Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Baseball Occured Today

Amazing things to note in the baseball realm:

The team with the best offense in all world history put together an opening day loss against a team with as much offense as the Kansas City Royals. Oh wait! It was the Kansas City Royals! Detroit took an extra innings L to the Royals when Tony Pena Jr. knocked in a go-ahead run in the 11th. That would be the son of the Yankees first base coach with the same name minus the jr at the end. Gary Sheffield went 0-1 with 4 walks. Detroit is pretty stacked.

The Mets won their opening day game 7 - 2, with Santana on the mound, but screw them, it was against the Cabrera-less Marlins.

The Phillies still claim to be the team to beat this year, a feat Washington took literally after handing them an 11-6 loss. Washington stayed true to its tradition of limiting opposing teams to 5 runs or more, but they broke their tradition by allowing their offense to really come alive. That reminds me. We never finished our trilogy of know a crappy team. We covered the Rays and Royals, and forgot to finish with the Nationals. Well, I'll make sure to get on that. Former Met, Lastings Milledge hit a homerun. Good for him. Maybe he can write a rap song about it.

The White Sox took a gamble by trading away pitching for offense this off season. It worked in that they scored 8 runs today, it didn't in that they allowed 10. White Sox starter Mark Buerhle lasted 1.2 innings giving up 7 runs. Sabathia didn't do much better giving up 5 runs in 5.1 innings. Victor Martinez was injured in the process.

And no opening day would be complete without an AL East basement brawl. The Orioles lost to the Rays 6-2. They should get used to it. For the next few years the Orioles are going to hold down that last place spot. They released Jay Gibbons recently. He simply isn't as productive without the stuff Mitchell reported him on. Scott Shields put up 7 innings of two run ball. Not bad against a team that has the hard hitting Kevin Millar batting clean up. And who wouldn't pitch to Kevin Millar with Aubrey Huff on deck?

Carlos Zambrano, the Zambrano with actual baseball talent, pitched 6.2 innings of shutout ball. Newly acquired Japanese outfielder Fukudome went 3-3 with a homerun and a double. However, Kerry Wood, and his habitually injured arm gave up 3 runs to tie it and the Cubs lost in extra innings. It didn't help that the 1 and 2 hitters combined to go 0 for 10. Soriano where you at? Despite the frustrating loss, Zambrano restrained himself from attacking his catcher....for now.

Lastly, I got to see Bedard pitch for the Mariners. I was impressed. Texas sucks. Oh, and the Angels lost to Minnesota. Livan Hernandez simply out pitched Jered Weaver. Didn't see that one coming.

Wow, What A Game!

At least that's what I hope to say tomorrow when the Yanks finally play. Today's game was rained out because apparently the wicked witch of the east was playing on one of the teams. I live in New York and there was little more than a light drizzle all day and we couldn't have any baseball. I know, the field was soggy and the players could get hurt, blah blah blah. I want baseball dashbamit! Oh well, no use in crying over spilled milk, unless it's 1%, which is by far the best of the various milk varieties. Speaking of milk, when are Cabrera's and Duncan's respective appellate hearings for their violent, malicious, near criminal actions against the Rays?

Hank Scares Me

Check out the following quotes from Hank Steinbrenner in a New York Times article published today:

"we want to be in position like we were in the late 1990s — and like they were in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, where we were the favorites almost every year. That doesn’t mean you’re going to win it, but at least be good enough to be considered the favorite every year. And I won’t hold back anything to achieve that.”

“Our plan is to be a dominant force from now on, and to do whatever we have to do.”

Is Hank planning to off someone? I mean, I appreciate commitment, and gangster, in upper management, but Hank may be taking his role as the boss a little too seriously. I wonder if he walks around saying things like, "don't ask me about my business Kay."

Maybe he just means he's willing to spend money, but something tells me there will be at least a few suspicious muggings of opposing pitchers in the visiting clubhouse.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jeter Unable to Fit Pinky Ring On Pinky Finger

Derek Jeter injured his pinky finger recently but believes he is fine. His one regret is that he can't seem to fit his pinky ring onto his pinky finger.

"Yeah, the ring gets stuck half way up the finger." Said Jeter. "I iced it for an hour, but the ring still wouldn't fit. Its really frustrating."

Despite the frustration, Jeter believes he'll make the home opener.

"It feels good enough to play, just not good enough to put this ring on it. I may need to get it widened in the mean time."

Get pumped people. The season is about to start.

Get Ready, Here it Comes

We are one day away from the season opener, and I can truly say that despite spring training being such a bore, it has been a good one. Just think about the decisions that were made, and the team that was built. Hughes having a strong final outing, Chamberlain going to the bullpen, Ohlendorf making the team, Ensberg playing the bench, a new rivalry with the basement floor of the AL East, Shelley Duncan, Giambi's comeback, Jeter's gangster, and Mussina's knucklecurve. They all make for an exciting start to the season.

The one decision I am upset with is starting Scott Patterson in triple A. I certainly don't disagree with the pitchers they chose. Ohlendorf is very promising, and Bruney really came prepared. I wasn't as impressed with Albaladejo, but his stats look decent. Despite all this, Patterson came out of double A ball and pitched 7.2 shut out innings, giving up one hit and no walks while striking out 7. This doesn't include the two outs he got in the rain shortened game when Albaladejo was only able to record one out in the first. All told, 8.1 shutout innings no walks and one hit, and that wasn't enough? And its not like he was getting out some back alley chumps either. Among his outs were Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Edwin Encarnacion, Victor Martinez, Johnny Peralta, Casey Blake, Carl Crawford, and Xavier Nady. Some of his strikeouts include Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Garko. Those lists include some legitimate big league hitters, and at the very least every day players on major league rosters. Some time ago, Girardi had said: "I'm not a big believer that you have to have big league experience to be successful." When Patterson was cut, Girardi stated his inexperience was a factor. So which is it? Again, I don't question the people they took, I just don't see how you can tell someone to compete for a roster spot, have them pitch perfectly, and then tell them they don't make the roster. What kind of message does that send?

Either way, I'm excited for the season to start. I hope to see Patterson at some point in the season, and hope he continues to pitch well in triple A. If anyone gets called up before this guy, Girardi and Cashman both need to get kicked in the junk.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Old Yankee Stadium

The New York Times has three great articles dealing with Yankee Stadium. (1, 2, 3). They make for good, if not nostalgic reading. It will be odd to think that this is the last year I will be able to go to Yankee Stadium. The first time I went was when my family was living in Princeton, New Jersey. We traveled to those hallowed grounds because my grandfather, a life-long Yankees fan (and the reason both my brother and I adore this team) was visiting from Puerto Rico.

Yankee Stadium holds a lot of special memories, and meaning, for a lot of people. The players understand the honor it is to play on there, but the stadium belongs to the fans. Ruth built the house, but we made it a home. We took our dates there, we taught our kids to keep score from the stands, we had a few beers, and we let our emotions ride with every pitch. This place means a lot more than just baseball. My grandfather is not with us anymore, but the stadium is for one more year. Let's make it a great one.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Best Quote Ever?

Check out this quote from Hank in an article from the Daily News:

"If Mickey Mantle was playing today, if (Willie) Mays, (Babe) Ruth or (Hank) Aaron were playing today, everyone would be saying they were doing drugs," Steinbrenner said. "But they didn't. In fact, a couple of them - Mantle and Ruth - lived on alcohol. They didn't train or work out, yet they were hitting 550-foot home runs. There is such thing as a natural, and Alex is a natural. It's that simple"

Now, it's hard to argue with that, but do you really have to call some Yankee legends out like that? Oh well, he's hardly selling state secrets to China, but still. No one's calling Hank out for the hard drinking he clearly does. Just look at his face (it's in the eyes).

The quote was made in the context of comments concerning the legitimacy of the new Canseco book, because what else would we talk about? Canseco was right about a lot in his first book, but I'm not sure that vindicates him. He painted himself as the godfather of steroids in baseball, sure he was going to have some dirt on some people, but he's also a big part of the reason that baseball is so f'd the f up. He's not vindicated, he's a douche (my apologies to all douches). You can't do steroids and get other players to use them and then pretend your a hero for writing about it. Further, if A-Rod had tried to bed his wife Canseco would've written about him in the first book; or at least send A-Rod an invite to a party at his house with some sort of line about his wife and Debbie Clemens comparing their latest acquisitions, and then waylayed him when he got there.

Canseco's probably just mad because after years of steroids he's probably not that much use to his wife. Now she knows how humanity feels. But whatever, taking shots at Canseco is easy (which is why I do it, I'm not that creative). The real issue is whether the long standing conflict between cats and dogs is responsible for global warming.

The First Game of The Season is a Doosie

I don't know how to spell "doosie." But Wang v. Halladay is a great match up. Sure it's still early and they might not be in full form yet, but that's a great first match up for the season. Exciting stuff.

