• Getting to know Nick Swisher

    With so many new Yankees in camp this spring, many of the non-A-Rod stories focus on these new faces. We met Mark Teixeira last night; today, we meet the player Teixeira pushed back into the outfield picture. In The Journal News today, Peter Abraham profiles Nick Swisher. While he was briefly disappointed when the Yanks signed Teixeira, Swisher realizes they couldn’t just pass up on the opportunity to land the All Star first baseman. All things considered, Swisher sounds like he’s ready for a season in New York that will see him play a number of roles and positions in the Bronx. · (15) ·

In what could be the first step in an NBA-esque sign-and-trade move, the Twins made an offer to free agent reliever Juan Cruz late last night. Cruz, like The Orlandos (Cabrera & Hudson), has been having a devil of a time trying to find a job this winter because teams are unwilling to part with their first round pick to sign him, and now that Spring Training is underway his agent is really starting to feel the heat. You probably remember seeing the blurb earlier this week in which MLB basically said it would be willing to look the other way as teams try to circumvent the free agent draft pick compensation rules, and it’s looking more and more like this might actually happen.

Forget A-Rod and all the PED nonsense. If baseball is willing to essentially amend it’s rules with almost zero advance notice to the benefit of only some teams, then that’s the game’s biggest problem. The Yankees played by the rules and coughed up the draft picks needed to sign free agents this winter, ditto the Mets, Angels, and Dodgers, and now you’re telling me that other teams have a chance to operate under a completely different set of rules? Sorry, but that’s just not fair. If Juan Cruz wants to get paid, then he should have accepted arbitration. There’s a reason David Weathers and Darren Oliver have contracts for 2009 right now and he doesn’t. He doesn’t get to be above the system because his agent misread the economic climate. Life doesn’t work like that.

I swear, the Yanks (and the Mets, Halos and Dodgers as well) better raise some frickin’ hell if this is allowed to go down.

Categories : Rants
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As Friday night turns into Saturday morning, the Yankees are one day closer to Opening Day. Hopefully by April, A-Rod won’t dominate the headlines. I’m sure that’s naive wishful thinking on my part, but a man can dream.

Anyway, here’s something to chew on overnight. iYankees directs us to an apt Johnny Damon quote from the ProJo Sox Blog:

Damon: “Yeah he did some bad things, he took a steroid. I definitely do not condone that at all, but there could be a lot worse things he could have been doing. He hasn’t done a crime … so, there’s worse things he could have done, but I’ve known Alex since he was 15 and he’s always been super-nice to me, so I’m going to support him and try to help him through this time.”

Reporter: Johnny, what would have been worse?

Damon: “Murdering someone. There’s plenty of things that could have been worse than what he did.”

That basically sums up this whole thing in a nutshell. Many members of the media act as though A-Rod has committed high treason while the players seem to see it as a bad mistake he made a few years ago. He certainly never killed anyone, as Damon noted, and there are far, far worse things he couldn’t do.

Meanwhile, A-Rod seems to recognize that if he and the Yanks win, all will be forgiven. That’s life in the Bronx.

Categories : STEROIDS!
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So what do you think of the new site design? Snazzy, huh? Anyway, here’s the links:

