Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mike Lupica, just how he is allowed to write about the Yankees?

Just a quick one from me for now.

Does anyone know how Mike Lupica gets away with just slagging off the Yankees day after day, week after week in a NY newspaper? I know he's a Mets fan but surely with his level of bias and seeming hate for all things Torre/Cashman/Yankee, he shouldn't be allowed to write about the Bronx Bombers, and worse of all he gets paid a hefty salary and has limited national fame due to his column and appearances on ESPN.

His latest column slating Brian Cashman is available here if you really wanted to read about what a terrible job Brian Cashman is doing and how in fact it is all Cash as to why Joe kept his job, despite everyone else in the media and all members of the NYY hierarchy indicating that Joe's call to George (which was brokered by Cash to be fair) was the main reason he came back.

He ends with this question, 'How many times do the Yankees have to fall short of the Fall Classic before Cashman goes on the line?' Mike Lupica might be a bit of a biased twit but he isn't thick so I don't know why he bothered writing this. The whole world and his mother knows that Cashman has only gained total control this year and when he had significant control back in the late 90's the club were winning until George demanded bigger and better stars at every position.

I'm not the world's biggest expert on the Yankees, there are tens of bloggers out there writing about the club and if I could do a better job than Lupica, which I reckon I could, then think about all the guys that are better than me that could do that job. If the Daily News want a good Yankee reporter go out and get one of the excellent bloggers instead of letting Lupica write about them, I promise you that you'd get better more balanced articles.

Stoking the Hot Stove

Well some guys didn't wait too long to get their papers in - and while the consensus is that this is a week FA class, both the Red Sox and the Yankees have a fair bit of work to do - both need pitching, while the Red Sox also have decisions to make on the hitting side.

We will both look out for trade rumors that impact our teams, but this is clearly the time of year when thoughts and rumors can run unfiltered by such boring things as facts. Neil M spotted this by way of the NYYfans forum - a Braves fan's view of what might be available for Andruw Jones.

From the Red Sox - he would like to add Beckett to the mix and add Hudson from the Braves, but you would have to think that is wishful thinking despite Beckett's inconsistency in his first year in Boston. The remainder of the 'deal' - Crisp, Hansen and Ellsbury. I don't see the Red Sox wanting any part of the Beckett / Hudson part, but given the reported interest in Jones at the trading deadline, is the rest interesting?

The starting point of the 'deal Jones now' article was Boras's comments in midweek that he will be looking for a $20m+ a year deal when he enters free agency next year. Is he serious? - well it is Boras, and with the new agreement in place between owners and players, the consensus is that there will be a lot of money in the game the next few years - but that seems a lot for a CF when the Yankees and Mets are set, and would still be a minimum 20% of any teams payroll that did take him... I struggle to see the Sox doing that, particularly given that it only moves out of the realm of the impossible if the Sox no longer have Manny on their payroll - why lose the payroll flexibility that comes from moving on Manny to replace it with Jones, even if you buy the argument that Jones defensive upside makes up for Manny's offensive edge (I am talking today, not trying to account for an age decline).

From the Yankees, the article asks for Hughes, Cabrera and Proctor - and as Neil M wouldn't trade Hughes for all the tea in China, then this is just wishful thinking, and ignores the reality of the Yankees already having one surplus OF earning more than a 4th OF ever should... what is his name again... oh yeh, Sheffield

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Are the Bombers doing wrong as to da Shef? The Neil's have it out

Neil H says:

So Mazz gone, Donnie in?

Neil M says:

Little change for me really, Donnie might've been the hitting coach last year but seemingly he was Joe's #1 confidant, I'd imagine that he'll still be heavily involved in hitting and is clearly being lined up to be the NYY gaffer in 2008

Neil H says:

If the Yankees struggle in-season, does Donnie take over?

Neil M says:

No, you've asked me this one before and several people have questioned this but I cannot see any way in which Torre is gone mid-season, if he was going to go, he's already gone, as it is, he'll be there until the Yankees make their last out or throw the last pitch of their 2007 season

Neil H says:

If the Yanks don't meet their 2007 goal, and Joe retires though, is Donnie really going to be able to step in for 2008?

