Sunday, January 29, 2006

Red Sox Almost Ready to Go

It must've been about a week ago when some Yankee fan was telling me, "your team has no centerfielder or shortstop!" Well, that loser can kindly shut up. The Red Sox are gearing up for 2006 and beyond, and I like what I'm seeing.

For me, the first point in the Crisp-Damon debate is as follows: Crisp is the kind of player whose better days are likely ahead, and Damon's are probably in the past. Damon has played through all sorts of injuries over the past few years, and it's gotta catch up to him sometime.

The numbers aren't much different; Crisp had more homers (16-10), while Damon had a better average (.316-.300). Crisp ended with a slightly higher OPS (.810-.805). Both players have above-average speed and cover their fair share of ground in the outfield. To me, it's pretty much a wash; perhaps you even give Crisp a slight edge due to age.

And as for Alex Gonzalez, I think it's a good deal. Many people, including David Pinto, are ripping the guy a new one for being a lousy hitter. First off, the guy played in Dolphins Stadium, one of the biggest pitcher's parks in the game. His numbers should improve in Fenway. Second, perhaps it's worth it for the Sox to have an "automatic out," if the guy's defense measures up. This is not the NL, where the pitcher already gives you a hole in the lineup. The Sox can throw Gonzalez at the bottom, and hope he can show some flashes of power, like when he hit 23 HR in 2004.

Plus, the guy isn't even 30. If he's good, the Red Sox can bring him back. If not, it's just one year and out. Or, the Red Sox can try to get someone at the trading deadline. If they're desperate, they can try to wing it on Cora and Graffanino, which worked for a while last year (at 2B).

The only thing left for the Sox to do is trade David Wells. You never want to have an unhappy Wells out there. I hated the Wells signing from the beginning, and they better get the guy out of there before he starts causing trouble.

After the Damon signing, I said the Red Sox might still be the team to beat. Now, they're even better. As Peter Gammons points out, if Manny is hot, Lowell has a comeback year, and Nixon pulls it together, the Red Sox offense will be as good as last year's.

And let's not forget the revamped bullpen, plus (fingers crossed) a healthy Schilling and Beckett in the rotation.

Epstein and Co. are trying to get the Sox younger and better for the long-term. On paper, it looks like they're doing one helluva job.

-- A little bit of useless info for all you Jayson Stark fans out there: Alex Gonzalez has a .245 average in his first 8 seasons in the bigs. The other Alex Gonzalez (of Toronto and Chicago) in his first 8 years in the bigs -- hit .245!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Molina in Pinstripes? And Piazza?

ESPN's Rumor Central reports that the Yankees have contacted Bengie Molina, and may be interested in signing him.

I think this just shows how much Jorge Posada's stock has fallen with the Yanks. A few months ago, I reported how Posada is facing a Bernie Williams-esque decline, perhaps accelerated by the wear of tear of Georgie being a catcher. And in a Yankee lineup that, with the Damon signing, looks almost perfect, Posada is looking like a real hole. The guy's OPS has plummetted over the past few years (from .923 to .881 to .782), and it seemed like he was in a slump all year. Even having Flaherty catch every five days didn't help. And even though Johnson was vocal about not liking Posada as a batterymate, who knows? Maybe other Yankee pitchers feel the same way. But if the Yanks are looking into Molina, however casually, it just goes to show how much they want Posada outta there.

And the biggest problem for the Yanks is, Posada is not going anywhere. Very few teams are interested in a 34-year old catcher. Even fewer teams are interested in one who makes $11 million a year.

The Yanks are thinking long-term here. Posada's contract is done, and the Yanks have a team option for '07. So maybe the two platoon, and then Molina takes over the next few years. The Yanks might do it, simply because Molina's value is so low right now.

And the fact that Molina killed the Yanks in the ALDS this year? All the more reason for them to do this.

