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Posted by: James
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I know that most of you all won't think that this is news-worthy but hey, I just found the link (thanks to SG over at RLYW). Besides, it's been a while since we've all seen these guys out on the field, plus now you can put faces and uniform numbers to some of the new guys. Anyway, here are pictures of the Yankees going through all the paces in Tampa.

Here are a couple of things that I noticed from the pitcures:
-Tanyon Sturtze throwing in the bullpen under the watchful eye of Mel.
-There is a picture of Yogi talking with Chien-Ming Wang that cracks me up every single time.
-Joe Kerrigan seems to be keeping a close watch on Randy Johnson. (Let's hope that stays the case the entire year as we all know how he pitched last year after his sit-down with Kerrigan.)
-Robbie Cano does look a little bit bigger.

Anyone else see anything interesting?
Posted by: James
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There have been a number of articles about Robbie (or is it Robby?) Cano recently. We have talks about his added muscle, as he has come into camp quite a bit bigger.

Cano, with a noticeably bigger chest, said he added 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason and increased his weight to 205.

"I'm always working hard, trying to get better every year," Cano said yesterday. "I don't want to do the same thing every year. I want to keep getting better and better."

Hopefully, this added muscle won't be detrimental to his growth as a player. The guy already has some issues with plate discipline and with his bigger guns, if he tries to jack everything out of the park, we could be looking at a OBP south of the .320 he put up in his rookie season.

A couple of other articles mention Cano's work with Larry Bowa this spring and how he is handling the responsibilities of being a younger starter for the Yankees.

"I called him [Larry Bowa] right away to tell him I wanted to work on my footwork and things like that at second and for the double play," Cano said. "Last year, when Luis Sojo was a coach, we worked so I would get better every day, so now I'm doing that with Larry Bowa. It's not only [the technical] part of playing. My concentration is something I know I need to improve. I need to learn to focus on every play, and not to bring frustration onto the field with me after a bad at-bat. If I didn't get a hit in a big spot last year, I was thinking about that in field. I was a different player [at second base] when I was hitting, definitely."

"We've talked about focus and concentration," Bowa said. "This kid has great skills, but you have to remember he doesn't even have a full year in the big leagues. "He can appear to be — I don't want to say, 'lackadaisical,' — but his concentration sometimes leaves him. But he has big skills."

Jeter has had that same kind of talk himself with Cano."I've talked to Robbie to tell him to continue to work, because it was hard work that got him to this level," the captain said. "I want him to understand that it's a lot easier to make it than it is to stay here, and we all know how hard it is to make it."

Also of note are a couple of interesting posts at other Yankee blogs. Mike P. over at Canyon of Heroes pens a nice piece reflecting on the always classy Bernie Williams. Also, Mike A. over at In George We Trust has a great look at the 2006 season schedule and what the Yankees have in store for them.
Posted by: Patrick
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More visible Steinbrenner going strong at 75:

Q: How's your health? Are you still working out?

A: Every morning. I get up about 7:30 and work out at home — I've got a setup there — for an hour or more. I lift weights and do a lot of exercises. I don't do any running because of my knees. I feel as good as I have in years. If you can't sit in the saddle, you can't lead the charge. ...

Q: What's your view on upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations? The contract expires Dec. 19. You paid $34 million in luxury tax and $75.9 million in revenue sharing for 2005. Are you looking for changes to the current system?

A: I see in the paper today Boston is starting to whine about it. I think (commissioner) Bud Selig has a steady course now, but they can't continue to take so much money from us. It's crazy when you can't make money when you're doing like we're doing (4 million-plus admissions in 2005). I'm very supportive of Bud Selig but just hope he tempers it and makes it more equal. I'd like to see everybody competing, but we're not a socialist state. ...

Q: As former vice president of the U.S. Olympic Committee (1989-96), were you troubled watching the poor showing by United States athletes in this year's Olympics?

A: They didn't do well at all. When I was involved, I designed the future for them. It was a disappointment to watch them. That skier (Bode Miller) was out at night, chasing all over. That was no good.

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Posted by: James
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Jason Giambi - First Base (Ooh - graphs - sorry, I'm easily distracted by colors!)
Age: 35 Years Old.

Three Year History and splits:

SEASON G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2003 156 535 97 134 25 0 41 107 129 140 2 1 .250 .412 .527 .939
2004 80 264 33 55 9 0 12 40 47 62 0 1 .208 .342 .379 .721
2005 139 417 74 113 14 0 32 87 108 109 0 0 .271 .440 .535 .975

Outlook: Your outlook on Giambi depends entirely on how you viewed both parts of his last year. Through the first 47 games (6/12/05), Giambi posted a .234/.383/.340 line with just 7 XBHs. 6/14/05: NY starts a series with the Pirates. Jason goes 1 for 2 with a double and from that point until the end of the season, Giambi’s line was .290/.468/.634 with a HR every 9.86 ABs. What do you put more stock in? The idea that that Giambi had one last surge left and that we just witnessed it? Or that the trials that he went through (which he brought on himself) have helped and focused him? Was his second half resurrgence a fluke? I personally don't think so. You don't get Giambi good overnight...and you don't lose it overnight either. That being said, the man is another year older and is looking at the strain of a full year of playing first base (of course, we, and he, all know that he hits quite a bit better when he's playing first). His strikeout percentages are creeping up and he's probably not capable of putting up a .300 average anymore. Nevertheless, with that batting eye, he can still gets on base better than anyone in the AL. The real questions lie with his power and whether Jason can still be an elite-level hitter in that area as well. (Also, SG over at RLYW has a look at Giambi (and Phillips) if you want to check that out before making your predictions.)

Please post your predictions for the following stat line in the comments section:

AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Posted by: James
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Here's the basics of what we're trying to do. These posts will remain open until right before the beginning of the season.

Jorge Posada - Catcher
Age: 34 Years Old (Turns 35 in August).

3-Year History:

SEASON G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
2003 142 481 83 135 24 0 30 101 93 110 2 4 .281 .405 .518 .923
2004 137 449 72 122 31 0 21 81 88 92 1 3 .272 .400 .481 .881
2005 142 474 67 124 23 0 19 71 66 94 1 0 .262 .352 .430 .782


Outlook: To this point in his career, Jorge Posada has been one of a rare breed - a switch-hitting catcher who can hit with both patience and power. However, he's not getting any younger (34 on opening day) and you can see the pretty steep decline of his hitting stats over the course of the past three years. That being said, I am still willing to give Jorge the benefit of the doubt that he hasn't completely fallen off and attribute some of that last year's failures to both injury and bad luck. He had an absolutely horrendous July (.169/.259/.324 for a .583 OPS) which I think kept his overall numbers artificially lower than what he can still produce. He still has a good eye at the plate and as he showed in the second half of the year, still has some pop in his bat (.447 SLG vs. .416 SLG before the All-Star Break). The days of a .400 OBP and .475 SLG are probably gone but there should still be some life in Posada's bat and while he remains one of the top-tier catchers in baseball, he's no longer in the top 3. (Also, SG over at RLYW has a look at Posada (and Stinnett) if you want to check that out before making your predictions.)

Please post your predictions for the following stat line in the comments section:

AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Posted by: James
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Wow, winter is starting to wind down and spring training is in full swing. It's the time of year when baseball is close enough for people to start making predictions but not close enough for them to lose their optimism. All over the league, fans are starting to put together what they think will happen this year, whether you believe Eric Milton will give up less than 40 HRs this year or if you think that Adrian Beltre and Jim Thome will hit 40 HRs again, this is the time for you. The realities of the season haven't set in and your player predictions can be as optimistic as you want them to be. In the same vein, we here at YanksBlog.com are going to be trying something new for the upcoming season: community player projections.

