fight with Amezaga of the Angels? And his fight with Tino (see Olney's book)? Posada will not be happy with his situation next year. Should make for some interesting headlines.
-- BTW Despiser, my pick for backup 1B is not Olerud; it's Yankee-killer Eduardo Perez. Too bad he wouldn't be able to face the Unit then.
- I was surprised Tino was let go. Did George and Ca$hman finally realize that bringing back washed up ex-Yankees did nothing to help the team? Yeah, I know he was good in May. Name one big hit he had after June 1st. Then I hear that they're interested in bringing back John Olerud. So I guess they're still into ex-Red Sox. Too bad it doesn't tweak Larry Luccino. In fact, I'm sure the Red Sox would be thrilled if you took Olerud. Do you want Kevin Millar, too?
- They have no idea what to do about centerfield. That's why you've got to love Billy Beane for resigning Mark Kotsay. Almost anyone would be great. Milton Bradley is a schmuck, Torii Hunter is going nowhere, says the Twins GM, and Juan Pierre could very well be the 2006 version of Tony Womack. And the fact that he fits the profile of guys-who've-hurt-the-Junkees-in-the-past makes him much more appealing to George. And his throwing arm makes Bernie Williams' look like Vlad Guererro's. Johnny Damon? Same thing.
- They'll get another motley crew for the bullpen. Kyle Farnsworth? Will never get you a big out. B. J. Ryan? Don't trust him either.
So you have to love how the Junkees have no idea what they're going to do. And keep in mind that 4 out of 5 rotation spots are set: Randy, Mussina, Pavano, and Wright. Doesn't exactly put the fear of God into anyone's lineup.
It remains to be seen what the buffoon will do over the next few weeks, and you have to love the whining about Cano and Rivera getting robbed of their respective awards, but that's a story for another day.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Additionally, I think that George will try to get Bradley, for two reasons: he loves troubled people. Darryl and Doc? The Yanks were ready and willing to take them, with all their baggage. Now granted, Bradley has different issues than those guys (attitude as opposed to drugs), but George loves the idea of taking a troubled player and having him turn his career around in pinstripes. It makes for great PR. Remember Doc Gooden's no-hitter? If his 15 minutes of comeback fame wouldn't have ended so soon, they probably would have made a movie about that.
I also think that George likes to tweak Torre by bringing in clubhouse problems. Heck, that was one of the reasons that Ruben Sierra got a second go-round for the Junkees (although Sierra, to his credit, has matured and toned it down since '96). But even guys like Weaver and Brown: I think George was partly motivated by the fact that he knew Snorre wouldn't go for those guys. And while Sheff, A-Rod, and Johnson are players any GM would get if they could afford it, I'm sure George liked their attitudes, too. And so Milton Bradley might be the ultimate tweak.
Besides, he'd be a great fit with the Yankees. Too bad Brown is done, because I'd love to see him and Bradley try to get along. But the Yanks still have A-Rod, Sheff, and the Big Unit. And Jorge Posada, who didn't talk to Tino for a few months after one of their tiffs.
So for all those Yankee despisers out there, go for it George! Get Milton Bradley! And after that, try to convince Terrell Owens to try baseball.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Now we find that he has another fetish, and that is, hiring ex-managers as coaches. He rehired Mazilli, after the Orioles saw that the Junkee mystique is a sham, Larry Bowa at third, Tony Pena at first. George can't dump Mattingly because of PR, but I bet he'd love to. They still need a pitching coach and for PR, that'll likely be Ron Guidry, and for bullpen coach, they're going after... what do you know, another ex-skipper (albeit on an interim basis) Joe Kerrigan!
I know, there's also the element of tweaking Snorre, which cannot be overlooked, and as Manny speculates, a means of having a replacement on-hand.
Ah, George. As my dad would say, the man is cute.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Early last month, the Daily News reported the star slugger had attended games at an underground club with professional card player Phil Hellmuth.
Scott Boras, the third baseman's agent, denied that the Yankees had warned his client.
"The Yankees have never addressed or spoken with me in regard to any off-field activities regarding Alex Rodriguez. And the Yankees have never spoken to Alex regarding any of his off-field activities," Boras was quoted as saying in a story published Wednesday.
Playing at such clubs is not illegal, though it can be against the law to operate them, the Daily News reported.
Rodriguez was not punished or ordered to stay out of the clubs, but commissioner Bud Selig was monitoring the situation and could intervene if necessary, the newspaper said, citing sources it did not identify.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
What about Robinson Cano? I see the Yanks trading him for some relief help. In his rookie year, Cano brought to mind Todd Walker: a very good hitter, but not a guy you trust in the field. Also, this might be the high point in Cano's value, especially if he goes the way of Mike Caruso. Cashman might want to get the most bang for his buck here (my apologies to ex-YES cliche-master Fred Hickman).
Plus, Furcal has speed, which Cano does not. Perhaps after getting beaten by the speedy Angels, as well as by Carl Crawford and the Devil Rays many times this year, George will want some more speed in the lineup. And the Junkees haven't had a legitimate base-stealing threat in the lineup since Soriano was traded.
And there's reason to believe Furcal would want to come to New York, considering he has family in the Bronx. The Yanks like the occasional native New Yorker joining the club, like Steve Karsay. Plus, the YES-men will get to focus on his family members at the stadium every game, which should prove to be quite exciting.
The reasons I can see the Yankees passing this one up: a) they're hamstrung by the luxury tax, which is highly unlikely, because we're not talking Carlos Beltran money, b) they want to stick with Cano, either because they think he'll improve in the field or simply because the guy is younger, or c) they can't trade Cano for anyone useful.
---- And by the way, I do think B.J. Ryan will be a Junkee next year. Like with Karsay and Gordon, the Junkees will overpay. What can you do?