Preview: The Curse Of Jeff Nelson
The Curse Of Jeff Nelson
When Jeff Nelson was not re-signed after the 2000 season, he cursed the Yankees, saying that they wouldn't win without him. And he was right!
I don't just hate the Yankees... I DESPISE THEM! They ruined baseball by outspending everyone by a ton, and the
Well, if you would have told me that at the end of April the Junkees would be 14-15, I'd say SIGN ME UP.
I know the fans will complain about injuries, but come on. Every team has to deal with injuries, and when you have a payroll of $200 million, you find a way to get the job done anyway.
Starting pitching: Wang has defied all expectations. I know, let's see him do this in October, but you don't get there if he stinks during the season. Other than the Boston drubbing (8 ER in 4 IP) he's been excellent. Mussina is doing better than anyone thought (that's because everyone thought he was shot!), and Pettitte's been okay, if inconsistent. And Hughes and Kennedy - let's just say that Hank Steinbrenner is probably calling Ca$hman everyday asking why he didn't get Johan Santana.
Relief pitching: Russ Ohlendorf has been quite good, and much to my chagrin, it seems that Joba Chamberlain's '07 campain was no fluke. Charlie Brown is still going strong, but otherwise you have no one. That said, if you have two guys who are absolutely dominating, you're better off than (at least) 25 other teams. So when Old York has a lead in the late innings, I'm nervous.
Offense: The good - Shemp (.955 OPS), Melky (5 HR), Damon (.381 OBP).
The bad - Jeter (.303 OBP), Giambi (.171 BA).
The ugly - Cano (.459 OPS).
Defense: Well, you have Damon's girlie-arm out there (sometimes), Jeter with no range, and Shemp playing like a stooge. If you watch the games like I do, you can see occasions when these little things add up to runs for the other teams.
Overall, you can never stick a fork in the Yankees and assume they're done (see 2005 and 2007), but they have two huge holes in their rotation, and a couple of question marks. You know their offense will heat up and they'll start scoring like crazy (although Ringo's absense could hurt some). So it'll be up to the pitching to overcome the 11-9 contests.
But again, this could have been 2003 (18-3 start) all over again, so I ain't complaining.
Nice to hear some of the experts predict that Old York will miss the playoffs this year. They've been a lock forever, so their season opener notwithstanding, here's how I see the team this year:
C - Ringo Posada. Old man. Will not duplicate his 2007 numbers. He's 36, and his .338 was a fluke. Isn't moving to DH yet, so Yankee fans, have fun!
1B - Juice-on Giambi. Reports say he's healthier and in better shape than he's been in years, but I don't see how he becomes a better defensive player at 37.
2B - Robinson Cano. Can't argue with his .314 lifetime average, so let's just hope he takes another step back (he did go down 49 points in OPS from '06 to '07, so who knows).
SS - Derek Cheater. Worse defensive SS in baseball. Enough said.
3B - A-Schmuck. Well, he did win the MVP and have a fantastic 2007. Pisses me off that he's back, but then again, how many rings has he won? Exactly.
LF - Johnny Damon. Gotta love a guy with a .396 slugging percentage as your everyday left fielder. Too bad for the Yanks, they're stuck with him and his arm that can get the ball from the gap to second base on seven hops.
CF - Melky Cabrera. For all his hype, he also ended up with a pathetic slugging percentage - .391. His OBP wasn't too hot, either (.327). So we'll see.
RF - Bobby Abreu. Heard all the excuses why he was horrid in the first half of 2007, but still gets on base a ton and is pretty good in the outfield. We'll see if he hits more than 16 home runs in '08.
DH - Shemp. Can't field a lick (too bad they moved him off the field) and isn't the 30-homer guy Old York thought they were getting when they signed him in '02. Still, solid offensive numbers, and now that the ridiculous streak has ended, has a chance to rest and be okay. At the same time, realize that the Junkees almost shipped him off to San Francisco, so that says something.
SP - No sure bet. Pettitte's breaking down, you can't trust Mussina, Wang is up and down (more up than down, but still - not to mention October), and who knows what you'll get from Kennedy and Hughes.
