Despite Second Super Bowl Win, Eli Manning is Still Not In Derek Jeter’s NYC Status

February 9, 2012

This is a response to Mike Silva’s piece on Saturday in which he raves about New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and how if he helped the Giants win Super Bowl 46, could supplant Derek Jeter as New York’s sports darling and “catapult him to the top of New York sports.”

This is not a hit piece on Elisha, either. I have the utmost respect for Manning, who has endured the typical criticism of an impatient (and terrible) New York fan base who demands a championship every season.

And even though Eli helped lead the Giants to victory in Super Bowl 46 (his second Super Bowl win), neither he nor anybody else can supplant Jeter as New York’s sports hero. Jeter is at the top because the amount of World Series titles he has won (five, one more than Babe Ruth helped the Yankees win), and also the way he lives his life off the field – no scandals, is very charitable, clean living by being a homebody and avoiding the spectacle which is the press.

Eli is the same type of person. Two titles, married and like his brother Peyton, is pretty much a homebody living a quiet and very successful, scandal-free life.

Funny how Silva says that Manning is everything Jeter pretends to be

Silva starts his piece out by saying Jeter was in the “right place/right time” when he entered the major leagues, and then mentions later in his piece that “Jeter had the Yellow Brick Road paved for his glory; Manning has laid the bricks himself.”

That is factually incorrect as Jeter is one of the hardest working players in the game. Joe Torre once said of Jeter, “I trusted him more than any other player I had managed. I trusted him to be prepared mentally and physically every day, and to prioritize winning above all else. I trusted him to say the right thing, when talking to a teammate or the media. I trusted his instincts and his calm under the greatest pressure.”

The Yankees became a dynasty team with help from Jeter and his various high leverage exploits. His 704 career postseason plate appearances produced a slash line of .307/.374/.465 with 20 home runs. Does Mike forget Jeter’s leadoff home run off Bobby Jones in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series and then homered off Al Leiter in the 6th inning to tie the Game 5 clincher? Jeter was MVP of that 2000 World Series. Does Mike remember the game winning home run in the 2001 World Series, where Jeter received the Mr. November moniker?

Remember the flip play during the 2001 ALDS against the Oakland A’s? Jeter was in the correct position to back up an overthrow because he remembered they worked on that play in spring training – eight years earlier! A player who puts the time in the practice a play which might never occur is the epitome of a dedicated, hard worker.

Jeter also was approached by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman a few years ago to discuss ways to improve his range on defense. Jeter worked diligently all off season to get quicker, then had one of his best defensive seasons of his career.

And with five World Series rings and as a first ballot Hall of Famer, Jeter looks like he has laid the bricks himself, too. No player wins titles by himself. Even though Eli plays the most important position in all of pro sports, he would not have won the Super Bowl four years ago without a great catch by David Tyree, a solid running game, a sturdy offensive line or that great pressure defense. He would not have won his second Super Bowl with some great catches by his wide receivers, a solid running game, a sturdy offensive line and that great pressure defense.

Of course, Jeter never won a title by himself either or might not have even been the best player on his team. But with the exception of Mariano Rivera, all those other players will have to buy a ticket to get into Cooperstown. So many factors go into winning a baseball World Series title, but Jeter was a big part in each of the five World Series titles the Yankees have won.

Throughout his piece, Mike says that Eli is just being himself and that Jeter is pretty much a phony. Mike actually stated, “I don’t even know if Jeter knows who or what he is.”

Let me answer that for you, Mike. Jeter is the ultimate team player who works hard to win. He stays out of the spotlight and doesn’t promote himself or get into any trouble. He lives a nice, clean life, and does things the correct way. His humble upbringing began as a kid when he signed contracts with his parents on what type of person he should be. And he continues to live his life in that very same clean manner his parents demanded of him.

Maybe if more kids were brought up that way, and went on and lived the same clean lives Jeter has, this country would be in much better shape than it currently resides.

Mike is fond of saying that despite being the Yankees Captain, Jeter isn’t a real leader because he is not a locker room presence. It was always Jorge Posada and now CC Sabathia who are more vocal leaders. But one former Yankee noticed Jeter did hold sway in the clubhouse. Former Yankee (one season – 2003) Chris Hammond said of Jeter, “It’s his leadership more than anything. Whenever there’s a problem in the clubhouse – there are a lot of little problems on the Yankees – Derek is the first one to step in and say, ‘What’s the problem? We’ve got to cut this out.’ I really looked up to him. Playing in New York is a pressure job. It’s hard being the captain of the Yankees. But he has never stumbled.”

That sound like a guy who has tremendous respect in the clubhouse and did not need to be as vocal to get his point across.

Derek Jeter and Eli Manning do not promote themselves. Mike constantly talks about the “Jeter brand” as to implicate Jeter has a itinerary to manage his every move, with a full-time public relations department running his life. What Mike does not realize is that most players who have been built up by the media is usually the result of the players play on the field, and not the player own self-promotion. The media builds people up, and when the players reach a zenith, very often that same media desperately tries to bring that player down.

Derek Jeter is the perfect example of that media ploy. There is nothing terrible in his past, no skeletons in the closet. Silva then has to make an issue of Jeter not going to the 2011 All-Star game or Jeter being “greedy and out of touch” regarding his last contract negotiation.

