Beloved Yankee great and former announcer Phil Rizzuto passed away today. The Scooter, the oldest living Hall of Famer, was 89.
Rizzuto was long a favorite in the Bronx. A 40-year veteran of the broadcast booth, he coined the catch phrase “Holy Cow!” during his colorful commentaries on the game. During broadcasts, he would describe the action in a ramblingly poetic style often discussing marriages and birthdays more than the play on the field. He would leave games early to beat the traffic, saying to his wife over the air, “I’ll be home soon, Cora.” Generations of Yankee fans came to know and love the game through the Scooter’s broadcasts.
On the field, Rizzuto’s thirteen-year career – interrupted by three years in the war from 1943-1945 – earned him a spot in Cooperstown. A five-time All Star, he won the MVP in 1950 and finished second in the voting in 1949. He played in nine World Series, winning seven of them and remained a part of the Yankee family long after he retired in 1956.
Phil also gained some fame, amusingly enough, in 1977 when he appeared on the Meatloaf hit single “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” As Meatloaf and Ellen Foley recall the tango of their teenage days by the like, Rizzuto’s announcing serves as the not-so-veiled euphemism for the action in the car. This part of the song ends, fittingly enough, with a well-timed “Holy Cow!”
Recently, Rizzuto’s health had been failing. He was noticeably absent from Old Timers’ Day, sending a letter for Michael Kay to read in his place. The flags will be at half staff in the Bronx today as the Yanks are sure to honor Number 10 before tonight’s game. This one’s for you, Scooter.
I absolutely cannot stand Ron Villone. Yes, he pitched well for us during a crucial stretch last year, but he turned putrid down the stretch. And when you consider his season numbers — 5.04 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, only 59 percent of pitches for strike, and only 49 percent of first-pitch strikes — you really have to wonder why he was brought back.
His numbers seem to be decent this year: 3.34 ERA, 6.12 K/9, 2.00 K/BB, 62% of pitches for strikes, 1.27 WHIP. However, at this point last year, he was sitting on a 2.26 ERA. So from August 15 through September 30, his ERA rose 2.78 points. That’s not what we need this year. Then again, at this point last year, he also had 64.1 innings under his belt, whereas this year he has just about half that, 32.1, though if you add in his Scranton numbers it’s 56, so he’s not that far off.
My biggest gripe with Villone this year, though, is his almost automatic way of allowing inherited runners to score. To date he has come in with 23 runners on base, of which he has allowed nine to score. That’s nearly 40 percent, and it’s completely unacceptable. Yes, we’re dealing with a small sample size. But we’re also dealing with Ron Villone.
This is the exact reason we need Britton and Edwar in the pen. Wouldn’t you feel much more comfortable with one of them coming into a game with a two-run lead and a guy on first base? I sure would. Lefties be damned, I don’t want Ron Villone on this team anymore.
With the Yanks and Padres facing a 2 p.m. deadline to complete a deal, Buster Olney is reporting that the Yanks plan to withdraw the disappointing Kei Igawa from waivers. While most talent evaluators feel Igawa won’t succeed in the AL and is a better fit for a team like the Padres and a park like Petco, the Yanks aren’t quite yet ready to give up on a pitcher in which they invested $26 million in posting fees. I think the Yanks should just cut their losses, but so be it as long as Igawa doesn’t get starts next year over Ian Kennedy or Joba Chamberlain. · (3) ·
- Rick Porcello is about to become a very, very rich
mankid. There’s a chance the Porcello deal could affect how much the Yanks give Andrew Brackman, but frankly, they’re rumored to already be giving him $3M, which is more than anyone else would have offered.
- Word on the street is that second round pick Austin Romine is already in Tampa getting his workout on, although a deal has not been made official. IPK & Joba did something similar last year, and obviously they both went on to sign. I take this as a good sign.
- Nothing new the report on 4th rounder Brad Suttle (3B, Texas) or 10th rounder Carmen Angelini (SS, some HS in Louisiana), both are expected to sign well above slot deals, Suttle around $1M and Angelini around $900k.
- The Yanks have made some minor signings, locking up 29th rounder Matt Pilgreen (RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette) and 37th rounder Steven Strausbaugh (OF, Western Carolina). No word on where the two will be assigned.
- Last I heard, the Yanks had signed the fewest picks from the top 10 rounds, and the fewest picks overall. It’s about quality, not quantity I say.
- Officially, the draft deadline is midnight tomorrow, so in reality you won’t get the full details on all the deals/signings until Thursday.
