Tagged: Rays

Bomber Busts: Worst Trades and Free Agent Signings

 

 

Lou Brock was traded for Ernie Broglio.

On June 15, 1964, The Chicago Cubs traded away left fielder Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals for a right-handed pitcher named Ernie Broglio. Brock went on to enjoy an outstanding career; six All-Star selections, two World Series Championships, The Babe Ruth Award, The Roberto Clemente Award, his number 20 is retired by the Cards, and in 1985 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a career’s work.

Broglio on the other hand…well. Not many people remember his name and he didn’t do much else with career after he was dealt to the Cubs. He finished his pitching career with a 77-74 record, a 3.74 ERA, and 849 strikeouts. His only accomplishment: winning the most games in the National League in 1960.

 

Broglio...who???

Who got the better end of that deal? The Cardinals, of course. Nowadays, whenever a lopsided trade occurs, in baseball terminology, it’s called a “Brock for Broglio.”

Being a devout Yankee fan, there are several instances (in my lifetime) I can think of when the Yankees either made a terrible trade or a bogus free agent signing. With the recent departure of Javier Vazquez, and in the spirit of “Free Agent Frenzy,” I got the idea to write about some of the worst moves the Yankees have made over the years.

So without any further ado, I give you my top Yankee trade/free agent busts.

Here we go…

Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps

 

Jay Buhner!

“What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for? He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He’s got a rocket for an arm. You don’t know what the hell your doing!!!!”

On an episode of the TV show Seinfeld, George Costanza’s father Frank (played by Jerry Stiller) scolded George Steinbrenner for trading away a 23 year-old right fielder by the name of Jay Buhner.

The Yankees gave Buhner to the Seattle Mariners in July of 1988 along with two minor leaguers–Rich Balabon and Troy Evers–in exchange for Ken Phelps. To this day, the trade is considered by many fans to be one of the worst trades the Yankees ever made in their history.

A classic “Brock for Broglio,” no doubt.

Buhner went on to become an All-Star and win a Gold Glove in 1996, and in 2004 he was inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. As far as numbers are concerned, Buhner averaged almost 22 home runs per season after leaving the Yankees and knocked in over 100 runs for three consecutive seasons from 1995-97.

It is obvious Buhner established himself on both sides of the field and overall was an excellent player.

 

Who is this guy?

Phelps on the other hand just faded away. He had only caught Steinbrenner’s eye initially because he was able to hit 14 home runs in half a season–a feat the Yankee owner viewed as impressive. Unfortunately he gave away a player who went on to enjoy success and in return received a player who went on to become a nobody.

Now whenever someone mentions Phelps, he is remembered as “The guy that got traded for Jay Buhner.”

As a Yankee fan did losing Buhner upset me? Did watching him perform so well year after year against us annoy me because I knew he could have been doing it for us?

Yes and no.

I liked Buhner, even though he was on the Mariners. He had such poise and talent; he could swing a hot bat, could play stellar defense, and yes it was hard to watch him knowing he was once a Yankee.

 

Once a Yankee...

But at the same time, the Yankees had a pretty good right fielder of their own named Paul O’Neill–a man who earned the nickname “The Warrior” by Steinbrenner. Having O’Neill may have even been better than having Buhner.

 

Warrior

After all, O’Neill was a force in the Yankee Dynasty. Without him, the Yankees may not have won the title in 1996 and 1998-2000. O’Neill battled year in and year out and because of his work ethic, he helped guide the Yankees to the Championship.

And for as good as Buhner was, he never won a title. With O’Neill in right field, the Yankees did.

 

Hideki Irabu

 

what a bum.

You know things aren’t going well for you when your boss calls you a “Fat P—y Toad.” Hideki Irabu was called this name by Steinbrenner, simply because he did not cover first base on a ground ball–in Spring Training, no less. In fact, The Boss didn’t even allow his pitcher to travel with the team to Los Angeles after the incident because he was so infuriated.

That’s what you would call a serious “FML” experience.

The San Diego Padres had purchased Irabu’s contract in 1997 from the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. Believe it or not, his purchase led to the current format used today that MLB enacts to sign Japanese players. Without this deal, players like Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Hiroki Kuroda would have never made it to the Majors.

Apparently Irabu wanted to act as much like a big-name superstar as he could, because he refused to sign with San Diego. What’s more, he stated he would only like to play for the Yankees.

That’s a bit egotistical, wouldn’t you say?

 

Terrible.

The Yankees eventually had to offer San Diego players in exchange for the rights to negotiate with Irabu. When it was all said and done, the Yanks gave up, $3 million, Rafael Medina, and Ruben Rivera (cousin of Mariano Rivera) for Homer Bush and the rights to Irabu–who was later signed by New York for $12.8 million over four years.  

A complicated exchange and one that never really did pay off.

The best season Irabu put up was 1998. His numbers:

·         13 wins

·         4.06 ERA

·         173 innings pitched

·         Two complete games

·         28 games started

Not exactly worth $12.8 million, if you ask me. I suppose the Yankees could have gotten a little more bang for their buck; or they at least could have signed him for less money.

 

LOL

Irabu collected two World Series rings (1998 and ’99) but didn’t even last all four years he was under contract with the Yankees.  After 1999, Irabu was traded to the Montreal Expos (now known to most fans as the Washington Nationals) for Ted Lilly, Christian Parker, and Jake Westbrook. He finished his MLB career with a 34-35 record, a 5.15 ERA and 405 lifetime Ks.

And much like the Buhner trade, Irabu was spoofed on Seinfeld for his poor performance.  In the show’s final episode, Frank once again confronts Steinbrenner and yells,

“How could you spend $12 million on Hideki Irabu????!!!”

I guess we will never know, Mr. Costanza.

 

Kevin Brown

 

Awful move.

I can understand why Steinbrenner and the Yankees sought Kevin Brown. He had racked up a lifetime of accolades, including a World Series ring. He was even named “Pitcher of the Year” by The Sporting News in 1998. Brown had made a number of All-Star game appearances, and had the ability to carry a pitching staff working as the ace.

What I cannot understand however, is how a pitcher can get so frustrated that he throws a punch at a wall and breaks his pitching hand in the process. I mean, if you are a pitcher and you have a bad game and get called on it by your teammates or manager, slam your glove to the dugout floor. Take a bat to the dugout water fountain, if you are feeling especially psychotic. Or my personal favorite, knock over a Gatorade cooler.

 

Knock it over!!!!

But don’t ever, under any circumstances, try to pick a fight with a wall and use physicality. The wall is guaranteed to win every time.

 

 

Kevin Brown is an idiot.

With that sheer display of immaturity, I not only lost all respect for Brown but now consider him a terrible move the Yankees made. I don’t really see it as a “Brock for Broglio” per se, because the Bombers only gave up Jeff Weaver, Yhency Brazoban, Brandon Weeden, and $2.6 million for Brown.

Aside from Weaver, the Yanks did not let go anyone of note and Weaver struggled mightily in the 2003 World Series…although his fall classic struggles didn’t stop him from pitching like a stud for the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series…

Anyway….I digress.  

In 2004 the Yanks probably felt Brown would help lead their pitching staff. But those feelings were not exactly well-founded.

In 2004 Brown went 10-6 with a 4.06 ERA, which weren’t bad numbers for an older pitcher who was playing for the first time in the crazy New York atmosphere. In fact, Brown pitched rather well in the ’04 ALDS vs. the Minnesota Twins, posting six innings and only giving up one run. The Yanks went on to win the series 3-1.

However, his ALCS Game Seven outing vs. Boston is what he is most infamous for; pitching less than two innings and allowing five runs, including a two-run homer to the hated David Ortiz. Essentially, Brown didn’t give the Yankees a shred of a chance to come back and win the pennant.

All Yankee fans, including myself, were outraged. He picked the worst day of the season to have a poor outing. The most important game ever and Joe Torre used the least intelligent member of his pitching staff.

In 2005, Brown attempted to come back, but was sidelined due to injuries. He finished the year in ’05 with a 4-7 record and an ERA of 6.50. The following off-season, he announced his retirement.

I don’t blame the Yanks for trying to catch lightening in a bottle with Brown; there is no denying that he was a decent pitcher in his prime. Yet, it did turn out to be a bad move because they caught Brown in the twilight of his career. As a Yankee, he was nothing but a shell of his former self and could not get the job done when it came to nut-cutting time.  

Overall, I chalk Brown up as a big loss for the Yankees.

 

Carl Pavano

 

Moron.

