Monday, December 31, 2007

J. Brent Cox Had Tommy John Surgery

Originally, it was rumored to have been minor elbow surgery for injured relief pitching prospect J. Brent Cox. However, PinstripesPlus reported Saturday that Cox had indeed undergone Tommy John surgery:
The Yankees drafted J. Brent Cox in the 2nd round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of the University of Texas. Succumbing to Tommy John surgery this past season after dominating the Double-A level in 2006, he is rehabbing his way back to the mound and he appears to be on track for a healthy return as soon as the start of the 2008 season.
His injury is reportedly not as substantial as most which require TJ surgery, and Cox might therefore come back from the procedure quicker than most.

Spending a full season at AA-Trenton in 2006, Cox dominated the Eastern League at 22 years old. Over 77 relief innings, he posted a 1.75 ERA, allowed 54 hits, struck out 60 and walked 24 batters.

Cox may be joined by fellow TJ rehabber Mark Melancon, who is also looking to make an impact at the major league level in 2008.

Leyritz Knew Victim Of Crash

According to Page Six of the NY Post, Jim Leyritz knew the woman killed when he ran a redlight alledgedly under the influence of alcohol.

From Page Six:

Former Yankee Jim Leyritz knew the woman he killed.

Friends of the baseball star told exclusively, that Leyritz knew Fredia Ann Veitch the 30-year-old mother of two, who died early this morning when he allegedly ran a red light and collided with her vehicle.

“One of Jim’s best friends is friends with Fredia,” a source close to Leyritz told “Jim knew who she was--that’s what makes this even worse.”

Veitch worked as a bartender in a local sports bar. She had left the Original Steakhouse and Sports Theatre in Fort Lauderdale earlier that evening. Erica Chevillar, another close friend of Leyritz, revealed what happened last night at Automatic Slims, the Ft. Lauderdale night club.

Jim Leyritz enjoyed his 44th birthday in style, sipping Grey Goose and tonics, laughing and cracking jokes with his best friends behind the velvet ropes.

“We were all out celebrating, it was his birthday,” Chevillar, 26, said. “The place was packed and we had a table, about ten of us, and we were just hanging out. It wasn’t a crazy night or anything, that’s what’s so strange.”

“When I left, he didn’t seem drunk at all actually. The table had a bottle of vodka, I think he was drinking vodka tonics—but he wasn’t drinking enough for me to even notice,” she said. “He was smiling and laughing all night, we were all having fun. He’s always smiling. You can see him smiling throughout the room wherever we go.”

“People always recognize him and come up to him when we’re out. And he’s always so nice to everyone and that’s how it was last night.” When Chevillar left the club at about 2 a.m., Leyritz stayed with others in the group.

“Most of us had work in the morning, so I said to him, “Happy birthday, I’ll see you later,” and he just smiled and said, “Alright. See ya. He’s such a family guy. It’s devastating. Just devastating. I can’t believe it.”

Coworker Megan Ford described Veitch as a beloved bartender and friend. "Everyone here is really sad,” she said. “We’re short staffed because some servers were too upset to come in to work. She was really nice and had a lot of friends.”
As if it weren't devastating enough, the fact that Veitch was an acquaintance of Leyritz only compounds the loss. The former Yankee deserves whatever punishment he receives because DUI is a transgression yet to be taken seriously enough in terms of repercussions.

That said, it's difficult not to feel some iota of sorrow for all parties involved, including Leyritz. The tragedy however, lies with the deceased victim, Mrs. Veitch.

Who Wears Short Shorts

The Lakers do. But even short shorts reminiscent of Kurt Rambis or life before The Fab Five could not keep LA from losing by twenty to the Celts.

Boy, promotional teams really love the whole throwback idea a bit too much.

With the Jets poised to pick up another top 10 bust in the draft after a royally disappointing season and the Knicks playing like a team out of the California Penal League, the 6+ weeks until pitchers and catchers is seeming farther and farther away.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Did I Miss Something?

I know Melky Cabrera moving Johnny Damon to leftfield which subsequently pushed Hideki Matsui to designated hitter meant better outfield defense, but all of the Doug Mientkiewicz scoops in the world would not make me think of the 2007 Yankees fielding as anything resembling superb.

Baseball Musings seems to disagree:
Using six parameters to grade the probability of fielding a ball, the Web site took a look at every batted ball - not counting home runs - and rated the Rays the worst fielding team in baseball in 2007. The Yankees and Red Sox were first and second, respectively.
Names like Julio Lugo and Jason Giambi cannot not be erased, no matter how many doubles Coco and Leche turned into put-outs.

Harper: Boras Is A Mess

John Harper of the Daily News discovered superagent Scott Boras has "yet to recover from A-Rod's pounding."
Baseball insiders insist the hard feelings on A-Rod’s part toward Boras are genuine, that in taking over the negotiations himself he accused his agent of betrayal by misleading him about the level of interest from the Yankees.

