Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thursday Night Lights?:

Chien-Ming Wang draws Carsten-Charles Sabathia in game one of the ALDS on Thursday. The times have yet to be determined, though a 4pm or 8pm start is expected.

From Tyler Kepner's article,

Thursday, Oct. 4 — Game 1 at Cleveland (Wang vs. Sabathia)
Friday, Oct. 5 — Game 2 at Cleveland (Pettitte vs. Carmona)
Sunday, Oct. 7 — Game 3 at New York (Clemens vs. Westbrook)
Monday, Oct. 8 — Game 4 at New York* (Mussina vs. Byrd)
Wednesday, Oct. 10 — Game 5 at Cleveland* (Wang vs. Sabathia)

* — if necessary

Time to turn the page to October, fall and some postseason baseball.

And that's something that Alex Rodriguez apparently can't wait to do. A-Rod told the NY Post that he welcomes the pressure:
I felt a lot of pressure coming into this year. Pressure is a good thing, it's part of baseball. During the last three months, we have been under enormous pressure. People will say I played poorly that last two postseasons and I get another crack at it.
Let the games begin.

Billy Wagner Buries Team

Still shocked by the New York Mets and the worst September collapse in MLB history. After all the flack Yankee fans, writers and players took from the Amazin's during the first half of 2007, it's going to be a pretty bitter pill to swallow when they turn on October baseball and don't see their team competing.

A seven game lead with seventeen games to play? Absolutely mindboggling.

Painful as it might be for Yankees fans to admit, it's pretty difficult not to feel bad for Mets fans.

So, in the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood, the Mets closer decided to toss his coaching staff under the bus:

Billy Wagner stabs pitching coach, manager in the back:

“We’ve been throwing four innings a night - for months!” Wagner told the magazine. “Our pitching coach has no experience talking to a bullpen. He can help you mechanically, but he can’t tell you emotions. He has no idea what it feels like. And neither does Willie. They’re not a lot of help, put it that way.”
Maybe Wagner's tendency to choke up huge save opportunities had something to do with it as well... What a team player.


On the contrary, the Rockies and Padres will duke it out tomorrow night with a one-game playoff contest. Winner is in, and loser goes home.

Yankees Win One for the Gipper

  • Alex Rodriguez notched RBI #156 and raised his season batting average to .314 thanks to his 2-for-2 day. He managed a .314/.422/.645 year with 54 homeruns, 156 RBI, 143 runs-scored and 24 stolen bases.
  • Ross Ohlendorf pitched 1.2 innings, allowing three baserunners and an earned run.
  • Chris Britton pitched a perfect inning.
  • Kyle Farnsworth (of course) allowed a homer, finishing the season with a 4.80 Earned Run Average.
  • Wilson Betemit and The Giambino each contributed 2-out RBI. Giambi with an RBI single and Betemit with a two-run double.
  • Yankees final record: 94-68

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Playoff Roster Predictions


  • Phil Hughes over Mike Mussina
  • No Kyle Farnsworth
  • Jose Veras and Chris Britton and Ross Ohlendorf ?

Friday, September 28, 2007

So, About That Game Four....

After Mike Mussina's performance Friday, I think it's about time Joe Torre seriously reconsiders his playoff rotation. From this morning:
Not to sound like a broken record, but if the Moose turns back the clock by shutting down a powerful Cleveland lineup, I will gladly eat my words. Until then, I truly believe the best strategy would involve kicking Mussina into the bullpen, and handing Phil Hughes the ball for Game 4.

Mussina better fits into the long reliever role, and is only an 85 mph fastball away from destroying a potential elimination game. This is not to say that the rookie is impenetrable, but I fear Hughes (whose stuff is probably at about 85%) much more than Moose at full strength. Seeing Phil mix in his changeup and slider with astonishing frequency Thursday illustrates the type of versatility he can show batters.
I'm still on the fence in terms of having him start game four of a divisional playoff series. Is it possible to come back from the horrible three game stretch Moose had in mid-August? Absolutely. Has his last three impressive starts erased his inability to hold a lead against Detroit last October? Absolutely not.
Obviously Friday's game wasn't played within the playoff bubble. It wasn't a "must win" by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is indicative of the type of atrocious appearance Moose can hand to the opposition. I still vote for Phil's stuff, over Mussina's experience. We saw last year's Detroit pitching staff, chock full of unexperienced young arms, dismember an offense categorized as "Murderer's Row plus Cano."



* Red Sox top pitching prospect, Clay Buchholz, will not pitch again this year due to "fatigue."

* Bronson Sardinha's middle name is "Kiheimahanaomauiakeo"

Unbelievable Owings

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Micah Owings put together one of the most dominant NL pitcher performances of modern times. Yes, this is the same young pitcher Bronx Liaison considered the best possible piece of the rumored Randy Johnson deal. I also alluded to his ability with the stick:
The article also speaks of his natural athletic ability as [Owings] can still rake: batting .355 with 18homers and 63rbi with the Green Wave last year.
Owings pitched 6.1 innings of shutout ball, striking out four, walking zero and allowing only four hits. Although very impressive amidst a pressure-packed pennant race, the pitching aspect was just a small portion of Micah's night.

The 6-foot-5 Georgia product brought a .291 batting average into last night's action. With exception to a broken bat single to left, Owings would become an extra base machine. He went on to collect three more hits, all doubles, and post a 4-for-4 night. He knocked in three runs and raised his season average to an unbelievable .339.

Postseason Rotation

Ed Price reports Joe Torre revealed his playoff plans for the starting rotation. There aren't any surprises, except an official confirmation that Mike Mussina is slotted in as the Game 4 starter.

Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte will start the first two games of the AL Division Series for the Yankees, manager Joe Torre said.

Roger Clemens -- if he recovers from a sore left hamstring -- will pitch Game 3. If the Yankees are in the series that opens next Thursday, they will need four starters, and Mike Mussina would be fourth. Otherwise, he may be a long reliever.

