Is the senior Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania a Giants fan? It can’t be, but on the eve of the Super Bowl weekend, Specter, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants the NFL to explain why the league destroyed evidence related to the Patriots’ spying earlier this year. Anything to distract the favorites before facing Big Blue, right? · (19) ·
It’s not easy being Brian Cashman. With numerous bosses and the weight of the epicenter of the baseball world on his shoulders, Cashman’s job is not one anyone should take for granted, and as Tyler Kepner masterfully details in The Times today, no one knows this better than Brian Cashman.
“I feel the responsibility of millions of Yankee fans on my shoulders, fans who take this very seriously and for which every game is very important. I think of that every day,” Cashman once said to Ernie Accorsi, and as we know, Yankee fans are very demanding, to say nothing of the Steinbrenners.
So here we sit, a few days after the first word of a plan to send Johan Santana to the Mets leaked out, and all eyes are on Brian Cashman. For the Yanks’ GM, too, it’s been a rough winter. He’s dealt with a new leadership structure at work, and last week, as his comments question popular Yankees, including long-time fan-favorite Bernie Williams hit the press, it seemed like this tumultuous off-season was finally catching up to Cashman.
But for all the talk of job troubles and personnel changes, for all the doubt surrounding the Santana trade and the pressures of having a real, actual baseball fan in the form of Hank Steinbrenner peering over his shoulder as much with his mouth as with his eyes, Cashman is right where he wants to be. The Yankees in 2008 are his team, and while many believe his fate will rise and fall with the Yankees, it’s not so simple for this 20-year veteran of the Yankee organization. Gone are the days when King George fired people at will.
Kepner details Cashman’s struggles:
Usually deft as the Yankees’ primary spokesman, Cashman is struggling with Hank Steinbrenner’s quick ascension to that role. At times, Cashman has seemed especially cautious; at other times, unusually candid…
Hank Steinbrenner, 50, is not as detail-oriented as his father; he is not apt to demand new carpeting in the training room. He is a passionate fan, in tune with the sport’s history, driven to win and often willing to speak his mind. Hal, 38, is considered more fiscally conservative, and he rarely speaks in public.
Cashman got what he wanted this winter. The Yankees re-signed their veterans while protecting their top prospects and also gaining a 2008 draft pick for letting reliever Luis Vizcaíno sign with Colorado. But there is a belief in the industry that it has been a trying winter for Cashman as he adjusts to the team’s new leadership, and the possibility that decisions could be made without his consent.
The pressure on Cashman — and make no mistake, a lot of it is self-induced — will be there all season, but we as fans shouldn’t be so critical as Cashman. And herein, my RAB friends, lies the rub: A few vocal Yankee bloggers have been ridiculous harsh in their treatment of Brian Cashman this year. They have questioned his every move as GM, and they don’t feel that the Yankees have three viable pitchers on their hands in Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Patrick Kennedy because Jeff Cindrich or Sterling Hitchcock or Ryan Bradley never made it work in New York.
Let’s get one thing straight: Rare are the times when any Major League Baseball organization witnesses the meteoric rise of three pitchers with the pedigrees of Joba, Phil and Ian. Rare are the times when three pitchers are utterly dominant at every level of Minor League — and Major League — baseball. These guys are not your garden variety pitching prospects; these are three pitchers ready to contribute at the Major League level now and into the foreseeable future.
Yes, it’s true, the three of them may face innings caps this year. The Yankees have some valuable arms, and some caution at the start should pave the way for future success. But what they don’t have are question marks. It’s not a question of whether these pitchers will be good; it’s a question of just how good they will be. We — like Brian Cashman — know the ceilings. So when the New York Post says that Phil is pitching for Cashman’s job, it’s no big deal. Of course Phil is pitching for Brian’s job because Phil is a big part of Brian’s long-term plan to invest heavily — and wisely — into young arms. It’s going to work.
So as we sit here and watch the media swarm around the Yankees, we see questions and a General Manager under the most powerful of microscopes. But I’m comfortable with what Cashman has and hasn’t done this season. I believe in the young arms; I believe in Cashman.
Here’s something we wanted to see happen last year, but apparently was blocked by Joe Torre. The Yanks have signed Morgan Ensberg. No word on the nature of the deal — that is, whether it’s a major or minor league deal. My guess is that it’s a minor league one (saving the Yanks a roster spot), with an opt-out if he doesn’t make the big league roster.
I would suppose that he’s being brought in as competition for Shelley at first base. He’s only played three games in his career off of third base — one at DH, one at first base, and one at shortstop. I’m not quite sure if he’d be a viable bench option. We’ll see as Spring Training progresses, though.
Update: It’s a minor league deal. Just thought of something else, too. Ensberg could be Giambi insurance. If he goes down in ST, Ensberg would have a seat on the bench. Not a bad fallback plan.
RAB fave Keith Law posted his Top 100 Prospects list over at the Worldwide Leader. Five Yankee farmshands made the list, led by Joba at #3, who was also the top ranked pitcher. Jose Tabata (#21), Austin Jackson (#24), IPK (#45) and Andrew Brackman (#100) followed suit. Check it out, if for no other reason than to learn about guys named Weglarz, Gorkys and Chorye. · (23) ·
The Yanks may have lost out on Johan Santana, but for one year, I think we’ll be okay. “One year?” you ask. “What happens in one year?” Well, that’s when C.C. Sabathia becomes a free agent. It’s highly doubtful that Indians will re-sign Sabathia after 2008 as Paul Hoynes and Jim Ingraham write. The Indians, very much in competition for the AL Central, can’t trade C.C. this year. So when November rolls around, I’d expect a good ol’ fashioned bidding war. It’s never too early… · (29) ·
Jim Leyritz is set to face an arraignment hearing today, and the New York Post reports that the 30-year-old who died in December’s car crash was driving drunk as well. There is no word on how this will affect Leyritz, but I’m sure his attorneys will be all over this one. · (17) ·
Before Santanamania momentarily took hold of our Yankee-loving lives, we were in the middle of discussing the winter when Bernie Williams almost left New York. I argued that Bernie’s departure would have paved the way for the Red Sox to win in 1999. But not everyone took such a shortsighted view as I did.
