The Boss and Billy up for Hall consideration

Even in death, George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin remain linked. The two headline a list of 12 individuals under consideration for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame as part of the Expansion Era ballot in front of the veterans committee this year. Results of the voting will be announced during the Winter Meetings on December 6 at 10 a.m.

To gain entrance into Cooperstown, candidates must receive votes on at least 75 percent of the 16 ballots casts, and George and Billy join ten other former players on this year’s slate. Also up for consideration are former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; and executives Pat Gillick and Marvin Miller. Of the 12, only Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased.

The Expansion Era ballot is something of a new creation. To ensure more veterans earn their spots in the Hall, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors opted this year to split baseball’s history into three eras with a three-year cycle. This year, the Expansion Era (1973-present) receives consideration. Next year, Golden Era (1947-1972) baseball folks will get their due, and in 2012, Pre-Integration (1871-1946) candidates will be up for a vote. If the Boss, for instance, isn’t elected this year, he won’t get another shot until 2013.

“Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election,” Jane Forbes Cook, chair of the Hall, said.

Those who will consider the ballot include: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).

Interestingly, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put forward the ballot, which means that many of the people who relied on George Steinbrenner for copy consider him at least worthy of consideration. For us, this isn’t the first time we’ve pondered Steinbrenner’s role in baseball history and the merits of his career. In fact, on the week of his 80th birthday and shortly before his passing, I explored this very topic. Both Wallace Matthews and Filip Bondy said the Boss should be in Cooperstown. I wasn’t as sure:

When George’s health started to slip away, the tributes came out in full. Matthews, who doesn’t want to limit the Hall of Fame to only those who were “exemplary human beings,” says Steinbrenner should be in Cooperstown because of his contributions to the game. The Yankees, through their spending, have radically changed baseball economics, and even when the game off the field shakes down to 29 clubs facing off against George’s dollars, Steinbrenner’s clubs have kept on winning. TV deals are more lucrative because of him, and record-breaking crowds flock to see the Yanks both at home and on the road. What’s good for baseball is, after all, good for baseball.

But George isn’t an easy man to pigeonhole. He violated campaign finance laws and was suspended after he sent a private investigatory to spy on Winfield. He was a cranky and temperamental owner whose need to have his finger stirring the pot probably cost the Yankees more championships during his reign than they won. Some would say he ruined the game with his spending.

The question, I said then, remained open-ended, and four months after his death, it’s still as muddied. He changed baseball, some would say for the better, others for the worse. But it might boil down to one simple fact: If Marvin Miller isn’t elected to the Hall of Fame, neither should George Steinbrenner. If Miller gets in, all bets are off.

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Knowing George M. Steinbrenner III

When Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner passed away in July, The Times ran a personal recollection by Mary Jane Schriner of the Boss. Schriner had know George when the two were teenagers, and she remembered him as a “fun-loving, kind and generous young man who brightened my youth.” Schriner revealed that she was still in possession of a series of letters a young Steinbrenner had written her back in 1949, and she wanted to publish these letters, a testament to a budding relationship that was stunted by college and the intervening years.

Today, The Times has a follow up. The Yankees have so far successfully blocked publication of the letters. Yanks’ COO Lonn Trost said the contents “will cause untold embarrassment and damages to the Steinbrenner family and the Steinbrenner’s business interests.” The Yanks claimed that Steinbrenner holds the copyright in the letters and can block as sale. As my Copyright professor explains to The Times, George Steinbrenner’s copyright simply prevents publication, and Schriner can still sell the letters.

For her part, Mary Jane Schriner says there’s “nothing in those letters to upset her. They’re sort of boring.” For now, the Schriners are trying to convince the Hall of Fame to take and attempted to auction them on eBay. The auction, though, set to start at $50,000, drew no bidders. As this saga plays, Schriner has also published a story about her summers with George. The 20-year-old Steinbrenner was a charmer in training.

Sunday Morning Links

A few links for your Sunday morning.

Ronald Monestime takes a look at Andy Pettite and says that he deserves to be considered this generations Mr. October as much as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera do.  I love Pettitte and what he has done for the Yankees all of these years, but he’s the same pitcher in the regular season as he is in the playoffs.  Jeter is the same player in the regular season as he is in the playoffs.  If you’re going to label someone Mr. October simply for stepping it up in the playoffs, it has to be Rivera.  As great as he has been in the regular season, his postseason numbers are even further off the charts.

Speaking of Rivera, heres a pretty cool piece in which Kerry Wood compares Rivera to Greg Maddux.  It’s probably not a comparison made often as one is a starter, one a closer, but it makes sense and it’s pretty cool to hear it from someone with Wood’s perspective.  Rivera and a PED accusation free Maddux could end up going down as the greatest starter and closer of their generation (and obviously in Mo’s case G.O.A.T.).  It’s just too bad we never got to see Rivera close out a game for Maddux, despite the Boss’ best efforts.  Speaking of which, here’s a link to when the Yankees struck out with Maddux (and Bonds) and signed Jimmy Key.  The last line is classic Steinbrenner, and would soon ring true.