Neil M says:

The thing with the AL is that there is very little in-game management for the managers, so he can step in and do a job, whether or not he's the right man for the job we'll see but the fact Joe Girardi is expected to sign with the YES network this season shouldn’t be overlooked

Neil H says:

You think that he is being asked to try out from the booth?

Neil M says:

I think that he's stayed out of other jobs and stayed 'in-house' because he thinks he could well have a shot at the top job

Neil H says:

Is that realistic?

Neil M says:

It’s just as realistic as Donnie taking over, Girardi could be a manager of an MLB team today but he's decided he doesn't want that job, he's waiting for something else and the job he did in Florida didn't go un noticed and he's highly thought of within the organisation. Personally I was surprised that he didn't become the bench coach this year with Donnie staying as hitting instructor but he's still hanging around and there must be a good reason for that

Neil H says:

What do you make of the Sheffield noises?

Neil M says:

He's moaning that the Yankees have guaranteed him $13million next season, anyone that moans about being guaranteed $13million is an idiot

Neil H says:

He isn't worried about next season though - he is thinking 2008 and beyond. Where does he play if he is still with the Yankees in 07 - that play-off experiment at 1b wasn't pretty?

Neil M says:

The chances of Gary Sheffield playing for the Yankees next year are about the same as my chance of becoming the 2008 President of the United States of America

Neil H says:

But who takes him? He has already said he will be the pain we know he can be for anything less than a 2 year extension - who will take that risk on a guy that couldn't hit last time he played?

Neil M says:

Honestly, will Gary Sheffield walk away from $13million and be put on the inactive list?

Neil H says:

No, but he will play poorly, he will cause serious issues in a clubhouse, he will not run out ground balls, he will take no risks with his body - again who trades anything for that risk?

Neil M says:

Well early reports indicate no fewer than eight teams are interested and one GM who wasn't named was quoted as saying "To be honest, I was kind of put off [after talking to Cashman] leaving me to believe he's got at least a couple of teams really pushing him hard [for Sheffield]."

Neil H says:

Speculate on the identity of the 8 teams that would pay $13m for an outfielder, who at 39 wants a 2 year extension, and who hasn't hit in 4 months?

Neil M says:

Well they were all named, Orioles, Angels, Astros, Giants, Rangers and Cubs with the extra bonus of keeping both the Red Sox and Mets out of the loop -

if Sheffield becomes a Free Agent you know the Red Sox are going after him hard, also the Mets are in the market to replace Cliff Floyd

Neil H says:

Nope - I guarantee you right here, right now, the Sox have no interest in a 39 year old that wants a three year commitment

Neil M says:

But thats the thing, Sheffield doesn't get three years anywhere, if he hits Free Agency, he gets an incentive laden one year with an option for a second year depending on criteria

Neil H says:

I think he does get three if he is FA - Franco gets a 2 year deal, of course someone gives him 3 in this market, as long as he isn't looking for 3/40?

Neil M says:

Franco wasn't coming off health issues and was a $4m commitment over two years, Sheff wants three years at $13m+ each year, he has active links to BALCO and steroids and GMs no doubt are aware of that. I honestly believe teams will roll the dice on a one year rental because of the thin FA market but to commit $40m to him would be an awful decision, saying that, it brings the Orioles right back into play, thanks to Mr Angelos

Neil H says:

Well why would you take a one year risk at 13m, and give up a player, when he says "If they do that, if I just [go] to a team for one year, there's going to be a problem."

Neil M says:

Because if Sheffield doesn't produce this year then he doesn't get a big pay day when he does hit Free Agency. It's a bit like why does T.O keep getting chances, he might be a bad team mates off the field but on the field, if healthy, he'll produce

Neil H says:

TO keeps getting chances in a completely different environment where they can cut him and not pay him there and then if he doesn't play - sheff is guaranteed $13m. Go on then, give me another giggle - who do the Yankees get for a 13m RF that hasn't hit in 4 months?

