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Hope Springs Eternal
2006-02-09 05:15
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Yankee general manager Brian Cashman was in the heart of Washington Heights yesterday and he told reporters that he'll keep Roger Clemens on his radar this spring, though it's unlikely that the future Hall of Famer will return to New York. However, as Bob Klapisch notes:

It made for good conversation on a chilly February afternoon. Cashman seemed at peace with the Yankees' pitching staff – he still professes faith in Carl Pavano – and in the bench, where Andy Phillips won a landslide victory over Mike Piazza during an internal poll of the organization's scouts. The Yankees might be hard-pressed to win 95 games again, especially with the on-paper surge of the Blue Jays, but on balance, it was a good winter for Cashman.

Now he was enjoying the dividend, sitting down to a dish named after him. It's La Nueva Caridad's specialty, dedicating special meals to the restaurant's special guests. Virtually every Spanish-speaking player who visits New York eventually heads uptown for lunch, and now Cashman was officially part of the Dominican Hall of Fame.

Ben Kabak considers the pros and cons of the Andy Pettitte coming back to the Bronx as well. Want some more wishful thinking? How about this report on Ramiro Mendoza. Hey, you've got to love pre-season optimism, right?

Comments
2006-02-09 06:04:57
1.   KJC
Quick question (since the above Mendoza link mentions it): what -- if anything at all -- do Yankee fans think of Damon's "thank you" ad to Boston fans in the Globe?
2006-02-09 06:16:27
2.   Shaun P
Classy thing for him to do. Can't blame him for wanting to try to maintain the relationship he had with the fans, even though he's gone.

OK, the front office is clearly behind Andy Phillips as DH. Torre has yet to mention Phillips's name when talking about who will DH this year. So, when the clash ultimately comes between Torre and Cashman, who wins?

My money is on Cash. Torre owes him - Cash was practically his only friend in the FO last year.

2006-02-09 06:21:23
3.   Alex Belth
I think it was cool of Damon...it was sincere, but if he thinks that is going to change them from booing his ass this summer, well, then, he's in for a surprise.
2006-02-09 06:28:51
4.   bp1
Re: Damon. What would people say if A-Rod pulled a similar stunt. Holy smokes, people would be talking about it for years, and he would absolutely be fried to a crisp.

Me? I say Damon needs to get over himself and remember who is now paying his mortgage. He's on the Yankee payroll and needs to stop thinking about Boston. Move on, Johnny Talk Show, and start taking out full page ads in the NY Post telling NY fans how excited you are to be on the Yankees and how you are looking forward to playing your heart out for your new ballclub.

BP

2006-02-09 06:41:59
5.   mattyobmick7
I don't think there's anything wrong with what Damon did at all. Shaq did the same thing and everything gushed over it because it showed his class. Damon has and always will be a classy guy, albeit a goofball with marbles in his mouth. Think about it, Damon, with the 1st pitch out of lamo Javier's hand effectively gave them the World Series, so he's as much of the hero of that postseason in Sox fans' eyes as Schilling or Monkey boy. He just wanted to show that although he was defecting to the Dark Side, he was appreciative of his time in Beantown and wanted to let everyone know. That said Johnny, let's rip out their throats and shove 'em in a garbage compactor this year. If not, I'll come down there and eat your lunch for you.
2006-02-09 07:06:00
6.   Fred Vincy
Re: Damon

My view is that the gracious comments to the press about Boston were completely appropriate, but that the newspaper ad was too much. It's no longer his job to be liked in Boston.

2006-02-09 07:07:32
7.   Fred Vincy
Re: Mendoza

His Venezuela stats this winter:

11 G, 14 IP, 14 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 3.21 ERA

http://tinyurl.com/cjdz9 (p.4)

Any idea how that translates to the majors?

2006-02-09 07:08:33
8.   The Mick 536
I eat hot dogs in my seat. As Cat said about Reggie, when you reach into your pocket for the candy bar watch out for the mustard. Or something like that.

Glad to read about the hopefuls: Duncan and Phillips. Give me some home grown.

Ramiro and Andy. Pshaw. Work with Pave, Jared, Chacon, Small and Wang. 85-87 is what I am looking at. Get young. Get fast. Catch the ball. Throw the ball. Hit the ball in the park. Run from first to third. Steal a few bases. Pitch into the seventh. Create runs. PLAY BALL!

