Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another New Poll

Although 2005 ends on a bad note for Yankee haters, with the Damon signing and all, it was still a great year for Yankee haters. It was a year that featured an awful start by the Junkees, embarrassing losses to awful teams, new faces that quickly got old, and, best of all, an early October exit for the Junkees.

What was your highlight of 2005? With so many to choose from, this is not an easy poll. And if your highlight isn't up here, cast a write-in vote by leaving a comment to this post saying what YOUR highlight of the 2005 Yankees season was.

Even After Damon's Defection, Sox May Still Be Better

In my opinion, rumors of the Red Sox demise are premature. After the Damon signing, papers both in Boston and New York talked about what a wide gap there was between Boston and New York. In fact, on a poll, more people picked Toronto to win the East than Boston.

There's been a lot of upheaval in Boston, but come on people, they're still a very good team. Schilling should finally be healthy, and he and Beckett are the guys you want 1-2 in the rotation. Wakefield can still throw the knuckler, and Arroyo is a solid #4-5 starter. And people forget that Clement had an excellent first half last year. If he can keep it going all year next year, the Sox will have some pitching staff.

And Mota is a big addition to the bullpen. Plus, Timlin has shown no signs of slowing down, and if Foulke is healthy, there's no reason he can't return to his '04 form.

The big x-factor is the offense, of course. But Lowell should improve in a hitter's park, Loretta is one of the most underrated players in the game, and Youkilis at first would be a Nick Johnson clone. The question is what they get for Manny. If they get crap like Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui, then Boston's in trouble. I'd love to see them trade him for Tejada, and if both players get very unhappy, that just might happen. Whatever it is,Boston has to get another big bat if they trade Manny. And David Ortiz can still beat the Yanks no matter what. Even with Myers or Villone on the hill.

-- Are the Yankees a better team with Damon? No question. But the big question mark will be their starting pitching.

The emergence of Wang, Small, and Chacon, along with RJ's good second half, did a good job of making people forget how bad the starting pitching was for much of the year. Even though Johnson had a good second half, he stunk in the playoffs and isn't getting any younger. Mussina is getting less healthy and more inconsistent as he continues to age. You have no idea what Pavano will give you. Ditto for Jaret Wright. Small looks like a one-year wonder. Wang might get hit with the sophomore jinx. And maybe AL batters will finally figure out how to hit Shawn Chacon.

Those big intra-division games in September will come down to the pitching. And if the Junkees don't have the arms to beat Boston and Toronto, it just might be a Yankee-free October.

-- Thanks to all for voting in the poll. It's very telling how, even in a week where Johnny Damon switched sides in sports' biggest rivalry, A-Schmuck still won out.

Should be a new poll up soon. Check back over the next day or two.

Getting Glaus Makes Jays Legit

So, after a week of awful news for Yankee haters, we get a bit of good news for a change. The Blue Jays' acquisition of Troy Glaus is certainly not enough to take away the awful tastes in our mouths from seeing Johnny Damon in Junkee pinstripes, but getting Glaus perhaps brings us one step closer to a Yankee-free October.

When the Jays got Burnett and Ryan, I was happy to see that there was finally a shift in the AL East's balance of power, but was disappointed that the Jays did not address what I thought was their most pressing need last year: a big bat in the lineup. Without Delgado, nobody scared you in that lineup. Maybe Vernon Wells, and that's being generous.

But now, the Jays haven't looked this solid since the good old days of Henderson, Molitor, and Joe Carter. The rotation is deep; not only do Halladay and Burnett give them a solid 1-2 punch, but the guys in the back of the rotation, Chacin, Towers, and Lilly, are no slouches. Towers quietly put together a solid year, posting a 3.71 ERA. These days, that's very good for a #3 or #4 starter.

And their pen was pretty good last year, too. No-names Frasor, Speier, and Chulk put together some fine numbers. Toronto had a lower bullpen ERA than the Junkees and the Red Sox, and getting B.J. Ryan will just make the pen even better.

And that lineup now looks mighty fine. The lack of a big bopper didn't stop the Jays from scoring the 5th-most runs in the AL in '05. And getting Glaus and Overbay makes them all the better. The only thing I find puzzling is J.P. Riccardi's corner infielder fetish; when you add in Hillenbrand, Koskie, and Hinske, that gives them 5 1B-3B types. Weird. But it does give them leverage to make a trade and perhaps add even more depth.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New Poll!!!

I guess I had a little too much time on my hands, so I put up a poll for the first time. In case you somehow didn't notice it, it's on the right side of your screen. And please vote! I really wanna see the results.

Why Would Johnny Do It?

So, Johnny Damon is coming to town.

So much for all of Brian Cashman's faith in Bubba Crosby. Guess George got in the way, huh? After Kyle Farnsworth couldn't get the Yanks on the back page, the Yanks had to make a splash. So George got his guy in Damon.

So I don't wanna hear anyone complaining about the Mets, or the Blue Jays, or any other team overspending. And I don't want to hear Brian Cashman crying poverty. The Yanks are still the Yanks, after all.

This one sucks, it really does. I said in an earlier post that I was glad the Yanks didn't get Nomar. But now, I'd be happier if they had taken Nomar instead of Damon.

And the Sox need a center fielder. And a shortstop.

A bad day for Yankee-haters. But hey, there have been days like this before. A big Yankee press conference, a big sigh in Red Sox Nation.

And yet, Mike Mussina has been unable to bring this team back to a championship. Neither has Juice-on. Not Shemp. Not Contreras (though a few years later....). Not Sheffield. Not Flush Gordon. Not A-Schmuck. Not Tanyon Sturtze. Not Kevin Brown (ha!). Not Pavano. Not the Big Unit.

So here's hoping Johnny Damon joins the club.

UPDATE: It sucks even more to see Damon's face on the back of all the New York papers. It won't take away from Damon leaving, but Boston has got to get Dave Roberts back. How about trading him straight-up for Wells? Boston needs a link to the '04 magic, and badly. Roberts provides just that.

And that other team from the '04 World Series isn't doing too well, either. First Looper, now Ponson? Has Walt Jocketty jumped the shark?

-- Another thing: if Yankee fans think Damon will steal 40 bases a year like Chuck Knoblauch, well, they've got something else coming. He only stole 18 bases last year, his lowest output since '97. And with Damon's weak throwing arm, Shemp bobbling the balls in left and Sheffield getting a little closer to the big 4-0, the Yankees outfield will be a mess defensively. And, by the way, Mark Loretta has a better career OBP than Damon. But it still stinks too see him go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

They Got Him

Well, I was kinda hoping the Mets would make a run on him, but too bad that didn't happen. This means I'll have to root for Dotel to suck this year,

From the AP:

NEW YORK -- When Octavio Dotel recovers from his elbow operation, he'll be pitching for the New York Yankees.

New York and the reliever reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday on a $2 million, one-year contract.

"I feel very happy with this contract," Dotel said. "This team has a lot of tradition, and it pleases me to know that they want me to pitch for them."

Dotel could earn $3 million more in performance bonuses based on games. His deal contains an additional $2.5 million in bonuses based on games finished, in case he is traded to another team.

He had 36 saves for Houston and Oakland in 2004 but struggled last season with Oakland, going 1-2 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA before he went on the disabled list May 20. From April 30 to May 11, he blew four saves in five outings.

Dotel had reconstructive elbow surgery June 6 to repair a torn ligament. He hopes to be pitching by midseason.

"What I do know is that it's going to help me to go back to what I like and that is to be a closer," he said.

With the Yankees, he joins several newcomers in the bullpen: right-hander Kyle Farnsworth and left-handers Ron Villone and Mike Myers. New York has struggled to find middle-inning pitchers in recent years, and setup man Tom Gordon left to become the Philadelphia Phillies' closer.

Several teams had sought Dotel, including the crosstown Mets.

Is Dotel Next? Depends Who You Ask

Newsday thinks so, but the Post thinks not. Interesting line in the Post's piece: Dotel, a 32-year-old right-hander who underwent elbow ligament transplant surgery last June, spoke with Cashman early last night from the Dominican Republic and was waiting for George Steinbrenner's approval later in the evening. That approval never came.

You kinda wonder how much of a role George has been playing this winter. Obviously, after Cashman decided to come back, I'm sure that George wanted to put him in charge for awhile, and maybe sweeten things for him. And so far, no Yankee youngsters have been traded yet (except for some no-name for Ron Villone). I do think Farnsworth was probably a George deal, though I wouldn't put it past Cashman, either. But otherwise, with Myers and Villone? Probably Cashman.

And as for Dotel, could this be George taking back control? Getting Dotel is a gamble: the guy could turn out to be another Lieber, or he could be another Wade Miller. But for $2 million, the Yanks have no problem with gambles. If George is really taking back control, we'll probably see an overpaid Johnny Damon in pinstripes soon.

-- As for Farnsworth, we've already discussed why this move is incredibly stupid, and Joel Sherman has a piece with further detail. Gotta love that opening line:
REARRANGE the letters in Kyle Farnsworth's name and I believe you spell "Mark Wohlers" or "Jay Witasick."

-- I wouldn't be too upset if the Junkees got Julian Tavarez. The guy's got a temperment that would be a disaster in New York. Also, a look at his stats shows that his numbers were awful for years till he got to St. Louis. I think Dave Duncan has somewhat of a Leo Mazzone effect on pitchers, leading them to overacheive in St. Louis. It could also be the way LaRussa uses his pitchers. But in recent years, it seems like the Cardinals have always had one of the best bullpens in the league. So I think Tavarez would be another Jay Witasick in New York. I've got no problem with that.

