New Year’s Open Thread

I finally got used to writing 2012 on checks and now I have to start writing 2013. As quick as the year passed, the Yankees have done so much during that time. Jesus Montero was swapped for Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda became a Yankee, Phil Hughes rebounded, Brett Gardner and Mariano Rivera were injured for nearly a full season, David Phelps emerged with a strong 2012 in the Major Leagues, the demise of the Killer B’s, Raul Ibanez became a post season hero, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano Russel Martin left for the Indians and Pirates, and Kevin Youkilis and Ichiro Continue reading New Year’s Open Thread

The ten best moments of 2012

Though it might have felt like it at various times, 2012 was certainly far from all bad for the Yankees. Yes, that should be self-evident for a team that won more games than anyone else in the American League and a playoff series on top of it, but let’s face it: the lowest lows were awfully darn low for Yankee fans over the past year. But because we’re ever the optimists around here, let’s bid adieu to 2012 with a warm and fuzzy feeling as we remember the good times, and hope for even more in the coming new year.

10. A.L. East Champions! (October 3):

It might have officially gone down to the final day of the season, but the Yankees winning the A.L. East crown wasn’t exactly the stuff of the final day of the 2011 season. The Yankees needed just a win or a Baltimore loss after the Orioles had been dominated by James Shields the previous night, and with the beating they put on the hapless Red Sox that was never really in doubt. The crown was officially clinched midgame with Baltimore’s loss, and though there was still work to be done, the team’s third division title in four years was absolutely a cause for celebration after the roller-coaster ride of a season we all lived through.

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Which Ichiro Suzuki will show up in 2013?

When the Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki mid-way through the 2012 season I was unimpressed. Suzuki is a star who had played his entire career to that point in Seattle, so there was considerable fanfare after the deal was completed, but this wasn’t the Ichiro of old, the perennial 200 hit machine with a high average. This was the Ichiro of 2011, a player who managed a 79 wRC+ and a .310 OBP. He was a big name, but no longer a big player. I proceeded to eat my words. Suzuki returned to form with the Yankees. Over 240 plate appearances Continue reading Which Ichiro Suzuki will show up in 2013?

The ten worst moments of 2012

(As we prepare to close the door on 2012 and ring in the new year let’s use today to look back at the highlights, and lowlights, of the year that was. We’ll start with the downers, and then go out on a high note.)

On the surface, a season that culminates with a division championship and a trip to the ALCS is a positive one by any (reasonable) standard. Of course, any successful season has it’s share of low points, and the 2012 Yankees certainly seemed to weather more than their fair share of them for a team that wound up winning more games than anyone else in the league. Here then, for therapeutic purposes, is a look back at the ten worst moments of 2012 as defined by us.

10. Jerry Meals (September 8):

The Yankees were already reeling when they opened this four game weekend series in Baltimore, having fallen into a first place tie with the Orioles earlier in the week, but after a solid victory the night before and with C.C. Sabathia on the mound, the Yankees found themselves with a golden opportunity to re-establish some control over the scoreboard. To make things even better, Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup after missing significant time with a calf injury. Everything was coming up Yankees, until the game started. The Yankees actually got out to a 2-0 lead after an inning and a half, but Sabathia allowed three home runs in the game, and the Yankees trailed 5-3 entering the top of the ninth. The Yankees refused to quit, however, starting the inning with three hits and plating a run with a fielder’s choice, bringing Teixeira to the plate with the tying run on third. Tex, however, put one on the ground, and with his aching calf it didn’t appear as though he’d even make it to first. Amazingly, he did manage to beat out the back end of the double play with a head first slide, or at least that’s the way everyone not named Jerry Meals saw the play. The first base umpire called Tex out, and just like that the Yankees were back in a first place tie. To make things worse, Teixeira re-aggravated the calf injury on the play and would miss another couple of weeks of action, and then Joe Girardi blew up at Joel Sherman after the postgame interviews.

