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.

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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.

Point/Counterpoint with Rafael Soriano

Point:

Counterpoint:

I’m not trying to pick on Gammons here, more like trying to poke a hole in Scott Boras’ logic. The Yankees reportedly have some interest in bringing Rafael Soriano back on a two-year deal to help their bullpen, but his camp doesn’t need to use Mariano Rivera‘s age to prove their point. We all know Rivera, who is coming off major knee surgery, will open next year at age 43 and is more of a liability now than every before. The Yankees know this as well as anyone, which is why they’re likely looking into other free agent relievers in case Soriano gets his money elsewhere.

And, for the record, Mo was 24 days away from his 40th birthday on the day the Yankees won the 2009 World Series.

Yankees have some interest in Oliver Perez, dark sense of humor

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have some interest in Oliver Perez and have internally discussed bringing him aboard as a cheap sign. It can’t get any cheaper; whatever team signs Perez would only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. Little brother in Flushing is on the hook for basically all of his $12M salary this year.

I always say there’s no harm in a minor league contract/league minimum big league contract, but I understand if it’s tough to see any upside here. Perez, even though he’s still just 29, is done, like done done. He’s been throwing 85 mph nothingballs in camp the last few weeks, and the last time his FIP even approached the league average was 2007. There’s very little to like here; at least Bartolo Colon is showing something this spring. Heyman says that Brian Cashman isn’t terribly enthused by Ollie, and let’s hope his superiors feel the same way.

Yankees discussing left-handed starters, mostly mediocre ones

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have “kicked around” the idea of pursuing a left-handed starter in the wake of Andy Pettitte‘s retirement. On the supposed list of targets: Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, Wake LeBlanc, Clayton Richard, and Gio Gonzalez. My quick analysis is no, no, no, okay, and meh. Joe already looked at Kazmir, but a few of the other guys will be covered over the weekend.

You know who’s a half-decent left-handed starter? Jeff Francis. Too bad he signed with the Royals for half of what the Yankees are playing Pedro Feliciano in 2011. In fairness, Francis did say he chose Kansas City because of the opportunity they provide, but the back of New York’s rotation isn’t exactly tough to crack these days.

Vernon Wells headed to LAnaheim

Update (9:37pm): The Angels aren’t getting any cash in the deal, they’re talking on the full $86M. Unreal.

Update (7:16pm): Ken Rosenthal says it’s Wells for Napoli and former Yankee Juan Rivera. Toronto is paying part of Vernon’s salary, but it’s unclear how much.

Via MLBTR, the Blue Jays have traded Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli. This is not a joke. The Angels really took Wells and the four years and $86M left on his deal for Napoli, who’s still in his arbitration years and has out wOBA‘d Wells .361 to .342 over the last three years. I don’t know what the hell the HaLOLos are doing, but it’s tough not to love the job Alex Anthopoulos has done so far in Toronto.

Given the Angels current state of apparent dismay, I think an Alex Rodriguez for Jered Weaver and Dan Haren offer is in order.