• NLDS Game 1: Two familiar faces square off
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    The last time Joe Torre and Lou Piniella met in the postseason, Sweet Lou guaranteed a six-game series while the 2001 Yankees dispatched the 116-win Mariners in five. Piniella again has the superior team, record-wise, and Joe Torre is attempting to regain some of the playoff mojo that has deserted him over the past few years. Game time is at 6:30 p.m., and free agent-to-be Ryan Dempster (17-6, 2.96) will face free agent-to-be Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24). · (140) ·

When Andrew Brackman may his professional debut last week, things didn’t go quite exactly as planned. The lanky righthander lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up six earned runs on seven hits and two walks. The three strike outs were the only encouraging thing about his start, the first he’s made since Tommy John surgery.

Of course, as is custom in Yankee Universe these days, a few fans flipped out at this turn of events. Some went so far as to call Andrew Brackman a bust based on the seven outs he recorded in late September in Hawaii. Other writers questioned, yet again, Brian Cashman‘s suspect (to them) choice of Brackman. Did the Yankees waste their first-round pick, these pessimistic commentators wondered?

The answer is a rather qualified “of course not.” It is entirely unreasonable to assume that a young, unpolished pitcher making his first start in 18 months would have his best stuff. It’s also entirely unreasonable to write off Brackman based on one start.

But — and this is a but too far away for it to be valid — if Brackman doesn’t pan out, no one should be surprised. When the Yankees drafted Andrew Brackman in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft, Brackman became the 30th pick of the draft. History is littered with failed 30th picks. In fact, of the 44 30th picks in history, just one of them is a Hall of Famer, and few others had long Major League careers.

As Baseball Reference’s handy draft database shows us, 30th picks are largely forgettable. Anyone remember Chance Caple, Matt Burch or Eric Hurley? Nick Bierbrodt certainly did wow anyone in his short Major League career.

Of the 30th picks, then, clearly the most successful was Mike Schmidt. He was the sixth pick in the second round of the 1971 draft, just the seventh amateur draft in history. Of the other 30th picks, Chris Sabo, Travis Fryman, Brian Jordan and David Wells had long and somewhat fruitful careers. In recent years, only Noah Lowry and Jack Cust have become regulars out of the 30th pick, and Cust didn’t earn a starting job until he landed on his fifth team in 2007, a full decade after he was originally drafted.

So what, then, are the lessons we can take away from the not-so-stellar pedigree of the 30th draft pick? Well, for one, we shouldn’t place undue expectations on Mr. Brackman. He may have been a first round pick, but beyond the top spots of the draft, in baseball, that’s a largely meaningless distinction. Some 62-round selections have Hall of Fame careers; some number one picks fizzle out. Being a first-round pick doesn’t guarantee any modicum of success.

It also means that we can’t accuse the Yankees of wasting a first-round pick. The team opted for the best talent they thought was available at the 30-pick level. If that talent doesn’t pan out, Brackman won’t be alone among the ranks of fellow draftees. In fact, if he succeeds, he’ll join a rather elite group of 30-pick players who had productive careers.

Finally, this hype is also a warning about the power of the Internet. Prior to a few years ago, most baseball fans would be hard-pressed to name their favorite teams’ draft picks. Today, with Minor League stats readily available and draft previews landing nearly a year ahead of time, fans know more about the draft picks than ever before. But still the can’t-miss guys miss, and the obscure players strike it big. You just never know which player selected late in the draft will be a big star. Courting disappointment and proclaiming draft picks “wasted” is meaningless.

Categories : Draft
Comments (62)
  • NLDS Game 1: Brew Crew, Phils phace off
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    Play offs? You wanna talk about play offs? Well, then, do it here. Many of us will be watching the games over the next few weeks, and we all like to talk baseball. This here thread is for game 1 of the Phillies-Brewers NLDS. Yovani Gallardo, 0-0, 1.88, faces off against Cole Hamles, 14-10, 3.09. I’m pulling for the Phillies here. · (77) ·

  • PSA: Yanks reopen Yankee Stadium tours
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    When I went on my Yankee Stadium tour in August, a lot of readers wanted to know if they could enjoy the stadium on a similar tour. At the time, all remaining tours were sold out, and the Yanks had no plans to continue the tours after the final game a few weeks ago. Due to popular demand, however, the Yankees have reoped the Stadium for tours. Right now, the booking covers only through the end of October, but plans seem to be in the works to run these tours, weather-permitting, until the end of the year when the team starts moving Monument Park across the street. You can book the tours here. Act fast; time slots are selling out quickly. · (9) ·

  • Joba: Seriously, I’m fine
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    While George King was busy printing rumors about Joba’s shoulder, another Post reporter decided to ask the man himself. Joba says his shoulder is a-okay. He says he just couldn’t get loose on Sunday in Boston. There’s nothing wrong with that; it was raining and chilly. Plus, as anyone who ever participates in any athletic activity knows, some days, you just can’t get loose. There’s nothing to see here, people. Move along. · (35) ·

Now that the regular season finally ended last night, I’m really starting to feel the emptiness of a fall without Yankee baseball. We’ve been spoiled in New York; the last time the Yanks weren’t in the playoffs was 1994, and, outside of its movies, can any of us really remember 1994?

