Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meacham Let Go

According to Peter Abraham over at LoHud, Bobby Meacham will not be returning as the Yankees third base coach. Meacham had been criticized repeatedly by the media for several bad calls that cost the Yankees runs and games during the year. There’s a bit of a knack to being a third base coach and until this year, I never really realized how much a bad coach could cost a team. Unlike Peter, I’m not reading too much else into the move, especially regarding relations between Girardi and Cashman. Check out the full update over at LoHud for some names that might come up as replacements.

2009 Rotation

Let’s take a quick look at who was here this year and who could be here next year.

Guys who were around in 2008

Chien Ming Wang – Hopefully will be healthy and will anchor the rotation. Given his surgery this year, it’s not a given. If Wang can’t return to form, the Yankees are in trouble.

Joba Chamberlain – Can be the ace of the rotation if he stays healthy. There are definite issues about his endurance, and whether or not his body can handle the load of a starter. He’s got the stuff, but how long can he keep it up. If the Yankees manage to secure enough other talent, he could go back to being a starter with a few extra days off to limit his innings. If injuries become an issue, he becomes their set up man.

Mike Mussina – I don’t know if Mussina can repeat his 2008 performance or whether we’ll start seeing more of the horrendous outings he had at the beginning of the season. If he’s willing, I’d sign him and take a chance but it’s not a sure thing that he will return or that he can continue to pitch successfully. I think the best bet at this time if he does return is that he’ll fill out the back end of the rotation nicely.

Andy Pettitte – Andy has always been a favorite player of mine since day 1, but I think it’s time to retire. He could probably play another year or two but his numbers are only going to get worse. I think the Yankees will make him an offer and try to bring him back just to have another guy around, but I don’t think he’s a good fit for the team any more.

Darrel Rasner – A backup plan at best. Darrel had early success when he hit the rotation but after a while hitters started to figure him out and he became more of a liability. He could make the team as a long reliever, but Joe Girardi hasn’t gotten to the chapter on long relievers in Coaching Baseball 101 (sometimes I wonder if he’s ever even opened the book).

Dan Giese – Another possible long reliever.

Phil Hughes – Trade bait. If the Yankees could get a decent player in return for Hughes they had better jump at the opportunity. A lot of informed observers are suggesting the Yankees need to hold on to this guy because he still has star potential but I’m sticking with the opinion that he’s a total bust and a big liability given his injury history. I think the team will try to move Hughes but if not will continue to try and move him along and get him ready for the rotation. If things go well in the fall league and the Yankees still have Hughes come spring, he’ll be high on the list for the number five slot.

Ian Kennedy – I thought Ike would bring up the back end of the rotation this year and be a solid not-so-bad pitcher. Boy was I wrong. I think the Yankees will try to move him in the offseason and the organization isn’t as attached to him as they are Hughes. If there is interest in Kennedy, he’ll be gone but for now, I think Hughes is the main target for teams interested in trading with the Yanks.

Sidney Ponson – A temporary solution who won’t be around next year.

Carl Pavano – It had been suggested earlier that the Yanks should pick up Pavano’s option and use him for a year if healthy. I don’t see any chance of that happening. So long Carl.

New Faces

CC Sabathia – Number one on the list of players the Yanks would like to get but will come at a hefty price. It’s all going to come down to two things, the number of years and the number of dollars he wants. There is a strong possibility that another team may step in and actually outspend the Yankees to land him. Right now I say it’s 50-50 for CC to land in the Bronx.

Jake Peavey – There has been a few mild rumors about the Yankees working a trade for Peavey and for my money, he should be the number one target for the rotation. I think the chances are pretty slim that he’ll end up in NY, but it’s definitely a possibility worth exploring.

AJ Burnett – I’m not all that excited about this one but I expect the Yanks to look into acquiring him.

Betances, Brackman, Marquez and others – I just haven’t heard enough buzz about any of the prospects being ready for the majors yet. Brackman needs time to rediscover his stuff after the surgery and the others could be brought up mid-year, but I don’t think they’ll be given serious consideration during the spring. Also, these guys could be packaged up in a deal to acquire a veteran starter or center fielder. I expect the farm system to take a hit this offseason as the Yankees ship off a few young guys in order to make some trades for veterans who can help the team out immediately in 2009.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I’m going to go out on a limb here and officially shoot myself in the foot regarding my readers. This entry is inspired by a recent post over on River Ave Blues which asked the question of how we (as Yankee fans) wanted the Red Sox to lose.

I never quite got into the “hate” part of a good rivalry. If you are a Yankee fan, it is commonly expected that you hate the Red Sox. A few crazed fans take this hatred to an extreme and once or twice a year you’ll read a story in the news about a fight or assault happening where the motive was trash talking by fans of either the Yankees or the Sox. Earlier this year a person was actually run over by a car in a Yankees/Sox related incident.

When the Yankees play the Red Sox, I root for the Yankees. I get on the phone and call up a good friend who is a die-hard Red Sox fan and frequently taunt him. During the regular season, if the Yanks and Sox are vying for first place or a wild card, I’ll cheer for any team that beats the Sox, improving New York’s standings.

If the Yankees get eliminated, or if the Sox play some one other than NY in the playoffs, I’ll usually root for our long-time rivals, the Red Sox. I’ll even join my friend (who makes a wicked home-brew) to watch the game. That’s right. On occasion I’ll root for the Red Sox (but only if it does not adversely affect the Yankees in any way).