Neil M says:

The biggest name that has been mooted in the press is Brad Lidge, but I think most fans would be delighted with a BP arm or an AA or AAA catching prospect

Neil H says:

Well for entertainment value I hope he stays in the AL East just to see what he does in 18 games against the Yankees

Neil M says:

And that is another reason why the Bombers picked up their option, they can trade away from the AL East, Sheff's whinging is hilarious, before the year he was moaning about the Yankees not picking up the option, now he's moaning that they are, also he's bemoaning the contract, the one in which he negotiated directly and triumphed it and belittled those that used agents, you've got to admit that is amusing

Neil H says:

I agree it is amusing as a Sox fan, but I am not sure that treating a player like this is that amusing - you may not agree with his stance, but his stance has never changed - he isn't complaining about you picking up his option if you play him in RF, he is complaining if you pick it up to play him at 1b, or to trade him - he moved to 1b to try and help the team and be a team guy, and now, in his mind, he is being punished for it - that surely isn't that unreasonable a view?

Neil M says:

His effort was appreciated, however Bobby Abreu is the Yankees RF for next year so unless we are planning on starting two RF's one either has to move position, sit on the bench or leave the club. We aren't treating him badly at all, we are just going by the contract, if he wanted a NTC then he should've made sure he got one, remember George wanted him over Vlad whom Cashman had agreed a deal in principle with so Sheffield had a lot of leverage and failed to get one, that is his error, not ours

Neil H says:

So basically you are happy with the, it is his own fault, move on 'meat;' approach - you are comfortable that George didn't oversell how easily the option would be exercised, how certain that Sheff would never be traded?

Neil M says:

$13million 'meat' to play baseball, hard life, diddums, so yes I may have a heart of stone thinking he has a torrid life to play baseball at stupid money

Neil H says:

I have to disagree - what does what he makes have to do with wanting to be happy at work? He didn’t make the decision to pay that – the Yankees did?

Neil M says:

I have to disagree wholeheartedly, he doesn't have to play baseball next year, he's not being forced to, if he wants to get another job then he's free to. He signed a contract and he now wants to worm out of it because things aren't perfect

Neil H says:

He isn’t trying to worm out of it, he wants his employer to honour his contract - he didn’t sign to play anywhere other than RF - if the Yankees don’t want him at RF, then don’t’ pick up the option - the Yankees are picking up the option to suit their own needs, not because they want him - you cant see why that analogy would seem unfair in your own life?

Neil M says:

Yes they've picked up the option for their own needs but Sheffield has signed the contract, undoubtedly it was the prudent move to use the contract to the Yankees advantage, if they have, as reported, picked up the option

Neil H says:

So if they have picked it up for their own ends, don't complain about Sheffield whinging, or him going all out to damage his trade value - those are his ends

Neil M says:

He's whinging that the Yankees used the contract he signed for their benefit, his fault he signed the deal, he should've inserted a clause if he wanted a release

Neil H says:

Again - if that is your view, fine, but don't complain about him doing the same thing back

Neil M says:

We just have wildly opposing views, he can't blame anyone but himself as he put together the contract

Neil H says:

And the Yankees can't blame anyone but themselves as he is exactly the same person as he signed!

Neil M says:

I don't think anyone at the Yankees are complaining, lets be honest, unless Cash had something lined up he doesn't trigger the option, he clearly has something he likes on the table so has according to the reports, he won't be the Yankees problem for very long.

At this point the conversation drifted towards the football as it was Saturday afternoon and Neil H's Dundee U were losing and the gaffer was on the verge of losing his job. Neil M's Portsmouth won again, but it wasn't all good news as his radically changed fantasy team had a slow afternoon with no clean sheets, one goal and two assists between them, poor, very poor.

More debates to come including one on A-Rod's future and trade value, the annual Manny question and possibly others when we get around it to.

3,079 Miles... - The blog with a structure, kind of, sorta, possibly, maybe...nah

Baseball stays on the air in the UK

For those of you who weren't watching Game 5 last night over here on you may of missed the surprising but excellent news regarding coverage. In past years the channel has never had a long term deal to show baseball and went on a year by year basis and usually done a deal just before the season started, this year though this are different. will show Major League Baseball for both the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the studio team of Jonny Gould and Josh Chetwynd continuing for the foreseeable future.

This is excellent news for fans of the sport in the UK and with talk of ESPN buying NASN from Setanta and moving the channel on to the standard Sky package and off the stand-alone channel status it currently has, these could be exciting times for baseball fans in the UK.

Woeful World Series

Well the Cardinals are the Champions...

And a lot of people are asking... was this as bad as it gets?

No Fall Classic, for sure.

