Sunday, November 30

On the Schilling deal: All congratulations to Epstein. Was this Steinbrenner's "just desserts" for "poaching" Wells from Colanagelo? Clearly there's no love lost between the two owners. But you have to wonder how deeply this intrigue runs. The key thread in this deal is Bud Selig. The players received from Boston are theoretically going to Selig's Brewers for Richie Sexton. And of course Selig and Red Sox owner John Henry are close, and both have problems with The Boss. So I think it's fair to ask exactly what role the commissioner, who should be impartial, is playing in this mess. Whether or not there is some conspiracy at work here, Selig is, as far as I'm concerned, in a compromised position. That's wrong.

Wednesday, November 26

Wow, I don't think I've seen a more emotional, moving statement, at least not since the day Ari Fleischer quit.
Watch out Roger Angell:

By Roger Clemens

This entire season was like a long closing act.

I had the opportunity to say thank you to a lot of fans
around town, living and going about New York City. People
knew that I was going to retire, and while some of you out
there urged me not to, everyone has thanked me for
everything that's happened since I've been here wearing

Now, I'd like to thank all of the baseball fans out there.
Not only the ones in New York, Boston and Toronto, but in
all baseball cities and towns all over the world.
One other issue with the Yankees/Red Sox/Schilling:

Maybe fans should ask whether or not the Yankees are getting what they asked for. In spite of Gariagiola, Jr.'s assertions to the contrary, maybe George poaching Wells two years ago has come back to haunt. Again, I think the whole "no Claussen" line of criticism is a case of denial of the Yankees minor league and other, more serious administrative transgressions.
I am WAY ahead of myself on the Pedro thing, let's get that one straight.

Look, one can ruminate 'til the cows come home about the Boone trade, and theoretically, yes, the Yankees would be better off with someone like Claussen in their farm system. But let's look further, at the real crux of the matter here: the Yankees farm system is so weak, so gutted now that they don't have another Claussen they could have offered for Schilling.

Second, denying Boone's accomplishment and making an assumption that Ventura would have had the Yankees in the Series as well is a violation of the law of the presumed result - it's Monday morning quarterbacking at it's worst. Boone hit the single defining hit of that series, and for that this whole discussion of "they shouldn't have traded Claussen" is rendered moot. It's a fairer line of debate to wonder why there is nobody left in the entire Yankees minor league system worth a dime to the Diamondbacks.

Another equally bad scenario is that Cashman is pretty much asleep at the wheel. Time will tell on that one - there is still a ton of time left in the market.

As for your intimations of collusion, I think your suspicions are reasonable, but let's wait until December 7th, when signing free agents no longer requires compensation of first round draft picks - the action after that date will tell a bigger story.

Have a great Thanksgiving - I am off to Arizona for some golf and advice, if Theo needs me to stop by Curt's house.

Tuesday, November 25

I think you're getting ahead of yourself on the Pedro front, but your prediction is duly noted for the record.

And I'm certainly not on board with your defense of the Boone trade. His tribulations have been well cataloged on this site. Yes, he had the big shot against the Sox, but if he had hit even slightly earlier in that series it might not have been necessary. And his play in the World Series was attrocious. It seems clear to me the Yankees would have been better off to have stuck with Ventura. And if they had they would now have Claussen to move.

More importantly, something is amiss this off season--more even than usual. So many moves seem predicated on money--those famously tight team "budgets"--but there's no transparency about the meaning of these numbers. This problem lands right at Selig's feet. Who knows what kind of palace intrigue is operating in this trade/free agency market. It's a joke.

Moving back, briefly, to the MVP issue. I don't wish to just turn things entirely over to Sabermetric analysis. But the salient points that Sabermetric statistics raise in terms of value can't be ignored. In the end, my philosophy is to take a wholistic look at the candidates, and then choose the best player. Do I give a little extra weight for performance down the stretch? Sure. Clubhouse leadership? Absolutely. But all of that must be balanced with raw production.

Off-the-wall prediction of the month:

If the Red Sox sign Schilling and let Pedro walk next year (or fail to trade him to a team that extends his contract), Martinez will be pitching for the Bombers in '05.
Pre-post mortem on the Schilling thing. WFAN commentators, fans, and now even relatively (maybe that is a stretch, actually) scribes alike are all lamenting the Claussen for Boone deal, the jist being that if they still had Claussen they would now have Schilling. One biq question: ARE THESE PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR MINDS?

