It’s non-tender day, one of the more exciting days of the post-Winter Meetings off-season. The Yankees have four such decisions to make: Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, Wilson Betemit, and Brian Bruney. Tendering contracts to the first three is a no-brainer. There has been some debate about the erratic Bruney, though.
According to Mark Feinsand, the Yanks plan to tender Bruney and have him compete for a bullpen spot in Spring Training. Given his up-and-down 2007, Bruney won’t be in for a serious raise, so the only issue in tendering him is finding other places on the 40-man roster for Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, and LaTroy Hawkins.
The Yanks likely won’t be players in the newly-created free agent market, as they’re having a hard enough time finding three spots. So while they’ll go and check out Kris Benson’s throwing session, chances are minuscule that they’ll make a serious offer. Same goes for the non-tendered reliever Matt Wise, and projected non-tender Mark Prior.
After reading this article on ESPN.com, my feelings towards the Mitchell report have gotten worse, if that’s at all possible. I’ll excerpt some quotes of note:
From a coach (all of the sources here are unnamed, for obvious reasons):
“They wanted us to speculate. And I wouldn’t do that. They wanted me to say who I thought was using steroids. And when I said, ‘I don’t know,’ they would say, ‘Well, you work most closely with these guys. You work on their bodies every day. You weren’t the least bit suspicious when you saw their bodies change?’
“This was the kind of stuff I was most afraid of, because they didn’t ask me about specific people with specific information that they had. They asked me to guess. I said my guess was no guess at all, because what would happen to me if I said a guy was using steroids who wasn’t? What if I guessed wrong? Then my name is out there, I get fired, and I’m easily replaceable.”
Why are they asking people to guess?
“They didn’t ask us those things because they didn’t have the level of sophistication about what we do,” said a National League strength coach. “They didn’t know the right questions to ask. At no point in my interview did anyone say to me, ‘What can we recommend to make sure this never happens again?’”
Uh, wasn’t the whole point of the investigation to figure out how to never let this happen again? Oh, my mistake. I forgot that it was a witch hunt to bring out the biggest names in baseball.
“I didn’t go in there with a lawyer because I didn’t have anything to hide,” the manager said. “They asked me if I’d ever seen anyone do steroids. I said no. They asked me how I thought the players’ bodies got so big, and I said the players were in the weight room day and night, so it made sense to me. Then he said to me, ‘Well, don’t you know that steroids combined with weightlifting can make you even bigger?’ He said it to me like I was dumb, so I said, ‘No, I didn’t know that.’”
Wow. I didn’t know that! Pass the bull testosterone, yo!
Oh, and don’t forget Mr. Mitchell’s status on the board of directors of the Red Sox. The following is an excerpt from an e-mail sent by John Clarke, a spokesman for DLA Piper, the law firm conducting the investigation.
“Senator Mitchell and the Red Sox have agreed that he would not provide advice to the Red Sox owners until this investigation is completed and he would not receive any compensation from the team. That is the current situation,” Clarke wrote in a Nov. 30 e-mail to ESPN.com. “It is the expectation of the Senator and the Red Sox that he will resume his previous role after the completion of the investigation.”
Oh, then never mind! It’s all cool. He didn’t advise or take money while the investigation was ongoing. That he did those things before the investigation, and plans to continue doing so after the investigation, means nothing, right?
At least one GM is speaking out against this:
“They expected everyone to believe what they say, but they didn’t do anything real to change anybody’s mind. It was just his word,” one general manager said of Mitchell and his investigators. “They think everybody is stupid. They really do.”
So instead of figuring out how to stop this, they’re trying to levy blame on anyone they can. Thanks, Mitchell and Company. I’ll rest easier knowing that you compiled a list of names that people guessed at.
Honestly, I think this report is going to do a lot more to hurt baseball than to help it.
On a related note, I betcha a fiver that A-Rod‘s name is somewhere in the Mitchell report. And I betcha that there’s a token Red Sox reference, but nothing of substance. (And I’m not saying A-Rod because he’s a Yankee, but rather because he’s a big name, and including him would seem to fit Mitchell’s M.O.)
Let’s forget for a few minutes that Curt Schilling is on the Red Sox, and let’s forget his stupid “mystique and aura” comments from 2001. Let’s instead just consider Curt Schilling to be a baseball player with strong opinions who shares those opinions on his blog. Maybe this way, we can have as unbiased a discussion about Curt as is possible on a Yankee blog.
Last week, when the Baseball Writers Association of American first instituted the Curt Schilling Rule which bans players from awards consideration if their contracts feature incentive clauses, I applauded this move. The members of the BBWAA are hardly the least biased folks in the room, and I can’t really blame them. Eight months of traveling with a team and interacting with players on a daily basis will inevitably lead to some soft feelings toward some of the players.
While the BBWAA has disappointingly tabled their resolution pending discussion with MLB and the Players Association, the man for whom the proposal was named — Mr. 38 Pitches himself — was none too happy. In a rather personal and often rambling blog post, Schilling lays into the BBWAA for many of the inconsistencies that bloggers have long noted about their voting patterns. He rails on voters omitting pitchers from MVP ballots or Hall of Fame ballots for petty reasons some years only to include them in others. He wonders why traditional print writers are any more or less qualified to vote than the writers like Buster Olney, Jayson Stark, Rob Neyer and Ken Rosenthal, to name a few, who make their living online.