Sam Borden took a look at A-Rod and how he heads into October without the pressure he’s had in the past after his heroics last season.  The best part for me is that Borden made sure to point out that A-Rod had plenty of good playoff moments with the Mariners and wasn’t really the choker we had all been led to believe.  Many of the glowing A-Rod articles after last season neglected to mention this, and I’m glad Borden pointed it out.

Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune briefly talks about his history with George Steinbrenner and how it feels different in the postseason without him around.  The further away we get from his death I think the more we’ll appreciate that the 2009 team was able to win the World Series in his last full year alive.

Game 150: For George

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

It’s been more than two months since George M. Steinbrenner III passed away, but that certainly doesn’t mean he’s been out of our minds. We’re reminded every day of the impact he had on this organization, of his drive to win and succeed, of his often overbearing personality and unrealistic expectations. We had to take the bad with the good, but it’s all part of what made George the finest owner in sports history.

The Yankees will dedicate a new monument in Monument Park to the Boss’ memory tonight, the first new monument in more than a decade. Events like this tend to be followed by the most memorable of games, so expect the unexpected. Here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Berkman, DH
Gardner, LF
Cervelli, C

And on the bump, it’s Ivan Nova. Jon Lane has more on the pitching matchup, so check it out.

The ceremony is schedule to begin right at 7pm ET, with the game starting about a half-hour later. All of the pregame stuff will be on YES, but I’m willing to bet you’ll be out of luck if you’re watching on MLB.tv. Enjoy.

Torre, Mattingly to attend Monday’s Steinbrenner tribute

The Yankees are set to pay tribute to George M. Steinbrenner III prior to their game against the Rays tomorrow evening, and according to Bill Madden, both Joe Torre and Don Mattingly will be in attendance. The Dodgers are off tomorrow, and it will be the first time that either Torre or Mattingly will return to Yankee Stadium (new or old) since leaving after the 2007 season. I expect them both to get roaring ovations, especially Donnie Baseball.

The Yanks will be unveiling a monument honoring Steinbrenner in Monument Park, the first new one since 1999.

Steinbrenner stadium tribute set for Sept. 20

The Steinbrenner family announced today that the Yankee organization will unveil a monument in memory of the Boss on September 20 prior to the team’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Long-time owner George Steinbrenner passed away on July 13, just nine days after celebrating his 80th birthday. “We remain profoundly grateful and touched by the many expressions of sympathy and support from so many. We wish to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers, which we continue to hold close. We are especially appreciative that our family’s privacy was respected as we grieved the loss of George,” the family said in a statement.

The Steinbrenner monument will be the first new one in Monument Park since the team unveiled a statue in honor of Joe Dimaggio in 1999. “We know we will always share George’s memory with Yankees fans everywhere,” the Steinbrenner said, “and a monument in his honor to be located in Monument Park will reflect the special connection, appreciation and responsibility that George felt for New York Yankees’ fans everywhere as they were always uppermost in his mind.”

Mailbag: Joba, The Boss, Swisher, Montero

Time for another edition of the RAB Mailbag. Remember, you can email me your questions at any time, but the easiest thing to do is use the Submit A Tip box below The Montero Watch in the sidebar. This week’s topics include the mess known as Joba Chamberlain, the post-George Steinbrenner Yankees, Nick Swisher‘s future in pinstripes, and players I would be willing to acquire in a straight up trade for Jesus Montero. Let’s get to it…

About Joba Chamberlain… I wonder how much of his current troubles with consistency are due to the inconsistencies in his role, shifting from starter to reliever and back, then back again. I can’t remember any pitcher being moved back and forth so many times, aside from spot starters/long relievers of the Ramiro Mendoza mold, but that’s not the same. I personally have always been in the “Joba is a starter” crowd, and I still think he could be a top notch starter as he’s still young, has great stuff, and has been healthy. I think next year he should become a full time starter (yes, even though it’s another change, at least it will be the last), possibly starting in AAA to rebuild his mojo (if necessary), then set him loose on the AL and hope it works. Thoughts? – Howie

The Blue Jays really screwed around (bouncing back-and-forth between the rotation and bullpen) with both Dustin McGowan and Brandon League earlier in their careers, particularly McGowan. He hasn’t thrown a pitch in the big leagues in 742 days because of major reconstructive shoulder surgery, and he recently had another setback. I’m not saying the juggling act led to McGowan’s injury though, not at all. He threw 80.1 more innings in 2007 than he did in 2006, when he was still just 25-year-old. That’s the likely culprit

Anyway, back to Joba. I definitely think the constant changing of roles has impacted him in a negative way. There’s nothing wrong with shifting a player to the bullpen at the end of the season, but going from reliever to starter and having that transition take place in meaningful games is tough. Also, while well-intentioned, the 2009 Joba Rules were horrifyingly stupid. The fact that the Yankees aren’t doing the same thing to Phil Hughes this season is basically an acknowledgment of that stupidity. Joba definitely had a deer in the headlights look towards the end of last season, like he didn’t know if he was coming or going, looking over his shoulder at the bullpen wondering if this was going to be his last batter.

