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.

All Comes Down to Chacon

Friday's matchup smelled like your classic David vs. Goliath matchup. Big Unit vs. Paul Byrd. Heat vs. some finesse. Hall of Fame vs. journeyman scrub. And, as so often happens, Goliath went down, with a little help from Garret Anderson and Aaron Small.

The key to the game, and to the series, in my opinion, was for the Angels to get to Junkees' awful middle relief. And they did exactly that. With the win, LA is one win away from duplicating their '02 performance.

And with that, the Junkees' season rests on the arm of Shawn Chacon. Chacon did well near the end of September. But: he had two excellent starts against the punchless Blue Jays (with apologies to Reed Johnson). He had another good outing against the dead Orioles. But he had a bad outing against the Red Sox. How will he do against another very good club?

In terms of offense, the Angels are probably closer to the Blue Jays than the Red Sox, but with two major differences: they've got a big bopper in Vlad Guerrero, and no Moneyball here: LA will run. If guys like Figgins and Kennedy can get on base and get Chacon rattled, the Angels will have a very good shot at sending Snorre and the Junkees home.

And if the Angels can't pull it out tonight, there's always game 5, where they have home-field advantage (thanks Buck). But then again, home field didn't help them in game one, with the same pitchers on the mound. So here's hoping they can wrap things up tonight.

----- Boston losing doesn't bother me. They didn't have it this year. In a way, they were lucky to get as far as they did. The starting pitching was awful: Clement faded down the stretch, Wells had that awful inning, and there was no sure arm like Pedro or the '04 Schilling. And the pen was shaky, to put it nicely. Plus, you can't win with just two bats. Once Manny and Ortiz went quiet in October, nobody else was there to pick up the slack.

Besides, if the Junkees win the ALDS, the ChiSox would be a much tougher opponent for them, especially the way their pitching has performed (the two ex-Junkees in particular, Conteras and El Duque, were huge in the ALDS). But let's not think about that right now, okay?

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Wednesday night's game had here-we-go-again written all over it. The Junkees were leading, Wang was making Anaheim look like a bunch of little leaguers, and going back to Junkee Stadium up 2-0 meant that they were going to the ALCS, the World Series, and I would be following Nascar in '06.

But A-Schmuck boots a ball (according to Dave Campbell on ESPN-Radio he lost it in the lights), and the Angels tie it up. An inning later Wang throws the ball away, and Orlando Cabrera makes them pay.

It's amazing, last night I was thinking about how Chone Figgins is killing the Angels, how after you get by Vlad, you've got a bunch of easy outs.... but then the errors, Jeter goes 0-5, the Anaheim bullpen shuts Old York down (notwithstanding Jorge Posada's meaningless home run), and now we're all tied up.

Granted, the Junkees have home field advantage for this best-of-three, and Randy goes for them in Game 3, but keep in mind that we don't know for sure which Randy Johnson will show up (he wasn't exactly a Cy Young candidate this year), the Angels are not afraid of the Junkees, and Paul Byrd is no slouch himself (in fact, he had a better ERA than Johnson).

Anything can happen, and the Junkees could take care of business the way they did with the Twins last year. But the Junkee magic ain't what it used to be.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Crybabies Are At It Again

I liked Buck Showalter when he managed the Junkees in the early '90s, and I like him a lot more right now. This is a typical Yankee/Snorre/A-Rod style reaction, once again. And according the Junkees' logic, they should've started Mussina instead of the awful Wright. I don't understand!? The last game of the year, you can't treat it as a joke! What happened to the "code of honor," A-Schmuck? A rare kudos goes to Brian Ca$hman though, who actually says something smart at the end of the piece. Anyway, here are all the details, from ESPN news services:

The New York Yankees will be on the road for Game 1 of their Division Series against the Los Angeles Angels. And the Bronx Bombers are crying foul about it, directing their ire against former Yankees manager Buck Showalter.

Showalter removed starters Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock for pinch-runners in the third inning against the Angels on Sunday. The Texas Rangers led 4-1 after three innings, but the Angels rallied for a 7-4 victory and earned home-field advantage for the first round against the Yankees with the victory.

Young, Teixeira and Blalock went a combined 4-for-5 on Sunday, but their replacements went 0-for-6.

The Yankees, who lost 10-1 in Boston on Sunday, finished with an identical 95-67 record as the Angels, but Los Angeles won the tiebreaker because it won six of 10 games against New York this season.

Former Ranger Alex Rodriguez, who played for Showalter in Texas, was one of the Yankees who was peeved at the Rangers manager's decision.

"There's a code of honor when so much is on the line," Rodriguez told the New York Daily News. "You hope people do the right thing. But you can't control what people do."

Yankees manager Joe Torre was equally surprised.

