A state-of-the-art stadium with no technology allowed

At CitiField, iPads are welcome, but the Yankees have banned this technology. (Photo by Amanda Rykoff)

For Bronx-bound patrons coming from work, Yankee Stadium security represents a unique challenge. In the days of 24-hour connectivity, many workers need to cart laptops back and forth from home, and few have the chance to make a pitstop on the way up to the ballpark. Yet, the Yankees have long banned laptops from the stadium, leaving fans with no choice but to pay the exorbitant bag-check rates at the bowling or Stan’s across the street.

According to the team’s vague security guidelines, the technology ban in a stadium equipped with state-of-the-art, well, everything extends beyond just personal computers. Included in the ban are “any other devices that may interfere with and/or distract any sports participant, other patron, audio or audio/visual telecast or recording of the game or any technology-related service provided in Yankee Stadium.” Based on recent reports, that ban now includes iPads as well.

This odd news broke when a woman on the IGN tech boards wrote about how security denied her iPad entrance into the stadium. Eventually, she was able to sneak it in, but fans were confused as to the ban. Maybe the Yankees don’t want to risk someone’s retransmitting the game from their seats. Maybe the Yankees are afraid that laptops will distract from the game experience or bring unwanted noise to the stadium. Yet, the team made a show of touting the way technologies would be able to interact with the new stadium.

The TSA, according to Mashable, doesn’t consider the iPad a laptop, but the Yanks have extended their security policies to encompass what could be personal wireless device. Yet, the inherent contradiction is laid bare when we realize that the entire stadium is one giant wireless network. The Yankees provide free wireless but do not allow the technology into the stadium to take advantage of it. They want Yankee Stadium to be state of the art but do not want people to take full advantage of it. As other parks allow iPads, laptops and similar devices in because they understand the way people commute and the inconvenience of not doing so, the Yankees are content to slam that door. What exactly is the point of that ban?

Link Dump: Girardi, Giambi, Russo, Catchers

Some links to check out while I try to get my finger to stop bleeding after cutting it open with a broken glass…

Joe Girardi interview at HBR

Katherine Bell of The Harvard Business Journal sat down for a chat with Yanks’ manager Joe Girardi recently, and it’s really one of the better interviews you’ll see. There aren’t any lay-up questions; they talked about his use of statistics, older players mentoring the younger players on the team, his divorce from the Marlins, steroids, all sorts of great stuff. It gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

Giambi gets hosed

He hasn’t been a Yankee for over a full year now, but Jason Giambi was always a favorite of mine, so I still keep tabs on him. Even during his down years from 2006-2008, he still put up a .386 OBP and a .262 ISO. Anyway, the Giambino invested seven figures into a social network/fashion retail website (really Big G?), but apparently got taken to the cleaners by a tech guy who delivered an inferior product. Giambi and his wife are now suing the guy for $3M, but I get the sense that the former Yank is the kind of guy that would rather have a few minutes alone with him in a locked room.

Mr. Russo makes it

The Wall Street Journal has been cranking out some great stuff recently, and today they have a feature on Kevin Russo. Apparently the scrappy (yay!) little utility player from Long Island didn’t even have the benefit of the doubt from his college coach at Baylor, who “was just pulling for him to catch a break.” Russo’s father was a Yankee fan before succumbing to cancer in 2007, so for him to be playing in that uniform is all the more special for him and his family. Great stuff, right there.

Overworking catchers

Over at FanGraphs, our own Joe Pawlikowski took a look at catchers who’ve been doing a lot of catching this season, and the possible effect it’ll have on their production. I bring this up because Frankie Cervelli just finished a stretch in which he started seven games in seven days, nine games in ten days, and 15 games in 20 days. Unsurprisingly, his OPS has dropped 64 points during that time, but of course he wasn’t going to maintain his torrid pace all season. Really, I’m thinking more about laying off him a little more now to prevent him from being completely worn out come August and September.

Jorge Posada‘s not young and has already dealt with three different injuries this year (two fluky, of course), so Girardi has to be prepared for a situation in which Cervelli starts the majority of games from here on out. Easing back on the gas now should have benefits later.