Not to sound like a broken record, but if the Moose turns back the clock by shutting down a powerful Cleveland lineup, I will gladly eat my words. Until then, I truly believe the best strategy would involve kicking Mussina into the bullpen, and handing Phil Hughes the ball for Game 4.

Mussina better fits into the long reliever role, and is only an 85 mph fastball away from destroying a potential elimination game. This is not to say that the rookie is impenetrable, but I fear Hughes (whose stuff is probably at about 85%) much more than Moose at full strength. Seeing Phil mix in his changeup and slider with astonishing frequency Thursday illustrates the type of versatility he can show batters.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Exhibition Win & Mets Crucial Loss

Phil Hughes tossed a gem tonight, lasting seven strong innings and allowing only one run on four hits. The Franchise struck out five batters and then handed the ball to Joba Chamberlain. Although Mike Mussina most likely gets the postseason start, the superb finish to Phil's regular season ensures a capable replacement should Moose falter in October.

On the other hand, the J-Man took another step toward the playoff spotlight. After allowing a leadoff double, Joba induced a line-out before striking out two Devil Rays and stranding the runner at second base.

Chamberlain passed his final test by successfully pitching on back-to-back days. The fastball still hit 99 mph on the radar and the slidepiece still buckled batters. As long as his body recovers well tomorrow and Saturday, all systems are go.


Meanwhile, Flushing is Burning, as the Mets lost another crucial game tonight. With the Phillies looming one game back, the Mets offense was befuddled by former Red Sox failure, Joel Pineiro. Looking like an ace, the unlikely torment from Pineiro spanned eight shutout innings and former Metropolitan farmhand, Jason Isringhausen shut the door in the ninth.

The Phillies, however, fought their way to a 6-4 victory, creating an improbable tie atop the NL East. Just a few months ago, the Mets fanbase danced the New York City streets, proclaiming their team the newly crowned King of New York.

As September winds down, they are again playing second fiddle to the Bombers and desperately clawing for a postseason berth. Talk about turning the tables. The Mets are on the verge of an unprecedented collapse, considering no division leader ever blew a seven game cushion during the final month of the season.

  • The Cherry On Top: By striking out 10 Yankees, another former Mets minor leaguer, Scott Kazmir, became the Major League strikeout leader with a staggering 236. Ouch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yankees Playoff Bound

Overcoming an unbelievable barrage of injuries to the pitching staff and outfield, the Bombers played out the second half of the season 24 games over the .500 mark, ensuring they'll spend their thirteenth straight October playing postseason baseball.

Chien-Ming Wang
collected his 19th win of the year by throwing six solid innings of two-run ball and striking out an un-Wang-like six batters. The Yankees offense handed Wang back the lead by scoring two runs in the fourth inning. They then handed Wang a certain victory by scoring seven more in the fifth.

CMW now has a 38-13 record over his two full seasons in the major leagues. Remember that Wang made his first start of the year on April 24th, essentially missing the entire first month of the season. It would be hard to believe that a 20th victory would have eluded Wang if he had made those four more starts.

  • Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer and picked up 5 more RBI, raising his season total to 95. Having your second baseman and 7/8 hitter knock in 95 runs borders on comical.
  • Derek Jeter continues to rake the ball, going 3-for-5, including a game-tying homer.
  • The Yankees plated 12 runs, laced 18 hits, were handed a fielding error and still left 11 men on base.
  • Assuming Bobby Abreu can tally one more RBI before the regular season concludes, the Yankees lineup will boast a hitter who either holds a .300 batting average or has 100 RBI for six of nine lineup spots.
Looks like C.C. and Fausto are next on the menu. We'll see if New York's offense is hungry.

Santana to Dodgers?

The wheels are turning. My last post pondered the likelihood of a trade involving Cy Young winner Johan Santana.

Baseball Think Factory reports a rumored potential deal between the LA Dodgers and Twins involving Santana, outfielder Matt Kemp and top pitching prospect, Clayton Kershaw. is reporting a trade rumor that would send former CY Young award winner Johan Santana to the Dodgers in a deal for OF Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers would also send pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw is regarded as the top pitching prospect in baseball.

The Twins are looking for a young outfielder to possibly replace Torii Hunter.

The Foxsports story reports sources close to the Twins say the offer is being considered by the Dodgers.

That sounds like a pretty credible deal for both sides, though any trade involving the best pitcher in baseball seems like a fleecing. This rumor will probably remain just that, a rumor, until a prominent figure in the Dodgers organization legitimizes it.

Twins Will Shop Santana

Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Minnesota Twins will listen to offers on the centerpiece of their franchise this Winter.
The Twins don't have to trade Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana this winter, but they are expected to shop the left-handed pitcher who can become a free agent after next season. There will be more of a market for Santana, 28, this winter than next July before the trade deadline. The New York Mets, run by Omar Minaya, remain the strong favorite to acquire him if he leaves.
There will be several teams interested, but the price will probably be too steep to pursue. Even if a team comprised an offer good enough to land the lefty, his impending free agency might make the deal moot.

Should a contending team's last piece of the puzzle be a #1 starter, they might feel it necessary toward making a championship run. However, this would be an expensive six-month rental considering the type of super-prospects it would take to acquire him.

Sheffield Hangin' Em Up?

Gary Sheffield will be mulling over a possible shoulder surgery this off-season. He has already had untold amounts of cortisone shot into his body, and any potential steroid use would also contribute to his 38 year-old body breaking down.

When it comes time to decide whether to have offseason right shoulder surgery, Sheffield has to think of himself.

Some think Sheffield won't walk away because he has $28 million left on the table for the next two seasons. Others believe the lure of 500 career home runs or another World Series ring is too great.

They are wrong.

This is not about glory or money. It's about pain.

That's why it would come as no surprise if Sheffield retires.

Wouldn't that just be a shame. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.