What athlete DOESN’T want to make the most money they can? Is that really out of touch or greedy? Not in any world. When the Yankees signed Jeter to his most recent deal, it was just as much for what he did for the Yankees over his prior seasons as much as what he was going to give them over the next three seasons.

Speaking of greedy, did Mike conveniently forget that Elisha and his father (also name Elisha) told the San Diego Chargers prior to draft day in 2004 to NOT draft him because he would never play for them? Both Elisha’s forced that draft day trade to the New York Giants.

I believe that is greedier and out of touch than anything Jeter has done to the New York Yankees. And like I said earlier, this is not a hit piece on Eli. I am just stating facts.

Regarding players and perceptions, Mike likes to live on the negative. When I went out to the 2010 AFL to scout many of the games top prospects, I texted Mike that I had a conversation with 2010 top overall pick Bryce Harper*. Mike’s reply asked, “Was he a jerk?” Once Mike has a negative thought process on players, he continues his negativity throughout the player’s career, especially if these players are Yankees.

*By the way, Bryce was definitely not a jerk, he was honest and forthright, and Bryce’s father, who I sat and talked with for an hour out in Arizona, was very pleasant and engaging.

Mike says, “In a lot of ways Manning is everything Jeter pretends to be.” What does Jeter pretend to be? A consistent player who is at the top of his sport, living a clean life with no drama? It is interesting that Eli “the savior” was almost run out of town in his first year. After becoming the starting quarterback, Eli struggled early then received a phone call telling him to keep his head up, keep playing hard, doing what he always has done, and things will work out.

That phone call was from Derek Jeter.

Maybe Eli can pretend to be the way Jeter really is. In fact, that article states how Eli wanted to emulate Jeter. Mike conveniently left this factoid out on his latest Jeter hit piece.

Mike then goes on to call Jeter a phony and says that Jeter’s Q-rating has taken a hit. According to this article from last season (around the time of his 3,000th hit), Jeter is the most marketable person in sports. Both Jeter and Elisha have been involved with several corporate sponsorships. The way Silva views corporations in general, I am surprised he didn’t mention that as another Jeter negative.

The fourth paragraph in Mike’s piece begins with “Even with his faults, Jeter…” Again, what faults is Mike referring? The fact that Jeter works hard at his game? That Jeter is not the demonstrative personality who gives great quotes or is constantly in the public eye? I truly find it difficult to even find one fault on this guy.

Not every player (or person) has the personality of Babe Ruth (whose birthday was yesterday), very outgoing and gregarious, loving all the attention adorned upon him. Ruth was virtually bigger than life. Those Yankee heroes of the past all had different personalities. While Ruth was the life of every party, Lou Gehrig was the total opposite with quiet consistency; Joe DiMaggio liked the nightlife of the Big Apple, but was always protected by his “friends” at his Toots Shor’s hangout, and vigorously protected his private life; Mickey Mantle was always partying and getting into trouble, while Yogi Berra was the married homebody.

Jeter appears to be a combination of Gehrig and DiMaggio, with a smattering of Mickey thrown in. He lives a bachelor’s life in the city during the season, and that hotbed of glitter, St. Petersburg, in the off season. He does go out, but avoids the popular places and the paparazzi, who primarily try to get the negative story on celebrities. Like DiMaggio, Jeter is very private about his personal life. He seems to have a few close (and trusted) friends and avoids the hangers-on, you know those types of acquaintances who helped bring down the careers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

Jeter stays clean and hasn’t done drugs and drank to excess like Gooden and Strawberry, or even like Keith Hernandez did during his playing days. And imagine if Jeter was known to have been drinking beer in the clubhouse like Hernandez was during Game 6 of a World Series?

Yet, despite any real negatives in his professional or personal life, Mike continuously rips Jeter, like he has a grudge against The Captain. He also has grudges against Joba Chamberlain, Brian Cashman, and to a lesser extent, Jesus Montero. Mike never passes up the opportunity to attack the New York Yankees, and especially these four individuals.

I don’t believe it is actually a grudge, but an intense jealousy of how good the Yankees have been, how good they currently are and how much better they will always be over their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets.

Over the years, Mike has been great to deal with. He has helped finance some of my baseball excursions (spring training and the Arizona Fall League), helped with credentials (Winter Meetings) and consistently has me on his radio show.

But Mike appears to have a vendetta against players who are popular players, and other who have been hyped by aggressive media.

Derek Jeter has always been No. 1 on his hit list.

No one is perfect, not even Derek Jeter. All people have their issues and faults, but when media members like Mike Silva have to constantly create things in his mind to denigrate one of the most upstanding and professional sports figures in the entire sports industry, his own faults come to the forefront.

That is jealousy and envy.

There is a possibility that Jeter is very protective of his quotes, career and his life because of the 24/7/365 nature of today’s society with everyone having a camera phone, ready to get the “scoop” on a celebrity behaving badly. But the Derek Jeter you see in today’s society is likely the Derek Jeter you would have seen during Ruth’s playing days.

And that is the Jeter who Jeter knows and really is.

