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Wednesday, August 27

Seeing as fans have been arriving at Yankee Stadium via the IRT since the place opened, there really is no excuse for the disorganized, insulting, unpleasant, and downright stupid process of getting into the park from the train. Insipid circulation, lack of clear signage, haphazzard enforcement of (poorly conceived) rules, understaffing, and incompetent personnel make arrival an odious process. Most of this is the Yankees' own fault, even if the MTA and the city haven't exactly done their part in supplying suitably commodious gateway facilities. (Though one wonders what might be accomplished with some constructive lobbying). What's most absurd is that this ridiculous process only hurts the team financially. The faster fans get into the ballpark, the faster they'll be spending money on expensive concessions. Having fans stand around waiting to get in and then rush to find a seat does neither fan nor team any good. "Security" is no excuse for this sorry situation.

After last night's debacle (Yankee Stadium security policy, that is, not Roger's BEAUTIFUL effort), I thought I would point out one more reason why Boston is a smarter city:

Fenway Security Policy, as articulated on Red Sox webpage:

In a continuing effort to provide comprehensive and thorough security, fans are encouraged to arrive as early as possible. Fans may not bring backpacks, coolers, computers, briefcases, containers, or bags of any type into Fenway Park. Fans traveling directly from work are reminded to leave the items listed above at their place of business. Small purses and diaper bags are allowed but will be subject to inspection.
V

Notice that the Red Sox remind you to leave your bag at WORK.

Now for the Yankees brilliant recommendation:

No backpacks, briefcases, attaché cases, coolers, glass or plastic bottles, cans, large purses, bags or video cameras will be permitted into the ballpark. You must leave these items in your vehicle before entering the ballpark.
No items will be claim checked. You will be asked to return them to your vehicle.


Quick question: How many people come to Yankee Stadium in THEIR OWN VEHICLE??? I guess it's possible that you could have left your bag on the train (your "vehicle", technically) but who would have taken care of it while you were at the game?

Also, there's no mention in the YSSP of a "local bowling alley" at which you can stow your gear.

Both stadia refer to this:

Diaper bags, small children's backpacks, small women's purses & backpack purses will be permitted into the ballpark, but will be inspected at the entrance gates.

They fail to clarify that "small women's purses" should really mean "any bag on earth, if carried by a woman".




Monday, August 25

Pet peeve time. I hate lefty hurlers, always have (especially Jimmy Key), mostly because of their pickoff move (I am watching Pettitte pitch at the moment) which I have always wondered why it doesn't qualify as a balk. I went to read the balk rule, which begins as follows:

If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when_ (a) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery;

So my question is:

WHY ARE LEFTIES ALLOWED TO MAKE A MOTION NORMALLY ASSOCIATED WITH THEIR PITCH before going to first???

I read the whole rule and could not find an exception for lefties, though there is one for righties who fake to third and wheel to first.


So much for the Sox hitting their "psychological end", as I termed it last week. Mea Culpa. As out of it as they looked last week, they looked into it this weekend. Lowe seems to be getting better, and the team is hitting. I suppose a team that has for the better part of this year,relied on its hitting is going to go through such patches where they just can't win. They befuddle me.

As for the Yankees, well, the New York Times is already calling their signing of Contreras "vindicated" after yesterday's start. Not that he isn't going to be good and tough down the stretch if healthy, but I don't see how a good starts (one against the ORIOLES, no less) all of a sudden "vindicates" a $32M outlay. Let's see what Jose does the rest of the way, in the post-season, and beyond, before we start "vindicating" that kind of signing. He looks tough, but he hasn't proven anything yet. Next thing you know, Tyler Kepner will be saying that the marginal prospects the Yankees received in return for Hitchcock "vindicate" their having given him a 3-year, $16M bonehead contract. Yankee apologist journalism never ceases to amaze me.

Sunday, August 24

So apparently the Red Sox, over the past three days, have started playing a video on the big screen they call "Rally Karaoke Guy", a clip of Kevin Millar singing "Born in the USA" back in college. It's become this year's "Rally Monkey" for Beantown. I can't say I am not embarrassed, but at least it's not a Homer Hanky, a Thunderstick, or some hayseed named "Cotton-Eyed Joe"...

Friday, August 22

Light posting this weekend - crazy work schedule, deadlines. Hopefully some good will come out of the weekend, 2 of 3 from Seattle would be a big boost, gain ground on both the West leader as well as the wild card. Again, I don't care who of the A's or Seattle ends up going home, but I still am more than mildly concerned about whether the Red Sox will be there at the end after witnessing the past 10 days.

As for the Bombers this weekend, I am still keeping my fingers crossed that something horrible happens, I am not ashamed to admit that I more than occasionally root for painfully torn ACLs.

As for Bonds, well, I say pitch to him. He only (only!!!) gets on base 1/2 the time, but if you walk him he's on 100%, can still run adequately, and he isn't exactly surrounded by zeros. As for the Giants, they are good, but let's see how the pitching staff holds up under playoff pressure - Ponson has never thrown in the playoffs, and their starting staff has been held together by a rookie. Good, for sure, but let's see what happens in the pressure cooker.




San Francisco's going to be hell in the playoffs, and last night shows why they have to be the odds-on favorite now that they've got Ponson. What do you do with Bonds in a late inning tie-game situation? Pitch to him and he kills you; walk him and the winning run is on base w/ less than 2 outs.




Thursday, August 21

nervous worldviews and being a yankees fan aren't compatible. you aren't entitled to the former if you choose the latter.
I would think that you, as a Sox fan, could appreciate a nervous worldview. Seven consecutive wins have been nice, but each game seem to be almost blown by the shakey bullpen, and this bodes ill for the future. And before this little streak, they had dropped 4 of 5.

I am glad Kevin Millar has such confidence. Apparently he hasn't been watching the action in front of and behind him. Does he also think Howard Dean is electable?

I read Shaughnessy's column earlier today, and frankly, it shouldn't surprise (however much it disappoints) any of us when a $15M per annum employee acts like a spoiled brat. Hell, our President gets paid a fraction of that and feels entitled to do so on a daily basis. The surprise would be if they DIDN'T act that way.

