Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm back

Yes after about a fortnight being away doing various activities including graduating from university, I am back to wallow in the crabiness of my beloved New York Yankees. So what have we been up to recently?

Still playing Tony Womack I see, most expensive Pinch Runner in the game. He can't hit for average or power, his OBP is as impressive as my varied diet (on that note I again went to the chippy and had saveloy, chips and a curry sauce today for lunch) and every time he is up in a key situation you wonder how he'll get out. The other day I saw him pull a ball foul but deep enough to actually be called a Home Run, I nearly had a heart attack.

In better news we have seen an upturn in the fortunes of Jason Giambi. Whilst not producing the numbers that the Yankees thought they were signing up for when he inked his contract, he is becoming more of a help to the team than a hindrance and is at this point, in my view at least, the right choice for 1st base on this team over Tino Martinez.

We have seemingly released both Mike Stanton and Paul Quantrill, news will arrive shortly on whether or not they are still part of the team. Stanton gave up the GW walk-off Home Run to Brian Roberts on Tuesday night and if that is the way he ends his time with the Yankees then it is a sad one, but he really wasn't much of a help to this team. Quantrill can go, who cares? James Anderson (2.85 ERA) has been called up from Triple-A Columbus for the short term.

The decision to give Sean Henn the ball to step in for the DL'ed Kevin Brown was a very bad one. He was still far too raw and Alex Graman or even Aaron Small at a pinch were better options at this time.

Mr Hay is getting giddy at the thought that the Yankees might move Gary Sheffield. Whilst the Yankees haven't dismissed the possibility that Sheff may be moved, the deal to the Mets for Cameron, Cairo and Heilman is not a goer. Also possibly on the trading block is my boy Jorge Posada due to not having a no trade clause, should he be moved I will not be a happy blogger.

Two names not on the block are rookies Wang and Cano who are both staying with the ball club according to team officials. The Boss is happy with their production and wants to see what moves the team can make without moving either of these two guys. I do wonder who'll be dumb eno... I mean smart enough to trade big time prospects for Tony Womack...

Yankees take on the Tigers tonight with Jeremy Bonderman coming off the most horrible line against the D'Backs on Sunday night, so he'll come back a shut us out with two-hit ball over nine innings. I'm just so positive me!

Trade Rumor of the Day

Sheffield to the Mets for ...heck who cares - make the deal Cash, make the deal. Is there a Sox fan anywhere that wouldn't want that deal - anytime Gary "Violent Mania Just Bubbling Under the Surface" Sheffield comes to the plate, I think bad things will happen - and I mean baseball wise, not controlling himself in a way that has Pope Benedict XVI asking questions about Sheffield's suitability for the cannonization process.

Sadly, I think this story on is more likely the truth.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Calling the Division on June 29th?

Did someone say that calling the AL East on June 26th was a little premature?

The Sox swept the series against the Indians last week, but while I enjoyed it, I didn't think it was a convincing sign that the Sox would run out the season without another loss. The last couple of days against the Indians have shown this years version of Theo's 2004 'fatal flaw' - our bullpen.

I still believe (that noise in the corner is Neil M chuckling) that Keith Foulke is a championship caliber closer, but I sure as heck wish he would start showing it. There is no reliever in our bullpen that marches in at the moment that has any sane Sox fan thinking - excellent, guaranteed outs! Mike Myers, maybe, and Mike Timlin, maybe - as long as there is no one on base, but apart from that, it is an adventure. I really do think this is a fixable flaw, and it doesn't require the radical surgery that Theo carried out in 2004 - there appear to be options in our minor league system, and middle relief of increasing quality should be available (albeit at an increasing price) as the trade deadline approaches - the most commonly named names appear to be Brian Fuentes (of the Rockies), David Weathers (of the Reds) and the entire bullpen of the San Diego Padres! I guess this is a definite case of "in Theo we trust"!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Calling the Division on June 26th?

Is this what two days in first place does for the CHB?

Me thinks that the summer sun in Philadelphia is going to his head! While the last two weeks have shown the potential of this team, the two weeks prior to that, when we were not hitting consistently and our bullpen struggled to get outs, highlighted another potential outcome for the team...

Perhaps it is simply because I have never known a baseball period when the Yankees were so seemingly poor, that my brain will not buy into the notion that the New York 9 are done. You still look at that lineup on paper every day and think that they have to start performing to that paper potential (consistently) at some point.

If the Sox continue to build this lead fine, but until then...

A pitching comparison

Well the Sox continue to roll, and today's results mean that the Sox will enter next week in first place, with the Yankees a minimum of 5.5 games behind.

