Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'07 Yanks/Sox Matchups: Catcher

Part One of our position by position matchup series here at HYD Baseball. No matter if you agree or disagree with what we have to say, let us here all about it in the comments section. After all this blog is not about what we have to say, its about your comments and the dialouge that stems from what we say. Lets get to it.

Pat F: Last year at age 34 Jason Varitek regressed, both offensively and defensively. He played in only 103 games, 30 fewer than in '05 and his lowest since '01. Knee issues played a major part in all of this, especially his loss of agility behind the plate and inability to play D the way he used to. At age 35 Jorge Posada, who dropped 10 pounds before the sesaon in a rejuvination effort, improved in almost every offensive category across the board and had the best defensive year of his career. He played in 143 games, his highest total since '00, even though he hasn't dipped below 137 games since '99. His 93 RBI were first among major league catchers, and he was in the top 3 amongst all catchers in homers, OBP, walks, SLG, and OPS. He was also top 10 in every other offensive statistic, where as Varitek was in the bottom half of catchers in the majority. Simply put, the two catchers were on different planets in '06, with Posada the far superior player.

You cannot predict one season simply by looking at the previous one. But the fact that Posada not only got better at age 35, a rarity amongst catchers, but put up numbers similar to '03 when he finished 3rd in AL MVP voting is beyond impressive. Varitek having a substantial, but not uncommon drop-off at age 34 is telling. Next to Rivera, Posada is the Yankees most irreplacable player and has proven himself to consistently be a top 3 catcher in the game. The same cannot be said for Varitek, not even close based on '06.

EDGE: YANKEES

DV: The Sox and the Yankees have very similar situations in the 2 position. They both have aging catchers who are past their primes. Common sense would dictate that at age 36, Posada would be a little further over the hill than Varitek, but, as Pat said, last year would not support that theory.

With each catcher's extensive major league experience, both have terrific awareness of the game going on and, as PF would say, "plus" ability to call a game for the pitchers. Sometimes I question Varitek's calls, as many disastrous Beckett games come to mind. Who knows whether that's the fault of a crummy game called by a catcher or a crummy game pitched by a stubborn pitcher. We don't really know about this, and I have no right to speculate.

Offensively, Varitek's production really took a turn for the worse in 2006. Big time. .238/12/55: Woof. From 2004, he has gone from a guy who gets an occasional big hit to a guy who is decent but by no means any better than average to an offensive liability. When JV was due up last year, the other JV (my father) got pissed off because the Red Sox only had two outs to work with that inning.

Massarotti, MacMullan, and Ian Browne can write all they want, heralding a Varitek Renaissance, but statistically (we've seen it on SportsCenter several times--maybe during each of Mike Piazza's last three birthdays), it looks unlikely for a 35-year-old catcher to become anything more than just average. (Posada, as Pat pointed out, was an exception.)

Yes, Varitek has had injuries, but they ain't going away as he gets older. Boston knew what they were going into when Scott Boras held a gun to their head after 2004 and they gave Varitek a 4-year, $40 million offer. They accepted because of the intangibles he brings to the team.

(On a side note, C stands for intangibles. I was surprised about Varitek wearing the stupid C on his jersey. I thought he was a guy about shutting the hell up and doing his job, but I was wrong: He was about fronting.)

Posada's not getting any better, but neither is Varitek. Unfortunately, the Captain (did you know he was named captain after the 2004 season? Did you hear that?) is a bit further past the crap-out point than Posada, and all Sox fans can hope for is that he hits and throws out runners slightly better than Dougie. I'm counting down to the George Kottaras era, unless they trade him for a below-average relief pitcher.

I apologize that my half was way longer than Pat's.

EDGE: YANKEES.

"I can't find a place to park my car."

It's not just NoMaas.org anymore. Everyone in the Boston papers is realizing that Curt Schilling is driving his Ford truck to Dunkin' Donuts way too often nowadays. As an English major, I have learned to look for patterns in what I read, and Schilling's wait problem (i.e. his inability to wait for dinner) is a pattern in what I've been reading. In the last few days, I have read headlines about #38 labeled "Fat Chance" in the Herald and "Case of Weight And See" in today's Globe. Furthermore, Schilling has had to answer questions about his weight in a Herald article from yesterday.

After all, it's an issue, as the Globe article points out. Looking like Boomer or Guapo can't be a good thing at the age of 40. As NoMaas said last week, this guy wants a $13 million extension?

I understand the guy did a lot of stuff with his online gaming business during the off-season. But it looks like he's been drinking too much Mountain Dew Code Red while playing Everquest II. He may have forgotten that his day job is staying in shape so he can, in fact win 20 games. He says he's in good shape. He says he weighs under 250.

Yeah, in his bra.

In other news, I just read Manny wants to retire in a Red Sox uniform. Good for him; I'm still sick of the storyline.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sophomore Slump: Interesting Team #4

The #4 most interesting team this season, at least in my eyes, would be the Florida Marlins. There have been articles written about the possibility of a sophomore slump by second baseman Dan Uggla. It should be interesting if this late-20's Rule 5 Draft guy is cut out to be a #2 hitter in the major leagues. There have been articles, like the ESPN Marlins preview (subscription only) that have said the Marlins are in danger of a team-wide sophomore slump. I bet those guys are sick of that word down in spring training by now.

It should be interesting to see how this team plays this year after their semi-Cinderella season last year that had them only six games under .500, when they were expected to lose 100+. They have lots of question marks, as do most MLB teams, I will admit, but could you imagine what it would be like if...

-Uggla scored 100 and drove in 100 like he wants to?
-Hanley Ramirez continued to tear everyone up to the point that I commit suicide?
-Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hermida overcome their injuries?
-Dontrelle Willis finally gets it together? The guy has been pretty good, and is obviously a charismatic character. Doesn't change the fact that he's about as consistent as Brian Daubach. The DUI/taking a leak on the side of a building at 3:30 AM two weeks after he gets married incident makes this storyline just that much more interesting.

According to the Boston Globe article I have hanging up on my wall ("Marlins' Ramirez top rookie"--right next to "Sanchez no-hits D'backs"), Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and starter Josh Johnson were all in the top four in NL Rookie of the Year voting. The ESPN article says that no starters on this team are older than 29. That's pretty sick. It's a pretty safe bet to say that a lot of these guys will be solid down the line, but are they good enough this year?

Can't count them out. After all, Miguel Cabrera's on the team.

The Marlins are also intriguing because of the managerial situation. Joe Girardi helped this team to their Cinderella finish in 2006, and for his NL Manager of the Year performance, he got fired because he didn't get along with the upper management. Sweet deal. They hired another first-year skipper, Fredi Gonzalez, and after watching the last few years of Red Sox baseball, I know never to trust any baseball guy whose first name ends in the letter I and last name is Gonzalez.

