In Cashman We Trust

When seeing a headline like Hank Steinbrenner to talk contract with Cashman, all I could think of was “man, that’d be great” (along with “I hope I am not reading theOnion.com“)

Cashman’s track record isn’t without its blemishes (Karsay, Giambi, Pavano, Irabu, etc.), but without question, his 2005 powerplay to retain total autonomy over the Tampa faction is his biggest achievement. In doing so, he wrested the panic button from GMS’s guys and let the “baseball people” make the baseball calls. Amen.

Hank’s been a blowhard this offseason, his first seemingly in control of the helm. He’s made it clear that he wanted Santana and wasn’t happy with Cashman letting him go to the Mets. Hank has essentially put Cashman’s fate in the arms of Hughes, Joba and IPK, which isn’t fair. There’s enough pressure as is, no need to lay more on their young shoulders.

Steinbrenner said Monday: “I think the big thing with Brian is the organization he put in place. It’s not based on just one decision as far as, do a trade or don’t do a trade, or sign a free agent or don’t sign. He put Damon Oppenheimer in as the chief of scouting, which has obviously paid off huge. The way he works with Mark Newman, the way he works with (Joe) Girardi, the organization he’s put in place. All those things are factors.”

I hope Hank’s had time to reflect on Cashman’s position and strategy and what we’re seeing is a change in his philosophy and beliefs. Yanks fans can only hope this is the case and we’ll have Cashman looking out for our boys in pinstripes for years to come.

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Jim Bowden declared Uber-Geek of the world!

Ballplayers and some major media folks laugh at the guys behind the Excel spreadsheets, calling them (us?) things like “geeks“, “stat-heads“, “nerds“. Some of that may be true though I think most of them (us?) view things differently; guys/girls making better use of data to make better decisions and arrive at conclusions. Maybe that’s just me, though.

And now, we have the Uber-geek of all time, at least in inside baseball circles. Presenting Nationals’ GM Jim Bowden on a Nats-customized, tricked out Segway. Yeehaw!

You go, Jimbo. Maybe he can use that to escort Elijah Dukes to his parole officer. Continue reading Jim Bowden declared Uber-Geek of the world!

Another reason to cheer for Jeter

Yes, I am a Yankee fan even though I don’t worship at Jeter’s altar. Love the guy. My kids love the guy. I just don’t worship him blindly, as you saw last week. But give the guy his due when deserved.

While he is notoriously bland with his comments, he still manages to say the right things, act the right way, defer appropriately, deflect like Teflon. His comments this weekend (sorry for the Monday posting) are right on with what we need more of: Support for blood testing in MLB.

You can test for whatever you want to test for,” New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter told Bloomberg News. “We get pricked by needles anyway in spring training, so we have a lot of blood work to begin with.”

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Continue reading Another reason to cheer for Jeter

A bummer of a story

It’s one thing to discuss the bummers in sports when they are self-inflicted (like steroids), but it’s another when they are family bummers. Here is the story about Don Mattingly and the sad demise of his marraige. OK, divorce is a bummer, period, but that Donnie had to abandon his managerial dreams when he was on the doorstep of achieving them is really painful. That his marital woes may have been at least a part of the reason for his retirement after the 1995 playoffs stings that much more.

In 1995, just a month after he hit .417 in his first – and only – postseason series, Mattingly quit the game. The same year, his wife was arrested in Indiana for driving a car while intoxicated, court records show. Though he publicly blamed his bad back for his retirement, Mattingly’s friends said his decision was partially fueled by his wife’s drinking.

—–

This is not the first time we’ve all had to go through this.”

Here’s hoping Donnie and his wife can work this out, and soon.

Continue reading A bummer of a story

Foiled by an 11 year old?

Looks like Roger Clemens’ claims that he never attended Canseco’s pool party back in 1998 might be foiled by a then-11 year old‘s picture.

The photo is owned by a young man who attended the party when he was 11 years old and took photos of his baseball heroes, including Clemens. Richard Emery, one of the lawyers for Clemens accuser Brian McNamee, was aware that such evidence had been circulating this week.

We have reason to believe it’s reliable evidence,” Emery told the Daily News on Thursday. “We believe there’s photographic evidence that shows Clemens was at a party he says he wasn’t at.”

More good times for Clemens ahead.

Continue reading Foiled by an 11 year old?

Did I say MVP? I meant just really good

ARod just came out and claimed that Jeter would have an MVP season.

I think Jeter is going to have an MVP season. That’s my prediction for the year,” Rodriguez said

Of course, this only means that the Yanks’ Public Relations damage control department will come out in a few hours with an “official statement” stating that ARod really meant to say that Jeter would have a “really good” season and that ARod apologizes for any confusion in his embellishments and exaggerations.

Continue reading Did I say MVP? I meant just really good

Remembering 1.12

An article by Jonah Keri on ESPN.com reminded me just what an incredible year 1968 was. 1968 is remembered as “The Year of the Pitcher” and without a doubt, Bob Gibson was the pitcher of the year.

