Andy Pettitte - A great Yankee to the end

    Thursday, February 3, 2011, 7:55 PM [General]

    The year was 1995 and spring training began late because the strike did not end until April. The same stoppage had spoiled a 70-43 season for the Yankees, who were in their second year of recovery following the wayward years of 1989-1992.

    During spring training, a young left-handed pitcher was competing with Sterling Hitchcock for the fifth spot in a rotation that included Jack McDowell and Jimmy Key. Up to that point, Pettitte had compiled an outstanding minor league career and projections were high, especially from Nardi Contreras, who was his triple-A pitching coach and said the following to the Times.

    "He's going to be a great major league player one day. It'll be soon."

    Pettitte was the opening day 28-man roster as a relief pitcher with no clue that he would soon be a regular starting pitcher but when an inflammed left rotator cuff sidelined Jimmy Key, Pettitte was in. He made two starts before becoming a first-time winner on June 7, 1995 against the Oakland Athletics and taking the first steps towards being an unlikely savior.

    I wish I could tell you what I actually remember about the game, other than the fact I was in the upper deck for it and did not pay anything for it. The reason for that was in 1995, the Daily News had various vouchers for free seats to random Yankee home games and I just happened to select this day.

    I do remember Pettitte pitching very well and knocking off Steve Ontiveros at a time where 16,000 fans was the norm for attendance, an era when you could walk up to the day of game box office and get a seat. Little else is recalled about that game other than the fact I was there, but it would be difficult to know if I or anyone else suspected what Pettitte was going to turn into.

    Fact is, he was there by necessity and if a 23-year-old pitching well was required to make the playoffs, then so be it.

    That night, Pettitte said this to Jack Curry of the Times: "I'm not trying to replace anybody," Pettitte said. "I'm just trying to keep us in games."

    Pettitte did that 203 times on the winning side for the Yankees and many more times in person when I saw him. Perhaps the best way to sum it up comes from the time when I conjured up enough nerve to ask Joe Torre about him following an 8-3 win over Boston in May 2007, a time when the Yankees faced a 9 1/2 game deficit.

    "He never got a lot of attention when he was here last time," Joe Torre said that night. "Not that he wanted it but there was always somebody who was higher up on the ladder. He sort of liked being in the shadows.

    "But coming back as he has here, he's getting a lot more attention. But he's never shied away from responsibility. He lost a game 3-2 to the Mets, he pitched a helluva ballgame and felt that he let everybody down. That's what he's all about. He has a heart this big and I'm just glad New York brings out the best in him."

    Pitching here certainly did. Whether he's a Hall of Famer, is up for debate, but if you've watched him over the last decade and a half you knew what you were getting.

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    August 4, 2008 - An infamous day for Joba?

    Thursday, January 27, 2011, 2:48 PM [General]

    Everyone remembers where they were on big dates such as November 22, 1963, September 11, 2001, December 7, 1941, September 1, 1939 and so on. Those are big ones and then there are other dates that for some reason you randomly recall either due to outstanding memories or just random recall.

    With the recent revelations that Joba Chamberlain's velocity dip has might have been caused by a shoulder injury suffered in the fifth inning on August 4, 2008 in Texas. It was a very nice Monday night and the Yankees had just completed a split against the Angels with a bizzare 14-9 win.

    It was during a stretch that I attended every single Yankee and Met home game from July 27-August 29 but the Mets were off awaiting the Padres so I had the day to myself. I wound up spending it far from baseball and about 10 rows away from the stage at an Eddie Vedder solo show in Washington Heights.

    On my way to the 168th street Station to catch the A or the 1, I walked past a bank that happened to have the TV tuned to NY1. It showed highlights of Marlon Byrd hitting a game-winning home run off Damaso Marte and also showed clips of Joba Chamberlain grimacing with right shoulder stiffness.

    At the time, it seemed like a bump in the road in the developmental process, the same type of thing many hot shot prospects experience on their way to stardom. Then came 2009 when Chamberlain pitched well at times but also pitched tediously mediocre games.

    After Chamberlain could not win the fifth starter job it was on to the bullpen, where sometimes it was an adventure as he gave up runs in bunches.

    Recently, Brian Cashman hinted it might be a cause of the two-year bout with inconsistency and the question is do the numbers back it up?

