Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yankees Sign Morgan Ensberg

Looks like the Yankees signed Morgan Ensberg. Possible reasons for why the Yankees are signing so many first baseman are as follows:

-Cashman mistook Morgan Ensberg for Mark Teixeira since they both used to play in Texas.
-Cashman is foreseeing a drought of right-handed first baseman and will rake when that drought hits.
-The loss of Andy Phillips could only be made up by 5 first baseman.
-Hank Steinbrenner plans on hosting a new reality series in which the winner will become the Yankees first baseman.
-Cashman isn't signing first baseman, he's creating his entourage.
-Cashman got drunk again.
-The Yankees are providing role models for Eric Duncan.
-The Yankees have lost faith in Shelley Duncan since he has a girls name.
-Cashman got bored.

I wish we still had Andy Phillips. I remember going to a game last summer against the Blue Jays, and I was standing by the Yankees bullpen watching the pitchers warm up. Andy Phillips came by to grab some water back there, and I said "Hey, its Andy Phillips." He looked up and gave me the peace sign, or at least that's what I thought it was. It turned out he was prophesying the future and informing me that he was going to have 2 RBI's that day. Sure enough later in the game he had a 2 RBI single. Then I remembered his peace sign, and understood its true meaning. It was an epiphany of Keyser Söze proportions.

14 Days, 14 Players: Ian Kennedy

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

With Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain making big splashes with the Yankees, Ian Kennedy came in rather quietly. After a September call up with the Yanks, Kennedy started 3 games with a 1.89 ERA. He had two 7-inning, 1 run outings against the Rays and the Blue Jays, and a 5 inning, 2 run effort against the Royals. Anyone who watched the Blue Jays game could tell you how crafty he looked, and how off balanced he kept those hitters. Although his stuff wasn't entirely overpowering, he did strike out 7 batters in that game.

My Fearless Prediction:

Kennedy will not start in the rotation as Mussina will probably gain Girardi's confidence in spring training. Kennedy may start the season in the bullpen, and move down to triple A to keep regular starts. He will soon return to the big leagues and win 10 games down the stretch with an ERA in the mid 3 range. If Kennedy wins the spot out of spring training you can expect anywhere between 13-15 wins with a similar ERA.

Little Known IPK Fact: Ian Kennedy break dance battled everyone on the set of the movie "You Got Served" and won.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Was It Worth It?

According to Bob Klapisch of The Record, the Yanks had the chance to land Johan Santana for Kennedy, Cabrera, and a top level prospect. The Yanks passed. Please allow me a moment: HOLY $#!)

Instead Bill Smith ended up with five mid level prospects (at best) for the best pitcher in baseball. Again, how you misplay a royal flush is beyond me, but as they say in business: you can make money as a bear, you can make money as a bull, but not as a pig. Simply stated, Smith got greedy. Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera? Not enough! We need Kennedy and 9 other top prospects. I'm not even going to discuss the Red Sox offers because they were never superior to the Yankees offer in the first place. Smith thought he could wait, then he waited, then he got desperate, then he got played by Omar Minaya. Nice job Mr. Smith, no way this deal will come back to haunt you. I suppose it's better than losing Santana to free agency and getting nothing, but seriously, when the best prospect you get projects to be a no. 4 starter (read: Jaret Wright) you hardly got equal value. The Mets will pay out behind in order to sign Santana to an extension, but baseball is swimming in money right now, so it's a good investment.

Minaya deserves some gangster points on this one. He didn't let Smith convince him he had other offers on the table because he knew that the fact that Smith was calling him meant that he had no where else to go (both the Yanks and Sox had better prospects and if a trade was out there Smith would've made it). Smith was denied the Mets best prospects (which still didn't measure up to the Yanks' and Sox' winter offerings), and still had to trade Santana. Well played Mr. Minaya, well played. Now all you have to do is make sure the Mets don't collapse again next September.

Jeter Strikes Back pt. 3

Rebecca over at the "This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes" blog has been working on a multi part baseball story. We at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog thought it was a great idea, however we lack the creativity, devotion and the obvious writing talent that Rebecca does. That, of course, did not stop us from writing this three part story series on Derek Jeter. Here is part 3.

Members of the dark council mingled in the meeting room where a large circular mahogany table sat in the center. The mingling continues until Emperor Selig enters the room wearing a dark robe. The members sit down to proceed with the meeting.

Emperor Selig: "There has been a disturbance in the force."

Larry Lucchino: "It can't be too bad. We won our championship. Things are good."

Emperor Selig: "No. Our plans to destroy the Yankees with the Mitchell report have not worked. If only Mitchell had dropped more names with less evidence."

George Mitchell: "I did what I could."

John Henry: "So what? We have approached the down fall of the Yankees from all angles. We sent our henchmen Marty Miller and Carl Pavano to cause injury and drain them financially."

Marty Miller: "They caught onto me too quickly. I should have saved some of those hamstrings for later in the season."

Carl Pavano: "Can I get tommy john on my left arm too?"

Emperor Selig: "And yet despite all this, the Yankees finished only two games behind the Red Sox and still won the wild card. If it wasn't for our infestation scheme they would have competed with us in the ALCS. The problem is with one member of the Yankees. We underestimated his gangster."

Larry Lucchino: "Ugh! You're talking about HIM aren't you?! He has thwarted all our plans! He will rue the day he crossed the Lucchino family!"

Emperor Selig: "Look, within one month he will hook up with more hot chicks than all of us have in our lifetime. That's not the kind of production we can counter."

Carl Pavano: "I dated Alyssa Milano."

John Henry: "No one cares."

Emperor Selig: "If we want to defeat the Yankees, we must rid ourselves of their mighty guardian, Derek Jeter!"

Right then, out of the shadows, a slow clapping could be heard.

George Mitchell: "Whose there? Show yourself!" he said grabbing his six shot pistols.

Derek Jeter: "So that was your master scheme huh Selig?" Jeter said as he stepped out of the shadows.

Emperor Selig: "How did you get past my guards?"

Derek Jeter: "They weren't very gangster."

Emperor Selig: "Valid point. But now you must face the wrath of a Selig scorned!" he yelled, throwing off his robe and revealing his hulk fists. Mitchell grabbed his pistols, while Lucchino and Henry both put on their Red Sox championship brass knuckles. Marty Miller quickly injected himself with a super steroid and grew three times his normal size. Pavano swallowed some pain pills and was ready to get in on the rumble too.

Derek Jeter: "Relax gentleman. I didn't come to fight. I came to join you."

Emperor Selig: "Really?"

Derek Jeter: "No."

Then Derek Jeter grabbed his Derek Jeter autographed baseball bat and swung an inside out swing which knocked Marty Millers head into the opposite field.

Emperor Selig: "Get him!" he yelled.

George Mitchell: "I'll show you what impeccable integrity feels like!"

The fight ensued with Mitchell firing his six shot all over the place. Selig got so excited he punched and shattered the mahogany table for no reason. Derek Jeter pulled out some baseballs and a fungo bat and started hitting sharp grounders at Lucchino and Henry's knees. They fell in great pain.

Larry Lucchino: "You will rue the day you shattered my knee caps Jeter! Rue it you will!"

Seeing that he couldn't compete, Selig unleashed a smoke bomb and they all escaped. Jeter left the complex, put on a tux, and made it just in time for his date with a super model. He's that gangster.

The End

Today We Laugh Tomorrow We Cry

It is very easy as fans of a big market team to point and laugh at the poor offerings shown by some of the other teams in the majors. You look at some of these teams at the end of the season and their team leaders have 17 homeruns, 67 RBI's, and they're staff ace has 11 wins. We laugh a hearty laugh, with tears forming in our eyes, and then go on with our mighty Yanks to the post season. However, he who laughs last, laughs best, and to help you avoid laughing at the wrong team we at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog would like to point out some teams that could compete in the near future. Everyone once laughed at the Rockies. Then they became the National League champions. Fancy that. So to that end, here is our first installment of Know a Crappy Team.

Know A Crappy Team: Tampa Bay Rays

You know this team. They're the perennial last place winners in the American League East. Its the team players pad their stats with when they play. But be careful in underestimating this team.

The Question of Offense:

The biggest problem with the Rays has not been their offense. Carlos Pena turned out to be a quality power bat last season blasting 46 homeruns with 121 RBI's and a .282 batting average. No one could have predicted Pena's surge. A little known fact is that Pena was signed to a minor league deal with the Yankees in 2006 released himself after he saw he wouldn't get playing time, signed with the Red Sox, was released after the season, signed a minor league contract with the Rays, and was not on the opening day roster. Quite the humble beginnings. But the question that needs an answer is whether or not last year was an aberration or the norm for Pena.