Didn't Boone win the 7th game against the Red Sox? Yeah, in general, he pretty much stunk, but what kind of logic is this?

From the Post today:

This deal also points out how nice it would be if the Yankees still had lefty Brandon Claussen around to deal, instead of having shipped him off to the Reds for third baseman Aaron Boone. The Yankees desperately need to make the right move, something that has eluded them of late and that means signing Andy Pettitte without delay, which was a main topic of their summit session, according to insiders.
RIP, Warren Spahn.

Monday, November 24

If it goes through Boston becomes the prohibitive favorite for the pennant. Pedro, Pete, Derek, Wakefield--if they can stay healthy (if!) that's a tough staff. And now must Cashman sign Pettitte and Colon and acquire Vasquez? Much ado...

Meanwhile, see Gammons today for talk of collusion...
Further details -

Schilling wants 2 years/30 million from the Sox to not veto the deal, his demands from the Yankees is 2 years/24 million. The Sox have an agreed-upon trade with the D-Backs, who will trade Fossum to Milwaukee for Richie Sexson. Schilling has 72 hours to decide, pending an extension offer from the Sox.

Very, very interesting.
Friend of YFSF Will Hong reports that a trade of Schilling to the Sox for Casey Fossum and prospects has been reported, pending Schilling's approval.
Can you say "artifically bulging asterisk in the Baseball Encyclopedia"?

Substances suspected to be anabolic steroids were seized from the home of Barry Bonds' personal trainer during a Sept. 5 raid by federal investigators, two sources close to the search told the San Francisco Chronicle in Monday's editions.

Wednesday, November 19

All of what you say about the Pettitte situation makes sense from a financial standpoint. Yes, if Pettitte gets hurt then the Yankees look foolish (though we know that they aren't out the full value of the contract because of insurance) but not that foolish because then they go out and sign someone to replace the hurt AP. Sure, Cashman has freedom now, but he'd have it even if Pettitte were signed, so don't fool yourself.

But for one thing it's unlikely that they would have actually overpaid for him - particularly if they had gotten to him before his stellar second half. If they re-upped him during the season there would be no danger of him bolting to the Astros, initiating a necessary blowout signing of Colon or Millwood (which might happen anyhow) or worse, a trade of Johnson of Soriano for Vazquez. There was really very little downside to getting him on board before he was able to file, particularly not when there are no real financial constraints (the fact that the Yankees will willingly pay the luxury tax proves that point). Your argument makes tremendous sense if taken out of Yankeeland context. Pettitte has been a vital part of the last several years, and there is now a reasonable (not high, but modest) risk that the Yankees may not have him next year, no matter what they offer.

Remember, he would not have had any opportunity to be seduced by the idea of playing near home if he hadn't been given the opportunity to file in the first place. That is tautological, perhaps, but no less important.

So, summarizing:

Best possible upside: Pettitte re-signs, slightly overpaid, maybe underpaid, or, potentially at fair market, who the heck knows.

Worst possible downside: Pettitte bolts, Yanks have to pay 40M to (fitness-happy) Bartolo Colon for 3 or 4 years or, even worse, trade one of their best youngsters (or, put in perspective, one of the best youngsters in all of baseball) for Vazquez, all to cover the fact that they lost one of the linchpins of their team, a true gamer.

So, I understand your take, but I don't necessarily see this as anything close to good risk management.

(Disclaimer: These suppositions all depend, of course, on the Yankees' brass having as high an opinion of Pettitte as I do. Perhaps I am missing something?)

I couldn't agree more, though no word of denial from Theo yet. Perhaps he, too, is trying to drive up the Yankees costs. But that's only going to come back and bite him in the ass. Theo needs pitching too, and if he sends the price up for Pettitte, everything else gets more expensive too.

