Link Dump: Yankee envy, Ben Davis, Spaceman, Bagwell and Bobby Bo

Some Saturday morning links for your reading pleasure.

Despite winning titles in 2004 and 2007, it’s still pretty clear Red Sox fans have Yankees envy.  There is an ancient story that Babe Ruth, when living in Massachusetts either threw or lost a piano into the lake he lived on.  For years people set up dives every year to try and find the piano, reasoning that if they found the piano, The Curse would be over.  Winning didn’t stop this tradition, and it’s only getting worse.  Now they’ve brought a psychic in to help find the piano.  No joke.

Interesting piece about former major league catcher Ben Davis, who is now trying to make it back as a pitcher.  In hindsight, Davis holds a special place in my heart by bunting in the 8th inning to break up a perfect game being thrown by Curt Schilling.  I didn’t care all that much at the time (and I don’t think it was bush league, bunting is part of the game), but that was long before Schilling put on the Red Sox uniform (and a colored red sock).

Speaking of former Red Sox pitchers whom I have a dislike for, Bill Lee’s statements on George Steinbrenner’s death are as classless as I have seen.  Luckily the Red Sox organization has been extremely classy in the wake of The Boss’s death, I just wish someone had the sense to not stick a microphone in front of a loser like Bill Lee.

As if we needed more proof that the Astros are just a poorly run organization, they hired Jeff Bagwell as their hitting coach this week.  Really?  Ok, maybe it will turn out ok, but that’s like having Tim Lincecum teach someone how to pitch.  Bagwell was a great player, but he had an extremely unique swing and has zero experience as a hitting coach.  What’s next, Craig Biggio as pitching coach?  The Astros really shouldn’t be such a poor organization.  Nice stadium, income tax free state and an owner that has been willing to spend money.  They just can’t get it right though.

Pretty cool article on the breakdown of Bobby Bonilla’s essentially lifetime contract with the Mets and how it all came about.  Contained in the article is a little nugget that Bret Saberhagen has his own Mets buyout, though not nearly as lucrative as Bonilla’s, as he gets a paltry $250k/year for 25 years.  If the Mets felt a need to bring Bonilla back, I wonder if they could call him up and demand he put on a uniform.  He is, after all, making more money than Fernando Tatis.

Check out my work at Mystique and Aura

Swish, Yanks honor the Boss with walk-off win

The Yankees just don’t seem to lose games like this. Whenever they’re playing with a heavy heart, the Bombers always manage to come out on top. They’re not just wins either, they’re memorable wins that remind us just why we love baseball and how lucky we are to be Yankee fans. On a night when the team honored the late George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, there was no better way to feel.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Biggest Hit: Send Swish

In a game like this, it’s hard to decide what exactly the biggest hit was. WPA obviously says it was Nick Swisher‘s walk-off single, but we can’t discount his game-tying homer in the 8th inning either. You really can’t say enough about what the first time All Star did on Friday night. Remember, he hit another ball to the wall that Gabe Kapler made a great catch on, but of course we can’t forget the two defensive blunders (missed fly ball, throw to the wrong base), though I’m going to cut him some slack on the fly ball since the wind likely played a factor. The Yankee rightfielder was tremendous, he carried the team on his back in the late innings and gave a performance that we’ll remember for years to come.

In the end, Swisher posted a 0.725 WPA in this game, which I’m willing to bet is the highest mark by a Yankee this season.  It’s fitting that an Ohio State guy shined on the day that Steinbrenner, born and raised in Ohio, was honored.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Biggest Out: Bossman Gets A Little Lazy

Considering how much trouble CC Sabathia was in on Friday (more on that later), the biggest out record by a Yankee pitcher didn’t even come on a pitch. After B.J. Upton led off the 9th with a broken bat aided single to third, the Rays’ sometimes enigmatic centerfielder got caught napping at first, and was picked off by the great Mariano Rivera. It was Mo’s first pickoff since 2003, just the fifth of his career, and it decreased Tampa’s chances of winning by close to 15%.