-- Another catcher the Yanks might be interested in? Mike Piazza. Heyman in Newsday says the Yanks are interested, but the Daily News' Bill Madden says otherwise.

This would be nothing more than a PR move. Potentially a huge one. George has had a fetish for Mets from the '99-'00 era. Ventura. Zeile. Olerud. Leiter. Dotel. Benitez. Even Bubba Trammell. So why not go after the biggest name from that era, Mike Piazza?

Getting Piazza would be a mess, though. He would want to catch, Posada would want to catch. I could see this one getting ugly.

And for all the Yankee fans fantasizing about Clemens coming back to New York after the WBC.... If Piazza's there, not happening.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Good Piece on A-Schmuck

Like I've said before, the CFL and WNBA interest me more than the World Baseball Classic, baseball's worst idea since the radical realignment talk of the late '90's. That said, Ian O'Connor rips A-Rod and the way he's handling his whole situation. If any good will come from this fiasco, it will be that it gives us another excuse to bash A-Schmuck (as if we actually needed one anyway).

The Crisp Trade

I had to go with a very generic title for this one, because all of those awful cereal jokes are making me cringe. In fact, I'm so ticked off that I'm going to ruin your day with this zinger from Baseball Musings' David Pinto:

It's unknown if Snap, Crackle and Pop are included in the deal.


I have mixed emotions about this one. On one hand, I like Crisp. His numbers have been improving steadily over the past few years (his OPS going from .655 to .790 to. 810). The guy's got some speed, and is a potential 20-20 guy. Someone mentioned that he had 42 doubles last year, and that in Fenway, many of those can turn into homers. That's encouraging.

And his OBP of .345 last year isn't great, but it's not a huge dropoff from Damon's, which was .366. And he batted .324 against righties last year; that's gonna be good against the Junkees, who, aside from the Big Unit, are stacked with righties.

But Boston is giving up a lot here. Andy Marte has received a lot of hype, being heralded as one of the top 5 prospects in the game. But again, once upon a time Gregg Jeffries was supposed to be the next big thing. So you can never take these things too seriously. But if Marte turns out to be a Scott Rolen type, then this will turn out to be a bad move. Crisp is a pretty good everyday player, but he's no all-star. He's not worth it for an all-star caliber player.

And I like Mota, so I wouldn't want to see him go. If they get Riske in return, then it's not as bad. Riske quietly put up some good numbers last year. But Mota definitely has a higher upside. The only thing I would hope for would be for Mota to continue to have bad years like last season.

The Sox are clearly at a disadvantage here, as they're desperate for a center fielder. So the Indians are getting the better of the deal no matter what. But the Red Sox have to make this deal. Should they have kept Damon? Totally different debate. But if this deal goes through, at least we won't see Adam Stern in the opening day lineup.

I'm satisfied with Crisp, though. I know some people out there were all horny about Seattle's Jeremy Reed. But offensively, the guy's numbers were weak. He had very little major league experience, so you had no idea how he was going to hold up in the long run. Plus, the Sox can't afford that hole in the lineup, not with the light-hitting Alex Gonzalez at short. Crisp gives them an established major-league outfielder. Nothing spectacular, to be sure, but a guy who looks like he's still getting better.

Meanwhile, the Tribe has said this deal will only go through if they find a replacement for Crisp. So this whole discussion might be a waste of time. We'll find out soon enough, hopefully.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Theo's Back!

Great to hear the news that Theo Epstein is rejoining the Sox. When he resigned on Halloween, the Yankee fans were all excited. "Wow, that front office is in disarray. What the heck are they going to do without Theo? At least we still have Cashman" and crap like that. And after the Damon signing, everyone was saying how the Red Sox front office was in such disarray and that was part of the reason the Yanks were able to nab Damon.

Now, the Yankee fans are quiet once again. For every Scott Sauerbeck, Mike Remlinger, and Edgar Renteria that Theo picked up, he made the small moves like getting Millar, Mueller, and of course, David Ortiz. Yankee fans fear Theo because, unlike Cashman, the guy actually has a brain.

