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Right On Time
2006-02-17 05:23
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

There was a brief George Steinbrenner sighting yesterday. The Yankee owner barked off a couple of words to a pack of reporters and then tooled off in his golf cart. Nothing surprising but naturally enough to make the back pages on a slow sports day in New York.

Yesterday, Bill Madden had a piece on Randy Johnson. This morning, he has one on Mariano Rivera:

No one in the Yankee universe is prepared to think about life after Mo, even though, at age 36 and his place in the Hall of Fame assured, it's agreed these now are all gravy seasons.

Good as he feels, even Rivera concedes the inevitable could happen at any time. A pitcher's arm can withstand just so much toil and stress. In his case, his durability has been almost as remarkable as his dominance.

"The last few years I've been feeling good," Rivera said after completing his physical. "Last year (in which he posted a 1.38 ERA with 43 saves and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Angels starter Bartolo Colon) I felt especially good. But only God knows where I'll be next year. I'll pitch as long as God lets me."

We can only hope it is for another few seasons.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of puff pieces about Mike Mussina and the possbility of his signing an extension, and, in a move that is bound to unleash wisecracks galore, the Bombers signed the hunky, and by now, clunky, starting pitcher Scott Erickson to a minor league contract. Thank you, Mr. Giambi, you old bird dog you.

Comments (59)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-02-17 06:14:09
1.   Sliced Bread
It's remarkable how a year ago Giambi was on thin ice with the Yanks, and on his way down to the minors, now, he has enough leverage to get Ghost of Erickson an audition.

But you have to love the kooky consistency of Caddyshack George. We're gonna miss him when he's gone, almost as much as we'll miss Mo, Sheppard, The Stadium, etc.

I posted a question here to my fellow Banterers yesterday, asking what type of pitching coach do you think Guidry will be?

Bob Klapisch answers today, check it:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?Y3BD568AC

Here's a bit of that:

If it's simplicity the Yankees need, Guidry will be the staff's savior. He's not the kind of baseball man who believes in breaking down pitchers' windups and release points in a laboratory like the Mets' Rick Peterson.

Instead, Guidry is a throwback to the '70s and '80s, back when pitchers were counseled by go-get-'em pep talks and not much else. Even though today's pitching coaches can measure torque and hip rotation at 500 frames a second, Guidry has no intention of remaking himself as a computer geek.

"I don't feel like you have to do a lot of that stuff," Gator said. "I'm from the older generation. We liked to keep it simple, and sometimes the simplest way is the best way.

"It's not my job to change anyone's mechanics. By the time a guy is 35 or even 25, it's too late for that. I'm here to make sure a pitcher is doing the things he's always done. If he gets hit, well, sometimes that happens. You can't always run to a computer and ask how to fix it."

2006-02-17 06:57:06
2.   Dimelo
Good stuff, Sliced. I guess I'm more NEW skool than OLD skool. A healthy balance is required nowadays - and I imagine the role of a pitching coach has changed/evolved since the time Guidry was pitching. To throw out one element (the computah) and dismiss it, does not make me feel good. Old school or not, you are allowing your competitors to have an advantage.

The Red Sox have this piece of software that dissects a pitcher's mechanics every inning - arm slot, where their feet land, etc, etc. If they see that Schilling had a great first inning - struck out the side and didn't allow a run - and the next inning he goes out there and allows 3 runs on 5 hits, then Dave Wallace (Sux pitching coach) can go and look at this computer, compare and contrast his mechanics between the prior inning (good) and his current inning (bad), and then give that feedback to Schilling who will then become conscious of the things he did wrong. That information is useful for a pitcher - at least I think. That information can also work against a pitcher because he'll start to think too much about his mechanics, but the pitching coach is only their to make him aware of his flaws -- not to make sure he's doing those things correctly during the game. So, I guess the pitcher has to stick with his gameplan and try to adjust with the new information he's received or else ultimately he's doomed, computah or not.

I don't know, I hope Guidry does use the computer to figure some stuff out.

2006-02-17 07:02:36
3.   Shaun P
Right on, Dimelo. Does anyone know if Kerrigan is a new school kinda guy? I'd like to think the Yanks are using every advantage they have. There shouldn't be any piece of software, any system, that is too expensive for them to acquire.

On the same token, especially with Moose and Unit and most of the 'pen being grizzled veterans, Guidry probably doesn't have to do too much in terms of mechanics etc. I hope. Except tell the pitchers to try to strike guys out, of course.

2006-02-17 07:03:25
4.   Cliff Corcoran
Argh! Giant links! SB, please use makeashorterlink.com or the like next time.

Meanwhile, what a way to ruin my Friday morning. I mean, I knew about Erickson, but sort of hoped it was misreported yesterday. And that Guidry stuff is horrifying. Add in the fact that Moose is almost as cooked as Bernie at this point (that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much) and SB's giant link and I'm now officially grumpy.

So, now that I've got my grumpy pants on. Did Madden just change Mo's age in that piece that's been run every freaking year since 1999? Fercryinoutloud. There are puff pieces and then there's that crap. Wow.