Likewise, they say that Boras is reeling from the ego blow A-Rod dealt him by telling the world on “60 Minutes” he’s not even speaking to his agent these days.

“Yeah, (Boras) made his commission,” a prominent agent said this week, “but, come on, do you know how much money he has? With Boras it’s all about being king of the jungle, the most powerful agent and the toughest negotiator in the game.

“He loves being the guy that everyone in baseball fears. He wouldn’t for a minute concoct a plan that would diminish his reputation. His image as a god to the players is too important to him.

“A-Rod might not be the most popular guy in the game, but don’t think he didn’t do some serious damage to Boras’ image. He basically called the guy a lying weasel on national TV. Nobody in the business is shedding any tears for Boras, believe me, but he took a serious hit.”

Poor Boras... and the downward spiral continues:

For that matter, A-Rod detailed what many in baseball have suspected Boras of doing for years: keeping clients in the dark about negotiations as he goes about making the deal he wants to make.

“And Boras didn’t seem comfortable dealing with the Yankees about A-Rod once George Steinbrenner was out of the picture,” the person said. “He had a relationship with George, who always said that Boras was a tough but fair negotiator. But Hank and Hal (Steinbrenner) didn’t play up to him. Hal, especially, was tough with him. Boras didn’t like dealing with Hal.”

Whatever the reason, Boras took A-Rod down the opt-out path and it all blew up on him. His multi-million dollar commission apparently hasn’t healed all wounds. “He has tried to call more than once,” one person close to A-Rod said. “Alex hasn’t taken the calls.”

Hal is showing some pimp hand behind the scenes. And this comes after a recent report that Hal was the driving force behind the financial caution exercised on Johan Santana.

If Scotty B. is really down in the dumps, A-Rod deserves props for opting out of his business relationship with the Gordon Gecko of professional sports. Greed is good, but payback is better.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Never Do Nothing Wrong, But I'm Always Gettin' Blamed

Hot off the Detroit News presses. Roger Clemens may have been framed, or so says Jerry Green.

My rooted image of Roger Clemens was that he was a self-serving blowhard with a preening gait and a frightening fastball who never minded sticking the ball into some batter's ribs. He pitched with excellence, and he knew it.

That notion has not changed.

But America's perception of Clemens, the most successful pitcher of the past quarter-century, has changed from the excellent to the terrible.

He has become the poster person of Major League Baseball's accusatory Mitchell Report. The fingering of Clemens as a user of steroids and human growth hormones was the most shocking revelation of the condemning document.

What bothers me is Roger might have been framed!

We truly don’t know.

George Mitchell, the former senator from Maine, has attested he conducted a thorough investigation before writing the 409-page report. He has said the testimony of his witnesses was truthful and believable.

The testimony is likely going to prevent Clemens from going to the Baseball Hall of Fame and send him instead into baseball’s purgatory.

What bothers me is Mitchell might have been dreadfully gullible.

He based his condemnation of Clemens on evidence supplied by one stool pigeon who himself was faced with a jail term. So the voice sang essentially to save his butt.

What bothers me also is Roger Clemens, if ultimately exonerated, would never get the smear off of him.

And what bothers me most of all is I believe Roger Clemens and his pleas of innocence -- and I wind up more gullible than George Mitchell.

Great, great stuff. According to Mr. Green, this may become the day the music died.

Law: Insincere Sox

Keith Law of ESPN during his most recent chat:
H (Philly): What do you think about my conspiracy theory that Theo has not thought whatsoever of trading for Santana, but keeps throwing names out there and faking interest to try to get the Yankees to up the ante?

Keith Law: I've felt that way since the start. It's seemed a little half hearted to me. If the Red Sox were that serious, wouldn't it be done? Could the Twins be complicit in the conspiracy?
Like most of us have been saying all along, Law agrees Boston's supposed interest in Santana seems to be hollow, at best.

* If You'd Like To Make A Call, Please Hang Up and Try Again

Johan Santana is becoming a pain in major league baseball's ass; especially considering the soreness left by years of needlemarks revealing the sport's compromised integrity. Anyway, here is a cute Bill Smith piece from today which essentially offers little to no actual significance.

"We have one big issue to deal with," Smith said. "Maybe if we get that taken care of, we'll answer the other questions."

The issue is Santana, of course, and the reality the Twins have no chance to meet the contract requirements of a two-time Cy Young Award winner.

"You get a player like this, and then the teams involved are the highest-profile teams from the largest market ... there are going to be a ton of rumors," Smith said. "But that's what they are: rumors."

The Twins [have] three obvious holes in the lineup: center field, shortstop and third base.

"We have four players for three positions," he said. "We have two righthanded hitters [Harris, Everett], a lefty [Lamb] and a switch-hitter [Nick Punto]. I'm not worried about our infield."

That leaves center field. Is that player here yet?