My feeling is that Cashman has handled this one appropriately. There's pitching out there in the market, and he has the cash and player maneuverability to go get it. Signing Pettitte (or any pitcher) to a big deal during the season is serious financial risk. Sure, if he had signed Pettitte to a 3 year $30 million deal during the year, he would be looking good now. But what if Pettitte had hurt his shoulder or elbow over the last 2 months of the season (a not altogether unlikely scenario)? Then he's out $30 million, plus another $10-15 million per year to replace Pettitte on the free-agent market. So the cost of that one pitching slot is potentially $25 million per year for multiple years. Now, even if he has to bid competitively for Pettitte, he will probably be able to fill that slot for less than $15 million. So if you think about 3 year deals, just for the purpose of argument, Cashman had to weigh a potential savings of roughly $8-10 million against a potential outlay of nearly $60 million. And now he has freedom.

Candidate for dumbest rumor of the day has got to be the "Red Sox interested in Pettitte" one floated by the Hendricks boys and ESPN.com. Please. That's like saying that the Red Sox are also interested in trading Casey Fossum for Albert Pujols, that they are interested in locking up Nomar for 5 years as 2 million per year, etc. File that one in the "never going to happen" category, or, as my Mom says, "welcome to the fat chance club". That rumor is, plain and simple, a salary ploy by AP's agents.

Well, Pujols contributed a higher percentage of team win-shares than Bonds did, to get all Jamesian on your ass, but really, was there a player more valuable to his team than Richie Sexson was to the Brewers? Where would they have been without him? 45 wins? 40?

Aw, forget it...

Bonds is the MVP in a landslide. But looking at the numbers, I wonder whether this should not have been a closer race. Bonds--deservedly--gets huge credit from voters for his walks, which in themselves indicate just how dangerous opponents find him. So in a sense, that speaks volumes about his "value." But Pujols put up numbers that would have earned him a triple crown in many a year, and he played in 27 more games than Bonds. That's a lot of games. In addition, he had dramatically more rbi (we can, in part, blame the walks for this) and runs, and a higher batting average. So to me, this is a pretty close contest.

Bonds: 130 g, 341, .529 ob, 45 hr, 22 2bs, 90 rbi, 111 r, 148bb
Pujols: 157 g, .359 ba, 439 ob, 43 hr, 45 2bs, 124 rbi, 137 r, 79bb

So we might say that Bonds was more valuable when he was in the lineup, but Pujols was in his lineup a lot more often. Take your pick.

Other: Ted Lilly back to the Jays in a trade between Beane and Riccardi. With deeper pitching, the Jays could be a threat....

Ibanez to the M's. That spells the end of Cameron in Seattle.

Tuesday, November 18

Here's a fun proposal:

Eliminate the voting. use sabermetrics to determine all awards, to use win-shares, ops, all that mathematical Jamesian crap to determine who is the best, and therefore who is "valuable". Shouldn't be so hard to do, with all the data collection that goes on. That would make any debate obsolete, would objectify the results, there'd be no need for any of this confusion.

As an aside, it's odd that you cite sabermetrics in your justification of the choice of A-Rod as MVP, what with your hatred for rotisserie geeks. Of all people, I would think that YF would appreciate the different pressures that players face in different markets, in pennant races vs. meaningless late-season solipsisms (i.e. the Rangers schedule to A-Rod), in the ability of a player to win 6 games with walk-off home runs a la Tejada last year vs. the ability to hit countless stat-padding third inning jacks. Your distillation of the meaning of the MVP to mean simply the best player is curious, disappointing.

Your last question is a good one. To me, at least. I don't think it matters to you, though, within the context of your argument.
His (and your) means of contextualization is random and requires bizarre feats of tautological reasoning. How can he who is most “valuable” be anyone but he who is the best player? The best player produces the most runs for his team on the field (offensive production plus the runs he saves on defense). In Sabermetric terms, this is an absolute value. And A-Rod wins. Period. So the assertion that Texas would be no better off without him is false. They would have been dramatically worse off. That this is not reflected in where they fell in the standings has nothing to do with his specific performative value.

The idea that the MVP should be from a “winning team” (how winning? where’s the cut off?) is ridiculous, imho. Weighing one player’s contribution to his team versus another’s is a hopeless process, and you can end up with some bit player winning the award. Also, if it’s really about contribution to team performance, why aren’t relief pitchers given more weight in the voting? Historically, these guys never win. Who’s been more valuable than Mariano to the Yankees over the last 8 years? Where’s he on Stark’s ballot? How about Keith Foulk this year? Behind David Ortiz?

