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Yankee Preview: Roundtable Discussion 2
2004-03-01 08:51
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.


Last Licks

Part Two: B-Side

BB: Who will have the better season: Pettitte or Vasquez? Clemens or Brown.


Allen Barra: Right now, if Kevin Brown escapes injury, he's a better pitcher -- that is to say, more effecitve -- than either Pettitte or Clemens. For that matter, putting aside the question of durability, he's probably at least as effective as Curt Schilling. Vasquez is probably a better pitcher than al of them, and he's just coming into his prime.

Jack Curry: This is the shortest question so far, but maybe the toughest because, really, who knows how they'll act react in their new environments. A couple of Yankees were raving about how much Brown's pitches move. Just nasty stuff. If he stays healthy (I know, a big if), I think he'll have a better year than Clemens. Pettitte and Vazquez is a tossup. I think both will win 15-18 games and be productive starters. But, with the Yankees, of course, Brown and Vazquez need to perform in October.

Steven Goldman: I don’t buy this question, because differences of context – league and park and supporting personnel – make the answer dependent on more than the merits of each pitcher. What I think you’re really trying to ask is, “Did the Yankees make the right choices here?” Vazquez is already a better pitcher than Pettitte and should remain so, but that’s only germane if the choice was Vazquez or Pettitte, which it wasn’t. Whether letting Pettitte go will depend on whether the team’s estimate of his short-term injury future is accurate, and we won’t know that for awhile. Clemens or Brown wasn’t a choice either, and what he does vs. Brown is not at all relevant to the sitch in the Bronx. I think he’ll be fine.

Jay Jaffe: Vazquez will thrive in the Bronx, Pettitte will do reasonably well in Houston, the better defense behind him tempered by the loss of the favorable dimensions of Yankee Stadium and that great run support. Clemens will be fairly effective in limited use and I think Brown will too, though his stats will suffer by comparison to his LA days. I give the Yanks the edge overall.

Bruce Markusen: Statistically, Vazquez will have the better season, in part because of pitching at Yankee Stadium and in part because of his terrific natural stuff. Pettitte will have a good season for the Astros, but his ERA and home runs allowed will both rise while pitching in a ballpark that’s not favorable to left-handed pitchers. I would have liked to have seen both pitchers in pinstripes, but that’s a whole other story. Based on what scouts say about Vazquez’ repertoire of pitchers and on what people in Montreal say about his steady character, Vazquez has a chance to be very, very good in New York. With apologies to Orlando Hernandez, he could be their best Latino starter since the days of Luis Tiant and Ed Figueroa. In terms of matching up Brown against Clemens, it all comes down to Brown’s health. If he can avoid the disabled list, he can put up better numbers than Clemens did the last two years in New York—and what he might do in Houston. Brown does have one thing working against him, and that’s the Yankees’ questionable infield defense, which would be helped greatly by the acquisition of a high-caliber second baseman. I’d call it almost a toss-up between Brown and Clemens, with Clemens gaining perhaps a slight advantage because of a decreased workload in Houston. Fewer starts could translate into higher quality for “The Rocket.”

Rob Neyer: Vazquez and Brown will pitch better than Pettitte and Clemens.

Tom Verducci: Vazquez will be the biggest winner on the Yankees staff. The guy had brutal run support last year -- the Yankees will just bludgeon the back half of teams’ rotations and middle relief, leading to easy six-inning wins -- and he has the makeup to be a star. Clemens and Brown are a toss-up, especially because I regard both as health risks. Clemens is a risk because he pitched seven months last year at 40 without missing a start. The odds simply work against him, especially because NL baseball does not afford him the maintenance he needed in the training room in between every inning of AL games. Brown has real violence in his delivery, not a good thing at his age. He’s a start-by-start guy. But if he stays healthy, his stuff is still dominant.

BB: Will Mike Mussina win 20 games? If not, will he at least win 15 games again? How close is Mussina to being a Hall of Famer?



Allen Barra: Mussina will probably win 18 games this year. He should have made his move towards the Hall of Fame when he came to the Yankees; for some reason, he didn't, and my guess is that it's too late now. But he is still very good.

Jack Curry: I thought Mussina was a lock to win 20 last season after starting off 7-0. He'll definitely win 15 games and he is on track to be strongly considered for the Hall of Fame. He would help his cause greatly by mixing in a couple of 20-win seasons and getting a ring.