In fact, one of our frequent commenters, Eric from Morrisania wrote an excellent counterfactual about what may have happened if Bernie had indeed been allowed to leave, and in Eric’s view, things turn out pretty well for the Yanks. Since it’s such a well-done comment, I thought it merits its own discussion. So here is Eric’s view — with some very minor edits by me — on what could have been if Bernie had left New York in November of 1998.
We gave Bernie a 7 year, $87.5M deal ($12.5M per). Belle signed with Baltimore later that offseason for 5 years, $65M ($13M per).
For the first 4 years of the 7 year deal we gave Bernie (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), he was awesome, with OPS+ of 149, 140, 138, and 141. He was a key middle of the order bat on the WS teams of ‘99 and ‘00, and performed admirably in the heartbreaking ‘01 loss and ‘02 early exit. The last three years of the deal, when he was age 34, 35, and 36, his play fell off noticeably (OPS+ 107, 108, 85). And, Bernie was never an above average CF in the field, let’s be honest.
Belle, meanwhile, gave Baltimore a great season in 1999 (OPS+ of 142; .297/.400/.541 37HR 117RBI) followed by a so-so 2000 (OPS+ 109; .281/.342/.474 23HR 103RBI) where he spent time on the DL. They shut him down with a hip problem in September of ‘00, and 6 months later, he announced his retirement. Of the $39M still owed to him; insurance payed off 70%, so the Orioles were on the hook for $11.7M combined, which they could spread across 2001, 2002, and 2003.
If we had signed Belle instead of Bernie, we would have received essentially the exact same levels of production in 1999 and a slight decrease in 2000, which is significant since we made the playoffs by finishing only two games better than a pretty bad Boston team that presumably would have been much better with Bernie on it. BUT, we also would have been in the market for a new outfielder either in the winter before 2001 if we suspected that Belle’s hip condition was serious, as it was or in the winter before 2002 if we optimistically believed that we could count on Belle going forward. So, what could have happened?
Assuming we expected Belle to return and his retirement caught us unaware (as it did Baltimore), we probably would have tried to swing a trade for someone during Spring Training. Ron Gant, Michael Tucker, and Milton Bradley were all dealt during the 2001 season, so it’s reasonable to assume we might have been able to pluck one of them off without giving up too much. We could have pushed for Juan Gonzalez, who wore out his welcome in multiple locations. Then, after the season, we could have pursued Johnny Damon or Moises Alou as free agents in the 01-02 offseason, or went after the big fish, Gary Sheffield, who wanted out of LA. Or, we could spent more in prospects and dealt for Jermaine Dye, who was also on the block, as a more permanent CF solution.
Then, there’s the other scenario – where we’re concerned enough about Belle’s health after the 2000 season to pursue an OF upgrade right then and there, which would be a real possibility since O’Neill would be 37 at the time and LF is a revolving door of Ricky Ledee, Shane Spencer, Glenallen Hill, and Luis Polonia. So, what FA outfielders were available in the 2000-2001 offseason? Ichiro. Oh yeah, and Manny Ramirez.
Imagine the Red Sox-Yankees games of 2001-2007, only with Bernie on their team and Manny Ramirez on ours. Or, imagine our lineup with Ichiro and Jeter at the top, and bear in mind that if the Sox had signed Bernie, they probably wouldn’t have signed Manny Ramirez; he’d be somewhere else (Mets? Dodgers? Angels?).
So, my question is, would you have given away the 2000 subway series, and even traded a 2000 WS title for a 2000 Boston Red Sox title, in exchange for substituting Bernie Williams six seasons from 2001-2007 for six years of Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki, Gary Sheffield, Jermaine Dye, or Johnny Damon? Because, frankly, the numbers competition isn’t even close.
How about something a little lighthearted to combat the 208 Johan Santana-related comments covering four posts and 24 hours around here? Ok? Ok.
Last season during some of the YES Network telecasts, I tried to keep track of what aspect of the game is brought to you by which company. No longer do we get the Yankees starting lineup; rather, we get the Richo Yankees Starting Lineup. Calls to the bullpen — which are not on my list below — are sponsored by Verizon or AT&T or some phone company. (Get it? Because it’s a call to the bullpen.)
So here’s the list I concocted over a few games in the middle of summer. It’s far from complete and doesn’t cover the John Sterling/Suzyn Waldman “Whore Ourselves Out To The Highest Bidder” Radio Broadcasting from the Lowe’s broadcast booth. But it’s a start. Feel free to add. Or make you own. I’m sure someone could sponsor Kyle Farnsworth’s outings.
New York Lottery Pitching Matchup
Ricoh Yankees Starting Lineup
Land Rover Scouting Report (Away)
Land Rover Scouting Report (Home)
Coors Light Scoreboard in between innings
AFLAC Trivia Question
Bacardi Scouting Reports
Hertz Out of Town Scoreboard
Chevy Player of the Game
Hummer In-Game Box Score
LoJack Caught Stealing — This one is the best. It’s a themed sponsorship that makes perfect sense.
Nissan Post Game Show