So in the spirit of October — and I hear there’s only one of those — allow me to present my postseason picks with a tinge of sentimentality. These aren’t the teams I think will win, necessarily, but rather the teams I want to win. We start in the American League.

ALDS 1: Angels vs. Red Sox
No self-respecting Yankee fan would ever root for the Red Sox to win a playoff series. Of course, on the flip side of that is the reality that no self-respecting Yankee fan would root for the Angels either. In thise case, though, I’m erring on the side of anti-Red Sox Nation. I’ll watch this series disinterestedly. Last year, the Red Sox ran roughshod over a weak Angels team; this year, the Red Sox are facing off against the team that’s not only the best in the AL but enjoyed a 17-9 September. It shouldn’t be close. (Realistic Pick: Angels in 4)

ALDS 2: White Sox vs. Rays
I’m finding it hard to root against the White Sox. As I’ll get to in a few paragraphs, I’m pulling for the Cubbies in the NL, and I’d love to see an “L” Series in Chicago. Ken Griffey and Jim Thome also deserve the World Series rings that have eluded them throughout their storied careers. But that means I’m rooting against the Cinderella story of the year. So be it, Tampa. I’m pulling for the White Sox, my thoughts on Ozzie Guillen notwithstanding. (Realistic Pick: Rays in 4)

NLDS 1: Phillies vs. Brewers
I spent four years in college a short drive away from first Veterans Stadium and later Citizens Bank Park, and I grew to love the Phillies. Their fans are ridiculous; their teams always manage to lose in spectacular fashion; and it’s really hard to root against them. With Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino at the top of the lineup, and Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, one of the best pure sluggers around, in the middle, the team is fun to watch. Plus, Mike Mussina drew all of his inspiration this year from one Jamie Moyer, Phillies starter extraordinaire. Sorry, CC, but I’m going with Philadelphia. (Realistic Pick: Phillies in 4)

NLDS 2: Cubs vs. Dodgers
This one’s the tough one. I’d really like to root for the Dodgers. While I believe his time was up in New York, I have always loved Joe Torre, and it would be quite the story to see him bring a World Championship to Los Angeles in his first year there. A win would certainly cement his status as a Hall of Fame manager. Furthemore, now that he’s off the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez is actually fun to watch. But the Dodgers would be a World Series winner less deserving than the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals. They finished five games worse than the Yankees.

Anyway, I have to pull for the Cubs here. I know too many long-suffering fans, and for the sake of baseball history, I would like to see the Cubs win a World Series at some point in my lifetime. There’s a boatload of symmetry in the fact that it’s been 100 years since the team’s last title, and the field is level enough for them to pull it off this year. In this round, at least, I’m cheering on the Cubbies. (Realistic Pick: Cubs in 3)

Categories : Playoffs
Comments (49)
  • Posada set to catch in ’09
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    When the Yanks lost Jorge Posada to a shoulder injury this year, the team immediately felt the impact of that injury. As the year wore on, a lot of Yankee fans wondered about Posada’s future. Could a 37-year-old catcher with three years left on his deal be expected to catch? Well, the Yankees think so. According to Joe Girardi, the team expects Posada to catch 120 games in 2009, and until we see otherwise, I have no reason to think these expectations unreasonable. Posada may not be the defensive force that is Jose Molina, but the Yanks need his bat in the lineup every day to win. · (40) ·

  • Game Thread: AL Central Playoff
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    A full 162 game schedule couldn’t decide it, so tonight the Minny Twins and ChiTown Sox face off in a one-game playoff to decide the AL Central crown. The pitching matchup features a pair of young, 11 game winners: Bobby Abreu target Nick Blackburn and wouldn’t the Rangers like to have him back John Danks. Loser goes home, winner flies to Tampa and plays tomorrow Thursday.

    TBS, despite inexplicably not having an HD channel, is carrying the game. First pitch is at 7:30 EDT; comment away here.
    · (232) ·

Via Kat O’Brien, we learn that Brian Cashman has decided to come back to the Yankees. He’ll sign a three year deal reportedly worth around $6 million. There aren’t many more details right now, though we’ll surely update you as we hear more.

Update by Ben (5:55 p.m.): You want statements? We’ve got statements.

From Brian Cashman:

I know I’ve said it before, but it’s an incredible opportunity and honor to hold the title of general manager for the New York Yankees. With it comes a great responsibility to ownership, the people who wear the uniform and our fan base.

I’ve got a job to finish here. That’s the bottom line.

I consider coming off a season where we didn’t reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993 as a personal challenge. I’ve never been one to run from a challenge, and I look forward to having the chance to go after this thing again.

From Hank and Hal:

Before we could move forward as an organization this offseason, we needed to come to a resolution on the person who would hold the important position of general manager and allow us to make another run at a 27th World Championship. We are thrilled that Brian has accepted to renew his commitment to this organization for at least three more years.

Holding the position of general manager for any Major League team is a challenge. But to do so in the great city of New York, where baseball is passionately followed 12 months a year, you must possess a number of unique attributes.

Brian has shown throughout his Yankees career that he has the dedication, integrity and know-how needed to perform-and succeed-in this environment. Having him in place allows us to begin an offseason of hard work, and we are pleased he will be working hand-in-hand with us to bring the New York Yankees back to the postseason.

The Yankees will sink or swim with the right man at the helm.

Categories : Front Office
Comments (140)