RP - I've been writing off Charlie Brown forever, but until he proves that he's finished, I have to give him his due. Joba had a few good innings in '07, so I'd be cautious if I were a Yankee fan, and the rest of them (Hawkins, Farnworthless, Ohlendorf, and Traber) will be useful in the 10-1 games. Otherwise, cross your fingers.
PREDICTION: The pitching will be the downfall. They'll get enough offense from A-Schmuck and Co., but the bullpen will blow leads, and the starters will struggle. Unless Boston falls apart, we may finally have a Yankee-free October!
Like Father, Like Son
Daddy George guaranteed Bob Lemon and Yogi full seasons in the Bronx. Hank guaranteed that Joba would be a starter for the entire 2008 season.
In case you still thought you could take Hank Steinbrenner seriously, that's your answer.
It's been a successful winter for Yankee despisers. The Mitchell Report reminded us that the Yankees' aura and mystique are just what Curt Schilling told us they were. Joe Torre told Floundering Hank sayonara and went to LA. The Mets made the big splash this offseason; maybe it's not good for baseball, but it's good for Yankee haters. And the hot stove season was capped off with Roger Clemens lying through his teeth yesterday.
In a way, Clemens has turned the Yankees into the San Francisco Giants - a team where the specter of steroids overshadows the rest of the team. All eyes will be on Andy Pettitte as this soap opera inevitably continues.
An up-and-coming Rays team should continue to give the Yankees headaches, and the underrated Jays should give 'em a hard time, too. Hopefully Boston picks up where they left off and takes away the bad taste that Belicheck and Co. left in New England. Bring on 2008!
Bronx Zoo All Over Again
With Roger Clemens headed to Capitol Hill, we'll be seeing a media circus from now until the whole thing is over, which may take several months.
I agree with Buster Olney, that no matter what happens, Clemens's reputation is toast. And the way the Hall of Fame voters are treating Mark McGwire, there's a good chance that Clemens will not be voted into the HOF.
So Pettitte may get dragged into the whole mess, and who knows who else will be involved.
Although Clemens is done with baseball, it'll be interesting to see if this effects the Junkees in '08. I'm not a big believer in the idea that this off-the-field distraction will lead to Yankee losses, but one never knows.
What a way to start the Hank Steinbrenner era!
Maybe It Isn't Jeff Nelson
The last great season for Yankee fans was 2000. It was the season that David Justice saved a slumping offense, capping it off with ALCS MVP honors. It was a season when Glenallen Hill went from being a fourth outfielder to having such a torrid hot streak, he made Shane Spencer look like Rey Ordonez. It was the Rocket's second season as a Yankee, and he made it a great one, capping it off with a masterpiece in Game 2 of the World Series, shutting down the Mets after throwing a bat at Mike Piazza.
What do these guys all have in common? They made it to the Mitchell Report.
When all is said and done, there was an astounding number of juicers on the 2000 Yankees. You thought the Bash Brothers A's were bad, but the Junkees, living up to their nickname more then ever, are easily the most-juiced World Series champs ever.
Here's the complete juiced-up roster from the 2000 season:
Maybe this excerpt can explain Hill's hot streak:Radomski recalled meeting Hill at a social function in 2000 when Hill was stillplaying in Major League Baseball. Radomski said that Hill told him that he was getting humangrowth hormone in San Francisco and was “not feeling anything.” Radomski thereafter sent Hill a “sample bottle” of human growth hormone without charge and told him to try it. Hill tried it and told Radomski that he “felt everything you told me I would feel.” Radomski told Hill the human growth hormone Hill had been taking likely had spoiled. Hill purchased two kits ofhuman growth hormone from Radomski.
Now, I know some of the Yankee fans will point out that, upon further review of the Mitchell report, many of these players didn't order PEDs until after the 2000 season. However, when there's smoke, there's fire. These guys were Grimsley's teammates, and had plenty of access There are many more transactions that Mitchell doesn't know about. But once someone's on the list, I think it's fair to speculate that they took PEDs even before the dates mentioned in the report.
