Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coach Posada?

Jorge Posada has been doing some work with Gio Gonzalez down in Miami, helping him prepare for the upcoming season. This begs the question, might Posada be looking to coach at some point in the near future?

Posada has already done work as a guest instructor at Yankees Spring Training, and while I don't see Posada ever joining Girardi's coaching staff, perhaps a job in Miami—a la Tino Martines—might be in the cards. It would be nice to see Posada back in the game, so I hope this foreshadows a more thorough engagement with coaching.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

RJG Super Bowl Guide

With the Super Bowl only days away, it was time to kick some knowledge to our readers, whom I assume only care about baseball, as to what this annual event is all about.

The first and most important thing to know is, come Monday, it will not matter if you know who won the game, but it will matter if you don't know what happened in the Doritos commercial. Or the Go-Daddy commerical. Or any commercial. Under no circumstances may you miss the commercials. If you get food poisoning and are violently vomiting in the bathroom, make your way to the TV during any and all commercial breaks. You can go back to throwing up during the game.

Second, the game is being played in New York. If you're not sure what channel it's on, the best thing to do is flip around and look for something that is eerily familiar to that scene in Dr. Zhivago where they show the soldiers who had frozen to death in the field during the Bolshevik revolution. Expect to get home late due to all the game stoppages to remove hypothermic corpses from the field and sidelines.

Third, while both teams are good, this is not a particularly compelling Super Bowl match-up. The closest thing to a bad guy is Richard Sherman, but since the 49ers are no where to be seen in this game, there's no interesting plot line there. Sherman simply reverts to being a great corner (one of the million positions on the football field, don't worry about it, but do say things like 'Sherman is a great corner', which makes you sound knowledgeable).

So there you have it, your very own guide to the Super Bowl. You are now ready to successfully navigate this American cultural institution. Oh, and don't be that guy who brings celery or carrot sticks to the party. Just don't.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Yankees Week in Review

Hello respecters of Jeter's gangster. While I won't be doing this on a weekly basis, it seemed worth reviewing the flurry of activity surrounding the Yankees this past week.

First, the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka. The heralded Japanese super-phenom was coveted by numerous major league teams, who wined and dined him, gave him expensive gifts (of the basket variety), and made him lucrative promises. At days end, however, Tanaka chose the Yankees, giving them the final red rose in the big finale.

Then Hank Steinbrenner spoke to the media, letting everyone who questioned the Yankees commitment to winning know that they were stupid idiots who stupidly sucked at their stupid, idiotic lives. Lost on Hank seemed to be the fact that no one questioned the Yankees' commitment to winning, they questioned the Yankees' commitment to keeping their payroll under $189 million in 2014. So there's that.

Then Johnny Gomes, a .247 hitting outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, said that the Yankees can win all the winters they want, but it's the summer that matters. Apparently Gomes is both unaware that the World Series is played in the fall, and that the leaders of the Red Sox are David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jon Lester, and that there is a limit to how much anyone can care what Johnny Gomes thinks about baseball.

Gomes comes off like that kid who's always picking fights on the playground because his older brother hit a growth spurt last summer, now towers a foot above everyone else, and has his back. Fun to run your mouth when others have to do the backing it up for you.

Oh, and A Rod has been living it up in Mexico, travelling first to Mexico City to promote a gym, and then to Cancun. If you've never been to Cancun, go. Go now. Those beaches are amazing.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jonny Gomes Takes Shots At Yankees

Jonny Gomes was recently asked about the Yankees off season spending, and he had some comments that are seen as provoking their AL East rivals.  His basic comments were the following:

“People can go out and sign whoever they want right now," Gomes said. “Boxing rules, we still have the belt. Whoever else, reloads. Kind of flattering a little bit, you know, that [a division] rival has to reload as much as they did. We lost some core players; at the same time, this organization is extremely deep. The majority of our core group of guys is back. We’re champs. We have to uphold that title. I don’t think the mindset is going to change.’’