Steven Goldman: Could be; his luck could break right one of these days. He’ll be over 15 again, even if his ERA goes up a bit. As for the Hall, he’s going to finish with 250-plus wins, and that’s going to be attractive, but the lack of Cy Youngs and 20-win seasons is going to hold him back with some voters who, let’s face it, are not paying the slightest bit of attention anyway. BP’s Pecota compares him to Jim Bunning, which is dead on. It took Bunning about 20 years to get into the Hall.

Jay Jaffe: Twenty, schmenty; it's overrated, particularly in this day and age, but I do think he'll get it with this lineup. Three good seasons and at least one ring will make him a lock.

Bruce Markusen: Mussina is close to a Hall of Fame level, but I think he’s considered a notch below the likes of Clemens, Martinez, Johnson, and Maddux. If a Hall of Fame vote were conducted today, all four of those would likely be named on the first ballot. That’s not the case with Mussina, who has some work to do if he wants to win some more votes. A 20-win season and a World Series MVP Award would do a lot for Mussina’s reputation.

Rob Neyer: It’s very tough predicting that any pitcher will win 20 games, but I think Mussina’s a lock to win 15. As for the Hall of Fame, he’s still got a lot of work to do. Hall of Fame voters like 20-win seasons and Cy Youngs, and to this point Mussina hasn’t done enough to separate himself from the likes of Tommy John, Jim Kaat, and Bert Blyleven.

Tom Verducci: Mussina is long overdue to win 20. He’s the biggest given on the staff. Mark him down for at least 15 wins. It’s a little early to judge his Hall chances, but it’s safe to say he’s not yet in a decline phase. He’s a lesser version of Maddux when it comes to durability and consistency. I like the many times he’s showed up in Cy Young voting. He’s no lock for Cooperstown, but he is on the radar.

BB: Do you see Jose Contreras as the x-factor in the Yankees starting rotation?


Allen Barra: Yes, Contreras is the x-factor. He has great stuff, but like other Cuban pitchers, he seems to break down a great deal. If he goes without injury, he's a superb Number Four starter. His durability remains unproven.

Jack Curry: Contreras is the one of the X-Factors. So is Lieber. Lieber has to show he's healthy, too. Contreras has to prove that he can succeed in the majors throughout an entire season, not just in spurts. I didn't think it was a good sign for the Yankees that he spoke so openly and depressingly about missing his family in Cuba last week. I don't think any of us really understand what the guy has been through and he'd be inhuman if he didn't impact him, even a little, on the field.

Steven Goldman: Him or Lieber. Even at his best, Lieber was never Sandy Koufax. Coming off of surgery, no one is suggesting he will be his best. Control pitchers without good stuff are also known as “target practice.”

Jay Jaffe: Aside from Moose, they're all x-factors to a degree, but I think the risks are reasonable. Lieber's had a long rehab and will be fine. Vazquez is already an excellent pitcher and while it might take him some time to learn the hitters, he's going to mesh well with Posada. Contreras will be more comfortable this year than last and will pitch well. Brown's key is his health; the Yanks will need a sixth starter available so they can give him a rest on the DL sometime this summer or skip his turn if his back/neck/elbow flares up. As a groundball pitcher, Brown's not very suited to this team, so it will be interesting to see how he handles that if he gets some tough breaks. On the whole, I'd put the 39-year-old pitcher as the x-factor.

Rob Neyer: Well, sure. Him and Jon Lieber. I happen to think that Contreras will be one of the better starters in the American League, but what we can’t know is whether he can handle the physical strain of starting 30-plus games. In my opinion, if the Yankees don’t win 100 games it will be because Contreras and Lieber don’t combine to win at least 25 games.

Tom Verducci: I regard Brown as more of an x-factor because he could be the Cy Young winner or he could be a permanent resident of the DL. That’s a wide swing. I’d be amazed if Contreras makes all 33 starts and throws 220 innings. He will have days where he just dominates hitters with filthy stuff. And once in a while he’ll look lost on the mound. Don’t discount his family not being allowed out of Cuba. He is a very sensitive man.

BB: How do you think Bernie Williams will adapt to being a designated hitter? Will Kenny Lofton's presence distract him or inspire him? How close is Williams to being a Hall of Famer? What does he need to do to qualify?