$39.95 million that could have gone to a better cause. Charity, I suppose.

Following the 2004 collapse to the Red Sox in the ALCS, the Yankees were convinced they needed starting pitching. Along with the big signing of the Big Unit, Randy Johnson, the Yanks sought and landed free agent hurler Carl Pavano.

I used the term “hurler” not because Pavano is a starting pitcher, but because just by mentioning his name makes me want to hurl.

 

Good in Florida. Abysmal in NY.

Not for nothing, Pavano was coming off his best career season, numerically, in ’04. In his contract year with the Florida Marlins, he won 18 games while only losing eight and posted a respectable 3.00 ERA.  His numbers made him a hot free agent commodity and multiple teams, including Boston and the Cincinnati Reds, wanted him.

Ultimately it was the Yankees who got Pavano and I wish they hadn’t. It would have been better for them if the Red Sox or Reds had wasted their money on him.

At first Pavano appeared to be a decent pitcher. He gave the Yankees quality in seven of his first 10 starts, putting together a 4-2 record and posting a 3.69 ERA–again, not bad for just starting out in the New York environment.

 But by June of ’05 Pavano got hurt for the first of many times. Truthfully, his injuries and disabled list stints piled up more than his actual baseball statistics.

·         Went on the DL in June of ’05 with right shoulder injury. Ultimately went 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA for the season.

 

·         Began 2006 with bruised buttocks; on DL for first half of year. Then…

 

·         Broke two ribs in a car accident in August of ’06; did not end up pitching at all in an MLB game.

 

·         On April 15, 2007 was placed on DL after what was diagnosed as an “elbow strain.” The next month Pavano announced that he would opt to have Tommy John surgery and missed the remainder of the year.

 

·         First start coming off Tommy John came on Aug. 23, 2008. He pitched five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits.

 

·         The next month on Sept. 14, Pavano left the game with an apparent left hip injury.

 

I have two words for all that: cry baby. He never pitched a full season with the Yankees.

What really struck me were Pavano’s comments after his last game as a Yankee. The press questioned him about his ineffectiveness and his repeated injuries; they were probably about as skeptical about his excuses as most fans were.

Pavano responded by saying, “Well, what are you going to do, you know?”

 

Bonehead.

Really? That’s the best he could do? $39.95 million should buy a little more thought than that. Pavano concluded his tenure (if you can even call it that) with a record of 9-8.

Prior to 2007, Mike Mussina stepped up and publicly called Pavano on his injuries. Mussina said, “His injuries don’t look good from a player’s standpoint. Was everything just a coincidence? Over and over again? I don’t know.”

Thank goodness one of his teammates spoke out against him. Quite honestly it needed to be done.

In 2009 Pavano joined the Cleveland Indians and was traded mid-season to the Twins. I couldn’t even believe it when I noticed that halfway through 2009 he was one of the league leaders in wins. He even finished 2009 with a record of 14-12–winning five more games in one year with Cleveland and Minnesota than he did in four years with the Yankees. 

How ridiculous is that?

At any rate, it must have been fun for the Yanks to punish Pavano for all the grief he put them through by beating him in Game Three of the ’09 ALDS–en route to their 27th World Series title.

 

Thanks for nothing, Carl.

If I were the Yankees last year, I would have sent Pavano a Christmas card with a picture of everyone hoisting the World Series trophy. Along with that, the Yanks could have attached a note to the photo that read, “Thanks for nothing.”

The Yanks also beat Pavano in the ALDS this past season, another satisfying moment for all Yankee fans.

 

Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson

I decided to combine these last two players simply because they failed in pinstripes not once, but twice.

I’ll begin with Javier Vazquez.

 

BUM.

The day after the Yankees were eliminated from the ALCS at the hands of the Texas Rangers, it was reported that Vazquez was already speaking to the Washington Nationals about possibly pitching for them in 2011. His talks with the Nats obviously cooled off, and as reported on Sunday, Vazquez has apparently agreed to a deal with the Florida Marlins.

I have four words for him: good riddance, you bum.

Before this past season began, Vazquez was acquired from the Atlanta Braves along with reliever Boone Logan. In exchange for Vazquez, the Bombers gave up young outfielder Melky Cabrera and rookie reliever Mike Dunn.

I would not necessarily categorize the trade as a “Brock for Broglio,” although it kind of had that quality.  Cabrera had an awesome year in 2009; he smacked three walk-off hits for the Yanks (including the first walk-off home run in the New Stadium), became the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since Tony Fernandez in 1995, and capped it all off with a World Series ring.

Cabrera was a beast and was looked at as one of the most pleasant surprises in ’09.

The Yankees however did need starting pitching. They only used three starting pitchers in the playoffs and were able to get over the hurdles on the strength of three horses: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte. They needed a fourth man and they looked to Vazquez.

Why they wanted Vazquez, I’ll never know.

Sure he was second in the National League when it came to ERA in 2009 (with 2.87) and he won 15 games for the Braves. I suppose the Yankees thought they would really be unstoppable if they could get that kind of production out of their number four starter–which made it somewhat understandable.

Yet, the Yankees must have forgotten how Vazquez busted for them in 2004, which was his first stint in pinstripes. In ’04 Vazquez went 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA. Like Brown, he pitched in Game Seven of the ’04 ALCS, giving up a grand slam and a two-run homer to Johnny Damon–once again, not giving the Yankees a shred of a chance to come back and win the pennant.


Psssh. 

Maybe they figured he could do a lot better than that come his second go-round. Perhaps the Steinbrenners and Brian Cashman had the mentality of, “It can’t get any worse, he can only do better.”

Not.

In 2010 Vazquez pitched to a 10-10 season record with a 5.32 ERA. He started 31 games and allowed 32 home runs, pitching so poorly throughout the year that he did not even make it into the postseason starting rotation. Was the trade really worth giving up Cabrera?

Well I guess it didn’t matter. Cabrera finished 2010 with a .255 batting average for Atlanta and only hit four homers and knocked in 42 runs. But that doesn’t erase what he did in 2009, and if he had played in the Bronx in 2010, he might have had a better year.

The bottom line is that Vazquez was a bad move made by the Yankees. I knew he was going to bust before the season began; actually I knew he was going to fail again right after the trade was completed. It was just so foreseeable. And when he gave up that first-pitch home run to Jimmy Rollins on day one of Spring Training, I knew it was all over for him.

And then there was Johnson.

 

Waste of time and money

In 2001, Johnson served the Yankees as Tino Martinez’s backup at first base. When Martinez left for St. Louis after the season ended, Johnson became a little bit of a regular first baseman, albeit the Yanks did have Jason Giambi in their lineup and available to play first.

Johnson would go on to rank seventh in the league in hit-by-pitches in 2002, but did put up a somewhat decent year in ’03. Johnson clubbed 14 homers and drove in 47 runs with a .284 batting average, but his injury-prone nature kept him from truly breaking out.

The Yankees had no choice but to trade him at the end of ’03, ironically enough for Vazquez. Two useless Yankees got traded for one another. Really, what are the odds? And like Vazquez, as useless as Johnson was, the Yankees still could not manage to give up on him.

 

"Yay!! I wasted the Yankees' $$!!"

On Dec. 23, 2009 the Yanks signed Johnson back to a one-year, $5.5 million deal.

This past year Johnson was expected to be the everyday designated hitter, taking up the mantle of the great, 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. Unfortunately, Johnson saw little action because of a wrist injury. In fact, before the season even began, Johnson injured his back in Spring Training, proving once again that he did not belong in a Yankee uniform.

He finished 2010 very early with 24 games under his belt, only 98 plate appearances, two home runs, eight RBIs, and 12 runs scored.

I would certainly characterize that as a waste of $5.5 million.

 

 

The bottom line is, the Yankees have wasted a ton of money on terrible players and have given away some great players to get some rather mediocre ones. But they are not the only organization to do it; it happens to the best of teams.

I mean, the Red Sox gave up Jeff Bagwell for a reliever named Larry Andersen. (Who?)

The Blue Jays gave the Yankees David Cone for three minor leaguers who never made it.

The Devil Rays gave Bobby Abreu to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker. (Who?)

And who could forget the New York Mets giving up Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano?

Chan Ho Park–yes, Mr. Diarrhea himself–got $65 million from the Texas Rangers in 2002.

 Juan Pierre received $44 million from the Dodgers in 2007.