I'm sure we heard a hint, though, that any deal for Santana would bring a center fielder -- validating the rumors that Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, or the Yankees' Melky Cabrera or the Mets' Carlos Gomez would be part of any Santana deal.

Right, Mr. Smith? "As I said, we have one big issue," he said. "If we can resolve that, maybe we'll know where we stand there [center field] and with our pitching."

So wait, the Twins are going to trade Santana? I don't know if I can take this suspense anymore... yawn. We all understand that the action Smith takes regarding Johan will, without question, define his career moving forward in major league baseball.

However, it's time to take that step forward because pretty soon he'll be sitting on the summer trade deadline wondering how his best potential deal became Aaron Heilman and Mike Pelfrey.

* Don't worry, there's always a daily update from the Four Letter. This one comes from Jayson Stark: "talks have moved so slowly it's now possible a trade may not get done 'for several weeks,' a source with knowledge of the discussions told's Jayson Stark."

Thank God for that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Boston's Bluff Continues

Joel Sherman is a solid baseball writer who often times gives his readers insights into the game that most journalists do not. However, today's column shows he is obviously being used by the Red Sox to continue their hollow threats of landing Johan Santana.

Sherman declares Boston now holds a commanding lead in the Santana sweepstakes.

Sherman's article comes following a 20 day hiatus for the holidays. His first day back on the job and the first piece he puts together is one decreeing Santana Fenway-bound? Sounds like somebody has been out of the loop and his "sources" were kind enough to feed some Sawx propaganda that would stir up Yankee fans and sell papers.

This whole situation is becoming more drawn out than Dave Koresh in Waco, Tex.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Surprise! Twins May Keep Johan

Johan Santana may be heading nowhere, and for a long time at that. The Pioneer Press reports the Twins front office is seriously considering retaining Santana, though a significant raise from their initial $93 million offer (including his 2008 salary) would be necessary.

The trade talks with both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are stalemated, however, the President of the Minnesota Twins told the St. Paul Pioneer Press Wednesday the team is serious about keeping Johan Santana in the Twin Cities.

The Twins have offered Santana, who already is guaranteed $13 million for 2008, an additional four years for a guaranteed $80 million. That contract would make Santana the highest-paid pitcher in baseball with a multi year deal.

"That remains our goal, our first choice, and I'm not going to veer from that," Minnesota team president Dave St. Peter said. "We are comfortable with that scenario if that's the best thing for the Twins' organization. Right now, Johan Santana is our opening night starter against the Los Angeles Angels and Torii Hunter, and I like our chances (of winning)."

This is no shock, especially considering the strong possibility the Yankees have pulled Phil Hughes off the table and the Red Sox were only in the sweepstakes to up the ante. Last night, Minnesota columist La Velle Neal described the Santana talks as "dormant," and not just due to the impending holiday.

Barring the Mets offering Reyes or Wright or a huge bundle of prospects - or a mystery team like the Angels sweeping in - Minnesota may shock everyone and actually pony up the money for one of their no longer cost controlled stars.

Unfortunately, the idea that the best move for Twins GM Bill Smith is no move at all is hard to buy. There is certainly the possibility that the Twins are worried they've scared off their best suitors and are using the threat of signing Santana long term to bring them back to the table.

Some resolution to this ridiculous coup would be nice, hopefully it comes early in the new year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Report: Twins Lowering Demands?

New York Times writer, Murray Chass, contends the Twins are backing down on their demands from the Yankees in a trade regarding Johan Santana.

The Twins’ trade talks seem to be in a timeout. The Yankees and the Red Sox apparently are the teams most serious about Santana, but their interest isn’t necessarily sincere.

The feeling among baseball people is the Red Sox, with a solid starting rotation already in place, don’t need Santana, would be reluctant to pay the price he would demand — $20 million or more a year for five years or more — and remain in the bidding only because the Yankees are in it.

The Yankees’ go-slow approach stems from their ambivalence over whether they want to keep Phil Hughes and a younger pitching prospect, Jeffrey Marquez, or have Santana pitch at the head of their rotation.

At one point, the Twins were said to be holding out for Hughes and Ian Kennedy, another of the Yankees’ attractive triumvirate of major league-ready young pitchers (the untouchable Joba Chamberlain being the third), but the Yankees wouldn’t give up both, so the Twins asked instead for Marquez, a 23-year-old right-hander.

General Manager Brian Cashman wants to hold on to the young pitchers. No one with authority is pushing for Santana, but Hank Steinbrenner may be heading in that direction.

There you have it. The GM wants to keep the young pitchers and no Yankees higher ups have shown contrary opinions - except for the new head honcho himself, Hankenstein.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Red Sox Mitchell Report

Daily News scribe Bill Madden noticed that the "groundbreaking" steroid report may have a few large omissions. The commissioner, president and George Mitchell's status as a paid employee of the Boston Red Sox just might have influenced his revelatory report.
"That, despite his protestations to the contrary, Mitchell was compromised by his ties with the Red Sox and to Selig. How else do you explain that not one prominent recent Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewer or Texas Ranger wound up in that report?" the official asked.

