Archive for Horrendously Stupid
As you know, Michael Pineda was ejected from last night’s game because he had pine tar on his neck. This came less than two weeks after television cameras and the internet caught him with a big glob of pine tar on his hand against the same team, the Red Sox. Manager John Farrell did not play dumb this time, instead bringing it to the attention of umpires, who checked Pineda out and ejected him immediately. Farrell had to say something. It would have been irresponsible not to at that point.
Let’s start with the obvious here: it was pretty stupid of Pineda to use a foreign substance so blatantly. Both times, but especially yesterday. He had to answer questions about it last time and it was all over the media. Television, internet, radio, newspapers, everything you could imagine. He knew it was a big deal. Pineda knew everyone knew he was using something last time out and he still tried to get away with it again. Not the smartest move on his part. Here’s what he said after the game:
I dunno, he sounds remorseful to me. Maybe I’m just biased. Pineda said he apologized to his teammates and seems genuinely upset. He seems like a player who thought he was just doing what he could to help his team, really. I thought Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman said all the right things, that it was an embarrassment to the organization and everyone’s fault, not just Pineda’s. And it is. After the first incident two weeks ago, I don’t know how they let him get out of the dugout like that.
Girardi said they spoke to Pineda about using pine tar after the first start against Boston, but apparently they did not convey the message clear enough. That’s on the coaching staff. Pineda made a dumb mistake — note: dumb mistake =/= dumb person, no need make conclusions about his intelligence, we’ve all done embarrassingly stupid stuff — but I don’t see how anyone can blame this on him and him alone. The team failed him to some degree. Everyone said the right things, but at the end of the day, words mean nothing. Pineda is going to be suspended and deservedly so.
Now, about that suspension. The rulebook says pine tar results in an automatic ten-game suspension in the minors, but MLB can hand down whatever penalty they want. They’ll talk it over with the umpires and look at the video and all that. Joel Peralta got eight games for having pine tar on his glove two years ago, and ex-Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly got ten games for the same infraction back in 2005. Because Pineda was so obvious about it and made zero attempt to hide the pine tar (twice!), I bet he gets ten games. Who really knows though. MLB tends to make up arbitrary suspension lengths.
The Yankees have an off-day on Monday, so even if Pineda gets ten games, he would only have to miss one start. If he appeals the suspension, it’ll get delayed until whenever the appeal is heard. Could be weeks. Again, because he was blatantly cheating (twice!), I’m not sure an appeal would do him any good. It would just delay the inevitable. They could get the suspension out of the way now, let David Phelps or whomever make the spot start, and that’ll be the end of it. And heck, it would give Pineda a nice little breather early in the season. The Yankees are going to have to monitor his workload anyway.
As for the pine tar itself, it doesn’t seem to bother players and coaches around the league, so it doesn’t bother me. It’s against the rules but apparently everyone does it, so that makes it okay. That seems to be part of the problem. It’s okay but against the rules at the same time. I don’t care if Pineda uses pine tar to improve his grip going forward but he can’t be so obvious about it. On the glove or the belt or whatever. Of course, now teams will be gunning for him, asking to have him checked even if he isn’t using anything just to throw him off. The Yankees will probably retaliate somewhere down the line by having a
BoSox starter Clay Buchholz checked, but that doesn’t accomplish much.
Do we have to question Pineda’s strong start to the season after this? I guess. I mean, once a player is exposed as a cheater, we have to question his entire existence. That’s how it seems to go. Fair or not (fair), Pineda is going to be second guessed for the rest of the season and likely beyond that. Good start? He was hiding pine tar somewhere. Bad start? Didn’t use pine tar because he was worried about getting caught. The inches fill themselves. The coverage of this over the next few weeks will be insufferable.
Like I said, I don’t care that Pineda was using pine tar and I don’t care if the masses want to invalidate his first three starts. I care that he made a pretty dumb mistake and now a pitcher not as good as him has to take a turn or two in the rotation. Pineda’s return from shoulder surgery and early-season success was one of the most fun and exciting things about the Yankees this year. Now, instead of talking about that, we’re talking about pine tar. Pineda and to a lesser extent the Yankees brought this on themselves, and now they have to deal with the consequences.
