Yankee officials are currently sitting in front of Dennis Kuchinich’s Congressional subcommittee on domesti policy, and Neil deMause is liveblogging the event. For all you good government types, part one is available here on the Village Voice’s website, and the current live log is right here. The issue at stake right now is the land value assessment of the new stadium plot. It appears that the city significantly overvalued it to ensure tax breaks for the ball club. · (11) ·
At this point, it would be a shocker if Mike Mussina did not retire. For years, Mussina has been determined to end his career on his terms, rather than being told he’s not wanted any longer. To walk away after his first career 20-win season, when he could actually get offers from all over the place…the only way it could’ve ended better for Mussina would’ve been a Yankees World Series victory to go along with his personal success.
You can expect a Yankee Stadium farewell news conference shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. I’ll leave myself one percent room for error. But no one who knows Mussina well thinks he’ll pitch again.
If this is true — and no one really has any way of knowing until Mike Mussina gets on stage and announces it himself — it will leave a glaring 20-win hole in the Yankee rotation. Mussina this year showed that he could adapt to age. He converted himself from a fastball pitcher into a Jamie Moyer type and enjoyed one of his best seasons ever.
Now, if Moose were to hang it up, the Yanks would have just Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte as definite members of the rotation in 2009. Without Moose to anchor the back end, the team will have to fill from a limited pool of free agents or internally from some combination of Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Ian Kennedy or any other body that happens to be around.
Furthermore, I have more faith in Mussina going forward than I do in Pettitte, but the point may be moot. Over the last few years, Mussina has watched as well-respected hurlers — Roger Clemens, David Wells, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling — have gone out amidst relatively poor seasons and injuries. He’d rather leave on top, and if that’s his choice, I’ll applaud him for it. For the sake of the Yanks, though, I hope he’s not quite ready to hang it up yet.
Let’s do a chat tomorrow, how’s 3pm sound? Help ya get through that last few hours on a Friday. Here’s our past chats.
AzFL Peoria (13-1 loss to Phoenix)
Austin Jackson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – took a guy who throws kinda sorta hard deep
Juan Miranda: 0 for 3, 1 BB - 0 for his last 11
Humberto Sanchez: 0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 WP – my eyes, the goggles do nothing!!! … 16 of 26 pitches were strikes (61.5%)
Kevin Whelan: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-1 GB/FB - only 12 of 23 pitches were strikes (52.2%)
HWB Waikiki had a scheduled off day.
AzFL Peoria (16-5 win over Phoenix)
Juan Miranda: 0 for 5, 1 BB, 2 K - 16 runs & 21 hits and he takes an 0-fer? lame…
HWB Waikiki beat West Oahu 9-8, but no Yankees’ prospects played in the game. This was Jeremy Bleich‘s rotation turn, but he didn’t pitch. Not sure what that’s about. Oh, and Damon Sublett hasn’t played in over week. Hawaii hasn’t been too kind to the Yanks over the years, you may remember Mark Melancon & Chris Garcia blew out their elbows here in 2006.
Loyal reader Angel tells me that Brett Gardner will play for Toros de Este of the Dominican Winter League. He hasn’t played in a game yet.
The Braves offered more, but after spending time in the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, that’s all the money it took to get Dioner Favian Navarro into the pinstriped pipeline way back in 2000. The switch hitting catcher wowed onlookers first in the Gulf Coast League, then South Atlantic League, then the Florida State League, and before you knew it, he was making his Major League Debut for the Bombers on September 7th, 2004 against (who else?) the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Named the Yanks’ top prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2004 season, Navarro was coming off a season in which he hit a ridiculous .321-.375-.469 while catching 110 games as a 19-yr old between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Dubbed “Pudgito” because his stocky build resembles Ivan Rodriguez, the Venezuelan born backstop was poised to assume backup catcher duties behind incumbent Jorge Posada in 2005 after hitting .429 during his September call-up. Navarro was Posada’s successor, and the changing of the guard was ready to begin.
Then George Steinbrenner stepped in.
