Sunday, February 28, 2010

Girardi Struggling to Maintain Order Due to Lame Duck Status

The problems have already begun. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi is having an increasingly hard time controlling his team due to his lame duck status.

"It's subtle, but it's there," said Girardi in an exclusive interview with RJG. "Like the other day, I said to Robbie (Cano), 'Hey, it's time for BP.' And he was all, 'Quiet lame duck! I have a longer contract than you do.' You know what I mean? It's just there. Under the surface but clearly there."

Girardi, for the first time, is beginning to realize that his lame duck status may indeed affect his ability to do his job. While he has tried to keep the team focused on the task at hand, winning another World Series, his insecure job status has made it harder for him to communicate with players.

"Just yesterday I was talking to Teixeira and saying how hungry I am for another run at the championship. He turns to me, looks me dead in the eye, and says, 'Stop begging us to save your job already!' I couldn't believe it. Then I was talking to Marte about our expectations for him in the upcoming season and he goes, 'Come and lecture me when you have a contract longer than mine b-----!' It's been a tough few weeks.

Normally, in difficult times, Girardi would try to lean on some of his veterans, but even that has proved difficult, with two of the core four also in lame duck status.

"Derek tried to talk to some of the guys, but even he's having trouble. Last week, Derek was talking to CC after a workout and I could hear CC saying, 'Hey, remember that time when my contract was longer and worth more money than yours? Those were good times. Now why don't you get out of my face?!' No one has ever talked to Jeter like that."

Girardi has tried to appeal to Brian Cashman to extend his contract in the face of this defiant atmosphere, but Cashman has been unwilling to make an exception for the first manager since Joe Torre to win a championship for New York.

"I spoke to Brian recently and laid out my case. I explained the problems that are starting to pop up and how they're only going to get worse as the season wears on. All he said to me was, 'Hey Joe, how about you tell me how to do my job after you have some actual job security. How does that sound?' It's going to be a long season."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Topic of Conversation

Weekends are kind of quiet here at RJG during the offseason. There is far less activity than during the weekdays. So I thought I'd just rant for a little bit since none of you are all that likely to read this.

Bob Raissman of the Daily News, who has the strange task of being a member of the media who covers the media's coverage of New York sporting events, wrote a recent article about how the media's treatment of A-Rod during the steroid scandal put the fan's on A-Rod's side (you know, because the media were such dicks about it).

This post isn't really about the article as much as it is about the following line:

Yeah, things can change quickly in one year.

Now, while RJG is hardly known for their commitment to grammar, I can't help but point out how flawed this sentence is. If the point is that things can change quickly, there is no reason to mention a fixed period of time, particularly one as long as a year. If the point is that things can change a lot during the course of a year, then a different adverb should have been used, like drastically, or dramatically.

This is hardly Raismann's fault. His copy editor really should have picked this up. But as it stands, this sentence makes no sense, and places the integrity of the entire print media industry under suspicion at a time when they are struggling. For shame, Daily News. For shame!

I said good day, sir!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Grueling Workouts Leave Yankees Exhausted

Though position players just got here, they've already been put through the wringer.

"Spring Training is tough," complained Brett Gardner. "People don't realize how hard we work. Like yesterday, I played catch. I threw the ball to Curtis (Granderson), then he threw it back, and I'm all 'why would you throw it back? If I wanted it I wouldn't have thrown it to you in the first place.' That continued for a while, so It's safe to say I'm pretty beat up."

Spring Training can leave even the most well conditioned athlete in tears. Hours of light jogging, stretching, catch, more stretching, massages, fielding fly-balls, batting practice, and chewing tobacco can really wear on you.

"Yesterday I had live BP," explained Curtis Granderson. "I mean, I didn't swing at any pitches, and the pitchers were yelling out the pitch and location before throwing, but still, I'm tired. I mean, I had to just stand there for ten whole pitches. That bat gets heavy in the Florida humidity. Sucks up all the moisture."

Granderson is not the only one dealing with fatigue.

"Yesterday I didn't have to throw BP, so I just got a massage from the trainers," explained a sore AJ Burnett. "I'm exhausted."

Some players have been more limited in their activities, however, either due to injuries or, in one case, psychological trauma.

"I'm pretty tired," said a clearly exhausted Robinson Cano. "I spend most of my day trying to make sure no one sees me cry. It's tough. F--k you Cashman!"

It was not immediately clear to everyone why Cano sang that last line.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beat Writers Boycott A-Rod Press Conference, Demand Return of Old A-Rod

Even with the anticipation of hearing A-Rod's reaction to both Derek Jeter's and Robinson Cano's controversial press conferences, many members of the New York press adamantly refused to attend A-Rod's.

"A-Rod's become boring," lamented Lucky VanWriterstein. "He's always like, 'I don't have anything to say about that,' or 'I just want to do my part and help the team win.' He used to have pizazz! You'd ask him a question, any question, and he'd be like 'I'm a centaur and I'm sleeping with Madonna. Want to see a picture of my wife and kids?' That was meat. I can't even reach the article word limit with the stuff he gives us now."

The BBWAA is considering a general work stoppage if A-Rod doesn't become interesting again. Asked whether they thought such a strategy might backfire considering A-Rod's new 'boring' persona was the result of a desire for less media scrutiny in the first place, the BBWAA New York Chapter president, Mike Lupica, responded, "You think you're clever?! I'm clever. Clever. Like the kids used to be. Like it used to matter."

Asked why he talked like that in real life, Lupica refused to answer any further questions.

A-Rod has vowed to continue to keep his answers short and focus on baseball. It worked like a charm last year, when he finally earned his pinstripes by not being booed for no reason.

Robinson Cano Holds Press Conference to Announce New 'Walk to the Plate' Music

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are not the only Yankees who get to hold press conferences in the big tent at George M. Steinbrenner Stadium. Yesterday, Cano got in on the act, holding court to announce his new 'walk to the plate' music.

"I wrote this song myself," explained Cano. "It's not very long, because you only get about 10 or 15 seconds, but I think this will keep me motivated."