"I just think it's more than curious none of them were even mentioned when you take into account they played on Mitchell's team, the commissioner's team or the president's (George Bush) team."

Naw.. no conflicts of interest here.. just straight, tough legislative will.

* * * *

Clemens "Angry" About Accusations

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens says he is "numb" to all the recent steroid allegations and will appear on 60 Minutes to clear his name.

"Over the last 15 days, it's been extremely difficult, for my family, my children, my extended family," Clemens said. "I'm holding up better than they are. I'm almost numb to some of these suggestions that I used steroids. It's amazing to me that I'm going to lengths that I'm going to have to defend myself.

"I faced this last year when the LA Times reported that I used steroids. I said it was not true then. Now, the whole world knows it's not true now that that's come out.

"I'm angry about it," Clemens said, referring to the Mitchell report. "It's hurtful to me and my family. But we are coming upon Christmas now and I have been blessed in my life. I've been blessed in my career and I'm very thankful for those blessings."

The report came from a video posted on the Rocket's website.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

South Beach Tuna

Not baseball related, but Bill Parcells cut short another short-lived retirement, and instead of heading up the player personnel department for the Atlanta Falcons, is reportedly taking the same job within the Miami Dolphins organization. reports the contract is for four years. Looks like Parcells will be shopping for his own groceries down in Miami. As a Jets fan, I am weary of again having to draft and compete against a Parcells team - particularly one in-division. You can count on Big Tuna turning that sinking ship around, and fast.

* also reports former Parcells pundit, Terrell Owens, is telling Jessica Simpson to stay away from his man.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Taiwan & Mickey D's like Themselves Some Wanger

Report: A-Rod Drops Boras

According to reports from Variety Magazine, Alex Rodriguez has fired Scott Boras and will have entertainment agent Guy Oseary represent him. Oseary represents names like Madonna, Lenny Kravitz and David Blaine.
Guy Oseary, the former record company executive whose personal management stable includes Madonna, has signed his first athlete, Alex Rodriguez.

The New York Yankees third baseman, considered by many to be the game's top player, has signed with Oseary, who personally manages Lenny Kravitz and magician David Blaine in addition to Madonna. He is also a partner in Untitled Entertainment, whose clients include Hilary Swank, Penelope Cruz, Naomi Watts and Ashton Kutcher.

"As I embark on this new chapter in my career, I know that I have found in Guy Oseary someone who is aligned with my interests and who has earned a lot of respect in the entertainment industry," Rodriguez said in a statement.
For A-Rod this is a good move, in that it buries the source of his most recent controversy - Boras' supposed spearheading the opting out of his contract during the deciding game of the world series.

However, let's hope Rodriguez decides to use Oseary's services to advance himself both professionally and as a person - and not return to the artificial, packaged commodity he perpetrated until the 2007 spring training which saw him come clean about his chilly relationship with former best buddy Derek Jeter.

(Hat tip to Mark Feinsand and my bro)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sickels: Yankees Top 20 Prospects

John Sickels ranked the top 20 prospects in the Yankees farm system today.

Sickels seems to be a little inconsistent comparing to grades of other similar prospects. For example, Austin Jackson may have only done it at one level thus far, but his ceiling is extremely high. The bottom line: A-Jax has to be a B level prospect at worst and should have been listed at B+ in my view.

Also, where are Mark Melancon and Humberto Sanchez? If Brackman is up there - considering his imminent recovery period from TJ surgery - Sanchez and Melancon should be as well. They are better prospects than many of the C+ listed above and deserve the corresponding respect.
  1. Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Grade A
  2. Jose Tabata, OF, Grade B+
  3. Ian Kennedy, RHP, Grade B+
  4. Alan Horne, RHP, Grade B
  5. Austin Jackson, OF, Grade B-
  6. Bradley Suttle, 3B, Grade B-
  7. Dellin Betances, RHP, Grade B-
  8. Austin Romine, C, Grade B- (hate grading guys who haven't played yet)
  9. Jesus Montero, C, Grade C+ (borderline B-)
  10. Dan McCutchen, RHP, Grade C+
  11. Brett Gardner, OF, Grade C+
  12. Damon Sublett, 2B, Grade C+ (love this guy)
  13. Andrew Brackman, RHP, Grade C+ (could slot anywhere from 9 to 20)
  14. Jeffrey Marquez, RHP, Grade C+
  15. George Kontos, RHP, Grade C+
  16. Kevin Whelan, RHP, Grade C+ (check those K/IP and H/IP, but command?)
  17. Frank Cervelli, C, Grade C+ (great glove, bat?)
  18. David Robertson, RHP, Grade C+ (stunning numbers)
  19. Jairo Heredia, RHP, Grade C+
  20. Zach McAllister, RHP, Grade C+
Not many surprises, though I would place Tabata at #4 until his projected power begins to show.