Steinbrenner’s affection for Randy Johnson had been well-known, and on January 11th, 2005, a deal was completed to bring The Big Unit to the Bronx. Heading to the desert was Navarro (amongst others), his Yankees’ career over after 356 minor league games and seven big league plate appearances. Navarro was traded again less than 24 hours later, this time to the Dodgers as part of a package for Shawn Green. Eighteen months later he was traded again, this time to baseball purgatory for Toby Hall & Mark Hendrickson.
Navarro struggled in his first full season as a Major League catcher last year, hitting just .227-.286-.356 in 119 games. The highlight of his season came at Yankee Stadium (of course) on July 20th, when he hit a monster grand slam through the rain drops into the right field upper deck off Edwar Ramirez. Navarro was hitting a Major League low .179 coming into the game, but the Rays kept running him out because they believed he was their catcher of the future and needed the playing time to develop.
Blossoming as a 24-yr old this year, Navarro earned his first All-Star berth and was second amongst American League catchers with a .295 batting average & .349 on-base percentage. He delivered a crucial walk-off single against the Red Sox on Sept. 16th, breaking a tie atop the AL East. The Rays never looked back, taking the division by two games over the BoSox. One month later, Pudgito is starting in the World Series.
Following prospects is a fun hobby. There’s nothing like imagining what a player can become, hoping they can figure out how to hit a breaking a ball or command their fastball, and envisioning them carrying your team to the World Championship. No one knows what would have become of Navarro had the Yanks not traded him. Maybe his development would have stalled behind Posada, maybe he would have gotten a piece of advice that turned him a player rivaling Matt Wieters. But watching Navarro for the Rays this postseason has been a personal victory; a return on all the time and faith I put into following his progess, hoping he’d one day lead the Yanks to the promised land. For now though, I’ll settle for watching Navarro do his thing for the Rays.
There’s simply nothing better than watching a prospect make it.
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Shane Victorino, CF
7. Greg Dobbs, DH
8. Pedro Feliz, 3B
9. Carlos Ruiz, C
- Brett Myers, P (10-13, 4.55)
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Cliff Floyd, DH
7. Pudgito, C
8. Rocco Baldelli, RF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS
- Jamie Shields, P (14-8, 3.56)
Baseball America has started digging through the aftermath of the 2008 Draft, and handed out some hardware. Unfortunately this article is subsciber only, but I’ll tell you this much: Pat Venditte has one of the best pro debuts of any college player, Jeremy Bleich had one of the draft’s best secondary pitches, and Garrison Lassiter was one of the best late round picks. Sadly both Gerrit Cole & Scott Bittle were two of the best players who got away, but that should come as no surprise. All-in-all, the Yanks spent just over $5M on the draft this year, down nearly $3M from last year. Had Cole and/or Bittle signed, they would have spent north of $8M this year. · (89) ·
As much as we don’t like to comment on rumors from The Post, in an earlier thread today, Steve noted a brief piece in Alexander Hamilton’s paper suggesting that the Yanks are interested in Mike Cameron. Since the Yanks are looking for a center fielder and Cameron could be a free agent this year, it’s worth it to spend a few minutes looking at Cameron.
First up is the issue of Cameron’s current contract. In 2008, the Brewers paid the outfielder $5 million. They hold a $10 million option or a $750,000 buyout. If the Brewers either need a center fielder or anticipate a high demand for Cameron, they could opt to pick up the buyout. However, $10 million for his level of production at his age seems a bit steep.
So going under the assumption that Mike Cameron will be a free agent, what would this option look like? Cameron will be 36 on Opening Day and has always been a good defender. For his career, he’s a .250 hitter with a 106 OPS+. He still has decent power — .477 slugging in park that slightly favors hitters — but he’s coming off successive seasons at around .240 with an OBP hovering around .330.
Clearly, in this regard, Cameron wouldn’t be much of a long-term solution in center. He’s too old; he’s not very good at hitting. But should the Yanks even consider him as a short-term solution?