The whole “Robinson Cano is lazy because he doesn’t run out ground balls” thing has been beaten into the ground and I really hoped we would never hear about it again once he signed with the Mariners, but apparently that is not the case. Over the weekend, hitting coach Kevin Long declined to take the high road when asked about Robbie’s tendency to jog to first. From John Harper:
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long said here Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
“We all talked to him,’’ Long said. “I’m pretty sure [Derek Jeter] talked to him a number of times. Even if you run at 80%, no one’s going to say anything. But when you jog down the line, even if it doesn’t come into play 98% of the time, it creates a perception.”
“But he just wouldn’t make that choice to run hard all the time. The reasons aren’t going to make sense. He might say his legs didn’t feel good, or he was playing every day and needed to save his energy. To me there was no acceptable answer.’’
Joe Girardi was asked about Long’s comments yesterday and the interview was ended abruptly by the team’s public relations people according to Brendan Kuty, so this is a thing now. Everyone is talking about the hitting coach trashing the former star player when they should be talking about bullpen sessions and batting practice and how great everyone looks. It’s an unnecessary distraction.
Regardless of how true any of this is — we all know Robbie doesn’t run hard to first — Long was wrong to talk about it publicly. Doesn’t matter that Cano is no longer on the team and frankly that only makes it worse in my opinion. This is like the Red Sox talking about Terry Francona’s use of pain medication after he was let go*. Criticizing a former player after he leaves town is the ultimate low blow.
* Joe thinks Dan Duquette’s comments about Roger Clemens entering the “twilight of his career” are a more appropriate comparison. I agree.
On Tuesday, new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon defended his new star and fired back at Long. From Jerry Crasnick:
“Last time I checked, I didn’t know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees,” McClendon told ESPN.com. “That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I’m sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He’s concerned with his team and what they’re doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.
“I’m a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book (“Cage Rat”) proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting.”
The Yankees spent all winter talking about their “family” and the importance of having strong character guys in the clubhouse whenever they signed a new free agent. That shouldn’t stop at the players. Long is a high-profile member of the organization and he threw a former player — a former member of the “family” — under the bus on his way out of town. It was a classless move and everything the Yankees claim not to be. Dan Martin says Long has already reached out to Cano to offer an apology, but at this point the damage has been done. This became something when it should have stayed nothing.
When the Yankees agreed to sign Masahiro Tanaka to his massive seven-year contract, it eliminated any small remaining chance they would stay under the $189M luxury tax threshold this coming season. Their payroll currently sits around $204M and, based on their Opening Day payrolls over the last three years, it appears they have another $10M or so to spend. Once you’re over the threshold, might as well go way over, right? Fill out the rest of the roster as needed.
The Yankees are now considering free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew, which could potentially put another dent in the rival Red Sox’s up-the-middle alignment only weeks after the Yankees signed Boston star center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
There has been a thought the Yankees might be willing to keep spending after landing star Japanese free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. But while there doesn’t seem to be a push for another top starter or reliever, Drew is one free agent the Yankees are at least weighing, according to people familiar with their thinking … Although the Yankees apparently aren’t quite a bottomless pit of cash, a possible run at Drew “depends on the price” according to a person familiar with their thinking.
This makes sense, right? The Yankees have an obvious need for infield help and Drew is substantially better than any other free agent infielder left on the market. Agent Scott Boras has indicated Drew is willing to play somewhere other than his natural shortstop position according to Peter Gammons, which is good because Derek Jeter isn’t going to change positions. I know it, you know it, and the Yankees know it. It ain’t happening.
Now, just a little more than 14 hours after Heyman’s initial report, Buster Olney reported this:
Am told Yankees are still not weighing a run at Stephen Drew. In other words: Status quo.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 24, 2014
Ken Rosenthal backed up Olney’s report, saying “sources say team essentially has reached spending limit” while noting a more likely move is a trade involving players with similar salaries, like Ichiro Suzuki for a reliever (J.J. Putz?).
The whole “sources say team has interest in a player, team then denies report and interest in a player” routine is so very common during the offseason. Both sides, the club and the player (and his agent), want to control information. Agents will float reports about teams being interested in their players even if they aren’t just to drum up some leverage. Teams will deny interest in a player even if they want him because they don’t want other clubs to get involved and potentially drive up the price.