Sickels goes on to say Jon Albaladejo, Michael Dunn, Juan Miranda, and Justin Snyder were all C+ prospects as well. He also said there "are several Grade C guys that I like but want to see more from before giving them higher grades."

There are 38 Yankees prospects in all included in his 2008 prospect handbook.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

More Mitchell Names

Andy Pettitte confessed that he used HGH on two occasions in order "to heal" and was not done to get "an edge." Call me what you will, but I believe him. Anyone who would offer an incident in 2002 as evidence that Pettitte is a cheater is pretty delusional.

Pettitte made a big mistake in using HGH to recover from an injury and his legacy will forever carry a taint - small or large. However, any further punishment is unlikely and unwarranted. Roger Clemens, on the other hand, appears to be in some hot water, considering Pettitte's confession offers a great deal of credence to the accusations made against Clemens.

In the meantime, check out this hilarious video, which considers some other names the Mitchell Report may have left out:

Even after a dozen times watching it, the "F---face" reference to a Billy Ripken error card makes me lose it everytime.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Report: Santana Wants $140 M.

Johan Santana is reportedly seeking a contract no less than $140 million and seven years, says Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The agent for Johan Santana has told the Yankees, Red Sox and other teams interested in Twins star pitcher that the price to sign him is a minimum of seven years at $20 million per year, for a total of $140 million guaranteed.
Hardman continues to say the Twinkies want both Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz. Seeing as the Sox won't part with a package containing both Ellsbury and Jon Lester, it's obvious they wouldn't pair the centerfielder with Buchholz.

Maybe the Sox can package Ellsbury, Lester and the 29 lap tops Clay boosted from his high school.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Read The Book Before The Flick

I Am Legend

Before checking out the movie - which I pray Hollywood & Will Smith didn't butcher - I highly recommend everyone pick up the book Richard Matheson wrote over 50 years ago.

I Am Legend is only 160 pages and reads about as quick as anything you can find. It is one of the science-fiction stories which forever changed the landscape for writers who came after.

There's a reason why Steven King said Matheson influenced him the most as a writer. Matheson was King before King was Bachman. Make sense?

The Report Is In

You can check out the Mitchell report here.

Yankees players current and former include Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Stanton, Ron Villone, Chuck Knoblauch, Dave Justice and Rondell White.

Though Pettitte is alleged to have asked about HGH in attempt to return from arm injury, Clemens (if this Radomski is to be believed) is an absolute walking pharmacy, just like Bonds. The bulk of this use came with the Blue Jays, Radomski said.

At first-glance of the report - which is hundreds of pages long - there really is not much bite to it. The entire report against Pettitte and several others involves no proof. While Lo Duca and Gagne have checks made out to Radomski, accusations made against Pettitte are just that.... accusations without any proof behind it.

Fans will believe what they want, but as Pete Abe notes "[Radomski] is a former clubbie who now runs a car wash and was testifying to get a lesser prison sentence."

Remember, the two major sources for the report are New York clubhouse officials. Names like Pudge and Bret Boone, absolute PED users are not on this list, meaning if the center of the investigation were Texas, Detroit, Seattle or dare I say Beantown, a whole different group of players would probably be implicated.

Mitchell's employment with the Sawx a conflict of interest? Nawww.


Other notable players on the list include Kevin Brown while on the Dodgers. Brown was referred by Paul Lo Duca who is also on the list. Though he stunk for Boston last year, Eric Gagne appears on the list as well. Miguel Tejada is listed as a direct HGH recipient, making his recent trade a little more justifiable.

Brian Roberts and Jack Cust appear too. In between angioplasties, Mo Vaughn took PEDs.

Blasts from the past Hal Morris and Randy Velarde and Todd Hundley (who allegedly hooked up Lo Duca) also appear.

Comic relief: Howie Clark, who most fans remember as the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman who dropped the infield fly after A-Rod yelled "Ha!" also appears on the list.

ESPN: Clemens Named In Mitchell Report

This isn't good, but it also wouldn't be too surprising.

A former New York Yankee strength trainer says information he supplied to the George Mitchell investigation regarding supplying Roger Clemens with steroids is included in the Mitchell report scheduled to be released later today, a source close to the trainer told ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael.

Brian McNamee, who worked for the Yankees and as a personal trainer for Clemens and Yankee teammates Andy Pettitte, also told investigators that on at least one occasion, Clemens was in possession of steroids from another supplier, the source said.

The source said McNamee told investigators he supplied Clemens with steroids while Clemens was witih the Yankees, and prior to Clemens joining the team.

Also, The Bergen (N.J.) Record, citing a baseball industry official, says "several" prominent Yankees will be named in the Mitchell report. The paper said the source spoke to a third party who had seen the final report.

"It's going to be a rough day in the Bronx," the paper quoted the source as saying.

