It’s October. The Yankees lose a stunner to the Indians when former Manager Joe Torre fails to get his team off the field in the face of a Biblical plague of blood. Fade out on the season.
Except this is New York, and while the Giants won the Super Bowl, while the Knicks are epically bad, we never really fade out on the season. After the Yanks’ last game in October, Joe Torre left as manager and A-Rod opted out of his contract. Then, the World Series ended.
A-Rod came back. The Yanks re-signed Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. They almost traded for Johan Santana, and then, they didn’t. The Mitchell Report hit, and we’ve been inundated with steroid news for the last two months. Now, Andy Pettitte, who hopefully won’t retire, won’t report to Spring Training until Monday.
Meanwhile, on the blog, we debated A-Rod, replacement third basemen, Johan Santana, Joba’s role and the future of Melky Cabrera. We saved the Big Three and had our biggest day for traffic during the cold days of December.
And here we are on February 14, and the countdown on the right just hit 0. I used to say forget Opening Day; life can begin again when pitchers and catchers report. But this year, baseball season never ended. It’s just a circle that keeps on going.
For a few minutes, we can forget about steroids. We can forget about yesterday’s circus or tomorrow’s hordes of reporters. We can forget about bullpen make-ups and starting pitchers on pitch counts and innings limits.
For a few minutes, we can remember opening day — six weeks away. We can remember the joys of a nine-inning baseball game on a warm summer night. We can remember the thrill of a pennant race and the tenseness that surrounds a pivotal three-game series when the Red Sox come to town. We can remember the electric air of Yankee Stadium in October (and forget that this is the Stadium’s last year).
We can remember this and smile because today, the action moves on the field, for today pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. And everything is good again.
Jack Curry sat down with some of the Yanks’ young guns and the new skipper yesterday to discuss pitch counts and innings limits. The short version: Joe Girardi did not handle his pitchers improperly in Florida. The longer version: The Yankees are going to be very, very careful with Joba, Phil and IPK this season. But we knew that already. · (10) ·
No fancy intro today, I gave you the schpeel yesterday. The Yanks have a pretty obvious top 4 prospects, and an even more obvious #1. After that though, opinions vary because everybody has their own preferences, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m hear to tell you what mine are. One thing we can all agree on is that it’s a great time to be fan of the farm system, because the system hasn’t been this stacked since the law firm of Johnson, Soriano & Henson roamed the upper levels.
Yesterday I gave you the guys who just missed the cut, today you get the rest of the list. I find the last 8 guys on the list (plus the 5 just misses) to be very interchangeable, which is a good thing because they’re all #23 caliber prospects, not #30 types. Lemme know what you think in the comments. The good stuff is comes after the jump.
One of the members of the House Oversight Committee just asked Roger Clemens if he is or ever was a vegan. Clemens looked bewildered, glanced around the room, and basically said, “Uhhh, what is a vegan? I don’t know what that is.” Apparently, the House Oversight Committee really has nothing better to do. · (22) ·
Enough of this steroid talk. This hearing is a joke. In other Yankee news, Kat O’Brien reports in Newsday that Chien-Ming Wang wanted a long-term deal, but the Yankees said no. As Wang put, the Yanks told him that they would rather not sign a deal because it’s tough for pitchers to stay healthy. I wonder if the Yanks are concerned about Wang’s October performance. 5.2 innings do not a career make. · (15) ·
Duff Wilson in The Times reports that Congressional autograph seekers may have broken federal laws. Maybe the House Ethics Committee can get in on this circus as well.
And if anyone is interested, MLB.com is carrying the hearings live right now.
Also, Andy Pettitte supposedly said he used HGH once in 2004 also. So the Mitchell Report couldn’t even get a complete picture of the people named in it. Good work, Senator. · (5) ·
We all want this to be over after today. We all know that Bud Selig screwed this one up. We all know that this sideshow circus down in DC is no longer about rooting out performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
But for the next day, we’re stuck with it. We’re stuck with two grown men engaged in a public shouting match with legal ramifications and the reputations of distinguished baseball players and former Senators on the line. We’re stuck with grandstanding politicians and clueless baseball officials. And as the day gets started, we’re stuck with conflicting reports about Andy Pettitte‘s testimony.