Now don't get me wrong. Epstein had plenty of help from the owners. The Sox couldn't have had Manny and Pedro without having baseball's second-highest payroll.

But the Red Sox, unlike the Junkees, do not have an all-star at every position (except Cano). They don't have a $10 million+ player at every position (except Cano). The Red Sox have been built like the late 90's Yankees - not a sexy name at every position, but guys who wanted to win. Guys like Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. And it takes a GM, not just an owner like George, to actually build a team with inexpensive, undervalued guys. That's what Theo did so well.

With that in mind, welcome back Theo. Get our team a CF, a SS, and send the Junkees packing early.

New YD Podcast Coming Up

The Yankee Despiser and Manny Ortiz are planning another podcast, this time without the technical difficulties. If you want a certain topic discussed, please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

PR Bullpen Options for Old York

Perusing the list of free agents, it's obvious that the Yankees' fetish for ex-Mets, ex-Yanks, ex-Red Sox, and players who've killed them in the past are all they're interested in. So far, all but one of the signees fit the bill:

Returning from the '05 Junkees are:

Al Leiter
Shemp Matsui
Bernie Williams
Ramiro Mendoza
The Grand Tanyon

Ex-Mets include:

Miguel Cairo
Octavio Dotel
Kelly Stinnett

Ex-Red Sox are:

Johnny Damon
Mike Myers

The lone exception is Kyle Farnsworth.

But we all know that PR is generally more important than getting a good player. But enough about Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza. Let's see which pitchers are still out there:

Pedro Astacio - ex-Met, so that's good
James Baldwin - ex-Met for two starts, which is enough; will also make the Jesse Jackson crowd happy
Kevin Brown - I think we've seen the last of him in pinstripes
Jason Christianson - was an Angel in '05, although was gone by the time the ALDS rolled around
Roger Clemens - watch the Junkees offer him $20 million for '06
Darren Dreifort - perfect no-lose pickup for Ca$hman
Chad Fox - Marlin in '03 and ex-Bostonian
Buddy Groom - see Kevin Brown
Gary Glover - no one's ever heard of him
Shigetosi Hasegawa - already have Shemp for the Japanese PR
Felix Heredia - see Kevin Brown
Kaz Ishii - ex-Met, and a lefty
Jose Lima - PR move, because he's a whack job
Brian Meadows - ex-Junkee from way back when = perfect fit!
Jeff Weaver - see Kevin Brown
Jamey Wright - if the Junkees want to be like the Mets years back with the two Bobby Joneses, they can sell the fact that they have two J. Wrights...

There are some others, but I'm too lazy to go through them all, so maybe I'll make a part 2....

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Nellie

Looks like Nelson is going to St. Louis, instead.

He'll probably do well there, because LaRussa and Duncan know how to use relievers. And the Junkees will have to find some other way to add to the PR factor.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Whoa Nellie! Third Tour of Duty?

Today's Post mentions that the Yanks might bring back Jeff Nelson for a third tour of duty. It would be their way, perhaps, of answering the Tavarez signing, but also, it's a win-win situation. His 2003 ALCS fracas notwithstanding, Nellie is still liked by Yankee fans, and if he does well, then Cashman looks like a genius.

The guy's ERA has escalated over the past few years. He had a 3.93 mark last year, which is no great shakes when you throw in the Safeco factor. I'd be surprised if his comeback goes any better than Stanton's did last year.

Sox Pen Looking a Lot Better Than The Yanks

Yankee fans may still be horny over getting Johnny Damon and creating their new version of "Murderer's Row", but hey, the games still have to be played. And pitched, mind you.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that even after the Damon signing, the Red Sox may still be the better team in the rivalry. Now with the Tavarez signing, the Sox just got even better.

Now I know Yankee-fan readers of this blog may rip me apart because, after all, I mentioned recently that I wouldn't mind if the Yankees got Julian Tavarez, considering that I thought he might've only done well in St. Louis, where it seems like every reliever has success.