This team could win a hundred games, or it could lose a hundred games. If this were happening in Boston or New York, the entire country would know about it. But all the Marlins fans (I think How Youz Doin Baseball has a wider fan base) are going to have a very interesting team on their hands this year.

Plus, if Willis starts to suck this year, look for the Red Sox to trade half of their farm system for him. Trading prospects to Florida has worked out so well for Boston lately.

Yeah great idea...let's trade Melky

Thank you Cash Money for not trading Melky Cabrera to the Pirates or Braves or any of the other teams who tried to pry him away this off-season. As DV already posted below, a Yankee star outfielder, as has been par for the course for the last 12 months, is out with an injury. So now, as has been par for the course for the last 12 months, its Melky time. Abreu's oblique strain shouldn't be the end of the world, and he should be ready in plenty of time for opening day. But if he isn't the Yankees have Melky, and this this situation already proves his incredible value to the team.

So many Yankees fans were pro trading Melky for lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez, who converted 24 of 24 save chances last year in all those pressure packed games in Pittsburgh last summer. Yeah, I mean the guy is obviously good, and I would love to have him, but not at the expense of an improving and exciting 22 year old that brings something the Yankees don't have in excess: versatility. And if Gonzalez is that good, why was Pittsburgh so ready to give him away? Because they obviously thought Melky had more overall value to their organization. Very telling. Point is, don't take Melky for granted just because he is primarily a corner outfielder and doesn't project as having 30 homer power. Who cares. There are a lot of other things that go into being a baseball player, and Melky does most of them.

In other Yankee news, Peter Abraham reports over at his essential LoHud Yankees blog (I still can't link, but Pete Abraham's blog is listed under "favorite sites" on the right side of this page, and if you are a Yankees fan or have any remote interest in them at all you should be visiting Pete's site multiple times daily. He is a beat reporter who loves what he does and REALLY gives you the inside info on what is going on day in and day out with this team) what the lineups will be for today's intra-squad scrimmage at Legends field. It's basically the Yankees starters vs. their backups and top minor leaguers. The coaches are Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson, which is probably pretty fun for everyone. Anyway, the important thing for me here is that in Abreu's absence Matsui is batting third over Giambi. There could be a lot of reasons for this, and I could be reading to much into things like I always do. But one of my big predictions for the season is that Matsui is going to go absolutely bananas because he is a guy of such honor and commitment, and feels bad for missing so much of last season (even though it isn't his fault, obviously) and is going to try to make up for it. His batting third in the order over Giambi or even Cano, who both had monster years last year, could be an early indication of how he is swinging the bat.

Dougie's Going Deep Tonight (vs. Matsuzaka)!

First indication about whether Pat's boy Matsuzaka is going to be a top-of-the-line major league starter. He faced some live hitters, who were then interviewed by the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman.

The man and the internet legend of sub-.200 hitter Doug Mirabelli are blending together, as Dougie said "he doesn't have a pitch to get me out with." If you're going to ever hit a link from this blog, hit this one.

Wily Mo Pena and Alex Ochoa have better things to say, as Pena described Matsuzaka's stuff as "sneaky," "quick," and "nasty," with a "perfect changeup." Of course, this is just Matsuzaka's own boys. It's a good preliminary outlook, though, and a reason to at least be a little bit optimistic that Boston might not finish third in the AL East this year.

Good news for my boy Melky, as Abreu has apparently gone down with a pretty sizeable oblique injury. I'm not sure what this exactly means for the Yankees, because there's no way Melky Cabrera's going to take Abreu's job permanently. But at least he gets some playing time.

I'm sick of the A-Rod drama and the Manny drama. My boy Jeff counted four times in today's Globe where Manny was quoted as saying "can you give me some space please." But I guess this happens almost everywhere. Down in the ATL, Andruw Jones is saying he's walking after the season. The top stories around baseball today include Nomar's optimism and Bagwell showing up.

For the record, Bagwell is like Simmons from the movie Liar Liar: He's old and should have been out of the game years ago. Maybe he can't stay home because he hates his wife.

Look for my #4 most interesting team this afternoon. I don't have class, which means I have a little too much time on my hands. I also wrote my AIM profile today about Coco Crisp's unfortunate plight. I'll post it here when I change my profile to something else.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Red Sox Top Prospects

Theo Epstein has taken a lot of heat from fans, the local media, and the national media for trading prospects with the talent Ramirez, Sanchez, and Marte. And he deserves it. What isn't nearly as publicized is the work Theo and the Sox front office have with the farm despite these losses, especially in the last two drafts. So while Sox fans have a legitimate reason to complain about what could have been (an infield of Marte, Ramirez, Pedroia, and Youkilis for the next 10 years), there is still reason to be excited about the future (if Theo doesn't package three of them for a Butterfinger with blister issues).

Baseball America ranks the Sox top 10 prospects as follows: 1)RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka 2)OF Jacoby Ellsbury 3)RHP Clay Buchholz 4)RHP Michael Bowden 5)RHP Daniel Bard 6)1B Lars Anderson 7)SS/2B Dustin Pedroia 8)RHP Bryce Cox 9)RHP Craig Hansen 10)LHP Kris Johnson.

Matsuzaka doesn't count, because even though he has prospect status he is a ready made 26 year old top of the rotation guy. So the impressive thing here is that besides Matsuzaka, the rest of the top 10 was drafted in '05 or '06, with the exception of Pedroia, who was drafted in '04. Thats commitment to amateur scouting and the draft.

A look at the guys who could have the most immediate impact:

Jacoby Ellsbury: The Sox best prospect, hands down. You look at the minor league numbers he has put up in his first two years, the things scouts say about him, and the fact that he is only 23 and you wonder why J.D. Drew is going to be in Boston for the next five years. Has a line drive swing and a great eye that have produced career .306 avg/.391 obp in the minors. Add the fact that he is as fast as they come and you have an ideal leadoff hitter. In everybody's top 50 prospects in baseball.

Clay Buchholz: Any time you have a pitcher with a fastball that has topped out as high as 97 and its considered his fourth best pitch by many scouts, there is probably something there. Has a change, a 12-6 curve, and a slider. All are said to be filthy, and he could project as a #1 stareter. A fringe top 50 guy, he is the Red Sox best pitching prospect.

Michael Bowden: Doesn't have the fastball that Buchholz has, but has more pitchability. Tremendous command makes his 90-92 mph fastball more dangerous. Has a plus curve, his best pitch. His change is still developing, but it is there. Has the potential to be a front of the rotation starter, but not a #1.