Yes, baseball organizations are human and make bad moves sometimes. Maybe next week I’ll review some of the BEST moves the Yankees have made; off-season changes that have paid off royally and had a great impact on the team. I can think of quite a few right off the top of my head.

And while I’m waiting, I’ll hope the Yankees can decide on the right moves. The Baseball Winter Meetings begin next week and I’m hoping the Bombers can make a splash in Orlando.


Winter Meetings start next week.

End of the Year Awards

 

Time to hand out some awards!

As the end of the 2010 regular Major League Baseball season rapidly approaches, the Yankees once again have lived to play autumn baseball in New York. At the very least, the Bronx Bombers will go into the postseason as the American League Wild Card team. Yet they can still capture the American League Eastern Division over the Tampa Bay Rays.

At press time they are a ½ game out of first place in the AL East.

With only three games left after tonight’s 8-3 loss vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, it is once again time to hand out the Yankee Yapping End of the Year Awards. Last year I gave out various commendations to numerous Yankees who showed what being a Bronx Bomber is all about.

Since 2010 was a stark contrast to 2009, there are new awards this year to accommodate what each player has done or accomplished this past season. Without any further ado, here are the 2010 Yankee Yapping Awards!

 

Yankee Yapping Most Valuable Player

Winner: Robinson Cano

 

Most Valuable Cano

The Yankees are very lucky to have a player like Robinson Cano. This season, the slugging second baseman has put together an MVP caliber season with 28 home runs and 106 RBIs to this point. His numbers indicate a great year, but he did not win the YY MVP simply because of his offensive production.

His defense and overall character put him over the top.

In 155 games at second base this season (talk about durability!) Cano has only committed three errors. He has also helped turn 111 double plays and has secured a fielding percentage of .996.

Can you say Gold Glove?

Cano has also had the most consistent season among all Yankee hitters. Derek Jeter is currently hitting under .300, Mark Teixeira got off to a tortoise-like start, and Alex Rodriguez spent time on the disabled list. Cano did not slip under .300 this year, nor did he start off slow or get injured.

His season has all the makings of a valuable player.

Congrats Robinson!

 

Yankee Yapping’s Most Pleasant Surprise

Winner: Marcus Thames

Thames did well. I gotta hand it to him.

I’ll be the first to admit that when the Yankees let Johnny Damon go…or he let himself go…that I thought picking up Marcus Thames was a bad idea. He had already been a Yankee in 2002, although he was not what we would call a real Yankee.

Everyone knows that, in his first stint in pinstripes, Thames clubbed his first career home run in his first career at-bat off brand-name future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. What most people don’t know is that home run was the only long ball Thames hit in his first go-round with the Yankees and he only played seven games.

2010 was his second chance and he certainly took advantage of it.

To go along with his batting average of .291, Thames has smacked 12 home runs this year and has driven in 33 runs. Two of his homers this season stand out to me.

First off, his third home run of the year, which came on July 11–only because of who he hit it off: Brian Sweeney of the Seattle Mariners.

As almost everyone knows by now, I interviewed Sweeney over the summer and he is a graduate of my College. That home run was bittersweet for me. I was happy to see Thames get around on a hanging curveball and smash a homer, but at the same time I felt bad for Sweeney.

Being such a nice guy and, without any sarcasm, the best interview I have ever conducted, I had no choice but to feel remorseful for my fellow Mercy alumnus. But Thames did a fantastic job of clubbing the ball!

The second home run that sticks out was his walk-off blast against Jonathan Papelbon and the Boston Red Sox on May 17. After A-Rod tied the game with one swing of the bat, Thames played the role of hero and swatted Papelbon to a loss.

A glorious home run to cap off a glorious victory over Boston in the Bronx.

I may have said some harsh things about him at the beginning of the year when he struggled, but he has proved me wrong. Congrats Marcus!

 

Yankee Yapping Player Who Needs to Improve for 2011

Winner: A.J. Burnett

I love you, buddy.

He had a terrible season. I know. All of Yankee Universe knows. The whole world knows.

A.J. Burnett has one more start this season (on Saturday in Boston) and will finish 2010 under .500. He is currently 10-15 with an earned run average of 5.33. In his last 10 games Burnett is 1-6 with an ERA of 6.26. Opponents are hitting .286 against him and he has allowed 107 earned runs this season.

If that doesn’t scream the words “off-year” I really don’t know what does.

Many Yankee fans are skeptical about how he will perform in the postseason and would not trust Burnett with the ball in an important game. Yankee Universe also feels he should be bumped from the number two spot in the starting rotation; some are even going as far as saying he should be put in the bullpen.

I agree. He should be bumped from the number two spot and I doubt that he will be plugged into any spot in the starting rotation, at least for the American League Division Series. If he goes to the bullpen, he might be able to carve a niche for himself, the same way Phil Hughes did last year in relief.

Although Burnett had an abysmal year, the one thing I will not do is give up on him. I understand how poorly he produced over the summer, but something many fans forget is that he began the year at 4-0 with an ERA under three. He got off to the best start of his career only to have it collapse on him; the most successful start of his life tragically morphed into the worst season he has ever had.

The other day I was asked if the Yankees would trade Burnett over the off-season because of his poor season.

The answer is easy: No. Here are three reasons Burnett is staying in pinstripes.

1)      His salary. He is owed $49.5 million over the next three years. Give me the name of a team who is going to pick up that tab? Oh, that’s right. You can’t.

 

2)       His trade value. With his lopsided numbers, who would want him?

 

3)      The Yankees’ faith in their big free agent pitchers. Anyone remember Carl Pavano? He was owed less money than Burnett, pitched worse than Burnett, and the Yankees held onto him without even trying to shop him.

 

It’s no contest. Burnett will be in pinstripes for awhile.

And while he is in pinstripes, he needs to learn how to handle himself, go out and win games. I have seen how physically capable Burnett is really is when he is pitching. He can throw 96-98 mph fastballs, something not even Mike Mussina could pull off in 2008, the year he won 20 games.

I think it’s all mental when it comes to Burnett’s struggles. Perhaps he should consult the team psychiatrist. Wait, is there a team psychiatrist?

At any rate, it’s a not a particularly good award to win, A.J. But I still have faith that you can improve, bounce back, have a solid postseason like last year and return strong in 2011.

I still believe in you, A.J. We A.J.s have to stick together through thick and thin.

 

Yankee Yapping Sayonara Award

Winners: Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson


TERRIBLE. 

First of all, allow me to explain the nature of this award. I am handing out this award to two players who the Yankees signed, are not under contract for next season, and are most likely not coming back next year.

I had no choice but to give it Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson.

When the Yankees decided to acquire Vazquez during the off-season, I was unbelievably confused. With a somewhat failed season in pinstripes already under his belt (2004) it shocked me that the Yanks went out and traded Melky Cabrera for Vazquez during the winter meetings.

This season just proved to me that Vazquez is not and never was suited for pinstripes. The reason the Yanks wanted him was because of how well he pitched last season, but what they did not take into consideration was that he pitched in the National League.

Vazquez made the move from the NL to the AL, and not just the AL–the AL East, where the best of the best play. And when he made that move, he traveled to a 10-10 record this year with an ERA over five.

That’s enough to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. See ya, Javy.”

Now onto Johnson…

Talk about a waste of money and time. I think his uncle, Larry Bowa, should chastise him for being such a mediocre and otherwise useless ballplayer. The Yanks signed Johnson to be an everyday designated hitter and replace Hideki Matsui in the lineup.

His numbers: 24 games played, two home runs, eight RBIs, and a .167 batting average.

…………………….

Sorry, I had to run to my bathroom and puke.

Both Vazquez and Johnson are no longer under contract for 2011. Thank God.

Congrats on the award, fellas. Have fun on another team next season!

 

Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year

Winner: CC Sabathia

Big Bad CC does it again.

When all the dust had cleared at the end of 2009, CC Sabathia had 22 wins, including the postseason. The postseason has not even begun this year and the Yankees’ number one man has 21 wins. With that, he became the first Yankee to win 21 games in the regular season since Andy Pettitte, who accomplished the feat in 1996.

 If the regular season is any indication of how Sabathia will perform in October, the Yankees will be in excellent shape every time he toes the rubber. Just as Burnett has had the worst season of his career, Sabathia has statistically had the best season he has ever had.

Needless to say, he is a shoe in for the Cy Young Award. CC might very well be “Cy Cy.”

Sabathia logged 237 2/3 innings this year, coupled with 197 strikeouts. He made 34 starts, tossed two complete games, and opponents only hit .239 against him.