  • It looks like Jeff Francis is going to miss the year with a shoulder issue, which is a tough break for the recently turned 28 southpaw. Matthew Carruth uses this as an opportunity to remind us all that locking up young players, especially pitchers, to long term deals covering their arbitration years (and then some) doesn’t always work out.
  • Orlando Hudson caught on with the Dodgers today, leaving only four Type-A free agents unsigned. The Diamondbacks now have back-to-back first round picks, their regular 16th overall pick and the Dodgers’ 17th overall pick. You can see the updated draft order here.
  • Jose Guillen don’t need no stinkin’ surgeon.
  • There’s a new site out there call MLB Depth Chart, which (you guessed it) posts depth charts for all thirty clubs. Here’s their Yanks page. (h/t MLBTR)
  • RLYW posted a list of the twenty worst offensive seasons by a Yankees’ second baseman. The only recent players to make the list were Enrique Wilson (2004) and Andy Fox (1996), but Robbie Cano‘s 2008 season came in at number twenty-one. Was he really that bad last year? Sheesh.
  • Nick Swisher is Twitterizing.
  • The 2009 college baseball season kicks off today, and someone’s already got a 31 game hit streak going. As always the place to get your college baseball info is The College Baseball Blog., while D1 Baseball is the best spot to get all the day’s box scores in one convenient location. In case you’re still obsessing over him wondering, Gerrit Cole is scheduled to make his first collegiate start with UCLA tomorrow at home against UC Davis.

Here’s your open thread. The Knicks and Nets are both in action tonight, but talk about whatever you want.

Categories : Open Thread
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  • Teixeira pegged as the next great Yankee

    While the Yanks don’t begin their competitive Spring Training schedule until next week and Opening Day is still a few weeks away, already Mark Teixeira has been anointed the Yankee savior in the wake of the A-Rod scandal. Steve Politi in The Star-Ledger called the latest first baseman a Yankee throwback in a recent profile. Considering that Teixeira will be around for the next eight years, it’s a reasonable if lofty expectation. The rhetoric though can be a bit tough to stomach before Teixeira takes his first Yankee AB. · (21) ·

Via Mike Ashmore, current Twin and ex-Yank Jason Jones had some mighty big words for his former organization. From the Pioneer Press:

Trouble is, as much as he welcomed the thought of being a Yankee, they never seemed particularly interested in welcoming him. He shared a spring training locker room with guys who worked for the same organization, but he had a difficult time thinking of them as teammates.

“That’s how I would describe it — you just don’t feel like a part of the team. There are the veterans — the superstars — and then the rest of the guys,” said Jones, who was drafted by New York in the fourth round in 2004. “Here, there are superstars too, but it feels a lot more like we’re a team. It’s a lot better chemistry.”


“I don’t think I ever talked to (Yankees GM Brian) Cashman, other than ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ a couple of times.”

As the article mentions, Jones was the Yanks’ fourth round pick back in 2004, signing for a $245,000 bonus. I’m kind of surprised about this little mini-outburst, but what can you do. Jones averaged just about 140 IP and a 3.44 ERA over the last four years, mostly in Double-A, but the fact of the matter is that he was stuck behind bigger names and better talent.  Such is the life of a middling Yankees prospect.

Update by Ben (5:11 p.m.): I just wanted to add a quick note about this development. Jones was a Rule V draft choice by the Twins a few months ago. If Minnesota opts not to keep him on their Major League roster and cannot create an injury him, they will have to offer to return him to the Yanks. The Yanks could then choose to trade him to Minnesota. Right now, Jones is in the process of creating a very awkward situation for himself, especially if he winds up back in the Yankee organization.

Categories : News
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JoePawl Chat

By in Chats. · Comments (5) ·

Categories : Chats
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Update 1:45 p.m.: Chris directs us to a 2007 ESPN.com article in which the reporter notes that A-Rod had trained with Angel Presinal. So now it appears as though the Daily News is simply re-reporting old news while intimated a steroid/PED connection. This may very well be much ado about nothing for A-Rod, and I’m inclined to believe that this may not be a very compelling story after all.

* * *

I desperately wish we could all buy into Murry Chass’ call to move on with this whole A-Rod thing already. I wish we could be confident that A-Rod put the story to bed earlier this week with a mostly heartfelt and mostly accurate apology.

We can’t however quite put this behind us yet because this story is still developing in ways that could impact A-Rod and the Yankees this season, and it’s quite possible that the S word — suspension — could be back on the table.