In other news:

Cubs President John McDonough squashed any rumors of an A-Rod deal being in place. The Chicago Tribune agrees.

"I laughed when I heard it - it's outrageous," McDonough said.

Added Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who managed Rodriguez in Seattle when A-Rod broke into the league: "There's no truth to that story. Do you think his agent (Scott Boras) would fall into a trap like that? He wouldn't do that."

So now that that is settled, Alex Rodriguez can focus on hitting a homerun per playoff game played this October.

Clemens Out Until Playoffs

The above ESPN article reports that Roger Clemens will miss the remainder of the regular season due to his "lingering left hamstring injury."

"I fully expect to be out there," Clemens said. "I still think it's improving. A little swelling, but I ran quite a bit in the deep end of a pool to try and get that motion going. They're really going to try and just let it rest."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Clemens could have pitched Tuesday if it had been a must-win game.

Sounds like Cashman and Co. are playing this one as safe as possible, and understandably so.

Torre + Bullpen = Trouble

Alex Rodriguez hit his 53rd homer of the year in style, bashing a grand slam that raised his RBI total to 151. Kei Igawa fought tooth and nail through five scoreless innings, walking five and throwing 87 pitches.

Unfortunately, the 5-0 lead Igawa handed the bullpen would be blown the very next inning with Edwar Ramirez and Brian Bruney doing the heavy lifting. The assist goes to Torre, who after seeing Edwar walk two batters decided to go to the man who could walk a dead dog. That of course, is Bruney, whose pitch arsenal includes a 93 mph fastball, a 94 mph fastball and a 95 mph fastball. All of which are straight.

He followed Edwar's example by walking two of his own, including one with the bases juiced, and then served up a grand salami to a career minor leaguer. If you TIVOed the game, go back and watch Bruney's appearance. He didn't thrown one off-speed pitch. Just grooved fastball after fastball, graduating from Kyle Farnsworth U. and securing his unconditional release.

And just like that, a night of celebrating a playoff berth became an absurd loss. Maybe the playoff auditions should wait until after the playoffs have become a certainty, Joe. Maybe tossing a reliever out onto the mound who can throw strikes would help the team escape a pitching jam.

After only 87 pitches, Igawa probably could have gone another inning, and if Torre was that hellbent on getting him out of the game, he could have gone batter-to-batter with him. I first guessed on this one, thinking Torre went to his bullpen too early...again. I also first-guessed that Bruney would walk as many batters as Edwar did, and throw nothing but fastballs. It was a bad time to be right.

Torre also could have used Ross Ohlendorf in that spot. His uncanny ability to throw strikes and induce groundballs would have been a better answer than Bri and Eddie. And before you say that Ohlendorf pitched on Monday afternoon, remember that Jose Veras threw just as many pitches on Monday (22), but still managed to pitch Tuesday night. Before Monday's appearance, Ohlendorf only faced one batter on Saturday, meaning he was more than capable of tossing an inning last night.

Sure, Ohlendorf's future is more important to the Yankees than a guy like Veras, but an innings cap is far from necessary. After throwing 180+ innings for the Diamondbacks farm system in 2006, he's been limited to under 100 innings in 2007, due largely in part to several minor back injuries.


Any dreams of a divisional crown have fallen by the wayside, and because Detroit won last night, New York's magic number remains at 1

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rocket Goes Tonight, Reinforcements Wait


Looks like Clemens will not start tonight's game against the Devil Rays, and Kei Igawa will take his place. LoHud reports that Clemens will not pitch at all during this series. Could be aggravated injury, but it's more likely that Joe Torre wants to rest the 45 year old as much as possible.


Roger Clemens
is scheduled to start tonight's game at Tampa Bay. Should he have any issues before or during his appearance, Tyler Kepner reports that Kei Igawa and Matt DeSalvo are waiting in the wings. In Oz terms, that means a Clemens setback could give way to a Flying Monkey or a Lollipop Kid taking the mound tonight. How's that for generating confidence.

Ian Kennedy probably will not pitch for the rest of the regular season, and may only pitch again in 2007 if a long man be needed. One would think that Phil Hughes offers an ability more applicable to the bullpen than Kennedy, but that remains to be decided. This is also under the assumption that Mike Mussina pushed Hughes aside in attaining the #4 spot of the Yankees playoff rotation.

Drop by to take a look at playoff predictions from myself and several other Yankees bloggers.

- Magic number is now 1, with a Yankees win or Detroit loss clinching a playoff berth.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rookie Hazing Photos Unleashed

As is customary for major league teams on their final roadtrip of the season, the Yankees dressed up their rookies in embarrassing costumes this afternoon. The motif this year? The Wizard of Oz.

Edwar Ramirez faced a more difficult dilemma: How to shimmy into that little Wicked Witch of the West dress?

He eventually made it, then pulled on his pointy black hat and looked into a mirror. Just for confirmation, he called across the clubhouse to Derek Jeter.

"Jeet! Jeet!" the pitcher said. "Nice?"

Jeter studied the ensemble and smiled.

"Yep," he said. "Bueno."

Joba Chamberlain plays the Cowardly Lion. Phil Hughes is the Tin Man. Upon further review, Shelley Duncan is not a country western singer, but the Scarecrow. Ian Kennedy uncomfortably donned the Dorothy attire. Ross Ohlendorf was a palace guard and Kei Igawa appropriately dressed as one of the flying monkey things.

Here they are:

Bartender, Jobu Needs A RePhil

(Photos taken from The Hardball Times)

As Joba Chamberlain continues on an effortless path toward dominant superstardom, there has to be some sense of disregard for the previously celebrated Yankees prodigy. Somewhere between a potential no-hit bid in Arlington and Joba's first major league save, Phil Hughes got lost in the shuffle. After all, it was Phil who was touted as "the future," not Chamberlain. It's Hughes who is known as "The Franchise," not The Hutt. How quickly the other shoe can drop in the Yankee universe.

