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What's Old is New
2006-02-24 05:40
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Randy Johnson grazed Johnny Damon yesterday during live batting practice, but the more compelling tidbit is that 19-year old Phillip Hughes impressed the veteran Yankee hitters during his session. Jorge Posada said he hasn't seen such a live arm since Mariano Rivera was a youngster. "He reminds me of Roger Clemens; that fastball is late," Jason Giambi told the Post. Joe Torre added:

"The thing that is unusual for a kid as young as he is, the curveball is really impressive...It's one of those real tight rotation breaking balls. He is not commanding it like he is going to after more experience, but his stuff is very real."

Joel Sherman has a nice column praising Torre this morning as well:

For the 11th year, he had to deliver an introduction speech to the full Yankee squad on Wednesday. In the wrong hands, this could turn into a forum of rolled eyes and emotional disconnect. But according to the players who heard the words, Torre had not gone stale. As Mike Mussina explained, "He never says anything to give you reason to think, 'oh shut up.' When he speaks, you just realize it is a big deal.' Alex Rodriguez added, "When it is manufactured and artificial, veteran players see through that [garbage]. He has that magic in his voice. It feels as if it is coming from a higher authority."

Torre said his style works because "I'm not trying to sell them anything." Players speak of feeling Torre cares about them and is honest with them...The idea that just anybody could have found the right chords to push [the 2005 team] or handle all that comes with managing the Yankees is silly. Yes, Torre gets to handle the most talent, but it comes with Steinbrenner, gigantic egos, Canyon of Heroes expectations and a media core to rival the White House. To survive, the manager better have thick skin and a soft heart, self-assurance and self-awareness.

This is nothing we don't already know, but it is well put, don't you think? Lastly, our boy Sheff was riffing some to Bob Klap yesterday. Well, what did you expect?

Comments
2006-02-24 06:06:46
1.   Rob Gee
Good to see the young kids being taught about the rivalry:

http://tinyurl.com/b4nhx

2006-02-24 06:09:29
2.   Rob Gee
Question is:

Did we expect it from Shef or Klap? At least one of them still does their job well.

2006-02-24 06:34:40
3.   bp1
I vow to ignore the Sheff contract issue. As long as he hits and hustles, I don't care what happens off the field. As an issue - it's dead to me.

As far as Klap - that article seemed like lazy reporting to me. Sheff feels disrespected? What a shock. What's next? A scoop on Torre's calm demeaner? That Damon is a generally happy guy? That Rivera is religious? Way to dig deep, fella. Best to keep your pencil tucked behind your ear until you can find something fresh to write about, and if you can't, cover some other team. Tell us about some of the NRI's at camp this year instead of regurgitating the same old crap and picking at old scabs.

I find the reports on batting practice much more interesting. It's as close to actual baseball as we've got at the moment. You can almost hear the pop of the mitt.

Counting the days ...

BP

2006-02-24 06:42:58
4.   Alex Belth
I don't know guys, I can't disagree with you that the overwhelming majority of articles that we see in spring training tread over well-wron ground, but I think it is also too easy to slam the columnists as lazy or uninspired. Guys like Klap and Sherman have been filing a story per day and let's face it, their editors--and most of their readership--isn't going to be interested in the same kind of analysis that we might enjoy. Spring training articles are like comfort food to a lot of baseball fans--the fact that they are predictable or even boring are beside the point.

If Sheff has something to say, a writer understands that is what their papers want--especially if you are talking about a tabloid. The next time you see a back page scoop on Robinson's PECOTA, or Derek Jeter's WARP will be the first. Again, I'm not saying you don't have the right to be bored silly by these kind of columns, but that is what these columnists are getting paid to write. Cut 'em a little slack.

2006-02-24 06:45:43
5.   Sliced Bread
More good stuff in Newsday today:
Cano adds 10 pounds of muscle, looks like slugger in the making:
http://tinyurl.com/mmqsu

According to Newsday, Cano now weighs 205. But last season, he was listed at 170.
Numbers don't add up.