Arizona Fall League: Analysis of New York Yankees Prospect Brandon Laird

November 3, 2010

I have been here for three days in Arizona to see the MLB Fall League, and I have yet to see a cloud. It is simply tremendous weather here, usually about 85 degrees during the day with bright sunshine. At night the temperatures dip to the mid-to-high 60s, and the air is slightly crisp.

It is perfect baseball weather.

And while the weather is great, the best part of the Grand Canyon State this time of year is the baseball games played by many of the games top prospects.

I am here to follow up on my original pieces of various New York Yankee farmhands and to see some top players from other organizations, namely some guy named Bryce Harper.

Today is my first day to see Harper play and he just hit four balls out in BP, and the wind is blowing in. Even the players stood around to watch him hit.

However, my first game this week was Monday at Surprise Stadium, spring training home to the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. Due to a serious car rental delay, I arrived right before “Play!” was called by the home plate umpire. Pulling into the complex, I saw a group of Rangers prospects on a side field going through team defensive drills.

Third hitter in the lineup for the visiting Phoenix Desert Dogs was left fielder Brandon Laird. Yankee catching prospect Austin Romine was hitting sixth.

Laird also hit third on Tuesday in Phoenix, 20-year-old Jose Pirela was playing second and LHP Manuel Banuelos was on the mound. Right handed pitcher Craig Heyer also pitched. Romine had Tuesday off.

This report is on Brandon Laird, new Yankee multi-positional prospect. A separate report will come on Romine, and a group report will be made on the pitchers.

Having seen about 30 or so games at Double A Trenton, I have become a fan of Laird’s.

He can turn on the inside fastball, stays inside the ball well with his hands and hit with some authority to the opposite field. Laird also produced his share of timely hits, including a walk-off grand slam in Trenton.  

His defense was not Graig Nettles-like at third base (or even Scott Brosius good), but he was adequate, making his share of good plays and his share of errors, too. But Laird is a hitter who has always hit well in his baseball career.

Many people have said this is Laird’s breakout season, but he actually hit more home runs (23 to 17) and slugged higher (.498 to .491) than Jesus Montero did in Low A Charleston in 2008. And Laird did that in 63 less (569 to 503) plate appearances than Montero.

Laird is a third baseman by trade with some playing time at first base. One need the Yankees have for the future is a right handed bat off the bench with power, who can play multiple positions.

Marcus Thames is not that guy, so enter Laird stage left.

The Yankees are trying to make Laird that versatile corner man, using him in left field in the AFL.

He looked good out there during instructs, not Carl Yastrzemski or Brett Gardner good, but he held his own. Not a “toolsy” guy or “five-tool” prospect, Laird is just a blue-blooded baseball player.

Laird continued his good 2010 season here in the AFL, knocking six doubles, three home runs and driving in 11 runners.

However, Laird appears to now have an issue with the outside fastball. In Monday’s game, Laird took four hittable pitches on the outer third (twice on first pitches). He almost swung several times and actually cocked the gun, but simply could not pull the trigger.

When he did swing at the outside fastball, it was only with two-strike counts, with most swings weak flails at the offerings. No authority to the right side, and no real attempts to go the other way.

Laird appears to have become a pull hitter, trying to hit for even more power than he showed this season. Have the 25 home runs he hit in 2010 changed Laird’s hitting approach?

Not completely.

He still showed the ability to hit line drives up the middle, getting his pitch on the inner third, keeping his hands in and hitting two rockets (one each day) through the pitchers box.  The one on Monday almost maimed the pitcher, but the ball deflected off his glove (possibly saving his life) to the second baseman who threw Laird out at first.

As I said in the piece earlier this season, Laird looks for a certain pitch and location and is not afraid of hitting from behind in the count. He still shows ability to lay of the low breaking pitch and can hit the curve when it is thrown for strikes. But he does need to start going more the other way.

As for defense, Laird performed admirably in left field, but often took initial steps back before adjusting to the ball. These were balls hit off the end of the barrel, sounding good off the bat but were simply routine fly balls.

Continuously going back on the ball is common for a new outfielder. Newbies are extremely conscious of fly ball going over their heads, and to compensate for the lack of confidence (and a fear factor) by taking first steps back on almost all fly balls. A ball landing on the warning track looks much worse than a ball landing in front of you, and costs your team more bases and runs.

Laird did make a nice place on a fly ball towards the left field line, taking a direct route to the ball and even turning on the jets the last couple strides to make a catch off the bat of Davis Stoneburner*, turning a possible two-run double into a routine sacrifice fly.

*Davis is the older brother of Yankee pitching prospect Graham Stoneburner.

Laird also made a decent throw behind a runner at second base who aborted an initial attempt to go from first to third on a single to left center. Laird was quick to the ball, thwarting the advancement, and then made an accurate (but not overly strong) throw to second base, just missing the scrambling runner getting back to the bag.

Laird is still a prospect under Yankee standards, and unless he is out here as trade bait, his ability to hit with power and play adequate defense at a few positions will bode well for him and the parent club. His defense will continue to improve with more drills and reps.

But in order for Laird to stick long term with the Yankees or in the majors as a utility corner guy, he needs to be able to hit to all fields, especially in Yankee Stadium. If Laird continues his current trend of becoming pull happy and not going after the outside fastball, major league pitchers will eat him up on the outside corner.