I first saw the idea in use over at John Sickels' fantastic Minor League Baseball site. With Mr. Sickels' blessing, we're going to see how it can work here because who knows the Yankees team better than Yankees fans, right?

For each player presented, we'll give you his three year stat profile and an outlook. Most of the people who read this site regularly know the rest of the story. Based on that, we'll be asking everyone to post your reasoned estimates/optimistic projections/wild guesses of his batting line for 2006. We'll be posting a different player (including pitchers) every day and then we can review, both during and after the season to see how we, collectively, are doing. The basic premise is that the more predictions we get, the more realistic the community projection will be. Here are the players covered so far:

C: Jorge Posada
1B: Jason Giambi
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3B: Alex Rodriguez
LF: Hideki Matsui
CF: Johnny Damon
RF: Gary Sheffield
DH: Andy Phillips & Bernie Williams

SP: Randy Johnson
SP: Mike Mussina
SP: Chien-Ming Wang
SP: Shawn Chacon
SP: Carl Pavano
SP: Jaret Wright

SP/RP: Aaron Small

RP: Kyle Farnsworth
RP: Octavio Dotel
RP: Tanyon Sturtze
RP: Ron Villone
RP: Mike Myers

CL: Mariano Rivera
Posted by: James
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Spring training hasn't even really gotten rolling yet and we've already got reports of Yankee injuries. Carl Pavano still hasn't thrown off of a mound yet as a "minor back problem" has caused a delay of 2 weeks. He's been throwing off flat ground but Pavano is and will be well behind the rest of the pitchers. Mr. Torre isn't holding out hope for a miracle either.

"I'm not banking on him for Opening Day," said Torre, who stressed that Pavano has not had any setbacks. "The fact that we have a ton of off-days, you only need four -- and at times, only three -- to start. There's no rush to have him ready Opening Day."

"I'm progressing," Pavano said. "I'm doing everything but throwing off the mound. I think that's what puts the most pressure on the back, so that's why we'll take a little extra time to make sure that when I get out there, there's no setbacks and we can keep moving forward."

Carl Pavano just can't catch a break, I guess. I personally hope that the guy can come back and have a successful season for the Yankees this year for two reasons. First, he is a pivotal part in the Yankees pitching rotation and if he pitches to his ability, he can be a solid #3 starter. Second, if the Yankees decide to trade him at some point, it's a lot easier to trade a winning, solid pitcher than a broken-down one.

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Posted by: James
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For me, one of the more interesting points about spring training are all the human-interest stories, prospect (and other non-roster invitee) profiles and question-and-answer sessions that the papers and beat writers work on. There aren't any games going on but the writers have to write something and since it's early on, they haven't worn out all their cliches just yet. I dont mind it though. I like learning a little bit more about the guys that I will be spending half the year rooting for. This is especially helpful in the free-agent era since there's such turnover in the rosters (especially in the Yankee bullpen). That being said, here are some of the more interesting stories that have popped up.

From a Q&A with Johnny Damon, who might just be playing to the media, but to me, comes off very well in the interview.

Q: You were teased as a kid?
A: For stuttering.
Q: How have you solved it?
A: I slow down and collect my thoughts instead of rambling on and having no clue what I'm talking about. I still stutter when people try to interrupt me. I can't hear two or three things going on at the same time.
Q: What do you want to tell Yankee fans about their new center fielder?
A: I can't wait to start playing in front of them. Our team was put together to win the World Series. It's gonna be a fun one.

Another one that I liked was about New Jersey guy Ron Villone coming home to play for his favorite team (and pitching for his favorite player as a kid, Ron Guidry):

Q: How did you become a Yankees fan?
A: Family. Growing up, my family was -- both my mom's and my dad's side. At the time I was 6 years old I started going to Yankees games, 1976 on.
Q: When did you first become a fan of Ron Guidry?
A: I saw him throw in '77, I know that.
Q: Has it sunk in that you get to wear the Yankees uniform?
A: In April I think it will. We'll wait until then. Right now it's fun and it's nice to get ready. But not till you get the full set of pinstripes.

Good stuff. Credit to Off The Facade for the links.

02/26: Sheff Calm

Posted by: Patrick
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Plenty of pieces on Sheffield. But, the summation: water under the bridge. For the moment.

"Gary and I sat down and had a good conversation," Cashman said. "I don't want to speak for him, but I'm glad to hear what's important for him. It was important we talked. I am glad we did. I hope it will continue." ...

"It's about doing it the right way; we are not going to let the media come between us," Sheffield said.

Sheffield is proud of the relationship he has built with Cashman after the initial encounter wasn't good.

"I was upset at the offer he made me when I was a free agent," said Sheffield, who has stated the first offer was two years for $8 million. He eventually got a three-year, $39 million deal from Steinbrenner. "We had to build on it. He knew we had to talk and we did. We are on the same page, 100 percent."

» Read More

Posted by: Patrick
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Posada calls Class-A's Hughes a 'can't miss prospect':

"He's a can't-miss prospect," Posada said after facing right- handed pitcher Philip Hughes. "He's the best arm we've got in camp."

"The things that's unusual for a kid as young as he is, the curveball is really impressive," Torre said. "He's got one of those real-tight-rotation breaking balls. He's not commanding it as he's going to after a little experience, but his stuff is very real." ...

"Great arm, great poise, he just looks like he belongs," Posada said. "I would say, don't touch him. Leave him alone. Just put that tag on him already: 'untouchable.'"

I certainly like the way that sounds.
Posted by: James
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Wait, what? He's mad now? He was all smiles 48 hours ago! I think Gary finally understood that the meeting he had with Cashman didn't guarantee that his option was being picked up, but only that it would be a surprise if the Yankees did not.

The right fielder is stewing about having to wait for the Yankees to pick up his $13 million option for 2007, which is reason enough for those RPMs to run near the red line.

Sheffield says the Yankees are making a mistake auditioning him. If they need a few months, or even weeks to see if his bat is still quick, the slugger is ready with a countermove. Actually, it's a thinly veiled threat: wait too long, and he's moving on.

"If my body feels good I'm playing somewhere, here or somewhere else," Sheffield said. "Either way I'll get my 500 home runs. It's no sweat off my back where it happens."

What? A little while ago, wasn't he talking about retiring and perhaps finishing up his career with the Yankees?

Sheffield could have the 2007 option guaranteed by the All-Star break, or even sooner if he hits well in April and May. That's just common sense money management with a 37-year-old player.

But don't try explaining that logic to Sheffield, who with open indignation says, "They can't just use me like that, waiting to see what I've got. They should be glad they got me at the [price] they did [three years, $39 million]. There are a lot of players with better contracts."

Oy vey - this does bear watching as the season goes on. I don't expect Sheffield to dog it on the field but he does have a history of these "incidents". Hopefully, all of this will quiet down as the season progresses and I guess the key question will become, is Gary Sheffield worth $13 million in 2007 to man right-field for the Yankees? Looking at the alternatives, the answer is probably yes.

And as an aside, Mr. Davidoff, I haven't heard anything about contracts being an issue over in Anaheim.
Posted by: James
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Mr. Dobrow has an open letter to A-Rod. You might have seen it already. If you haven't, it's an interesting and pretty amusing take on A-Rod's "image problem". I like the beginning as Dobrow does a good job in pointing out how everyone seems to feed on A-Rod's miscues while ignoring some other important factors:

Don't get me wrong: In theory, there's an awful lot to like. You never get hurt. You run out every ground ball. You're the only Yankees regular for whom a simple defensive play doesn't induce in me the cold dread usually associated with an imminent colonoscopy. Yet for all your numbers and professional polish, you've proved as embraceable as a sub-Saharan despot.

For some, it was the 2005 playoff no-show (these people ignore the six walks you drew in five games, which would seem to shift a bit of the blame to the fellas behind you in the order). For others, it was the Slappy McSlapRod incident against the Red Sox in 2004 (never mind your Ruthian 1.014 OPS in the postseason that year, nor your near-solo annihilation of the Twins in the divisional round).