Right now, the Yankees have a few center field options. They could keep Johnny Damon in center. That is, by far, their best offensive option but their worst defensive choice. They could go with some platoon of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner. Odds are that one or both of them could get on base at a better clip than Cameron, but the power isn’t even close. They could look to trade for someone such as Matt Kemp or Nate McLouth, but neither of those would come cheap or with guarantees.
Cameron is definitely not Plan A for the Yankees. He probably isn’t even Plan B in center, but the Yanks are more concerned, rightly so, with CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. Cameron would be acceptable as a one-year solution if the Yanks felt that Austin Jackson would be ready by 2010. But fans advocating for this solution should be aware that Cameron’s offense will not be the great. He’ll hit a bit for power, but he strikes out a lot and doesn’t get on base. It’s a lukewarm option at best.
With the off-season upon us, it’s time for the New York media to start their annual George Steinbrenner Health Watch. Ken Davidoff kicks things off with a column about George’s recent appearance with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. King George, says Davidoff, ain’t lookin’ so hot these days. While his family simply says that George is “fine,” the 78-year-old is clearly not in the best of health. · (24) ·
For what seemed like the first time all season, I watched a baseball game with no real emotional interest. On Sunday night, I was pacing and gnawing at my fingers as the Tampa Bay Rays gritted out a Game 7 ALCS win over the Red Sox. Tonight, I sat passively — flipped to South Park at 10 — and returned to watch a compelling 3-2 Philadelphia Game 1 win in the World Series. It was a liberating feeling to say the least.
As this Fall Classic kicks into gear, I’m not really sure for which team I’m rooting. I went to college outside of Philadelphia, and for four years, I saw a good number of Phillies games. I remember seeing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard when they first arrived in the City of Brotherly Love. I tracked the hype of Cole Hamels and saw Jim Thome, pre-White Sox trade, blast a few balls into the far reaches of the lovely Citizens Bank Park. That the Phillies continue to trump the Mets is a source of joy too.
Meanwhile, the Rays are the classic example of the adage that says the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Never before last week had I rooted for Tampa, and I poured a lot of emotion into the Rays. I needed to see them beat a very vulnerable and not-too-impressive Boston team.
I needed it to give it back to that one guy in the bars I was at on Saturday night who kept applauding for the most mundane of outs. I needed it so that Boston fans — the bandwagon Boston fans — could know that their team isn’t entitled to win every year and that with success comes postseason disappointment as well. We in New York know it well; Boston should grow accustomed to it as well.
As I feel no love for the Boston bandwagoners, Tampa then presents a problem. As Florida news reporters are eagerly noting, Yankee fans and other Florida residents are hoping aboard the Tampa bandwagon. Tonight’s game — the first World Series game in Tampa history — drew 40,783, but on the season, Tampa, nearly the wire-to-wire leaders in the AL East, finished 26th in attendance. They drew just 22,259 per game, and most nights, the Trop featured crowds in the low-to-mid teens. These fans at the game now are bandwagoners pure and simple. Can I really reward that level of fandom with my own support?
To make matters worse, Major League Baseball is exploiting this temporary attention on Tampa to push for a new ballpark. Why can’t the game just speak for itself for a few days? Does it always have to be about money? I know baseball is a business, but for a week, let the Series play itself out.
In the end, I might root for the Phillies to see if our neighbor to the south can ends its string of sports championship losses. I might root for the Rays to see if they can become the fifth AL East team to down Philadelphia in the World Series. But no matter what, I’ll just kick back, relax and calmly enjoy the games.
* * *
An aside: I watched tonight’s game mostly on mute, and it was glorious. While mostly I did this to tackle some Civil Procedure reading, I also didn’t have to hear Joe Buck. When I finally turned the game on in the 9th, Joe Buck had some expert analysis for me.
“If Carl Crawford can reach, Willy Aybar is in the on-deck circle,” Buck said. The only problem is that this isn’t a true statement. Crawford was up; Aybar was on deck. If Crawford can reach, then Aybar is up, unless someone else hits in between Crawford and Aybar.
Sure, I’m arguing announcing semantics, but if these two are the best FOX has, I’m going with mute until this series is over.