Clemens came to the Yankees to get a ring, the Yankees didn't pick up the Rocket to win a championship. Anyone who knows anything about baseball realizes that. I've always respected Roger's ability and desire, but he was never a key cog to the Yankees championship run. Take a long look at his postseason track record, and you will see some underwhelming performances.

Should Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neil, Tino Martinez and/or Jorge Posada be proven (not rumored) to be PED users, it would be a crushing blow to Yankees fans.

Mitchell Report @ 2 p.m. Sharp

As everyone knows, the revered Mitchell Report will be released this afternoon with MLB Commish Bud Selig to speak on the matter around 4:30, following the initial press conference.

From all I'm hearing, the Yankees are in for a long day. Don't expect to hear Derek Jeter and Mickey Mantle were juicers, but some feathers are sure to be ruffled. Surprisingly, the Mets do not seem to have as substantial a stake in today's proceedings.

On the whole, this will be good for baseball. I am curious to see how it all plays out, but I am simultaneously skeptical about what evidence Mr. Mitchell has to support his claims.

Because, if the sole informant and source for evidence is a former bat-boy and clubhouse attendant for the Amazin's, then players, teams and fans will be quick to disregard the whole shindig.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pettitte: We Don't Need No Santana

Andy Pettitte finalized his one year deal worth $16 million today. However, the most interesting part of his return was in regards to Johan Santana.

According to Pete Abe, Pettitte does not believe the Yankees need Santana in 2008.

Andy Pettitte was asked whether the Yankees needed to get Johan Santana. He gave an interesting answer:

“I guess there has been a lot of speculation that we need a true power arm, ace or whatever. I disagree with that,” he said. “I think Wang is an absolute stud. I think he is an ace. I understand he struggled in the postseason but that’s going to happen. I’ve struggled in the postseason before then come back and pitched extremely well. … To say we need (Santana) to be successful, that’s hard for me to say.”

Pettitte later said that pitching in 2009 at the new Stadium is something in the back of his mind.

During the 1990s dynasty years, the Yankees may have never had a true ace to head the pitching staff. However, the sum of the parts added up to top flight rotations built around names like Cone, Wells, Duque, Clemens and of course Pettitte. All of which were proven veteran all star pitchers and/or capable of shutting down an offense in a big game.

As currently congregated, the 2008 pitching staff holds three starters at or below 23 years of age. Though Hughes demonstrated a hint of big-game ability while relieving Roger Clemens during this year's ALDS, the 21 year old still has much to prove. Joba Chamberlain pitched in several key spots while setting up for Mariano Rivera, but the 22 year old has yet to start a game in the bigs. Finally, Ian Kennedy tossed a grand total 19 major league innings last year.

There's a lot of uncertainty regarding these three youngsters, and I, like many Yankees fans, would be excited to watch it all unfold. Hank Steinbrenner may have other ideas, however, ideas which would culminate in a two time Cy Young winner donning pinstripes. All told, it's a tough decision which may not have a right or wrong answer.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Yankees To Sign Reliever Hawkins

The Yankees are closing in on a one year deal with middle reliever LaTroy Hawkins worth $3.75 million, reports.

The Hawkins signing is obviously no Johan Santana and the journeyman reliever turns 35 this month. However, if it came down to a decision between a long term deal with Luis Vizcaino or a one year commitment to Hawkins, it seems like Cashman's hands were tied. Guess we can thank Chicago's ludicrous Scott Linebrink signing for Vizcaino's newly found opportunism.

Hawkins may not be the same power pitcher that we saw when he was a member of the Twins and Cubs, but he still possesses a mid-90s fastball, decent slider and average changeup. The last two seasons, Hawkins has seen his strikeout totals decline considerably, leading to a k/9 of about 4.50. However, his walk totals have remained low as Hawkins walked 31 batters in 115.2 innings the past two seasons.

Bottom line... the Yankees picked up a decent middle reliever who was able to put up a 3.42 ERA at hitter friendly Coors Field. Had Cashman given a longterm deal which Vizcaino reportedly is seeking, it would have been a big mistake. However, a one year deal means there is very little committment, a surprising agreement considering Hawkins is getting up in age.

The impending Mitchell report - which may be released before Christmas - may have had an impact on LaTroy's financial decision. If he is afraid his name may be brought up in relation to performance enhancing drugs allegations, he hay have had little leverage for a longtime deal and a small window to sign any deal at all.
Scouting Report:

Riding Fastball - (92-97 mph)
Slider or Cut-Fastball - (82-87 mph)
Hard Curve - (75-80 mph)
Changeup - (low 80s mph)
Splitter - (84-86 mph)
From Tyler Kepner of the New York Times:
Hawkins struggled early [in 2007], but after returning from a forearm injury in late May and developing his slider, he had a 2.63 E.R.A. over his last 53 games, with opponents hitting only .233 against him.