P.S. When did winning seven in a row not count as inspiring? Besides the bullpen, what hasn't been clicking for the Yankees of late? You are so spoiled...
Shaughnessy in today's globe: Sox acting like a bunch of whiney-assed babies:
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2003/08/21/this_loss_is_about_as_ugly_as_it_can_get

No Kodak moments for Pedro...
Obviously, I'm pleased to have the boys heading toward the division title, though their play has been anything but inspiring of late. But it's hard not to be disappointed, purely from an enthusiast's perspective, that a more compelling summer of '49/'78 pennant chase is not going to happen. Or maybe it will. Kevin Millar: "You guys are going to be standing here in October saying, 'Wow, what a run.' We're going to win. We're going to have fun. We're going to the playoffs."




What do you care? In the same position as you, I'd just laugh. My only hope now is that the Yankees win as little as the Red Sox this year, as in no championship. I won't disavow my happiness when that happens, so I don't see how you have no joy in seeing the division in the Yankees pocket.
There is no joy in victory over an opponent that simply implodes at the same point every season. Grady's hours are numbered. With 6 games left against NYY they can still make it interesting.



Wednesday, August 20

Well, a mere 9 minutes later, Kim has come in and given up four hits, three runs, they still have only gotten one out, and mutiny is near in Fenway. Not to sound alarmist, but I fear the Red Sox have hit their psychological end. They look done, in gait and performance. My guess is they finish 10-12 out in the division, 4-6 out of the wild card race, if not worse. We shall see. I may not be blogging much from this point on, unless it looks like the Yankees are about to be eliminated from the post-season.

Did you watch any of the Sox-A's on ESPN? So far the Red Sox have left 14 on through 7, a sure way to lose.

The real reason I ask is to see if newly minted broadcaster David Justice made your eardrums bleed, as he did mine.
***News Alert***

"Apparition Hovers Over Fenway: Williams' Severed Head Renews Curse on Boston Fans"

Boston (AP) -- An apparition of the late Red Sox slugger Ted Williams appeared over Fenway Park this afternoon, shocking Bostonians and tying up traffic across the city." The Red Sox will never again be champions," bellowed the ghost, which was seen bleeding profusely from the skull. Last week, reports surfaced that Williams body had been decapitated and mangled by a cryogenic laboratory. Since that time, the Red Sox have dropped from 1.5 to 6.5 games behind the Yankees in the American League East standings, and appear to be swooning out of contention, as in their normal August procedure.

Flights into and out of Boston's Logan Airport have been temporarily suspended.

***
To: Human Resources Department, www.monster.com
From: t_epstein@sinkingship.com

Re: Job Posting

We are looking for a baseball-savvy upper-management type, someone who can motivate some of our employees. Said employees are highly paid, but seem to be sleeping on the job, and some are even going home early because of supposed health problems (one even complained of a blister on his thumb!). We have a capable and semi-competent, though mediocre, man in charge (of medium intellect), but he can't seem to get the employees to work quite hard enough.

Drop me an email if anyone is available, though I know the talent pool is dreadfully thin at this point in the fiscal year, and I don't have high expectations. If I have to keep this guy on until the end of his contract so be it, but I am looking to upgrade - I can't fire the employees even if I wanted to.

Best,

TE

P.S. Don't you guys get sick of working overtime, pounding the phones, getting things done for the Boss and not reaping any rewards? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned American productivity?

P.P.S. Sorry to vent, but I am losing it...
Well, there goes conventional wisdom for you. Theo makes all the right moves, supposedly, while the Yankees blunder with Boone and Benitez, and somehow the Red Sox look like the AAA squad and the Yankees look circa 1998. Shows you what I (or any other professional scribes) know about the dynamics of baseball. Abandon ship.


Tuesday, August 19

A-Rod was only used for the sake of argument, as a player who is on a horrible team but of extreme value.
I'm not sure where A-Rod fits into this discussion. Last year, as far as I'm concerned, he should have been MVP. And if you insist on naming this award for Pags, be my guest. His play exemplified the grit, determination, and all around excellence that the award celebrates.
The whole issue of Pedro not going a full 9 is the biggest dent in the MVP argument, no doubt. I hate that guys can't throw CGs anymore, so I buy into that. But I still don't think you can say that a player isn't valuable to his team because his teammates didn't make him as valuable as he should have been. That's illogical. (And that scenario doesn't make A-Rod a league-wide MVP candidate, but it certainly does make him his team's MVP).

If the BBWAA want to add a "Willie Mays Award" (I am sure you will argue that it should be named after Babe Ruth, or Lou Gehrig, or Dale Berra, or Pags, or some other Yankee stiff) or something like that, than they should. As it is, I think the MVP should go to the player most valuable to their team, and to the best player in each league who currently goes "unrecognized", well, sorry.


P.S. the USOC should tell Roger Clemens to go shove it.

Monday, August 18

On the circularity of the Pedro argument: I concede that it is, to some degree, circular, but you might also say that it simply points out the difficulty that a non-everyday player faces when being considered as a team's most valuable player. I would also add that it's wrong to entirely release Pedro from blame for the saves blown by his team mates. If he had gone the distance in these games, perhaps they would not have been lost. Yes, few pitchers go a full 9 (or 8) these days, but we're talking mvp here. A knock on Pedro has always been his durability, and all those blown opportunities show how valuable a commodity that is.
I absolutely don't agree that there is always some kind of universal consensus on whom the best player is (is there always consensus on the Cy?), but even if there were, why should that clarity preclude using POTY criteria for the MVP? The award should not be programmed to force debate, but to reward a player for extraordinary accomplishment on the field. It seems patently wrong and unfair to me that the best player doesn't get their due recognition at the year's end--and this does in fact matter in a sport built on history. Even if the BBWAA laid down some criteria to the effect that the MVP should be awarded to the player most valuable to their own team, it's hard to imagine that you'd end up with anything less muddled than what you have now, as the whole idea of this kind of comparison is, to my mind, impossible. If it's necessary to have this award, I would make it a separate, secondary prize, like "Comeback Player of the Year."




