While the Yanks’ Friday visit to Congress resulted in nothing too exciting, the Yankees did trot out an old excuse about their new stadium. As Richard Sandomir reported, the Yanks would have moved if they hadn’t gotten a sweet land deal from New York.
Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees, told a Congressional hearing Friday that if the city had not issued tax-exempt financing for the team’s new stadium, it would have left town.
“It’s been no secret for many years” that the team would move if it could not save tens of millions of dollars on financing with tax-free bonds, Levine told the House subcommittee on domestic policy. He added: “There was no shortage of suitors. We see ourselves as a paradigm in professional sports.”
Levine refused to be specific about the other suitors, but when asked after the hearing if New Jersey has wooed the Yankees in recent years he said, “Absolutely!”
Yet again, the Yanks have trotted out this strawman New Jersey argument. For the better part of 14 years, the Yanks have used New Jersey and the Meadowlands as a leveraging tool, and it’s been nothing more than that.
Twenty years ago, New Jersey rejected a measure to fund a potential baseball stadium ostensibly for the Yankees, but George Steinbrenner still used the spectre of New Jersey to threaten Rudy Giuliani throughout the 1990s. More recently, as Sandomir notes, the Yanks have had no contact this decade with Meadowlands officials.
At this point, the Yanks and the City aren’t going to admit any wrong-doing with this questionable land deal, and the City’s coffers will probably never get the money it should have. But the Yanks should really stop trotting out this New Jersey threat. With four million fans making the trip to the Bronx each year, the Yanks aren’t about to decamp to an inaccessible site that isn’t even in New York, and to threaten this non-move is to insult their loyal fans.
Over the last month of the season and into October, Tim at MLB Trade Rumors has put together off-season outlooks for various teams. You can check out his Yankees outlook here. We posted a link to this when he wrote it, and Bo, our invariably negative commenter, brought up a good, albeit still negative, point. Why doesn’t Tim have bloggers for each team put together these outlooks?
That’s what we’re shooting for today. We’ll include all contract obligations, estimate arbitration raises, and the guys who have a prayer of breaking camp with the team in March. Discuss in the comments, and be sure to make sure I didn’t forget anyone.
In 1997, during his age 36 season, Cal Ripken, a far superior defensive short stop than Derek Jeter, moved over to the Hot Corner. He knew he couldn’t man short, and for the good of the team, he shifted to his right. In 2009, Derek Jeter will play his age 35 season, and the debate over his defense has raged for years. This weekend, Dugout Central chimed in on the issue and wondered when and to where the captain would shift positions. Jeter has been vocal in insisting that he’s not going to move off short, but at some point soon, he should. · (88) ·
I was on the phone with my dad tonight during game four of this lopsided World Series, and as is often the case, our talk turned to the Yankees. “I’m a bit worried about the off-season,” my dad said. “The Yanks have so many holes to fill.”
His voiced tailed off a bit at the end, and we both knew what went unspoken. The Yanks are on the cusp of a rather important off-season, one that could make or break the team over the next few seasons. They have a lot of old players coming off the books, a lot of financial resources at hand, and a few clear needs. They also have an aging core of players and a few needs, tougher to fill, that aren’t so clear.
On the flip side, the 2008-2009 winter also offers up a rare combination of free agents. One of the game’s best pitchers and one of the league’s premier hitters are both free agents at the peak of their baseball prowess. Rare are the days when young players hit free agency at the right times in their lives, and in CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees have two obvious targets who would both fill two of the team’s glaring holes. Whether or not they can actually land them is a different story.
If the Phillies manage to dispatch the listless Tampa Bay Rays this evening — and with Cole Hamels on the mound, the odds are in their favor — we’ll be two weeks away from the start of the free agent frenzy. Tonight, A-Rod won’t opt out from his contract, but bigger moves await on the horizon.
For some reason, over the last few years, some baseball insecurities have crept into New York’s attitude. Once upon a time, the Yanks had swagger. The team, coming off of four World Series in five years, was good, and they knew it. Free agents — Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi — wanted to come to New York. They didn’t hedge their bets. They were the best; the Yankees had money; and everyone went home happy.
But the Yanks have won no World Series since then. For the first time since the early 90s, the team didn’t make the playoffs, and before that, they hadn’t advanced to the World Series since 2003. What if, fans have wondered, the team is just becoming a bloated semblance of a team populated by overpaid has-beens on the wrong sides of their careers? Is Bobby Abreu a Yankee or a Philadelphia reject? Are we really going to suffer through another season of Hideki Matsui‘s hobbled knees?
Of course, it’s not as bad as the naysayers would have you believe, but it is not wine and roses in the Bronx right now. The Yanks are a flawed team in need of some fixing. But what happens if the Yanks can’t sign these very alluring targets?
Well, on the one hand, it wouldn’t be so great if the Yanks don’t sign Teixeira — my personal first choice — or Sabathia. It may make them go out and waste money on lesser pitchers. But on the other, the baseball world will not end. Even as a flawed team, the Yanks managed to hammer out 89 wins this year. Soon, they’ll have to replace Jorge Posada; he’s one of those not-so-obvious holes. But in 2009, they’ll have him back and healthy. They’ll hopefully have September’s version of Robinson Cano as well as a healthy Chien-Ming Wang.
Tomorrow, or later this week, when the World Series dust settles, the rumors will fly. But for now, we can’t let the worries of next month get too overwhelming. The Yankees are still the Yankees, and money talks. The Yankees need to spend; the players want to get the best deals; and the pieces will fall right enough, if not just right as we all imagine them to in our little Yankee-centric bubble. Optimism becomes us. This is, after all, Yankee baseball.
Tonight’s game promises to be less … chaotic, than last night’s. The weather is nice and clear, so there will be no 10pm first pitch tonight, and you have to imagine we won’t see the two teams be so self-destructive in the later innings again.
