Open Thread: RAB in Metro

metro(click image for a larger view)

That’s the front page of today’s New York edition of Metro, which as you probably already noticed includes a quote from a commenter on this very site. Specifically, they’re quoting this comment from reader JM. While the three of us are certainly honored to appear in the paper – nevermind on the front page – I feel obligated to point out that the quote doesn’t necessarily reflect our opinions of A-Rod, and certainly not the opinions of all of our readers. On the off chance you’re reading this A-Rod, I still love you and am happy you’re a Yankee and will be one for a long time.

Also, thank you to everyone out there who frequents RAB. None of this is possible without you guys, and whether you’re a regular commenter or just a lurker, thank you for helping this fine blogging establishment become what it is. And also thanks to countless people who emailed us or left comments alerting us to the quote. I have to say, this is almost as cool as the time IGWT popped up in the SF chronicle.

Here’s your open thread for the evening. The only local teams in action are the Rangers and Devils, who are playing each other in the Jerz. Anything goes, just be cool.

Open Thread: Out of work camp

thomasPhil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune wrote an interesting little nugget yesterday that I found at (where else?) MLBTR. Check it out:

There has been so little interest in Frank Thomas he doesn’t even land in the rumors. He’s not going to get ready while he’s out of camp, which is why the Players Association needs to organize a spring training camp for out-of-work players. The White Sox’s abandoned Tucson complex would be a perfect place.

First, let me plug this post from earlier today about Thomas. Secondly, it makes a ton of sense for the union to run something like this, especially in today’s market. There’s still roughly sixty free agents out there still looking for work, and a good chunk of those guys can still be assets to a MLB team and would benefit from such a camp. You could elementarily break them down into three groups:

  1. Players hurt by the market: Bobby Abreu, Garret Anderson, Joe Biemel, Orlando Cabrera, Juan Cruz, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Braden Looper, Doug Mientkiewicz, Will Ohman, Dennys Reyes
  2. Players looking to prove themselves coming off injury: Joe Crede, Scott Elarton, Randy Flores, Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, Chuck James, Mark Mulder, Matt Wise
  3. Veteran players looking to prove they have something left: Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Jim Edmonds, Keith Foulke, Nomar Garciaparra, Luis Gonzalez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Livan Hernandez, Jon Lieber, Kent Mercker, Jay Payton, Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Rudy Seanez, Julian Tavarez, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Ron Villone

Camp certainly wouldn’t be mandatory, and the players would have to pay for their own living arrangements, etc. Pitchers could throw bullpens and live BP, position players could hit everyday and take fielding drills, stuff like that to help prepare them for the season and show what they have. Essentially it would just give these players a place to work out and gain exposure, while the thirty teams could go to one central place to see who could help them. They could even play a game against a club once a week or something.

I know there’s a lot more that goes into this idea than I could possibly imagine, but it seems like something MLBPA should be seriously considering for it’s members. Anyway here’s your open thread for the night. Talk about whatever you like, just please be civil, especially when talking about A-Rod.

Photo Credit: First Base Tickets

Open Thread: All A-Rod, all the time

aroid

The circus has officially come to town, and it won’t be leaving any time soon. Hot on the heels of the news that A-Rod failed a 2003 drug test, baseball and its supposed drug problem has once again grabbed center stage in New York City. For the 2009 season, A-Rod and, by extension, the Yanks will be under the microscope.

Anyway, as the story developed during the course of the day, numerous threads developed. The Players Union and Alex Rodriguez will take spotlight, and this could get messier before it gets better. I’ll wrap them up for the open thread.

The A-Rod Angle

  • MLB Network was all over this story today, and with Tom Verducci, Harold Reynolds and Bob Costas providing the commentary, the fledgling TV station did a great job. Obviously, they pointed to A-Rod’s 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric from 2007. In the clip linked there, A-Rod categorically denies taking steroids. In another clip shown on TV today, A-Rod says he’s been tested “eight or nine times.”

    At some point, one of these statements will be revealed as a lie, and my guess is that it’s the first one. I’d have to believe that A-Rod has been tested since the suspension program has been put into place. If he hasn’t failed those tests, would anyone care — or notice?

  • How long did A-Rod know about this story? Why didn’t he tell anyone? Costas this afternoon talked with Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts. She says she approached A-Rod in Miami on Thursday and received a “no comment” from the All Star. Sam Border wonders if A-Rod kept this from the Yanks and if so, why. A-Rod will have to comment on this report soon. Roberts certainly gave A-Rod more than enough opportunity to refute the story, and he declined to do so. That does not look good.
  • NJ.com examines Primobolan, a designer drug designed to retain strength but minimize bulk. Selena Roberts said that this drug is quick to cycle out of a user’s system as well.
  • MLB Trade Rumors notes that A-Rod’s contract is steroid-proof. Joel Sherman wonders if the Yanks regret re-signing A-Rod in 2007. There are nine years left in this marriage, and it seems like an eternity.
  • It’s also worth noting that the portion of Roberts’ story that broke today is just a part of the story. From her interview, it sounds as though her larger piece will again blame the usual suspects of steroid users with Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez due for another hit. On TV, she guessed that Scott Boras probably had an idea of what was going on with A-Rod in 2003 as well. Related: Does today’s revelation vindicate Jose Canseco? That’s debatable.