I just don't get why the Cardinals decided on Looper instead on Tavarez. I'm sure pizzabagel and the other Met fans out there can explain. But again, you've gotta give the benefit of the doubt to Jocketty and LaRussa, who have done a helluva job in St. Louis.

-- I'm glad the Junkees didn't get Nomar, for one reason: if he would've gotten a big hit in a Yankees-Red Sox game, the papers would've gotten all horny over the guy getting back at his former team. I definitely don't need to see that.

-- By the way, if you want to hear about A-Schmuck and the World Baseball Classic, you'll have to go elsewhere. Honestly, I'm more interested in the NHL (and the MLS, while we're at it) than the WBC.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Junkees' Awful Pitchers

Fun piece in the Times about some of the Yanks' awful pitchers of recent vintage:

Pitching Judgment Has Been Spotty for the Yankees

JACK CHESBRO, Lefty Gomez, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, Red Ruffing, Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter and Phil Niekro are Hall of Famers who pitched for the Yankees. These players have also pitched for the Yankees: Hideki Irabu, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, José Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Jon Lieber, David Wells, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.

In the latter group are pitchers the Yankees acquired in recent seasons in the belief that they would pitch productively but who in most instances did not, whom the Yankees mostly discarded and who, in some cases, have fared better elsewhere.

"I think you have to look at each pitcher on an individual basis," said Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager. "Guys like David Wells have done very well here. There are guys who have been very good elsewhere and have come here and done poorly. Some guys, like Shawn Chacon, have come here and pitched better. Guys like Jon Lieber were good before they came here, while they were here and after they left. Then there are guys we had big hopes for and had high expectations for, and they moved on and rebounded."

For the most part, though, the recruited pitchers have been major disappointments, beginning with Irabu, a Japanese import whose only lasting contribution to the Yankees was Jean Afterman, the team's assistant general manager, who previously worked with Irabu's agent.

Contreras, Weaver, Brown and Vazquez also turned out to be hugely disappointing. Pavano and Wright joined that group last season, though injuries clouded their status.

"I think if they're healthy, they'll contribute," Cashman said of Pavano and Wright, whom the Yankees signed as free agents. "You can certainly judge whether we should have signed Jaret with his injury history, but that's a different issue."

It nevertheless goes to the Yankees' judgment, which has not been very good with some of the other pitchers.

When they acquired Weaver in 2002, he had pitched for Detroit for three and a half seasons, and he had had three and a half losing seasons. The Yankees thought he would pitch more successfully for a better team, but he was only a .500 pitcher for them (12-12 in a season and a half) and didn't produce a winning record until this year with Los Angeles (14-11).

The Yankees traded Weaver to the Dodgers for Brown, who was five years into a seven-year contract and would be 39 years old in his first season with the Yankees. He spent 23 weeks of his 52-week tenure with the Yankees on the disabled list and had a 14-13 record. He had won at least 14 games in a season seven times in his career.

Contreras was a Cuban defector whose signing with the Yankees prompted Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox' chief executive, to call the Yankees the Evil Empire. Contreras, though, was no Darth Vader. When he struggled halfway through the 2004 season with a 5.64 earned run average, the Yankees traded him to the Chicago White Sox, who helped Contreras rediscover the talent that had made him a star in Cuba, and he helped them win the World Series this year.

He compiled a 15-7 record, won his last eight regular-season starts, then posted a 3-1 postseason record.

"Sometimes we might be too quick to judge because of the New York mentality; the patience level isn't there," Cashman said.

"Like with Jon Garland with the White Sox. He had a lot of potential and then last season he developed. Could a guy like that succeed here? We've been guilty of that. We've been guilty of pitchers' not handling the situation. Sometimes pitchers get hurt; sometimes guys have come here and thrived."

Vazquez did not thrive in New York. Instead, he was another of those the Yankees believed had pitched with mixed success for a losing team (Montreal) and would do better for them. One year after giving up three promising young players for him, the Yankees traded Vazquez to Arizona in the deal that brought Randy Johnson to the Bronx.

After pitching no better for the Diamondbacks than he did for the Yankees, Vazquez demanded a trade last month, and last week the Diamondbacks traded him to the White Sox.

"Vazquez was really streaky last season," Cashman said. "But his strikeout-to-walk ratio was tremendous. He still has ability. I think it was a very good move for the White Sox."

Lieber pitched well for the Yankees in 2004, especially down the stretch, but they miscalculated his market value as a free agent and lost him to Philadelphia, where he had a 17-13 record. The Yankees could have also signed Wells a year ago; he offered his services for a third term with them, but they passed.

"We wanted to get younger," Cashman said. (so you went and got Randy Johnson, right? -MO)

Instead of taking Wells, a 41-year-old pitcher who had compiled a 34-14 record in each of two previous two-year visits, the Yankees signed Pavano and Wright and watched as they pitched themselves onto the disabled list, each missing more than half the season.

Not all of the pitchers the Yankees have acquired have been bad. Johnson, Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina have won for them, but over all their record is not good.

Offering reasons for the failure of others, Cashman said: "Some could be New York-oriented, some maybe we were too quick to judge, some we made mistakes on our assessments. I think it's the whole rainbow."

Who's Left? Yankee Lefty Specialists in the Dynasty Years

'96 - Steve "a true Junkee" Howe
Paul Gibson (6.23 ERA)
Billy Brewer (9.53 ERA)
Dale Polley (7.89 ERA)
Graeme Lloyd

'97-'02: The Stanton era (1)
'99 -- Allen Watson comes aboard (ex-Met, Queens native, what could be better!)
Tony (36.00 ERA) Fossas
'00 - One of my all-time faves, Randy Choate, comes along
Allen (10.23 ERA) Watson jumps the shark
Cups of coffee for Kiesler, Lilly, and Yarnall

'03 -Chris (better against righties) Hammond
Randy (7.36 ERA) Choate
Gabe White
Felix Heredia
Jesse Orosco

'04 - Felix (6.28 ERA) Heredia
Gabe (8.27 ERA) White
Another favorite, C.J. Nitkowski
Donovan Osborne (more of a mop-up man, but still)

'05 -Mike (7.07) Stanton (II)
Buddy Groom
Alan Embree
Wayne Franklin
Al Leiter

'06 - Mike Myers
Ron Villone

Thursday, December 15, 2005

" Competitive balance in baseball is a sham."

Gotta love the first line in this piece from the St. Pete's Times. While I strongly disagree with the guy's suggestions (expanded playoffs? c'mon), I like his take on the state of the game.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Competitive balance in baseball is a sham.

It doesn't matter how the commissioner's office spins it, or if the Players Association continues to ignore it; the idea that major-league baseball's 30 teams begin each season on an even playing field is a joke.

Limited revenue sharing hasn't solved it. Neither has a payroll tax. And momentum for significant realignment is nonexistent.

So where is the hope in Tampa Bay?

Where is the hope in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit and other communities with lower revenue streams?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Line of the Day

In Tyler Kepner's piece on Snorre calling Nomar:

"If Garciaparra decides he wants to play in New York, the Yankees almost certainly could afford him."

Um, when was the last time they couldn't afford somebody? This is the same team paying Kyle Farnsworth, a reliever with a 4.50 lifetime ERA, $6 million!

And while Kepner says that the Snorre and Damon haven't talked, Newsday says that Snorre did call Damon. Heck, Bubba Crosby has about as much of a chance at being Opening Day CF as Mike Lamb's chance at being 3B before the '04 season. Cashman may have a fetish for Crosby, but when George starts to panic, the Yanks will give Damon an offer he can't refuse.

UPDATE: The folks in Arizona are turning into the Mets, getting a bunch of ex-Yankees. First Vazquez, now El Duque. That organization has jumped the shark in a huge way since winning it all in '01. They gave up Schilling for the awful Casey Fossum, they lost 111 games in '04, there was the whole Wally Backman fiasco, and then they make a couple of "what the hell were they thinking?" moves in giving tons of cash to Glaus and Russ Ortiz.

And I know this isn't a "D-Backs Despiser" blog, but I can't help commenting on how stupid this trade is. They couldn't get anything better for Vazquez? Just a pitcher who's bound to go on the DL at some point during the year, and who simply might not have anything left in the tank? Okay, they got a couple of prospects, but who's to say they won't turn out to be a couple of Casey Fossums? Talk about a poorly-run team.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Junkees Getting Serious on Damon and Nomar?

Jon Heyman has the details on the Damon situation, while George King says Garciaparra might take over for Juice-on Giambi at first. And if Giambi's 1B/DH-splits are meaningful -- I think they're not; Giambi mostly DHed early in the year, when Tino was hot and playing first while Juice-on was suffering from withdrawal symptoms -- this might be pretty good for Yankee haters.

In other developments, the Junkees say they plan on keeping Pavano. They probably should do what Boston did with Renteria and ship the guy back to the NL, but considering the Junkees have seven starters for next year, they can always throw Pavano into a mop-up role in case he stinks up the joint. And of course, the Yankees are no stranger to having overpaid stinkers in a mop-up role.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cairo and Perez on Their Way?

What could be better for George than an ex-Met and a Yankee-killer? I guess the guy came to his senses, as he's now pursuing Cairo instead of Nomar. And you heard it hear first, just a few weeks ago: the Junkees were horny over Eduardo Perez, and he might assume a Tino-like role next year. Check it all out here:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

End of an Error (or, yes folks, there are dumber GMs than Ca$hman out there)


DALLAS -- The New York Yankees traded Tony Womack to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, getting rid of the second baseman-turned-outfielder just one season after signing him.