This would be inflammatory, except that it's entirely true.  The Red Sox are the team to beat, and even if we do beat them, we had to commit nearly half a billion dollars to do it.  Compare this to the Red Sox approach to last season, where they picked up role players, and middling free agents, trusted in their farm system, and bounce backs from current players to win the year.  In other words, they were the 1996 - 2000 Yankees.  We however are approaching team building the way we have since 2001: sign the big name.  This worked well for us in 2009, but it obviously didn't work well enough to allow us a repeat championship.  Now just a few years later, we're doing the same thing again.  Think about the fact that since 2000, when we won the last championship of the dynasty years and started to rev up our spending, we've only won one championship.  One.  In that same time, we've committed $2.4 billion to our payroll.  That's billion with a "b".  

The Yankees need to hope some of their prospects really shine this year.  After Jeter is gone, this team is not going to have a face.  Do you really think Tanaka, Sabathia, Teixeira, Ellsbury or McCann can replace him as the face of the franchise? 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Most Important Question Raised by the Tanaka Signing

Hank is talking again! Is Hank allowed to talk publicly again?! This is going to be the best year ever.

Yankees Front Office Struggles With Payroll Math

When the Yankees began publicly pronouncing that they would attempt to get their payroll under $189 million by 2014, many rival executives responded with an incredulous, 'I'll believe it when I see it', attitude. Much of the Yankees front office, it turns out, responded with similar incredulity. This unwillingness to believe, however, had less to do with skepticism or sarcasm than it did ignorance.

"I took a math class in college once," explained Yankees president Randy Levine. "And the professor would always throw out these theoretical numbers like one, or two, or twenty-five. And I would always look at him and say, 'billion'? And he'd be like, 'no, just one'. I could never really wrap my mind around it. I guess one is like a square root or something, one of those made up numbers represented with a letter that allows you to magically solve an equation. So when Hal started saying things like 189 million, I admit I was a bit lost."

Other Yankees personnel were similarly lost.

"Hal was really adamant that we make payroll in 2014," said Yankees GM Brian Cashman. "Hal's all like 'we need to make payroll'. And we're all looking at each other like, 'pay . . . roll?' It's hard when your boss is an eccentric majillionaire who makes things up on the spot."

In addition to ignorance, there also appear to have been a number of miscommunications.

According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, "when I heard the 189 figure, I assumed Hal meant per player. And if you look at the contracts we've signed since Hal started talking about that, none has been for more than $189 million. It cost us Cano, but I believe limiting contracts to $189 million or less has made us a better team overall."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yankees Officially Not Getting Under Payroll

With Tanaka agreeing to terms on a 7 year $155 million deal, the Yankees have officially committed to not getting under payroll, and not just this year, but for years to come.  Some of the biggest contracts on the team: Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, all share something in common besides their hefty price tag.  They all have no trade clauses written into them.  So these guys are going to be the face of this team for a while, and for me, I'm having trouble really supporting this idea.  The Yankees don't seem to have a long term team building strategy, and their short term team building strategy basically ensures that we won't be building from within.

What's funny about this whole Tanaka signing to me, is what our old friend Hank Steinbrenner had to say:  “Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves.” (Source).  I don't quite remember the Yankees commitment to winning being a big part of the dialogue about the Yankees this off season.  What I do remember being questioned is whether the people running the Yankees knew how to build a team, and whether they could commit to a team building strategy that focused on player development and signing the right players as opposed to the expensive ones.  A strategy that would set the Yankees up not just for this year, but for years to come.  We've basically signed 3 guys on the declining part of their careers, and paid huge money to do so.  In other words, we've done nothing different than we have in the past. 

The Tanaka signing may end up proving to be their smartest signing of the off season.  If it wasn't coming on the heels of over paying for Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran, while losing Cano, it might look even smarter.  When we had guys like Mo, Pettitte and Jeter on the team, these sorts of deals were no problem.  But when you're down to just Jeter, and you sign all these guys, you basically change the presentation of who the Yankees are.  We like our homegrown guys, and not having impact players who are homegrown is going to wear on fans.  At some point, it doesn't feel like you're watching the New York Yankees anymore.