The lyrics to the song are below:

You used to have walk-off hits,
now you play for the Braves and s--t,
AJ got you with the pies,
I miss you so much I might cry.
Why couldn't they trade Gardner instead?
F--k you Cashman!

The musical backdrop to the song was composed by Bernie Williams, who is yet to officially retire, and was touched by the powerful lyrics of his former teammate.

"Something about the song just spoke to me," explained Williams. "I don't know why, but certain lines were just really true to my experience. One line really. But I can't quite put my finger on which."

Cano explained that he wrote the song a week before arriving in Spring Training, and that it was executive produced by Quincy Jones.

"I think this song is really going to help me focus and get up for at bats," said Cano. "It should also help me be more clutch with guys on base."

It is not clear whether the Yankees will approve the use of the song, as its explicit lyrics are not conducive to the family friendly atmosphere of Yankee Stadium.

"We're just not sure yet," mused Lonn Trost. "I mean, think about it. You just paid $2500 each for your ticket and your kid's ticket and your mistress's ticket, then this comes blaring over the PA system. I just don't know if that will play well."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jeter's Press Conference Shakes the Foundation of Yankees Spring Training

"I couldn't believe it," explained one stunned onlooker. "The things he was saying, I just never expected to hear those words from Derek Jeter."

What was expected to be a routine press conference by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter turned into an indictment of the Yankees, their negotiating stance, and their legacy.

One witness, still in so much shock she couldn't remember her own name, explained that, "One reporter was all, 'what do you think about your contract status?' And Jeter was all, 'I'm focused on this season, and I won't talk about my contract status after today.' And I was all, 'Ho. Ly. S--t!'"

Indeed. Such strong language was unexpected from a man who has perfected the non-answer over his 15 year Major League career. You could hear the anger in Jeter's voice, and the tension was palpable.

When asked whether he was considering testing the waters of free agency, a clearly bitter Jeter responded that, "The Yankees are the only organization I want to play for." The response largely elicited a stunned silence from the usually loquacious crowd of New York journalists, known for their jaded toughness. One reporter was seen weeping.

"No one saw that coming," said one journalist. "I mean, Derek Jeter is usually pretty predictable in his answers, but for him to suggest he's fine with waiting until the season's over to negotiate a new deal, or that he wants to play as long as he's able, healthy, and productive, you just never thought you'd hear that from the Yankee captain. Mind blowing. That's all I can say."

Tomorrow Alex Rodriguez will face the New York media. After today's stunning revelations, he can expect a lot of questions about his frenemy, Derek Jeter. What began as a very quiet Spring Training for the Yankees, just got interesting.

Jeter Interview Bomb Shell

Derek Jeter held a press conference this morning to answer all the pressing questions surrounding his greatness. To sum it all up, he said the following:

Don't care about the contract.
Wants to be a Yankee.
Loves all his World Series Championships equally.

But after the press conference had ended and the camera's were off, the real news came. Tiger Woods came storming into the press room followed by a security detail trying to restrain him.

"You think you can walk away from Gillette, Jeter! Do you want war?!"

Roger Federer then pulled the fire alarm and in the panic tried to rush Jeter's table, but before he could reach him, Minka Kelly tackled him into a row of chairs. "I learned that on Friday night lights (expletive deleted)!" Jeter remained calm throughout it all, even taking a moment to talk to the few remaining press members.

"Tiger's dealing with a lot right now, but I wonder if he knows that Gillette no longer sponsors him."

At that moment, Jeter and Minka got in a Mercedes and left. Alan Mulally, the CEO of Ford, crumbled up his hat, threw it on the ground, and walked away in disgust.

Controversy continues to brew at the Yankee training camp.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Burnett and Posada Put Differences Aside

The most recent word from camp is that AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada have decided to put their supposed differences aside and reunite as batterymates. AJ finished last season with his own personal catcher, Jose Molina, but has lost his dear friend to free agency. Now, Burnett must endeavor to work with Jorge Posada to look towards a better season on the mound.

"We had our differences." Explained Burnett. "Like sometimes he'd call for a screwball, and I was like 'I don't throw that.', and he would say 'That's why you'll never be great.' and it really stuck to me."

"In fairness." Began Posada. "I thought he threw a screwball."

And that was where the trouble began last season. Poor communication about pitch selection plagued both sides.

"I think its because I used to play MLB on the Xbox, and I had a code that unlocked the screwball for AJ Burnett, so from there on out I thought he threw a screwball. He would do it so well in the video game. Then in real life he'd be standing on the mound acting scared to throw it, so I was like 'what a sissy.' It was a simple misunderstanding."

As a result, the two expect big things.

"I have three words for you." Said AJ Burnett. "Cy (bleeping) Young. Put that on your blog and smoke it."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yankees Sign Chan Ho Park

Chan Ho Park announced today that he has agreed to a 1-yr deal with the Yankees, pending a physical. Park will pitch out of the bullpen. One cannot help but wonder whether this means that if Joba beats out Hughes for the five spot, Hughes will be sent to AAA.

Controversy Rears Its Ugly Head in Yankees Camp

It was only a matter of time. Controversy has once again threatened to take the focus away from winning a 28th Championship at the Yankees Spring Training camp. Tiger Woods will no longer bear the weight of being Sports' greatest philanderer. He now has company: Derek Jeter.

"I walked into the clubhouse, and I couldn't believe it," explained a stunned Roger Federer. "Right, there in Jeter's locker . . . a Schick Quatro. I'm still stunned."

Since the revelation that Jeter has used razors other than the Gillette Fusion with which he has been linked for some time, Jeter has avoided making comments or appearances in public, preferring to treat this as a private matter.

"I don't think he can just stand by in silence and hope this passes by," said a teary Thierry Henry. "One time, I was hanging out with Jeter, and he told me that the Fusion meant nothing to him. Sometimes he would even use Bic Disposable Razors right in front of me, like I wasn't even there."

Gillette has yet to release an official statement regarding Jeter's willingness to stray. A first draft of a statement obtained by RJG read simply:

Derek Jeter . . . You f-----g whore.

While many think Jeter's privacy should be respected and that he should be left alone, others feel strongly that he has damaged his reputation beyond repair.