And yes, the way you put it, Pedro is not the Most Valuable on the Red Sox. But I am not so sure your explanation for why he isn't the MVP (i.e. the Sox' other players haven't let him be the MVP by scoring runs or saving games) might be a bit on the circular side...
One reason not to add a "POTY" award: more ridiculous incentive clauses. As if A-Rod should need ANY incentive clauses in his $252M contract.

The Most Valuable Player award should be for the player MOST VALUABLE to his team, not for the best player (this is MY opinion). I appreciate your acknowledging that a POTY award would clarify things, but I think it would be totally useless. We all pretty much know who the best player is every year, it's not a big discussion topic. I can name five guys in the AL deserving that award, next year I bet at least three of the five are still on the list. The reason the MVP is so contentious is because the moronic beat writers don't exhibit any year-to-year consistency in applying their votes. They often vote for who they think the best player is, not the player most valuable to his team. Somtimes they vote the other way around. I buy into the argument that if Barry Bonds were on the Tigers, and they went 55-107, then Barry Bonds is not a candidate, no matter if he hit 50 home runs and stole 40 bases and fielded like a Gold Glover. He'd qualify as the best, but, sorry, not the MVP. Right now Barry Bonds IS the best player, and maybe also the MVP, a kind of screwy occurrence. I wish the BBWA voted for the MVP per the definition of the award, then we would have a really interesting topic to discuss, as in who will win from the right group of players, not whether the writers will even get the APPLICANT POOL right or wrong.
I think we probably share the same criteria in choosing a team MVP. (League-wide MVP is something altogether different, IMHO, and should be treated as such.*) As regards Pedro, I think the stats that you have drawn only prove my point that he is not, in fact, the team MVP. Clearly, the Sox have not taken advantage of him nearly as much as they could and should have, and they are still in striking distance (though fading). This in itself is an argument for Nomar or Manny (or Varitek, I guess). Their daily production has been More Valuable than Pedro's, which has too often been wasted, through no fault of his own.

* Why? You're comparing apples to apples. We can make a reasonable argument about which player is--on the field at least--most valuable to their own team. But taking that comparison and then extending it to other teams, well, all of a sudden you're comparing apples and oranges, with no datum. Hence my argument for the League MVP being converted to Player of the Year, in principle if not in name.



Just for the record:

Pedro has 7 starts in which he allowed one run or fewer. In four of these starts the Red Sox bullpen blew the lead in the 8th or 9th inning. In three the Red Sox failed to score any runs or scored one run. Let's just wonder for a second if the Sox had done a tad better in his starts, say, saved two of the four wins and scored a mere TWO runs in three of the other games. Pedro would be 14-3 (including one start in which he gave up 10ER in 3 innings, an aberrant game that has, unrepresentative of the rest of his year, inflated his ERA). He would be the leading candidate for the ALCY, and therefore a case for him as the MVP of the Sox would not be off the wall. His W-L numbers are deceiving, and coming from you (the skeptic of the statistic, at that) the thinness of your statement about Pedro's record is somewhat surprising. I don't think you can factor bad luck or a bad bullpen into team MVP candidacy - his value exists independent of run support.
We probably shouldn't discuss any MVP-related items, since we can't agree on what the award means or who it rewards. We have a fundamental difference of opinion on this one.

In any case, and after second thoughts, the two leading candidates for MVP on the Sox are probably Nomar and Varitek. Manny is an offensive machine, but his production this year hasn't been Delgado-esque, which is the only way I put him on the list since his defense and baserunning are below average at best - his value to the Sox is relatively one-dimensional, though large. Varitek is the most important emotional piece of the Red Sox, his defense goes beyond stealers caught, and his numbers from the 9-hole are astounding. It would be hard to find a more clutch player on the Sox. Nomar is just a flat-out great player, but as for value to the team this year I think he's (just) behind JV.

As for Pedro, with ANY run support or early-season bullpen he'd be about 15-3, and even Loaiza wouldn't be in the Cy Young hunt. Also, he'd merit league-wide MVP consideration. We all know that Mussina was a better pitcher than Clemens two years ago, but records lie and ultimately fool...
If you want to promote Pedro as the best pitcher in baseball, you'll get no argument from me, but as the MVP of the Sox? The team is only 12-9 when he pitches. Manny and Nomar account for a great deal of production every day (throw in some good defense for Nomar and his account goes up even farther). Hard to see how Varitek can be compared to these two. Is the argument that his replacement would be a bigger dropoff in production than the corresponding replacements of Manny or Nomar? That seems doubtful, and his catching, though good, is hardly miraculous. This from a Varitek fan.
I fled to western Massachusetts as well, near Northampton. Luckily I was pretty much out of range of Red Sox broadcasts, though I was able to see Jack Cust's pathetic attempt at running home against the Yankees on Saturday. I am not giving up on the Sox, but they make it very hard to root for them - they play poorly, exhibit no intensity at the most important times. You at least want to feel like your team is dying trying, but the Red Sox, with errors aplenty, looking at third strikes with big men in scoring position, well, that seems like little league-class stuff.

Theo has to be exasperated - he puts all the players on the table, he works his ASS off to placate the players' latent need to feel like the front office is doing "everything they can" to put the best team out there, and they play flat. It's just inexcusable. I am once again tempted to say off with Grady's head, but that isn't the solution. It looks like I will be once again rooting for the Yankees to be embarrassed in the playoffs again - not exactly my first choice for the way I like to watch ball.

As for Nomar for MVP - huh? I mean, I love Nomar and all, but Pedro is STILL the Sox' most valuable player, and Varitek is a really close second, nipping at Petey's heels.


Sunday, August 17

From the "No Takers Dept":
A disgruntled Yankee booster (The Boss himself?) has placed Jeff Weaver for auction on Ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2747892389&category=25145 (Thanks to Friend of YF-SF Dean Landsman for alerting us to this! You can view his own site at deanonbaseball.com.)

In a related story, Jesse Orosco will be featured on next week's episode of "Antiques Roadshow."

Poor Weaver. He is a sad figure, though a familiar one. We've all known our Weavers: that one troubled kid from grade school or camp or little lea ge. That slighly dangerous kid, a loner, always on edge until the day of that final meltdown, watched by all the other children with a sick pleasure. You know the script: perceived injustice, rage, crying fit, trip to the principal's office, and then gone. You always wondered what happened to that kid. There were rumors, of course--a "special" school; some kind of drug treatment. The one thing you never imagined was that fifteen years later he'd be wearing pinstripes and making $5 million a year.