    According to, some numbers might seem to validate that thought. In 2008, Chamberlain's fastball averaged 95. A year later it was down to 92.5 and last year it was back up to 94.6.

    The guess here is that the two years since the injury will return the velocity, especially when it averaged 94.6. The slider though could be even more of a key and might need more improvement.

    One thing we know, the Joba in the rotation saga appears to finally be over. Now we can focus on what potential might still exist in the right arm of someone who is only 25 years old.


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    Will the Newest Yankee be a former Braves' Star

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 8:42 PM [General]

    In the time since their disappointing performance in the ALCS concluded with a dreary loss in Texas, the Yankees have added the following players: A former All-Star catcher under 30 coming off an injury and a durable 80-game lefthanded reliever who somehow managed to be the longest tenured Met.

    After adding Russell Martin and Pedro Feliciano, the name that has surfaced is Andruw Jones.

    You might remember him for being a 19-year-old who crushed some long home runs in the opening game of the 1996 World Series. You might remember him for being one of three White Sox to connect off Javier Vazquez on May 1 in what was perhaps the first sign Vazquez's second stint was not meant to be.

    Perhaps you remember him as an outstanding defensive outfielder, who at times seemed to possess limitless range. Combined with the fact that through the age of 30 he had nearly 350 home runs and over a 1,000 RBI, it seemed the Hall of Fame was a destination.

    That was through 2007. Since then Jones has played for three teams (Dodgers, White Sox, Rangers) and hit 39 home runs and 105 RBI. Those are great numbers for a single season but those are over three seasons.

    Despite that, the Yankees appear somewhat interested in a man whose last four batting averages have been .222, .158, .214 and .230. Obviously the interest is not for the every day role but for the fourth outfielder spot filled by Marcus Thames' bat in 2010.

    The area where Jones and Thames are similar is their performance against left-handed pitching. Thames crushed lefties to a .302 average, while Jones hit eight of his home runs and batted .256 off southpaws.

    So the question is this: do you want your fourth outfielder to be sub-par defensively but potent against left-handed pitching or do you want your fourth outfielder to be adequate with diminished range and slightly above average against southpaws.

    It's the question the Yankee braintrust is weighing as they decide how to complete the 2011 roster going into spring training.



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    Welcome to the Hall of Fame - Alomar and Blyleven

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 11:12 PM [General]

    I've been to the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown just once in my nearly 32 years. That was 20 years ago during the summer of 1990 when I was 11.

    The next time I go whenever that is, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will be enshrined. I'm not sure when I next will go but perhaps Jack Morris, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez will be there as well. Maybe if I hold off even longer on going, Jeff Bagwell might be in after the distinction between natural and enhanced sluggers has concluded.

    Blyleven's case for being or not being is a raging debate. It is that way because of numbers such as 287-250, which was accured between 1970-1992. Those against him call him a compiler, those for him point to things like durability, innings pitched and so on.

    I didn't see enough of Blyleven to make a full determination but based on stats such as the win total and strikeouts it's good enough for this non-voter. One thing that stands out besides the 3,701 strikeouts is the 50 home runs that he allowed during the 1986 season while going 17-14 for the Twins.

    As for Alomar, I saw enough of his career including his mostly disappointing year and a half with the Mets. Though he did things that don't necessarily make him good like bunt too much, make the routine play too fancy, it'd be hard to hold that against him.

    If you've ever read this spot, you know I'm a big fan of lists and noteable games. So without further ado, here are some of Blyleven and Alomar's notable performances against the Yankees.

    1 - 6/10/70 - In his Yankee Stadium debut and second career start, Blyleven lost a pitcher's duel to Mel Stottlemyre. The difference was a two-run home run in the fourth by Horace Clarke.

    2 - 7/31/71 - Back when complete games included 5-4 victories, Blyleven went the distance for the first time against the Yankees. He took a 5-1 lead into the ninth and gave up a three-run home run to Danny Cater but retired Clarke and Gene Michael on groundouts.

    3 - 4/28/72 - In his second complete game against the Yankees, Blyleven allowed eight hits and one run in a 4-1 Minnesota victory. His biggest out occurred with two outs in the fifth in a 1-0 game when with two on,  Bobby Murcer flied out.