The logical extension of Stark's argument is that the top player on the pennant winner be awarded the MVP. That's bogus.

No, that's not correct, what you write. Stark points out the number of players who came from teams with winning records, not teams that won pennants, primarily, along with an historical context for how past MVPs have been chosen. You yourself in an earlier post on this site presented a similar type of contextualization with the Cy Young award, I believe, invoking the etymology of the award as a justification for rewarding a player with more wins (or something like that, I will scour the archives) as opposed to simple dominance. I therefore don't understand why this irritates you so - his argument seems to fall within your logic system of some sort of semi-historical intent or patterning to help establish precedent and therefore the "meaning" of an award.

He also doesn't assert that Ortiz should have been the MVP, in fact he disclaims that intent, though your edited clip implies he thinks otherwise - that's a bit dishonest on your part. In fact, he only tries to contextualize "value", a contextualization that we two will apparently never agree upon. I side more with Stark, whereas you feel that "value" is non-contextual, I don't see how it can be anything but contextual. A great player on a horrible team adds no value, the team has zero value in the grand scheme of things, and that's something that even George Steinbrenner and I can actually agree upon.

And never the twain shall meet.

p.s. So much for not beating the dead horse.

I admire Jayson Stark, but I just don't feel like he's on the right track here. Yes, the voting does indicate some confusion among the electorate as to what precisely constitutes "valuable," but I can not agree with his corresponding assertion that the wrong man was chosen for the wrong reasons.

His logic is flawed. His first criteria is tautological. His second is impossible to determine (also, why should this mean absolute position rather than games behind--you can make a good argument that Texas without A-Rod would have been much farther back in the standings).

The history of the MVP award, in any event, is anything but clear when it comes to establishing a standard.

As for Ortiz vs. A-Rod. Granted, Ortiz had great second half numbers. But A-Rod has great numbers for the entire season, and he plays shortstop.

Only one team wins the pennant. The logical extension of Stark's argument is that the top player on the pennant winner be awarded the MVP. That's bogus.

Monday, November 17

Vital reading.

ESPN.com - MLB - Stark: How A-Rod's 'value' was determined
Funny, but I was thinking the same thing. And frankly, I'd ask the same question about the vote for Tejada. (Though I think that voter might have been Rob Neyer). As far as I'm concerned, you can't hit .220 for half the year and still be considered the league's MVP.

I would loooove to know what moron gave Giambi a first-place MVP vote.
A-Rod it is. We don't need to cover any more ground with regards to great players on horrible teams and their perceived value, we've done that one to death. Congrats to a phenomenal player, one I hope is worth Nomar and some prospects.
The AL-MVP announcement comes this afternoon. A-Rod, we can only assume. Boo to Peter Gammons for his David Ortiz vote. Homer!

Meanwhile, Barry Bo has refused to sign the union's licensing contract. That's pretty low, IMHO. It weakens the union and hurts the lower-end players and retirees who don't earn the decamillions. And without those guys, there would be no decamillions for guys like Bonds.

Friday, November 14

From the "Best Names in Baseball" category (and I ain't talking about A.J.):

Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been traded to the Giants, he told The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio this afternoon.

ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago is reporting that Pierzynski was traded for pitcher Joe Nathan, Triple-A pitcher Boof Bonser and another minor league pitcher.

Wednesday, November 12

Schilling: a plum, to be sure, for whomever can pry him from those poor, impoverished D-Backs (any chance we could get a look at those books, Jerry?). It would be a shame for the Yankees to lose Johnson, however. If anything, the team needs more youth, not another durability question. Beltran is an intriguing possibility in the OF but would leave them wi th three guys who can play center and no one to handle right. The papers all say Sheffield will take this spot. We'd prefer Vlad.

A-Rod the the Sox: Still hard to imagine this happening without the Sox dumping Manny's salary, and that's not likely to happen. Already they have, or claim to have, payroll issues; how are they to carry Manny, A-Rod, and Pedro all at once? That's $60 million for three guys!