Hawkins has worked in at least 60 games in each of the last eight seasons, and only three right-handers — David Weathers, Mike Timlin and Todd Jones — have pitched in more games since 2000.
The Hawk, Rivera and a bunch of baby bombers look to comprise the 2008 Yankees bullpen.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Yankees Potential Roster For 2008

Andy Pettitte
Chien-Ming Wang
Joba Chamberlain
Phil Hughes
Ian Kennedy
Mike Mussina

LaTroy Hawkins
The Needle

Big G.


Farmers To Watch:
Alan Horne
Dan McCutchen
Brett Gardner
Alberto Gonzalez
Juan Miranda
Mark Melancon
Humberto Sanchez

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hank: Fans Want Hughes

Hank Steinbrenner may talk too much, but he - or somebody who works for him - seems to have a finger on the pulse of the Yankees fanbase.

Tyler Kepner reported that Steinbrenner is impressed with the fanbase and their desire to keep Philerup in pinstripes for the foreseeable future.

It was wrenching enough for the Yankees to even offer Phil Hughes to the Twins for Santana, and General Manager Brian Cashman was never too enthusiastic. Hank Steinbrenner, the senior vice president, said he had heard that fans were glad the Yankees pulled out of the Santana chase.

“I don’t base what I do on other people’s opinions,” Steinbrenner said. “You can’t take opinion polls every day. But I’m really pleased at the fan reaction to keeping Hughes, and the fans do matter. Their opinion does matter.

“They’re the ones that buy tickets and watch the YES Network. I like the way they get attached to homegrown Yankee players, just like the rest of us do in ownership and the front office. I was actually kind of surprised. But the fans seem to be in favor of keeping Hughes, and that’s a good thing.”

Damn right, Hankenstein. There isn't a true Yankee fan I've come across who had zero qualms about trading Hughes. Even if the return was Johan Santana.

I think even the biggest Hughes supporter would admit the addition of Santana would be a positive step for the team, but about 95% are extremely hesitant to part with the Franchise, no matter what it results in.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Clippard Traded For Bullpen Help

The Yankees traded Tyler Clippard to the Washington Nationals for reliever Jonathan Albaladejo.

Albaladejo is 25, and during his minor league career showed very good k/bb numbers, 440 strikeouts to 103 walks to be exact. That includes a 2003 minor league season as a starter when he struck out 110 and walked 19 in 139 innings.

Last year, at the major league level, Albaladejo had a 1.88 ERA, struck out 12, walked 2 and allowed 7 hits in 14.1 innings. Pretty good numbers to go along with a fastball that can hit 95 on the radar gun. In his major league debut, Albaladejo retired the first five batters he faced, striking out the final three. The main concern with him is his conditioning, listed at 6'6 and 260 lbs.

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a big, big fan of T-Clip. It will be sad to see him leave the Yankees without ever getting a second chance with the big club. However, I am glad he will not be sitting at the tailend of a very talented minor league Yankees pitching depth chart, very possibly starting out of spring training. I still believe T-Clip's excellent command of his changeup and curve will make him a very serviceable ML starter, so the Nats made a good move here as well.

That Yankees-Mets debut in which T-Clip pitched six sparkling innings against the crosstown rivals will remain one of the most satisfying games for me. Furthermore, that win was one of several poignant moments in the 2007 season which made a playoff berth a possibility. All the best of luck to Clippard.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Report: Santana Deal "On Life Support"

According to Jayson Stark at 10:59 p.m., the Minnesota Twins are doing everything within their power to kill a potential deal sending Johan Santana to New York. Stark reports that the Twins are asking that Ian Kennedy be included with a deal already holding Phil Hughes. The Yankees have simply answered no way to that request, as they should.
According to baseball officials who were aware of the talks, the Twins again asked the Yankees on Monday night for pitcher Ian Kennedy -- a pitcher the Yankees have insisted for several days that they wouldn't trade -- as the third player in their proposed deal. The Yankees apparently turned down that proposal immediately.
Stark then describes the reluctance several Yankees officials had in even including Phil Hughes in the first place, much less including Hughes and Ian Kennedy. This feeling has only risen with the recent return of Andy Pettitte:
Meanwhile, officials from other clubs said some Yankees baseball personnel at the meetings have continued to agonize over the inclusion of Hughes in their offer, out of fear Hughes could come back to haunt them for years. So clearly, the decision to include Hughes in the first place was far from unanimous. And if the Yankees had any inclination whatsoever to waver on their stand a few days ago, the news Monday that Andy Pettitte had decided to return undoubtedly helped ease those concerns.
The Red Sox have reportedly not made any forward movement either, though other teams appear to be jumping back into the fray. Regardless of what Stark reports now, baseball fans are all too aware that things can change in a millisecond.
The Twins, on the other hand, may be having second thoughts about the repercussions of trading Santana in the first place, especially after the departure of his fellow face of the franchise, Torii Hunter. "This is a monumental franchise decision," said an official of one AL team. "And I'm just not sure anymore if they're really ready to do this."
All Bill Smith has to do is realize he isn't getting a better deal anywhere else, pick up a cell phone and dial Cashman to accept a proposal and the talks could go from dead to done-deal.