Daniel Bard: Just hearing his name and seeing him in the Red Sox top 5 prospects stings, as I'm sure it does many Yankees fan. The talented righty out of UNC, and the Sox top pick in the first round of the '06 draft, was originally drafted out of high school by the Yanks in the 20th round of the '03 draft. They couldn't/didn't get him signed and he became a Tar Heel, where he promptly proceeded to light the world on fire with his 100 mph fastball. In the words of DV, ouch babe. Has a slider and a change in his repertoire as well, but lets be honest here...the kid flat out throws gas, and on that alone he projects as a bigtime late inning reliever. If the secondary pitches do develop, front end starter potential is there.

Pedroia and Hansen are practically major leaguers, so no need for a big rundown on them right now. They will get some play in the head to head match up stuff between the Yanks and Sox starting later on this week.

Rosenthal: The End of an Era?

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote an intriguing article on Friday about Pat's boys in New York. He writes that 2007 could be the end of an era for the Yankees, with the departure of Bernie Williams and the uncertain futures of guys like Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and possibly also A-Rod, Abreu, and Mussina.

Now, as I've written before, I'm a big sucker for nostalgia, but this "end of an era" is not by any means the end of success for the bad guys, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure Pat and his fellow Yankee fans will be sad to say goodbye to the heroes of the late '90s. But that's what happens. Baseball players get old. And when they get old, sometimes you gotta jettison them. Why try to re-live the past at the expense of the present? As Mo said himself, it's a business.

The Yankees have a lot to look forward to, even if these guys don't come back. As Rosenthal wrote, they could be going after Andruw Jones. They have a very impressive crew of minor leaguers (headlined by Kevin Thompson and Phil Hughes), who could either pan out very well for themselves or be used as trade bait for other role players. They have Andy Phillips, Melky Cabrera, and (possibly most importantly) Robinson Cano, and all three of those guys are young too.

Some Yankee fans will be upset that the Yankees from the glory days are on their way out. But as far as I'm concerned, the new glory days are just starting with Cash-Money. And while my team trades prospects and signs overpriced free agents, the Yankees are the ones who building the foundation for another dynasty.

And let me take this opportunity, as a lot of this blog's readers are basketball players, to thank all you guys. For those readers who are not on Colby Basketball, the guys fell in the semifinals to Amherst, who was ranked third in the nation. Congratulations to all the seniors who have just played their last game. Though I admit I'm no "superfan" like the Tank, it's been a pleasure to either watch or read about you guys all season and each season for the past four years.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Red Sox Prospect Stuff Coming Soon

I've posted a few different times already about Yankees prospects, and after yesterday's Phil Hughes post a couple of people have asked about Sox top prospects like Clay Buchholz etc.

I don't know nearly as much about any other farm system as I do about the Yankees', but I have a decent handle on the Red Sox and the Mets, at least at the top. So I'll get something up here soon about the Sox top 10 (according to the ever terrific Baseball America), and who I think the key guys from that list will be.

It's a great time for both the Yanks and the Sox in terms of their overall organizational strength, especially considering the shallows both of them resided in recently. Rampant FA spending cost both clubs valuable draft picks in recent years and this hurt their minor league depth immensly. Now, for 2007, Baseball America ranks the Yankees farm system at #7, up from #17 in '06, #24 in '05, #27 in '04, and #17 in '03 before the last time they were strong, at #5 in '02. Baseball America has the Sox as the #9 best farm in baseball in 2007. Although that is down one spot from their #8 ranking in '06, both of these are way up from #21 in '05, #23 in '04, #27 in '03, and #28 in '02. And people talked about the Yankees farm as being depleted.

Anyway, both farms are back, Sox prospect stuff soon.

Finally some common sense!

I survived the week of academic work, but in a few hours I am boarding a van to take me to the Open New England 5000 meter race in Boston. I have lots of things to say, especially as a result of the fervent discussion on Pat's Philip Hughes post.

Let me just say that I am in the process of putting together a longer post on "prospect theory," which addresses the gambles of prospects, the gamble of free agents, and the likelihood that these guys aren't going to pan out to be the prodigies that guys like me and Pat hype them up to be. Once written, I'm planning on referring to that specific article very often.

Meanwhile, I applaud my boys the Red Sox for not caving in to Curt Schilling's demands for a contact extension before the season. "Curt's going to be 41 and at that age we get a little more conservative," GM Theo Epstein said, according to Friday's Globe. As he should be.

We got these older guys, including Schilling, Rivera last week, and Pedro Martinez in 2004, who want their teams to essentially take a huge risk. (Not to mention that there are concerns about Schilling's conditioning.) Economically, it makes sense for the players to do this, because they know full well that they might crap out at some point during the season. If this happens, they might make somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million or less next year via the free agent market. So why not try to hold a gun to the teams' heads so they can get somewhere in the vicinity of $10-15 million per year. If they crap out, they still get that money (ask Kevin Brown about it). And they will never--NEVER--get that money for the rest of their career if they crap out and then subsequently become a free agent.

(This is a good opportunity for me to applaud myself for using the term "crap out" in such an academic way.)

It makes more sense for the teams to do exactly what they've done, and not taken the bait. If they give in to what some call "predatory negotiation," they get themselves into a whole bunch of trouble. Let's say, in the case of Schilling, they give him the $13 million he asks for. If he becomes ineffective halfway through 2007, there's pretty much a corpse in the middle of the pitching staff. You can't bench the guy--he's making $13 million. And throughout 2008, despite the fact that he might suck, he's still gonna be on the team, and he's still gonna be eating $13 million from your payroll. Ouch, babe!

And at this point, his retention of that roster spot is detrimental, because it could instead be filled by someone who can flat-out do a better job than post-crapout Schilling would do. This is the big problem I had with the Red Sox' Renteria signing in 2004-5 and the Coco Crisp trade in 2005-6--something I will address in a future post.

By the way, I do acknowledge the fact that Schilling and Rivera might not crap out this year. When they file for free agency, they will ultimately get that money, whether from their original teams or from someone else. Schilling's $13 million sounds like a bargain in a market where Gil Meche is getting $11 per. And if Boston misses out on that, it sucks. I guess I'm just risk-averse and I'm way too scared about Schilling being "locked up" for two years and guaranteeing nothing more than a 4.70 ERA out of one of our starters.

Lastly, as Pat had pointed out when we were talking about Mariano, giving into guys like Schilling would set a terrible precedent. Jason Varitek has two years left on his contract, and all indications (except for two articles this week) say he's in for an unimpressive .250 season. In 2007-2008, he will know his free agent value has plummeted, so he will do the same thing Schilling is doing. If Boston gave in to Schilling, it sets a precedent, and the Sox would just look much worse--to players, to the media, and to fans--if Schilling is treated in a better regard than Varitek.

