With the trade deadline a month away, talk will inevitably heat up over which Yankee prospects should go for what type of players. As Joe noted, anything we say is pretty meaningless, but we do have some insight into how Brian Cashman will approach the trade deadline.
In a nutshell, don’t expect anything major.
Early this week, Brian Cashman spoke a dinner in Scranton, and Chad Jenning was on hand to cover this event. He relates to us an anecdote about Cashman’s grabbing the reins of the Yankee organization from those who had turned it away from player development. I’m going to quote at length:
Cashman said that he was angry in 2005. “We got away from building from within,” he said. “There were a lot of players who wound up on our roster who I wasn’t in favor of. A lot of fighting between the cities (Tampa and New York).” The Yankees got off to a bad start that season, and Cashman told Steinbrenner he’d fix it, but he wanted to do it his way — “I needed to listen to one person, not 10 at once.”
That was the year he promoted Wang and Cano at the same time, claimed Al Leiter, brought up Aaron Small, etc., and they made the playoffs. “At the end of the year,” Cashman said. “I told the Boss I was done.”
He said the draft picks were gone, they were 24th of 30 clubs in quality of the minor league system and that “this all-veteran thing was not going to work. We were headed back to where we were in the ’80s.”
“I honestly didn’t think he was going to listen to me. Why would he? He hadn’t the last few years.”
Steinbrenner asked him to stay, and he would give him full authority to do what was right. He had job offers that were “easier jobs” for more money, but he stayed with the Yankees. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I’d be nothing without George Steinbrenner. There was a loyalty factor here. I couldn’t leave him when he asked me to stay.”
He told Steinbrenner his plan was to do two things: Rebuild the farm system and remain a contender while doing it.
Now, why is this relevant with July nearly upon us? Well, Brian Cashman’s plan is still a work in progress. He’s watching many of his draft picks and international signings make their ways through the farm system to great acclaim. He’s not about to move some of the Yanks’ top prospects for a rent-a-player, and he won’t land that impact player — think C.C. Sabathia or the oft-injured Rich Harden — without giving up those prospects.
Think of this as you will. I know many fans are dismayed at this approach, and they would rather win now with no regard for the future. Many others are fully on board, and still others are eying this plan skeptically while subscribing to it. The media won’t like it if the Yanks don’t make a push for C.C. Sabathia in July but tough.
What Brian Cashman is doing now has a chance to benefit the Yankees as an organization for the next five to ten years. Whether the Yankee brass and their fans have the patience to see it through will determine whether or not we get to enjoy the fruits of a rich farm system in the end. It’s a risk, but it should work better than the trade-now, sign-late approach we witnessed earlier this decade.
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Today, in what amounted to an endless day of baseball, both Dan Giese and Sidney Ponson had something in common. Both pitchers allowed nine baserunners over four innings. In fact, Dan Giese actually pitched into the fifth before his ninth baserunner reached.
But as we know full well, the outcomes of their two efforts today were wildly divergent.
Giese probably pitched himself back to AAA – or at least the bullpen – as he emerged the loser of the 15-6 drubbing the Yanks suffered at home yesterday afternoon. Ponson, meanwhile, earned himself the win – and a largely undeserved second start – as the Yanks blanked the Mets in Shea last evening 9-0.
These two games clearly highlight the vagaries of baseball. Neither pitcher threw exceptionally well, and each were under fire for the duration of their respective starts. But when the dust settled, the breaks fell for Ponson and not for Giese. Such is the way luck in baseball works.
On a more detailed level, I have a few observations about the day’s events:
-Edwar Ramirez throws a high-pressure inning in a tight game and blows it while Jose Veras throws a scoreless frame in a blow out. Why? Joe Girardi‘s bullpen use in game one today was fairly inexplicable. He managed as though the Yanks were down by five when the game was well within reach. When the Yanks were up by nine runs, he used the better relievers. Until Edwar can get hitters out with that change up, he shouldn’t be pitching important innings.
-Ponson’s line is better than expected, and the 11-2 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio is a positive. But he threw just 56 of 96 pitches for strikes and was flirting with disaster all night. I don’t think that can last.
-Ain’t nothing like giving up two hits in the ninth inning of a 9-0 game. Way to go, Kei Igawa. Hopefully, he’ll be back in Scranton in exchange for David Robertson.
-Will anyone miss LaTroy Hawkins when he’s finally dismissed? I have to believe that move is on the horizon.
-With Jeter, Abreu and Cano emerging from their slumps at the same time, this team is on the verge of becoming an insane offensive force.
All right, folks. That’s it from me tonight. Thanks for all the comments today, and we’ll do it again tomorrow.
Triple-A Scranton had their game suspended with the batter facing an 0-2 count with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. I know that sounds crazy, but the scored was tied at one. Chad Jennings says they’ll wrap it up tomorrow, so I’ll update the stats then.