Okay: it is freely admitted here that Yanksfan did flee the Great Metropolis for an electrically enhanced weekend in Sox territory.

This brief adventure in enemy territory certainly got off on the right foot with a boot by Walker, a muff by Nomah, and a drop by Millar followed by 3 balls from Timlin and then--so lovely, so expertly placed--Ichiro's grand slam. The gods were smiling, though their decision to allow Steve Lyons to broadcast the game indicates, shall we say, a certain sadistic streak.

Steve Lyons on Ichiro: "He almost never swings at bad pitches." Huh?

On the Red Sox announcers: They all seem to be from that Ernie Harwell, let-the-game-do-the-talking school. It's refreshing in comparison to the horror vacuii of so many Yankee broadcasts. There's a Jerry Remy sitting on the corner stool of every bar of South Boston.

Unfortunately, the Berkshire Black Bears fell hard to the Bangor Lumberjacks last night, 8-2. We took it all in from the front row of muddy Wahconah Park. Go Bears!

NY Post (Sherman) MVP predictions: 1. Nomar 2. Ichiro 3. Giambi 4. Manny 5. Boone 6. Ordonez.

Wherefor art Delgado?! "Slumping" claims Sherman. Too bad he's 1 in rbi, 2 in hr, 1 in slugging, 2 in obp, 1 in runs.



Friday, August 15

BLACK OUT! Estranged Sox fan takes down the grid?! Yankee power surges on...

Hope all are well in Yanksfan-vs-Soxfan nation.


Thursday, August 14

Ah, relief - a rare win by the Sox. Let's see if they can salvage the series against Lilly - it would be an enormous lift.

As for the Yankees, Weaver just can't be trusted. The rotation is, as unintentionally engineered, a post-season one - three pitchers only, especially with Wells hurting. Thank god for them the Sox have swooned simultaneously. It's frustrating as a Boston fan to know that the Yankees are so vulnerable, and that a concurrent losing pattern may cost them the division (and maybe a playoff spot for the Yankees as well, what would be a double bonus).




Wednesday, August 13

The answer is:

D. Questec
Quiz:

Which of the following has the best sense of the strike zone:

A: Ted Williams's headless body
B: Ted Williams's bodyless head
C: Aaron Boone

Yeah, well, call me a softy, but it just seems to me that an American icon deserves slightly better postmortem treatment than Uday and Qusay.

Glad to hear that you feel so badly about the horrible disrespect shown to a member of the Red Sox. I can't say I'd make as noble statement as yours if someone happened to do that to Phil Rizzuto (or, eventually, Bucky Dent...)
Let it be noted here for the record that the gruesome decapitation and mutilation of Ted Williams's body is an afront to all decency.
It seems we're in agreement here. When professionalized ball was in its infancy, gambling was the most serious challenge to its success, and the Black Sox scandal remains the single ugliest episode in ML history (the color line being something more than an episode). That other stars may have gambled and then received preferrential treatment from the League--Cobb and Speaker come immediately to mind--does not mean this policy should be extended to Rose in our more enlightened era.

Rose's accomplishments can be celebrated in the hall, but I see no reason why he should be inducted with a plaque in the hall of honor, or whatever they call it. Certainly, he should not be allowed any kind of managerial or administrative position for the Reds or any other team. Keeping him out of stadiums and spring training, however, seems excessive. He should be punished for the crime, not for being, as you have so delicately put it, a scumbag.


Pete Rose is scum. He's in total denial of his past actions, he clearly bet on baseball and maybe even his own team while he was managing, and he cannot be trusted. If Buck Weaver was banned from baseball, if they don't exonerate Weaver at the same time they let Rose back in then they shouldn't even entertain the notion of amnesty. Letting him back in would be an outrage to me - he shamed himself and the game. He was a great ballplayer (who will forget him for his play?), his accomplishments are inarguable, but he should not be allowed back in - principles have to mean something. This would be a blunder far worse than a tie all-star game. Bud Selig should stand up for something finally and say "not on my watch, hopefully not ever".




The return of Rose? From Baseball Prospectus: "Pete Rose and Major League Baseball have reached an agreement that would allow him to return to baseball in 2004, and includes no admission of wrongdoing by Rose, Baseball Prospectus has learned." MLB, ESPNers deny it.

Thoughts?


It's not defensiveness, it's just that I really don't know that you can see that far ahead, and, as I said, I'm no expert in minor league talent. Obviously, both teams are going to need major infusions, especially on the pitching front. But who knows where the next Mark Prior is going to come from.

The one Sox minor leaguer people talk about is Kevin Youklis.

I didn't say anything about the Red Sox - I would have to look around to see what they have. I was asking your thoughts on the Yankees. They always temper criticism of massive spending (aka "buying a winner") with how great their homegrown talent is. It seems that, what with an aging team (moreso than in the past), this avenue of discussion could be interesting. Don't be so defensive.

If you want to get me to try to defend the Red Sox for homegrown talent, I am not going to take the bait. The Red Sox have some pretty big issues come 2005, their farm system has been very dry the last few years, and other than Trot (drafted like 10 years ago!) and Nomar, they don't really have ANY homegrowners (you are incorrect to note that Varitek is a native Sox draftee or signing) - they've just done a pretty decent job at buying the right players and trading homegrown talent for stars (Pavano and Armas Jr. for Pedro, Sanchez for Suppan, etc.). Incidentally, Varitek and Lowe were acquired in one specific deal from the Mariners, for Heathcliff Slocumb - one of the best deadline deals ever pulled off - neither are homegrown.

As for the future, Theo has overhauled their ML system, re-focussed their scouts, and is following in Beane's steps - we'll see how well it works, but the Red Sox will have issues come '05 (Pedro, Nomar, Varitek, Lowe all up for contracts). That's a different, though pertinent, discussion. Unlike the Yankees, they will have to pick one, maybe two players in that group to keep and hope that their draft picks and lesser signees have worked out well. My guess is that the Yankees can go out in 2005 and buy whichever three top players they want, maybe more.