Watching the last few innings on YES this afternoon, much of the discussion was centered on the Yankees poor starting pitching - the general feeling expressed by Kay and co was that the Yankees lacked that one starter who you knew you would act as a 'stopper' when his turn in the rotation came - this is the politely disguised way of saying... what is wrong with Randy Johnson?

The following table sets out the performance of the Sox and Yankees starting pitching over the last ten games, or twelve for the Yankees who have not had an off day for a while;


































































































It is not that the Yankees haven't had good starting pitching over the period - they have - and with the lineup that they have constructed they should be able to overcome some of the poor pitching performances that they have delivered as well. Over the 12 games they have actually gone 7-5, but the inconsistency that has plagued them all season is evident in this period as well - a 6 game winning streak, followed by 5 losses in the next 6. But that 3.6 runs per start translates to an ERA of almost 5 - no team will thrive over any significant period giving up 5 runs per game.

The Sox starters have performed well above reasonable expectations since Theo made his 'pitch better or else' comments in Chicago, and the Sox 9-1 record over the 10 games reflects this. Curt's return, now scheduled for some time around the ASG break, should further help the team, but can they be expected to keep this level of performance up for much longer?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Game 74 at Petco Park... batting practice in LF

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An interesting design feature at Petco are a number of areas where you can stand at field level and watch the action - this photo was taken from an area just outside the Padres team store, at the foot of the Western Metal Supplies Co building, as the Mariners completed batting practice.

The only problem for the Padres was that batting practice never seemed to stop - Richie Sexson hit a HR, and the Mariners had three triples in an inning for the first time since a game at Fenway in May 1987! The one sided game finished 14-5 in favor of the AL team, helping them stay off the bottom of the West for another day.

At least for tonight...

Posted by Hello

The combination of another Sox win, and an Orioles loss saw the Birds fall off the top of the AL East for the first time since April 22nd.

Clearly there is a long way to go, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Orioles regain the Divisional lead at some point this weekend, but none the less, the last ten days have been very encouraging for the 2005 Red Sox.

Pedro v the Yankees again...

Steve Phillips, on ESPN, has just stated that Pedro has a reasonable straight change up...

Apparently Phillips also said that Egypt has some pyramids, Switzerland has some banks and the French aren't that keen on George Bush, or Tony Blair, or... well a lot of people really.

1st edit - there is someone else in the ESPN booth aside from Phillips, so if it wasn't Steve that made the above remark - I apologize...

Yankees have just narrowed the gap to two runs, or from 4-1 to 4-2... according to the ESPN booth, the Yankees have halved the lead.... ;-)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Game 73 at Petco Park... and a question of strategy

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Today's game (a day game with a much higher attendance than Tuesday night - do these San Diegans not have work to go to?) was the final game in a 4 game set with the Dodgers.

In the top of the 8th, with the Padres 3-0 ahead, starter Brian Lawrence allowed a lead off double, followed by a walk. With 2 men on and 0 outs, manager Bruce Bochy (with his back pocket bulging with his new 2 year contract extension) went to his bullpen, calling on Akinori Otsuka, presumably with the intention of getting Trevor Hoffman into the game in the 9th inning to close out the game.

Otsuka got Cesar Izturis to pop out on his first pitch, before Mike Edwards ground out, moving the runners up to 2nd and 3rd. So 2 outs, men on 2nd and 3rd, Jayson Werth at the plate - no disrespect Jayson, but this was an out that Otsuka had to make. However, Otsuka walked him on 5 pitches - warning bells - bringing Jeff Kent to the plate. Kent singled, but this only brought one run in - Padres still ahead 3-1.

At this point, with 2 outs, the move has to be bring in your best pitcher - presumably, Trevor Hoffman. I can't believe that Olmedo Saenz has such extreme success against Hoffman that it wasn't the move to make - my thought at the time was that Hoffman may have been overused in the series and simply wasn't available.

Bochy stuck with Otsuka, who promptly gave up a 2 run single that tied the game - allowing Hoffman to be brought into the game in the 10th (blowing the unavailable excuse) in a non save situation... and promptly blow the game!

You often hear the arguement that managers are too rigid about the roles that they allot to pitchers in the bullpen - but in this situation, the game was clearly on the line. If Bochy did not believe that Hoffman could get 4 outs (which I struggle to believe), ask him to get the key out and allow some other reliever to do the bases empty stint in the ninth, even if it comes at the expense of a save for Hoffman.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Game 71 at Petco Park

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Well that is the view of Petco out of my hotel room window!

