Open Thread: A much needed day off

"Can we just go home now?" Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

I think us fans needed the day off as much as the players. Just gotta regroup, refocus, get our heads back in the game, and simplify things. Take it one at-bat a time, one pitch at a time, and get back to the basics. Hopefully the team follows suit and turns this little skid around. There’s still 118 games left to go.

Here’s your open thread for the night. There’s only four baseball games on the schedule, and one’s on ESPN: the Red Sox at the Rays (Clay Buchholz vs. Matt Garza Wade Davis) at 7:10pm ET. You’ve also got NHL and NBA playoff action (Flyers and Celtics each have a chance to advance to the finals with a win), but more importantly, the two hour series finale of 24 starts at 8pm ET. Jack has to die at the end, right?

Anyway, dhatever you choose, feel free to chat about it here.

2010 Draft: Klaw’s Mock Draft v1.0

Now that we’re two weeks away from the big event, ESPN’s Keith Law posted his first mock draft today. He has the Yankees taking Texas high school righty Tyrell Jenkins. “I’ve heard them legitimately linked to Michigan’s Ryan LaMarre in recent weeks,” said KLaw, “but their tie to Jenkins dates back to much earlier this spring, and he’s the kind of superior athlete with upside whom Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer favors.”’s scouting report (with video!) says he’s been up to 95 with the fastball, but he’s very raw. Big arm to dream on, something the Yanks lack right now.

As for LaMarre, meh. He’s s freaky tooled up outfielder with no plate discipline and great stats in a bad conference. Not the first round, please.

How the Rangers bankruptcy situation might affect A-Rod

The Texas Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning. It sounds like a big deal, and in some ways it is, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Commissioner Bud Selig claims that the filing “assures an orderly process to expeditiously transfer Rangers ownership to the Greenberg-Ryan group,” referring to Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

The thing with Chapter 11 is that while secured creditors — those with collateral to back their loans — usually get paid back, it’s unsecured creditors who face the risk of nonpayment. The Rangers owe Alex Rodriguez $24.9 million in deferred payments from the 10-year, $252 million contract he signed in the winter of 2000. Might A-Rod not realize the full amount of his deferred payment amount?

At Hardball Talk, Craig Calcaterra raises the issue. It’s a little journey, and I suggest starting with the 1:15 p.m. part at the bottom and work up. Craig notes that the Rangers can’t pay A-Rod the full amount without also paying their full debt to all unsecured creditors:

Since the Rangers filed for bankruptcy it means they don’t have enough money to pay all of their unsecureds at a 100% rate. That means that A-Rod should not get all the money he thought he’d get and all of the ugly union/team dynamics set forth below come into play.

A later update notes that, no, A-Rod probably won’t get stiffed on the $25 mil. He might see a delay in the process, but because this Chapter 11 filing acts as a precursor to a sale, not to help it restructure its debt. The Greenberg-Ryan group, then, will be responsible for the remainder of A-Rod’s deferred payments, as well as deferred payments to a number of current and former Rangers.

The important point here: bankruptcy law is boring and esoteric. Another point: I doubt anyone will cry for A-Rod if he did get stiffed, even if it amounted to more than 10 percent of the contract he signed.

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.

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