Allen Barra: Bernie Williams was hitting about .350 when his knee began to bother him last year. That was his shot at the Hall. I'm afraid he's missed it now. But at his age, he's got nowhere else to go, so there's no reason for him not to play as hard as he can. I think the key is not mental, as his four World Series rings illustrate. The question is how well he comes back after his injury.

Jack Curry: Until Bernie had to have an appendectomy the other day, I expected him to be the starting CF and start over 100 games out there. Now Torre probably will start Lofton out there at the beginning of the season and let Bernie ease back in slowly as the DH. I'm sure Bernie wasn't thrilled that the Yankees added Lofton, but Bernie's defense has eroded. I don't think Bernie is a Hall of Famer.

Steven Goldman: Spending part of the season at DH should be beneficial for Bernie, keeping his legs fresh. There have simply not been many 35-year-old center fielders who can take the pounding of running around out there every day. The same is true of Lofton, which is why a job-sharing arrangement (assuming that Bernie returns relatively soon) makes the most sense for the team and for Williams. As soon as he perceives that he can make more of a contribution by spending half his time in the outfield, half at first base, I think Williams will accept it, or, to paraphrase Stanley Kubrick, stop worrying and learn to love the Lofton… Bernie is a Hall of Famer by any standard, but even if he hangs around long enough to clear 2,500 hits and 300 home runs (he probably won’t), the Hall won’t call without a brain transplant.

Jay Jaffe: I don't think there's as much to the Lofton presence and Williams move as has been made out to be. Giambi's fragility will mean plenty of time at DH for him, which means plenty of time in center for Williams if he's healthy -- the difference between him and Lofton with the stick will outweigh the defensive concerns (you might see Lofton come on in the late innings occasionally). Bernie's been working hard over the winter and rather than sulking about it is treating this as though he's fighting for his job; I expect his motivation will carry him and Torre's loyalty will win out, keeping him the regular there. But I think when the time comes he'll be fine as a DH. The guy is a professional hitter and will do well there if and when the time comes.

I think that because of his association with the Yankee dynasty Williams already has a decent shot at the Hall of Fame. The simple Bill James metrics (HOF Standards and HOF Monitor) have him in the pocket. Looking at him in the context of the BP stuff I did on the Hall which focuses on Wins Above Replacement Player for peak and career totals, he's a middle-of the-pack HOF CF, in the top 10 behind Mays, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle, DiMaggio, Ashburn, Snider, and Billy Hamilton, and having surpassed Kirby Puckett. Yes, Griffey's a better player -- behind Joe D on that list -- but he's limping into the Hall by comparison. Another couple of productive seasons will shore up Bernie's credentials and keep him around long enough to remind writers how great he's been.

Bruce Markusen: Given the professional that Williams is, he should have little difficulty in adjusting to designated hitter status. I think he’ll still end up playing center field against left-handed pitching, which might clear the way for Jason Giambi to pick up some at-bats as a DH. Since Williams is very sensitive, he’s probably hurt by the acquisition of Kenny Lofton, but he needs to look at this objectively. He has lost a lot of his defensive value over the past three seasons, to the point that he’s now one of the poorer fielding center fielders. Williams is probably pretty close to Hall of Fame status. He’s been underrated for years, and it seems like he’s only receiving credit now that his career is on the decline. If Williams can bounce back from his injury-plagued 2003 and have one or two more big seasons, that will strengthen his case greatly.

Rob Neyer: Williams is a great player, but like Mussina he hasn’t enjoyed any huge seasons or won any big awards, and that’s really going to hurt his Hall of Fame chances. I think he needs to win an MVP or come very close, and at this point that’s looking very, very unlikely. I think he’s similar to Rafael Palmeiro, except Palmeiro’s got all the home runs to impress the voters. As for DHing, I think he’ll be fine. Williams doesn’t strike me as the sort to let that affect his hitting.

Tom Verducci: Bernie will get the bulk of the starts in centerfield, provided he is healthy. Torre just doesn’t easily toss aside the guys who have done it for him -- not for a Lofton who is barely a better defender than Williams. (Has anybody seen Lofton’s arm or the routes he takes to balls?) Without even looking at Williams’ numbers, I think his shot at the Hall is an outside one. I say that while recognizing that he’s probably underrated overall. But does he show up much in MVP voting while playing on great teams? (No, he finished seventh once, 10th once, and that’s it.) I tend to have a harsher grading scale for my Hall vote than a lot of guys, but I also don’t think that long and hard about active players when it comes to the Hall. It’s like baking a cake. I’d hate to judge its taste when it’s only three-quarters cooked. There’s a reason the Hall gives a five-year waiting period. Perspective is a very valuable tool.