The trade was to be announced later Thursday, a high-ranking baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the teams had not publicly confirmed the swap. It was not immediately known what the Yankees were getting in return. Womack hit .307 to help St. Louis win the NL pennant in 2004, then became a free agent and signed a $4 million, two-year contract with the Yankees. He was their starting second baseman for the first month of the season, but lost his job when the Yankees brought up rookie Robinson Cano. Womack wound up playing just 24 games in second and was shifted to the outfield, where he appeared 40 times in left, 22 in center and four in right. Womack wound up batting just .249 with 15 RBI and 27 steals. He didn't get an at-bat during New York's five-game loss to the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Coupla Quickies

Courtesy of the New York Post:

In the "Does This Make Him a True Yankee Now?" Dept.:

Agent Scott Shapiro refused to go into detail about his recent firing by Carl Pavano. Shapiro did say as long as Pavano pays him the commission during the next three years, there won't be any lawsuits.

It's believed Pavano let Shapiro go because the pitcher was told his contract was for four years and $40 million when it was actually $39.95 million.

And in the "They Can't Be Serious" Dept.:

Veteran reliever Jeff Nelson talked to Cashman about a possible third stint in the Yankees bullpen. Nelson is also interested in pitching for the Mets and Dodgers

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Boggs, Clemens, Nomar?

The latest rumor in the Junkees' bizarre offseason has Nomar Garciaparra coming to New York as a super utility man.

The whole thing is a PR move. The only thing that gets George more horny than an ex-Met is an ex-Red Sox player. It used to be that the Yanks would only get the ex-Sox that were worth getting. The Junkees needed a 3B when they signed Boggs (which was a bit of a risk after he hit .259 in '92), and the move paid off. And when the Junkees got Clemens in '99, it made sense because the guy had just pitched incredibly well in his two years in Toronto. But now, with the rivalry so much hotter than it was back in those days, George has gone further, acquiring scrubs like Embree and Bellhorn.

Getting Nomar makes no sense. The guy's never gonna play shortstop, his natural position, with his old buddy Jeter out there. He played some third last year, but of course A-Schmuck is already there. So who knows how he'll do at the other positions? Can Nomar play CF? Can the guy even stay healthy anymore?

He might turn out to be a decent DH in the long run, but even then, that's a power position. And Nomar is more of an average hitter.

Ultimately, the Junkees would be better off signing a guy like Miguel Cairo for this kind of role, since at least he's proven he can do it well.

So maybe seeing all those Mets on the back page of the New York papers has gotten George a little jealous. And a little crazy too, apparently.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mike Lupica's Despiser Echo

You hear this in New York these days: The Mets now spend like the Yankees!

Really? On what planet?

The Mets, according to MLB, currently have around $110 million in committed salaries for next season. Yeah, they spend the way the Yankees did in the 2005 season if between now and Opening Day, Omar Minaya spends another $100 million.

And what the heck, here's a link to the whole piece; more about the Junkees' losing dough.

Selig's Luxury Tax Dollars at Work: Part 2

From (and by the way, part 1 was posted back in January, after the Junkees couldn't sign Beltran. Speaking of Beltran, with the Mets' lineup improving next year thanks to Delgado and LoDuca, I think Carlos will have an A-Rod-esque bounce-back second year in New York).

The New York Yankees lost between $50 million and $85 million for the 2005 season, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.

Despite drawing more than four million fans, a payroll of $200 million plus an additional $110 million in revenue sharing and luxury taxes has left the Yankees in the red, according to the paper.

"Yes, even George has his limits," one source told the Daily News.

The paper also reports that the Yankees might have to open up their checkbooks even further if a consultant hired by MLB decides the team undervalued their television rights.

The Yankees currently charge the YES Network about $60 million a year to broadcast games, but if it's found to be undervalued, the Yankees will have to make up the difference by putting more money into the revenue-sharing fund, the paper reported.

"They're going to owe us money," one MLB source predicted to the paper.

The final numbers won't be crunched for a few months, but it's believed the final number will be roughly $80 million when all is tallied. According to Forbes magazine, the Yankees lost $37.1 million in 2004.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

'06 Offseason - Best Ever! (so far)

Kyle Farnsworth and Kelly Stinnett. Red Sox, watch out!

Let's see, Stinnett fits George's ex-Met fetish, but furthermore, gives the Junkees an excuse why RJ stunk last season - he didn't have a catcher he was comfortable with. Okay, let's see what the spin will be in 2006.... Either way, Stinnett won't hit a lick.

And Farnsworth is a guy who cannot be trusted in a big spot! Does anyone remember him blowing a 5-run lead in the NLDS? I do. Gives up a ton of homers, and will join the likes of Chris Hammond and Steve Karsay as relievers who couldn't get it done in the Big Apple.

And my favorite news item of the day is that Brian Giles is headed back to San Diego. He was the one guy I was afraid the Junkees would get, an on-base machine, and now that he's off the market, it's Johnny Damon, Juan Pierre, Jason Michaels, or some other scrub.

Looking at the starting staff, you have an older Randy Johnson, an unreliable Mike Mussina, two guys you don't know what you're going to get in Carl Panavo and Jaret Wright, and one-year wonders Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon. They're not pursuing anyone good, and if you look at their lineup, sure A-Schmuck and Sheffield are good, and Jeter and Shemp are reliable, but everyone else is a question mark. Giambi? Posada? Cano?

I like what I'm seeing, so this is the best offseason for a Yankee Despiser since 1989, when Steve Sax was the big acquisition.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What Was Better: '01 or '04?

Been thinking about this recently, and I just wanted to throw a question out there:

Which was sweeter, the Junkees losing it in '01 or in '04?

Now, at first, '04 seems like a slam dunk, simply because the Red Sox were involved. But I'm looking at this not so much from a Red Sox fan's perspective (where, duh, '04 was the best year ever), but just from a Yankee-haters perspective (where the Red Sox beating the Yanks is sweeter than the D-Backs beating the Yankees, but not always).

Anyway, I'll play devil's advocate and throw in a bunch of reasons why '01 was better:

- when the Junkees won the first 3 games of the '04 ALCS, the wins were boring. No drama at all. Especially the 19-8 win. But in '01, Yankee fans went nuts when they got the game-tying home run with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th two nights in a row. I remember listening to Steve Somers after Game 5, saying there was no way the D-Backs were gonna come back from such devastating losses. He thought the Yanks had won it all, right there.

And, of course, thanks to Luis Gonzalez, that never happened. Gonzo proved that all that Yankee aura and mystique, which had seemed so pervasive earlier in the series, were nothing more than a couple of strippers.

And every time YES shows Game 4 or 5, I just have to laugh. It's like reading 400 pages of a horror novel, then closing the book right before the ending where everyone dies. Just plain silly.

- Also, the '01 series ended in a much more dramatic fashion than the '04 ALCS. After Soriano's homer, the D-Backs looked dead. After all, they were headed to the bottom of the 9th facing Rivera. A few minutes later, Schill and the Unit were co-MVPs of the World Series.

'04 had its share of drama, especially the Dave Roberts game. But for the Yankee fans, it was a slow, agonizing death. It was great watching Kevin Brown get his butt kicked in game 7, but it wasn't much of a thrilling game. The shock value sure wasn't there. Part of what made '01 so great was how it happened so fast.

- And let's not forget: '01 came after the Junkees won 3 straight World Series. The team seemed freakin' invincible. It looked like they would just win it year after year.

But after the D-Backs won, it was the end of an era. O'Neill and Brosius left, the Juice Man came to town, and the Yanks have never won since. And as sweet as '04 was, it wasn't the one that ended the dynasty, the one that made Junkee fans realize, "you can't win it all every year."

Right after last year's high, I easily would've said '04. But now I'm not so sure. Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mets Like the Yanks? Not Quite

From Bob Klapisch's piece on

"So, how, exactly, do the Mets afford this sudden swelling of the payroll? Actually, they still project somewhere in the low-$100 million range, with nearly $35 million coming off the books this winter. That will allow the Mets to continue their pursuit of Billy Wagner, to whom they've extended a three-year offer worth approximately $30 million with an option for a fourth year that makes the deal worth $40 million."

Not to mention that by losing Piazza and Cameron, that's about $24 million right there. When you add in Ishii and Minkiewicz, that brings it to at least $30 million. So the Mets are not the new Junkees. When their payroll hits $200 million, then come back to me.

Even When Quiet, Junkees Still Bad For The Game

So far, it's been a most unusual offseason in New York. The Yankees' biggest new acquisitions: Larry Bowa and Tony Pena. The Mets have been stealing the headlines, and heck, even the Red Sox made it to the back page of the Post last week. And the Blue Jays have jacked up the market for relievers like crazy. Rumors swirl around the Mets getting Wagner, a catcher, and maybe even a second baseman. All the while, the Junkees seem to be as quiet as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even Chris "Mad Dog" Russo said that Mets fans no longer have a right to complain about the Yankees' spending, saying that the Mets are now in the same boat, with the Delgado acquisition.

So is it time to give up harping on the Yanks? Time to get rid of "Yankee Despiser" and start giving it to the Mets and Red Sox (and the Cubs, while we're at it)?

Of course not. Let's see. The highest-paid player in the game, the A-Schmuck, is still in pinstripes. And even if Wang and Small come back next year, the Yanks will likely have the most expensive rotation in the league next year: Johnson at $16 million, Mussina at $19 million, Pavano at $9 million, and Wright (who will likely assume a Sterling Hitchcock-like role next year -- i.e., you'll only see him if the Yanks are up or down by at least 12) at $7 million. That's $51 million right there -- or more than 8 teams' entire payrolls (9 if you count the Fish's expected $40 million number for '06).