Double-A Trenton (5-3 loss to Portland)
Ramiro Pena & Cody Ehlers: both 0 for 4, 1 K
Colin Curtis & Austin Jackson: both 1 for 5 – Curtis doubled in a run, K’ed & threw a runner out at third from LF … Ajax hit a triple
PJ Pilittere: 1 for 4
Jose Tabata: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB – still just 9 for his last 39 (.231)
Chris Malec & Edwar Gonzalez: both 2 for 4, 1 R - Malec K’ed twice … Edwar doubled, drove in 2 & K’ed
Reegie Corona: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Eric Wordekemper: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 3-6 GB/FB – made his first start since 2006 … gave up 2 solo jacks, giving him 5 HR allowed this season, 5 more than last year
Mark Melancon: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1-4 GB/FB – second worst outing of the year (the first was his second appearance of the season)
Zack Kroenke: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
In a few hours, weather-permitting, Sidney Ponson will make his glorious return to the Bronx. It is a day we not long-awaited since Ponson was DFA’d by the Yankees on August 23, 2006, a whopping 40 days after they first signed him.
In Yankee-land, the Ponson start is stirring up most consternation. How did the Yankees get there? Typical of that response is an e-mail I received this morning from Steve S., a long-time RAB reader:
someone needs to say something about Cashman and this Ponson decision. Yes the Yankees have been riddled by injuries but these are the kinds of things that happen. And I cant help but think that he should have had the foresight to get a guy like Colon. I didn’t care as much at the time because I had the belief that they would focus on using young arms, but now I have to see Ponson?
Now, before launching into this subject, I believe that Ponson will, unless he blows away the Yanks (and Mets) tonight, be around for just one start. The Yanks got screwed by the schedule and even more screwed by the rain last night and needed a starter.
That being said, is it fair to lay the blame — if that’s what you want to call it — for Ponson on Brian Cashman‘s shoulders? Not really. It’s a low risk, high reward move, and if it doesn’t pan out, c’est la vie.
The Yankees are at this point right now because 3/5ths of their Opening Day starting rotation is on the DL. They’re at this point because, while they have some very promising and lively arms in their farm system, those arms aren’t quite yet ready. They’re at this point because they see Sidney Ponson as a more viable option for whatever reason than Jeff Karstens. They’re at this point basically due to dire circumstances, and it’s not the end of the world.
But what about Bartolo Colon? Should the Yanks have been higher on Colon than they were? Well, they saw the same audition the Red Sox and the other 28 teams that passed on Colon saw. They weren’t impressed with his velocity, and they didn’t see how a 35-year-old injury-plagued pitcher coming off of shoulder surgery fit in with the Yankees’ current approach toward constructing a baseball team. For a few starts, Colon made everyone look bad as he went 4-2 with a 4.09 ERA. But as is his wont, Colon went down with an injury, and Boston doesn’t really have a timetable for his return.
Now, would Colon have been a good pick-up in hindsight? Sure. But unlike the Red Sox and Curt Schilling, the Yanks weren’t facing any long-term injury prospects when Colon signed his deal. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Having Ponson start tonight’s game is hardly ideal, but considering the circumstances, it’s not really worth holding Brian Cashman’s feet to the fire for it. He took someone 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA and is basically asking him to give the Yanks five innings of decent baseball once.
We’d rather see a young kid get a shot, but none of the young kids are quite ready for this. If only this game had been set for three weeks later when Alan Horne was more in his grove, Ian Kennedy had a few rehab starts under his belt and Alfredo Aceves had a chance to shine at AAA. Alas.
Right now, it’s not a stretch to say that we should be rooting for the rains that are blanket the New York arrive shortly after, oh, 5 p.m. today. If the Sidney Ponson nightcap were to be rained out, would anyone really mind? I’m sure watching Ponson, a career .143 hitter, bat would be entertaining, but still.
Anyway, for now, we’re concerned with the afternoon affair, a make-up of a game rained in May, and baring some sort of miraculous World Series, the last Yankee-Met game ever in Yankee Stadium. The Yanks are going with Melky Cabrera yet again in the lead-off spot. Melky this year has 35 lead-off plate appearances and has hit .250/.353/.321. Is this .674 OPS (albeit in a limited sample size) really the best Joe Girardi can do? I thought this guy was supposed to read Baseball Prospectus.
Johnny Damon is off this afternoon to rest his foot. He’ll play left field in Shea Stadium, and it is expected that Hideki Matsui will hit the DL after the first game. The Bonds talk swirling in this thread is growing louder.
Dan Giese is on the mound. He’s 1-2, but in 14 innings this year, the 31-year-old has allowed just one earned run. Can he keep this up? Tune in at 2:05 p.m. to find out.
