Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Defer To Johnny Damon

After yet ANOTHER game where Joba Chamberlain secured crucial outs late in the game (and the Chicago bullpen blew a one run lead), Johnny Damon said,
“Joba as a starter, he has a chance to help us out once every five days,” Damon said. “Him coming in and bridging the gap to Mariano, he's got a chance to do that three or four times during those five games.”

Damon added: “Our objective is to win games. Down the road, if we can find someone else like him to throw that eighth inning, then so be it, he'll be able to start. But he's helping us win too many games so far this year.”
Thank you, Mr.Damon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Michael Giltz: Idiot?

A new report about Joba as a starter from a Sunday phone interview with Hank Steinbrenner includes Hank being quoted as saying,
"Michael Giltz, Section 39, Row FF, Seat 4 is a complete idiot!" Or something like that...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm Thrilled We Kept Hughes

But Hughes is 0-3, losing three games in a row for the first time in his pro career. Do I believe he'll get better? Well, I don't know (I hope so), but I'm still glad we kept him. Why? Because Kennedy and Joba and Melky are all performing good to great. When you've got three young pitchers with huge promise, keep them ALL because you have no way of knowing which one will flourish. Long term, it's the smart thing to do. So don't get uptight about the struggles of Hughes. He could turn it around, anyway. But whenever Melky or Kennedy or Joba do great, just remember that's part of the price of keeping Hughes -- success from most of those guys is huge. Expecting it from all of them right away (or ever) is unrealistic.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Who Will Pull The Lever Next?

In one of the dorkiest moves yet, the Yankees are building excitement for the last season at Yankee Stadium by having a clock count down the remaining home games. They celebrate this after the fifth inning by having a celebrity appear on the video screen above the bleachers and pull a rinky-dink lever to reduce the number of games remaining. (After the fifth inning, of course, it's an official game.) The build-up is so over the top for such a banal moment that everyone giggles and pretends to be really excited about what celebrity will pull the lever next. Personally, we're rooting for Costanza to appear (surely Jason Alexander would be happy to do it) and me, I'm waiting for stars from "Law & Order." For those unhappy few who can't make it to the Stadium for every game, here's a rundown of who has pulled the lever:

1. GEORGE STEINBRENNER (sadly, looking a bit lost and elderly)
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81. ????????????????????????

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

LaTroy Switches to #22; Amnesty For Cheats

LaTroy Hawins was wearing #21 to honor Roberto Clemente, not just to piss of Jesse, apparently. He's switching to #22. And in a tiny side item in USA Today, I find out that Bud Selig has guaranteed amnesty and no punishment for anyone named in the Mitchell Report. Because of course if you find out someone has been breaking federal law and besmirching the game, the last thing you should do is punish them. This was the right decision since most fans don't care and certainly the players don't care and people who actually don't want the game filled with cheats are a tiny minority.

The Joba Debate

Michael, to answer your question below about feeling uneasy about facing Boston without Joba, I have to agree with you. I am very uneasy, because I think the Yanks would have a much better chance of winning if they had Joba STARTING vs. Beckett than Moose, who is likely to leave the game with a 3 run deficit.

As to the raging debate going on in the comments section of an earlier Joba post, I've taken the liberty of directly responding to your claims:

Michael: Actually, every inning doesn't count.

Counterpoint: You are wrong. Runs scored in the first count just as much as those in the 7th or 8th. I checked the rule book on this just to make sure.

Michael: Personal stats and ERAs and a pitcher's individual win-loss record bore me and are meaningless. The only stat that matters is GAMES WON. Period. A shut-em-down bridge can bring the hammer down on three games a week.

Counterpoint: I agree that the only thing that matters is games won. But if you have a crappy starting pitcher, a bridge doesn't do you any good since you're LOSING when the pitcher leaves the game.

Michael: A top starter can only win one game a week. And without a strong bridge and closer, even a top starter can't guarantee a win except for the 10-15 games a yar they pitch a complete game.

Counterpoint: NO ONE can guarantee a win, least of all a set up man. They are still reliant on the offense, the defense, the starter, and the closer. It is a TEAM game, and to act as if the setup man can guarantee a win is laughable.

Michael: Even going seven full innings and leaving with a lead is meaningless without the bridge.


Michael: Who cares about how many innings we squeeze out of a pitcher?

Counterpoint: Well since there are 162 games that tend to be 9 innings, I'd say EVERYONE cares how many QUALITY innings you can get out of pitchers. Hence the propensity for putting the very best pitchers in the rotation where they will have the greatest impact on the success or failure of the team, the pitchers with 1 or 2 good pitches at the back end of the bullpen for the pressure packed outs, and the guys who stink in the middle of the bullpen.