Derek Jeter, with the 47th-best OPS in the game, sure wasn't paid like that, earning close to $20 million. And let's not forget the Yanks re-signing Shemp Matsui at $13 million per year, who, yes, had the same OPS as Cliff Floyd. If the Yanks were a small-market team, they would've waved bye-bye to Shemp back in September.

Putting things in perspective, even with Boston adding payroll by getting Beckett, Mota, and Lowell, -- say, at most, $15 million in all, and the Yanks shedding about $30 million by losing Bernie and Brown -- there's still at least a $45 million gap between the two teams. And the Mets had less than half the payroll ($101 million vs. $208 million) of the crosstown Yanks. So even if the Mets spend $50 million more next year (which wouldn't surprise me), they'd still be spending $55 million -- about as much as the Texas payroll -- less than the Yanks.

--- And Russo can't give the Mets a hard time about Delgado: the Mets freed up a lot of payroll by getting rid of Cameron. Cameron-for-Nady was basically a salary dump for the Mets. Now, if the Mets give Billy Wagner $12 million a year and Bengie Molina $8 million, then I'll agree that the Mets are now like the Yanks. But as of right now, Delgado and Cameron were more-or-less a wash.

--- And as for the Blue Jays, mid-to-small market teams have to overpay to get stars to come to play for them. Look at the Tigers overpaying for I-Rod, Percival, and Magglio Ordonez. Now, I agree that spending $75 million to get an oft-injured player like Ordonez was pretty dumb, but I'm sorry, Craig Monroe and Brandon Inge will not put fans in the seats.

And so too with the Jays -- who says Ryan goes there if the Jays aren't willing to pay him tons of money? (Although I think the money would've been better spent on a slugger like Konerko -- the Jays' lineup was punchless last year).

Now granted, fire sales are never good for the game. Teams screwing up the market for relievers are never good for the game. But the fact that, after all the moves of the past few weeks, the Yanks are still very safely in the top spot of payrolls in the game: it just goes to show how out-of-control the Yankees have been, and how much salary they'd have to dump just to be in the same league as Boston and the Mets.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jason Michaels, Another Winner

First it was Damon. Then Giles. Then Pierre. Then Rowand. Then, "what the heck, let's just stick Bubba Crosby in there." And the latest CF in the rumor mill: Jason Michaels.

Now, I like the guy's numbers (hard to beat a .399 OBP), and the guy's supposed to be a solid defender. Seems like a good player, even though nobody's really heard of him. This move reminds me of the '90's Yankees, who won with low-key players like Mariano Duncan (which, BTW, was sort of an Aaron Small move. If you would've told me before '96 that the guy would've hit .340, I'd have thought you were nuts. Not to mention the guy went way downhill in '97).

But Michaels hasn't really played every day. He's only had two years of major league experience. So you have no idea if it was all a fluke, if the guy can play 162 games, or if he'll still do as well once the pitchers figure him out.

But the Yanks might strike some gold here, like with Chacon and Small. And Cashman will once again look like a genius.

Just another "nothing-to-lose" move.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jose Mesa!? These Clowns Are Desperate

From the Star-Ledger, by Dan Graziano:

As they struggle to convince their top choices to sign with them, the Yankees are exploring a wide range of free agents and other options to fill their needs in center field and in the bullpen.

A baseball official familiar with the Yankees' plans said they recently reached out to the Oakland A's to ask about the availability of center fielder Mark Kotsay. The official said the A's aren't opposed to moving Kotsay, but that talks stalled when Oakland asked about second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang -- the two players everybody keeps asking the Yankees about.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner expressed some concern at last week's organization meetings in Tampa, Fla., about the team's inability (so far) to secure its top free- agent targets. The meetings were held just after the Yankees found out that left-handed reliever Scott Eyre was signing with the Cubs. The Yankees wanted Eyre so badly that they had manager Joe Torre place a recruiting call to him, but they didn't even make Eyre's final four list of teams. The Yankees are pessimistic about their chances of signing top relief-pitching targets such as B.J. Ryan, Bob Howry, Kyle Farnsworth and Tom Gordon, and they're moving down the list to lesser names.

Howry was said yesterday to be nearing a deal with those same Chicago Cubs -- a three-year contract worth more than the $11 million the Cubs gave to Eyre. And Farnsworth, Ryan and Gordon all are exploring opportunities to be closers for other teams rather than setup relievers for Mariano Rivera in the Bronx. The closer market isn't expected to get moving until Billy Wagner, who visited the Mets yesterday, picks a team.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are making calls to the agents for various other relief pitchers, including right-handers Julian Tavarez and Octavio Dotel and left-handers Ricardo Rincon, Mike Myers and Joey Eischen. They also called to see if Jose Mesa would be interested in signing with them, but he told them he wasn't interested in pitching in New York.

The other player Torre was asked to help recruit, outfielder Brian Giles, was leaning toward a return to the San Diego Padres, according to several baseball officials yesterday. But the Yankees still believed they had a chance to sign him, and he hasn't told them they're out of it.

The Yankees would like to be able to lure center fielder Aaron Rowand from the Chicago White Sox, but as of yesterday the White Sox were working on a deal that would send Rowand to the Florida Marlins for center fielder Juan Pierre.

Junkees Not Getting Their Guys

Interesting piece in today's Times, where Tyler Kepner reports that the Junkees are not having their typical offseason splashes. At one point, the article mentions that Cashman wants to cut payroll, which I find hard to believe. Just getting Bernie and Brown off the payroll has freed up about $30 million. The only thing I could think of could be the luxury tax. I don't know the exact numbers, but the Junkees will most likely have their tax numbers increase, which may be stopping them from being as aggressive as usual.

The piece also mentions that the Junkees might give Crosby the full-time job in center. Hey, I'm all for it. The guy can't hit a lick. Sure, he's a good fielder, but at least Bernie could still get the occasional big hit, even in the past few years. Kepner does mention that the Junkees are still interested in Milton Bradley, whom I would love to see in pinstripes. And Cashman, space in! You are not getting Aaron Rowand! Unless you give the White Sox A-Rod and Rivera, or something like that.

-- For those of you who are too lazy to click the link above, this is the key paragraph of the piece:

"Ryan and Giles, who are free agents, are aware of the Yankees' interest. But neither has scheduled a visit with the Yankees, and a person who has been briefed on the Yankees' plans said neither player seemed serious about signing with the Yankees. The person requested anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize the Yankees' chances of signing those players. Giles could be headed back to the San Diego Padres, for whom he has played since August 2003."

My thoughts on the Beckett deal: sounds very cool, but it's hard for me to get too excited. The guy's always had health issues, and has never played a full regular season in the bigs. Everyone just remembers his performance in the '03 World Series, which is very impressive. And there's always that chance the guy could turn into another Carl Pavano, although Beckett has a better track record. I look forward to seeing the guy pitch in Fenway, but with my fingers crossed.

And as for Lowell, the guy's a total gamble. I like the fact that he's a solid defender, but the Sox don't need a .230 bat in the lineup. Then again, he might have a comeback year. He reminds me of when the Yanks got Scott Brosius in '98, after the guy hit .203 in '97. And Brosius ended up having a few solid years left in him. I would love to see Lowell turn out the same way.

I would've liked to have seen the Sox get Delgado, especially if Manny were to get traded. Delgado has a better track record, no injury issues, and could put up much better numbers in Fenway than in Dolphins Stadium. Not to mention his familiarity with the AL.

But the Beckett deal has a much bigger upside to it. If Schilling can come back to old form next year, the Sox will enter October with two of the best postseason pitchers in recent memory. And if Beckett turns out to be an ace and can stay healthy throughout the year, there may be a bunch of Yankee-free Octobers in the coming years.

Friday, November 18, 2005

$hemp Cashes In

So the Junkees are bringing back Shemp Matsui for four years at $52 million. Sure, the Japanese PR factor will help offset some of that, but on the field, this might not be as good a move as you would think.

First off, as Despiser pointed out, the guy refuses to sit down. And that screwed the Junkees in May, when he was really struggling. And it will continue to screw them over in the future, unless Snorre or whoever's in charge decides to put their foot down.

Also, I think the streak is affecting Shemp's performance. His fielding has gotten more erratic. Remember all those dropped catches near the end of the year? So much for "Mr. Fundamentals."

And the guy's been a mixed bag in the postseason. While that grand slam against the Twins in early '03 may have given him a good reputation for the big spot, he was punchless in this year's ALDS (although Shemp did well in the '04 ALCS, even going 5-for-17 in G4-7 while the rest of the team choked). Who's to say that Matsui wasn't tired out by the streak this year?

This isn't to say the guy's not a very good player. I would definitely like to have him on my team. But he's got his flaws, like everyone else. And four years down the road, he probably won't get any better.

-- I like baseball's new drug policy, but what about HGH? Time for some blood tests. Let's see how Giambi would do then.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A-Schmuck Didn't Even Deserve It

Forget what Manny said about how meaningless the MVP is if you hit .133 during the playoffs. He's right, but to me, he doesn't even deserve the MVP in the first place!

Suppose the Junkees didn't have A-Rod. They'd still have Derek Cheater, Juice-on Giambi, Shemp, Ringo Posada, and Gary "I'll dog it if they trade me" Sheffield. Still a potent lineup. Sure, I'd probably groan less, but even without A-Schmuck, they'd score a ton of runs. In fact, they scored a ton of runs, second most in the majors. Their problem was pitching; they ranked 22nd in the majors in ERA. Admittedly, A-Schmuck had a great offensive year, but like Manny said, instead of winning 12-5, they won 17-5. Wow.