Flatter than the Midwestern heartland and a flop in the TV ratings, this World Series crowned a champion that barely made it to the post-season and then had to survive rain and cold as much as the bumbling Detroit Tigers.

Are these really the best teams in baseball? Because it certainly doesn't seem like it.

Teams aren't winning games in this World Series so much as losing them.

Jim Caple - ESPN
This sloppy mess was a perfect ending to an ugly postseason, as even the heretofore clean-playing Cardinals had some defensive miscues (perhaps they were mocking the Tigers through satire?), although they were confined to right field and only gave Detroit one run instead of three. St. Louis won this World Series not through great play and certainly not through tremendous talent, but by making fewer mistakes than their opponents

Keith Law - ESPN (Insider)
And, after a sloppy and often uninspiring five games against the favored but overwhelmed Tigers, this Series certainly won't go down as a classic among Fall Classics. It won't, in fact, come close.

But, seriously: You think the people in St. Louis care about any of that?

John Donovan - SI

The last point there is an interesting one - should Cardinal fans care? No they shouldn't, but equally, they should develop a pretty thick skin, because this team is never getting the respect they might feel it deserves.

Posted by Neil M on behalf of Neil H

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rogers thumb...

Well this may be a real controversy in Game 2 of the WS.

On their broadcast, Fox just showed a brown substance on the base of Roger's thumb - it clearly wasn't sweat, or a bruise, it looked sticky - perhaps pine tar as McCarver suggested?

Presumably if the Cardinals have someone watching in the clubhouse La Russa will have to ask the umpires to look at his hand in the 2nd inning - though equally if the Tigers have someone watching, they have him washing his hands right now?

The rules of baseball are:

8.02 The pitcher shall not -
  • apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball;

For violation of any part of Rules 8.02(a)(2) through (6):
  • The pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically for 10 games.
  • If a play follows the violation called by the umpire, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and no other runner is put out before advancing at least one base, the play shall proceed without reference to the violation.
  • Even though the offense elects to take the play, the violation shall be recognized and the penalties in subsection (a) will still be in effect.
  • The umpire shall be sole judge on whether any portion of this rule has been violated.

Is it a real risk that Rogers is thrown from this game? Or will we never hear anymore about it?

Full rules are available at



Well someone was watching in both dugouts - La Russa clearly asked, Rogers clearly washed his hands - will this go any further?

The pre-game "show"

Genuinely, can Fox do anymore to cheapen the World Series?

First we wait, with absolutely dead air, for John Cougar Millencamp to sing the theme to the current Chevrolet adverts - sorry the first single from his new album - then we cut to Bob Seger promoting his new album, as if him singing America the Beautiful wasn't enough of a plug last night...

But hey, as Jeanne said, I would rather have a Millencamp delay than a rain delay - well no Jeanne, a rain delay is an integral part of the game we love, whereas a Millencamp delay...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Joe stays, what happened, what's going to happen, Neil M rambles on

I said to Neil H and to people over at the NYY Fans Forum that if I went to bed on Monday night and Joe Torre was still the manager, then he would survive and live to fight another day and lead the New York Yankees into the 2007 season.

On Tuesday, perhaps quicker than most people thought, Joe Torre opened his annual postseason Press Conference with the news that he'd just gotten off the phone to George Steinbrenner, who'd told him that he'd be back to manage the club in 2007.

I am delighted.

I have made no secret that I am a Joe Torre guy, many Yankee fans believe that going six years without winning a World Series just isn't good enough and wanted Joe out. My blogging buddy despite being a Red Sox fan also thought that it was time for Joe to go.

The fact is the Yankees lost this October because they didn't have starting pitching that could match the Tigers. That is the primary reason the Bombers aren't getting ready to entertain Oakland at the Stadium right now. Sure Joe made mistakes, moving A-Rod up and down the line-up, the Sheffield experiment at first, but neither of those decisions cost the Yankees the Tigers series.

The Yankees came into the ALDS with a rotation lined up of the excellent young Wang, the aging but still very good Mussina, an injured future Hall of Famer and then a choice of Wright or Lidle for the fourth game, Wang would go again in game five if needed.