That would be a nightmare. It would mean I'd have to listen to another three straight weeks of the "Jason Varitek Is So Intangible Telethon" on WEEI.

Once again, coming soon will be my post on Prospect Theory, so thanks for reading and stay tuned.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Prince Philip Hughes

It is not really that important or exciting, but Phil Hughes and Humberto Sanchez, the Yankees top two pitching prospects, are throwing live BP today along with the five projected rotation guys. All it really means is that they are the two most talented and ready guys in the minors, and both will see the Bronx at some point this year. But everyone knew that already. Really I'll just look for any excuse to talk about the two of them.

The first 200 minor league innings that a pitcher throws are considered a big marker/indicator for any pitching prospect. In just over that workload Prince Philip has compiled stats that look like this: 237 IP, 269 SO, 54 BB, 150 hits allowed, 6 HRs allowed, .181 BA against, and a 2.12 ERA. That is allowing under a baserunner per inning, a home run every 39.5 innnings, and an earned run every 4.1 innings. I could keep writing these numbers in a new post every day over and over again and never get tired of it.

Sanchez isn't this, but nobody is. Amongst prospects that are in this universe, Sanchez is still elite. He is a big (6'6", 230) power righty who was good enough to start the Futures game last year. He jacks it up to 97 on the radar and from what I saw in the Futures game and from what I read in the scouting reports, has the breaking stuff to go with it.

I love prospects.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

HUGE day for the Nashua Pride

For those of you who don't know me, I worked as an intern for the Can-Am League's Nashua Pride in the summer of 2006. And around 9:15 this morning, I called them and accepted their offer to return as an intern for the coming summer. In my opinion, they should send out a press release talking about their big signing of Dan "The GM" Vassallo. But apparently they had slightly bigger fish to fry, signing Rich "El Guapo" Garces.

Any Red Sox fan who doesn't have a pink hat (i.e. was a fan before October 2003) knows that Guapo is a big deal around Boston. Big day for the Pride, big day for DV. Look for some longer posts from me after I'm done with two problem sets, reading a book, writing an essay, and running a 5,000-meter race at BU.

Matsuzaka (and a little Manny)

That right below is DV in a nutshell. When he goes he goes, and usually he is ripping the Sox. You should have seen him the night Anibel Sanchez threw the no-no for Florida. Don't let his negativity fool you though, he eats, drinks, and sleeps Red Sox even with a guy named Beckett on the roster. DV is a busy guy for the next few weeks, so I'll try to hold down the Sox news until he's not a busy guy.

On that note, DV is tired of hearing about Matsuzaka. Understandable. I am not. I first heard about him last year at this time, right around the World Baseball Classic, of which he was the MVP. I knew it was likely he was going to get posted after this season. I semi-followed his season in Japan. When it became clear he was going to be posted I was totally told on his ability and wanted him on the Yankees in the worst way.

Obviously, didn't happen. Fine. Still think the dude is a bigtime talent, and am very interested in watching his season progress (as long as the Yanks light him up Josh Beckett circa mid-August style).

But really, there is nothing I love more than watching quality pitchers go to work, and I don't think the game has ever seen someone of his caliber, at his age, with his experience, and with his hype come and pitch in the majors on a stage like Boston. Most scouts have him with 6-7 plus pitches, and others have him as high as nine (4-seam, 2-seam, curve, slider, change, forkball...at least). He locates. He attacks hitters in all counts with all of his pitches. He strikes guys out with regularity and doesn't walk anyone (200:34 in '06).

The list goes on. It appears that all of the tools for success in the U.S are there, it is just a matter of how much. And people have to be realistic. He did lose 18 games combined his last two seasons in Japan. That's nine losses per season against Japanese hitters. He isn't going to go 1999 Pedro right off the bat, like some people might like to think. There is going to be an adjustment. In the end I think his ceiling is Johan Santana, his basement is Jose Contreras, and I'd say realistically he will eventually slide into place with Wang, Verlander, Kazmir, and the other elite young pitchers in the AL. I'll give my predictions for his season when we break down the Yanks and Sox position by position.

Then there is Manny not reporting on time. Does anybody care? Does it matter? Should the Sox call him and tell him to just come on opening day? They should, because it is just as well. He is a top 5 hitter in baseball every year, and is the closest thing there is to a guaranteed .300/40/120 there is in baseball. He only played 130 games last year and he still put up .321/35/102. And he doesn't even really start hitting until he feels like it sometime in late May/early June. You could wake him up at 6 A.M. after a long night out and he'd park the first pitch you showed him over the wall in right center, clap twice, walk to first, jog home, point to Papi and call it a day. The guy doesn't need spring training, so he isn't coming on time. Deal with it.

So much drama in the LBC

I apologize to PF and the couple dozen readers we have on this blog nowadays. I've been trying to get my life back together the past few days, and I feel like I'm getting there. I am getting so behind on my blogging though, and I feel like I can't do things justice without the proper time. But here goes nothing:

>Great post by PF about A-Rod. Obviously living where I am and reading primarily the Boston and New York papers, the first few days of spring training are starting to become almost unbearable. As my boy Snoop once said, so much drama in the LBC. The reporters are doing a good job trying to make stories out of absolutely nothing. A-Rod and Jeter not being best friends anymore is front-page material, despite the fact that it's relatively unimportand and something that has been well known for a long time. Bernie Williams is on the front page of ESPN, despite the fact that he should probably not be a major league baseball player anymore. Meanwhile, all we're reading about in Boston is about what Julian Tavarez is saying about Manny Ramirez not showing up to camp on time. I will admit I laughed when Tavarez said Manny's mom's surgery had nothing to do with his impending lateness, claiming it's a result of "Manny being Manny." Sure, I guess it's noteworthy, but I'm bored.

>In related news, I have completely stopped reading Matsuzaka articles. We're not too far away from headlines screaming "Matsuzaka blows nose in dugout." Extra, extra.

>This weekend, I got beaten in a race by a guy who I have criticized as a guy who ran one out-of-his-mind, ridiculous race in his entire life, and the race happened to be a major championship. I had to eat my words this weekend. So, in honor of this occasion, I will refrain from bashing Josh Beckett, a guy who pitched one out-of-his-mind, ridiculous game in his entire life, but it happened to be Game 6 of the 2003 World Series. I hereby institute a moratorium for ripping #19. This moratorium will last...one day.