So I'll admit that the Red Sox did sort of gamble here. But their gamble is costing about half as much as the Yankees' similar gamble, Kyle Farnsworth. Plus, it's two years vs. Farnsworth's three.

Tavarez has a career ERA slightly lower than Farnsworth's, actually (4.33 to 4.46). He doesn't have the gaudy strikeout numbers that Farnsworth puts up, and his K/BB ratio is nothing to write home about. But ultimately, they're pretty similar in that they've had a couple of very good years, but otherwise, nothing special.

I like the fact that Boston waited for the market for relievers to slow down before signing Tavarez. Even a month ago, when everyone was in a frenzy over relievers like Wagner, B.J. Ryan, Gordon, and, of course, Farnsworth, Tavarez could've made a good $6-7 million a year. But the Red Sox waited, and got a very good deal in the process.

And getting Tavarez gives the Red Sox some much-needed depth in the bullpen. They've got Foulke at closer, who, if healthy, should regain his 2004 form. Mota's been very good throughout his career, though you've gotta give him an asterisk for pitching in Dodger Stadium all those years. Timlin hasn't shown signs of slowing down, and Seanez is a total gamble.

As for the Yanks, their pen is still a mess. We all know about Farnsworth, we have no idea how long it'll take Dotel to fully recover from surgery, and Ron Villone is one of those guys who's bounced around and doesn't have a good track record. Mike Myers is a one-trick pony, as righties have hit .331 against him in the past three seasons. And then you have Sturtze, who was terrible in the second half last year (and who's much more suited for a "second righty" role that he ahd when Flush was a Junkee), and Scott Proctor (as if you want him in a big spot). So the bridge from the starting pitching to Rivera hasn't looked this tenuous since 2001.

And if the Yanks make it to October with this crew, when the bullpen becomes much more important than in the regular season, they're gonna either have to pull an Ozzie Guillen and keep all their starters in for a while, or they'll have to wear out Mo as in '01. (Hard to believe, but Mo is already 36. Can he still give you a two-inning save on a regular basis?)

Let's not forget that the Red Sox aren't done yet. They're gonna get good players at CF and SS. Maybe not on the caliber of Damon and Renteria, but regardless, they've got still got enough pop in the lineup to afford a mediocre bat or two.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Once a Yankee, Always a Yankee

Words of wisdom from Goose Gossage. I guess this just proves that if and when Goose gets inducted, let's just say he won't be going in as a Padre. Only a Yankee would act like this:

"Oh, man. ... damn," Goose said quietly. "I don't get it. I really don't. What did Sutter do that I didn't?" The former Yankee's fury was about to gain momentum, so he wisely cut the phone call short.

"This isn't sour grapes, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed," he said. "I don't understand the voting at all. Today's baseball people are so into numbers and their computers, they just don't remember how the game was played. Or maybe they just don't know, period. Maybe it's not their fault.

"I know I'm repeating myself. I know I keep saying the game has changed - not just for closers, but for everyone. It's like baseball's past is being wiped out, deliberately being forgotten, like Barry Bonds being called the greatest hitter of all time. Give me a break. No one even talks about Hank Aaron anymore."

"I just can't believe Sutter got in before me," Gossage added. "He deserved it. I was hoping Sutter and I could go in together. ... I don't know if I ever will make it."

"You know what, I never hear from these guys who don't vote for me," Gossage said, his voice rising. "But I'll take on any writer, anywhere, on any show, and I will bury him."

"I'm not a campaigner," he said. "I'm just asking questions. The only reason I have ever spoken out is that you hate to see injustices."

Keep talking, Goose. Maybe if you make the writers feel stupid enough, they'll vote you in, I'm sure.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Manny-for-Miggy: Not Happening?

