Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Wrong Was He?

Good wins for the Yankees the last two nights coming off of that miserable road trip. Against a team like Tampa Bay, that shows a little toughness. Of course, Girardi is in the middle of punting tonight's game. Just because there was a 2 hour plus rain delay does not mean the game needs to be decided by mop up guys. When it's the 4th inning, which is where Yankee pitching picked back up, sure. But after two innings it's late in the game. At 2-1 in the 6th, you can feel free to start treating it like what it is: an important game that is close and getting late. That means you can go to some of your better relievers. If you don't want to do that, it's September, there are about 91 pitchers in the bullpen. Maybe give someone new a chance. With David Price looming tomorrow (and I don't care that C.C. Sabathia is pitching, we saw how much his 8 dominant shutout innings got us last time these two faced off), I don't know why you wouldn't go after a one run game in the 6th inning all-out. Just because a rain delay makes the timing and general feel weird does not mean it needs to be managed weirdly. Splitting these last two games with Tampa would be huge in the division, and unless something changes the Yankees will have to do that tomorrow against David Price because Girardi opted to let Dustin Moseley and Chad Gaudin (no offense to either of them, it's not their fault, it's Girardi's job to use them properly, and they also haven't been pitching very regularly for a lot of the season) give up three runs combined in the 6TH AND 7TH INNINGS of a one run game. In late September. Against the team you are competing for the division with. With 91 pitchers in the bullpen. This makes sense. If you're going to run these pitchers out there, then just pull all the regulars and get them rested because obviously this is not a full attempt to win this game or the division. Especially Mark Teixeira, who has a broken toe and a bone bruise on his thumb.

Which brings us to the point of this post. Almost two years ago now DV went on a campaign against Mark Teixeira. Not just all the reasons why the Red Sox shouldn't sign him (which was at least debatable, even though he ended up being wrong), but all the reasons why he wasn't that good (which was not debatable, he was just wrong). It was sort of like when people try to tell you that Derek Jeter isn't that good, which has actually happened to me a number of times. You sit there and listen to their position, try to calmly explain to them that they are simply wrong, realize that there is no hope and just let them go.

That's pretty much what happened in this space from November 2008 to sometime in the middle of 2009. During this time DV called Teixeira a role player, said he was a stat-padder who didn't hit when it count, told us he wasn't the type of game-changing talent that would be worth the money. Despite none of this ever being true, he was further proven wrong immediately in 2009 on all counts, and apologized for it. Which is great.

But throughout all this, he basically implied that Teixeira was soft, at least mentally. Although he never said it, I'd say it's fair to say he was implying he was soft in total. If he didn't mean it, that's the picture he was painting, a picture of someone who is not tough, who is not a gamer.

This too is not accurate. Teixeira has been playing with a broken toe and a bone bruise on his thumb since the end of August. These might seem like minor injuries, but I've had a broken toe, and it is extremely painful. Think about trying to push off every step and bend something that's broken. Teixeira has said it stings with every step. I've never had a bone bruise on my thumb but I can't imagine hitting a mid-90s fastball is a lot of fun considering it stings to do so when one's hands are totally healthy. Teixeira's numbers since the injuries reflect this. The question could be raised how much he's helping the team right now, his presence in the lineup (for the benefit of the hitters around him) and continued defense weighed against the fact that he just isn't hitting, and hasn't for almost four weeks.

But that isn't my point here. My point is that he's out there. He refused to take a day off, playing 15 consecutive full games after the broken toe. Girardi had to force him to take two consecutive days off in Baltimore this weekend, and said Teixeira was not happy about either of them. Girardi and a number of the coaches have commented that while they have a lot of tough players on the team, none are as tough as Teixeira. Maybe as tough, but none tougher. If you think about some of the players the Yankees have on this team and what they've accomplished in terms of durability and willingness to play through injuries, that's saying something.

DV should have a particular appreciation for this. He's spent an entire season complaining about players who are just the opposite of this on his own team. Maybe he wasn't just wrong about the player he spent almost a year campaigning against. At least in terms of the way he plays the game and the seriousness with which he approaches his job, maybe Mark Teixeira is actually DV's kind of player. Given all we've been hearing from DV all summer on this topic in conjunction with what we are seeing from Mark Teixeira now on the same topic, it would be difficult for DV to contend otherwise.

10 comments:

the gm at work said...

