Sherman: “Top of the Yankees hierarchy” was behind Ichiro re-signing

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.

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Passan: MLB targeting A-Rod (and Braun) in Biogenesis probe

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.

The Yankees are officially* the Evil Empire

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.

Hal Steinbrenner speaks, and you’re not going to like what he has to say

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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…

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 2013 Hall of Fame Class: [null]

No use for the podium this year. (Photo via WLWT Cincinnati)

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.