The Yanks are in Baltimore for a four-game series this weekend and well, it's just hard to get juiced about this one, isn't it? Four-hour games, a boring Orioles team, makes for precious little to say this morning. However, here are some links from around the 'Net which may be of some interest:
Yankee GM, Brian Cashman talks to Roger Rubin about what we can expect from Hideki Matsui.
Earlier this week, Joe Sheehan chimed-in on Alex Rodriguez's season over at Baseball Prospectus:
Hey, is Alex Rodriguez still a choking scrub unfit to occupy the same infield as Derek Jeter? It's kind of hard to keep up. I just happened to look today and saw that Rodriguez is 17th in the AL in EqA, 15th in RARP and 17th in VORP among position players. He leads AL third basemen in VORP and will likely hold that ranking until the end of the year. Defense could push Mark Teahen and/or Joe Crede ahead of Rodriguez in overall value, so you can figure he's one of the two of three best third basemen in the league.
All of this in the worst year of his career.
The level of attention paid to Rodriguez's slump went beyond all bounds of sanity. Yes, he was probably pressing, but there hasn't been a player in history who had as much made of an 0-for-22 slump. I can guarantee you that the guy who bats two spots ahead of him in the lineup has never been subjected to the kind of small-minded, gleeful, jealous treatment that Alex Rodriguez endured in August.
Would that he never is, because it was shameful. I can hold this gig for a million years and I will never embarrass myself the way the press did over this issue. It's the difference between writing about performance and writing about people, and it's why I can stand behind every critical thing about a baseball player that I've ever put down on paper or onto your monitor, because I was never attacking their character or their person, but rather their work product. I have been wrong, but I have always stuck to the performance.
I have to admit that I underestimated the kind of impact that Johnny Damon would have on the Yankees this year. But as the season draws to a conclusion, and Derek Jeter is the thick of the MVP mix, I've come to believe that Damon has been almost as important for the Bombers, both in the locker room and on the field. Jeter smiles plenty during the games--he's always enjoyed himself playing the game--but Damon is downright goofy. His smile is infectious, and along with the broad, carefree grins we see nightly from Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera (and across town from Jose Reyes), I don't recall the last time a Yankee team seemed this loose, while being completely focused at the same time. As Pete Abraham recently noted, "I'm not sure there are 10 people in the world who enjoy life more than Damon."
And yet, even if Damon is a flake, he's also a gamer too. He's played hurt all year, and you know that his teammates must appreciate that. Earlier this season I was in the Yankee locker room for a Sunday matinee against the Royals. It was get-away day, which means that the players arrive wearing suits. Damon was in the clubhouse early, before most of his teammates had arrived, wearing a stylish tan suit. Before he undressed, I saw him kneeling down in the the corner of the room, picking through a case of cds. After a few minutes, he stood up and groaned in pain--his foot has been killing him all year. He winced and hobbled for a minute as he balanced himself. Nobody was around, none of the reporters were paying attention to him at that moment, and there was no sense that he trying to attract attention to himself. It was just a small moment, but one that indicated that this was one tough dude.
The press absolutely love him. Damon might be the best daily talker the team has had since David Cone. In all, he's been the perfect tonic for the traditionally tight-assed Yankees. Aditi Kinkhabwala has a piece on Damon today over at SI.com.