Another player that showed some pop was centerfielder BJ Upton. With a .300 average, 24 RBI's, 82 RBI's and 22 stolen bases in his first full season in the big leagues, BJ Upton sounds like he could be a real offensive contributor.

The first and second batters in the Rays lineup have been Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford. Crawford is a speedster. He stole 50 bases last season while hitting .315 with 11 homeruns and 80 RBI's. Iwamura who was the lesser known player who came over through the posting process last off season, played solid third base while batting .285 with 7 homeruns and 12 stolen bases.

The main weapon this team has, is its speed. This team, led by Crawford, has more steals than Clay Bucholz at a laptop convention. What's even more intriguing is that all the players mentioned have multi-year contracts with the Rays. Pena just signed a three year deal, Crawford and Iwamura are signed through 2010, and Upton isn't even arbitration eligible yet. That means that some of the better offensive players will remain with the team for some time.

Iwamura played a solid third base, but has the power of a second baseman. The Rays agreed, and are moving Iwamura to second to make room for top prospect Evan Longoria. ranked Longoria as the number 2 prospect in all baseball.

So if offense isn't their main problem, why do they suck so much?

In the past, the Rays rotation and bullpen have been horrendous. Last year, the bullpen was especially awful. Going forward do not expect Rays pitchers to be the batting practice arms they once were.

Scott Kazmir is an excellent left handed pitcher. While the Mets traded him away for Victor Zambrano (Awesome move Mighty Mets), he has established himself as the Rays ace. Get to know this player because once you do you will want him as a Yankee. He had a 13-8 record last season, but mainly because of bullpen falters. He had a 2.66 ERA against the Yankees last season, and a 2.78 ERA against the Red Sox. He led the American League in strike outs with 239 k's, 1 short of tieing Peavy for the majors. He also threw 17 innings less than Peavy.

Now the Rays have added Garza from the Twins, and will have Shields coming back. Last season those two pitcher had a 3.69 and 3.85 ERA respectively. If those players can continue to improve, that will make three pitchers with ERA's below 4. Not bad.

The bullpen has had quite the boost as well. Last season, Al Reyes turned out to be quite the surprise as he was a very effective closer. This year, Al Reyes will be the setup guy now that they signed Troy Percival to close. Because there are 7 starters competing for 5 spots, two pitchers will be converted to releivers. My guess is that Edwin Jackson will be one of them. He was bad as a starter, but he throws hard, and will probably be effective out of the pen. He pitched some pretty good games including 6 inning shutouts of the Yankees and Blue Jays, and a 9 inning shutout of Texas. When he was off though, he would get hit hard.

Either way, the bullpen looks better, the starters look better, and the offense is there. The laughing stock of the American League East could come strong in the near future and knock both the Yanks and Sox out of contention. Stranger things have happened. So do not laugh at the Rays. It will hurt that much more when world series MVP Carlos Pena gives a speech about how the Yankees let him go in 2006 only to see him win a world series for another AL East team.

15 Days, 15 Players: Joba Chamberlain

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

Joba Chamberlain proved to be a solid arm out of the bullpen last season. His fastball/slider combination were like a right handed Randy Johnson, and batter did not stand a chance. This led him to a .38 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 24 innings. That .38 ERA was caused by a solo homerun by none other than my Puerto Rican brethren Mike Lowell in Boston. Jeter (pictured below being gangster) hit a three run homer later in the game to win it so it all worked out.

Although he only saved one game, it didn't take the imagination of M. Night Shyamalan to see that he could be Mariano's successor. However, Chamberlain came up as a starter, and the Yankees would like to see what he can do in that role. I certainly am too.
The trouble with Chamberlain, as with Hughes and Kennedy is that there will be an innings cap for these players. There are also 6 (maybe 7) starters competing for starting spots. Mike Mussina having his veteran prowess may end up in the rotation, which means one of the three kids needs to move to the bullpen or back to the minors. Obviously, Joba would be best suited for the bullpen, but a starting Joba may be better for a Yankees team whose most recent pitching shopping spree brought us Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano.

My Fearless Prediction:

Joba Chamberlain will start. He will win somewhere between 11 - 13 games. The innings cap will come close and he will move to the bullpen to finish the season. I can't say that I've seen his changeup, but he did mix in his curveball a few times last season, and it was pretty good. I am much more excited to see him start than to relieve. If he has trouble starting, the bullpen can be a backup choice for him.

Little Known Joba Fact: Typically we make something up in this section, but this time I actually have a little known Joba fact. Joba's birth name was Justin but his young niece pronounced it Joba. He liked it better and had it legally changed later. He also once ate a python for breakfast.
Joba Chamberlain Picture Source
Derek Jeter Picture Source

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RIP Go To Slow News Day Headline

With Santana traded to the Mets intrepid sports reporters everywhere will have to look for a different old story to rehash whenever they've no baseball news to report. For most of January we kept hearing how the Red Sox were the front runner to land Santana, which was true, in the beginning of December. One week the Yanks were in, the next week they weren't. The truth is neither the Yanks or Sox were really in it post winter meetings, but reporters needed a story that fans would read but that wouldn't require them doing any actual work. Now with Santana traded to the Mets, the Twins GM looking like he just blew a royal flush, and the Red Sox and Yankees both set with young pitching talent for years to come, beat writers and columnists everywhere will have to actually do some work to come up with a baseball story. I guess that is the happy ending to the Santana trade saga of 2007-2008 off-season.

Santana Deal Done

Its finally over. It looks like Santana has been traded to the Mighty Mets. The only thing that can stop this is if the Mets can't work out a contract, and I'd be shocked if they couldn't. The Mets became a running joke all through September, and have a lot to prove this year. Santana is a key acquisition for them. The Mets did not need to give up highly touted prospect Fernando Martinez, who besides having the greatest first name in the world, is considered a better hitter than the outfielder they traded, Carlos Gomez.

It has already been stated on other sites, but it deserves to be restated. The Yankees and Red Sox gave better offers in December. According to reports, the Twins gave the Mets, Red Sox, and Yankees a deadline by which to submit their best offer. One report states that the Yankees didn't submit anything, which is pretty gangster. I'm just glad we still have all the kids, including Melky.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Mets for keeping him away from the Red Sox. Its a win-win-win-win situation when you think about it. The Mets got their ace, the Yankees keep their kids, the Red Sox kept Santana from the Yankees, and the Twins didn't lose their player to free agency. It will become a win-win-win-win-win situation when Santana signs that monster contract the Mets are sure to offer.

Jeter Strikes Back pt. 2

Rebecca over at the "This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes" blog has been working on a multi part baseball story. We at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog thought it was a great idea, however we lack the creativity, devotion and the obvious writing talent that Rebecca does. That, of course, did not stop us from writing this three part story series on Derek Jeter. Here is part 2.

Jeter strikes Back pt. 2

It is just a few hours before gametime and the entire Yankee team is hanging out in the club house. Posada picks up a copy of the newspaper and starts reading.

Posada: "Did you hear? It looks like Varitek and some other players tried to burn down a nursery school again."

Jeter: "Yeah, that's what happens when they start drinking."

Mussina: "Hey Jeter, what's something that is to be respected, owned by Derek Jeter. Its 3 down, begins with a "G", 8 letters..."

Jeter: "Gangster Moose. The answer is Gangster."

Then without warning George Mitchell busted through the clubhouse door riding a white horse, wearing a cowboy hat, firing twin six shots into the air.

Kyle Farnsworth: "Its George Mitchell son!" He yelled as Giambi sprung for the exit.

George Mitchell: "Nobody move! I've come with my impeccable integrity to write a speculative report that names all of you as PED users."

Mariano: "Why would you do that?"

George Mitchell: "Because I'm George Mitchell, I can do whatever the crap I want!"

Jeter: "Tell the truth Mitchell. You're a paid Boston crony. You're trying to throw dirt on our organization to make yourselves look cleaner. But everyone knows there are a lot more Boston players using PED's then were mentioned in that report."

George Mitchell: "My integrity is impeccable!"

Then Bud Selig busted in through the club house wall wearing Hulk fists.

Girardi: "Crap Selig, we have a door!"

Selig: "All of you take a drug test now!"