If all goes right for him again, he could capture another postseason MVP award, as he was the American League Championship Series MVP in 2009. Either way, I have no doubt that Sabathia will have more hardware in his trophy case very soon.

Until then he is the Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year. Congrats CC!

*Note: CC has won this award for the second year in a row!

 

Yankee Yapping Best Trade Deadline Pickup

Winner: Kerry Wood


Wood was a great pickup.   

When the trade deadline neared the end, the Yankees picked up three notable players: Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and Kerry Wood. Without a doubt, Wood has made the best impact of all three players.

Wood was the Cleveland Indians’ closer and the Yankees needed to add a reliever to aid their scuffling bullpen. Suffice it to say, they added the right man. Wood has posted a low ERA in pinstripes and has really become a solid arm in relief.

Throughout his career, Wood has taken a lot of criticism because of his injuries; I am sure the Yankees knew about that when they traded for him. However, he was a former National League Rookie of the Year (1998, with the Chicago Cubs) and certainly possessed the capability to change the atmosphere of the bullpen.

It’s almost as if when Wood arrived, things started to turn around for them.

I remember his first outing as a Yankee against the Tampa Bay Rays. When Wood tossed that knee-buckling breaking ball and caught Evan Longoria looking like a deer in headlights, I knew right then and there he would fit in right away.

And he has.

Looking at his last 10 appearances alone is proof of that: 10 innings, no runs, four hits, five walks, 12 strikeouts, and an ERA of 0.00. He has flourished in his role as a late-inning relief pitcher and if he keeps it moving, he will be a wonderful asset when the playoffs begin.

Congrats Kerry!

 

Yankee Yapping Reliever of the Year

Winner: David Robertson

David Robertson battled back & earned it.

I know what everyone is thinking: how in the world could I have not awarded this honor to Mariano Rivera?! I would just like to say that The Great Rivera is his own “Walking Award,” so-to-speak. Rivera won it last year and he followed that up with another Mo-like season.

32 saves and a puny 1.32 ERA. Typical Mo.

But I am giving it to David Robertson simply because of how far he has come this year. At the outset of the season, Robertson could not get anyone out. He was placed in easy-going situations and lost control of everything.

Case-in-point: Opening Day vs. the Los Angeles Angels.

Robertson came into the game in a situation where there was absolutely no pressure; the Yankees were ahead 7-1 in the top of the ninth inning and he allowed that pressure get to him. He wound up surrendering a grand slam to Bobby Abreu and he nearly gave up the game because of it.

Yet, what struck me was what he said the day after it happened. I remember reading in the news the next day that he grabbed his glove before the game and had two words:

“New day.”

That’s precisely the attitude that won him this award. Well, that and his 67 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings pitched this season. He never gave up, battled back from defeat, and is a solid and trustworthy arm out of the bullpen.

He deserves the honor. Congrats David!

 

Yankee Yapping Warrior Award

Winner: Mark Teixeira

Tex is a warrior.

As I mentioned before, Mark Teixeira began the season awfully slow. He was singled out on ESPN and every other sports media outlet about how he was not producing along with being criticized for his low batting average and meager power numbers.

But by around June it all changed and the sleeping giant woke up.

The power-hitting first baseman flipped the “on switch” and quickly became the dangerous hitter he has always been. Teixeira will finish 2010 with over 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for his second straight year in pinstripes.

He has 33 home runs and 107 RBIs at press time.

The reason he is regarded as a warrior is because he has been playing for a number of days, possibly even weeks, with a broken toe. Despite a relatively painful injury, he managed to keep himself in the lineup and at first base every day.  

Obviously playing in pain, Teixeira maintained his season and never let it affect him; Paul O’Neill, revered as the consummate “Yankee Warrior,” would certainly be proud of him.

Congrats Tex!

 

Yankee Yapping Grand Slam Champion

Winner: Alex Rodriguez

Grand Slam Man: A-Rod.

Whip out the mustard and rye: it’s grand salami!

Not once. Not twice. But three times this season Alex Rodriguez has delivered with the bases loaded. The former three-time AL MVP clobbered three grand slams this season, which accounts for 3/10 of the Yankees’ grand slams this year.

In fact, the Yankees tied their single season record for grand slams, originally set in 1987–Don Mattingly led the Yanks that year with six grannies out of their 10.

On May 14, Rodriguez visited granny for the first time this season. Minnesota Twins reliever intentionally walked Teixeira to pitch to Rodriguez–a strategy that never seems to pay off, according to the numbers. The Yankee third baseman responded by crushing a go-ahead grand slam over the left field wall to give the Yanks a 7-4 edge.

They went on to win 8-4.

On May 31, merely 17 days after the slam vs. the Twins, A-Rod stepped up to the plate against the Indians. With a full count, Rodriguez smashed a bomb into Monument Park, a glorious grand slam home run to give the Yanks a 6-1 lead over the Tribe.

Once again the Bombers cruised to a victory, 11-2 over Cleveland.

Rodriguez struck one last slam on July 6 in Oakland vs. the Athletics. A-Rod helped slam the Yanks to a 6-1 win. He came up in the top of the third and blasted a grand slam off Trevor Cahill, driving in four out of the Yankees’ five runs that inning.

In addition to his slam, Rodriguez later came up in the sixth and hit a solo homer, as he knocked in five of the Yanks’ six runs by himself.

A-Rod’s excellence and ability to come through when the bases are loaded earned him this award. Hopefully he can continue to rake when the postseason starts.

Congrats Alex!

 

Well that does it for this year. Either way it goes, the Yankees have an opportunity to repeat as World Champs. While whether they win it all or not remains to be seen, it’s clear these standout players made a difference in New York this season.

Congrats to all the Yankee Yapping Award winners and to all of the Yankees.

We’ll see you in October. Good luck!

My Summer was Baseball

My summer....

If I could sum up my summer in one word it would be baseball. Then again, if I could sum up my existence in one word, it would probably be baseball.

Now that the summer is over and school is back in session (for most of us, but not all of us–I graduated college!) I thought I would reflect on everything that was special about this summer. Never in my life have I ever spent a summer that involved the sport of baseball so much. Here are a few reasons baseball has dominated my life for the past three months.

Yankee Games

 

Yankee games = FUN summer!What would a summer be without a few visits to Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks play? Well, it would be a very dull and sad summer. Thankfully that was not the case, as I was able to attend three Yankee games over the vacation.

 

Yanks/Phils on my birthdayThe first game I went to was on June 15, my 23rd birthday; a World Series rematch with the Philadelphia Phillies, in which the Yankees won 8-3. When I walked into the Stadium that night I remember thinking to myself, “The last time the Yanks and Phillies met at this ballpark, the Yanks hoisted the 2009 World Series trophy over their heads.” I felt very lucky to be at that game.

 

Yanks/Mets five days laterFive days later I made another trip to the big ballpark in the Bronx for the rubber game of the Subway Series. Yankees vs. Mets; CC Sabathia vs. Johan Santana; it doesn’t get any better than that. Mark Teixeira made it a special day by clubbing a grand slam home run, the only offense on the afternoon. The Bombers went on to beat their cross-town rivals 4-0.

 

First time in the new Monument Park

I once again experienced the thrill of Yankee Stadium on Aug. 18 when the Yankees played the Tigers. For the first time I got into Monument Park in the new house and it was nice to see Johnny Damon make his return to the Bronx–as a Tiger. The Yanks won, 9-5. Plus, before the game we got very close to the field. We could practically reach out and touch Joba Chamberlain!

Joba was so close to us! 

All of these games of course were over the summer. I also attended Opening Day, which was a great way to kick off my baseball summer.

The Yankees were 4-0 at games I went to this year and they are 8-0 at games I have been to in the new Yankee Stadium. My only hope is that they keep winning whenever I go to see them.

 

Trip to Cooperstown

 

Cooperstown was awesome

 

I don’t want to say this experience changed me at all, but in a way it did. On July 3, my friends and I took a day trip up to Cooperstown, N.Y. to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

I have already written about everything that happened that day, so I won’t re-hash every little detail of the trip. Yet, I will say that the trip increased not only my appreciation for the sport of baseball, but my love for the sport as well.

It was almost as if I was whisked back to the past; Cooperstown provides such a rich history and gives you an old-time feel.


Memories. 

What’s more, as a huge Yankee fan, it relieved me to see that about 80% of the museum was filled with Yankee memorabilia and historic artifacts. Everything from World Series rings and trophies to Babe Ruth’s jersey was on display for all to see.

