So much for putting up a fight. After vowing to challenge the charge that he owed $62,125 in fines due to an ethics violating stemming from 2009 World Series tickets, former New York Gov. David Paterson has paid the fine, the Daily News reported today. Paterson, who could still face a criminal investigation for perjury, violated ethics regs by accepting five free tickets to Game 1 of the 2009 World Series, and the fine is the largest ever levied by New York’s Public Integrity Commission. “This closes the case,” Walter Ayres, the commission’s spokesperson, said. “We imposed a penalty, he paid it. There is nothing else to say.”
As the Yanks enjoy an off-day this evening, we’re going full steam ahead with some notes on Yankee-related news. We start in the Bronx with Metro-North. Now in its second season of use, the new Metro-North stop has been dubbed a success. Ridership is up this year over last, and the station is seeing an average of 3219 customers for weekday games and 3819 for weekend contests. As the cops have been closing streets around the stadium after the game and making driving more difficult, seeing ridership creep upwards at this new stop is a welcome development. I have more on the Metro-North station at Second Ave. Sagas.
Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson is learning the hard way that baseball and politics do not often mix. New York’s beleaguered lame-duck governor has faced a series of ethics inquiries into his staff’s requesting five tickets to Game 1 of the World Series for free. Over at the Biz of Baseball, Jordan Kobritz offers up a summary of the scandal and highlights how the state’s Public Integrity Commission has recommended that Paterson pay a fine of $96,375 for both the ticket request and his subsequent denials concerning his office’s role in the affair. The case has since been referred to the Albany DA’s office, and Paterson could face criminal charges for his role in this matter.
One of the many perks of winning the World Series is getting an all expenses paid trip to the White House, where hanging out and mingling with cut throat politicians in awe of their favorite players is one of the many items on the day’s agenda. Just imagine big CC Sabathia towering over Hilda Solis when the two were introduced. Or Alex Rodriguez and Hillary Clinton. I should stop there, but you get the idea.
President Barack Obama gave a six-plus minute speech (full transcript here) during which he cracking jokes about the Cubs and singled out Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, and Jorge Posada for their work beyond the baseball field and the way they carry on the Yankee tradition. Sabathia, A-Rod, and Andy Pettitte apparently haven’t met the President’s criteria for True Yankeedom™ yet. Chad Jennings has more on Teixeira, who was honored for starting a scholarship in the name of a friend killed in car accident just days after cashing his first big paycheck back in 2001.
Other than that, Obama gave the usual shtick about being a champion and persevering and all that. I’m sure it’s a day that everyone in attendance will remember forever – I know I would – but more importantly, this trip basically concluded the World Championship tour. There are no more ring ceremonies, no more openers, no more trips to see the President. It’s all in the past, and the pursuit for the 2010 World Series crown now begins in earnest.
For those who missed it while at work or school today, the White House has made the video of the Yanks’ appearance available on YouTube. Check it out:
Although many Yankee fans have assumed that the team would be getting their 2009 World Series rings at the team’s home opener on April 13, a recent report suggests otherwise it turns out they’re right. According to gossip site TMZ, the Yanks will be receiving their rings on April 13th at home against the Angels, the team they vanquished in the ALCS to reach the World Series. TMZ originally said they would receive their rings on the 14th, but they changed their story earlier today. The team, though, has yet to confirm this report.
On Tuesday, Gov. David Paterson drew headlines for his role in an ethics scandal involving Yankee World Series tickets. He allegedly asked for and received free tickets to Game 1 of the Fall Classic despite the fact that the Yanks are registered with the state as a lobbying organization. Paterson has denied the charges, and the Attorney General is now investigating.
Today, the story gets better as The Observer highlights Paterson’s testimony about the tickets. The governor claims he asked for the tickets because he had to be “part of the ceremony,” and he didn’t even want to go anyway. Paterson, legally blind, says he couldn’t see from his seats and would have preferred to watch the game at home. I don’t think that defense is going to hold up too well in a court of law.
It hasn’t been the best of weeks for David Paterson, New York’s beleaguered governor. Under siege for his role in a domestic abuse cover-up, Paterson has now been charged with an ethics violation by the state’s Commission on Public Integrity. The claim: Paterson asked for and received free tickets to Game One of the World Series from the Yankees. He may also have testified falsely under oath that he had said he would pay for the tickets when he had no intention of doing so. The Attorney General the Albany district attorney will continue this investigation.
The governor is legally barred from accepting gifts from the Yankees because the team is registered as a state lobbyist, as The Times put it, “in connection with financing for their stadium.” Our friends over at YFSF don’t view this is a big deal but the law is the law. For his part, Paterson has denied these allegations, suddenly a common theme from his administration.
Again, just the Phillies…
Left field: Raul Ibanez
When the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $31.5 million contract this winter, some thought it a bit odd. Ibanez is a good player, but he turned 37 this season and has played notoriously poor defense for years — worse, possibly, than the man he was replacing, Pat Burrell. Add in Ibanez’s left-handedness — the Phillies had just one solid righty, Jayson Werth — and it seemed curious.
Still, the Phillies had signed a solid bat that can fill a middle of the order spot. Ibanez is insanely consistent from season to season, posting a batting average between .280 and .300, and an OBP hovering around .350 every year. His slugging had fluctuated a bit over the years, dipping as low as .436 in 2005, but over his last three years in Seattle he slugged an aggregate .491. Those are solid numbers all around.