>The Boston Globe reports that Julio Lugo feels "bananas" about being a member of my Red Sox. I think the real people who are "bananas" (and by "bananas" I mean crazy) are the people who felt it was a good idea to give four year and $36 million to a guy who not only hit .219 in the last two months of 2006, but has only twice in his career exceeded the league average for on-base percentage. Not to mention that the alleged "pop" in his bat has only produced a career high of 15 home runs, and even before his 2006 season imploded, only had 27 RBIs. (To the haters who will bash me in the comments: I understand that he's a leadoff hitter, and I understand those 27 were with Tampa Bay, but still!) The Globe article compared Lugo's attitude to Orlando Cabrera's attitude when he joined Boston in August 2004.

I will admit that I was a HUGE Cabrera hater initially, because I'm never a big fan of trading Nomar Garciaparra for two guys who were hitting .246 that season in Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. But I came around. So in that respect, I will allow myself to at least give Lugo a shot. Despite the fact that .246 is much higher than .219.

And before I'm done talking about this, and I will discuss it more later, the Red Sox could have had Cabrera for 4 years and $32 million after the 2004 season, but they didn't want him because they had this young shortstop coming up in the farm system and would be ready in less than four years. His name: Hanley Ramirez*. But then they sign Edgar Renteria for...4 years and $40 million! The guy had similar stats to Cabrera's and the move was a total 180 on the whole Hanley Ramirez issue. Why? Why? Why? This is what I've been asking myself nonstop since that great night in October 2004.

Now they have another guy similar to Cabrera, except with much inferior defensive (and, judging by the way OC produced in Boston, inferior offensie) prowess. I wish they had stayed consistent a few years ago, and either signed Cabrera or waited for Hanley Ramirez. This team has absolutely no patience, and it constantly seems they run around like chickens with their heads cut off. This is just a preview about how I feel about my home town team right now.

>JD "Nancy" Drew reports today. I am thrilled to see Trot Nixon's expensive replacement wear Trot Nixon's number and play Trot Nixon's position while putting up career stats that look a lot like Trot Nixon's career stats. (Please refer to my comment about Renteria versus Cabrera two paragraphs ago.) He is making 367% more than Trot Nixon is in guaranteed money this year. His contribution to winning will not be 367% more than Trot Nixon's. Much, much, MUCH more about this later and throughout the season.

>Dan Shaughnessy ripped "fan-boy bloggers" in his column on Sunday. I'm a former Shaughnessy fan who jumped off the bandwagon once the Sox won the World Series and he started writing poems instead of writing worthwhile columns. I find it hard for him to call anyone a "fan-boy." Isn't that what he is?

*Hanley Ramirez was the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year, after Boston traded him to Florida for Mike Lowell and...I hate one-day moratoriums.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A-Rod being A-Rod? Thank you!

Alex Rodriguez reported to Legends Field today and met with the media for about 10 minutes. Thanks to the essential LoHud blog by Pete Abraham of the Journal News at http://yankees.lohudblogs.com/ (I can't link yet due to an annoying technical difficulty, so bear with me), I was able to listen to the whole thing. You should check it out too because...

What happened in that interview is something we haven't seen to date: A-Rod being A-Rod. He didn't wiggle. He didn't skirt. He didn't try to be perfect with everything he said. He was honest. He was candid. He cursed twice. He made the whole group of reporters break into laughter because he was so blunt with one reporte. This shocked everyone it sounded like. The reporters themselves seemed to be relieved/excited that he was giving them something real.

He talked about his relationship with Jeter, and admitted that they were once best friends and no longer are. However, he said it is better than everyone thinks in that they have a great working relationship, truly do pull for each other, and the only thing they really care about is winning. And he said you don't have to go to dinner with everyone on your team (Jeter) four nights a week to do so. Well that was easy! Where was that four years ago? I mean goodness. Everyone knew there was at least some tension. Now we know how much, and don't have to read into every move the two of them make to decide for ourselves. Honestly, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

He talked about his opt-out, and once again was incredibly up-front. He admitted to being embarrassed by having to bat 8th in a playoff game (A-Rod admitting embarrassment? Noooooo). But he followed that up with the fact that he needed to look himself in the mirror, and think about what he did to get himself there. 3-29 with NO RBI in the last two postseasons will in fact do that to a person. But at least he knows its on him.

Like many Yankees fans, I watch 162 games a year, watch and listen to all the postgames, read all the articles and blogs the next day. You read or hear every important quote 10 times a day, and when A-Rod said it, you can bump it up to 50. This is the first time since he came to New York that I have seen him speak so honestly and with a semi-arrogant swagger that exuded confidence, and this is the important thing.

I have never questioned A-Rod as a player or person, as many people have. My only beef was that it never seemed like he was acting like himself, and that this hindered him on and off the field. If he continues to act like this, it will be a huge weight off his back and allow him to be what he is (especially in the playoffs and pressure situations): the most naturally gifted player on the planet. It will also lead to me breaking less things during games April-OCTOBER.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's that time

Pitchers and catchers have already worked out multiple times. Position players report today and the first workout is Tuesday. Spring Training is officially underway, and that means that every day for the next eight months will see baseball. That fires me right up.

In addition to our usual updates on the Yanks/Sox, which will include a lot of roster/prospect stuff during spring training, DV and I are going to break the Sox and Yanks down, position by position, and give and edge to one team or the other. It will be very much like a playoff preview. We'll try to get a position a day in. Every baseball fan (particularly when its the Yanks and Sox) loves "who would you rather have" arguments, so we want your opinions too. Even The Big Ticket's latest analysis on why the Mets are a 137 win team this year.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Right back at ya with some Mo!

Welcome to the first disagreement at How Youz Doin Baseball. Excellent. This is the objective. Yanks and Sox fans are not suppossed to agree. Thanks for everyone's comments so far, and keep 'em coming, we love the debate.

In this particular situation however, there is no debate. The Mariano Rivera contract situation does not exist. It is a media creation. Has Mo commented? Yes. And so has Cashman, Torre, Jeter, Posada, and every other person who the media hounds about this because they need a story. So no, the media, as DV pointed out, are not putting things in Mariano's, or anybodys, mouth. But they are twisting the words, and leaving out key facts. Mariano has said he wants to be respected, that he wants a new contract, and that he would like it to be with the Yankees. Mo would also like this extension to happen before the season starts, because he will not negotiate during the season. Despite the fact that he is the greatest closer of all time, he is 37, and the Yankees do not handle contract extensions before the season.