2006-02-17 07:17:06
5.   Sliced Bread
Sorry about the supersized link, and thanks for making me hip to the makeashorter device. Now, can somebody introduce Gator to the computer 'on' switch?
2006-02-17 07:22:39
6.   Cliff Corcoran
By the way, I could care less about whether or not Guidry uses a computer to do it, but a pitching coach who does not work with pitchers on their mechanics is like a manager who refuses to fill out a lineup card. Why even bother showing up?
2006-02-17 07:25:05
7.   Shaun P
Perhaps Joe Morgan can, Sliced. I understand he's a big fan of using the computer to better understand baseball. ;)

Here's something to cheer you up, Cliff - the folks at Dodger Thoughts think George just wanted to sign Lisa Guerrero (Erickson's wife) what with Anna Benson in the division and Mrs. Lima on the cross-town Mets. I suppose at his age George probably enjoys looking at some eye candy from his golf cart.

2006-02-17 07:48:31
8.   Start Spreading the News
Lisa Guerrero is Erickson's wife!? Geez, I went into the wrong business. Someone told me that science was where the women were!

BTW, I am looking forward to seeing more of Jose Lima's wife:
http://www.joegrossberg.com/archives/001476.html

2006-02-17 07:51:37
9.   rbj
Lisa Guerrero is Erickson's wife? I'd campaign to have her, er, him on my team too. And at least Scott isn't Kevin Brown. An NRI sounds about right, bring him in and see if he can still pitch. If he's still got something stash him at Columbus for when yet another starter goes down.
2006-02-17 07:58:58
10.   DarrenF
Cliff,

I've read anti-Mariano comments every preseason since 1996.

Can he handle the closer role vacated by Wetteland?
Can he rebound from the playoff homerun in Cleveland?
Can he stay healthy?
Does Torre use him too much?
Can he rebound from loss in WS in Arizona?
He's losing mph off his fastball!
The Red Sox are in his head!
He's getting too old!
He relies too much on the cutter!

I chalk it up to nothing more than lazy sportswriters trying to create false drama. "Yankees are great again" is a boring storyline.

As you point out, Madden seems to constantly ask Yankee fans to imagine a future without Mariano. Because, guess what? One day, Mariano will retire. Like every player ever.

Very insightful stuff, Madden.

2006-02-17 08:09:48
11.   Rob Gee
Reading the Unit piece makes me think he could have a HUGE season if his knees don't fold backwards. That gives me some little hope for October.

And I know I'm going to really miss George. I hated him in the 80's (probably because we really blew chunks) but after this run who can't get a chuckle at his Patton impressions. To bad he's a HOF'er after he's ashes. The old coot would cry for weeks if they did it while he was alive. Any one know the rules on this?

2006-02-17 08:21:55
12.   Cliff Corcoran
RBJ, with Sean Henn, Matt DeSalvo and Darrell Rasner at Columbus, the Yankees have plenty of starter insurance (not to mention having six starters plus Aaron Small at the major league level--and I'm not even counting Ron Villone, Tanyon Sturtze or Scott Proctor, all of whom can make spot starts, not that they should, or Jorge DePaula, who will likely clear waivers if they Yankees want to keep him). Erickson had a 7.20 ERA in AAA last year. He hasn't been even close to good since 1998. The Yanks would be better off activating Guidry.
2006-02-17 08:44:42
13.   rbj
Reactivate LL? Might not be a bad idea. I would preface keeping Erickson around only if he shows something (other than his wife) during spring training.
Tanyon Sturtze must not make any spot starts. I think his problems begin once he's made a spot start. At that point his season goes downhill.
2006-02-17 09:00:59
14.   unpopster
ugh, that Guidry stuff really makes me nervous.

This may sound a bit crass or insensitive, but I've always thought of Guidry as not necessarily being the sharpest tool in the shed -- you know, kind of like the "meat" million-dollar-arm-10 cent-head type. Maybe it's his Louisiana cajun twang or the way he has come off in some interviews, but I haven't been able to get rid of that impression of him.

When he was announced as the next pitching coach, my immediate reactions was "This is a BIIIIG mistake!" I didn't see him as the cerebral type that'd study the finer, more technical aspects of pitching. In fact, I was hoping that Kerrigan would win the job. He's a student of the art of pitching.

So, having said all this, the artcile just made me feel that much worse. I'm not worried about The Unit or Mussina, I'm more worried about Guidry's affect on the younger arms like Pavano, Wright, Wang, Chacon, and some of the younger relievers-in-waiting.

I REALLY hope Kerrigan is waiting in the wings should Guidry begin to screw things up.

Am I off base, guys? I hope so.

2006-02-17 09:10:37
15.   Rob Gee
RE: Guidry

I respectfully disagree with the trend of the discussion. I think there's something serious to be said for a pitcher's knowing what feels right by the time they've reached the majors. Sure, the equipment and staff to use those computer tools should be available to all who want them (like video analysis of hitters). But I'm not sure if using them you're not just replacing one tool (visual inspection) for another (tactile sensation).