BB: Theo Epstein and Billy Beane are the two most celebrated general managers in the game right now. Is there any doubt that Brian Cashman belongs in their company?


Allen Barra:Excuse me, but how did Theo Epstein move up to the class of Billy Beane and Brian Cashman? Did I miss something, or is his hand weighed down by too many championship rings? Billy Beane is handicapped by lack of resources. What is Theo Epstein weighed down by, besides his arrogance?

Jack Curry: Cashman gets automatically criticized because the high payroll allows him to make some mistakes that other organizations can't make. Plus he has to deal with the George factor and the notion that a lot of other executives toss their opinions into the mix before decisions are made. But JP Ricciardi of the Blue Jays told me that money alone doesn't make a solid team. It's the fact that the Yankees have the money and they have a savvy GM like Cashman contributing to the decisions.

Jay Jaffe: None whatsoever. He was ahead of the curve as a young GM, and while his genius isn't celebrated, his skill at maintaining his job, sanity and championship-caliber ballclub under Mad King George is one that goes relatively unheralded. Yes, it's great to have money, but it still takes brains to make the deals, and with the Brown and Rodriguez deals, Cashman made some pretty creative stuff happen this winter. He's smart enough to play things much closer to the vest than those two, and with the A-Rod deal, he was rewarded for that strategy.

Bruce Markusen: There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind. We hear so much about the Sabermetric approaches of Beane and Epstein, but the Yankees have been incorporating Sabermetric concepts since the mid-1990s, when Gene Michael started to rebuild a team that had fallen into disarray. Michael has been preaching on-base percentage for 10 years now, well before either Beane or Epstein moved into positions of power. Like Michael, Brian Cashman doesn’t call himself a Sabermetrician, but he believes in a number of those concepts, as well. There’s a tendency to downgrade Cashman because he has so much money to work with, but it was Cashman who initiated talks with the Rangers about Rodriguez, it was Cashman who resisted efforts to trade Andy Pettitte years ago, and it’s been Cashman who has done most of the down-and-dirty trade negotiations with other teams. All the while, he’s had to deal with the most demanding press corps and the most demanding owner in sports. The bottom line? Cashman is a very bright guy who doesn’t believe in standing pat; he’s always looking to improve the roster. That’s the kind of general manager I’d want running my team.

Rob Neyer: I think it’s way too early to include Epstein in a group of great GM’s—though he obviously has a good chance to be considered in that class, eventually—and I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that Cashman is Beane’s equal. Cashman is a fine executive, I don’t have any doubt about that. But until he wins 90 games with a $50 million payroll and runs the show all by himself—Beane’s done both of these things in Oakland—I don’t think Cashman belongs in the same discussion.

Tom Verducci: It’s too hard to argue against his record, no matter what you say about revenues and checkbook baseball. And can we see Theo or Billy in one World Series before we start casting the plaques for Cooperstown? They’re both on my short list of best GMs, but professional sports is a cold, bottom-line business. Every market, every franchise, every team has issues all their own, but I go back to Bill Parcells: in the end, you are what your record says you are. And Cashman has a darn good record.

BB: The Yankees have a gruff edge this season with the additions of Kevin Brown, Sheffield and Kenny Lofton. Some observers look at this team as a far cry from the Paul O'Neill Yankees. Will the new attitude help or hurt the team?


Allen Barra: The so-called "Paul O'Neill Yankees" were really the solid pitching Yankees, This is a much better hitting team than most of the "O'Neill" teams, and if the starting pitching holds up, no one's going to be nostalgic for 1999.

Steven Goldman: I’m in the clubhouse infrequently, but every time I went during the O’Neill years, there he would be, at the far end of the clubhouse, slumped in his chair, glowering. He was not the poster child for winning attitude, just attitude. I’ve always marveled at how the kind of post-at-bat whining and kicking that got Gregg Jefferies run out of New York caused O’Neillto be seen as “a warrior” …Uh, what was the question again? Oh, yeah. Casey Stengel used to say that if a team came up with a problem player, it should just “disappear him.” If Lofton is a problem, he’ll be headed out of town. He might be headed out of town anyway.