So, the MEDIA has twisted this into if Mo is not signed before the season then his tenure with the Yankees is over because he will be an FA after the season, which sounds demand-ish on Mo's part. This is where his "every team will have an equal chance" quote comes in, which also sounds popping-offish. However, what the media leaves out is that Mo doesn't become a FA until mid November. So even though the Yankees won't negotiate now (there business decision, and a longstanding and good one) and Mo won't negotiate during the season (his business/personal decesion, and a very respectable one since he wants to focus on the season at hand) that still leaves 3-4 weeks after the World Series where Mo is under contract and negotiations can occur. The media also fails to mention that during the last two years it is during that time the Yanks have signed Matsui and Mussina to extensions. Most importantly, the media leaves out that never has Mo put a deadline on his contract extension, not April, not the end of the World Series. He has simply said that if his contract with the Yankees is up (mid November, not April), he will become an FA, and the Yankees will have no advantage. Uhhhhh, no kidding. As avid Boston fan Tim Concannon said today, "What is the greatest closer of all time suppossed to do, sit around and twiddle his thumbs and wait for the Yankees to call after the Yanks decide they don't want him?" And that is all Mo was saying, in a very respectful and matter of fact (literally, stating the facts) way. If the Yanks don't want him and don't sign him before his contract is up (IN NOVEMBER, NOT APRIL), he becomes an FA and then its every team for themself. What could be more true, more fair, or more logical?

But barring an injury ridden season, the Yankees do want him, and he wants the Yanekes, and everybody has said as much. They will sign him pre-November 15 to two years and $25-26 mil. The media is creating this, twisting the actuality of the situation, using answers to questions they ask to create a story. And it is not coincidental that baseball contract issues are backpage news every year at this time, particularly with the Yankees, when there is nothing but mid-season NBA games and college hoops games on. Not exactly the pinnacle of the year sports wise. This is not a Mo thing. This is not a Yankee thing. This is a media thing. They ask the questions. They twist the answers. They twist the facts. They write a story. Mo will close for the Yankees in the new stadium, case closed.

A bit more on Mo

I gotta disagree with my boy PF's comments on yesterday's "Big Day in Baseball" post. A lot of these comments here have been questioning my claim that Mariano has been "popping off at the mouth" or whatever I originally wrote. It's the media making a big deal of it, you all say.

I would agree with him on the point that Mariano has handled himself with nothing but class since he blew up (in a good way, in the way rappers use the term) in the mid-90s. He's not being particularly un-classy about it in this respect either.

In a very "it is what it is" way, Mo has said that he will go to the highest bidder if the Yankees don't take a gamble on him right now and sign him to what is potentially a very-much overvalued contract. Because at the end of the year, it is a distinct possibility that he might totally crap out. (We've said this for years, yes, and it hasn't happened yet.) The guy is 37 years old.

It is a big deal for the media and for guys like me to make a big deal out of this news, though. The guy said he wouldn't rule out going to the Red Sox, and that the Yankees would get no preference over any other bidder next year. He's quoted as saying this. It's not made up by your professional rabble-rousers at the Herald, Post, or Daily News. This definitely falls under Mo running his mouth.

(And to Tom Nale, I am glad that you don't like Nancy Drew. Much more about that guy coming soon.)

DV

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Big Day in Baseball

Happy Valentine's Day to all the readers out there (I'm sure there might be more than 25 now). But that means happy anniversary to all those Yankee fans. I'm kinda surprised I haven't read anyone else point this out in the papers or the Internet yet today.

Today is the three-year anniversary of A-Rod being traded to the New York Yankees. Since that day, we've had quite a ride. We've had a fight with Varitek, an MVP campaign, a ball being slapped out of Bronson Arroyo's glove, abundant and very-well documented playoff futility, abundant and very-well-documented "clutch" futility (though the folks at NoMaas.org don't think so), claims that he works harder than anyone else in Major League Baseball, pissing off everyone else in Major League Baseball, and a Tom Verducci article (subscription required) that is one of the most curiously bizarre things I've ever read in Sports Illustrated.

We haven't seen him win a World Series in New York.

I might have my power rankings of the most interesting teams of the off-season change. The Yankees have to move up a little bit, especially with Joe Torre trying to convince Bernie Williams to come back. The NY Daily News reports that a "scrub pitcher" moved into Williams's locker. Mariano Rivera started popping his mouth off to the media about how he wants to return to New York, but only under the correct "respect" conditions.

Speaking of Torre, half-decent relief pitchers might want to sign cheap extensions right now if they don't want their arms to fall off after becoming free agents next winter: Joe wants to come back for another season of ruining relievers' careers. Just ask Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon, and soon Scott Proctor and Ron Villone.

The Cubs, Pat's most interesting team, have to move up the "interesting" power rankings a notch, because Carlos "The Good" Zambrano (as opposed to Victor "The Bad" Zambrano) did perhaps the worst non-A-Rod PR move in a long time, saying if the Cubs don't sign him to an extension now, he's going to walk. Like Johnny Damon, he said he would be looking for "a lot" of money, and like Rickey Henderson, he used the third person in many different instances. Unlike Damon, however, he didn't, uhhhhhh, make this, ummmmmm, announcement fifteen minutes after his team was knocked out of the playoffs.

Still, quite a stand taken by Big Z. Today was a big day in baseball.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Now that you brought it up...

Pat wrote this in his post maybe two days ago, wondering whether Jon Papelbon would be able to develop a new pitch. (Nobody is wondering whether he is "so intense on the mound.") According to this morning's Herald, he is working on both a sinking fastball and, more notably, a curveball. Is this the answer to the question of whether he'll be a formidable Major League starter? I'll update more about this later, and so will he, I'm sure.

For the record, this marks the first time I am posting at work (at Colby's Eustis Service Center). This is really not a good habit. A big shoutout to Dan and Lou. Maybe they won't fire me if they get a little bit of online recognition.

Pitchers and Catchers Report

Pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa for the Yankees today. Big day. Mariano Rivera's contract is up at the end of the year, and the media has already pounced all over the "could Rivera pitch somewhere else in 2008" questions. Yea right. Like the Yanks are going to let the most valuable player in the game for the last 11 years walk coming off two of his best seasons. He did have some health issues that caused him to be shut down for a few weeks last August/September, but as both Mo and Torre said, if the Yanks didn't have such a handle on first place, he would have been pitching. Point is, he is getting re-signed, so don't get to hyped about the hoopla.

Pitchers and catchers reporting also means something else for Yankees fans: the Carl Pavano saga begins. Everytime the guy gets a cup of coffee it will be news, let alone when he throws a bullpen. Or gets in a game, which he hasn't done since June 2005. For the first two years of his contract, the Yankees have paid him roughly $1,100,000 per start (he's only made 17 of them, when he should have made 60-70 for that money). And you didn't just misread that.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Interesting Team #5 + Happy B-Day Pat

I swear, Pat doesn't have to ever go to classes. I wish I could keep up with everything he's posting.

As "The Big Ticket" wrote as a comment to Pat's post about the most interesting team in baseball this year, the Mets also have quite a bit of storylines to make it a season worth tuning in to. I'd put them in my top five.