All in all, this may be the tipping point for the Santana to the Yankees trade buzz. Then again, the Yankees or Twins could possibly cave in, call the other team and modify an offer conducive to a quick resolution resulting in a new address for Johan.

Pettitte Pitching in '08 is reporting that Andy Pettitte has decided to pitch for the Yankees in 2008, allowing the tri-state area's bomber fans to release a sigh of relief.

No word yet how this may, if at all, impact the ongoing negotiations with Johan Santana. It sure can't hurt, and may be the cause for Hankenstein's recent "deadline" announcment for Minnesota.

From the article:

Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said Monday that the 35-year-old left-hander had started telling teammates on Sunday. Hendricks then informed Yankees general manager Brian Cashman of the news.

The Houston Chronicle first reported that Pettitte would return in 2008.

"Many teammates have called urging Andy to return as well as manager Joe Girardi," Hendricks said, according to the Chronicle. "It's well known that the Yankees have publicly stated that they were ready for Andy when Andy was ready."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Yankees Set Monday Deadline

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have told Minnesota if they do not come to an agreement by the end of Monday, the bombers will retract their offer for Johan Santana.

From the article:
The Yankees have set a Monday deadline for the Twins to respond to their proposed trade of top young pitcher Phil Hughes, center fielder Melky Cabrera and a third prospect for superstar pitcher Johan Santana, has learned.

So assuming the Yankees strictly stick to their deadline, it is very likely there will be a resolution regarding Santana -- widely considered baseball's best pitcher -- by the end of Monday.

The Red Sox continue to put up their smokescreen, adding Jacoby Ellsbury to the mix, though a Red Sox trade proposal would only include one of Ellsbury and Jon Lester, essentially making their recent trade activity with Santana all the more transparent. Now, more than ever, Boston's hand has been tipped, revealing their sole intention to drive up the price for the Yankees.

Nothing wrong with such an action, as surely the Yankees would operate the same way if it were Boston who desperately needed an ace starting pitcher. However, once the hand is tipped [Red Sox], the potential trading partner [Twins] loses leverage on the other trade partner [Yankees], and considering this situation, Minnesota loses nearly all their leverage. After all, Santana wants to pitch in NY, has a full no-trade clause and is a free-agent at the end of the year.

* Meanwhile, during Hank Steinbrenner's supposed "last interview," the overzealous Lil' Stein was quoted as saying the most important thing he learned watching the Yankees system work in year's passed was "the mistake of trading young pitching."

When asked by Bill Madden why they were willing to offer up Phil Hughes now, Hankenstein responded "There's a big difference, Santana's only 28 and just coming into his prime."

Maybe all three parties realize there is only one legitimate trade-partner for Minnesota to discuss a Santana deal [Yankees] and consequently New York pulls back the current Hughes offer and stamps down a Melky, Kennedy, Horne and Tabata proposal. Take it or leave it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Save Phil Hughes Pt. 99, the site which is usually restricted to absurd photoshopping, actually has a great piece explaining why giving up Phil Hughes - for anybody even Johan Santana - is such a difficult move to make.

Like many of you, we were absolutely crushed when we saw the reports of Phil Hughes being offered to the Twins. It was like someone ripped our heart out and showed it to us before we collapsed to the ground. It's tough to remain objective when it comes to Phil Hughes. For the past several years, we have watched him go from draft pick to the best pitching prospect in baseball.

After nearly a decade of ignoring the farm system, Hughes became symbolic to many Yankee fans. He served as the biggest sign that the madness and inefficiency which ran rampant through this organization was coming to an end. No longer would the strategy focus on acquiring immovable contracts of players whose production didn't justify their cost. We heard terms from the front office that we hadn't been used to hearing -- like "cutting payroll", "roster flexibility", "youth movement", and "developing from within." In just a few short years, the Yankees went from having a joke of a farm system to one of the best in all of baseball. It was a breath of fresh air, and Hughes was at the forefront of the "new Yankee way."

We will admit though that we are struggling with why Hughes was included in a potential deal so quickly. By all reports, the Twins are not interested in Boston's current offer. Like we said the other day, Coco Crisp makes no sense for them. So, why did the Yankees feel the need to up the ante so quickly? And if they really felt compelled to do so, did they try to build upon the orginal Kennedy+ offer? That is what is really bothering us. We would avoid trading Hughes until the moment we absolutely had to. We would explore every avenue. Maybe the Twins said bluntly, "If Hughes isn't included, you have no chance." Who knows? The timing just seems very odd to us.

I could not agree more with both sentiments. Hopefully, the Phil Hughes inclusion of the Santana deal turns out to be public posturing. Unfortunately, this seems like it's going to happen.