That said, I don’t think Joba is beyond repair. I’ve given up on him being a starter not because I don’t think he can do, just because I don’t expect the Yankees to give him the chance to do it again. If they were going to give him another shot at starting, they should be very straight forward about it and do it in very controlled manner. Start him in the minors, let him stretch out at his own pace, get into a routine, and then call him up once he’s found a groove and has earned it. At times he does appear a little too comfortable, something we never saw out of Phil Hughes because he did the up-and-down thing for a few years. Maybe he needs a little kick in the ass in that regard.

That’s all easier said than done, of course. After this season Joba will have to clear (revocable) waivers to be sent to the minors because he’s been in the bigs for more than three calendar years. If someone were to claim him, the Yanks could pull him back, though he couldn’t go to the minors. If they tried to send him down again, then those waivers are irrevocable and the claiming team would get him. That might throw a wrench in any plan that involves sending him to the minors.

Will George Steinbrenner’s passing have any immediate impact on the Yankees day-to-day operations? – David

This question was sent in after we heard about The Boss’s passing last Tuesday, which is why it seems a little outdated. That’s my fault, not David’s.

As you probably know by now, Steinbrenner’s death will not impact the team’s day-to-day operations in any way. He handed control of the organization over to his sons in 2007, at which point George stepped into the background. Nothing will change, it’ll be business as usual from here on out.

Where can I find 2010 wOBA and FIP for minor leaguers? Fangraphs only has miLB numbers through last season. – Larry

I have absolutely no idea when FanGraphs will update with 2010 minor league info, so they’re out of the question for now. The best place to get wOBA and FIP for minor leaguers is FirstInning.com, a very underrated site. They also have a version of HR/FB% for pitchers, as well as runs created (RC) and RC/27 for batters. MinorLeagueSplits.com has more comprehensive FIP data, broken down by level, by year, career, you name it.

Swisher isn’t just having a lucky season, the peripherals prove that. I believe that he has really enjoyed his time in New York, and has worked his ass off to keep his stay… the Yankees got him for nothing and he is really hitting his ceiling. He is hitting for power and avg, and his fielding is infinitely better than it was when he joined us as a platoon player. Do we see Nick in pinstripes for an extended period of time? – Daniel

I don’t think I’ve ever seen another player be so happy to be a Yankee. Maybe on the inside, but no one has shown it as much as Swisher, and that has everything to do with his personality, of course. He’s put a lot of work in to become the player he is today, losing weight in each of the last two offseasons and working with hitting coach Kevin Long to improve his performance against breaking balls, all of which shows you that he wants to be a better player and remain with the team long-term.

Swish signed a big fat contract with the A’s back during the 2007 season, signing away his three arbitration years and one year of free agency in exchange for $26.75M guaranteed. Can’t say I’d blame him, I’d take the long-term security too. Anyway, Swish will earn just $6.75M this season (FanGraphs says his performance has already been worth $11.6M) and $9M next season. The Yankees could then choose between a $10.25M option for 2012, or a $1M buyout. If Swish finishes in the top five of the MVP voting this year or next, the option jumps up to $12M.

Nick is right in the prime of his career right now, and will turn the big three-oh this November. Usually any decisions on option years are due ten days or so after the end of the World Series, so the Yanks will have figure out what to do with Swish for 2012 a few weeks before his 31st birthday. Assuming they pick up his option, which they unquestionably would if he maintained his currently level of production, Swisher would be able to test the free agent water as a 32-year-old, for all intents and purposes.

That’s when players, particularly power hitters like Swisher, tend to slow down, so the Yankees might not want to fork over a big four or five year contract at that time. Ideally Swish would sign for something like two years at $12M per plus an option for a third year, but the end result will likely be something in the middle. I’m not going to waste any more time talking about something that won’t happen for two years down the road, but for now rest assured, Swish will be in pinstripes* through next season at the very least, and more than likely through the end of 2012.

* Obviously, things can always change. This is all theoretical.

Mike, last year you would always say that there were 50 guys you would trade [Jesus] Montero for straight up. Does that still hold true this year? For the mailbag would you list those 50? Or even just 25. – Joe

Sure, I’ll give you 50 right now. The list is after the jump for space reasons, but I’ll explain my methodology here. It’s pretty simple. I didn’t consider salary or whether or not that player actually fits with the Yankees, because there is a difference between being willing to acquire a player and actually being able to acquire that player. Take David Wright for example. I would trade Montero for him straight up, but the Yanks already have a third baseman, it’s not a realistic fit. Nonetheless, Wright’s on my list.

What I did consider, however, is the number of years of team control a guy has left. I essentially ruled out all the rentals like Cliff Lee. Oh, and Yankee players too. They weren’t eligible for the list.

Again, the list is after the jump. It’s alphabetical, so don’t read anything into the order. Hiss and spit in the comments.

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