However, this is where he and I differ. I like A-Rod the way he is. Do I wish every now and again that he would call out Curt Schilling or Ozzie Guillen and tell them off? Of course! It's only natural to root for your guys. However, I would rather shut them up on the field. if he has one monster playoff run and the Yankees win the Series at some point, doesn't all of this become a moot point? Other than that, what is there to change? He is a professional, intelligent (have you read his thoughts on investing in diversified investing and hedging with gold? He actually knows his stuff) and courteous family man who happens to be one of the best baseball players of all time. What's wrong with that?

» Read More

Posted by: Patrick
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Here's a quote:

"My time in Boston was great,'' Damon said. "But now I'm here playing for the greatest franchise in the world. The team with the most championships.''

Also, check out Joe and George, feeling the love:

Steinbrenner walked into the manager's office while Joe Torre was talking with reporters. When a reporter asked, "Who is the best owner in the majors?'' Torre pointed at Steinbrenner.

"Who's the best manager in the majors?'' Steinbrenner then said, before pointing to Torre.
Posted by: James
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It's going to be the Summer (and fall!) of George!

"It's been a while; we haven't won it," said Steinbrenner, who stopped to speak to TV and radio reporters. "We're going to win it this year. We're going after them this year."

First off, who's them? Secondly, after laying out $200 million dollars as an owner, what else would you expect? Still, this team, while better than last year, is no lock for the World Series. On paper, they have as good of a shot as any team in the majors but of course, that's why they play the games on the field. Regardless of how the season turns out, I am personally glad to see Big Stein seemingly healthier and out and about. I was a little worried after last year's fainting spell and the general malaise that seemed to show but Big Stein is showing that he's still got some pep. He's still got a heck of a sense of humor.

"I remember when we signed Jason, he said, 'Johnny Damon is out there,' " Torre said. "But he took all the money, so we couldn't do anything."

The words were barely out of Torre's mouth when Steinbrenner inserted his two cents into the conversation.

"You got some, didn't you?" Steinbrenner said.

"Thank you, sir," said a smiling Torre.
Posted by: James
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So says Ken Davidoff. Listen, I like Gary Sheffield. A lot of people can't say that due to his tendency to mouth off. I wasn't a huge fan of the signing when it happened but I have grown to love watching the man's at-bats. He is absolutely ferocious at the plate and wants to win another ring very badly. There are very few other players that I would trust more at the plate in a big spot. However, if you were to ask me to be objective and say who I would rather have in right-field every day for the Yankees, it would have to be Vlad.

Think about it - Vlad for Sheff, 2004 AL MVP for the 2004 AL MVP runner-up, straight up. Do you think that the Angels would do that deal? Of course not! Vlad's the younger (by seven years!), better hitter and provides you with more options. We're talking about arguably one of the top 5 position players in all of baseball and someone whose closest historical comparison through his current age is Willie Mays! Signing Sheff proved to be a good move, but signing Vlad would have been a better one.

However, the crux of Davidoff's article & argument is that signing Sheffield was the better tactical decision in terms of providing the team with options. He maintains that a Sheff for three years at 13 million is worth Vlad for five for more. I don't buy that for one second and actually, I think he defeats his own argument in the first paragraph of his article:

On Dec. 12, 2003, Brian Cashman was well into negotiations on a five-year contract with free agent Vladimir Guerrero, for less than the $14 million per season that the outfielder now earns with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Now, the money is even and you're talking about a five-year contract for Vlad. If Sheff's option is picked up, you're looking at having him man right field for 4 years. Is one year really that much of a difference Mr. Davidoff? I personally don't believe so, especially not when Vlad will be in his prime years and will only be 32 at the end of those 5 years while Sheff would be paid for his ages 35-38 years.
Posted by: James
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I didn't realize it at the time but apparently Kevin Brown has decided to call it a career. Some would say that he waited one year too long to do so but that's neither here nor there.

Brown was placed on the disabled list three times last year and hasn't pitched since a July 23 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

"Kevin didn't have me pursue any teams because he wanted to see how his health was," Scott Boras, Brown's agent, told the newspaper. "He decided after the painful process last year he was not going to play. His arm is still remarkably good, but it's about his back."

Looking back over his career, he definitely had his share of high-spots and though most seem to have forgot about it, from 1995 to 2003, he was easily one of the best pitchers in baseball (though he did pitch in a friendly ballpark). In that time period, David Pinto's DbD database puts him at 119 wins with 67 losses while compiling a 2.70 ERA (second only to Pedro among starters), striking out 7.73 and walking only 2.13 per 9 innings. (As an aside, Mariano leads that table with an ERA of 2.49 for the time period.) There's no doubt about it - he had a heck of a run...and then the Yankees traded Jeff Weaver, Yhency Brazoban, Brandon Weeden and cash for him and well, we all know what happened from that point.

Dollars-wise, he made more money than he and his grandkids could probably ever spend (estimated at a little under $131 million). He was the first player to sign a $100 million dollar contract and led the league in salary (and probably surliness - though he and Barry could have had a nice little Celebrity Deathmatch going) from 1999-2002. All in all, not a shabby career though I'm sure every Yankee fan who remembers the wall-punching incident and the Game 7 start to the 2004 ALCS is glad to see him go.
Posted by: James
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I've never liked Tony Womack. He might be a great guy for all I know but articles like this annoy the heck out of me.

"I went through it because they put me through it," he told MLB.com at Reds training camp in Sarasota, Fla. "It wasn't like I did it to myself. I still like to play. It's no fun knowing that you can still play and contribute to somebody when this team is holding you back. The Yankees held me back."

"The only thing that makes me mad is it messes up my baseball card," Womack said. "I was consistent for a long time and then that comes up. It was a learning experience for me. I'm a stronger person. I had to be. I had to bite my tongue a lot. I had to keep myself going and make sure I got my work in."

Are you serious? Does he really want people to look at the stats on his baseball card? The only consistency he has had in his career is that he has been consistently bad. The best he has EVER done in regular playing time has been to be 7% worse than the average and for his career, he has been 27% worse than the average. And that horrible last year that's he's talking about, it wasn't even the worst year of his career - that was 2003 when he hit .226/.251/.307. He actually made $6 million dollars that year for those "accomplishments"! He might be a great guy, good teammate or great in the clubhouse but you can't deny that he is a detriment to the winning percentage to any team that he's on. Well, I guess you can if you're Tony Womack. That self-delusion and constantly blaming someone else for your failures annoys the heck out of me. Good luck to you in getting your baseball card cleaned up, Tony. Good luck & good riddance.

02/22: Hot Flash!

Posted by: James
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Tom Gordon is an angry man. Actually, he seems more like a sensitive man who feels that he was mistreated by the media. Whatever the case is, he doesn't come off as a happy man in the early goings of an article in the Daily News.

Flash had a news flash: New York media, approach at your own risk. You're no friends of his.

"I don't want to hear about you guys missing me," Gordon said. "That's a lot of --- after all the abuse I took from you. You guys wanted Farnsworth? You got him!"

He does go on to explain his anger.

"There was a headline," Gordon said. "'Not so Terrific Tom' and it prompted all kinds of abuse. I've been called everything in this game. I've even heard (N-word) a couple of times, too. Then, after that headline, I was in the city with my kids and this fan comes up to me and says: 'You're worthless!' How would you like to be told that? In front of your kids! "No player deserves that. But, if nothing else, it made me stronger."

To be honest, I genuinely felt bad for the man. If I was a public figure and someone came up to me in front of my family and tried to pull something like that, I would be a little upset too (with my temper, probably more than a little). Nevertheless, I guess that is part of the price you pay when you sign on to play for the Yankees. That being said, keep in mind that he is mad at the NY media, not the Yankees or their fans. He had nothing but kind words about the Yankees organization and for the great one, Mariano Rivera:

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Posted by: James
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The Asbury Park Press checks in with a story that has Jorge Posada talking about Chien-Ming Wang.