We Got Dreams Too

Spring training is finally closing down, and this Monday we will open the season. This is an exciting time of year. Its typically around this time that the anticipation of the season gets me so pumped up that it spills out into my dreams. I dream baseball dreams. I don't know if this happens to anyone else out there, but its a cool thing. A couple years ago, I had a the coolest dream. It was right before the beginning of the 2006 season. We had just signed Johnny Damon, and the season couldn't start soon enough. Here's how the dream went:

Ichiro Suzuki was traveling along some road with a caravan of people. All of a sudden his caravan was attacked and he was kidnapped. I somehow found out that the Red Sox had done it, and they were holding him hostage in Kevin Millar's house. So I called Johnny Damon, who initially did not answer his phone. I tried Gary Sheffield, but he also did not answer his phone. I tried Damon again, and he picked up. I told him that I knew where they were holding Ichiro, and that we needed to go to Kevin Millar's house. Johnny Damon and I went walking up some dirt path to this house in the woods. We went up some stairs and entered Millar's kitchen. In the back of the kitchen there was a linen room, filled with bags of linen, and that's where they were supposedly hiding Ichiro. So we go into this linen room, and I start tearing bags of linen trying to find Ichiro, but he's no where to be found. Damon's just kind of standing there, and I'm all worried because now I look crazy having called Damon to Kevin Millar's house, and Ichiro isn't even there. All of a sudden, Kevin Millar shows up and tells us that Ichiro is there after all. Then Damon and Millar pull out two G.I. Joe action figures and start fighting their G.I. Joe's together. Damon asks Millar if he's the kind of G.I. Joe fighter that loses, and Millar says yes. So then Damon made his G.I. Joe do a triple kick, and he beat Millar's G.I. Joe. That's when the dream ended.

I know we make a lot of crap up on this blog, but I'm not making that crap up. This was my actual dream. I also dreamt later that year that I was Marco Scutaro. I don't know why, since I didn't really know who he was at that time. I think I had seen him play once.

So how about you? What's the coolest baseball dream you've had? Have you ever had a baseball dream? Let us know in the comments section!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Matsui's Strange Fetish

Hideki Matsui has apperently married a piece of paper with a drawing on it. Either that or his wife is a suspect in some crime and all he had was the police sketch based on eye witness descriptions.

It seems based on the limited information he gave the press that his wife is a spy. Or maybe Japanese paparazzi are just crazy like that. Only time will tell.

Jose Canseco to Finish Trilogy of Steroid Books

Let's be honest, Canseco's first book did alot to clue people in to the rampant steroid use going on in baseball. Most people knew it was going on, but few people knew the specifics. Other books like the "Game of Shadows", also helped shed a light on the rampant use of performance enhancers in baseball. It should not have come as a big surprise that McGwire, Sosa and Bonds were using something. For starters, the single season homerun record set by Roger Maris stood for 37 years. Then it gets broken 6 times in 4 years by those 3 guys. You didn't need the Hardy Boys to figure out something was up. But the Mithcell Report is really the sequel to "Juice'd", and already did what Canseco could have hoped to do with a second book. Since any material he may have had was already used, he's pretty much gone after big name players in the hopes to cash in big with little evidence. "Vindicated" is really the third part of a baseball trilogy, only unlike Star Wars, and much like the Godfather, this third installment sucks. It has no substance, and is just an attempt to cash in on a previously established foundation. If you don't think Canseco would name names just to name names then you don't realize how selfish Canseco is.

If this article in deadspin is any indication, Canseco is broke. He's squandered away his baseball money as well as his earnings from "Juice'd". He's also trying to fund two movies, one, a story about his life, and the other, a kung fu movie where he's the star. So far, no one has an interest in either film. I don't know how credible the article is, as it mentions that Canseco gave his lawyer his five world series rings to pay for legal fees, but I don't think Canseco has 5 rings. By my count, Canseco has two, one with Oakland in '89, and unfortunately, one with the Yankees in 2000. So either the author misheard, or Canseco's lawyer is getting scammed. Either way, Canseco needs to dissapear from baseball. Cuba has a proud baseball tradition, so I'm sure they mourn the day they gave birth to Canseco. I'm just glad he's not from my island.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Case For Patterson

Its coming to that point in spring training where the roster needs to get set and the final decisions need to be made. With the bullpen this creates quite the dilemma. There are plenty of quality arms vying for very few spaces, which makes the decision making very difficult. But of all the people vying for spots none have made a case for themselves like Scott Patterson. If you're not familiar with Patterson, he was a Double A pitcher last season who pitched very well. He was resigned by the Yankees to compete for a spot in the bullpen. This spring, he's pitched 6.1 innings, picked up a save, struck out 6 and has yet to allow a walk or a run. Those numbers don't include the two outs he got in the rain shortened game after Albaladejo gave up a thousand runs in the first inning and only recorded one out. With a runner on third, Patterson came in and got the remaining outs without that runner scoring.

The numbers look great, but the hesitation with him is that he doesn't have big league experience, and his stuff isn't all that impressive. He's much like Okajima in that regard. A funky delivery, very underwhelming stuff, but consistantly gets outs. Not only does he get outs, but he throws strikes, and gets a good number of punchouts. In double A last year he pitched 74.1 innings with 91 strikeouts and a 1.09 ERA, only giving up 15 walks in the process. No one else competing for a spot in the bullpen has done what he has done, and you have to reward that kind of effort. If he struggles in the majors, then you send him down, but he definetely deserves to open the season with the Yankees.

Republicans Believe Clemens

Those who believe Republicans live in an alternative reality were given new ammunition this week when Republican members of the Government Oversight Committee released a report questioning Brian McNamee's testimony and defending some of Roger Clemens' statements before Congress. For example, when asked his name and address for the record, Clemens answered clearly and accurately; while McNamee stumbled. Further we all know drug dealers are far more likely to lie than drug users, who are rarely dishonest.

Republicans also pointed out that new information suggests that Clemens was indeed not at the party where it is alleged that Debbie Clemens and Jessica Canseco bore their breasts to one another in order to compare their respective augmentive surgeries. Why the Republicans are intent on ruining this for teenage boys everywhere is beyond me.

Is this just partisan bickering gone awry? Maybe, but we all know how important the Roger Clemens vote will be in November. Democrats beware!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Predictions

Its about this time of year that everyone throws out their predictions. We at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog are no different. Here's how we project this season to go:

AL East Winner: Yankees
AL Central Winner: Don't Care
AL West Winner: Don't Care

NL East Winner: Don't Care
NL Central Winner: Don't Care
NL West Winner: Don't Care

ALDS Winner: Yankees
ALCS Winner: Yankees
World Series Winner: Yankees

NLDS Winner: Don't Care
NLCS Winner: Don't Care
World Series Contender: Let's say the Marlins. Not because I think they'll make it that far, but because we owe them after they beat us in '03, let us have Pavano in '05, and gave the Red Sox Beckett in '06.

I hope this was as informative to read as it was to write. Let's get this season started!

UPDATE: I completely forgot about my wild card predictions. Here they are:

AL Wild Card: Don't Care
NL Wild Card: Don't Care

Thanks for the anonymous email tip that clued me in on my blunder. This here blog is a community.

Breaking News: Jose Canseco's New Book Sucks

Due to my life long admiration for Jose Canseco's writing, I find myself following up on his latest offering titled "Vindicated: A Big Name Liar Saves Baseball", or something to that effect. Though it has not officially been released Peter Abraham found a link to a website by author Joe Lavin who happened to get his hands on a copy before the release day. Because of my intense curiosity, I decided to read what Lavin had to say. It appears that Canseco names Alex Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, and Roger Clemens as steroid pushers. Yes, I said pushers. Apparently, Alex Rodriguez runs a distribution ring up and down the east coast. Clemens served as the muscle while Ordonez transported the goods. Canseco claims that there were wire taps placed on A-Rod's lines but they used such clever slang that the Feds were unable to learn anything concrete. Here's a transcript straight from the book:

A-Rod: "You got the stuff?"

Ordonez: "Yeah, but that skinny guy with glasses gave me some trouble."

A-Rod: "I'll get Clemens on it. How much did you get?"

Ordonez: "100 packs of the B-12, and another 100 packs of the flax seed oil."

A-Rod: "Okay, you did good. Get the hundred packs of steroids, and the hundred packs of HGH to my house quickly."

Ordonez: "You mean B-12 and flax seed, right?"

A-Rod: "Yes, yes I did. Get them here quick. I have a date with Canseco's wife tonight."

According to "Vindicated" the Feds suspected that the line "I have a date with Canseco's wife tonight." really meant, "I'm the leader of a largescale steroid distribution ring." but ditched that idea when they saw A-Rod on a date with Canseco's wife later that night.

Canseco says that he introduced A-Rod to a steroid pusher one time. A few weeks later the guy washed ashore near Tampa Bay with what appeared to be the imprint of a 95 mph baseball on the back of his head. The murder is still unresolved but Canseco beleives A-Rod was taking out the competition. Canseco ends the chapter by telling A-Rod that he hates his guts, and then asks for 20 injections of the B-12 to be shipped to him. A-Rod of course denies the allegation. When asked about Canseco's book A-Rod said "Personal accolades are nice, but I really just want to win a championship in New York and retire a Yankee."

Yankee captain and well-known gangster, Derek Jeter had his own thoughts: "I don't care about an MVP. I just want to win a championship. Um, can you repeat the question?"