- Looking back on it a year later, I think I over-estimated how long it’ll take Yankee fans to fall in love with Joba. The cool part is that the scouting report I gave back then was accurate; Nardi Contreras cleaned up Joba’s mechanics last year during Instruction League last fall, and bam, 92-93 became 98-99.
I’ll post any signing news as I get it, so check back often.
With Joba now smiting hitters in the bigs, Ian Kennedy flies solo as the only Yankee farmhand on BA’s Hot Sheet this week. Another Baby Bomber is mentioned in the “Helium Watch” section, and it’s about time he started to get some love.
Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Buffalo in 11 innings)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 5, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K – threw a runner out at first…damn
Alberto Gonzalez & Kevin Reese: both 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 BB - Gonzalez scored a run & tripled
Angel Chavez: 2 for 6, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K
Bronson Sardinha: 3 for 6, 2 K
Andy Cannizaro: 2 for 3, 2 BB
IPK: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K – one of those walks was intentional…not his best night, but it’s still only the 3rd time this year he’s allowed 3 or more ER in 23 starts
Sean Henn: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K – 17 of 20 pitches were strikes…damn
Edwar: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HB - 16.17 Kper9…but he did blow the save
Brian Bruney: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – 12 of 16 pitches were strikes…
Over at the Worldwide Leader, Jeff Pearlman has penned a Page 2 apology to Joe Torre. Here’s the entire column in a nutshell:
A know-it-all bozo on ESPN.com’s Page 2 opines that the Yankees should save their season by firing Joe Torre, then watches in amazement as New York’s manager guides a severely flawed team back into the pennant race.
To get this out of the way (not that I have any reason to think he’s reading my work): I would like to apologize to Joe Torre for a completely wrongheaded column that never should have been written. It was dumb. Beyond dumb.
As you can imagine, Pearlman goes on to shower Torre in accolades for guiding the Yankees through the thick and thin en route to a pennant race right now. As Yankee-mania heats up and the Red Sox start to feel the pressure of a four-game lead that was once fourteen, we’ll be seeing a lot of this. We’ll see columnists extolling the virtues of Joe Torre and praising him for a job well done as he guides a team that struggled at the beginning of the season to the playoffs.
But really, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Last I checked, Joe Torre was still responsible for, according to these guys, six losses this year. Six losses, by the way, would give the Yanks a two-game lead in the East. By my count, Torre then is still on the hook for the Yanks’ having to play catch-up all summer. (Yes, I recognize the Yanks may have still gone 0-6 in those games, but Torre’s moves were fairly inexplicable at the time.)
Meanwhile, Brian Cashman was forced to trade away members of the Yankees at the trade deadline because the front office was concerned that Torre was using them as a crutch. Scott Proctor and to a greater extent Miguel Cairo were exiled from the Yankees because Torre kept insisting on deploying them in high leverage situations. That is not the sign of a manager with a full vote of confidence.
I also have to wonder how much of the credit Joe Torre really deserves for the Yankees’ offense. Take a look. Since the All Star Break, the Yanks are hitting .329/.396/.557. That’s a team OPS of .926. So yeah, good work at the plate, Mr. Torre.
Now, you can look at this and say I’m being too critical. You’re probably right. Torre’s can a better job of late of managing the bullpen now that Kyle Farnsworth, Brian Bruney and Scott Protor are either in Joe Torre’s doghouse or gone from the team, but I prefer to thank Mariano Rivera for that move.
To his credit, Torre has been very good at getting the most of his team. Bucking his past trends, he’s entrusted the centerfield job to Melky Cabrera. He’s balanced at bats between Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi. He’s stuck with Andy Phillips at first base. So, yes, Torre gets some credit.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The way the Yanks are playing, they don’t need a manager right now. And we don’t need to gloss over Torre’s faults to the detriment of the Yankees.
Ben was digging through some stats earlier and noticed that the pundits over at Sons of Sam Horn have managed to grab the Baseball-Reference.com sponsorship for Phil Hughes’ player page. It reads:
Will be cubically transformed soon. Sincerely, The Fans of Phil Hughes’s favorite baseball team; the Red Sox and their fans at SoSH.Ouch, that kinda stings. We all think of Phil as our own; we’ve watched him grow from a little-known high schooler to a soon-to-be frontline pitcher, but the fact is that Hughes was a Red Sox fan before stepping over to the Dark Side, thanks to his family roots in Rhode Island. Sawx phenom Clay Buchholz might be getting the call to pitch one end of Boston’s doubleheader Friday, and we could do something underhanded like sponsor his page with a message like “He stole 29 laptops from his high school and tried to sell them,” but nah, we won’t stoop to that level. Reminding us of Phil’s Red Sox allegiance stings, but not as bad as potentially blowing a 14.5 game division lead. · (11) ·