I’ve watched the replay of Carlos Ruiz’s walk-off “hit” a few times, and I can’t say for sure that the ball would have gone foul. It looks like it might have, but it was far enough from the line to make me think it would have stayed fair. Oh, by the way, that was the Phillies’ first hit with RISP that actually scored a run in the series. They’re up 2-1 in the series, but you can only rely on the long ball so much.
Cupcakes Blanton will be facing his first American League club since his midsummer trade to the land of cheesesteaks. He was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA & 1.42 WHIP with Oakland this year, and then better, but not great after the trade, going 4-0, 4.20, 1.37 with the Phightin’s. His strikeout rate has never been good, so he’ll have to hope they don’t hit them where they ain’t.
Needless to say this is a big game for Tampa, who certainly doesn’t want to go down 3-1 in the series with Cole Hamels looming in Game 5. Andy Sonnanstine is the Rays’ version of Ian Kennedy – fringy stuff with excellent command – except he’s already mastered the art of keeping the ball in the lower third of the zone, which is what he’ll have to do tonight to keep the Phillies in check.
The game doesn’t start until 8, so feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss today’s NFL action.
1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. Carl Crawford, LF
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Ben Zobrist, RF
8. Jason Bartlett, SS
9. Andy Sonnanstine, P (13-9, 4.38)
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrel, LF
6. Shane Victorino, CF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Joe Blanton, P (9-12, 4.69)
Site note: No DotF tonight, the Arizona Fall League is off and Hawaii Winter Baseball was rained. Yes, apparently it does rain in Hawaii.
Joe Morgan and Jon Miller could be headed for a 2009 break-up, says Bob Raissman. ESPN is seriously considering moving Morgan off of the Sunday night broadcast. This would be great news for those of us who find ourselves shouting at Joe Morgan’s inane broadcast missives every Sunday night during the baseball season, and I have to wonder if this is in response to a growing segment of baseball fans who can’t stand these prominent broadcasters. If only FOX would do the same with Buck and McCarver… · (14) ·
Via Jim Baumbach, Darryl Strawberry has a few words of caution for Joba regarding his DUI arrest. Strawman, who’s problems are well documented and impacted what could have been a Hall of Fame career, suggests he seek out The Captain for advice because Jeter’s mastered the art of being a superstar in New York. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Joba’s rise to stardom in NY was meteoric, but the fall from grace could be even swifter. Hopefully he realizes this. (h/t Seamus) · (10) ·
October is a slow month for a baseball team not in the playoffs. With a general gag order from the Commissioner’s Office and no free agents yet, the other 28 teams that didn’t make the Fall Classic are in a bit of a holding pattern with organizational meetings and preliminary talks with their own free agents.
So all we’re left with is the same old-same old. Jon Heyman rehashes the rumors. Ken Rosenthal tries to find some new angle. Only ESPN, it seems, refrains from going overboard with the “anonymous scouts” and “one AL executive” stories. In two weeks, of course, that resolve will be thrown out the window, but for now, at least one sports news organization seems to appreciate the World Series for the games, bad managing or not.
Nowhere is this lack of news more disturbing than in New York. The city’s tabloids thrive on the constant New York attention, and when a team from Philadelphia plays a team from Tampa in the World Series, New York must take second stage to the rest of baseball. Needless to say, no one paid to write likes that too much.
To sell papers, to keep people talking about the Yanks and about baseball, these papers and the bloggers that follow the team will post just about anything. Five years ago, hardly anyone had heard of the Arizona Fall League. Now, columnists and bloggers salivate over the daily results from an instructional league with little or no perspective on what those results mean.
Meanwhile, on the free agent front, any time a potential free agent — or a potential free agent’s teammate’s brother’s cousin’s former secretary — breaths a word about New York, it’s front page news. No free agents want to come to New York! None of the Yanks’ young prospects are any good! The sky is falling!
Over the last few years, folks in politics have had to adapt to a world in which the Internet exposes everything. Say something stupid in speech in California, and YouTube will have it available to the world within a few hours. Now baseball is suffering through the same problem. We have unfettered access to Minor League numbers and games. We have limitless access to everything but clubhouse insiders, and the response is overwhelmingly wrong-headed.
Instead of allowing for negotiating strategies — by saying you don’t want to go somewhere, you raise your asking price — instead of allowing for the struggles of youth, writers and bloggers write off General Managers while displaying a willful ignorance of the role a GM and his scouting staff plays. These same writers throw in the towel for 2009 before the free agent signing period even begins.
Right now, no one knows anything about the next few months. We know that the Yanks have a lot of money and a bunch of options on the table. We can speculate until the cows — or Eric Bruntlett — comes home, but in the end, it’s all meaningless. For now, we should just step back from the ledge, enjoy the World Series and worry about who’s signing where and what young kids will play a role next year in a few weeks. Anything else is just idle, uninformed speculation.
The headline on Ken Davidoff’s Saturday column: Mets deeply regret letting Kazmir go to Rays. You don’t say. Next, Ken’s going to write about how most Americans deeply regret those subprime mortgages. Did we really need an 800-word article with that headline? · (38) ·
That’s the kind of quality title you’ve come to expect here at RAB…
AzL Peoria (15-4 loss to the other Peoria)
Kevin Russo: 2 for 3, 2 R – picked off first … 9 for his last 14 (.643)
Juan Miranda: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 2 K – 0 for his last 14 after a 10 for 20 binge
Jeff Marquez: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 30 of 55 pitches were strikes (54.5%) … making the spot start in Phil Hughes‘ rotation spot since he started the Rising Stars Showcase on Friday
HWB Waikiki had their game rained out. Not sure if or when they’ll make this game up.