Perhaps the most telling portion of "Vindicated" according to Joe Lavin is that Canseco names Mike Wallace as a potential PED user. That would certainly explain the homeruns.

So there you have it. A-Rod distributes steroids, and wants to win a championship. Thank you Canseco. Thank you for blessing us with yet another quality book. The Nobel Peace Prize in literature is just a nomination away.

Chris Britton Sent to Minor League Camp

It appears the Yanks sent right handed reliever Chris Britton down to the minor league camp. I'm not really sure why we got Chris Britton. At first I was under the impression that we got him to pitch for us, but now I'm questioning my own assumptions. Maybe he has some other talents that we're unaware of. Maybe he's really Cashman's property manager for his condo's in Scranton. Or maybe he maintains the fields for the team. Judging by his size, maybe he's really Cashman's hitman down in Scranton. Either way, he's not pitching for the Yankees. Its good to have someone like him in the minors to call up whenever we need an arm, but he had a really solid season for the Orioles before coming here, and I'm sure its very demoralizing to start two consecutive seasons in the minors to follow. Not that I thought he'd make the team, but the Yankees need to develop a plan for this guy. He can't stay in AAA forever.

I'm really pulling for Patterson to make the roster. I don't think he will because they want a long man, and Karstens, despite a pretty crappy spring, looks to land that job. I still hope that Patterson will make it though. Him and Traber both have earned spots.

Also, with Ensberg making the 40 man roster, I think its pretty clear that he's going to make the team. That lands us a bench of Ensberg, Molina, Duncan, and Betemit. There's a lot of pop on that bench. A lot of strikeout potential too. The main limitation is that there is no speed on that bench. It may not be as big of an issue with Damon, Jeter, A-Rod, and Abreu likely to swipe 20 bases a peice. Melky can pick up a base if he wants to as well. Still, speed can change a game, especially in the late innings. Just think about that 8th inning where Giambi draws a walk, and Matsui launches a double in the gap, but Giambi only makes it to third. And what can Girardi do? Put in Ensberg to run for him? Duncan? Duncan might run through the catcher, but he won't beat the throw. I also don't know how much bunting ability there is on that bench. So basically, the tools that make up a good bench, namely speed, and bunting ability, are pretty much absent. Mientkiewicz was not fast, but he could lay down a good bunt on command. I just hope there's enough pop on the bench that it doesn't matter. Hey, our bench in '96 was Leyritz, Darryl Strawberry, Cecil Fielder, and Tim Raines. Raines could still steal a base at that stage in his career, but he definetely lost a step. Leyritz, Strawberry and Fielder were not particularly fleet of foot. Their bats however changed some games.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tony Womack's Words of Wisdom

Baseball can be a difficult sport to write a daily blog about since there come some times when there's not much going on. In these times its important to approach the game from a different perspective to try and keep things fresh. To this end, we decided to give former Yankees second baseman Tony Womack a column on our blog. Womack is very wise for his age, and he has some great pointers on baseball as well as life. Here are some nuggets of wisdom:

-If you take two strikes, swing at the next pitch no matter what. Never go down without a fight.

-If you find yourself playing for Joe Torre take him out to dinner a few times. Stay on his good side if you want to play a position other then the bench.

-Never buy your girlfriend carnations on Valentine's Day. If you do, tell her it was for a unicef fundraiser.

-Never get your girlfriend a gift on your ex-girlfriend's birthday. The thought never counts in this situation.

-If you're in a season long batting slump, get a lighter bat. If you're in a career long batting slump, become a second baseman.

-If you're a terrible hitter, get the heaviest bat you can find. That way you at least look cool while you suck.

-If you're out at second, keep running to third anyway. It may confuse the umps and give you a stand up triple.

-Don't look at the sun when tracking fly balls. It blinds you.

-If you lay down a bunt, don't do it back to the pitcher. They throw you out every time.

-Speed is a great tool in baseball, but only if you can get on base.

-Don't yell "Ha!" behind a player trying to catch a fly ball. They get really bent out of shape about it.

-If you're going to hang out with a blond stripper, don't do so at a strip club. Unless of course you yourself are a stripper.

-If you're an infielder getting played in the outfield, you probably screwed up somewhere.

-Trade rumors come and go, but if your name is involved in every one of them, your team probably doesn't want you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

List of Things Worse Than Spring Training

A lot of people have been complaining about how terrible Spring Training is. Not us though, we understand that there are much worse things. Here's a list:

1. Having a team without Derek Jeter.

2. Being a Mets fan.

3. Terminal diseases.

4. Not saving up to 15% by switching to Geico.

5. Having your retirement portfolio heavily invested in Bear Stearns.

6. Being married to Jose Canseco.

7. Being Carl Pavano.

8. Being Carl Pavano's arm.

9. Melky Cabrera's job security.

10. Brian McNamee's sports medicine degree.

11. Having an argument via text messages.

12. Marrying Elliot Spitzer.

13. Thinking football is America's sport.

14. Looking to the NFL for positive role models.

15. Brian Cashman's job security.

16. Taking the right subway line in the wrong direction.

17. Asking a resident of the city of Boston for directions.

18. Assuming a resident of Boston to be sober.

19. Reading at a Boston-grade reading level.

20. Playing second as Shelley Duncan rounds first.

21. Being a hardcore Kansas City fan in a Bloods neighborhood.

22. Being a hardcore Kansas City fan.

23. Being the drummer who got dropped from The Beatles.

24. Meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife.

25. Being the president of the Carl Pavano Fan Club.

So stop complaining about the utter pointlessness of Spring Training. Any one of these tragedies could befall you instead.

Breaking News: Pettitte Is Old

Pettitte will miss another start due to a minor injury, in this case back spasms. Some will say this is really concerning, since he just missed with elbow pain a short while back. I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's spring training, he's older, spasms and sore muscles are to be expected. Alternatively, worry a lot. It's all over folks, this guy is done. A series of nagging injuries will limit his productivity and he will retire after this season.

The second scenario is unlikely, but I got dibs on "I told you so" if it comes to pass.

Wang will be the opening day starter, a move by Girardi surely meant to send Carl Pavano a message.

I realize this post is pretty boring, but consider the material I have to work with. Spring Training is such a tease, and I just want this horrible ordeal to be over.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Want to be Buff Like A-Rod?

Here at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" headquarters we received an email from Men's Vogue magazine with links to the feature article about A-Rod as well as a separate article about his workout routine. He's definetely one of the harder working players in the game, but Men's Vogue also has an article about another player that may give A-Rod a run for his money. Check out this article about Nick Swisher's workout regimen. He gained 20 pounds of muscle over the off season, and so can you! If you can workout on a farm that is. I always hear about new workout routines that are made to improve performance and protect from injuries, but I can't say I see the difference year to year in players performance. Last off season it was Pavano's core focused workout in Arizona that got attention. The core muscles would stabilize his body and protect from injury. It kept him injury free for two whole starts, which I suppose is longer than his previous workout routines.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Does Girardi Ruin Young Arms?

Anonymous Number Two has suggested a post on whether Girardi ruins young pitchers. I like Anonymous Number Two because he doesn't swear at us like Anonymous number one, whom everyone universally hates, including Jesus (I'm a seminary student, I would know). My brother really is the one qualified to take on this post but he's on a train heading to visit me in New York so he's unavailable. I'm more or less utterly unqualified since I could care less about most statistics that aren't initialed W or L. I'm also a sarcastic jerk, a skill I honed in law school (I know, I have way too much education and I should get a job already, but you can't make me).

The story is well known: Girardi, supposedly, forced his young pitchers to throw too many innings, routinely asking them to pitch 9 innings around 150 pitches on consecutive days, so on and so forth. He wins manager of the year, but, knowing that he ruined all his starters in the process he swore at the Marlins owner so that he would be out of town before they figured that out. The main stat cited is ERA and innings pitched. The year Girardi was manager the marlins' starters logged an average of 320 innings. The year after Girardi left all the ERAs sky rocketed, from respectable NL ERAs in the area of 2.5 to almost respectable AL ERAs in the area of 4.2-5.1. (I'm more or less making up these numbers but you get the point). Factually, the Marlins still sucked under Girardi, but they sucked worse when he left them without any pitching.

Many people buy this story, but it has some holes. The first one is the fact that we're dealing with young pitching. Young pitching and consistency year to year are not two things that really go together. So it's hard to tell if Girardi ruined them or they were all under 25.

Another hole is this: besides Dontrelle Willis who the hell was starting for the Marlins? If you can't answer this question without wikipedia you're not allowed to cite me their ERAs, lord knows I have no idea. My brother will probably get here and ramble them off the top of his head in like 3 seconds, but like I said, I'm unqualified to write this post.

There are also pragmatic issues like having no bullpen to go to. I've seen this a lot when we play KC. They got some kid pitching a gem for seven innings, he's out of steam, but you either let him finish or guarantee that your bullpen blows the win for this poor kid who just pitched his heart out. A lot of times they just leave in the young starter. Hey, if he throws his arm out in a season or two he can always A) move to the pen, or B) move back home and live off of endorsing used car dealerships, or B) get a job like the rest of us, well, the rest of you and forget about being the next cy young.