Now Wang got off to an effective start, winning his game, but when Mussina lost his game, the series was tied at one and the Yankees had inferior starters going both nights. They faced up to an inspired Kenny Rogers, who really pitched his butt off with a curveball that was genuinely awesome and a Jeremy Bonderman whose slider was first rate. The Yankees threw out Randy Johnson, who lets be fair to him, gutted his way through several innings and pitched pretty well considering he has a bulging disc in his back and Jaret Wright, who didn't pitch well at all, but not like we were expecting anything different.

Several people wanted Wang on short rest and then to worry about game give later, well I wasn't one of those people and here's why. Wang is a guy whose had rotator cuff injuries in the past, has pitched more innings than ever before this season and would be going on short rest, if that isn't a recipe for disaster then I don't know what is. It would of been a foolish move to put Wang out there, not just for this series but by doing so you are jeopardising the kids future, this guy could be an ace of the New York Yankees staff for years to come, and with all that history behind him, it was a risk the Yankees were not willing to take. Add to that Wright would've then gone in game five anyway and you have a damned good argument for not starting Wang. In addition, the Yankees weren't able to get anything going offensively really until Jorge's 2 run shot in the 9th, so you are in retrospect asking Wang to go deep into the game and give up nothing on short rest, a very tall order indeed.

As for the Yankees chemistry, I said this yesterday, "The way I see it is the Yankees have far too many egos and I personally don't think anyone could manage them. You have three clear factions, the players who were there through the dynasty years, the free agents who are ready to play the team game, Giambi, Damon, and then your great players who came to the Yankees for a huge payday and rings, Randy, Moose, Sheff, A-Rod, I don't think its possible to manage all three factions to greatness"

Can you ever have too much talent? No. However talent often comes with egos and that is the current problem the Yankees face. As for the four I mentioned, Sheffield and Mussina are probably gone, Sheff's comments after the game four defeat should've clinched the Yankees not picking up his option for 2007 and Mussina failed to hold a 3-1 lead in game two and has slagged off his team mates all year. Randy is going to need surgery on his back and may not return and A-Rod could well be dealt following the news that Torre is staying, despite clearly having respect for each other, Joe clearly has doubts about Alex's ability to thrive in his current environment (see Joe Torre's Press Conference) and believes he has found it hard to adapt to not having to be, 'the man' on the Yankees, as they already have several great talent on the ball club.

Should all four of these players move on then I think you'll find the clubhouse a more harmonious place. My boy Matsuzaka will be posted this off season and I fully expect the Yankees to make a heavy run at acquiring his talents for the rotation. The Japanese as a race are respectful and deeply knowledgeable, and I'd fully expect this player to settle into the clubhouse well, just like Matsui did, with Matsui there it may well help him settle even easier.

The great Yankee teams had star players but also role guys who complimented the stars. I think that is what we'll see over the next couple of years as the high priced free agents contracts expire, look to see a move away from just looking at the numbers, and looking at the overall package that you are signing. Look at the Marlins, a young ball club full of energy and players willing to do it all in an attempt to win, in life human beings feed off positive energy and that is something the regular season 2007 Yankees had, the postseason version didn't seem to.

I expect the Yankees to become a wiser and better run franchise top to bottom over the next few years. The farm system isn't great but at low levels there is talent, the pundits that talk about these things believe the Yankees had an excellent 2006 draft and when you add the signing of #1 ranked International Free Agent Jesus Montero (a catcher with big power for those who do not know) then you can see the club are committed to building from within for the first time in a decade.

I don't expect the team to win it all every year, I just want to watch enjoyable baseball, winning isn't everything, it's a huge part but it isn't the be all and end all. I enjoyed this season, the Boston massacre was just awesome to watch, the Yankees fought for each other and played great baseball, and that series in captures how I'll remember the 2006 New York Yankees. They were good, they were very good, but it just wasn't to be.

As for 2007, I'm already looking forward to it.

Posted by Neil H for Neil M

When a man's down...

Kick him hard... real hard.

From today's Rob Neyer chat on ESPN (behind the Insider curtain):

Brian (Villanova, PA): Please answer this, how cool would it be if the Yankees decided to go with Arod and move him to Shortstop and traded Jeter to another team, then he came back and helped his new team beat the Yankees in the playoffs? Then Jeter could finally be loved by non-Yankee fans, this has to happen

SportsNation Rob Neyer: Well, leaving aside for a moment that the Yankees would not trade Cap'n Jetes, I don't think Rodriguez can play shortstop any more. Not unless he lost some weight and dedicated himself to learning shortstop again.