    4 - 6/7/74 - In his debut at Shea Stadium, the Yankees' home for 1974 and 1975, another complete game is tossed in a 3-2 Minnesota victory. Along the way, Blyleven threw a pitch at Lou Piniella's head in the seventh. After a benches-clearing brawl, he easily finishes the Yankees.

    5 - 4/18/76 - In the third game of the remodeled Yankee Stadium, Blyleven faced off against Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter and nearly goes the distance in a 5-4 victory. Two outs away and following home runs by Lyman Bostock and Butch Wynegar, he gives up a leadoff single to Willie Randolph but two Minnesota relievers finish up and the next time the Yankees see Blyleven it is against the Texas Rangers.

    6 - 6/11/76 - Nearly two weeks after joining the Rangers in a deal for Roy Smalley, Blyleven gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings. Among those hits are two home runs by Graig Nettles and another by Roy White.

    7 - 8/27/77 - In the type of game both sides might look at, Blyleven is an 8-2 winner despite walking five in a complete game. The game is more noteworthy due to consecutive inside-the-park home runs from Bump Wills and Toby Harrah off Ken Clay.

    8 - 5/22/81 - After three years in Pittsburgh and armed with a 1979 World Championship, Blyleven returned to the AL with the Indians. In an 7-3 win, he struck out eight in a complete game. Three occur in the final two innings when Blyleven fanned Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson and Nettles.

    9 - 8/12/84 - After failing to get the third 14 months earlier, Blyleven pitched another complete game for the Indians, who are 28 games behind the Tigers. The Yankees were about 15 back and had just five hits off Blyleven in a 6-0 loss at Cleveland Stadium.

    10 - 7/13/86 - After losing twice to the Yankees to begin his second stint with Minnesota, Blyleven dominated the Yankees at the Metrodome. In a 5-0 victory, he fired a three-hitter, struck out eight and walked one. He gave up a fourth-inning single to Mike Easler and ninth-inning hits to Ron Hassey and Don Mattingly.

    11 - 7/21/87 - During Minnesota's first championship season, Blyleven contributed 15 wins to an 85-77 team. Two were against the Yankees and this complete game put the Twins two games ahead of Oakland in the AL West. Blyleven did his part by allowing seven hits and striking out but did not get the win until Kent Hrbek singled in Gary Gaetti with the winning run in the ninth.

    Lifetime against the Yankees, Blyleven was 13-19 with a 3.56 ERA in 40 starts. He pitched 15 complete games and three shutouts.

    Roberto Alomar

    1 - 6/3/1991 - Alomar debuts against Yankee pitching in style with a 4-for-5 performance in a 5-3 Toronto win at the Stadium. He also stole a base but in an oddity does not score or drive in a run.

    2 - 8/25/1991 - As the Blue Jays and Tigers battle for the AL East, Alomar delivered a four RBI showing in an 11-7 win at the Skydome. Alomar doubled in Devon White, stole third and scored a run in the first. In Toronto's six-run eighth off John Habyan and Lee Gutterman, Alomar doubled in two, stole third and scored another run.

    3 - 8/3/1993 - Playing in meaningful August games for the first time since 1988, the Yankees found themselves in a huge four-game series against the Blue Jays at the Stadium. Nothing is settled as the teams split but in an 8-6 win, Alomar went 4-for-6 with two RBI. The biggest hit was a game-tying single in the sixth off Bobby Munoz.

    4 - 6/28/1996 - Now serving as a leadoff hitter for the Baltimore Orioles, Alomar went 3-for-5 and scored three runs. One was the go-ahead run on Cal Ripken Jr's base hit off Mariano Rivera.

    5 - 9/20/1998 - This was a game more notable for the end of Ripken's ironman streak. In a 5-4 Orioles' loss, Alomar was 3-for-4 and scored Baltimore's fourth run in the ninth on Eric Davis' base hit off Rivera.

    6 - 6/2/99 - After three seasons in Baltimore, Alomar took his craft to Cleveland. In a 10-7 Indians' win, Alomar went 3-for-5 and sparked a four-run first off Andy Pettitte with a bunt base hit and a stolen base.

    7 - 7/23/99 - The Indians lost this game, 9-8, on Derek Jeter's 10tth inning single off Mike Jackson. You can't fault Alomar though as he hit a grand slam off David Cone in the fourth that put Cleveland ahead 6-5.