Question for the class: Could the beefed up Cano be headed for greener pastures (see the outfield - specifically, RF) in '07, to create infield vacancy for Eric Duncan?

For now, NY Post reports Larry Bowa is shaking up camp with his intensity, and sharpening Cano's double-play skills.
http://tinyurl.com/gpxym

Meanwhile, Joe Kerrigan has to be the most overqualified bullpen coach in baseball. How valuable an asset is he to the Yanks? Newsday has this:
http://tinyurl.com/synby

The Yankees campfire is crackling.

2006-02-24 07:00:24
6.   Cliff Corcoran
Too answer Sliced's question in 5: No. That scenario is about as likely as Bubba Crosby becoming the next Yankee catcher.
2006-02-24 07:16:18
7.   Alex Belth
So Torre seems set on batting Damon and the Jeter at the top of the line up. It was suggested that this wasn't the best idea, not only because of Jeter's better numbers in the lead off spot, but because having Cano 9th and then Damon 1rst, it would make things easier for opposing managers late in the game. But seeing as how Cano can't really run, and that he's bulked up even more, does anyone envision Bernie batting ninth, simply because he's a switch hitter? Would that make any sense? Just wondering.
2006-02-24 07:16:32
8.   Sliced Bread
6 I know it's not a likely scenario, but it's certainly a better idea, and much more probable than Crosby replacing Posada.
2006-02-24 07:16:52
9.   Alex Belth
Oh, and I'm kind of loving how Pena and Bowa are charging the troops up. Bring on the red asses!
2006-02-24 07:21:06
10.   Rob Gee
Whoa, Alex - that seems too close to rationalization for my taste. I love your work here/SI, and I hope one day soon your have a column of your very own.

That said, don't you EVER say writing that crud is okay just so one day you can do the same "meeting of the deadline". If you have a column, do the little bit of extra work to tell a real story - no matter what the editors/public thinks. That's what separates great columnists from merely average ones - find the stories worth telling.

The "story" of which Klap writes is a big pile of dung. Analyze it for a second: here we had all these reports the other day of how happy Shef was and how he was treated right - and Klap doesn't even address the difference? Shef: "What changed?" That simple question isn't even answered in all those words he got credit for.

The real story is Shef is a complicated person - no doubt. Why give us the same disgrunted arc that's been worn way too much over the years? What's interesting is not that he's "back to his old self" - it's that we saw two radically different sides in three days. The point of a writer is to convey what's not known - Klap didn't do his job. That's fine - he just won't ever be a great journalist if he continues to give in to those tendencies (and he does).

2006-02-24 07:47:43
11.   Alex Belth
Well, Rob, we'll just have to agree to disagree. You have your opinion and I respect that. Quite frankly, I'm not interested in arguing with you, and I'm completely put off by the "don't you EVER say..." line. You can chill with that tone, and the inference that I'm making excuses because of whatever professional ambitions I might have, bro. Again, I appreciate your take, but that doesn't warrent you making assumptions.
2006-02-24 07:51:34
12.   Rob Gee
I got carried away. I'm sorry about that.
2006-02-24 08:02:00
13.   Sliced Bread
I think Klapisch still does good work, but missed an opportunity to do a more insightful piece on Sheffield.

Sheff has the eyes and demeanor of a guard dog. Unless you want to get snarled at, or worse, he should be approached with caution, and respect.

Torre and Cashman are wise to this, and understand how it helps the team if Sheff feels respected. In return, Sheff is loyal to them, and seems to trust them.

The tone of Klapisch's piece suggests he would rather stand on the other side of the fence from Sheffield, provoking the guard dog to bark and bite.

2006-02-24 08:04:24
14.   Alex Belth
Rob, s'alright. We're cool.
2006-02-24 08:12:27
15.   sam2175
I think the old adage applies. It is easy to criticize, but any job in the world is perhaps easier contemplated than done.

I guess Alex has perhaps a better appreciation of the pressures on a professional columnist (who has to reach out to a wider audience rather than catering to a very specialized audience in a blog format) than most of us, and perhaps a more balanced take on this.