Every baseball fan needs (and I stress the word NEEDS) to go to Cooperstown at least once in their life. If you do not go, you are truly missing out and history and quite possibly a life-changing experience.

 

Hudson Valley Renegades

 


A great experience; a step in the right direction.Working for a minor league baseball team all summer certainly played a huge part in how much I was involved with the sport of baseball this summer.
I have shared several stories about things I have done, players I have spoken to, and how much fun it was to get to know my coworkers.

The ‘Gades’ season ended on Sunday and it was a great way to go out: a win over the Lowell Spinners, who are a farm team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. The Renegades finished with a winning record of 39-36 and it was pretty cool that I got to be a part of their family for the summer.

As it turns out, Rick Zolzer, one of the main bosses from the organization, took notice of “Yankee Yapping” and now wants me to take over the Renegades blogging. He also knows some writers at MLB.com and he said he would mention me to them, which makes me really happy; I would be ecstatic to get my foot in MLB.com’s door. After all, writing and working for them is my ultimate goal.

Working for the Renegades will undoubtedly pay dividends for me.

 

Interview with Brian Sweeney

 

Brian Sweeney and I graduated from the same college!

One of the best things about this summer was actually talking to an active player on an MLB team. Brian Sweeney of the Seattle Mariners talked to me about his life, his background, and his family; he shared some great stories with me and I feel truly blessed that I was able to conduct an interview with him.

I’ll always remember what Sweeney said when I called him to conduct the interview: “Sure we can do the interview now…as long as it doesn’t go longer than about an hour because I have to head over to SafeCo for the game.”   

In awe, I had three words in response: “Wow, that’s awesome.”

The way he said it just left me amazed. He just said it so “matter-of-factly,” if you will.

Sweeney became the first active MLB player I have ever interviewed. I interviewed and wrote a story on John Flaherty last year, but he is retired and now a broadcaster on the YES Network. It was a bit different, considering Sweeney is still playing and he pitched at Yankee Stadium this summer.

What also made it special was that Sweeney and I graduated from the same college. It was nice to discuss what our experiences were like at Mercy, and we were able to relate to one another through that common achievement.  

Hopefully Sweeney is not the last MLB player I interview. I’m hoping for a lot more where that came from.

Now that the summer is over, there is still more baseball to look forward to. The Yankees are playing for their postseason lives and need to pick things up. 1-5 in their last six games is not a good sign, but they can pick up the slack and regain their livelihood.

Tonight CC Sabathia toes the rubber against the Tampa Bay Rays in hopes of playing the role of “stopper.”

The Yankee ace is also looking for his 20th win of 2010.

You Know You’re a REAL Yankee Fan When…

 

Big Game James beat us yesterday

 

Yesterday the New York Yankees dropped the rubber game of a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, a 3-0 shutout at the hands of “Big Game” James Shields. 7 1/3 innings, no runs, four hits, one walk, and 11 strikeouts later, the Yankees lose.

 

The Bronx Bombers’ lead over Tampa Bay in the American League Eastern Division is now only one game, signifying a likely “two horse race” down the stretch run and into September. The Yanks and Rays own the two best records in the majors and both teams can and probably will make the playoffs.

 

While the Yanks lost, their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, were beaten 14-1 by the National League West’s worst team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

 

Mets lost too 

 

Ed, one of my close friends from high school who happens to be a devout Mets fan, proclaimed his disgust at the team and how poor their play has recently been. I suggested to him that he switch sides, and I said he should become a Yankee fan.

 

“Come to the good side, and soon you’ll be having dreams of pinstripes, strong, winning seasons, and World Series Championships.”

 

Ed responded, “Oh, you mean the dark side? I think I’ll trust the force and try to will the Mets to victory!”

 

I have to tip my cap to him. He is a true fan. Even when I tempted him, which (to him) must have been like the Devil tempting Jesus Christ, he stood by his team. He has been a Mets fan his whole life and he will never disrespect his loyalty to his favorite team.

 

The whole exchange with Ed got me thinking…what makes a real fan, and more particularly, what makes a true Yankee fan?

 

Here are some ways (that I came up with) to tell if you are a REAL Yankee fan.

 

You know you’re a REAL Yankee fan when…

 

You (at least try) to watch every game

 

 


Real fans watch ALL the games. 

Let’s face it: following the team religiously is an important aspect of being a true fan.

 

The best part of my night during the baseball season is tuning into the YES Network and enjoying a Yankee game. Things can get difficult with work and in recent years school, and sometimes I am not able to watch every inning. But rest assured, even when I can’t watch the games, I constantly check my phone for updates, box scores, and stats.

 

Even when I can’t physically see what’s happening, I know what’s happening.

 

What really annoyed me last year were all the “Yankee fans” who watched maybe 30 innings during the regular season celebrate the World Series victory, as if they followed the team throughout the year. They probably only knew the key players, like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

 

Which leads into my next point…

 

 

You know all of the Yankee players, even the most obscure ones

 

 


If you know these guys, you're a REAL fan 

Everyone knows the brand name players, like Jeter, Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Mariano Rivera. They are the faces of the Yankees organization and can easily be recognized by even the most distant Yankee fan. Any person who claims to be a Yankee fan can tell you who these players are.

 

But what about Ramiro Pena or Colin Curtis? David Robertson and Alfredo Aceves?

 

If you ask a Yankee fan who these players are and they have no idea, then there is no way they are a real fan. Knowledge of every player–even the lesser-known ones–is a must in terms of being a real Yankee fan.

 

And it doesn’t just mean lesser-known players from this year.

 

For example, back in 2005, the Yanks had two starting pitchers to fill in for a banged up rotation; one by the name of Aaron Small the other by the name of Shawn Chacon. Combined, these hurlers went 17-3 and helped lead the Yankees to the A.L. East title, which they won on the second-to-last day of the ’05 season.

 

Any real Yankee fan would and very well should know that.

 

 

You own a decent amount of Yankee Memorabilia

 

 


A very small sample of my Yankee collection 

Support of the team is important. One of the best ways to show your allegiance, if not the best, is wear your team’s colors with pride. I, for one, wear a Yankee necklace which I only take off before I shower.

 

I also own a wide variety of Yankee merchandise, including seven pinstripe jerseys, hats, pennants, bobble heads, framed photos…you name it, I probably have it. Come to think of it, a friend actually once asked me if I own any other clothing that doesn’t have an interlocking NY on it.

 

Although it doesn’t seem like it, I do have clothes that are not Yankee related.

 

I am not saying a real Yankee fan has to be as hardcore about it as I am; I am a special case! But the fact is that a real Yankee fan will, at least once in awhile, wear a Yankee shirt or a Yankee hat.

 

There is no way (in good conscience) a real Yankee fan can’t wear a Yankee shirt once in awhile.  

 

 

You know the history between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox

 

 


Yankees/Red Sox...biggest rivalry in sports 

With every great team comes a great adversary.

 

For as long as there has been baseball, there has been a heated rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. There have been brutal fights, players who have switched sides, and countless numbers of classic games played between the two teams.

 

In my lifetime, there are two games between the Yankees and Red Sox that stand out as being the absolute greatest. The first was on July 1, 2004. Both teams left everything they had on the diamond, as evidenced by Jeter’s effort diving into the stands to make a play. The Red Sox were trying to avoid a three game sweep and the Yankees were trying to complete the sweep.

 

Neither team wanted to lose.

 

The Red Sox took a 4-3 the lead in the top of the 13th inning, setting up an improbable comeback win for the Yanks in the bottom of the frame. Miguel Cairo doubled to score Ruben Sierra (again, going back to the idea of knowing who the obscure players are) to tie the game, and John Flaherty (who now works for the YES Network) drove in the winning run to give the Yankees a win.

 

 


Flaherty wins it! 

What a game. I’ll never forget it.

 

The second all-time best Yankees-Red Sox battle (for me) was Oct. 16, 2003–Game Seven of the 2003 American League Championship Series. The ALCS was knotted at three games apiece, and the Yanks and BoSox went through hell to get to the final game.

 

The winner of Game Seven was given a one-way ticket to the World Series, the loser was going home.

 

Boston looked to be in complete command of everything in the fourth inning. They had jumped out to a 4-0 lead and knocked Yankees’ starter Roger Clemens out of the game. Jason Giambi cut into the Red Sox lead with two solo home runs, but David Ortiz smacked a long ball of his own, giving the BoSox a 5-2 edge heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.