"It's not like he plays for some team where he could just grow a beard and we'd all say, 'see, he doesn't even shave anyway, no big deal,'" explained Media Relations Consultant and all around piece of $#!% Ari Fleischer. "He plays for the Yankees. He can't have facial hair. He shaves everyday, and everyday we see him, we'll wonder. Did he use a Gillette today, or one of his other floozies? It's going to be hard for him to recover from this."

Only time will tell whether Jeter can indeed recover from this. So far, he has been able to keep most of his endorsements, but with increasingly stunning razor revelations coming to the light of day almost daily, it may just be a matter of time. While the Yankees have so far publicly stood by their embattled shortstop, sources indicate that they are quietly looking for ways to void his contract.

"This is a big deal. The Yankees are a brand, and this is not the image they want for their brand."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cashman, You're Up!

With the advent of Spring Training upon us, it was time to give another call to good friend of the blog, Yankees GM Brian "Bronny Cash Superstar" Cashman. The following is a transcript of our conversation:

BC: Hello?

RJG: May I speak to Mr. Brian Cashman please?

BC: Speaking.

RJG: I know you are but what am I. Boom! Damn, Bronny. You walked right into that one!

BC: I'm kind of busy right . . .

RJG: Yeah right. Negotiating all the contracts for those final roster spots, right? Blah, blah, blah. Nice try, Bronny. So the team looks pretty good going into Spring Training.

BC: Yeah, we lost some pieces from last year's team, but I feel we brought in guys who can replace their production and guys that are high character guys who will fit in well in the clubhouse.

RJG: Yeah, about that. I keep hearing GMs throw around this notion of bringing in high character guys, but that seems like such a subjective standard. How do you distinguish between a "high" character guy and a "low" character one.

BC: Well, it's actually not subjective at all. It's not like I hang out with a player and if I like him I offer a contract. We use a very accurate psychological analysis, developed by top scientists in Geneva, Switzerland.

RJG: Did you just make that up?

BC: No, it's real. It's known as the Geneva Multiphasic Athletic Personality Inventory, or GMAPI-1. It uses a long series of 'yes' or 'no' questions designed to demonstrate the extent to which a person's character is 'high' or 'low.' It is carefully calibrated to ensure that results are accurate and that players cannot simply cheat the test by answering a particular way.

RJG: Wow, that sounds pretty intense. What are the questions like?

BC: Well, like one question is, when you win you feel like congratulating your teammates, yes or no. Or, when you're in the clubhouse, you like to play music, yes or no.

RJG: Really? Those are the questions?

BC: Some of them?

RJG: Sounds like bull$#!% to me.

BC: That's because you're a 'low' character guy.

RJG: What the #%&@* are you talking about?

BC: I've subtly been administering the GMAPI-1 to you over the course of our conversations. It took over a year to get through all the questions, but it clearly shows that you're a 'low' character athlete. That's why I wouldn't sign you for left.

RJG: You've never asked me any 'yes' or 'no' questions.

BC: I haven't?

RJG: No.

BC: Oh $#!%! You fell right into my trap, Mr. Blogger. You just answered a 'yes' or 'no' question. Ouch, your score is even lower now.

RJG: Wait, that wasn't . . . I didn't . . .

BC: Um, uh, I mean, uh. Great communication skills. You're just burying yourself now.

RJG: Have you been drinking?

BC: Hmm. A 'low' character guy would assume something like that. According to this, you shouldn't even be allowed to attend games as a fan. That's how low your score is.

RJG: Well, I'm coming anyway. What do you think about that?

BC: Threats now. Hmm. Yeah, it's not looking good for you.

RJG: Alright, Bronny. Who do you think will win the fifth starter job?

BC: Tell me, do you always avoid difficult conversations. Now you're avoiding. I've never seen a score this low.

RJG: Uh oh, I'm going through a tunnel. I'm about to lose you. Ksshhh.

BC: You know I can see you on the screen on the satellite video phone.

RJG: Ksshhh. What's that? Kssshhh. Women don't find you as attractive as me? Ksshhh. How is that relevant?

BC: So sad.

RJG: Oh no! I lost you.

BC: It's not all about you RJG! It's not all about you!


There you have it folks, Cashman has worked hard to bring in high character guys who will help the Yankees win in 2010.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lethal Weapons No Longer Necessary in Post-Steroids Era

MLB has banned guns, knives, grenades, and other deadly weapons in all Major League clubhouses. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Major League executive explained the reasoning behind the policy.

"You have to understand that from about 1997-2003, Major League clubhouses were very dangerous. At any moment some teammate who had just put on 100 pounds of muscle in three days could just lose it. You needed guns back then. But now, with the toughest drug testing program in professional sports in place, you just don't need those weapons."

Many players agree with the new ban. "You can't have guns anymore," explained one second baseman. "It's not like the old days, where clubhouses were cold, violent places. Now with all GMs emphasizing bringing in high character guys, we just don't need the weapons to protect ourselves."

Some players, however, were not so happy. "I don't like it," declared one veteran journeyman. "I've got to compete with 21 year-old kids who run like Cheetahs and field some animal that fields good. How am I supposed to win a roster spot if I can't put the fear of God in 'em with my brand new, fully automatic, .50 caliber, hunting machine pistol? Whatever happened to the constitution? I guess Bud Selig's a commie now. You lookin' at me, rookie?"

At that point we weren't sure who he was talking to anymore, so it was time to leave. One group that will be glad to see the weapons gone are major league beat writers, who bravely worked under the constant threat that a player might have more than an opinion about a recent article or column.

"I never felt safe," explained one reporter. "One time, a player came up to me waving his new hunting uzi. He was all like, 'How dare you write this about me?!' I was like, 'write what?' And he's like, 'You said I went 0-4 with two strike outs!' In my head I'm going, 'That's because you went 0-4 with two strike outs.' I'm glad the guns are gone now."

Breaking News: Yankees Play Catch

As the excitement of Spring Training begins to reach its fevered pitch, the Yankees today paired up and played catch. Other mind blowing events included light jogging around the warning track, as well as some 1950s style calisthenics (really, why?). Some players also drank water from paper cups, while others put on impressive displays of flexibility by touching their toes with their hands. It's all down hill from here, folks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sharing Links in the Comments

A long time ago I posted some instructions for how to create links in the comments to one of the posts, and I thought it might be a good idea to throw it out there again, only this time in an actual post that people could more easily reference.