2006-02-09 07:29:07
9.   wsporter
What's not to like about Damon's generous and gracious message. The guy has some class and some awareness of what is going on around him and he demonstrated it. I can't see how he deserves the crap I know he'll get for it.

I'm with Thomas Wolfe where Andy Petite is concerned "You Can't Go Home Again". He's no spring chicken. He was great, we have our memories, he has his, he loves it in Houston. Why screw that up? If he were to come back it would be under a terrific weight of expectations that await him here. Plus, as Horace Greeley actually said "skew younger young man, especially on the starting staff."

Mitchel Lichtman, over at Replacement Level has the Yankees at 96 - 97 wins this year. That's good news given the pessimism I've seen about the coming season. I think we'll be OK. I hope.

2006-02-09 07:33:46
10.   Sliced Bread
The Damon classified was a little pathetic, not so much on his part, but because he's receiving such ugly ingratitude in Boston now, and it will never end.
If Johnny Big Apple read or heard half of what his former fans are saying about him, he would have saved his time and money on the ad.
They're acting like a bunch of bitter, betrayed bitches up there -- as if they would nevah, evah, jump to the competition for a $13 million dollar raise -- as if Coco Crisp has been 'Plan A' for centerfield all along -- as if Kid Kong and the feeble temps who replaced him during his self-imposed exile were geniuses for letting Johnny go.
Don't look back, Damon. You gave those ingrates a championship, you owe them nothing now, except a new championship ring with the initials NY on it.
And the malcontent masses of Red Soxville wonder why Clemens never looked back toward their miserable franchise.
2006-02-09 08:11:18
11.   Shaun P
In New England, there's nothing quite so fickle as the weather.

Except for Red Sox fans.

--------------------------------------------

Re: Pettitte, the poem "Home, Sweet Home" (written by an alum of my alma mater) comes to mind. I love the guy, have a 46 jersey hanging in my closet at home. But I hope Andy stays home - in Texas. There's no point in trading any minor leaguer(s) of value now for Pettitte, who'll be a free agent next year anyway.

2006-02-09 08:36:00
12.   Sliced Bread
re: the possible, but unlikely return of Pettitte and Clemens, the song "All My Ex's Live in Texas" by George Strait comes to mind.

With a slight revision of the lyric and sentiment: "And that's why I hang my hat in New York."

Bring us young guns, Cash.

2006-02-09 09:28:54
13.   bp1
One last thing.

Remember the outrage last year when Derek Lowe went back to Fenway for the ring ceremony and put on a Red Sox uniform, even though he was playing for the Dodgers? People were up in arms. "How dare he disgrace his team like that", they said. "The Dodgers are paying him good money to wear their uniform". I remember Michael Kay practically spitting into his radio mic at the time (not that is all that unusual).

Johnny Damon "the person" might have had great intentions for putting up that newspaper ad. It is obvious he feels a need to make gestures to the Boston fans that - yeah - he loves them - but he had to do what he had to do. No hard feelings. I completely understand the impulse beyind the ad.

Johnny Damon "the Yankee", on the other hand, was nuts!! He's being paid $52M over 4 years to wear pinstripes, pose for publicity photos in pinstripes, etc. etc., and he voluntarily takes out an ad in a paper wearing a Sox uniform?!? When he signed his name on the contract, that was that. Answering interviews is one thing, but I don't recall anyone asking him to prepare his thoughts in a full page ad. He could have taken out that ad the day before or after the contract signing, and nobody would have blinked an eye, but why now? Why after the Yankee press conference, the articles that he has moved on, yadda yadda yadda.

If I was George, I'd be pissed. And I'd call him down to Tampa again and lay some serious "You gotta get over it" on him.

I don't wanna play the Idiot card, but if it quacks like a duck ...

BP

2006-02-09 09:47:30
14.   Count Zero
BP:

What makes you so sure George didn't tell him to do it...seeing as how they just had a meeting the other day? Personally, if I was Sux fan, I would be pissed at my management that they let him get away. And that ad would just remind me how pissed I was about it. :)

As a business person trying to generate publicity, increase hype and drive ratings, that is exactly the sort of thing I would do. The Damon switch will do more to inflame Sux fans than anything else that happened in the past year...no matter what kind of "Sour Grapes" nonsense they're spouting in public. Wait and see what happens the first time he leads off in Fenway...

