Big plans for today. I⁈⁚m headed up to my old stomping grounds in Connecticut to see No. 2 UConn play Providence, a team they never seem to beat. It⁈⁚ll be fun to sit in the stands for a change.
As for the Yankees, one would expect a quiet weekend. Not even book publicists can compete with the Super Bowl. So here are some free-agent leftovers to chew on. It⁈⁚s shocking the talent still out there considering that February is just about here.
1B: Adam Dunn 2B: Orlando Hudson SS: Orlando Cabrera 3B: Ty Wigginton LF: Manny Ramirez CF: Ken Griffey Jr. RF: Bobby Abreu C: Pudge Rodriguez DH: Frank Thomas
SP: Ben Sheets SP: Oliver Perez SP: Tom Glavine SP: Randy Wolf SP: Braden Looper RP: Juan Cruz RP: Eric Gagne
Also: Andruw Jones, Joe Crede, Jim Edmonds, Cliff Floyd, Garret Anderson, Nomar Garciaparra, Rich Aurilia, Pedro Martinez, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado.
It⁈⁚ll be interesting to see how many of these notable platers settle for whatever they can get. Or would some be wiser to wait and hope that jobs open up in spring training? Let⁈⁚s say Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner aren⁈⁚t impressive in spring training. Might the Yankees go get Jim Edmonds?
My faith in Brian Bruney and belief in Mark Melancon is such that I think Juan Cruz isn⁈⁚t needed. But wouldn⁈⁚t signing Wigginton, Aurilia or Garciaparra for the bench make some sense? At this point, another million isn⁈⁚t going to matter.
Posted by Peter Abraham on Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 10:00 am
Jim Bouton is amazed that nearly 40 years after 'Ball Four,' Yankees still can't handle honesty in print.
Did Joe Torre's book violate the sanctity of the Yankee clubhouse, particularly with his criticism of Alex Rodriguez? The man who pioneered the candid sports memoir is amused by the question.
"What's the big deal? It isn't as if Joe Torre is revealing things that people didn't know," former Yankee Jim Bouton told the Daily News Friday. "There was no doubt that A-Rod wasn't a team guy; that's been known for a while."
Bouton, who won two games for the Yankees in the 1964 World Series, became a pariah after his 1970 book "Ball Four" gave readers an unprecedented peek into baseball life. In an age when many still thought of athletes as otherworldly heroes, Bouton and co-author Leonard Shecter portrayed them as humans. The book mostly was about Bouton's 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros, but also included tales of Bouton's earlier times with the Bombers.
The Yankees were indignant about passages mentioning Mickey Mantle's nightlife habits, and did not invite Bouton to an Old-Timers' Day until 1998. Now, Bouton is amazed that baseball still clings to what he sees as nonsensical expectations of secrecy.
"It is almost 40 years later," he said. "Why in the world anyone is still talking about the sanctity of the clubhouse is beyond me. Baseball and the Yankees should feel lucky that this book is generating so much attention in January... there is no job hitting a ball with a stick unless a lot of people are convinced it's important."
Bouton was also amused that any player would feel violated by the book. "These guys have voluntarily gone into a business where people know that everything that they do or say is subject to being written about. They act as if they're surprised when somebody tells what they do. Roger Maris always wanted to be a private person. Well, get into the shoe business if that's what you want."
And to anyone offended that unflattering accounts of his behavior landed in a book, Bouton offered simple advice: "Books are going to be written. Therefore, don't act like a jerk."
I didn't like Bouton's book, and I dislike Torre's even more. He should have waited until he was out of the game. Sour grapes imo from the way things ended in NY. I don't think the book is terrible from what I've seen on it, but he should have waited at least until he was out of the game. Sour grapes. I've lost a lot respect for the man.
I going to wait for the book. I don't trust the media's reaction. Plus we must remember that what we grew up as far as baseball books are entirely different from the books of the 1950's. i am disappointed with the rush to judgement on the book when really no one has really read it from cover to cover.
This is the book I'm concerned about Art has exposed excerpts and photos on Chas and Me, you're next!
Donald Fehr, head of the players' union, is not ready to conclude that owners are conspiring to hold down free-agent salaries.
