The end of an era

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While waiting for the Sunday afternoon Yankee affair to begin in Seattle, I flipped on the first game of the Mets-Phillies day-night doubleheader. As I watched that Phillies’ victory unfold, my thoughts landed on the Mets’ starter, not long for the game, and I thought that I could be watching the end of an era.

Pedro Martinez didn’t make it into the fifth inning on Sunday. He threw just four innings and allowed six earned runs on seven hits and a walk. In a very un-Pedro-like fashion, he struck out just one Phillie. That loss would drop Pedro to 5-4 on the season with a 5.44 ERA. In 91 innings, he has allowed 18 home runs while striking out just 68, and he is Pedro in name only.

In two months, Pedro Martinez will be out of a job. His four-year deal with the Mets expires at the end of the season, and after various injuries and surgeries, he will have made around 80 starts for the Mets. For $53 million, they probably expected more.

Now, Pedro will probably get a decent enough contract offer for next year. He’ll be 37 come opening day, and this year’s troubles could be attributed to his rebounding from arm surgery. But no matter what, Pedro is not the Pedro from the days of Who’s Your Daddy? chants. He’s a different pitcher, no longer feared and not nearly as effective as he was while on Boston.

For me, this realization that Pedro is nearing the end is a somber one. In a way, it’s just a part of the changing of the guard in baseball. The kids grow up, they get old and they lose it. Baseball is fleeting; it takes away the skills of the very best after just a few years, and all that’s left are shells of what they once were. Rare are the Jamie Moyer’s, Mike Mussina’s and Mariano Rivera‘s, pitchers who have maintained their effectiveness and, in Rivera’s case, dominance well past the usual expiration point.

When Pedro was on the Red Sox, I always wanted the Yankees to face him, and it wasn’t because they somehow managed to find ways to beat him. I wanted to watch Pedro pitch because what he did was an art. Remember September 10, 1999, nine years ago from tomorrow? That was the day the Yanks went 1 for 27 against Pedro, and he struck out 17 hitters. The Yanks scored a run on a Chili Davis home run, and Chuck Knoblauch reached on an HBP only to get caught stealing. It was dominance.

Over the years, Pedro would win some and lose some against the Yankees. But always the games would be fun. He would be cocky on the mound and a joker in the dugout when he wasn’t pitching. Pedro, a member of the hated Red Sox, will always be a part of the years of Yankee dominance. He was the best pitcher in the league during the years when the Yanks were the best in the biz, and he couldn’t do anything about it. But he gave it his all every time out much to my delight.

While Pedro once said that, to the Yankees, he just tips his cap and calls them daddy, I’ll have to tip my cap to Pedro when he finally retires. It was a pleasure watching him do his thing against the Yankees during his heydays on the Red Sox, and I’m sorry to see this era end as Pedro’s flame is seemingly dying in a hurry.

Categories : Analysis
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  • Girardi gets dreaded vote of confidence

    “Joe will be back,” said Hank Steinbrenner yesterday. And that can mean only one thing: The Joe Girardi Job Watch is on. Whenever an owner goes out of his way to note that a manager, already under contract, won’t be fired, the storm clouds gather. Girardi hasn’t been the godsend people thought he would be, but the injuries weren’t his fault. He deserves to be back in 2009 and shouldn’t be questioned yet. · (24) ·

In the name of tradition, the Yankees have opted to forego selling the naming rights on their new stadium. Sports business analysts suggested that, in light of the Mets’ deal with Citibank, the Yankees could have gotten upwards of $25 million a year for the deal, but baseball tradition was strong with the Steinbrenners. Their home field will remain Yankee Stadium.

But, as I reported in February, the Yankees are going to sell naming rights on everything else in the stadium. We’re working on securing the River Ave. Blues bathroom as I type. (I kid.)

Yesterday, via Maury Brown’s Biz of Baseball, comes word that the Yankees and Bank of America are on the verge of signing a significant sponsorship deal for the new stadium. Terry Lefton, a staff writer for Sports Business Journal, reports:

While numerous sources said an agreement on the Premier Partnership package has been reached, an announcement date had not been set at press time for this story. Terms of the deal could not be confirmed and were difficult to discern. Early this year, the package was being shopped at $20 million a year. Sources familiar with the deal said last week that it was worth more than the New York Mets’ deal with Citibank and Barclays’ deal with the New Jersey Nets’ new home, each of which was said to be for an average of $20 million a year over 20 years and set a new benchmark. But another source said the Yankees’ deal was in the mid-teens per annum…

The deal includes a comprehensive financial relationship between the franchise and Bank of America. It also offers the company a vast array of inventory within the new ballpark, which will open next year, including prime signage in and around the park, large signs on the highways around the stadium, prominent exposure on Gate 4, the stadium’s main entrance, several fixed signs on top of the stadium affording an aerial view, a large sign atop the right-field scoreboard, even bigger signage on the back of the scoreboard that will face a new subway stop, signs on interior gates leading to the field, fixed and LED signs inside the stadium and the stadium bowl, permanent dugout branding and behind-the-plate signage and a logo on all Yankees tickets.