Ortiz, to me, was more valuable to the Red Sox. Besides all the clutch hits, he was the go-to guy for the Red Sox. I know I didn't trust anyone else in their lineup (Besides Ramirez) to come up with a big hit. Without Ortiz, Boston doesn't sniff the playoffs.

So let the Junkee fans have their moment in the sun. Bottom line, 5 years and still counting.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A-Schmuck's MVP Can't Make Up for his October

Any Junkee fan who gets excited over A-Rod's winning the MVP instead of Big Papi ought to get a life. A-Rod and Papi had similar hitting numbers, and it was clearly the DH vs. 3B factor that put A-Rod over the top. The Yankee fans that get horny over this stuff are the same losers that brag about winning the AL East a million years in a row, as if that makes up for the Yankees' lousy Octobers since Game 6 of 2001.

So what if A-Rod was the best player in the league from April to September? Big deal. The guy isn't clutch. Don't tell me about his homerun off a rehabbing Schilling in July. I don't care about his 3 HR game against Colon and the Angels. I don't care about all those homers that turned a 17-5 game into a 19-5 game or whatever. Because the guy couldn't hit for beans against Ervin Santana when it counted. Because the guy couldn't carry his team when they needed him most. Because the guy is a far, far cry from Reggie Jackson, whom I would rather have on my team than A-Rod. True, they're both arrogant jerks, but at least a team with Reggie would have a chance at winning it all.

So in the end, A-Rod winning the MVP doesn't bother me at all. After his pitiful ALDS performance, the Yankee despisers certainly got the last laugh.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jorge: The Next Bernie

Word is that the Junkees are looking to trade Jorge Posada. The guy's 34, his numbers have been on the decline (OPS from '03-05: .923, .881, .782), and the Yanks would love to get Bengie Molina in there (especially with Despiser's theory that George loves guys who beat up on the Junkees, as Molina did in the ALDS). But unless the Dodgers bring back Kevin Malone as GM, the Yanks are stuck with Jorgie. Who in their right mind would take a 34 year old catcher with a n$8 million salary? Come on.

Posada has a clause in his contract that if he catches a certain number of games in '06, a $12 million option for '07 automatically kicks in. So unless Posada goes on the DL or something, the Junkees are stuck.

So it'll be really interesting to see what the Yanks do next year. If they're gonna turn Posada into a C/DH, they'll need a better backup. Flaherty is just like Charlie O'Brien; he's got the hockey mask, and he's about as good a hitter as Wayne Gretzky. Flaherty is good for the Big Unit, but that's about it.

I would love to see Posada play some first base. It was funny seeing Piazza out there, but that's the Mets. To see Posada, now that would be comical. Then again, he might be better than Giambi.

And the most interesting thing of all will be how Georgie handles all this. Bernie was a classy guy, and really handled his decline pretty well. But Posada is a hothead. Remember when he spat on the ump? Or the fight with Amezaga of the Angels? And his fight with Tino (see Olney's book)? Posada will not be happy with his situation next year. Should make for some interesting headlines.

-- BTW Despiser, my pick for backup 1B is not Olerud; it's Yankee-killer Eduardo Perez. Too bad he wouldn't be able to face the Unit then.

Junkees Cold Stove Report

- So Shemp Matsui wants a 4-year deal, the Junkees want to give him three. George is in a tough spot because he likes having Shemp there for PR, so that he sells some tee-shirts to the Japanese fans. If Shemp wimps out, I'll be very disappointed. He can even ask for 5 years, and the Junkees will have to give it to him. Part of me hopes that he goes back to New York so that he can be selfish with that dumb meaningless streak, making one player have to rot on the bench.

- I was surprised Tino was let go. Did George and Ca$hman finally realize that bringing back washed up ex-Yankees did nothing to help the team? Yeah, I know he was good in May. Name one big hit he had after June 1st. Then I hear that they're interested in bringing back John Olerud. So I guess they're still into ex-Red Sox. Too bad it doesn't tweak Larry Luccino. In fact, I'm sure the Red Sox would be thrilled if you took Olerud. Do you want Kevin Millar, too?

- They have no idea what to do about centerfield. That's why you've got to love Billy Beane for resigning Mark Kotsay. Almost anyone would be great. Milton Bradley is a schmuck, Torii Hunter is going nowhere, says the Twins GM, and Juan Pierre could very well be the 2006 version of Tony Womack. And the fact that he fits the profile of guys-who've-hurt-the-Junkees-in-the-past makes him much more appealing to George. And his throwing arm makes Bernie Williams' look like Vlad Guererro's. Johnny Damon? Same thing.

- They'll get another motley crew for the bullpen. Kyle Farnsworth? Will never get you a big out. B. J. Ryan? Don't trust him either.

So you have to love how the Junkees have no idea what they're going to do. And keep in mind that 4 out of 5 rotation spots are set: Randy, Mussina, Pavano, and Wright. Doesn't exactly put the fear of God into anyone's lineup.

It remains to be seen what the buffoon will do over the next few weeks, and you have to love the whining about Cano and Rivera getting robbed of their respective awards, but that's a story for another day.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Do It George! Get Milton Bradley!

One of the rumors swirling around is the Yankees trading for Dodger CF Milton Bradley. There are also rumors about Brian Giles, though I would be surprised if the Junkees go there. The guy is 35, and, while getting out of Petco will help his numbers improve, the Yanks would probably want to go young. There's always Johnny Damon, too, but Boston is gonna try hard to keep him. And he's no youngster, either. So that means Bradley is more of a possibility.

Additionally, I think that George will try to get Bradley, for two reasons: he loves troubled people. Darryl and Doc? The Yanks were ready and willing to take them, with all their baggage. Now granted, Bradley has different issues than those guys (attitude as opposed to drugs), but George loves the idea of taking a troubled player and having him turn his career around in pinstripes. It makes for great PR. Remember Doc Gooden's no-hitter? If his 15 minutes of comeback fame wouldn't have ended so soon, they probably would have made a movie about that.

I also think that George likes to tweak Torre by bringing in clubhouse problems. Heck, that was one of the reasons that Ruben Sierra got a second go-round for the Junkees (although Sierra, to his credit, has matured and toned it down since '96). But even guys like Weaver and Brown: I think George was partly motivated by the fact that he knew Snorre wouldn't go for those guys. And while Sheff, A-Rod, and Johnson are players any GM would get if they could afford it, I'm sure George liked their attitudes, too. And so Milton Bradley might be the ultimate tweak.

Besides, he'd be a great fit with the Yankees. Too bad Brown is done, because I'd love to see him and Bradley try to get along. But the Yanks still have A-Rod, Sheff, and the Big Unit. And Jorge Posada, who didn't talk to Tino for a few months after one of their tiffs.

So for all those Yankee despisers out there, go for it George! Get Milton Bradley! And after that, try to convince Terrell Owens to try baseball.

Friday, November 04, 2005

George's Latest Fetish: Ex-Managers

We know George has his fetishes for ex-Mets (Cone, Gooden, Strawberry, Leiter, Lawton, Armando, Tony Clark, Bubba Trammell, Ventura, Zeile, Orosco, Darren Bragg, Ryan Thompson, Alberto Castillo, Jose Vizcaino, Lance Johnson, Allen Watson....), ex-Yankees (Tino, Ruben Sierra, Rey Sanchez, Stanton, Mendoza, Jason Anderson, Homer Bush, Gerald Williams, Luis Sojo, Roberto Kelly, Jim Leyritz....), ex-Red Sox (Bellhorn, Embree), and guys who've killed the Yankees in the past (Tony Womack, David Delucci, Jaret Wright, RJ, etc.).

Now we find that he has another fetish, and that is, hiring ex-managers as coaches. He rehired Mazilli, after the Orioles saw that the Junkee mystique is a sham, Larry Bowa at third, Tony Pena at first. George can't dump Mattingly because of PR, but I bet he'd love to. They still need a pitching coach and for PR, that'll likely be Ron Guidry, and for bullpen coach, they're going after... what do you know, another ex-skipper (albeit on an interim basis) Joe Kerrigan!

I know, there's also the element of tweaking Snorre, which cannot be overlooked, and as Manny speculates, a means of having a replacement on-hand.

Ah, George. As my dad would say, the man is cute.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Junkees

Steve Howe

Dwight Gooden

Darryl Strawberry

Jason Giambi

Matt Lawton

We don't call 'em the Junkees for nothing!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A-Rod at it Again

I saw a little bit of the '01 WS on YES last night. And I can't imagine Brosius or O'Neill acting like A-Rod. Here's the latest fiasco:

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was cautioned by the New York Yankees that playing poker in illegal clubs could be dangerous and harmful to his image, according to a newspaper report.

Early last month, the Daily News reported the star slugger had attended games at an underground club with professional card player Phil Hellmuth.

Scott Boras, the third baseman's agent, denied that the Yankees had warned his client.

"The Yankees have never addressed or spoken with me in regard to any off-field activities regarding Alex Rodriguez. And the Yankees have never spoken to Alex regarding any of his off-field activities," Boras was quoted as saying in a story published Wednesday.

Playing at such clubs is not illegal, though it can be against the law to operate them, the Daily News reported.

Rodriguez was not punished or ordered to stay out of the clubs, but commissioner Bud Selig was monitoring the situation and could intervene if necessary, the newspaper said, citing sources it did not identify.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Furcal in Pinstripes?

ESPN's Rumor Central reports that the Mets are pursuing Rafael Furcal. And with the Braves' limited budget, he's almost definitely out of Atlanta. But I can definitely see the Yanks going after him to play 2B. Besides, when the Mets pursue someone George wants, he will often up the ante and try to snare him away, the lone exception being Carlos Beltran (and unless he improves, Yankee fans will be grateful that he ended up going to the Mets).