"Randy is Randy and his power is incredible," Posada said Sunday. "But Wang has the best stuff in our clubhouse, no doubt. He'll be our No. 1 pitcher eventually."

"He does things that drive hitters nuts. I've never seen a pitcher get so many groundballs back to the mound," manager Joe Torre said. "That's all about movement."

Wang's sinker, according to Posada, is almost impossible to adjust to for a hitter.

"Even if he doesn't throw it perfectly, it still sinks and he still gets outs," the catcher said.

Of course, since this is spring training, there are always fluff stories about young pitchers coming into their own and learning the ropes - it makes for good copy and people like human interest stories, especially when the young man in question is now a huge star in his native country of Taiwan.

Personally, I really like Tiger Wang (I think he handles himself very well) and I believe that he is the goods. I don't believe that he is a No. 1 pitcher type but I think he can be a #2 and very soon (which the Yankees will need). The alarming lack of Ks that people seem to worry about are not an issue with me. First, he doesn't necessarily need to "miss bats" as often since he's a predominantly a groundball pitcher - he just needs to miss the fat parts of the bat (which he does very well as evidenced by his 2005 stats). Second, I fully expect his K rate to rise substanically this coming year, from 3.64 K/9 in 2005 to around 5 in 2006. I think this because of Wang's added experience and his experience in the minors (career 3.28 ERA and a 7.16 K/9 in 439.2 innings). The only caution flag is his arm - if he can remain healthy, we're going to be cheering the Wanger for quite a while.

Story via Brian.
Posted by: James
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Wow. This is the most fiesty I've seen A-Rod in a while. He's usually trying to please everyone but he comes out and takes a direct shot at baseball's head honcho's in this ESPN article. He seems genuinely unhappy with the organizers of the World Baseball Classic for the way they handled his decision to play for the United States instead of the Dominican Republic.

The New York Yankees third baseman took issue with reports that he vacillated between playing for the Americans and the Dominicans.

"Just to make it clear, I only spoke once and then I spoke again three months later," Rodriguez said Monday after reporting to spring training. "All the garbage in between was major league baseball. I didn't go back and forth. I said once I wasn't playing, and then at the end I said, 'So OK, I am playing.'"

Rodriguez wouldn't identify any officials he spoke with, opting to say only "central baseball."

"I told him I was disappointed with all the stuff going back and forth, the leaking of information," Rodriguez said, "especially with me not being involved in any way, shape or form."

He also addressed Ozzie Guillen's comments and dismissed them as a non-issue.

"I already heard what he had to say, he apologized," Rodriguez said. "The apology has been accepted. We've move on from there. Ozzie and I have always been friendly. It's not really that big of a deal."
Posted by: Patrick
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Oh boy:

Damon met with Steinbrenner for the first time a couple of weeks ago, driving to Tampa from his home in Orlando to spend some time with the owner.

"The meeting with George went great," Damon said. "I love him. I always loved him as an owner. He always wants to win, and that's very important."

Via Brian.
Posted by: Patrick
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There was an article in The Journal News about the experience of the Yankees coaching staff (a combined 5,167 games of managerial experience), including some good quotes:

"They say you don't invite the wolf into the henhouse," Pena said. "But Joe isn't afraid of the wolf or anything else. He knows who he is." ...

"I wasn't going to come back until he called me," Bowa said. "The Yankees' organization is special, it's what you think about as a kid. I also knew Joe would be easy to work for." ...

"Damon and Jeter won't need much coaching. They know how to run the bases," Bowa said. "The rest of them will need a stop sign now and then." ...

"I look at it this way: everybody wants to manage because it's the greatest job in baseball," Mazzilli said. "But if you can't manage, being the bench coach of the Yankees is the best job in baseball." ...

"It's great when you have a manager secure enough to want the best people," Cashman said. "He knows that even if somebody wants to take him out, they can't do it."

It's funny to be excited about a coaching staff, but with the exception of the Roy White stuff, I'm really happy with the coaching staff. I'm very interested to see how this staff works and what transpires as the season wears on.

Via Brian.
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Next up is our own Michael Black.

When you're not blogging about the Yankees, thinking about the Yankees, talking about the Yankees, reading about the Yankees or watching the Yankees, what are you doing?

When I'm not sleeping, I am either studying to finish my degree or keeping up with my 2 year old. When I do get some free time outside of that, I like to read about baseball and civil war history.

How long have you been blogging about the Yankees?

For YanksBlog.com since its inception back last May. Other than that, I've used blogging in such a creative way to get out my frustrations. I've since got a handle on them, thanks in part to YanksBlog.com being such a family friendly place .

» Read More

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What did I say? "I'm sure that in a week or two, we'll hear that Ozzie was misquoted or that the quote was taken out of context." It's actually only been a couple of days but lo and behold, Guillen scheduled a press conference to "apologize":

"I apologize to Alex, his family, his fans, the New York Yankees organization, to the White Sox organization, because that's the first time I feel I did something wrong," Guillen said at the Kino Sports Complex. "I've done a lot of controversial things before, but I started this one and I'm going to finish it."

Guillen clarified his use of the word "hypocrite," saying the word isn't perceived as harshly in Latin America as it is in the United States.
...

"I will say what I feel," Guillen said. "I just took the first shot. To me, I never thought I was going to do that, and to me it's ugly because I know a lot of people have taken the first shot at me and I come back real strong. If Alex wants to say whatever he wants to say he has the right. He can call me anytime he wants. I'm not going to feel badly if Alex comes out and says what he wants to say. I think I should take the second punch the way I [would throw] a second punch. . . "Like I said, it was embarrassing because I have a lot of respect for Alex."

If he had so much respect for him, why did he say it in the first place? I don't mind people speaking their opinions. That's one of the greatest freedoms that this country offers. However, I also believe that most people would be better off thinking of the Golden Rule before they open their mouth. I think that applies in this case, especially with an apology that comes off as nothing more than self-serving publicity. Ozzie, please stop talking - people don't seem to mind this sort of thing as much when it is coming from a winner but they won't tolerate it if you were sitting in second place in the Central division and out of the playoffs.
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One of my biggest concerns about Kyle Farnsworth when the Yankees added him to the bullpen was his reputation as being another guy with a "million-dollar arm and a 2-cent head" (well, that and his apparently prolific nightime escapades in Chicago). His arm and statistics speak for themselves (most of the time) but NY has broken down enough hyped players (with guaranteed contracts) that you can't help but be worried. So needless to say, I was relieved and somewhat amused to read that Farnsworth was putting in some reading time in order to better himself as a player.

Sometime last year, he found some answers in a book called "Mind Gym." It had been in his duffel bag for a while, since a friend had sent it to him, and one day he decided to start reading.

Within its pages, Farnsworth picked up some techniques for creating calm and confidence, for visualizing the results he wanted, and he made it a ritual, reading it during games as he prepared for a late-inning entrance.

"Talent can only take you so far," said Farnsworth, who cashed in on his best season with a three-year, $17 million contract from the Yankees. "If you don't have the right mind-set, you're not clear-minded. You can't go out there with no plan at all."

Hopefully, these practices have helped him grow as a person but I (seflishly, I know) also hope they keep him pitching like he did last year for the duration of his stay with the Yankees. Improvement in the playoffs would also be a plus but then again, as many people have pointed out, Flash wasn't exactly reliable in the playoffs either so he doesn't have a very high bar to jump over.

Via Brian.
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Tino has accepted the ESPN job.

Tino hangs 'em up: In a move that will surprise nobody, Tino Martinez has officially decided to end his playing career.