Aceves making progress, but back will remain a concern

Photo credit: Jim Mone/AP

For about a week the Yankees’ bullpen appeared a shambles. Nearly every reliever, from the mop-up guys to the setup men to the closer, had a hand in blowing a game. That made many of us wonder if Al Aceves would make his way back anytime soon. Diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back and placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 9. He’s eligible to return at any time now, but the Yankees will proceed with caution. There’s no reason to rush a player with back problems.

Last week, pining for Aceves’s presence in the bullpen, I wondered if his back had been bothering him all season. He had, after all, felt some pain towards the end of spring training, and the Yankees used him sparingly in the season’s first month. On Saturday I asked Aceves about his back, and he said that yes, it had bothered him and had affected his stuff. That’s a good sign, really, because it helps explain the diminished velocity on his cutter. It might also help explain his walking four batters in just 12 innings after displaying excellent control in 2009.

Otherwise, though, we shouldn’t read too much into Aceves’s numbers. For instance, his low strikeout rate might have something to do with his back, but he thinks it’s more the situations he has faced than his back affecting his strikeout stuff.

“I’m not thinking of striking out guys,” he said. Given the situations in which he has entered, though, he hasn’t quite needed the strike out. He has entered five games with runners in base, and none of them have come with a runner on third. In only two was there a runner on second, and in one of those situations there were two outs, making a strikeout less necessary. Pitching to contact might have been the best strategy there, especially for a player nursing a balky back.

He seemed optimistic that he’d return in short order, noting that it was his third straight day playing catch. As the Yankees took batting practice, Aceves stood on the left field foul line and had a catch, though I couldn’t tell the force with which he was throwing. He also mentioned that he would be headed to the minors for a rehab assignment, and about 15 minutes later Joe Girardi confirmed that Aceves would head to Tampa on Monday. Look for him in tonight’s DotF.

Back problems for baseball players can be chronic conditions that affect them throughout their careers, even after an off-season of rest. Aceves experienced back problems last July and they cropped up again this spring, despite three-plus months of rest. The Yankees obviously hope that rest and treatment will help keep Aceves healthy the rest of the year, but that’s no guarantee. He seems nothing but optimistic, saying treatment has made his back feel great. That’s a positive sign, of course, but with a back problem you just never know.

We should get a better idea this week of when he can rejoin the team. The team will certainly benefit from his presence in the bullpen.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 24th, 2010

Record Last Week: 2-5 (38 RS, 46 RA)
Season Record: 26-18 (246 RS, 181 RA, 29-15 Pythag. record), 6.0 games back
Schedule This Week: Monday OFF, @ Twins (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Indians (three games, Fri. to Sun.

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Once again, Yanks’ late inning rally falls short

Last season spoiled us all. The Yankees amassed so many come from behind wins with late inning theatrics that it we came to expect it. This year’s team has shown the same propensity to battle back in the late innings, but with a lineup shortened due to injuries, they just haven’t been able to cash in over the last six days.

It was that kind of game. (Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP)

CC stands for C(an’t finish off) C(ora)

Well that was lame, but then again Sabathia didn’t deserve much of a headline after this one. The Yanks’ ace, just like Phil Hughes last night, struggled to put Mets’ hitters away, most notably Alex Cora (!!!) in the 2nd inning. The Mets’ fill-in second baseman fell behind 0-2 with men on second and third, but Sabathia just couldn’t get that third strike. After a fastball inside for ball one (that was probably a strike), Cora fouled off another heater and a rare curveball to stay alive before spitting on a slider to even the count at two.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Sabathia and catcher Frankie Cervelli had had enough by that point, so they went right back to the old number one to try and finish him off. CC’s offering was clocked at 95 and was on the inner half, but Cora pulled his hands in and muscled the ball into center for a single. Both runs scored, and just like Saturday night the Mets jumped out to a quick lead. They never looked back.