Over and over again, the question returns to Phil's velocity, or lack thereof. "Where'd his plus fastball go?" or "Why's his curveball look so flat?"

I don't pretend to have the outright solution to Phil's struggles, and nobody else does either. But here are the facts: 1) Hughes made his major league debut at age 20 after just three starts at AAA-Scranton; 2) After the butterflies of his first big league start subsided, Hughes pursued history, with only a hamstring tear sidetracking what seemed like a no-hit night; 3) Hughes is now 21 years old. Aside from any difference in his stuff, every starting pitcher takes some lumps before easing into the professional athlete he will become.

The pitcher I saw in the minor leagues was more aggressive and athletic. Check out the video from Phil's appearance in the 2006 Future's Game. I spoke to Carlos Gomez, a former big leaguer whose exemplary work can be found at The Hardball Times, including his first and second articles discussing Mr. Hughes. Though I believe a great deal of Phil's woes stem from his serious hamstring and ankle injuries, Carlos makes several strong points. Points that I totally agree with, and have sensed since Phil's "comeback."

One of the major points Gomez makes with his analysis revolves around the noticeably different arm-slot which Hughes uses now in comparison to 2006. During the previously mentioned Futures Game, Hughes used a release much closer to "three-quarters" delivery, whereas 2007 has seen him come much more "over the top." This adjustment alone zaps some of the velocity from his fastball, although it contributes to a truer 12-to-6 curve. Phil's delivery in 2006 also shows off his athleticism, producing a more aggressive, tight motion toward homeplate.

Because I completely agree with this difference in arm-slot, I asked Gomez if a return to Phil's 2006 mechanics would be a major undertaking:
One thing I've noticed on Phil is that he can change arm slots seemingly at will. If you look at his start vs Tampa, his arm slot that day was the lowest I've seen from him in the majors. However, while I prefer his '06 arm slot because of movement purposes and his head not moving out of the way, it seems like he has been more successsful with a more over-the-top delivery. I'd want him to throw harder if he's going to stick with a higher release point, since it minimizes lateral movement and sink.
Essentially, Phil has the capability of adjusting his armslot with ease. The fact that Phil is so robotic in repeating his delivery helps him in that regard. Another solid point from Carlos revolves around the lack of movement which comes from his present over-the-top slot. If his curveball benefits from this delivery, the lateral movement on his fastball suffers. Therefore, the 2-3 mph currently missing from his fastball are all the more important. On the topic of lost velocity, Gomez had this to say:
Look at the first article I wrote on [Hughes]. The first clip. Do you notice the difference in "drive" between the one on the left and the one on the right? He's more "drop and drive" on the left, more "tall and fall" on the right, in my opinion. More than anything, I think that this whole idea of "not drifting" through the "balance point" is what has cost him the extra velocity.
If you visit the article Carlos mentions, the first pair of photos (pictured above) completely support his claim. The first one, from the 2006 Futures Game, shows Hughes with the drop-and-drive mentality. Think of Daisuke Matsuzaka and how his lower half, particularly his backside, seems to drop and sit, while his legs drift toward home. This is where many power pitches generate their velocity. In 2006, Hughes had more of that power and drive directed toward the batter, but this season has seen him become a "tall-and-fall" pitcher.

This type of delivery sees Hughes almost "stay put" after his legkick reaches its highest point. As his landing leg makes its way back down, his lower half stays pretty still, lacking the drift I mentioned earlier. The result is a much less athletic, powerful movement. Whether or not this alteration is purely mental - meaning Phil's never regained enough confidence to again trust the hamstring he injured - is a possibility. Recovering from such an injury may well cause for Phil's lack of drive, but there is also a chance that the Yankees pitching hierarchy intentionally pursue such mechanics. Frightened by the thought, I asked Gomez:
I have a feeling, however, that the pitching gurus for the Yankee organization like "the new" Phil Hughes mechanics, but I sure don't. I'm slightly joking here, but it makes Phil look like a 33 year old pitcher instead of the athletic, aggressive gunslinger I think he should be.
His reply:
Well said.... This would be my fear as well.
Frightening indeed. After all the discussion, the real hope here is that Yankees pitching "gurus" like Nardi Contreras or Billy Connors are perceptive enough to realize how much better off Phil would be, now and in the future, if he returned to his 2006 style. Driving toward home, instead of waiting for his landing leg to drop. Gliding over the rubber as opposed to falling downward. Jim Callis could also be correct in asserting that Hughes will not again be "right" until next season when his body returns to 100% health.

We'll have to wait and see, though it appears that Phil's already begun to put more cheddar on his fastball. During Phil's last start against Toronto, MLB Gameday calculated his fastballs as follows:
89 mph 3 times
90 mph 6 times
91 mph 22 times
92 mph 31 times
93 mph 8 times
94 mph 2 times
- Much thanks to Carlos Gomez for his insights and accessibility.

Joba Rules: The First Amendment

The Yankees made their first amendment to the strict set of rules regarding Joba Chamberlain's usage. The flamethrowing righthander celebrated his 22nd birthday by entering yesterday's game with men on base for the first time in his relieving career. He also pitched the 9th inning in a save situation for the first time.

In what seemed to be an inevitable decision, the "Joba Rules" have been modified in lieu of the postseason. Yankee fans can expect Brian Cashman to relax the restrictions on Chamberlain, so that he is available with much more regularity. The Yanks will still be extremely cautious with his pitchcounts, but the training wheels are officially off. Joe Torre, however, will be watched like a hawk.

In his column today, Joel Sherman talked to Mike Mussina about the recent tweak of these rules:

“When you put on a uniform in the postseason, you’re available every day,” Mussina said. “That’s just simply the way it is.”

When asked if this represented a team-wide view, Mussina said, “I am pretty sure you can take a survey, and it would be the same opinion.”

...“If we want to do what we want to do come October, we are going to need him [every day],” Mussina said. “Joe believes in him and Joe wants to use him.”