People unfamiliar with me (keep reading this blog over the coming weeks and you will find it's not true) might call this a homer post, but I gotta say Boston is the most interesting team of the 2007 season. That will be another post for another day.

But first, I think I have to say a few things about the rest of my top five:

5. NY Yankees
4. Chicago Cubs
3. Florida Marlins
2. NY Mets
1. Boston Red Sox

The Yankees are going to be very interesting to watch this year, especially working on this blog with someone as intense (pun intended) as PF. There are many different questions to ask about this team. Will Bernie Willams pull a Brett Favre and do one more agonizing year? Will he pull an Emmitt Smith and go to another team for one more agonizing year? Or will he retire and hope the Reds ask him to become their bench coach so he can play guitar with Bronson Arroyo?

Is Chien-Ming Wang going to contend for the Cy Young Award? (I would say yes, but that's only because I've been listening to what my boy is telling me. I dare someone to put an argument against the one Pat will undoubtedly write here soon.) What can we expect from Igawa? Will Johnny Damon (or Hideki Matsui for that matter) turn into the second half of a Slurpee already, and can the Yankees really count on Posada? Andy Pettitte is also worth a whole 'nother post.

None of those are the most intriguing question about this team. WHAT WILL MELKY CABRERA'S ROLE BE? This guy is too good to come off of the bench, period. Judging by the way he produced offensively in 2006, he should not be a fourth outfielder anywhere. Despite his dazzling defense, he won't play outfield because he won't be able to displace Matsui, Damon, or Abreu. Personally I'd say Matsui should be at DH, Melky in left, and have the Yanks take their chances with Giambi at first. But then that leaves a solid player Andy Phillips, who's listed on the top of the Yankees' depth chart at first, on the bench. And it leaves Giambi in the field, which is enough to make Pat and friends cringe.

It has been proven that Melky is not just a solid major league outfielder, but is a very good major league outfielder. He was part of the unexpected crew that, despite the injuries, kept the Yankees on top of the 2006 AL East. (EDIT: That's not true. The crew that kept the Yankees on top of the 2006 AL East included Choke-O Crisp, Josh Beckett, Rudy Seanez, and others.) In July and August, he hit .312 with an OBP of about .380. Factor out his crummy month of June and the guy hit over .300 for the year. Sure, he'd be a great guy for NY to have off the bench, but it seems like they're wasting him. You can only have nine guys in a lineup, and the Yankees have more than 9 guys who should play everyday. That's why they're going to be an interesting team to watch.

Most interesting team in '07?

I'll go with the Cubs. They spent an obscene amount of money over the winter, and all that does is raise expectations for a big market team with a top 3 most passionate fan base in baseball. Pair this up with the fact that they were 30 games under .500 last year and finished dead last in the NL (presumably, the aformentioned fan base isn't exactly thrilled about either of these things), and you have a situation that is potentially explosive. That said, Lee, Ramirez, and Soriano are as scary as any threesome in baseball offensively, and Lilly is a solid addition (in the NL at least) behind Zambrano. So there is no reason they can't make a big turnaround, which would also be exciting to watch. Interesting either way. Thoughts???

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"He's so intense on the mound!"

Despite the fact that we had to go over two months last season hearing "Papelbon is NEVER going to blow a save", that NESN commercials are made about his intensity, and that he reached the ultimate level of pink hat status among many Boston fans, Jonathan Papelbon is the most intriguing player on either the Red Sox or Yankees heading into this season.

The numbers from his first full season in 2006 are staggering. 68.1 IP, 0.92 ERA, 75 SO to only 13 walks, .167 BA against, .211 OBP against, .254 SLG against, adding up to 35 saves in 41 chances. Hello. However, he wore down early in the second half and was eventually shut down with shoulder problems. Not good.

Due to the injuries he is being converted back to a starter, which he had been his entire career prior to '05. He is obvioulsy ultra-talented, and has the chance to make a major impact on his team in this new role. But will he? This is where the intrigue lies. He has the total package from a physical/make-up standpoint, but his success as a starter in the AL will be dependent upon two things. 1) As a reliever he was strictly fastball/splitter, and thats all he had to be because both pitches are dominating. But he can't get by on just those two pitches over 200 innings, so he'll have to add at least one more pitch to his arsenal. Can he re-establish his slider (which he didn't use at all in '06 and only sparingly in '05) as a plus, or at least servicable pitch? 2) Can he adjust to having to throw his fastball for 6-7 innings per outing as oppossed to 1-2? When he got beat last year, it was because he missed with his fastball. Naturally, with more pitches thrown per outing, there is more opportunity for missed location. How JP handles these two issues will be critical to his success as a starter, and go a long way to deciding how good the Red Sox are going to be. They need him to be quality, and I think he will be (15+wins). That scares me.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Yankees Off-Season Thoughts

Pitchers and catchers report in under a week. Finally. It was a busy off-season for Cashman, and I love what he is doing with the club. In the last 18 months he has totally revamped the way the Yankees operate, and this is a good thing. The fact that Cash truly has all of the decision making power shows in the moves the Yanks have made. Not only have they been able to preserve the farm systems' jewels in Hughes and Tabata, but they have improved it through the Sheffield, Wright, and Johnson trades (Sanchez, Whelan, Ohlendorf, Britton, etc.), the draft (Kennedy, Betances, Chamberlain, Melancon, etc.), and the international free-agent market (Montero, etc.). Their newfound commitment to the farm system under Cashman (Baseball America ranking - #7, up from #17 in 06, #24 in 05, and #27 in 04), paired with their ability resources and ability to pay bigger money than most teams for draft picks/international FAs, is a great thing for Yankees fans, and a scary thought for the rest of baseball.

Besides preserving and re-establishing the farm, the Yanks made a few other key moves in the free-agent market over the winter. Let's take a look:

Andy Pettitte - At 1 year/$16 mil, with an option for a second year, you have to at least like it. Pettitte could go a lot of different ways this season in terms of performance, but with Hughes/Sanchez slated to start the year in Triple A, an undecided Clemens, and a shallow, overpriced, FA class, the Yanks needed stability and depth. Pettitte should provide both. At the very least he is a solid #3 to start the season behind Wang and Mussina. What happens from there is a big and important unknown for the Yankees. Pettitte has lost velocity on his fastball since his last tour in Pinstripes, and does not use his cutter with nearly as much frequency. However, he does go to his change-up a lot more now and does so with effectiveness. The curve and slider are both still serviceable. It will be interesting to see how he re-adjusts to the AL East, but pitching half of his games in lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium won't hurt, especially in comparison to the short porch in Houston. My guess is something similar to his '06 campaign: 210 IP, 14-16 wins, 4.20 ERA. The Yanks need innings and performance like this from him.