Gardner makes two outs with one swing

With the Mets staked to a four run lead just three innings in the Yankees were looking for any way to get themselves back in the game. Sabathia of all people singled to lead off the Yanks’ half of the 3rd, and Derek Jeter followed that up with a single to right to put men on first and second with no outs. A normal baserunner would have been able to go first to third on the play, but there’s no reason to push CC, especially not after the Chien-Ming Wang episode of 2008.

Up came the struggling Brett Gardner, who squared around to bunt in the 1st inning of not just this game, but Saturday’s as well. Instead of doing that, he might as well have “I’m struggling and I know it” tattooed across his forehead. Santana got ahead with a fastball before going to work with his world class changeup, the second of which Gardner slapped right to Cora at second. It was an easily turned 4-6-3 double play despite his speed, and the Yanks’ chance to get back into this one basically went down the toilet.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Slumping Yanks

Oh let us count the ways…

Prior to his 8th inning single, Mark Teixeira had one hit in his last 29 plate appearances. Hopefully that – along with his 9th inning chopper – will get him going, because holy cow has he looked absolutely dreadful of late.

Meanwhile, Gardner’s regression to the mean is in full effect. Dude is a capital OH for his last 16, and as you’ve already read, has added grounding into double plays to his repertoire. His batting average dipped under .300 tonight for the first time since April 18th, and his OPS has fallen a hundred points in the last two weeks. Joe Girardi said during his postgame press conference that he doesn’t plan to do a “whole lot” of lineup rearranging next time out, but with  Nick Swisher back and healthy, it’s time to move him up to the second spot in the order to try to generate some more offense at the top of the lineup.

Cervelli, starting his seventh game behind the plate in as many days on Sunday night, is five for his last 23. To his credit, he hit what might have been the longest single in the history of baseball tonight with that shot off the top of the wall in the 7th. Of course, he should have been standing on second as Girardi acknowledged after the game, but that’s another topic for another time. He also singled again in the 9th.

Bad Stuff

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Jason Bay with not one, but homers after coming into the series with one all season. I hate to say it, but I totally called that on Friday. That dude just kills the Yankees. Kills ’em. Let’s be glad he’s in the NL now.

Johan Santana was excellent, but seriously, he threw 27 pitches combined in the 4th, 5th, and 6th inninsg. I know it’s tough to do against a pitcher of that caliber, but at least try to work the count. Hats off to him for a fine performance.

How about home plate ump Marvin Hudson warning both benches after Sergio Mitre hit Bay with a curveball with two outs in the 6th? How can the umps be so out of tune with what’s going on?

The Yankees haven’t hit a homerun since Juan Miranda took James Shields deep on Thursday. Bronx Bombers? Bronx Flyouts is more like it. (I keed, I keed) (Sorta)

Good Stuff

Hooray for Sabathia getting a hit. And Swisher for scoring from first on Cervelli’s single. He’s a hustler baby, he just wants you to know.

The late inning rallies once Santana was out of the game give me hope that the offense is starting to click. Kevin Russo, Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez in particular worked some good at-bats. Once they get a few more healthy bodies in there, they should start converting some of these rallies into wins.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score, FanGraphs the more in-depth box score.

Up Next

The Yankees are off tomorrow and they could probably use a day away from a baseball field. They’ll head to Minnesota to play in new Target Field for the first time starting Tuesday evening.

Warren continues getting grounders in Tampa win

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 loss to Louisville)
Greg Golson, LF-CF, Reid Gorecki, RF & Reegie Corona, 3B: all 0 for 4, 1 K – Corona committed a fielding error
Curtis Granderson, CF: 1 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K – he was scheduled to play only five innings, which he did … he apparently was running well in the outfield … faced a lefty on the Reds’ 40-man roster, so today was a nice test after a few weeks off
P.J. Pilittere, 1B: 0 for 1, 1 K
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jesus Montero, DH: 0 for 3, 1 BB
Chad Huffman, 1B-LF: 1 for 4, 1 K – 7-for-16 (.438) during five game hit streak
Rene Rivera, C:  for 4, 1 2B
Jeff Natale, 2B: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB – doing what he does best, get on base
Jason Hirsh: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3-9 GB/FB – 68 of 92 pitches were strikes (73.9%) … gave up three homers after allowing one in his last 24.1 IP
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – nine of 13 pitches were strikes (75%)
Grant Duff: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 14 of his 21 pitches were strikes (66.7%)
Royce Ring: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of his 15 pitches were strikes (73.3%)