For instance, with the all Flaherty feedback last year, who's to say him thinking about arm angle didn't screw Unit up even more? You become so focused on the symptoms and not the causes. Is it the angle out of the slot or the placement of the leading knee or your follow through? For all of Wallace's analysis, tools that didn't keep Clement and Brandon from major mechanical flaws last year.

Sorry, after pitching as many pitches these guys have, a coach feels to me like they can do more harm than good (sort of like a manager). Now, as the technology gets better, and players rely on it from an early age, there may be a solution there. But I don't see it. The complexity seems too overwhelming to understand let alone calculate solutions. Statistics are best used to compare easily segemented events. A pitching motion is so much more fluid and dynamic than balls and strikes, hits and outs.

Now, Tiger Woods spent two years with one full-time dedicated coach to reconstruct his swing. How long would it take Guidry to understand then be knowledgeable to provide good feedback to an ever changing cast of twelve? Sorry, the prospects don't look good to me.

2006-02-17 09:14:33
16.   brockdc
Cliff -

A-freaking-men. I'd really like to think that we could give one of the young guns (especially DeSalvo) in our own system a shot before the partially decomposed corpse of Scott Erickson. Boo-hoo.

Re: Guidry. Great. Just what we need - another "feel" and "hunch" guy in the dugout.

2006-02-17 09:17:27
17.   brockdc
Rob Gee,

I think if Guidry already had a previous track record of success with his methodology that it would be much easier to swallow.

2006-02-17 09:42:01
18.   Sliced Bread
As Klapisch reports, Kerrigan will indeed be shadowing Gator, and is computer savvy, which suggests the latest technology will be available to pitchers who want to analyze their mechanics.

Gator's 'abacus' approach shouldn't hinder the staff.

The old "get your shit together, and get this punk out" pep-talk will hopefully suffice with guys like Farnswacker, Unit, Wright.

The thinkers and feelers like Pavano, Mussina, Wang will probably seek out Kerrigan's tutelage.

I hope Chacon doesn't change a thing. Man, I loved watching him work down the stretch last season.

If Guidry doesn't work out for whatever reason, I'd love to see the Yanks to give David Cone a chance someday. He's a pitcher's pitcher, and obviously a great communicator.

2006-02-17 09:51:36
19.   sam2175
I also believe that it is the pitching coach's job to learn the state-of-the art technology. I mean, if he is getting the job, he has to prove that he will use all available information to make his decisions, right?

When communicating with pitchers, coaches will have their own style, and if Guidry is more like the coaches of previous years, that is fine if that gets the message across. But the message has to be something more than just "pep-talk".

Rob Gee, if you are willing to speculate if Flaherty's observations on Randy Johnson's pitching mechanics made it worse for him, then practically anything, good or bad, in the world has to be questioned. "Yeah, I know after that 4 HR inning, they found a flaw that led to shutouts for the rest of the day, but if Flaherty/Mel/Kerrigan did not have that chat, that would have led to more strikeouts".

2006-02-17 10:08:46
20.   KJC
RE: Guidry as pitching coach...I have a question: do great pitchers make great pitching coaches?

I read once that some great hitters often make poor hitting coaches because they can't explain & teach the little things they do to make them hit well -- it just comes naturally to them. Where players who were not great hitters can be good coaches because they themselves have had to work at making themselves better. (I have no examples to back this up, so feel free to blow this theory away...a theory which, BTW, isn't mine.)

Have great pitchers gone on to be great pitching coaches? Are the best pitching coaches today not ex-great pitchers themselves?

2006-02-17 10:42:34
21.   The Mick 536
Guidry's stats, if you leave off the last three years, could rank amongst the best ever for a Jank. Check out 1977 through 1985. One losing season. Three 20 game seasons. His effectiveness stayed up as his strike outs went down.

Sparky in the Zoo lauds him for being able to win when he didn't have his best stuff. He infers, albeit just for the 78 season, to not only Guid's intensity, his straight forwardnes, his desire to win, but his knowledge of the game.

The fact Guid doesn't overuse stats, doesn't mean that he ignores them. Could just be that he and Kerrigan complement each other, yes.

Now, here is my worry. Giambi seeing Erickson at the dice table throwing dem bones well probably isn't enough to earn him a try, but I won't complain. Ain't my money. If Guid were to base his recommendations to Joey on the same observations, I'd have a problem.

Please tell me the picture of Lima's wife to which I was referred in Start Spreading's post was doctored.

2006-02-17 10:45:29
22.   The Mick 536
Bob Lemon? Mel may not have been a great pitcher, but he wasn't a slouch either.
2006-02-17 10:46:12
23.   Sliced Bread
It really depends, KJC.
Leo Mazzone, considered by many to be the best pitching coach in baseball today, toiled as a minor league lefty for about 8 seasons before he became a coach.
The Yanks tried to get Mazzone before he signed with the Orioles this winter.
Mel Stottlemyre was an excellent pitcher for the Yanks, but his effectiveness as a pitching coach has long been debated among Yankee fans.
The thing is, both Mazzone (with Atlanta) and Stottlemyre's teams have won their divisions year after year after year. Based on those results, Mel and his supporters could make a case that he's just as good a coach as Mazzone.