You can’t say enough about the job Mo did either, he was simply fantastic. The crowd was on their feet in the 9th, and it seemed like a win was inevitable once he recorded out number three.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Fans

I wasn’t in attendance tonight, but you were able to feel the somber mood just by watching on television. The pre-game tribute to the Boss and Sheppard was simple and elegant, but it was more than appropriate. The crowd seemed to be very unsure of what to do after that, it felt like everyone just wanted to explode in cheers while at the same time remaining quite and respectful.

As cliche as it sounds, you know George would have wanted the fans on their feet and rooting for these great Yankees. They certainly were doing that by the end of the game, with good reason. I’m proud of my fellow fans, they did a great job of honoring the legacy of two tremendous Yankee legends.


CC Sabathia certainly wasn’t great in this game, but he did what aces do when they aren’t right: he kept his team in the game and put them in a position to win. His only 1-2-3 inning came in the 1st, so he was pitching in and out of trouble all night. The Yanks are now 9-0 in his last nine starts. Can’t complain about that. Nope, not at all.

Robbie Cano and Jorge Posada going back-to-back in the 6th was when the Yankees really seemed to wake up. A lot of people are going to remember this game for George, Sheppard, and Swish, but those two homers off a cruising Jamie Shields were enormously important.

Curtis Granderson singled off a lefty to start the 9th inning rally. Yay. I don’t agree with pinch-bunting (pinch-bunting!!!) for Juan Miranda with Ramiro Pena after that, but I’m in too good of a mood to let it bother me. I’ll let you off the hook today, Joe Girardi.

David Robertson was in full-on beast mode in his inning of work. Three batters, 12 pitches, three strikeouts. Vintage D-Rob right there. Shades of last July.

Was it just me, or did it sound like the YES crew tinkered with the crowd microphones during the break? I know the game was broadcast on My9, but I assume they use the same equipment. The sound was very clear, and the ball seemed to crack extra loud when coming off the bat. Maybe Cano, Jorge, and Swish just hit those pitches on the sweet spot. Either way, I approve.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Yankees are now three games up on the Rays in the AL East and 6.5 up on the Red Sox, and are guaranteed to finish this series in sole possession of first place regardless of what happens on Saturday and Sunday.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Here’s the box, here’s the rest.

Up Next

Old Timer’s Day! Tomorrow afternoon the Yanks’ will hold their annual celebration of the franchise’s great history, and I’m sure there will be even more Steinbrenner and Sheppard tributes. The fun starts at 2pm ET, the actual game two hours later.

Montero’s hot hitting continues

Gary Sanchez got some love on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet, being named the fifth hottest prospect in all of minor league baseball. Make sure you check it out, it offers up a mini-scouting report. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith was released. Kinda surprised he lasted four-plus years in the organization after being drafted as a senior out of Oklahoma in the 39th round (in 2006). Those guys are usually flushed away pretty quickly, but credit him for forcing the organization’s hand.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Toledo)
Reid Gorecki, CF & Greg Golson, RF: both 0 for 4 – Gorecki K’ed twice
Reegie Corona, 2B: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB
Eduardo Nunez, SS:  for 2, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB – doubled off Mr. Perfect(ish)
Chad Tracy, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI – eight for 20 (.400) with three homers since signing
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B – straight mashin’, for like a month now too
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Eric Bruntlett, LF: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI – 15 for his last 36 (41.7%)
Jason Hirsh: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 6-6 GB/FB – 61 of 89 pitches were strikes (68.9%)
Mark Melancon: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 20 of 29 pitches were strikes (69%) … strikes are a good start
Romulo Sanchez: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3-0 GB/FB – nine of his 13 pitches were strikes (69.2%) … he was 95-97 with the slider at 88 tonight
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – seven of his 11 pitches were strikes (63.6%)

[Read more…]

Game 89: Win it for the Boss

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Joel Sherman had a great article in The Post this morning about just how much George Steinbrenner wanted to beat the Devil Rays whenever they played. Apparently the Boss didn’t like then-Devil Rays owner Vince Naimoli, so he would have Joe Torre use his A-lineup and best pitchers during Spring Training games just because he wanted to beat them so badly. Since the Rays physically play in St. Pete, Spring Training was the only time the two teams would face off in Tampa, so George went all out for bragging rights. This was long before the days of YES, and we rarely, if ever, had a chance to see these games. I can imagine it was a blast.