There's also the long term outlook which isn't clear yet. It's one thing to say that the next year the Marlins staff didn't pitch as well. But let's watch for a few years and see if there really is an effect. Again, young pitching is less than consistent.

With all that being said it does raise a legitimate concern. Namely, we've invested a lot of time and effort in our Yankee prospects and we don't want Girardi screwing this up for us. We don't need Girardi to do to Joba, Phil and Ian what Torre did to every reliever ever not named Mo. So we might put in some Girardi Rules. Here's a few suggestions:

1. Just because Joba's in the Pen doesn't mean that you can bring him in during the second inning and take him out in the 9th for Mariano.

2. Watch pitch counts over one hundred. Get the kids out around 110, unless their pitching a no hitter or perfect game.

3. Use Kyle Farnsworth. I know, it's not the best option, but it'll save the kids.

With rules such as these the young arms will be protected. Besides, Girardi will have Cashman and Hank looking over his shoulder. If they think he's overusing the kids they'll let him know. I think Hank writes his memos on pink slips. And we have the added protection of the fact that no matter how edgy Girardi is, he's not telling Hank to "shut the #@&$ up!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Joba to Start Season in Bullpen

In a move that is sure to surprise no one but upset more than a few, Joe Girardi has announced that Joba Chamberlain will start the season in the bullpen. This means Kennedy will be starter number five, giving the Yankees all three of their young pitchers for the beginning of the season. Which should start any minute now. Seriously, start already. As much fun as it is to pretend to care about non play-off NBA basketball, or 64 teams of colleges to which you have no collection, or what Tiger is doing in the Toyota Tercel Classic, the season needs to start.

Pretty soon Baseball will be underway and all will be right with the world (the preceding statement does not include most of the middle east, Africa, or pretty much most of the rest of the world).

Soon SportsCenter will be watchable again, and those of us without cable will have something to watch on TV on Friday nights here in the New York area. Until then, consider doing your taxes to pass the time. You can even watch basketball and pretend it's baseball, which isn't as fun as it sounds. Baseball will be here soon, and then I can finally stop posting about when the season is going to start up.

Bonds Not Retiring

Great news for baseball fans hoping for the steroid era to make a comeback. Former Giants slugger and alleged PED user Barry Bonds is not retiring. He will play for whatever team comes calling for him. So far he has no offers.

Bonds has made a lot of money in baseball, and he's broken a very important record, but until his PED use is proven there's really nothing that can be done. His records will go in the history books right above Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Infuriating? Yes. But nonetheless that's what we're dealing with.

Another alleged PED user looking for a job is former slugger Sammy Sosa. He had a decent season last year, but then turned down a year long offer from the Rangers to look for a bigger contract. Turned out, there were no bigger contracts for him, and the Rangers already got an outfielder. Now Sosa is looking for a job.

The market's saturated with aged PED users past their prime, and there simply isn't a demand for them. Japan maybe? They could mash over there. Probably break a few Japanese records. Maybe they can have a single-season homerun race between them, and go after Sadaharu Oh's hallowed record of 55 homeruns. They can even hug his children after they break it and talk about how honored they are to be mentioned in the same breath as Oh. At the press conference they'll hold Oh's bat from 1964, the year he set the record, and say that they only wish Oh was still alive to see this. Oh, who is still alive and present at the conference, will shake his head and walk out. Then Bonds and Sosa can retire from Japanese baseball, and head to Korea where they can play in the Korean League for 2009, breaking the Korean single season homerun record. That's what they should do. Go to a new country every year and break their homerun records. Then they can retire as world record breakers and feel great about tarnishing baseball on a global scale.

Yanks Honor Victims of Virginia Tech Massacre

The Yankees played Virginia Tech yesterday in a game to honor those lost in last April's massacre on that campus. This is by far the heart warming story of the spring. Granted, it's main competition was Pavano Refuses Minor-League Deal, and Jeter Pays for Last Night's Jump-off's Parking. Nonetheless, this was a great event. This morning on the fan, Carton of Boomer and Carton fame, was complaining that the Yankees shouldn't have beat the Hokies by so much. But that's nonsense, and Boomer called him on it. Yesterday was about signing autographs, showing solidarity with a still grieving community, and putting on a show for the locals. They couldn't take it easy on the kids. The point was to watch major leaguers put on a show of their skills and forget about what happened for a few hours. They didn't want Giambi laying down bunts, they wanted him slamming balls that probably haven't landed yet. This was bread and circus, and the Yankees did exactly what they were supposed to do, and most people seem to understand that and be grateful for it.

It meant a lot to that community and those kids on the Hokies to have the Yankees come up from Florida and hand it to them. Those kids got to play the Yankees, there's no way they were in full competitive mode. I'm sure there were a number of hits in the air that players just watched before they remembered they were supposed to be tracking the ball. They got to meet Yankee greats like A-Rod, Jeter, Posada, get autographs, talk baseball, and then watch some of the best players in all the game do what they do best, beat college teams. It was a great day had by all and a meaningful gesture by the always classy New York Yankees. It's times like this that remind you why you root for this team.

Excellent Game at Virginia Tech

I really can't sit here and pretend to know what this game meant to the community at Virginia Tech. I've never been through such a tragic and horrifying event, and hopefully I never will. By the looks of the people in the crowd however, it really seemed like the students were enjoying themselves. It was all smiles in the crowd, and it was fun to see the college players come up to bat with autographs all over their hats. There was one quote from the head coach that I found interesting:

"I look at the Yankees differently after today, and I always will," said Virginia Tech head coach Pete Hughes. "I grew up my whole life hating the Yankees -- I mean, just hating them -- and I brought up my kids with that mentality. Now, I'll look at them differently."

Its just interesting how much a gesture like this changes someones mentality about an entire organization. Living in Massachusetts, I know the "Hate Yankees" mentality that is spawned here, but when it comes down to it, life is so much bigger than baseball. I think this was a great idea, and I'm glad everything went as well as it did.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Melky Cabrera's Appeal

Melky Cabrera plans on appealing his suspension, but the word has been that the video makes it pretty clear that he clocked Longoria in the back of the head. His hat flies off and everything. When things are that clear, the only hope you have is to change people's perspective on what they're seeing. To that end, here are some possible Melky Cabrera arguments to help feign his innocence:

I was trying to push his head away from me.
With this argument, Melky can argue that Longoria's head was all up in his face, suffocating him. The only viable option was to push that head away from him so that he could live to play baseball another day. He needs to end this defense by saying that all he wants to do is play baseball and share his dream with millions of generations to come.

In the DR, that's how we say hi.
This ones tricky because if anyone in the room is Dominican they'll know he's full of it. However, in a room of Bud Selig's and other non-ethnic baseball officials, this argument might fly. The officials won't know enough to say it isn't true, and they won't want to alienate the Dominican community which is a large portion of the larger baseball community. Melky can even have a few of his Dominican friends write letters on his behalf. Alfonso Soriano, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, and maybe even David Oritz can start a petition. Then they'll have to take away the suspension.

I thought it was Carl Pavano.
In the excitement of a baseball fight, with all the shoving and yelling going on, this is an easy mistake to make. Its a time honored tradition to punch teammates you don't like in the back of the head during a baseball fight. They might not take away the full suspension, but they will at least knock it down a day.

He Deserved it.
This ones risky because it requires a charisma capable of turning a room full of skeptics. To pull this off, Melky would need to paint a picture of Evan Longoria as a horrendous human being. He could say things like, "I saw Longoria drive by a broken down car of nuns, and he didn't stop to help." or "I saw him kick his neighbors dog. A beagle no less." or "I saw him kick his neighbors kid. An infant no less." If he has enough time he can even photoshop a few pictures of Longoria commiting these acts. Then the committee will say "We will drop your suspension down to one game. We would have cleared it completely if you had hit him twice." Then Melky will say "I'm sorry for my lack of action. Next time, I'll give him two fresh ones." Problem solved.

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Madness? Who Gives A #@$&%

So we're officially in the throws of the NCAA Men's basketball tournament. I for one could care less. I generally dislike college sports, if only because there are way too many teams I have no connection to. I hate how, come november, it takes forever to find out the scores of games I'm interested in on the ESPN ticker because they have about a million men's and women's college games to go through. Do I care about the score of WVA v. TOX? No. I don't even know who those teams are. Luckily, I don't have ESPN anymore, which is at best a shell of its former self, especially it's website.

In a few weeks the baseball season will begin and I can officially stop feigning interest in players whose names I hardly know now and will definitely forget in about 3 weeks. But of course, since March Madness no longer ends in March, I'll still be contending with college basketball coverage for the first couple weeks of the season. The truth is, unless you either A) have a team still in it or B) are a problem gambler there is no reason to pay attention. I know everyone loves to talk about how pure the college game is (whatever the sport), but that's garbagio. There not playing for the love of the game any more or less than an NBA player. Not to mention, NBA players are considerably more talented and interesting to watch. There's a reason they get paid what they do, and there's a reason most college players will be selling used cars after college. They're not that good, and they spent so much time practicing and missing class that they're basically only cut out to go back home and read short simple phrases in local business advertisements.