If only that pesky CF scoreboard / giant video screen wasn't there, I wouldn't have to fork out for any tickets this week - particularly as the sound system is so good, I can't believe that I wouldn't be able to hear the whole thing from my room.

Petco jumps toward the top of the (as yet) unpublished list of my favorite ballparks in America - uniquely, in relation the new "breed" of ballparks, Petco uses a sandstone coloring and white steel beams (as opposed to the red brick, green steel beams combo) and looks fantastic.

The game was a good opportunity to watch D-Lowe in his new uniform - but it was pretty much same old, same old from Derek. He did not pitch as well as his 6IP, 2ER outing would suggest - he walked 4 and needed 114 pitches to get through those 6 innings. He worked his way into, and out of, a couple of bases loaded jams, but the Padres line up helped him out quite a bit. Two other ex-Sox were on display - Dave "Greatest Stolen Base in Baseball History" Roberts and Damian "Johnny Damon Still Has Nightmares About Me" Jackson - Roberts had a nice triple, while Jackson had a nice defensive play.

Highlight of the night was Hoffman's entry in the top of the 9th - the bells tolling have a suitably dramatic effect, and while it wasn't Hoffman's most effective outing ever, he got the job done, striking out Choi to finish the game. Given Monday's game finished 1-0, tonight's 2-1, I am looking forward to a 4-3 win for the Padres on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Jeter finally slams

It has been a while in the making but on Saturday afternoon in the Bronx it happened. With the bases full of Yankee base runners, Derek Jeter launched one into death valley and saw the ball carry out of the yard and into the Yankee bullpen and gave the home side a comfortable lead that Wang would easily hold on to.

Now the Phillies David Bell has the most plate appearances without a Grand Slam with the bases loaded (118) whilst Devil Ray OF Alex Gonzalez has the most Home Runs without plating four with one swing (132).

The Yankees played well all series and finish the week with a six game winning streak. This team does seem to be one who'll be streaky, lets just hope that the hot streaks outlast the freezing cold ones. The starters are pitching well and the hitters are starting to hit including big clutch hits.

This team is certainly providing us with a fair share of ups and downs!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Game 67 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Posted by Hello
At least the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim don't deny that the Stadium is in Anaheim, but you would be hard pressed to find many other mentions of Anaheim - but fear not, there were no mentions of LA either!

Well the above picture could have been taken during any of Vlad's at bats - let's pretend that I managed to capture the exact moment of his second home run of the game (just don't try and match the time of day sun shadow with the time of his HR).

These walk off things are getting a bit common - second game in 8 days involving the Angels, and the second to go to extra innings, and the second to end in a walk off HR!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Giambino erupts

The Yankees of 2004 were famed for comebacks but their 2005 counterparts have been much better known for giving up. Last night at the Stadium they chipped away and came back to beat the Pirates in extra innings behind a deep Home Run into the 10th row of the RF upper deck seats.

Kevin Brown had good stuff again but was unable to come away with the W and Buddy Groom got him out of a spot of bother in the 5th. Tanyon Sturtze is looking hittable, very hittable once more, giving up two solo shots when he came in but you just felt that this team were ready to battle it out until the final out.

Yes they got a huge break on what should've been a game ending double play when Sheffield was wrongly called safe at 1st but they had to make use of the let off. A-Rod singled up the middle putting runners on the corners for my boy Jorge Posada and he drove one deep to RF and missed a three-run walk-off round-tripper by a matter of inches but tied it up as Sheffield trotted home. A-Rod tried to score but was out by a mile sending this one to added bonus baseball.

Mariano was electric as you'd expect, I wonder if Yankee fans realise just how lucky we are to have this guy pitching for us? In the bottom of the 10th with Russ Johnson standing on 2nd, the Pirates chose to pitch to Jason Giambi and he pulled an inside fastball from Jose Mesa deep into the Bronx skyline as he finally proved he still has it in him to turn on a fastball.

His third walk-off HR in his career, his last being against the Twinkies in the bottom of the 13th on that wet n windy night at THTRB back in his first season with the ball club. I know it's only one swing but if anything is going to give him some confidence then that will. He has started to look better at the plate and has always been better when involved in the field as well. A healthy and in form Giambi is a huge bonus to this offense, it really is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Moose doesn't walk the plank

What a pun. Sometimes I really make myself laugh, although my original idea of 'Moose mows down the Pirates' had nothing to do with anything, it would help me to remember I have gardening to do.


Mike Mussina looked great last night and then I fell asleep (after the first inning). Happily though he was still excellent even without me watching as he at one point retired 14 straight, before going on to pitch a five-hit complete game shutout as the Yankees beat the Pirates by a score of 9-0.