The Union Response

  • Harold Reynolds and Bob Costas were both appalled at Roberts’ report that Gene Orza may have tipped off A-Rod to an impending drug test. Costas felt that this could be a blanket breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and that the owners could use this as leverage in their efforts to weaken the union when the CBA expires after 2011. It’s very possible that Orza’s job and the reputation of the Players Union are both on the line right now and how he handles the blowback will determine the future of the union.
  • Why was the list from 2003 of the players who failed the screening drug test destroyed? The Union officials were supposed to destroy, and Ken Davidoff notes that the union leaders, who had the legal right to do so, completely dropped the ball. A lot of union members must be questioning their leadership right now.

    The existence of this list may also, as Costas noted this afternoon, raise some Fourth Amendment issues.

  • The Players Association and MLB both related statements focusing on the privacy angle. Neither organization refuted this report, and both noted that the samples should have been anonymous. What a disaster.

Keeping it all in perspective

  • At one point this afternoon, Bob Costas compared the failure to handle the samples with the required care and anonymity to one of this country’s greatest and most shocking political scandals. “This is in the category of Nixon burning the tapes,” he said. Ross at New Stadium Insider wonders if the nation is ignoring larger problems for the spectacle of A-Rod. This is, after all, just a baseball story. Chew on that one for a bit. I think Ross has a valid point, but baseball has long been tied into American culture and identity. This is a fairly significant American scandal.

The Fine Print: Use this as your open thread tonight. Let’s not have any A-Rod or steroid flame wars. Play nice.

Open Thread: Friday Randomness

How many of you were around in the days of Friday Randomness? That’s old school right there baby. Remember your roots.

On to the links:

  • Rob Neyer chimes in on Derek Jeter’s contract situation. Rob makes a good point, do the Steinbrenners want to win so badly that they’re willing to do it without Jeter, who will be 37 when his current contract expires?
  • Sweeny Murti has some recent pictures of the New Stadium. Shea, meanwhile, is freakin’ gone. (h/t Matt Cerrone)
  • Ex-Yankee Tom Gordon signed on with the D-Backs. By my count, Arizona now has four relievers in their pen capable of closing (Gordon, Rauch, Qualls, Pena).
  • PeteAbe posted his Spring Training preview. I wish I could go, I really do.
  • If you subscribe to Baseball America, then you already know they started pumping out their Early Draft Preview yesterday. Just about everything is subscriber only, but I’ll tell you that based on their early rankings, the Yanks would be drafting California HS shortstop Jiovanni Miller with their first pick, who they say projects a stud defensive player (no word on his bat).
  • Speaking of the draft, NoMaas fired up their Draft Blog the other day, and Project Prospect took a look at the top college bats from 2006-2008.
  • ESPN’s gang wrapped up their Battle of the Budgets today (the teams are listed on the right). I think Neyer’s team would take first place in a 162-game season (by a not small margin, either), but since they’re doing 7-game series who knows what will happen. It definitely won’t tell us who built the best teams.
  • Did you hear about the Padres DFA’ing 2004 first overall pick Matt Bush? Turns out it wasn’t just to make room for Cliff Floyd. “I’m Matt (expletive) Bush” … hysterical.
  • If you missed any of Joe Torre’s interview with Bob Costas, you can check it all out here.
  • When I first saw this picture, I thought it was Brett Gardner. Thankfully, it isn’t. Go here and here for more cheap laughs.
  • Eddie Vedder is such a badass. (h/t Deadspin)

Boy does that bring back memories. I wish I had done this earlier in the offseason, it could have been a weekly thing. Anyway here’s your open thread for the evening. The Rangers are in Dallas (hopefully they won’t come back with Sean Avery), the Devils are in Atlanta, and the Knicks get a visit from the Celtics. Venezuela will look to remain undefeated in the Caribbean World Series tonight when they take on Mexico. Anything goes, just be nice.

Open Thread: T-Kep’s random Yankee facts

The RAB Open Thread gods blessed us this evening, sending down this gem of a post from the Times’ Tyler Kepner about 25 random facts about 25 random Yankees. Here’s my favorites, with worthless commentary added:

Enrique Wilson – Used to love the science fiction anime DragonBall Z. He had these little characters he’d put up on the shelf of his locker at home and on the road.

And people say A-Rod does weird stuff.

Matt Smith – Was physically unable to straighten his pitching elbow.

That’s pretty crazy.

Rondell White – Had a great sense of humor about himself, admitting that he was injured so often his nickname should be “Ron-D.L.”

That’s great. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re not trying.

Chris Hammond – One of the first guys to give out his email address. One night in Oakland he was warming up in the bullpen and a colleague in the press box noted that Hammond was also on Instant Messenger at the same time. I’m sure it was a family member, but still pretty funny.

I love it.