Cano: "Oh we'll play your filthy game you rogue."

Jeter: "We'll take the test Selig, but only if you and Mitchell take one too."

So they all took tests and came up clean except for Selig who tested positive for horse tranquilizers and flax seed oil.

Selig: "You got lucky this time Yankees. But I swear on all revenue sharing that you will be mine!"

Selig then used his Hulk fists to punch another hole through the wall and escaped. Posada grabbed his newspaper.

Posada: "Well that was weird."

Jeter: "What's in the funnies?"

The End

10 Things You Didn't Know About Derek Jeter

1. Derek Jeter does one minute abs in 10 seconds.
2. In the late 90's, Nomar Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez, and Miguel Tejada were considered better shortstops than Derek Jeter because they hit for power. Now, ten years later, Nomar plays first base, Alex plays third, and Tejada used 'roids. I think we know who the real winner is.
3. Derek Jeter was one of the founding members of WuTang but was kicked out after he brought the ruckus too hard.
4. Derek Jeter does not have a no trade clause. The Yankees just won't trade him.
5. Derek Jeter wrote the Joba Rules.
6. Derek Jeter does not negotiate, he simply tells Cashman what he's going to get.
7. Derek Jeter plays a better guitar than Bernie Williams.
8. Derek Jeter is the reason other ball players use steroids.
9. If Yankee stadium pushed its walls back 100 feet, Derek Jeter would have 40 homeruns. That's just the way he rolls.
10. Derek Jeter's the reason the Twins won't trade Santana to Boston.

16 Days, 16 Players: Phil Hughes

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

RHP Phil Hughes

Since being invited to spring training in 2006, young Phil Hughes has been touted as the future of Yankees pitching. Because of this, many fans were disappointed when his name came up in trade rumors for Johan Santana. The Yankees commitment to youth, however, ultimately won the day over their tendency to overreact in the face of an early playoff exit and Phil Hughes is likely to remain in pin stripes for some time.

Because of various Marty Miller induced injuries to the pitching staff in early 2007, Phil Hughes was called up ahead of schedule to start for the Yankees. When Phil Hughes took the mound for his second start against the Texas Rangers we all witnessed a glimpse of the future. He threw 6 and 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball prior to straining his hamstring while trying to make the perfect pitch to Mark Teixeira. While the injury was unfortunate, we all witnessed an incredibly young pitcher (21 years old) no-hitting a major league line-up that included the likes of Teixeira.
While at first less effective when he returned from injury due to lack of arm strength and mechanics that had been thrown off kilter by the injury (and later ankle injury during rehab, damn you Marty Miller!), Hughes fixed his mechanics and built his arm strength back up in time for an incredible performance in game 3 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. Hughes pitched 3 and 2/3 innings in relief of Roger Clemens for his first post-season victory. I was at that game (jealous much?) and the way Hughes handled the pressure showed exactly why he has the poise and the stuff to be an ace of the Yankees pitching stuff for years to come.

Fearless Prediction:

Hughes wins 17 games in 2008 with an ERA below 4.

Little Known Fact About Phil Hughes:

Phil Hughes once saved a train full of people by bridging a gap in the train tracks with his own body and letting the train roll over him to safety.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jeter Strikes Back pt. 1

Rebecca over at the "This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes" blog has been working on a multi part baseball story. We at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog thought it was a great idea, however we lack the creativity, devotion and the obvious writing talent that Rebecca does. That, of course, did not stop us from writing this three part story series on Derek Jeter.

Jeter Strikes Back pt. 1

It was a cold winters night as bitter, icy rain fell from the skies covering the streets. Julio Lugo, Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez came stumbling out of the local sportsbar.

Varitek: "Hey guys, lets go burn down that nursery school down the street."

Manny: "Great idea! After that we should go do it to the animal shelter."

Ortiz: "One thing at a time guys."

Lugo: "I'm Julio Lugo."

Varitek: "Great, Manny go make some molotov cocktails."

Right then a police cruiser stopped, and officer O'Brien got out.

Officer O'Brien: "Hey, what are you guys doing?"

Varitek: "We were going to burn that nursery school down, then possibly hit up the animal shelter. Maybe drink some more, and tip a car over."

Officer O'Brien: "Wicked. Sounds like a chowdahriffic idea. Go Lestah!"

Varitek: "Great officer O'Brien, you should help us."

Right then Manny shows up with the molotov cocktails.

Ortiz: "You ready to do this?"

Lugo: "I want to be a real boy."

Varitek: "That nursery school will never see it coming."

Without warning the men hear the crack of a bat, and quicker than lightning, a baseball pegs Lugo between the eyes.

Varitek: "Where did that come from?"

Officer O'Brien: "That baseball, I've seen it before. It came off the bat of Jetah!"

Varitek: "Who?"

Officer O'Brien: "Jetah!!!!" he yells pointing at the silhouette of a man who clearly has more gangster than all of them combined. Varitek throws on his catchers mask while Manny and Ortiz pull out they're personalized bats.

Manny: "Lets get him!"

But it was too late, Jeter had already used his evasive maneuvers to steal their molotov's and crack them over their heads. Officer O'Brien stood in shock as his friends tried to put out their own flames. Jeter approaches officer O'Brien.

Jeter: "Let this be a lesson to all of you. You shouldn't burn down nursery schools."

O'Brien: "Thanks Jetah. Now I know."

Jeter: "And knowing is half the battle." Then Jeter impaled him with his bat.

The end.

17 Days, 17 Players: Mike Mussina

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

Mike Mussina had one of his roughest seasons in the majors last year as he posted a 5.15 ERA, with a 11-10 record and 91 strikeouts in 152 innings. He started 27 games, but was dropped from the rotation late in the season because he was absolutely horrendous. Many people say that Mussina's career is over, and those numbers would seem to suggest that, however I'm not jumping on the "Mussina is done" band wagon yet. One season ago, Mussina posted a 15-7 record with a 3.51 ERA for the Yankees. His fastball was just as mediocre as it was this year, but he seemed much more confidant. You would see him place that 88 mph fastball right where he wanted it, and even more impressive, the batters would miss helplessly. He struck out 172 batters that season. Although his fastball was slow, his changeup and curveball kept hitters off balanced and made his fastball look much quicker than it was. So what happened in 2007? By the sounds of it, he stopped believing in himself. All that talk we heard about Mussina being a creature of habit who can't break his schedule is garbage. He was giving himself an excuse to fail in case he did fail, and once you've set a safety net its much easier to fall into it. I remember hearing something near the end of the season where he said that he felt like the worst was going to happen every time he took the mound. Once that's in your head, its difficult to pitch an effective game. His knucklecurve is still a great pitch, his changeup is still deceptive, and his fastball is still the crap pitch its been for the last few years.

My Fearless Prediction:

Mussina will step up next season and win 14 games with a low 4 ERA. He will feed off the energy of the young pitchers, and will be thrust into a teacher role with Ian Kennedy. The added pressure of having a younger version of him looking to him for answers will be a boost. I do not believe he will make it through the entire season without an injury, but that will allow some of the baby Yankees to step up.

A Riddle: The turtle and the hare ran a mighty race! Upon the finish line they came who got last place?

Answer: Many would say the turtle, he's slow, he'll take the fall! But the one who came in last was Mike Mussina's fastball. Oh Snap!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bernie vs. Cashman?

According to an article in the journal news, there appears to be a rift between former Yankees outfielder, Bernie Williams and Yankee GM Brian Cashman. Cashman recently made comments about Bernie claiming that his music career got in the way of his playing and that was the reason for a subpar 2005 season. Despite his subpar 2005, Bernie was brought back to the Yankees in 2006 as a DH and 4th outfielder. Although his fielding was pedestrian in 2006, he batted .281 with 12 homeruns and 62 RBI's. After the 2006 season, Bernie wanted another season with the Yankees, but outfielder Melky Cabrera was the logical option for the 4th outfield spot. Bernie was offered an invitation to spring training to compete for an outfield job, but he turned it down, and felt insulted by the offer.

This is a touchy subject because for one, Bernie is a beloved Yankee, a hero from the championship era of the late 90's, and a homegrown bomber. I for one love Bernie so its difficult to be objective about the situation.