So now word is that Miguel Tejada wants to stay in Baltimore. And Manny says he wants to stay in Boston, while his agent says he wants out. And so, the soap opera continues.

Right now, I don't believe anyone anymore. The game has made me too cynical to take any of this stuff too seriously. Wasn't it about two years ago at this time of year that A-Schmuck was named captain of the Rangers? Which lasted about as long as a Yankee pitching coach in the 1980's.

But again, if the Sox are going to trade Manny, it's gotta be for a player of Tejada's caliber, an MVP-type. They can't afford to settle for anything less. Even a guy like Bobby Abreu (there were rumors of that a while back, but nothing serious) would be a disappointment in my book.

And if Manny stays, the Red Sox still have the best 1-2 punch in the league. But as history has shown, it's way too early to tell where Manny will end up.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Who Is the Most Overpaid Yankee?

Time for another new poll. Now that Kevin Brown's contract has run its course, the answer to the above question is not so simple. Sure, A-Schmuck makes the most dough on the team. But with those gaudy numbers he puts up, maybe he's actually worth $25 million a year. So maybe Derek "Intangibles" Jeter deserves to be picked. Or how about the Moose's huge contract? Or how about our two favorite Mazzone reclamation projects - Jaret Wright and Kyle Farnsworth?

- One slight caveat: I wasn't able to find '06 salary numbers out there, so the numbers used may be a bit inaccurate, give or take about $1 million. I used the '05 numbers for everyone except Shemp and the newcomers.

- And again, if your pick for "most overpaid Yankee" is not one of the choices, just leave your write-in pick in the "comments" section to this piece.

---------- And, by the way, you can now catch the Yankee Despiser Podcast on iTunes!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yankee Despiser Now on Yahoo! Podcasts

Good news. You can now subscribe to the Yankee Despiser podcast, download it, listen to it, etc.

Check out our page at Yahoo! Podcasts.

A (Thankfully) Quiet Week

After all the hoopla surrounding the Damon deal, it's relieving to see that things have quieted down around the Junkees. When the top Yankees stories are about the World Baseball Classic, I think that's a good sign. As Fred Hickman would say, no news is good news.

The Junkees did pick up Miggy Cairo, officially. It's a good addition on their part; he's one of those few guys in the games that gives a team their money's worth. He's also good insurance in case Cano suffers from the sophomore jinx, though Cairo is definitely not a good everyday option. I'm still surprised the Mets didn't try to re-sign him, although Bret Boone is now in that role (maybe they think there's some PR value with Yankee fans because he's Aaron (----ing) Boone's brother? Don't know.). With old man Julio Franco and now Boone in the infield, I'm waiting for Minaya to try to coax Barry Larkin out of retirement.

I liked what I saw in yesterday's Post, that Clemens will probably not sign with the Junkees. On the Podcast (which is still not iPod-compatible, unfortunately -- gotta work out some problems with Yahoo and iTunes), Yankee Despiser discussed the "Oh S---" factor, and how Johnny Damon doesn't have that. Well, Clemens, even after his iffy postseason, is still as intimidating a pitcher as there is in the game today. If the Junkees would get him, then they would really be a scary team. As we've discussed, their main Achilles heel is their starting pitching. Getting Clemens would make them a scary threat.

The only saving grace would be to hope that Clemens again would have durability issues come October. But right now, we thankfully need not worry about this possibility.

-- Another new poll should be up within the next few days.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

It's here! You can finally hear the Yankee Despiser! Hear the Yankee Despiser discuss the latest Yankee rumblings, including the impact of the Johnny Damon signing, the Blue Jays' flurry of moves, and rumors of a Manny-for-Tejada deal.

Powered by Castpost

Unfortunately, the file is screwed up from about the 21:00 mark to the 23:00 mark. Otherwise, it should be fine.
For 2006, the Yankee Despiser gets bigger and better! Coming soon will be the Yankee Despiser Podcast, where you can hear the Yankee Despiser on your iPod! Check back soon!