But forget Jeff Nelson: this might be the real reason the Yankees haven't won since that year.
It's the Curse of the Juice.
Some fans think the records held by juice-users should be erased. Perhaps, on that basis, the 2000 World Series should be taken from the Yankees. But if they're cursed, hey, that's fine with me.
LaTroy Hawkins? Nice
I'm actually happy to see that Old York picked up Hawkins to be this year's Luis Vizcaino. Hawkins was pretty good as a Twin, but he's been spotty since then. He's bounced around a bunch of times, and looking at his stats over the past few years, I can see why. But the interesting thing is that his strikeouts are way, way down. This past year he stuck out 29 (walked 16) in 55.1 innings.
Essentially he had a couple of really good years, and those were in '02 and '03. You can throw '04 in there, too, but since then he's been nothing special.
What's also interesting is that he's never had the nerve to be a closer. They've tried him in that role in Minnesota and in Chicago (with the Cubbies) but his constant implosions always put him back into middle relief.
Like I said, I'm glad that Old York is getting a guy who'll be 35 and will probably be relegated to mop-up duty by mid-June. It's too bad he's signed for only one season.
linking Hideki Matsui to the Giants is hardly surprising. Surprising in the sense that the Yanks would be willing to give up on such a PR source, but not surprising that Sabean and the Giants would take someone past his prime.
But the Yanks’ plan appears to be as follows: move Damon to left, and go after Aaron Rowand for center field. I think the Yanks are a sleeper on this one, especially after Rowand had a monster series against them a few years ago. The Yanks are one of the few teams that can overpay for the guy, who had a career year at the perfect time.
Turning into 2002 All Over Again
I remember listening to Chris "Mad Dog" Russo on those long, summer days five years ago. If you recall, the CBA was up, and there was a possibility of a strike. And for good reason - baseball was messed up. The large market teams had unfair the advantage of being able to spend as much money as they wanted, and the small market teams simply could not compete. Once in a while you'd get an Oakland A's team that got lucky in that all their prospects flourished at the same time, but once their star players reached free agency, they were gone. So Russo used to scream that it's unfair, and he was actually rooting for a strike just to fix things up.
Well, they didn't strike, because after 9/11, they couldn't afford the PR hit, but with luxury taxes, revenue sharing, and mutiple streams of income, things got a little fairer. Suddenly, the Angels and the Marlins won Series, the White Sox did so with a mid-range payroll, but most impotantly, teams had the dough to resign their players. So Ben Sheets remained a Brewer. CC Sebathia stayed with the Indians. Suddenly 24 out of 30 teams had a chance to make the playoffs entering a given season. Baseball was back to its glory days.
Alas, the times they are a changin'. Michael Kay made this point on his radio show, that Johan Santana will be available, and it's only the big three or four teams involved in the bidding. Twins? No chance. Phillies? No shot. Padres? Forget it. Same with Miguel Cabrera.
Granted, small-market teams have more money, but so do the big-market teams. So what will happen is that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, and Angels will have payrolls in the $200 millions, and the rest of the teams will have less than half that. And once again, the big boys will gobble up the free agents, and it'll be back to the early 2000s, when 18-20 teams had no shot on April 1st.
Now Kay blamed teams like the Royals for overpaying Gil Meche, or the Angels for overpaying Torii Hunter (I guess his pro-Yankee bias had to come through sometime), but unless the system changes, it won't matter. You'll have teams like the Marlins constantly starting over with a rebuilding plan. The Blue Jays will be perennial losers.
I'll admit - as much of a baseball nut as I am, I was a much bigger fan these past four or five seasons than I was in the late '90s and early 2000s. But if Selig and company don't fix this, I'll have to move on to other hobbies and interests.
But Can He Handle New York?
The Yanks are now involved in the Johan Santana sweepstakes, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ended up a Yankee. If it costs Hughes, Cano, and Melky, so be it. Plus, the Yanks are one of the few teams that can pay the guy the $20 million per year it will take to keep him. I think they’re the frontrunners to get him, especially because the Mets’ farm system is inferior.
