When last we saw Rudy Giuliani’s attempting to mix baseball and politics, he had managed to alienate Yankee fans by declaring his support for the Red Sox in the World Series. With the importance of New Hampshire in the presidential nomination cycle, Rudy needed to appeal to those New England voters any way he could.

Now, on the eve of the primary election in New Hampshire and with Rudy’s New Hampshire support all but gone (See Page 4 of that PDF), Rudy’s campaign is again suffering from baseball blunders. According to a story in the New York Post, Rudy’s campaign supporters in New Hampshire are wearing Yankee gear while trying to get Red Sox fans to vote for their candidate. Oops.

Kenneth Lovett of the Post had a great anonymous quote from someone in New Hampshire. “Some people really don’t think,” the source said. “You’re in the middle of Red Sox Nation wearing stuff from their enemy. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Can you image if people were running around The Bronx in Red Sox hats?”

While I have to take this anonymous Post story with a large grain of salt, I love this stuff. While some residents of New Hampshire and some residents of New York may both want Rudy in the White House, once baseball enters the picture, all bets are off.

Hat tip to Nick-YF at Yanksfan vs Soxfan.

Categories : News
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  • BA’s Top Ten Yanks prospects hits the Internets
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    While Mike gave us the Baseball America top ten list of Yankees prospects two weeks ago, BA finally got around to posting it online. Most of the content – including scouting reports for all of the prospects – is behind the BA subscription wall, but you can check out the team’s best tools (Edwar’s change-up, Kennedy’s control, and Joba’s everything) and the idealized 2011 lineup of internal options and current Yankees. If Derek Jeter is still the Yanks’ starting short stop in 2011, something is wrong. · (19) ·

While most Yankees and even most Red Sox fans would agree that Phil Hughes has a higher ceiling than Jacoby Ellsbury, the Twins haven’t been too quick to pull the trigger on any Johan Santana deals with Hughes as the centerpiece. In an excellent post, Twins blogger extraordinaire Aaron Gleeman analyzes why the Twins may prefer the Ellsbury package:

Ellsbury can’t compete with Hughes’ upside, but his downside might be more palatable and it’s probably safer to assume that he’ll at least have a good, long career.

Factor in the Twins’ outstanding organization-wide pitching depth and their gaping hole in center field, and it’s not difficult to see why they might value Hughes less and Ellsbury more than most other teams.

In the long run, Gleeman notes that Hughes is a much better trophy than Ellsbury, but the risk may be too much for the seemingly risk-averse Twins.

Hughes’ ceiling is that of a true ace who could literally replace Santana at the top of the rotation in time, but he’d add to what’s already an area of strength for the Twins and there’s more risk that he’ll flop completely whether because of injuries or performance…

They’d be smart to go after the one player who clearly gives them the best chance to come away from the Santana deal with a superstar. In other words, Phil Hughes.

Basically, Gleeman, an impartial observer to the Yanks’ and Red Sox’s shenanigans, would rather see Hughes in Minnesota, but he understands why the Twins seem drawn to an offer that we all believe is inferior to the one put forward by the Yanks. And that is just one of the many reasons why we would rather see Hughes stay in New York.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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  • Yanks have yet to give promised stadium money to the community
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    When the Yankees and City officials negotiated the new stadium deal, part of the agreement focused around a community benefits program. Under this deal, the Yankees were supposed to give $1.2 million a year for thirty years to a variety of community groups upon the start of construction. Well, 17 months later, and, as Timothy Williams writes in The Times today, the Yanks haven’t given out any money. Furthermore, the Yanks have yet to form the organization tasked with administration with the donations. The Yanks say the money is in eschrow and will be given out. I see no reason not to believe them. But the secrecy and delays as detailed in Williams’ article do not reflect well on the organization. · (5) ·

As 2007 neared an end ten days ago, Jim Leyritz, suspended license and all, got behind the wheel of his car after a night out. During his drive home, as numerous sources have reported, he crashed his car and, in the crash, a Florida woman died. He has since been arrested on suspicion of DUI and vehicular homicide and, if convicted, faces up to 16 years in jail.

Jim Leyrtiz’s story is one of tragedy. The death of a 30-year-old mother because Jim Leyritz was allegedly driving drunk is tragic. Leyrtiz’s ultimate fate — a potential jail sentence of 16 years — is tragic. Leyritz was beloved by his fans, his co-workers and his family. Now, his life is in tatters, and the lives of the Fredia Ann Veitch’s family is ruined.

But for this tragedy, this story is not an isolated incident in recent baseball past. When Cardinals’ reliever Josh Hancock died in a car crash, his BAC was nearly double the legal limit. Six weeks earlier, Tony LaRussa had been arrested and charged with a DUI. For all the talk about steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, I have to wonder: Does Major League Baseball have an alcohol problem?