The best way to share a link is to use some basic HTML code:

< a href="">word or phrase< /a >

The web address goes between the quotation marks (and yes, the quotation marks are part of the code, not place setters in my example). Note that in the code itself there would not be a space before or after the brackets, it's just that if I don't include them blogger will think it's an actual link, and you won't be able to see the code. The space between "a" and "href" is supposed to be there, but that is the only space that belongs in the entire formula. If you don't close out the link with the "/a" bracket, everything that proceeds the first bracket will be hyperlinked. It's the difference between a word or phrase being linked versus the entire rest of the paragraph.

What to Expect from Early Spring Training

Not much happens in terms of baseball news when camp opens up. In fact, so little has happened that Yankees camp coverage so far has focused on the lack of things happening (i.e. no PED related press conference). I figured I'd take a moment and give you a primer on what you can expect for the next few weeks.

Pitchers will continue to throw bullpens and say they want to win another championship. They will all be in the best shape ever because every baseball player is in the best shape ever come the opening of camp. Players never show up and say, "I really let myself go this winter, I don't even care anymore."

Then the position players will show up and Jeter will hold his annual first day of spring training press junket. You can expect to hear the following things: 1. Jeter wants to win again. 2. Jeter is not concerned about his next contract, he's focused on winning, that will resolve itself later. 3. Jeter is not engaged. Jeter could be happily married with seven kids and he still will not admit to being engaged. 4. Jeter likes the new additions and the team's 2010 chances.

The rest of the coverage will focus on Hughes v. Joba, Granderson v. Gardner (in center), Granderson v. Johnson (in the two hole), and the occasional 'will Javy fare better this time around.' There is nothing else to talk about, and unless some unforeseen controversy pops up, the next couple weeks of coverage will be aimless repetitions of the above. At least they're back at camp, however, and we can finally stop pretending that we watch the Super Bowl for something other than the commercials.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Granderson Would Consider Move

In recent news, Granderson said that he would be fine moving to left field. Ever the team player, Granderson pointed to his minor league experience in left field to say that he would be comfortable making the switch. What the article does not mention, is just how versatile Granderson's minor league experience was.

"Yeah, I came up as a left fielder, but before I switched to center I was actually a fifth starter. Really good one too. Gave the team innings, threw strikes, won some and lost some, but for a fifth starter, I wasn't bad."

But Granderson's minor league experience did not end there.

"I was made the utility infielder for a season. I played every position including catcher. I didn't like it, but they thought that's what I projected best as. Then when that didn't work out, they tried me out as a left handed specialist. I did alright."

In other words, Granderson is the answer to every question left on our roster.

"That's why we traded for him." Explained General Manager Brian Cashman. "We knew all about his minor league experience in which he played every position on the ball field, except right field. But we have Swish for that."

Granderson however denies his lack of right field experience. "In the minors, I played a whole season under an assumed name in right field. I've played under a lot of assumed names in my career. When I was at short, I was Derek Peter, if I was catching that day, I'd be Jorge Posadarson, and when I played right, I was Paul O'Grand. Don't know why I always went with Yankee players, but in hindsight, I feel it was the right choice."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Silly Damon

Recently, I read this post by Stalking Steve about Damon. It basically outlines how when Damon finished the season he said that he wanted to be a Yankee, but since then has pretty much turned down any offer that has come his way from the bombers. Though it does seem hypocritical, I understand it. Damon isn't one of these veteran players, who have never won a championship, and have to be on a contender. Damon is a veteran whose played on two HUGE world championship teams, has participated in some of the biggest moments in baseball over the last decade, and is now entering what is likely his last contract. That being said, if Kansas City offered him the 3 years and $39 million Boras was asking for, he should take it. In fact, if the Yoimuri Giants offered him that contract, he should take it. This last contract isn't about proving himself as a ball player as much as its about setting himself up for the rest of his life. Athletes retire early, and Damon probably won't be playing into his 40's. Do athletes really need all that money? Probably not. But they've gotten used to a life style, and I can't be mad at them for wanting to stick to it. So, I say now, that I forgive Damon for his apparent hypocrisy. We've seen it before with athletes, and its apart of the landscape. Now, the fact that he's misplayed this market is another aspect of this story, but I can't be mad at him for wanting to get the most money he can.


I came across this post on the Lohud Yankees blog, which has some info about the Damon negotiations. Cashman basically says that Damon and Boras were looking for what Abreu got ($9 million a year), and that he fully expects them to get it. Though Cashman says that, Cashman is no fool, and he knows Damon isn't going to get that deal. If he does, then once again, Boras proves to be more than just an agent, and starts encroaching on magical wizard territory. You can never say never, but I think Damon will not get this deal.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ummmm . . . Maybe We Should Change This Headline

Here's a recent screen grab from the NY Daily News website featuring an article about our dear back-up catcher, Francisco Cervelli. The article recounts how Cervelli was hit in the head by an opposing player's backswing during a Venezuela Winter League game. The headline, however, suggested something else. I think more caution is merited in the future, Daily News.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spring Preview: Extended Outfield Edition

Jamie Hoffman

2009 Stats: Non existant.

Jamie Hoffman was the player the Yankees chose in the rule 5 draft when they traded Brian Bruney to the Nationals to claim the first pick in the draft. Hoffman is most known for his being a former Hockey player. When a baseball player is most known for their Hockey skills it can be slightly concerning, but the word is that Hoffman can hit left handers really well. Granderson, cannot. And thus a good balance is being created.

2010 Prediction: Hoffman will be a staple on the Yankees roster, but is mainly kept there for bench clearing brawls. He continues to hit lefties well, only he does it in fist fights, not ball games. He counters south paws like nothing, weaving and dodging while landing decisive head shots all throughout the season. This talent later translates to an ultimate fighting career he begins after celebrating the 28th world championship with the Yankees.

