Sunday, June 29, 2008

Igawa sent back down; young stud called up

Without much fanfare the Yanks called up a 23-year old reliever from the minors yesterday named Dave Robertson. He was not a high draft pick like Hughes, Kennedy, or Joba, but he's been producing in the minors.

Evidence: 51 2/3 innings between AA and AAA this year -- he has allowed 26 hits and struck out 74. Over the last two seasons he has pitched 136 innings without allowing a home run, to the tune of a 1.12 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. You read those numbers correctly. He is the anti-Kei Igawa.

Who knows how well this will translate to the big leagues, but those are the kind of eye-popping numbers that could lead to him becoming a prominent fixture at the back of the bullpen. The only red flag to me is 16 walks allowed in 33 innings at Scranton -- will need to improve on that as he matures.

Hopefully this guy pans out, and along with the emergence of Jose Veras could give Girardi some solid options in the 7th and 8th innings so that Cashman doesn't feel pressured to make a deal for someone. With Ohlendorf disappointing and Edwar Ramirez not consistent enough to pitch pressure-packed innings, Robertson could really play an important role down the stretch.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Mets have given up on the season

During the start of the SNY broadcast for the first of today's two-stadium doubleheader, it was annouced that the Mets were wearing their blue hats in honor of playing their last game at Yankee Stadium. So, it seems as though the Mets have given up on trying to reach the World Series this year and some other NL team will lose in the last game played at Yankee Stadium.

Can Joba Pitch In October?

Hey, we're all delighted that Joba has proven just as spectacular as a starting pitcher as he was in middle relief. Thank God their jerking him around and changing his role mid-stream has seemingly not affected him at all. Go Joba! Boy, Hank is smart!

Now here's my question. Is there any scenario under which Joba can pitch in the post-season? Won't he hit his inning limit for the year by early September? We're gonna miss him in October but of course we might not get there anyway without sterling pitchng like Joba has delivered.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nice Debate

Bravo Mike and Joe. I doubt there was a clear winner, but that was as well written and though out debate as I've ever heard or read from any sports writers, pundits, talking heads, etc. Your ideas were so lucid and analytical that I agreed with both of you with every comment and then switched when I heard the other guy's rebuttal (accept the A-rod stuff, he's just a metro with purple lipstick). Maybe one of you should try being a professional writer! No wait...that's just ludicrous.

Andy Phillips is back in New York

Too bad Michael has tickets at the wrong stadium.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hard Rock Yankees

Can we all agree that putting a Hard Rock Cafe in the new Yankee Stadium is sad, pathetic (the Hard Rock brand is so tired and played out -- any chain would be annoying but this one is so LAME) and generally indicative of how much the new stadium is going to suck for average fans?

Who here is a Yankee fan?

I'll take some liberties with this...

People Michael Likes: Jeter, Mo, Posada, Melky, Cano, Joba, Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Matsui
People Michael Does Not Like: A-Rod, Giambi, Abreu, Pettitte*, Farnsworth
Not Sure About: Damon, Mussina

Common thread: If you were fortunate enough to be drafted by the Yankees, or perhaps sign with them as a penniless teenager from a Latin American country, then you are a Real Yankee and Michael will root for you.

If on the other hand you had the audacity to play for another MLB team, and at some point -- whether it was your choice or that of your former team, you despicably found yourself sullying the vaunted pinstripes, then Michael will rue the day you became a baseball player and root for the day when you are replaced by a Clipper.

So I guess the question is -- what makes Bobby Abreu a "hired gun" and not Hideki Matsui? Really, what makes ANY player on the team that has passed their arbitration years NOT a hired gun? Think Jeter would have re-signed with the team for $50mm if the Mets offered $100mm? No way, nor would anyone expect him to. But they are all hired guns if you think about it.

My point is this...we root for the uniform, which means we root for the players wearing them. Now that is obviously not unconditional. You've made it a point not to support players connected to the steroid scandal, and while I don't agree, I totally understand it. What I don't understand is not supporting players that give it their all on and off the field. That's all I ask. If they are really good at what they do, I'll like them even more. If they are the best player of all time (A-Rod), I'll get ticked off when people fail to appreciate their contributions.

Now of course its more fun if a player comes up through the farm system -- but they don't all pan out the way you want. And if a team like the Yankees wants to compete for championships every year, they need to supplement that internal talent base from time to time with smart trades and strategic free-agent acquisitions.