But all of this talk of teams exceeding their "budgets" is a bunch of hooey. The press needs to do a dramatically better job of reporting on how these teams arrive at their budgets, and what they mean both for player salaries and the communities that subsidize MLB. It's easy to say the players are overpaid, and some salary roll-back is necessary. But there needs to be accountability to the people who support and subsidize the game--the fans. Until that happens, the owners can take their poverty claims and, as Tanner Boyle would say, stick them straight up their ass.

Someone's been hanging out with Karim and Nellie!

Red Sox reliever Byung Hyun Kim appeared for questioning at a police station in Seoul today over allegations that he assaulted a South Korean newspaper photographer. (AP)
Actually, in thinking about it, it's possible that two writers didn't leave Berroa off the ballot. They vote through to 10th place, so the Times chart doesn't tell the full story. In that case, strike the latter part of my complaint about Steinbrenner's selective fact disclosure.
A few items to address:

1. Steinbrenner's complaint about the Matsui vote is somewhat on target, but as usual he goes overboard in comparing Matsui to Robinson (even considering the potentially xenophobic subtext you allude to in your earlier post). He also fails to recognize (as you did) that two writers seem to have left Berroa off the ballot as well. Had they voted for Berroa in any position this wouldn't even be an issue. Again, his bluster makes it impossible to agree with him, and he articulates only the facts that are important to him.

2. Re: Schilling. Great match for the Red Sox or Yankees, but I think the Times' "Nick Johnson as possible bait" line is either a red herring or, worse, stupidity on the Yanks' part. How do they give up a budding hitting dynamo who can at least play the field in place of a withering Giambi for a 37 year-old $12M one year pitcher? I just don't see the logic in that one, and can't imagine Cashman does either. Why wouldn't they just sign Colon, Millwood, and not give up a thing? Money is not the issue, and they need a healthy Johnson next year, other corollary moves notwithstanding.

3. See story re: A-Rod, Nomar. I think I called this one as a good move long ago, just to pat one's own back. I think it would be in the Sox' interest to pursue hard.

Tuesday, November 11

Wow, YF and I actually concur 100%! Mark the date!

If a writer wants to downgrade his or her vote for a Japanese player because they have experience in a near-Major League caliber league, or a Martian because of years of play in the the Interplanetary Baseball League, then so be it. There is a difference between a player coming into the league at age 18 (a la Andruw Jones) after a year in A-ball and someone like Matsui. If a writer chooses to recognize that difference with the level of their vote, then fine. But both players deserve at least a vote, and to not have cast even a 10th place vote for Matsui is pretty shameful, not really a responsible move as a voting member of the BBWAA. At what point this year was Matsui NOT in his first year in the Majors?

The issue as to whether the Japanese League is of the caliber of MLB is actually a red herring on my part, and it was a mistake for me to factor it in - this shouldn't even matter. If the Japanese League was actually superior to MLB, Matsui still should have gotten a vote. He was a rookie.

As for the two writers who left Berroa off, it's gotta be two of Tyler Kepner, Bill Madden, or that horrid hometown shill, Murray Chass, who I can no longer stand. I would have said John Stirling, but I know he doesn't vote for this one.

Leaving Matsui off the ballot is wrong, and degrades the award for Berroa. "Rookie" is a strictly defined term. If the BBWAA doesn't like the designation, they can create a new award. As it is players with long careers in other leagues have a long history of exploding in the majors (this was especially true in the beginning of the century, when high quality players were either stuck in or chose to remain in indepentend leagues like the PCL). I'm also concerned with at least the perception of xenophobia. Americans, or colonialized Americans, can win this award, but there's a big hubbub about a Japanese player? Hmm.

Interestingly, according to the Times voting chart, Berroa and Matsui received the same total number of votes when you combine the first, second, and third place counts. So apparently two voters also left Berroa off their ballots as well, though the paper did not report this. What were those people thinking?