So yeah, the NCAA tournament blows. And until UMass is back in it, I won't care, and I definitely won't watch. As you can see, being without baseball has made me quite personable. At least next year we'll have the World Baseball Classic to keep me going through the spring. I love that tournament. I wonder if Bernie will play for Puerto Rico. It should be a fun tournament either way. Maybe even Sheffield will represent team USA this time around.

Carl Pavano's Online Diary 2

About a month ago, our team of hackers were able to get into Carl Pavano's online diary. It was the day he had thrown his bullpen session and we were curious about his thoughts on the day. If you missed it, here's the first Pavano Online Diary Entry. Well, with all the games going on, and the Yankees on the move, we at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog were wondering what Pavano was up to. After reading up on his diary, we thought we'd provide another excerpt:

March 14, 2008

Dear Diary,

Much is happening with the Yankees these days, but I have my own things going on. I've been going to the gym at Legends Field real early in the morning, and its completely empty. I like to wear a dark robe, and stand in corners until people start showing up. Then I'll whisper their names like "Shelley Duncan", and they'll get all freaked out because they can't see me. Mike Mussina was in here the other day. I can't stand that guy. My problems with Mussina go back to 2005 when I first came to the team. I had brought my "Where's Waldo?" books and Mussina kept finding him before me. Then he'd ask me to turn the page before I'd find him, and then he'd act all upset when I couldn't find him quick enough. Those books were hard. He was always hiding behind things making it hard to see him. Waldo was a frickin jerk.

Some of the coaches wanted me to throw a ball today, so I got into the bullpen. I'm working on a new pitch. Its called the Evacerator, because it evacerates my enemies. Its held with 3 fingers, and its thrown at 118 mph, but I'm still working up to that speed. I still can't throw it for a strike, but when I do, no one will be able to hit it. Not even Derek Jeter. Then I'll become a 40 game winner, and Mussina will have to bow down before me. Everyone on the team will love me, and I will sit on a throne they will build for me in the bullpen. Mussina's such a jerk.

Speaking of jerks, I went home after the bullpen session, and Captain Planet was playing on TV. I started watching it, and that little Indian kid with the monkey is the biggest jerk on television. All his friends are fighting bad guys with water, fire, and earth, and he's standing around talking to his monkey friend about it. Why don't you fight some bad guys? Come to think about it, Captain Planet's an even bigger jerk for giving that kid "Heart" as his power. Everyone else got a real super power, then Captain Planet calls this poor Indian kid over and says, "Crap, I got nothing for you, take this heart decoder ring and make the best of it." All the elements were taken already. Earth, wind, fire, and water, but heart's not an element. They should have at least given him "Rage" as his power. Then instead of talking to animals, he could be throwing Evacerator's at bad guys trying to polute the planet. Heart. What a load of crap. There was this one episode where he saw the bad guys trying to dump oil in the rain forest. So what does he do with his ring? He talks to his monkey friend, and tells him to go get help. That's the best he can do. He's like mall security. But the problem is that no one else can understand the monkey, so the monkey shows up and is trying to tell the useful Planeteers that he needs help, and they're just sitting there looking at him like idiots. If his power was rage, he could have slaughtered the poluters, but with heart he just sits around hugging trees and frolicing among lily pads waiting for help to arrive.

Because of this tommy john surgery, I don't have to throw a ball again until April. I love baseball. I get paid $10 million a year to be on a baseball team. The only thing I hate about it is when they want me to play. Why don't they just let me stay home? They need me to throw bullpen sessions and get stronger. I don't know why. It's not like I'm going to pitch this year. Not when my Evacerator is still at 43%.

Well, I need to start closing out. I'm going to unload a box of snakes in Mussina's garage tonight. That'll show him for telling the Yankees that I should be pitching. Until next time...

Carl Pavano

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nick Green With Walk Off Single

For those who missed it, Nick Green hit a walk off, 2-RBI single to win the game. Coming in with a .068 batting average, I knew he was due for a hit. He's at least a .118 hitter in my book.

Wang had an interesting outing giving up 6 hits and 2 walks with 4 earned runs, but he struck out 7 in the process. I was finally able to see Scott Patterson pitch today. He came in to finish up the 5th, and then pitched the 6th. He has a really odd delivery, kind of like a right handed Okajima. Patterson is the type of pitcher who gets outs, even though they look very hittable. He throws a 90-91 mph fastball with a large looping mid-70's curve. With that kind of stuff, you'd expect him to not be very good, but he's yet to allow an earned run this spring. He came in the 5th inning with one out, and a runner on first. It took him about 3 pitches to get a double play. Then he came in the 6th where it took 2 pitches to record 2 outs, and then had the third batter strike out looking on an 0-2 curveball. I was kind of surprised.

Shelley Duncan hit a homerun today, continuing his dominant spring performance, while Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg both went 0-4. Giambi did what he does best getting a hit and 2 walks in three at bats. A-Rod continued being A-Rod, and the Cano & Cabrera Express stole a couple bases. When asked about the stolen bases Rays manager Joe Maddon deemed the acts "Borderline criminal." Go figure.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

No Fight, but Rays Still Kick the Crap Out of Yankees.

Despite claims to the opposite, Kennedy was not sharp. He threw about 60 pitches to get through his three innings, and he gave up two solo homeruns in the process. Now the wind was definetely in favor of the hitters, but somehow the powerhouse rotation of the Rays managed to keep Yankee hitters in the park. Kennedy did get sharper as the game progressed, but he fell behind on a lot of batters. His curveball in the first inning was awful but by the third he was throwing it for strikes. He ended up with 5 strikeouts, which is promising. Personally, I really don't care as long as he gets his pitch count up, and faces major league hitters in a game setting.

Kei Igawa furthered his off season goals to be the highest paid triple A player by throwing 3 innings with 3 earned runs, and 1 homerun. He didn't give up a walk, which is a big deal for him, but to make up for it, he allowed 5 hits. He did get sharper as his outing progressed, but still, he is not making this team.

The game ended 7-2 with the Rays bicycle kicking the crap out of the Yankees. A-Rod was sent home on one play as the relay throw had him out by like 10 feet. Instead of lowering his shoulder and plowing through the catcher, he just let him tag him since it was a pointless spring training game not worth risking injury. What a concept.

It looks like Melky will be appealing his 3 game suspension saying that he didn't punch anyone. Apparently no one really noticed the alleged punch until Rays prospect Evan Longoria's mother called manager Joe Maddon and told him that her son's been crying for a few hours about someone bullying him. Maddon viewed the video footage and saw the unthinkable. Melky Cabrera grabbed Longoria by his collar and shook him until he gave him his lunch money. "It's borderline criminal." said Maddon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cabrera Suspended? WTF?

Melky Cabrera has been suspended for 3 games as a result of the Yankees-Rays "brawl" a few days ago. All of the reports I had read stated that no punches were thrown. Apparently no punches were thrown, except for the one by Melky Cabrera which landed on Evan Longoria, Eva Longoria's kid brother. I've not seen any video anywhere of the "brawl" so I don't know if it's true. If it is however, good for Melky.

On a sad note, my Alma Mater, UMass, got knocked out of the A-10 tournament in the quarter-final round. Let us all take a moment to reflect.

Breaking News: Melky Cabrera Also Gangster

The suspensions have been handed out and it looks like Jonny Gomes, Shelley Duncan, and Melky Cabrera will all miss time. According to Peter Abraham's blog, it looks like Melky punched Evan Longoria. I don't typically condone violence, but in the setting of baseball its kind of funny. Little Melky Cabrera punching big Rays prospect Evan Longoria is fairly humurous. In baseball, as long as no one really gets hurt, I don't see the problem with the scuffles. Usually, they consist of 50 guys running onto a field and engaging in a massive shoving match. Other times, punches get thrown, and a few people get bruised up, but they all play in the next game. I had heard rumors that someone had thrown a punch, but I would have never guessed Melky. Either way, he'll serve his suspension and hopefully put this behind him.

Shelley Earns His Own Shirt

To commemorate the two day anniversary of Shelley Duncan's hard slide into second base, we at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog have designed the "Respect Shelley's Gangster" T-shirt. This is a great shirt to have if you plan on going to any Rays games this season. It'll be especially popular at Rays vs. Yankee games in Tampa. You can get them at the exclusive "Respect Jeter's Gangster" Online Store.

Mussina Tells Critics to Back the (Expletive Deleted) Up!

Yeah, Billy Crystal had an at bat. Great. The real story from yesterday was Mussina's 5 perfect innings. Now I know its still spring training, but by all accounts, his curveball is looking sharp and dropping in for strikes. He doesn't have the velocity to blow hitters away so he will rely on finesse to get hitters out. Karsten's on the other hand had a really rough outing. I didn't think he'd make the roster before spring training started but once he got off to his strong start, I thought maybe they would keep him to start the season. The 1.1 innings with 5 earned runs certainly don't help his case. Traber didn't help the matter by giving up a pair of hits with a couple of guys on base that Karsten's had left there. It was nice that Bruney was able to get in and get the final out of that inning, and Veras pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout to follow. The real story however was Mussina's sharp performance.