PF,

I respect his game. I do not respect some of the other stuff. This will need to wait for an extended lunch break. Because, unlike your vacation philosophy of "I don't do s*** before them, s*** on them, or s*** after them," my vacation philosophy revolves around minimizing the burden my absence puts on everyone around me.

I will have some reasonably rational things to say about this, but it will have to wait a couple of hours.

Ross Kaplan said...

Clearly Girardi's intention in bringing in Mosely, Gaudin, et al. was to rest is overworked bullpen for the playoffs and I have absolutely no problem with that.

With the advent of the Wild Card, there's no need for a team to bust its balls to win the division as long as they're the best of the runner ups, unless of course you truly believe in the importance of home field advantage. Yes, a potential game 7 at the Trop with Price on the mound concerns me, but the Yankees have handled playoff games in domes pretty well the past few years, just ask the Twins.

I cannot be legitimately concerned of the Yankees missing the playoffs. The Red Sox are all but a dead team and anything less then a sweep will end their playoff hopes once and for all.

To me it makes perfect sense to sacrifice the division and home field advantage in order to ensure the bullpen is healthy come October especially if you consider that if the season ended today the Yankees would play the Rangers in the ALDS whose ace absolutely owns the Yankees and would be quite fearsome in a short series, but if the Yankees dropped to the wild card they would play their familiar friends in Minnesota who they have owned in the playoffs and probably will continue doing against a team whose ace is Carl Pavano, new stadium or not.

Anonymous said...

Ross

Where have you been all of our lives? That post was the opposite of anything Bandi writes here--articulate, rational, and relevant. Thanks for getting back in the game.

Bandi

You probably aren't reading today, but if you are, I'm just busting your chops.

PF/DV

I tend not to like any big free agent who signs with the Yankees. It's only natural. And Teixeira's public persona always rubbed me the wrong way--he was a little too greasy for me. And of course he spurned the Red Sox. None of that sits too well here.

But here's what I see with Teixeira--he's played in 148 games, which is more than JD Drew has played in any season in his career. He's having the worst season of his career since he was a rookie. And yet, he's still going out there and playing every day because he knows two things--1)he's getting paid too much goddamn money not to play and 2)that 80% of him is better than 100% of the vast majority of major leaguers and because of that, the team needs him. That's what winners do. I don't like the guy and I wish he would strike out every time he comes up to the plate. But would I want him on the Red Sox? Yes, I would.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

gm -

sounds good.

ross -

great to have you back. typical ross kaplan comment too, just throwing down. that said i could not disagree more with some of the stuff that you said. "unless of course you truly believe in the importance of home field advantage." it's not that hard to believe in, it's very real in any sport. that's why you try to win the division if you can. i say if you can because i do agree that you shouldn't tax your players to win the division, and put yourself in a worse position in the playoffs, just to get home field if the wild card is locked up (which it isn't yet). but i also don't think you need to go all the way to saying "it makes perfect sense to sacrifice the division and home field advantage in order to ensure the bullpen is healthy". i think you can strike a balance, which the yankees have sort of been able to do. as i said in my post, if you think it makes so much sense to rest the bullpen, shouldn't you rest teixeira too? why do one without the other? if you're going to play teixeira, you have to at least give a decent effort with the bullpen. which again the yankees have sort of been able to do, up and down. i also disagree that you should in any way ever not win the division and get home field to play an opponent that you view as more favorable. not only is trying to figure out who is a better divisional opponent totally fickle (as we learn over and over again), but you always want to have home field over playing any opponent that is good enough to make the playoffs.

gunn -

great points. and you have to consider this: teixeira broke his toe on august 31st, and at that time he was hitting .264/.370/.510 with 30 homers, 95 rbi, and 100 runs scored. was he on his way to his career best season? no, but it wasn't going to be out of line with other seasons he's had, which have always been productive. he's still been importantly productive for the yankees this year despite the injury (30/100 is 30/100), but it isn't going to be a typical teixeira year because since he broke his toe, he's hit .176/.321/.206 with 0 homers, 6 rbi, and 6 runs scored. but none of that matters. if you're out there you're out there and you're responsible for what you do. and he understands that his presence in the lineup putting up these numbers, while also still playing great D, is better than most other reasonable options. like you said, the team needs him out there, and winners step up when their team needs him, even despite injury that is not allowing him to be as productive as usual offensively. and a number that jumps out at you to prove all of this is the .321 obp despite a .176 average. it shows that hitters still respect him enough at this level to not just challenge him in front of rodriguez and cano. you can't say the same for a lot of hitters even when they are healthy.