    8 - 6/1/01 - In his final season as an Indian, Alomar went 3-for-3 in a 7-4 win. Among the hits was a solo home run off Ted Lilly in the fourth that began a comeback from 3-0. During Cleveland's four-run fifth, Alomar singled and scored on Juan Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.

    9 - 6/14/02 - In his first season as a Met, Alomar is hitting a respectable .271 at the time and made his Subway Series debut in a 4-2 loss at Shea Stadium. Alomar did nothing of note by going 1-for-5.

    10 - 8/27/03 - Back in the AL after a disappointing stint in Flushing, Alomar went 2-for-4 with four RBI in an 11-2 White Sox victory. During a seven-run fourth off David Wells, Alomar hit a two-run home run for a 7-2 lead. Two innings later, Alomar knocked Wells out with a two-run double.



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    Who is Zack Greinke - A Pretty Good Pitcher

    Sunday, December 19, 2010, 10:54 PM [General]

    I don’t know much about Zack Greinke and I’m sure I’m among millions of baseball followers all over the country who do not know about him.

    What we know is his story about the social anxiety and how he walked away from the game for a period of time four years ago. Since that is something treatable, Greinke is taking medication for it to feel more comfortable.

    Greinke may still feel not like a completely social person. The most important thing we know when it comes to the bottom line of winning is this – Greinke is a very good pitcher.

    With the news that the Yankees were not getting Cliff Lee, Greinke was the next best pitcher believed to be available. That point was proven Friday when he asked for a trade from the Royals and confirmed today when the Brewers acquired him for two of their better positional prospects and two pitchers.

    In some ways, it was good to see a team like Milwaukee acquire Greinke as opposed to one of the bigger teams but you have to wonder if the Yankees attempted this trade. As Yankee fans even those who feared his makeup might not be cut out for New York.

    In 2009 he said the following to  (The environment) had a lot to do with [signing the extension], for sure. Now, maybe New York would bother me, but I don’t think anywhere else would bother me anymore. Even though I’m in Kansas City, I’ve gotten used to it a lot more. New York, I still might have trouble in New York. I probably would. But I think almost everyone does.”

    At first glance you think this guy is not cut for New York.  Then read a little into it and you see that it might be not be a problem.

    Being an introvert and having a quiet persona means nothing, especially if you can do the job. Greinke has proven that he can and New York is a state full of loudmouths who can’t necessarily do their jobs properly in many walks of life.

    Basically the point is would you have cared if Greinke won 15 games and barely said a word?

    If you read the wonderful entry by Joe Posnanski, you would learn that Greinke does indeed enjoy pressure and that nobody would care if Greinke pitched well and only publicly spoke on the day of games?

    Who knows if the Yankees even bothered inquiring?

    They likely did in doing their due diligence and may have walked away feeling the return for Kansas City was too high for their liking and that is perfectly fine.

    People talk about pressure in New York.

    Since the Yankees are so good, it sometimes gets forgotten that pressure also are situations that a pitcher has to nearly be perfect because team defense is terrible and can’t do much offensively.

    Maybe someday Greinke winds up in New York or some other big market. If that happens, keep this fact in mind – if you can pitch, you can pitch regardless of location.

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    You Can't Always Get What You Want - Cliff Lee edition

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 11:02 PM [General]

    Let it Bleed is the 10th American album released by the Rolling Stones. The ninth track of that album is called "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

    The hook to the song is the following and in some ways though it is a love song, it can be applied to the Yankees' failed bid to sign free agent Cliff Lee.

    "You can't always get what you want
    You can't always get what you want
    You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes well you just might find
    You get what you need"

    Basically it is a reminder that no matter what our efforts are in anything, you can't always get what you desire. No matter if you're the Yankees, no matter how much money you offer, how much you describe playing for the Yankees, sometimes it doesn't work.

    It didn't work in 1992 when Gene Michael offered nearly $35 million for Greg Maddux, only to see him sign for less with Atlanta. In the big picture, it worked out because the Yankees won four championships in the time Maddux was with the Braves and even beat him in Game Six of the 1996 World Series.

    Only time will tell if the events of the last 24 hours will result in what many are panicking about. That is a potential Phillies' dynasty to go along with a potential dominating Red Sox lineup against an alledgedly declining Yankee team.

    Yes, the Yankees are old in various spots and right now their rotation without Andy Pettitte is suspect. That is if you base it on last year.