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Projecting Derek Jeter in 2013

New York has never had a shortage of sports writers who have predicted the demise of Derek Jeter over the last decade. The sports writers have always been proven wrong. I’m no different. After the 2010 season I was openly declaring that Jeter was done, and that the Yankees should retain his services only until he collected his 3,000th hit, after which it would be time to find a new shortstop. If the Yankees had listened to me (mercifully they didn’t) the team never would have benefited from Derek’s 2012 season. For those who don’t remember, this past year, at Continue reading Projecting Derek Jeter in 2013

Yankees hire ex-manager Wakamatsu

Via Ken Davidoff, the Yankees have hired former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu to a job in their pro scouting department. Wakamatsu managed the Mariners in their surprisingly strong 2009 season, but was fired before the end of his second season at the helm amidst an historically inept offensive performance by the M’s in 2010. He spent the last two seasons as John Farrell’s bench coach in Toronto.

Front office/staff moves like this are tough to “evaluate,” if only because we don’t actually see what goes on with these people as they go about doing their job. However, I do think it’s interesting that the Yankees continue to bring in names you’ve heard before to do these jobs. In the past few years they’ve used Kevin Towers and Jim Hendry as special assignment scouts after they lost GM jobs elsewhere, and now they’re incorporating Wakamatsu as a scout. Continue reading Yankees hire ex-manager Wakamatsu

Hideki Matsui (and Me): A Retrospective

Hideki Matsui announced his retirement yesterday after 10 seasons in the Majors – seven of them with our New York Yankees – and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at his time in Pinstripes. For this post, I chose to focus on specific games I attended during Matsui’s Yankee tenure so I could tell some stories. Some are just random games, there’s a playoff game in there and a game in which he wasn’t even a Yankee. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane and please, feel free to leave your memories of Continue reading Hideki Matsui (and Me): A Retrospective

The Case For Trading Boone Logan

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) The trade market continues to look like the best option for the Yankees to address their biggest areas of need this offseason.  With the bulk of this year’s free agent class picked clean and the team already stretching its budget to add Kevin Youkilis and guarantee 2 years to Ichiro Suzuki, it’s highly unlikely the Yankees will plunk down more guaranteed money to what are essentially scraps.  There have been multiple reports of the Yankees quietly shopping guys like Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova already this offseason, reports Continue reading The Case For Trading Boone Logan

Just get rid of the character clause

Obviously I don’t agree with the conclusions Ken Rosenthal reaches in his Hall of Fame coulmn, at least with respect to steroid users (outside of that, his ballot is pretty much exquisite), but it’s more considered than most of the people who are going to withhold their vote from Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be, so it’s worth a read on its own terms. Still, there are a couple of points at which I think the line of reasoning that Rosenthal employs does more to disprove his position more than anything, particularly this bit on the character clause;

The Hall of Fame specifically instructs us that voting “shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

You may disagree with selective application of the “character clause.” You may believe that the clause should be eliminated entirely. And you may think that a player’s performance matters far more than his character.

All that is fine, but the clause exists, and it allows voters not only to take a subjective view of candidates, but also to apply a rather wide lens.

I think Rosenthal is really glossing over the point about selectivity here, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there. I find it to be silly, but I suppose you could think that “cheating” by using steroids is worse than by, say, doctoring a ball, or that using other drugs isn’t as bad as using steroids.

The real problem is that, as far as I can tell, the character clause has previously been invoked approximately never. It’s merely something that a certain segment of writers latched on to in order to justify their crusade against Barry Bonds players who used “PE”DOTTUBHA* and had the nerve to break records held by players idolized by 10 year old Bob Costas. And I suppose you can argue that that’s permissibble under the rules as well, but that would put you in a rather strange philosophical position. The Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, drug users, vile racists, and Ty Cobb, but it’s players using steroids post-1997 that’s finally going to move us to take the “character clause” seriously as a criteria for choosing whom to vote for?

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to be the guy who says that Barry Bonds just isn’t good enough for the club that includes Cap Anson. Continue reading Just get rid of the character clause