2006-02-09 10:03:17
15.   KJC
// if I was Sux fan, I would be pissed at my management that they let him get away //

Actually, most of us Sux fans aren't pissed that management "let him get away." $10 mil a year (hardly a "homedown discount" or a lowball offer) wasn't enough for him, so he took NY's big money -- which is fine. What irritates me is how he continues to try to win over/back Sox fans, when that ship has sailed. We appreciate what he did while he was in Boston, but now he needs to take his extra $3mil/yr and start concentrating on his new team's fans.

To your point, tho, Damon is feeding the Red Sox-Yankees hype machine (whether on purpose or not). I'm sure we can all see the annoying Fox Sports coverage of their first meeting in '06...

2006-02-09 10:10:57
16.   Nick from Washington Heights
KJC, honestly, I think you have to characterize it has a low-ball offer when it's $12 million less than the eventual contract he signed. Add the rumored Dodgers offer to the mix (supposedly another year at a per annum comparable to the Yanks') and it's clear that the Sox management was more than happy to let Damon go. The Sox were simply not interested in negotiating with Damon according to the terms set out by the market. Again, this is not stupidity on the part of the Sox, actually they were pretty clever in finding a replacement for him and at a much cheaper cost, but it's also not as if they made a real effort to retain Damon.
2006-02-09 10:20:24
17.   Alex Belth
Hey yo Nick (and Dimelo if you catch this today), do me a favor and shoot me an e-mail @ alexbelth@aol.com when you have a minute today. Peace.
2006-02-09 10:45:34
18.   KJC
Nick: I completely agree with you. However...

// it's also not as if they made a real effort to retain Damon. //

I think the $40mil was a "real" offer that, like you alluded to, also was the Sox's ceiling for what they were willing to pay him. While they didn't join a bidding war (which would've been viewed as a real effort) it's not like they "insulted" him with a 3 year $6mil/yr deal to clearly push him to leave.

(I wonder if Damon would've stayed in Boston for $40mil, but Boras really wanted his commission on that extra $12mil...)

2006-02-09 10:59:53
19.   Sliced Bread
If you believe Johnny "I'm Not Going To NY" Damon, he says right up until he jumped ship, the Red Sox didn't believe he had any offers. They suspected he and Boras were bluffing.
I believe the Red Sox were interested in Damon, even for more than $40 mill. I believe they were outmaneuvered by the Yankees.
Let's not forget how Lucchino was caught stuttering in denial when he learned about the Damon defection through the media, him muttering something about continuing negotiations.
When I heard Gammons (The Minister of Media on Yawkey Way) on the radio the next morning, he sounded as if there had been a death in his family, his voice sounded as if he was rocking back and forth, twisting his lucky Red Sox blanket into knots.
Lucchino and Gammons are not better actors than Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, etc.
The arrogant (and ignorant in this case) Red Sox were completely sandbagged by Damon's departure. Coco Crisp may have been on the Red Sox radar, but more likely as a potential LF replacement for Ramirez, who had demanded a trade.
The Red Sox thought they still had time to dance with Damon. They didn't know Cashman took control of the game clock. They couldn't believe it when the game was over.
The shock and disappointment of losing Damon to the Yankees was probably what finally brought Boston's boy GM in the gorilla suit out of hiding.
In recent weeks both Damon and Theo, and even Schilling, have implied that a phone call between Kid Kong and Johhny Talk Show might have brought a different ending to this story, an ending that would not have required a final "Dear Boston" letter from Johnny Wanderer, an ending that would not have required Boston to part with the top tomatoes from its farm system.
2006-02-09 11:52:44
20.   wsporter
This Sawx stuff gives me a head ache.

Is there any way Clemens comes back? Maybe I'm a little jaded but with all his connections to the Stros I just don't see it. But if we do pick up Rocket for one last ride to the moon who gets the boot and why? Can Rocket still dominate in the AL? Johnson, Clemens and Mussina; that's a sick top 3, at least in 1996.