If Torre can’t use him in obvious situations in October, the Joba Rules very well may become the Chamberlain Conflict.

Moose, speaking the truth.

Chamberlain's innings high at the University of Nebraska was 118.2 in 2005. Through three minor league levels and the majors, Joba's compiled 120 innings in 2007.

Yankees Pitching Breaking Records?

Ed Price of the Newark Star Ledger reports that the 2007 New York Yankees have tied the 2003 Texas Rangers AL record for most pitching changes (254) in a given season.

That works out to 3.18 relievers used per game (helped along by the 16 pitching changes combined in Friday and Saturday's marathons).

Those 2003 Rangers went 71-91 with a 4.92 ERA for the bullpen. The 2007 Yankees are 90-65 with a 4.28 ERA for the relievers.

By the way, Alex Rodriguez was on both teams.

Not sure if it ranks up there with Maris's 61 or Aaron's 755, but I'm sure Joe Torre will wear it as a badge of honor. And, honorary members Steve Karsay, Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Quantrill and Scott Proctor will wear patches labeled "255" on their jersey sleeves for the remainder of their (short) careers.


Also, Roger Clemens will be pushed back to Tuesday, with Andy Pettitte starting tomorrow afternoon.

A-Rod & Wrigleyville Continued

The rumor mill is in mid-Winter form. The NY Magazine article which sparked so much online interest was discussed Sunday night by, who else, Scott Boras. Resident Yankee village idiot, Randy Levine also offered his two cents on the topic.

Every sports page covered this "non-story." Newsday - Daily News - Bergen Record - Chicago Sun-Times.

Via the ESPN article:

"Great players with great demand create great rumors," Boras said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday night. "While I would enjoy having lunch with Mark Cuban and [John] Canning, at this point of the year that conversation would not include Alex Rodriguez. I have not talked to anyone."

Canning, chairman of private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, is thought to be a favorite to buy the Cubs from Tribune Co., which is in the process of being purchased by an entity controlled by real estate investor Sam Zell. Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, submitted an application to examine the Cubs' finances.

Speaking before Sunday's 7-5 win over Toronto, Rodriguez said the report was "nonsense," as far as he knew.

Yankees' executive Randy Levine also responded harshly to the magazine piece.

"It's a silly story, and we don't believe it," he told's Buster Olney on Sunday evening. "However, if it was true, it would be grounds to disqualify the applicant even before he went through the process, because it would demonstrate a disregard for major league rules and procedures, and we're confident the commissioner would feel the same way."

Levine later said he spoke to Bud Selig, and the commissioner agreed with Levine's interpretation of the story, and its possible implications. A player can neither have part ownership of a team nor negotiate for future ownership.

We'll have to wait and see if there is any merit to these Cubbie rumors, but would anyone be surprised if Boras utilized sinister, unethical business practices in order to gain leverage for a client? Especially when that client is his most cherished, most talented rainmaker of his agency.

As far as Levine, I would rather have the Yankee Stadium vendors step in for him and the 99 other Presidents, VP's and Assistant VP's that clog up the Yankees front office. Everytime I see Levine and his cronies overflow into a given press conference, I feel like I'm watching the "Greed is Good" speech from the film Wall Street.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yankees Win Again, Moose Steps Up

Mike Mussina's line for today's win: 7 innings; 7 hits; 3 ER; 5 K's; 1 BB; 97 pitches (66 strikes)

There haven't been any reports yet, but it seems a forgone conclusion that Moose pitched his way into the postseason rotation. I'm not sure if Yankee fans should be happy about that.

Don't get me wrong, I have much respect for Mussina. He has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers to ever toe a major league rubber. He's spent his entire career within the AL East, the toughest division to pitch in, bar-none. As much as Moose is a control pitcher, some baseball fans like to forget the fact that he was a monster for Baltimore, throwing a power fastball that helped him toward four 200 strikeout seasons. He tossed 200+ innings in nine consecutive seasons.

With all that said, I'm still on the fence in terms of having him start game four of a divisional playoff series. Is it possible to come back from the horrible three game stretch Moose had in mid-August? Absolutely. Has his last three impressive starts erased his inability to hold a lead against Detroit last October? Absolutely not.

As previously stated, Joe Torre hasn't said anything directly, but he's dropped enough hints and seen enough positives to again give Mike the ball in the postseason.

The repercussions
: Phil Hughes moves to an already crowded bullpen, alongside fellow starter Ian Kennedy.

A-Rod's Second City Rumblings

Alex Rodriguez to the Cubbies? New York Magazine reports that his agent, Scott Boras, has already opened talks with the potential new owner of the Chicago Cubs about a mega deal.

A new report says Alex Rodriguez’s agent has spoken to a potential new owner of the Chicago Cubs about a bank-breaking deal that could give A-Rod a cut of the team.

The powerful Yankee third baseman is eligible to opt for free agency 10 days after the World Series ends this fall. And, New York magazine reports, super-agent Scott Boras is already talking to who he thinks is the favorite group vying to purchase Chicago’s first-place team.

According to the magazine, Boras is peddling a Second City deal that could go for an average of $30 million a year over 10 seasons, with much of that cash backloaded for the 32-year-old Rodriguez - who would then be given the right to buy a chunk of the Cubs at the contract’s conclusion. The report does not indicate who would pay for this proposed, precedent-setting deal.

There will be a ton of these rumors swirling once the World Series concludes, but I didn't think serious speculation would begin so early. Looks like Mark Cuban will waste zero time making a big splash, should he call Wrigley home in the near future. There is a definite possibility that this entire story is simply "Boras Being Boras," drumming up the free agency drum a little early. If the story is true, isn't this just a tad bit of tampering going on?

Yankees Magic Number is "10"

Nope, not that magic number. Think of how many relievers New York needed. Or what inning Melky Cabrera decided to end it.