As for hitting instructors, Mattingly, who was a great hitter, seems to be having success as a coach because he always took a studious approach to hitting. Back pain and other injuries forced him to make adjustments during his career. He's also a great guy, which makes him approachable.

A guy like Manny Ramirez, maybe the best hitter in baseball today, would probably make a terrible batting instructor because he is not a thinker. His approach is: see the ball, hit the ball.

2006-02-17 11:09:27
24.   David
Should pitchers and hitters have full-time coaches?

Rob Gee in post #15 points out that "Tiger Woods spent two years with one full-time dedicated coach to reconstruct his swing..." Similarly, most professional tennis players have a full-time, personal coach (although one player formerly on the tour told me that the main point of the coach was to have someone to go to dinner with, since it's uncomfortable to socialize with adveraries.)

Anyhow, why should a major league team have only one hitting and one pitching coach? Would it be worthwhile to hire lots of coaches, so each player could all the help he could possibly use?

2006-02-17 11:12:43
25.   Rob Gee
sam -

I'm just saying it's exceedingly difficult to identify and respond to a pitcher's mechanical flaws as an outsider. With all the factors involved in a pitching motion, and with 12 guys on a staff, you want one guy to be tinkering with their mechanics? What if the arm is coming at the wrong slot, but it's because of the tilt of the back? Correcting the arm independent of the back could put more pressure on the knees and lead to "Broke Back" syndrome. Maybe Mazzone could do it after years of seeing the same guys - but that's an exception with how teams are put together and the organization behind them. This year is an interesting test.

If anything, what you're wanting is close to what Tiger has - a full-time employee dedicated to maintaining his motion. It could work, just not with one pitching coach. A guy who tried to really help everybody I see as more likely to screw things up, and hurt the player, than really helping.

Just going with what Guidry said, these guys have been pitching for often close to twenty years. They have a feel for what works. Encouraging them to trust that feeling is probably really important. I'm encouraged by what Guidry says - let the pitchers pitch their pitches. As far as which pitches to whom, that's what video is for ("Ortiz has a huge hole down and away") or the art of mixing pitches or staying with their stuff. I like the old school pitching guru. They sound more like Yoda but after a little while they may be ready to help individuals - just like the hitting coach - but not everybody and certainly not at once. And if you watch one person long enough you might be able to offer suggestions but ultimately thay have to make their way back - they'll know when they've got it.

That said, none of that changes anything because the individual player makes their own motions. Short of a neuroimplant, baseball will always be that way. This is the difference with the video game upbringing we had. We want everything under some higher-order control. Unfortunately, the players will always have the variability in their motions. The best players are the most consistent in finding their ideal when they need to.

I once read about Maddux that what makes him great is that every time he throws the ball it comes out almost the same exact way (curve, fastball, chageup, high, low). He gives the hitter very little information and so they have less time to decide whether to swing - thus the doinks and dinks. The best judge of this consistency, I would argue, is the player himself.

That said, none of this should change the manager's job. He has trends, and if those say Myers shouldn't pitch to righties, no amount of coaching, or computer analysis, is going to change that. The manager makes the decisions. The coach is simply a guide for the wayward souls to find themselves again. An interesting distinction to be sure.

2006-02-17 11:22:40
26.   Rob Gee
David -

You would think that's a great idea simply as an investment. With how much they're paying the guys why not spend $250k for each coach. Supposedly, Mark Cuban has hired all sorts of coaches because of exactly this issue.

I have no idea how coaching management works and the numbers in each organization. Maybe that's why the Yanks hired Kerrigan in addition to Guidry - to divide responsibilities and players too? see #18 You take Unit, Farns, Wright - I take Moose, Pavano, Wang? Are they're other guys that we haven't heard of? What are their roles? Do they work this stuff out ahead of time? Interesting stuff...but so much harder to analyze.

2006-02-17 11:48:57
27.   Sliced Bread
As Torre has completely overhauled his coaching staff this winter, you can understand why the Yanks are so against the WBC (the risk of injury being the #1 reason).

Thankfully, the pitchers and catchers will be there to work with Guidry, Kerrigan, etc.

Anybody think Damon might decide to stay in Tampa with Sheff, Matsui, Giambi, etc. rather than take on the world with Jeter and Rodriguez? I'd stay at camp if I was in Damon's position.

2006-02-17 11:53:12
28.   Start Spreading the News
regarding the last part of #21,

I don't think the picture of Lima's wife was doctored as much as she was...

2006-02-17 11:58:12
29.   Schteeve
I think the Red Sox outcoached the Yankees in 2004. They had a pitching gameplan, they stuck to it, and they executed it.

The Yanks rely on raw front line talent, I don't get the impression they ever try to outwit an opponent.