Patrick said...

also gunn don't think i didn't see that kevin durant comment, sorry i just didn't get the chance to respond before that post got buried. the guy is amazing. also, i was very happy to see a group that is not our 12 best win that tournament. i think it's a testament to just how many good and exciting american players there are in the nba right now (russell westbrook is going to be an absolute stud, just as one example from that team) but also what a great fit coach k and that staff is for our international team. i like the consistency of having the same coach and a similar staff with the same direction/philosophy every two years. i think that helps you overcome the changing rosters. adding a new coach/staff is like starting over from scratch every two years, and i think that is a big part of the reason we were running into some of the problems we ran into prior to these last two campaigns. there is very little reason for us not to be bringing home gold at every olympics and world championships, even against increasingly good competition. it is something i think we should take a lot of pride in, as the united states is the epicenter of basketball in the world. i think having coach k at the helm every year is a good way to consistently put us in a position to do that.

Anonymous said...

PF

Clearly they're learning that you can't just stick together the And-1 all-stars with a rotating coach and win the Gold medal. This is a good thing. Coach K has obviously earned his keep and while he won't be able to do it forever, there's no reason that come 2016 or so that USA Basketball can't go out and ask another talented, respected, players coach to do the job. I don't have any names that jump out at me (though guys like Bill Self, Mike D'Antoni, Doc Rivers (as a retirement job), or even Gregg Popovich could fit right in), but Coach K can't be impossible to replace.

I'm glad you brought up Russell Westbrook, because come 2012 Jason Kidd will be 39. He's going to need a replacement. Westbrook should probably be that guy. I don't like Chauncey Billups (who will be almost 36 then, anyway)--he's tremendously overrated and neither Derrick Rose nor Rajon Rondo shoot the ball well enough from the perimeter.

Lastly, by the time 2012 rolls around, who's team will the Dream Team be? Kobe will be 34 and he's an old 32 as it is. As great as he was in 2008 (he was the alpha on that team as much as it pains me to admit it) he'll be older and figures to have about another 200 games worth of wear and tear on his body. Lebron is obviously the front-runner at this point, but isn't Kevin Durant a dark-horse candidate for "greatest player on earth" status? Or is he not even a dark-horse anymore? If he averaged 33 points a game this year, would you be surprised? At some point in the very near future he could well be the best player in the world.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

Gunn,

Thanks for letting me know that you were just busting my chops... Since when do you bust someone's chops and then make qualifying/apologetic statement in the same comment? That's not the Gunn I know. Has old age given you perspective and maturity?

Grow a pair of balls.

PF,

Not that I like coming to Ross's defense (it is distasteful to me) however I think his point was that if he had to choose between having home field advantage versus having the right people lined up with the right amount of rest, he would choose having the right people lined up. If you want to simplify it to that extent then I think he's right.

As you point out, it doesn't have to be an all or nothing type of thing. However it is definitely different resting pitchers vs. resting position players in my opinion. As such I don't think your Teixeira comparison has any validity at all. However it was probably the best you could come up with spur of the moment and I understand that.

the gm at work said...

I cannot fathom punting a game like this one. That emits complacency. Not that the Rays are any less complacent, but the Yankees should want to run up the score to send a message.

As far as Teixeira goes, you raise fair points. He has generally gone against his reputation as a stat-padder, although even before injury his stats were underwhelming this year. Not even I can argue that through nearly two years. Not sure why your post is pretty much begging for me to apologize again. Consider my apology to come in the form of taking the burden of posting five times next week off of your shoulders.

As far as the player's decision to play hurt, that is commendable. The player is a good player on the field, and he's a player who brings a high "compete level" as they say on the radio nowadays. I respect the fact that Teixeira is taking some responsibility for the 2010 Yankees project instead of going on vacation in Arizona for a month. There are a lot of players who do that. Some of them are guys who outsource their negotiations to Boras - another example is the Tigers' outfielder. Teixeira clearly believes in sweat equity and taking ownership in something he's involved in.