We see this all the time and it’s possible (if not likely) that neither Heyman and Olney (and Rosenthal) is wrong. The Yankees could indeed have interest in Drew and be denying it at the same time. They may want to keep things quiet so the Red Sox stay out of the mix. It’s also possible Boras leaked a fake rumor as a way of creating the appearance of a bidding war in an effort to coax every last dollar out of Boston. This isn’t some kind of crazy conspiracy theory. This stuff happens all winter and especially with rivals like the Yankees and Red Sox.
Teams and agents manipulate the media in an effort to control information and, for the most part, fans eat this stuff up because we love talking about potential roster moves and playing GM. At the same time, all the conflicting reports are just awful. The 24-hour news cycle is really second-by-second, given me updates in real time news cycle nowadays, so every little blurb finds it’s way onto the web and in front of fans. It’s exhausting. It really is.
It makes perfect sense for the Yankees to have interest in Drew following the Tanaka signing. It also makes sense that Boras would try to use them as negotiating leverage against the Red Sox. I don’t know what to believe and this is the aspect part of the offseason.
This is too great. Steve Fishman of NY Mag published some email exchanges between Randy Levine and Alex Rodriguez late last week as part of their big A-Rod feature. Apparently Levine, who is unwilling to fully type out “you” and “are,” frequently emailed Alex after games to offer words of encouragement, stuff like that. Oh, and he also once said Robinson Cano “needs some steroids fast!” He really said that. (Mike Puma says Levine claims it was a “bad joke.”)
The whole MLB/Yankees vs. A-Rod spectacle is pretty much everything I hoped it would be. It’s completely chaotic and both sides look like total buffoons. I can’t believe a team president said his best player “needs some steroids fast!” in an email to another player. That’s hilarious.
Via Ken Belson & David Waldstein: The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan inquired about the availability of Alex Rodriguez through an intermediary over the winter. The Yankees never bothered to follow up because they knew A-Rod needed hip surgery at the time, plus there’s pretty much no chance he would have agreed to the move anyway.
The Hawks are owned by a prominent technology company, which uses the team as an innovative promotional tool despite taking a loss. They lead the league in attendance and won the pennant as recently as 2011. Rodriguez, 37, is currently working his way back from that hip surgery and is expected back around the All-Star break if there are no setbacks. It is so very unlikely he would have agreed to a move to Japan at this point, and besides, New York’s third basemen are hitting .262/.306/.365 (84 OPS+) this year. There’s a spot for him in the lineup.
This isn’t the most surprising thing in the world, but Joel Sherman reports the “top of the Yankees hierarchy” demanded the re-signing of Ichiro Suzuki this past offseason following “a strong Division Series and adoration from the fans.” Who knows what “top of the hierarchy” actually means, but it sure sounds like something above the baseball operations department.
Ichiro, 39, has managed to raise his early-season batting line to .185/.233/.296 following a multi-hit game and a homer against the Indians these last two days. The Yankees gave him a two-year, $13M contract over the winter and it just so happens he has a shot to record his 3,000th MLB hit next September. He’ll have to pick-up the pace to get there though, he’s currently 389 hits away from the milestone. It seemed like a move motivated more by off-field interests (marketing, merchandise, etc.) than on-field production from the start.
Via Jeff Passan: MLB is primarily targeting Alex Rodriguez (and Ryan Braun) for potential discipline as part of their investigation into Anthony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic in South Florida. “There’s no question in my mind they want those two guys,” said one of Passan’s sources.
A-Rod, 37, was linked to Biogenesis and performance-enhancing drugs back in January. MLB’s investigation isn’t gaining much steam, so the league has considered offering other players immunity (!) in exchange for cooperating with their efforts to bring down A-Rod and Braun according to Passan. That would be hilariously hypocritical. Apparently MLB is so concerned with PEDs that they’re willing to let some cheaters go unpunished just so they could beat their chest after bringing down some big names. How exactly would that make the game clean? Baseball would be dirtier than ever.
Via Ashby Jones: A panel of trademark judges ruled earlier this month that the Yankees have rights to the phrase “Evil Empire” when used in connection to baseball. A private company called Evil Enterprises Inc. tired to trademark the phrase “Baseball’s Evil Empire” back in July 2008, but the Yankees fought them and won. Pretty silly.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino first slapped the Evil Empire tag on the Yankees back in 2002 after losing out on free agent right-hander Jose Contreras. Given how that whole turned out, I’m guessing Lucchino isn’t all that upset anymore. The Yankees argued that they are commonly called the Evil Empire and it would create confusion, especially since they’ve embraced the moniker by playing Star Wars music — as the opponent’s lineup is being announced, mind you — at Yankee Stadium. Evil Enterprises Inc. has yet to decide whether to appeal.