Yanks need to get smarter.

2006-02-17 12:10:59
30.   The Mick 536
Spreadin

Do I receive credit for a meat ball or what?

2006-02-17 12:33:55
31.   wsporter
Does anyone want to wait till they actually start pitching before determining the results of Gator's coaching?
2006-02-17 13:34:57
32.   Dimelo
wsporter - I don't think that's a good idea. We are determined to write up our analysis on various simulations based on the upcoming Yankee season. In running through our analysis and our simulation results, we'll be able to see which Yankee pitchers will get hurt, what their results will be and whether they'll win the division. We can add different variables to our simulation as well:
Guidry with a computer.
Guidry w/o using a computer
Damon batting first, Jeter 2nd
Jeter 1st, Damon 2nd
Jeter 1st, Damon Last, ARod 2nd.

This siumulation will allow us to predict the future w/o having to sit through the games. We can then do confidence tests on every simulation and play God w/o ever having to sit through the nail-biting required for those usual Yankee - Sox games. Lastly, this will tell us which coaching philosophy Guidry should use - with a computah or w/o a computah.

2006-02-17 13:35:32
33.   Start Spreading the News
Thanks Mick! It was right down the plate. Even Womack could have hit that one!
2006-02-17 14:13:05
34.   Rob Gee
Wow, Dimelo, could you send me that program? I could make a killing. But does it factor in MIL-ton's attitude?

Unfortuntely, isn't that exactly what we will do? The stats make some of the simulations so much more evident. But isn't it natural any ways? Do you really need a computah? Shoot, fans were saying if Pesky's throw was a hair faster the Sox win the Serious in '46. How did they know that? And they didn't need any technology other than the one between their ears.

The best part today, I think, is the stats really are informative, and when appropriate we should be a slave to them. The difference is saying - "There's no way in hell Myers should ever pitch to a righty" vs. "Guidry won't be a good coach if he doesn't rely on computahs". The former is as close to fact as anything while the latter is so much closer to raw opinion that can't ever be tested.

Isn't that the real problem between the Stats and Scouts argument? The stats group really can explain a ton but there are limits, and the most arrogant of sabrs forget that. But what those are is up to the geekiest of geeks among us to debate.

2006-02-17 14:28:39
35.   wsporter
Well, it was just a thought. Party on Garth.
2006-02-17 14:36:12
36.   sam2175
31 Fair enough, that is a good thing to do. As like anyone, Guidry should be extended a period before he can be evaluated as a coach based on the actual performance.

32
What is being discussed here, though, is his approach. Whether a bunch of people with a computer keyboard and an internet connection is competent enough to do that is a valid question, and the answer to that is "no". That is beyond dispute.

But purely from the perspective of a problem solver, as far as I know, it is foolish not to use all information/ammunition available to solve a problem. That is the only way you can solve a problem as accurately as possible. Use of a computer can only help there, and cannot possibly hurt. Not using computer, while might not help, has the potential of hurting (although may not hurt).

2006-02-17 14:39:16
37.   Rob Gee
Uh, wsport, that's exactly the point. You can't determine the results of Gator (at least not until ten years and two teams) - argue sure - but knowledge - no. Computah or otherwise.

MIL-ton Brad-ley as best CF option - that on the other hand is pure fact.

BTW: OPP = Overpriced Past Prime (among other things...)

2006-02-17 14:46:42
38.   Rob Gee
sam -

I respectfully disagree - if you've got a guy worrying about arms slots, he's not pitching - I think that's Gator's point. After 20 years, they just know what it feels like. It's like Knoblauch - no amount of visual analysis was ever going to get him to find first. He just had to do it and when he couldn't he just had to stop playing. Learning is different - as I acquire a golf swing visual feedback can help.

Now, I could imagine hiring 10 pitching coaches (at about 3-4mil total) and their full-time job is to understand the motions, and deviations from norm, for each of their players. But that isn't the traditional pitching coach anymore. And who goes out to the mound during an inning? Heck, I'm not even sure if there are rules that would allow that. Interesting to be sure, to me at least...

2006-02-17 14:54:07
39.   wsporter
Rob, I think we agree when you say "...You can't determine the results of Gator (at least not until ten years and two teams) - argue sure - but knowledge - no. Computah or otherwise..."

BTW thanks for the OPP reference. I had no idea. I was thinking you were working that in a "Naughty by Nature" context and couldn't quite figure it out. Thanks.