Keeping on topic, or perhaps a bit of a continuation from the previous topic, does anyone know the extent of seriousness of Hughes' injury woes? From what I understand, that is the driving force behind the conservative late-thrity mid-forty ranking that he is receiving in all prospect lists. It would be great if Cliff has or anyone else can share some info (perhaps via Will Carroll, if he knows about it).

So far, the camp seems to have a better feel this year, perhaps because the core group of guys went through adversity together last year and came out on tops (well, in the regular season anyway), and can look forward to build on that.

2006-02-24 08:14:31
16.   Matt B
I think what Klap did would be egregious if it were a full-length magazine feature, but given what it is, it's not anything to get upset about. It's easy to say "Get Sheff to open up, find a new angle," but that's not so easy when you've got to file a piece every damn day. I think if you look back at everything written by the good, even great columnists, you're going to find filler. It's inevitable.
2006-02-24 08:16:06
17.   Sliced Bread
7 As Bernie has been repackaged as a Ruben'esque (as in Sierra) veteran DH, I don't see him batting 9th.

I could see the bulked up Cano moving down in the order if, say, Bubba, or Phillips is in the lineup, but not Bernie.

2006-02-24 08:28:04
18.   Ben
17. I agree. Not sure you want Bernie running in front of Damon and Jeter. Bernie's my favorite, but he's not the brightest bulb in the knife drawer on the basepaths. Not sure about Cano, but he doesn't have that same deer in headlights look that bernie has taking a lead off first. Same for Giambia batting in front of whomever. I can't say that I've ever seen him make a baserunning mistake. Slow, yes, but Arod isn't that fast either.

All I can say is that if this team of heavy hitters is focusing on the smaller aspects of the game, first to third, smart leads, situational stuff... watch out world.

2006-02-24 08:42:55
19.   unpopster
5 "Meanwhile, Joe Kerrigan has to be the most overqualified bullpen coach in baseball. How valuable an asset is he to the Yanks?"

The Boston Globe is reporting that Red Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace is out for the year after having hip replacement surgery.

Please, please, please George do everything possible to make sure that the Sox don't woo Kerrigan back to Boston as their pictching coach. Beside the fact that he'd be very successful again in Boston, we'd be losing a huge asset that has also just spent the last week working with OUR pitchers and could provide the Sox with some valuable "inside" info.

I doubt the Sox would try for Kerrigan, given his rocky tenure (i.e. his miserable experience as an interim manager after Jimy Williams left the team), but you never know with that FO up in Boston.

2006-02-24 08:51:50
20.   bp1
4 I hear ya, Alex. I realize the job is not easy. I also realize Sheff makes good copy - a veritable fountain of quotes. I get all the points you made.

Doesn't mean I have to enjoy reading it. Maybe "laziness" was too harsh, but I got the same sense as Sliced (13). Seemed to me Klap was trying as hard to create news as he was trying to report it. If that wasn't the case - my bad.

BP

2006-02-24 08:57:30
21.   Shaun P
It may be that whoever hits 9th is somewhat irrelevant. Sure, a single reliever could take care of Cano and Damon, but what happens when Giambi and Matsui come up later? Most teams do not carry two lefty relievers, at least two guys they'd want to use in both situations.

Its also worth noting that, in the division at least, the only team with an 'accomplished' lefty reliever is Toronto (they actually have two). Boston may not even carry a lefty in the pen.

Also note that the depth of righty relievers in the AL East re-inforce Cliff's point of a few days ago: having a strong lefty to come off the bench would be huge for the Yanks.

2006-02-24 09:23:27
22.   Cliff Corcoran
Funny this discussion should come around to line-ups as I meant to get a post up about the Yankee batting order today, but didn't quite get it done. That'll come Monday for sure as the first Yankee line-up of the year will take the field on Thursday. In the meantime, I think Alex might be on to something with Bernie batting ninth, in part because it would break up the lefties Cano and Damon.