Now that the Yankees have made one choice, the media pressure is only going to grow for one man - at least till the Yankees lose a couple of games in April to the Devil Rays.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Boss speaks

"I spoke to Joe Torre today and I told him, 'You're back for the year. I expect a great deal from you and the entire team. I have high expectations and I want to see enthusiasm, a fighting spirit and a team that works together. The responsibility is yours, Joe, and all of the Yankees."

"Yes, I am deeply disappointed about our loss this year, we have to do better. And I deeply want a championship. It's about time."

Reading between the lines then basically Torre's only hope of getting another contract is by winning the World Series, and not just winning it, winning it in style. Considering he was clearly gone on Saturday night, the voices in the bosses ear must've been working overtime to calm him down.

My personal view is George wants him out and even though he had every opportunity, he's listened to his appointed successor and his General Manager, so one last question.

Where's the real George Steinbrenner?

Torre stays

Joe Torre will manage the New York Yankees in the 2007 season.

More later

Also in addition, this move means A-Rod is gone. Cubs, Angels, Dodgers?

Why Joe should go - A Sox perspective

I know, why would you care - bitter Sox fan says, Yankees should fire Torre... no news there, but... they should - I have yet to see one argument, anywhere, beyond the emotional appeal, that says Joe is the best manager the Yankees could have.

But truthfully - beyond the emotional argument, what reason is there not to fire Joe? Yankees management are very clear each year - the goal is to win the World Series - not the AL East, not the AL - you can argue all you like on the reasonableness of that goal, but that is the goal - and the Yankees haven't achieved that goal in 6 seasons, heck they haven't even won the AL pennant in 3 seasons now (and believe me that should be 5...). Shouldn't the manager take some of the blame?

I would hope that no one would argue that Joe isn't a consummate player's manager - he has managed a club-house full of large egos...

Well that is a line that is always trotted out, but is it actually true? Who are these amazing egos? The Yankees are (and I am grinding my teeth as I type this) the largest franchise in baseball - the team has its own ego, the history of the franchise has its own ego - very few players rise up and become (even) as large as the Yankees - that is why so many of us, even those of us with little rooting interest in the Yankees, can name those players... Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, Jeter... that is a pretty short list for a team with 26 World Series rings (and genuine apologies, I am a Red Sox fan, I know I will have missed some players that should be on that list - Neil M can admonish me tomorrow).

So who are these massive egos? Sheffield had the potential to be difficult, but aside from one or two minor grumblings, has been a team player... Giambi's BALCO admissions had the potential to be noisy, but the media (as they did originally) really just let this part of the story die on the vine at the alter of the chase for Bonds... A-Rod v Jeter - the NY fans and media were only letting there be one winner in that story, and A-Rod acknowledged that the day he agreed to move to 3rd base - and in that clubhouse - full of veterans - don't some of the other players, including Captain Intangibles, deserve some of the credit for keeping a quiet clubhouse? So which massive ego has Joe managed to the benefit of the Yankees?

I would also ask - is a manager really there to make sure all his staff are happy - isn't a manager there to make sure his team performs? I wouldn't mind my boss bringing me coffee, donuts and a morning paper every day - it would certainly make me happy - might not make me perform at my best... every player says Joe is a great manager, but a great manager knows when to pat, and when to punish - isn't the recent A-Rod SI story the first time we have heard him speak "harshly" of a player in public? Ah, I hear you mutter, that just shows how good he is - what happens in the clubhouse, stays in Joe's clubhouse - then if that is true, he chose to break that habit with A-Rod, in SI, two weeks before the play-offs? In this intense media age, isn't it just more likely that he just doesn't do 'tough love' in the clubhouse?

(And yes, he has practiced tough love on Kevin Brown... and no doubt on one or two other nobodies, but really, how hard is it to practice tough love on a guy that nobody liked...)

The thing that amazed me watching the Yankees over the last few days was the lack of fight - clearly in play-off series, particularly the DS - a good team can lose to a not so good team, but they shouldn't be outplayed, out-thought or out-fought - shouldn't the manager take some responsibility for that lack of fight, for the lack of passion shown by the team... and he isn't the go to guy for displays of fire, anyone looking to Torre for passion on the bench on Saturday was greeted by a glum, gum chewing guy with his hands in his pockets...