A good offensive performance to as Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter both run their hitting streaks to seven games and even Godzilla found the bleachers on his dodgy ankle. Jason Giambi missed a Home Run to straightaway Center Field by a matter of inches and Tony Womack sucked. I don't like Womack. Does anyone like Womack?

I thought not.

Kevin Brown goes for the Yankees and for my fantasy Fratton Yankees tonight, he is again hovering at the cut line as he and Braves Horatio Ramirez fight it out at the bottom of my rotation. I for some unknown reason still believe Kevin Brown can be an effective pitcher, am I insane?

Kevin, please prove me wrong!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Idiot - Johnny Damon's guide to a year in the life of Johnny Damon

As I continue to try and get full value out of my trip to Norfolk last week - a book review.

I am a big baseball book fan - I will literally read anything about baseball - have a look on Amazon for Screwball by David Ferrell, the novel (fiction... strange, strange fiction) of the Red Sox pitching prospect, whom murder follows, as he makes his way through the big leagues, proves my point (and if anyone has read it and wants to tell me the end... one other admission, life is too short to finish terrible writing... hey come back... don't stop here...). On the more serious side of baseball writing, I am a big fan of Jane Leavy's biography of Sandy Koufax, Leigh Montville's biography of Ted Williams, David Halberstam's poignant 'The Team Mates', Jim Bouton's autobiography, Ball Four, as well as the Kinsella novels.

This past nine months have brought a new curse on my baseball library - books detailing the Sox triumphant march to the World Series - Reversing the Curse, Faithful and numerous other lookbacks - if you have written a book about the Red Sox in 2004 and I haven't parted with hard earned dollars - just drop a note in the comments section and I will send a check!

So at the airport last week I had finished the book I was reading, and spied Johnny's effort (written with / by Peter Golenbock) lurking in the airport bookstore. It is a pretty formulaic and tame effort - Johnny tells of the despair caused by 2003, backs Grady's decision to leave in Pedro (though criticizes Tito's decision to bring in Pedro in Game 6 2004) in that game, and then gives us a very, very quick charge through his youth, sports development, time in the minors, Kansas City and Oakland before arriving in Boston. Like many (sports) stars, Johnny would never under estimate his own ability - he frequently refers to his own ability to mentally decide to carry the team on his back at appropriate points - Johnny could you not do that 162 games a year?

The one thing that made this book stand out for me are the glaring factual errors - isn't that why Johnny paid a (presumably) healthy cut of his takings for a writer and an editorial process? Two stand out - simply because I was at the games concerned, so as soon as I read the particular passages I thought, huh?
  • In Chapter 6, "93 wins", Johnny states "The next day, July 5 2002, Ted Williams passed away. We were in Detroit, and that day I hit a home run"

    Well, the date is right - it was a cooler day, after a July 4th week of brutal heat in Boston, but the city is wrong, the Sox played Detroit at Fenway that day, and the Sox organization presented a wonderful, touching tribute to Ted that night (followed by a more formal memorial the following week I think), though the team itself couldn't deliver a win, despite Johnny's HR.

    I guess what jarred about that section, was the Red Sox book formula's need to create a connection between Williams and 'insert Sox player here' - there really isn't that need, a book about Damon that never mentioned Williams would have been perfectly understandable.
  • In Chapter 18, "The Curse is Broken", Johnny states "Mark Bellhorn batted against reliever Julian Tavarez, a hard thrower who didn't allow many home runs. He got two strikes on Mark, but then threw him a pitch that Mark crushed high and deep off the Pesky foul pole in right field for two runs and a 9-7 victory."

    9-7 victory... the game had to be relatively fresh in Damon's mind, or Golenbock's, or an editors, or a proof readers... but still, a win is a win right?
I guess the more interesting thing from the book is the more casual information that Johnny drops in - his stated ability to learn to be more patient and take pitches for the team following his trade to the A's, and his repeated insistence that he doesn't get any value at looking at opposing pitchers prior to games / series, and his desire not to know a pitchers tendencies... good stuff for a guy that wants a 5 / 6 year extension from a team that values a more measured approach.

Does anyone know of any work that has been done on how 'see the ball, hit the ball' hitters fare as they age, against guys that are willing to develop every advantage they can in the game?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sox season so far - the 60 game edition

Well another 20 games, and a very disappointing 8-12 record over those games, in an admittedly tough stretch of our schedule.

I guess like any Sox fan I would say it is the manner of some of those defeats, rather than the actual results that have been disappointing - swept by the Blue Jays, a couple of poor losses to the O's, and some terrible performances against the Cardinals and now Cubs - the only real highlights (sorry Neil) were the victories in the Bronx and David Ortiz's walk off shot against the Birds.