    If you believe A.J. Burnett is more like a 10-15 pitcher than a 13-9 pitcher, then panic. If you believe Phil Hughes will struggle when the Yankees don't put up runs, then panic.

    If you believe that pitching will be found from some source either via trade, free agency or some reclamation project, then take a deep breath, have a drink and enjoy your life.

    But keep this in mind, if adding Cliff Lee automatically makes the Phillies champions and adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez automatically does the same for the Red Sox, then the game would be no fun.

    And also remember pitching upgrades don't instantly happen during the offseason. Sometimes you get through the winter without being able to accomplish much and find some circumstance during the regular season that allows for an upgrade.

    Without a doubt, the Phillies pulled off a truly shocking and awestruck move. Without a doubt, the Yankees are disapointed in not obtaining a pitcher who has dominated them for four different teams over the last three seasons.

    Know this, without Lee, the Yankees were a 103-win team when they essentially pitched with a three-man rotation in 2009. A year later, they were a 95-win team with a pitching staff that was Sabathia and four question marks due to Burnett's inconsistent nature, Pettitte's recovery and Hughes' development.

    Plan B is patience because when you don't get what you want, you have to figure out the next thing you want to attain.



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    Phillies sign Lee and avenge 2009 and 1950 World Series

    Monday, December 13, 2010, 11:16 PM [General]

    You get tied down at work and you spend most of the day away from the internet you tend to miss things. Watching tonight's Giants-Vikings game and with the computer turned off, I missed the online chatter that was abuzz among baseball media and fans.

    Earlier in updates, it had been mentioned a mystery team had thrown itself into the Cliff Lee bidding. Over the weekend, the Red Sox were mentioned as a ploy for oneupsmanship. It had been speculated that the Angels were the mystery suitor especially after losing Carl Crawford.

    At some point tonight, the cat was out of the bag and that cat would be the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies saw firsthand what a dominant rotation can do when they lost to the Giants and signing Lee to join forces with Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels is on par if not better than the Giants.

    So what does this mean? Does this mean the Yankees will be forced to spend more Steinbrenner money to get a left-handed pitcher.

    I'm not as clued in as others so there's no industry sources or people close to the situation. All I have is non-industry sources and people far from the situation.

    But in Philadelphia, fans are posting things like "All I want for Christmas is Cliff Lee". And if this actually does happen or if he returns to Texas, it will be similar to the Greg Maddux free agency sweepstakes in the winter of 1992 when Maddux spurned the Yankees and signed with the Braves.

    Type in Phillies as a trending topic and twitter and you get the excitement building already. Here's a sample of that:

    ILOVECHOOCH - We should all go through our couches/coin jars/etc. and make sure that Cliff won't be leaving any change on any tables.

    Mike is Awesome - I need to find this table that all this money is on.

    Unknown user (because the tweets came so fast, I couldn't find them)- If Cliff Lee takes his talents back to South Philly, I might actually dance in these streets.

    I'm with that guy if I'm a Phillies' fan. It doesn't assure anything just like the moves in Boston don't guarantee a World Series, but you can book it that the sports book is gearing to make the Phillies the NL favorite.

    What's interesting is that up in Stamford, Brian Cashman said he didn't view Lee as a pitcher they had to have as opposed to two years ago when a rotation needed a CC Sabathia. Depending on what the Phillies actually offer, it will be fascinating to see if Cashman sticks with it.

    So stayed tuned and try to sneak away from your desks during the next few afternoons for a few minutes.



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    Mo's coming back - not a surprise

    Friday, December 3, 2010, 12:31 AM [General]

    About two and a half months ago, this space detailed how difficult closing games actually are. It was based on researching the list of closers employed by the other 29 teams since Mariano Rivera became the Yankee closer in 1997.

    At some point in the future, the Yankees will face that concern, but that future will not be in 2011 or 2012 based on the Daily News exclusive that states Rivera will re-sign with the Yankees Friday night for two years, $30 million. The fact that Rivera is returning is hardly a surprise, but nonetheless a reason for Yankee fans to somewhat exhale.

    What is also not surprising is that how low-key the talks were as opposed to the Derek Jeter neogiotations. It is not surprising since if you've ever spent any time around Rivera of watching him, the greatest closer of all-time is among the more unassuming people in the game.