Despite this, there are some positives about this season.  Watching Jeter in what could be his walk year will certainly be a treat, but I'm also excited to see one particular homegrown Yankee play this season: Alfonso Soriano.  He was a clutch bat in a wasteland of an offense last season, and seemed to really turn his season around.  He could pull an Ichiro and return to his less than stellar form, but here's hoping that we can get Soriano the championship he never won, since we decided to trade him for that homerun hitting, MVP-caliber player who has totally worked out for us.  Totally.

7 Years, $155 Million

The Tanaka sweepstakes is over, and the Yankees won. At least I think they won, since they just threw 'outfielder with a troubling injury history' money at Tanaka. Assuming Tanaka proves to indeed be a top of the rotation starter, this is not a crazy contract, especially for a guy who's only 25. The Tanaka contract was always going to be big and always going to be a risk, but man, I hope the Yankees know what they're doing on this one.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

CC, Tanaka, and Sherman

CC has lost some weight, and since A-Rod has essentially gone away and Tanaka is taking his sweet time, this is news. It's sort of interesting, but not really. Interesting would be if CC was throwing side sessions and getting his fastball up to 98mph. It may make for a good Jenny Craig commercial, but this isn't much of a story right now.

Tanaka, leaning heavily on the Horowitz playbook, is making us wait for no reason for his decision about who to play for. As best I can tell, either his wife already made the decision for him or he's going to go to the highest bidder, so let's make with the decision already. If you want Jim Gray to ask you about it at a boys and girls club we can make that happen if it will speed things up. You're not black so you don't have to worry about the public backlash.

Since baseball is kind of quiet right now, much of my sports related attention is on the NFL, where I've decided I really like Richard Sherman. It's not so much because of the brief interview he gave in which he called out Michael Crabtree, but because of this response column he wrote for Seems like a good guy, but even if he's not, at least he's interesting. Unlike baseball. And the Yankees roster. And you. I didn't want to say anything but someone has to or you'll keep telling that story over and over again. Just stop. Please.

A-Rod Article and a Random Thought

I came across this article about A-Rod's legacy that was interesting.  The basic premise of it is that in A-Rod's attempt to secure his legacy as one of baseball's best players, he irreversibly ruined it.  Mussina is quoted in the article from an interview done a number of years ago, and he made good sense.  He said that all of A-Rod's life, he's been told that he's the best player of his generation, then he moves to New York, and everyone's like "Yeah A-Rod's good, but he's no Jeter." and so this sentiment has deeply confused A-Rod.  Now A-Rod has surrounded himself with a team of well paid supporters who fight to keep him living in his deception.  In many ways, I feel sorry for the man.  I really do think he believes he's the victim here.

This could just be me, but I'm already losing interest in this roster.  We came into this off season with the promise of approaching team building in a new way, and instead the front office did what they've always done: over pay for players who are about to enter their decline.  Winning could always change this perception, but the truth is, I don't look at the Yankees roster and feel like it's a Yankees team.  Jeter's in his last year, and with Cano gone, and Mariano and Andy retired, who do we have?  Brett Gardner?  David Roberston?  Outside of seeing Jeter in his final year, there isn't much that's compelling about this team.  Maybe it'll feel different after spring training.  Maybe.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tanaka Not Yet in Pinstripes, System Horribly Broken

Japanese pitching phenom Masahiro Tanaka has yet to sign with the New York Yankees, showing just how broken the current posting system is. Widely considered the Babe Ruth of baseball, Tanaka has been forced to have pointless discussions with the Dodger, Cubs, and White Sox before being allowed to sign with the Bronx Bombers.

Under the old posting system, Tanaka would have been a Yankee by now, but instead he is forced to wait while lesser, unproven players like Clayton Kershaw receive huge paydays.

While it is clear the changes to the posting system have failed everyone involved, MLB is yet to announce any changes. That said, a number of proposals are under consideration, including one in which any player who is to be made available is first sold directly to the Yankees, who may keep the player or trade him. Known as the Levine Rule, this proposal continues to gather steam among players and owners, but MLB brass has been hesitant to implement it, fearing that another change to the posting system so soon after the last one will be widely interpreted as an admission of failure in the international community.