 

I watched that game at home, biting my fingernails and trembling in fear. I thought the Yankees were doomed. My thought process in the middle of the eighth inning was, “The Yankees would be the ones walking back in shame and the Red Sox were going to the World Series.”

 

But the Empire struck back in the bottom of the frame.

 

Jeter doubled. Bernie Williams singled. Hideki Matsui doubled. Jorge Posada blooped a single to center field. Just like that, the game was tied. It was the best comeback and by far the most unbelievable game I had ever seen–and it wasn’t even over yet!

 

Boston, five defensive outs from embarrassing the Yankees, blew the lead and they headed into extras.

 

In the bottom of the 11th inning Aaron Boone was due up first. I remember thinking to myself, “He’s not going to do anything. He isn’t a power hitter.” But Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter were due up after Boone, and I prayed one of them would at least get on base.

 

 


What a moment. 

My thoughts were soon proven wrong, as Boone came up and hammered the first pitch he saw for a game-winning home run to win the A.L. Pennant for the Yankees. It was the most glorious home run I had ever seen and one of the most meaningful; very rarely will you ever see a walk-off home run to cap off a game of that magnitude.

 

“There’s a fly ball deep to left! It’s on its way! There it goes…AND THE YANKEES ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES! AARON BOONE HAS HIT A HOME RUN!”

 

Those words still resonate with me to this day.  

 

There are plenty of other games and moments in Yankee-Red Sox history. But those two stand out as my favorites. If you are a real Yankee fan, you can recollect moments from the rivalry as vividly I have.

 

 

 

You know about the Yankee Stadium Regulars

 

 


Bald Vinny! 

At Yankee Stadium, the home of the New York Yankees since 1923…well, 2009 if you count the new Stadium…in any case, the Bronx is where Yankees play. If you go to a Yankee game, there are certain traditions and loyalists who are always at the ballpark to root for the Yanks.

 

The most loyal fan I can really think of is Vinny Milano, A.K.A. “Bald Vinny” of the right field Bleacher Creatures. He conjures up all the fans in the right field bleachers and leads them in a roll call right after the first pitch of the game is thrown. They yell out to every Yankee on the field until they are given some sort of acknowledgment, whether it is a pose or wave.

 

The roll call has become a staple of Yankee Stadium, and the real Yankee fans know about Bald Vinny and how important he has become to Yankee Stadium.

 

 


Freddy Sez 

Another Stadium regular is Freddy Schumann, an older fan who is commonly known as “Freddy Sez.” He walks around Yankee Stadium with a pan painted with a four-leaf clover on it. Attached to the pan is generally a sign that has some sort of encouraging words on it directed at the Yankees.

 

Freddy also carries a spoon, which is used to bang on the pan. The sound of the spoon on the pan makes a distinctive noise which can be heard throughout the whole Stadium. He always allows the fans around him to bang on the pan, in attempt to stimulate a Yankee rally.

 

Bald Vinny and Freddy Sez are the number one Yankee fans I know. If you don’t know them, you really don’t know the Yankees very well, or at least not Yankee Stadium.

 

And the last and probably most important part of being a real Yankee fan…

 

 

You Know Your Yankee History

 

 


History lesson 

Knowledge is power.

 

If you are a real Yankee fan, you know the background on the team. Everyone knows they are the winningest team in sports history with 27 World Titles. But do they know how many times the Yankees have been to the World Series? Do they know which Yankee player has the most World Series rings? Do they know all the retired numbers?

 

Only true fans know that the Yankees have been to the World Series 40 times, Yogi Berra has the most World Series titles as a Yankee (with 10) and there are 16 retired numbers–I can name them all, right off the top of my head.

 

But naming them all is much too vulgar a display of Yankee intelligence.

 

 


Retired numbers 

 

Knowing the background of the players is just as important as knowing the background of the team. There are many ways to learn about each player. Interviews, Yankeeography documentaries, and feature stories in sports magazines are probably the easiest ways to increase knowledge about players.

 

For instance, I read a story about former Yankee ace Chien-Ming Wang in Sports Illustrated a couple of years ago. By reading that feature story, I found out Wang learned his sinker from the Yankees went he came over from Taiwan. One of his pitching coaches in the minor leagues showed him how to hold the ball, and from there he was able to shut the opposition down.

 

He worked his way up and became the number one Yankee starter.

 

 


Chien-Ming Wang's journey through baseball has been documented 

Yet Wang’s pitching style wasn’t the only thing I learned about from that story. I learned about his life. According to the article, he is (or at least at the time was) revered as Taiwan’s number one athlete; he is a superstar over there. He could not even walk down the street without getting mobbed by legions of fans.

 

But when he walked down the street in New York City, he was hardly recognized. He felt there was less pressure on him in New York, and that is why he opted to stay there instead of going back to pitch in his native land. That also explains why he was so relaxed as a member of the Yanks and never looked rattled or uneasy when he pitched.

 

The article on Wang is a perfect example of how to learn about players in an easy way. It was an informative article, pointing out a lot of “You may have not known, but now you do” facts about his life and career.

 

If you are a real Yankee fan, learning about the players is equally as important as team history.

 

 

 

 

Real Yankees fans rule. Bandwagoners suck.

 

These are merely a few ways to tell if you are a real Yankee fan. Bandwagon fans can always be told apart from the hardcore ones, simply by conversation. If you talk to someone who claims to be a Yankee fan (or a fan of anything, for that matter) and has no idea about key aspects of the team, then, in my eyes, they aren’t true fans.

 

I tend to respect the true fans more than those who just root the Yankees on when they win, a la last fall. It’s easier to respect true fans’ opinions when they have more knowledge and follow the team closely. It’s also easier to hold a conversation with the real fans than the bandwagon fans.

 

Nothing annoys me more when I hear people give me false Yankee info.

 

The bottom line is that if you are going to be a Yankee fan, be a real fan. Watch more than 30 innings a year, know about the players, and know about the Stadium. Know what the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry means and wear a Yankee hat once in awhile, in undying support of your favorite baseball team.

 

If you want to be a real fan, then KNOW the Yankees. And if you don’t know them, then don’t act like you do.    

So Much to Say!

There has been so much going on lately!

 

Instead of writing a whole bunch of different blog entries, I decided to write a little different this time–just for this time, since there are so many topics I want to cover.

 

First things first…

 

 


Godspeed, Shepp. You will truly be missed!! 

  • We lost a legend today. Bob Sheppard, at the age of 99, passed away. I put this

loss up there with losing Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio in 1995 and 1999, respectively.

 

Sheppard was the voice of Yankee Stadium for over 50 years and life will just not be the same without him; it hasn’t been, ever since he stopped announcing games at Yankee Stadium in 2007. He officially retired back in November.

 

Mr. Sheppard, you will ALWAYS be remembered as a classy, dignified, and honorable man. They say true legends will live forever, and you will certainly live forever in the minds of the Yankee fans.

 

“I have one style of speaking. It’s the same, whether it be at Yankee Stadium, at home, in the classroom, or when I lector at Mass.“–Bob Sheppard.

 

 

 

  • I have been especially busy this week at my job with the Hudson Valley Renegades. After a walk-off win on Friday night, we were beaten on Saturday night at the hands of the Auburn Doubledays.

 

Although we lost, there was a little ceremony before the game that really made me think. At Dutchess Stadium, there is a Scout’s Hall of Fame; a place dedicated to honor important people who helped recruit players.

 

Scout Hall of Fame induction 

 

Last night the Renegades honored Bob Miske, a scout who worked for the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, among other organizations. He told a cool story about Tommy Lasorda for his induction speech, and how he became friends with him.

 

Yet before he spoke, an excellent point was brought up: why is there no Scout’s Wing to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? Of course all the legendary players and great writers are enshrined in Cooperstown, but where is the recognition for the people who pick out the young players who go on to become larger-than-life superstars?

 

It’s a great point. When you think about it, someone picked Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez out of a ton of other players. From there, they went on to become who they are today. Shouldn’t the person who discovered them get some credit?

 

I think they should.

 

The baseball scouts also dedicate their lives to the business. They travel around the country going to high school and college baseball games with nothing but a book, a pen, and a radar gun, looking for the next top player. Since they dedicate such a big part of their lives to the game, they should certainly be recognized for it.

 

Congratulations to Miske on being honored by the Renegades. We appreciate your effort.

 

Also on a side note, Renegades’ manager Jared Sandberg (who I recently found out is Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg’s nephew) was standing right next to me during the ceremony…I snapped a picture of him via my camera phone very discreetly before it ended.