I'm no expert in farm ball or what the Yankees (or the Sox, for that matter) have running around at the moment, but I do know that a system that appears totally dry one year can be at the top of the pack two years later, so who really knows just what will be there for either team down the line. I have heard that the Yanks have a good young catcher who could be in line to replace Posada. And they've had a few players win minor-league player-of-the-week awards in the last month (saw that in the Times's "Minor League Report").

But before you go casting stones, just who do you expect to see in a Sox uniform? That whole team, besides Nomar and Varitek, is acquired and hardly a bunch of spring chickens.







Come on, use your imagination. Let's say that Wells, Clemens will be gone (duh), Moose will be at the end of his career, Weaver will be in therapy, and Pettitte will be either solid or waning. Rivera will be close to done. They have no pitching prospects. As for positional players, Soriano, Jeter, Matsui (how old is he really?), Posada (health issues as a backstop), Giambi, Johnson (long-term health liability?). Bernie will be done, Boone gone. Drew Henson will be playing for the Bengals, and they have a pretty lousy farm system at this point positionally speaking. I think it is an interesting issue, seeing as how much pride has been taken in the fact that the strength of the Yankees over the last 8 years has come from "homegrown" talent (though I would argue that point as well). What's the future besides dumping cash on the market, at unheard of rates?


Tuesday, August 12

Predicting the 06 roster? You'd need to be Karnak. Few teams can see clearly that far ahead, and even fewer would be stocked any more than the yanks with their own products. Who knows what the farm will bring--there are some prospects courtesy of the Mondesi and Ventura deals on top of what was already there. And if they hit the free agent market, well, there's nothing wrong with that.




If George Will wants to somehow associate baseball's rulemaking with liberal politics, maybe he should have started with the Designated Runner or something like that (though even that is a stretch - how is a designated anything "liberal"?) Will should stick to political punditry. On the other hand, he stinks at that too.

Another thread for thought:

Project a Yankees roster two to three years down the road, circa 2005/6. Jeter, Johnson, Soriano, Giambi...(will Posada still be healthy?) Who else is of decent age, healthy, and homegrown (Drew Henson, ahem?)? I started thinking that the Yankees are going to have to blow out the free agent market over the next two to three seasons. It's not going to be pretty - the big 3 of Oakland are available '05 or '06 I think, Pedro in '05 as well. What do you think?





Johnson's fielding is decent, not spectacular, but better than Giambi's. How their time is managed will continue to be a constant issue for Torre, as Giambi hits better when he fields. Torre has a habit of sitting Johnson against lefties, but my guess is this is going to stop with Zeile struggling and Sierra, the switch, being held back for pinch duty. Johnson is too good not to play every day.

Regarding the DH: I noticed some piece in the Times over the weekend in which George Will suggested that the DH, which he hates, is some politically liberal phenomena, the argument running to the effect that whore-like liberals will sell out for a little more offense while conservatives hoped to maintain the integrity of the game. He should keep his politics and his baseball separate. If anything, the DH was imposed by a group of politcally right-wing owners.



I questioned your boosterism w/r/t Johnson earlier this season, but after watching him these last couple weeks I have to say the guy can flat out hit - you were right. He looks like a machine, actually. The questions are: is he so slow or weak defensively that they can't make him an outfielder? Is he better than Giambi with the glove or similarly mediocre (or worse?). Is he going to turn out to be Edgar Martinez from the left side? That would be such a shame, from a purist's standpoint. (I hate the DH)

I guess the Sox swoon could be a normal up/down thing, but it seems like the last few Augusts have been down in a major way, and I fear the same kind of easy out for the rest of the year - it's not that hard to win 93 games and make the season look marginally successful when the last 15-20 games are played with zero pressure against the sad sacks of the division. I am not saying it is going to happen, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the Red Sox 5 back of the Wild Card race relatively soon (what the Yankees do I have no idea), so then they can kind of coast in September, play .600 ball against the scrubs, and end up somewhere around 90-93 wins. Unfortunately, the season will end a total loss. That would make Grady 186-138 over two seasons (not so bad on the surface, right?), though he will have also been the steward of two total failures.
Both teams are sliding, and I'm not sure which is in a more dire position. The Yankee bullpen (another loss last night) seems to be an insolubale problem, and now Wells looks like he needs some time off. That Boone for Claussen deal is looking increasingly bad, what with the Yankees need for (at least) a fill-in starter and Boone 4-39 with no walks. Basically, I wonder whether the Sox slide is simply one of the ups-and-downs of the season, whereas the Yankee crash is the result of a serious internal flaw. But I guess you could argue the same for Boston.

Watching Nick Johnson play in Kansas City brings to mind one obvious comparison: George Brett. I see a batting title in Johnson's future.
I have to say, the Red Sox don't inspire at this point. Losing 5 of 7 to the Orioles, going out to California and scoring exactly ZERO runs for Pedro last night in a huge game (albeit against Hudson) is simply pathetic, unfocussed stuff. It's on the players to perform - Theo has done his job. With regards to the manager, and as much as I think Grady Little is nothing special (he's no John McNamara - my most hated, for sure, but he's no Dusty Baker, either), it's not in his hands, and he certainly can't be expected to get any baseknocks.

My prediction: unless the Sox make the playoffs and advance at least one series, Grady is gone. And God knows what happens if they go 1-6 or worse on this trip west (NOT an option from my standpoint and I trust theirs, but with the way they are playing who knows) - he could be gone by August 20th.

Tonight the real John Burkett shows up, I fear...


Man the lifeboats...

Monday, August 11

Are we in some insane time warp to the 80s with the Yankee bullpen? Is Cecilio Guante going to show up in the 7th to relieve Wells? Then maybe Lee Guetterman for the 8th and Rags for the 9th, just in case the game's still in reach...

Raul: spare us all.

I hope ESPN is televising Pedro v Hudson.


Ugh, what a horrible weekend. The Red Sox seem to be in their typical August swoon, trying to remove themselves from the race as soon as possible. Luckily, the Yankees don't appear to be much more competent, though at least they lost to a top-tier team, while the Sox continued to struggle against the totally mediocre Os. Now it's off to Oakland, and hopefully Petey can get them started off well tonight, but it's starting to get depressing.