Little Known Hoffman Fact:

Before hockey, Hoffman was an accomplished ballerina.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring Preview: Extended Outfield Edition

Randy Winn

2009 Stats:

He batted .262 which isn't terrible if you're a power hitter, but he only hit 2 homeruns, which is terrible if you're a power hitter, or if you're playing in the major leagues.

2010 Prediction:

Randy Winn finds the short right field porch at Yankee stadium, but still can't reach it. His homeruns get cut in half from his 2009 season, and he finishes the season with one homerun, of the inside-the-park variety. He does his hit 40 doubles, but no one notices because they're too busy paying attention to the latest Jeter contract gossip.

Little Known Winn Fact:

Randy Winn was a body double for the movie 300.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Mariano Rivera

2009 Stats: The only closer not to blow a save in the postseason

Mariano Rivera continues to defy age and the laws of physics with his dominating cutter and performances. Nobody is as reliable in a big spot as Mo. That's why they call him, Mr. Reliable. While onlookers watched in awe, and opposing closers wept, Mariano converted every save opportunity he had in the postseason. That run of success helped the Yankees win the World Series, and saved at least 10 orphans from certain doom.

2010 Prediction:

As he has in the past few years, Mo will struggle a bit in April. This will largely be due to the fact that he only throws about six pitches in Spring Training. He then will continue to dominate the league and will finally win the Cy Young. After single-handedly winning the World Series by ending each of the first four games, inexplicably played in the NL park though the Yanks had home field advantage, with go-ahead tenth inning home runs, he re-signs with the Yankees for a contract larger than A-Rod's in both years and money.

Little Known Mo Rivera Fact:

Windows 7 was Mo's idea.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Boras May Be a Jedi

According to this article at the Tigers's owner has approved a two year, $14M offer for Johnny Damon. That makes for two possibilities. Either Boras is a Jedi, or the Detroit Tigers's owner is bat $#!% crazy.

Nats Love Them Some Former Yankees

It was recently reported that the Nationals signed former Yankees ace Chien Ming Wang for the season. For those who have watched closely, this is just the most recent action in an on going strategy the Nationals have of acquiring players the Yankees don't want anymore. Among that list on the current Nationals roster are:

C - Wil Nieves
SP - Tyler Clippard
Former Attrny General - Alberto Gonzalez
RP - Brian Bruney

And now Wang. Though many of you may not remember all those players, or care to look them up, the Nationals clearly have, and they have made their strategy evident. They are trying to be the Yankees.

"All those championships, all those rings. There's no doubt its who we want to become. Without question, if the Yankees drop a player, we sign them." Explained a Nationals Exec. whose name will remain anonymous since I'm not invested enough in this story to look one up.

"Soon, the Yankees will mess up and drop a Mariano Rivera, or a Derek Jeter. Then we'll be right there ready to reunite them with all their teammates from years past, and win a championship." He continued.

Its a bold move, and speaking of bold moves, former Yankee Kyle Farnsworth is going to get his shot as a starter. Since his lazer straight fastball didn't perform so well one inning at a time, the Royals now feel like a move to the rotation, where he has to throw 5+ innings at a time is the only right move.

"Farnsworth's fastball is deceptive in that it gets better the deeper into a game he gets. No one found this out because he always gave up 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning and had to get pulled. But around his 70th pitch or so, his fastball suddenly moves like a hurricane across the strike zone! Its like a knuckleball traveling 100 mph!" Explained Kansas City pitching coach, Bob McClure.

In terms of preparation, Farnsworth feels that a solid off season training regimen should prepare him for the increased work load.

"I usually stick to bicep curls all year round, but apparently that doesn't qualify as conditioning." Explained Farnsworth.

Some experts beleive that while increasing Farnsworth's innings in a season may not increase his effectiveness, it will certainly increase the number of body slams we all get to witness.

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Sergio Mitre

2009 Stats: 3-3, 6.79

Sergio Mitre pitched for Girardi when the latter was manager of the Florida Marlins. Not surprisingly, Mitre later needed Tommy John surgery. While Girardi is very good about not overusing his relievers, he has no problem making his starters, regardless of age or injury history, throw 200-300 pitches per inning. It's known as the Nolan Ryan Philosophy of Pitching. Girardi really likes Mitre, so expect him to end up in the bullpen, at the least, in some role. Besides, Girardi owes it to Mitre for ruining his arm. While Mitre's numbers were not impressive, they do show that just about anybody can be a .500 pitcher if they have the Yankees hitting behind them.

2010 Prediction:

Mitre, working out of the 'pen, will throw about 120 innings . . . by late May. Then his arm will literally fall off. The grotesque scene is replayed countless times on television. Mitre weeps.

Little Known Mitre Facts:

Mitre is an accomplished motivational speaker. He once told a group of young kids that if they work hard, they too can achieve their dreams of having elbow surgery while somebody else picks up the bill.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chien-Ming Wang Joins 'Em

It is being reported that Chien-Ming Wang has decided to go to the Nationals. I remember a few years ago, Wang carried a shut-out into the ninth inning of a game against the Nats. The score was 1-0 and then he gave up a bomb that cost him the game. They say, 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.' Wang will soon join 'em. I can only wish Wang the best. His two 19 win seasons in '06 and '07 were great, and we all thought we had an ace in the making. One can only wonder what would've happened if he had decided to simply leave the bat on his shoulder that day in Houston. Good luck, Wang!

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Chad Gaudin

2009 Stats: 6-10, 4.64

Chad Gaudin was the Yankees number four starter. He was considered so valuable to the future of the franchise that he was not allowed to pitch in October or November. While his overall numbers weren't great, he was 2-0 for the Yankees with a 3.43 ERA after being acquired from San Diego. The fact that he was pitching for the second half Yankees had nothing to do with that increased winning percentage. Gaudin, if he's not traded before then, and assuming he makes the major league team, will probably serve as a long reliever/spot starter, waiting in the wings should Hughes pitch like Joba did circa 2009. He will also serve as trade fodder come July.