Kei Igawa - Lefty out of Japan has had a number of good seasons over there. 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA in 06. Should at least provide depth to the back end of the rotation, and at 5 years/$20 mil, I can deal with that. Features a 88-91 mph fastball, a change (his best pitch), and a slurve. The fact that he didn't get lefties out like you would like him to in Japan worries me and probably means his breaking ball is nothing special. The fact that he did get righties out in Japan is positive, but who knows how he will adjust to facing Major League righties and their ability to drive the ball to the opposite field with power, especially as a change-up pitcher. Igawa will have to be willing to work in and out with both his fastball and his change, and that is not an easy task. That said, he is in Tampa working out already, and has been described as a bigtime competitor. I like that a lot. Also, in the photos of him working out in Tampa, it looks like he has a strong set of legs on him, and that is a definite plus. 10 wins and something in the high 4's ERA wise would be great, and hopefully he will be asked to no more than a #5 guy by June when either Hughes is up or Clemens is signed.

Doug Mientkiewicz - He is here to play D and bat 9th. He is one of the best defensive first basemen in the game, so he will be a huge upgrade over Giambi/Wilson. Anything he does offensively is just a plus. If he plays D like he can, he'll be an asset. Who knows, maybe Douggie will be the one who helps A-Rod (his high school teammate) just be A-Rod and play baseball. Doubtful.

The Similarities Between Johnny Damon and a Slurpee

(Final update 1AM Friday)

I can’t believe my first entry for this blog is going to be a comparison between the center fielder for the New York Yankees and a frozen drink. I suppose, however, that it’s really the best way to introduce my semi-wacky writing style that you’ll be able to read for as long as I’m doing this.

Everybody remembers Damon signing a four-year, $52 million contract with the New York Yankees in December 2005. Then again, if anyone had forgotten it, a bitter Damon is still talking about it to the press. From the first minute, his dad told the New York Daily News that “it’s going to be another Babe Ruth.” All throughout the year 2006, Damon continued to jaw and jaw and jaw about “uhhhhh, I was, ummmm, disrespected by the, uhhhhh, Red Sox, ummmmm, I bought a, uhhhhhhh, house in Boston."

Thanks, Johnny. We get it.

The guy pretty much ran himself out of town, and there shouldn't have been any controversy whether he would be booed when he came back to Fenway Park, because he deserved every boo he got. Meanwhile, the knights of the keyboard in Boston, including one Jackie MacMullan, called booing Damon "idiotic." In response, I once wrote that these journalists must be illiterate. If you haven't read about seventy million articles about this guy whining and moaning, you have to be unable to read at all. And he still hasn't stopped: He has trashed the entire Boston organization for a whole year now!

When Boston signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52 million contract, Damon had things to say about that. “Maybe they learned a lot from last year,” Damon told the AP, referring to Boston’s frantic spending this offseason. “They finished in third place.” Mind you, this AP article came out 360 days after Damon signed with New York. And he’s still talking about it.

Fans all over the place are critical for the Red Sox organization for not offering Damon more than their original 4-year, $40 million offer. I’m not one of them. Anyone who knows me knows I have been critical of many things Boston has done since winning the World Series (Renteria, Coco Crisp, Julio Lugo, JD Drew), but not signing Johnny Damon is not one of them.

The guy, in last year’s market, was not worth $13 million a year. Let me give you a moment to let that sink in.
Which brings me to my point: When you walk into a 7-Eleven, you buy a 40-ounce Slurpee, and you pay $1.60 for it. You drink the beginning of the Slurpee and it is a perfect combination of iciness and flavor. The first half of the Slurpee is terrific, even on a cold day like today.

The second half of the Slurpee is never as good as the first half. Usually what happens with me is that I drink the first half too fast and suck all the flavor out of the Slurpee, and all I have left is a little bit of flavor and a lot of the icy matrix of the drink. It really is sad. Drinking the second half of a Slurpee is oftentimes so bad that you think of throwing it away. The nearest 7-Eleven to Waterville is in Brunswick, and on that drive home, once I hit Augusta or so, I am stuck with a god-awful second half of a Slurpee.

Similarly, as baseball fans can see just by looking at the numbers—a .359 on-base percentage, a career high 24 home runs, and 25 stolen bases—the first quarter of the Yankees’ Johnny Damon experience has been terrific. Undoubtedly, the first quarter would have been good for Boston as well, all Choke-O Crisp arguments aside. Chances are, the second quarter of the Damon experience will help the Yankees.

Even in Boston, Damon showed signs of wear and tear, battling a plethora of injuries and a degenerating throwing arm. By his third or fourth year of the contract, he is going to be absolute junk and a shell of his former self. Even Yankee apologists can agree on that: it’s going to be Bernie Williams all over again.
With Brunswick being 45 minutes away from home, I don’t buy Slurpees too often. But when I do, I plunk down my $1.60 essentially for the first half of the drink. The second half is worthless. If my wallet is having a rough day or if I’d rather drink a soda, I would pass on the Slurpee.

That’s what the Red Sox did. They assigned the value of $40 million for what is essentially two years of Johnny Damon’s worthwhile services and then two years of crap. They passed on the Slurpee. Meanwhile, the Yankees thought that two good years of Damon was worth $52 million. Good for them. The Yankees are traveling up Interstate 95 after a stopover in Brunswick. Augusta’s not too far away: it’s just a matter of time until they’re stuck with the second half of a Slurpee.

Howz Everything Part II

Welcome to the blog. DV and I have spent the better part of four years in college talking about, debating, and ranting about all things baseball, especially our two favorite teams, the Yankees and the Red Sox. We decided it was time to put our stuff online. This blog is devoted primarily to the Yanks and Sox, their major league clubs, players, front offices, managers, coaches, etc. We will not break news, but we will analyze the heck out of any news that there is. We will offer detailed game and player analysis, minor league organizational and player reports. as well as every move and happening of the two respective teams. There will also be plenty of general and entertaining baseball banter as well as random chatter.

DV is a big picture guy. That is why we nicknames him the GM. I tend to be interested in the more acute aspects of the game. That is why I got coined the manager. We both agree and disagree a lot. But we both love baseball and are passionate about our respective teams, and that passion will shine through on this site. Enjoy the blog.

PF

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"There's more coming!"

Frank the Tank once said that.

Soon Pat will have a username and will be able to blog on this thing. Soon I will be able to say a thing or two here. Look for old profiles (you will know what that means soon), new rants, and a wealth of information on this blog.

Pat is the manager. I am the GM. We both promise that soon this site will be worth reading.

DV