Cliff Lee, World Series 2010: How San Francisco Giants Took Lee in Game 1

October 28, 2010

Last night’s game was not the total shock many people think. I figured the San Francisco Giants would score a couple runs early against Lee, but was surprised the way they knocked him around.

The Giants pitchers also neutralized Mickey Mantle Jr, I mean, Josh Hamilton.

The Giants game plan with those two players were the key to winning Game 1. 

1) Cliff Lee vs. Giants Hitters

The key in getting to Cliff Lee is to be aggressive in the batters box. I have long discussed that on this site. Hitters cannot continue to take early strikes, get behind in the count and then have to react to any on of four different pitches he throws with two strikes.

Lee starts most hitters off with a fastball. He then mixes in cutters, curves and an occasional change up. He is also more likely to throw his curve ball with two strikes.  

And why not? It is harder to control that either the fastball or cutter and you do not have to throw it over the plate with two strikes, just get in low in the zone and you can be successful.

But the Giants are a very aggressive group of free swingers. They like to hack at lots of pitches early in the count, both in and out of the strike zone.

Against Lee, the Giants were aggressive, but mostly on pitches inside the strike zone, more specifically right over the middle of the plate.

They did not chase the high fastball. One of Lee’s important pitching traits is that he moves the ball around, changing the eye level of the hitters.

He works low and away, then up and in. He will throw the two-seamer or curve low, then throw a normal 91 MPH fastball up, many times out of the zone.  

But unlike the Yankees hitters, the Giants lineup did not chase the pitch up and out of the zone. The right-handed hitters also did not offer at the many pitches Lee threw just off the outside corner. That is why Lee probably threw very few changeups.

This forced Lee to work from behind in the count, and then have to come over the plate with his pedestrian fastball.

And that usually gets hit…and hit hard. While there were many hard hit balls, especially in that fifth inning, there were even more fat pitches which the Giants aggressively attacked yet fouled back.

Andres Torres, Juan Uribe and Cody Ross all missed fat fastballs over the middle. Lee threw too many pitches over the middle of the plate. The Giants hitters were also looking to hit the ball the other way, with right handed hitters hitting the ball to the right side.

That allows the ball to travel deeper and the hitter can see the ball longer. Going to right field hurts Lee’s pitching game plan. He thrives on teams like the Yankees who are looking to pull the ball, but the pesky Giants hurt him. Another reason why Lee likely threw very few changeups.

The Giants aggressive nature works well with pitchers who throw lots of strikes. That is why the Giants have beaten Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and now Cliff Lee in this postseason.

Watch for the Giants to continue to be aggressive on pitches in the zone, and their key to winning is to stay off the pitches out of the strike zone. Even Uribe took two pitches before hammering his three-run home run.

Credit the Giants hitting coach, Hensley Muelens, for putting together a good game plan for the hitters last night and will likely have another good one for tonight.

Tonight’s starter, C.J. Wilson, has one of the highest walk rates in the American League. The Giants will continue to be selectively aggressive.

2) Josh Hamilton vs. Giants pitchers

Right now Josh Hamilton has a long swing. He doesn’t have very quick hands and mostly swings with his arms. Does it have something to do with his rib injury from a month ago?

Since most teams pitch him away (like the Yankees always did in the ALCS), Hamilton continuously looks (and leans) out over the plate.

But the Giants pitches have worked Hamilton differently. They have thrown lots of off speed pitches away, but they also challenged Hamilton. 

And they challenged him inside where his long swing can not catch up even with a normal major league fastball.

In Hamilton’s first at bat, Tim Lincecum had to pitch to him with men on first and second.

But Lincecum got Hamilton to meekly ground out on pitches away.

Next time up, Lincecum jammed Hamilton on an 89 MPH fastball up and in.

Third time up, Hamilton was worked outside again and weakly grounded out back to Lincecum.

Fourth time up, Casilla blew an up and in fastball right by Hamilton then got him to fly out again on a fastball in.

The Giants pitchers got Hamilton out twice away and twice in, moving the ball around and not just trying to keep the ball away all the time.

Like the Yankees did, Joe Girardi worked scared against Hamilton. Most of the hard hit balls Hamilton had were on pitches out over the plate when the pitchers were constantly working away.

Look for Matt Cain tonight to continue to pound Hamilton inside with fastballs, but also showing him some stuff away for effect.

The Giants neutralized both of Texas‘ main weapons, Lee and Hamilton, and won big in Game 1. If they continue to play smart baseball and do the same things they did in Game 1, they will have an good time in Game 2.

Except for his high walk rate, C.J. Wilson is a similar type pitcher as Lee and can be approached the same way. Wait him out to come over the plate.

And the job of Cain and the able bodied bullpen is to bust Hamilton inside.

He can’t handle that pitch, and the Giants will continue to exploit it.

MLB Rumors: Texas Rangers or New York Yankees? Why Cliff Lee Ends Up In Texas

October 19, 2010

After last night’s performance, there is no way the Texas Rangers can let Cliff Lee walk as a free agent.

Even winning the World Series this season would not be worth it to the franchise if Lee walks, goes to a rival playoff team like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or even their division rival Los Angeles Angels*.