Look at Boston. How many World Series would they have won without David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon, Josh Beckett, Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts (cringe), Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, etc. etc. etc.? Answer: None. And you know what? Without exception, Boston fans grew to appreciate those players for their contributions to the success of the team -- regardless of how they made it to Boston.

Even the Yankees of old...David Cone, Jimmy Key, David Wells, Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, Joe Girardi, Chuck Knoblauch -- not one of them came up through the farm system, but no one refers to them as "hired guns."

So if someone is adament that they want to root for a team made up entirely of home-grown players, none of which are tainted by the steroid scandal, then I propose they shift their allegience to the Staten Island Yankees.

If said person decides they need to root for a Major League team, then I would suggest they become a fan of the Marlins, a fun team that mostly builds from within. Just don't root for that "hired gun" Hanley Ramirez since he wasn't actually drafted by the Fish.

In summation -- I'm a Yankee fan, which means I'm a fan of Yankees. So unless they are total a-holes on and off the field, as long as someone CHOOSES to put those pinstripes on and gives it their all, the least they deserve is our support.

Voice of Reason

"Look, without guys like Joba, you can't win championships," Rodriguez said. "That's just the bottom line. We need him in the starting rotation."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I know it's early...

But Michael, can you admit yet that the Yankees were right to bring back A-Rod?

The guy is phenomenal, and he's going to continue to be so for years and years. And not a hint of controversy this season...

All hail A-Rod. Give him his due!!!

The National League needs a Designated Hitter

Now, before you point out the proximity of this post to Wang's injury from Sunday, I want to say that I'm all for pitchers having to hit and the strategy that comes along with their spot in the lineup. But even so, the National League needs to add a DH.

However, I'd call it the Designated Fielder and apply it to both leagues. I may be running with an idea that I read a few years ago, but here is what I propose. Each team would select a designated hitter to hit for any fielder on their team EXCEPT for the pitcher. This would allow aging stars and unathletic sluggers to play until they are 45 while adding an exceptional defensive player who will make incredible plays in the field. These defensive specialists rarely crack Major League rosters since they can barely hit above their weight.

This plan would force pitchers to face retaliation for their chin music rather than the team's superstar and the combination of improved defense along with the pitcher batting would speed games along. All of the strategy involved with double switches would still be in effect and offenses would likely produce at a rate greater than the current National League average since a weak hitter would be replaced by an aging star. And to make sure the union is on board, I would raise the roster size to 26 players adding 30 new members to the MLBPA.

It's a plan that works for everyone. Fans get to see better baseball with lots of strategy, 30 new jobs get created, and pitchers will be more accustomed to batting or running the bases that injuries like Wang's will not occur as often.

Mets Fire Willie

Hey, they really are trying to be just like the Yankees! Justified or silly, since a minute ago Randolph was being praised for winning their division for the first time in 18 years and being only a few outs from taking the Mets to the World Series? He should have studied Torre more closely: you've got to win the World Series right away two or three times in order to protect yourself or anything you do (like getting to the post-season every year for a decade) is considered a failure. Silly Willie.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Joba: What Did We Learn?

In short, nothing. We certainly didn't learn that Joba has the makings of an ace starter. But we also didn't learn that he's a flop. It'll take the rest of the season to see what Joba can do with a role in the rotation. You just can't make judgments based on one start. And frankly, it'll be hard to make judgments on even a good start when the pitcher is limited to 75 pitches. If you're really really lucky, a strike out pitcher (who by nature needs a lot of pitches) will get to four or five innings on such a pitch count. But we knew that. How stupid is Hank Steinbrenner?

1. Joba's on a short leash so he'll be burnt out before the end of the season.
2. Joba's ego was strong in the bullpen but now you've underminded his confidence by throwing him into the rotation and letting him flop mightily -- when the upside was so low and the downside was so high.
3. The bullpen has lost about five games in the eighth innning in the past 10 days. Gee, think maybe you could use an ace bridge to secure the games you so desperately need?
4. Now every part of our pitching staff looks shaky, indeed is shaky.
5. I never felt the need to see what Joba could do as a starter if he could maintain his excellence as a bridge for the rest of the season and place himself in line to take over the monumentally hard task of Mo's role in a few years. But pushing Joba into the starting rotation this year when he was going to be on a short leash and would clearly be used up before the post-season was just about as dumb as possible, even if he succeeded.

So, let's hear from the people who insisted that we were idiots for not wanting to remove Joba from a role where he excelled (so far) and put him into a role where he would be done by Sept 1 no matter what.