2006-02-17 15:00:03
40.   Nick from Washington Heights
Ninety percent of players who reach free agency are OPP. I think that's a statement of fact. Can anyone else confirm that? It stands to reason that, given the putrid state of the farm, Cash and Co. had to either improve through the free agent market and all its OPP (exactly which free agent this off-season was not OPP?) or send more prospects from a barren system away. I'm fine with upgrading the bullpen using free agency, and not dipping into the farm. Farnsworth and Dotel have big upsides and have shown dominance. Villone and Sturtze don't make any sense to me as pick-ups given Colter Bean and other options in Columbus, but these seem like minor issues considering the smallness of both salaries. And I'm fine with upgrading center with Damon even if he's OPP (again, I'll refer to the 90% rule)given that for 2-3 he's probably going to be an above average center fielder. The A's were actively interested in Bradley, and were probably going to outbid the Yanks (who knows? Maybe they did outbid the Yanks) for his services since they have a much deeper system. Also, while I could really give two shits about his anger issues, Milton's injury history is not exactly what you'd call encouraging. That said, I like him as a player, but I don't think it's a tragedy passing on him. I might be wrong about this but I think Damon's outperformed him for the last 3 years.

The biggest disappointment of the off-season was Cash's inability to find a competent 4th outfielder for a team obviously needing help off the bench. That's a glaring error.

Still, no prospects were traded; the yanks seem to be drafting better, and there's hope for the future in the farm. Hopefully, this means that Cash is committed to the roster flexibility associated with a stronger farm system. Certainly, he did very little this off-season to make you think that he wasn't.

2006-02-17 15:00:42
41.   Rob Gee
wsport - Whew, we do agree, on something at least!

And, glad I could help you - that's what I'm here for! But what's "Naughty by Nature"? Is that some kind of organic prophylactics?

2006-02-17 15:11:49
42.   Rob Gee
Nick -

But, look at Cliff's review yesterday. Every position on the Bench and in the Bullpen could have been filled with youngsters. Risky but the stats say it would have worked just as well. Except:

BUC, don't forget the BUC. And with two former All-Star C's on the coaching staff, even less reason not to bring on the Posada apprentice.

and -

CF - there were options there, I think, I'm really not sure though.

Now both of those holes could have been filled by:
1) Pavano and cash (9-12mil) for something. At the right price, the Phillies or Dodgers bite. Failure to do so = BIG mistake (as we're seeing)

2) Eric Duncan. Do I want to trade him? Not really. But if he's not going to have a position in the Bronx for another three years, you do it. Because if Posada or any of the OF's go down, he's gone any ways and with a friend or two. Might as well do it when the price is low. I guar-an-tee Cash is holding him for the mid-season acqs he loves - and I shudder at what we get in return.

2006-02-17 15:18:02
43.   Nick from Washington Heights
Regarding Duncan being traded for a good catching prospect. I believe he's so far ahead of Shoppach as a prospect that you still could trade him for Shoppach and another prospect even if Jorge went down. Why panic now and show your cards?

What's BUC by the way? Seriously. I've had little access so I'm just responding to the most recent posts.

2006-02-17 15:18:09
44.   Dimelo
I agree with what Nick says, especially this statement:
The biggest disappointment of the off-season was Cash's inability to find a competent 4th outfielder for a team obviously needing help off the bench. That's a glaring error.

If everything goes well with the Yanks farm, then by 2008 they should have some good ball players coming out of their system. It takes some time. Time that Gee-Money doesn't have much patience for.

Gee-Money, if we were to take into account MIL-ton's attitude then we'd probably fry whatever processors are running the simulation. There just aren't enoungh instructions in a micro-processor to factor in the variability of Uncle MIL-ton's wrath.

2006-02-17 15:22:48
45.   Nick from Washington Heights
Rob, one thing in addition. I don't find it a contradiction that Cash decided not to fill roster spots with options from the minors, and that he's, at the same time, rebuilding the farm system for greater roster flexibility in the future.
2006-02-17 15:43:28
46.   brockdc
Rob Gee -

Do you smell Duncan and $$ for Cliff Floyd?

Argh!

2006-02-17 15:54:14
47.   singledd
Maybe I'm missing something...
I thought the Yanks could bring up just about any 'farm hand' any time during the season they wanted. If so, we have lost NOTHING (but money) by getting some 'OPP' guys. Am I wrong? (oh Cliffy...)

I agree with #40-Nick. Most FO's are OPPs. Look at what Toronto and other teams paid out this year. Look at the cost of slightly above average reliever. The 'Benson' syndrome is in full force.

Money is not an issue for short contracts. It's these 4+ year deals that have us paying a fortune for ghosts that's the problem. Just how much can you lose with an OPP like Piazza (1 yr/2mil). Frank Thomas (1 yr/< 1 mil). I'm amazed nobody with take a chance with Sosa, who is available for 1 mil.

OPPs are a terrible long-term stategy, and the Yanks have been at it too long. But that doesn't mean that a few here and there are a bad idea.

RobGee, your input is great. Just promise me that 5 years after Milton retires, and he JUST misses the HOF, that you won't talk about him on the blog anymore (just razzin' ya).

Amazing how little talk there is about last year's the-man-who-would-be-God (Carlos Beltran). How about a pool on how he does this year (for a mere 17mil). Was Beltran an OPP? (even though he is young).

2006-02-17 16:47:17
48.   wsporter
Rob, It's a hip hop thing. And closer to organic prophylactics than you know. Go Google young man. I am ashamed.