The truth of the matter is that Brian did not need to bring Bernie back for 2006. In 2005, Bernie had a .249 average with 12 homeruns and 64 RBI's. How someone gets signed to DH with those numbers really is beyond me. If the Yankees had signed anyone but Bernie to DH that season with those numbers, we as fans would be outraged. I saw the signing as a matter of respect. Here was a true navy blue Yankee coming to the end of his career, so despite his 2005 campaign they went ahead and signed him for one last season. Bernie didn't see it that way, and wanted (perhaps still wants) to play. Cashman, as a responsible GM, could not sign Bernie for another season. I agree with the move.

From what I heard about the 2006 clubhouse, Bernie was the last guy to arrive before a game, and the first guy out after a game. You never heard of Bernie taking the younger players under his wing, or putting in extra time in the cages or running down flyballs. Cashman had the awkward task of telling Bernie that he was no longer needed. But the fact is, he wasn't.

What Cashman said about his commitment to the team as opposed to the music was a shot. He should not have said that. But on the same token, Bernie needs to stop acting like the Yankees wronged him in some major way. Sure, batting .281 is not bad, but when you're blocking a better outfielder from playing the outfield, and taking DH at bats from people who are producing more than you, I think its time to realize that the team is better without you. Especially after the organization gave you an extra year beyond what they should have. If he wanted to keep playing there were other teams with offers, not to mention that if he had taken the minor league invitation, there is no way Torre would have kept him off the roster.

It was the great Lou Gherig who ended his own consecutive games played streak because he realized that his presence on the field was hurting the team in place of helping it. Even as his replacement Babe Dahlgren urged him in between innings to get out there to keep the streak alive, he simply said no. I have to say that the way Bernie has handled his decline takes away from his legacy. He could have left on amicable terms the way Tino Martinez did when he was not asked back after the 2005 season. I understand that Bernie has given to the organization for 15+ years, but its not like he did it for free, and its not like the organization hasn't given back to Bernie. This whole fued needs to end.

18 Days, 18 Players: Andy Pettitte

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.


That was Andy Pettitte's final line last season. Although the numbers themselves may not appear so spectacular, anyone who watched him pitch last season knows how great he was. Besides picking up a couple innings out of the bullpen in April last season when the releivers were outlasting the starters, Pettitte pitched many quality games for the Yankees. Nothing highlights the kind of season Pettitte had for the Yankees better than his game 2 start against Cleveland in the post season. He pitched 6.1 shutout innings, left the game with a one run lead only to see it get blown away when Clevelands army of insects attacked Joba Chamberlain. It was the kind of season he had. He pitched one quality game after another only to have a lethargic Yankee offense back him up or have the bullpen blow his lead. He had 23 quality starts that should have lead the Yankees to victory more often than it did. I still remember him pitching 7 innings of 1 run ball in April against Oakland, only to see the game end with Marco Scutaro hitting a walk off 3 run shot off Mariano. Now the Yankee bats did give him his 15th win after he lasted 5 innings and gave up 8 runs against Baltimore in September, but that was not the norm.

So if he pitched so well, what's with the 4.05 ERA? Well, when he didn't pitch well, he usually got lit up. I mentioned the game against Baltimore already, and he had a couple more where he got hit hard. Nonetheless, Pettitte is a gamer. He pitches big games when you need him to, and gives gritty efforts nearly every time out. In the month of August, Pettitte posted a 2.36 ERA, and won every game he pitched.

My Fearless Prediction

The question for Pettitte is whether the Mitchell Report will be a distraction for him. My guess is it won't. Although wins are difficult to judge since it requires Yankee hitters to hit, I still think Pettitte can get 17 wins next season. I do not believe the Yankees will have the slow start they did last season, so the only question will be if his elbow will hold up for another season. He takes good care of himself so conditioning will not be an issue. I just hope the Yankee bullpen can hold onto some wins for Pettitte next season.

Little Known Pettitte Fact: Andy Pettitte rides a Harley Davidson and is the leader of a local motorcycle gang in Houston.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

19 Days, 19 Players: Chien-Ming Wang

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

RHP Chien-Ming Wang

Since joining the Yankees in 2005 Chien-Ming Wang has emerged as the most dominant pitcher on the Yankees staff. While many in Yankeeland were hoping to land a "true" # 1 in Santana earlier this winter, Andy Pettitte dismissed the idea that Wang was anything but an ace, calling him "a stud."

After rehabing a rotator cuff injury at the end of the 2005 campaign, Wang has had two consecutive 19 win seasons, and leads the majors in wins during that time. He also has a 3.74 career ERA despite being a young pitcher in AL East, one of the most offensively formidable divisions in baseball if not the most.

Despite these figures many fans feel Wang will never be a true ace since he is not a power pitcher (his fastball is only in th 94-96mph range, how lame is that!) with high strike out totals. Respectjetersgangster contends that these people need to watch less sportscenter, have better historical memory, and learn more about baseball. It's true, Wang relies on a sinker to get groundball outs, not a fastball in order to tally strike outs. But it's also true that he is incredibly effective, the win totals don't lie. And it's not just the Yankee offense pulling him to victory, his low ERA (for an American League pitcher) is evidence of his effectiveness, but more importantly, anyone who watches this kid with regularity knows just how dominant he is.

Groundballs will never be highlights the way strike outs will, but that is hardly reason to suggest Wang is not an ace or a stopper. While Wang performed poorly in the 2007 postseason, he's performed excellently in the previous two. You can't take one bad playoff performance and write off a player's role in the pitching staff. It just doesn't make sense in a game like baseball to judge a pitcher's "aceness" based on a five game series.

Many fans will point to a number of "tell-tale" statistics ("his ERA is 7.68 on night games on odd numbered days after a rainy day") to try to make the case for Wang's lack of ace status. These individuals need to spend less time doing statistical analysis and check their eharmony profiles more often.

Not So Bold Prediction:

Wang will continue to be the ace of the staff and make another run at 20 wins, ending with a win total somewhere between 18 and 21. He will also pitch well in the 2008 playoffs.

Little Known Fact About Chien-Ming Wang:

Chien-Ming Wang actually throws a 102mph fastball, But after he killed a moose who strayed onto the practice field while he was firing away in 2004 he vowed to never throw that hard again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What Will Your Fav Yankee Spend His Tax Rebate On?

President Bush and the United States Congress has agreed on an economic stimulus package that will provide tax rebate checks between $300 and $1200 to individuals and couples. So what will your favorite Yankee spend his rebate check on? We called the Yankees clubhouse in order to survey players. See the results of our scientific poll below:

Lawyers to depose Brian McNamee: 2%

Parking spaces for last night's jump off: 15%

Tips for blond stripper: 6%

Investment in Jose Canseco's new movie: 32%

Gasoline for hummer: 45%


This post is to commemorate our 1000's view on the blog. We owe all our success to the fans, and partly to Jeter's gangster. Here are some of the posts that made us a glaring success:

PEDP+, It Works!
To help gain support from the stat heads, we decided to develop a new baseball related statistic to keep the numbers flying. The best part is that it comes with Barry Bonds seal of approval, so you know its good.

Pavano Tough All Day
We decided that to get our viewership up we needed to post an update on a Yankee favorite. So we sent our investigative reporting team down to Florida to find out what Yankees ace Carl Pavano was up to.

Proof of Jeter's Gangster
Our mission is to show that Jeter's gangster is respect worthy. To this end, we posted some hard evidence of Jeter's gangster that is impossible to ignore.

Roberto Alejandro's Rant of the Week
Our very own Roberto Alejandro goes off on one of his diatribes.

Deron Peter Shows his Colors
Deron Peter reviews Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. We always suspected Deron of being a little jealous of Derek since he beat him out for the shortstop position back in 1995, but I think this post proves it.

Once again, thanks to everyone whose checked us out over the last couple weeks, and to all the bloggers out there that linked to our page. Special thanks to Derek Jeter for having a gangster worthy of a blog. Thank you all!

Lo Duca Injures his Knee

Looks like Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca has suffered a knee injury. With this recent development, the Nationals are the projected favorites to end next season in last place. In comparison, their projections prior to the injury had the Nationals all the way in last place.

Some may remember Paul Lo Duca as the Mets catcher. You may also remember him from page 256 of the Mitchell report. It looks like Lo Duca used some PED's. Lets see if you can figure out when he started using:

1998: .286/0/1/0 - 14 AB
1999: .232/3/11/1 - 95 AB
2000: .246/2/8/0 - 65 AB
2001: .320/25/90/2 - 460 AB
2002: .281/10/64/3 - 580 AB
2003: .273/7/52/0 - 568 AB
2004: .286/13/80/4 - 535 AB

If you guessed 2004, you are correct, at least according to the Mitchell report. In 2003 there were notes by Dodgers officials stating that he was off steroids, implying that he was on steroids before the 2003 season. The hard evidence comes in checks written to Radomski in the amount of $3,200.00 during the 2004 season. I for one was shocked, because Radomski was charging us $4,200.00 in '04 for PED's. I hope he goes to jail for that alone.