But Fehr admitted Friday to "heightened" concern about the state of the market, citing the large number of free agents who remain unemployed. Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training in two weeks, yet nearly 90 free agents are still looking for jobs. The union examines trends in every free-agent market, but will not decide whether to file a collusion grievance until the signing period is complete. "Obviously, we've looked at it every year since the mid-1980s," Fehr told FOXSports.com. "That concern becomes heightened when you go late into the period of time when players should be signed and many fewer players have signed and spring training is nearer." While major league executives cite the faltering economy as the reason for the sluggish market, some agents say privately that the owners are working in concert to avoid competitive bidding for free agents. The unions' outside counsel has begun contacting agents about "possible collusion," according to several agents. Rob Manfred, MLB's Executive Vice President of Labor Relations & Human Resources, said the large number of players still available is simply a reflection of market forces. "To the extent that Don is expressing concern ... we are all concerned about the economic state of affairs," Manfred said. "I can understand that. It's a soft labor market. There are guys without jobs. It concerns him; it concerns us; it concerns everyone. "On the other hand, to suggest that there is anything other than normal market forces at work here is really ridiculous. We are collapsing in a very serious recession. To think that wasn't going to have an affect on the players' market, you'd have to have your head in the sand or believe the players' market was immune to overall economic forces." Arbitrators ruled that owners violated the collective-bargaining agreement through collusion in 1985, '86 and '87, leading to a settlement in which the owners paid the players $280 million in damages. The union, before filing a grievance, would need to decide whether the agents are merely speaking out of frustration or whether facts support their claims. The economy clearly is responsible for the plummeting values of many free agents. The union likely would take exception, however, if clubs deemed some of those free agents to have little or no value. "No matter what the general climate is, we're certain clubs want to put the best possible teams on the field," Fehr said. "There are certainly a significant number of quality players available that can help a lot of teams. I'm hoping the situation will rectify itself."
MLB Hot Stove
The M's and Yankees briefly explored a Washburn-for-Hideki Matsui exchange earlier in the offseason, but the discussions never progressed because Matsui at $13 million is even more expensive than Washburn at $10.35 million this season. The Twins had interest in Washburn last season and are looking to move outfielder Delmon Young. But while some sources believe those players could form the foundation of a larger deal, others say that the teams haven't spoken in more than a month. Peter Greenberg, the agent for free-agent outfielder Bobby Abreu, told the Seattle Times that the Mariners "have been telling us they don't have the money now, but they're trying to make room for a guy like Bobby."
Around the horn
Fehr did not dismiss the possibility of the union setting up a training camp for unemployed players in Florida or Arizona. "We're considering all options," Fehr said, "and that certainly is one." The union arranged such a camp in Homestead, Fla., for the large number of free agents who were looking for work after the players' strike ended in 1995 ... The Yankees are not currently pursuing free-agent reliever Juan Cruz, according to a major-league source. It's conceivable the Yankees' position could change if they trade Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady, but club officials are comfortable with Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte in the eighth inning and Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras and Co. before that. The team also is deep in major-league-ready relievers ⁈” David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Phil Coke, etc. ... Free-agent outfielder Luis Gonzalez will meet with Padres general manager Kevin Towers on Thursday, according to a major-league source. The Padres are looking at other left-handed hitters as well. Gonzalez, 40, also could become an option for Atlanta if the Braves fail to land Nady or Swisher. ... The Rays are making a strong run at free-agent left-hander Brian Shouse, whose performance against left-handed hitters last season was nothing short of spectacular. Shouse, 40, held left-handed hitters to a batting average/on-base/slugging line of .180/.196/.290 while pitching in relief for the Brewers, striking out 28 and issuing only two walks in 104 plate appearances against him ...
The acquisition of Cubs left-hander Rich Hill would be a worthy gamble for the Orioles, who likely would give up only a lower-level prospect in return. Hill, however, has shown little progress in his attempt to recover from severe control problems. "We saw him three times in Venezuela and he was awful all three times," one rival GM said.
Nor, one suspects, should Torre expect the Yankees to be renewing their customary table at his "Safe At Home" charity dinner. And when it comes to them finally getting around to retiring ol' No. 6, it's a better bet they'd do it to honor their newest Hall-of-Famer, Joe Gordon, or even perennial prodigal son Roy White rather than the man who wore it while managing them to four world championships.