Its still too early to say, but I suspect Mussina will make the team. And I know, I'm going way out on a limb here, and its probably way too early to even suggest this, but I'm just going to throw it out there, I believe Abreu makes the roster as well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Iwamura Okay After Attempt On His Life

"It’s contemptible, it’s wrong, it’s borderline criminal."

These were the words Rays manager Joe Maddon had yesterday after an incident involving Yankees Shelley Duncan and Rays Akinori Iwamura's life. Shelley Duncan slid into Iwamura with his spikes high, cutting Iwamura on the leg. The half inch long slit across Iwamura's thigh could only be viewed for what it was, an attempt on his life.

"We got lucky yesterday." Said a Rays insider speaking on condition of anonymity. "Iwamura is okay, but had the cut been 7 inches wider and 6 inches deeper, it would have taken his leg off. That's not right."

"I don't know if Shelley realizes there are main arteries in the leg. If he had cut one of those this whole situation could have been really bad." He continued.

Despite the severity of the condition, Iwamura believes he will be able to play in today's game. "Umm. Yeah, I'm playing today." He said. Not so fast says one expert in baseball injuries:

"When I had a similar cut on my thigh it took about 3 weeks to heal. Then it was reinjured when my trainer pulled the bandage off. It knocked me out for another week. It was frustrating because I really wanted to pitch." Stated Carl Pavano in between fanning himself with crisp hundred dollar bills.

Despite the fact that the Yankees have knocked out the Rays second baseman for 4 weeks, they do not feel satisfied.

"4 weeks? Cervelli is out for 8 - 10 weeks. We're not even. Not yet." Said one Yankee player before getting cut from the roster.

Asked to speak on the matter, one Yankee veteran stepped forward with his own views:

"He deserved everything he got. You can't behave that way and expect to get away with it. These people are supposed to be role models. There are children looking up to them." Said Derek Jeter.

But why Iwamura?

"Iwamura? I thought we were talking about that governor with the prostitute."

Despite all the controversy, Shelley Duncan does not beleive he did anything wrong.

"I don't know what the big deal is. When I was growing up that's how we played baseball. Me and all the neighborhood kids would gather bats, chains, pipes, planks, bricks, brass knuckles and glass bottles. Then we'd go over to a rival neighborhood and play baseball all day until the police came to outline the bodies. You had to play hard."

But the Rays are not convinced.

"Look, it was premeditated. A clear attempt on Iwamura's life. Iwamura's the smallest guy on the field. I wish Shelley had rounded first and ran into right field to try that crap on me. I would have shoved him so hard, he'd stumble like 3 feet. He'd think twice before sliding into me again." Said Rays Jonny Gomes.

So is this controversy over? Far from it say the fans.

"I can't wait for the season to start." Said one Yankee fan living in Tampa. "If I see a Rays fan walking around, it'll be on."

We searched through Tampa for several hours, but were not able to locate a Rays fan to comment. However, we were able to find some more Yankee fans.

"Hey do you remember when Jonny Gomes was good?" Said one Yankee fan. "Me neither." He concluded before we could answer.

Despite all this. Iwamura believes he can move forward. "I'll listen to the doctors and my team." He said. "But I'm pretty sure I can play today."

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli is preparing himself for 8-10 weeks of recovery.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Best Picture of Incident So Far

check out this photo of today's transpirings from the New York Times website. Shelley looks like he's at least 6 inches taller than everyone else on the field and is just standing there while 5 menacing sunshine Rays try to stare him down. He could not possibly look less concerned, and he seems to be smiling.

Joe Maddon, A Testament to Consistency

Here are Joe Maddon's thoughts on today's play by Shelley Duncan, courtesy of Pete Abe's blog (and by courtesy I mean I ripped it off and then linked to him):

“What we saw today is the definition of a dirty play. There’s no room for that in our game. It’s contemptible, it’s wrong, it’s borderline criminal. I can’t believe th[ey] did that.”

So breaking a guy's wrist is good ol' hard ball while sliding into second, cleats up, is borderline criminal? Interesting. In fairness, judging from the photo I saw, it pretty much looks like Duncan kicked Iwamura in the gonads, which is kind of messed up, sort of, I guess. Can't say I feel much sympathy for the Rays and their victimization at the hands of these borderline criminals. Maybe next time, Joe Maddon will talk to his guys about what is and isn't appropriate in exhibition games, especially against teams with Shelley Duncan on it.

It reminds me of that play Duncan did last season against Toronto. It was a game after the whole HA! incident, and I think they had already hit A-Rod. Anyway, Shelley's sliding into second as the ball is reaching the second baseman. Shelley kicks the ball and glove out of Scutaro's hand, then the rest of him knocks Scutaro over and sends him flying a good six or seven feet. It was hilarious. Welcome to Hard Ball, Rays. It's not so much fun when you're on the receiving end.

Meet the Bench

Well with a billion days left before the season starts, I think now's the time to start profiling the players competing for spots on the bench. Hence this segment titled "Meet the Bench".

Shelley Duncan 1B/RF/DH - Shelley has had a torrid start to his spring training, and I think he's proven that he deserves a spot on the roster. His defense at 1st is average, but he can play right field in a pinch and that makes him a good bench guy to have. In games he doesn't play, he can provide some right handed pop from the bench. His energy is certainly welcome in a mostly veteran clubhouse.

Morgan Ensberg 1B/3B/DH - Morgan Ensberg had a very good year for the Astro's back in 2005, and has failed to come close to those numbers since then. Now he's competing for the first base job on the Yankees. He is a third baseman by trade which makes him an eligible corner infielder, but A-Rod has third base on lock, and first base will be a competition. I don't know if Ensberg will make the roster, but it isn't for lack of talent or ability. Ensberg's hitting has gotten progressively better with each spring training game, but Shelley has been an animal and I expect him to win the spot. Still, I hope the Yankees can do something with Ensberg in 2008.

Wilson Betemit 1B/2B/SS/3B - The Yankees traded Scott Proctor for Betemit last year at the trade deadline revealing that they had been looking at him for a while and were glad that they could finally acquire him. The Yankees liked his potential as a power bat off the bench, not to mention as a power hitting utility guy. However, the Yankees seemed to be turned off by how out of shape he was when he came over, and I don't know how sold they were on such a large guy being their defensive replacement. They liked his bat though, and his switch hitting was also a selling point, but he strikes out a lot. He leads the team in spring training with 7 strikeouts. I wonder if Shelley's on the roster, if Betemit becomes obsolete, and they look to keep a true defensive infielder on the bench.

Jason Lane 1B/OF - Another former Astro's player with a great 2005 campaign followed by two consecutive subpar performances, Lane is looking to compete for a spot on the roster. They signed him to compete for the first base job, but they've been playing him in the outfield more often. The outfield is of course his true position. Lane has shown some pop, but he probably won't win the first base job, and I don't know that the Yankees will look to hold 5 outfielders on their roster, especially when Shelley can also fill in right field when needed.

Chris Woodward 1B/2B/SS/3B - Chris Woodward was signed to compete for that utility infield spot, and his bat has been making a strong case for him. Although its just spring training, he is batting over .400 while the other two utility infielders are batting .091 (Nick Green) and .211 (Wilson Betemit). Woodward has struck out once in 19 at bats as compared to Green's 5 and Betemit's team leading 7. If I was a gambling man, which I am, I would put my money on Woodward making the team. However, I'm a little strapped these days so please buy some "Respect Jeter's Gangster" t-shirts from our online store so I can gamble away the proceeds.

Nick Green 1B/2B/SS/3B - Green played for the Yankees in 2006, and I thought he was a pretty solid defensive player who showed a little bit of pop. He isn't a power threat however, and he isn't having the best spring training of the bunch. His .091 batting average this spring is reminiscent of the .077 average he had in 2006 when the Devil Rays dropped him prior to his coming to the Yankees. Just a guess, but I don't think he'll make the team.

Kyle Farnsworth DH - Farnsworth doesn't typically play off the bench or DH for the Yankees, but I think he should. Remember when Darryl Strawberry used to attack pitchers from the dug out? We need someone like that, and who better than Farnsworth? Why waste his size and attitude problems in the bullpen? He can even get an at bat every now and again to keep him sharp. I bet he could draw a walk by staring down and pointing his bat at the opposing pitcher, before every pitch. Maybe he can even flex the biceps he's been sculpting his entire career just to add to the intimidation factor. Instead of batting gloves, he would wear brass knuckles. Then once he got on base, they could pull him for someone who can run.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Elliot Johnson Baseball Camp

At the Elliot Johnson Baseball Camp you learn to play the game the right way, which is hard. If you attend you'll get to focus on the following all important skill sets:

Running over catchers in exhibition games

Charging the mound in intra-squad games

Sprinting around all the bases, even when you've hit a routine ground ball and were out at first

Beating the hell out of your wife outside Boston area hotels (Brett Myers and Julio Lugo guest instructors)

Throwing over the cut-off man's head

So if you want to learn to play the game HARD, then come to the Elliot Johnson Baseball Camp, where we play every game Hard, no matter how pointless it is.

