A few links to keep chatters and non-chatters occupied for a bit this afternoon.
After a rocky relationship with the Yankees in the first few years of his non-retirement, Bernie Williams has been around plenty over the past year or so. He’ll make another big appearance this year, throwing out the first pitch of the home opener, when the Yankees will hand out their World Series rings. Nice that Matsui will be in the house for the ceremony.
For those planning to attend, gates will open at 11, the ceremony will start at 12:15. Kristin Chenoweth, of The West Wing and other shows I’m not nearly as interested in, will sing the national anthem. You might not be able to see her from the upper deck.
Few were pleased with Joe West’s comments about the pace of Yankees-Red Sox games. Count Mariano Rivera among them. In addition to the above quote, Mo laid down the law for West. “He has a job to do. He should do his job.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. He also notes that no, the players don’t particularly want to play four-hour games, but they’d rather take their time and get it right than rush and play sloppy baseball.
Perhaps West should have focused his criticism on Nick Swisher and Nick Johnson specifically. Boston pitchers threw 506 pithes, and the Nicks saw 130 of them. As Joel Sherman notes, that’s 22.2 percent of the lineup seeing 25.7 percent of the pitches. In a lineup rife with patient hitters, that’s no small feat.
Here’s an odd line from Peter Barzilai at USA Today. “[Rockies GM Dan] O’Dowd cringes as thinks back to realignment talks in the early 1990s when Indians owner Dick Jacobs discussed the possibility of playing in the AL East.” Uh, the Indians did play in the AL East in the early 1990s. It wasn’t until MLB changed the division format in the mid-90s that the Indians moved to the central. It’s clear that Barzilai refers to the possibility of the Indians staying in the East, but the phrasing is strange.
It would have been an odd trade-off for the Indians. They would have faced stiffer competition in the East, but would have benefitted by having the Yankees and Red Sox visit more often. It all worked out for the Indians, though, who won the Central from 1995 through 1999 and came within an two outs of winning the World Series.
At MLBTR, Mike takes a look at players who signed the biggest contracts at each level of service. While the Yankees have the highest paid position players in the five to six and six-plus categories, as well as the highest paid pitcher in the six-plus category, they haven’t handed out the largest contracts to players with little service time. It’s part of the Yankee advantage. They can afford to go year-to-year with most players, knowing they can afford the eventual free agent contract. Other teams don’t have that luxury, so they try to lock up their players to extensions.