Jay Jaffe: Those guys aren't quite as cuddly as O'Neill, nor have they enjoyed the stability Paulie had. They have mercenary qualities, but they all have a mean competitive edge, Brown in particular. Lofton might get a little squeaky about playing time, but they'll bring a lot to the team overall because they're hungry for a championship, and they wouldn't be here if they weren't.

Bruce Markusen: It could go either way. In some ways, the Yankees have been so businesslike that sometimes complacency sets in, especially when the season is so long and the team is annually regarded (mistakenly) as a lock for the postseason. Sometimes a slumping team needs a mini-controversy or a dispute to re-light the ignition. If Lofton, Sheffield and/or Brown get out of line, there’s still a Jeter and a Jorge Posada around to calm them down and remind them of the way that things are done with the Yankees. And with a manager like Torre, any controversies will be relatively short-lived. He’s brilliant at defusing problems that might have mushroomed in previous Yankee eras.

Rob Neyer: New attitude? I think what’s important is the new lineup, which is better than the old lineup.

Tom Verducci: First of all, don’t throw Sheffield in there. The guy is accountable, plays hard and plays hurt. Brown is a ferocious competitor. How he feels about the media is irrelevant. Lofton could be a problem if he’s reduced to a pinch runner/pinch hitter/part-time player who gets 250 at-bats. That’s not what he expected when he signed. A-Rod burns to win as much as anybody. The only concern there might be that A-Rod is like Clemens when Clemens first joined the Yankees -- he tries too hard to be just one of the guys.

BB: From a writer's viewpoint, is this the most interesting Yankee team since the Bronx Zoo days of the late seventies?


Allen Barra: As Tommie Lee Jones says, "Yes. Hell, yes!"

Jack Curry: I spent eight days with the Yankees at the start of spring training and, in 14 years of covering them, I've never seen the buzz around the team that exists now. I can't speak to the late 70's because I was still in elementary school, but A-Rod has added a factor that has actually made the most storied team in sports even more interesting. The Yankees are never devoid of stories and that will never be more accurate than this season.

Steven Goldman: Nope. The ‘04s don’t even begin to match the 77-78s in personality. I don’t think that time will ever come again, not in New York, anyway. Back then, players had a lot to say to the writers. Today, they spend most of the time they’re supposed to be available to the writers in the bathroom. From a team-building/analysis point of view, the business of importing veteran all-stars is a lot less exciting than the process of building from within, making clever trades, unearthing hidden gems — you know, the whole Moneyball thing.

Jay Jaffe: A-Rod's addition will certainly add to the potential tabloid fodder of this team, but there are plenty of legitimate story lines such as they way Jeter and Williams respond to the threats to their primary position roles and how the new rotation fares. Because there's drama when they go far and more drama when they don't, the Yanks are always interesting, always offering several story lines. If anything, from a preseason vantage point, I think this team's stacked lineup of newcomers is LESS interesting than the melding of the '98 squad with all of the homegrown talent. Their hunger after '97 drove them all season long, and they had much more to prove than these guys do.

Bruce Markusen: I don’t cover the team on a regular basis like the beat writers, but I do write about the Yankees often in my “Cooperstown Confidential” column. This team is likely to generate more stories of intrigue than any of the Yankee teams since the early 1980s or the “Bronx Zoo” years of 1977-79. In that sense, they’ll probably provide me with more material for the column. With that said, some of the soap opera stuff can be carried too far, to the point where it becomes exaggerated and doesn’t interest the real baseball fans. In terms of coverage of the team, there needs to be a balance between the stories off the field and the team’s performance on the field.

Rob Neyer: Oh, I don’t know if I’d say that. I think what made the Bronx Zoo Yankees interesting was their manager and how the players reacted under the stress of playing a 162-game schedule while working for a crazy owner. But this manager’s no Billy Martin, the schedule hasn’t even begun, and the owner’s not as crazy any more.

Tom Verducci: No, not even close. The Billy-Lou-Yogi years were more interesting and tougher to cover. George had more of a fastball back in those days, ready to rip players and managers at the first two-game losing streak. (After the Yankees started 1985 0-2 in Boston, he called the next game ``crucial.’’) I will give you this: it has the greatest star power George ever has assembled. This team will be covered in the front of the tabloids nearly as much as in the back.

BB: What are you looking forward to about the 2004 Yankees? And what are you dreading about them?


