Check it out. WCBS 880 AM has a gallery of Shea Stadium destruction pictures. While the new Yankee Stadium now has grass, Shea no longer has seats. Objectively, I’ve always enjoyed pictures like this, and I have no emotional attachment to the Mets or Shea. When, however, the crews start tearing down Yankee Stadium, the photos will be bittersweet indeed.

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  • Lowe seems to prefer Boston over New York

    So notes Frank Della Femina. Personally, I’d much rather see Derek Lowe in a Boston uniform than in a Yankee uniform as well. There are bigger fish to catch than Lowe, and Andy Pettitte and/or Mike Mussina can do Lowe’s job for less money and fewer years. Pass. · (43) ·

One of my favorite free features of Baseball America is their minor leagues tractions column. This usually comes out weekly, and contains items such as reassignments, releases, and signings. There are a couple of tidbits in this week’s edition that are worth at least glancing at, especially in this time of baseball news lull.

For starters, the Yanks have but one transaction. They have granted Billy Traber free agency. Whoo-pee. Signing him last winter was a decent idea, but it never worked out. In the end, he took up a roster spot for a bit too long, on account of his throwing with his left arm. Perhaps some other team will give him a shot next spring.

The Rockies released 2B Jayson Nix. After losing Kaz Matsui to the Astros last winter, the Rox had a few candidates to take over at second, among them Nix, whose older brother Laynce is also a free agent. The now 26-year-old’s run didn’t go so well, as he owned an ugly .111/.216/.133 line when he was finally benched on April 25. He returned for a few games in July and picked up just two hits in 10 plate appearances. He did excel in the minors, though, posting a .303/.373/.591 line in AAA in 2008, after a .292/.342/.451 line in 2007. Note, though, that this is the league in which Bubba Crosby hit .361/.414/.635 in 277 at bats in 2003.

The Angels parted ways with reliever Chris Bootcheck, their first round pick in 2000. He’s never excelled at the major league level, though his only prolonged appearances was in 2007, when he posted 77.1 innings to the tune of a 4.77 ERA. Considering he’s 30 and hasn’t had much minor league success, I can’t see him getting anything beyond a minor league deal heading into ’09. With the Yanks bullpen depth, a flier like this doesn’t seem worth it.

The Phillies have pulled the plug on the Chris Snelling experiment. Here’s another story of a guy with potential who just couldn’t stay healthy. Philadelphia was his fourth team in the past three years, and it doesn’t seem like anyone would give him more than a Spring Training invite. I don’t think he’d fit with the Yankees, but he’ll get a chance somewhere.

The Giants surprisingly released 28-year-old Kevin Correia. He had a rough time this year, posting a 6.05 ERA in 110 innings over 19 starts. I know Mike mentioned liking his arm. His problem, as it is with so many pitchers, is with the walks. Just too many, even though he misses a decent number of bats. There is some hope that he’ll rebound a bit in 2009, and can be at the bottom of a team’s rotation, or possibly out of the bullpen. If all it takes is a Spring Training invite, I don’t see why you wouldn’t take a chance.

(On a side note, the Giants also released Scott McClain, who has hit 287 minor league home runs.)

Perhaps the most interesting name on the list is now-former Blue Jay Gustavo Chacin. He was solid in his 203 innings in 2005, but couldn’t stay healthy after that. That wasn’t a massive jump from his 168 innings in 2004, though he did make the leap from 69 innings in 2003 (he had previously topped out at 140 in 2001). He was neither healthy nor effective in 2006 and 2007, and didn’t make the majors in 2008 after shoulder surgery. He posted a 7.88 ERA down in the Florida State League, over 45.2 IP. He hasn’t posed an ERA below 7.45 at any minor league stop since 2004. Yet he throws left-handed, so he’ll surely get at least an audition in 2009.

So crap, crap, and more crap. Is there anyone on the scrap heap worth looking at?

Categories : Minors
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Whither Phil Hughes?