Pitchers and Catchers next Thursday. How F'n great is that? Just the sound of it, let alone the fact of it, is a very big smile.

2006-02-09 12:06:20
21.   rbj
Wsporter, I'd go Clemens/Johnson (flip a coin), Moose, Chacon, Wang. Keep Pavano as insurance along with Small in the pen (Sturtze does not ever make another emergency start). Trade Wright for two buckets of balls -- he's not as bad as Kevin Brown.
One week to pitchers and catchers. At least there are the Olympics to keep me from starving.
2006-02-09 12:10:45
22.   wsporter
rbj, Could you keep Wright for insurance and trade Pavano for something useful?
2006-02-09 12:25:30
23.   Shaun P
//(I wonder if Damon would've stayed in Boston for $40mil, but Boras really wanted his commission on that extra $12mil...)//

That's an interesting question, KJC. If its true, I feel bad for Damon. Boras works for him, not the other way around. Unfortunately I think many in the business - both agents and players - have forgotten this fact. I wonder how often agents take "client's best interest" to mean money and just money.

2006-02-09 12:32:08
24.   Dimelo
Alex - sent you an email from my work account.
2006-02-09 12:37:01
25.   Levy2020
Re: 22

There was talk about a ridiculous Pavano-Abreu trade earlier. . . .

Is it possible to trade Pavano and/or Wright for prospects and eat the salary?

I love that Cashman has tried to secure the bullpen, which was clearly the team's weakest spot last year on paper. But there are now too many guys (esp. if there are guys like Colter Bean and Ramiro Mendoza that we'd like to see get called up. . .Plus Dotel.)

I'd say that Yankee's biggest weakness is 2007, no?

2006-02-09 13:58:48
26.   wsporter
I'm sorry, what's the Yankees'biggest weakness in 2007? Or is 2007 their biggest weakness?
2006-02-09 16:46:43
27.   Start Spreading the News
The biggest worry for the Yanks is their starting pitching. The offense will score plenty of runs. The bullpen with Mariano as anchor will be fine with plenty of options.

But have we had as many question marks in the starting rotation in recent memory as we do now?

2000: Roger Clemens (32), Andy Pettitte (32), David Cone (29), Orlando Hernandez (29), Denny Neagle (15)
No Doubt: Pettitte, Cone, El Duque
Doubt: Clemens
Worry: Neagle
Going into the season, only Neagle was the question mark. Clemens was still adjusting to NYC, so you could question him as well. El Duque was coming off a 17 win season.

2001: Mike Mussina (34), Roger Clemens (33), Andy Pettitte (31), Ted Lilly (21), Orlando Hernandez (16)
No Doubt: Mussina, Clemens, Pettitte, El Duque
Doubt: none
Worry: Lilly
Lilly was the question mark here. El Duque was injured somewhat the year before but assuming he was healthy, you trusted him.

2002: Mike Mussina (33), David Wells (31), Roger Clemens (29), Andy Pettitte (22), Orlando Hernandez (22)
No Doubt: Mussina, Clemens, Pettitte
Doubt: Wells
Worry: El Duque -- health

2003: Roger Clemens (33), Andy Pettitte (33), Mike Mussina (31), David Wells (30), Jeff Weaver (24)
No Doubt: Clemens, Petitte, Mussina and Wells
Doubt: Weaver
Worry: NONE

An AWESOME Rotation

2004: Javier Vazquez (32), Mike Mussina (27), Jon Lieber (27), Kevin Brown (22), Jose Contreras (18), Orlando Hernandez (15)
No Doubt: Mussina, Brown, Vasquez
Doubt: None
Worry: Lieber, Contreras, El Duque
Many question marks here. Kevin Brown was 14-9 with a 2.39 ERA the year before. So I thought he would be ok. I thought we were getting a good young pitcher in Vazquez (3.24 ERA the year before). But Contreras and Lieber were unknowns like El Duque since he didn't pitch the whole year.

2005: Randy Johnson (34), Mike Mussina (30), Carl Pavano (17), Chien-Ming Wang (17), Kevin Brown (13), Jaret Wright (13), Shawn Chacon (12)
No Doubt: RJ, Mussina
Doubt: Brown, Pavano
Worry: Wright
You thought Randy Johnson was going to be great. Mussina was to be his usual solid self. But the rest were questionable. But starting the season, two solid pitchers were in the rotation.