Yankee Fans Restless

Not for nothing, but I really want the season to start. I'm just not that interested in spring training. I can't make any sense of spring training. Mike Mussina leads the team in strikeouts, Shelley Duncan's our best power hitter, Derek Jeter's average is in the .200's, Joba Chamberlain's throwing sinkers for outs, Wang can't throw sinkers for outs, and Carl Pavano is still with the team. Its like the bizzaro world of baseball. Once the season starts everything returns to normal, Mussina's strikeouts go down, A-Rod's power numbers go up, Jeter starts hitting .300, Chamberlain sticks to his 4-seam/slider combination, Wang induces 20 groundball outs per start, and Pavano is no where to be seen.

By the way, it looks like the Red Sox are having the spring training we had last season. Schilling and Beckett are injured with no real time table, and there's already talk of Lester being the opening day starter by default. Sound familiar Pavano? Now, if only half a dozen hamstrings can snap within a two week period, it'll be exactly like our spring training from last year.

I for one am really excited about this season. Not that I've ever not been excited for a season, but this is something different. There are plenty of players in their walk years (Giambi, Abreu, and Mussina), veteran players out to prove they can still perform (Matsui and Damon) rookie players out to prove themselves (Kennedy, Hughes, Duncan and Chamberlain), young players out to build on what they've established (Cabrera, and Cano), and veterans who want that 27th world series (Jeter, A-Rod, Rivera, Posada and Girardi). I get the feeling that the older players feed off the youth, and that the youth soak up as much as they can from the older players. I think they push each other, and make each other better. We'll see how that plays out throughout the season.

Yankees Win

They did. yay. When is the real season going to start?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kevin Brown's Spirit Lives On

Tigers Pitcher Jordan Tata is going to a hand specialist to confirm whether or not he broke his pinky finger after punching a door. Hitting things with your pitching hand is typically frowned upon by major league clubs. According to the article, Tata alleges that he wasn't thinking when he punched the door. I suppose that's better than if he had punched the door after following a logical progression of thought that concluded the best course of action to be punching the door with his pitching hand. For scientific purposes here's how that train of thought would have progressed:

I'm angry - Hulk is angry - Hulk smash - I smash - Door in way - Door smash!

Yankees Clubhouse Restless

Two days after Francisco Cervelli was bowled over and left a game with a broken forearm, the Yankee clubhouse has become restless. Our "Respect Jeter's Gangster" inside man has reported that the Yankees are looking forward to the coming game with the Rays. Among some of the things witnessed in the clubhouse were Joba Chamberlain painting his face in camo colors, Kyle Farnsworth sawing off one of his shotguns, Ian Kennedy sharpening the tips on his brass knuckles, and Joe Girardi had his WuTang Clan's greatest hits album blasting from his boombox. Shelley Duncan was busy hammering nails into his bats. Our inside man approached Duncan and recorded the following conversation:

RJG: "Isn't that a little over the top for a squabble with the Rays?"

Shelley Duncan: "What squabble with the Rays?"

RJG: "You know, the whole thing with Elliot Johnson and Francisco Cervelli?"

Shelley Duncan: "Who the crap is Francisco Cervelli?"

RJG: "Seriously? Your catcher? The one who got injured in the game against the Rays? I know for a fact that you were playing first base when it happened."

Shelley Duncan: "Posada got injured when we played the Rays?"

RJG: "No, it was Cervelli."

Shelley Duncan: "Who?"

RJG: "If its not for that, then why are you hammering nails into your bats?"

Shelley Duncan: "Who said they're mine?"

Morgan Ensberg: "Has anyone seen my bats?"

So there you have it. The Yankee clubhouse is restless and wants blood. Johnson better remember to duck.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Thoughts From Spring Training: Phil Hughes Sharp

Phil Hughes pitched 4 sharp innings of shutout ball today. Igawa? Two shutout innings, though he walked 3 in the process. He really needs to get that ball under control. Let's be honest, despite what Girardi may have said, Igawa has no shot at starting this season and his only shot at being on the roster is as a left-handed reliever. Considering that Billy Traber and Heath Phillips both have pitched 3 innings with 4 strikeouts and no runs thus far, I think Igawa may be slowly pitching himself off the roster. The team leaders in strikeouts are Mike Mussina and Jonathan Albaladejo with 5. Who would've thought? But that's how spring training is.

Igawa is such a mystery to me. He can strike guys out, but he gives up too many walks. I think he realized he couldn't pitch up in the strike zone so he started nibbling at it, but since he's not a finesse pitcher, he keeps missing his spots and therefore either gives up a homerun or gives up a walk. Either way its not helping the team. I don't know how he spent his off season, but I hope he spent some of it figuring out ways to keep the ball in the park.

In other news, Shelley Duncan proves he can control his bat. He had one hit with two walks. If he can continue to show patience at the plate, I think he'll prove that he earns that first base spot. Sorry Ensberg. Meanwhile, Tabata has 2 RBI's and a single today. Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez both had shaky outings. Horne gave up 2 walks and a hit, but no runs. Marquez gave up 2 hits and a walk with 2 runs, 1 earned. The only other thing I can say is that Chris Woodward seems to be ahead for that utility spot, and Nick Green might need to prepare himself for another season in the minors. He's made a career out of it thus far, so I don't think he'll be too disappointed.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Clean Play or Uncalled For?

TB's Elliot Johnson collided with Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli at the plate in the ninth inning of today's exhibition game. Cervelli held onto the ball, but his wrist was broken. Girardi has complained that such a play is unnecessary in a spring training game, due to the risk of injury. Maddon, TB's manager, called it "hardball." Chris Matthews has filed suit.

I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand we got a young kid trying to make a big league roster. Frankly, I've never seen that many players get hurt in this kind of play so I'm just not sure if it should be off limits in spring training. On the other hand, it's spring training. You may have just ruined some kids chance to make a major league roster, and for what? To score a run in the ninth inning of a spring training game? Will Maddon still think it's just hardball when the Yanks and TB meet again and the Yanks seek retaliation?

Francisco Cervelli Breaks Forearm

I was able to watch the ninth inning of today's game on YES, so I caught the play at home that broke Francisco Cervelli's arm. It wasn't called for. I know some may call it good hard baseball, and I'm all for it when the games count for something. This was a spring training game. The teams rosters are still over 60 strong. Hitters haven't even taken 20 at bats. Starters haven't gotten past the 3rd inning of games they start. My point is, there's no real point to be running over catchers at this stage. What if the Rays had injured their own guy on that play? Or Carl Crawford earlier in the week? Would Maddon still be calling it good hard ball?

As I said, it just doesn't make sense for games that don't mean anything, but we as Yankee fans also have to take a step back and look at things from the perspective of the Rays. If you see things from the Rays perspectives you'd understand that spring training games are the only games they have a chance at winning. Like squirrels gathering acorns for the cold winter months are the Rays gathering wins in the spring so they may have something to nourish them throughout the cold long losing streaks otherwise known as the regular season.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sore Shoulder Epidemic Causes Questioning of Girardi's Methods

Pete Abe is reporting on his blog that Jorge Posada also has a sore shoulder. Respect Jeter's Gangster inside man is reporting that there are grumblings around the Yankee clubhouse concerning new manager Joe Girardi's insistence on weekly "dead arm" sessions. "This doesn't make any sense. Yesterday Kyle Farnsworth gave me a dead arm, but he did it with a BB gun. I don't even see what purpose this serves," complained one Yankee veteran. Girardi, who is quite secretive, refuses to explain to anyone the purpose of this practice.

Dalai Lama Sabotaging the Olympics

According to this article at, Chinese officials have accused the Dalai Lama of attempting to sabotage this year's Summer Olympics, to be held in Beijing.

Apparently his holiness has polluted the Chinese air in an effort to create unhealthy breathing conditions for the athletes. He's also forced residents to buy cars, increasing traffic concerns. The Dalai Lama has also interfered with China's attempt to increase basic English proficiency by living in exile from his homeland of Tibet. He has also gone on to place lead in paint, poison in tooth paste, and cardboard in any number of exported Chinese food products. Clearly, we are dealing with a lunatic at the height of his power.

Miscellaneous News Items

1. Kyle Farnsworth

Discussing Joe Torre, Kyle Farnsworth made the following statement in an article in the Lower Hudson Journal:

"It's tough when you do lose the confidence of your manager to prepare yourself day in and day out when you have no clue about anything. They decided not to use me back-to-back days. They never came up to me and asked me. I don't know where that came about."

Ummmmm, maybe all those back spasms you suffered everytime you pitched back to back days. Just maybe. Put the gun down Kyle.

2. A-Rod

According to this release on A-Rod has a sore shoulder. Now there are any number of inappropriate "sore shoulder" jokes I could make right now, but out of respect for the usually high level of discourse on our blog (here's looking at you anonymous number one) I will refrain. All I know is that after the numbers he put up last year, the Yankees need to put that blonde stripper he got caught with on the payroll.

3. The Dominican Republic

It is being reported in The New York Times that the President of the Dominican Republic's baseball league is threatening to pull out of next year's World Baseball Classic if they're not selected as a host country. There you have it folks, the president of DR baseball is six years old. I guess A-Rod will again be playing for team USA next year.