Here are two reasons: First, I lived in Boston (and very close to Fenway) for about two years and have some connection with the area.

Secondly, and most importantly, If two teams have a rivalry and one team completely stinks, it’s not much of a rivalry. If the Red Sox never make the playoffs or always exit early, the rivalry starts to lose some of it’s luster. When both teams are competitive in the regular season and in the post-season, then the rivalry really starts to take on meaning and have some history. Some of the greatest NY-Boston games have happened in the playoffs. If Boston never makes it there, after a while the rivalry becomes an afterthought.

Also, if teams in your division do well, it makes you look better. The Yankees 2008 season isn’t quite as bad in retrospect when you consider that Tampa and Boston were two of the best teams in the league.

This theory doesn’t apply just to my favorite baseball team. In college hoops, I’m always 100% behind my alma mater Syracuse University. In the NCAA tournament, I’ll frequently root for other Big East teams, even Georgetown, when they are not playing SU. As far as hoops rivalries go, SU-Georgetown is about as big as Yankees-Red Sox.

There’s nothing better than seeing my team beat our rivals, but when a game doesn’t involve my team, I give the rivals a little love. College football is a classic sport where you definitely should root for your competition to do well. Many of the polls and rankings consider strength of schedule directly or indirectly and having the teams you play win a lot of their games can have a big impact on your team’s ranking.

I’ve been called out by a few people who claim that “I’m not a true fan” and have heard other, cruder replies as well. I can somewhat understand those who root against a team’s biggest rival, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. Oftentimes, having a rival do well makes my team look better and as a true fan, it’s always about having my team on top. If you want to disagree with me that’s fine, but if you think I’m not a “true fan”, then you’ve got a lot to learn.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

With the blog, that is.

The Yankees season has officially ended and after a brief respite, things will pick up again slightly as Brian Cashman and others attempt to piece together next year’s team. While the developments will be slow, there are usually enough rumors popping up for some lively discussions to occur.

This was my second blog (my first was a personal blog with a mix of sports, tech, and other random commentary) and my first real attempt to do a focused blog about a single topic and team. I think it went pretty well all in all.

I had a little more time on my hands during the spring and first half of the season and was able to do at least one post a day and sometimes more. In the late summer, early fall, real life time commitments made it a little harder to put out daily content and things slowed down a bit.

I also have gone back and forth regarding the types of content I put up on the blog. From basic game recaps and stats to more opinionated commentary. There are lots of places on the internet to get all the game recaps on big sites like ESPN or SI. There are a few outstanding blogs that provide an excellent blend of both game summary and opinion content, like Sliding Into Home (one of my personal favorites). Toward the end of the season, I tried to get away from just repeating the game recaps and providing more of my personal opinions on what was happening with the team. This can get a little tricky after a while, especially when a team is having a bad season, as I sometimes feel like all I’m doing is bitching.

With a popular team like the Yankees, there are a huge number of blogs out there dedicated to the team and there is fairly stiff competition for readers, and sometimes I feel like I’m just re-hashing the same stuff that a lot of other people have gone over.

Realistically, other job and family commitments are going to slowly continue to get worse and daily posts are likely out of the question. Three or four days a week is a more reasonable expectation. Baseball is more of a daily game however (compared to something like football) and wonder if a few times a week would be enough.

I’d love to hear any comments, opinions or suggestions from anyone out there. So if you like reading the blog or have any constructive insights as to why you don’t read more often, let me know!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Torre Finding Success in LA

I don't know how much a manager really contributes to the success of a team, but my gut tells me that the manager is definitely an important part of success. I always liked Joe Torre and was sad to see him go. It didn't take long for him to find himself another high-profile managerial position, this time all the way on the west coast managing the Dodgers. LA made it to the playoffs this year and quickly dispatched the best team in the National League in 3 games. Even if they lose to the Phillies in the next series, I think this year has to be recorded as an outstanding success for the Dodgers.

The Yankees on the other hand are the complete opposite, not making the playoffs for the first time in years. How much of this year's disaster can be accounted for by the departure of Torre and arrival of Girardi? I've often felt that this year's team was heartless, lacking in both drive and motivation and I squarely place the responsibility for those types of intangibles on the manager.

I'm going to try to be optimistic that Girardi isn't entirely stubborn and thick-headed and that he'll learn from this years colossal failure. His approach this year didn't work, plain and simple. Relations with the media were attrocious and clubhouse chemistry was non-existant. Hopefully Joe G can take a step back, look at what went wrong, and make adjustments and improve himself as a manager by learning from his mistakes. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, Joe Torre did what he does best. Takes a motely bunch of underachievers and pastes them together into a cohesive playoff bound team. Even when one of the most notorious personalities is dropped in his lap, Torre finds a way to get Manny back to being the superstar that he is. Not all of the current Yankee problems are due to Torre's leaving, and not all of the Dodger's success is related to Torre's arrival, but I sure as heck believe that a significant portion of each is all Torre.

Lastly, Torre has always been a class act and has maintained his dignity throughout the fiasco that was his pseudo-firing, the Yankees hardships this year, his team's success, and the end-of the-stadium snub. Several other big league managers would do well to take a page out of Torre's book in this regard.

Way to go Joe.