2006: Randy Johnson, Mussina, Chacon, Wang, Pavano, Small
No Doubt:
Doubt: Mussina , RJ, Wang, Chacon, Pavano
Worry: Small

This has to be our most questionable starting rotation in recent memory. Am I being too harsh to Mussina and RJ?

2006-02-09 16:47:57
28.   Start Spreading the News
Of course, I forgot about Wright who deserves to be put in the "worry" category.
2006-02-09 16:54:49
29.   Simone
I think that the ad was a nice gesture by Damon though he better have some strong armor because Red Sox fans will be going after him with a hammer when the Yankees play in Fenway.
2006-02-09 16:57:20
30.   Simone
Admit it, isn't still strange as hell thinking of Johnny Damon as a Yankee? I was in the mall over the weekend and saw a Yankees pinstripe shirt with "Damon" and "18" on the back in one of those sports stores and my head did a Linda Blair Exorcist swivel for a second or two.
2006-02-09 20:20:35
31.   rsmith51
What is the Pavano/Abreu rumor? That is Bobby Abreu? What would it take to get Abreu to be our RF? I would give them Pavano and cash for sure. The Yankee offense could use another LH masher at DH/OF. Small and Sturtze are both expendable. Maybe a B prospect. If that's all it takes do it.

Like Alex, I am a big Abreu fan. He is like Bernie 94-02.

2006-02-09 22:32:07
32.   Rob Gee
SStN --

Great breakdown on the pitching. I agree with everything except:

You're too easy on this year! If Pavano was a 'doubt' last year (which he was), then he's a major case of 'worry' in 2006. Also, if Wright was a 'worry' in 2005 (which he was), he's most certainly a M.I.P (Miracle If Performs) this year.

And the really sad part is even another 18mil toward Rocket doesn't give us one sure thing.

Even sadder - we traded:

1) Nick Johnson (DH/1B)
2) Dioner Navarro (Posada's Platoon),
3) Plus 9mil plus a 32 mil extension

for:

1) one mediocre year of Vazquez
2) one above average year of Unit

Oh, we'll get to October ball. But really, what's that rotation doing in the playoffs. Last year we were outpitched, and it doesn't look good this year. Let's pray that CASH-man's certified bullpen will do the trick.

Start Spreading the News...

2006-02-09 23:28:23
33.   David
SStN - Great analysis. What the Yanks have in starters is quantity. They hope that among the 7 starters are 5 who will turn out to be good. Maybe that'll happen. More likely, Joe will be juggling all 7 of them throughout the season. That's why the team has to carry 12 pitchers.

The middle relief is a similar story, with lots of arms but few in the no-doubt category. The Yanks will not be able to carry them all. Pray that the right ones are retained.

2006-02-10 06:32:19
34.   The Mick 536
Other than Unit who be old and has a bad knee, no one strikes anyone out on this team. So, just because the arms be there, doens't guarantee success. Ya need a defense, yah.

We got a catcher who don't block the plate or go down for balls in the dirt. We got a first baseman who cannot throw and doesn't have range, especially up the line. We got a second baseman who doesn't concentrate, misses balls between his legs, and may not be all that comfortable throwing at the heads of charging runners. Well, no criticism of Jete or A-Rod (his fielding cost us a few last year, yes). How about that outfield, Sports fans. Not one arm. Matsui goes right and in well,but not back. Damon, who knows. Runs but cannot throw.And Sheff needs some time off.

Remember the Angels. Man on first. Base hit. Now first and third. Janks up. Man on first. Base hit. Now first and second.

How do this compute with the pitching evaluations?

2006-02-10 07:30:49
35.   Levy2020
Re: 33

What middle relief arms in all of major league baseball are dependable?

2006-02-10 08:12:41
36.   bp1
Re: 34.

You're right. This team sucks. It'll be a miracle if we win 70 games this year. Could be the biggest bust in the history of professional sports. Worse even than the Knicks. Cashman will join Isiah in the unemployment line next year.

Or not.