Martinez confirmed the decision in the St. Petersburg Times, telling the paper that he will begin his broadcasting career at ESPN.

"I don't want to make this a big deal," Martinez told the paper. "I'm done. I'm not going to play anymore. I'm 100 percent decided."

Martinez said that the offer from ESPN made his decision to retire a lot easier, as he will work on "Baseball Tonight," do some radio work and cover a few games. ...

"I wanted to retire as a Yankee, to have that uniform on for the last time," he said. "It's a great way to go out."

» Read More

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We have signed Scott Erickson.

The 38-year-old right-hander threw for 10 minutes off a mound Thursday at the minor league complex while manager Joe Torre watched along with coaches Ron Guidry and Joe Kerrigan and vice president Billy Connors. The Yankees gave Erickson the tryout at the suggestion of Jason Giambi.

“He threw the ball pretty well,” Guidry said. “He said he’s been throwing since Thanksgiving.”

One of those "eh, whatever, can't hurt" sort of moves.
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Amen Randy, amen.

Via SG.

02/16: ESPN Poll

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Nothing too spectacular but ESPN has a poll up where you can rank each team on how good they are heading into spring training.

I like these ESPN polls because you have such high participation that you can usually smooth out the die-hards who keep believing that this is the Year of the Devil Ray and get a clearer view of what the average baseball fan across the country thinks. This is not to say that the average fan is always right. As it stands, the Yanks are the second-best team in baseball, right behind the White Sox. Interesting, I guess I'm of the minority that doesn't think that the White Sox will even win their own division. In any case, head on over and place your vote.

02/16: Warming Up

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Pitchers and catchers couldn't officially report with Cliff Corcoran checking in without his annual look at the Yankees' 25 man roster. He does his usual great analysis and provides a look at the various options lurking on the 40-man and down in the minors if someone were to get hurt. It's a great read and a must for any Yankee fan - go check it out.

Also, Joseph P. over at The Sporting Brews, is finishing up his "12 Questions" piece about the current state of the Yanks. Another good read (with some Knicks talk thrown in for anyone who's interested) and defintely worth your time

Did I say if someone gets hurt? I meant when. Does it really surprise anyone that Carl Pavano is hurt again? This time, it's his back and it should put him behind schedule:

The right-hander will not throw off a mound until he completes a rehabilitation program designed to strengthen his sore lower back. That process is expected to take two weeks. By then, Pavano will be well behind his teammates with the exhibition season about to start.

On the bright side, at least it's not his arm this time (I'm trying very hard to be positive). In other news, Tanyon Sturtze is a little banged-up as well which brings to mind the question of why his option was picked up. $1.5 million is not a lot of money for the Yankees but still, management knew about his shoulder problems and yet felt compelled to sign him anyway, even though the bullpen is crowded and there are serviceable replacements freely available.

"They are going slow with me," said Sturtze, who was bothered by a cranky shoulder last year but had a $1.5 million option picked up by the club during the winter. "It will probably be another week [before he will throw off a mound]. I hadn't thrown a lot before getting here, but I feel good."
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Who's next? Jeter and Tejeda? In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Guillen felt the need to comment on A-Rod decision on whether to play in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic or United States.

"Alex was kissing Latino people's a****," Guillen, who's from Venezuela, said in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated. "He knew he wasn't going to play for the Dominicans; he's not a Dominican!"

Rodriguez, who has dual citizenship in the Dominican Republic and United States, decided to play for the American squad after once saying he wasn't going to play in the WBC because choosing a team was too difficult. Guillen apparently found his wishy-washy attitude to be disingenuous.

"I hate hypocrites: He's full of [expletive]," Guillen told Sports Illustrated. "The Dominican team doesn't need his a**. It's the same with [Nomar] Garciaparra playing for Mexico. Garciaparra only knows Cancun because he went to visit."

Jeez Ozzie, tell us how you really feel. Or better yet, keep your mouth shut. It seems a little disingenuous to me that a manager would be calling out a player (in a national magazine!) for making a personal decision, especially using such language. I'd say more but this is a family friendly website and I'm sure that in a week or two, we'll hear that Ozzie was misquoted or that the quote was taken out of context.
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Here's your gift:

New York Yankees Reporting Dates:
Pitchers & Catchers: Feb. 16
First Workout: Feb. 17
Position Players: Feb. 21 One Week Away!
First full workout: Feb. 22
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There are a couple reports floating around that Tino is in talks with ESPN to work as an on-air analyst. He has also talked with the Yankees about possibly serving as a spring-training instructor.

Yet according to one friend who spoke on the condition of anonymity, despite being unemployed with spring training ready to begin this week, Martinez hasn't completely decided to retire.

Whatever he decides to do, I wish him well. If I recall correctly, he was pretty popular with the ladies when he was with the team so who knows, maybe he could raise Baseball Tonight's ratings. My hope is that he (along with new ESPN hire Orel Hershiser) could provide give some ballast to a few of Peter Gammons' "I Heart Boston" spiels and provide some good insight during the season.
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What can I say? I heart George and George hearts kids who do good things. Here's the gist: A 12-year-old New York Yankees fan saved $1,000 (Holy cow! I couldn't do that when I was twelve!) so he could go to a game in the Bronx gave up the money to help keep his school open (he gave up his money to go to school!? That's a humanitarian!). Big Stein found out and not only replaced the kid's thousand dollars but invited him to New York for a personal tour and to check out batting practice. Here's an excerpt of the letter"

"Jonathan, I couldn't be more proud of you," Steinbrenner wrote to Jonathan Farrar, a student in the Midland School District of Pleasant Plains. "I agree with you when you said, `The New York Yankees are important to me, but my school is more important.' You're absolutely right and it takes quite a man to give up his personal dream for a higher purpose."

"Undoubtedly, you will be very successful regardless of the career path you choose," Steinbrenner wrote. "But just in case you choose major league baseball, I'll be keeping the first base position open for you."

I love that he rewarded this kid for doing a very honorable thing and I love that sense of humor at the end. He reminds me of the typical ornery grandpa in sitcoms that has that twinkle in his eye and a heart of gold once you get down to it. Oh, and as an aside, he also paid for Tim Battle's (a Yankee prospect) chemotherapy treatments a couple years ago as well.
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The Yankees added to continuing their theme of adding young(er) guys to their player pool by plucking Darrell Rasner off waivers. Over the last couple of months, the Yanks have picked up some guys from the Independent leagues, signed Jose Veras from the Domincan League and have now added Rasner. I like the move - it didn't cost the Yankees anything to pick up a young pitcher who has performed well in all the levels he's been put at. I've actually seen him when he pitched with the Senators (I used to live in Harrisburg) and I thought he had good stuff then. If he continues to perform, he could be of use to the major league club and if not, could certainly be used as a trade chip in the future.In order to pick up Rasner, they had to designate right-handed pitcher Jason Anderson for assignment. Scout.com checks in with their thoughts on the move:

Considering their glut of older fringe, big league players on their 40-man roster, it is difficult to understand why the Nationals would let go a legitimate young pitching prospect like Rasner. Granted, this former 2nd round pick doesn't profile as a front of the rotation starter in the big leagues, but he does offer the potential to be a back end starter that can eat innings, throw strikes, and give consistent outings with each of his appearances.

Also, in an quick turnaround, Travis Nelson over at Pending Pinstripes has done a prospect analysis on Darrell. Head on over and check it out.
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The Daily News had a piece up yesterday about Johnny Damon (yes, another one) and I have to admit that at the end, I found myself more a fan of Damon than when I began. It's not because I think he's a better man for hanging out with his folks, but when you surround yourself with good, humble, people (as his brother and parents seem to be), you can't help but pick up some of their good habits. Besides, the article's got a great lead:

James Damon was always the responsible one. He doesn't remember the exact date, but it was an autumn afternoon when he came home to find his eighth-grade brother, Johnny - already a baseball prodigy and fully aware of it - stoned out of his mind. Again.