*I mean why not the Angels? They could sign Lee, then move the Dan Haren contract if they want. Then they would have a rotation of Lee, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Joel Piniero and Scott Kazmir. I say they can move Haren because I do not believe anybody would take Kazmir, or Piniero. Both are free agents after this year anyway, so the Angels would save on those contracts in 2012.

I also think Lee would get a kick out of dominating a weak A.L. West many more seasons.

But the Angels probably can use a solid bat in the middle of the lineup rather than another arm.

But how would Texas feel if Lee signed with the Yankees, as is expected by almost everybody on the planet?

Terrible. Like the rest of baseball.

That would then make the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies the odds on favorites again next season to reach the World Series.

The Rangers need Lee to have the bonafide ace at the top of their rotation, and for him to keep working with C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, three more lefties in Texas.

It is not just Lee who does well when he is there. The other young pitchers also improve. Imagine Lee with another full season working with Wilson and now Holland?

With the combination of their current roster—plus one of the top minor league systems—if Lee stays, Texas will be tough to beat over the next five plus seasons.

But, as I said, most people believe that the Yankees are going to sign Lee. After what Lee has done over the last two post-seasons, it is a head scratcher if a team like the Yankees do not sign him.

They have the big market, the bigger money (they have many, many monies!) and good friends in CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett already on the roster. I even wrote a piece some time ago singing the virtues of such a marriage.

Now I firmly believe it will not happen Yankee fans.

One, Texas will want him back very badly. With their ownership situation stabilized and a new T.V. contract signed, they also have many, many monies.

And Lee being from Arkansas appears to fit in nicely with the other southern boys in Texas.

But another reason why Lee will not be in pinstripes next season is that the Yankees can’t afford him on a seven year, $160 million Sabathia type contract. How many nine figure contracts can one team have? Even if they are the Yankees?

The Yankees have $145 million already tied up for next year, add $40 million more for Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and probably Andy Pettitte. Andy is not retiring, not after a game like he pitched last night. It is very tough to leave a game you played for so long, especially when the player is still performing at a high level.

And with the various arbitration cases of Phil Hughes, Joba and others, that is a lot of cash already spent. Plus Burnett’s contract is like an albatross around the Yankees luxury tax necks.

Adding another $20 million for seven more years of Lee pushes next years payroll to $205 million. Funny, but every time I saw Lee pumped his fist and smiling last night, I envisioned him counting higher and higher during winter negotiations.

And there could be lots of dead money for the Yankees next year, too.

What last night’s game solidified for me is that Alex Rodriguez can not play an adequate third base anymore.

He literally can not move to his left one foot to attempt to reach a ground ball in the hole. Several ground balls last night were not even hit that hard and got through there without Alex getting close.

Maybe that is one reason why Jeter seems to have limited range up the middle. He needs to compensate more to his right due to Alex’s limited range to his left. I did read this year that scouts have seen Jeter position himself in different spots this year, the first time all career he has done that.

Do not be surprised if Alex has more work done this off season on his surgically repaired right hip.

So if Alex has limited abilities in the field, he will need to be a DH sooner than expected, which limits his value for the money he receiving.

More somewhat dead money.

Too many older players on the roster already, more legendary Yankees to be signed this off season and too much dead weight money for Burnett and Rodriguez.

Doesn’t sound like it would be wise to add a 33-year-old pitcher to a $160 million contract guaranteed to age 40.

Brian Cashman is smarter than that and will try and work a trade for a younger, but still well established pitcher rather than try and sign Lee.

But rest assured, he will “remain in the bidding” to drive the price up for whoever lands Lee’s services.

The New York Mets Signed RHP Clint Everts! Yes!

January 12, 2010

When news broke last month that the New York Mets, led by GM Omar (the Maniacal) Minaya, signed Clint Everts, a minor league pitcher for the Washington Nationals, most of the reaction by the Mets faithful was ho-hum.

At least this signing wasn’t another back up catcher like Chris Coste and Henry Blanco.

The Mets did say this off season was going to be spent looking for a left fielder (Jason Bay – check), catching and pitching. What Met fans did not realize that by pitching, they meant the career minor leaguer Everts.

Who ever heard of this guy, a Washington Nationals reject?

Actually, I have and wrote about him  (although he was a spare part to the story) on several occasions.

Clint Everts* was the first ever draft pick (5th overall) in 2002 by Omar Minaya when he was GM of the (then) Montreal Expos. Coupled with the acquisition of Jason Bay, it appears Omar really loves to have his old chums back in the fold.

Minaya chose Everts over such also rans as Zach Greinke (6th – one pick later), Prince Fielder (7th), Jeff Francis (9th), Jeremy Hermida (11th), Joe Saunders (12th), Scott Kazmir (15th – Mets), Nick Swisher (16th), Cole Hamels (17th), James Loney (19th), Denard Span (20th), Jeff Francoeur (23rd), Joe Blanton (24th) and Matt Cain (25th).

*Interestingly, Everts played HS baseball with Kazmir. Imagine two high school players both chosen that high in the draft? (That also happened in 2007 when Mike Moustakas was taken second overall by the Kansas City Royals and his teammate Matt Dominguez was taken 12th overall by the Florida Marlins.) 