2010 Prediction:

Gaudin will pitch serviceably through the first half of the season, at which point he will be traded to the Braves. Unbeknownst to Brian "Bronny Cash" Cashman, Gaudin has a no-trade clause which he refuses to wave unless he gets an extension. Cashman can't figure out how Gaudin ended up with a no-trade clause in his one year deal. All he can recall from the negotiations is block, block, z-piece, right-side L-piece, z-piece, long piece.

Little Known Gaudin Fact:

Chad Gaudin was once a world-class track athlete. According to legend, he ran from the blocks the way the Yankees ran from the possibility of him pitching in the '09 playoffs.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cashman Gets Busy Filling the 9 Hole

Recently, Brian Cashman signed outfielders Randy Winn and Marcus Thames to compete with Brett Gardner to see who gets to solidify the number 9 spot in our lineup. Cashman did this in place of signing an established outfielder such as Johnny Damon, Matt Holiday, or Jason Bay.

"We weren't trying to find a clean up hitter. We already have players for that. When I looked over our roster the one glaring hole was at the number 9 spot. It seemed like we just didn't have a player crappy enough to play there."

When he realized this, Cashman set out to fill this hole.

"I quickly got on the phone and called Hal to talk budget. Hal said 'We got $20 million we can use if you want to sign Damon.' But I said 'No thanks, how much do we spend on office supplies in a year?' Hal tells me about $2.5 million. I said that's still too much for the kind of crappy player I'm looking for, but if I split that money among three different players, I think we'll be in the ballpark."

So Cashman used that money to secure salaries for three players who he's hoping will compete for the number 9 hole. These players are Brett Gardner, Marcus Thames, and Randy Winn.

"What I'm really hoping for is a quadruple A player. Someone who is too good to keep in Triple A, but bad enough that you want to hide them at the end of your lineup. I don't know if we've found him, but somewhere in our organization this player has to exist."

What attracted Cashman to the players he's secured?

"You see, Gardner is fast, but his speed is also why I don't think he's bad enough for the 9-spot. Thames can't hit for crap, but when he does hit, he hits it a long way, and that's a little too risky for the 9-spot. Then there's Randy Winn, who plays good defense, a little too good, so I just don't know. All these players display tendencies towards being crappy, but none of them really stand out as being the best crappiest player for the 9-spot."

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Boone Logan

2009 Stats: 1-1, 5.19

Boone Logan is the leading candidate for Player the Yankees Will Invent an Injury for in Order to Send Him to the Minors. At 6-5, 215 lbs, Logan automatically enters the conversation for Yankee you'd most like on your side in a bar fight. With a 5.19 ERA in the National League last year, however, he also automatically enters the conversation for Yankee you'd least like to see in a big spot, or a spot for that matter. Logan will probably be used in the Phil Coke role, a lefty specialist who from time to time is inexplicably left in the game to give up home runs to right handers.

2010 Prediction:

Boone Logan will have a three pitch strike out in his first relief appearance of the season. After the game he will walk two blocks east from the stadium and head over to the Bronx County Courthouse. There he will change his name to Logan Boone, tired of having a last name for a first name, and a first for a last. Less committed/informed Yankees fans will wonder aloud, as they read the latest box score, when we reacquired Aaroon Boone, and when he became a LHP. When they realize it is actually Logan, they weep.

Little Known Boone Logan Fact:

After seeing Wolverine, Boone started having everyone call him Logan. He grew a beard and cut his hair like Wolverine. He even went as far as gluing blades to his hands. After getting arrested at multiple airports and landing on the FBI No-Fly List, he went back to 'Boone.'

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yankees Sign Marcus Thames to Minor League Deal

Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Yankees have signed Marcus Thames to a minor league deal. Thames serves as outfield depth for when we trade Brett Gardner.

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Mark Melancon

2009 Stats?

Mark Melancon is one of those guys who could kill your whole family in front of you while repeatedly yelling "I'm Mark Melancon!" and you still wouldn't know who he is. I searched for him on but the query only returned a "who's Mark Melancon?" from the search engine. Nonetheless, Melancon is one of those highly touted prospects expected to be dominant. Most of his dominance will be related to hitters being completely confused as to why the Yankees are letting a random audience member pitch to them.

2010 Prediction:

Somebody will spot Mark Melancon on a New York street and recognize him. Melancon's ego will balloon out of proportion. He becomes utterly unbearable. Every time a veteran player hands him something, he signs it and hands it back. Then he goes out to a trendy night club but the bouncer doesn't let him in. He loudly and obnoxiously announces that he is 'Mark Melancon, Pitcher.' The bouncer and everyone in line collectively utters, "Who the #*&%$ is Mark Melancon?" Melancon weeps.

Little Known Melancon Fact:

Mark Melancon originally planned to become a famous musician, but then another musician stole his stage name, Eminem, and Melancon was forced to turn to sports.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spring Preview: Bullpen

David Robertson

2009 Stats: 2-1, 3.30

David Robertson has established himself as a reliable right handed reliever. I'm not sure anything stands out about Robertson except his effectiveness. His greatest asset is his willingness to throw strikes and challenge hitters. He also has a MasterCard, which he uses for everyday purchases.

2010 Prediction:

Girardi will continue to rely on Robertson, only to inexplicably take him out of games in which he is pitching effectively.

Little Known Robertson Fact:

Robertson once pitched a perfect game in Little League. The record was overturned when it was discovered that, at the time, he'd been 21 years old.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Alfredo Aceves

2009 Stats: 10-1, 3.54

Alfredo Aceves, or "Ace" as he is known by his teammates, has been one of the more reliable Yankees relievers of the past decade not named Mo. The fact that he's only been on the team for two years, makes that all the more depressing. Ace has established himself as the go to long relief guy in the bullpen. His willingness to throw strikes, challenge hitters, trust his stuff, and make ballsy pitch selections are the main reasons he is the antithesis of Joba Chamberlain any time Joba has to face more than three people.

2010 Prediction:

Ace will continue to be a reliable middle inning reliever, long reliever, and spot starter. That will come in handy if I'm right about Hughes landing in the rotation, since Hughes will be subject to an innings limit.

Little Known Ace Fact:

Ace's first language is Esperanto, and he considers himself a man of the universe.