It would be foolhardy to suggest Torre has trashed his Yankee legacy with his new tell-all tome, "The Yankee Years" written with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci. Four world titles, six American League pennants, 10 division championships and 12 straight trips to the postseason are an indelible record of accomplishment and a guaranteed place in the Hall of Fame. At the same time, however, I think Torre has tarnished his legacy, at least so far as the one overriding tenet with which he defined himself: trust.
Up front, I must say it's a compelling read, even if Yankee trainer Steve Donohue rubbing Roger Clemens' testicles with extra hot liniment before every start was probably more information than I needed to know. The book is chock full of behind-the-scenes Yankee intrigue and innuendo. Much more than you would have ever expected from Torre, the staunchest defender of the sanctity of the clubhouse. I suspect his former Yankee players - and not just the ones he couldn't stand, like Boomer Wells, Kevin Brown and Carl Pavanno - are going to feel Torre violated that trust he talks about throughout the book.
Torre said he stands behind everything in the book, even though it is written by Verducci in the third-person. That means, he fully approved Mike Mussina's insensitive critique of Mariano Rivera on Page 312: "As great as he is, and it's amazing what he does, if you start the evaluation again since I've been here, he has accomplished nothing in comparison to what he accomplished the four years before. He blew the World Series in '01. He lost the Boston series. He didn't lose it himself, but we had a chance to win in the ninth and sweep them and he doesn't do it there. ... That's what I remember about the '04 series."
And later in the book, in what almost seems like piling on of Rivera for that calamitous Game 4 loss to the Red Sox, Torre/Verducci suggests it all turned on Rivera's misguided attempts to pick pinch-runner Dave Roberts off first. It was cited that, in an almost identical scenario three weeks earlier, Roberts waited until Rivera's third pitch to steal second before getting driven home with the winning run.
Even before it was released on Jan. 27, Joe Torre's new book, "The Yankee Years," which actually was penned in third person by co-author Tom Verducci, had caused more of a stir than either Torre or Verducci ever intended.
More than a week before the book's release, two New York newspapers characterized the book as Torre's blistering tell-all of his spectacularly successful but often-tumultuous 12-year run as manager of the New York Yankees.
While Torre was set to appear on Larry King Live on Jan. 30, three days before the book's release, Verducci was doing his own media tap dance in an effort to clear up any misunderstandings -- and as an apparent pre-emptive strike against any ruffled feathers among those who played for Torre with the Yankees.
The one element of the book that seems to have garnered the most attention was a claim that early in Alex Rodriguez's tenure with the Yankees, his teammates began referring to him as "A-Fraud," and that Rodriguez developed an obsession with team captain Derek Jeter akin to that portrayed in the movie "Single White Female."
Verducci, in an interview with WFAN radio last week, denied those claims came from Torre.
"Joe Torre certainly wasn't name-calling," Verducci told the station. "(He) certainly didn't use the phrase 'A-Fraud' or 'Single White Female.' That is why it is so important to know it is a third-person narrative."
While Rodriguez went on record last week as saying he wasn't bothered by Torre's comments, at least one of Torre's former players in New York, pitcher David Wells, clearly was. USA Today's Game On! blog reported that Wells called Torre a "punk" in an interview with an ESPN Radio affiliate in Los Angeles.
"What we do as athletes, that's our problem and our business," Wells told the station. "And a lot of guys have come out and destroyed that. That's why they don't have any friends. ... People just don't do it, and that's what Joe did.
The deal is pending a physical, which is reportedly scheduled for Thursday.
The 40-year-old lefty went 5-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 51.3 innings with the Brewers in 2008. He held lefties to a .180/.196/.290 line in 104 plate appearances. Since Shouse declined the Brewers' offer of arbitration in December, Milwaukee will receive a supplemental pick.
They are having a hard time locking up Oliver Perez and lowballed Derek Lowe (although he is up there in age.) I don't see how they are going to get Abreu. They might have to go with Tatis/Muphy and hope all their duct tape holds the team together. I still don't see how they got better than the Phillies.