Kazmir was traded away to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a trade which cost the job of GM Jim Duquette. Minaya then replaced Duquette as Mets GM. 

See how everything comes full circle in baseball? Minaya has very few of his drafted players which have made the majors, with virtually no players making an impact. Mike Pelfrey is the best Minaya draftee thus far.

For all his supposed scouting prowess, Minaya is a terrible drafter.

I wonder if all those ex-Expos guys like Bay, Everts, and Orlando Cabrera (Why not Omar?, Cabrera is Latino and once played for you in Montreal) are making the 360 degree turn and coming back. Why does Omar insist on bringing back all his former players that he once rid himself?

Because Omar never has, is not now or never will be a good General Manager.

A little refresher course on how Omar became a MLB General Manager. He was assistant GM of the Mets and interviewed for several GM jobs which had opened up.

Minaya interviewed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, then interviewed with the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Anaheim Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers (his old team which gave him his start).

All for their open GM positions!

And no one wanted him, as John Houseman would say, the old fashioned way…by earning it! Even the lowly Pirates, probably the worst managed organization in baseball did not want Omar to head their team, to be the face of their franchise!

Looking back at this past season, with all the terrible press conferences he held where Omar had a terrible UZR on the English language, most likely did not help him in the interview process.

Despite all the people throughout baseball who thought Omar was a great guy and terrific ambassador type for baseball with the Latin community, he still did not impress enough to warrant a real, earned job.

But in December 2001, MLB wanted to contract two teams from its “roster.” One targeted team was the Montreal Expos (the other was the Minnesota Twins). MLB wanted to appease the Expos owner Jeffrey Loria so when the Boston Red Sox franchise became available, MLB allowed Florida Marlins owner John Henry to buy them. Then the Marlins were purchased by Loria and MLB assumed the ownership of the Expos.

A nice, tidy, three way swap.

But since MLB was desiring to have their first Latino GM, it was a great triangle for MLB as they get to kill two birds with one stone. They would rid themselves of two undesirable franchises and hire themselves MLB’s first Latino GM, something Bud Selig was being pressured to do.

All involved knew that contraction was NOT going to happen due to the Minnesota lawsuit, and the likely result was that both teams, but primarily Montreal, were going to switch cities. Even though the franchise would  remain viable, MLB allowed Minaya to make terrible trades as Montreal GM which continues to ruin the franchise even today after the team moved to Washington.  

And now Minaya has continued his trend of ruining teams by running the New York Mets into the ground. His total lack of player development has put the Mets into a Ponzi scheme type hole of continuously needing to sign big money free agents to fill needs.

With his job on the line Minaya continued that trend by signing Jason Bay and Everts, of course.

 Why would Mets ownership continue to put their future into Minaya’s hands knowing he is desperate save his job? Desperate men do desperate things, which is detrimental to the future of the organization. If Minaya fails this season and gets fired, he will NEVER get another top job within baseball.

But at least Clint Everts will still be working.

Javier Vazquez Trade Looks Good Now, But There is a Big Variable

December 24, 2009

Everybody seems to love the New York Yankees trade with the Atlanta Braves for Javier Vazquez. The Yankees traded OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Michael Dunn and Low-Low A (although highly rated) pitcher Arodys Vizcaino to get the former Yankee right handed pitcher.

I am always a little wary when too many people love things at the same time. When too many people jump on the bandwagon, it always seems like time to get off the ride. For example, when every housewife is day trading stocks to “make easy money,” the time for the bubble to burst is right around the corner. At that point it is time to cash out and sit in the sidelines.

With baseball trades, I always get a first impression, then let the trade sink in for a day or two before I make a judgment whether a trade is good or bad for a team. For example, the trade the Yankees made during 2008 when they traded four young players to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. Everybody loved it. I did not .

On the surface, there is not a lot to dislike about the Vazquez trade if you are a Yankee fan. General Manager Brian Cashman essentially traded a starting/fourth outfielder in Cabrera, a probable LOOGY in Dunn and a possible good starting pitcher in Vizcaino for an established major league starting pitcher. A starter who was one of the best in the majors last season, going 15-10 and 2.87 ERA with 238 K’s in 219 innings.

But the more I thought about the trade, I realized the most important player affected in 2010 might not be a player even in the trade.

As Cashman stated in his remarks after the trade was announced, he said that replacing Cabrera was easier than getting a pitcher of Vazquez’ stature.  In fact, Cabrera was beaten out of the starting job last season by the speedy Brett Gardner, and unless the Yankees make a move for a more established player, Gardner would likely platoon with recent Rule 5 draft pick Jamie Hoffmann .

I highly recommend this platoon rather than the Yankees signing free agent such as Mark DeRosa, who is not even an upgrade on Cabrera’s offensive production. DeRosa’s career slash is .275/.343/.424/.767 with an OPS+ of 97, while Cabrera hit .274/.336/.416/.752 with an OPS+ of 99 this past year (and is only getting better). DeRosa is 10 years older than the others, will cost a lot more cash (about $6 million a year for 2+ years), and likely will not play defense as well as Cabrera would have or Gardner/Hoffmann will.

I was initially surprised Cashman moved Dunn after the GM almost pulled the plug on the Curtis Granderson trade because Detroit insisted on both Dunn and Phil Coke before agreeing to accept only Coke. Then it was apparent Cashman wanted Dunn available to trade for a starting pitcher.