Dan Giese P
Personal Seat Licenses. We’ve heard about them as this amorphous concept for which people in other cities have to pay so that their teams can draw in more revenue. We know that some football teams charge outrageously high prices for what amounts to the right to buy tickets for certain seats.
And now starting in a few seasons, PSLs are coming to New York. The Giants, Super Bowl champions, have announced that every season ticket in their new stadium will be sold via PSLs. These prices for these PSLs will run from $1000 to $20,000, and these licenses serve as lifetime guarantees for that seat. It is a one-time payment of an arm and a leg.
I write about this briefly now because of the attention I’ve paid to Yankee ticket prices. Yes, the top seats new stadium is going to be expensive, but the prices are a far, far cry from those we see in other sports. A longtime RAB regular Steve wrote in about this story this morning:
To be fair to the Yankees you should comment on this. Can a regular guy go to see a Giant game anymore, or do you need to know someone? At least you can go to the Bronx with a buddy, have a couple of beers and be under the $300 mark.
Of course, the PSL issue and the price tag for a Giants game are seemingly two separate stories. Football games are very nearly prohibitively expensive and yet most teams have waiting lists that stretch on for years for season tickets. Why? Because they are only eight home games a season, and there is a limited supply for something in high demand. It isn’t affordable — of fun — to see the Knicks anymore.
In a way, this is the great irony of baseball and our complaints about ticket prices. As relatively expensive as it can be to go a Yankee game, it’s still pretty cheap. For example, I recently bought decent Tier Reserve seats for Monday night’s sold-out Yankees-Rangers game for a few bucks over face value off of StubHub. Never would I be able to do that for a Giants game.
For a while, fans have dreaded the PSLs. They fear that baseball teams will begin to sell them for season ticket holders in new stadiums, and sports business exports have guessed that teams could draw in upwards of $40 million off the bat for PSLs. The Cubs are debating it, and rumors have swirled around the Yanks’ ticket holder plans in the new stadium. But again, I think it’s a matter of economics. There are 81 home games, and if teams start charging seat licenses, season ticket holders may opt to buy on a game-by-game basis.
The economics of sports tickets is a prickly issue. Teams set prices; secondary markets set the true value. In the end, baseball remains one of our country’s more affordable sports, and we need to look only at the new Giants Stadium rising in New Jersey to remember why.
Last weekend, a visibly hurting Hideki Matsui limped down the stairs of the Yankee dugout after grounding into a double play against the Reds. Today, we hear that Matsui may land on the DL. The Yankees have to make a bunch of roster moves on Friday prior to Sidney Ponson’s activation, and one of them could include a shelving of Matsui, retroactive to Monday. Expect Shelley Duncan — a bat — to take the place of the DH. Brett Gardner, your day will come. · (87) ·
I hate baseball conspiracy theories. I don’t think ESPN is out to get the Yankees with their pro-Red Sox bias. I don’t think we should lambaste other teams’ supposedly using the Yankees’ (and other rich teams’) dollars to build competitors. The baseball economics and the state of the sports media aren’t perfect, but they are what they are.
I do however know about the vagaries of television ratings. Just like I know that RAB draws more visitors for night games than for days, I know that the YES Network pulls in a higher rating for weekday night games than it does for mid-week day games. And I can guess that FSN Pittsburgh enjoys much better numbers for Yankee-Pirate games at night than it would during the day.
But at what point do the Yankees get the benefit of scheduling? Last night, the Yankees were set to play the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. Today, the Yankees are set to play the Mets at 2:05 p.m. While the Mets game is a make-up game, MLB had enough time to reschedule the Pirates game so that the Yanks could get in the game without getting back to New York in the wee hours of the evening. But alas they did not.
Instead, the Yanks and Pirates took the field at 7:05 p.m. knowing full well that their game probably wouldn’t make it into the books. The Yanks knocked out four extra-base hits to start the game, and only an odd base-running decision by Alex Rodriguez and a bad swing by Jason Giambi averted a 4-0 start for the Bombers. While Mike Mussina struggled in the first, he held the Pirates to just one run. An inning and a half later, the rains came, and nearly two and a half hours late — three since the scheduled start of the game — officials finally called the game.
So the Yankees are right now on their way back to New York, later than they would have been had the rains stayed away. They didn’t get in a game that should have been played in the afternoon, but they did burn one of their most effective starting pitchers this season.
I know and understand that the Yankees and their popularity mean a lot to baseball both in terms of good will and dollar signs. But this is a team that needs to get its games in as well, and they deserve the same courtesies of scheduling that other teams enjoy. There’s no reason other than ratings why MLB didn’t shift this game to a 4:05 p.m. start once it become clear that the Yanks had to be back in New York for a Friday afternoon affair, and the team paid the price.
Oh, well. We’ll get ‘em in July.