Allen Barra: What I'm dreading most is the possibility of Kevin Brown and Jose Contreras not holding up; if they both go down, I fear the Yankees season goes with them. On the other hand, it's just possible that the Yankees could be overpowering this year. Giambi was the American League's best hitter for three seasons, and there's not reason why he can't revert to that. No real reason, too, why Soriano shouldn't blossom into a genuine superstar. if that happens, and Bernie Williams comes back, the Yankees could bury the Red Sox, a team that had several players performing well over their heads last year.

Steven Goldman: Pleasant anticipation: I want to see what Joe Torre will do with this group. Torre isn’t perfect, but on the whole he’s been a tremendous asset to the Yankees and will be worthy of his eventual selection to the Hall of Fame. Now he’s been given a new problem to deal with, the 1982 problem of having an overabundance of depth. Can he keep everyone happy? I think his contractual status will have a great deal to say about the outcome.

Dread: The first announcer who talks about the Yankees buying another pennant should be sent to Camp X-Ray.

Jay Jaffe: I really want to see how the homegrown guys -- Williams, Jeter, and Posada -- respond or rebound with such a strong supporting cast behind them. Giambi too. I look forward to the rotation answering the questions of the doubters who predicted doom and gloom once the Yanks lost Pettitte. I dread the endless A-Rod/Jeter coverage whether it's tabloid-style fodder or a season-long sabermetric debate about the merits of the two players' defense. I feel like saying either way, "Yeah, we know. Who really gives a shit with this lineup?" The tabloid buzzards will be circling all year, looking for signs of weakness and generally missing the forest for the trees, as usual.

Bruce Markusen: Like most fans, I’m looking forward to watching Alex Rodriguez play on a day-to-day basis. I’ve only seen him in fits and starts in the past. He’s the best all-around player in the game and it should be a treat to watch him. I’m also curious to find out who will emerge as the everyday second baseman and how that player might improve the Yankees’ subpar infield defense. Finally, I’m anxious to see Hideki Matsui now that he’s had a full season to acclimate to major league baseball and the American culture. He played well in 2003; he has a chance to emerge as a full-out star, rather than just settle for being a very good player. The only thing I’d dread is the collective age of the team. This is a very old team. If a half-dozen key players start to show their age or break down physically, the Yankees may not have the depth to sustain such manpower losses.

Rob Neyer: I’m looking forward to the 50-60 times they lose. I’m dreading the 100-110 times they win, not to mention all the media attention.

Tom Verducci: I look forward to watching the lineup at full strength. On all cylinders, they will just wipe out some teams the way the Indians would in the mid-90s -- opposing teams would need to summon pitchers from Triple-A after a three-game series against those Indians teams because they’d be so beat up. I dread the Jeter-A-Rod made-for-media subplot. I hope Jeter chooses not to fight it, that he learns the beast lives only if he feeds it.

BB: Do you think the Yankees will get into a bench-clearing brawl during the regular season?


Allen Barra: I, for one, wouldn't mind seeing it. I think the Yankees allowed themselves to get pushed around too much last year. They are physically one of the strongest teams in baseball, and I wouldn't mind seeing them put the fear of God into the White Sox or Angels.

Steven Goldman I sure hope so. The record for “Best Yankees Brawl of All-Time” has stood since 1933, when Ben Chapman started a fight at second base, then went into the Senators dugout, fans rushed onto the field, and the Yankees ended up duking it out with riot police. The 1997 thing with Benitez and the O’s came close, but no cigar. Oddly, though this record has outlasted several single-season home-run marks and Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak, it gets very little mention in the press.

Jay Jaffe: Yes. Brown will start something, probably against Boston.

Bruce Markusen: Yes, if only because the organization is so hated by the rest of the league. Yankee hitters always seem to be targets of inside fastballs—just look at the number of times they’ve been hit by Red Sox pitchers in recent years—so it’s inevitable that someone will lose his temper and charge the mound. The most likely candidate? It could be Lofton, or Sheffield, or Giambi. We know that it won’t be Don Zimmer.

Tom Verducci: No, I don’t know how you anticipate something like that happening.

On the Cutting Room Floor:

I asked a question about the Yankees’ coaches that didn’t make the cut. But I just can’t bear to throw Barra’s line away:

Allen Barra: My feeling is that good coaches are like chicken soup. They can't hurt.

And that's the fact, Jack.

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