But your description of "DV's kind of player" is someone who does all this without raping the expense report. They work hard without trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the hand that feeds them. The Red Sox have players like that. So do the Yankees. Swisher. Gardner. Even freaking Posada, who definitely got paid, but not after a lengthy image-battering contract battle. I hate Posada, but he's probably a "DV kind of player."

You might want to say Teixeira's a company guy, and that's not entirely inaccurate. But let me tell you, there are still some company guys who work their ass off but still do their full exploitation of the expense report. They take their parents out to the Capital Grille on the company card, saying "Hey, I deserve this because I'm a hard worker." And there are still some company guys who would leave for greener pastures if they had the chance. You could probably consider Teixeira one of those people.

Does someone like Teixeira finish better on the spectrum than someone like JD Drew or 46, who max out their vacation time, execute the European workweek, and STILL take their parents out to a fancy dinner on the company card? Absolutely.

Drew and 46 are the epitome of everything DV hates about baseball and, really, business in general. At my job, I often have to ask myself, "what would JD Drew or 46 do?" and then do the opposite. My NESCACation in Europe next week IS something Drew or 46 would do, and that pisses me off.

The common thread between a tough player like Teixeira or Damon and someone like Drew or 46 is that they made a business decision to hire Scott Boras (remember, he works for them and executes their desires). By doing this, you are pretty much putting it right out there that you're probably either a douche or you don't know any better.

While at the workplace you might be a model employee or a slacker, you're probably a douche anyway. If you read posts more frequently than you write them (30% of the time), you'd know that my main beef against Teixeira is that I thought and still think he's a disingenuous asshole. So much that there's probably only one or two players worse than him in that category.

But at least he's working and cares enough about his job to play hurt. Unlike Drew or 46.

The GM said...

I cannot fathom punting a game like this one. That emits complacency. Not that the Rays are any less complacent, but the Yankees should want to run up the score to send a message.

As far as Teixeira goes, you raise fair points. He has generally gone against his reputation as a stat-padder, although even before injury his stats were underwhelming this year. Not even I can argue that through nearly two years. Not sure why your post is pretty much begging for me to apologize again. Consider my apology to come in the form of taking the burden of posting five times next week off of your shoulders.

As far as the player's decision to play hurt, that is commendable. The player is a good player on the field, and he's a player who brings a high "compete level" as they say on the radio nowadays. I respect the fact that Teixeira is taking some responsibility for the 2010 Yankees project instead of going on vacation in Arizona for a month. There are a lot of players who do that. Some of them are guys who outsource their negotiations to Boras - another example is the Tigers' outfielder. Teixeira clearly believes in sweat equity and taking ownership in something he's involved in.

But your description of "DV's kind of player" is someone who does all this without raping the expense report. They work hard without trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the hand that feeds them. The Red Sox have players like that. So do the Yankees. Swisher. Gardner. Even freaking Posada, who definitely got paid, but not after a lengthy image-battering contract battle. I hate Posada, but he's probably a "DV kind of player."

You might want to say Teixeira's a company guy, and that's not entirely inaccurate. But let me tell you, there are still some company guys who work their ass off but still do their full exploitation of the expense report. They take their parents out to the Capital Grille on the company card, saying "Hey, I deserve this because I'm a hard worker." And there are still some company guys who would leave for greener pastures if they had the chance. You could probably consider Teixeira one of those people.

Does someone like Teixeira finish better on the spectrum than someone like JD Drew or 46, who max out their vacation time, execute the European workweek, and STILL take their parents out to a fancy dinner on the company card? Absolutely.

Drew and 46 are the epitome of everything DV hates about baseball and, really, business in general. At my job, I often have to ask myself, "what would JD Drew or 46 do?" and then do the opposite. My NESCACation in Europe next week IS something Drew or 46 would do, and that pisses me off.

The common thread between a tough player like Teixeira or Damon and someone like Drew or 46 is that they made a business decision to hire Scott Boras (remember, he works for them and executes their desires). By doing this, you are pretty much putting it right out there that you're probably either a douche or you don't know any better.

While at the workplace you might be a model employee or a slacker, you're probably a douche anyway. If you read posts more frequently than you write them (30% of the time), you'd know that my main beef against Teixeira is that I thought and still think he's a disingenuous asshole.

But at least he's working and cares enough about his job to play hurt. Unlike Drew or 46.

The GM said...

By the way, Blogger sucks sometimes.