 

Jared Sandberg was standing right next to me during the ceremony! haha. 

 

 

  • How nice has CC Sabathia been? His victory over the Seattle Mariners today marked his eighth win in as many opportunities.

 

The Yankee ace has a total of 12 wins this season and only three losses. He is traditionally known as a “second half player,” meaning he usually puts up his best work in the second half of the season after the All-Star break. It’s pretty scary to think how many wins he could potentially reach if he keeps winning the way he is.

 

 


CC Sabathia has been AWESOME this year 

I’m not necessarily saying he’ll win another 12 games over the second half of the year and reach a mind-numbing 24 wins, but 20-21 wins is certainly looking possible at press time. As far as the Cy Young Award goes, it could be him. David Price certainly has a little bit of an edge halfway through the season, but as I said if Sabathia keeps going the way he is, he’s a definite candidate.

 

It’s great to have an ace/horse like him on our side. If his good friend Cliff Lee had become a Yankee (as it looked like he was going to be on Friday) it would have been VERY scary; to have two number one pitchers like Lee and Sabathia on the same team is frightening. To have them on the same team that already has the best record in baseball, is just plain terrifying.

 

But of course the Lee deal fell through and he went to the Texas Rangers. But wait until next year. The Rangers are never going to be able to pay him after this year and it’s quite possible Lee will be in pinstripes in 2011.

 

As for Sabathia, it’s just business as usual. He is slated to pitch again on Friday vs. Tampa Bay at home. If he wins that game, it’s pretty much a given that he’ll at least reach 20 wins this season.

 

 

  • In the fifth inning of today’s game Marcus Thames crushed his third homer of the year, a long shot high off the foul pole in Seattle.

 

It was kind of a bittersweet home run for me.

 

Brian Sweeney and I graduated from the same college! 

 

Thames hit that home run off Brian Sweeney, a fellow alumnus of my alma mater Mercy College and a journeyman pitcher from Yonkers, N.Y. I recently had the chance to talk to Sweeney, and he agreed to do an interview with me for the blog. (He is such a nice guy, by the way!)

 

Sweeney also pitched on Thursday night; he got Jorge Posada to bounce into a double play and got through the eighth inning without giving up an earned run. I’ll admit I was rooting for him. I wanted him to get the Yankees out. After he surrendered the homer to Thames today, he got Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Rodriguez out.

 

He gave up two runs in the fifth but went 1-2-3 in the sixth. I was proud.

 

To me, Sweeney serves as an inspiration. He has made me realize that graduates of my college CAN really go on to do great things. I sometimes have very little faith in myself, especially now considering I’m a recent college graduate struggling to find a real job (I like working for the Renegades, but it’s an internship; it’s going to be over by the end of the summer).

 

But I look at Sweeney, pitching for a Major League Baseball team. He came from the same place I did and has reached a great place in life. It gives me hope and encouragement and makes me believe that I can do something great with myself, if I work hard enough.

 

Mercy alumn can go on to do great things..hope I fall into that category. 

 

When I heard John Flaherty mention Mercy College on the YES Network this afternoon and on Thursday night, it made me smile; it made me very proud. It also made me wonder if Flaherty would mention when he visited Mercy last year; I interviewed him and wrote a feature article about him when he came, as I was the sports editor of the school paper.

 

It was, by far, my favorite story that I wrote in college.

 

I’m actually still trying to get in touch with Flaherty; I’d like to send him the story I wrote on him. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to get in touch with him at the moment. I’ll keep trying though and eventually I’ll get a hold of him. I’d like for him to see all the nice things I wrote about him.

 

As for Sweeney: I am proud of him, and I’m sure the rest of the Mercy College community is, too. I’ll be talking to him soon and when I get my interview with him, it’ll be posted here right away!

 

 

Lastly, I’d like to thank my good friend Micheal Robinson for coming up with a new picture for the Yankee Yapping Facebook page. He is a wonderfully skilled person when it comes to graphic design and he is a genius with photo-shop.

 

Yankee Yapping new logo 

 

It looks great, buddy. I love it and thank you once again!

Hudson Valley Renegades: Fun Team is Fun

 

 

 

I am interning with the Renegades this summer

 

It’s about 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. I got home from work about an hour and a half ago–well, my internship anyway. This summer I am a part of the Hudson Valley Renegades’ “Fun Team.” I have just completed my first week, and I can say that it is a well-rounded internship with a lot of work involved.

 

 

For starters, the Renegades are a Single-A, short season farm team affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays in the New York Penn League. A number of current and former Major League Baseball players have come from the Renegades, including Evan Longoria, Scott Podsednik, Wade Davis, and Josh Hamilton, among others.

 

So yes, we have produced some big-name big leaguers.

 

As for my internship: I really do like it, but there are some things that could be better. As a member of the “Fun Team” I feel as though I am an important person in making things happen. One of our main jobs is to entertain the fans in between innings with silly, ridiculous games which take place on the field. You may think it is easy just watching from the stands, but it’s actually pretty difficult.

 

Every game has to end within 90 seconds–that’s pretty much all the time we have before the half-inning begins. It’s hard to get everything on and off the field so quickly. Difficult yes, but I can’t say it’s not fun. It’s pretty cool to be on the field as the players are warming up!

 

Along with being on the field, I have had to help out with the tickets and even walk the mascots around, almost as their bodyguard. When it rained on Tuesday night when the Staten Island Yankees were in town (yes they’re a Yankee farm team!) I had to help pull the tarp over the infield with the grounds crew.

 

 


I helped pull that tarp! 

I can tell you (now from experience) that yes it is fun, but it’s pretty hard! There’s a reason so many people are needed to pull the tarp, because that job requires a lot of strength. It’s pretty much “all hands on deck” when it comes to rain delays at our ballpark.    

 

I also love hearing about the different backgrounds of the players. For example, the Renegades have a young infielder by the name of Burt Reynolds (no, he is not the actor, but his name is spelled the same!) As it turns out, Reynolds is Robinson Cano’s second cousin, and they have worked out together in the off-season.

 

In fact, Reynolds wears the number 24, just like Cano.

 

 


Burt Reynolds is Robinson Cano's cousin!!!! He also wears 24! 

I’d like to ask Reynolds if he wears 24 because of his cousin; in fact, I’d like to do a whole interview with him! But I don’t think I’m allowed to. The Renegades’ manager, Jared Sandberg (a member of the Devil Rays from 2001-03) does not want his players “fraternizing with any staff members.” So in other words, I can’t talk to the players.

 

Well, I at least can’t hold long conversations with them.

 

Today Geno Glynn, one of their backup infielders, said hi to me and one of the other interns while we were on the field before the National Anthem. I politely said hi back, nodded my head, and smiled. I wanted to say more and maybe start a little conversation with him about baseball, but I obviously didn’t want to get him or myself in trouble, so I didn’t.

 

Sandberg actually told his players that if they talk to the staff they will get fined. I think that’s kind of pushing it and honestly a little ridiculous. I don’t see the harm in talking to staff members, so the rule (to me) is stupid. Yet I don’t want them to get in trouble, so unless they speak to me, I won’t speak to them.

 

The last thing I want to do is to cause them any problems with their manager.

 

It’s been pretty exciting to this point and a number of neat things have happened. Consider Wednesday night when the Brooklyn Cyclones (a farm team affiliated with the New York Mets) were in town. My fellow Mercy College alumnus Mookie Wilson was at our game–signing autographs. He isn’t part of the Cyclones team, so I could have talked to him.

 

 
Mookie Wilson came to our game Wednesday 

 

I wanted to talk to him, but unfortunately I was so busy with work that I wasn’t able to. It would have been nice to ask him how he liked Mercy; if he enjoyed the school as much as I did. He also got his degree from Mercy 10 years after he won the World Series with the Mets in 1986, so I would have asked him why he went back to school.

 

Again, it could have made a great interview.

 

Speaking of the Cyclones, they have a player named Corey Vaughn. He is the son of Greg Vaughn (who played for the San Diego Padres) and the nephew of Mo Vaughn (who played for the Mets, Angels, and Red Sox as a journeyman). It’s pretty interesting that some of these youngsters have such a good baseball lineage. Again, it all goes back to the background of each player.

 


Greg Vaugh's son is on the Cyclones  

 

Tonight the Renegades beat the Cyclones 4-3, capping a three-run, ninth-inning comeback. The Stadium went wild for the walk-off victory. According to my boss and everyone else within the organization, not only was tonight the largest crowd in the team’s history, but it was their first walk-off win in three years.