Even so, Pat Burrell, a right-handed hitter, had out-hit Ibanez in all categories except batting average over the past three seasons. His batting average sat around .250, but his OBP was up at .400 in 2006 and 2007, and even with a dip in 2008 it was still at a solid .367. Combine that with a slugging percentage around .500 every year, and you’ve got a solid player. But the Phillies must have known something that extended beyond the numbers, because they clearly made the right choice in Ibanez
Burrell struggled in Tampa Bay, and that’s a kind description. His average dipped to .221, his lowest since hitting .209 in 2003. His on base free-fell to .315, and his slugging went from .507 to .367. Back up in Philadelphia, Raul Ibanez put on a clinic to start the season. In his first 50 games he hit .340/.399/.716, far out of line with his career statistics. This prompted the infamous steroids charges, but by season’s end all that Jerod Morris proved is that he doesn’t understand how a baseball season unfolds. From Game 51 through the end of the season, which included Ibanez missing a little less than a month with a groin injury, he hit .228/.313/.446. In other words, he regressed towards his mean. Lo and behold, he ended the season at .272/.347/.552, right in line with his previous three years, just with a bit more power.
In the playoffs, Ibanez had a great NLDS followed by a poor NLCS. Combined he’s 7 for 31 with two doubles, a homer, and five walks.
On defense Raul is notably poor, though he posted an 8.1 UZR/150 in 2009. This, combined with Juan Rivera’s 13.8 mark, makes me seriously question UZR’s accuracy. Damon’s mark is also questionable — he’s bad, but he’s not worst LF in baseball bad. But this is a topic better saved for the off-season.
Center field: Shane Victorino
As Ibanez, Shane Victorino is a pretty predictable player. Over the past four seasons he has hit around .280, .290, and has had an OBP around .340, .350. To his advantage, his power has climbed in the past two years, from the low .400s in 2006 and 2007 to the .440s in 2008 and 2009. That has transformed Victorino, a two-time Rule 5 pick, from a slightly below average hitter to a slightly above average one. He has also strengthened the Phillies’ lineup by inserting himself as the full-time No. 2 hitter.
Victorino has had his postseason moments. He hit a grand slam in Game 2 of the NLDS last season, off CC Sabthia. He also has three home runs this postseason, including one in each clinching game. The LCS was his time to shine, as he went 7 for 19 with a double, triple, two homers, and two walks.
As far as platoon splits, Victorino hit righties a bit better than lefties this season, though his sample numbers are skewed. He batted 499 times against righties to just 195 times against lefties. Part of his success against lefties could come from his .342 BABIP against them. His BAIP is .304 against righties. Then again, he hit lefties better in 2008 while posting just a .279 BABIP, against .329 against righties. In 2007 the discrepancy showed most in SLG, while in 2009 it showed up more in OBP.
In the field Victorino is solid by most anecdotal accounts. UZR/150 rated him as 7.8 in 2008 and then -1.9 this season in center. Unfortunately, UZR is the best thing we have to objectively evaluate defense.
Right field: Jayson Werth
The Orioles had big plans for Jayson Werth when they drafted him with the 22nd pick of the 1997 draft, but the match was not to be. He hit well enough in his first three full pro seasons, posting OBPs that ranged from the mid to upper .300s. His power hadn’t come along by age 21, though, and at that point the Orioles traded him to the Blue Jays for John Bale.
Almost immediately after the trade, Werth’s power came around. After topping out at eight homers in 1998, he hit 20 in 2001, and then hit 18 in 2002. This earned him a few cups of coffee with the Blue Jays, but he never stuck. Just before the 2004 season, the Jays traded him to the Dodgers for Jason Frasor. The trade worked out well at first, as Werth posted a .825 OPS in 326 plate appearances in 2004, but he dropped off a bit in 2005, mostly with his power, dropping to a .711 OPS.
Why the precipitous drop in power? In Spring Training 2005, A.J. Burnett hit Werth in the wrist on what A.J. recalls as the first pitch of the exhibition season. That sidelined Werth until the end of May, and the injury clearly affected him throughout the season. After the season he had exploratory surgery which revealed two torn ligaments. The corrective procedure kept Werth out for all of 2006, and after the season he signed on with the Phillies.
Werth has been a revelation for the Phils ever since. He came on strong in 2007, hitting .298/.404/.459 in 304 plate appearances. He took on more of a full-time role in 2008, and hit .273/.363/.498 in 482 plate appearances. His power, it seemed, had returned. He continued hitting well in 2009, bringing his slugging percentage above .500 for the first time in his career, mostly on the power of his 36 home runs. He is by far the biggest right-handed threat in the Phillies’ lineup.
Over seven postseason series, including the 2004 NLDS with the Dodgers, Werth has shined, hitting .288/.388/.663. This includes an insane 2008 World Series in which he went 8 for 18 with three doubles, a home run, six walks, and three stolen bases. He has also hit very well in the 2009 playoffs. Against Colorado he went 4 for 14 with a triple, two home runs, and four walks, and in the NLCS he went 4 for 18 with three home runs and two walks.
On defense Werth has a positive reputation, and UZR favors him as well. It favored him a lot more last season, with a 35.6/150 mark, though he was at only 5.7 this season. He also received high marks while playing left field earlier in his career.
Left field: Even. Ibanez could take advantage of the short porch while on the road. Damon has more speed and can also take advantage of the short porch, which closes the gap here.
Center field: Phillies. Melky has been hot, and he’s not all that worse than Victorino. Still, Victorino holds a slight edge.
Right field: Phillies. Again, it’s not a stark difference, though Swisher’s playoff woes play a small part in this. It would be a lot closer if he were hitting better, but I’d still give the edge to Werth.