Michael: A starter can throw six innings every five days and contribute to one win.

Counterpoint: Yes, but he is much much much more vital to that one win than anyone else that participated in that particular game.

Michael: A bridge can throw six innings every five days and lock in two or three wins.

Counterpoint: That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You realize that would lead to a relief pitcher throwing something like 150 innings, when in reality only the most overused of all relievers throw more than 70. Besides, the best reliever in the world isn't locking in anything unless there is a good starting pitcher that leaves the game with a lead.

Michael: Which stat matters? The number of games the team wins. Nothing else.

Counterpoint: Exactly. We just disagree as to how to go about winning those games. Any insinuation otherwise is frankly insulting, not to mention it hampers the credibility of your argument. Do you think we give a crap about anything else? NO!

Now let me add two thoughts.
1. Pete and I are both on record as saying Joba can help the team more this year in the bullpen (as the team is presently constructed) because we do not have a reliable setup man and we have 5 capable starters already, not to mention the innings limits on the youngsters. We just think that next year, without Moose or Andy, the need for Joba will be such that we can't afford to keep him out of the rotation.

2. If you think Joba's confidence and intensity is so well suited to being the future closer, then why do you act like the possibility of him not succeeding in the rotation would be such a huge dent to his self-confidence from which he could never recover? I don't think you can argue this both ways...pick one side.

Bottom line...I hope he's the next Josh Beckett. But if it turns out he's more Eric Gagne (LA Version) -- that's ok too. I just want him to be healthy, successful, and a World Champion.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Joba As We Face Boston

If that gives you an uneasy feeling and you wish Joba WERE available, I wonder why you think he'd be better as a starter. Then he'd NEVER be available as the bridge.

Diversity in Baseball

The percentage of major leaguers who are black dropped again last year in a study released today. This will undoubtedly spark a wave of articles highlighting the racial inequalities of baseball. What these stories will fail to mention is that the percentage of white and Latino players in the major leagues is also decreasing. Here is the analysis section from The 2006 Racial and Gender Report Card about the player pool:

"In the 2006 MLB season 59.5 percent of the players were white, 8.4 percent were African-American, 29.4 percent were Latino and 2.4 percent were of Asian descent. This was a 0.5 percentage point decrease for white players, a 0.6 percent decrease for African-American players and 0.4 percentage point increase for Latinos."

Why is there not the same level of outcry regarding the decrease in whites and Latinos in baseball? The decrease is due to the continued influx of Asian players into the majors and the percentage decrease for each group is essentially equivalent for all three racial groups, but it will be reported like baseball is purposely ignoring black players.

Now, is the current system in baseball predisposed to neglect black players? Yes, but only in the fact that the system punishes all Americans, Canadians and Puerto Ricans. It makes economic sense for any major league team to develop young players in South America and the Caribbean since their money will buy more infrastructure than in the U.S. and they can sign the players as soon as they are 17. In the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico a team can spend just as much money to develop the next generation of superstars only to have them required to enter the Amateur Draft and end up on another team. So teams don't spend their resources domestically where a vast majority of black players are from. And if teams do set up domestic developmental facilities they are more likely to not do so in inner-cities where space is limited and overheads are higher than in sub-urban areas that many black children are unable to access.

In conclusion, could Major League Baseball do more to cultivate black players? Of course, but that would require a lot more than a few token programs across the country since the economic benefits of importing players far outstrip the costs of developing then domestically. The first step toward this would be to extend the Amateur Draft globally, but you won't find that suggestion in the Racial and Gender Report Card.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Bridge To Nowhere

Yeah, who needs a bridge like Joba when Ian Kennedy can pitch into the 7th with a 7-2 lead...and then watch it disappear into the black hole of a bullpen we've been struggling to overcome for the last five or so years. Yes! Let's make Joba a starter so he can pitch 7 innings, leave with a five run lead...and then watch it disappear into the black hole of a bullpen that would be left. Yes!

They Should Have Left The Shirt In The Concrete

Am I the only one who thinks we should bury this shirt again? Ortiz’ average while the jersey was buried: .070!


Update: Ortiz went 2 for 5 in his first game since the shirt was unearthed. I say we bury jerseys of the entire Red Sox 25-man roster along with the aforementioned Ortiz jersey!

