Spring Training. It’s a time for optimism, for hope. Reports gush from camp that Player X has lost a ton of weight, that Player Y is in the best shape of his life, and that Player Z is feeling great despite his injury history. Unfortunately, there are times when a player just isn’t feeling his best. From the schadenfreude department comes this report from the Providence Journal about J.D. Drew’s back. It’s been sore all winter, and things aren’t looking up as he heads into camp. The Red Sox knew his injury risk when they signed him after the 2006 season, and with three years and $42 million left on his contract, they just might be running into a worst case scenario. Not that I would wish that on them or anything. · (15) ·
A year ago, Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez suffered through a public and personal divorce. While A-Rod‘s opt-out resulted in a $270-million, 10-year deal from the Yanks, his timing — in the middle of Game 4 of the World Series — earned him universal baseball scorn. With another top client jobless as Spring Training begins, Boras is again on the receiving end of some bad press.
According to a report in the Dominican-based Impacto Deportivo, Manny Ramirez may be on the verge of jettisoning Boras as his agent this week. The free agent could attempt to handle negotiations himself.
For Scott Boras, losing Manny Ramirez at this point in his career wouldn’t be the biggest loss to the agency business. After all, Mark Teixeira, also a Boras client, just landed himself a $180-million, eight-year deal. Boras will draw a far bigger commission from that one Teixeira deal than he will throughout the rest of Manny’s career.
But on the other hand, Boras seems to play a dangerous game with his clients. He tried to steal the spotlight for A-Rod in 2007, and he completely misread the Manny market this year. Teams seem to be getting wise to his dealings. It’s tough to convince a GM that some unknown team is also in on the GM’s top target when the GM is expecting Boras to drop that line.
So instead, Boras the agent tells his clients that he can get them a better deal. Turn down the two-year, $40-million option; turn down the two-year, $45-million offer; turn down the one-year, $25-million offer. Somewhere out there is a three-year offer, and somewhere out there are a bunch of fans who aren’t going to look too kindly on a player haggling over a few million dollars while the American economy hits a recession.
Manny will probably land with the Dodgers. Joe Torre is expecting him, and the team is holding open a locker for the slugger. But he looks bad, and Boras’ players are finally deciding that perhaps the bad press just isn’t worth it. As teams grow tougher, it will be interesting to see how Boras maintains his empire. He didn’t get to the top without smarts, and he’ll have to adapt. It’s all part of the game of the business of baseball.
A riveting nugget of information from Tyler Kepner today:
Finally, Brian Bruney’s movie re-aired on cable Sunday morning. You didn’t know Bruney was a film star? In 1990, when he was eight years old, he appeared in Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie was filmed in Astoria, Oregon, the next town over from Bruney’s hometown of Warrenton.
The producers needed some extras for a scene where a bunch of kids pour out of the school during a fire drill. Bruney is one of the kids, wearing a blue-and-white striped shirt with a bright orange hat. That hat was the suggestion of his grandmother, who told him to wear it so she could spot him when the movie came out.
Exciting stuff, huh? I guess it’s better than talking about the Bruney-Reynolds feud. Yeah … there’s not a whole lot going on right now. PeteAbe’s got a bunch of pictures from camp today, but that’s about it. Otherwise, use this as your open thread. Anything goes, as usual.
With former teammates questioning his credibility on the first day of Spring Training, Alex Rodriguez may be in for a long 2009, and the Yankees’ Front Office seems to be keeping their slugger at arm’s distance. A-Rod will face the media circus on Tuesday, and the team wants him to be as forthcoming as possible. Meanwhile, Ken Davidoff wonders if George Steinbrenner’s tough love would have helped A-Rod save face. At this point, not even King George at his finest could have saved baseball from itself right now. · (14) ·
Bob Sheppard, the Yanks’ public address announcer since 1951, spoke to Ed Randall on WFAN this morning about his health and the Yanks in general. You can listen to the audio here. Sheppard says he’s back up to 145 lbs, which is where the doctors want him. He’s hopeful for an Opening Day return, but says that it all depends on his stamina. Make sure you give it listen, it’s worth it just to hear him say “stamina.” The Voice of God. (h/t Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve) · (9) ·
Now that the Mets have signed Livan Hernandez, the team does not expect to resign Pedro Martinez, and the MLBTR community is wondering who will. A month ago, before the Yanks brought Andy Pettitte back into the fold, I advocated taking a flier on the one-time Yankee nemesis. I’d still say give him a look. Bring him to camp for the depth. If he looks good, I’m sure the Yanks could find a trading partner, and if not, they can just cut him loose. It won’t happen, but it’s an interesting thought at least. · (40) ·
Pitchers and catchers reported a few days ago, and as expected nothing happened. The beat writers were around to give us updates on who was throwing and who was at the minor league complex working out, but that’s about it. Still, there has to be something to talk about, and it seems the theme of the day is Mariano Rivera and his eventual retirement. It’s a subject no one really wants to think about, yet it’s addressed in a number of the New York papers.