There isn't a huge amount of positive news from those 20 games - the following table sets out the performance of the hitters and pitchers - setting out the season BA, OBP and OPS of the hitters, the ERA, WHIP and BAA (batting average against) of the pitchers - the final column sets out the cumulative performance in these categories against the teams career numbers - where a positive result means they are outperforming career numbers, and a negative...:




v. Career













































































































There are quite a few horrible numbers in there - Manny's continuing slump now seems something more, while Kevin Millar just looks lost at the plate. However the team is still in the top 5 in the majors in all the hitting categories you would care about.

Clearly, many of our problems would be solved by a pitching staff that could, you know, pitch! Tossing aside Schilling's numbers, some of those numbers, and performance relative to career numbers, are simply shocking. You could probably live with the starting rotation - Clement has pitched well, Arroyo had pitched well until his suspension, Wells has looked good since his return from the DL, Miller has looked ok, and is probably pitching ahead of anything we could rightfully expect at this point in the season. Wakefield has looked poor for quite a stretch - but a generous fan would note the correlation between his poor stretch and Mirabelli's absence. Did someone say that glass is half full?

Our bullpen...

I don't think it needs much analysis - they simply have to pitch better, or we need significant help. When Schilling returns, we can still expect one of Arroyo or Wakefield to move into the long spot that might mean the end of John Halama's time in the bullpen, but it is not as if Halama is the source of the problem, too many of these guys are underperforming, or are revealing that they may no longer be reliable options in our pen. Given the resources that the Sox have at hand, these should be fixable issues, although bullpen problems are notoriously difficult to solve, at least in the longer term, when performance can change so much year to year.

As you might expect, I am not alone in making these observations - thankfully the man that matters most in these matters has started to make public his concerns on the pitching staff;
  • "This is difficult to fix, to be honest with you, so many people are performing below our expectations and below our projections that this isn't easy to fix. If this is the best that this pitching staff can pitch, then I really miscalculated and it's time for changes." Boston Herald
  • ''It's obvious we need help with our pitching," Boston Globe
20 games ago I suggested the team had issues - and now 20 games later, 60 games in to the 2005 season, Theo has to start looking creatively at how they can be addressed.

Is this the real Randy Johnson?

Randy Johnson finally stepped up last night and pitched like the stud pitcher his record says he is. Some timely hitting by Derek Jeter and Matsui broke it open in the fourth as the Yankees finally won on FOX in front of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

From the outset Randy looked good and was hitting 98 MPH on the FOX gun (although 96 on the scoreboard gun) but still that is more giddy up than we've seen from the future Hall of Famer. His slider was filthy and the Cards just weren't getting near to causing any damage. Scattering four hits over seven innings and throwing in seven strikeouts, this is the type of outing that the Yankees are paying the big money for.

An early RBI groundout would turn out to be all the offence the Yankees would need but Jeter (2), Matsui and A-Rod would all add RBI's as the ball club cruised to a 5-0 win. Randy left after seven and whilst Flash got into a spot of bother, The Sandman entered a shut them down and he threw hard and got Larry Walker looking at that nasty four-seemer over the outside half of the plate which just kills lefties after being pounded inside with repeated cutters.

It was a much tighter game by the Yankees and two meeting may of hopefully started to clear the air. The strange thing is that the Yankees have been playing awful baseball and are only six games out of first and we are still a month away from the All-Star break. I bet the O's and the Sox are wishing they had buried the Yanks when they had the chance.

Still, the way the season has gone so far we'll lose 10-1 this evening ;o)

Yankees pull off a right little coup

In the eighth round of the draft last week the Yankees selected CF Austin Jackson. However the lad seemed destined for a future in college basketball having agreed to a full scholarship with Georgia Tech and seemingly losing interest in baseball.

These signability issues allowed Jackson to drop from the first round all the way down to the eighth but still Yankees fans seemed to think this was a wasted pick. Obviously someone on the Yankees had done their homework and next week Austin Jackson will arrive in Tampa to undergo a medical and join the New York Yankees minor league system.

At the time of the draft he was ranked #77 by Baseball America, but he had been ranked a great deal higher but he reluctance to play baseball dropped him down the rankings. The Yankees are paying him good second round money, believed to be around the $1m mark to choose them over being a Point Guard at Georgia Tech.

This is a really nice move by the Yankees and if they can get CJ Henry in ASAP and get them both working out together, then the Yankees can be happy with the first signings from the draft. Of course there is a long way to go but these two guys are both heavily thought of and down the line could be fine Major Leaguers.