In what was one of the ugliest pitched games in franchise history, here's a quick recap:

  • Another extra inning affair involving the Blue Jays.
  • A walk-off single for Leche.
  • Phil Hughes might've gone six strong had it not been for 20 bloop singles falling in.
  • Franchise-record 10 Yankees relievers needed to "secure" a 12-11 circus of a ballgame.
  • Edwar Ramirez either strikes out the side or cries in a corner.
  • Alex Rodriguez owns the 9th inning... or any other inning where a crucial RBI is to be had.
  • Michael Kay likes to talk about Michael Kay... a lot. Especially if Michael Kay has an upcoming theatrical appearance at an unknown middle school gymnasium.
  • Robinson Cano does not like Doug Mienkiewicz hogging all the infield pop-ups.
  • Ross Ohlendorf has nasty stuff.

    - Magic number is now just 3

Duncan Brothers Looking Grim

Chris Duncan and brother Shelley Duncan both play in the major leagues. Both Duncans: 1) are at least 8-foot-2, 2) awkwardly flail tree-trunk-like limbs, and 3) know how to hit fastballs a long way.

Oh yeah, the brothers Duncan are also extremely competitive... with each other. Apparently, the sports hernias which both Chris and Shelley suffer from, can be linked to an unhealthy sibling rivalry.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan believes the sports hernia that ended his season a few weeks early may have been a result of a heated offseason sibling rivalry in the weight room.

The 26-year-old Duncan said he and brother Shelley, 27, an outfielder with the New York Yankees, usually lift weights and work out together in the offseason. As kids, the sons of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan constantly battled, and it has carried over to their professional careers.

"This offseason we tried to work out together, and it got so bad we started going to the gym at separate times," Chris Duncan said. "We'd warm up playing basketball and the next thing you know we were going full on.

"We can't do that, we're going to get hurt."

In the weight room, they're forever trying to top one another. Now both brothers have a sports hernia. Shelley Duncan, who also has a bone bruise in his left pelvis, is postponing his operation until the Yankees' season is over.

"I'd go and then he would put another plate on, then I would go and I'd try to slip one on, and the next thing you know we're like blown out," Chris Duncan said. "We can't work out together, it gets too competitive."

No offense, but maybe pops (St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan) should take a minute out from teaching Mike Maroth how not to suck, and pry Shelley off the lifeless body of his younger brother. Shelley's version of the bash brothers may result in permanent damage, if not a fatality of Mortal Kombat proportions.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hughes Starts, Clemens To Go Monday

Another starter scratched, another rotation spot in question. Phil Hughes will take the bump today, in place of an ailing rookie and an ailing 45 year old.

After Ian Kennedy was scratched from Saturday's start due to tightness in his upper back, Roger Clemens followed with a "stinger" in his left hamstring. Kennedy, who has never missed a start in his life, may rejoin the rotation "next week," said Manager Joe Torre. Clemens said he will receive treatment the next two days and is confident he will be able to start Monday afternoon.

As of right now, these injuries appear to be minor tweaks, but even if they were major setbacks, the Yankees would bide their time before revealing it. New York has to hope that Rocket and IPK can rejoin the rotation not only to help chase the division, but also to give Torre all the evidence he can sift through in order to comprise his playoff rotation.

Should Mike Mussina build on his last two strong starts, I feel there is little doubt that Torre will go veteran over rookie for the 4th spot in the postseason rotation. I don't necessarily agree with such a move, but Moose's next start will tell a lot in the making of that decision.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Kennedy Scratched From Tomorrow's Start

Today, Ian Kennedy was scratched for Saturday's start because of a strain in his upper back. It does not sound very serious, but the rotation will essentially move up one spot, with Roger Clemens pitching in his place tomorrow.

Kennedy is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA over his first three starts in the major leagues.

Notorious H.G.H.

From comes a report that an intercepted shipment of Human Growth Hormone, better known as HGH, was meant for a "well-known" Massachusetts athlete/entertainer who stands 6-foot-5 and tips the scales at 276 pounds. The illegal drug shipment came from Specialty, a St. Louis based company which admitted to distributing HGH, agreed to pay a $10.5 million fine and cooperate with authorities.
No one from Specialty is expected to be charged as long as they cooperate with prosecutors. The admission, however, figures to pique the interest of officials in the NFL and Major League Baseball, who have been trying to establish if any of their athletes have been involved in this case, or another in Albany, which has resulted in 22 indictments.
David Ortiz is nicknamed "Big Papi" for a reason. He's big, he's fat and he's big. I don't know if he's 276 pounds kinda big, but I wouldn't put it past him. He is listed as 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds on several websites, but he is definitely over 230. I'd guess in the 260 range, but it's unknown how many Big Macs Big Sloppi put away during yesterday's down-time.

I'm not making any conclusions here, because the "Massachusetts athlete" could just as easily be New England Patriot, Kyle Brady. However, if that were the case, investigators would have to be pretty flexible with the phrase "well-known" as the only thing well-known about Brady is that he was one of many 1st round draft busts at the expense of the New York Jets.

Brady is listed at 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds while Mike Vrabel is listed at 6-foot-4 and 261 pounds. Coming in at 270 pounds but only standing 6-foot-2, it could be Adalius Thomas in stilettos, but I'll let you be the judge.

With a little promotion, this could become a pretty exciting game. Just call it "Find The User" and time contestants as they peer through the Patriots roster. Remember rule #1 everybody, you can't use the same player twice. There goes Rodney Harrison. Shoot, wonder if Rick Ankiel has any buddies on the Celtics...

Wells Out, Jays Pitching Matchups

Hot off the presses, Vernon Wells has been shut down for the season, as Pete Abe reports. There's no doubt that Wells isn't living up to the $126 million contract he signed last year, but he is still a dangerous weapon in the middle of Toronto's lineup. He also has a tendency of hurting Yankees pitching - think homerun off of Mariano Rivera.