A little bit more than just bragging rights are on the line in this weekend’s series against the Rays as the two teams are separated by just two games atop the AL East. They have the two best records and two best run differentials on the planet, and both teams come in having won eight of their last ten games. Yeah, the Yankees only need to win one game this weekend to maintain sole possession of first place into next week, but let’s not settle for mediocrity. Bury them right next to the Sox, and have those two duke it out for the Wild Card.

It’s about as big as a series can get in July, and it should be fun one. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Juan Miranda DH – called up from Scranton this afternoon in exchange for Kevin Russo
Brett Gardner LF

And on the mound, the Big Man, CC Sabathia.

The Yanks will host a special pre-game ceremony tonight to honor George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, and it will be shown on YES even though the game itself will air on My9. The ceremonies begin at 6:45pm-ish ET; the game 20 minutes later. Enjoy.

Yanks atop SI’s most overrated player survey

The Yankees may be, for the 8th year in a row, the game’s most popular team among baseball fans, but its players aren’t well loved by those on other teams. According to a recent Sports Illustrated poll of 187 Major Leaguers, players have view a handful of Yankees as the most overrated players in the game.

Leading the pack is 24-year-old reliever Joba Chamberlain. A whopping 12 percent of respondents picked him as the most overrated. Despite Joba’s struggles this year, he’s still young and should have a promising future ahead of him. He can take comfort in the fact that Derek Jeter earned the same honors in the 2008 poll.

Joining Joba on the list are fellow teammates Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher. It’s hard to say if this hatred is justified or if other Major Leaguers simply don’t like the guys who grab headlines. The other two in the top five were J.D. Drew, one of the game’s best hitting outfielders over the last five years, and Gary Matthews, Jr., someone regarded as so bad that it’s hard to believe he could be overrated.

It’s pretty clear to see how players view this question though. It’s not about which players are actually overrated. Rather, it’s about which players receive too much attention based on their skills. A-Rod is hated because, well, he’s A-Rod, and we know of his crimes against baseball. Nick Swisher ran one of the most over-the-top All Star Game vote campaigns in the history of the Final Vote, and if he weren’t a Yankee, we’d probably hate him too.

Joba’s inclusion on this list is because he’s legitimately overrated. Right now, he’s a 24-year-old struggling to find consistency at the Major League level. There’s certainly nothing wrong or unexpected in that. But because of the amount of press he has received and the way he blew away the league in 2007, other players expect him to be better than he has been this year. We shouldn’t expect Joba to be as dominant as he once was, and although he can still have a very successful career as a starter or reliever, right now, perception of him as a pitcher just hasn’t lined up with the results.

Miranda back up; Russo back down

Juan gone to AAA no longer. | Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

The Yankees have recalled Juan Miranda from AAA Scranton and have sent Kevin Russo back to the minors, reports Ben Shpigel. Miranda is in the lineup tonight as the Yanks’ DH, and he will be batting eighth against Tampa’s James Shields.

For the 27-year-old Miranda, this is his second stint in the Bronx this year. In his previous stay, he hit .217/.294/.435 with a pair of home runs in 51 plate appearances. Recently back from a minor injury, he had been on a tear at AAA over his last ten games, hitting .459/.545/.838 with three home runs and eight doubles. On the season, his minor league line is .291/.380/.509 with 10 home runs in 175 at bats. He certainly can mash the ball.

Russo has long been the Yanks’ odd man out. He made a splash during the Subway Series in the Yanks’ 2-1 win over the Mets in May and, a few days later, helped down the Twins 3-2. Since then, however, he hasn’t hit or played much at all. He’s had just 28 plate appearances over the team’s last 36 games, and he’s just 3 for 24 in that span. He’s far better off getting regular playing time in Scranton than he is warming the bench in the Bronx.

For Miranda and the Yankees, this could be a semi-permanent move until or unless the team finds a true DH, and it could also be a trade showcase. If the Yanks want to make a move in a few weeks without selling the farm, Miranda could be the perfect trading chip. It could also spell the end to Francisco Cervelli‘s playing time as well because the Yanks would prefer to use Jorge at catcher while Marcus Thames and Miranda share DH duties. Either way, this is a move that was a long time coming.

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