Kat O’Brien opens with an ominous quote: “The end is coming. Sooner or later, it’s going to come.” My only follow-up would be, does this mean the end as in the end of his career, or the end as in the end of days, since we know Mo moonlights as the creator of the universe? Either way it doesn’t bode well for Yankees fans.
Pete Abraham, writing in his newspaper and not on his blog, focuses more on Mo’s injury last year, which started far before most of us imagined. Yet he still managed, despite feeling pain in his sleep, to produce one of the finest years of his career, tallying a WHIP below 0.70. And when it comes to this season, Mo knows he’s ready:
“It will be there,” he said. “It will be there. I don’t have those thoughts in my mind. When I go on the mound, I know that everything is going to be there. And if it’s not there that day, I know that the next time it’s going to be there. I don’t worry about those things.”
Of course, not every story focused on Mo himself. John Harper, who I like a lot less after he wasted my time by writing this article which I would inevitably read, opens up the same old can of worms “On the other hand, the start to spring training provides just as much reason to argue the other way on the Great Joba Debate: starter or reliever?”
Call it a debate if you will, but it is certainly not great. I know there are still some people reading RAB who believe that Joba should be in the pen. We’ve had this argument numerous times, and I feel that the Joba as a starter crew has met the burden of proof dozens of times over. Yet Harper still clamors for Joba to the bullpen, based on something he calls “logic.”
At least Harper invokes the one argument I find remotely acceptable for moving Joba to the pen: “Look at it this way: where would the drop-off without him be more dramatic this season, in the rotation with Phil Hughes as the No. 5 starter, or in the bullpen with Brian Bruney as Rivera’s set-up man?” That’s a well-reasoned, team-need-based argument. But because we can’t answer the question, it’s best for the Yankees to stick to what they’re doing.
They went out this off-season and signed two top of the rotation starters because they didn’t want to guarantee Phil Hughes a rotation spot this spring. I’m assuming nothing has changed between now and then. The Yankees will check out Hughes in Spring Training, obviously, and will have to take some time during the season to determine the drop-off from Joba to him. Similarly, the team will have to evaluate how well Brian Bruney can handle his role. Not only that, but they’ll have a good long look at Mark Melancon and determine how he can fit into the bullpen.
While I applaud Harper for making a reasonable argument, I also scold him for wasting time with it. The Yankees are bringing Joba along as a starter. That’s not going to change unless something else changes first. Spring Training itself should not evoke this debate.Call me when something changes. Even then, chances still are that Joba’s ideal role will be in the rotation.
Sorry for the tardiness. Enjoy.
It’s easy for us to overhype the Yanks’ prospects. We want every young kid to be the second coming of Derek Jeter or Bernie Williams, but more often than not, these youngsters end up being the fiftieth coming of Ricky Ledee. But this year might be different for the Yanks have a reliever earning a lot of pre-season buzz. As Chad Jennings writes, the Yanks are expecting big things out of Mark Melancon this year, and they view the 23-year-old as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. Those are some lofty expectations for a pitcher with just 20 AAA innings under his belt, but he sounds as though he’s up for the challenge. · (23) ·
Don’t expect Jorge Posada to catch before mid-March. He will play designated hitter before then, but as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Girardi expects Posada to start only 100 to 110 games behind the plate this season. From 2000 through 2007, Posada started 134 to 142 games at catcher each year.
Now, I know the Yanks shouldn’t be banking on Posada to reach those 2007 levels in terms of games played. He’s coming off a very serious shoulder injury and needs to be healthy for the remaining years on his contract.
However, if he catches just 100-110 games this year, the Yanks still need to find someone else to catch the other 52-62 games. Do they turn to Jose Molina? Do they turn to Kevin Cash? Neither of those two are very appealing options offensively. Molina played in 100 games and put up a line of .216/.263/.313 last year. Kevin Cash played in 61 games for Boston and managed a .225/.309/.338. Can you imagine one third of the season with those two guys in the lineup?
The Yanks have a strong farm system with some appealing trading chips. They shouldn’t use them, however, to acquire a catcher simply because they have depth behind the dish in the low levels of the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Francisco Cervelli up in the bigs if he can hit. Someone after all is going to have to spell Posada more often than we would like.