The biggest thing separating the Yankees from the Red Sox is a postseason dominator. The Sox have a couple in Beckett and Schilling. Chien-Ming Wang showed that he certainly doesn’t fit the bill, and while Pettitte has been mostly good, if he retires, who’s the go-to guy in October? The Yanks want Santana like crazy, because right now, it’s all about matching up with Boston.
But the biggest question is, can Santana handle New York? Minnesota is a different world. And I know he’s pitched a couple of times in the ALDS, with pretty good results. But he’s never succeeded on a big stage.
Boston did an excellent job getting Beckett and Schilling, because those two had proven they can win in baseball’s biggest stage, the World Series. You knew they’d do just fine in Red Sox Nation. Matt Clement was a question mark in this area, and turned out to be a disaster.
Now, if the Yanks get Johan, I’m sure he’ll do great in the regular season, just like A-Rod has done. But in the Bronx, it’s all about October. Will Johan be more Wang or Beckett when it counts? There’s no way to know. One thing’s for sure: The Yanks are willing to bet the farm to find out.
"Definitely Not Dolan"
Interesting piece about Hank
by Bob Klapisch. Most interesting development will be what happens with Cashman; and if the Yankees start off slowly next year, does Hank feel the heat and go for a win-now approach? As Klapisch correctly points out, the verdict is still out on Hank. It's too early to tell.
And for all we know, he might very well turn out to live up to his "Hank Dolan" moniker.
A-Schmuck May Not Be Official
So here I was, all depressed that A-Fraud is coming back because (a) the guy is the best player in baseball; and (b) one of these Octobers he's got to break out.
Didn't take much solace knowing that I was right. (Indeed, I had predicted that he would opt out, but would eventually re-sign with Old York.)
Yet Wallace Matthews in today's Newsday gives a glimmer of hope. He says that until the papers are signed, this could be simply a negotiating ploy that Boras and A-Rod concocted. Makes sense when you consider that the Yankees' involvement means that the other teams will have to up the ante to get him. So maybe the Angels come up with an eleventh hour offer of, say, $300 million.
Yeah, I know, sounds an awful like denial. But it does provide a glimmer of hope....
Don't Come Back!
Jim Caple has an
excellent piece on A-Rod, one of the most rational and logical I've seen. In a sense, A-Rod is like Bonds. He's far from being a likeable guy, doesn't do a great job endearing himself to the fans, but he can flat-out hit. And that's all that matters.
And that's why I was hoping he'd leave the Bronx. I said a few weeks ago that the Yanks would have a huge hole to fill if A-Rod left. Forget the first-round disappointment. If A-Rod doesn't play for the Yanks this year, the Yanks don't sniff the playoffs. Especially if Seattle and Detroit wouldn't have folded down the stretch.
I know, the guy hasn't had his Jeter moment (though he was better than Derek this October), his Brosius moment, or any big October moment, and it's definitely a fair point. But overall, he's the best in the game right now. And that's why I'd love to see him in an Angels uniform.
But although it looks like A-Rod will be back, I take solace in the fact that his team hasn't won a World Series with him. And re-signing Posada, a guy with a .236 career postseason average, should help keep that streak alive.
Business As Usual
Wow. I thought only the Mets would be crazy enough to offer Posada a four-year deal
. But sure enough, Jorge's gonna be here for a while. Hey, all you Yankee fans bragging about your team getting young: how does it feel to know you'll have a 40-year catcher on the payroll in a couple of years?
I know Posada's numbers were excellent this walk year, but come on, they were an aberration. He batted 40 points above his career mark. I don't buy that Tony Pena changed the guy's life. And I don't think the guy's gonna have his best years past age 37.
So let's say they move him to first base. Bad idea. Posada's never had enough power to be a first baseman. Let's say, based on his career numbers, Posada hits .277 with 25 homers (and that was in his prime). Not bad, but a $200 million payroll could do better.
And I don't think they're keeping Posada for his leadership abilities. The guy fought with Tino and didn't speak to him for months, and couldn't get along with David Cone and Randy Johnson. As a clubhouse and on-the-field leader, he's more Paul LoDuca than Jason Varitek.