Don't Do Drugs AND Gamble

According to Peter Abraham, the Yankees will have their annual don't do drugs or gamble meeting today. Over at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog headquarters, we found out that the meeting is actually the don't do drugs AND gamble meeting. They're a bad combination. Players start doing some drugs, then suddenly those $10,000 black chips look like the $1 navy blue chips, and they end up betting away their spot in the lineup to whoever wins. How do you think we ended up with Tony Womack in '05? So let this be a lesson: don't do drugs and gamble. Nobody wins. Well, except for maybe Tony Womack.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pujols in Need of Tommy John

According to an article on, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has an injured elbow that will probably require Tommy John in the future. It looks like he first injured the ligament in 2003 and since then has developed painful bone spurs and arthritis. He said that if the pain is as bad as it was in 2007, he will likely shut it down, but for now he's going forward with treating the symptoms. The doctors say however, that he will need the surgery eventually.

This comes as no surprise to me, because Pujols off season workout regimen consisted of throwing 100 pitch bullpen sessions every 2 days, and the only pitch he knew how to throw was a slider. I'm not sure where he learned the slider being a first baseman and all, but he would throw 100 sliders every two days as apart of his training. I told him that his approach was going to hurt his arm, but he was like "What do you know about baseball?" And he was right. What do I know? Why would I question a big league ball player about his workout routine? Did Albert Pujols question my approach to posting about Jeter's Gangster? No, no he didn't. Still, he shouldn't have been throwing 100 sliders every two days, and he definetely shouldn't have ordered a custom made 10 lbs baseball to do it with. I just feel like this could have been avoided.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Red Sox Keep it Classy in Florida is reporting that a veteran Red Sox scout has been "charged with lewd and lascivious behavior after an incident at a hotel" witnessed by two teenage girls. So there you have it. The Red Sox may have a better closer, but their scouts are pervs.

Meanwhile in Tampa, Yankees scouts saved an infant from a burning building, stopped a mugging while it was in progress, and cured a blind man with the laying on of hands. All of these stories, however, have been underreported by the Red Sox loving liberal media in order to perpetuate the fallacy of Red Sox nation. For shame!

When Will the Season Start?

The truth is, I've been waiting for the season to start since January 1. Free agent signings tend to get hot in December, the winter meetings come and go with a few headlines, and then after that its a matter of waiting. Spring training gives some satisfaction, but even then its just a stall for the real thing. I've done everything to try and make the time go by quicker. We did a player breakdown to countdown the days to spring training. We covered 27 players in that time. Then, to help pass time, we did a Know Thy Enemy segment every day to compare the Red Sox and Yankees at each position. We did 12 of those. And still, the season is not even close to starting. So here's to baseball, the only sport I follow year round, and the Yankees, the only team I let effect my emotional well being. Let's get this season started already!

Igawa Sharp, Traber Even Sharper

Igawa pitched 2 innings with 2 strikeouts and no hits or walks against the Blue Jays yesterday. I suppose that means he looked better than when he served up the grandslam against the college team. What has been overlooked during yesterday's rain shortened perfect game is the efforts of Billy Traber. A non-roster invite, Traber pitched one inning with 3 strikeouts. If he keeps up that kind of production, he'll have 180 strikeouts in 60 innings by seasons end. Mussina on the other hand, will give up 540 hits, 180 of them homeruns, have 360 earned runs and an 18.00 ERA in 180 innings. Not too good.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Moose Hunting

In case you haven't heard, Mike Mussina had a rough outing yesterday. Its typically around this time of year when the dooms day fans come out of hibernation and start forecasting their predictions of death, plague, destruction, and a missed playoff spot for the Yankees. I've been visiting blogs for a few years now, and its like clockwork. Spring training starts, here come the dooms day prophets. Pete Abraham commented about this over on his blog, specifically refering to Mike Mussina's bad start yesterday. People have written Mussina off after his first spring training start. I for one thought Spring training was when you were supposed to get rocked. For starters, you haven't pitched competetively in months, if you were smart you were probably not throwing 100 pitches every 5 days, and besides doing some conditioning, you probably spared your arm from anything that would knock you out of competition for the first three months of the season. As a result you're pretty rusty. You'll probably start by throwing light and increase velocity from there. You'll also probably take it easy on breaking pitches. Mike Mussina's out pitch is a knucklecurve. The smart money would say, he didn't have it yesterday and quite frankly he shouldn't have it this early. In other words, wait until the season starts to begin assessing players. You won't be able to tell much from the first game of spring training.

Japanese Whaling Is Fun as Hell

Scandinavian whaling? Not so much. Frankly, those whales don't stand a chance. There only hope is radical green peace militants out for blood. But what does this have to do with the Yankees? Nothing. But if one anonymous commenter wants a Japanese whaling post, who am I to deny him/her?

But on to the Yankees...

I've been thinking about A-Rod, as I often do (who doesn't?), and the fact that he still hasn't spoken with Scott Boras. Now, for all I know, Boras is giving him a massage right now, but at least publicly A-Rod has been very careful to separate himself from Boras. A-Rod has played the whole opt-out debacle very intelligently. He's managed to cast Boras as the villain to the tune of (at least) $275M. Instead of being universally maligned in Yankee Land he's more or less been accepted (there will always be people who won't like him, you know, on account of all the home runs and RBIs and solid defense at third, but for the most part, he's a Yankee).

A-Rod has been very intelligent about the way he has presented himself in the media since the opt-out. Similarly, Andy Pettitte may be the least tarnished PED user ever. And all he had to do was tell the truth at a deposition! He held a press conference, was sincere (though frankly, I think Pettitte probably sounds sincere even when he's insincere, so it's hard to know for sure), and now all is forgotten. The fans aren't holding it against him and that's all one can hope for.

These are two interesting examples when you consider Roger Clemens. He's really blown it as far as addressing this PED situation. Now, if he really didn't do it (which strains credulity) then I feel bad for the guy, because no matter how passionate his denials he is a cheater in the eyes of millions. But if he did do it, just fess up. Don't drag this out, file law suits, drag your "friend" Andy into all this during a season when he should be helping the team you have claimed you'd like to represent if/when you go to the hall. I don't know if there was a right way for Clemens to go about the post Mitchell Report situation, but if there is he is not even close. I suspect, however, that if he makes the hall in a few years (and I still think he will), all will be forgotten. As long as he doesn't bring it up in the induction speech. Just look at Pete Rose, everyone knows he cheats, but no one not in the press thinks he should be banned from baseball for life. Charlie Hustle is still a hero to many, and I think Clemens may find himself in a similar situation eventually.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spring Training Is Boring as Hell

So everyday I browse a number of online sports publications hoping something reported will be worth blogging about. There hardly ever is. There's just nothing that interesting about running drills and bullpen sessions. Since I could care less about the results of Spring Training games, I've no interest in blogging about that either. So instead I choose this, the 'Seinfeld' of posts, a post about nothing. I miss the World Baseball Classic. I enjoyed watching games that matter in March, and it was everything the Olympics wishes it was, only with more steroids. Here's to next year's World Baseball Classic, when you will be spared inane posts such as this one since there will actually be something for me to write about.

Know Thy Enemy: Closer

Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review the closers. If you are just catching on we have been doing a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.

Red Sox Closer

Not every releiver can close, and not every starter can be converted to a closer. Many teams have tried to convert pitchers into closers and have failed more often than succeeding. However, when you have a closer on your roster, it becomes very evident. This was the case with Jonathan Papelbon. A starter by trade, Papelbon served out of the bullpen in 2005 and 2006 to help an ailing bullpen. Former closer Keith Foulke was recovering from injuries, and not able to perform at that capacity. They tried Schilling out as a closer for a while, but he was no good in that role. Then came Papelbon. With two plus pitches in his fastball and splitter, Papelbon has become a solid closer for the Sox. Last season he posted a 1.85 ERA with 37 saves and 84 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. That was his second full season closing games.

Yankees Closer

The man needs no introduction. Mariano Rivera has arguably been the most dominating closer of this era. He built a reputation with a strong cutter that has baffled hitters for more than a decade now. Last season, was his worst as a closer. He posted a 3.15 ERA with 30 saves, and 74 strikeouts in 71.1 innings. Not bad by most standards, but bad for him. He had a really bad month in April, and seemed to take longer than usual to get adjusted to the season. I thought that might have put into question his spring training approach which is to go at his own pace, but it hasn't. He just signed a 3 year $45 million contract, and is 38 years old. The question will be whether he can get off to a better start this year, and will his cutter still cut.

Winner: Red Sox. A young closer entering his prime versus an aged veteran entering his twilight. Mariano has been the man for years, and I would easily pick Mariano over Papelbon if they were at the same stage of their career, but they're not. The truth is, Papelbon had a monster season last year, and Mariano stumbled. I don't think Mariano will have such a rough start this season, but he is getting older. Would I pick Mariano to close a big game over Papelbon? Absolutely. Would I pick him to out perform Papelbon over the course of an entire season? No.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Kei Igawa Not Worried

According to this article by Bryan Hoch at, Kei Igawa was not worried about his struggles in yesterdays game. In fact, he believed his control was pretty good. That's what I thought when I heard he walked two guys, drilled one guy, threw a wild pitch, and then gave up a grandslam. But I'm glad he's not worried, because I'm not either. If he keeps pitching poorly we won't see him at all next season.