Friday, February 5, 2010

RJG Video Blog: A Long Winter

Here it is:

Spring Preview: Bullpen

Damaso Marte

2009 Stats: He blew during the regular season, was impressive in the post-season.

During the 2009 regular season, when he wasn't rehabbing an injury the Yankees made up just to get him off the team in AAA, Marte was the anti-Mariano. When Marte would come into a game, it was over. But it was over for the Yankees. No lead was safe. Mothers would cover their children's eyes in the stands, while shrieks of horror emanated from the Bleacher Creatures in right field. Then September became October and Marte the suck-@$$ became a reliable lefty out of the 'pen. It's not clear what caused the turn around. But the Yankees are hoping Marte continues to pitch well into 2010 and that he can be a reliable lefty out of the 'pen from April through November in 2010.

2010 Prediction:

Honestly, I suspect that Marte will have a sort of on and off regular season, but will once again pitch well in the postseason.

Little Known Marte Fact:

Marte's nickname in the clubhouse is Marte McFly. Initially, he thought it was because of his oft professed love for the Back to the Future trilogy. His locker is literally plastered with 80s era movie posters for the films. Then one of the clubbies broke it to him after the last game of the regular season that they called him that because when he pitched, balls flew out of the stadium. Marte wept, but he pulled himself together and pitched well through the World Series.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rawlings and Haiti

The New York Times has an interesting column about Rawlings and its commitment to Haiti. The basic idea is that Rawlings used to produce baseballs in Haiti, and therefore should feel obligated to move their production back there to help out the country after the earthquake. Rawlings had a plant there a couple decades ago that employed 1,000 workers, but they transferred their production to a plant in Costa Rica due to political instability. While I agree that Haiti should receive as much support, both financial and logistical, in the wake of this terrible tragedy as possible, I don't think Rawlings has any obligation to open a plant there. I really hope they would contribute to the rebuilding efforts out of a sense of goodwill, but to move their production to a country that is still unstable, and which had major infrastructure issues even before the earthquake, just seems off. Suggesting that they have an obligation to do so seems very off. What do you all think? Should Rawlings feel obligated to reopen their plant in Haiti?

Spring Preview: Utility Infielder

Ramiro Pena

2009 Stats: .287/1/10

Ramiro Pena is the young, athletic short stop turned utility infielder turned possible outfielder for the New York Yankees. He hit .287 last year which surprises me, since I don't ever remember feeling confidant with him up at the plate. I wish there was something clever or funny to write about Pena, but he's probably the least interesting player on the team. It's not his fault, it's just that we know pretty much nothing about him except that he pretty much always the same look on his face that Bambi had when they killed his mother. That's all I've got.

2010 Prediction:

Pena will continue to be relatively anonymous, being overshadowed by most ball boys and clubhouse janitors. That said, he will provide strong defense in the late innings, and, should any of our infielders get injured, will be a more than serviceable back up. He may even make a case for him being a starter somewhere, which could lead to a trade.

Little Known Ramiro Pena Fact:

Every fact about Ramiro Pena is little known.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Exclusive Interview: Chad Jennings of the Journal News

We at the RJG had the chance to send some questions to the new Journal News and former Scranton Yankees beat writer, Chad Jennings. Chad is one of the main authors of the Lohud Yankees blog, having taken over for Peter Abraham. The Lohud blog is perhaps one of the most popular among Yankee fans, and a great place to catch up on Yankees news and updates.

Chad was gracious enough to answer several of our questions, and we are happy to have been able to complete this interview. Many thanks to Chad!

What interested you in becoming a baseball writer?

I was 15 and realized I enjoyed writing assignments in school. That's how I became interested in being a writer. Covering baseball just sort of happened, but at this point, I can't imagine covering anything else.

You are originally from Missouri. How have you adjusted to small-town life in New York and have you gotten into your first fight on the subway yet?

No subway fights just yet, but I have adjusted to getting around in the city. I'm hoping for no more wrong trains to the stadium.

If you could interview anyone in the history of baseball, who would you interview, and what would be the first question you’d ask them?

Branch Rickey. "What made you think any of this stuff would work?" Rickey changed so much about the game, and it all required thinking outside of the box. I'd love to interview him. Of course, I'm sure different names would jump to mind on different days. Lou Gehrig. Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Joe Jackson. Christy Mathewson.

The Yankees recently parted with fan favorite outfielder, Johnny Damon. How long before they trade Jesus Montero to get him back?

Oh wow. You shouldn't suggest such things.

What has been your favorite move by Brian Cashman this off-season?

Staying out of the Holliday sweepstakes. That sort of contract would have haunted this team, and it took some guts to see the big picture instead of the short-term gain. Of the moves he actually made, getting Vazquez stands out to me. That was a very real need for the Yankees, and it cost them parts they could afford to lose.

The LoHud Yankees Blog has established itself as the best Yankees news blog out there, and is the first stop for Yankees news for many who follow the team. What has the experience been like since you stepped into the role of one of LoHud’s principle Yankees bloggers?

It's been exciting, but it's obviously a challenge to keep up Pete's standard, especially in the winter. I'm just looking forward to getting spring training started. That's when things should pick up.

Follow up: How much has the work of Respect Jeter’s Gangster inspired you in your blogging efforts?

I love that there are so many great fan blogs out there. What I do is completely different, but it's important to have multiple fan perspectives out there. It helps me to learn what people are interested in reading and learning.

Let’s be serious for a moment. How often does Jeter mention RJG in the Yankees clubhouse? Every day? Every other day?

I hear it's his home page.

What kind of contract do you see Jeter getting at the end of this season, and will it really be enough for all the joy he’s brought to our lives?

Three year deal. Basically the same money he's making now. He'll probably be overpaid according to his numbers, but I think the Yankees will make certain he doesn't play anywhere else.

What has been your favorite experience as a Yankees beat writer so far?

A month into the job I covered a World Series. That's tough to beat.

Do players ever get bored and just call you up?

Not really. There are a few who I randomly text from time to time, but those are few and far between. I have a great, friendly relationship with most of the guys, but we don't really talk just to talk.

What has been the biggest challenge going from AAA to the majors?