And it is not as if Yankee fans theselves think that Joe is beyond reproach... every blog has questioned his bullpen moves at some point this year, and his willingness to run the bullpen arms he trusts into the ground in the regular season has hurt the Yankees in the postseason, even if that wasn't a particular contributor to this year's failure.

But perhaps this story from the New York Sun sums up what I am trying to say (and a hat tip to The Weblog That Derek Built):
So, how is this Joe Torre's fault? The simple answer is that it's not. He did make some awfully stupid moves.

Starting Gary Sheffield at first base was incomprehensible, starting Wright over Cory Lidle was pretty ridiculous; his lineup moves from batting Bob Abreu third against a lefty to batting Rodriguez eighth were goofy as hell, and his puzzling rotations of Melky Cabrera, Bernie Williams, and Jason Giambi in and out of the lineup may as well have been based on astrology. None of that would have much mattered had the team had better starters.

Not being a failure doesn't make him a success, though, and it's his handling of Rodriguez that really marks the difference between why he should stay and why he should go. Torre has never been much of a strategist or tactician — his main strength has always been his ability to manage the egos of players and put them in position to succeed. He not only hasn't done that with Rodriguez, he's brutally humiliated him, first by participating in the shameful and repulsive team hit job on the embattled third baseman that ran in Sports Illustrated last month, and then by batting him eighth in a playoff elimination game.No matter how badly Rodriguez was hitting, he wasn't hitting any worse than anyone else on the team. Singling him out that way made him the story, rather than the collective failure. It was a crass move, and it didn't work.
For me "Not being a failure doesn't make him a success" sums up why, after 11 years in the job, and 6 years since the Yankees last bothered lower Manhattan in October, it is time for Joe to go.

And as a Sox fan... seriously George, Lou is the right man for the job...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Joe Torre is hanging on

Joe Torre is hanging on to his job as manager of the New York Yankees following a crazy 24 hours. Torre was gone after the defeat on Saturday night but slowly the powers that be are softening big George's stance and the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that Torre stays. Should I go to bed tomorrow night with Torre still in his job, then he will enter the final year of his contract and hope to end his Yankee career on a high.

Obviously there has been a lot of talk since last night and one thing is clear, if George still held absolute power then Joe Torre would already be gone, and Lou Pinella would be ready for his Press Conference tomorrow morning.

If Torre goes then all the good work Brian Cashman has done in wrestling control from the Tampa will be undone. If Torre goes and Sweet lou comes in then the dynasty is over and the era of it being the Derek Jeter team is over. If Sweet Lou comes in then I fear for the young arms the Yankees have, I really fear for Philip Hughes. If Sweet Lou comes in then I fear for the dynamic of the clubhouse. If Sweet Lou comes in then A-Rod stays and becomes teachers pet, maybe that'll help A-Rod's psyche, having a manager who believes 100% in him, the question though of course is at what cost to the rest of the ball club.

I am a Joe Torre guy. I think the job he did this year was extraordinary, they failed in the playoffs, they stunk in the playoffs, but in all honesty they walked right into two great starting pitching performances and were throwing out a gutsy but injured 43 year-old and a bum who should never of been signed.

The Yankees need to get some live arms, that is the problem, the problem isn't hitting despite its poor showing in the past three games, these players will hit. I read over on Pete Abe's blog about moving Giambi to full time DH, asking Damon to learn 1B in Spring Training and having the kid Melky as the starting CF, not the worst suggestion I've read, not by a long shot. Damon is a keen learner and would have much more time to learn the position compared to Sheffield.

So the right thing to do is keep Torre and staff, let Sheffield walk, sign Matsuzaka, keep your hard throwing BP core of Bruney, Proctor and Farnsworth (unless this back issue will still be a problem in '07) bring back Dotel (who despite being shocking this year should be ready for next) ask Damon to move to 1st, move Melky to CF, bring in some starting pitching somehow and roll the dice on Kerry Wood joining the 'pen.