In any case, expect plenty of double plays in the Bronx over the next four years.
And don't forget: Jorge hit .133 in the ALDS this year. And his lifetime postseason average? .236. Nice going, Cashman!
Tejada - The Infield Version of Barry Zito
Another guy who might be in the mix at third? Miguel Tejada.
Heck, I hope the Yankees get him. Check out these numbers:
.534 - .515 - .498 - .442
Those are Miguel Tejada’s slugging percentages from ’04 to ’07. Why do I compare Tejada to Zito? Because both players were a lot better in 2002 than they are today. And granted, the Yankees won’t overpay for Tejada the way the Giants did for Zito (between that contract and the infamous Pierzynski trade, Brian Sabean has fallen bigtime). And he’s an above-average hitter, too. But his numbers, both offensively and defensively, have slipped a lot the past few years. The guy has shown flashes of a bad attitude, but I give him a pass for that. It’s gotta be brutal playing for an idiot like Peter Angelos. However, hard to imagine that playing for Hank Dolan would be much better.
It’s too bad that Miggy’s consecutive-games streak ended last year. You know if the streak was still intact, he’d be a Yankee already. It would be like Matsui before his injury. Tejada’s 0 for his last 25? Gotta keep him in the lineup! Gotta keep the streak alive!
- One thing that worries me: I can see Tejada turning out like Justice and Abreu – a veteran who comes to the Yankees and starts tearing it up. Maybe leaving Baltimore will motivate him to return to old form. But maybe he is actually on the decline. And maybe he’ll be a bad fit for a Yankee team trying to get younger.
One wild card in case the O's want too much for Tejada: Melvin Mora
. He's an ex-Met, and another guy Hank thinks can still hit.
Am I Wrong? Not Yet
Sounds like Hank Steinbrenner has nixed any chance
that the young pitchers will be traded for Cabrera. And you don't get the feeling that the Marlins will take Clippard and Chase Wright instead. So was I wrong? Are the Yankees not going to get Cabrera?
I think once A-Rod signs with another team, things will change. You get the feeling that the Yankees are holding out hope that he comes back. But once he signs elsewhere, and especially if and when Lowell re-signs, there will be a sense of desperation in the Bronx. There won't be another bat like A-Rod's to fill third base. Rolen, Chavez, and Crede aren't gonna cut it. The Yanks will have a void in their offense, and will be hard-pressed to fill it.
Another x-factor: if A-Rod goes to Queens or Boston (no!), that changes everything. Then Hank will feel the pressure to take headlines away from Minaya or Theo, and if that means Phil Hughes in a Marlins uniform, so be it.
We've already learned not to take Hank Dolan too seriously. I'm not going to believe him on this one until spring training.
Why Girardi Is The Wrong Choice
I was rooting for the Yanks to hire Girardi, and I'm glad they did.
The best piece I’ve seen about Joe Girardi was written back in August
, back when the Yanks were surging and the chances of Joe Torre wearing Dodger blue were about as great as the Royals’ chances of signing A-Rod. Joel Sherman discussed how Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco all were injured in 2007. Not to mention the surprising off-year of Dontrelle Willis, who pitched a ton in 2006. I know some have given Girardi a pass for all this, but to have four guys go down? Hard to believe it’s all coincidental.
Perhaps Torre’s worst flaw as Yankee manager was his mishandling of the bullpen. And Girardi doesn’t look like he’ll fare much better in handling pitchers.
The Yanks, more than ever in recent memory, need someone who can develop their young arms properly. They can have the best rotation in the game in a few years, or have their guys turn out like the Mets’ Generation K. I don’t see how Girardi will help.
Additionally, does Joe have what it takes to deal with Hank? Torre was great in his dealings with George, although he got lucky the past few years, with George out of it and nobody really in charge. Perhaps Torre saw the writing on the wall, with the way Randy, Hank, and Hal dealt with his contract, and saw it was time to go. Girardi had issues with the Florida personnel, as we all know. And while one can give him a pass since the payroll was heavily reduced after he was hired, I can’t imagine that Hank is going to be easy to deal with. Should make for great back page action, that’s for sure.