I didn't deal with agents very often in the minors. Mostly, the challenge is about establishing relationships with the guys who never played in Scranton. Professionally, that Jackson/Kennedy/Coke trade sucked for me!

You write for the most popular Yankees news blog on the internet. How many times a day do you frequent the Respect Jeter’s Gangster blog, and why is it your favorite blog?

Haha! I'll say that I don't have a favorite. That's pretty diplomatic, right?

Imagine for a moment that you’re caught up in a bar fight, which Yankee on the 40 man roster would you want on your side and why?

How about the new guy, Jamie Hoffmann? Never met him, but he's a big guy and a former hockey player. That dude can probably throw down.

Lastly, what do you respect most about Jeter’s gangster?

That when he's surrounded by reporters, he's the one running the show. He doesn't seem bothered or upset. If he doesn't like a question, he says so, but not in a way that makes anyone mad. Not many guys can handle those situations. Jeter does more than handle them, he controls them.

So there you have it, clear documented evidence that even the media respects Jeter's gangster. Many thanks again to Chad for completing this interview. If you don't already, please check out the Lohud Yankees blog. They make the winter off season that much more enjoyable.

Spring Preview: Back-Up Catcher

Francisco Cervelli

2009 Stats: .298/1/11/1,003,456

We were first introduced to Francisco Cervelli in the Spring of 2008, when one of the Rays ran him over at home plate, fracturing his wrist. The Rays went on to lose the World Series that year in an embarrassing manner, just to watch the Yankees beat up the team that beat them in 2010. Talk of a Curse of the Cervelli soon followed.

When we first heard of Cervelli, we figured he'd be standing around the dugout going, "Hey, youse guys." It turns out he isn't from Jersey though, but from Venezuela. If Yankees fans were as ignorant as Mets fans, they'd call up the FAN to complain that Cashman was signing too many Latin American players.

Cervelli hit a surprisingly strong .298 last year, though that was in only 99 ABs (45 games). Most projections predict that he would hit at least .345 in a full season. Cervelli's most important stat? 1,003,456. Cervelli made more snap throws last season than any catcher in the history of baseball. Strike one with a man on first? Snap throw. Strike two with a man straying off thrid? Snap throw. Four pitch intentional walk? Snap throw. It's just what he does.

2010 Prediction:

Cervelli will be a more than serviceable back-up to primary catcher, Jorge Posada. Unlike our previous back-up catcher, he won't be an automatic out. More importantly, however, he will be young enough to not suffer his own hamstring injury when our primary catcher is rehabbing a hamstring injury. At some point against the Twins, Cervelli will hit a home run. As he crosses home plate, he'll turn to Joe Mauer and say, "Try not being so tall, freak." Mauer weeps for the second time in a week.

Little Known Cervelli Fact:

Before being converted to catcher, Cervelli was a pitcher who topped out at 130mph. The Yankees decided that would be unfair to the rest of the league, which was already pretty mad at the $70M extra they spend on payroll. Their compromise with Cervelli was that he could snap throw as much as he wanted.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spring Preview: Left Field

Curtis Granderson

2009 Stats: .249/30/71

By signing Curtis Granderson, the Yankees added one of maybe three players in baseball who aren't complete douche bags. Douche baggery is generally the domain of the professional athlete, but Granderson's family seems to have kept him grounded (based on most articles I've read about the guy). This guy will be probably be having his fancy dinners at the Applebees on 7th Ave near Time Square. And while that Applebees is surprisingly expensive, it still gives you a sense of what kind of down to earth guy Granderson is.

Granderson was traded, supposedly, to play Center Field, but he'll probably be in Left come April. It doesn't matter. It wasn't so much his glove as it was his youth and speed that were coveted by the Yankees. Expect to see Granderson be sent by Girardi on a regular basis. Do not expect to see Granderson hitting second. There are at least two other guys on the team with higher OBP who would probably be better fits in the two-hole. That said, Girardi is fairly smart about setting up his line-up. And while he does change that line-up just about every day, I will accept wherever he decides to bat Granderson.

2010 Prediction:

Granderson will raise his batting average and hit for greater power in the New Yankee Stadium (do I still have to call it the 'New' Yankee Stadium?). In early July he will prank call Johnny Damon, pretending to be Brian Cashman, and tell Johnny that parting with him was the worst mistake he ever made, and that he wants him back. Johnny gets enthused only to have Granderson break character and break the news to him that this call was a prank. Johnny weeps. Three weeks later the Yankees trade Gardner for Damon. It is very awkward.

Little Known Granderson Fact:

Granderson has won the MVP award three times, but is so humble he called all the reporters who voted for him and asked them to give it to another player he felt could use the encouragement.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spring Preview: Center Field

Brett Gardner

2009 Stats: .270/3/23/.345

I'm going out on a limb here by guessing that the Yankees will end up playing Gardner in Center rather than Left. We saw last year with the one and two spots in the line up that Girardi will make decisions based on what he thinks is the best fit for the team, not the individual players. Since most baseball people seem to agree that Gardner is better defensively in center, I'm going to go ahead and guess that Girardi plays him there.

Gardner is an unproven commodity. He began 2009 as the starting Center Fielder, only to be replaced by Melky Cabrera when he didn't hit. Presumably, he'll get a longer look in Center this time around, but with Randy Winn on the bench, if Gardner doesn't hit we can expect to see Granderson back in Center with Winn in Left. At that point Gardner would resume his important role of giving high fives and keeping the seats of players currently on base warm.

Gardner's most important stat? .345. Gardner's OBP, assuming he can sustain that in a starting role, would be impressive in the 9 spot, and would give the Yankees three on base guys prior to the 3 and 4 spots after the first time through the line-up. I suspect it's that OBP that has the Yankees willing to take a flyer on this guy.

2010 Prediction:

Gardner will be thrust into scandal over his endorsement of Rogaine when it is revealed that he was bald voluntarily. He will not replicate his .345 OBP but no one will care because he's the nine hitter on a team that will almost score 1000 runs anyway.

Little Known Gardner Fact:

Brett Gardner is so fast that the street signs in his neighborhood used to read: FAST, CHILDREN.