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Mike A. over at In George We Trust, takes a good look at soon-to-be uber-prospect Jose Tabata. I say that because a) I think that this kid has a great chance to be something pretty exciting and b) what can I say, I like the prefix "uber".

Just look how it [Tabata's stats] compares to the stats put up by these household names when they were down in the Rookie ball ranks:

AgeBAOBPSLGOPSK/BB
Carlos Beltran18.278.331.328.6592.16
Andruw Jones17.290.358.412.7701.76
Bernie Williams18.270.379.343.7221.10
Tabata17.314.382.417.799.933

Here's how his performance stacks up against three of the today's premier outfield prospects when they were at the Rookie level:

AgeBAOBPSLGOPSK/BB
Lastings Milledge18.231.323.308.6311.33
Javier Herrera18.230.329.410.7392.71
Jeremy Hermida18.224.316.321.6371.67
Tabata17.314.382.417.799.933

Those numbers do a good job of speaking for themselves, but what may be most impressive is that he walked more than he struck out, always a good sign regardless of the raw pitching in the GCL.

Obviously, it will be a couple of years before we can really see how Tabata plays out but hey, that's what prospects are for, right? You're prospecting for the next great player to put on your team's uniform and who knows, we could be looking at him right now.
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Responding to the replace the Yankees campaign (to which 30 leagues have responded), the Staten Island Yankees have said that they will retaliate.

"We are planning to retaliate to some extent, in a fun way, as we know how to do well," says [Gary Perone, assistant general manager], reached at his Staten Island office yesterday. He said the team will formally announce its plans early next week.

Fans aside, the teams square off six times, beginning Aug. 4-6 in Staten Island. Look for some interesting moments when the Spinners visit.

"Anybody who shows up in a Red Sox hat or T-shirt and throws it in the bin will get free tickets to the game," said Perone. He has also put out feelers for throwing out the first pitch to former Red Sox pitchers who went on to victory with the Yankees, including Mike Torrez, who served up the infamous home run to Bucky Dent in the 1978 playoff game.

And Perone is plotting pregame "salutes to Johnny Damon and Babe Ruth."

There is a poll at the Spinners website asking whether you'd want your child to wear a Yankees or Spinners jersey. Currently the Spinners are in the lead with 83 votes (58%) to the Yankees 61 votes (42%).

Via Steve.
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Spinners want 'Yankees' teams out of youth leagues:

The Red Sox Single-A affiliate announced today that it is on a mission to get rid of the name "Yankees" from youth league teams around New England. Not coincidentally, the team is trying to change those monikers to the "Lowell Spinners." ...

The Spinners estimated that close to half of the youth baseball leagues in New England include a team named the "Yankees," and the team said it has already begun contacting organizations in an attempt to convince them to adopt the name change. ...

So far, the Spinners claim, three organizations have agreed to the switch: the Chelmsford Little League, Methuen Instructional League, and Tewksbury Youth Baseball.

If the league agrees, the Spinners pay for the uniforms and the team gets to play at the Spinners field before a Spinners game.

Now, really, I think it's crazy. I know it's for fun, etc. Nonetheless, I was in little league in New England for every year that I played except for the final one. For me, this is the ages of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Fall ball (1 year) and all star teams notwithstanding, I was the Indians (3 years), P.A.L. (Police Athletic League), Expos and I forget (may have been Expos for 2 years). I was never the Red Sox or the Yankees. I would have certainly liked to play for the Yankees in the league, but it was no big deal. I'd tend to believe that is how most kids are. Even if I was on the Red Sox, I certainly wouldn't have been "devastated." I believe it would have been a good joke in my family ("Patrick plays for the Red Sox, ha ha"). I didn't pray not to be on the Red Sox.

I like this quote:

In fact one coach told me he is tired of seen and eight year-old kids in Yankee jersey getting booed at hometown parades.

Let's think about this one. First question: what kind of person boos at little league games? Ok, now... what kind of person boos 8 year old little leaguers? Ok, now... er... what kind of person boos them in a parade (not a game) in their hometown? I'd guess this type of person would be a very tiny minority, myself.

Via Steve.
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Brian MacMillan did some research to find the former Yankees currently coaching in the MLB. All told, 21 MLB teams have former Yankees on their coaching staffs.
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The Daily News checks in with some good news on the progress of Octavio Dotel's rehab and an update on how Ramiro Mendoza is doing.

Dotel is very upbeat:

With the start of camp only a week away, Dotel said his elbow is feeling better than he would have hoped just eight months removed from ligament replacement surgery.

"It's more than I expected, way more," Dotel said. "I didn't expect this so soon. When I had the surgery, there were a lot of comments about how long it would take, if I could come back. You don't want to hear it, but you start thinking about it. "I'm really surprised at what I have already."

He hopes he can be ready by April, but he says he won't rush, either. "The Yankees are the people who decide," he said. "As far as I feel, I could be there in April, but I'll let them decide when I'll be in New York with the team."

Ramiro is feeling confident in his abilities:

Mendoza, who will pitch for Panama in the World Baseball Classic in March, threw 30 pitches off a bullpen mound yesterday at the Yanks' minor-league complex and then said he is feeling better than he has since he had shoulder surgery in January of 2005.

"Venezuela helped me a lot," said Mendoza, an important cog in the Yankee title teams from 1996-2000. "I'm fine now. All of my pitches are sinking and I've got my change, my curveball, everything. I just have to show I can pitch."

I still trust Ramiro coming out of the bullpen more than I would if it were someone like Tanyon Sturtze or Scott Proctor. In fact, if Ramiro can prove himself in spring training while those other guys flounder, I'm all for giving him Tanyon's roster spot from the beginning of the season. Still, since he signed a minor-league deal, I'm sure he'll be the one working down in Colombus.
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Well, no one can say that Damon didn't thank the fan base that made him the star (commmerically) that he is today. Damon took out a full-page advertisement in the Boston Globe sports section yesterday to say thanks to the Red Sox fans.

"Many thanks to the great fans of New England and the city of Boston," it read. "It was a privilege and an honor."

The display included a photo of Damon in a Boston uniform and his signature.

Naturally, the online portion of the Boston Globe (yes, the same paper he took the ad out in) doesn't buy it.

Again, how can we miss him if he won't go away?

Damon is not the first athlete to publish such an ad, of course. Most notably, Drew Bledsoe and Mo Vaughn made similar gestures on their way out of town. But those were submitted the same week as their departure, not 10 days before spring training with their new teams.

Let's not forget this "honor and privilege" comes a week after he told the press in New York how unhappy Manny Ramirez is playing in Boston. He wants the slugger join him with the Yankees. David Ortiz, too. It also comes a week after he said was starting to feel "like a Yankee" and was looking forward to discussing "the Yankee way" with team owner George Steinbrenner. It comes a week after he told radio host David Lee Roth how he and his kids shared a cry after he told them the Red Sox didn't want him.

Johnny Damon has spent all his time lately convincing himself and the world what a great decision it was to move on to the Yankees. If this is his desperate attempt at making sure he doesn't completely destroy his legacy in Boston -- a motion that would have been an act of class on Dec. 21 -- is today far too little, and much too late.

Thats the thing with these public displays - everyone takes it differently. Some will see gratitude for the good times while others see a play for more publicity. Where do you think this stands?
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Also known as "When Abbreviations Attack!"

Update: This is a joint interview with noMaas.org.