Friday, August 8

Mendoza goes on the DL - tendinitis in the left knee. Why don't they just be honest, put him on for a strained neck?
suckitis.
Today the Sox are asking Ramiro Mendoza to accept assignment to Pawtucket. If he doesn't he's going to have to come down with some sort of DL-worthy injury, and quick, if you know what I mean.
Gotta love those Sox. Their bullpen coach's name is Euclides Rojas.

Thursday, August 7

Another thing: the Boston news outlets keep harping on the fact that the Sox stayed 1/2 game ahead of the A's last night, and pulled within 2 1/2 of the Yanks. To me their pulling within 2 1/2 of Seattle is equally important. As long as the Sox stay ahead of one of those two, regardless of who is winning the West, everything is hunky dory in Beantown. Catching Seattle, even if they are still leading the division, is a huge thing to me, and the papers ought to be reporting on their proximity too.

Lambchop has done an excellent job of setting up the Sox pen, and I really see no reason why he would have gotten involved in the Nelson-Benitez deal. He has good, young (and cheaper) talent in the righty setup slot. The non-move makes perfect sense. Oakland would seem to me a far more likely candidate to step in here, as Beane's the one theoretically looking for bullpen help (but from the left, and not so expensively).

Anyway, Nelson can't arrive quickly enough. 4 blown games in the last week? This is all too reminiscent of the 80s, with Rags breaking hearts every other night.

Pedro last night: a masterpiece, and he didn't even look on.





Jack Curry calls it "inexplicable" in today's Times that Theo didn't claim Nelson off of waivers, preventing him from going to the Yankees. I was thinking about that, because I wondered as well why he didn't make that claim move. It seemed obvious that Armando was still a bit shaky in pressure situations and that he was a potential liability for the Yankees. Considering Nelson is battle-tested, can deal with New York, has WS experience, it does make you wonder.

But, looking at the Red Sox roster with Embree and Sauerbeck as the lefties in the 'pen, and Williamson, Timlin, Mendoza, Jones, and Kim as the righties in the 'pen (with Jones making the ML minimum), where would Theo put Nellie? He isn't going to ditch either Embree or Sauerbeck, and if he did he would have been taking the (admittedly small) risk that the Mariners would not pull Nelson back. Mendoza is the likliest candidate to go, but they are paying him a lot (this year AND next) and adding Nelson's salary to that means they are paying Nelson almost 3 million bucks to finish the season in Boston with Mendoza available for the minimum on the waiver wire and the Sox on the hook for next year at something like another 3 million (picking up Nelson is therefore a $7M move, and that doesn't include Nelson's replacement next year since he's a FA). If the Mariners do let him go (which was probably unlikely, honestly, and the biggest monkey wrench in this whole line of reasoning), then Theo would have been faced with dumping a lefty and the Yankees then potentially picking that person up for nothing. Now how would THAT have gone over in Boston? Poorly, I am guessing, and the Yankees press and fans would have had an even bigger field day harping on Theo's inexperience, with good reason (the Sox give the Yankees a needed lefty reliever or experienced player in the heat of the race for nothing? That's a PR and job-performance A-Bomb). Curry makes it seem like Nelson's salary is nothing to the Sox (it's not much by itself, for sure, but it's not close to "nothing" when you factor in the potential roster-move implications - it was a potentially $8M claim, in the worst-case scenario. It's nothing to the Yankees, clearly, since they are paying both Nelson and Benitez even though Benitez doesn't play for them anymore). So with a bit of rumination it isn't "inexplicable" at all. Theo must have thought through the whole risk-reward equation, if I can do it in ten minutes. He must have simply decided that the potential 8M cost of claiming Nellie wasn't worth the possibility of having the Mariners revoke Nelson's waivers.

It is, however an admittedly questionable non-move, if you can say with reasonable certainty that the Mariners wouldn't have let Nelson go.




Wednesday, August 6

Have you seen Dontrelle Willis pitch? His motion makes me think that he'll be having Tommy John surgery circa April, 2005.
Ok, gotta say that the guys doing the ESPN broadcast of the Sox/Angels make Stirling, Kaat, Murcer, etc. look like Miller and Morgan. These guys are AWFUL. I don't even know who they are, and don't really want to know...
And also, where do you get off of accusing ME of making exaggerated statements to incite a forced defense? You were the one, recall, who said that Theo had been, ( I think you used the term) "vilified", by Boston fans for his bullpen construction, when that simply was not true. I even went to some lengths to make sure that wasn't true before I retorted, just so you didn't think I was flying off the handle.

I think we both ought to be less hyperbolic and more thoughtful, starting now. I just can't promise not to get occasionally insulting, especially when it comes to discussing the Yankees.


He without sin...

I like to think that it's clear that my opinions are my opinions, and mine only. Saying that Jeter is a crap shortstop defensively is couched in statistical fact. Saying he's a great player in spite of his poor fielding is my opinion, saying he is a poor fielder is not.


While we're at it, a note on "intellectual dishonesty." What is dishonest is your high-school-debating-club/right-wing-radio argument strategy. Although this is ostensibly a point-counterpoint format, I nonetheless introduce issues in a fairly objective, non-accusatory manner for our mutual review and discussion. Your modus operandi, conversely, is to make some bullying (and generally exagerated) assault on what is presumed to be my "position," thus forcing me to defend against it. When, I search for the sensible middleground in my normally evenhanded manner, my own words are then used against me in a fashion that would make Rush Limbaugh proud. Nobody's fooled!!
For the record:

I find Singleton pretty innocuous, he doesn't really do anything for me either way, which I guess is quite an accomplishment since he works for the Yankees.

Kaye isn't too bad - I think he really actually knows his stuff, uniform trim aside. He does tend towards boosterism, but I can forgive a little homerism if the knowledge is there. With Kaat, I think he's really just a pseudo-intellect, playing like he's Tim McCarver when he's really nothing like. I hear more comments in the vein of last night's from him than I do smart, articulate insights. Stirling, Steiner, Murcer, etc., well, forget about them - you know how I feel about them, particularly Stirling.