IMHO, hang on to Duncan. He'll be 23 in 3 years. Compared to what they did to Andy Phillips that practically just out of diapers. Why not wait and let him grow?

2006-02-17 16:49:33
49.   Rob Gee
Nick -

It doesn't have to be Shoppach. I think that's a fair deal. You don't. Shapiro might and Cashman won't. But there are others that I don't know much about. Fact is, we need a Back-up Catcher (BUC) and with too legit former C's on staff (Torre and Pena) he should be young, cheap, and talented. And said prospect will be much cheaper now than in May or July, plus it saves Jorge for this year and next. I really don't see any downside here save losing a tiny bit of projected value.

And, Nick, he's not rebuilding the farm if none of those guys get playing time. Those guys don't get PT if we sign OPP. And, we don't lose draft picks when we sign OPP (lost two for Damon). Overall, OPP is bad, very bad. If 90% of FA are OPP, then find the other 10%. Piazza applies here, so too F. Thomas, Russell Branyan, etc.

Dimelo,

It's not that I don't have patience. It that the Yanks don't have patience. There's a high probability, in my humble opinion, that Duncan is the chip to fill holes if they crop up this year (Hughes they'll keep - for this year at least). If so, why not anticipate the holes now? BUC is glaring. So is the 4th OF. At least we have the Kevins for the latter, but I'll see enlightenment before they see significant PT. We shall see...I do pray that Cash proves me wrong. But right know that means Stinnett is getting serious PT if Jorge goes down or .....what? We trade prospects...

And MIL-ton's attitude can't be quantified so why even discuss it? That was my whole big problem then. Of course, he's also on a one year contract....please leave me be.

singledd -

From OPP, you lose:
a) slots for farm kids (see Bench and Bullpen).
b) draft picks (three this year alone).
c) roster flexibility (Damon's last two years he's either a very slow, light hitting CF with no arm or a very overpaid 4th OF - see GOB syndrome 2003 - 2006).

Agreed, though, OPP by itself is not bad. A continuing pattern is. You know, I wouldn't have signed Shef but I also didn't understand projections. Even still, Vlad was the better bargin (back and all).

Beltran would have worked if the price was as said to be lower for us. Overpriced - yes - past prime - no. But it was all the other OPP (Unit extension, Brown, Giambi, Moose) that made it impossible. Perfect example where once in a while is okay, but the pattern will kill you.

Have a great weekend everybody.

2006-02-17 17:09:27
50.   rilkefan
Dimelo, I'm afraid there's a serious feedback issue with your simulation program - ask a philosopher of logic about Alvin Goldman.

(yeah, yeah.)

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-02-17 18:11:15
51.   mikeplugh
1. Guidry will be no better or worse than most pitching coaches out there. There are tons of organizational coaches in the system that can handle the computers and analysis behind the scenes and he'll either use the info or he won't. I happen to be one for a throwback approach to pitch count, and I pray that Guidry lets a few guys run deep into games that they are dominating rather than pull them out at 100 or 110.

2. Minor league players are a bit like the backup quarterbacks in that everyone falls in love with their infinite potential to the detriment of the poor slob struggling in the majors at a higher price. I agree that the guys we have in our system need a chance and they should go into Spring Training with a fair chance to beat out the established veterans. Think about it this way though....

You are responsible for a division at Initech Software. There are a couple of college kids with impressive ideas and the right university pedigree that you want to hire. There's also a few guys out there who command bigger salaries, but they've been through all the rigors of quarterly profit pressures. You know the college kids have more upsaide, but your boss, Lumbergh, is breathing down your neck for results, and you have to take the heat for your choice in the end.

You go for the kids and the veterans go to your competition. The kids struggle to find consistent results and your profits are not as good as expected. The guys you passed up weren't great either but the average quarterly profits for your competitors ended up fairly successful and one or two of them actually bagged a few important accounts.

Lumbergh now wants answers (n'kay?). Who the F are these raw rookies you put in charge of our business, and why didn't you get Jones on the team. Look what he did over at Datatech. Could you please come in on Sunday and don't forget to put the cover on your TPS report, n'kay? Didn't you get that memo?

I don't agree with it, but you have to imagine that that's part of the reason teams with big payrolls are reluctant to turn over important roles to unproven commodities.

2006-02-17 20:28:34
52.   markp
I disagree with the "he's been pitcing a long time so he knows when his arm angle is wrong" idea. For as long as pitchers have been throwing overhand, there have been other people analyzing their motions. To say a pitching coach shouldn't be worried about something as basic as that is worng. Long before computers, there have been pitching coachs (and scouts and managers and etc.) who could watch a pitcher throwing on the sidelines for ten minutes and predict whether he was going to have arm problems, control problems, etc.
The computer, epsecially with the software available to MLB teams, is a valuable tool. Guidry saying he's not going to be "that kind of coach" strikes me as hubris. Hopefully Kerrigan is the "real" pitching coach, unless Gator was just blowing smoke with those remarks.
As far as pitching coaches not making a difference, check out Duncan or Mazzone. Look at the record of guys like Johnny Sain, Ray Miller, Art Fowler, Al Lopez, and Roger Craig down through the years. Every staff they coached got better-often a lot better-almost immediately.
2006-02-17 23:22:53
53.   brockdc
Lumbergh is a no-talent ass-clown.