Just a reminder in case you haven't read the article yet but SG has a fantastic (and long) interview with Mitchel Lichtman (MGL) who is one of the top names in the field of sabermetrics. He is best known as the inventor of UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which is "the most advanced form of defensive statistical analysis currently available" and he consults for the St. Louis Cardinals as well. Here's what he thinks of the Yankees' chances this year:

The Yankees have a powerhouse of a lineup again this year. The only weakness is at DH, and even that is not too bad. With a little luck, they could score 1000 runs in 2006. I think that 900 is a slam dunk. Their starting pitching, one through four, is pretty good, if RJ stays healthy and keep his velocity consistently in the mid 90’s. Mussina, while well on the downslope of his great career, should still be able to post good numbers, and while Wang and Chacon are not as good as they pitched for the Yankees last year (especially Chacon), they are still pretty decent pitchers. And of course, Mo remains one of the best closers in baseball. Pavano and Wright are the stepchildren in the back of the rotation this year. I much prefer Pavano. I think Wright is a terrible pitcher who had a good, flukey year for Atlanta in 04, perhaps helped by the tutelage of Mazzone. I expect the Yankees to once again lead the division, this time with 96 or 97 wins.

MGL, Tom Tango and Andy Dolphin are pitching new book about baseball strategy called, simply enough, The Book. If you check out the site, there are excerpts from each chapter of The Book, which from the sounds of the interview looks to be a killer read (if you're into the scene).
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There seems to have been a serious uptick in interest in the Yankee slugger. Some of the more recent pieces on Jason was this puff piece on Giambi by Bob Klapisch of ESPN.com that comes off as remarkably upbeat.

The Yankees are convinced Giambi's darkest hours have passed. "As far as we're concerned, Jason hit our best-case scenario," Cashman said this week. "Now we're back to business as usual; to me, Jason is back to being one of the premier players in the game right now."

Giambi never wavered in his belief that getting healthy -- ridding his body of the parasites and the tumor -- would rebuild his career, if not his reputation. He spent less time at his locker and more time with hitting instructor Don Mattingly, as well as Azra Shafi-Scagliarini, his friend, consultant and spiritual adviser.

It didn't hurt Giambi, either, that the steroids scandal eventually shifted its focus to Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, both of whom performed disgracefully before a Congressional hearing. That investigation gave Giambi breathing room to reclaim his best skill -- hitting line drives.

"Jason sounds great, he tells me he's been working out and feeling strong," Cashman said. "That's exactly what we want to hear."

It definitely looks like he's been working out as he looks a lot "meatier" in the pictures that accompany most of these articles. Hopefully, that will translate to an even better year at the plate since his work on the field leaves much to be desired. However, even Jason knows his splits:

“My numbers are so staggered. When I play first, they're huge. When I DH, I stink,” he said. “I definitely can win more games with my bat than I can lose with my glove.”

» Read More

02/08: Dollar Bill$

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It looks like Johnny Damon has definitely arrived in NY and is here to stay as he just bought an apartment.

On Feb. 3, Mr. Damon’s offer was accepted on a $5.9 million apartment [in celebrity-packed One Beacon Court.], according to a source with knowledge of the deal. Located on the 39th floor of the Cesar Pelli–designed Bloomberg tower (with interior finishes designed by Jacques Grange), Mr. Damon’s apartment includes three bedrooms and two and a half baths, as well as a dining room, windowed kitchen, and full city and park views.

Phillies right-fielder Bobby Abreu owns a pied-à-terre at One Beacon Court. But the roster of non-athletic celebrity tenants is more glamorous: Beyoncé Knowles, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, former G.E. chief executive Jack Welch, current G.E. chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, and record mogul Alan Meltzer, who purchased a penthouse for $27 million.

Now that Mr. Damon is finally settling down in the city, he might be more motivated to sell his Brookline residence, which is located near Fenway Park. In 2004, Mr. Damon dropped $4.75 million on the modern, 6,800-square-foot home.

Well, now that Damon has found a place to live, maybe he can join his buddy Jason Giambi and leverage some of his contract money in a charitable way.

» Read More

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Sounds like something out of Fashion week. Tom Verducci checks in with his prediction for the pitchers that will break out this season and we don't mean in pimples. Of course, with all of his top 10 under the age of 27 and with Felix Hernandez (all of 19!) on the list, the pimples could be defintely be a possibility.

Here's what he had to say about Mr. Wanger (don't blame me for that one! Blame the Yankees clubhouse for that nickname!), who came in number 2 on the list:

The cool right-hander is a strike- and groundball-throwing machine, getting through his average inning as an AL rookie with only 13.7 pitches. Pitching for a team loaded with offense, Wang is a near lock to win 15 games -- but only if he stays healthy, which is still a concern among the New York executives.

Isn't the health issue a concern for every pitcher? Still, with Wang's history, he definitely does warrant special consideration. Here's to a healthy 2006 for the Wanger.

Credit to Steve Lombardi for the link.
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The Blue Jays signed another free-agent yesterday, namely Bengie Molina, to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2007. The 31-year-old will earn $4.5 million in 2006, and the option year is worth $7.5 million. Not a horrible deal but I'm sure that Bengie is kicking himself for not taking the 3 year, $18 million that the Mets offered him at the beginning of the season. I don't know how much return that the Blue Jays will get on this investment as the most likely scenario (in my mind) is Bengie putting up a line like this, .279 /.325/.435 with 10 HRs or so. Considering that Gregg Zaun, who is still with the team, gave them .251/.355/ .373 with 11 HRs last year, this seems like a marginal upgrade. Yes, I realize that Bengie was once a very good defensive player but that was 2 full seasons ago and Bengie has added some weight since then.

This comes on the heels of Piazza (who would have made a ton more sense for the Blue Jays) signing with the Padres with a $2 million, one-year contract (with a mutual option for 2007 at $8 million).

Piazza is hoping to catch about 90-100 games this season, along with playing some first base and being the DH in interleague games.

Man, if you were to cut that catching number down a little bit, that sounds like it would have been an awesome fit for the Blue Jays (and for Piazza as well since San Diego's PETCo Park will rob him of his main weapon, his power). If you cut that catching number down even further, he would have been a really good fit for the Yanks.

It just wasn't meant to be as earlier signings, specificially the Bernie contract, precluded any pursuit of Piazza. It wasn't the Stinnet signing that didn't allow the Yankees to be more of a factor in the Piazza talks. You could have released or traded Stinnett for a bag of balls and the contract hit wouldn't have phased the Yankees a bit. However, with Bernie in the fold, you have effectively filled "the aging player who can DH" role. If you were to take Bernie out of the equation, Piazza then becomes the perfect fit - a backup catcher with pop who could also be one heck of a right-handed DH and play a little (admittedly bad) first base if necessary. Then at the end of the season, you have a rested Posada and Piazza ready for the playoffs (and if you release Stinnett, another roster spot). Oh well - c'est la vie.

02/06: WBC Notes

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Here's a quick recap of some of the Yankee-related World Baseball Classic news over the last couple of days.

Out:

Robbie Cano won't be participating and I for one think his reasons are very valid:

Cano cited the presence of fellow second basemen Alfonso Soriano and Luis Castillo on the Dominican Republic's team as his primary reason for sitting out, saying he would rather use the time to play exhibition games with the Yankees than to sit on the bench with the Dominican team.

"I don't think I'm going to play," Cano said. "Maybe they'd use me once in a while, but I want to win a world championship. If I go there, I'll be sitting on the bench, and I want to get ready for the season."

Mariano Rivera also will not be participating.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the highest profile Major League player from Panama, reiterated Monday he will not participate in the World Baseball Classic. The Associated Press quoted Rivera as saying he based the decision on his inability to be prepared to pitch when the WBC begins early next month.

"I won't be ready," Rivera said after he had worked out at the Yankees' Minor League complex.

Changes:

A-Rod has been added to Team USA and will be playing SS along with Derek Jeter. That's a nice luxury to have, huh? Two Hall-of-Fame bound shortstops on one team? Oh wait...that's everyday life as a Yankee fan...thanks George.