Also included are media on Yankees rights holder YES and flagship radio WCBS radio and access to some of the front-row Legends seats in the new stadium, which the Yankees will price at $500 to $2,500 a seat.

It’s hard to understate the impact the Yankees have on the sports business world. Even as a fourth-place team, they’re commanding more money for this non-naming rights sponsorship deal than any other team could ever dream of getting. In effect, they’re receiving the Marlins’ payroll annually from Bank of America in exchange for signage and sponsorship. Wrap your mind around that one for a second. Perhaps Chris Smith would like to amend his argument claiming the Yankees are just another team.

For the fans, all this means is a Bank of American inundation next year. BoA will have their logos literally all over the stadium. Their ads will be ubiquitous on TV and the radio. But for the money, who’s complaining? This game of baseball is, after all, a business, and this deal will be a record-breaker.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Pavano loses for the first time in 1174 days

    Carl Pavano last lost a game three years, two months and 17 days ago. I guess he was bound to lose one at some point. That’s about the only nice — albeit sarcastic — thing I can say about tonight’s embarrassing 12-1 loss in Anaheim. And as I’ve always learned, if it’s 1:15 a.m. and you don’t have anything nice to say, just go to bed. So feel free to vent away, just as Pudge did when he attempted to but failed to egg on Vladimir Guerrero. · (65) ·

Triple-A Scranton begins the quest for the Governor’s Cup tomorrow. Chase Wright will take on some kid named David Price in Game 1 of the best-of-five series against the Durham Bulls. Check out those pitching matchups, that’s as good as it gets. I just wished they’d flip Igawa & Hughes, that way Phil’s guaranteed to make another start (he’d be on regular rest).

Double-A Trenton takes on the Akron Aeros (Indians) tomorrow in a rematch of last year’s Eastern League Championship Series. The Aeros will be without a rehabbing Travis Hafner as well as their ace Scott Lewis. Eric Hacker gets the ball in Game 1.

High-A Tampa’s season is over, they did not qualify for the playoffs. The Daytona Cubs lead the Fort Myers Miracle (Twins) 2-1 in the best-of-five Florida State League Championship Series.

Low-A Charleston’s season is over, they did not qualify for the playoffs. The Augusta Green Jackets (Giants) lead the West Virginia Power (Brewers) 1-0 in the best-of-five South Atlantic League Championship series.

Short Season Staten Island (10-7 loss to Jamestown) Jamestown leads the best-of-three series 1-0 … Jon Albaladejo will start Game 2 tomorrow with Jeremy Bleich likely to relieve him after he gets his work in
Addison Maruszack (17): 4 for 5, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 SB
David Adams (3): 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) – if your 1-2 hitters get on base a combined 7 times and no one drives them in even once, you deserve to lose
Dan Brewer (8): 1 for 5, 2 RBI, 2 K
Mike Lyon (24): 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Braedyn Pruitt: 0 for 5, 1 K
Mitch Abeita (19): 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K – matches his regular season HR total
Jack Rye (13): 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Jahdiel Santamaria: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 E (throwing)
Ray Kruml (11): 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K
David Phelps (14): 1.1 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – yeah, that’s a bad way to start the series
Cory Arbiso (22): 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-2 GB/FB
Jacinto Gonell: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 1-5 GB/FB
Andy Shetrone: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 HB
Josue Selenes: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB

The Rookie GCL Yanks’ season is over. The GCL Phils won the league championship.

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Over the weekend, the Yankees dropped two out of three to what was the worst team in baseball. They’re now a game and a half ahead of the Padres, who hold a 55-88 record. Bet you couldn’t have called that one on Opening Day.

Old friend Gary Sheffield has hit the 249,999th and 250,000th homers in MLB history. Just thought that’d be a little something interesting to talk about before the game.