What about Robinson Cano? I see the Yanks trading him for some relief help. In his rookie year, Cano brought to mind Todd Walker: a very good hitter, but not a guy you trust in the field. Also, this might be the high point in Cano's value, especially if he goes the way of Mike Caruso. Cashman might want to get the most bang for his buck here (my apologies to ex-YES cliche-master Fred Hickman).

Plus, Furcal has speed, which Cano does not. Perhaps after getting beaten by the speedy Angels, as well as by Carl Crawford and the Devil Rays many times this year, George will want some more speed in the lineup. And the Junkees haven't had a legitimate base-stealing threat in the lineup since Soriano was traded.

And there's reason to believe Furcal would want to come to New York, considering he has family in the Bronx. The Yanks like the occasional native New Yorker joining the club, like Steve Karsay. Plus, the YES-men will get to focus on his family members at the stadium every game, which should prove to be quite exciting.

The reasons I can see the Yankees passing this one up: a) they're hamstrung by the luxury tax, which is highly unlikely, because we're not talking Carlos Beltran money, b) they want to stick with Cano, either because they think he'll improve in the field or simply because the guy is younger, or c) they can't trade Cano for anyone useful.

---- And by the way, I do think B.J. Ryan will be a Junkee next year. Like with Karsay and Gordon, the Junkees will overpay. What can you do?

Monday, October 31, 2005

At Least Theo Isn't Going to New York

So it looks like Theo Epstein might be the biggest free-agent on the market this winter. And he will not be going to the Junkees, who have just re-upped the buffoon for another three years.

As disappointing as it was to see Theo leave Boston, it's a comfort to know that unlike others before him, he won't be going to Yankee Stadium anytime soon. I'm sure Yankee fans would take Epstein any day over Cashman. The same ones who would've taken Piniella over Snorre.

Well done, George.

Newsday's Davidoff on Parity

With a Yankee-free October for all but five games in the ALDS, the parity situation in the game has improved. Ken Davidoff in Newsday discusses how there's no clear front-runner for '06. Davidoff makes a lot of good points, but I'd still like to see a salary cap in the game.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Offseason Prediction #1: Flush to Flushing

The Mets have a bit of a fetish when it comes to ex-Yankees, and that applies to the bullpen, too. Remember how well Mike Stanton worked out? Or Felix "I was injected by Giambi" Heredia? Or Jason Anderson? The Mets also have a fetish for people who can't pitch in a big game, like Armando Benitez.

So my pick for the Mets' first signing to fix up their beleagured bullpen is good ol' Flush Gordon. He's got the Yankee mystique going for him, and between him and Roberto Hernandez, the Mets bullpen might give the Junkees' rotation a run for its money in the age department.

George King has some more details on NY relief hot stove rumors.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

D-Rays Might Stick it to Junkees Again

From the Daily News' Bill Madden, I'd really like to see this happen:

CHICAGO - While the Yankee world anxiously awaits Brian Cashman's decision whether to stay or leave as GM, another potential high command defection could be forthcoming if Gene Michael is unable to get his authority and responsibilities restored.

It has been learned that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who are looking for an experienced player evaluator to work with 24-year-old Andrew Friedman - a baseball neophyte who has been put in charge of the baseball operations by new owner Stuart Sternberg - have put Michael at the top of their list, if they can get permission to talk to him. In that regard, Michael is expected to meet with Yankees general partner Steve Swindal in Tampa today or tomorrow in an effort to resolve his situation. He has three years remaining on a contract that pays him $650,000, purportedly to head up their postseason scouting and have major imput on all trades and signings.

However, in the last year and half, Michael has not been part of any of the organization planning meetings in Tampa, his opinions on players have been rarely sought and then two months ago he was told that Damon Oppenheimer and Bill Emslie, two of the major operatives in the Tampa office, would be taking over the postseason scouting from him. The issue at hand is whether the Yankees are in breach of Michael's contract.

It is believed that, as long as his role remains as it is, the 67-year old Michael wants to be able to talk to other teams. Besides the Devil Rays, the Phillies also are interested.

"Stick's a perfect fit for the Devil Rays and what they want," said one baseball person close to Michael.

And if the D-Rays can get Bobby V in the dugout, they'll be a real interesting team to watch over the next few years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Ca$hman's Return Good for Yankee Despisers

If you've been an avid reader, you already know what we think of Brian Ca$hman. As Jerome from Manhattan so aptly put it, he's a buffoon! I love how every bad move wasn't his decision. That's probably why he's staying. Obviously, the money is a big factor, but being able to blame the brain trust in Tampa is also huge. The guy never messes up!

So at least that means the Junkees won't get someone with half a brain, such as Theo Epstein.

The coverage lately has been how, oh, Tony Womack wasn't Ca$hman's idea. Neither was Carl Pavano or Jaret Wright.

Come on.

I don't buy it for a minute! If he got overturned all the time, he'd be out of there. And the money would come from some other team looking for a piece of the Junkee mystique. And of course, if he messed up elsewhere he'd blame the management there. That's what being a Junkee employee has become - finding others to blame. So here's to three more years of buffoonery!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bowa the Backup?

Maybe it was just the lack of action between the end of the NLCS and the start of the World Series, but it seemed like the media was making a big deal about the Junkees' interest in Larry Bowa. In what other town does anyone even blink when a coach not named Mazzone is hired? Unbelievable.

The Bowa move is interesting. I don't think Bowa's fiery personality will have much of an impact if he's merely a coach. The way most teams work, the tone is set from the manager. If the manager's a laid-back guy like Snorre, that'll be the prevalent style in the clubhouse. And most managers will not let their authority be usurped by some of their coaches. That's simply not how things go.

Which is why, I think George really got Bowa in case the Junkees struggle early next year. George and Snorre, despite their love-in in Tampa, are still not on such great terms. As mentioned by Newsday's Jon Heyman, Steinbrenner reportedly asked his buddy Howard Rubenstein what the fallout would be if he fired Snorre, and when George was told that it would be a PR disaster, he kissed and made up with Joe.

After all, despite the Junkees' disappointing show in October, the team still made a very good turnaround in the second half, and might have even left some Junkee fans with a good taste in their mouths. So it's quite understandable that now would be a bad time to fire Snorre.

And Steinbrenner loves tough, fiery managers. He was crazy about Piniella and Dallas Green, and Bowa would seem to fit the bill as well. If George sees his team playing tired in the beginning of the year, I think we'll see Bowa become manager. And considering Bowa's track record in Philly, I've got no problem with that.

Not Quite Goodbye Ca$hman?

From Joel Sherman of the Post:

Attempting the same personal touch that recently mollified Joe Torre, George Steinbrenner yesterday phoned Brian Cashman to tell him in a one-on-one conversation how much the Yankees want to retain him as general manager, The Post has learned.

The Yankees have been quite overt in their desires to keep Cashman, but negotiations essentially have been handled by Steinbrenner's son-in-law, general partner Steve Swindall. Steinbrenner obviously sensed that Cashman needed to hear from The Boss' mouth how much the organization hopes the GM will stay.

Steinbrenner's willingness to express his feelings directly to Cashman is viewed within the organization as a positive move toward convincing Cashman to re-up. Cashman has told friends he wants greater autonomy in decision-making. Hearing the pledge from Steinbrenner, not from an underling, carries more meaning.

Nevertheless, another executive close to Cashman recently said he would not be surprised if Cashman asked to have any promises about the scope of his authority or how the Yankees' chain of command works put into official contract language. The friend said Cashman may request that if his authority or the chain of command is violated, he automatically can opt out of his contract and/or receive a large penalty payment.

Interestingly, Cashman is, to some degree, trying to resolve similar issues with Steinbrenner that Torre was. The Yankees' manager said he needed to be assured The Boss still wanted him as manager after a tumultuous season. Torre asked for and received a sit-down meeting in Tampa with Steinbrenner last Monday that Torre described positively as "more than cordial."

Torre met with the media the next day and said he wanted to stay as Yankees manager, citing the meeting with Steinbrenner as integral to that choice.

Similarly, Cashman "wants to know his opinion counts and that his input is important," an ally of the GM said. Cashman has grown intolerant of having to defend organizational moves (the signings of Jaret Wright and Tony Womack, for example) that he had little or nothing to do with. He has some leverage now to ask for a larger say in such matters with his contract expiring Oct. 31 and the potential to go someplace else, such as Philadelphia to be the GM.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Snorre Return, Mazzone Snub Good News for Junkee-haters

I was out of town for the past couple of days, but came back to catch up to a lot of good news.

First off, if you would've told me two years ago that Pettitte, Clemens, and Jose Contreras were going to make it to the World Series in '05, I would've been pig-biting mad. But the way things have worked out, these guys get to laugh at their ex-teammates playing golf, while they suit up for the Series. Good for them.

I just love how Contreras has finally turned into that ace the Yanks thought they were getting back in '03. He's left Junkee fans asking: where have you gone, Esteban Loaiza?

My favorite story, though, has to be that of Mike Lamb, which Buster Olney recently mentioned on his ESPN Insider blog. Lamb was signed by the Junkees in early '04 after Aaron Boone tore his ACL, only to be let go when the Junkees acquired A-Schmuck. I'm sure Lamb did not think that he would soon be playing in the World Series while A-Rod was staying home. A great story. (Oops! Did I say A-Rod was staying home? Of course not! He's busy working out at 6 AM while all the other slackers out there are taking care of their families!)

-- Snorre's return is great news for Yankee-haters. The guy's not a good manager, as we've discussed many, many times on this blog. From Jeff Weaver in the '03 WS to the Konerko incident this past August, the guy's made his share of on-field mistakes.