The Yankees also lost lefty Zach Kroenke in the Rule 5 draft this year, so they are out three home grown lefties within the last two weeks. Cashman is pinning a lot of hope Damaso Marte can continue to pitch in 2010 like he did in the 2009 post season. Kroenke, who was a Rule 5 pick last season also and was returned, has a decent chance of being returned again.

The player the Braves were most interested in was Vizcaino, who according the Baseball America was the Yankees No. 3 ranked prospect. The 19-year-old Vizcaino has a good fastball and knee-buckling curve (the best combo a pitcher can have, better than sinker/slider type guys), but both pitches aren’t always in control. He is a good prospect but for the Yankees was at least FOUR years away before he reached the Bronx.

Don’t you think the Yankees will sign at least two or three similar type Dominican guys before Vizcaino reaches the majors? Plus, the Yankees also have Wilkins DeLaRosa, Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova, and Romulo Sanchez on the 40 man roster who are far more advanced than Vizcaino. Also, Zach McAllister, Jairo Heredia, David Phelps, DJ Mitchell, and Manuel Banuelos are all highly regarded pitching prospects who are also more advanced than Vizcaino.

So although I believe Cabrera is a much more important player than most Yankee fans (and obviously Yankee executives), he and Dunn and Vizcaino don’t bother me as much as the player most likely affect by this trade.

Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano. Why Cano?

He and Melky Cabrera were best friends, inseparable on and off the field. Once they began to play together in the majors late in 2005, they were constant companions. Like current teammates Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, who began playing together in the minor leagues.

Cabrera was always enthusiastic in his play, playing hard all the time (why aren’t Latin players ever called gritty?), and some, but not all, of that enthusiasm wore off on Cano. As an example, Robby saw Cabrera sent down late last in the 2008 season and worked hard last winter and had the best offensive season of his career.

Will Cano be affected by not having his compadre with him on the field, in the dugout, in the clubhouse and on the road, where it might be most important? Will Cano give it his all, or will he show the sings of immaturity that has plagued him at various times throughout his career?

I know that players who are paid millions of dollars to play baseball are professionals and need to act like pros. And in professional sports today, players are continuosly moved, and players like Cano need to understand that it is part of the profession.

But players are humans, and like all of us they have emotions and feelings. Losing a brother in Cabrera might affect Cano to some degree, the degree of which we will not know until probably mid-way through the 2010 season. I say mid-way because Cano sometimes gets off to slow starts.

With his tremendous mechanics, Vazquez is a workhorse and will give the Yankees the customary 200+ innings, about 15 wins, and even if his ERA rises by a full run this season over last year, a sub 4.00 ERA. Better than new Boston Red Sox free agent signer John Lackey’s ERA last season and similar to Josh Beckett’s.

People have speculated that Vazquez will not be as good in the American League and worry about his 2004 campaign with the Yankees, where after a strong start, he wilted in the second half. Vazquez pitched well when he was with the Chicago White Sox in 2007 and pitched well last year against the only AL team he faced, the Boston Red Sox. In that June 27th game , Vazquez allowed one run while striking out eight in 7.2 IP. He absorbed the 1-0 loss and fell to 5-7 after that game.

He bounced back to go 10-3 over the next three months and alleviated any fears of his perceived second half collapses. In fact, his career ERA (4.04) is lower after the All-Star break than it is before the break (4.32).

If Vazquez averages the almost seven innings per start like he did in 2009, he should easily win 17 games in 2010. And with the designated hitter in the American League, there is no reason why Vazquez won’t reach those innings pitched per start.   

However, the true test is if the Yankees get to and win another World Series in 2010.

Vazquez will help the Yankees get there, and the Yankees hope Cano helps them, too.

Minnesota Twins – Vikings Home Field Situation

September 21, 2009

If the Minnesota Twins come back from their current three games deficit to tie the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central division, they must have a single game playoff. That playoff game will be held at the HomerDome in Minnesota.

This is key for two reasons. One, Detroit finds the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to be a horrific place to play, and the Tigers would be at a distinct disadvantage by having to play there.

Two, the night that this game is proposed, Monday, October 5th has already a game scheduled. It is the Monday Night Football Game between the Green Bay Packers at the Minnesota Vikings.

Brett Favre playing against his old team, the Packers, for the first time.

Bu the NFL is being a tad strict as they have said they will not switch home sites and move the game out of Minnesota. The NFL and MLB have butted heads for awhile, primarily over the Sunday night telecasts. ESPN has televised the Sunday night baseball game since 1990, and in 1998 ESPN also garnered the Sunday night football package.

During a game on September 20, 1998 to be played between the Baltimore Orioles (they were good back then) and New York Yankees, ESPN sought permission from MLB to move the baseball game to ESPN2 so the NFL game could be on ESPN. The station wanted the higher rated football game to be broadcast on ESPN, which had a larger audience then because that channel was in more homes.

MLB refused, and the baseball game was played on ESPN with the NFL game taking a back seat. This was also the first baseball game in 2,632 contests that Cal Ripken, Jr. did not play.

Not until 2000 did MLB give permission for ESPN to switch games, but by then it was too late. The seeds of bitterness have been sown.