By in Pitching. Tags: · Comments (70) ·

In a Monday Morning Ten-Pack that features a glowing review of Jose Tabata and a guarded report on Jeremy Bleich, Kevin Goldsmith at Baseball Prospectus questions Phil Hughes. Since a BP subscription is required for the whole piece, I’ll excerpt:

At this point, Hughes is just massively confusing. His 2007 looked to be his breakout campaign, but then he severely pulled a hamstring while going for a no-hitter against Texas. This year, it was a strained oblique that hampered him, and since his return from it, he’s been either awesome or awful, depending on the day, and we have no real reason why he’s just one or the other. That trend has continued so far in the Arizona Fall League. In his first start for Peoria, he walked five in five innings, but also allowed just one hit while striking out seven and left scouts drooling. On Saturday, he allowed eight runs on seven hits while failing to get out of the third inning, and left scouts confused as to whether this was even the same pitcher they’d seen 11 days before. It’s hard to find somebody with more varied reports on him at this point.

Hughes is still just 22 and still has stuff that ranks him up with the pitching prospects in the Majors. However, he’s going to have to put it together soon.

Next season will be his fifth in professional baseball, and his Minor League numbers are off the charts. He now has to put it together at the Big League level while staying healthy. There’s no reason to think he can’t do that, and there’s no reason to think that his start on Saturday was simply an aberration. But as time ticks on, the Yanks’ patience will wane.

Categories : Pitching
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  • Keeping Joba in perspective

    There is absolutely no way to excuse what Joba Chamberlain did over the weekend. Driving with a BAC nearly twice the legal limit isn’t something one can chalk up to youth. No one should drive drunk at 23, and no one should drive drunk at 53. But that doesn’t mean Anthony Rieber should go around penning columns like this one in which he asserts that Joba’s DUI could portend problems for his move into the rotation. I can’t even do this piece justice, but I can wonder: Is it really that hard to have a real baseball discourse in the pages of the New York City papers?

    Update by Joe: In case you need to live vicariously through Joba, you can check out the details of his night out. Yippee. All this coverage of this incident really makes me want to just get back to talking baseball. We’ll go for that this afternoon.
    · (30) ·

In less than 48 hours, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will grace millions of homes across the country — OK, just in Philadelphia and the Tampa Bay area — with the dulcet tones of FOX’s annual World Series coverage. I can hardly wait.

For anyone who watches baseball week in and week out during the season, Buck and mcCarver are a familiar pair. The two provide the commentary on FOX’s weekly Saturday broadcast and during the All Star Game. Even after baseball season, it’s impossible to escape Joe Buck as the robotic announcer covers football for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire as well.

Over the years, Buck and McCarver have done little to impress the crowd. Buck often sounds like he’d rather be somewhere else, and McCarver speaks a lot while saying a little. He’s also shown as tenuous a grasp on baseball player names as John Kerry did in 2004. It may even have come as a shock to McCarver than Manny Ortez wasn’t actually a player on the Red Sox.

As time wore on, though, it seemed like the only people complaining were those of us with our own online platforms. Fire Joe Morgan, a site clearly dedicated to the ESPN broadcaster, and Awful Announcing are popular online, but no one is listening. Maybe, just maybe, a Phillies-Rays World Series will spur on some changes.

Last week, Slate columnist Ben Mathis-Lilley started the annual baseball announcer bemoaning, and his cry has been picked up with increasing frequency over the last few days. A Huffington Post writer — not quite a position with high barriers to entry — warns of the impending Buck/McCarver tandem, but more important is Maury Brown’s diatribe about the national media. Brown writes emotionally:

So why, oh why, will the ratings be low? Blame broadcasters, for one.

Low ratings show, in part, that when you spend week after week, year after year showing the Red Sox and the Yankees during the regular season, you brainwash the average fan. If you want to make October something special, no matter who is playing, you better get America to follow all 30 teams.

This requires doing a bit of detox on FOX, ESPN, and TBS’ part. Understandably, you have America hooked on the Red Sox and Yankees, and with that you get your precious regular season ratings. The problem is, if one or the other team isn’t in the World Series and ratings are low, there’s a mountain of articles talking about how it’s a matter of being a “poor Series.”

That’s a load of manure…So, I say, the low ratings do mean something. It means that broadcasters will decide that, in the end, they will get on bended knee and pray for the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels or Cubs to make the World Series, and hope that they drew high ratings during the regular season.

Brown is 100 percent correct, no ifs, ands or buts about it. The national TV landscaped for baseball has become so attuned to the weekly ratings that they sacrifice the popularity of the game. Constant attention on the Yankees or Mets, on the Cubs and White Sox, on the Angels, Red Sox and Dodgers isn’t something promoting the best interests of the game.