Rod Barajas and J.P. Ricciardi Back Together!

Its been a long, cold year ever since America's sweethearts parted ways, deciding that it was easier to go without each other then be with each other. There was not one baseball fan in all the world with a dry eye when it was announced last off season that Rod Barajas and J.P. Ricciardi didn't feel their relationship was going in the right direction. Feeling that Barajas did not want to be in the relationship, Ricciardi stated in frustration "I don't want anyone who doesn't want to be here". Barajas allowed his friends to talk him into thinking that he could do better. Once scorned, Barajas fled into the arms of a new suitor in Philadelphia, and Ricciardi returned to his ex, Greg Zaun.

As the year went on however, the two knew they couldn't be apart. The suitor in Philadelphia dumped Barajas for someone younger, and Ricciardi just didn't have the same feelings for Zaun as he did Barajas. The two decided to talk things over, and put their differences behind them. As Ricciardi said, "I talked to Rod last night and we had a nice conversation... That was last year. It's over with...We're concentrating on this year....we're happy...nothing to be gained by going backwards. We're going forward and we're just really happy."

We are really happy for you two. I knew you'd be back together, it was just a matter of time.

When will baseball start?

20 Days, 20 Players: LF/DH: Johnny Damon

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. We would like to officially go on the record as saying that our reviews are PED free, and come from hard work, dedication, and natural vigor.

Johnny Damon is entering his third season with the Yankees and is hoping to rebound after an injury plagued 2007 campaign. Damon entered spring training a bit over weight last year which led to a calve injury. After issuing a public statement allowing all his fans to know that his calves were still sexy, he went on to have a very troubled start. He had a batting average of .229 for the month of April, bounced back with a .292 average for May, but then slumped back down for June and July finishing the first 4 months of the season with a .250 average. August and September were rebound months for Damon where he batted .297 and .313 respectively. As a result of his play, Damon lost centerfield duties to Melky Cabrera.

My Fearless Prediction:

Despite having a very slow start, Damon did steal 27 bases down the stretch, which tells me his legs are there. He also played an amazing left field. With Matsui having knee problems you can expect Damon to make the majority of the starts in left field with Matsui backing Damon to keep him fresh. I do not believe Damon will make the same mistake and show up to spring training out of shape. I expect Damon to come out the gate strong and finish with a .300 average with 30 stolen bases. I had stated in an earlier post that I made a foolish bet that Damon would hit 30 homeruns. Though I don't believe this will happen, for the sake of consistancy, I will include his 30 homeruns in my fearless prediction.

I was able to attend Game 3 of the Yankees/Cleveland series last year, and I can say that Damon is a spark plug. He is not known for his power, but in a big spot he knocked one out to help bury Cleveland that day. The Yankees ended up losing that series so the play in that one game was quickly forgotten. But Damon is a winner. He often comes up big when you need him to, and I for one am against seeing him get traded. Though there aren't any offers for him right now, if the DH/Left field log jam becomes an issue you can bet the trade offers will start coming. I love both Matsui and Damon, and would not ever want to have to choose between the two, but if I had to pick an everyday leftfielder out of those two it would be Damon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Brian Cashman School of Negotiation

Peter Abraham is reporting on his blog that the Yankees and Robinson Cano may be close to a 4 year deal worth $30M. As had previously reported the Yankees had submitted an arbitration offer of $3.2M while Cano was asking for $4.55M. Clearly, $7.5M/yr for four years is the middle ground between those two figures.

Not that I'm against signing Cano to a "long" term deal, I think that is in the best interest of the Yankees, it's just that it strikes me as an odd negotiation ploy to offer to pay the guy more than he's asking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

21 Days, 21 Players: Derek Jeter

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

This player preview has been written by guest commentator Deron Peter. Deron was a shortstop in the Yankees minor league system back in 1995 when a PED scandal ended his career. He brings an insider's perspective to our blog.

Shortstop Derek Jeter

While he probably should have been included in trade talks for Johan Santana, the inexplicably popular shortstop will return for his 13th full major league season. Jeter has been a mainstay at shortstop despite being the worst defensive shortstop to have ever lived according to those with knowledge of sabermetric analysis. He is likely to play the whole season there and cost the team untold numbers of runs and wins due to his poor defensive play.

The offensive outlook isn't much better. Though Jeter competed for the batting title in 2006 with a .343 avg., he managed only a paltry .322 in 2007. Compare that to Bronson Sardinha who hit .333 and is clearly a better player therefore. Jeter's range to his right has severely degraded. While he routinely reaches balls in the third row of the stands balls in the fifth or sixth row are helplessly out of reach for a player that should be DHing most games.

Jeter's gangster is also questionable. Has his creepy looking right hand man been thrown off a roof by a Treasury agent who then makes a witty remark about him being in the car? No! As you can see, there are serious concerns about Jeter's effectiveness at shortstop. No doubt his crazy night life has taken its toll on this major leaguer.

Jeter projects to hit for an average in the .320's, with 12 HR, 84 RBI, and at least 6 amazingly hot chicks dated in 2007.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

22 Days, 22 Players: Centerfielder Melky Cabrera

Well there is something to be said for a player who has survived (thus far) two trade filled off seasons with the Yankees. Last year, a three way trade with the Braves and Pirates was supposed to land us lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez. In hindsight it was a good thing they did not land Gonzalez seeing as he needed Tommy John by May. This season, Melky was rumored to be going to the Twins as part of the Santana deal, but we all know where that went. What the Yankees have in Melky is a solid outfielder. He is fast, and has a cannon for an arm, but he’s still young and sometimes takes odd routes to balls. He’s a very energetic player and he plays hard. I for one am glad he is still in pinstripes, at least for now.

My Fearless Prediction:

Where Melky is a strong defensive player, his bat has been a bit frail. He hit .273 with 8 homeruns, and 73 RBI’s in 545 at bats last season. For 2008 I expect him to improve in both batting average and power. My best guess for Melky is that he will bat in the .300 range, with roughly 12 homeruns. He is still a very young player, and not near his peak in power hitting. That’s not to say he will make a run at Bond’s record some day, but he will certainly have more than the 7 and 8 he’s hit in the last two seasons. He will continue to flash some glove, and be the energetic player you would expect him to be.

Little Known Melky Fact:

Cabrera once received a cease and desist letter from the Mars Chocolate company after he began producing his now defunct Melky Way bars. They had twice the amount of Nugget as the leading brand.

Matsui's Knee?

River Ave. Blues cited a report from Japan stating that Hideki Matsui was coming to the states early because he was still having trouble with his knees. You can read the translated version on that site. Much props to the people at River Ave. Blues for getting a readable translation. They originally tried to use an online translator to get the text, but got some funny results. I decided to do the same thing and see what I ended up with. So from the report as translated by

You do not know” whether from first day it is possible by all power, that expressing insecurity. The [jiyoni] demon outfielder (34) and others with also intensification of the home position dispute is inevitable."

"something doing, and others there is no [re]! Matsui"

"The Matsui 秀 happy outfielder"

"First in New York in performance of an operation medicine, after that, with the tamper it has verifying state in the trainer of club"

And to conclude: "Season of game, Godzilla boards to the United States with position of the backwater."

Well thank goodness Matsui still has position of that backwater. In case you missed all of that it appears the happy demon outfielder, Hideki Matsui, expressed insecurity and tampered the state after a dispute was inevitable. In short, somethings doing and there is no Matsui.

Another interesting piece of translation was already mentioned by River Ave. Blues, though my translation was slightly different. According to the article: "The fire ignited to the Godzilla rear end."

Well crap. Thats reason enough to keep him out half the season. Our prayers go out to him and his family.

Don Mattingly Leaves Dodgers

Don Mattingly has stepped down from his post as the hitting coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers for family reasons. He will be replaced by Mike Easler. Don Mattingly has asked that his family's privacy be respected, just what the press excels at, so that shouldn't be a problem. He will remain in the dodgers organization as a special advisor and coach. The change in position will allow him to spend more time at home in Evansville, Indiana.