Not unlike Tony Womack.

2006-02-18 08:40:18
54.   singledd
"Guillen apologizes for calling A-Rod 'hypocrite' in SI":
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2334580

The comment was off the charts, even for a free-spirit like Ozzie. While damage was still done, the apology sounds fairly legit.

2006-02-18 09:36:40
55.   Levy2020
I don't understand the Milton Bradley mania as a reason for opposing Johnny Damon. The guy seems like a clubhouse cancer who will limit his plaing time and playing capability with outside problems.

Last year he only played 70 games. He's only had one season where he played more than 110 games. And last year his OPS+ was lower than Damon's.

I'm sure you'd say Milton is a better fielder and younger, but I think the issue there with the length of Damon's conract. I would rather that they paid him 2/30 than 4/52... But of the CF acquisitions (Pierre, Bradley, P. Wilson(?), Coco Crisp) I feel like Damon is going be the best NEXT YEAR.

Then again, you guys all know I think Bubba will be better than the lot. :=:

Is everyone really so convinced that Carl Pavano is going to make a better starting pitcher than Aaron Small? Small looked not-so-good coming out of the bullpen against the Angels last year (2 runs in 2 2/3 IP.) To say nothing of Jarett Wright. . .

2006-02-18 10:55:40
56.   Start Spreading the News
From #49:
"Fact is, we need a Back-up Catcher (BUC)"

Since we are obssessing with the need to have a backup catcher. I thought I would look at what other teams in our league have for backup. Surely, the other teams must be doing a better job of filling this need if our need is so dire?

All numbers are OPS.
Toronto: Greg Zaun is now the back to Molina and 2005 -- .728, career -- .717
Baltimore: Gernonimo Gil played 62 games last year. 2005 --.532, career -- .611
Tampa: Josh Paul, 2005 -- .619, career -- .671
Red Sox: Have Josh Bard and John Flaherty. We know Flaherty. So I will give you Bard's numbers: 2005-- .544, career -- .650

White Sox: Chris Widger: 2005: .679, career: .712
Indians: Have Kelly Shoppach who in 15 ABs has 7 Ks and no hits
Detroit: Vance Wilson: 2005: .553 in 61 games. Career: .665
Royals: Paul Bako: 2005: .662 . Career: .643
Twins: Mike Redmond: 2005: .742, Career: .713

Angels: 22 year old Jeff Mathis who had 3 ABs total with 1 hit.
Oakland: Adam Melhuse 2005: 661, career: .726
Seattle: Kenji Johjima with no numbers here in US
Rangers: Gerald Laird: 2005: .612, Career: .622

Yankees: Stinnett 2005: .736, career: .710

So looking at the whole league, the Yanks' Stinnett has to be among the top backup catchers.

Looking at the BUC picture in context, is this really an argument to use to say that Cashman is an average manager? Even Billy Beane has a crappy BUC.

2006-02-18 11:04:51
57.   Start Spreading the News
All the info was from ESPN's site. So if the roster info is wrong, blame them. If multiple catcher's were listed for a team, I designated the one who caught the 2nd most games in 2005 as the backup.
2006-02-18 14:44:10
58.   sam2175
56

SSTN, I think the argument has to be weighted against the organizational blackhole at the catcher position.

Now, if Boston loses Varitek and Yankees lose Posada, they are in a precarious position. But in all likelihood, if Orioles lose Hernandez, then Javy Lopez catches, or Brandon Snyder, a good catching prospect steps up. I think you have to take that into account.

That said, good catching prospect is a rarity. That is why Yankees should have held on to Navarro, and perhaps that is the knock on Cashman. Then again, maybe it was George that was behind it.

2006-02-19 12:00:21
59.   Nick from Washington Heights
"And, Nick, he's not rebuilding the farm if none of those guys get playing time. Those guys don't get PT if we sign OPP. And, we don't lose draft picks when we sign OPP (lost two for Damon). Overall, OPP is bad, very bad. If 90% of FA are OPP, then find the other 10%. Piazza applies here, so too F. Thomas, Russell Branyan, etc."

I disagree with the first sentence, and agree (very much) with the latter part. Not playing DeSalvo or Bean right now does not necessarily mean he's not rebuilding the system. He's chosen to fill spots with (for better or worse) know quanities rather than youngsters. The only effect is adding salary (the Yanks can do that and we feel it in OUR pocketbooks) and losing a draft pick (can someone confirm the loss of 2 picks for Damon. i thought it was only 1). Still, those young players are still on the farm, they can still be brought up or traded for depth at other positions. And in the meanwhile, bigger and better prospects are being developed in the lower part of the system. Again, Cash did very little to sacrifice the farm this off-season. In the future let's hope this means we're less reliant on free agents.

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