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Categories : Rants
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  • With friends like these, who needs Mike Wallace?
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    As we all get ready to ignore watch Roger Clemens’ appearance on 60 Minutes tonight, take a read through this excellent piece at Baseball Analysts by Pat Jordan. In it, he discusses his experiences covering Roger Clemens in 2001. The focus is, of course, on Clemens’ relationship with Brian McNamee and the way the Rocket would seemingly blindly follow McNamee, who Jordan calls “sour, suspicious, and taciturn.” It certainly makes me wonder why teams would so accepting of these sketchy trainers during the late 1990s and early 2000s. · (16) ·

The understatement of the Hot Stove League may be the headline on a La Velle E. Neal III article from Saturday. It asks, “Twins softening demands for Santana?

Now, on the surface, that seems like a legitimate question to ask, but when you look at what Neal wrote, the answer is glaringly obviously yes.

For instance, indications earlier in the off-season were that the Twins wanted the Yankees to include righthanded pitching prospect Ian Kennedy in a package led by prized young righthander Phil Hughes and center fielder Melky Cabrera. Now it’s believed that the Twins are willing to accept other players instead of Kennedy. Recent reports have righthander Jeff Marquez as part of the deal.

Lefthander Kei Igawa, who floundered to a 2-3 record and 6.25 ERA in his first year after arriving from Japan, also has been mentioned in talks with the Yankees, perhaps as a fourth player in the package. His salary — $4 million annually over the next four seasons — shouldn’t be a problem for a club whose payroll would drop under $50 million if Santana is traded.

Any time you can get a team to drop its demands from Ian Kennedy to Kei Igawa, the demands are most definitely softening. While I still don’t want to see the Yanks shell out all of the prospects for one year of Santana, I would certainly get a good laugh out of things if Kei Igawa ends up being the missing fourth piece for the Twins.

If Bill Smith actually knew what he were doing, he would have laughed the Yankees out of the room when Kei Igawa’s name came up. Or he could said, “No way. No how. Not interested.” But if we’ve learned one thing this off-season, it’s that Bill Smith isn’t exactly the most confident of General Managers.

Categories : Hot Stove League
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When the Yankees’ season unceremoniously ended at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in October, Bob Sheppard was out with a long bout of laryngitis. Until today, we hadn’t heard anything about Bob, and I had just assumed he had gotten better. If he had gotten worse, the news would be out there. In a weekend mailbag, Peter Abraham confirms that assumption: According to Yanks’ Media Director Jason Zillo, “Mr. Sheppard is feeling much better and is scheduled to resume his position behind the mic for Opening Day.” Phew.

Categories : News
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As a follow up on my post from Friday about the shifting organizational structure in the Yankees Front Office, Yanks GM Brian Cashman has confirmed what we’ve known for a while. The Steinbrenner brothers are taking a more active role in running the team, and Cashman’s autonomy, granted to him by George in 2005, is waning.

Speaking at a Boston fundraising on Saturday, Cashman gave the media some insight into his current role in the organization. MLB.com’s PeteAbe has the word from Cash:

“The dynamics are changing with us. When I signed up with this current three-year deal, and this is the last year of it, it was with full authority to run the entire program. George had given me that. But things have changed in this third year now with the emergence of Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and that started this winter,” he said, “I’m learning as I go along, too. But it is different. But one thing is that I’ve been with this family, the Steinbrenner family, for well over 20 years. So I’m focused fully on doing everything I possibly can to assist them in their emergence now as decision makers.”

Meanwhile, an article on MLB.com has a bit more from Cash and his relationship with the Steinbrenners. “Everybody has their own style,” Cashman said. “And Hank has obviously taken charge on behalf of his father, along with his brother, Hal. They have different styles. Hal is more quiet and Hank is very available, but my job is to continue to line up the structure of the organization that can find the amateur talent.”

On Friday, I wrote about how the new relationships affect the Santana deal. Today, we can extend that look to the entire organization. Right now, Hank talks a lot — maybe too much — and Hal is the quiet, behind-the-scenes guys. While Brian Cashman knows and understand that he doesn’t have the same unilateral power that he had during the waning days of George Steinbrenner‘s reign, he stills has a very influential position of power within the Yankee organization.

From his comments, it’s clear that he is the de facto leader of any sort of transitional organizational team in place ensuring that the Yankees continue down the solid path they’ve built up of developing young players and making smart free agent signings to fill in the holes. While George got away from that plan earlier this decade, the younger Steinbrenners are seemingly much more willing to let this plan unfold.

Sure, they may be in on Santana, but right now, Hank has listened to Cashman and Hal, the two anti-trade forces in the organization. Because of that, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera are both still on the Yankees and slated for pinstripes in 2008. While some of Hank’s more outspoken critics may not like what Cashman is saying, the Yanks haven’t made any off-season mistakes yet this year, and I’m willing to believe that the Steinbrenners are letting Cashman do his job. He did say after all that his job is to “assist them in their emergence now as decision makers.”

Make as much of that as you will, but in the end, that’s the General Manager’s job. Every signing, every contract, every trade in baseball will always have the seal of the team’s owner’s approval. The Yankees — even with Cashman’s so-called autonomy — were no different the last few years, and they will be no different going forward. The difference instead lies in the mental health and acuity of the men at the top, and the younger Steinbrenners seem prepared to build up a fiscally strong and talented Yankee team with the help of a top-notch General Manager. I can’t argue with that one.

Categories : Front Office
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