Not that it isn't enjoyable to see Yankees and their fans disappointed, but Matsui not getting any vote at all from two writers (one from the Worcester Gazette, Sox territory, the other from Minnesota) is a bit lame (the Times points out that if he got those two writers' 2nd place votes he would have won the award). Their predictable claim that he wasn't really a rookie is no good to me. Sure, he had experience in Japan, but didn't Kevin Bass hit like 50 home runs over there after being washed up in the Majors? Didn't Larry Parrish make millions as a home run hero long after he was finished being useful in our home league? I think that Japan clearly has quality players, it has significant pressure to perform, and it has history, but it isn't the Majors, and Matsui, however "experienced", was still a rookie by definition, and played in one of the two toughest markets, pressure-wise, and played reasonably well. Did the two writers who left him off the ballot leave off Ichiro when he was a "rookie"? That would be worth checking out.

My take is that though I wouldn't have voted for Matsui for first place for the award because of the same qualification issue, I still believe he deserved a vote in some position. He was, after all, a Rookie by definition.

(Mind you, this is a different situation from three years ago - at least I think it was three years ago - when two New York beat writers left Pedro off the ballot for the CY entirely, and he ended up finishing second. There was no legitimate explanation for that choice, in this case I simply disagree with the writers' legitimizing rationale.)

Monday, November 10

These are two evenly matched players. Durable, productive, strong defensively. Berroa got the edge for playing a more important position on the diamond. Hard to complain about this, especially as Matsui is essentially a 10-year vet.

.287, 338 obp, 17 hr, 73 rbi, 92 r, 21 sb

.287, 353 obp, 16 hr, 106 rbi, 82 r, 2 sb

Congrats to Angel Berroa!

So sorry, Hideki.

Friday, November 7

"I can't believe it!" said Tom Lasorda, who managed the 2000 U.S. team to the gold in Sydney. "It's a shock and a disgrace that the Americans won't be represented in the Olympics."

Tommy should actually take a look at MLB, at the roster of our entry, and realize that A) baseball is an international sport and that we don't have a monopoly on quality, and B) get real about who was actually representing our country in the qualifier. It's hardly a disgrace that we lost, it's mostly a disgrace that people like Lasorda need to feel some sort of demented pride in a second-class olympic team. The Olympics is no measure of who is baseball's best, only a measure of how global a sport baseball is becoming. That, in fact, is no shock or disgrace, but actually something to be quite proud of.
I really don’t know how Mazzilli leapfrogged Randolph as a candidate for the various managerial openings this year. Does Randolph interview poorly? Is it race? The fact that he has never managed? Has he been passed over so many times that there’s a perception that he’s an also-ran? Clearly, as bench coach, he has become the heir-apparent to Torre, but it’s hard to imagine Torre mandating Randolph as his successor. For one thing Torre's in no position to make that demand. And the introduction of Mattingly throws a wild card into things: will he leapfrog Randolph? (Joe Girrardi also looms out there as a possible Yankee front-office/YES network hiree with managerial aspirations). Steinbrenner’s history with managers and coaches is so unpredictable as to make any speculation pointless.
For a frontline player like Pettitte, the moment to circumvent was probably back in July. Should Pettitte have been resigned to a big contract then? Possibly. But if Pettitte floundered or was injured in the second half, the Yankees would have been stuck. That’s a serious risk with salaries as high as they are. At this point, it’s probably in Cashman’s interest to hold off until the market opens, so he has some leverage and he can see what Pettitte's value is, and then see what he else he might get with that money. And it’s also in Pettitte’s interest to see what he'll bring. Everyone’s following the logical course here, as far as I can tell. Remember: Cashman has the biggest checkbook, so he can afford to play possum. And who knows what strings George has been pulling all along. Will the Yanks trade for Schilling (who's 37)?

Should be an interesting month....
Mazzilli the new Orioles Manager. How does this work, exactly? Why is Randolph still a bench coach? I have to think the Yankees have promised him the job in '05. Why would Mazzilli, a tant showboat of a first base coach (one of the least important coaching positions in all of sports) be more qualified to manage than Willie? The only explanation that works for me is, of course, that Torre has mandated a Randolph succession.
You are right, it is probably the Hendricks telling Cashman that they are going to test the market. I still don't see why the Yankees wouldn't attempt to buck the "business as usual" trend. This seems like a prime moment to try to circumvent the expected, the norm, particularly considering the goods in question and the franchise's wealth, stature.
My guess is that Pettitte's agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, made it clear to Cashman that they were going to go out into the market, and that they had no interest in negotiating within the window. So Cashman can smartly wait and see where the market stands and what becomes available before making a move, which is in his best interest, and Pettitte can see what's out there. This is just business as usual.