As for the various baserunning skills on the team. I don't know what evidence Ben 18 has to the contrary, but Alex Rodriguez steals about 20 bases a year at an 80% clip. That could be just smart baserunning (like Paul O'Neill), but I wouldn't say he's not fast.

As for Bernie, he's no Jorge, and he has a nice long stride that gets him from point to point quickly, even despite all his knee problems over the years. I wouldn't worry about him clogging the bases. Cano isn't exactly Vince Coleman out there you know.

2006-02-24 09:55:18
23.   rbj
"as the first Yankee line-up of the year will take the field on Thursday."
Cliff, that sounds so sweet. I don't care if it is just meaningless preseason games.
2006-02-24 10:58:30
24.   Sliced Bread
19 I'd also be surprised if the BoSox tried to lure Kerrigan back.
Hopefully, the Yanks are paying him enough, and making him feel valued enough to not entertain an offer from Yawkey Way.
Of course you never know what can happen between these two clubs.
2006-02-24 11:19:21
25.   Ben
Cliff,

You're right on, I have no evidence per se. Just an impression of watching him run. He lands on his heels a bit too much, and most likely due to his size, just doesn't appear fast. So taking that with his success stealing, I figured it was because of smarts, a la Paulie O, and not because he's very fast. I may be wrong.

And to summarize G. Bush. Evidence? What is actually meant by 'evidence'. In other words, you want proof!!

2006-02-24 11:50:27
26.   Sliced Bread
Checking out the Yankees Spring Training photos up at Newsday.com yesterday, I wondered why George Steinbrenner's golf cart (as photographed on Wednesday) had only a small number 9 on it.
Was it a subtle tribute to Maris? Was it the number of reporters he mowed down this week?

Today, the Yankees reporter's blog at the Bergen Record's website has this development:

----------------------------------------
Big wheels

February 24, 2006

As if you couldn't tell from the prime parking space outside of Max's Cafe, and the driver patiently waiting next to it, George Steinbrenner's ride has been affixed with a pinstriped sticker with navy blue lettering proclaiming: "No. 1. Boss's Cart."

----------------------------------------
Sweet! George is pimpin' his ride. The smokin' chrome rims are next.

2006-02-24 14:49:07
27.   Shaun P
If folks haven't seen it already, take a look at today's Pinstriped Blog (http://tinyurl.com/lpo8z) - a look at all the NRIs the Yanks have had in the last 20 years. Seeing some of those names brought back memories - anyone else start to laugh when they were reminded of Kevin Mmahat? Now that's a baseball name!
2006-02-24 19:57:20
28.   joejoejoe
I like when Sheffield gets the red ass. Last August after Shef claimed he, not Jeter, was the leader of the team the Yanks went on an 18-8 run in August - either to spite him or prove him correct.

Sheffield is a like some kind of Frankenstein's monster built out of the body parts of Paul O'Neil, Reggie, Daryl Strawberry and Billy Martin. I like his predictable outbursts and sour demeanor. It contrasts nicely to the left side of the infield. Sheffield's probably going to the Hall of Fame as well - why should he play second fiddle to anyone? And he's got one more ring than Giambi, Mussina, and A-Rod combined.

Don't think Cashman doesn't like Shef's outbursts either. Nobody wants to start 2006 with 11-19. I think Ca$hmoney will happily extend Sheffield with the Yanks 5 games in front after the Yanks go 22-8 in April.

2006-02-25 06:48:36
29.   joejoejoe
Ken Arneson @ Catfish Stew has some really fun lineup tools to estimate run creation for various lineups in 2006.

The Yanks score 6.1 runs a game using the simpler online tool w/Bernie at DH. I got 6.4 runs with M. Bradley and Luis Castillo in the lineup for Damon and Cano, and 6.5 for Castillo, Bradley, and F. Thomas at DH. I'm not sure why scoring 60 fewer runs over a season for $10 million additional dollars is a good thing but it was still an above average offseason.

2006-02-25 16:04:12
30.   Schteeve
Ben, the only way to tell how fast A-Rod runs, is with a stopwatch, not how he lands on his heels or whatever. The guy hauls ass.

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