As for A-Rod, if you get an offer for him that involves some young stud starting pitching then consider it, if you don't, then keep him. I'm not an A-Rod hater, I'm not an A-Rod fan, I don't know what to think about him I must say, but what would be best for A-Rod is to leave the Bronx and return to SS elsewhere, whether or not he would do this is another matter, but it hasn't worked for A-Rod in NY, and despite all the great numbers he has posted, he can't win unless he does the business in the big games, and rightly or wrongly he hasn't, and the media won't let him forget that.

This Yankees team could go through another dynasty if Cashman is allowed to do his stuff, if he is then Torre's his guy, if he isn't then you know Cashman's authority isn't half as great as we'd been led to believe.

Joe Torre for New York Yankees manager in '07 - That's my two cents.

Posted by Neil H for Neil M

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Whose enjoying this series then?



Open note to Larry Vanover

Don't suck.

You've cost us two runs, I fully expect you to even things up.

Thank you.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shut up Tim McCarver!

The Yankees lost - damnit.

Someone sent me this link though and it cheered me right up.

The playoffs - 1 down, 10 to go

One win in the books, ten more needed to be crowned World Champions.

My first experience of MLB was the 2001 World Series, since then I've followed the Yankees closely and despite being the favourites many times before, this year we are legit favourites and not just that, we are the legit overall favourites to win the AL and go on to win the World Series.

Confidence in my sporting teams isn't something that flows naturally through my veins, in all honesty, I always fear the worse, however just looking at the following nine names changes all that.


I know pitching wins in the post season but that is some lineup, the best I've ever seen, and I'd say just as good as some of the All-Star teams I've seen. Patience is the key, and with a stacked order of guys who take a lot of pitches and therefore exposing the middle relief corps of the opposition, all the Yankees need from their starters is enough.

In game one CMW gave us 6.2 inning of three run ball and probably could've gone further if Joe hadn't of decided to play the lefty/lefty matchup card of Mike Myers and Curtis Granderson, gee that one really worked, however, Wang gave us enough, and if our starters go into the 7th and give up three runs in every game they play, you'd back the Yankees to become World Champions, you really would.

Game 2 is now tonight (well this afternoon for most of the readers) and if the Yankees can go to Motor City with a 2-0 lead then you can start plotting in the back of your minds how to beat the Oakland A's.

The final Fantasy (f)

I shall update on the playoffs in a second but I must first praise Neil H and his Edinburgh Red Sox team for their 10-3 win in the final of UKL 2 keeper league over the past fortnight. Neil H put together a very balanced offence together with a solid starting and relief corps and ran out deserved winners.

10-3 sounds like a bit of a hammering but until the Sunday it still wasn't beyond the realms of possibility that my Fratton Yankees were going to take it but it just wasn't to be. Next year the Fratton Yankees will get upgrades at SP with both Daisuke Matsuzaka and Scott Olsen ready to step up from my mL setup into the rotation and after a couple of good deadline day deals, I have a side that could again make the playoffs, and lets be honest, in this competitive league, that in itself it an achievement.

So congratulations to Neil H, the best team didn't win, I knocked them out in the opening round of the playoffs (well the manager of that team keeps telling everyone he's the best anyway) but the best team out of the final two certainly did win.

Oh well, I won two other leagues and now I can concentrate on the real Yankees.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Everyone will have an opinion

While the Sox will likely fall out of the immediate headlines as the postseason starts up tomorrow, a lot of headlines have been generated over the last couple of days by analyzing what went wrong - led off by the honest thoughts of Theo - the theme of mock outrage that Theo could have done wrong is probably the most amusing response from the Boston and national media so far.

The Sox set out to start clearing house today, letting Ron Jackson and Dave Wallace know early that they wouldn't be brought back - given how highly Ortiz spoke of Jackson when he hit home runs 51 and 52, expect to see at least one Boston media outlet trying to tweak that angle in the next few days. It also makes you think that the clubhouse knew what was going on by that stage - it was only that week that the anonymous "players" started bad mouthing Jackson, the first I would guess that any Red Sox fan even knew an issue existed.

All 3,079 final - the final score (f)

Probably the last fantasy post... unless the plucky runner up wants to swing hard back...

Yep, in a season of Red Sox disappointment, the Edinburgh Red Sox clinched the title in the first year of the UKL 2 keeper league. So while Sox fans everywhere search desperately for a team to support for the next few weeks, at least they can take consolation from my epic win...

No, not really...

October baseball + no Red Sox = sucks!