* Kinda sorta, anyway.
MLB’s quarterly owners’ meetings are taking place right now, and Ken Davidoff managed to catch up with Hal Steinbrenner for a few minutes today. The team’s owner confirmed they have not had any serious talks about an extension for Robinson Cano (not new information) and acknowledged the club still needs a bat, but that’s not all. There’s more…
Steinbrenner, re: fans angry about team’s direction: “I’m surprised to hear that there’s anger, if you see what we’ve done this offseason.”
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013
Hal: “Is our goal 189 next year? Yes. But only if I’m convinced if the team I see, that we’ve put together, is a championship-caliber team.”
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013
Hal: Getting under $189 mil isn’t just a 1-year goal: “I believe that you don’t have to have a $220-million payroll to win a championship.”
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) January 10, 2013
First thing that comes to mind: lol.
Second thing that comes to mind: The Yankees have a natural edge over the rest of the league because of their market and it’s immense money-making capabilities. Scaling back payroll even for one year is, frankly, a disservice to the fans. Doing it for multiple years is pretty close to a slap in the face. The Yankees aren’t hurting for money. They just built a new stadium and will receive hundreds of millions of dollars from their YES Network deal with News Corp., not to mention all the extra cash they’ll receive from MLB’s new national broadcast agreements. Hal’s dangerously close to saying “I know you know we make all this money, but not only are we not going to reinvest it in the team, we’re going to rub it in your face too.”
Whether they realize it or not — they don’t based on Hal’s comments — the Yankees are losing the PR war right now. The record-low ratings in our Fan Confidence Poll are not an accident. Fans are angry because they’ve done nothing to improve the team this offseason and plan to cut back on spending next winter. We’re not splitting atoms here, it’s pretty obvious why people aren’t happy with the team. If ownership and front office are truly oblivious to that, then things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
Brian Costa has a full recap of Steinbrenner’s quotes, just in case you want to slam your head against the table a little more.
The greatest hitter and the greatest pitcher many of us will ever see were on the ballot, but that didn’t matter. The BBWAA elected a total of zero players to Hall of Fame this year, the first time that’s happened since 1996. Craig Biggio led the voting with 68.2%, but players must receive 75% for enshrinement. Tim Raines (52.2%), Roger Clemens (37.6%), Don Mattingly (13.2%), Bernie Williams (3.3%), Kenny Lofton (3.2%), David Wells (0.9%), Mike Stanton (0%), and Rondell White (0%) represent the crop of former Yankees on the ballot. Players receiving less than 5% of the vote drop off the ballot next year. Full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s official site.
Given the overwhelmingly deep ballot, it’s pretty ridiculous no players will be inducted this year. Beyond Barry Bonds and Clemens you have absolute no-brainers like Mike Piazza (greatest hitting catcher of all-time!), Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell. I count no fewer than 15 players on the ballot who, at the very least, deserve serious consideration for the Hall. My personal and mythical ballot, seen on Twitter and included in this YES Network feature, was ten players deep. It would have been a dozen had the ballots not been capped at ten. Never really got that rule.
More than anything, this year’s lack of inductees confirms the voting has become more about the writers than the players. The Hall of Fame is a museum and an archive of the game first and foremost. We can’t exclude the parts people don’t like just because. There’s zero evidence (zero!) guys like Bonds, Clemens, and Piazza used PEDs. No failed drug tests, nothing. Suspicion does not equal guilt, yet the ballot this year shows the BBWAA is treating these players as guilty until proven innocent. How someone would go about proving they didn’t use something, a PED or otherwise, is beyond me. Nevermind that the burden of proof falls on those making the accusations.
Anyway, the already overcrowded ballot will get even more crowded next winter when players like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and former Yankee Mike Mussina will be Hall of Fame eligible for the first time. If they don’t change the rule and allow writers to vote for more than ten players in a given year, the voting process is going to be a cluttered nightmare in the coming years. For now, we get an empty 2013 class and a nine-month reprieve until the next ballot is announced and the same inane arguments begin again.