    As Jon Lane wrote the other day, there has never been any fuss or hassle with Rivera, who has been close to perfect as anyone can be in the pressure situations such as the ninth inning of regular-season and postseason games.

    Having Rivera for all these years is a matter of luck and good timing. 

    For example, all you need to do is look back at 1995, a time when Rivera was a starting pitching prospect and joining a team with major injury problems in the starting staff.

    All you need to do is scan through the New York Times archives. From February 17, 1990 through 1994, the only references are archived transactions brief and a mention of him working near Steve Howe in 1993 spring training. In 1995, he gets mentioned in transactions and also in notebook stories about being a rotation replacement for the likes of Scott Kamieniecki.

    As Rivera's May 23, 1995 debut approaches, there is mention that someone will also have to replace Jimmy Key and as the debut occurs with 3 1/3 innings during a 10-0 loss at the California Angels, Rivera is described this way by the Times in an "On Baseball piece" - The Yankees could be tiptoeing on swampy land if Mariano Rivera and Pettitte have to substitute at length for Key and Kamieniecki.

    And for a segment of time, it was true, but then came July 4, 1995. That came roughly a month after Rivera's high fat fastball resulted in Geromino Berroa's first career grand slam. On June 13, Rivera was sent back down to Columbus and as described in various books such as Joel Sherman's Birth of a Dynasty, Gene Michael considered sending him to Detroit for David Wells.

    That was before June 26 against the Rochester Red Wings, a former Triple-A affiliate of the Orioles. That night Rivera pitched a rain-shortended five-inning no-hitter that featured a fastball soaring at 95, 96 and when Melido Perez went down with shoulder problems, Rivera returned and when he struck out 11 White Sox, the minors appeared they were in his rearviewmirror and the road to the Hall of Fame, greatest closer of all time was underway even if nobody suspected it at that precise moment.

    "The makeup is there and he's got the confidence. If he continues to be determined and aggressive, he'll get there."

    That is what Mike Stanley said in the Times piece that day when pondering if Rivera could become a star. A few starts later, Buck Showalter said the following:

    "Mariano had as good a fastball as I've seen him have".

    As the deadline approaches and the Yankees begin looking at David Cone, Rivera's name is speculated. In the end, Rivera does not get traded and it turns out that Stanley and Showalter's words were a thousand percent correct even if they not know exactly what Rivera would become.

    However, they did not really know. Rivera returned to the minors in August and barely gets mentioned other than in notebook items. When he returned at the end of August, Rivera made one start and it was not good and then he finished out the year as a mop-up man.

    It is hard to imagine Rivera as a mop-up man, but that is what he was at that time. It was simply because while the Yankees may have had a inkling of his potential, they were not completely certain that 15 years later, he would become a first-ballot Hall of Famer or anything close to one.

    Just like Showalter was not sure in 1995, neither was the new reigme in spring training 1996 when wondering if Jeter could handle being the everyday shortstop and considered including Rivera in a deal for Felix Fermin.

    Seattle had a young shortstop at the time named Alex Rodriguez and seemed to know more what it had than the Yankees with Jeter and Rivera.

    Uncertainty tends to occasionally breed panic. Thankfully for the Yankees it did not in this case.

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    Jeter and Yankees get "personal" in contract talks

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 11:18 AM [General]

    When Derek Jeter walks up to the plate at Yankee Stadium, his music selection is a fairly well-known hip-hop selection. Recently, he has used “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls, “You Gots to Chill” by EPMD and “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

    The way this "drama"over Jeter’s first free agency negotiations are going, perhaps his song of choice with the Yankees next season will be “Take it Personal” by Gang Starr

    Below are the opening lyrics to this early-1990s song and of course since these talks are dealing with absurd amounts of money, this should be taken in context.

    "I never thought that you would crab me
    Undermine me and backstab me
    But I can see clearly now the rain is gone
    The pain is gone but what you did was still wrong
    There was a few times I needed your support
    But you tried to play me like an indoor sport
    like racquetball tennis fool whatever
    All I know is you attempted to be clever
    Nevertheless cleverness can't impress"

    But you get the idea, especially when you read things such as Brian Cashman tells Wally Matthews of this:

    "We understand his contributions to the franchise and our offer has taken them into account. We've encouraged him to test the market and see if there's something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That's the way it works."