Thursday, November 6

What is the Yankees' mindset with regards to not negotiating with Pettitte during their exclusive window? Is it a cavalier arrogance? Is it a brilliant negotiating ploy? I am at a bit of a loss - he's been their best big-game pitcher, the most durable and familiar pitcher for the Bombers over the last 7 years, a gutty, dependable guy. Do the Yankees think they can just blow away whatever Houston offers? Do they assume that Pettitte stays here no matter what is offered elsewhere out of loyalty? Do they think it's a foregone conclusion that he is leaving? Are they lying about their non-negotiation stance and actually talking to him?

I don't get it - why NOT use this exclusive period to feel things out? The Yankees have made a point of stating they won't even talk to him until this period is over. Why?

Wednesday, November 5

With Houston now legitimately in the hunt for Pettitte, the Yankees might well lose three of their top four starters. Clemens is clearly gone. Wells, even if he returns, is 41 with a back problem. The replacements: Contreras has been inconsistent. Jon Lieber, The Forgotten Man, is a journeyman returning from a year off and major surgery. Weaver has been penciled into the fifth slot (see the NYT today), but you have to wonder how long that will last.

Cashman indeed has his work cut out for him. Millwood or Colon? Millwood and Colon? Let the games begin....

Question for YF:

On the slim chance that Pettitte bolts for some home cookin', what are the Yankees plans for the rotation next year?

Contreras, Mussina, Weaver (!?), ????, ????

The Yankees clearly will make a play for Colon, they probably make a play for Millwood, but Maddux is unlikely to jump to the AL. Who else is out there that fits the #2/3 spot? Do they re-sign Wells, however unreliable he is? Will Weaver even be back? If the Red Sox can find the money to sign one of either Colon or Millwood, the rotational imbalance from this year (the Yankees had a far superior back-end of the rotation) seems much reduced.

Then again, if Pettitte stays, it's all moot.

Tuesday, November 4

It is a trend. But my impression is that when great players fail at coaching it's because their egos get in the way, and they lose patience for the drudgery of a daily routine in which they are not the focus. But Mattingly was never a big ego and he seemed to revel in the actual dirty work of ball playing. So if ever there was a great player with the personality to coach major leaguers, i'd say he fits the bill. Bill James pithy summation of Mattingly in his historical abstract is right on target: "100 percent ballplayer; 0 percent bullshit."

Mattingly didn't walk much, but he almost never struck out: the Yankees biggest weakness at the plate. In his prime, he k'ed a miniscule 35 times per season (600 or so at bats) while hitting as many home runs with more than 100 rbi. So he should be a good tutor for Soriano and--god forbid he's still around--Boone. And one can only assume that he'll also help Giambi and Johnson with their fielding at first base. So he seems ideally suited for the job.

A concern: He never had much patience for George's tirades. His patience will likely be tested over the course of one or more seasons.
SF is travelling, but sends this missive:

Well, you got your wish, Mattingly is the hitting coach. Sure seems like a great move, on paper at least, but let's not forget how tough it is for great players to be good instructors, from the Splendid Splinter to Magic Johnson - they always expect the talent to have in then what they had in them. This isn't to say that Don won't buck the trend, but a trend it certainly is.

For reference, look at how many mediocre pitchers become solid pitching coaches, then try to name the CY winners who have done it.

Monday, November 3

Yes, I'm sure Pettitte's agent was pleased with the Wagner deal. There are fairly few top-line pitchers available this winter--fewer than i had anticipated when I predicted the under-10 million salaries for Colon and friends. But with so many teams claiming to be at their (self-imposed, unverifiable, and deceptive) budgetary peeks, you have to wonder how salaries will be affected.

I fully expect that the Yankees will do everything they can to retain Pettitte, but Billy Wagner going to the Phillies today frees up cash for Houston to try to sway him to come home to Texas (pending him actually becoming a free agent, that is).

Sunday, November 2

Yes, right, instead of typing "what they can afford" I may have been better served typing "what best serves maximum profitability".
Peter Gammons and I have been drinking the same kool aid...

ESPN.com - Gammons: A ridiculous double standard

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