Elsewhere, I agree that Miller is pretty good, easy to listen to, funny, on the ball. Joe Morgan tends to be self-centered, a know-it-all, though I find him listenable in any case.

Sean McDonough for the Sox tends to be honest, harsh, and insightful - one of the reasons I get so mad at homers (and faux non-homers like Kaat) is from having grown up watching and listening to McDonough and Jerry Remy, two guys who aren't afraid to call mistakes mistakes, to question managerial moves and front-office moves, to say that balls that were off the plate didn't "catch the black" (like all of Clemens' pitches somehow do to Kaat, no matter how outside they are). But then again, Sean and Jerry don't work for a Hitlerian megalomaniac either, so maybe I should cut Kaat some slack.


McCarver, sadly, was not resigned by the Yankee brass, ostensibly due to his free-flowing criticism of The Boss. He is the best color man around, at least that I've heard with any regularity. For play-by-play I'll take Jon Miller.

I find your disparaging attitude toward Kaat and (I'm guessing, though you don't mention him) Singleton unduly harsh. I really don't care if they misinterpret a few plays or are prone to exaggeration once in a while. The primary job is to stand as a reasonably well informed and agreeable companion for the game, which I can generally interpret for myself thank you very much.

John Stirling and Bobby Murcer are really terrible homers. Kaye calls a decent game and is well informed, but he too can be a bit boosterish (I guess that's part of the job on Yes), and his criticism of players can get personal and fairly acerbic--his tabloit roots.

So, yes, the state of Yankee broadcasting could be improved, but it is not so dire as I believe you suggest.

Another genius moment from Jim Kaat last night. He actually said, in about the 7th inning, that the game was won in the FOURTH inning, when Roger Clemens made three plays for outs. It wasn't actually won, according to Jim, when Jeter hit his second home run, putting them up by I think 4, or when Buck Showalter was forced to put Colby Lewis on the mound. According to Jim, it was won when Roger Clemens made three plays, two of which were relatively ROUTINE (and with NOBODY on base, to boot), one of which was high quality, with the Yankees already in the lead by 4 runs facing what amounted to a AAA pitcher with at least 5 scrubs playing behind him. Way to suck up to Roger, Jimmy.

The Yankees deserve better than Mssrs. Kaat, Stirling, Steiner, et. al. For such a storied franchise, they ought to have higher caliber broadcasters. My guess is that people like McCarver refuse to toe the party line, can't deal with upper management's insanity, and get the hell out of dodge. It's really sad, and makes it incredibly hard to listen to games. Joe Buck and McCarver (usually) make a supposedly on-the-ball announcer like Kaat look like a ham-radio hobbyist.

Monday, August 4

I wasn't posing LIPS as the answer, but I thought it interesting that they keep a stat which supposedly measures pressure.
LIPS doesn't really answer the question at hand, as it makes no distinction between home and away. Also, this should be an aggregate team statistic. LIPS seems a very unreliable indicator to me. Home team records in extra inning games might be an easier to find, better indicator. Has this percentage shifted in favor of the home team in the last x years.

As for the A's, I definitely think they're dangerous, but my impression based on the past 3 games is that they're not as deadly as they have been in years past. To me, the Sox are a more threatening opponent. We saw last year how devastating a team that's solid 1-9 in the batting order can be if they get even remotely decent pitching. That was the Angels. The 98 Yankees were the ultimate team in this respect. The A's don't make you cringe at the top and bottom of their order. The Mariners have hitting, speed, decent starters, a good pen, and are on pace to blow away the single-season team fielding percentage record. They're both good teams. Either one is going to be a playoff problem.


A tidbit:

By the middle of May, it was clear that the organizational concept of having six relievers, any of whom could close any night, wasn't working. "The concept isn't wrong," Epstein said in May. "The pitchers we have here are wrong."
I am thinking how interesting it might be if the White Sox end up making the playoffs, face the Yankees, and Colon ends up sticking it to them. Considering that Senor Wences did everything he could to keep him away from the Red Sox, that would be pretty damn funny (and would take the edge off the sting of the Red Sox obviously not proceeding to the postseason...).
Apparently MLB tracks something called LIPS (Late Inning Pressure Situations):

Late Inning Pressure Situations (LIPS) - Offense

The batter's batting average in Late Inning Pressure Situations, which is any at-bat in the seventh inning or later, with the batting team either leading by one run, tied, or has the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck.

and the defensive inverse:

The batting average allowed by the pitcher to opposing hitters in Late Inning Pressure Situations, which is any at-bat in the seventh inning or later, with the batting team either leading by one run, tied, or has the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck.

The problem is I can't find these numbers compiled ANYWHERE on their site, or on the net.

Zito has been inconsistent lately. That's no reason to not fear him or the A's in any way.

The events of the past couple of weeks in Yankeeland have set me to wondering whether its become harder over the past decade for visiting teams to win games decided in the 9th inning or later. With the offensive explosion of the 90s--especially in the home run department--it just seems to me that there's even more pressure on a visiting pitcher in a late inning tie situation, where one pitch can end a game. This pressure has always existed, of course, but it just seems that it's intensified these days. I wonder whether there's a sabrite who's tackled this.
You are correct regarding the no decisions; I read the stat sheet wrong--mea culpa. Nevertheless, he's lost his last 4 decisions, has not won since July 3, and was slammed in his last outing. So I'd say that my point that he's been ordinary of late stands. He certainly hasn't been dominant. As for that being an intellectually dishonest analysis, give me a break. If you want to look at the A's objectively, you need to accept that Zito's been inconsistent. There's no tautology involved.


Did you know that in the last Sports Illustrated, they ran a poll of MLB players, and 1.5% of those polled voted Babe Ruth as the "greatest living ballplayer"?


I guess my issue is that saying something like "he looks ordinary at the moment" is basically a tautology. I can't really tell you that you are wrong, but on the other hand your statement is, tonally, a leading statement that you can always defend by literal reading. I mean, Ramiro Mendoza looked like Kevin Brown three weeks ago, but if I had said "Ramiro Mendoza looks like Kevin Brown at the moment" in the same semantic context that you wrote your entry I would have been totally truthful but also a bit intellectually dishonest with myself, since I know he's nothing like Kevin Brown. Saying Zito "looks ordinary at the moment" after having stated that the A's don't intimidate is clearly you saying that Zito was not only not that good Saturday, but he isn't much to worry about at all.