Game 62 at Shea Stadium

Well an evening of 'firsts' tonight -
  • first rain delay... a comfortable 82 minutes, with nice lightning strikes over toward La Guardia - the joys of Loge Box seats under the cover!
  • first "robbed of HR" catch... Beltran made an amazing grab of a Bengie Molina hit to deep center, that was genuinely out of the park when he caught it... stunning!
  • first inside the park home run... from my seats I couldn't see what happened in right field, but it seemed impossible that anyone could get a HR from that hit without an error - even then, Anderson was just turning third when the throw came in from right field, so I still don't think he should have scored...
  • first walk off HR... was one of those at bats that had to end in with either a HR or a K... Floyd fouled off a couple of pitches, but a fantastic end to the game, just a pity there were so few people left to see it!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Why did I bother?

I went to bed last night and set my alarm for 1 AM to get up and watch the Yanks take on the Cards and by 2 AM I had shutdown the laptop and was returning to the land of nod.

Just how horrible was that Yankees fans?

I can take losing, what I can't take is not caring and these players simply do not care. They might act like they do but it is so pathetically clear that they do not. Mental errors are just unforgivable and our brains were collectively not switched on at all last night.

I know Jason Giambi has received a whole load of stick for his 1B play last night but only one of them was really his fault. On the A-Rod throw to 1st to get Walker in a rundown, he just forgot to catch the ball before trapping the Cards RF, that is just poor. On the Wang throw, maybe he should make the play but it isn't the easiest and the scoop from Jeter's throw is a play he usually makes, urgh.

I said to Neil H at 2-0 that the game was over and he couldn't believe I was being serious. We never even equaled the two runs the Cards scored and did we ever look like we might?

Stick a fork in them - this team is done.

Friday, June 10, 2005

No Sox... No Yankees... is there no baseball in America today?

Given that the greatest rivalry in sports (TM) is on a day off, I thought I would offer random observations from the games that flicked across my screen at various points tonight (and a comment on the best story of the baseball season so far) - with a particular emphasis on how the 2005 amateur draft affected tonight's results....
  • High School SS, and #1 draft pick, Justin Upton delivered nothing for the D'Backs tonight... nothing... what a waste, an absolute waste of a pick.
  • How did the Mets manage to lose a home series to the Astros? The Astros arrived in NY with a 5-20 road record, but managed to take 2 from a team that the NY press still flirt with as "contenders" in the NL East. I may be very wrong, but this really is just a .500 team with two superstars. If those superstars aren't performing, and hey at best, one of them is only performing every 5th or 6th day anyway, describing this team as a .500 team may be kind. And as for those Mets draft picks... nothing... not even a sighting at Shea - I expect more from these guys.
  • Remember when we all giggled at how the Diamondbacks took terrible downgrades in trading away Schilling and Johnson - how many Sox fans would prefer Brandon Lyon's output so far this season than that Schilling guy... well no, me neither, but I am guessing there are a lot of Yankee fans that didn't sour on Javy Vazquez last year the way Yankee management did, that watch his perfomances get stronger and stronger and wonder how Mel couldn't get Javy pitching this way last year... and they added Halsey to the deal... and cool, hard cash... Of course I have now jinxed Javy, and he will be out of this game soon (in action v Twins, 5.2IP, 1 run... and unbelievably... a 2 run bomb to Jacque Jones means he is now 6.0IP, 3 runs... - I love that Johnson trade).
  • If the Phillies can start that 'badly', have so little output from Jim Thome and still be that close to 1st place in the NL East in June, they have to be serious contenders... but that Polanco / Urbina trade looks a little off to me. I have been saying to Neil M for a while that the Yankees should have tried to get Polanco and Ryan Howard in some sort of package, and I really do think that the Phillies could have got a better price waiting out this one - unless they think they can get a better price for Wagner in the forthcoming weeks?
And now... the best story in baseball so far this year...
  • Clint Barmes, who broke his collarbone carrying groceries into his apartment, now wants to change his story... Aside from the fact that anyone earning the major league minimum should have a posse of school friends to take care of groceries... how lame a story was that in the first place? But fear not, the truth is now out - he actually broke his collarbone saving a young child crossing a busy Denver street, a move he learned from E-Rod earlier this year... well no, sorry to disappoint you, but, he broke his collarbone lugging a package of Todd Helton sourced deer meat! Anyone with me thinking this story might change again if Mr. Barmes were sitting in a chair with a bright light shining in his eyes? Perhaps he was washing a car on his off day with Jeff Kent?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A little late but... Game 29 at... Harbor Park

Part of the reason for my blogging absence over the weekend was work related travel - but the pleasure of this trip was that it took me to Norfolk, Virginia , home of the New York Mets AAA affiliate Norfolk Tides.