[Read more…]

Game 44: What could have been vs. what is

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP

We never try to make too much of a big deal about one game in these parts of the interweb, but we’re going to make an exception today. Not that tonight’s game means more than yesterday’s or tomorrow’s, but because of the theater involved. It’s Johan Santana vs. CC Sabathia, the ace the Yankees passed on to get the ace they wanted.

Rewind back to the 2007-2008 offseason, when the Twins make a 28-year-old two-time Cy Young Away winning lefthander available on the trade market. It was a natural fit for the Yankees – a star player who could front what was then a patchwork rotation – and they were willing to trade the prospect version of Phil Hughes. The three of us even started a campaign to keep all of the Yanks’ young pitchers in pinstripes.  After a winter of he-said-she-saids, Santana finally landed in New York at the end of January, but with the Mets. Ironically enough, that was less than two months after the lefty declared he would only accept a trade to the Yanks or Red Sox. Funny how that works.

So Johan went off to Queens, and quite simply had a stellar season. He threw 234.1 innings of 3.66 xFIP ball and finished in the top three of the Cy Young voting for the fourth time in the five years. The Yanks, meanwhile, missed the playoffs for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, and the second-guessing of the non-trade started before the season was even half over. Santana’s declining peripheral stats (his BB/9, K/BB, AVG against, and xFIP all dropped for the fourth straight year) be damned, the was the guy the Yanks were supposed to have, and his absence is why they missed the postseason.

But, to be mind-numbingly cliche, GM Brian Cashman had an ace up his sleeve. Granted, it was a gamble of epic proportions, but passing on Johan was all by design. Another 28-year-old, Cy Young Award winning lefthanded ace was soon going to be available, except not in a trade, on the free agent market. CC Sabathia, the long-time Cleveland Indian was unlikely to return to the team given the fortune awaiting him on the open market, so Cashman decided to hold onto one set of assets (players) while using the team’s greatest resource (dollar dollar bills, y’all) to bring in a frontline starter.

Out of the race by mid-season, the Indians sent Sabathia to the Brewers for four prospects, and the fans in Cleveland thanked him for everything he’d done. Milwaukee, also unlikely to retain the big lefty beyond the season, rode CC right into the franchise’s first playoff berth in a quarter-century. He took to the mound 17 times and threw 130.2 innings for the team overall, but that’s not what he’ll be remembered for. Sabathia’s time in Cleveland will be remembered for taking the ball four times in the Brewers’ final eleven games with complete disregard for his health and impending free agency. With the season literally on the line in Game 162, CC threw a four hit complete game shutout against the Cubs, the National League’s best team by six games. The entire city of Milwaukee climbed about Sabathia’s broad shoulders, and he carried them right into the postseason.

After the season, Cashman put on the full court press. He had passed on Santana by choice, but he couldn’t let CC get away, so his opening bid was $140M on the very first day of free agency. It was a message to the rest of the league: don’t even think about it, he’s ours. Cashman dragged Reggie Jackson to dinners, wore his World Series ring(s) to meetings, flew coach to California in the middle of the night, he did everything that needed to be done to get Sabathia in the pinstripes. In the end, it took the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, but we know that was coming regardless of who he signed with.

One year and one World Championship later, Santana and Sabathia meet tonight for the first time as a Met and Yankee, respectively. It’s your guy, the one who wasn’t good enough for us, versus our the guy, the one with the ring and three fan bases in love with him. As far as May baseball goes, this is as good as it gets.

Here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Gardner, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Cervelli, C – seventh game in seven days
Kevin Russo, LF – yay
Sabathia, SP

First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm ET, and the game can be seen on ESPN. Enjoy.