 

Talk about a good night for the ‘Gades on and off the field.

 

 


Renegades win! 

It has been a week into this job. I have gotten to know a lot of new people and I have made some new friends. I am having a good time with the internship and I think it fits me perfectly, because I am such a “baseball buff,” if you will.

 

I can only hope the best is yet to come with this internship. I’d like to have more adventures over the summer and who knows…maybe when it’s all over they will offer me a full-time position. Many of the other interns are still in college. I just graduated from college, so I might have a good shot to stay on board after the season ends in the beginning of September.

 

Again, I can only hope. Until then, I’ll just be working as hard as I can.

 

Go Renegades! (If you’re wondering they are 4-3 this year, good for second place in their division–we haven’t lost a game at home yet, either. Maybe I’m their good luck charm…?)

 

The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Part I

Here we are on June 11, 60 games into the 2010 MLB season. The New York Yankees are currently sitting in second place in the American League Eastern Division standings. The only team standing between the Bronx Bombers and first place is the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Through 60 games last season, the Yanks were 34-26 while this year they are 37-23. In terms of their record, the team is doing three games better this year than they were this far into last year’s campaign. But the record is just the record. The numbers are just the numbers.

 

Is this the same team we saw in 2009?

 

The answer is no.

 

As I have noticed the differences between ’09 and ’10, I will be writing a multiple-part blog over the next few days pointing out what is different in terms of the Yankees, whether it is good or bad. For the first part, I opted to write about…

 

The Core Four

 

 


The Core Four Yankees...how much longer...? 

The first thing I have noticed a difference in…well, in some ways.

 

Although Derek Jeter is still a god in New York, there’s no denying the fact that his age is (just about) catching up to him. He can still hit, as evidenced by his .296 batting average this season, but on defense he looks more off than I can ever remember seeing him.

 

Jeter can still make beautiful web gems–I haven’t forgotten about his amazing jump throw on May 26 against the Minnesota Twins. But his lateral range is just not what is used to be. According to many people I have talked to, he was never the greatest defender anyway.

 

Jeter's range has gone down, but he is still a beast 

 

I never believed that. Jeter’s Gold Gloves and patented mid-air spin speak for themselves. Unlike last year however, (so far) this year he has not looked like the Jeter of old. He only has three errors this year and last year he only committed eight, which isn’t a bad number.

 

Jeter is who he is. As Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, said earlier this season, “Jeter is god. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?” He is right; there really is not anything bad I can say about the Captain. It’s almost taboo as a Yankee fan to badmouth or try to negate Jeter’s credibility.  

 

While this is true, it is apparent Jeter is aging–which has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just a fact of life and what unfortunately happens to all of us! The Yankee Captain will be 36 by the end of the month and I just wonder how many more years he has left in him.

 

Then there’s Jorge Posada.

 

The Yankee catcher was injured on May 16, taking a foul ball off his foot behind the plate and sustaining a fracture. He went to the 15-day disabled list and missed about two weeks before returning to the lineup on June 2–as a designated hitter.

 


Posada has not caught since coming back from the DL  
 

 

Since coming back from his injury, Posada has not caught a game and has been relegated to the DH spot–a spot he has not been very productive in. In the eight games he has played upon his return, the 38 year-old catcher (who will be 39 in August) has only collected three hits in 27 at-bats.

 

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been clipping together a decent season in Posada’s absence. The 24 year-old is currently hitting .280. Even though he does not hit for power and has no homers, he has 25 RBIs on the year.

 

Looking at it statistically, Cervelli is hitting four points higher than Posada for average and has 10 more runs batted in. Not only that, but it seems Cervelli is becoming the likely candidate to succeed Posada. There was a stretch where Cervelli caught nine games in a row before Joe Girardi had to plug the other backup catcher Chad Moeller behind the plate.

 

I remember once thinking to myself, “Who does Cervelli think he is? The starting catcher?!”

 

But hey, it has not been a bad thing. Cervelli has done a wonderful job and possesses great offensive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position. I can only hope he generates a little bit more power and knocks some homers out of the park.

 

Francisco Cervelli has filled in well for Jorge 

 

As for Posada, I hope he can remain healthy. In recent years he has certainly had his share of injuries and it is perfectly understandable. After all, he is playing arguably the most difficult position on the field; catchers have to take the most abuse and punishment of all baseball players.

 

After 2011 Posada’s contract is up and he will be 40. Will he be a Yankee after next year? Will he be able to catch every day? Will he retire?

 

All of these questions remain to be seen. But any way it goes, things will be different. And as far as the Yankee catching situation goes at press time, in some ways they already are. Posada has not been an everyday catcher

 

Now onto Mariano Rivera.

 

A lot of people might say really the only thing that has changed about the Great Rivera is his age. From ’09-’10 Rivera turned from 39 to 40 years of age.

 

But if you remember back on April 30, Rivera made a relief appearance against the Chicago White Sox. He suffered an apparent rib injury in his left side and did not make another appearance for over a week after he got hurt.

 

 


Mo was out for over a week last month 

I don’t remember him ever getting injured like that last season or missing an extended period of time the way he did last month. At the beginning of the season he was asked whether or not he would keep playing beyond 2010, seeing as how his contract expires at the end of the year and of course considering his age.

 

He said he does not yet know what his plans are and that he will decide after the season is over. The Yankees do however need to start thinking about what to do when Rivera’s playing days are up or if he does not come back to the team next year–whatever the reason may be.

 

I have a bad feeling that if the Yankees do not make the right choices, Rivera will not be the closer next year. Worse off, they won’t find a suitable replacement for him and they could be reduced to a “closer-by-committee” situation. One day it could be Joba Chamberlain, the next it could be David Robertson, and so on and so forth.

 

Surely nobody wants that to happen. If Rivera decides to play again, I think the Yanks need to get him back, or at least show him respect by making him a generous offer.

 

Yet, it’s not like they really went full throttle after Hideki Matsui this past off-season. Matsui was a Yankee for seven years, was a fan-favorite, respected by the entire organization, and (oh, by the way) the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player.

 

He did so much for the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Matsui was beloved, and helped the team regain the title. What worries me is that the Yanks did not go for him and he is close to four years younger than Rivera.  

 

Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. We will have to wait until it plays out, but if and when Rivera leaves, what happens next? This upcoming off-season we will get the answer.

 

Last but never the least, Andy Pettitte.

 

 


Andy Pettitte is 7-1 this season 

Despite his age of 37 (he will turn 38 on June 15 {which is also my birthday!}) Pettitte is putting together a remarkable year. If he wins tonight against his former team the Houston Astros, Pettitte will own a powerful record of 8-1 on the year.

 

He currently has a 2.47 ERA, which is good for third in the American League behind David Price of the Rays and Doug Fister of the Seattle Mariners.

 

Pettitte was however taken out of the game on May 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles with inflammation in his left elbow. He tossed five innings and registered the win, but was forced to miss a following start because of the injury.

 

Another concern is the fact that Pettitte has been on the disabled list five times in his career, all as a result of problems in his pitching elbow. Since he skipped the start after leaving on May 5 there haven’t been any more problems or concerns with Pettitte.

 

Barring a catastrophe or any more pitching problems though, Pettitte looks like he will be an asset to the Yankees down the stretch run, which is no surprise. He has been doing it for years and years; pitching in big games and always coming up big when it matters most. But again the question comes up:

 

How much longer can he keep it up? He only signed on for one year at the outset of the season and like Rivera, his future is up in the air at the moment. He is unsure whether or not he is going to pitch or pack it in after 2010.

 

Pettitte’s age and his desire to spend more time with his family have long been a topic of discussion in terms of his career. Even before he returned to the Yankees in 2007 many analysts and baseball writers speculated as to whether or not he would call it quits and retire or keep going.

 

Obviously he opted to come back home to the Yankees where he started and he was welcomed with open arms. Since his comeback in ’07, Pettitte has been a rock in the Yankees’ rotation. This season things have not changed. But next year will they?

 

They say age is nothing but a number. It’s not about how old you are but about how old you feel. But considering the recent and apparent way things have been going for the “Core Four” Yankees, I have to disagree.

 

Age can and eventually will catch up, and we are beginning to see it amongst the most beloved Yankees of our era. This quartet of special Bombers can still get it done on the diamond, despite the obstacles they have had to hurdle this season.

 

But yet again I ask… how much longer can they do this….?

 


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!