And I don't care about the fact that the Junkees turned things around this past season when all hope seemed lost. Still, they would be a lot better off with Piniella as manager, and I'm sure many Yankee fans would agree.

After all, the Junkees' turnaround was not about Snorre's meetings, tirades, motivational speeches, or anything like that. It was about A-Rod and Rivera putting up MVP-caliber years, Sheff and Shemp putting up their usual numbers, Aaron Small turning into Sandy Koufax, and most importantly, Juice-on Giambi turning the juice on. If not for all that, Snorre couldn't have saved this sinking ship.

-- As for Mazzone, it's great to see this guru go to a huge division rival. If Angelos and Flanagan get this guy some quality arms to work with, the O's will really be a thorn in the Junkees' side. With new management coming to Tampa and increased payroll coming to Toronto, I'm optimistic about the future of the division. Will Boston get hurt by these developments? Probably. But as long as someone out there can knock the Junkees off the top of the AL East, I'll be a happy man.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Yankees are Bound for Chaos

By John Shea from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Not only are the Yankees the first $200 million baseball team. They're the first $200 million baseball team with flaws.

The American League Championship Series is in progress without the Yankees, who appeared in six of the past seven ALCS. Or the Red Sox, who took the Yankees to seven games in back-to-back ALCS thrillers.

How to explain the premature elimination of teams that ranked 1 and 2 in payroll?

Easy. They ranked 22 and 24 in pitching.

Only the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Rockies, Reds, Devil Rays and Royals had worse team ERAs than the Red Sox (24th). The Yankees (22nd) barely finished ahead of the Orioles. When it came to the game's most important ingredient, the two biggest menaces ranked among a wasteland of feeble teams.

We were fooled into believing they'd overcome their mound deficiencies because of their explosive lineups, the Yankees with their long string of All-Stars and the Red Sox with their powerful middle of the order. But when the four remaining postseason teams ranked in the top five in ERA, we're reminded that pitching rules.

It's easy to blame Alex Rodriguez for his .133, no-RBI playoff, but Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson were largely responsible for fumbling away the playoffs to the Angels. The bullpen had no middle relief, and relying on Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small -- a combined 17-3 despite their mediocre pasts -- was never the intention for a team that gambled and lost on Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.

Defense was also a problem with both the Yankees, who had below average defenders at several positions, and Red Sox, who committed the fourth most errors and turned the fewest double plays in the AL.

Even though the Red Sox took a bigger step backward -- from winning it all to winning not a single playoff game -- it's the Yankees who are in a far more chaotic state. The Red Sox had a good run and appeared satisfied, knowing how hard it was in 2004 to win their first title in 86 years.

It's a different story for the Yankees. Their manager, perhaps contemplating whether he wants to follow through with the final two years ($13.1 million) of his contract, went into hiding. Their pitching coach, no longer willing to take the owner's abuse, resigned. Their most expensive player ($25 mil is what A-Rod averages) called himself a "dog." Their general manager, actually in tears after the playoff loss, could be on the verge of joining a less stressful team. Their owner, a madman, is close to pushing the red button.

So what's next for the bullies-turned-weaklings? They'll say goodbye to Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Kevin Brown and probably Tom Gordon, who can be free agents, and they'll re-sign Hideki Matsui to another three-year deal. Other players remain under contracts with which the Yankees are stuck, but they need to upgrade their defense (first by adding a competent center fielder) and create bullpen depth, and they'll need to figure out a rotation that incorporated every down-and-out pitcher but Kirk Rueter.

Brian Cashman, whose contract as Yanks GM expires Oct. 31, is a candidate to replace Ed Wade as the Phillies' GM.

But first, Joe Torre. Remember, that $200 mil doesn't include the manager's deal (or the $50 mil-plus the Yankees had to pay for revenue sharing and luxury taxes), but Torre always was the valuable voice of reason in a tumultuous environment, helping to shelve constant distractions and turn the focus to winning. But where is he now?

While Torre usually addresses New York's teeny media corps within a day or two of the season, he has gone underground, saying he won't resurface until the coming week. In the meantime, his closest confidants have been taking turns taking shots at George Steinbrenner, whose public praise for the Angels and manager Mike Scioscia was viewed as a vicious slap at Torre. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre went out swinging, just as Don Zimmer did two years ago.

Perhaps it wouldn't be such an issue if Torre hadn't promised in early August -- after Steinbrenner ripped him for how he was using his bullpen; Torre let Alan Embree pitch to Paul Konerko, a mistake -- to respond to all criticisms after the season. The Yankees were 5 1/2 games out of first place at the time and went on to win the AL East by a tiebreaker. But in the end, despite an eighth straight division crown, the Yankees failed for a fifth straight year to win the World Series.

Torre is doing himself no favors, leaving others to speculate about his future and whether he'll quit or be fired, possibly to be replaced by all-too-available Lou Piniella. Piniella got more out of Rodriguez in the postseason than Torre did -- A-Rod hit .340 in 15 Seattle playoff games. Torre's absence goes against what he always resembled, a composed, resilient leader who stood up to the endless pressures, and it hints that he finally might have cracked.

But he won't walk away from $13.1 mil, even if it means laboring through two more years of George's ire. Nothing will change. Steinbrenner will continue to add expensive players, without acknowledging the team concept that prevailed in the late '90s. A-Rod, the Big Unit, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, all lured by the money and an easier path to a championship, proved unequal to the sum of their parts.

Don't feel sorry for Torre, 65, who accepted the terms along with the millions. He became a Hall of Fame manager only after Steinbrenner hired him, and now he's worn down and losing more confidants. Isn't it amazing how a $200 million machine can be so broken?

Real Men Don't Whine

Did you see Mike Soscia after Game 2? The ump clearly made a bad call that cost the Angels the game (okay, no sure bet that they would have won the game, but unfair nonetheless), and he didn't go on and on and on about it afterwards. Instead he said, hey, the guy messed up, but we didn't hit, we didn't get the last out afterwards, so we're going to put it behind us and move on.

Can you imagine Joe Snorre ever saying that? Not me. Snorre would go on and on and on about how unfair it was, how the Junkees should have won the game, how he wants a full investigation, how MLB is fixing things to keep the Junkees out, and God knows what else. That's become the Junkee way. When the call is for the Junkees, that means the ump got it right. When it goes against the Junkees, the ump got it wrong.

Perhaps this whining attitude, along with the Curse of Jeff Nelson, is the reason that the Junkees are ringless in their past five seasons. Whining creates an attitude of we can lose and it isn't out fault. In other words, it gives your team a built-in excuse to lose.

Remember the 1985 World Series? In Game 6, the ump messed up, and the Cardinals, who were up 3-2 in the series, lost the game and had to play Game 7. Their skipper went on and on and on afterwards about the injustice, how they should have been celebrating as world champions, and so on and so forth. The guy didn't shut up. The next night his team came out dead. They were sloppy, losing 11-0 and giving the Royals the championship in the process. That's what whining does. Had he said, listen, the ump messed up but we can still win Game 7, who knows.

So as long as Snorre whines and bitches, the Junkees know they can come up short and it's okay. Here's hoping that Snorre comes back next year!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stottlemyre Says What We Already Know About George

George Steinbrenner is a schmuck. That we all know. Stottlemyre had what to say about it on his way out recently:

This is what he said in response to George congratulating Angels manager Mike Soscia:

"I laughed when I saw it. My first thoughts were, 'What about Joe? Joe had done a hell of a job, too.' To congratulate the other manager and not congratulate your own after what he'd done this year, I laughed.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous. I've been here with Joe for 10 years and this has by far been the toughest year for him, and it's the best job he's done. He's done a good job year in and year out -- this year the job he's done was really special because he had a lot of things to battle through."

He went on to say that he's leaving on happy terms, but anyone with half a brain knows he's full of dung. He's sick of getting blamed (even though he deserves it!), sick of getting treated like yesterday's trash, and like Don Zimmer, he leaves with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Now I know delusional Junkee fans praise George because he loves winning, and will spend all his dough to do so, but that doesn't explain why he has to be a prick all the time, especially to the people who are trying to help his team win! You can't be a great owner without acting like an ass?

The Junkees stunk up the joint in the '80s because George was too involved, sticking his nose where it didn't belong. Then he was out of baseball for a few years, and the Junkees built up a good farm system, made some savvy moves, and in '96, although George was at the helm, they won it all.

But back then, he was quiet. He kept his mouth shut, let the manager, the GM, and the players go about their business. Sure, he picked up Strawberry and Gooden for PR, but for the most part, he was uninvolved. Then in 2001, after they lost the World Series, he because a nutjob again. Enrique Wilson makes an error, get me Raul Mondesi! And so on and so forth.

Bottom line, it's very nice that George loves winning. Now just act normal, and maybe your team will have a chance.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Luck? What Luck?

On Monday night, during Game 5, I was on Baseball Musings, along with Junkee fans and fellow Junkee haters, and as soon as Erstad flipped the ball to K-Rod to end the game, the pathetic Junkee fans started complaining that a best-of-5 series is all luck, a crapshoot, and all that, and even a best-of-7, because even great teams could have a bad 7 games....

Cut the bullsh.

How come when the Junkees won the 11 postseason series in a row, from '98-'01, none of the Junkee fans said anything about luck? "We didn't win the World Series in '98 because we got lucky; we were better than everyone else! 125 wins!" Likewise in '99 and 2000. But when they lose, it's because the other teams got lucky.

I guess whining and excuse-making is not exclusive to Snorre and company; it's contagious, and apparently, the Junkee fans have picked up on it. The callers on WFAN said that the ump calling Cano out on the strikeout was unfair, because even though it's in the rulebook, it's hardly enforced. Hey cop, the other guy was going 80, too!