23 Days, Days 23 Players: Hideki Matsui

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

Outfielder/DH Hideki Matsui

As Matsui has aged it has become increasingly apparent that he can no longer be an everyday outfielder. He should see increased time as a DH this season as Johnny Damon takes over more of the left field duties while Melky Cabrera becomes the regular center fielder. This could all change, however, if a trade for Johan Santana is culminated sending our young center fielder to Minnesota.

Matsui's name came up in trade rumors over the winter when it was reported that the Giants were interested in his services in order to replace the power lost by not resigning Barry Bonds. Always the class act, Matsui, through his agent, indicated that he would not use his no trade clause to block a trade, though he would want an extension if traded.

It will be interesting to see how Matsui's role develops this season. It is likely that he will play the remaining two years of his current contract in pinstripes. The question is, what will his role be when you have three everyday players (Matsui, Damon, and Posada) who could use more and more time at DH as they age while already having a regular DH in Jason Giambi? This will be quite the juggling act for Joe Girardi, and will certainly test his ability to handle the egos of the star athletes in this clubhouse.

Little Known Fact About Matsui:

Favorite ODB quote: Ooh baby I like it raw!
(in fairness, he thought it was a reference to sushi)

Pujols Not too Happy

Hours before the Mitchell Report was released to the public, several prominent news outlets falsely reported a number of players supposedly mentioned in the report. One of these players was Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. The St. Louis media picked up the report and ran with it. Once the Mitchell report was officially released, Pujols name was absent, and the news outlets had to issue apologies. According to a report on Pujols was fairly upset that the St. Louis media picked up the false story so quickly. I would be too.

The trouble with baseball in the post steroid era is that everyone who hits more than 30 homeruns raises suspicion. Players that bounce back from bad seasons raise questions, and any sharp increase in production causes people to wonder. Any change in a players appearance is enough to get people concerned. People wonder why a player at the age of 30 looks bigger than he did at 21, even though its a fact of life that the older you get the more weight you put on. Now in some cases the suspicion is founded (Barry Bonds looks like he's twice his size in muscle as his rookie self), but not for everyone. Its gotten to such a point where people who never have even been linked with PED's can still raise suspicion in fans.

Albert Pujols became an easy target not because he has used PED's (certainly not that anyone knows of), but because he hits for power, and is a big guy. The Roger Maris', Reggie Jackson's, Hank Aaron's, and Willie Stargell's of our generation will never be viewed through an untainted lense. This is a sad commentary on the state of baseball.

Monday, January 21, 2008

24 Days, 24 Players: Jorge Posada

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

Catcher Jorge Posada

Its hard to think of the Yankees without Jorge Posada. Although Jeter is the Captain, and A-Rod's the highest paid, Posada carries his own respect in the clubhouse. Last season the Yankee catcher had a career year, and it was a good thing since it was the walk year of his contract. Posada batted .338 last season, which was the first time he ever batted above .300. He slugged 20 homeruns and legged out 42 doubles while knocking in 90 runs. With Jason Varitek on a sharp decline and Pudge Rodriguez losing all the pop in his bat, Jorge Posada stands as the best offensive veteran catcher in the game. Last season was a tough one physically for Posada. For the first half of the season, back up catcher Wil Nieves did not inspire enough confidence in Torre to be used regularly, and Posada picked up those innings. When Nieves did start, he was almost always replaced by Posada in later innings. It was not until the Yankees acquired Jose Molina that Posada could take a day off, and not end up having to work anyway.

My Fearless Prediction

Entering the first year of his 4-year $52.4 million dollar contract, it's hard to believe that he will suddenly start feeling his age (he turns 37 in August) and stop producing the way he has in the last few years. Posada has never been on the DL, which is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand it says he's durable, but on the other it says that he's played through injuries because there is no way that a catcher can catch for over 10 years and not get injured once. One has to wonder how he will hold up.
It would be difficult for Posada to bat .338 again or anywhere near it. Posada batting in the .290 range with 20 homeruns and 80+ RBI's would be my guess for him. A lot of that will also have to do with how much Girardi uses Molina. Posada is in great shape, but he will need those occasional days off to rest those legs. By the time the great Yogi Berra was Posada's age, he was playing the outfield. Posada will likely find some time at first base next season, but it may be difficult to move him there in the future. I don't think the Yankees will pass on Mark Teixeira next off season, and if they acquire him, Posada is out of the most logical position to switch a catcher to. However, that is a matter that can be dealt with when the time comes. For 2008, Posada will catch.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Day 25, Player 25 Alex Rodriguez

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.

Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez

Its hard to think that Alex Rodriguez can have a better season than he did last year. He hit .314 with 54 homeruns and 156 RBI's. He also stole 24 bases and made 13 errors at third base after having 24 errors there the year before. On the first game of the 2007 season he was booed early on for dropping a flyball in foul territory. He then went on to crush a homerun in late innings to help beat the team formerly known as the Devil Rays. If you got to see A-Rod last season you saw that he was a different person than he was in 2006. I went to a game against Cleveland at Yankee stadium where he went 0-4 before blasting a Joe Borowski pitch into the Yankee bullpen for a walk off three-run homerun. A-Rod had finally put behind him the demons that plagued him in 2006 and nothing else would get in his way. No blonde stripper, no derogotary words printed on his wife's shirt, not even yelling something that would confuse the crap out of Howie Clark could get in his way. I will admit that I was an A-Rod detractor in 2006, but he won me over in game 1 of the 2007 season, and hasn't disappointed me since.

My Fearless Prediction:

I expect A-Rod to have another outstanding season. It would be tough to replicate what he did last season, but if his off season work out is any indication of how he'll play, then I think we're going to see an amazing A-Rod. If you didn't get a chance to read it, the Miami Herald has an article about A-Rod mentoring a 20 year old collegiate player at the University of Miami where he works out in the off season (Thanks to Bryan Hoch for pointing this out on his blog). Mientkiewicz is quoted in that article as saying "'How many guys would have the year he had and get back to work and do more than what he did the year before?" By the sounds of it, A-Rod wants to replicate. A healthy A-Rod will make a run at the true single season homerun record of 61 set by Roger Maris. The important thing for A-Rod is to stay out of his own head. I don't know what goes on in there, but it can have an adverse effect on his performance.

Much of A-Rod's run production will be determined by whether Abreu will not stay in a slump for half the season, and how good the batters behind him turn out to be. If Giambi is healthy there will potentially be another power bat behind A-Rod, which certainly helps. He's definitely a shoo-in for 120+ RBI's, but that's not really a fearless prediction, so I'll bump him up to 140+.
My real fearless prediction has to do with his post season play. A-Rod is too good for him to continue playing a mediocre post season. He will mash this post season, and that's my real fearless prediction.

Friday, January 18, 2008

26 Days to Spring Training, 26 Players to Review...

Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't for one reason or another. We will then submit our report to George Mitchell so he can further investigate our claims.

Second Baseman Robinson Cano

Despite his getting low balled by the Yankees, Robinson Cano stands to enter the 2008 season as one of the top offensive second baseman in the league. Last season he batted .306 with 19 homeruns and 97 RBI’s. His average was a far cry from the .342 he hit in 2006 when he competed with both Mauer and Jeter for the batting title. Cano started slow last year batting .269 with 3 homeruns through the first three months of the season. If you saw him, you probably remember how ugly he looked at the plate. He had a Vlad Guerrero strike zone, with an Adam Dunn contact rate. In July, it all started to click. He batted .385 with 6 homeruns and 24 RBI’s that month. He slowed down a little in August, but not much. He ended the season hitting career highs in both homeruns (19) and RBI’s (97).

My Fearless Prediction:

For 2008, I expect Cano to do what Joe Torre always believed he was capable of doing. I can see him making a run at 30 homeruns and 100 RBI’s easy this season, and I expect his average to increase from last season to the .320 range. Apart of the reason I believe his power will increase is that he hit 19 homeruns last season after having 3 in the beginning 3 months. I do not expect he’ll run into the same issues he had with the strike zone early last season.

The main concern with Cano for me is health. He’s kind of a big guy at a slick position. I always feel that he could get hurt doing some of the acrobatics sometimes required at second base. So far it hasn’t been second base that has gotten him hurt. He tore his hamstring running the bases in 2006, and though he did not miss time for this, he did bang his knee up pretty good when he ran into the rolled up tarp on the right field line last season trying to catch a flyball. His defense was pretty solid, and I expect that to continue. He does a good job of using second base as a barrier between himself and the oncoming runner, and then uses his strong arm to plug the guy at first. If he stays healthy, we’re going to see some good baseball out of him.