What we do know is that Andy Pettitte — along with Chuck Knoblauch and Kurt Radomski — will not be at today’s hearing. What the media hasn’t yet pegged down is why and what Pettitte said in his deposition sessions. An ESPN report from late Tuesday noted that members of Congress excused the Yanks’ lefty because he may not be a good witness:
Sources told [ESPN.com's TJ] Quinn that Pettitte was not a good witness when he appeared before congressional lawyers during a sworn deposition on Monday. Pettitte often contradicted himself, the sources said, so the committee agreed to his request not to appear Wednesday.
But as the rest of that article relates and as pieces on CBS Sportsline and The New York Times detail, Pettitte’s testimony may be the nail in Roger Clemens’ coffin. While The Times report notes the existence of a signed affidavit given by Pettitte to the House Oversight Committee in lieu of testifying, CBS’ story has the details from the affidavit:
Roger Clemens told Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte nearly 10 years ago that he used human growth hormone, Pettitte said in a sworn affidavit to Congress, the Associated Press learned Tuesday.
Pettitte disclosed the conversation to the congressional committee holding Wednesday’s hearings on drug use in baseball, a person familiar with the affidavit said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the document had not been made public.
According to the person familiar with the affidavit, who said it was signed Friday night, Pettitte also said Clemens backtracked when the subject of HGH came up again in conversation in 2005, before the same House committee held the first hearing on steroids in baseball.
Pettitte said in the affidavit that he asked Clemens in 2005 what he would do if asked by the media about HGH, given his admission years earlier. According to the account told to the AP, the affidavit said Clemens responded by saying Pettitte misunderstood the previous exchange in 1999 or 2000 and that, in fact, Clemens had been talking about HGH use by his wife in the original conversation.
Furthermore, as ESPN reports, McNamee once told Pettitte that the “stuff [McNamee] gave Roger” was illegal.
Now, right now, all the information we know for sure is that this affidavit exists. The AP story on Sportsline relies on anonymous sources who could be wrong. In less than 12 hours, we’ll know sure, but things do not look good for Roger Clemens.
Someone tell me again though what this has to do about changing the culture of PED use in Major League Baseball? I’m dying to hear the answer to that question.
Kat O’Brien, on her first day in Tampa, checked in with Chien-Ming Wang, and the Yanks’ ace said he took his playoff failures pretty hard. It took Wang a month to get over the losses, and he says that his arm was dropping so that he couldn’t get on top of his sinker. With the youngster breathing down his neck, Chien-Ming Wang will, I predict, turn in a big season in 2008. · (33) ·
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Pitchers and catchers will soon officially be in Tampa strutting their stuff with the hopes and promises of a new season filling the air. Times like this make us wonder how we ever managed to dread the dog days of summer. Just like the big league squad, the minor league affiliates are full of optimism with the new season on the horizon.
Overall, the farm system is in pretty good shape. There’s high end talent mixed with high probability talent, and the pitching crop at the upper levels is starting to be complimented by the position player crop at the lower levels. There’s an alarming lack of lefthanded pitchers, ditto power hitting prospects. The Yanks have surplus from which to make trades, and a good amount of guys that could be cheap injury fill-ins at the Major League level this year. Gone are days of Aaron Small, Matt Childers, Donovan Osborne and Terrence Long. There’s also a bright new crop of kids set to come up from Latin America this year, led by SS Jose Pirela and OF Kelvin DeLeon.
Unfortunately the Yanks didn’t pull off any neat trades this winter like last year (unless you count that Tyler Clippard-Jon Albaladejo blockbuster), so this year’s prospect list doesn’t include any new and fancy names. As always, the delicate balance between ceiling and probability are the main criteria for the rankings, but other stuff like performance, track record, position and handedness (tie goes to the lefty) also play a role. I had some trouble trimming the fat at the end of the list, so I decided to write-up a few extra players that just missed the cut.
The real Top 30 comes out tomorrow, but for now here’s five guys on the outside looking in. Fun starts after the jump.