In the spirit of your statement, I could claim that "Mariano looks horrible at the moment - two guys faced and two hard hits, including a blown save" or that "Benitez has been better lately than Mariano". You can't argue with me, I told factual truths, but it's a passive aggressive comment, not a real wise piece of analysis.


Zito has lost 4 consecutive and 5 of his last 6 games (and 6 of 8, if you want to keep going back). No no-decisions. On Saturday he was hammered. So I think my statement that he "looks ordinary at the moment" is justified and self-explanatory. Yes, he could turn it around quickly (hence, "at the moment"), and yes, win totals can be deceptive (though losses are, to my mind, a bit harder to simply dismiss).

If you want to compare Wakefield to Pettitte, be my guest. I'm not sure what you're suggesting--That they're both ordinary? I like Wakefield; his knuckler's a killer. Pettitte has been terrific of late. Indeed, Clemens, Pettitte, and Mussina all seem to be in top form.




Zito looks "ordinary at the moment", as in on Saturday exclusively, or as in the last month, or as in the last three months? Please clarify. Zito has had three bad starts in his last 13, so I am curious to know what you think is "ordinary". To me, ordinary is someone like Tim Wakefield or John Garland- a somewhere around a mid-4 ERA, a pace for about 11 or 12 wins, someone who you just don't know if they give your team a really good chance to win each time they go out - they wouldn't surprise you if they pitched well, but they also wouldn't suprise you if they gave up 5 runs in 5 or 6 innings. Please articulate.

P.S. Actually, and this will probably come as a major suprise to you (it did to me), Tim Wakefield and Pettitte have nearly identical numbers this year in every category (AP has 4 more wins, though wins are a deceiving stat, just look at how few wins Pedro has).

P.P.S. I know how much you hate numbers, so I will at least qualify my last factoid with the assertion that I would much prefer to have Andy Pettitte than TW, just so you don't think I am off my rocker...

It's doubtful that the A's will go on a run like last year, but they just added Harden to the rotation, and Tejada frankly hasn't done a heck of a lot this year, so if he comes on in the second half it'll be a big boost for them. Guillen can't hurt, either. They are scarier than the M's, in my book.

Should be an interesting couple of weeks here - the Sox go west soon, and that will be a big test. Their bats woke up yesterday, but they simply cannot play like they did this weekend for the next month. If they do, say goodbye.

Also, I didn't realize we were at the point of documenting spelling errors - the tone of your comment is a bit snippy, and I think we should reserve such snippiness for baseball-related idiocy. I won't mention again that I have been, without due notification, correcting posts of your spelling of the home of the Big Red Machine...



When Pettitte [<--and please do note the correct spelling] came out for the ninth you couldn't help but sense trouble. His last couple of batters in the eighth, though outs, went deep into counts and it appeared he was tiring. Ellis, who would be leading off the ninth, had been one of his toughest outs all day, running counts high in each case, as is his way. So I thought Torre letting him out at all was a mistake; Rivera is much better coming in on a clean slate. And he'd been lights out all week—yesterday was his fifth consecutive game, including two stints of more than 1 inning. So perhaps he had a bit of a tired arm, but still in all I was hoping to see him in there.

After three days of watching them, I don't feel the A's are as intimidating as they have been in the past few years. They don't hit well and their defense is suspect. Zito looks ordinary at the moment, and their bullpen has holes. They're going to be a threat down the stretch I'm sure, but I don't seem them winning 20 games in a row. Home field advantage is a key for and against them.

Stirling is a complete and utter jackass, and a pox on the Yankee nation. They should trade him to the Sox.


Sunday, August 3

I hope you were listening to Stirling describe how "great a tribute it [was] to Pettitte" that Torre even ALLOWED him to start the 9th today. I know Mariano is great, but hadn't Pettitte only given up one hit, thrown around 110 pitches? A better, more astute assertion by Stirling would have been to question why Torre pulled him immediately after the walk...

Lead is back to 3.5, but the A's are getting scary. Looks more and more like we gotta root for the Mariners to skid hard- I am not sure both teams from the east get in unless Seattle helps out.

Lastly, Jeter is not "good" with the glove, he's actually not even "average". If Garciaparra got to the same number of balls, made the same number of plays, and I was claiming he was a "good" fielder, I would be hugely mistaken - it would qualify him, hypothetically, as one of the poorer shortstops in the league. You are obvioulsly blinded by the glitter off of Derek's championship rings.

p.s. I guess by applying your standards for Jeter to radio broadcasters Stirling qualifies as a "good" announcer?


4.5 now, and I was simply noting the ironic fact, and not suggesting some kind of causal relationship.

Jeter's a good fielder, not great. Deal with it.

Boone: not impressive thus far. Looks clumsy in the field. Overswings at the plate.

Friday, August 1

Jeter's not a good fielder. It's a myth that he, just get over it. He's a great player, but not because of his defense. What's the big deal in admitting that?

As for the latter paragraph, the moves made have zippo to do with the last two games - Williamson didn't report until today and Suppan's first start is Tuesday, so the 3.5 game deficit has everything to do with an offensive slump in Texas and nothing to do with the trades. It's disturbing, the deficit, but is totally unrelated to yesterday's moves. It looks like tonight the Sox are making Pat Hentgen into Kevin Brown, unfortunately. Scoring zero runs makes Williamson useless.




This is another tiresome subject. The sabermetric data (plays per inning, etc) measuring Jeter's defensive performance can be misleading. Regardless, your assertion that he's one of the worst defensive ss in the last decade is nonsense. Does Nomar have better range? Yeah. Career he's made 4.55 chances per game to Derek's 4.12. But Jeter makes fewer errors and ends up with a better fielding percentage. So the stats aren't that distant. Jeter has been more durable, and there's no discounting the value of a consistent presence at that central position.

Meanwhile, as the pundits have been celebrating Lambchop's decisive moves to bolster the Sox, the Yankees have now gone up by 3.5, and will return from a difficult West Coast swing (Angels, As) in first place no matter what happens in Oakland.

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