25 Days, 25 Players. Spring Training Here We Come!

There are exactly 25 days left until catchers and pitchers report for Spring training and seeing that there are 25 players on a major league roster, today seems like the best day to start the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog player break down. Between now and when spring training starts, we will write about one player per day, likely to be on the active roster on opening day.

Jason Giambi

Today we start with DH/1B Jason Giambi. I can't imagine he'll be playing first base on a daily basis, but with more than one player vying for at bats as DH, Giambi may need to play more first than his physical makeup will allow. Giambi is no Mientkiewicz at first base, but he's also no Mientkiewicz at the plate either. Giambi can still crush the ball, and he can work walks. He's the perfect DH candidate. Its hard to imagine Giambi making it through a whole season without missing time with an injury. If he can log 500 at bats next season its not inconcievable for him to knock out 30 homeruns with 80+ RBI's. The man will make $21 million in 2008, and has a $5 million buy out for the 2009 season. He will be playing for a contract, which is often enough motivation for a player to perform (See Posada, Jorge). Speaking of contracts, buy outs have to be a ball players best friend. Its basically having a team pay you to not play for them that year. If only we could all be so lucky.

I for one think that Giambi will have a good season. I don't think he will miss as much time for injuries as he did last season. If he can log 400 at bats, he will help this team win. Hopefully someone sends him a memo reminding him that this is his walk year so he shows up to spring training in good shape and ready for baseball. Although his last season stats were awful, he did bat .322 with 17 rbi's and a .402 OBP in April, the only month he was really healthy and playing regularly. He tried to play through a foot injury, and his numbers suffered. When he came back after missing two months, he was used sporadically which further hurt his production. I'm curious to see what Giambi will do this season.

UPDATE: It looks like I miss counted the actual number of days until spring training. Where I originally reported it to be 25 days away, it is really 27 days away. This actually works to our benefit, since the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog has been long time proponents of the 27 man roster. We will continue per usual naming the 25 players, and as an added bonus we'll report on 2 players who deserve to be on the roster but probably won't be there.

In The News

According to a headline in the New York Times: Rodriguez and Wright, Together. Cynthia is going to be pissed!

Apparently Anti-doping officials at the Olympics aren't pleased with Baseball's response to implementing recommendations in the Mitchell Report. Yeah, it's not like one of the Olympics' biggest stars was just sentenced to six months in jail for lying about steroid use. Clearly a victory for moral authority.

It is also being reported that Roger Clemens has hired a top Washington lawyer who once represented Bill Clinton. Is Clemens considering a run at the presidency? If so which party's nomination will he seek? Will he make an independent bid? Does the country need more Rocket Fuel? Only time will tell.

Bronson Kiheimahanaomauiakeo Sardinha Beats Doug Mientkiewicz in Spelling Contest

Looks like Bronson Kiheimahanaomauiakeo Sardinha was picked up by the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees wanted to sign him after they dropped him from the roster, but I'm sure with Tabata and Jackson coming up, Bronson didn't see much of a future with the Yankees. Bronson played shortly last season going 3 for 9 (.333 batting average) with 2 RBI's, and was on the post season roster. Although those numbers don't sound so intimidating, if you were to project those numbers over the course of 600 at bats, the man would have 200 hits and 133 RBI's. Also, he'd walk 133 times and only strike out 66 times. That's not the kind of production you can let go.

The signing of Sardinha to the Mariners is especially devastating since the Twins were finally ready to ask for their plan c package of Sardinha, Igawa, and Farnsworth for Santana.

Besides playing with the Yankees, Sardinha is also known for taking Mientkiewicz place as having the most unspellable name on the roster. Ohlendorf landed a distant third.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Important Things Going on in Baseball

So what's going on in the world of baseball? Not much. However there are some very relevant things going on right now that fans should be aware of.

More Ritalin Please!

According to a report in the New York Times the amount of players using Ritalin and Adderall has more than tripled over the course of one year. Baseball officials first became suspicious when ball players began studying harder for longer and scoring higher grades on their exams then before. More red flags were raised after ball players sat through an entire lecture by Bud Selig and actually paid attention.

I want a recount!

It looks like Baseball's Commissioner Bud Selig had his contract extended through 2012. Clearly, I had no vote. Besides leading Baseball into the steroid era, looking the other way while Baseball benefited from the steroid era, then beginning a witch hunt called the Mitchell Report to shift the blame of the steroid era off his shoulders, I suppose he's had a successful term. He did begin revenue sharing, which I agree with, but I do not think I will be campaigning for 4 more years of this guy.

Calling all cars, Miguel Tejada is on the loose!

It looks like the Feds have begun their investigation of Miguel Tejada. Its about time! I think we'll all feel a lot safer once he's off the streets.

When does Baseball start?

Random Lists to Keep You Warm at Night

Ten Jeter Facts You Didn't Know:

1. Derek Jeter could hit as many home runs as David Ortiz, but instead waists his energy playing a real position.
2. Derek Jeter prefers his martini's supermodels.
3. Derek Jeter can recite the entire Constitution from memory.
4. Despite his decreased range, Jeter is still miles ahead of Julio Lugo.
5. Derek Jeter pitches for the Hanshin Tigers on the side.
6. Derek Jeter wrote the screen play for Saving Private Ryan.
7. Derek Jeter performed Carl Pavano's Tommy John surgery.
8. Chuck Noris respects Jeter's gangster.
9. Derek Jeter never fakes the funk on a nasty dunk.
10. JD Drew's wife keeps a picture of Derek Jeter on her at all times. Oddly enough, so does JD Drew.

10 Possible Reasons for why Bobby Abreu Won't Dive for a Ball, or Run into a padded fence to get an Out:

1. He used to catch spankings for getting grass stains on his shirt.
2. His childhood baseball field was lined with an electric fence.
3. His childhood field had no fence, and is now intimidated by their presence.
4. There were snakes on the field he played in.
5. There were rocks and rock scorpions on the field he played in.
6. One time he ran right through a fence while following a fly ball not realizing it was the fence to the local prison. He inadvertantly sprung 200 convicts into his community.
7. He's been taking advice from Carl Pavano.
8. Bobby once made a beautiful diving catch but didn't see that his pet rabbit had wandered onto the field to play with him. The catch was beautiful, but the rabbit never saw him coming. He vouched to never dive again.
9. Bobby once hopped a fence only to see his neighbor sun bathing in the nude. He was so traumatized he never went near a fence again.
10. He dives when he wants to. Respect his gangster.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Torre Losses

According to this article in The New York Times violence has once again erupted in Kenya. Where is Joe Torre? Probably sitting on his hands in some dugout in Hawaii.

I mean honestly, if this guy is so good with managing the egos in the clubhouse, why can't supporters of two rival presidential contenders find common ground in Kenya? Clearly, if Joe Torre was a competent manager we wouldn't be seeing this and we would've won the World Series every year for the last 9 years. Oh, and we would have traded Santana for Darrell Rasner. Oh how I hate Joe Torre!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PEDP+, It Works!

After years of funding, developing, and testing the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog has finally invented its own statistic for measuring baseball performance. This new tool helps aid scouts, players, fans, reporters, anyone who is interested in seeing what a player projects to look like on performance enhancers. PEDP+ or, Performance Enhancement Drug Projections Plus, uses projections from known PED users (thanks to Mitchell and Canseco for outing them) plus it shows the path their lives would likely take, again using projections from the aforementioned outed players. It's difficult to explain how PEDP+ works mathematically, but it comes with Barry Bond's seal of approval so you know its good. To be clear, we at "Respect Jeter's Gangster" are not claiming these players use PED's. We are instead showing you what they would look like on PED's and what the likely narrative for their life would be if they used PED's. Instead of showing you the boring equations, triangles, algorithms, myrrh, decimals and variables that make up the body of PEDP+, we would instead like to show you some real life examples of PEDP+:

The above picture shows Yankees ace Carl Pavano as his regular PED free self. It was taken moments before he decided to retire from pitching. However, if we take this same picture and adjust for PEDP+, the future Pavano projects to look like this:

Stop here to read the text before seeing the picture!

Not bad, huh? PEDP+ projects that Pavano would come out of retirement, not to pitch, but rather to break POW's out of various prison camps throughout the world. After his 3rd trip it will become a bit redundant, but after waiting over 10 years he goes for a forth trip to rescue Christian aid workers who went missing near a Burmese village. Despite his philanthropy, Yankee fans still won't forgive him.