So how’s that for some good ol’ open threadiness? The Islanders are the only local team in action tonight, and Mexico is taking on Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series at 9pm on the MLB Network. The games have been exciting, very low scoring for the most part. Best of all, none of the players have any plate disciple, so everyone swings at the first pitch and the innings just fly by. Talk about whatever you like, just be nice.

Oh, and for you video game aficionados, the demo for The Show 09 came out today. Give that shizz a download.

Open Thread: 100 Names You Need To Know

priceUSA Today ran an article today that basically amounts to 100 young players you need to know for 2009. David Price predictably topped the list, and was followed by Travis Snider of the Jays and Chris Davis of the Rangers. Three Yankees made the list:

35. Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees: Right now, Gardner is stuck in a five-man logjam in the Yankees outfield. Things could clear up for him (a trade of Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher, further club dissatisfaction with Melky Cabrera) or get more crowded (Jorge Posada forced to DH, pushing Hideki Matsui into the outfield mix). Gardner, 25, gives the Yankees a needed burst of speed (he stole 13 bases in 14 tries) and does the little things well, but will need to hit more — maybe a lot more — to get playing time.

84. Austin Jackson, OF, Yankees: The weak link in the Yankees’ lineup, at least offensively, is center field, where either Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera is likely to be on opening day. By some point later in the season, it’s not an unrealistic scenario that Jackson, 22, could be there. He is speedy with the ability to hit for average like Gardner but has more power. Cabrera can do similar things as Jackson offensively but slumped terribly at the plate last year. If Cabrera slumps again, Jackson will be a call away in Class AAA.

97. David Robertson, RHP, Yankees: Robertson, 23, emerged as a steady big-league bullpen option, then hit the wall with an 8.18 August ERA and was sent back to Class AAA. He throws hard enough to be a factor again this season, if not immediately.

These lists are very tough to put together, because you’re not ranking guys based on who’s the best player or prospect, you’re ranking them based on who will have the biggest impact in the big leagues this year. That said, David Murphy (#11) over Colby Rasmus (#12) is laughable.

Couple other quick comments: Clayton Richard (#17) is way too high, Tommy Hanson too low (#34), and JA Happ (#95) extremely too low. I’d have Happ in the top 25, ditto Hanson. I love me some Jason Motte too (#25), dude had 126 strikeouts in 76.2 IP between Triple-A and the bigs last year. And I’m sorry, if you’re going to include guys like Jess Todd, (#44) Adam Miller (#45), Scott Elbert (#50), and Phillippe Aumont (#72), then you have to include Mark Melancon. That’s just crazy.

Anywho, there’s your open thread for the night. The Nets are in D.C., and the Knicks are getting visit from LeBron. Anything goes, just be nice.

Photo Credit: Al Tielemans, SI

Open Thread: Posada says he’ll be ready for Opening Day

Chien-Ming Wang & Jorge PosadaPitchers and catchers are just eleven short days away, but two of the Yanks’ most important pieces are already down in Tampa getting their workout on. Anthony McCarron has the word:

Anyway, I am down here for a little pre-spring training visit and saw several Yankees hard at work, including Jorge Posada and Chien-Ming Wang. Posada has been showing up most days since early December to get his surgically-repaired shoulder ready for the season and says he can feel great progress and there’s no pain. He made 140 throws during a workout Monday and says he’ll increase the intensity Wednesday. He throws every other day and while he won’t be ready to catch in spring training until at least March 6, he said, he will be ready for opening day.

After a light workout in the batting cage, Posada went through a series of strenuous exercises in the weight room and did some agility drills.

[snip]

As for Wang, he threw his first pre-spring training bullpen, going for seven minutes and 27 pitches. Decked out in a dark blue shorts and a gray Yankees’ T-shirt pulled over a long-sleeve T-shirt, he threw only fastballs under a blue sky. Pitching coach Dave Eiland was among those who watched, along with pitching guru Billy Connors.

Wang, whose 2008 season was wrecked by foot injuries, said afterward, “Everything feels fine. It’s just normal.” Wang had gotten a clean bill of health in October from Yankee doctors, even throwing a few bullpens then. When he went home to Taiwan during the winter, he did a lot of fitness work on his feet, he said.

Well, of course Posada thinks he’ll be ready for Opening Day, anyone could have told you that. The real issue is whether or not the doctors say he’s ready. It’s very encouraging that he’s so far along in his rehab and hasn’t suffered any setbacks, but until he gets back out there in game action we just won’t know. Same goes for Wang.

Anyway here’s your open thread for the night. Rangers great Adam Graves is having his #9 jersey retired tonight at the Garden. The ceremony started at 6:30, but you can still flip over and catch the bulk of it. Hot shot prospect Artem Anisimov will also be making his NHL debut for the Blueshirts tonight, think of it as the hockey equivalent of Phil Hughes‘ first start. The Nets are hosting the Bucks, and the Knicks won’t give up 61 points to one player tonight because they’re off. The Caribbean Series (Mexico vs Venezuela) is on MLB Network at 9pm. Hooray for live baseball. Anything topic’s fair game here, just be cool.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, Associated Press