Regardless of how badly his shoulder is barking, taking Wells out of the batting order puts a lot more weight on Alex Rios and Frank Thomas. Then again, they do have Matt Stairs, who is always just a HBP away from attacking A-Rod. That, along with a very good Blue Jays rotation, might be enough to hold the Yankees offense down. Well, maybe not.

Here are the pitching matchups:

Today: Roy Halladay vs Chien-Ming Wang

Saturday: Shaun Marcum vs Ian Kennedy

Sunday: Dustin McGowan vs Roger Clemens

Monday: A.J. Burnett vs Phil Hughes

Should be a tough test for a fiery Yankees offense.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Santana Staying in Minnie?

According to Charley Walters of the Pioneer-Press, Johan Santana is on the verge of purchasing "a multi-million dollar home" in the wealthy Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. In late July, the same type of story emerged regarding New York's most elusive superstar.

Back then, it was Alex Rodiguez and a report that he was eyeing a $25 million estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. A-Rod quickly denied the rumors, stating he had not been looking at houses and that anyone assuming otherwise was mistaken.

Does this mean that Santana is planning to remain in the Twin Cities for the forseeable future? Or are another group of fans being duped by rumor and speculation? There is also the possibility that Santana does not want to dislodge his wife and two children from the area they've grown accustomed to. Johan probably assumes, and rightfully so, that once his free agent contract comes through he'll have enough dough for a palace in every zipcode.

There were already rumblings about what it would take to acquire Santana, should the Twinkies decide to move him. Buster Olney opined that the Yankees would have to give up Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in order to make that happen. But a Winter acquisition or mid-season trade doesn't guarantee Johan won't take off once he becomes a free-agent.

And who's to say that Minnesota would allow potential trading partners a 72 hour window with which to negotiate a contract extension. Giving up a boatload of high-ceiling prospects for a Summer of Santana would leave a pretty bad taste in the mouth of many GMs.

Unless Minnesota shocks the baseball world by extending Santana before his impending free agency, all signs point to the usual suspects - Yanks, Mets, Red Sox - battling to the death for the southpaw's services.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interesting Free Agent May Join '08 Class

As ESPN already reported, Cuban homerun king Alexei Ramirez could potentially join the likes of Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter as a 2008 free agent. The 26 year old Cuban shortstop/outfielder is renowned in his native land as a legitimate slugger, but the level of competition remains a factor.

Some believe that the Cuban baseball league is comparable to that of Class A ball in the United States' minor league circuit. Should that contention be true, it would be hard to imagine Ramirez's power numbers holding up in AAA, much less against big league pitchers.

I've heard Yankee followers already state Ramirez as a necessary replacement for Bobby Abreu, who has a club-option for 2008. That idea borders on ridiculous, especially when considering that Buster Olney already reported that the Yankees are all but decided on picking up the rightfielder's option.

1 Game Back

Boston's closer celebrates his latest chokejob.

The Yankees are one game behind Boston in the loss column.

Let me say that again. The Yankees are one back.

After being 14.5 games back at one point of the season, the Bombers have stormed all the way back, thanks to a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles and simultaneous sweep of the Red Sox. Special consideration goes out to Johnathon Papelblown, who promptly served up a 2-out grandslammer in the bottom of the eighth inning. The score went from a manageable 1-run deficit to a 6-1 shellacking.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx, Andy Pettitte pitched into the eighth inning, going 7.2 innings of 1-run ball, with Joba Chamberlain securing the final out of the inning by way of a slider strikeout. Mariano Rivera worked out of another bases-loaded jam by striking out Scott Moore to end the game and move the Yankees a step closer toward a divisional shocker.

Adding to the satisfaction of the Red Sox collapse was the 200th career victory for Pettitte, a first in organizational history, as no other Yankee farmland ever went on to notch 200 career wins.

Hideki Matsui hit his 25th homerun of the season. The solo shot was his 99th RBI and seems to have Godzilla poised toward a postseason hot-streak.

Today's Pitching Matchups

1) Yankees
vs. Orioles

  • Andy Pettitte will try to improve his win total to 14 on the year, and draws an unlikely matchup as Brian Burres is essentially a reliever being asked to start. For Burres, his last start saw him go seven shutout innings, the first scoreless appearance of his career. He is 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA against the Yankees this year, but also has put together such gems as his August 22nd outing against Texas in which he went 0.2 innings, allowing 8 runs on 8 hits.

2) Tigers vs. Indians

  • Following losses from both Boston and Detroit last night, the Yankees find themselves two out of the division and five up in the wildcard races. Cy Young hopeful and Cleveland's ace, C.C. Sabathia, draws pedestrian southpaw Nate Robertson. Robertson has a losing record and an ERA approaching 5.00, while Sabathia looks to notch his 18th win and lower his 3.21 ERA.

3) Red Sox vs. Blue Jays

  • Clay Buchholz made history in his last start, joining a short list of rookie pitchers who tossed a no-hitter. The Red Sox hope Buchholz can stop the bleeding, as the Yankees have crept just two games out of the division lead. In July and August, Pat Litsch posted a 2.48 ERA. But his past three starts were all losses due to an ugly 10.37 ERA. Boston won't provide much breathing room as Litsch has a 7.20 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mussina + Gagne = 2 Games Back

Mike Mussina
should always pitch on extra rest.

The Moose made his second straight strong start, this time with a healthy dose of whiffs. Over 7 shutout innings, Mussina gave up only 3 hits while striking out six, walking only one, and throwing 98 pitches. If Mussina is going to battle his way into the potential postseason rotation, he's going to have to be counted on for more than just 80-pitch outings. Tonight offered Moose's first step in that direction.

Oh yeah, the offense also put up 12 runs with Doug Mientkiewicz, Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera doing the heavy lifting - (each of them had three or more RBI). The Mink man continues to impress not only in the field but at the plate, collecting two more hits, one of which was a three-run homer to right. Godzilla looks like he's finally coming out of his slump, and Melky may be following suit after a sac-fly and two-run single.