Third, having a hard-line manager doesn’t always work with a veteran team. Just ask Larry Bowa. Then there’s the issue of making the Bronx an appealing place for veterans, as I’ve discussed earlier.
Finally (and YD alluded to this in his last piece), the dumbest part of the decision for me is, why do they need to pick a manager with a PR connection? Why couldn’t they go outside the organization? Is playing for the Yankees a prerequisite for the job? Are more fans going to show up to the Stadium because Girardi is manager, not Trey Hillman? I find that very hard to believe.
In fact, the one guy I didn’t want the Yankees to hire was Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, who’s widely touted as one of the brightest guys in the game. Thankfully, Farrell’s staying in Boston, having recently turned down an interview opportunity in Pittsburgh. I also think Hillman would’ve been a good choice, and I’m glad he got the job in KC.
Overall, Girardi should be a better tactical manager than Torre, which isn’t saying much. But the breakdown of Florida’s pitchers should be a concern. In terms of other managerial duties, like motivating players, dealing with the Yankee front office, and the New York media, he’s definitely a step down from Torre. I don’t think he’ll hurt the team considerably – they’ve still got lots of talent – but Cashman could’ve done a lot better.
Hey Ca$hman, All Your PR Moves Have Been Busts!
Manny made a great point about Guidry a while back, and that is, when you get a guy for PR, it might put a few fannies in the seats, but it's usually a disaster for the team.
Come to think of it, almost all of Old York's PR moves have been horrid.
Johnny Damon: Got him because he was a star for the Red Sox who beat the Junkees with that huge Game 7 home run in the 2004 ALCS. Well, he slugged a robust .396 this year. He's got no arm, and the Junkees would love to dump him for 2008, but is any team dumb enough to pick him up? I think not.
Shemp: Okay, so you get some Japanese gelt, but the guy has not lived up to his reputation as Godzilla (except maybe to Harold Moskowitz, AKA John Sterling), save for 2004 when he smashed 31 homers. Another guy who can't field, creating a logjam at DH with he, Damon, and Giambi.
Miguel Cairo: Ca$hman loves bringing ex-Yankees back, and the fact that he played for the Mets added more to his PR value. Lucky for them Snorre gave him only 107 at bats, so that his .626 OPS didn't totally kill them. But again, he had one good year (2004 - .292 batting average in 122 games), so he's a beloved figure in the Bronx.
Doug Smith (Mientkiewicz): Ex-Met, played for Boston, funny last name - that is awesome PR. Only a September surge saved him from an otherwise abysmal season.
Roger Clemens: No comment necessary.
Well, let this be a lesson for the Junkees. Perhaps when the Mets give Ringo $15 million to hit .250 they'll learn their lesson, too.
Then again, the more PR Ca$hman does, the better it is for me.
Who's On Third?
With A-Rod likely out of New York, time to figure out who’s next? I’m gonna run down the possible candidates, and give my take on each one:
Mike Lowell – Can’t see him pulling off a Johnny Damon. Then again, who thought Damon would jump ship to the Bronx? I think the Yanks will definitely offer more money and years, and I could see the Phillies jumping into the mix, too. I think he’ll stay in Boston. But if he leaves, I would trust Theo’s judgment. He was right on with not re-signing Pedro and Damon, and Lowe’s been average in a great pitcher’s park.
A-Rod – sorry YD, I don’t think A-Rod’s coming back. Hard to see George bring the guy back after what Hank said. And the way things played out Sunday, where A-Rod barely responded to the Yankees’ offer, also tells me he’s not interested in coming back. Throw in the Joe Girardi factor, and unless the Yanks want to offer $45 million a year, he’s done in the Bronx.
Joe Crede – would be a classic Hank Dolan move. He probably still thinks Crede is good, and may have seen the guy done well against the Yanks a few times. Keith Law referred to Crede as “a terrible player” in a recent ESPN.com chat, but I could see Crede being the ’08 version of Tony Womack.
Scott Rolen – another move I can see Hank doing. Not clear if St. Louis wants to trade him.