Moving on to our next projection:

Here's a picture of Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon. Johnny Damon is known for a slick glove and quick feet. He's also known for being a club house character, and getting the crowd riled up with his electric personality. Our PEDP+ projects the following for Damon:

Stop here to read the text before seeing the picture!

The PEDP+ projects Damon will change his name to Ol' Dirty Damon and take his electrifying personality to a music studio where he knocks out hit after hit with a group of 8 friends. PEDP+ also projects the lead bass player to be Jason Giambi, with Miguel Cairo on the Tambourine.

The beauty of PEDP+ is that you can use it on anyone, not just baseball players. For example, this is a picture of the ever popular Mary-Kate Olsen. Upon our second read, we were able to confirm that Mary-Kate was not mentioned in the Mitchell report. However, PEDP+ can help us see what she would look like if she had been. Though it took more work from our statisticians, we were able to project the future PED using Olsen as such:

Stop here to read the text before seeing the picture!

Oh my goodness, and some of you had a crush on this girl. The PEDP+ story line is a little screwy with this one. It starts with Mary-Kate bleeding on a sock and ends with her eating her twin. We thought it was too graphic to share all the details.

So there you have it folks, PEDP+ works, and to prove it, here's our seal of approval:

If Only There Were Real Problems In The World

Since the United States is not currently involved in two wars, facing a health care crisis or a possible economic recession, Congress has turned its attention to the only thing left to do: ask the Justice Dept to investigate Miguel Tejada.

Apparently Tejada may have lied to investigators in 2005 probing possible perjury by Rafael Palmeiro. And you know once the Justice Department starts investigating you're in trouble. All I know is, Tejada better not have slept with a white house intern, or he's toast!

Seriously, isn't there a country that Congress should be governing right now? They couldn't regulate the home mortgage industry during the subprime era but they need to police steroids in baseball? Lord knows how many foreclosures were caused by Roger Clemens' steroid use! Besides, every time a baseball player lies about steroids, a baby seal dies.

So yes, these hearings are a waste of time. You almost get the sense that these congressman didn't feel like reading the 400+ page Mitchell Report so they just scheduled a hearing so that Mitchell could just come in and explain it to them.

Santana, when will it be over?

The NY Post reported that the Yankees could still make a Santana deal if the Twins ask for less (we get it, its been a slow news week). An interesting detail in that article is that the Twins asking price was Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Ian Kennedy, and Jeff Marquez. Originally the Twins had also asked for the kitchen sink, but withdrew that request upon the Yankees backing out of the negotiations.

The fact of the matter is this, it is in Santana's best interest to wait until free agency to find a new team and its within the Twins best interest to make sure that doesn’t happen. Right now, Santana holds all the cards. He has a full no-trade clause, and is a year away from free agency. He will only go to a team that will pay what he wants, and let’s face it, there’s not too many teams willing to pay Santana like figures. Further more, if he waits until free agency, instead of negotiating with one team in a potential deal, he will be negotiating with several teams. The Mets will be throwing big dollar figures around, the Red Sox will get involved to drive up the price even though they have no intention of signing him, and the Yankees will be left either keeping up with the bids or letting him go to the Mets. Its basically what’s happening now only instead of the Twins benefiting, Santana will.

I for one don’t want to see the trade happen. We can make a strong push during his free agency and let it fall out without trading half our farm to the Twins. The Red Sox are bluffing. If they were really planning to sign Santana they would have done it by now. They won’t pay Santana $20 million a season when their current staff ace Josh Beckett makes $10 million.

Pete Rose Ain't the Only One Who Can Bet on Baseball

Every year I make a series of baseball related bets. I typically bet on things that probably won't happen, but if they do I look like a baseball prophet. Some of the things I've bet on in the past: Kei Igawa pitching a no-hitter, Damon hitting 30 homeruns, and Carl Pavano becoming a useful member of the rotation. As you can imagine, I've lost many bets.

In 2008 however, I am much more optimistic that my impulsive bet making will work out. Here are the baseball bets I've made so far:

Bet 1: A rotation of Carl Pavano, Mike Hampton, Mark Prior, Matt Clement, and Mark Mulder will throw no less than 500 innings and no more than 600 innings. (The opposite bet is that they will throw between 600-700 innings).

Bet 2: The Yankees will win a world series championship with Alex Rodriguez. (My friend beleives Alex is a curse to the Yankees and they won't win with him on the team. Need to wait until 2018 for this one.)

Bet 3: The Rays will win a world series championship in the next ten years. (Again, need to wait until 2018 for this one).

Bet 4: Damon hits 30 homeruns.

So what are some of the stupid baseball bets you all have made? Or, if you've never made a stupid bet, what are your thoughts on these bets? Sound off in the comments section, don't be shy! Its no fun to blog if there's no back and forth!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Random Thoughts is reporting that the Yankees have taken their offer for Santana off the table . . . again. I guess it's a slow news day over at the MLB division of ESPN. Here are some ideas that don't involve recycled headlines from stories no one is paying attention to anymore:

You could always write one more article on the Mitchell Report. Original angles include effects on the Yankees, whether Selig is to blame for the steroids era, or whether Mark McGwire should be kept out of the hall as a result of the steroids allegations.

Is it too early for a Spring Training preview? I guess another story about Brian McNamee is more pertinent. Hell, the New York Times has a whole article about the lawyers negotiating the depositions of McNamee and Clemens before lawyers of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I'm sure this article is quite interesting . . . if you've nothing to live for. I'm glad a committee on government reform is tackling the steroids issue though. Lord knows there's nothing about the government itself they could be working on. Does anybody else find it at all ironic that the word "oversight" appears alongside "government reform" in the committee title?

You could also do what the Daily News did and publish a column detailing why there's nothing to talk about. At least they aren't reporting old news. Hey, did you hear the Yankees new manager is Joe Girardi? Crazy!

Or you could recycle more headlines. I'm sure there have been about a thousand "Red Sox still front runners in Santana Sweepstakes" breaking news articles this January. Oh well, I'm sure those intrepid reporters out there will think of something.

News for a Monday Morning

Those of us living in the Northeast are currently trapped in doors by a giant storm that has granted some of us a three day weekend. No complaints here. However for those of you who were forced to dig out your cars and swerve your way to work, the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog is here for you. Here are a few items to consider on a Monday...

Some of you may have heard that a Brooklyn man is suing the New York Yankees because players on their team have used performance enhancing drugs. He hopes to be reimbursed $221.00 for tickets he purchased. The man calls it "consumer fraud" and says what he watched wasn't real baseball. The argument is one you could make from all of baseball in that era, and I suspect this guy won't get anything. No team writes on their ticket stub "One admission to a PED free performance", so I don't see how it can be "consumer fraud". The man watched some baseball games, which is exactly what he paid for. Its not like he showed up to Yankee stadium to find a field hockey game in session. Also, the man was able to see Derek Jeter play, and that in and of itself is worth the $221.00 he paid. Nice try guy, ain't gonna happen.

Bryan Hoch over at did a mailbag which had some good things to read. One of the questions was about whether or not Derek Jeter would get into the hall of fame. We at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog would like to answer that question with a Yes.

Lastly, I would like you all to know that we sent a representative to Cooperstown, NY over the weekend. The most interesting find was that a Carl Pavano autographed baseball was going for $49.95. What kind of market do they really think they have?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Guest Commentator: Deron Peter

Deron was a shortstop in the Yankees minor league system back in 1995 when a PED scandal ended his career. He brings an insider’s perspective to our blog.

Some people think that Jeter is a great shortstop. He’s won three gold gloves and makes a lot of spectacular plays. Blah, blah, blah. The truth is Jeter leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to defense. Jeter does not have great range for a shortstop. For example, in 2004, when Johnny Damon hit the grand slam in game 7 of the ALCS, where was Jeter? He was just standing there. He didn’t even jump up to try and knock it down. If he had better vertical range he would have gotten to that ball. The sabermetrics don’t lie. Also, if you look at Jeter’s OPS+ it is clear that he’s not that good looking. I’m at least as handsome as that guy. Frankly, I’m not even sure how Jeter made the major leagues. He hits a measly .250.* .250! That’s all Jeter is, a .250 shortstop with no vertical range. I know it has become fashionable to respect Jeter’s gangster, but I’m not buying it.

* Stats based on 1995 major league campaign.