All in all, Schilling makes some very valid points. But as is often the case with Curt Schilling, there’s rather big but (and it’s not his. Zing!). Schilling takes a very strong exception to BBWAA Secretary Jack O’Connell’s statement. “But the attachment of a bonus to these awards creates a perception that we’re trying to make these guys rich,” O’Connell said. Schilling starts out hot and goes from there:
Give me a break. Don’t get me wrong, 100k, 500k, 1 million dollars is a huge sum of money. But to think that these guys ever approached this as anything other than them being touted as the ‘experts’ on who wins what is crap. Add to that I seriously doubt anyone ever looked at this from a perception standpoint and thought wow, they are making this guy rich. I would disagree.
Curt Schilling may disagree, but let’s look at this from a journalistic standpoint. Curt Schilling’s new contract includes a clause where he needs to draw just one third-place vote to kick in a $1 million bonus. Do you know how many Cy Young Awards have depended upon those third-place votes? I’m leaning toward none.
So what’s from stopping one of Curt’s friends from tossing a throw-away third-place vote his way? Every voter fills out a 1-2-3 ballot, and if Curt ends up with one meager vote, the $1 million is his. That reeks of unethical journalistic behavior right there.
Schilling, in my opinion, has it wrong. This move by the BBWAA isn’t one of their efforts to steal the thunder from the players; it’s an effort to make sure that all of their voting members are following the guidelines of their profession. It’s a sad commentary on the state of journalism than such a move by the BBWAA is necessary, but it isn’t an attempt, as Schilling would have us believe, by the journalists to upstage the players.
In the end, Curt says it best himself. “It only takes 1-2 guys to screw it up and those guys exist in decent numbers,” he writes. The same holds true on the other end as well. In this case, it only takes one guy to kick back a million bucks, and any effort to end that practice should be applauded.
The Philadelphia Phillies reportedly have a mild interest in New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. Pitching against National League lineups, without designated hitters, could extend Mussina’s career long enough to boost his Hall of Fame hopes. He’s no cinch to make the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Granted, I have mild interest in a lot of things that never come true, but hey, it’s a slow day. Now, as long-time readers of RAB know, I’m no fan of Mike Mussina, and while my kneejerk reaction to this rumor was something along the lines of “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” I think the Yankees actually need Mike Mussina.
In 2008, somehow, the Yankees are going to need to fashion together 1,458 innings, give or take a few extra-inning affairs. By and large, this means finding some starters to throw 200+ innings or, barring that, finding enough starters to put together enough innings. The Yankees have Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang penciled in for about 200-220 innings each. But after that, things look a little dicey.
Had Phil Hughes escaped injury, he would have been on target for about 180-200 innings pitched in 2008, but it was not meant to be. After reaching 146 in 2006, Hughes missed significant time and ended the year with a combined total of 116 IP. The Yanks will try to cap him around 150 in 2008, I think. Joba Chamberlain threw a combined 116 IP as well in 2007, and I’d probably peg him at 150 max in 2008.
So that leaves Ian Kennedy. He threw a shade under 170 innings in 2007 with an increase of 70 innings pitched from 2006. The Yanks could push him up to 190 or so, but they would probably want to keep him around 170 again.
Enter Mike Mussina. Unless we want to live through Kei Igawa and a parade of Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner and the guy begging for change on the street, the Yankees may need 150 innings or so out of Mike Mussina.
So never mind that this trade – this hypothetical, maybe-the-Phillies-are-interested trade – has a minuscule change in hell of happening. It might not even be good for the Yanks if it did.
This profile goes out to Nick-YF, who won a cheesy little contest a few weeks ago.
Austin Romine | C
Romine was raised by a baseball family in El Toro, CA, an Orange County suburb. His father Kevin was a reserve outfielder for the Red Sox from 1985 to 1991, amassing a .251-.306-.325 line in 331 career big league games. His older brother Andrew was Dustin Pedroia’s successor at Arizona State, and had a respectable 3-yr career as the Sun Devil’s starting shortstop. He was drafted by the Angels in the 5th round of this year’s draft.
Chad Jennings notes that the Yanks signed minor league journeyman reliever Dan Giese to a deal that includes an invite to Spring Training. Giese has rather impressive career numbers (2.97 ERA, 1.64 BBper9, 8.25 Kper9), and was decent in his first taste of the bigs last year with the Giants. Relievers are incredibly volatile, so Cash’s strategy of hording guys like Chris Britton, Jon Albaladejo and now Giese (i.e. inexpensive guys who have good stuff and aren’t afraid to throw strikes) is really the best a GM can do. There are no guarantees that the big name, big money guys will do the job (just look at Eric Gagne), so having options is the key. · (23) ·
The Yankees are holding their 14th Annual Food Drive on Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. For every 25 pounds of non-perishable food you deliver to the Stadium, you’ll get a voucher for four Tier Reserve tickets for any non-premium Monday-through-Thursday home game. It’s not a bad deal. More details and a poster with impossible-to-read fine print is available here. · (1) ·