Now, if the Twins tie for the division title, why can’t the game be played during the day? First, the ball is impossible to see during the day, evidenced by the lost fly ball this past Saturday which helped the Twins win that game.  During the day, it is worse, as the sun reflects off the teflon outer shell, making the inside dome the same color as the baseball. If a fielder is not used to the ceiling there, it can be major trouble.

Also, the game if played during the day could not even finish. The field crew at the Metrodome needs time to convert the facility from baseball to football. The Twins have already had a 2004 game stopped in the 11th inning because the field needed to be converted for a University of Minnesota football game.

Imagine Justin Verlander on the mound Monday afternoon on October 5th, and forced to stop pitching because of a time limit on the game?

An easier solution might be for the NFL to move the Monday night game to Sunday night, and have the scheduled Sunday night game that weekend between the San Diego Chargers at the Pittsburgh Steelers moved to Monday night.

Night games are basically the same whether they are Sunday night or Monday night. It is just the announcers who are different*.

* Although he missed much of the game in his later years, and wasn’t as sharp as an analyst, I truly miss John Madden in the booth with Al Michaels. Cris Collingsworth doesn’t do it for me. I think it is Madden’s booming voice that I am so used to, and now realize I will not hear again.

But that idea seems too sensible, especially with the bitterness that seems to still exist between the two leagues, brought on initially by MLB.


New York Yankees: Why Many Pinstripers Were Named in The Mitchell Report

December 13, 2007

On December 13, 2007, Yankee haters rejoiced when the Mitchell Report came out. Within that “hard-hitting” report were upwards of 20 players who had been Yankees at one time or another.

Subsequently, many stories were written how the Yankees four World Series titles from 1996-2000 were tainted. What was not mentioned is that not all those players were users while they played with the Yankees. Most who were reported to have used HGH or other PED’s used them for a brief time, and maybe only for portions of a single season.  

The reason there are so many Yankees in the Mitchell Report is directly related to Kirk Radomski’s arrest in December 2005. While Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced” was a topic in early 2005 and led to the 2005 Congressional hearings; make no mistake, the Mitchell investigation was begun in March of 2006 by MLB in response to Radomski’s arrest. 

Within the Mitchell report (on page 138) it is stated that during the raid on Radomski’s home “agents seized documents relating to Radomski’s distribution of performance enhancing substances, primarily to ML baseball players, including Radomski’s address book and receipts documenting the shipment of packages to major league players.”

Within the address book were various players’ names and the name and phone number of Brian McNamee.

Whereas Radomski mostly sold the drugs directly to players, McNamee was one of the few (maybe only?) non-player Radomski distributed steroids and HGH. And everyone in MLB knew McNamee was Roger Clemens’ personal trainer.

Mitchell now had his big fish in Roger Clemens.

Mitchell needed a big name in order to justify his report. Mitchell knew the current players, through the union, were not going to talk. That is why the report only went as far as it did…and named mostly Yankees, the team which McNamee was directly involved through Clemens.

I do not condone players using these substances, but still do not understand why Mitchell names all the names (was it just to satisfy the blood-thirsty media and fans?), especially when his recommendations were not to punish those in the past but to correct things for the future, like improved drug testing.

Isn’t that what Mark McGwire said three years ago? That he did not want to discuss the past? Why is McGwire’s reputation now so sullied and in disrepair?

He wasn’t named in the Mitchell report, and as far as I know has never tested postive for any banned substance. He was only named in Canseco’s book….but he “did not want to talk about the past.”

Same as what George Mitchell recommended.

I kind of feel sorry for Clemens after he was named in the report, not because he got caught, but because he was in a no win situation. Do you “not talk about the past” like McGwire and get your reputation ripped for not fessing up, or do you fight to the end about your innocence, only to get punished as a liar on top of that as a cheat?

It’s really a no win deal…for McGwire or Clemens.

Mitchell’s report does not go any further in what we already knew at the time, except to name Clemens and Pettitte. More Yankees are on the list because the report was not complete.

While only Radomski and McNamee told their sordid tales, do you think that there wasn’t a Kirk Radomski type guy in Oakland? Do you think all personal trainers like McNamee in Arlington, TX were clean? Do you think there weren’t Radomski’s and McNamee types in San Diego or Detroit?

We don’t know for sure…but I wouldn’t bet against it. Lucky for all the non-Dodger players on the West Coast that Barry Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson, could keep his stories to himself.

It is funny reading some of the ad nausem arguments about the PED “juicers” and “cheaters.” Like all the people writing their opinions are perfect in every way. In one way or another we all have our skeletons.

If we all didn’t have skeletons in our closets, there would be a lot more candidates running for President of the United States. As we shall find out soon, Hillary will likely rattle the bones in Barack Obama’s closet!

This country is great in that we love to build up our heroes, but what many people in this country love to do even more is to tear these heroes back down.

However, the favorite thing for American’s to do is to comfort those who have admit they have wronged. If those people testifying to Congressional committee’s would have admitted their use, the American people who have embraced them once again.

But, if they all told the truth, we wouldn’t have anything to argue about…until the Hall of Fame voting comes around in 2011 when the first wave of “juicers” are eligible.