  • Jose Veras looks like a totally different pitcher than the guy we all saw before having bone chips removed from his elbow. Although it wasn't as reconstructive as Tommy John surgery, Veras now flashes a fastball that hovers between 93-96mph and a tight power-curveball around 80mph. His command has been solid since joining the Yankees' expanded roster

  • Eric Gagne continues to have Yankee fans cheering his name. In what's become the Yankees non-signing of the season, Gagne gagged again, blowing yet another save and allowing three runs to score in the bottom of the eighth. One of those runs was walked in, but brilliant strategist he is, Terry Francona decided to leave the troubled reliever in the ballgame.

Belichick's Methods Revealed

Jets Fans:

In case you haven't already seen it, here is one of the funnier videos to make its way onto the blogosphere. "We're flying dark!" is the highlight, and what's most entertaining is how spot-on the Belichick voiceover may actually be.

Joba Sings Too!

Just came across this video on Youtube.

Not only can he throw 100mph, but Joba Chamberlain knows how to groove with the best of him, screeching out his remix of the Bee Gee's hit "Staying Alive." Not sure who his duet partner is, but it appears to be a bullpen catcher.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gagne's Best Pitch Plunks Rivera

Visiting relievers better be careful while pacing the narrow stretch of real estate located behind the right-centerfield wall of Fenway Park. After last night, opposing teams may issue their closers a set of Medieval armor before allowing them to loosen, stretch or hoard sunflower seeds.

Apparently while warming up in the visiting bullpen, Mariano Rivera was plunked on the arm by an erratic throw from Eric Gagne, who was simultaneously warming up in the Boston bullpen. The pitch, probably the most valuable one he's thrown in a Red Sox uniform, hit Mo flush on the back of his pitching elbow, leaving the Yankee closer's arm numb and possibly contributing to his 9th inning struggles last night.

From George King of the NY Post:
Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth inning of last night's game moments after his right arm went numb when hit by an errant toss that came from the Red Sox bullpen that adjoins the Yankees' pen beyond Fenway Park's right-field fence.

As Rivera prepared to protect a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, he was struck in the back of the elbow by a ball thrown wildly by Eric Gagne.

"It came in hot," said Yankees reliever Ron Villone, who witnessed the scary moment. "He couldn't feel his arm; it was numb. We were in the bullpen saying, 'Oh no.' "

Whether or not that incident is to blame for Mo's lack of control last night is debatable. What is certain, is that a closer's focus should entail shutout pitching while on the mound, and not dodging grenades while warming up.

By far the most impressive pitch Gagne's thrown after August 1st. Maybe Terry Francona is getting even after Joba Chamberlain's 100mph chin-music forced Kevin Youkilis to don Pampers under his jock-strap whenever he digs in against New York. Then again, that would mean that Gag-ne once again missed his spot, plunking the wrong pitcher.

Captain, Rocket Propel Yanks

Through six swift innings, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling shut down the explosive offenses of Boston and New York. Though Red Light worked deeper into the game by managing a more economical pitchcount, The Rocket struck out more batters, only allowing an unearned run to cross homeplate on two hits over six strong.

Once the eighth inning rolled around, the Yankees appeared energized by Joba Chamberlain's performance during a seventh inning in which the 21 year old flamethrower stranded Eric Hinske after his double led off the inning. After Doug Mientchiewicz singled to left, Joe Torre went to his bench, pinch-hitting Jason Giambi for Jose Molina and thereby forfeiting the DH spot. The move would prove to be wise as The Big G let loose with an opposite field ping-pong ball off the Green Monster.

With one out and the go-ahead run standing on third base, Johnny Damon failed to get the run home, spinning a weak loop in front of first base. The spotlight inevitably shone on the Captain, Derek Jeter, who improved on his .430+ batting average with two outs and RISP. After battling Schilling throughout the atbat, Jetes put a hanging splitter into orbit, securing a landing strip along the third row of Monster seats. The three-run jack broke the 1-1 tie, giving Joba and Mariano Rivera a three run cushion to work with.

Turns out the twosome would need every one of those runs. Although his two innings were again impressive, Joba allowed his first earned run via a Mike Lowell solo shot, making it a two-run game for Rivera. After Mo walked Jason Varitek to lead off the inning and Julio Lugo knocked him in on an RBI double, the Yankees closer struggled with his command.

After hitting rookie sensation Jacoby Ellsbury on the first pitch of the atbat and walking Dustin Pedroia, the bases would eventually be juiced for none other than The Big Sloppi. Fortunately for Mariano, his skipper had a golden nugget of advice during a pre-atbat mound conference: "If you get this guy out, then we win the game," Torre quibbed. Though he looked on the precipice of completely imploding, Rivera was somehow able to induce a harmless popfly from David Ortiz and Jeter squeezed the last out. The result of the routine flyout to shallow centerfield was a collective sigh of relief throughout metropolitan area living rooms, and the pictured fist-pump above.

Jeter on his ability to come through in the clutch with such regularity:
"You're not always going to come through, but I enjoy them," Jeter said. "Ever since you're a little kid, you think of being up in big situations. I think you always envision yourself coming through."
We may envision, but Jeter enforces.

  • Unsung hero of the game award goes to Doug Mientchiewicz, who collected two hits and made three dazzling defensive plays in the field.

Obligatory A-Rod Contract Post

Since it wouldn't be a 24 hour period without at least once mentioning Alex Rodriguez and his upcoming free agency, it seemed only proper that a few links be provided from a few NYC rags.

  • The New York Post contends that the Yankees 2007 free agent class - A-Rod, Posada, Pettitte, Rivera - may constitute the top four free agents in all of baseball.
  • Finally, David Ortiz offered his two cents on Rodriguez and his impending dash for (more) cash. Basically, Big Sloppi semi-mimics Field of Dreams, predicting that 'If you pay him, he will come.'