The Junkees won those series back then because they were the better team. They've lost every season since 2001 because they were the inferior team. They have lousy pitching, crummy defense, and not enough clutch players. Ca$hman has wasted a ton of dough (as Manny has pointed out), Snorre has made many questionable moves, and they have selfish idiots, such as Shemp, who has to keep his Japanese streak alive.

But I'm not complaining. I'm just loving it, soaking it all up. See you in '06! The curse of Jeff Nelson lives on!

Goodbye Ca$hman?

A teary-eyed Brian Cashman didn't confirm that he was leaving last night, but heck, seeing the guy get all emotional is pretty unusual. Maybe those were tears of joy, as he would no longer have to kiss up to his Boss, King George.

I've already documented the dubious legacy of the Ca$hman reign in two pieces last year (click here and here), and although the pieces are from '04, the buffoon didn't add much to his resume in '05.

Aaron Small? The Yanks got lucky. Even Cashman admitted it to one reporter. Shawn Chacon? As the Despiser noted after the trade, it was one of those "nothing to lose" deals. If Chacon would've turned out like Leiter, Nomo, or Tim Redding, nobody would've blamed Cashman for getting the guy. After all, he didn't give anything up for him, Colorado couldn't wait to get rid of his large contract, and the Yanks were desperate for anything they could get at the time. Chien-Ming Wang? If Cashman would've gotten someone who's been healthy the past few years, instead the injury-prone Wright, nobody in New York would ever had heard of the guy.

Ca$hman's other moves are definitely nothing to talk about. Randy Johnson deserves some credit for being lights-out in September, but no credit for getting lit up in October. I'd rather see Schilling out there. And that relief performance last night? Too little, too late.

We said from day one that Pavano and Wright would be disasters in NY. I have a feeling the Junkees will try to trade Pavano in the offseason. I can see Nationals GM Jim Bowden as the kind of guy that would go for him, especially with their pitchers' park and a return to the NL.

Leiter was good for a start against Boston and for getting Erstad out, but nothing else. Except for making Junkee games go excruciatingly long whenever he started.

The bullpen was a mess, as always. Getting Stanton was a dumb move; Embree was even dumber. And then there was the annual parade of scrubs, like Groom, Proctor, Franklin, and Felix Rodriguez.

Matt Lawton couldn't buy a hit in New York, except for one big homer. Bellhorn was just a PR move, and it showed. Tino had a good May, and was a non-factor after that.

And Tony Womack was probably the worst signing the Yankees have made since the infamous Dave Collins "Bronx Burners" signing following the '81 season.

Even Cashman's best move of '04 blew up in his face this year, as Tanyon Sturtze was overused by Snorre, and ended up being useless down the stretch. Yankee fans have long stopped talking about the guy.

My prediction is that the Phillies, like the O's with Mazilli and the Mets with Randolph, will fall for the Yankee mystique. Cashman will take over Ed Wade's spot. And I'd love to see how that buffoon does with half the payroll he had in New York.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ervin's Magic Lets Us Enjoy ALCS

In what had to be the best feeling since Game 7 of last year's ALCS, the Angels did something that seemed so improbable early on in the game.

When Colon left, I thought it was over. I thought the Yanks got the biggest lucky break ever. Moose had looked sharp in the first, and who knew what this kid Santana had? I thought the Yanks would destroy him. And they did give him some trouble early, getting 2 in that inning. But here we are, eagerly awaiting the Scott Schoenweis series.

The Junkees, like so many times in the regular season, could not get that big hit. They had their fair share of opportunities come their way, but couldn't get it done. A-Schmuck and Shemp were the culprits here. How about A-Rod's double play in the top of the 9th? Very MVP-like, right Yankee fans? Even a Junkee fan would rather see Big Papi in that spot, and A-Rod proved it once again.

And Moose hasn't had a clutch postseason performance since Jason Giambi had long hair and a goatee. The guy is not a reliable big-game pitcher. He has his moments, like game 1 this year, or his relief appearance in game 7 of the '03 ALCS, but Moose is no sure thing. So much for the $19 million.

K-Rod did not have it tonight. He left a lot of hanging curves over the plate. But the Junkees, though they made us sweat, could not get the big hit. And when Erstad made a great stab for that final out, that ensured that the only Junkees (or, should I say, ex-Junkees) starting the next few nights would be Contreras and Pettitte.

Wait till next year, Junkee fans!!!!! The curse of Jeff Nelson lives on!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Still a Game 5

So, the Junkees pulled it out. Your typical reverse lock kind of win, with the Junkees beating the Angels' pen, which is usually very effective. If I were a Yankee fan, I'd blame it on that long 7th-inning stretch break. But hey, the Angels just didn't get it done. They got hurt by getting caught stealing a few times, and couldn't get to that middle relief, except for Erstad looking overmatched by, of all people, Al Leiter.

But Junkee fans oughta hold their collective breaths. There is still a game 5 to play. I don't care about momentum. Who was it that said "momentum is as good as your next day's starting pitcher?" And all the momentum in the world didn't help the Red Sox back in '75.

Moose will be pitching in his biggest start since Jason and Jeremy Giambi were juicing each other up back in '01. And apparently, juice doesn't help you remember when to slide, but anyway... If Mussina is anything like he was in game 1, the Junkees have the pitching edge. Hopefully, the Angels have figured the guy out a little bit. Home field advantage should help some, too. Either way, it should be a fun one to watch. It'll be nice to see at least one division series go to game five.

Lupica Tells Crankee Crybabies to Shut Up

Don't whine, win

The last time the Yankees were good enough to win the World Series, five years ago, they lost Game 4 of their division series against the A's at Yankee Stadium on a Saturday night, flew across the country afterward, beat the A's in Oakland the next night, and advanced to the next round.

Nobody whined about having to do it, the way anonymous whiners in the Yankee front office are whining now. Media members didn't wring their hands about the power and greed of television and what it has done to their day-baseball notion of the integrity of the game.

The Yankees flew across the country and won Game 5 from the A's and finally won it all, because that was a team that would play you on the field at Macombs Dam Park in the middle of the night and beat you in a big game.

If this Yankee team is good enough, it will do the same.

And if it isn't good enough, it won't be because the Fox television network wouldn't give a match-point game that involves the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels to another network so it can be played in the afternoon, and baseball can go back to being a virgin where network television is concerned.

You know who thinks this is all some sort of outrage? Some Yankee executives. Some members of the media. It's not exactly the Crusades.

"It's not like (the Angels) are playing a day game and we're playing a night game," Derek Jeter said yesterday after Game 4 got pushed back to tonight. "This time of year we're playing on adrenaline anyway."

Jeter said, "Why complain about what you can't control?"

The whiners in the Yankee front office - and gee, I wonder who they could be? - need to shut up and stay out of it and see if their $200 million baseball team can be the first Yankee team since 2000 to come back in the playoffs after being knocked down the way the Angels have knocked down the Yankees the last two games.

Major League Baseball didn't put the Yankees in this hole. The people from Fox aren't supposed to get them out of it by scheduling Game 4 this afternoon instead of tonight, so if the Yankees win it they'll have easier travel and more sleep before Game 5. Fox gets to show the game when it wants, when it will get the widest possible audience.

Why are people around the Yankees complaining? Because it's what they do, more than any organization in the sport. Always remember something: There are people around the Yankees who wanted a forfeit from the Devil Rays the season before this one. One of the anonymous whiners - and I keep scratching my head, trying to figure out who it could possibly be - said Fox doesn't care about the fans in this instance. Neither do the whiners. They just are scared to death that they might have a $200 million team that can't make it out of the first round.

As usual, one from the front office, Brian Cashman, made the most sense yesterday. You could tell, because he sounded like Jeter.

"It's unfortunate that it has to be this way," Cashman said. "It's unfortunate that we got all this rain. It's also unfortunate that we haven't played well. But it is what it is, for both teams. It's not any harder for us than it's going to be for the Angels."

Then Cashman said this about television:

"Fox pays a lot of money to the NFL and a lot of money on (baseball). If I were running the network, I'd make the same decision."

Finally he said this: "We've done things the hard way all season. Now we have to do it the hard way again."

The Yankees are good enough, or they're not, and rain will have nothing to do with it, and coast-to-coast travel will have nothing to do with it. If the Red Sox were good enough to win Games 6 and 7 at Yankee Stadium last season after being down three games to none, it seems to me the most expensive baseball team in the world can win one game here and one in California.

Ask yourself something: If the Yankees are going to field the way they have the last two games and pitch the way they have from the sixth inning on, what game time do you think will save them?

Tino Martinez is another classy veteran who never whines about anything, but who remembers the way the Yankees used to do it. He was here in 2000 when Roger Clemens lost Game4 and then the Yankees, enduring the terrible hardship of a late-night flight to the coast, were so tired the next night that they put a 6-spot on the board against the A's in the top of the first inning.

"Going back in that situation (a flight across the country) is a lot better after a win," Tino said. "We'll have a lot of momentum on our side even though we're on the road."

That team in 2000, the last Yankee team good enough to win it all, got rocked in Game 4, had to go on the road for Game 5, and won the game. The next year the Yankees lost the last two games of the World Series to the Diamondbacks. The next year, they lost the last three games of their division series to the Angels.

In the 2003 World Series, the Yankees lost the last three games to the Marlins. You know what happened last year.

The Red Sox came back from 0-3. The Yankees ought to be able to come back from 1-2. One more time, the new Yankees get to show if they are as good and tough as the old Yankees.

At any hour of the day or night.