The fun started when ESPN Deportes discovered that primobolan is not available over the counter in the DR as A-Rod claimed. That aspect of this story is hardly news. The Dominican is not famous for its exacting pharmacological standards, and from all accounts, it has been as easy to secure steroids and supplements in the DR as it is to by Advil and Claritin at Duane Reade. So fine. Big deal.

What is actually a big deal though is the latest development from the Daily News: A-Rod has reportedly been linked to Angel Presinal, the one-time MLB trainer who, along with Juan Gonzalez, was linked to a bag of steroids in 2001. According to the Daily News’ sources, A-Rod has been involved with Presinal as recently as 2007. If true, this revelation would cast some serious doubt on Rodriguez’s claim that he has been clean since

In fact, according to Andrew Marchand, the Commissioner’s Office could suspend A-Rod as they investigate his link to Presinal. According to the Daily News, A-Rod was warned that his association with Presinal could be trouble for him. (The article also notes that MLB monitors Presinal’s whereabouts. If true, wouldn’t MLB have known that he was associating himself with A-Rod? As poorly as Selig handled this steroid scandal, the league’s investigative unit is nothing but thorough.)

I want to be able to believe that A-Rod was just seeing Presinal to work out with a trainer. But considering that Presinal and A-Rod’s now-infamous cousin are linked by the Daily News, this cat isn’t going back into the bag any time soon. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Categories : STEROIDS!
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In preparation for the WBC, 40-year-old Bernie Williams, two seasons removed from his forced retirement, showed up in Tampa to practice yesterday. When Bernie, his four rings and all the nostalgia he carries with him shows up to camp, it’s a story. In fact, it’s more than just one story.

Peter Abraham presented a picture of a player reluctant to give up baseball. While time had passed Bernie by, the Yanks’ former All Star had trouble coming to terms with it and still seems as though he would be playing if for his family and the fact that no one will employ him. “It’s the story of a guy who still thinks he can play,” Williams said.

But the idea that he could still play never went away. Williams tried to make a comeback in December when he joined a team in the Puerto Rican winter league. That ended after three games when he pulled a muscle in his leg. Now he wants to try again in the WBC if his body holds up…

Williams, who has never admitted to being retired, wistfully spoke of playing in the majors this season. “I’ve always had the desire in the back of my mind that maybe, perhaps, if the situation was right with myself and my family that I could come back before it was too late. Right now I’m taking it as it comes,” he said. “If I still have the fire, I may have to consider seriously taking the opportunity to maybe, perhaps, playing somewhere else. Right now, it’s a very premature statement.”

And on the other hand — and in a somewhat similar vein — is Mark Feinsand’s piece. It sheds some more light on Bernie’s exit from the Yanks and his subsequent reconciliation. The two pieces overlap quite a bit, and both Abraham and Feinsand spend some words focusing on Bernie’s desires to return. Feinsand too sheds some light on the supposedly bitter break up between the Yanks and number 51. Apparently, it wasn’t as bad as we thought:

A lot was made of Bernie’s supposed anger over the way his career ended with the Yankees, but he cleared that up Thursday. The minor-league invite made it easier for him to turn down the offer, since he had a lot of issues with his wife and children, so many that he felt at the time that if he continued to play, he would lose them forever.

But now, Bernie seems happy with his life, even if this WBC represents his final shot at playing competitive baseball. He made his return to Yankee Stadium for the final game last September, but his appearance at Steinbrenner Field felt like the final step in fully mending any broken bonds between Bernie and the only team for which he ever played.

“I feel that I never left,” he said. “The fact that I stepped away had nothing to do with being angry with them. I had to take care of some things, step away and really figure out what was important in my life. I think I’m in a better place right now.”

Bernie wants to come back and play for someone somewhere as a way to go out on his terms. I doubt that will happen, and if he makes Puerto Rico’s WBC team, it probably be the last time we see him in uniform. I, though, am glad to see Bernie back in the Yankee fold. He deserves his Bronx day in the sun.

Categories : Spring Training
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