    When a comment of that nature surfaces, then you see things like Jeter’s picture superimposed in a Red Sox, Met, Phillies or Dodgers uniform.

    The bottom is line is that the reported, three-year, $15 million per year is not good enough for Jeter’s camp.

    You can make arguments for and against it.

    In the Yankee defense, they have an aging icon, who is coming off the worst batting average in his career and that his range is average defensively.

    In Jeter’s defense, you can say he won them five championships and thus by playing 147 postseasons, has generated plenty of revenue for the Yankee brass.

    You can also say that his play along with others made the Yankees a hot commodity and able to invest resources into creating their own television network because the rate of return would be good in terms of advertising. And you can also say that some revenue will be made for those $25 3,000 hit t-shirts that would be sold as he approaches that milestone.

    Whatever side you fall on, it appears these talks have reached the personal level, at least if you read the stories in the papers.

    So now the question is where will this battle in the press lead to for both sides? Will it lead back to the Bronx or another city?

    It would be a stunner (similar to when the Brooklyn Dodgers sold Jackie Robinson to the Giants in 1956) if Jeter ever left New York, but anything appears possible if you go by the drama being played out in the media.

    If he returns, chances are Jeter might forget that the Yankees took it personal when hearing his ideas for a new contract, especially if another championship comes with it

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    Did the Yankees indirectly help Felix win the CY Young?

    Sunday, November 21, 2010, 10:04 PM [General]

    The big topic being discussed among the sides in the AL Cy Young voting is wins.

    On the side against Felix Hernandez wins or lack of them are key reasons for selecting CC Sabathia (21 wins) or David Price (16 wins). On the side that voted for Hernandez his 13 wins are an irrelevant number because of his dominance in other categories such as ERA (2.27), starts (34), innings (249 2/3) and hits per nine innings (seven).

    Another take in the argument is his lack of pressure or big wins since the Mariners were a 101-loss team. While certainly valid, it would be hard to forget those three that he had against the Yankees, especially when the difference between winning the AL East, having the best record in the AL was one game.

    In three starts against the Yankees, Hernandez pitched two complete games (June 29, July 10) and went eight innings (August 20). The Yankees had 16 hits and one run in 26 innings while striking out 31 times.

    So the question is did Hernandez’s dominance over the Yankees help his cause? Maybe, but one thing is certain it did not help the Yankees over the long run, even though they were in first place each time they faced Hernandez.

    So while Hernandez did not pitch in any situations that can be considered pressure for the Mariners, his dominance in a hypothetical way negatively impacted the Yankees when you look at the entire regular season picture. Say the Yankees win two of those games pitched by Hernandez either by roughing him up or by knocking him out early and getting to the Mariner bullpen.

    Whatever the reason for his winning either dominance or sabermetrics, Hernandez was pretty darn good.  What actually is ironic is last year he was 19-5 and finished second in the voting to Zach Greinke, who was 16-8 on a losing Royals team.

    And here’s a list of how AL CY Young Award winners have performed against the Yankees:

    2009 – Zach Greinke – did not face

    2008 – Cliff Lee – 1-0, 0.00 ERA

    2007 – CC Sabathia – did not face

    2006 – Johan Santana – 0-0, 5.68

    2005 – Bartolo Colon – 1-1, 8.44

    2004 – Johan Santana – 1-0, 2.25

    2003 – Roy Halladay – 3-2, 3.22

    2002 – Barry Zito – 1-1, 5.73

    2000 – Pedro Martinez - 1-2, 2.10

    1999 – Pedro Martinez – 2-0, 1.69

    1998 – Roger Clemens – 1-2, 3.86

    1997 – Roger Clemens – 2-0, 0.53

    1996 – Pat Hentgen – 1-2, 4.57

    1995 – Randy Johnson – 1-0, 2.45

    1994 – David Cone – 0-1, 4.00

    1993 – Jack McDowell – 2-1, 4.91

    1992 – Dennis Eckersley – 0-0, 0.00 5 saves

    1991 – Roger Clemens – 3-1, 2.18

    1990 – Bob Welch – 2-0, 0.55

    1989 – Bret Saberhagen – 2-0, 2.12

    1988 – Frank Viola – 1-1, 5.31

    1987 – Roger Clemens -- 3-0, 3.99

    1986 – Roger Clemens – 1-0, 1.00

    1985 – Bret Saberhagen – 2-0, 3.98

    1984 – Willie Hernandez – 1-1, 3.60, 2 saves

    1983 – LaMaar Hoyt – 0-1, 5.84

    1982 – Pete Vukovich – 1-0, 3.18

    1981 – Rollie Fingers – 0-0, 0.00, 3 saves

    1980 – Steve Stone – 3-0, 1.85

    1979 – Mike Flanagan – 0-3, 6.35

    1976 – Jim Palmer – 2-2, 3.19

    1975 – Jim Palmer -- 3-3, 2.52

    1974 – Catfish Hunter – 2-2, 3.86

    1973 – Jim Palmer – 2-2, 3.33

    1972 – Gaylord Perry – 4-1, 1.17

    1971 – Vida Blue – 3-1, 2.50

    1970 – Jim Perry – 1-1, 0.60

    1969 – Mike Cuellar – 3-0, 0.33

    1969 – Denny McLain – 3-2, 1.88

    1968 – Denny McLain –2-1, 1.91

    1967 – Jim Lonborg – 3-1, 2.78

    1964 – Dean Chance – 4-0, 0.18

    1959 – Early Wynn – 3-2, 1.54


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    Perhaps a Bidding War is Emerging

    Thursday, November 18, 2010, 1:28 PM [General]

    Few things get done at the GM meetings but sometimes names that you don't necessarily anticipate emerge as trade possibilities.

    Based on the tweets, articles and blogs from the last few days, the name of the season appears to be Arizona right fielder Justin Upton, a 23-year-old who is the brother of Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton.

    Since Upton is under contract until 2015, roughly half of the sport has an interest in obtaining his services. So besides the usual Yankee-Red Sox winter transaction rivalry, other teams in proxmity might emerge.

    One team might be the Blue Jays, who were recently mentioned nationally. So if you believe they can get that done, they will have Upton playing next to Wells and speedster Rajai Davis in the outfield mix.

    Another team mentioned has been the Mariners, who have a pretty good right fielder already in Ichiro. If the Mariners ever made that move, the outfield would consist of Upton, Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez. Of course, the Mariners might have to move Upton to left field where has never played in the majors since it would be difficult to imagine a 23-year-old designated hitter.

    Those are two of the scenarios but right now the asking price appears to be a little too high, though asking for a few major league ready types is not unreasonable, especially for someone under club control for the next five seasons.

    A few months ago, anyone other than Upton and Ian Kennedy was viewed as untradable. Now it appears one of the best players under 25 is.

    And from the Arizona standpoint, the role model of a deal has to be the 2007 Mark Teixeira deal to Atlanta, the one that landed the Rangers, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus.

    And while this post was being written, the Yankees made a smallish trade with Arizona. They sent Juan Miranda, best known for his bases-loaded walk against the Red Sox on Sept. 26 to the Diamondbacks for right-handed reliever Scott Allen.

    Allen was born on July 3, 1991 - the same day that Scott Kamieniecki improved to 3-1 with a win over the Indians at Yankee Stadium.

    Last year with the South Bend Silver Hawks, Allen was 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 16 starts. He was an 11th-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2009 from Lyman High School in Florida, which also produced Chris Brock.

    In case you're wondering about Allen, he struck out 79 and walked 22 in 78 innings. Other than that, not much else is known. Of couse if he does well in the minors, we'll find out soon enough.

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    Decent outfield but that won't stop Yankees

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 12:55 PM [General]

    Last year, the Yankee everyday outfield combined for a .259 batting average, 58 home runs and 203 RBI. They also combined to score 264 runs and steal 60 bases.

    In other words, the trio of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher was fairly productive.

    Even so, that does not stop a team from listening and doing their due diligence, which appears to be what the Yankees are doing concerning Arizona's Justin Upton. Though he is just 23, Upton's name has surfaced in rumors.

    While these are rumors and the groundwork for these moves is established at the GM meetings (see Curtis Granderson trade), wouldn't you think it might be more progressed than you think when you read things like sensitive nature of the talks.

    Nobody knows right now what it would take, but perhaps Gardner might be a conversation starter. Regardless it is certainly intriguing, especially when thinking about potential.

    But until then stay tuned until we actually have a trade.

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