At short notice I was able to get fantastic seats on the third base side, right behind the visitor dugout, although I had to pay an inflated price of... $10!

It really is a nice park - relatively new (1993), but in the retro style made popular by Camden Yards, with brick facade and steel beams, and a capacity in excess of 12,000. On Sunday I would have to say the experience was tainted slightly by the heat and humidity, but the friendliness of the crowd ("You have a sweet accent" was the best pick up line I heard all day!) and the helpfulness of the ushers (I was voluntarily offered a seat in the shade by a proactive usher who saw me sheltering / sweltering underneath the stands) more than made up for that. The pre-game perception that I had, that AAA games were a family friendly fan experience, was definitely backed up by my experiences in Norfolk - every half inning was used to get kids involved (the best of which saw a two foot tall child being raced round the bases by this!) and to give 'stuff' away to the crowd.

In the end, the home team won, ten run innings tend to do that for you, but it was a nice game, a nice day at the ballpark, and a nice way to spend an afternoon before a night at the "office".

Sox draft news

Well I can point out who they drafted, I can point you to places that purport to tell you about those they drafted, but truthfully, I have no clue if we will ever see any of these players at Fenway.

There is an awful lot of views on the web about the draft - talking about players who I am guessing that 99.99...9..9.9 (you get the idea)% of us have never heard of, or never will again - beyond the occasional team update, or inclusion in a trade. I do wonder when I read authorative reviews of these draftees how the reviewers find the time...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Yanks draft news

The Yankees had their highest pick since 1993 in the draft that started yesterday and with it they took 19 year-old SS/OF CJ Henry out of Putnam City High School. The first thing that stands out on his scouting report is 'has similar kinds of ability to Alex Rodriguez' which isn't a bad way to start. A five-tool player who has indicated that he wants to sign for the Yankees and not play basketball. Has a very high ceiling and could be quite a steal at #17.

The Yanks had to wait to #63 to pick again but when they did they went out and took James Cox out of the University of Texas. Cox, a relief pitcher took over from A's closer Hudson Street for the university and for Team USA. Could progress through the system very quickly.

Brett Gardner looks like a strange pick in the third round, a tremendous athlete who patrols CF very well and has blazing speed and good instincts but isn't a great hitter according to scouts even though a .447/.506/.571 record this year in college looks good. Very similar to Joey Gathright, a player the Yankees wanted earlier this season.

Lance Pendleton came in next but it was fifth round pick Zachary Kroenke that looks quite exciting. A LHP who has a heavy fastball and a good slider, needs some work but a good projection pick who could help the Yankees a lot in the future.

Douglas Fister came next but in the seventh and eighth rounds the Yankees look to have drafted very well. Garrett Patterson out of Oklahoma has a nice cut fastball and hitters only hit .192 off him all Spring, has good stuff and could be a future star, but so could CF Austin Jackson who dropped this far because he has a full scholarship from Georgia Tech to play basketball. If the Yanks can sign him then he could be an absolute steal and probably worth the risk.

I shall stop there for now as I really should get out of bed. Most reports I am reading seem to indicate that the Yankees have actually drafted pretty well and certainly a lot better than in the previous couple of years. We seem to have picked up some good talents lower down the draft which has to be good.

Oh and the Brew Crew beat us in a tight one last night - gah!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I finally go and get a girlfriend and the Yanks decide its time to start playing like my lovelife prior to the past week or so. Can't I have a partner and watch the Yanks play good baseball and win some games?

I don't think I've written here in a while but we haven't played well in a while either. Maybe my written word will inspire the Yankees to beat the Brew crew tonight. Somehow I doubt it will as I find it most unlikely my thoughts will reach those in the travelling grey uniform.

Here are some things I have noticed though:

Randy Johnson - Stop giving up the Home Run ball, it really isn't helping us.

Now Tino has cooled off he really isn't that much better than Giambi, so why do the fans love him so?

Tanyon Sturtze is really really good in this setup role.

Having the bases loaded with nobody out and leaving all the man on base is really bad baseball.

I am getting really worried that George'll blow and make a move for Barry Zito and Mike Cameron.

Wang is our ace as it stands.

And finally, losing all the time is no fun.

Draft day today, an update later on that very subject!

Monday, June 06, 2005

A Yankees Q&A

This discussion started on Saturday - but more traveling has delayed my editing process...