Eric Chavez – would not be surprised if the A’s salary dump this guy to New York. Wow, has his star fallen. Beane signing him to a long-term deal? Mistake. Doesn’t really fit the Yanks’ style either, with a .347 lifetime OBP.
Aaron Boone – they’ll sign the guy as a backup. Would be one of the biggest PR moves ever. Let’s see if they dump him when he’s hitting .175 in June.
Wilson Betemit – has about as much of a chance as Mike Lamb did in the winter of 2004. And how about Cashman calling out Betemit
for not being in shape? Never seen Cashman do anything like that. Must be hanging around Hank too much.
Miguel Cabrera – My prediction. He’s on the trading block, he’s young, knows Girardi from Florida, and has potential star power. As soon as Hank finds out he’s available, I bet he’ll be willing to give whatever it takes to get this guy. I would love to see this happen, because I think Cabrera would be a bad fit for New York. He’s got insubordination issues, weight and conditioning issues, and would be a great source for back-page fodder. Would Hank fine him for every pound he’s overweight, like his dad did with Lou Piniella? Maybe he and Betemit can eat chips in the Yankee clubhouse.
If the Yanks get Cabrera, count on them getting Willis, too. The guy would be like the Mike Lowell of the deal, as Florida wouldn’t mind getting rid of his $6.5 million salary. He’d be a great PR factor, too – the funky first name, the cool delivery, and would be a good lefty option if Pettitte doesn’t come back. Besides, he’s also a guy that Hank probably thinks is still a dominator.
And if Hank wants him, then he’ll give up some of the kids. I can see the Yanks building a package around Wang or Hughes as well as Kennedy and Melky, for starters.
Hank and Hal Dolan Keep The Yankees Skidding
Two days without internet access, and the s**t hits the fan in Yankee-land, while they're parading up in Boston. Where do we begin?
- No surprise that A-Rod made his announcement during the World Series. But if he's done as a Yankee, then New York will have some very, very big shoes to fill. Since '02, the Yanks have had at least one big power bat in the lineup. Giambi was The Man for a couple of years, followed by A-Rod and Sheffield. But after A-Rod, the Yankee with the most homers in '07 was Matsui (with 25). And he's on the downside of his career. Giambi is going to be 37, and it's unclear how much he has left in the tank. If not for A-Rod, the '07 Yanks miss the playoffs. If his Yankee career is over, that team is in trouble.
Then again, the last Yankee team without a player with 30 homers? The '99 World Champions.
- I've got a lot to say about Dallas Green II, aka Joe Girardi. That gets its own post. But for now, one reason this is a bonehead move - if the Yanks want to attract a mix of veterans and youth, Joe's the wrong guy. In Boston, Francona isn't a great field manager, but he's a guy that veterans want to play for. For all of Torre's foibles, the same held true for him. Girardi's hiring might mean new teams for A-Rod, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte. Joe was good for the $15 million Marlins, but he's not a great fit for New York.
- If Torre takes the job in LA, then I give the guy a ton of credit. Here's a guy who was pretty successful for the Yankees, a guy who can hang 'em up with a great run. But he wants to challenge himself, wants to show he can win without George's payroll. I respect that.
YD's Predictions Bound to Go Wrong
(1) Mattingly will be the next manager. After taking a big PR hit with Torre's firing, the bosses will be looking to get back into the fans' good graces. Even Yankee-haters like Donnie Baseball, so he gets the nod. When the Yanks lose a few in a row in May, look for some uncomfortable moments during the press conferences.
(2) A-Rod will opt out, and George will resign him anyway. This will be George's last hurrah. Manny and I thought Clemens was it, but A-Rod's $300 million contract will be the one.
(3) The Junkees will be on the market for a good PR move in the form of an ex-Yankee. Manny thinks it'll be Kenny Lofton. My guess is Tony Clark. Feel free to make predictions in the comments section.
Great to see the Red Sox in the World Series. What an ALCS it was, definitely a classic. I loved seeing Big Papi in the dugout in the ninth, with the muscle tank and the goggles on, ready to go. He's played through all sorts of pain, and put up great numbers this year. I loved seeing Manny get interviewed after the game. The guy's the hardest-working player in the game, and it's good to see people finally begin to realize that.