Last week, Dave Pinto pointed out that Mark Teixeira is doing his job and then some since coming over to the Angels. He was hitting .380/.469/.645 with the Angels at the time of his writing, though the Angels were just 19-14 since the trade, which had actually brought down their win percentage. He’s now at .360/.441/.610 as an Angel, and the team is now 20-16 since the trade.

Why the discrepancy? Pitching. What else. Before the trade, the staff pitched to a 3.85 ERA, striking out 6.2, walking 2.7, and giving up a homer per nine innings. Since the trade they’re pitching to a 4.56 ERA, though they’re striking out more (6.6 per nine) and walking fewer (2.2 per nine). They’re giving up 1.45 homers per nine, which seems to be the difference.

Enough about Anaheim. I’d just like to win a few more games before the season is over.

Your lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Xavier Nady, LF
7. Hideki Matsui, DH
8. Robinson Cano, 2B
9. Ivan Rodriguez, C

And on the mound, number forty-five, Carl Pavano.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (164)

When we all do our post mortems on the 2008 New York Yankees, Robinson Cano will be one of the main cast of characters.

Coming off of two stellar years, Cano’s 2008 season has been a disappointment. On the season, Cano is hitting .264/.299/.403. Much of that poor line can be attributed to a start that saw him hitting .150/.213/.230 at the start of May, and over his last 441 plate appearances, he’s hitting a respectable .294/.323/.450.

But even still, something isn’t right with Robinson Cano. His power his down, and he’s doing a terrible job of getting on base. In fact, he’s drawn one base on balls in last 89 appearances and none since August 20. For a hitter who should be entering his prime offensive years, 2008 is a clear step back in the development of Robinson Cano.

Cano a 25-year-old second base who can hit .300 at the Major League level. He’s got power and great athletic ability, but he’s shown decreasing rate stats in each of the past two seasons. The Yankees, for 2009 and beyond, need Cano to put it together. He can’t become another flash-in-the-pan second baseman in the Bronx.

Categories : Offense
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  • Bringing back Bernie

    According to Tyler Kepner, Bernie Wlliams, a recent guest of President Bush’s and coach at a White House T-ball game, will make an appearance at Yankee Stadium before the year is out. Bernie’s publicist doesn’t yet have any official details concerning Bernie’s reappearance in the Bronx after a two-year Cold War with the Yankees, but this is one overdue détente. · (13) ·

And why Hank and Hal won’t either

It’s always entertaining when New York Magazine, the tabloid of the city’s vibrant magazine world, pushes itself into the sports scene. Their pieces are so full of broad generalizations, sweeping proclamations and incorrect facts as to obscure any larger point the magazine might be trying to make.

This week, with the Yanks’ season nearing an end and the team sitting uncomfortably in fourth place, Chris Smith examines the current state of Yankee ownership and wonders if the Yankees are fading without George Steinbrenner around to right the ship. “As the tyrant fades away and his team fades with him,” the magazine’s headline writers say, “it has now become all too apparent that the Boss was really the straw that stirred the drink.”

The only problem with this argument is that it’s just not true, and we’re once again stuck with a tired media trope that, if repeated often enough, becomes accepted fact.

Read More→

Categories : NYC Sports Media
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Via our buddy Mark Feinsand, we learn that the Yankees are taking this Japan thing seriously. Clearly wanting to avoid another Kei Igawa debacle, they’ve sent Gene Michael overseas to scout things out. Among the rumored targets are Koji Uehara, a 33-year-old righty, Kenshin Kawakami, another righty, and Hitoki Iwase, a lefty reliever. Cork Gaines at MLBTR brings up Yu Darvish as well, though it’s not likely he gets posted this winter.

Hey, when you need something done right, you send the guy or guys you trust most. You definitely don’t send Mike Pagliarulo to do the job. Or else you get a scouting report like this:

“(Igawa) is considered one of the best starters in Japan and is having a good season. He is doing a good job of moving the ball around the zone and seems to be conserving himself throughout the game … He showed a good split and was adding on to his fastball in tough situations. He has enough to be a fourth or fifth starter in the U.S.”

I wish we had more of Pags’s scouting report. I wonder if he mentioned anything about Igawa leaving his changeup high in the zone, a pitch that might fool some in Japan, but one that major league hitters will deposit over the wall. Or take and draw a walk.

Personally, I’m skeptical about talent, particularly pitching talent, coming from Japan. Have we seen any of them sustain success? You can point to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who with a 2.88 ERA is powering the Red Sox. He’s walked 84 in 146 innings, though, which is never a good sign. Can he have consistent success with control like that? History would say no.

Categories : Front Office
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