Well we are both sitting watching the Fox national game of the day - the only problem being that the Sox fan in NY can't watch the Sox, while the Yankee fan in the UK can watch any game they like... don't ya just love national broadcast blackout restrictions...

Given the Yankees poor week, I thought I would take the opportunity to get Neil's take on his team - what changes if any should be made and more importantly, what changes if any can be made?

RSN: What can the Yankees do to turn the season round - if you could change one thing what would it be?

NYN: Well the Yanks can't do a lot and nor should they. Our farm is thin but we can't make silly moves for anyone. Do we want Roger back? Maybe, maybe not. Wang needs to stay up in the bigs, and we need to get Stanton and Quantrill out, and bring up Bean and Anderson. As for hitting, these guys will hit.

RSN: At what point do the Yankees stop ignoring the flaws though - the pitching isn't what was expected, and there appear to be too many easy outs in the lineup?

NYN: How can the Yanks make any SP moves? And the batters are the best we have; maybe drop Womack n play Bernie in LF, but that is tinkering.

RSN: Not saying any move would be easy, but I just don't see how this Yankee team can win it all - too much inconsistency, too little spark?

NYN: In reality years of dumb moves are catching up – we are finally reaping what we've sown

RSN: In the various reports about the Steinbrenner / Cashman / Torre Conference Call, Steinbrenner is quoted as saying "what do you need - pitcher, hitter" so he sees a need, and thinks it can be done - no bite from you?

NYN: I hope we don't gut the farm, I hope George steps aside and lets Gene Michel take over the day to day running again, if not, we will be very lucky to win it all again

RSN: But the Yankee farm was barren by all accounts, and here we are two months in with Wang and Cano as solid contributors - I think there are moves the Yankees can make, but they would be expensive - Giambi could be moved, Brown could be moved…

NYN: There are moves we could make - yes, but we need to build a team and have a mix of players who bring the right chemistry, we don't have that at this moment

RSN: I just think they have to start exploring radical moves - I think the team needs a radical shake up - I would be saying to George, look it is going to be expensive, but lets start getting something back for some of our older stars - so Giambi to Oakland for someone out of the bullpen, a prospect and Dotel, Womack to anyone that thinks they need a top of the lineup spark and relies on a scout rather than stat outlook, Matsui to someone - get value for him rather than him getting a big contract from the Yankees...

NYN: Whoa, whoa, whoa horsey, Matsui?

RSN: Why not - how is he helping you at the moment? He will look for a major contract increase this year trade him, and then get him back next year if you must…

NYN: Matsui is our best hitter with RISP how is that not helping us?

RSN: Then you need to change where he is hitting - he only has 37 RBI from that stat - his HR numbers have regressed so far, yet he is still hitting clean up regularly despite little long ball threat.

NYN: I think Matsui is one of our smallest problems; we have problems all over the shop

RSN: Starting with?

NYN: Starting rotation. They are not great, Randy is poor, and Moose n Pavano blow hot n cold. Wright was a bust n Brown we all knew he was at best a #5

RSN: And that problem might be a long term problem? Brown will be gone after 2005, but theses other guys are all here in 2006 and beyond for Moose, Johnson, Pavano and possibly Wright?

NYN: It is a long term problem I agree. This is what I've been saying, we have made lots of poor decisions and they are coming back to bite us in the bum

RSN: But the Yankees have the resources to buy out of problems - you may not get full value, but if you think the unthinkable.... Mussina back to the Orioles?

NYN: but is the money really endless?

RSN: It is not infinite but... they could raise money from limited partners, or raise debt against the value of the franchise - I do think Steinbrenner would need to accept that the exercise is a one off, that it isn't a long term, lets blow it up every year thing - salaries have stepped back from where they were, so you do this one off and position the team for the future

NYN: But we are still handing out stupid contracts even this winter

RSN: Well, RJ was expensive, Pavano was market, Wright was silly but they realized that themselves and renegotiated, Womack was a silly acquisition, but not expensive in the grand scheme?

NYN: Give a guy with a dodged up shoulder $21m guaranteed is stupid in my book

RSN: Is that contract un-tradable - or is tradable at $5m - a cost of 2m per year, taking on a ST expensive contract gone after the season?

NYN: Maybe Wright is tradable but not sure who'd take him

RSN: You look at teams that are struggling, or teams that are not performing as they should - you could get pitching from Oakland at the right price, and hitting / defense from the Phillies?

NYN: Ok how about this - Jeter - CF, A-Rod - SS, Lowell - 3B?

RSN: I think that is the type of move the Yankees need – something radical to shake out the malaise that the group is displaying…

To be continued!