Rather than rehash everything Keri wrote, below are a few of the most mindnumbing stats for Gibson that year:
  • His 1.12 ERA was the lowest figure in a season not played in the Deadball era
  • Gibson completed 28 of his 34 starts, 13 of them for shutouts
  • 268 strikeouts
  • From June 2 through July 30, Gibson threw 99 innings — and gave up two runs. According to baseball researcher Bill Deane, the two runs Gibson allowed were the result of bad luck more than anything. One came on a catchable wild pitch, the other on a bloop double that landed inches fair. Earlier that season, Don Drysdale set the record for most consecutive scoreless innings with 58 2/3. Orel Hershiser would break that record 20 years later with 59. Yet Gibson’s streak is regarded by many as the most dominant stretch of pitching in major league history.
  • Denny McLain, who won 31 games in 1968, faced Gibson in Game 1 of the World Series that year and McLain’s 1.96 ERA ranked fourth in the AL, behind Dave McNally (1.95), Sudden Sam McDowell (1.81), and Luis Tiant (1.60)
  • His 17 strikeouts in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series set a World Series record that still stands.
Take a look at his game log to the right. Note that he went PAST 9 innings 5 times. Can you imagine the fall-out if today’s pitchers were used the same way? Joba Rules? Ha!!!
And the aftermath of 1968:

Continue reading Remembering 1.12

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Jeter and Stick Michael (the Yanks long-time scout) have come out in response to the outcry about Jeter’s declining range and defensive skills. Good for them. Here’s their defense, in two parts, Jeter first:

Maybe it was a computer glitch,” the three-time Gold Glove winner said of the report. But Jeter just didn’t laugh this one off. He defended himself, saying, “Every [shortstop] doesn’t stay in the same spot, everyone doesn’t have the same pitching. Everyone doesn’t have the same hitters running, it’s impossible to do that.

Jeter, 33, pointed out you can get the exact same ground ball off the exact same pitcher and there could be an average runner or there could be Ichiro running. “How can you compute that?” he asked

And Stick had this to say, with my emphasis, as usual:

You simply can’t do that by those charts, that’s a bunch of baloney,” Michael added. “It’s disgraceful. You have to use a scout’s eye to determine range.”

What about Jeter’s range now in his 13th major league season?

It’s not as good as it was, but it’s not bad,” Michael said. “You might put some people ahead of him range-wise, but that doesn’t mean they are better shortstops. Look how sure-handed he is, look how clutch he is. That makes up for a lot.”

So, Stick says you need a scout’s eye to REALLY determine a player’s range as the statistical analyses don’t adequately capture pitching types and Jeter adds in the men-on-base dynamic. Since I don’t know how Zone Rating or the other defensive stats are computed, let’s table that for another time. But what’s so funny is that he uses “clutchness” as a defense about Jeter’s defense. (rolls eyes) And he also readily admits Jeter’s range isn’t as good as it was. I’m not as young as I was, either.

So good defense beats clutch but clutch beats bad defense? Newfangled rock/paper/scissors?

Shysterball had a fun look at this, too, by the way.

Continue reading Rock, Paper, Scissors

ARod becoming Seinfeld character

Like the “close talker” (see picture to right) or “Crazy” Joe Davola, or Bubble Boy, the braless wonder from Seinfeld lore, Alex Rodriguez is quickly becoming his own Seinfeld-esque character. I christen thee, The Inappropriate Comment Guy (or ICG from here on out; my blog, deal with it).

What now?”, you ask. Well, it appears that ICG tried to make a funny or lighthearted reference to steroid testing, claiming he got tested 9-10 times last year. Whoops! Being tested that many times would seem to indicate that he was under suspicion of something, possibly amphetamines.

Last year, I got tested 9 to 10 times,” he said. “We have a very, very strict policy, and I think the game is making tremendous strides.”

The number of tests he cited is substantially higher than those mandated by baseball’s collective-bargaining agreement.

Of course, Yanks management has helped to try to extricate ICG from his latest hole with helping him with this “official statement” (which I can’t stand):

On Wednesday night, Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ media relations director, issued a statement on behalf of Rodriguez to further clarify his original comment.

My quote from earlier today was taken literally,” the statement said. “I was not tested 9 or 10 times last year. I was just using exaggeration to make a point. My intent was simply to shed light on the fact that the current program being implemented is working, and a reason for that is through frequent testing. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.”

ICG, why do you so often stumble on things that are so easy to step over or around? Just avoid the traps and you’ll be OK. We, the fans, really want to embrace you, but you make it tough sometimes with these proclamations. We “get it” that you’re not Jeter. Few are that media savvy (or vanilla). But for a guy who is protrayed as intelligent, you sure do step on your own tongue too often.

Quick personal story: He reminds me of a buddy of mine who often makes an inappropriately timed joke or comment. A few years back, we’re away at a Boys Weekend (an annual thing for us) and we’ve already had a few beverages and reading for a vicious battle of quarters before going out for the evening’s activities. Right as we’re about to begin, the music’s blaring, everybody’s excited, amped up and he says “Wait a second. I have to make a quick announcement!” So we figure it’s something benign or maybe even funny. “My parents are getting divorced” was his proclamation. A six-man buzz kill. Inappropriate comment guy to the rescue.

ARod’s becoming that guy who’s unable to discern when he should table his thoughts or tone down his “act”.

Continue reading ARod becoming Seinfeld character