Ban Ki-Moon could not be reached for comment.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dodgers Fail to Insult Kershaw during Negotiations, Leading to Player Friendly Contract

The plan of Dodger's ownership to avoid insulting Clayton Kershaw has backfired miserably, saddling the club with the most expensive contract for a pitcher ever for the next 12-18 months. By agreeing to be held hostage by Kershaw, the Dodgers have done immeasurable damage to the league and the sport we so love.

Prior to negotiations, Kershaw had followed what is now known as the 'Kelley Protocol', threatening to sue the Dodgers in federal court if their arbitration offer was considered insulting, insulting being defined as anywhere south of the GDP of a medium-sized industrial nation (e.g. France). With many players now following the Kelley Protocol, it is perhaps only a matter of time until the Commissioner's office steps in, ends guaranteed contracts, and free agency altogether.

A-Rod's Best Friend Retires from Game in Protest

Former Oakland Athletic Dallas Braden, who once interrupted a game in order to catch up with Alex Rodriguez, an old friend, has retired from Major League Baseball. While many reports are citing recurring shoulder issues, the timing of the retirement announcement strongly suggests that the former starting pitcher has retired in protest of Major League Baseball's treatment of Alex Rodriguez, and the unprecedented suspension handed down by Frederick Horowitz.

An expert in unwritten rules, Mr. Braden released the following statement indicating that his decision may have been more influenced by the written ones:

After many fruitful years as a Major League ballplayer, I have decided now is the right time to jump ship, before MLB ends guaranteed contracts for players and begins allowing arbitrators hand picked by the league to determine player salaries based on something as fluid and constantly shifting as on-field performance.

Shortly after announcing his retirement, Mr. Braden was served with process by one of Alex Rodriguez's attorneys. Mr. Braden is being sued for his failure to speak out publicly sooner in defense of his life-long best friend forever Alex Rodriguez.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shawn Kelley Files for Arbitration, Threatens to Sue

Right-handed pitcher Shawn Kelley has filed for salary arbitration against the New York Yankees. For weeks, Kelley's lawyers have claimed that he is entitled to a raise under a fair, impartial, arbitration proceeding as outlined in the Basic Agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player's Association. If Kelley does not receive the raise he demands, however, his legal representatives are prepared to file a complaint in federal district court seeking injuctive relief from the arbitrator's decision.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bosch Ruled More Credible than A-Rod

At the end of the day, what the Frederick Horowitz decision boils down to is that a confessed drug dealer is more credible than A-Rod. This should come as no surprise, since most drug dealers are pretty reliable when it comes to the subject of drugs and who purchased them. They tend to know a thing or two about that.

A-Rod's quest for vindication now moves to federal court, where some poor judge will have to read mounds of evidence that have already been reviewed by other qualified persons in separate proceedings just so she can make the same ruling Horowitz did.

My understanding is that A-Rod's legal team has prepared appeal documents for review by the Ruling Council of planet Krypton in the event a federal court does not rule their way. This council, best known for its conviction of General Zod, is largely considered an impartial arbiter whose imaginary nature makes it particular well suited to ruling on the issue of A-Rod's imaginary innocence.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yanks Prepare Disrespectful Offer for Tanaka

Sorry we've been away folks, but there's been little to write about and lots of ninjas to fight. It happens.

With the Hall of Fame vote out of the way, baseball returns to actually pressing issues, like who will overpay Masahiro Tanaka and when will Fred Horowitz make his #$%*ing mind up already?

RJG has found out that the Yankees have been diligently preparing a highly insulting offer, including a non-roster invite to spring training. As a guest, not a player. Like when they let Yogi Berra hang out just because. Tanaka will, however, be expected to pay for his own parking. It will not be validated.

In other news, Fred Horowitz doesn't care how badly you want to know whether A-Rod will be suspended. He hasn't even read the briefs filed after the hearings officially ended. He's not even sober yet from his New Year's Eve bender. Deal with it.