The Mistakes of Joe Girardi

Hey, I'm still supporting Girardi and will do all season and next (I don't dump someone after 30 games). But that's no reason not to look at the mistakes he's made. Hopefully, he'll learn from them, which is another reason to keep them in mind - to see if he's adjusting. As for the team, no one is hitting and yet we've won a lot of close, low-scoring games -- to my mind, that's a positive sign since we have the bats and they'll come alive. Winning game 14-3 isn't as encouraging long-term as winning 2-1 and 3-0 early in the season. Onto Girardi's mistakes

1. Putting in a catcher who can't throw -- wasn't Morgan Ensberg available? If your catcher can't throw, don't put him in the game. Not if there's an option. (I know Molina is going on the DL).

2. Not getting Damon to bunt at Boston with no outs and runners on first and second with damon facing a leftie and basically sucking bat-wise, especially against lefties -- a great chance to play small ball with the game very tight. Why have him swing away?

3. Not walking Manny -- sure, always nice to let the pitcher nibble and if the guy threatens to just walk him. But why not just walk him with first base open?

Many more. I'm sure. What am I missing? And try to include moves that you questioned in advance, not just moves that didn't work out.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yankee Stadium Bucket List

With the close of the House that Ruth Built quickly approaching, I've been giving thought to all the memorable games I've seen at the Stadium. I've seen three decisive playoff games (ALDS Game 5 in 2001 and ALCS Game 7 in 2003 & 2004), a series-clinching, walk-off home run, the World Series clincher in 1999, Brosius' home run, the Subway Series of 2000 (as well as all the regular season iterations along the way), Clemens hitting Piazza in the head AND throwing a shattered bat at him, 10 Opening Days, numerous Old Timer's Days, a 3-team double header, Clemens' 300th win (and 4000th strikeout), Mike Stanton's first start (a record for most relief appearances before making a major league start), the Armando Benitez brawl (along with a few others) and a man falling out of the upper deck into the cargo netting behind home plate. When I attend the final regular season game at the Stadium in September that will add one more memory to the list, but there are still a few things I'd like to see in the old or new Yankee Stadium. So, here is my Yankee Stadium Bucket List:

1. World Series Game 7
2. Tie-breaker Game
3. No-hitter
4. 20 Inning (or more) Game
5. Divorce (or Move Out) message on the Fan Marquee

Monday, April 7, 2008

Young Fun

I love it when young players are in the mix. Anytime Giambi is benched is good by me and the outfield definitely looks better with Melky in center. Cano will hopefully keep getting better and we'll replace Abreu next year with a triple AAA-er and suddenly you're looking at a much younger team with a lot of building blocks for the future. (Did I mention Hughes, Kennedy and Joba?) But god help us if Jeter is injured for a long time; he's the Captain in every way and is the perfect mentor for these kids via his example.

Hmm, Should Joba Be Moved Into The Rotation?

Here we are in the bleachers JOKING about the idea that anyone could think of moviing Joba after his stellar performance during the homestand, and people are still debating it. Why not turn Mariano Rivera into a starter while you're at it? Is there a better middle reliever in baseball? (I'm of course extrapolating from his stint last season and great start.) And if you have someone who is the best at the league or all of baseball at a position, wouldn't you be an idiot to move them?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Will They Never Learn?

Towards the end of spring training, Joe Girardi said Joba would start the season in the bullpen but that he still thought of Joba as a starter. Then Joe opened the door by saying it wouldn't necessarily happen this season. Thank God! They'd finally come to their senses.

So what happens? Joba comes out of the bullpen on Opening Day and electrifies an ecstatic crowd, picking up right where he left off last season (and putting behind him a weak spring training where he never knew what role he was preparng for). It was so exciting, you imagined even the biggest fools would say they were wrong and that Joba was right where he belonged. Even if they wouldn't admit that, at least they'd applaud and apprciate what he did. So what did Hank Steinbrenner do just minutes after the game and Joba's dominating performance? He praised his young pitchers, swore he'd "protect" them from overuse (presumably by Girardi) and said they'd only get better and hopefully really step it up during the post-season. "By then, of course, Joba will be in the rotation," Hank said. (I'm paraphrasing, by the way.) Can you believe it? Hank REITERATED that Joba is DESTINED to become a starter right after Joba excels in the bullpen in dramatic fashion, challening the other team's best hitter for his final out. Will they never learn?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Opening Day Thoughts

1. As Melky had a brilliant day on the field and at the plate, all I could think of was, "And this is the guy the geniuses in the front office wanted to trade away."

2. As Joba came in to roars of excitement (just saying he was warming up in the bullpen got huge applause) and then knocked 'em down in the eighth, all I could think of was, "And this is the guy the geniuses in the front office wanted to turn into a starter."

3. As the new stadium peeked in at us through the break in the facade, all I could think was, "Our seats are gonna suck next year, aren't they?"