Yankees prospect Alan Horne sat down with Trentonian staff writer Josh Norris recently, and the result is an interesting and exhaustive Q and A. Horne touches on everything from his Spring Training invite and EL Pitcher of the Year Award to his off-season training and his potential 2008 role in the Bronx bullpen to Roger Clemens and the Mitchell Report. It’s good stuff. (Thanks to RAB fan Bill for this tip.) · (1) ·
Over at Rays Anatomy, they’re having a debate regarding Robinson Cano and BJ Upton. Anatomy’s writer Eric SanInocencio takes on Pending Pinstripes author EJ Fagan. They each make strong cases, so I’d consider the initial round a toss-up. However, the debate raging in the comments is all Cano. Someone actually said they’d rather have Brandon Phillips than him. Pass that crack pipe this way, please. · (18) ·
So Lebron has a new shoe out, and its design will appeal to many of you:
My favorite part: It has the words “Le-Bron Ja-Mes. Clap. Clap. Clap Clap Clap” on the inside of the tongue. On the outside of the tongue, however:
I understand that Lebron is No. 23. But when you encircle that 23 in navy blue and add pinstripes in the background, well, that’s Don Mattingly. I wonder if James or his people thought about that before designing the shoe.
In other James news, he was caught going 101 mph on his birthday. How odd of a story is that nowadays? An athlete is pulled over for speeding excessively and he’s not drunk.
Hat tip to Jason.
We all know what Hank Steinbrenner has been up to this off-season. Not a day goes by without Hank’s name appearing somewhere in the newspapers.
Part of this constant attention stems from the New York sports media’s tendency to write about anything — literally anything — no matter how mundane in an effort to fill the space between the playoffs and Spring Training. Once-a-week football games and the pathetic Knicks can only draw so many readers.
The other half of Hank’s ubiquitous presence comes from his inability to keep his trap shut. At every turn this off-season, Hank has issued a comment. Joe Torre gets fired? Hank fires back. A-Rod opts out? Hank won’t talk him until he changes his mind. A deadline for Johan Santana? Well, only a little bit.
Fans and bloggers have enjoyed poking fun at Hank, but we’ve also grown wary of his comments. Last week, at the Fast Company FC Now blog, Jason Del Rey delved into Hank Steinbrenner’s tendency to publicize his every move in the Johan Satana dealings. Del Ray wondered if Hanks’ approach represents a good business strategy for a billion-dollar business such as the Yankees.
His answer — with an assist from New York Times beat writer Tyler Kepner — is probably not:
Is this any way to run a business? Commenting to the media on every twist and turn of negotiations for a major acquisition that will greatly affect the product on the field — the product that is directly correlated to the team’s billion-dollar valuation?
The business of sports, in many ways, is unlike any other sector of the business world. But, at the same, time, could you imagine a big-time financial or tech CEO holding court for the press every time there is a development in talks for a takeover of a large competitor? Maybe it wouldn’t crush the negotiations, but couldn’t it make them unnecessarily more difficult?
“I think the Twins were puzzled early on,” The New York Times Yankees beat writer Tyler Kepner wrote to me in an e-mail.
“I don’t get any sense that it’s part of a business strategy,” he added, speaking of Hank’s general vocal approach…”It complicates the job of the baseball operations staff, but all general managers would rather keep almost everything secret.”
It’s often easy to forget that baseball is very much a business. Teams sign players for a myriad reasons, but chief among those is return on investment. How can a general manager justify a multi-million-dollar signing of a player who may not deliver? Howcan a chief executive bank the next ten years of success on one player?
On the surface, fans see it as a simply calculation that includes wants, needs, desires and movable pieces, but it’s rarely that simply. In business negotiations as in baseball, it’s better not to show all of your cards. Hank has yet to demonstrate that he can do this, and as Del Rey notes, Hank’s big mouth could derail negotiations or it could drive up the price of a desired commodity. The New York Yankees, a successful business valued at around $1 billion, would be better of if their new chief executive kept some company secrets to himself.
Unsurprisingly, Chuck Knoblauch, a very private individual who wants to put baseball behind him, declined Congress’ invitation to appear in Washington next month. So the bullies in DC subpoenaed him instead. One way or another, Chuck will be in Washington making a rare public appearance since the end of his playing days. I wonder what he’ll have to say. · (3) ·
Mike Easler’s in. The Don of Baseball cites family reasons for leaving, but he’ll still serve as a special assistant coach. Assuming the family reasons are nothing serious, I’m happy because I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Donnie Baseball in a non-Yankee uniform. · (3) ·
My Baseball Bias tips us off to this post at the Let’s Go Yankees Blog about Hideki Matsui‘s knee. Let’s Go Yankees Blog sends us to an article on MLB.com’s Japanese affiliate. Got all that? There will be a quiz.
The article, according to Jessica Lee’s Taiwan-based blog, concerns Hideki Matsui and his road to recovery. While I tried to run it through Google Translate’s Japanese-to-English Beta translate program, the output included the following line: “Godzilla’s ass with a fire.” Clearly, that’s not Matsui’s problem right now.
Lucky for us, Jessica lives with a Japanese-speaking roommate who gave us this translation:
Matsui is going to go to USA 10 days earlier in order to check his right knee condition with the doctor in New York who help him operate his right knee surgery. He will then go to Tampa to check his right knee condition with Yankee Trainers again. This is not a normal action which go to USA earlier for Matsui. He usually trains with his formal Japanese team and then reports in spring training.
Right now, Matsui doesn’t feel pain about his right knee, but he can’t run. He is not sure he can run or not when he reports to Tampa. He understands he has to fight with Johnny Damon for left outfielder job and wants to do his best. That’s why he decides to go to USA earlier.
So basically, Matsui is coming back to the States earlier than anticipated because his knee may not to be responding to treatment as quickly as it should. He can’t run and doesn’t know when he’ll be able to run.
If this holds up through Spring Training, the Yankees will be trying to fill both their DH and 1B positions from a combination of injured, old guys – Jason Giambi, Matsui – and young role players not yet suited for prime time – Wilson Betemit, Shelley Duncan. Good thing the rest of the offense is so potent.
Every now and then, Ray Negron’s name pops up in the press. A special adviser to George Steinbrenner, Negron has spent a lifetime in baseball as a bat boy, player agent, one-time prospect, all around gopher and now a Yankee executive. In a stunning four-part piece on Negron’s life from his days spray painting Yankee Stadium to his time as one of Steinbrenner’s closest compatriots, Bronx Banter’s Alex Belth reminds us why he’s the grandfather of all Yankee blogs. The tale is moving and tantalizing.
At one point, in the mid-1970s, Negron served as the go-to guy in the Yanks’ clubhouse. He was practically Reggie Jackson’s personal valet, and he knew how to please Thurmon Munson at the same time. This was no small feat. Thirty years later, these tales would turn sinister as Kurt Radomski and Brian McNamee subscribed to the “Better Living Through Chemistry” Theory. But Negron’s age was one of decadence and the Bronx Zoo, not steroids and multi-millionairs. Check out Alex’s story. The four-part opus well worth the read.
Part 4 · (4) ·