And suddenly, the J.D. Drew deal doesn't look too bad. Good for him, that grand slam in game 6 was huge.
In terms of the team's character, the Sox haven't changed much since '04. Lowell reminds me of Bill Mueller - a guy who plays the game right, a guy that's impossible not to root for. Ellsbury reminds me of Dave Roberts - the fleet-footed outfielder you wish you'd see out there more often. And Youkilis is like Millar - so much fun to watch, but Youk is much better both as a hitter and as a defender.
Plus, I'll take Paps over Keith Foulke any day.
If any guy can put an end to the Rockies' magical run right now, it's probably Josh Beckett. Hopefully he can dominate once again, and get the tide turning Boston's way. And if Schill can do what he does best in Game 2, and Dice-K can pitch like he did in the World Baseball Classic...
- And while the Yanks worry about A-Rod, their next manager, and whether Hank, Hal, and Randy are gonna keep screwing things up, the Sox get another visit to the Fall Classic. Go Sox!
Dynasty Over; New Era of Chaos Begins
To me, the Torre legacy is as follows: he had one good year as a field manager, many years as a bad field manager, and all of his years, was a great politician.
Torre was definitely below-average as a field manager. I liked him in '96 because he brought over an NL style of managing. There was a lot more running and bunting than there had been during the Showalter era. And he did a great job in the World Series; instead of doing like Francona and keeping slumping veterans in the lineup, he shook things up and it worked really well.
After that, I can't say he made any impact moves that helped the team win. '98-'00 was just a steamroll through the rest of the league. It was all about having the best players and the highest payroll.
And all those division titles? Same thing. When you have the highest payroll in the game, anything less is a big flop. If you can't beat the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays in over 55 games a year, you're awful.
In the postseason, Torre stunk. The Jeff Weaver incident in '03? Bad. Blowing out every reliever's arm, so they couldn't do a thing come October? Stupid. Torre did a terrible job there, capped off with the Joba rules this year. To me, that was the beginning of the end for Joe.
What did Torre do best? He kept a sense of calm around the team, no matter what happened. You can talk about the pressure in '96 after losing the first two games to Atlanta, October '98 after 114 wins and the Knoblauch incident, all the tragedies in '99, and even the way he handled the choke in '04. Even the way Torre has handled the muddled front office situation this year. Torre kept his cool almost all the time
Torre has been the anti-Ozzie Guillen, always saying the right thing. Always. In the age of 24/7 media and blogging, it's a great skill to have. No wonder some people think he'd make a great mayor or CEO. I don't know if you'd get results, but you'd get lots of banal soundbites.
But as I said last week, being a manager of the highest payroll means you have to win it all every year. Torre started his Yankee tenure with a bang, but ended it with seven years of big disappointment. And in terms of strategy, Torre is not even close to legends like Weaver, Herzog, and LaRussa. Or even possible successor Bobby Valentine.
- Now that he's left the team, the place is in chaos. The Yanks will have a hard time finding another manager who can be such a good politician; maybe Mattingly can. But the front office handled the whole incident terribly, you have Cashman, Levine, and two Steinbrenners all fighting for power, and a team with a very uncertain future.
Bye Bye Snorre
Wow. I am surprised that he's gone. At first I thought that he'd be a goner and that George would make good on his ALDS threat. But after a few days I figured, okay, he's coming back.
Here's what happened. They didn't want him, but they didn't want to take the PR hit of firing the beloved Joe Torre. So they made him this insult of an offer knowing he'd turn them down, and now they can save face. If I were a Junkee fan who loves Torre I'd be more mad at this than if they had just let him go. But I suppose that's become the Junkee way. Like with Bernie Williams this past offseason. They didn't want him, but rather than say so, they offered him a spring training invite.
Well, we'll miss his blowing out his middle relievers' arms. And we'll miss his occasional boneheaded moves.
It's amazing how suddenly I don't hate him anymore.