As an aside, I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised at the excitement that I sense building for this event. I don't really feel it beginning for Team USA just yet but I think that there is a great amount of pride and support from several of the other countries that are fielding a team. I think that support for the US team will build soon (and quickly) as it wouldn't take much to transition the patriotic fervor for Team USA at the Winter Olympics to Team USA at the WBC. If everything breaks right, it should only be a matter of time before you see people walking down the street with a nice looking Team USA A-Rod or Jeter jersey or a Dominican jersey with Pedro or Pujols stitched on the back.
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Even if I wasn't a Yankees fan, I would still be astounded by George Herman Ruth's accomplishments, so I thought that it'd be nice to wish the man a Happy Birthday! I look at his stats, both regular and sabermetric and I am in awe. A career line of .342 /.474/.690 with an average of 46 HRs, 143 RBIs and 375 TB does that to me. Oh, and once you're done gawking at the hitting accomplishments, take gander at the pitching stats - a 2.28 ERA in 1221.3 innings (a 122 ERA+ and 15th best all-time). You can add on the 7 World Series rings as icing if you'd like.

He still holds the career records for (from Wikipedia)
* Extra base hits, season, 119, 1921
* Home runs, left handed batter, career, 714
* On base plus slugging (OPS), career, 1.164
* Runs batted in, left handed batter, career, 2210
* Runs created, career, 2910
* Runs created, season, 243, 1921
* Slugging percentage, career, .690
* Times reached base, season, 379, 1923
* Total bases, season, 457, 1921
* Most seasons leading league in slugging, 13
* Most seasons leading league in runs, 8
* Most seasons scoring 150 runs, 6
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Scooter is downsizing in preparation for a move from the family's longtime house in Hillside, N.J., to a smaller home and in doing so, is placing many pieces of memorabilia up for auction sometime later this summer.

Among the items are several World Series rings, a Christmas card from Mickey Mantle and a 56-year-old Yankees cap that is worn, dusty and has a piece of gum still stuck to the top.

The article describes Rizzuto as "looking elegant but slightly frail and family members said that he has his good days and his bad days". The 88-year-old, who is the oldest living Hall-of-Famer, had a 40-year Yankees broadcasting career that ended in 1996. In the story, he passes along one of his favorite moments from his playing career, showing that the man can still spin a yarn when he wants to.

Patricia (Rizzuto's daughter) recalled Phil's answer to a reporter who asked what he'd like to be remembered for.

"My father said, 'I want to be remembered as a nice guy,"' she said.

And he always will be. Phil Rizzuto. 7-Time World Series Winner. 5-Time All-Star. 1950 AL MVP. Class Act. Nice Guy.

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As of this writing, there are less than 2 weeks before pitchers and catchers report! As we get closer to spring training and the inevitable start of the 2006 baseball season, I thought that putting together a quick hit list on info on the Yankees might not be such a bad idea. Luckily for me, Yankees.com has a lot of great stuff so here are the links I found, just in case you're curious.

A History of the Yankees: There is a lot to have fun with here including a very interesting Yankees timeline. You can also find single season records (though I don't believe that this has been updated to include the 2005 season), rare feats (there's some great did-you-know information in there), and a listing of retired numbers and a description of the players who wore them, among other things.

Now that we're caught up with the past, let's take a look at the present in a
Yanks Fan Guide to Spring Training and a Guide to Legends' Field

Other Yankees.com features include: Quick Hits: Projected Starting Lineup Rotation & Other Changes, The 40 Man Roster, and Non-Roster Invitees.

MLB.com has also done some relatively generic pieces on the various parts of the Yankees team so here are those highlights:

Catchers, Corner Infielders, Up the Middle, and Pitchers, including the bullpen as well as the starters.

And just in case you wanted even more information about the team, here is the
Front Office (Hey, where's Costanza on this list? Oh, he's just out getting Big Stein a calzone from Pisano's), Coaches and yes, even Broadcasters !
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Word comes down from Newsday that Johnny Damon is heading down to Tampa to meet with Mr. Steinbrenner.

Damon, having spent this week in Manhattan completing his housing search and making a slew of promotional appearances, told Newsday on Wednesday he is excited to finally spend time with the man who agreed to pay him $52 million over four years.

"We're just going to talk, kick back and crack some jokes," Damon said.

Other articles from earlier in the week had this quote from Damon:

Everything feels right about being a Yankee, about the tradition, about my new teammates. It feels pretty special.

It strikes me as odd that he would say this and I hope that he was misquoted somewhat. First of all, less than six months ago, this is the guy who said that he could never see himself with the Yankees, even if they came after him hard with a lot of money. Well, I guess that $52 million dollars can change one's attitude pretty quickly. I mean, I understand that baseball is a business, first and foremost, and that most of what comes out of a player's mouth is entirely self-serving (especially for someone who is striving as marketable as Damon is). I understand that and I don't have a problem with players saying something like this, it's this specific instance, this flip-flop, that bothers me.

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For those of you that just can't get enough Yankee news, I'd like to take a sec to point out some new points to check out.

In George We Trust is a new blog started by one of our readers, Mike A., and looks like a great source of information and analysis for all things Yankees, such as a look at pitching depth and other features such as looks at prospects such as J. Brent Cox. Mike has done great work so far and is now looking for some suggestions to help mold the site as it goes along.

Another reader and commenter, Joseph P., has a very good Yankees blog up as well, The Sporting Brews. While not a new site per se, it's still a great place to get some interesting perspectives on the Yankees. Joseph has always brought good insight to the comments section here at YanksBlog.com and that certainly carries through in the posts that I've read. He provides some minor league analysis as well and he's currently working through a 12-part series concerning the 2006 Yanks. So far, he has addressed Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and the law firm of Wang, Chacon, & Small. I'm really looking forward to the continuation of that series and the rest of his pretty lengthy analysis on other aspects of the team.

Finally, since Fabian's Minor Yankee Blog went dark, I've thought that sites with a focus on the Yankees farm system have been underrepresented on the web (correct me if I'm wrong here - I'd love to see some good prospect sites!). Fabian has mentioned that he's working on his Top 25 prospect list so we have that to look forward to. However, there is some good news - I just saved a bunch of... ;)

Actually, the good news is even better as Pending Pinstripes, another new Yankees site, has opened up shop with a sharp focus on the Yankee farm system. I've been very impressed with the site so far and really enjoy the way Travis Nelson (of Boy of Summer fame) outlines each prospect. So far, he's hit upon Phil Hughes, Eric Duncan, Colter Bean and Kevin Reese and I'm looking forward to what he has lined up next.

All the sites are off to great starts and I'd encourage you to check them out, say hello and leave some feedback.
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"To the New York fans, thank you very much for making me feel very welcome.'' - A-Rod.

Keep winning MVPs and those fans will keep on loving you...course with A-Rod, there will always be a faction that just can't stand him. It's what happens when a) you try to be on pretty much everyone's good side and b) you sign a contract worth a quarter of a billion dollars. Still, you can't fault the man for taking what management wanted to give him at the time nor can you say that A-Rod hasn't been one of the most valuable players in league history. You can dislike him personally but you cannot dispute that he has put it all out on the field (including in the playoffs, give or take a few series...).

Interesting article from Sports Illustrated
about the recent baseball awards dinner in NY. It talks about A-Rod recieving his award from one of his idols, Mr. Cal Ripken and provides quotes and a few tidbits about other awards recipients and the people who were called to present them with the awards. Mariano Rivera was also in attendance and won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award, which was presented to him by GM Brian Cashman. Statistically speaking, Rivera really should have garnered more votes for the Cy Young than the man who won it, Bartolo Colon (and as an aside, both really should have been eclipsed by the real Cy Young of the 2005 season - Johan Santana). Nevertheless, congrats to both Yankees (and all the other players and coaches) who won awards.