I tend to be overly optimistic, and look at the upsides. I remember more Giambi's nifty 3-4-3 last year than some of his bumbles. I remember Posada throwing out Figgins like he was walking to 2nd during the ALDS. I remember our pitching staff holding Vlad to nothing for the whole series. I remember Mo striking out Damon, Renteria, and Ortiz back-to-back-to-back, shortly after A-Rod hit a bomb off Mr. Bloody Socks. I remember A-Rod Bombing the Cy Young Award winner to the tune of 10 rbi's. I remember Cano going deep in the hole and throwing a strike to Giambi more than anything that dribbles beneath his legs. I remember the otherworldly "Moose" chants in the stadium when he outdueled El Duque in a tense game against the White Sox. I remember a gritty Wright performance, pounding his glove and yelling on his way to the dugout his first game back after his rehab.

Call me silly and a "homer", but I think the Yankees will figure out a way to win a few games this year.

BP

2006-02-10 09:06:41
37.   wsporter
I've never made it down to spring training. Has anyone done a circuit through the Grapefruit League? I want to do it with my son and not with a bunch of my idiot friends. So I guess the question is, is it worth doing sober? Any thoughts?
2006-02-10 10:39:50
38.   Shaun P
wsporter, I did spring training sober a few years ago with my brother and some of his friends. We had an awesome time. Couldn't get tickets to see the Yanks in Tampa, but we saw them a lot on the road. I've wanted to go back ever since but haven't had the time. Of course not all the stars make all the road trips, but if you pick the places closest to Tampa like we did, you'll get to see more of them. And watching the kids is fun, too.
2006-02-10 11:12:51
39.   wsporter
Shaun P, thanks. I've heard good things and really want to do it. I don't know anyone who has followed the Yanks around. I know my son would have a blast. I think next spring may be the charm. Hughes, Duncan and a couple of others could be realistically pushing for spots and getting meaningfull time so it might be pretty cool.

Speaking of the watching the kids, do you know of anyone who's gone over to Staten Island to see the baby Yankees? I'm thinking of making the drive up this summer. Is it a typical minor league environment (i.e. kid friendly etc.)?

2006-02-10 15:44:09
40.   rbj
Woo Hoo, Yanks & Chacon basically split the difference and settled at $3.6 mil.
Is Shawn a free agent next year? If so, he's got a real incentive to do well this year.
2006-02-10 20:58:44
41.   Simone
Anyone watching the Olympic opening ceremony? One of the best ever. Absolutely beautiful. However, why is it that NBC ALWAYS has to spoil the parade of countries by mentioning the worse socio/political history events that has happened to these countries? Whether it is Brain Williams or Bob Costas, I just want to slap them. It was great seeing Pavarotti's performance. His voice isn't what it used to be, but he is still the Maestro. Sophia Loren looked stunning as usual. I can't believe that she is in her 70s. Great ceremony.
2006-02-11 06:24:33
42.   Sliced Bread
I agree, Simone, that was a beautiful ceremony.
You know it's a going to be a big show when they bust out the alphorns in the first act.

But let's face it, that grand opening is going to pale in comparison to the pomp and pyrotechnics of "Bud Selig's Intergalactic Baseball Extravaganza."
Like the Olympian-philosopher Bode Miller observed, "It's all downhill from here."

2006-02-11 08:08:51
43.   Ravenscar
re: 39

wsporter - I've been to see the SI Yankees a TON. And I'm a Mets fan! It is one of my favorite baseball experiences. From the ferrry ride to the walk around the park next to the water, I give it a thumbs up all the way. I can't tell you a damn thing about parking as I'm a manhattanite, but the games are cheap, close, and super-fun. The only ones that are hard to get into are the ones against the Brooklyn Cyclones. They have plenty of weird and fun things between innings, too, kids running the bases, contests. I highly recommend it.

2006-02-11 10:36:36
44.   wsporter
Ravenscar,

Thanks for the feed back that sounds great and is really helpful. We have been trying to see all the Yankee Minor League affiliates. I think we'll try to park and take the Ferry, maybe train in from Jersey. We have some great minor league ball down here, we get to see Columbus and Trenton as visitors but there is something about watching your guys bat in the bottom of the inning that can't be beat.

I hate to push a Mets fan on this but what did/do you think of Gardner, Schmidt and some of the other kids? I really appreciate the feedback so thanks a lot.

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