Rather, the national TV coverage promotes the best interests of ESPN, FOX and TBS. These stations need money; they get money from advertising; they get more advertising from higher ratings. Since there are more fans in New York and Los Angeles and New England, games featuring teams from those areas will attract more eyeballs.

When Major League Baseball has a chance to renegotiate its next media contract — and that date won’t arrive until well into the next decade — it would behoove the game if the Powers That Be urge the networks to show a more distributive sampling of teams and games. After all, these telecasts should be about promoting baseball, and clearly something has gone wrong when a World Series match-up that promises to be as compelling this one is decried as a ratings bust before the games even begin.

Categories : Rants
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Back after a three year hiatus, the World Baseball Classic returns next spring to what seems like less fanfare than the 2006 installment. Implemented essentially to replace Olympic baseball (which was voted off the island by the IOC), the ’09 WBC will start in four countries in early March, and wrap up with a one-game, winner-take-all Championship Game two weeks later at Dodger Stadium.

Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and then-Yankee Al Leiter suited up for the USA in the inauguaral WBC, while Bernie Williams played for Puerto Rico. You may recall the Yanks forbid Jorge Posada from joining Bernie with Puerto Rico, while Mariano Rivera chose not to play for Panama. King George let it be known that he didn’t like his players taking an unnecessary risk, but when the dust settled the only player to suffer a serious injury was Luis Ayala, who blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.

Jeter & A-Rod have already expressed their desire to participate in the ’09 WBC, but otherwise the news is mum on the rosters, save for a few pissed off Venezuelans. So that’s where we come in. Who would you like to see suit up for the USA? Teams will work with a 30-man roster, but you don’t have to go that deep (unless, of course, you want to), perhaps just a 9 man starting lineup and some semblence of a pitching staff.

Play Bob Watson for a few minutes and stick your USA WBC team in the comments. Play nice.

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Short and dirty: With the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies set to face off in the Fall Classic, baseball fans will enjoy a World Series with two relative newcomers. The Phillies, despite their lengthy history, have just one title and were last in the Series in 1993. For Tampa, 2008 marks their first winning season ever. Who gets your support?

For whom are you rooting in the World Series?
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Feel free to discuss any aspect of the Fall Classic in the comments. Wednesday’s Cole Hamels-Scott Kazmir match-up should be a good one, and apparently, Tampa and Philly have a non-baseball sports rivalry going on. Who knew?

Categories : Polls
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Two of the most storied — and most hated — franchises in sports are teaming up for a concessions business venture.

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees have teamed up to form Legends Hospitality Management that will, according to Sports Business Journal, “manage regular concessions, suite catering and team stores at the new Yankees and Cowboys stadiums.” The company will also bid on concessions contracts at stadiums across the country.

The first-of-its-kind initiative between two of pro sports’ star teams is the idea of Gerry Cardinale, the Goldman managing director who helped create the Yankees’ regional sports channel, the YES Network, and brokered the return of Alex Rodriguez to the team last year.

Cardinale met Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and his son Stephen, the team’s chief operating officer, through a mutual friend who hosted them and their wives on a boat off of St. Barts in the Caribbean in February 2007.

On the boat, a source said, Jones spoke of his new stadium, and Cardinale brought the idea of pairing the two teams together back to the Yankees. Hal Steinbrenner, the team’s co-owner, team President Randy Levine, and Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost handled the discussions.

The teams are known for their entrepreneurial bent, and the concessions business is now the latest iteration. The Yankees’ YES Network is a highly successful regional sports channel in which Goldman is an investor, and the Cowboys are the only NFL team to manage the distribution of its branded merchandise.

In charge of this new business venture will be former Pizza Hut President Michael Rawlings and Dan Smith and Marty Greenspun, two Yankee employees.

While some many think back on the non-descript YankeeNet venture, this partnership has the potential to reap massive benefits for the Yanks and Cowboys. The Yanks did about $70 million in concession sales at their old ballpark, and this figure stands to jump tremendously when the new stadium opens in April. If this venture is successful — and there’s no reason it won’t be — it could mark a new approach to sports business deals across all major sports.

Categories : News
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