"It's surprising," Torre told The New York Times. "If his team was in the playoffs, I could understand it a little bit more. It's just surprising he pulled them so soon."

Showalter defended his decision, saying he wanted his three young stars to get an ovation from the home crowd in the team's final game of the season.

"Those guys posted up every day," Showalter told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "They deserved that cookie."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said told the New York Times that he didn't mind Showalter's decision, however.

"If we had won one more game, we wouldn't have to be worried about what anybody else did," Cashman told The Times.

Game 1 of the best-of-5 series between the Yankees and Angels is Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

Manny's Playoff Picks '05

That time of year again:

Angels over Yankees in 4 - Angels gave the Yanks lots of trouble this year, except for those two sloppy games in August. LA is red-hot and will not screw up like that again. Plus, LA has better pitching, more speed than the Junkees, and better D. I think they'll do very well against Mussina and Chacon.

Red Sox over White Sox in 5 - this will be a close one, but I think Boston will get just enough pitching to prevail. Manny and Papi are the difference-makers here.

ALCS: Angels over Red Sox in 6 - The Red Sox are a very flawed team (especially in the pen), and those flaws will catch up to them eventually. I say that will happen in the ALCS.

Astros over Braves in 5 -good matchup, but Clemens, Pettitte, and Oswalt are the guys you want in a short series. Plus, I don't like the Braves' pen.

Cardinals over Padres in 4 - maybe Peavy can win a game, but otherwise, they're no match for St. Louis.

NLCS: Cardinals over Astros in 6 - should be thrilling like last year, but the Astros will miss the '04 heroics of Beltran.

World Series: Cardinals over Angels in 6 -should be a fun matchup as David Eckstein meets his former 'mates, but the Angels are not as good as the Red Sox were in '04. LaRussa gets his first ring since '89.

Playoff Picture the Way I Like It

I'll try to be optimistic here and say that the matchups look better to me now than the alternatives. In other words, I'm glad Cleveland didn't make it - they'd likely play the Junkees at some point, and they'd likely have the "we're so excited to be here" attitude, which the Angels do not. I'm not thrilled that other than Vlad, nobody in the Anaheim lineup really scares you, but they have decent pitching, a great bullpen, and they're an aggressive team. Hopefully they expose the Junkee outfield defense, and do what they did in 2002. They have homefield, which is nice, so we'll see what happens.

Had they played the White Sox, again, I'd be nervous, because the White Sox live and die by their pitching. Their offense doesn't do anything for me, so the Angels are really their best opponent as far as I'm concerned.

In the Sox vs. Sox series, I have to root for Boston only because they have a better chance than Chicago at beating the Junkees in the ALCS.

In the NL, I suppose I have to root for Houston, because their pitchers can beat the Junkees. Clemens and Pettitte will have something to prove, so it's them, but if not, then the Cardinals.

Of course, if the Angels oust Old York, I can just sit back and enjoy, and feel happy for whichever team wins.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Well, It Sure Ain't a Money-Free October

So, my only solace in the Junkees winning the AL East for the umpteenth time is that at least my prediction about the AL East turned out to be right. While the Despiser predicted the Junkees would go the way of the '04 Mariners, I said that they would once again nail the AL East. Hey Despiser, the moral of the story is: never doubt the power of $200 million.

And with the top money team in the division winning once again, perhaps this will get the message across: competitive balance is still a problem in this game. Heck, if Boston wins tomorrow, 7 of the 8 playoff teams will be in the top half of the payroll rankings, the lone exception being San Diego (and if Bonds were healthy and DePodesta had half a brain, things might've been a lot different). And 5 of those teams are in the top 10 in payroll (Junkees, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Braves). And if the Phils can pull it out, then we'll see 4 of the top 5 payrolls making it. Good for the game? I think not.

And next year, the Junkees' streak just might be in jeopardy. Toronto will have a healthy Halladay and the new ownership is adding payroll. If the Orioles stay healthy and have no off-field distractions with clowns like Ponson and Palmeiro, they should improve. And the Devil Rays went 39-32 in the second half, just a drop worse than the White Sox' 40-34. That's another team on the rise, where new management might finally give them credibility.

As for the upcoming ALDS, I'm hoping for the Yanks to play the Angels in the first round. They've been red hot in September, and the Yanks always have trouble with them (except for that bizarre series in August). It'll also be interesting considering how the team has changed since then: Anderson and Erstad aren't as good, Salmon, Eckstein, and Glaus are gone, but now there are Guererro, Figgins, and Cabrera.

But who knows, the Yanks might be taking on Cleveland. But with Jaret Wright going against Boston tomorrow, the Indians' chances look slim. Anyway, I'll hold off till we know for sure.